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Why fall camping is the best

13 Nov

This past weekend, Eric and I realized we had a 4-day weekend (well, he had to use some PTO…) and we had not taken our fall camping trip this year.  So on a whim we booked a site at the only park nearby that even still allows tent camping this late in the year–Allegany State Park.

 

We’ve been there before, and we didn’t love the sites–very crowded (we’ve gotten spoiled backpacking and camping at Indian Lake Islands).  But we figured at this time of year, we’d deal with fewer campers, and sure enough when I booked there were a handful of cabins that were reserved in the loop, but not one tent site was taken.  Shocking.  No one wants to tent camp in mid-November?!  So I booked the site smack in the middle, site 12, so we’d have plenty of space on either side of us.

 

We pulled into the campground check-in, and the guy at the counter said “You won’t believe this, but we actually had a drive-up registration for site 13 today.  Sorry.”  I must have made a face (I mean really the WHOLE campground and you are RIGHT next to us?!) so the guy said, “Tell ya what–why don’t you just move to another site.  Whichever is fine.  Drive around, check out what’s left.  Sites 16-20 are all pretty private though.”

 

Awesome.  We drove into the loop and quickly picked site 17, a larger site with a huge stack of pre-gathered firewood from the previous campers.  The sites were all along this creek that was moving pretty fast and making lots of noise.  Not another soul in sight–even the cabins that were in use were so far away that we couldn’t see their lights or hear them at all.  It was fabulous–all the privacy of backpacking with all the creature comforts of car camping.

 

We set up the tents, Eric got the fire started with the hot coals leftover from someone else, and we realized that there wasn’t much daylight left…my planned hikes would have to wait for the next day.  We drove around to collect some firewood, came back to the site and relaxed.  I read some books, he read some magazines, Picasso sat like a king in his chair.  I was shocked to be wearing an Omniheat baselayer shirt, hoodie and running tights (plus a fleece blanket wrapped around my legs) and not be cold at all.  We had a roaring fire, had pie iron pizzas for dinner, and went to bed relatively early–I think it was around 9.  By that point, it had been dark for 3 hours, we’d been talking all afternoon/evening, and I was exhausted–I think I’m still fighting off some post-ultra sickness.

 

kind of nice to relax

kind of nice to relax

I woke up at 3 am and thought it must be so much closer to daylight because our tent was completely lit up by the moon.  It was kind of creepy actually to wake up and have it brighter than it was when we’d gone to bed.  We got up to go to the bathroom, and when we came back in the tent, I was a little chilly.  Apparently I told Eric, “I’m cold. Time to snuggle now.”  I don’t remember that at all, but he wrapped an arm around me, I pulled Picasso into my other side, and I fell back to sleep pretty easily.  I couldn’t believe how warm the Omniheat sleeping bag Eric got from Columbia was.  It was COLD–like into the 30s–but I was only chilly when I first got into my bag.

 

We got up around 7.  It was kind of nice for it to just be the two of us, and this is when I started to really realize it–as Eric made me a hot chocolate and kissed me good morning.  We’d had a nice, relaxing, quiet evening, just the two of us, and it continued into the morning.  We were on the way to hike by 8ish.  The plan had been to hike 3 different sections of the North Country Trail to find the lean-to’s in the park and investigate them for future backpacking trips.  We hit the trailhead for Trail 1 (Mt. Tuscarora Firetower Trail), which we planned to take to the NCT, then backtrack.  The first 3/4 mile was straight uphill, and we had to stop 2 times to shed layers.  We hit the fire tower and kept rolling, chatting the whole time about future plans.  The trail was tough to find with all the leaves, but it was well marked.  At the junction for NCT, we saw what we think must have been a weasel…something small and black, running fast along the ground.  Sadly, it’s hunting season, so Picasso had to be leashed, and we were trying to be somewhat noisy to make sure we didn’t get shot at…

 

proudly sporting my #TrailsRoc orange...good for not getting shot at!

proudly sporting my #TrailsRoc orange…good for not getting shot at!

As we hiked the NCT, we found some seriously muddy sections and searched for the lean-to.  We hiked and hiked and couldn’t figure out what the problem was…til I looked at the map again…and realized we’d gone the wrong way on the trail.  I’m not really sure what’s up with the NCT and Trail 1 at Allegany State Park–all I know is that the 3 times we’ve been on either of these trails, we’ve been “lost”–Once because someone leading us stopped following trail markers in favor of a game trail (we ended up getting out ok after meeting another strange lost hiker), once because we didn’t look at a compass and walked the WRONG direction on the trail (which turned out to be just fine), and now this time because I didn’t follow the map correctly.  I was pissed at myself because I am normally really good with maps (or so I like to think), but then I realized that had I not messed up, we would’ve missed some really cool sections of trail including some pretty bridges, most notably this one.

allegany2

We turned around and hiked back to the car, and Eric started getting attacked by these weird fly-things.  They were flies, but they’d lose their wings when you pulled them off.  Then they latched onto his shirt and crawled sideways–like a crab.  Neither of us had ever seen anything like them, even though we spend so much time in the woods.  I biffed a bunch off of him, and we later researched them to find that they are called deerkeds, parasites that latch onto their host and suck blood and are active late fall.  Nasty.  We ended up finishing the 8.5 mile hike around 12.  We were both starving.  We ate lunch in the back of the truck.  With full bellies, we both looked at each other and decided to call it a day, thereby making this our laziest camping trip ever.  We went on a search for Mike’s Hard Lemonade that took us through some little towns til we made it to Salamanca.  We collected a crap load of fire wood, then relaxed by the fire again.  I was super warm all night.

