Sunday Funday at Lake Massabesic

A peek at Lake Massbesic from behind the trees

Or is it technically Massabesic Lake? Either way, a spring Sunday was well-spent while trekking the trails around this beautiful spot yesterday. After a morning being lazy indoors, my friend Amanda texted me to see if I was interested in going on a nature excursion that afternoon. Since there was not a cloud in the sky and it was a perfect temperature (not too hot, not too cool), there was no way I could say no to some fresh air. After meeting at her house we headed to Auburn, NH and found the lake and a parking lot around it. Off we headed to the trails!

Me and Amanda on our excursion!

Lake Massabesic actually spreads into two areas in New Hampshire, the town of Auburn and the city line of Manchester. The lake is incredibly blue and very pristine looking, as according to the Manchester, NH website, it “collects and stores water from rainfall or melting snow that provides drinking water for 159,000 people in the regional Manchester area” (www.manchesternh.gov).

My attempt at a panoramic shot of the lake…a little lopsided, but still captured the beauty nicely! P.S. As mentioned above, Lake Massabesic provides drinking water, and boats like the ones pictured here are not allowed in restricted area of the lake. Also, no swimming allowed! ūüôā

I wanted to take some time and disconnect from the technological world, and I didn’t capture any photos of inside the trails. However, the trails were pretty, clean, and not difficult¬†to walk through.¬†I’d say they are suitable for families of all ages. Some of the trails are more in¬†the woods; you may be stepping over logs or muddy spots, going through leaf piles, etc. The other option on the part of the lake we were located at was to walk the Rockingham Recreational Rail Trail, which is¬†more open and easily walkable, very convenient¬†for biking and running. Lots of people were walking dogs while we were out – these are the perfect trails to bring your pup to, as long as you keep them on a leash. Amanda and I tried both types of trails on our walk.

Nothing but blue skies (and blue water) yesterday on Lake Massabesic

The Rockingham Recreational Trail¬†seemed to go on forever. From what I’ve realized via some Google searches, it goes¬†through several towns.¬†I’d say we did about a 2.5 mile trek. I would have definitely kept going because that’s not too far, except having stayed at Nick’s parents’ house while visiting the night before, I didn’t have any sneakers with me! I had to be content with borrowing a pair of Amanda’s boots…and she is a size or more¬†smaller than me. Yikes! My right foot was okay, but my left foot which is bigger started forming a blister after awhile. Now I’ll remember to always keep¬†¬†a pair of sneakers in my car for times like this!

If you’re in the Manchester/Auburn, NH area and are looking to reconnect with nature in a not too strenuous way, I highly recommend the¬†trails around Lake Massabesic. You can either walk the Rockingham Recreational Trail and the other trails around it, or you can also walk the Massabesic Audubon Trails. Visit this website for more details about the Rockingham Trail and how to access it, and visit this website for more about the Massabesic Audubon Center area.

Happy Trails! ūüôā

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Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Most of my life, and especially¬†after the driving years began, I held a disdain for the snow. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking how a diehard New Englander could possibly be unappreciative of what usually feels like the longest season of the year in these parts. But, I know I’m not the only one here who felt this way. That all changed when I saw the Salem, Massachusetts area in the snow. Salem is the most magical, most beautiful city¬†to live in scenic-wise¬†in the winter, in my humble opinion. This historic place takes on an otherworldly snowglobe-like feeling once those flakes start sticking to the scenery.

One of my photos of the Salem Common, quiet, serene, and otherworldly in the snow.

One of my photos of the Salem Common, quiet, serene, and otherworldly in the snow.

These days, no longer in college, I’m lucky enough to live close to downtown and the snow does not stop us from being able to walk around in this winter wonderland in close proximity¬†to our favorite bars, restaurants and shops. It’s fun to sit inside a cozy spot, imbibing in a few drinks, maybe playing some darts, as the snow falls outside. However, the real fun lies in walking around the Salem Common. The Common is beautiful no matter what time of year, but it is absolutely heavenly on days when the snow is coming down. On these days, I will just run around it with the excitement of a child, observing the beauty and trying to unsuccessfully capture it in a photo, because no picture really does it justice. It is one of those scenes where you just have to stare long enough so you can remember it in your mind’s eye rather than on your phone.

The trees on the side of the Common closest to downtown have beautiful white lights that add to the ambiance. Combined with the lights coming off of the wreaths on the windows of the historic Hawthorne Hotel, a prettier picture can’t be found. Last night, Nick and I just walked and stared in wonder. Nick took a couple pictures, which with an older phone and low light aren’t the greatest,¬†but at least they are something! They are a memory of the happiness we felt last night, being with each other and feeling lucky enough to live in such a place.

Nick and I, happy to be walking in a winter wonderland!

Nick and I, happy to be walking in a winter wonderland!

Just posing!

If you ever get the chance to spend time in Salem, Massachusetts in the winter, I highly recommend it. There are still lots of fun activities going on; this weekend is Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival, and during Christmas there is Holiday Happenings, although I can’t always guarantee snow will be here during the holidays (but it’s still gorgeous around the area). Even last year, when New England had the snowiest¬†winter on record and everyone was sick of it, Nick and I stayed at a hotel in Salem on Valentine’s Day (we hadn’t moved to our apartment yet) and it was still ¬†breathtaking, with feet on feet of snow! This winter, I really don’t want that much snow again, but I don’t regret what we do have. Each season is a God-given gift, and I don’t want to take any of them for granted!

