November 21, 2015
This was another hike that Erin planned, and I was excited by her trail selection. As I've mentioned before, there has been a lot of repetition in our hikes at Beaver Lake ever since Frankie became communicative. He just loves the boardwalk so much it's hard to steer him away from the Bog Trail. But the other trails are nice, too, and with hunting season still open, the nature center is always a safe bet. So off we went. The Three Meadows Trail is varied in scenery, passing through pines and hardwoods, and as the name implies, several lovely meadows.
November 15, 2015
On Friday night, I told Frankie I wanted him to check the weather forecast and decide which day this weekend would have better weather for a hike. This kid has always been obsessed with the weather, checking the 10-day forecasts not just for our area, but for distant places he's traveled. Place names bookmarked in the weather app became some of his first sight words. He makes up different weather forecasts for his various toys and imaginary worlds (bunny world, spaceship world, train land). And he's just recently started writing up and illustrating his own weather forecasts. Given all that, I suspected he would enjoy this assignment enormously, and he rose to the task, taking his new responsibility quite seriously. First thing Saturday morning, he scrolled through the hourly forecasts for both days and determined today would be best.
November 1, 2015
My mother Mary came to visit for Frankie's first birthday in 2011, and has made it an annual tradition, coming every fall. She came a week earlier last year, due to a schedule conflict, and got to participate in Halloween festivities, including pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating. That worked out really well, so we did the same thing again this year. Obviously any nice visit must include hiking. Of course! We walked a portion of the Morningside Cultural Trail one day, at Frankie's insistence - he loves the "secret stairs" behind the community gardens and the water towers, and wanted to show them off. That turned out to be a fine adventure, since neither Mary or Erin (or Alden!) had been up there before. We also hiked at Clark Reservation. Today we wanted to meet up with Erin and Alden again, so decided on Beaver Lake. It is a good place this time of year, since we don't have to worry about hunters, and closer to her house than some potential destinations.
October 24, 2015
When I found out Erin was planning to walk at the Erie Canal Park in Camillus, I decided Frankie and I would join in on the fun. It was chilly and overcast, but we just layered up. I've been to several different sections of the canal east of Syracuse, but never to the Camillus side. The Erie Canal towpaths are flat as a pancake, and the scenery is generally pretty monotonous, so we don't go often. However, this particular segment was appealing for its novelty, plus it includes a restored aqueduct about a mile from the parking lot that makes for a good destination. Despite Frankie's protests that he wanted to keep going, we made the aqueduct our turn-around for this hike, as it started raining there. Erin says the Sims Store Museum is another mile down, so perhaps we'll return another time for a longer out-and-back. Maybe we'll even see a boat in the aqueduct!
October 11, 2015
After Frankie had so much fun on our hike of Kane Mountain a few weeks ago, I started looking around to find another fire tower we could climb together. Unfortunately, most of them are too far away to reasonably manage as a day trip, or they are beyond Frankie's current abilities, or in many cases, both. Blue Mountain seemed like the next logical climb for us, but even that would be a stretch. The hike is 4 miles roundtrip, with approximately 1,500 feet elevation gain. Frankie has done that distance several times with little trouble, but has never taken on that much ascent. He wasn't remotely tired after Kane, so I knew he could handle something more ambitious, but I was still a little unsure about Blue, especially factoring in the almost 3-hour drive just to get to the trailhead. I had almost decided it would be better to wait until next year, but then we had amazing weather this weekend. Plus, Frankie's school is closed Monday, so I knew he'd have an extra day to rest if we got home late.
October 7, 2015
It is a long ways between Michigan and Maine, so when my Mom visits her brother, she'll often break the drive up into two days, stopping here for a brief visit en route. We didn't see them on their way up this trip, but Mary and Keith were able to join us for dinner last night on their way back home. Then, since I had the day off from work today, they stayed on for an extra day and we went for a hike together. They suggested Clark Reservation, albeit somewhat hesitantly, out of concern that I might go too often, but that is never the case! Plus, I actually haven't been there in a while and was genuinely pleased with the idea.
September 26, 2015
I was still a little disappointed about not climbing any mountains at Labor Day weekend, so decided to try to squeeze something in this fall. We can drive to the Adirondacks foothills in about two hours, so that is manageable for a day trip with the boy. However, Frankie was not enthusiastic about the idea of a two hour drive (each way). I'm not proud of it, but I found a solution: I let him play with "his phone" in the car, an old retired smart phone that no longer has service. Erwin loaded it up with a bunch of games for Frankie to play with on long flights. He has never before used it outside of an airport or airplane, and he was very excited for the additional opportunity. I'd rather he look out the window as we drive and talk to me, but it worked: we arrived at the trailhead happy.
