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Monday, July 29, 2019

Elizabeth Park Rose Garden - Hartford, Connecticut



One day long, long, ago in my early twenties, I was sitting at the break room table at my job as a seasonal employee in the middle of summertime, exasperated that it was only Wednesday.  Between bites of whatever I was eating, I sighed out loud that I wished it was Friday.  And then I heard some of the best advice I have ever been given.  Don't wish your life away. 

Boom, it was such a short saying that packed a punch. You can't live for the weekend, and you certainly can't sit at the break room table miserable with your job wishing it was Friday.  Because Monday through Thursday?  Well, they can rock too. 

So maybe you can't go on an epic hiking trip on a Tuesday afternoon.  But what you can do is find a new-to-you treasure right there in your home state, maybe even the next town over.  I am thankful that Connecticut has a lot to offer in the summertime.  Concerts on the beach, amazing parks, beaches galore, dinner on the farm series, and so much more.  What I didn't know until recently was that Connecticut also has this amazing rose garden in a place where you least expect it, our less than glamourous capital city of Hartford.  Not only does it have this beautiful rose garden but it is dog-friendly, FREE, and home to a Wednesday concert series.  

Monday, July 22, 2019

Waterfalls and Wine - Buttonwood Grove, Finger Lakes, NY


A hard hike and a cold beer (preferably from a local brewery) are one of my favorite pairings.  It's that hot hike, cold beer combo - usually showing up to a new brewery in sweaty hiking clothes, happy to kick my feet up and relax over a new beverage, enjoyed guilt-free after a long walk in the woods.  One of my most favorites pairings if you will, was during a weekend up in the Whites of New Hampshire.  I was hiking Franconia Ridge, Thatcher, Olive and I on this amazing 9-mile hike over some of New Hampshire's 4,000 footers.  After we got back to the car happy and hungry, I punched in "brewery" and found Schilling Beer Co where I ended my day in pure hiker bliss over pizza and beer.  We sat outside with Olive enjoying our treats, trying to narrow down which beers we wanted to bring home.  This post hike experience set the standard of what my hiking trips should look like. 

So when I went to the Fingerlakes to hike and celebrate Independence Day, this combination was kind of what I had in mind, but would require some improvising.  I was with my parents who don't share my love for double-digit distance hikes and double IPA's.  And we were in the Finger Lakes hiking around Cayuga Lake, America's First Wine Trail.   

So instead of elevation and IPAs, we did waterfalls and wine. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Taughannock Falls - Finger Lakes, New York

Taughannock Falls State Park in Summer

At this point in the trip Lucy (my mom) had a lot to say about the trails I was picking.  Too many stairs, too long, they hurt her knee, and so on.  Truth be told, these trails had been relatively flat in my eyes.  We weren't hiking to any summits, just following gorges and waterfalls in the middle of Amish Country New York.  

With that being said, sometimes it's hard to step back and realize we all have different definitions of an "easy trail", molded by experience and fitness levels.  I run 2 days a week and do CrossFit 4 days a week.  She is not consistent with exercise and nutrition and had a knee surgery earlier in the year.  Our definitions of an easy trail are very, very different.  And that's okay.  

By Hike 3 in the Finger Lakes, we finally found a trail that was more her pace, and fit her definition of easy.  A short, flat, well maintained wide trail that after a 1-mile leisurely stroll, ended at a breathtaking waterfall.   It was one of those low effort high reward kind of hikes.  

Have someone in your group who appreciates easier trails?  Want to take the kids on an easy hike?  Or maybe you just want a nice little walk to stretch your legs and take a few photos.  Head to Taughannock Falls. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Letchworth State Park, Finger Lakes, New York

Upper Falls waterfall and train bridge Letchworth State Park
Upper Falls - Letchworth State Park 

Dear New York, 

How were you hiding all these big and showy state parks?  I have lived in the Northeast most of my life (minus those two years in Utah) and as you know dear reader, I am madly in love with the outdoors.  Whether it's scuba diving or horseback riding, hiking or mountain biking, or just an evening under the stars.  I'm happiest when I 'm outside. 

In my 31 years I have traveled a lot, especially around the U.S.  And when I moved back east from Utah, I made it my mission to tackle more mountains, more peaks, and spend more time outside.  To experience the outdoors in new places and in new ways. 

But even after being back east for 2.5 years and tackling different challenges, these New York State Parks are still a complete surprise.  It's amazing what is hiding just a few state lines away).  These parks in the Finger Lakes were gems no one down here in New England really talked about.  

This wasn't just a casual run of the mill  State Park.  To me, this was dramatic and oh so beautiful with rugged cliffs and waterfalls, miles of trails and so many recreation opportunities.  I couldn't help but think, this place is kind of National Park worthy. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Robert H. Trehman State Park, Finger Lakes - Waterfall Loop Hike



Gorge Trail Robert H. Trehman State Park Bridge
Views along the Gorge Trail 
It sort of became a new tradition to explore New York on the fourth of July. It all started last year when I convinced my parents we should spend the long weekend up in the Ausable area, camping, exploring, and hiking up in the gorgeous Adirondacks. It was a great trip that included one of my favorite hikes to date, Indian Head. Since then, I have made it a mission to spend more time exploring this huge state of New York that is truly an outdoor lover's paradise. I've done a few hikes in the Catskills, spent some time in the Adirondacks and now, spent the fourth of July holiday in the Finger Lakes. 

 Spending America's birthday deep in the woods and in one of our countries state parks is my favorite way to celebrate Independence Day.