Want to see more pictures of my adventures around New England? Follow along on Instagram at newenglandstateofmind!

Saturday Scenes Around Salem

How lucky have we in New England (or at least the southern parts of the region) been getting with this December warm streak? Yes, I’m a lifelong New Englander, but it doesn’t make me any more a fan of winter. I merely tolerate it ūüôā Today has a high of nearly 60 degrees, so after getting breakfast at the always amazing Red’s, Nick and I walked around our city of Salem.

I took a few pictures to capture some fun and pretty sights of today. Enjoy!

A festive wreath stands out amongst the very classic New England look of this old building, which is located next to Salem’s oldest graveyard, The Burying Point.

Another wreath welcomes the season and matches this pretty evergreen door perfectly. Something about doors, especially when decorated, are so eye-catching and entrancing!

I cannot help but take a stroll along the water every time it’s nice out. We in New England need to make the most of these days, because we do know what furious winter weather the following months will bring! This photo looks out along Collins Cove, under a pretty blue sky.

A pretty view can be found looking out amongst the reeds. These forms of plant life themselves add a nice beachy touch to the landscape. I absolutely love this neighborhood. Thanks, Mother Nature, for being especially nice to us this week!

Portland Part 2

The other day, I posted about our trip to Portland, Maine for our¬†2nd anniversary – click here to read about our first night!¬†Today I’ll be sharing all the details of our second fun-filled night in this beautiful coastal city.

breakfast

We had a little¬†too¬†much fun at Top of the East the night before, so we wanted to start our day off with a hearty pick-me-up. After doing some research into top breakfast spots around Portland, we chose The Front Room on Congress Street. It had a cute country, rustic vibe to the atmosphere, and I thoroughly enjoyed my 3-egg omelet with ham, peppers, and cheddar cheese with a side of homefries. I must say, I also enjoyed the mimosa selection, and my apple cider mimosa…a little hair of the dog, as they say!

view from hill

After a filling breakfast, we headed toward Fort Allen Park which has the most beautiful views of Casco Bay. As you can see above, the view from the top of the hill was as pretty as a painting, and of course, even nicer in person!

path

Once down the hill, you can admire the views from close up as you walk along the Eastern Promenade Trail. We took this path all the way into downtown, seeing some interesting sights on the way.

train

We were passed (and I was scared by) a honking train, filled with tourists, as it made its way down tracks beside us.

Portland is a destination for many luxury cruise ships as they travel up to Canadian waters. We spotted a massive ship docked in the bay alongside where we were walking. I’m sure this generates quite a bit in tourism money for the city.

Is this not the cutest little guy you’ve ever seen? Once we arrived closer to the downtown, there was a farmers’ market of sorts going on near the path. I saw this little goat and just had to take a picture. His name is Rumplestiltskin and he is a dwarf goat who lives at Sylvan Woods Farm in Poland, Maine. Two people from the farm were there with him, selling goat’s milk soaps and products (great for the skin!) and let me grab a picture. I can see a dwarf goat as a pet in my future…

donut sign

When we first arrived downtown, I was craving ice cream, but the place we stopped into was cash only, which we didn’t have. It was then that fate intervened and I remembered being recommended to visit The Holy Donut, a glorious donut shop in Old Port that makes their donuts with real Maine potato. So it was there we headed! We arrived just in time, as a long line formed behind us once we were inside this heavenly scented shop. However, it was run like clockwork and the line kept moving.

As we got closer to the counter, we were under the gun to choose a flavor, so I went with Sea Salt Dark Chocolate and Nick chose Maine Blueberry. We were extremely glad that we ran out of cash and remembered The Holy Donut recommendation! We would have missed out on a wonderful treat otherwise.

After satisfying the sweet tooth, we decided to grab a drink at Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub. They had a nice selection of¬†their own craft beers, and I went with the Halloween Ale while Nick chose the Best Bitter Ale. It was a welcoming spot to grab a lunchtime pint, perfectly brewed.

grittys

I wasn’t hungry while we were at Gritty McDuff’s but I was afterwards once we did some more walking around, of course! It was then that we stopped into Old Port Tavern. To my good fortune, they had Haddock Chowder on the menu, which I had been thinking about since my first time trying it the night before. I never find haddock chowder anywhere else so I thought, might as well maximize my ability to get it while I can!

haddock chowder 2

The decor and feel of Old Port Tavern was under-the-sea nautical themed, and it seemed like a place where you can watch a big game, have some fun-loving chatter with the people around you, and grab a good drink and some chow.

bar

We did some souvenir shopping following our stop at Old Port Tavern, and Nick bought a sweatshirt to keep warm because we were about to board for a Sunset Lighthouse Cruise with Portland Discovery Land and Sea Tours! We arrived early to get in line for better seats and we were able to sit in the front row of the top of the boat, close to the tour guide and captain’s quarters.

We embarked on a beautiful journey to learn more about Portland and all its coastal scenery and history. It was a fun tour and I learned so much more about the area, thanks to our great guide and captain. We were even able to spot some animal life, including a couple of adorable seals on rocks! Oh, and having a bar on the boat was nice too ūüėČ ¬†I captured a few nice views below before my phone sadly died or I would have posted more lighthouse-related pictures!

tour 1

tour 2

Nick caught this up-close shot of one of the lighthouses we learned about on our tour. A family of, I believe, nine used to live here. Can you imagine raising that large of a family at a lighthouse? It would be a life unlike no other, I’d imagine!

other lighthouse

A word of advice if you ever take this cruise: BRING WARM CLOTHES. I can’t stress that enough. Although it was a warm day, it was MUCH colder out there on the water. I thought I was prepared with a jacket, but a jean jacket didn’t cut it! Other than that, I had a wonderful time aboard.

