Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘The Great Outdoors’ Category

img_7687

With the gorgeous blue skies and warm weather last weekend, and our packed schedule the rest of the month, there was no question that we would be getting out on the hiking trails at least once.  Since the entire weekend looked to be equally beautiful, we targeted Sunday for our hike.  I initially floated Fraser Preserve as a possible destination, but Sunday morning found us moving very slowly, so we scrapped that idea in favor of Lake Accotink, a new-to-us park in Springfield, Virginia.

img_7651

Strapped into the hiking backpack and ready to go!  Dad and I were in short sleeves, but we zipped the kiddos into their fleeces – although Peanut insisted on wearing a sundress with shoes and socks – no tights – which we let her get away with, since it was really quite warm already.

img_7657

First order of business was a snack.  Both kids gobbled up cheese sticks and pouches while enjoying the view of the lake.  I’d love to see the place in summer, when the park is bustling with people!  As it was, there were quite a few hikers, runners, mountain bikers and strollers out enjoying the lovely lake breeze and blue skies.

img_7658

Canoes!  I can’t wait until the kids are old enough – read: obedient enough – to get out on the water as a family.  Paddling is something I love; it’s been a passion of mine since I got my first kayak at age 15, and I wish I got to do more of it.

img_7663

Suited up and ready to hit the trails!

img_7661

Not far into our hike, what little cloud cover there had been burnt off and the glorious blue sky came out!  Not pictured: the little Pisces who was hovering around my right ear, keeping up a constant refrain of “Wanna go by water!  Wanna go by water!”

img_7665

^ The goal.  Always the goal.

img_7674

Attempted some selfies, but they turned out very squinty.  Note to self: do not forget sunglasses, even if the sky is a little overcast.

img_7676

When we had only a little hiking left to do, we let Peanut out of the backpack to run along the trail next to us.  She’d been sulking and complaining the entire time (four going on fourteen?) but perked up considerably once she got to walk.  We discussed the possibility that she is growing out of the backpack – up until recently, she never wanted to walk if there was a possibility of being carried or pushed.  I’d love to see her in little hiking boots, scampering along with her own mini backpack, so I’m encouraging her.

img_7685

Stopped to examine some quartz in the trail!  If it’s pink or sparkly, Peanut is here for it.

img_7686

Well, Accotink, thanks for a delightful, sunny, breezy hike!  This park was truly a gem, only twenty minutes from us, and we had no idea it was out there. I can already see that renewing the hiking project is a good idea – it’ll get us out of the habit of going to Great Falls every weekend, and force us to try out some new hiking spots.

Did you hit the trails this month?

Read Full Post »

img_7372

I can’t tell you how excited I am to bring back the twelve months’ hiking project!  Longtime readers may recall that Steve and I set a goal of getting out onto a different hiking trail at least once every month in 2015, and at the end of the year we had a collection of fantastic hikes to show for it.  I wanted to keep the project going into 2016, but we quickly realized that we had pretty much exhausted the family friendly hiking trails in Western New York.  But the dawn of this new year sees us back home in Northern Virginia, with a wealth of hiking trails to choose from and some travel plans that will take us to even more spectacular hiking locations – with all that to look forward to, how could I not bring back the hiking project?

img_7327

Our first hike of 2017 had to involve Great Falls somehow – it just wouldn’t have felt right otherwise.  Great Falls might be my favorite place in the world.  It’s a tough call, because I love so many places.  But this rollicking gorge holds a special place in my heart.  I think I’ve hiked here more than anywhere else – in all seasons and all weather – and I know every inch of the trail.  (At least, on the Virginia side.  The Maryland side boasts the Billy Goat Trail, which is one of the most popular hikes in the D.C. area, and we still haven’t tried it.  I hope to have corrected that omission by the end of 2017!)

img_7371

Our first stop, as always, was the overlook, so we could wave hello to the waterfalls.  The water was really rolling last weekend – you could see the mist coming off the falls section quite a ways up the trail.  I brought my Adirondack flag to show my love for my favorite state park while I hiked my favorite federal park.

