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Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Year in Review: 2017

Per usual, this ends up being one of the best posts I write all year.  I have been writing these "year in review posts for a few years 201620152014 and it is always fun to see how life has changed.  When I sit down to write this at the end of December,  I get to sit back and pour a coffee (or glass of wine, depending on the time of day of course) and reflect on the year I have had.  All the trips, long weekends away, weekdays spent with friends, weekends spent lounging around this little town, and time with my four-legged clan.  I can't say 2017 was bad, or absolutely amazing, but I will say it was a good year.  I went to some amazing and unique places (Iceland and Mt. Katahdin to name a few).  

But 2017 you were good, and I was so grateful for time spent with family and friends doing so many of the things I love.  Hiking, riding, diving and relaxing, it was a year of everything.  Happiness and Health- how lucky am I?  With that being said, 2018 has a LOT of great adventures already planned.  In a few weeks, I will be soaking up the sunshine of Florida and a few weeks after that, dogsledding through Banff National Park in Canada.  But before we get carried away with the New Year, let's look back on 2017.  A hike in each New England State, a trip to the west coast, and a journey to the world's most Nothern Capital.  Here we go!

Newport, Maine, Vermont
January was a fresh start to the New Year and some snow to go skiing.  We rang in the New Year at Ashley's house.  The weather in the New Year started off warm and I Rang in New Years Day riding horses on East Beach in Rhode Island.  I took a Day trip to Newport to see the Mansions and walk Cliff Walk.  We were getting antsy with the weather and planned a weekend away up north, what I called an "Eatcation" in Portland, Maine.  We also celebrated Ashley's 30th birthday with a Mad Men themed party.  One more trip to an iconic New England town to end the month:  Visiting Stowe, Vermont, a day spent skiing Stowe and some time spent around the town, trying a few new breweries, von Trapp Brewing in Stowe, VT and The Alchemist.

New Years Eve 017
New Years Day on East Beach, Rhode Island

Cliff Walk, Newport, RI

Congdons Donuts, Maine

Ben & Jerrys, Vermont

Stowe Ski Resort, Vermont

Ashley's 30th Birthday Party

Northern Vermont, Rhode Island
February is my birthday month and I had some big plans.  I got together with a few friends and spent my 29th birthday in a Yurt in Northern Vermont.  We went out on a Winter Hike to Camel's Hump, Vermont, a sunny day with a ton of snow on the mountain (where we wee a little unprepared and sort of lost).  On our way back to CT, we stopped in Montpelier Vermont for coffee, tacos, and to see Vermont's capital.  Back home, a birthday dinner was in order at Mystic's Oyster Club.  The month ended with some local adventures, checking out Grey Sail Brewing in Westerly Rhode Island and Whalers Brewing Company in South Kingston, Rhode Island.  It was a snowy month and the horses (mostly) got a break.  On a sunny day I took Olive out to Gillette Castle to walk the grounds and enjoy the views of the Connecticut River.

Maple Farm Yurt, Vermont

The Yurt Group
Hiking Camels Hump, Vermont
Bithday Dinner, Oyster Club, Mystic, Connecticut 

Snowstorms in Stonington, CT

Winter Walks in Old Lyme

Grand Cayman 
March was a month I had been looking forward to... I had a dive trip planned to Grand Cayman! I spent the week at Compass Point Dive Resort with 13 other friends I dive with.  I hung out with the Stingrays in famous Stingray City, dove some famous sites like The Kittiwake and other great dive sites around the island with lots of fish.  It was a great week spent diving and enjoying 80 degree weather in March.  I got back to what felt like Arctic New England and made it to another new to me brewery, Stony Creek in Branford, CT and Proclamation in Rhode Island.

Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Swimming with a Sea Turtle, Grand Cayman

The group in Grand Cayman

Compass Point Dive Resort

Stony Creek Brewery, Branford, CT

Proclamation Brewery, Rhode Island

April in New England and you can finally start thinking about warm weather and green grass (sort of.. spring can sometimes be late).  To start off the month, I tried a new (to me) restaurant featuring awesome craft beer, Moxie in Madison, CT.  I headed out on our annual spring ski trip and skied Smugglers Notch in Northern Vermont where we actually had some fresh snow for spring skiing.  On the way back, I stopped at a great new to me brewery on the way home, Lost Nation. Back in Connecticut, I did some local hiking, this time to a "castle" at Hubbard Park.  I dusted off my mountain bike and spent some time on the trails at Barn Island here in Stonington and Bluff Point over in Groton.  I went to my first horseshow of the season at Westbrook Hunt Club where Bradley had a great start to the season.