September 5, 2015
We had the Keene rental for the entire long weekend, so of course I wanted to hike again. I simply can't be in the Adirondacks and not feel that call. However, in order to be accessible and appealing for our whole group, the trail would need to be fairly short and easy (no High Peaks!) and include a swimming hole of some kind. I have not typically included swimming as a hike criterion, so decided to consult my High Peaks Trails book. There are six places listed in the index under "swimming," including Copperas Pond, which we visited yesterday. The Boquet River immediately caught my eye because I've read a number of trip reports from folks using that herd path to access the Grace Slide, and without fail, everyone spoke highly of the river and it's pools.
September 4, 2015
August 28, 2015
4,607 feet | ranked 14/46 in height | 26th peak climbed
4,482 feet | ranked 18/46 in height | 27th peak climbed
Frankie was in South Carolina much of this week, visiting his grandmother and enjoying the ocean. I'd been checking the long-range forecast constantly, hoping that serendipitous timing would give me a window of good weather for hiking. The earliest available forecasts called for rain, but I kept watching and ended up with perfect weather. My partners for this hike were my Dad, Bruce, and his 9-month old Australian shepherd, Daisy. He takes her for walks averaging about 3 miles a day, but in the flat lands, and no single hike has exceeded 5 miles. When I first discussed the possibility of teaming up for a hike, he was interested, but conditioned his agreement on no 4 am departures. As a result, I'd been thinking we might drive up Thursday night, hike Friday, and then drive home first thing Saturday morning so I could pick up Frankie and Erwin at the airport.
August 21, 2015
After the scorching hot field hike at Green Lakes last weekend, I wanted some deep shady woods. I love the glacial hills south of Tully, and although we'd been to both Morgan Hill and Tinker Falls this year, we hadn't been to Highland Forest since Frankie was still riding in the carrier part time. It's been on my potential hike list for a while, and I finally decided we'd make it happen. I briefed Frankie the day before so he'd know that we'd be leaving essentially right after breakfast. He could play toys while I made breakfast and got ready (filled water bottles, peeled carrots and gathered snacks, packed the car bag with a change of clothes, etc.), but then... out the door. A little mental preparation goes a long way in warding off a Lego time-suck.
August 15, 2015
Today felt a little off kilter. When we checked WeatherBug this morning, rain was forecast. Since I generally only take Frankie out hiking in fair weather conditions, we just hung around the house all morning. I had been away for work most of the past week, and Frankie had a lot of plans for our Frankie-Mama day yesterday. While that included a bike ride around the neighborhood (Frankie biking, me walking), these plans mostly involved Legos and other indoor activities. By lunchtime today, when there was still no hint of impending storms, cabin fever set in. I checked the radar and decided we could check out the western trailhead at Green Lakes State Park.
August 5, 2015
When we hiked at Pratts this spring, we took the Falls Trail loop down to see the full view of the waterfall at high water conditions. By the time we got over to the western trailhead, Frankie's little legs weren't too fresh, so we just hiked the shorter Crossover Trail loop. Today we went back to hike the longer North Rim Trail.
August 1, 2015
Erin's son Alden is 4 months old already. Unfortunately, he is currently going through that phase of screaming in furious despair when riding in the car, that full on tomato-head, gasping and wheezing bawl that I remember so well from Frankie's babyhood. It's the kind of thing that makes you want to avoid going anywhere that isn't absolutely necessary. Still... fresh air is good for everyone, babies included. To reduce the length of the potential torture session for both of them, I suggested we hike somewhere on their side of town. Great Bear fit the bill and since Frankie and I hadn't been there since last fall, it rose to the top of the list under consideration.
July 25, 2015
When I suggested a hike this weekend, Frankie was delightfully enthusiastic. However, he had an unusual condition: he insisted we go somewhere new. I suggested driving 2 hours to hike a fire tower in the Adirondack foothills, but he rejected the long drive, leaving me scrambling. I had to think pretty hard before I finally came up with a couple of ideas. [We hike much more than I record here, and he's already been to most of the places reasonably close by. I've considered adding a monthly roundup of hikes that don't get a full length feature, but I just haven't got around to it.]