After getting off the boat and getting our land legs back, we headed out in search of somewhere to have dinner in the city. We walked around and around until we agreed upon a meal on the pretty patio of Timber Steakhouse and Rotisserie.

timber sign

The drink menu was large, with many flavorful cocktails and an excellent wine selection, but unfortunately I was all cocktailed/beer’d out for the night and stuck to water. Instead, I focused on the food and ordered Cornbread Fritters for an appetizer and Slow Roasted 1/2 Rotisserie Chicken with a side of mashed potatoes for the main course.

The Cornbread Fritters were a great¬†choice for an appetizer, not too filling but good enough to share between the two of us with a yummy spicy remoulade to go with them. I love rotisserie chicken any night of the week, and this one was especially tasty as it was, according to the menu, “brined in maple bourbon, rosemary and garlic for 24 hours then slowly roasted to perfection”. Nick ordered the Hard Apple Cider Glazed Baby Back Ribs from the appetizer menu for his main meal and devoured it. I tried a bite as well, and it was certainly satisfying.

Unfortunately, my phone was¬†long dead at this point so I couldn’t take any pictures of our meal. Just know, it was worth the¬†argument we got into trying to decide upon what we wanted for dinner before we came across Timber! This was mainly because we hadn’t set out with a plan (my fault) and didn’t make reservations anywhere so waits were very long. Luckily, Timber had a nice big patio ¬†aside of indoor seating, so¬†we were able to be seated instantly there and it all worked out nicely.

nick and i

We were so tired out from all the activity (and hearty food and libations) of the past two days that following dinner, we called it a night and took a cab back to the hotel where we promptly fell asleep before 11pm. When we woke up the next day, it was raining out so we thought it best to head home and get back to our regular lives. I’ll always remember what fun we had on our first trip to Portland, and I’m already looking forward to the next time we can make a trip back to try out even more of the top-notch ¬†restaurants and coastal excitement that this awesome city has to offer!

Featured:
The Front Room – 73 Congress Street, Portland, ME, 207.773.3366
Sylvan Woods Farm Р 207.330.8368
The Holy Donut – (2 locations) 194 Park Ave. and 7 Exchange St., Portland, ME
Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub Portland¬†– 396 Fore Street, Portland, ME, 207.772.BREW
 The Old Port Tavern Р11 Moulton Street, Portland, ME, 207.774.7016
Portland Discovery Land and Sea Tours – Long Wharf, Portland, ME, 207.774.0808
Timber Steakhouse and Rotisserie – 106 Exchange Street, Portland, ME, 207.805.1469

Entering: Ipswich, Massachusetts

A sign for the Choate Bridge in Ipswich, built in 1764

A sign for the Choate Bridge in Ipswich, built in 1764

Here on the North Shore of Massachusetts, we are spoiled with the amount of classic New England charm and beauty we are surrounded by in our towns and cities. All of these places are accessible to one another either by highway or by scenic back road drives, which I prefer taking on nice days. This past weekend, we had one day that felt exceptionally fall-like (my favorite season) and it pained me to think about the possibility of spending the day indoors. I HAD to get outside, and I had the notion to drive to the town of Ipswich and walk around. I’m not quite sure what led me to choose this specific town (perhaps it was because during my time in college I rarely visited it besides to hang out at Crane Beach) but whatever the reason, Nick and I packed ourselves into my car and headed down Route 1A for a little Sunday adventure.

A beautiful breeze was blowing as we drove with the windows down. We made our way towards the downtown and I found a parking spot across from the police station. The great thing about visiting other places on Sunday? No parking meter fees ūüôā We started to walk around, the sun beaming down on us and barely a cloud in the sky. It was nearing the evening hours and as I mentioned, it was a Sunday, so unfortunately a lot of shops were closing, but that was okay. I just wanted to walk around and admire the scenery! We approached the Choate Bridge, constructed in 1764. ¬†There was a sign announcing this (see the photo at the top of this post), as well as an original carving in one of the stones.

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I have always loved the thought of walking over these old bridges and knowing how many other generations of New Englanders have done the exact same thing. If you’re curious about the history of this bridge (or of Ipswich in general), you can read all about it on this fascinating blog, Stories from Ipswich.

We continued to walk and look at the different shops that the town has to offer. There is a shop to suit every interest in Ipswich, including many antique stores with one-of-a-kind finds!

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I had to take a picture of the sign for this shop – my mom’s name is Carole and we don’t often see it spelled with the “e”!

As we made our way through the downtown, we spotted many restaurants and food places we would like to try if we hadn’t had a big lunch before coming to Ipswich. One of these includes SALT Kitchen and Rum Bar, a gastropub that I’ve heard great things about – and how could I pass up rum? It is my liquor of choice after all. We will certainly be back to see what it’s all about, but at the moment we were walking, all I could think about was ice cream in some form. As I had this in mind, we passed a sign outside of The Five Corners Cafe and Deli which advertised ice cream cookie sandwiches – my absolute favorite. I just about sprouted wings with how fast I went inside and ordered one, chocolate chip with vanilla ice cream. So delicious. I’m craving one even as I write.

Such a satisfying treat!