Smuggler's Notch Ski Resort, Vermont

Moxie, Madison, CT

Lost Nation Brewing, Vermont

Castle Craig Hike, Connecticut

California, New York City, Boston's Freedom Trail and Newport
May was another month of big plans and trips out of the state.  To start, I took a trip out to California to see the LA area. There, I hiked Sandstone Peak in Santa Monica, spent the day in Joshua Tree National Park, and biked around Venice and Santa Monica.  After playing tourist, I had a chance to play tour guide when Amanda came to New England. We spent the day in Boston on the Freedom Trail, and spent two days in New York City.  Day 1 we saw the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway (my first Broadway show!), walked the highline, and visited Chelsea Market.  Day 2 we walked the Brooklyn Bridge, saw the 9/11 Memorial, and walked through Central Park. We ended Amanda's trip with a weekend on Block Island for Memorial Day Weekend.  We also made a quick day trip to Newport to see the mansions and walk Cliff Walk.

Venice/Santa Monica Boardwalk, California

Santa Monica, California

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Boston, Massachusetts

New York City Skyline

Times Square, NY, NY

Block Island, Rhode Island

Belmont horse race, bridal shower, Manhattan
I started the month with my first "real" horse race, heading to Long Island to watch the Belmont Stakes, the last race of the Triple Crown series.  I spent lots of time around Stonington, paddle boarding, swimming, diving and soaking in the New England summer.  We celebrated Kristen at her Bridal Shower on a gorgeous spring day in Old Lyme.  I ran a 10k with some amazing friends (and Olive) in Niantic.  My youngest brother Philip graduated high school.  I also went to New York City for an afternoon at a private event on a roof top bar on the Upper East Side.  The month ended celebrating Courtney's 30th birthday party. 

Waylands Wharf, Stonington, CT

Niantic 10k

Belmont Stakes, NY

Belmont Stakes, NY

Bridal Shower, Old Lyme, CT

2017 LOLHS Graduation

Courtney's 30th Birthday, Essex, CT

Courtney's 30th Birthday, Essex, CT

Lobster, Newport, Stonington Summer Days, White Mountains of New Hampshire 
When July 4th rolls around, summer is in full swing here in Connecticut.  I celebrated Independence Day with friends at a beach house in town where we had a good ole fashion New England lobster bake.  Next up,  I went to a soccer game, to watch U.S.- Ghana play at Rentschler Field.  We celebrated Kristen again but this time for her bachelorette party in Newport Rhode Island, spending the day at Newport Vineyard, enjoying dinner at the Clarke Cooke House, and watched a polo match at the Newport Polo Grounds.  The month involved many weekends at Waylands Wharf and afternoons swimming off the jetty.  I took Bradley to Westbrook Horse Show (again) where we spent a beautiful summer day showing in a few jumper classes.    I took my bike out on some road rides around Mystic and a went to a few Oyster Club Happy Hours ($1 oysters!). The month ended on a great note up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Thatcher, Olive and I hiked the Franconia Ridge Loop, often called one of New England's best day hikes.  We also found a new brewery with great food and local beer at Schilling Beer Co.  We ended the month celebrating National Hammock Day on a quiet lake in New Hampshire

Westbrook Hunt Club Horse Show

Westbrook Hunt Club Horse Show

Westbrook Hunt Club Horse Show

Newport International Polo Field, Newport, RI

Newport Bachelorette

Brunch at the Yacht Club

Franconia Loop Hike

Franconia Loop Hike, New Hampshire

Schilling Beer Co, New Hampshire

Scuba Diving, Stonington, CT

Block Island, Mount Monadnock, Scuba Diving in Gloucester, and Mount Katahdin
The month started and ended on Block Island, Rhode Island.  I also went to the vineyard down the road, Saltwater Farm for one of their summer concerts. In preparation of hiking Maine's tallest peak, Mount Katahdin, I met a friend in Massachusetts and we crossed the border into New Hampshire and hiked Mount Monadnock.  The water was finally warming up so I headed to one of my favorite coastal New England towns for some great local diving in Gloucester, Massachusetts.  Finally, I made the trek to Northern Maine for a weekend of camping and hiking and FINALLY made it to the top of Mount Katahdin and camped at Baxter State Park in Maine, my last New England Summit.  The end of summer came quick and we spent another weekend in Block Island, soaking up the last bit of summer.

