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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Franconia Ridge Loop, New Hampshire (Fall 2020)

When we were planning out hikes for the weekend, I had a list in my head of some good options.  There is the 48 4,000 footer list (of which I had only conquered 14), there was the 52 with a view list, and a bunch of other hikes that looked like great options for this ragtag group. 

What I didn't plan was to repeat any of the hikes I had done before - definitely not one of the really hard ones.  Of course, this is exactly what I ended up doing.  Adam mentioned a few times that he had always wanted to hike the ridge, Franconia Ridge that is.  I told him I really REALLY didn't want to repeat a hike, that I would do it if he really wanted to, but it was like last resort bottom of my list.  I told him "I'm sure you could find a friend to come up and do it with you" and listed about 4 more excuses.  I could tell he really, really wanted to do this hike I would be a trooper and drag myself up, across, and down this ridge for a second time.  And so, this is how I ended up hiking Franconia Ridge for the second time, again with very little hiking conditioning. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Kinsman Lodge (the best bed and breakfast) - Franconia, New Hampshire

Every year, as summer fades to Autumn and the end of September rolls around, I jump in my car and head north. I usually head to Vermont to mountain bike and hike around the Kingdom but with COVID-19 and the travel restrictions in Vermont, we decided to change things up a bit and head to the Granite State instead.  We booked a last-minute AirBnB with a credit we had, a little discouraged at first to see the limited dog-friendly options near the Whites.  I had Adam expand the search to a two-night stay and suddenly, the most perfect place showed up in our browser.  

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Lobster Shack - East Haven - Lobster Roll Tour Stop #6

It took me a few summers to finish my lobster roll tour.  For starters, tasting lobster rolls is an expensive hobby.  Lobster rolls generally cost anywhere from $18 to $20 (usually without sides) and while insanely delicious, aren't always filling.  Geographic location also made it a little more time consuming as we sample lobster rolls as far east and Noank and as far west as East Haven.  If there was ever a time to eat lobster rolls - now is it.  The crowds are gone after Labor Day, COVID-19 has forced us to dine al fresco, and it just felt like the perfect time to spend a Friday night chowing down lobster rolls along the water (and head to IKEA when it is least busy).  

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Chauncey Peak Loop Hike (Giuffrida Park) - Meriden, CT

Lately, I have been feeling insanely lucky for the luxury of being able to hike on a Tuesday morning.  You see, I spent my whole life working at least one job (often two, sometimes three).  I did my duty working weekends, working two jobs a day, working through graduate school, so on and so forth.  I always had the goal of starting my own company and making my own hours.  You've heard the saying, you are either working hard to make your dreams work or making someone else's.  My plan was to gain my Licensed Environmental Professional certification and then start my own Phase I company.  When the coronavirus struck and my work from home priveledges were revoked, for my safety and my sanity, I decided going back to the office was not an option and it was now or never to start that company.  And so, my little environmental consulting firm was born and so was my ability to make my own schedule.  It's been slow to start which makes me even more thankful for this hard-working husband of mine who works long hours to help pick up the slack.  With my newfound freedom and flexibility, I was able to dedicate more time to Katie Wanders an even better, more time for tackling busier Connecticut hikes during the week.  

Thursday, September 17, 2020

CT/NY border to Tenmile River Shelter (AT Backpacking)

Backpacking is something I wish I got into earlier in life.  There's something romantic about carrying everything you need on your back to spend the night in the woods.  Once you escape the campgrounds or roadside camping areas, it's hard to go back to the noise and the crowds.  When you commit to carrying everything you need on your back, you weed out a lot of the people.  It's not as simple as going out for a hike, you do need to invest in some staples that allow you to sleep under the stars comfortably and safely.  Like all of my hobbies, they are uniquely my own, skills and interests acquired and invested into throughout my adult life.  My family wasn't the backpacking type and their idea of camping involves a large RV at a developed campground.  I had to do a lot of research, save up, invest in gear, and find some likeminded friends to hike with.  When you do invest in the gear and find your tribe, there's nothing like setting up your camp somewhere in the woods far from any road or roaring generators.  While I love an epic adventure deep into the Whites of New Hampshire, it doesn't always have to be 30 miles into the wilderness, 3 miles into the woods was plenty for us.  

Monday, September 14, 2020

Pine Knob Loop Hike - Sharon, Connecticut

Pine Knob Loop is a hiking trail in the northwest corner of CT that I kept hearing about.  I heard it was short, sweet, and scenic and Adam had hiked it several times.  We planned a weekend up in the northwest corner of Connecticut and I added this quick hike into our plans. 

f i r s t    i m p r e s s i o n s 

All in all, I thought it was a nice hike along a pretty section of woods and a stream with a nice viewpoint.  I liked that it was short and sweet and something that would be family-friendly or something easy to tackle with other plans in your day.  My only gripe was in an area of so many amazing hikes, this wouldn't be my first choice.  

Friday, September 11, 2020

A Day Trip to Block Island

Block Island is a popular getaway well known by New England natives.  The island is shaped like a pork chop and is 7 miles long and 3 miles wide.  Rhode Island claims the land that sits in Block Island Sound, nine miles off its coast in the Atlantic Ocean.  Like the Cape, the Hamptons, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, Block was formed from glacial deposits as the glaciers receded during the last ice age.  

If you are looking to get away from home, if you are looking to feel far away without the hassle or a plane ride, Block Island is it.  A one hour jaunt on the high-speed ferries from several New England ports transports you to a charming Island that feels a lot like Bermuda.  

I've spent a week on the island, I've gone out for a weekend (here is a weekend guide), and I've gone over just for the day.  Today we are talking about the latter, Block Island in a Day - a guide to seeing the highlights with a round trip same day ferry ticket.  It is perfect for anyone short on time or someone who wants to see Block on a budget because lodging on the island can be pretty pricey.   

To make the most of the day, you need to take the first ferry out and plan to take one of the last ferries back.  We caught the 9am ferry out of Point Judith and we were on the island by 10am.  We decided on the 5pm ferry back, arriving in Point Judith by 6pm in time to wind down and make dinner before ending the day. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Sunset (and wedding photos) at Otter Point - Acadia National Park, Maine

Caddilac Mountain in Acadia National Park is famous for its sunrises.  Hoards of people hike or drive their way to the top of the mountain to watch the sunrise on the eastern seaboard, a claim to fame for being the first sight of sunrise in the continental United States from October to March at least. 

But what you hear less about is a killer sunset in Acadia National Park.  If waking up two hours before sunrise to drive or hike up a crowded mountain isn't how you want to spend your morning, you can catch the other end of the deal - sunset at Otter Point.  

When we were planning our wedding photos with Kat of Swell and Stone, she had the idea of pairing an afternoon hike of The Beehive with a stop at Otter Point after our hike to catch the sunset.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Beehive Trail (in a wedding dress) - Acadia National Park

The Beehive Trail in Acadia National Park is famous for its insane views, interesting terrain, and traverse across iron rungs. Let's just say the Beehive Trail is short, steep, and oh so sweet. There are handholds and ladders where you need it and while there are narrow ledges and spots that are a bit trickier, it isn't nearly as terrifying as the Precipice Trail. Of course, this hike took us about four times longer than it should have because we decided to tackle the trail in some special yet abnormal hiking attire. Adam wore his wedding suit all while carrying my bouquet in our pack. Let's not forget that he also had to help me manage ladders, rungs, and climbs in a fitted wedding dress (train included).