img_7340

Whenever we head for Great Falls, we always get into a debate – should we head downriver, into the NPS area of the park, or should we walk up the trail to Riverbend Park (part of the Fairfax County park system) and leave the NPS section?  I like to walk downriver and stay in the federal area, but Steve prefers to walk upriver into the Fairfax County park section.  He likes the more consistent river views upriver, while I don’t mind meandering into the woods a bit and then coming out onto more sporadic, but more spectacular, views downriver.

img_7348

Since the last time we hiked Great Falls, we went downriver, it was only fair to hike upriver this time.  So we set out for the North River Trail, which takes hikers out of Great Falls and into Riverbend Park.

img_7342

First bird sightings – a few Canadian geese waiting out the winter (or stopping by on their way further south).  There was also a gaggle of ducks.

img_7352

The North River Trail has a bit of very mild technical hiking, which adds to the fun.  Starting small with some stone steps…

img_7353

Into a tight scramble area.  I wished I had brought my hiking poles, but I did fine grabbing onto the rocks and tree trunks along the side of the trail.

img_7357

We have arrived!  Riverbend Park is such a versatile area.  It’s great for birding all year round, and the trail is loved by both hikers and trail runners.  It’s interesting enough to keep you engaged, but not so technical that you couldn’t run it if you were of the mind to do so.

img_7365

This guy was giving me lots of kisses.  Everyone should try hiking with an affectionate toddler on their backs.

img_7366

At one point we all shared a water bottle.  I was a little worried about all this water going down the back of my neck, but fortunately, my fears turned out to be misplaced.  What a relief!

img_7368

We ended the hike with a special treat – a Great Blue Heron!  Mom’s favorite bird – what a delight to see that guy.  (Can you spot him in the picture above?  Note to self: bring the dSLR next time.  iPhone pictures just don’t cut it for birding.)

A little scrambling, a gorgeous waterfall, and some great birding action – not a bad start to a new twelve months’ hiking project!

Have you been hitting the trails recently?

Read Full Post »

image

And now it’s 2017!  I think we were pretty much all ready to see the back of 2016.  Has there ever been a year in which more things went wrong, from a state-of-the-world perspective?  Globally speaking, I found 2016 as ridiculously absurd as most people, so good riddance.  But from a personal and family perspective, we actually had a pretty good year – filled with lots of laughter and fun, with big and small adventures all folded around a major, and very welcomed, life change.  Here’s a look.

image

The biggest event in January was concluding the sale of our house in Elma, and moving into temporary housing in Williamsville, New York.  The move was phase one of our plan to leave the Buffalo area – a goal we were already working on at the end of 2015, although we just murmured vague things like “we’re looking for a better fit” when asked about our home sale.  We weren’t ready to share our ultimate plan at that point.  Most of the month was consumed with packing and moving, so we didn’t do much adventuring.  But I did finish recapping 2015 fun and posted Part I of my 2015 reading year in review.

image

In February, we settled into our new temporary living situation. and I made two stealthy trips to D.C. to interview for a job.  That job didn’t work out, but getting interviews so quickly did boost my confidence and convince me that we had a chance of making our dream of moving home come true.  Those trips – planning and preparing for them, making them, and keeping them quiet – consumed my entire month and between that and work drama back in Buffalo, I had very little energy for anything else.  So we didn’t get out much in February, although I did post Part II of my 2015 reading year in review, and my 2015 Book Superlatives.

image

March was all about celebrating Nugget as he turned one year old!  We threw him a storytelling birthday party with a nature theme at a local children’s bookstore, and it was so much fun.  I think he felt very celebrated and very loved.  Around the main event of the month, we squeezed in a few hikes – since the weather was unseasonably warm – making it to Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve and to Tillman Road Wildlife Management Area.  We also visited a working sugar shack as part of New York’s Maple Days.