With treat in hand, I meandered along back the way of the car with Nick to see what else we could find. At the end of the street we parked on, we came across the Benjamin Grant house, circa 1735, on the corner. This house is a wonderful example of 18th century  architecture and has been very well-kept. I love houses in this exact style.

benjamin grant house

Across the street from the Benjamin Grant House was a grassy landing along the Ipswich River. We sat on a bench under a shady tree and watched ducks float along the river and enjoyed such a peaceful late summer afternoon.

pretty spot

Further along the street was Sawmill Point, which, according to the sign, “was the location of “gristmills, fulling mills, and sawmills powered by the Lower Falls of the Ipswich River.” I could just imagine the days when these mills were in operation, large wooden wheels turning, powered by the force of nature.

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Before we had parked earlier, we had driven past what looked like a home from the 1600s and I was now determined to find it again. We kept walking, and it turns out the home is the Whipple House, built in 1677 for the wealthy Captain John Whipple. According to the Ipswich Historical Commission’s website (www.historicipswich.org), the house was saved from being lost to the ages, and was restored and moved in 1927 to the location where it stands today. Tours are available through the Ipswich Museum, which was unfortunately closing shortly¬†when we were there, but I will definitely be back to thoroughly see this unique and architecturally beautiful house!

The back of the Whipple House, built in 1677

The back of the Whipple House, built in 1677

Next to the Whipple House, we spotted a very unique miniature house or shed of some sort. I couldn’t stop looking at it – I felt like I was in a scene from the Hobbit! Maybe I haven’t researched hard enough, but I can’t seem to find any information about what this building is. If anyone knows any fun facts or details, please send them my way!

Such an intriguing little place! I wish I could find out more..

Such an intriguing little place! I wish I could find out more..

We mosied along after admiring these early American sites and passed by more scenic and historic spots:

The Hall-Haskell House, circa 1800. I'll be back to take a tour!

The Hall-Haskell House, 1819. I’ll be back to take a tour!

The Ipswich Museum, looking lovely under blue skies

The Ipswich Museum stands proudly under blue skies

dam

Industry meets nature at the Upper Falls

I would love to come back to Ipswich at a date and time when I can really visit these historic properties and businesses downtown, so I will certainly plan on it. ¬†Also, if you’ve never been, there is so much more to Ipswich to discover than the small part that I’ve written about here: The Crane Estate offers Crane Beach,¬†truly a hotspot¬†this time of year, The Great House on Castle Hill where many hold fabulous events and weddings, and the Crane Wildlife Refuge. Russell Orchards, Appleton Farms and Marini Farm also offer New England fun for the whole family, as well as many other attractions I haven’t listed here. Be on the lookout for¬†another Ipswich post to hopefully come soon!

Ringing in Spring in Salem

derbywharf1

After receiving the wrath of Mother Nature this past winter, we New Englanders finally saw the light at the end of tunnel yesterday with our first 70 degree day of the year! There was no possible way I was going to be inside, so I called up Shiloh and we met up in my favorite place to walk around in the sun – Salem, Massachusetts.

There was not a cloud to be seen in the sky as we walked through the Common after arriving. The dogs were playing, kids were laughing, birds were chirping and all was right in the world. I was so happy to finally be able to wear a skirt and sleeveless shirt. I am not a fan of cold weather clothing! Neither of us¬†had gotten¬†our morning coffee yet, so we headed to Jaho, a cozy caf√©¬†on Derby Street. I ordered an iced vanilla latte and Shiloh had a hot caramel latte with soy milk. I also ordered a banana coffee cake muffin to tide me over until lunch, since I hadn’t eaten breakfast. We¬†decided to take our items and walk down the street to eat them at Derby Wharf, overlooking the ocean.

derbywharf2

The water was so blue, as if a watercolor painting had come to life. The smell of the salt water and warmth of the sun on our shoulders was a welcome feeling that we had missed all winter. It is always so strange to me how here in New England we can be bombarded with feet of snow, and it seems as if nice weather would never exist again. Then, all of a sudden, the snow is simply a memory. However, I can’t say I ever miss it in the slightest once it melts. Better off being a memory, in my opinion!

After sitting on the wharf chatting and catching rays for nearly an hour, we continued our walk. We headed to the pedestrian mall where we popped into Wicked Good Books and Pamplemousse, then traversed over to Chestnut Street, my favorite street to walk down in the city. It has the most gorgeous old homes, and was a very prominent neighborhood in the 19th century. After working up an appetite strolling around, we searched for a restaurant with outdoor seating. Those are luckily not hard to find in Salem!

We chose Gulu-Gulu Caf√© for our lunch spot. I am ashamed to admit that in all my years in Salem, I had never tried this renowned establishment! I’m happy I was able to change that yesterday. Gulu-Gulu has an astounding beer menu to please any beer fanatic’s palate.¬†I like fruity beers (sorry, those of you who are against them), and Shiloh pointed out a strawberry kind on the list called Fr√ľli, a Belgian white fruit beer. That sounded satisfying, so we went ahead with it. It was unlike any beer I’ve ever drank. It actually tasted more like a Jolly Rancher¬†and was the best of both worlds for me, as I had been wavering on the decision to order a beer or a cocktail. As our waitress said, “Nothing better than sitting outside on a warm day with a Fr√ľli!” We agree!

