capturing nemo

Posted by susan on February 10th, 2013

Many areas of New England saw as much as three feet of snow as the record-breaking blizzard, known as Nemo, pummeled the region. Like most New Englanders, that left Mike and I cooped up in our house, until cabin fever got the best of us.

In case you haven’t seen enough photos of this epic storm, here’s a glimpse into our storm watch adventure…

Blizzard porch

Nemo Mike

Nemo natick center

>Blizzard sidewalk

blizzard east central street

nemo roads

climbing up mount washington & out of ruts

Posted by susan on January 24th, 2013

Have you ever been in a rut that forces you to say no to everything? A rut that makes you back out of plans when the logistics seem too complicated or when you envision yourself being way too tired? A rut that kills the thing in you that fuels your sense of adventure?

Sure, I talk “adventure” here all the time, but in reality this blog is the thing that holds me accountable to my “adventurousness.” I hate to admit it, but my dark side is the side of me that backs out to take the easy route. No, not the easy route – the “sensible” route. But I ask you – me actually – how many once-in-a-lifetime moments have I seared into my memory thanks to taking the “sensible” route? Not many. It’s stupid, but I do it and I bet you do to0.

I was right smack in the middle of one of those ruts when I realized it was way too late to back out of hiking up Mount Washington. Yeah, Mount friggin’ Washington. The highest peak in New England. My preparation for the hike at that point was a couple of easy strolls up the Blue Hills within the past year or so. But my brother-in-law, Grayson, heard that me and Mike wanted to become an “active couple” and “start hiking” and he made it happen.

Despite a flurry of emails offering tips, recommendations and overall enthusiasm in the weeks leading up to the trip, I kept looking ahead to the day with dread. Not because I didn’t want to go, but because I let my schedule take precedence over actually getting in shape for the climb. So, on one pitch black Saturday morning in late October, me, Mike, Grayson and my sister Jenny hit the road at 4:00 a.m.

When we arrived at the bottom of Mount Washington and prepared for the hike to the top, we discovered that the early stages were merely a “hike.” And it was lovely…

Hiking Mount Washington

It wasn’t until we took our first rest at the bottom of the mountain, with a perfect view of the “bowl,” or Tuckerman Ravine, when we realized that our journey had only just begun.

Mount Washington, Tuckerman Ravine

Soon we found ourselves not hiking, but literally climbing up the mountain, grasping for rocks that we prayed were sturdy enough to stay lodged into the earth and not send us tumbling.

Mount Washington

Hiking in New England

mount washington

Then, finally, after four grueling hours we made it to the top.

Mount Washington Summit


Top of mount washington

Mount Washington

We ate a quick lunch in the cafeteria and then, thanks to these frequent rock piles, which marked our trail, we were off…

Mount Washington Stone Markers

…and got to take in some of gorgeous views along the way.

Mount Washington View

Mount Washington view

We made it back down in a little less than four hours, rounding out an 8 hour day of climbing. It was tough, but we did it.

Now, the next time I’m in a rut I have my trip up to New Hampshire to look back on. If I can climb Mount Washington, I can do anything.

the gift of travel inspiration

Posted by susan on January 5th, 2013

I’ve been suffering from that rampant flu. I’m not 100 percent yet, but today I left the house for the first time in nearly a week. Progress, right? That, and the nonstop holiday celebration last month, is the cause of my absolute neglect of the blogosphere. Needless the say, my sense of adventure – and productivity level – has been at an all time low.

But things are looking up. It’s that time of year when we all start to think about how we’ll make the most of 2013. Like every year, when it comes to travel goals, I’m trying to be realistic. For Christmas, in addition to quality time with family and friends of course, I was blessed with some amazing gifts that are already motivating me to get out of this slump and think about exploring. I thought I’d share them with you in case they send any inspiration your way…

The first is a gorgeous travel bag from my friend, Bryce, which I will be using daily on my commute to work. It’s sturdy, it fits so much more than my laptop, and thanks to the adjustable strap, it’s comfortable. For a commute that includes about a mile and a half of walking (one way) and the commuter rail, comfort is a necessity. And if you look closely, you’ll see that my little Angie loves it too.

The second is from my friend Lisa, who has experienced enough girls weekends to know that I am never well-equipped. I own bags of all shapes and sizes, but all are either too large or too small for just a weekend away. For the girl who claims to “love” girls weekends – and has the audacity to blog about them – it’s pitiful. Now I have a proper, gorgeous Cynthia Rowley bag to add to my motley collection!

The next item is from my sister Jenny, who knows me all too well. A frequenter of bars, one of the first things I look for when entering these fine establishments is a hook to hang my purse. In my book, if there’s a hook, the place gets an extra star. But when there isn’t one, thanks to Jenny, that’s not going to stop me from keeping my belongings safe and off the floor. She got me a hook that latches onto any bar or table and – get ready for it – serves double duty as a bracelet. I won’t have to worry about packing an extra accessory into my purse.

Lastly, my brother and sister-in-law, Matt and Meghan, got me a gift that will keep me thinking about travel every time I look up to check the date. This calendar is not only so pretty that I haven’t been able to stop flipping through it since they gave it to me, it reveals so many cities that I have yet to check off my list.


How was everyone’s holiday and New Year’s eve? And more importantly, where are you going this year?

gone oyster pickin’

Posted by susan on November 28th, 2012

For most, the end of summer in New England marks the end of flocking to the beach, the end of sinking your feet into the sand, the end of dipping your toes into the water and letting the waves slowly pull you in. As winter comes, the likes of Cape Cod and its beaches – once lit up by the warm summer sun – are a mere memory, stored away until the next year.