image

In April, I made another stealthy trip to D.C. to do my first interview for the job I would end up taking.  Around that, I fit in fun both bookish and outdoorsy.  We took a family hike to Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and spotted dozens of red-winged blackbirds.  We also went back to Times Beach Nature Preserve and Canalside for family playtime.  And I – as always – celebrated National Poetry Month, this time with a fun twist!  I posted two big roundups of my favorite poetry books for kids, one post for the classics, and one for newer favorites.

image

In May, I continued to be all over the place.  I made another secretive interview trip to D.C. – the most stressful one yet, involving bumping into a colleague on the way there, and a nearly-missed connection in Detroit (sprinting in heels to catch the last plane of the night) on the way back.  I liked my end of month travel better – a trip across New York State to visit my parents and spend some time at the lake for Memorial Day!  We also hit up the summit of Mount Greylock and had lunch in Williamstown, Massachusetts – such a fun trip.  Closer to home, we had some fun adventures – a Mother’s Day weekend that included hikes at Tifft Nature Preserve and a 5K race in Ellicottville, New York; a family walk through Reinstein Woods; and a hike at Akron Falls, a park we’d not yet explored.

image

In early June, I got the exciting news that I had a job offer in D.C., and our move was officially underway!  We still kept it under wraps, in case things fell through.  Two days after getting the exciting call from my new firm, I packed up and drove across the state to Lake George for an education law conference.  In between conference sessions and workshops, I managed to spend almost a full day with my college friend Seth – hiking, kayaking, eating delicious crab legs and drinking wine.  Back in Buffalo, we celebrated Father’s Day with another 5K (for me!) and a family hike.

image

July was a blast, as we squeezed as much Buffalo fun in as we could before moving at the end of the month.  Starting with a fun Fourth of July weekend that included playground time, Canalside, berry picking and a family retirement party.  The next weekend, we were out and about again with a special treat for Nugget – Touch A Truck!  I mused on my favorite books of the first half of the year and on my personal tendency to cram as much fun into summer as possible.  Meanwhile, I dedicated the rest of the month to wrapping up work projects and lining up childcare (a school for Peanut; a nanny for Nugget) in northern Virginia.  We closed out the month by throwing an early fourth birthday party for Peanut, so that she could celebrate with her friends, after which I promptly threw my back out putting Nugget in the crib, and then our moving truck rolled out two days later and we officially said goodbye to New York State.

image

August was about resting and reflecting on this big life change that we had brought about.  It was a long journey – eighteen months from the time we first started talking about moving, before Nugget was even born, to turning the key at our new place in Virginia.  And even though we had a house crammed full of boxes and a lot of unpacking and organizing to do, we decided to spend our final week of freedom before I started my new job visiting my friend Rebecca in Virginia Beach.  We spent pretty much the entire week barefoot and covered in sand and it was exactly what we needed.  When we got home, D.C. life started in earnest.  I started work at my new firm.  My cousin Jocelyn came down to watch the kids for two weeks as part of our cobbled-together bridge childcare plan (before the school year started and the nanny was available) and we did our best to induce her to move south – with hikes at Great Falls, visits to the D.C. monuments, and a morning at the Udvar-Hazy Center, not to mention two cute kids.  We also celebrated Peanut’s fourth birthday – can’t believe what a big kid she is!

image

In September, we continued to enjoy being back in northern Virginia and able to visit all of our favorite spots again – including Lake Burke (pictured above), which was one of our regular haunts when we lived here before.  Most of the rest of the month was quiet – filled with settling in.  Nugget got his first haircut and I was a soggy mess.  I reflected on the summer that just ended.  And – the best part of September – my dear Buffalo friend Zan came for a visit.  All in all, September was busy – filled with back to school events and birthday parties – but also quiet, if that makes sense.  It was a lot of the business of living, which was exactly what I wanted after three years of homesickness.

