New York, New York

October is the greatest month ever (maybe not the greatest, but close enough) – it’s my birthday and the last one was grand! We decided (or I kind of forced it) to go to New York city… As an european it was a must and being that I’ve been here since 2008, it was about time.

Since I had to go to Boston, we decided to just keep the train theme going and go the whole way. It was a long trip but very enjoyable – my favorite part was the fact that the train had a “quiet car” where you cannot be on the phone or talking in a loud manner….

We stayed in NJ, in a nice little apartment we rented through Airbnb (thank you Jenn!) that was close enough to get to the city and far away enough to be in a quieter place for the night (we have long ditched the party people phase).

New York is a world on its own, by far the biggest city I’ve ever been to, and if you haven’t been, you should! There’s so much to see, to do, to explore that whether you are into architecture, partying, relaxing in a park, museums, there’s something for you out there.

We did all the tourist-y things and I loved it! Since we were there for 5 days we decided to get the New York Pass that includes entry in a bunch of places, the Big Bus Tours (hop on hop off bus with a guide), skip lines in certain places. Yes, it is pricey, but if you start adding up the entry fees of all the places you want to visit… it kind is the way to go!

We visited the MET, the Guggenheim, Radio City Music Hall, American Museum of Natural History (just a heads up –  you can easily spend a whole day in wandering around), Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, Carnegie Hall, Madam Tussaud’s, the Empire State Building, the Top of the Rock (Observatory on top of Rockefeller Center – if you can, do it at night, the view is amazing), the Brooklyn Museum, took the ferry trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, strolled around Central Park, tried really good food, had beers at Molloy’s with the best bartender (Chris you rule), and went to the Majestic Theatre to see Phantom of the Opera and that was amazing!! (I’ll give you the same advice that the old lady sitting next to me gave to me “If you can’t do this all the time, save your money so you can buy good tickets when you do come”! And was she right!!!)

So, it wasn’t hiking per se, but we did a lot of walking so… that qualifies, right?

I took so many pictures that it hard pick only some to share, but here is a little sample!

 

Happy trails!

A.

It’s been too long

It’s been a long since I posted and since we hiked… W. has two herniated discs on his back so between the pain and the discomfort, carrying weight and going up mountains doesn’t seem like a good idea! I know, right?!

So, we really haven’t been doing much, just chilling at home and enjoying time together and with our 3 cats! Yup, we have 3 and they are awesome in their own ways. I used to be a “dog person”growing up, but when I moved in with W. I realized how awesome cats are and how much personality they have! Then W. had Athena and Perseus that, unfortunately , are no longer with us… But, the legacy was passed along to Duncan and along the way, Momma Cat and Arli made their way to our house and our hearts.

Duncan Duncan is 4 years old (will be 5 in October) and has been with us since he was a kitten – a little thing with huge ears and huge tail.

Duncan is one of the best cats I’ve ever met!! Well, he’s mine so… of course I’ll say that, but… he really is! He’s funny, playful, has his own little ways and routines and he’s a super lovable guy! Although he’s a big boy now, he’ll always be my little guy 🙂

 

Momma Cat

Momma Cat is 16 and she’s been with us since April. Momma was my mother-in-law’s cat, and even though the circumstances that brought her here were sad (my mother-in-law passed away), she seems to be right at home here. She went from being a shy scared cat that would spend her days in a basement to a pretty bossy girl that wants no part in any of the young ones crazy ways.

She likes to be left alone so she can perfect her favorite activity – nap!! 🙂

 

ArliAnd Arli – the 2 year old that we adopted very recently from the Animal Welfare Society.

Arli is a very active, curious tiny little thing. She still has her moments, but for the most part she knows that this is her home now! Her and Duncan are starting to hang out and play together and it’s starting to sound like we have horses in the house instead of cats! (must be a good sign, right?) (I think she has a crush on Duncan… but, i can’t blame her, he is a handsome guy 🙂  )

I can talk (and write) about my cats forever, but… I won’t, promise! (just in case someone does read this and doesn’t die of boredom :p)

Pets are awesome! They are there for you and love you unconditionally! So, remember, they are pets, not toys!! Be respectful, be responsible! Do your homework before you get a pet and adopt, don’t shop!!

A.

 

 

I can’t understand…

I’ve been here (in the USA) for 8 years and I still can’t understand what happens here…

I’m not a fan of politics and normally I don’t post nor comment on politics related stuff, but… how can this thing be taken seriously?