 

Tuesday morning, we woke up, and Eric’s stomach was in rough shape from some bad beef jerky.  We decided to forego another hike in favor of checking out Thunder Rocks, a cool section of rock formations left by glaciers.  I’ve never seen it without people there–it’s a pretty popular place to go, especially with kids because you just drive up and climb around.  We had it completely to ourselves, and it wasn’t the first time that we commented how creepy it was to be so alone in a park that is normally pretty popular.

allegany4

allegany

It was awesome to have the park to ourselves.  It was even more awesome to spend so much time with Eric, alone.  We had very limited cell coverage, and it was good to just hang out, talking about where we see ourselves in 5 or 10 years and how small the world really is and other romantical topics.

 

I’m sad that camp season is over.  But we’re already plotting a full summer of additional camping trips and new adventures.  I can hardly wait.

A truly great weekend!

28 Sep

This weekend has been nothing short of amazing.  It makes it so hard to go back to work when you have a weekend like this.  Why so great?

 

Well first, I ran another 20 miler this weekend.  I owe so much to Eric and Liz when it comes to my distance running. I probably wouldn’t have signed up for that first 50k without them.  I wouldn’t have wanted to get in the long runs for either race.  And I would most definitely not have started running in the pitch black alone on Saturday morning.  But having them there to face the wolves and bears (we saw eyes…had to be wolves and bears), chat, take in a breathtaking sunrise and share the miles is just awesome.  It was a good run until the very end, when I started to have some tummy trouble.  I think it was due to the nuun that I put in my water on our second loop…so I guess I’m going to stick with just water from here on out.

amazing sunrise...it looked like we were somewhere tropical!

amazing sunrise…it looked like we were somewhere tropical!

running into a beautiful day!

running into a beautiful day!

"we're going to have run 2 50ks this year.  that's pretty awesome."

“we’re going to have run 2 50ks this year. that’s pretty awesome.”

We left Durand and immediately went to Genesee Valley Park for the McQuaid Invitational to watch my cousin, brother and sister race!  Unfortunately, we missed Cameron’s race, but we were there to see Josh and Leanne kill it AND spend some QT with my aunt/uncle/cousins and my dad/brother/sisters.  It was a gorgeous day to be outside enjoying the weather and cheering on some seriously fast high schoolers.

Go Josh!

Go Josh!

Leanne crushing by some girls!

Leanne crushing by some girls!

My dad and siblings came back to our house, and Amber and Greg joined us for some pie irons (pi’irons) for dinner and a campfire.  It was a good relaxing night.  I was tired and fell asleep a few times by the fire before I finally called it a night.

weekend7

We got up this morning, had bacon, eggs, fruit smoothies and fresh cantalope from our neighbor’s garden.  Then we hit up Durand again for a 4 mile hike.  Eric and I both love the park for it’s incredible natural beauty, but sometimes it’s easy to miss it when you’re running and just focused on not tripping on roots or falling into lakes.  It was really nice to hike it today and see just how much the leaves are starting to change, and we finished up with a trip to the beach where we all walked in the water for a bit and played fetch with Picasso, who was thrilled at the chance to swim.  We came back home, ordered pizzas and watched the first half of the Bills game before they had to leave.  I am exhausted tonight–I’ve napped through most of the football game and I’m looking forward to bed time tonight.  🙂

breakfast!

breakfast!

weekend9

looking for fish...and fishing lures haha

looking for fish…and fishing lures haha

white lady's castle...al wanted to stay with dad the rest of the hike to "protect him" from the ghost ha

white lady’s castle…al wanted to stay with dad the rest of the hike to “protect him” from the ghost ha

starting to see some color

starting to see some color

playing in lake ontario!

playing in lake ontario!

 

It was nice to see most of the family (missed the ones who weren’t here) this weekend and spend some time together outside enjoying the beautiful weather.

family

 

 

 

Run ’em/Hike ’em All Challenge!