That’s not the case for everyone though. When it comes to going down the Cape, my dad for one doesn’t follow the sun, he follows the moon.

For years I’ve had the great fortune of enjoying the freshest and most delicious oysters you can find thanks to my dad’s sporadic trips down the Cape to pluck them out of the muddy Wellfleet beach. By sporadic I mean, he doesn’t simply look at his calendar for long and open weekends, he maps his journeys with a tide chart. If the tide is going to be perfect on a random Sunday, that’s the day he goes. If it’s right smack in the middle of winter, that’s the day he goes.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of joining him on a trip and it was all business. We hit the road at 4:00 a.m. and about two hours later we found ourselves in a garden of oysters just waiting to be picked.

And since they grow in clusters, we had to pick through every little bouquet to find those big enough to legally take home. Then, we packed as many as possible into a single bucket.

Before we knew it, we were back home by early afternoon enjoying the fruits of our labor.

I’ve had a lot of oysters over the years, but I can say, the best are those you pick yourself.

the meaning of homesick

Posted by susan on November 9th, 2012

Last week I was was brainstorming with some colleagues to identify specific experiences, moments and feelings that tend to be collectively shared by individuals of a particular age and demographic. We stumbled upon the intersection of life where one leaves high school, and in some cases, heads to college, and a thought sprung. For some, that’s the first time they’ll ever experience what it’s like to be homesick. At that exact moment I did my best to think back to the times when I’ve felt that. And while I could remember those times, the feeling didn’t quite resurface.

On the train home from work a few days later, while ritually glued to my iPhone –  thumb furiously sliding and tapping away at no less than ten apps in a matter of minutes – I came across a photo that brought me back to my last trip, Budapest. Suddenly, my stomach dropped and I was filled with a subtle, lingering sadness. Not sad to not be in Budapest, but sad that I wasn’t traveling.

I was homesick.

I was first bitten by the travel bug when I studied abroad in Ireland. It was the first time that I climbed out of the comfort of my childhood and experienced what it is really like out there. That we have way more in common with other people than we think, and what we don’t have in common – but go out of our way to learn – makes us better.

When you travel you’re swept up in the moment, doing your best to soak everything in, to commit new places, people and even buildings to memory so that you don’t lose out on one ounce of personal enrichment. Every trip on which I’ve embarked puts me back there. To that place where I started on a journey to not just explore places, but cultures, and actually open up my eyes.

It’s a good place.

On that note, I’m stealing a little piece of inspiration that Gadling shared on Facebook today.

Ready, set, go.

looking up

Posted by susan on October 2nd, 2012

I may be biased, but I’ve always thought that of all the airports to fly into, Boston has the prettiest view. As you peer down through your tiny oval window, the plane hovers over a jagged edged harbor dotted with little islands, then heads toward buildings that very slowly come into view. The plane lowers and it seems the buildings will be bypassed, but then the entire plan nearly glides right into the water. At the very last second though, the wheels drop, scrape unexpected concrete and the plane drives you all the way to your terminal.

Looking down, seeing the the end of your travels float away in the clouds can be bittersweet. But it’s a whole different story when you’re on the ground looking up.

boston logan airport

Enter, the travel bug. Where are you going next?

staying awhile

Posted by susan on September 17th, 2012

When you’ve got a nine to five job and have a limited number of vacation days a year, it’s easy to get a little ahead of yourself when it’s time to travel. As we planned our trip to Budapest, Mike couldn’t stop to take a breath without me finding a window of opportunity to bulk up our stay with a list of side trips.

Mike wisely reminded me that the trip on which we were about to embark was also a vacation. Time away from work and planning so we could properly relax and recharge. Reluctantly at first, I decided to take his advice and what followed was a bold decision that somehow brought us to uncharted territory.

When we went to Budapest, we simply stayed in Budapest.

Sure we were just a few hours away from places like Prague and Vienna, but we also became so familiar with one city that we adopted a regular cafe, the Central Cafe. I even became the mayor for a hot second.

Centrál Kávéház

We didn’t pack up our bags and move there, but for the first time since I did that in another city, I was reminded what it’s like to truly immerse yourself in a new place. I can’t say I won’t city hop again – let’s face it, I’ve only got a few weeks a year to get away and it’s a big world out there – but next time I’ll definitely be more open to slowing down.

How do you prefer to travel?

a glimpse of chicago

Posted by susan on September 11th, 2012

Can you even believe I had never been to Chicago before this summer?

After a day of #NintendoEnthused fun my first stop was to see the Bean in Millennium Park.

And of course, take a distorted photo of my reflection.

Then- and my architect would be proud – I spotted a Frank Gehry creation: the Pritzker Music Pavilion in Millennium Park.

I have to admit, even though it’s one of my favorite concert venues, this place kind of puts the Fleet Boston Pavilion in Boston to shame – except for it not being right next to the ocean.

Once Millennium Park was out of my system, it was time to meet up with Kyle, my friend Bryce’s brother who lives in Chicago and was kind enough to show me the top touristy spots. On my way to meet him, I practically jumped with glee when I saw the towers on the Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album, otherwise known as Marina City.

Then I met Kyle at the Hancock Tower.

Instead of paying for the observatory, we simply grabbed a drink at the restaurant upstairs – which cost the same as an observatory visit – and got to see the view too.

Next, we took a stroll along Navy Pier, which was followed up by a classic Chicago lunch at Lou Malnati’s, which incidentally, sells an unbelievable salad…

And a delicious deep dish.

So in conclusion, Chicago – even after just a glimpse – is a pretty cool place. One thing I regret though is not having Mike there with me because of all those beautiful buildings.

Good thing we have plans to head back next summer.