Mount Monadnock, New Hampshie

Diving Gloucester, Massachusetts

Diving Gloucester, Massachusetts

Saltwater Farms Vineyards, Stonington, CT

The gang on Mount Katahdin, Maine

Mount Katahdin, Maine

Mount Katahdin, Maine

Olive and Thule on Block Island

A wedding, Mount Tom, the Big E, Breweries and Iceland 
The month started off with a fabulous wedding when Kristen got married on a perfect summer day in Fenwick, Old Saybrook.  Soon after, I started taking two classes, a wetland ecology class at the University of Rhode Island and Marine Ecology online.  I helped organize a cleanup dive during the International Coastal Cleanup and continued the lobster roll tour at Captain Scotts in New London.  After checking out some new trails in Rhode Island and breaking my bike frame, we checked out Revival Brewing in Rhode Island.  Mid September I headed north and hiked Mount Tom in Northampton and checked out two new breweries in the area.  To end the month, I met some friends at one of New England best fairs, the Big E, where we ate our way around the fair.  The highlight of the month was when I packed my bags and headed north to spend 10 days exploring Iceland.

Bridal Party - Kristen's Rehearsal Dinner

Robertson Wedding Day

Hiking Mount Tom, Massachusetts

Northampton Breweries

International Coastal Cleanup, New London, CT

Big E, Massachusetts

Glacier Hike, Iceland





Vermont and Fall Fun 

We arrived back in Connecticut after a cold (wet) 10 days in Iceland.  Just four days after getting back to the country, I was back in the car for another journey north, this time to northern Vermont for another tradition, the yearly Kingdom Trails mountain biking trip where Olive and I hiked Burke Mountain. The rest of the month was spent soaking up New England fall fun, carving pumpkins, visiting the Witch History Museum and other historic sites in Salem, Massachusetts, handing out candy, and of course some local fall hikes.

Hiking Burke Mountain, VT

Hiking Burke Mountain, VT

Hiking Burke Mountain, VT

October in New England


Hopyard hikes, Brewery and Thanksgiving
November was mild and I had one last horseshow to end out the season.  Then it was enjoying the last of the leaves at a hike in East Haddam at Devils Hopyard.  And of course, another month, another brewery but this time to Fox Farm is Salem, Connecticut.  Our dive club had a great photograph expo featuring our local photographers and I shared a few pictures from that years trips.  I went to the local brewery down the road to celebrate their anniversary (5 years of Beerd!).  I spent Thanksgiving with my family, and per tradition started the day off with a 5-mile run with friends on a sunny Thanksgiving morning. 


Devils Hopyard, Connecticut 

Devils Hopyard, Connecticut 

Fox Farm Brewery, Salem, CT
Photo Exhibit, New London, CT

Snow storms, christmas trees, and New York City 
December in New England- you never know what to expect.  This year, we saw several (small) snow storms and some freezing temperatures which meant fall turned into winter quicker than any of us would like.  On a snowy day, I headed to the local tree farm where I picked out my 6' blue spruce.  I baked cookies, trimmed the tree, and took Olive on a local hike in the snow.  I took a trip to New York City to the Natural History Museum and to soak up all things Christmas in the city.  The month ended with an indulgence of good food and great wine, celebrating the holidays with families and friends. 

Stonington, CT

Natural History Museum, NY, NY

Stubborn Beauty Brewing, Middletown, CT

Happy New Year !
Katie Wanders


  1. What a year! So many amazing trips.... but maybe more Bradley on the blog next year?

  2. It's funny isn't it, we can think we haven't done much if we don't look back. Looks like 2017 was a good year, but I wish you a better 2018 anyway :)

    1. Doesn't it always happen like that! It is so nice to sit down, reflect, and remember all the great trips (and how lucky we are to take them). Thanks for reading! Wishing you a happy 2018 as well.


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