A day at the aquarium

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I can’t believe my vacation is halfway over!  Sigh…  As much as I love my program, I’m not sure that one week is long enough to give my brain a true rest!  Ah well.  I’m making the most of things this week, trying to balance some work with some fun stuff.

One of my fun activities this week was a trip to the Mystic Aquarium!  I’ve wanted to go there for years, but it’s about 2 hours away and the New England Aquarium in Boston (much closer!) is usually enough to satisfy my need to periodically see penguins, rays, and colorful fish!

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Let me tell you – it was worth the trip!  Since it was a weekday, the crowds were minimal (in fact, we were often able to enjoy the exhibits alone or with only 1-2 other people).  The facility was clean and the staff seemed eager to share their knowledge about the various animals/exhibits.  The exhibits are mature enough for adults to enjoy, but they are also very kid-friendly.  Some have crawl spaces under the tanks for kids to climb inside (for a unique view!).  There are also some tanks close to the ground, and all of the tanks extend down nearly to floor level – the kiddos can get a great view without help!  The only downside to our trip was that we didn’t realize how much of the aquarium was actually outside – there’s a large area with Beluga whales, sea lions, and penguins.  While I loved getting to see those animals, I felt like I didn’t get to enjoy them as much as I would have liked since I left my coat in the car.  Whoops.  As the weather gets warmer, I’d like to go again and spend a little more time at the outdoor exhibits.

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Like most aquariums, the Mystic Aquarium is clearly focused on conservation and species survival.  There are signs throughout the facility that explain some of the aquarium’s conservation efforts, and the staff seemed enthusiastic about these types of causes.

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Jeb and I will definitely return to the aquarium – especially as the weather warms up, and definitely with Talia!  I tried to take some photos, but, as you can see, it is hard to get clear shots through thick acrylic!  Ah well.  🙂

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Dreaming of Spring

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It’s Spring Break!  Granted, it doesn’t feel like spring around here – in fact, my weather app tells me that it currently feels like 5º F.  Awesome.  This winter has been long and brutal, and I’m definitely starting to get the itch for warmer weather.

Since I’m the proud new owner of a macro lens, I bought some flowers and decided to play around and get comfortable with it!  I definitely have some work to do, but the exercise was fun and helped to brighten my day.  Spring doesn’t feel so far away after all!

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Bash Bish Falls State Park

In the same area as Mt. Everett (the Mount Washington State Reservation), there are multiple state parks.  The day we hiked Mt. Everett, we didn’t have time to check out any of the surrounding parks, but we were pretty curious about Bash Bish Falls State Park.  According to the website, Bash Bish Falls is the largest single drop waterfall in Massachusetts (yes, I know – not saying much).  While the falls were nice, we also really loved some of the surrounding trails.

There are two parking areas – one in MA and one in NY.  These parking areas are only about a mile apart, and I highly recommend checking out both areas.  The hike down to the falls from the MA lot is very steep and strenuous, but there is also a short, steep hike UP from the parking lot to a scenic viewing area.  We liked the view so much that we went back again just after sunset to take another look.

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Same view, but sunset!

Same view, but sunset!

There was also a small trail off to the side of the parking lot that led down to the river (not sure what it is called, but it’s the one that feeds into the Falls).  No one else was down there, and we really enjoyed the quiet!  There’s nothing like the sound of rushing water for stress relief – plus, the dogs liked swimming in the calmer areas.

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After a couple hours hanging out by the river, we drove over to the NY parking area and hiked about a mile uphill to the falls.  It was a nice, relaxing hike with a wide and smooth trail.  We had to cross the state line (back into MA) to get back to the falls, and were excited to find that we were the only people there.  Apparently, the falls are very crowded in the summer, but it was quiet when we were there – likely because it was 7 p.m.!

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All-in-all, we had a great day!  The hiking wasn’t overly strenuous, which was relaxing (in a way), but we were rewarded for our efforts.  Plus, the dogs had a great time, and I had some fun playing with my camera!

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Mt. Everett

We went hiking this weekend at Mt. Everett State Reservation in southwestern MA.  It is part of a (free) state forest area, and delightfully quiet (we only saw one other couple hiking the entire time – and that was at the very beginning!).  Despite the heat (it was 90+ close to home, though the temperature dropped as we got into the mountains), we were able to get in a good workout, great views, and a little break from the craziness everyday life.  Of course, we took lots of precautions to keep our pups cool!