img_5374

If September seemed quiet, October was packed with local fun.  We celebrated Columbus Day weekend with a trip to Little Washington for a few days, where we tasted wine, explored the adorable town, and hiked in Shenandoah National Park.  Back in the D.C. suburbs, we drove out to Loudoun County two weekends in a row for apple picking and then pumpkin picking; had a playdate with a new school friend at a children’s Halloween party hosted by a local historic mansion; and finally went Trick-or-Treating (with our mermaid and fire truck) in Old Town – a month-long funfest that I recapped in one big monster of a post.

img_6095

November was… it happened.  The month started well, with a visit to the Will & Jane exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library.  Then the election happened, and I – like pretty much everyone else I know – was absolutely stunned.  I said everything I needed to say in this post, so no more.  We finished the month with a trip up to my parents’ house for a family funeral and Thanksgiving.  (For the first time since switching from food blogging, I didn’t recap a holiday.  I just didn’t feel like it.  It was good to see family, and the kids had a great time.  That was enough.)

img_6778

After the dumpster fire that was November, we made December all about family fun.  Another visit to Little Washington (for their Christmas parade!), walks to the waterfront to see the holiday boat parade of lights and the waterskiing Santa, and last but not least, Christmas itself.  It was wonderful to celebrate as Virginians again, and looking back on the year I was so grateful that the move home happened as I’d hoped it would.

And now, onward!  Next week, I’ll be reviewing how I did on my 2016 goals and plans (spoiler alert: pretty bad) and setting some new intentions and a word for 2017 – which I can’t tease, because I still don’t know what it will be.  It feels particularly good, this year, to have a fresh start.  Can’t wait to see what 2017 brings to our family (even if I’m a little scared for the world).

Read Full Post »

img_5309

Somehow, we managed to live as avid hikers in the DC area for ten years without ever making it to Shenandoah National Park.  My college alumni club went to the park to hike Old Rag, its most popular peak, twice a year, but I never was able to join the group (it seemed I was always out of town, or running a race, or pregnant, when they would go).  Nor did we ever get there on our own.  Since we love the outdoors and love national parks, this was a huge omission that I was determined to correct as soon as possible when we moved back.  And a few weeks ago, that’s what we did!

img_5325

The most important agenda item for our weekend in Little Washington was a hike in Shenandoah.  Steve and I both researched trails and decided on the trail to Mary’s Rock.  Boots on the ground, and let’s go!

img_5315

We hiked through beautiful wooded trails and I checked out the ferns on the forest floor, thinking of the words from the Shenandoah National Park foliage report the weekend prior to our visit:

Ferns are turning gold –their kelly green fronds brushed lightly now with gold dust, but transforming frond tip by frond tip into the cinnamon and milk chocolate tones they’ll wear in winter.

(Whoever the park has writing the fall foliage reports needs an immediate raise.  I felt like I was reading Henry Beston.)

img_5314

We passed by the foundation of an old cabin, chimney still intact.  I love stumbling upon visual treats like these, and speculating on who lived here and what their lives were like.

img_5328

Finally, we made it to the first overlook.  We spent a few minutes just drinking in the views of the gently rolling slopes and valleys laid out below.

img_5324

From there we hiked on up to the ridge leading to Mary’s Rock, but after about half a mile, Steve and I looked at each other and conceded that we had to turn back without summitting.  A cold wind was whipping all around us, and while we were fine, the kids were both crying in the backpacks.  (Being smaller, and not working up a sweat the way we were, they were feeling the wind.)  It just wasn’t our day.  As soon as we got down off the ridge and back into the more sheltered forest, both kiddos perked up.  And before too long, one of them sacked out.  Too cute.

img_5332

On our way back down the mountain, we stopped to drink in more gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

img_5338

Marveling at this view ^ Steve remarked, “Now I see why they call it the Blue Ridge.”  Indeed!

img_5331

Longtime readers may recall that Steve and I both grew up in or near the Adirondack region in New York State.  I lived in Albany, slightly south of the mountains, and spent countless days at my family’s cabin on the Great Sacandaga Lake.  Meanwhile, Steve was in Glens Falls, in the Adirondack region itself.  We both consider the Adirondacks an important part of our personal stories.  On this trip, we talked about how much we want our kids to grow up with the Blue Ridge Mountains meaning to them what the Adirondacks meant to us.