fruli

An unique label for a unique beer

There were so many delicious food options on the Gulu menu, but I chose to go with the Istanbul panini, which features smoked turkey, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto. Shiloh is vegetarian, so she ordered a cranberry salad. There are lots of mouthwatering items on the menu for vegetarians, so if you are one, I highly recommend Gulu-Gulu Café. My panini was so fresh and filling and came with a small salad and chips. Shiloh devoured her salad as well. Not much beats quenching your thirst and hunger on a patio in a beautiful city while getting a bit of a tan at the same time!

gulu meal edit

The delectable Istanbul panini from Gulu-Gulu

After our meal, it was time for Shiloh to head home to prepare for her yoga class. I had nothing else on my agenda until 5:30 pm, so I stuck around the area after walking her back to her car. I drove over to the Salem Willows, one of the prettiest and most relaxing spots to walk near the water as well as to play arcade games and have some classic boardwalk foods. While I didn’t eat there, I did enjoy the greatest views of the ocean around. Seriously, ¬†just look at the shades of blue!

willows pier

A greater view  than this is hard to find without being on an actual boat!

After visiting the Willows, I still had time to kill so I decided to head over to Beverly and stroll along Independence Park to collect some seashells. There are plenty to be found there.

bevpark

I stood overlooking the vast ocean and just took in all the beauty. I can’t even really express how it felt to be staring at such a stunning scene after months of “hibernating”. How lucky we are here in New England to be surrounded by such indescribable nature – I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!

Spending all day in the sun makes me a happy girl!

Spending all day in the sun makes me a happy girl!

Featured (in order of mention):
Jaho Coffee & Tea Р197 Derby Street, Salem, MA, 978.744.4300
Wicked Good Books – 215 Essex Street, Salem, MA, 978.594.1938
Pamplemousse Р 185 Essex Street, Salem, MA, 978.745.2900
Gulu-Gulu Café Р247 Essex Street, Salem, MA, 978.740.8882
Salem Willows Park – 167 Fort Avenue, Salem, MA, 978.744.0180
Independence Park – Lothrop Street, Beverly, MA

 

 

Thoughts and Backyard Adventures on a Snow Day

backyard

Well, New England, we are in the midst of braving yet another blizzard in our lifetimes, this one named Juno. While there is quite the accumulation out there, I wouldn’t necessarily call it “catastrophic” the way that reporters were saying before the storm hit. However, it has definitely made for an excellent snow day off of work!

As I live by myself in a city with snow bans all around, I decided to go to my mom’s house in a more rural town after work yesterday, before the storm hit. Last night as I went to bed, it didn’t seem that we had gotten much. I was still debating the legitimacy of the storm as I looked out the window one last time around half past midnight. I took a picture to document the amount of snow at that moment.

firstsnow

I slept in until around 10 a.m. (apparently much needed) and upon waking up realized that we had, in fact, been right in the bullseye zone for Juno. As I stared out the glass door, the snow had been wind-drifted into a pile as high as my thighs. But I somehow became excited, feeling like a kid again. Inspired by this, as well as a piece I read in Yankee Magazine about writer Rowland Evans Robinson who loved winter walks, I couldn’t wait to get out there for a snowy adventure.

A snap I had posted to Snapchat showing just how wrong I had been about not having a lot of snow!

A snap I had posted to Snapchat showing just how wrong I had been about not having a lot of snow!

My mom’s boyfriend has a snowblower, and handled much of the driveway clean-up, but we worked to shovel out our cars and the front porch. It didn’t actually take too much time, and I wasn’t ready to go inside when we were finished. Instead, I set out on a trip around the large backyard, armored against the snow with my fleece lined leggings, trusty winter coat that I had scored for a very low price online at J.C. Penney some years ago, and snow boots I had worn in the 4th grade that my mother kept and I somehow still fit into.

Digging out - this was the easier spot!

Digging out – this was the easier spot!

The snow became deeper as I walked, until I found myself slipping down a hill up to the tops of my thighs in fresh powder. I laughed and just stood in my little nook, observing the snow drifts and falling flakes, the sound of a snowblower in the distance and my face growing cold. I slid down the hill and attempted to climb up a wall of rocks that usually made for a nice looking landscape in the summer, but was now being used by me as a mini Mount Washington. Last night, I read an article in NH Magazine about a man named Brad Washburn who scaled mountains and developed maps from the 1930s to the 1980s; I thought about him as I stuck my shovel in between rocks and hoisted myself over them. There is no greater workout than having fun outdoors.

My windblown hair, and what this snow amounted to on a 5'2" person!

My windblown hair, and what this snow amounted to on a 5’2″ woman!

After rock climbing, I continued to trudge through the thigh-high snow and up another hill where the pool resides, sparkling in the sunshine during the summer, but not even visible on this day. As I made my way around it, I used my shovel like an oar, steering the vessel that is my body through the rolling sea of white. As I looked up at the house, the wind made its presence known and sent a burst of snow off the roof like a small avalanche, headed my way. Instead of backing away, I walked towards it.

Around the stairs to the deck snow was piled in large banks, just begging to be jumped into. I felt one of the piles. It didn’t feel very soft, and I wondered if I would hurt myself jumping in. But if we constantly worry about a bad outcome, how will we ever take risks and grow? If I was a kid, I wouldn’t have though twice, and I didn’t want to this time either. I hoisted myself over the railing, stood on the edge of a step and took the plunge. It wasn’t as deep as I had thought, and I went through the pile and landed with a thud that I felt up reverberate up into my skull. I smiled, shook it off, and kept on moving with my shovel as a makeshift walking stick.

A view from the front yard.

A view from the front yard.