8 Aug

When I planned our cross-country trip, I was beyond excited to finally get out west and explore new places with Eric and Picasso.  I was looking forward to leaving behind the stress of the past year and of reconnecting (maybe not the right word–solidifying more?) with Eric.  My one misgiving was that we were going to be leaving behind our friends and the trail running community for a month.  I was excited for adventure, but I wanted to bring all of our people with us on the adventure. Plans fell through and the next thing I knew, I was planning alternative trips to the ADK and Letchworth.  A long time ago, Eric and I had decided to try to hike every trail in Letchworth.  We’d gone gangbusters for a summer, but then life got busy.  The challenge was all but forgotten until we decided to take it up again this summer.  It was perfect–Letchworth is close enough for other friends to come with us and there were still plenty of trails left for us to explore, including a culminating backpacking adventure on the Finger Lakes Trail.   So I broke down each day and figured out which trails to do and when.  At one point, I got nervous that we were trying to do too much in too short of time–over 100 miles in 9 days.  Then I remembered that we have friends who run 100 miles in 24(ish) hours…9 days was plenty of time.  Worst case scenario, we’d skip a few trails and go back to finish them some other time.

A rough outline of our plan...

A rough outline of our plan…

Over the course of the 9 days, we ran and hiked just shy of 100 miles.  We had a bunch of visitors to help us pass the miles.  And we made some great new friends–it’s amazing how quickly you get to know someone over miles and campfires.  This trip was pretty epic.  In fact, it actually made me a little bit glad that plans had fallen through, and we were “stuck” on the east coast. friends   I wrote this in one of the other parts of my recap from last week, but it’s worth reposting again:  Here, on my couch, 3 days later, I am still tired.  My legs are still a little funny, my foot hurts a little bit (lots of slipping and sliding in mud), I am eating everything in sight (I really hate camp food and ate very little…except for skittles).  But my heart is so full.  We were so sad to have “missed out” on the cross country trip, but the reality is we didn’t miss out on anything.  We just had a different adventure.  And I guess this is a big metaphor for my life right now.  Rather than think of the things that we are missing, we need to embrace the things we have, make the best of crappy situations, and keep living it up.  Life is insanely beautiful and we are surrounded by so many good, funny, like-minded people who add so much joy and happiness to our lives.  Call it lucky.  Call it blessed.  No matter what you call it, it’s awesome. memories So without further ado, here are my recaps of each part of the adventure.  🙂   Part One:  Camping at Letchworth Part Two:  Backpacking the Finger Lakes Trail Part Three:  Letchworth Trail List and Info

project 333

10 Jan

So I’ve been reading, in my minimalism research, about this cool thing called project 333.  There are various other off-shoots of it, but the idea is the same.  You pick a set number of clothes (in many cases 33), then wear ONLY those things for 3 months (hence the number 333).  Different people allow different things to go “uncounted”–namely accessories, workout clothes, pajamas and underwear.

love some of the different ways she mixes pieces

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I have been looking at these things for quite a while now.  As with most of my schemes, it takes quite some time for me to actually make a decision and move forward.  (Side note: I am kind of a bad decision-maker.)  But I think I’m ready to give this a try.  When I first saw this idea, all I could think was “only 33 items????”  But then I really started to think about what things I wear most often, and I realized that I really only wear a few things, and I love  even fewer things.  This project may be a good way for me to weed out the things I dislike and update with classic pieces that will work in different seasons and that I will really love.  I’ve been trying this year to update with more “grown up” clothes.  I’ve been trying to avoid buying things just because they’re on sale, or just because I “kind of” like it.  I’ve been trying to eliminate things that no longer fit me since I’ve lost weight “just in case” I gain it back. The weight loss thing is kind of a big one right now.  My mother gave me some of her old pants the other day.  They were size 5s.  I said, “there’s no way these will fit me.”  She insisted I try them.  And lo and behold.  They fit (snugly–motivation for me to lose those last 5 pounds and eat clean so my bloat-age goes away–PCOS sucks–one serving of white carbs and I get the pregnancy-bump without the pregnancy).  I have been wearing 8s and 10s from before I lost weight.  Yeah–not cool.  I’ve known they don’t fit great, but I hate pants shopping–short, stubby legs make for bad pants-shopping experiences.  In any event, I am saying no to poorly fitting clothes that I don’t love.  I’ve purged a lot of clothing already, but I’m ready to clean out even more.

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So this weekend, I am going to pick my 33 items.  Here are my rules:

1.  33 items only.  Everything else is off limits.  I will do the first challenge for 30 days.  3 months seems like a long time to me, and I’m all about setting smaller goals that are easily attainable.  A month seems long to me anyway.  So we’ll see how it goes and then I can always extend it.

2.  I will not be counting jewelry in my 33 items.  Some people do, but I’m not.  I WILL be counting shoes (I only wear a couple pairs of shoes, anyway).  I am pretty sure I’m also going to count scarves and belts, but not completely decided on that. I will let you know this weekend.

3.  I will not count underwear/hosiery in my 33 items (that would be gross).  I will also not count pajamas.

4.  I will not count workout clothes in my 33 items.  However, I cannot wear workout clothes as regular clothes (although I don’t really ever do that anyway, but it’s worth mentioning).

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So I think those are my rules.  If there is anything to update, I will write it later when I post what my 33 items will be.  My friends  should join me in this challenge!!!  Check out these links for more info/inspiration:

Project 333

30 for 30: Wardrobe Remix

How to Build a Remixable Wardrobe (I love this girl’s sense of fashion!)

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Sooooo who’s with me????  33 items for 30 days????

her sense of style is amazing