The Long Trail Adventures

My sister is the real hiker having hiked many miles over the years and ventured off alone many times for days at a time. I am a minimalist day time hiker. . .occasionally. But when she asked me to do some hiking with her this summer I thought it was a great opportunity to try something new and spend time together.

Originally Marie’s request was for me to consider hiking the 100 Wild Miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine over 10 days. I considered this and began putting on some miles in my own neighborhood. I have miles of biking trails to explore right from home so began walking just for the sake of getting some miles under my belt. All was good for the first few weeks and then my left knee revolted in a BIG way. Suddenly it had decided that any weight bearing would be off limits, so I stopped my training walks, gathered the ice packs and went on the recuperation trail instead of the hiking trail.

After about three weeks and an unpleasant visit to the physician’s assistant I began walking again, but this time went very slowly. I got myself a good pair of hiking shoes, put on the pack and headed out again, eventually working back up to a few miles and a heftier pack. All was good, though my ankles, which must have had a conversation with my knee at some point, decided they were unhappy with my new plan. I ignored them and kept going. Marie suggested I use hiking poles, which would take some of the pressure off my legs. I did and it helped. Trust the experts.

Finally we decided to take on overnight practice hike to see if I was ready. Marie planned a Long Trail hike over Mt. Belvedere, Tillotson Peak, and Haystack Mt. We hiked from Eden Crossing to the Tillotson Camp where we spent the night.The next day we went over Tillotson Peak and Haystack to Hazen’s Notch for a total of about 10 miles. My first thought when done was ‘there is no way I could do that for ten days in a row.’ I found the hike challenging, particularly the second day descending Haystack. It was incredibly steep and I kept reminding myself how lucky we were that it wasn’t raining. It would have been treacherous in the rain. The camping part was great. The weather was perfect – 70 degrees, not many bugs, and Marie had a tent that was comfortable. This was the first time I had officially camped out in about 25 years.

Though I had decided I clearly wasn’t ready for a 100 mile adventure, we did go on another overnight trip a couple of weeks later. This time Marie chose Jay Peak and Doll Peak – a few miles north of our first hike. I had climbed Jay Peak on a day hike a few years ago, so I was feeling more confident about this one. The climb from Vt route 242 to the top of Jay was much easier than the Belvedere hike. We continued hiking to the Laura Woodward camp and spent the night there. This day at that elevation was incredibly windy and bit on the chilly side. We attempted to start a camp fire, but it was a challenge to keep it going with damp wood and so much wind. We settled into our tent about 7:30 pm – before dark, but had a great nights sleep and headed out early to climb Doll Peak and finish at Vt. route 105.

Again, the Jay Peak hike was about 10 miles in its entirety, but was a much easier 10 miles, though I was still sure I was not ready for that mileage in a single day, and certainly not over 10 days. And of course, by this time it was mid August and I was about to return to the school year routine, which would seriously reduce my availability for two day hikes.

These experiences have been wonderful because it gave my sister and I hours together to be sisters. We talked at length about our past, our families, our interests, and our dreams. Until now we have not taken the opportunity to be together in this way and I hope that we will have many more opportunities next spring and summer and on into my retirement years – which I hope are not too far away. Marie has many ideas for two or three day hikes and I look forward to planning those with her.

Whether it’s a sibling, a friend, a spouse ~ I would encourage you to venture out on the trails. It’s a wonderful way to see the best of Vermont and just plain good for the soul.

Yoga Trapeze Training

Those of you who know me well, know that I am infatuated with my yoga trapeze. I purchased it last spring and spend a great deal of time upside down these days after work. It really makes my neck – which has a tendency toward stiffness – feel so much better. It’s been particularly beneficial in this year of a new job that keeps me at my desk and computer more than ever.

As a recently certified yoga instructor I have been dreaming of going to Barcelona to get the teacher training on the yoga trapeze, and . . .
DRUM ROLL PLEASE!