Duke and I at the summit!

Duke and I at the summit!

We really liked this hike.  There was a pond close to the parking area (where Jeb and the dogs took a swim), and the trail (which is part of the Appalachian Trail) was easy to follow and had lots of interesting features.  The parking area is partway up to the summit, but we took the “Guilder’s Pond Trail” the rest of the way.  The trail begins with a fire road and switches to singletrack about halfway up.  There’s an AT shelter and nice overlook (with a bench!) around the same area that the trail changes.

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With lots of stops, the entire hike to the summit (2900+ feet) only took about 45 minutes.  There is lots of vegetation at the summit, and a lovely view of NY, CT, and MA (since the mountain is situated in the SW corner of the state).  Along the trail, we saw plenty of wildlife – a turtle, frogs, mudpuppies (in the pond), and a rabbit!  There are warnings that rattlesnakes and black bears live in the area, and I am NOT disappointed that I didn’t see any of those!

All-in-all, we had a great day – there are some other natural attractions (including the largest waterfall in Massachusetts), so we are definitely planning to head back to the area and check out some other trails.

Turtle!

Turtle!

Jeb - surveying his domain

Jeb – surveying his domain

Dogs love to climb!

Dogs love to climb!

The whole singletrack section was interesting and picturesque.

The whole singletrack section was interesting and picturesque.

Duke wanted proof that he summitted Mt. Everett! :)

Duke wanted proof that he summitted Mt. Everett! 🙂

Miller State Park

Last weekend, we decided to head out for our first big hike of the season!  We went to Miller State Park in New Hampshire to hike Pack Monadnock.  We chose this hike for a couple of reasons:

  1. It is dog-friendly!  We love to hike with our dogs (shocking, I know).  The regular (and more famous) Mount Monadnock does not allow dogs.
  2. Since it is close to a really popular mountain in the area (Mount Monadnock), Miller State Park (and Pack Monadnock) do not generally have the same kinds of crowds.
  3. It is relatively close to home (about 45 minutes away), but not so close that it is a hike we tackle often.
  4. It is a long and challenging hike (there is even some scrambling involved… well, if you’re short like me!)

 

We had a great day!  The dogs had a blast, and Jeb and I had a great workout.  The trails were nice and quiet, and the views were spectacular.  There is a fire tower at the summit, and I love to climb up to the top and take photos.  The only downside, really, was the mud.  It had rained for a solid week here, and the trails were a bit muddy.  Not only did the mud attract LOTS of mayflies, but I also slipped and fell while scrambling up some rocks.  I’m fine, but I do have a nasty bruise on my thigh.  Whoops.

I missed out on a lot of hiking last summer because of my injury.  This year, I plan to try lots of new trails! 🙂  Here are some pictures from our day.

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Snowy Day

It’s snowing again!  I’m getting a little bit sick of winter, but the snow does look very pretty sticking to the trees outside my house.  Spring is on my mind, though.  I love taking photos of flowers (much to Jeb’s chagrin!), and looking at them reminds me that spring/summer is coming.  I can’t wait!

Quick updates:

  • I have had a bit of trouble hitting my stride again (see what I did there? 🙂) after my last recovery week.  Between the kitchen flooding (and all the headaches that come with that), an obscene amount of homework, and planning my sister’s bridal shower, I have just been swamped.  That being said, I made it out for a few short runs.  I’m just not hitting my typical mileage.
  • New nutrition strategy is working well, I think.  First weigh-in will be tomorrow, then I will adjust accordingly.  Overall, I am feeling better than I had before – I think I really needed to tighten down on my diet, even more than I had realized!
  • I’m still concerned about my speed.  I think my endurance is pretty solid, though I will definitely have to maintain/improve that a bit before my race.  My biggest obstacle, though, is getting back up to speed after my injury.  I’m trying to work on stride rate now, and will add hills and more specific speedwork once the roads are dry/safe.
  • Cross-training is going great!  Once my back is 100% better, I think I will do at least one heavy powerlifting cycle.  I miss it.

And, to help you think about spring too, here are some flowers!

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