The snow was more tightly packed in the front yard, and it was a real leg workout trying to get through it. Instead of gliding through, I had to lift one leg way up and step down, then do the same with the other. I made it back into the driveway and thought it may finally be time to get inside, as I have a circulation issue where my toes swell up when they get too cold. Strange, I know. I walked up to the front door, and seeing the yeti (well, 5’2″ yeti) that I must have looked like, my mom sent me straight to the garage to peel off the snowy layers.

Once inside, we had a comforting lunch of leftover beef and veggie soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and hot chocolate made in the crockpot. It was the best hot chocolate I had ever tasted! It’s rich and creamy, with a true sweetness that is unmatched by the store-bought packets. If I’ve now got you craving a batch, you can find the recipe my mom used here. We sat in front of the back door and watched the snow continue to come down as our hands were warmed by the adorable snowman mugs.

Nothing like hot chocolate in a cute mug!

Nothing like hot chocolate in a cute mug!

Now, all full and toasty throughout both body and soul, I sit here writing this as the flakes keep falling from the sky. As much we complain about snow, I’ve come to the realization that some of the best days are days like this, where nature forces you to get trapped in your home and yard with family and/or friends, but it turns out you wouldn’t want to have it any other way. It makes us appreciate the little things in life – the way the homes instantly turn into gingerbread houses that appear to be topped with frosting, the childlike wonder that overcomes us as we stare in awe at the unique beauty of snow and the blessings of food and family. And for those who may not be having a great day, or are out there working to keep the rest of us safe, I pray that all will be well.

I don’t know about you, but Juno has certainly put me into a “New England state of mind”.

Nature Shots Around New England

Earlier this week, I was looking through all the pictures I’ve posted on Instagram since first downloading¬†the app¬†in 2012. All of my photos bring back some great memories, but a large theme among them is nature in New England. So, for this post, I chose some of my favorite shots I’ve taken over the past few years to share with you all. The pictures are predominantly taken around the North Shore of Massachusetts and New Hampshire because that’s where I’ve lived throughout this time period. I hope to have more for you soon! For now, enjoy, and find me on IG @lindsroman!

A view of the Merrimack River in Litchfield, NH

A view of the Merrimack River in Litchfield, NH

A beautiful fall day at Benson Park, Hudson, NH

A beautiful fall day at Benson Park, Hudson, NH

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Hurricane Sandy brewed on the shores of Salem, MA in 2012.

Following my sister, Meredith, on a nature walk through the Musquash Conservation Area, Londonderry, NH

Following my sister, Meredith, on a nature walk through the Musquash Conservation Area, Londonderry, NH

The Friendship stands prominently docked at Derby Wharf, Salem, MA

The Friendship stands prominently docked at Derby Wharf, Salem, MA

A view from the Marblehead, MA Rail-Trail

A view from the Marblehead, MA Rail-Trail

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Waiting for springtime to arrive at Stage Fort Park, Gloucester, MA

Probably my favorite picture that I've captured of the sea. Rafe's Chasm, Magnolia, MA

Probably my favorite picture that I’ve captured of the sea. Rafe’s Chasm, Magnolia, MA

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Stormy clouds over a contrasting calm ocean. Salem, MA

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A pretty shade of blue at Chandler Hovey Park, Marblehead, MA

A view from the top at Halibut Point State Park, Rockport, MA

A view from the top at Halibut Point State Park, Rockport, MA

When you can't go any further - Derby Wharf, Salem, MA

When you can’t go any further – Derby Wharf, Salem, MA

The Merrimack River in late winter. Litchfield, NH

The Merrimack River in late winter. Litchfield, NH

The Salem Common in fall. Salem, MA

The Salem Common in fall. Salem, MA

...And the Salem Common decorated for Christmas time. Salem, MA

…And the Salem Common decorated for Christmas time. Salem, MA

A stormy sea aand fog makes for what looks like a vintage photo. Beverly, MA

A stormy sea and fog makes for what looks like a vintage photo. Beverly, MA

An angular view. I wish I had walked out to that little structure. Auburn, NH

An angular view. I wish I had walked out to that little structure. Auburn, NH

Trees towering towards the sky. Oxford, ME

Trees towering toward the sky. Oxford, ME

The Derby Wharf Light, Salem, MA. I used to walk out there to sit alone with my thoughts.

The Derby Wharf Light with a watercolor sky backdrop, Salem, MA. I used to walk out there to sit alone with my thoughts.

A shot of Newfound Lake in NH, taken as I relaxed on the shore on an unusually warm October day.

A shot of Newfound Lake in NH, taken as I relaxed on the shore on an unusually warm October day.

The sun lights the trees on a late summer morning. East Derry, NH

The sun lights the trees on a late summer morning. East Derry, NH

Apple trees waiting for their bounty to be picked at Mack's Apples, Londonderry,, NH

Apple trees waiting for their bounty to be picked at Mack’s Apples, Londonderry, ¬†NH

“And I’m Free….Free Falling…”

*Note РI do apologize for the lack of pictures in this post. We were warned to leave our phones in the car in case of damage or the fact that they may have dropped out of our pockets and into the depths of a New Hampshire forest.