img_5336

I guess that means we’re just going to have to go back soon and often.  That shouldn’t be a problem!

img_5337

Read Full Post »

image

Supposedly, fall is right around the corner, although you wouldn’t know it from the weather in DC (highs in the high 80s all next week – not that I’m complaining; you will NEVER hear me complain about it’s being too warm, because in my opinion, there is no such thing).  I’m going through the same confusing season change that I do every year at this time – summer and fall are my two favorite seasons, with fall just barely edging out summer, so even though I’m always excited to welcome back hot apple cider, pumpkin picking, Hallowe’en costumes, puffy vests and circle scarves, I’m never quite ready to bid goodbye to summer, either.  The result, as always, is multiple nostalgic posts about the summer that is wrapping up, as I attempt to wring every last bit of golden light from the season.  I’ll have more coming – a few more weeks of Virginia Beach recaps, and my completed summer list – before I’m ready to turn my attention to a new season.  But first, a look back at the season that is on its way out.

image

I know it’s technically spring, if you’re going by equinoxes and solstices, but Memorial Day weekend is the true start of summer for most people (us included).  We spent ours visiting my parents and got in a mountaintop in western Massachusetts, and a day at my parents’ lake house in the Adirondacks.

image

The very next weekend, I was back in the Adirondacks, on business travel to Lake George.

image

It was really rather okay there.

image

We explored our new town – Williamsville, NY – and knowing that our days there were almost certainly numbered, made sure to soak up all the good things about it.  Our favorite spot?  Island Park, for the playground, the sandbox with a fleet of trucks, the farmers’ market, and the library.  Heaven!  We were there every Saturday this summer.

image

On Father’s Day weekend, I ran the 50 Yard Finish 5K.  Hard to believe that two years ago, I crossed this same finish line after 13.1 miles and set a 13 minute PR!

image

Two weeks later, we celebrated America’s birthday in an even bigger sandbox – the EduKids sandbox at Canalside!

image

And Nugget and I took a gorgeous walk through fields of goldenrod at Knox Farm State Park, one of our favorite spots in WNY.

image

Nugget’s life was made complete when we took him to Touch-a-Truck in Williamsville.

image

The rest of July was spent packing our lives and tying up loose ends in Buffalo, in preparation for our move home to Washington, DC.  But we couldn’t go without saying goodbye – and we did it the best way we knew how, by throwing Peanut an early birthday party at the Rose Garden in Delaware Park.  Not all of our friends were able to join us; Peanut suffers from what I call “the curse of the summer birthday” – meaning that someone is always on vacation when we throw her party, and sadly, this year that was her BFF, N, and N’s sweet family.  But many, many people came out to celebrate Peanut and see us off on our next adventure, and we were so grateful.  Most importantly, Zan and Paul were there – more than anyone else, they made our three years in Buffalo, and Peanut’s party wouldn’t have felt complete without them there.  We threw down picnic blankets in the grass and let the kiddos run around on the playground, and it was perfect.

image

And then our moving truck came to load up our lives and drive them south.  It was a stressful move, so the less said about it, the better.

image

The first chance we had – at 9:00 the morning after the movers left – we rolled right back out of DC and down another three hours south, for a week on Virginia Beach.

image

It was exactly the breather I needed before jumping from one stressful job to another (but at least my new stressful job is in DC – home!).

image

Speaking of home, we enjoyed being back.  My cousin Jocelyn came to visit and watch the kids for two weeks, and she’d never been to DC, so we enjoyed showing her around – including a hazy beautiful morning spent wandering the monuments.

image

Jocelyn is an avid hiker (check out her blog!) so we knew we had to show her our favorite spot – Great Falls.  I have been to the park countless times, and I never, ever grow tired of that view.  I rocked the new child carrier backpack (Steve’s and my eleventh anniversary gift to each other) and we carted our backpacks full of baby along our favorite trail.