June 22, 2015
We embrace slow travel, so for this trip to Italy we spent almost two weeks in Tuscany, then a few days in Rome. While in Tuscany, we stayed in the tiny hilltop village of Montefollonico, a charming walled medieval enclave located short 15-minute drives from both Pienza and Montepulciano, two of the most storied towns in the area. We prefer to rent apartments rather than stay in hotels, and in Montefollonico, our two bedroom rental featured an incredible 12th-century tower, complete with parapets and arrow slits. The views from the terrace atop the tower were spectacular!
June 21, 2015
We've been in Montefollonico nine days already, but have spent those days exploring nearby hilltop villages and the historical rival-cities of Firenze and Siena. As spectacular as those adventures were, I've craving a simple day around town: less driving and more hiking. When Erwin wasn't up yet by the time Frankie and I finished breakfast, we headed out on foot, planning to stop at the playground, then pop into the little grocery store on our way back to the apartment. A pair of adorable and super charming Italian boys were at the playground. The older brother kept trying to get Frankie to play with them, but my shy little guy was overwhelmed by the language barrier and the 7-year old's friendly exuberance, and kept running back to me. I chatted with the kids a bit, but when their Dad kept interceding to tell them to give Frankie some space, I decided we should clear out. The kids were so sweet, I didn't want to provide the attractive nuisance that would get them in trouble.
May 24, 2015
For our second full day at the Pinery, my Mom suggested hiking the Hickory and Bittersweet Trails. Both are short loops through the forest along the Old Ausable Channel. The Hickory Trail starts right from the parking area west of the of the road, while the Bittersweet Trail is on the east side of the road and is accessed via a short crosswalk.
May 23, 2015
Frankie and I joined my mother and her husband on their annual Memorial Day camping trip to Pinery Provincial Park in Ontario. The park is located on the southeastern shore of Lake Huron, near the small town of Lambton Shores. Mary and Keith have been going there for many years, and told us many wonderful things about it, but this was our first time. What a place! We loved it. Our campsite was in the Dunes Campground -- it is an enormous park with three separate campgrounds -- and as the name implies, it was a very short walk from our campsite through the dunes to the shore.
May 6, 2015
I've worked part time since Frankie was born, initially just 20 hours per week, then increasing over the years to my current four days per week. On my day off, usually Wednesdays, I drop him off at school at 8:15 am and pick him up again at 11:45 am. It was a gorgeous day, so after dropping him off, I returned home and went out for a bike ride (12.7 miles). After showering, I packed a trail lunch, and went to gather the boy. He is transitioning away from naps, which frees some afternoons up for other pursuits. We went directly to Clark Reservation.
April 19, 2015
Sunday Frankie and I had a lazy morning around the house before heading out for a hike. I couldn't bear not being in the woods; it was simply too beautiful outside to stay home. Tinker Falls and the hang glider launch pad on Jones Hill have long been a favorite spring hike of mine, one I haven't indulged in since Frankie was born. In 2013, we took a family hike to the base of Tinker Falls, out and back, no further. In 2014, it was a combo hike with Erin: a Tinker loop behind the falls, then the boardwalk loop at Labrador Hollow. This year I decided Frankie was finally ready: he could handle the hike to Tinker Falls, and then continue on to the top of Jones Hill.
April 12, 2015
March 29, 2015
I made a concerted effort to get us outside in March, with some success. Prior to this hike we'd spent about 20 hours outdoors, and walked about 15 miles, mostly in the neighborhood. The weather remained unusually cold, and our tallies included quite a bit of time shoveling, sledding, and herding ice. We sorely lacked in the woods department though. I was eminently conscious of the depth of the snow, and didn't want to get Frankie in over his head again, like on our snowshoeing adventure in December. We finally got a day with both sunshine and above-freezing temperatures, so we headed back to Clark.
March 7, 2015
In terms of spending time outdoors, this has been a rough winter for us. January was officially The Month of Sick: I had influenza, which took me out of commission for several weeks, and Frankie, the poor kid, had everything else. Unfortunately, I'm only half joking. He had an ear infection, and a salivary gland infection, and strep throat, and a horrible allergic reaction to a penicillin-based antibiotic that made him miserably inflamed and itchy for almost two weeks. February was better health-wise, tempered only by the on again off again cold that seems to be a permanent feature of preschool. But the weather was brutal. I generally hold to the principle that there is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing, but February really put that theory to the test. It was the coldest month in recorded history here, with an average temperature of 9 degrees, never mind the wind chills. It's hard not to worry about frostbite in such conditions, so instead of romping in the snow, we spent an obscene amount of time playing with Legos. And I started going completely stir crazy.