Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Find your escape place

Wow. What a heck of year we have had. Although I'm glad this year is almost over I'm fearful of the year ahead like so many other people. A couple weeks ago I finally came out of my mental hiding place. Hurray! Ready to fight the fights I need to.

One thing is for certain we will all need to find our mental escape. A place or an activity that can relax our minds and remind us that life is enjoyable. Outside is that place for me. Fresh air, hiking, biking, geocaching, sitting and enjoying a book (or comic book!). Find your mental escape place. Step away from your social media, websites and cell phone even for a few hours. Enjoy life then step back in and keep fighting for the future and the now.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Enjoy today

I was gifted the book "Hardcore Zen" from the hubby on our 17-year anniversary. Taking on a new role at work and already being a bit of a workaholic and stress-ball, this book is exactly what I needed. I've always enjoyed the idea of Buddhism, but have never wanted to latch on to a "religion". If you find yourself in a similar situation, pick it up. It's worth reading. But, I'm not here to talk about that.

There are many things I really connected to and enjoyed about this book. One, among many, that stood out to me is the need to not always have to make everything so grand. Put so much pressure on the future. Yes, I want to see as many national parks and beautiful places as I can in this life, but I can also appreciate my daily walk with the dog. Enjoy the the little mushrooms growing in the fall, the leaves changing colors and my dog happy as can be. Yes, I want to help people on a grand scale, but I can also take my Mom to the grocery store or doctor. Or I can be an ear and give support to friends and family when needed. Yes, I want my children to grow into adulthood as confident and good human beings able to attend college if they want. But I can stop worrying about that and enjoy the dinner conversation about their school day or admire my 14yo's growing adult-like sarcasm and the 9yo's need to debate everything.

I will accomplish many adventures, help people and support my kids as I go along in life.
But I can enjoy today and not stress about the future or dwell on the past.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Family Adventure - Pittsburgh to Acadia Part-2 Acadia, ME

After a few days in Bantam, CT we hit the road for another 8 hour drive up to Acadia, Maine.

We stayed at Seawall Campground for the entire week, arrived Sunday and left the following Sunday. I really liked this campground, due to its proximity to the ocean. We could ride our bikes and be playing in tide-pools in 5-minutes. You could smell the beach in the morning at the campsite, walk down to catch the sun rise and set. The campground had a small amphitheater that held ranger talks, Stephen & Odin attended a bat one that they reported was totally awesome.This campground is also located on the "quiet side" of the island.

The good, we hiked, biked, played in tide-pools, attended ranger talks, laughed around the campfire and saw a lot of beautiful sites.

There are 45-miles of carriage roads in Acadia National Park. They were built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. & family from 1913-1940. There are a lot of different entry points, occasional pit toilets, wild blueberry's on the peak points and really good signage. We didn't see any water refill stations along our ride, so we were happy we all had hydration bags and snacks.

I would have loved to do more than a day of riding, but when you are family vacationing everybody gets to pick one thing they really want to do, this was mine. Unfortunately it was full of tears and angry children, but somehow Stephen and I managed to laugh it off and get us all to complete a decent loop.


 One popular riding destination is Cadillac Mountain. It is 1,530 feet and is the highest point along the North Atlantic Seaboard. We drove to the top multiple times, because I had to work a little and it was the only place my hot-spot worked and it was gorgeous so we didn't mind. I really hope that they try and figure out a way to invest in a shoulder or bike lane though, lots of bike traffic and even a tiny bit of space would make difference.



We did go down to Bar Harbor and do the tourist thing. Looked at overpriced souvenirs, watched the lobster boats come in and unload their haul. Walked an unexpected long time to The College of Atlantic for a Ranger Program, which Odin thoroughly enjoyed. Seriously, he really did, they had a touch tank and the Ranger discussed how to handle sea creatures when you come across them, what you might find, etc.



On our last full day, Odin earned his Junior Ranger badge and patch. If you are not aware, almost every National Park offers a Junior Ranger bade program. Stop at a Visitors Center, ask them for the Junior Ranger program. Your kid fills it out, does the tasks, goes back to the visitors center, turns it in, sometimes gets quizzed by a Ranger and gets a cool patch.