image

I took my first run on my old favorite running route – the Mount Vernon Trail.  3.1 miles done for the Rock ‘n Roll Making the Band challenge – hot, sticky, and pushing a 25 pound toddler in a 20 pound stroller, and loved every minute of it.  (And yes, I am wearing my race shirt from the Great Pumpkin 5K – jumping the gun a little, but I was in the mood to wear orange, so.)

image

And rekindled my love affair with the King Street Farmers’ Market, thanks to this gorgeous orange and purple mixed bouquet that I got for FIVE DOLLARS.  Amazing, no?

image

Some summer!  Not every moment has been golden and magical, but a lot of them have, and that’s good enough for me.  One of these days (although not anytime soon, I suspect) the nights will start growing cooler, and I’ll be pulling out jeans, smartwool socks and puffy vests again, researching apple orchards and pumpkin patches, and mixing up pots of bean chili for football Sunday.  But in the meantime, I’m reliving summer just a little bit longer.  Care to join me?

Read Full Post »

image

Another weekend, another lakeside adventure!  Two weeks ago I escaped – well, sort of – for a weekend all by myself on Lake George.  It wasn’t a complete escape; I was there to attend a legal conference with a group of my colleagues.  My firm sends folks to the conference, which is held at The Sagamore Resort, every year, but I’d never attended before.  Last year, I was on maternity leave, and the year before, I had a prior commitment and was unable to go – so this year I was determined to attend, do some networking, learn a lot and squeeze in a bit of fun.  The conference is on a very interesting topic and isn’t a heavy lift time-wise – in fact, workshops are only scheduled for half days, and conference attendees are free to enjoy themselves in their ample downtime.  And enjoy myself I did.

image

I arrived on Friday afternoon, after dropping Peanut off for a weekend with her grandparents, who happened to be on my way (sort of) – Nugget was enjoying a boys’ weekend with Daddy at home in Buffalo.  I missed Steve and the kids but was determined to make the most of a weekend in a beautiful place, so I grabbed lunch and lemonade and did a little exploring before making my way to conference registration and the first sessions.

image

The Sagamore was incredible.  I’ve always wanted to stay there but it was never something I could justify.  My parents’ lakeside cabin isn’t far away, and I usually go there for lake fun.  And even when we did take a day trip to Lake George when I was growing up, it was close enough to home that we simply slept in our own beds.  There was never a reason to stay in a hotel – until now!  A conference in my field gave me the perfect opportunity to check off a bucket list item and stay at this incredible historic property.

image

During a break in conference activities on Friday afternoon, I wandered down to the main dock, stretched out on a lounge chair, and spent about an hour staring at this view.  As business travel goes, this is really not too shabby.  Not too shabby at all.

image

On Saturday morning I found a lounge chair on the other side of the dock and enjoyed a different view with my to-go cup of coffee from the conference breakfast buffet.  A good way to start the day, indeed, and I went into morning meetings fortified with beautiful views.

image

I also snapped a picture of these ducklings – so sweet! – and sent it to my mom to share with Peanut.  I’m going to go on record and say that all business travel should involve ducks.

image

After the morning sessions concluded, the conference attendees were set free to enjoy our beautiful surroundings.  (Literally – the afternoon conference agenda said “Golf or tennis.”)  The week prior to the conference, I texted my college friend Seth, who has a house on the lake, to see if he was planning to be in town and was free to hang that afternoon.  Lucky for me, he was in town and up for a friend date!  First stop: the deli, for sandwiches, which we ate on a dock with our feet dangling over the water.

image

Next stop – hiking!  I wanted to hike Prospect Mountain, which is billed as the quintessential hike to do in Lake George.  But Seth had insider info – there was a new trail, just recently opened, with an even better view than the summit of Prospect could boast.  I placed my afternoon in Seth’s capable hands and told him to lead the way.

image

Seth signed us into the trail register – important Adirondack pre-hike ritual, guys!

image

The trail was lovely – not too rocky or boulder-y, and a much easier climb than our last Adirondack adventure up Cascade and Porter.  Such are the benefits of a little-known (new!) trail.

