Christmas Eve dinner with all my favorite guys at our favorite Chinese place.
Category Archives: Hiking
I’ve had a really busy month. There was a wedding in Buffalo, a weekend wine fest in Rhinebeck and two Albany events last Saturday. I’m not complaining about the state of my social/work calendar at all, but I do feel as though Jeter has been a little neglected recently and I can’t coast on his Wellfleet week forever. So, Sunday afternoon he and I took a drive out to Altamont to the Bozen Kill Preserve for a little quality time together.
How I came to select this particular spot is kind of funny. I knew I wanted to get him outdoors for a hike, but was unwilling to drive any real distance. As I was considering where I might take him, my Facebook feed offered up a recent CivMix post and the first option struck all the right notes – not too far, welcoming to dogs and with the added bonus of clean water for my boy to take a dip. After Waze-ing the drive, we were off.
The ride was pleasant with hints of fall’s shades of orange and red just starting to make a splash in the foliage. I don’t drive out that way very often and am uncertain what surprised me more – how very crowded Indian Ladder Farms is or the fact that someone thought it was a good idea to increase the speed limit to 55 mph just before this way-too-popular place is visible. Someone really should re-examine that decision.
After another few minutes and a series of turns we were past any apple picking crowds and parked in a small lot that contained only one other vehicle. We was in the country! Leashed and ready, Jeter bounded out of the wagon and I signed us in at the nearby trailhead and off we went, following the white trail across the field and into the woods.
Our path was well marked with the occasional mild incline. Once we were about 10 minutes up the trail, the sound of cars faded and we were alone with only the birds and the occasional tiny toad for company. As far as humans, we only encountered one family on our walk. giving me the sense that I had traveled far further than a mere 15 miles.
I’ve been planning vacations for long time. Usually it’s pretty simple – pick a destination, figure out which airport/airline makes the most sense and then find a place to stay. Easy. Last year I upped the ante by putting a trip involving 4 cities in 3 countries together, but that seems effortless now when compared to this year’s challenge…
I’m struggling a bit with this year’s Fabulous Lilly Boy Annual Trip. It’s feeling complicated and a little overwhelming, and so I’m coming here to ask for some help, friends.
Tell me about Greece.
Middle son and I plan to spend 10-12 days there in early summer and I tense up each time I think about the number of details involved in independently booking a trip to multiple islands. With acceptable and reliable transportation between islands, of course.
Friends have mentioned their favorite spots and some recommendations, and I appreciated that very much. What I’m hoping for now is a bit more specific. Can anyone share a suggested itinerary of islands (ideally 2, in addition to a night in Athens on either end of the trip) which includes islands which have beautiful beaches, chill atmosphere, trails to hike or run, and good food? I’m totally open to doing day trips to smaller islands, but want to minimize the amount of time I’ll need to be on a boat. I am not a good sailor.
So? What do you have? Please – be specific and share suggestions and experience. I’d appreciate it!
When I travel I refuse to overbook myself or make too many specific plans, preferring to be flexible because it’s vacation and having a rigid schedule sort of contradicts that concept for me. Prior to departing from home, I familiarize myself with some of the offerings and attractions available at my destination and try to determine what might need to be booked in advance. It sucks when there’s something you might want to experience when you’re visiting a new (or favorite) place only to learn that reservations needed to be made ahead of time – think the statue of David in Florence or the Washington Memorial in D.C.
Beyond those sort of points of interest, I’m all about getting a feel for a place, figuring out what can be accomplished without sacrificing my vacation vibe and seeing how the local weather influences which activities can be enjoyed. On this trip, my focus has been spending time with a dear friend, but I did have a couple of items on my hope-to-do list. On Friday I knocked two of them off.
I began with Joshua Tree National Park, a place I’ve never been before. As a person who considers U2’s 1987 album an absolute desert island record, checking out JTNP has long interested me. Unfortunately, the current government shutdown, along with a fierce and cold wind, made for a less than ideal visit. There weren’t any guided tours or services available and I was hesitant to hike any distance solo, so my explorations were limited to a short walk and some clambering up rock piles to access the best views – and what views there were! Every direction beckoned and I had to remind myself to not allow the vistas to tempt me into going further into the park (and away from where I had parked) in an attempt to see what might be visible from a different angle.