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I understand that ignorants and prejudiced people think he’s the best thing since sliced bread, but i can’t even start understanding how “normal” people can consider him as a country leader. It’s scary…

A.

One of my favorite hikes

This was (and still is) one of my favorite hikes. It’s been a few years since we did it and it still is one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever did (2011). It included North & South Twins, West Bond, Bond and Bondcliff for a total of 20 miles and five 4,000 foot peaks in the Pemigewasset Wilderness in New Hampshire. It traverses the amazing Bondcliff Ridge which divides the Pemi right in the middle and provides amazing 360 degree views.

We took our time and divided it into 2.5 days. You will need 2 vehicles – We hiked North to South so we left one car at the Lincoln Woods parking lot and the other at the parking area at the North Twin trail (on US 3 N).

You’ll start by crossing water and following North Twin trail to the summit of North Twin (4761) and the North Twin Spur to the summit of South Twin (4902). These were our summits for the day, before heading to the Gyot campsite (this campsite has a caretaker and it’s $8 per person).

 

The next morning we headed to the Bonds – West Bond (4540), Bond (4698) and Bondcliff (4265).  At Bond, the view of the ridge ahead is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen!And at Bondcliff, you can enjoy the awesome cliffs and maybe venture to a picture on the rock (I passed 😉 ) Words and even picture aren’t enough to describe the beauty and peace of this place. It is breathtaking!

We spent the night off trail and the next morning we had a pretty easy walk to the Lincoln Woods parking lot, through an old logging road, not before seeing some pristine pools and nice spots for a swim at the Franconia Falls.

This is not an easy hike, but is it certainly worth every single struggle, climb, and rocky path!!

Happy trails!

A.

 

Cheating our way up Mount Washington

It has been months since the last entry… unfortunately, to me that means that the hiking season is over but that shouldn’t mean that the writing needs to stop. (we may in the future try winter hiking, but this is will not be the year for that 😉 )

We did end up heading up Mount Washington for a second time, on September 26th, although we cheated all the way 🙂 We got together with family and experienced the 3-hour guided train tour on the Mount Washington Cog Railway (you can choose to take the three-hour round trip in a vintage coach powered by a historic steam locomotive or the more modern and eco-friendly biodiesel engines, we chose the biodiesel. Trips are really popular, so if you plan on doing this, book in advance). It was a lot a fun and we couldn’t have asked for a better day – the weather was PERFECT! The sky was blue, the sun was shining and we were excited!

I must confess that although fun, the thrill of getting to the top was not really there, but the view was impressive and our tour guide was a riot!

The adventure starts at Marshfield Base Station, located at 2700′ above sea level, where you can buy your tickets, visit the gift shop and grab something to eat. There is also a little informative museum with old pictures, memorabilia and information about the Cog Railway’s history. (And this is also where you can purchase the “group picture” taken before you board.)

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While you wait to board, take a minute to check out the Old Peppersass

All aboard and let the fun begin!

When at the top, make sure you visit the Tip Top House (open daily at 10 am to 4 pm from Memorial Day Weekend to Columbus Day.  It is closed on days with snow, rain and winds over 70mph.)

Before we made it back home, we stopped at Fabyan’s Station, and old train depot turned restaurant. It has a really nice patio, good food and friendly staff 🙂

(in a really rainy Sunday, nothing better than going back through pictures of sunny warm summer days!!)

Happy Trails!

A.

Saddleback Range – September 3 – 6 2015

This was so far our longest hike with 37 miles and became know as the “Up and Down Hike” – you go up and down all the time, everyday! We took advantage of Labor Day Weekend and made it a 4 day hike that brought us to Northern Maine and allowed us to cross 7 of Maine’s 14 4000 foot mountains!

The weather was awesome and since it’s all part of the Appalachian Trail (AT) we got to meet really cool people along the way.

The hike, as we did it, requires 2 vehicles (there are shuttle services that can be arranged ahead of time, but from what we heard that’s a pricey service) – we parked our car at the AT parking on Highway 14 and headed further north to the AT parking on Highway 27 to let the fun start! (we chose doing it this way so we could finish the hike with nice views, as the first peaks we hit have wooded summits).

Day 1 – from the car to Crocker Cirque Campsite

We took our time on the first day, headed to North and South Crocker (wooded summits) and ended the day at the Crocker Cirque Campsite. There are 3 wood platforms, a few tent sites and a good water source.