image

We hiked up slowly, chatting away about life and families and politics and books and everything else under the sun, and before I knew it, we were nearing the summit and spotting our first water views through the trees.

image

Not.  Too. Shabby.

image

Good call, Seth!  The view was incredible – we could see a massive expanse of the lake.  Seth grew up on Lake George, in the same way that I grew up on the Sacandaga, and he knows his Lake George geography.  He pointed out Lake George Village, the Sagamore’s private island, the narrows, the other islands, and all of the other sights of importance.

image

We stayed on the mountaintop drinking in the views for about half an hour, then reluctantly turned our backs to the gorgeous vista once we had finally had our fill.  We had planned to head from the Pinnacle to Prospect, but as we looked over the sparkling lake, Seth remarked, “You know… that water looks awfully inviting.”  I was thinking the same thing, and a new afternoon plan was formed…

image

Kayaking!  We ran back to the Sagamore so I could quickly grab a change of clothes, then headed for Seth’s place and his small fleet of kayaks.  Those who know me “in real life” know that I am an avid kayaker – it’s my favorite way to get out on the water.  So how could I say no when Seth suggested a spin around the lake?  He assigned me the red kayak, in honor of our alma mater.

image

We spent about four hours paddling the kayaks over a large loop that included Lake George Village and Tea Island. (I approved of the name.)

image

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Lake George Village, but I’ve never seen it from this perspective!  What fun.

image

As we were paddling back to Seth’s camp, the Minne-Ha-Ha, the most famous of Lake George’s tourist boats, approached us.  I’ve been on the Minne-Ha-Ha, but never had such a great view from another craft!  What a cool experience to see her up close.  We waved to the tourists, who gave us friendly salutes back – a perfect way to end the kayaking excursion.

image

Is there anything better than spending hours out on the water with an old friend?  I think not… well, the one improvement I could imagine would have been to have my family along for the ride as well.  Next time, for sure!  After wrapping up an active afternoon of climbing mountains and paddling for hours, Seth and I were famished.  We decided to eat out instead of grilling; I requested something casual but with a view of the lake, and Seth suggested the Algonquin.  That sounded good to me, and the crab legs I got were perfect.  We finished our evening sipping wine on the gracious veranda back at The Sagamore, laughing about old times and quoting Friends episodes to each other.  Aside from missing Steve (who would have had a blast) and the kids, it was as darn near perfect as a day gets, and pretty much the best “business travel” ever.  Is it too early to sign up for next year’s conference?

Have you ever been to Lake George?

Read Full Post »

Better late than never, right?  We had a fabulous time visiting my parents in Albany over Memorial Day weekend this year – hurray for three day weekends!  As usual, I took hundreds of pictures, and I can’t even share a tenth of them here without crashing everyone’s computers – but I can’t let such a delightful weekend go by without sharing a few highlights.

We took Friday off and drove across the state to start our fun a day early.  When we told my mom that we’d be coming for a visit she planned a fun barbecue with family friends.  Peanut was thrilled to see her Aunt D.

image

And Nugget was thrilled to discover a singing teapot.  He carried it around the entire weekend and it ended up coming back in our suitcase.  (Sorry, Mom.  I didn’t realize until I got home.)

image

On Saturday, my parents planned a fun family outing to Massachusetts!  For those who don’t know upstate geography, Albany is on the far eastern edge of New York State, and trips to western Massachusetts, and to Vermont for that matter, are easy and quick.  We headed for Williamstown, an adorable college town not far from where I grew up.  First stop, though, was the summit of Mount Greylock!

image

We drove up to the top of the mountain (you can hike it, but we wanted to move the day along, and we hadn’t brought our hiking gear anyway).  On our way up, we paused at an overlook and took in the views of Adams, Massachusetts.  Gorgeous!

image

Nugget, as usual, was unimpressed.