I’ve always had a fear of heights. As a child, I could never work up the courage to jump off the diving board at my grandma’s pool. I would watch my older cousins effortlessly and boldly do flips in the air off of it, yet I didn’t even have the bravery to pencil dive in. At the time, it seemed frighteningly high up from the water. As I got older, the fear was still there. In middle school, I road the Ferris Wheel at Canobie Lake and cried the entire time. And when we got stuck at the top to let people on at the bottom? Forget about it, there went my sanity. In high school, I was forced to climb to great heights thanks to a crazy gym teacher who had us do a ropes course. This involved working our way¬†up tall ladders in the gym and completing ceiling-high obstacles, held by ropes and carabiners and spotted by another novice teenager. The ultimate end-of-unit challenge was a course set up in the trees of a park near the school. I somehow completed it, and I’m still not sure how. I must have been out-of-body at the time. The last part of the course was to zipline across the trees. This was optional, and after watching a few fellow students on the wild ride, I said “no way”, and the thought of ziplining never crossed my mind again…until now.

I never imagined that this adventurous activity would be¬†something I would willingly undertake years later, especially in the woods of the White Mountains area. When I recently opened my birthday card from Nick to see “Your surprise is that we’re going ziplining!”, I will admit I felt a twinge of fear. The flashbacks to all the times I just confessed about popped into my head. My nerves were calmed somewhat when Nick told me he had chosen the less scary course for us, as he didn’t think¬†I could woman-up and start with the hardest route. I didn’t blame him for his lack of faith in me! But some foreign feeling inside of me also stirred excitedly at the thought of doing something entirely out of my comfort zone and breaking the my normal Saturday routine. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

Last weekend, after a lovely drive up north observing the fall foliage that has been popping up, Nick and I arrived at Alpine Adventures in Lincoln, NH. There was a check-in area, an area for putting on the gear and an obstacle course that people were making their way through. This featured bridges, ladders and an inflatable tubing area. We were a bit confused – it seemed small. Where do we zipline?, we asked ourselves. Little did we know, but we would soon find out.

Smiling but nervous inside!

Smiling but nervous inside!

We signed in inside the cozy, rustic arrival cabin. It was warm and featured wooden, North Country style wooden beams and classic decor like a moosehead on the wall. There were boards on another wall with descriptions of each of the ziplining options. We were here for the “Treetop Canopy Tour”, featuring six ziplines up to 80′ high, with the last line being a 45mph free-fall. It may not sound fast for all you hardcore adventure enthusiasts out there, but I could just feel the pit of my stomach drop!

Soon enough, our group was called. We headed over to the gear area where we strapped on harnesses, a chain of carabiners and helmets. I think at one point one of the guides tried to talk to me but I was too far into my own head, trying to psych myself up. I don’t even think I answered with words. Putting on the gear¬†was making it real!¬†Oh no, the harness isn’t tight enough!¬†I thought.¬†What if these carabiners don’t lock?¬†I panicked. I then had a remembrance of a book I read, where it states that the universe conspires to make your thoughts a reality. I started to think positively, and became happy that Nick was on this Saturday journey through the trees with me.

Our confusion about where the ziplines were was cleared up when our whole group along with our guides got in a van and traveled down the highway to a random spot in the woods. After getting out of the van, we were loaded up into a military style vehicle to trek through the terrain that would get us to the course. That part alone was a source of entertainment! Everyone was falling on top of each other, but it was like a ride in itself.

Once at the first stop on the course we got out and the guides explained exactly how we should handle the ziplining adventure – how we should “sit” in the harness, how to set yourself¬†straight if you start to spin on the line, and how to land depending on if there is a ramp at the next spot on the course or not. Then once the guides had checked to make sure all of gear was on properly, it was time to line up. Nick and I were 3rd and 4th in line. I wanted to just get this first one out of my system. I watched the two people in front of me zip away. One was a girl seemingly a little younger than me. After watching her, I knew I could do this. I walked to the end of the ramp trying not to give it a second thought and off I went! I was zooming through the treetops of northern New Hampshire, the wind in my hair, my eyes watering from the cold and I was ecstatic!! That is, until¬†I was going too fast directly at a tree and kicked it full force¬†– the shock went from my ankle up my body but I didn’t even care! Just that first “simple” zipline experience was a rush and I wanted more.

We continued from course to course, flying through the trees on a new adventure. Each time I felt more and more¬†exhilarated from the feeling, and I learned to steer myself pretty well. I also learned to land much more gracefully as well, that’s for sure. All too soon, we reached the last stop on the course – the free-fall. I felt the nervous butterflies. As I waited for them to strap Nick in (he was going first), I felt like I was toppling over on the platform that connected to the tree. I realized they were going to make us start the free-fall backwards, so it wouldn’t be as panic-inducing. I watched Nick drop and ride what seemed like a seatless roller coaster – down he went, then up the other side, then back down, then up, then down until a guide moved a big ladder and climbed up to let Nick off. I was next.

I started speaking anxiously to the guide, trying to make sure I was strapped in correctly. He assured me that yes, he does do this regularly, it is his job after all. He told me to make sure I didn’t bend my legs as I dropped off the platform for a clean fall. “Now just step with your heels off the platform, look at me and drop”. Umm, that’s scary, I thought, but I complied. Before I knew it,¬†WOOSH.¬†I was falling, falling in what seemed like slow motion. I must have made the strangest face – I wanted to yell but no noise escaped me – until I flew up to the other side. “WOO-HOO!!!” I cried out as Nick watched from so many feet below. I was on the ride of my life and even though this was the smaller course, I couldn’t believe I was actually doing it. I was going 45mph not in a car, not in any sort of vehicle or in the safety of a theme park ride, just my body¬†and some ziplining gear. I didn’t want it to end, but all good things must. The guide pulled up the ladder and helped me down from the line. I ran over to Nick with the biggest grin. We then watched the others in our group conquer their fears, all with smiles on their faces. As one of the other women stated, “Well! That was a new feeling,” and I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve realized that discovering these “new feelings” is what life is really all about. When we begin to accept our fears, no matter how small, we shrink inside. We give life to these anxious thoughts. Do not let your soul shrink – we are bigger than that! Also, no matter how old we get, we should never stop seeking new experiences or ever think that we’ve “seen it all”. What I loved about our ziplining group was that it included people of all ages, from (my guess) 21-60 all learning from a fun adventure together. Now that I’ve completed step one, I can’t wait to venture to the highest heights of ziplining and feel the adrenaline rush that it provides. Hope to see you up there!