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Day 2 – Crocker Cirque Campsite to Spaulding Lean-To

On our way there we took the spur trail up and down to Sugarloaf (nice and open summit) and Spaulding (wooded and no views. The sign on the summit read 3998F, however in more recent measurements, Spaulding made the cut to the 14 4000F with 4010).

The Spaulding Lean-To has also a few tent sites and a good source of water.

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Day 3 – Spaulding Lean-To to Poplar Lean-To

This was a brutal one – the longest and hardest day with 2 miles of straight ascent to the Poplar Ridge.

As we did when going up Sugarloaf, we left our big packs well tucked away off the trail and made the climb lightweight (the top pocket of our packs is removable and turns into a “lumbar pack” with a built-in hipbelt, which is pretty handy and made the climb easier and faster). At the summit you can find the remains of an old tower and something that looks like it served as a shelter at some point.

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On our way to Poplar Ridge, we walked by Lone Mountain and Orbeton Stream (huge source of water!), and here is where the “fun” begins.

We overheard a big college group (there were a few college groups on trail doing their orientation out there) mentioning that they were heading the same way for the night so we picked up the pace and walk those 2 miles up to the ridge faster than we should have… but we wanted to make sure that there would be a spot for our tent that night. We did get a spot [the best one] and good thing because there are not that many tent sites around the lean-to. There is water running right through.

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Day 4 – Poplar Lean-To to the car on Highway 14!

On the last day we had another 10/11 miles to go, but all the time we wanted to enjoy the best views. Saddleback Junior, The Horn and Saddleback are sure worth a trip. We had a great time talking to a couple of the through hikers, enjoying the sun and taking all of those views in!

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As always, whatever hike you choose, make sure you stay on the trail, you respect other hikers, you carry in and carry out and stay off the vegetation, especially on the alpine zone!

Happy trails!

A.

Mount Cabot – August 7-9 2015

Friday the 7th was W. birthday and to celebrate the best way possible we headed to Berlin NH to tackle Mount Cabot.

We took the Mill Brook Trail to the Kilkenny Ridge Trail – parked outside the Fish Hatchery (they are open from 8am to 4pm and since there is a gate that may or may not be locked after that time, we decided it would be safer to walk a few feet and be able to leave 🙂 )

As a whole, the trail is pretty easy to hike. The terrain is good on the feet and knees and with the exception of a few steep spots here and there, elevation is gained gradually.

We headed to Rodger’s Ledge and spent the night right on the ledge (there is a tent site before heading up to the ledge) – it was fantastic! We were able to enjoy the sunset and the sunrise (the night was chilly, there was not one cloud in the sky.).

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The sunset was beautiful and the sunrise was as awesome! We had the ledge to ourselves and the day started bright and sunny allowing a fantastic view of the whole Presidential Range.

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After packing up we headed to The Horn, walking by Kilback Pond and the beautiful Unknown Pond (make sure to take a small detour to the water. The view is stunning! There is also a tent site).

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Be sure to go to The Horn – this will be the only spot with decent views as Cabot’s summit is heavily wooded.

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From The Horn we walked to The Bulge (the “summit” is marked by a pile of rocks) and headed to Cabot. From the summit we kept going and stopped at the Cabot Cabin (4 big bunk beds with bolted mats, a table with benches, a few shelves, a little grey mouse and, of course, a “guest book” – make sure to go in to sign it even if you are just passing through). We spent a few hours trying to decide if we should stay or keep going… We decided to head down and after a mile or so looked for a spot to camp (not that easy, so if you make the same decision, make sure to leave with plenty of time and daylight to try to find one. Wherever you stay, just remember to leave it as you found it!).

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We stayed right by the Bunnell Notch Trail/Kilkenny Ridge Trail junction and in the morning headed to the York Pond trail. The trail is fairly easy, pretty narrow at times and as the rest of the trail, even though there are hardly any blazes or cairns, easy to follow as the path is very well-defined. We walked by North Terrace summit (marked by a sign on a tree) and took the little spur to head to the summit of Terrace (only 0.2 miles roundtrip) where, again, there are no views. Once you hit the Terraces, there is a TON of moose poop everywhere – be careful where you step. We are pretty sure we heard one, but weren’t fast enough to catch a glimpse of him/her.

York Pond Trail is flat, good for your feet terrain, with cool little brooks here and there. Once you are off the trail there’s roughly a 2 miles road walk back to the Hatchery – the road is gravel with very little traffic.

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Happy trails!

A.