We wanted to avoid the heavy tourism near Bar Harbor Saturday so we stayed on the "quiet side" of the island and found a remote spot, Seal Cove Pond. There were 4 other people we came across. Stephen and Darby had a nice float in the canoe while Odin, myself and the dog splashed about in the water looking for any site of creatures.

The bad; talking with locals at the laundry mat about the meth problems in the area (not surprising, every town has its own drug problem), the black fly's, lobster is expensive no matter where you are, and the occasional adult or child breakdown.But it was still a great trip and we will definitely return!


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Family Adventure -Pittsburgh to Acadia Part-1 Bantam, CT

Last month we embarked on an epic family adventure. We drove from the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA to Acadia National Park, Maine. Stopping in Connecticut on the way up and back. We loaded up the truck and pop-up trailer with; canoe, life vests, paddles, 4 bikes with helmets and hydration bags, a ton of food, clothes, an assortment of shoes and rain jackets. Somehow it all fit. In the truck we packed ourselves and a pile of things for the kids to do, my work stuff so I could tackle things as we drove. Downloaded a few audio books, made the dog a comfy spot in the back of the truck and off we went.

The decision to stop halfway and camp for a couple days had its good and bad. Our first stop was White Memorial Conservation Center in Bantam, CT it was about an 8 hour drive with stops. The good; it was beautiful and we did a ton of hiking. The kids hunted for frogs and toads, we found beaver lodges, and a lot of birds, the campsite followed the quiet hours regardless of some early evening partying. There were also no electric hook-up sites and our Verizon hot-spot did not work, so we had little access to be able to work and play with our devices. Definitely a good thing. We had a solar panel set-up, but we were figuring out how to use it so it was slow-going.

Canoeing on Bantam Lake, CT

Marshes gave us the opportunity to hunt for wildlife.

Odin on the hunt.

Love all the lily pads and sounds of frogs.

So many water lilies.

Darby caught her first frog all by herself.
The bad; rain (I know you can't control the weather....), some of the worst pit toilets I've ever been in, the mosquitoes proved that no matter how much bug spray you use they are going to find the sweet spot on you, and we realized that *setting up and taking down camp after a two-day stint wasn't ideal when a day of driving was on the agenda.

*I must note that our pop-up is old and it is a manual lift, no crank, no auto, we have to lift it up and set the braces. Which has its pro's and cons, you can see pictures of the pop-up here from our first trip with it.

Waiting out the rain.

In the end we had a lot of fun regardless of some rain and I wouldn't be opposed to returning to this place but I may consider bringing our own toilet system as our camper does not have one.

Best family photo ever.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Family Adventure - Virginia Beach, First Landing State Park

The middle of May was Odin's B-day and he requested to go to the beach. The hubby are not going to say no a beach adventure! Both of us grew up mostly in the beach town of Ventura, CA. We both miss the ocean a lot and hadn't been to a legit ocean beach in a while. So off we went!

We hillbilly glamped at First Landing State Park, VA. There are tent and rv camping accommodations. Some of the tent camping is secluded by trees or a short walk from the car. Trees! Trees! Trees! Great hammock capability in all the spots I saw. Lots of good rv spots, some more secluded than others and a very short walk to the beach.

Always nice to be surrounded by trees when you car-camp.

Warning, the local coastguard has training drills in the evening and it scared the poo out of us when we heard it. It did have right on the camp paper we were given to expect these, but we hadn't read it the first night. (Note to self, read the info when you arrive). They were shooting off flares and yelling "TURN OFF THE ENGINE! YOU! YOU! ENGINE OFF!". We both chuckled thinking, those young whipper-snappers are at it again. 
*There is a cut-off time to complete the drills so you are not woken up at 1am by it.

The 5-minute walk to the beach was so great. We found all kinds of fun beach items; dried up mermaids purses, crab skeletons, drift wood, etc. Lots of fun things to look at under the microscope.

We found a crazed beach lobster kid.