 

Autumn Has Arrived: Part 2

As you may have read in Part 1 of this post, Nick and I had our anniversary on Friday, which involved therapeutic massages, a bar and grille lunch, high school football and a big New England dinner. But that wasn’t where my weekend ended, no sir. It was just too much to fit into one post!

psuOn Saturday, Nick took me up to Plymouth, NH to give me a taste of his college life as we visited his alma mater, Plymouth State University. We walked around the campus as he pointed out all the different dorms or apartment buildings he had lived in throughout his four years there, as well as the student center and where his classes were held. The campus had some beautiful views, and there was even a spot where orange, red and brown leaves coated the grass in a pile. It was my first day wearing my fall boots and I just had to run through the leaves and hear the crunch! Strolling the campus brought back a lot of nostalgia, even though I didn’t go to Plymouth (I went to Salem State University in Salem, MA).

biedAfter our walk, Nick was dying to take me to his favorite pub in Plymouth called Biederman’s. The atmosphere of the establishment was unique and drew my interest. It would describe it as¬†part ski lodge, part my parents’ attics. There was a moosehead on the wall and the wooden beams on the ceiling were covered in vintage record jackets from the 60’s and 70’s as well as old beer paraphernalia. From my seat, the record jacket straight above¬†was The Doors’ Morrison Hotel, which¬†made me smile as they were my favorite band when I was heavily into classic rock as a teen.

On top of¬†having many beers on tap, Biederman’s is also a deli with some hefty looking signature sandwiches. As yummy as they looked, I told Nick that I honestly couldn’t force myself to consume that much food after our big lunch and dinner the day before, so I got a chicken caesar salad which was just enough for me. For our drinks, Nick and I chose to go local with pumpkin ale from 603 Brewery. The pumpkin taste was authentic and not overpowering or too sweet like some of the mass market kinds. We ended up getting a sampler of all 603 beers on tap. I really liked the White Peaks IPA. We asked the bartender where 603 Brewery was located, as we thought it may be fun to tour it. We found out that it’s actually in Londonderry, easy access from my home in Manchester. Expect a future blog post!

trial beer

On Sunday, it was time for my first apple picking trip of the season. My mom, grandmother, sister and her boyfriend all headed over to Mack’s Apples on Pillsbury Road.

macks

The main location of Mack’s Apples is on Mammoth Road, but they have other orchards you can check out if that one is closed. On this day, there were two kinds of apples available for picking, McIntosh and Jonamac. I don’t think I had ever tried a Jonamac apple before, but it was flavorful of course, as fresh apples always are! I would probably bake with it over eating it, but there certainly shouldn’t be any aversion to it from an apple lover.

appleorchard

pumpkinWe couldn’t have asked for better weather for a fall activity like this.¬†The sun was shining so brightly upon the simplistic beauty of the orchard, and there was a cool breeze. After filling up our bag full of the delicious fruit, we stopped and looked at the pumpkins growing in the orchard. I can’t wait for carving season! I’m actually not that artistic when it comes to making a masterpiece out of a pumpkin, but I give it my best shot every year.

On our way home, we made a¬†stop at the Sunnycrest Farm farmer’s market and bakery for apple cider and freshly baked cider donuts. Sunnycrest Farm is another Londonderry U-Pick spot for apples as well. The market is in an old barn style building, and you can see where they bake their goodies. Watching those little donuts fry away and smelling the fall season all around is certainly a feast for the senses! On top of their own baked goods, apple cider and produce, Sunnycrest also sells items¬†from other local businesses, including NH pure maple syrup and honey.

ciderAlong with the donuts, I also purchased sweet kettle corn made by Hutchinson’s Candy in Hampton, NH. Sugar coated kettle corn has been my weakness for years. As we waited in line, we noticed a dispenser labeled “Free hot apple cider!” and of course, could not resist. Nothing is so satisfying as that first taste of that liquid apple cinnamon-y flavor. It’s like New England in a cup!

If I’ve convinced you that you just MUST go apple picking and fall treat tasting this very weekend, right this second if you could, Mack’s Apples U-Pick is open 10am-5pm daily from now through October. They also have a separate Farm Market, open 9am-6pm daily. Sunnycrest Farms market is open daily as well from 9am-6pm, and their U-Pick is open daily 9am-5pm. This was just my first weekend of fall fun, and I can’t wait to see what unfolds for the weekends ahead!

Places Mentioned (in order):

Plymouth State University – 17 High Street, Plymouth, NH 03264
Biederman’s Deli and Pub – 83 Main Street, Plymouth, NH 03264
Mack’s Apples – 230 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, NH 03053
Sunnycrest Farm – 59 High Range Road, Londonderry, NH 03053