The wind was numbing and my hands were stiff from the cold, but the hour or so I spent looking around, climbing and shooting photos provided an introduction to a fantastic national resource that I hope to visit again under better conditions. With teeth nearly chattering, I made for my car and a destination that promised to warm me up – Miracle Springs Resort & Spa in Desert Hot Springs. I needed to soak.
It wasn’t easy to find a spot that offered mineral baths with a day use option, but the established Miracle Springs met my requirements of convenient location, multiple outdoor pool options and not expensive since I only planned to indulge myself for an hour or two. This place checked all the boxes and the $14 daily use fee was just what I was looking to spend. If you’re hoping for fancy this may not be the resort for you, but, if you’re satisfied with hot, bubbling water, sunshine on your face and a view of the mountains, perhaps you’ll be content. I was. Bonus if you, like me, enjoy a dry sauna because there are even a couple of those available. Not luxurious, but more than serviceable and a great way to warm up on a cool, high desert day.
The other afternoon I hit the hills for a hike/run. The sun was warm and I was comfortable in a tank top and capri length pants – a treat to someone who has been layering up in UnderArmour for the past couple of months.
I made it up the first long, steep hill without pause, using my technique of only looking up to the top of the hill once before training my gaze to the ground more immediately in front of me. I find this A. helps me to not get intimidated by how much farther I have to go and B. limits my likelihood of tripping and falling down.
The next hill leveled me. Hands on knees, gasping, I took a moment to look around. The San Jacinto mountains divided the horizon between sky and desert and I was struck by my incredible good fortune. I got to be here, right now, stretching my legs and challenging myself by running up a friggin killer hill in the sunshine. How lucky was I?
As my breathing evened out, I considered that in 2018 I’ve run surrounded by some pretty incredible mountain views – Vesuvius, the Austrian Alps and now these brown mountains dusted with snow in the distance. My eyes welled up and a tear leaked out before I burst out laughing. What a gift, what a life, what a day.
I took a deep breath and started running again.
Yesterday I spent a lot of time on my feet exploring and reacquainting myself with Palm Springs. In the morning, I hoofed it to Palm Canyon Drive to wander along the wide avenue, browsing shop windows and people watching. The cloudless blue sky and mild temperatures made it easy to lose myself for a couple of hours and I really enjoyed my alone time.
Later in the day, my friend R and I drove to meet a friend of hers for a walk, that is a walk for me to take with R’s friend, J. An MS diagnosis has caused my friend to curtail her activities and she wanted to give me a chance to exert myself, so naturally a hike with 80 year-old J was just what I needed. Um, ok.
I’ve walked and run these trails before and they are no bullshit. The grade can be pretty steep, the trail is often quite wide, but equally rutted and rocky and the surface is an unsympathetic sandy dirt. Introductions were made and a remarkably fit and youthful J and I headed up the hill in the warm sunshine.
It turns out that J, a retired Canadian teacher-librarian (!), and I immediately hit if off. Our conversation, between catching our breath from the demands of the trail, was easy and comfortable. We talked about sons and husbands and divorce and politics and life and the time flew by. Her fitness was impressive and she told me how conscientiously she has worked to stay active, how it hasn’t been easy but she feels rewarded by her efforts. She was a marvel.
We made our way down the hill to meet R, who we were going to walk a bit back up the hill with to cool down. As we collected R, another woman familiar to my friends joined us, E. Walking poles in hand with eyes of the brightest blue, E, another active 80 year-old, became part of our posse. I learned she was a retired physical therapist and it seems, judging from her level of fitness, she was good at her job. E made some suggestions to me to work on my bothersome piriformis muscle and shared some thoughts on staying active. Her walk with us was her second time of the day to hit the hill and she said it wasn’t unusual for her to visit the trail three times in a day. Wow.
Growing old can be daunting. We don’t do a great job taking care of the aged in our country and I could really get myself freaked out about staying independent and healthy, but after my time yesterday afternoon, I’m feeling more inspired and positive than I’ve ever been previously about what 70 or 80 might look like. Honestly, I’m hoping to grow up and become Rose.