This is the year! I am going to Barcelona in November to train with Yoga Body and become a certified yoga trapeze teacher! Yahoo!

Once completed, I hope to offer classes on the trapeze – trust me – you will LOVE it! Until I get my own studio built (which will have big beams for hanging the trapezes) I will be looking for a location that 1. can accommodate the trapezes, and 2. won’t cost me a fortune to lease, so I can offer reasonably priced classes!

It’s so exciting when you have something to look forward to!

Thanksgiving Reflections

When I was a kid we spent a lot of Thanksgiving mornings traveling for hours to get to my aunt and uncle’s house in Massachusetts.

I hated traveling on holidays then and I still don’t like it much. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I enjoy cooking and all the other preparations that go into the holiday meal. Maybe because it’s like a mini vacation from school and it’s nice to be able to take the time to relax at home doing my own thing. Or nothing at all. Maybe it’s because riding for four hours in a car with my four siblings was chaotic at best and downright painful at worst. And that’s just one way. We still had to drive home again. It was definitely uncomfortable.

I remember one year I woke up on Thanksgiving morning to discover it had snowed a good 8-10 inches and I was ecstatic because I was absolutely positive that meant we couldn’t possible drive to Massachusetts. I didn’t even care if I had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. That was still better than four hours in the car ONE WAY! You can’t imagine my disappointment when my parents said, “Of course we’re going to Massachusetts! It’s just a little snow.” You also can’t imagine the fit I threw because I DID NOT WANT TO GO! I don’t recall all the details of my tantrum, but I can guess it was seriously overly dramatic and seriously annoying to my mother. But I didn’t care because I DID NOT WANT TO GO!

Sometimes we stayed overnight in Massachusetts and that was even worse. BORING! It’s not like we were going to Boston or anything good like that. My aunt and uncle lived in a big old farm-house in the middle of nowhere. At least nowhere I wanted to be. I already lived nowhere (or so I thought), so why would I want to go nowhere else? Obviously my parents were totally unconcerned with my feelings on the subject, because no matter how much I protested we kept driving to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving.

Since those preteen and teenage days filled with angst over nothing, I’ve come to understand a different perspective on Holiday traveling.

I am sure that staying home with five children and attempting to cook a full Thanksgiving dinner on her own for five kids (who tended toward picky self-centeredness) was not a pleasant idea. Actually, that was probably a downright torturous idea that my mother would have had to have been insane to entertain. So she didn’t entertain that thought, but a much more pleasant one. Going to a 17th century farmhouse, in the country, surrounded by relatives, to dine on a gourmet meal served in a traditional and formal way. What a lovely time that must have been for my mother. Her children were, for the most part, entertained by their cousins and she got to spend time with her sister and brother-in-law – no pressure. Smart woman, my mother.

While I still don’t want to travel during the holidays, I can look back on those days at my aunt and uncle’s house with fondness. Their home was lovely and sprawling, like going back to another century, when life was simple, the cookin’ was good and the blessings abundant. There were special tables for the kids to sit at and for many years that really was a special place to sit. Who wanted to sit with the grown ups anyway? And we spent hours and hours playing games with our cousins; checkers and Chinese checkers, Monopoly, Go Fish, Slap Jack, War, King’s Corners. . .

Today I applaud my mother for doing what was right for her. I’m guessing she knew it was right for all of us because that time with family cannot be replaced. As an educator I see firsthand how little time some children have with their families. So today, and everyday, I am thankful for a mother who often listened to her heart instead of her children and made good choices for us.

We will be home today, just the two of us, cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner. We are glad to have friends and family join us if they wish. They all know this. But they will make their own choices, ones that are right for them. To every member of our precious family, near or far, biological or of the larger world, know that we are thankful to be a part of your lives and we send you our love today and always.

New Year's Turkey

Karen and Dave

The Crystal Coast 2016

The Crystal Coast is an 85-mile stretch of coastline in North Carolina that extends from the Cape Lookout National Seashore, which includes 56 miles of protected beaches, westward to the New River. ~from wikipedia

According to the “Insiders’ Guide: North Carolina’s Central Coast and New Bern,” the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce coined the term “Crystal Coast” to describe the area’s extremely clear waters and brilliant white beaches.

Dave and I first discovered the Crystal Coast about five years ago when we took two weeks to travel from Vermont south, along the eastern shore as far as in Pine Knoll Shores in North Carolina. Read about that trip here.

We so loved the Atlantis Lodge for its convenience and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean we decided to head there again. This time we would drive through, without visiting other places along the way and have 10 glorious days in Pine Knoll Shores at the Atlantis.

On day one, before we even checked in, we headed directly for the beach.
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Part of the joy of this location is that you can walk the beach for hours in either direction. These are not beaches like Long Sands Beach in York, Maine ~ which I love by the way. The North Carolina beaches are relatively quiet, with few people. At the Atlantis, the resort has it’s own section of beach with beach chairs and umbrellas available. It’s kind of my idea of perfection!

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The rooms at the Atlantis all face the Atlantic and they all have either a deck or grounds access from the room. We were on the ground floor this time around and enjoyed it very much. In addition to easy access from our room to the beach (actually all rooms have easy access), we enjoyed sitting on the front lawn sipping coffee and watching the birds in the mornings.

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Though we have our share of beautiful flowers this time of year, the flowers we saw in N.C. were a bit different and fun to photograph.

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Across the road from the Atlantis is the Crystal Coast Golf Club, so we spent several late afternoons there. I enjoyed seeing the wildlife and the views on the course as much as I enjoyed playing the game.

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I will share more adventures of our trip later, but all in all, it was a fabulous and very relaxing trip.

Life is Good

Life is Good

The Villages

Recently I was fortunate enough to visit a dear friend who purchased a second home in The Villages, Florida. Click on the link to learn more.

As many of you may know, The Villages were built as retirement communities for seniors from all over. Begun by Harold S. Schwartz, the area now known as The Villages is home to more than 110,000 over-55s.
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Besides the much warmer temperatures and lack of snow, many retirees like the lifestyle of The Villages for the many activities there are to do there.

Here are shots of typical homes and streets in parts of the The Villages:
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My friend is enjoying here new life there in the winter months for all the many things there are to do. She is a golfer and can access any of dozens of courses there; she has joined a rug hooking group and is learning to play Mahjong; there is a pool just a short walk from her house; and she can enjoy a wide range of shopping opportunities within a few miles from home. One of the most enjoyable conveniences is being able to walk her dogs without bundling up in winter gear.

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In the short time I visited The Villages it was evident that many, many people have found pleasure in life there. The many opportunities for people to gather and celebrate and the listing of events happening daily certainly make it appealing to those who previously lived in areas where activities were either limited, or difficult to access.

In The Villages neighborhoods most people can easily get around with their golf carts. Anywhere we traveled there was a long line of carts parked on the streets.

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The few short days I was in Florida I most enjoyed the warm weather and greenery all around. It was lovely sitting in the sun in Shari’s backyard next to the orange and lemon trees watching the Cardinal and the Hawk.

A new experience Shari shared with me was a Polo match. Having never seen Polo before I found it entertaining, a bit frightening, and a delightful way to spend an afternoon.

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Being a big fan of peace and quiet I appreciated that aspect of The Villages – it is very quiet there. Though, if you are more inclined to surround yourself with revelers there is opportunity to do that. We attended the St. Patrick’s Day parade, where there were cheerleaders:

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Belly Dancers:

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Bag Pipers:
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and much more.

What struck me about this parade was that it was composed of all senior citizens, and it was being watched by nearly all senior citizens. There were only a handful of children present. I have never been to a parade before that didn’t have multitudes of children in attendance, so it made me wonder. What would it be like to live a community where you seldom see children? I know I’m not ready for that kind of living, but who knows – maybe some day.

Special thanks to my superb host! It was a relaxing, enjoyable week!

sun