There is a Food Lion, grocery store just 5 minutes drive down the road or take the bike lanes there and back. If you want to drive further you can find a Trader Joes in town. Lots of restaurants, its a tourist town. We cooked at the campground all weekend but plan on hitting up some of the sushi places next time we're there.

All of the family, mostly the dog, had a really great time and we will definitely be returning to that spot. The month of May seemed like a good time to go, weather still has a slight chill to the air, but the campground was not full. We did get a little rain, but it was tolerable and we enjoyed a really hot sunny day that took the chill out of the water. I'm sure in summer the park is filled to the brim with people and maybe not as tranquil as when we went. In the future I'll be looking at late May or early June next year, in the hopes that the water will be a bit warmer. Plus May is also a crazy month for us, does everybody have this problem with May...

First-Landing-State Park-Virginia-Beach




We just returned from Fayetteville, WV "the coolest little town". Look for that post soon!

Check our adventure at McConnells Mill State Park in Portersville, PA

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Family Adventure - McConnells Mill State Park

Thank goodness spring is here. As soon as the nice weather hit, the thought of the blog left my mind and I tried to fill any time I had sitting in the sun away from a computer.

First! At the beginning of winter we purchased an old pop-up camper. Which will from here on out be referred to as "Popper". We both telecommute and do not take advantage of the option to travel, so this is way for us to have an office on wheels while camping. We have been tent campers for 15 years and going to a trailer is definitely interesting. Now we hillbilly glamp in our old-school Popper.

Adventure 'mobile with homemade truck topper and old school pop-up.

We don't use the water hook-up or gas. We like our camp stove and washing system. We are hoping it will last us a few years then we will gut it all, use the trailer base and make a Vardo to go with our homemade truck topper.

Hilly-billy Glamping

Last moth we took our maiden voyage in the trailer. Short trip for us, McConnells Mill State Park located in Portersville, PA. It is a beautiful state park, great place for hiking, fishing, rock climbing and I'm sure more. We just spent a day hiking around and a little fishing, it was a rainy weekend and the kids were not into any epic adventures.

Lovely spot to fish and admire.

It's worth checking out the Old Mill that was built in 1852. It was one of the first rolling mills in the country. There are also a covered bridge right next to the Mill.

Old -Mill-McConnell-Mill-State-Park
The Old Mill at McConnell Mill State Park.

We came across some beautiful  flowers and views along our hike.

Pitcher Plant!

There are a few campgrounds in the area. We ended choosing Bear Run Campground due to its proximity to the Mill and that we were camping in April which quite a few campgrounds do not open until May. Well, it was okay camping. Typical sardine style RV. The campers obliged by the quiet hours, but due to the rain and the spot we were put it upon reservation, we were in mud. Every other campground had gravel which would have been nice. So we struggled keeping the mud out and bailed early. Oh well! We accomplished what we wanted, practicing setting up the Popper and getting outside.

A fun family weekend complete!
We just returned from First Landing State Park in VA and I will be blogging about that soon.
But first! Part of my job is executing the expo at Dirt Rag Dirt Fest and I am off to make it happen.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Food alergies, No more cane sugar

I've done it!
I've cut cane sugar out of my diet for 30days. That was intense.
After a food allergy test came back with a big NO to cane sugar, soy, rice, cows milk, wheat, bakers yeast and a handful of other common foods, the hubby helped me make the needed changes to my diet. Its been a little more than 30 days now and it has definitely made a difference.

I did find cane sugar supplements; maple candy, stevia chocolate (Lilly's Sweets) and making homemade frozen yogurt pops.

My love for cheese is not an occasional indulgent of goats cheese. Yum!

I don't want the rest of the household to not be able to eat the things I cannot. It is still challenging to watch my kids enjoy a pint of ice cream or the occasional pizza, I generally excuse myself from the room while they indulge. But, while I get ready to head off on a work trip to Monterey, CA they plan on a few "sometimes" foods that Mom can't eat; pizza, sushi, donuts, etc. Now the challenge of traveling for multiple diets and keeping up on my new food outline.