image

At the top of the mountain, we found a little trail leading from the parking area to the summit and its expansive views.  Peanut attempted to hitch a ride…

image

And soon we saw this inspiring sight!

image

Truly spectacular.  Nugget was still unimpressed.

image

It takes a lot to get his approval.  He’s got high standards.  Especially for a baby.

image

Summit family!

image

We spent a good hour, at least, on the summit – exploring, snapping pictures, picking flowers.  My parents made a new friend (everywhere we go…) and Peanut was her fabulous self.

image

image

I was excited to discover a few boulders scattered around the summit area, carved with quotes from famous authors who had visited and loved Mount Greylock.  Including Thoreau!

image

He’s the godfather of introverts.  I bow to you, greatest of all hermits.

From Greylock, we headed into Williamstown proper.  Steve had never been there (how had I not taken him?) and I waxed rhapsodic about Clark Art Institute and Williams College on the car ride into the town.  He loved it and was impressed by the way the gorgeous, historic college town seemed to pop up out of the wilderness.  That’s western Massachusetts for you!  I love it there and really should spend more time exploring.  Note to self.

After a tasty lunch at the Purple Pub (those fried pickle slices!) we headed back to my parents’ house.  The kids napped in the car, and they were ready for some serious water play when we rolled up the driveway.

image

It’s not a party until you have watered your babies.

image

Nana set up a sprinkler for Peanut to run through, but she wasn’t into it.  Saw that coming.  Nugget, however, enjoyed his watering can shower.

image

And some beach ball time.  Followed by ice cream, of course.

image

Nana brought a small bowl of vanilla for Nugget and a medium bowl of chocolate for Peanut.  Peanut had no interest in eating – why would you want ice cream when there are so many things to pour water on? – so Nugget polished off both bowls.  The kid was seriously messy and seriously sugar-high after that.

image

Chocolate monster face!

image

The next day, I escaped for a two hour long coffee and catch-up date with J, my best friend from high school.  We’ve both had some major life changes since the last time we chatted and we had a lot of catching up to do.  I love the way we are able to pick up the conversation as if from yesterday, no matter how many months go by without a phone call.  (We both have kids and busy schedules, and while I knew we both wish we saw each other more, and talked to each other a lot more, we do the best we can.  It’s good to have a friendship that you can depend on no matter how much time goes by.)  After chatting for way too long – considering I had folks waiting on me – I rushed back to my parents’ house and we headed for… the LAKE!

image

No summertime visit to Albany is complete without a day spent on the Sacandaga.  My parents have a cabin there, and it’s our favorite summer spot.  Unfortunately, the weather forecast for the afternoon was not cooperative.  Weather gods, you need to appreciate my schedule a little better!

image

We hadn’t been there long before the storm clouds started to roll in.

image

But we still managed to get in a little outdoor play time and quite a few pictures before moving inside for the rest of the afternoon.  My parents had picked my grandmother up on the way, and she was thrilled to see the kids.  She hadn’t seen Nugget since last July!  It had been way too long – he’s changed a lot since then.  I wish we didn’t live so far away…

image

When the rain broke, Nugget did some SUPing.  Just kidding.  But he’s almost ready to get out on the lake!  I’m sure we’ll be getting back there before too long.  Before I know it, he’ll be zipping around in his own little kayak!

No pictures from Monday – but I managed to pack more fun into the morning before we had to head back to Buffalo.  I snuck away for another coffee date – this time with the lovely Christine – and we had a delightful hour sipping coffee and chatting as hard as we could in a cute local coffeehouse she’d recently discovered.  After what didn’t seem like nearly enough time, I had to break away and head back to my parents’ house to pick up my mom and Nugget for a visit with my other grandmother.  Nugget thought her wheelchair was a truck and appreciatively shouted “vroom vroom!” every time we moved.  It was hilarious, and also a little heartbreaking, because I wish she could see him every weekend.

And so ended a very full weekend – full of friends, full of family, full of food.  I left with a fuller camera roll and lots of memories.  Until the next visit!

How was your Memorial Day?  Did you travel or host visitors?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »