Rowing on Lake Quinsigamond

This summer I decided to get back into rowing. I registered for a learn to scull (2 oars instead of 1) program through Quinsigamond Rowing Club and it just ended today. There were six sessions- we did the first 3 in a quad because those are the most stable with just one person rowing. Then the fourth session we did in doubles, and I rowed the last two in a single. Monday I went out in a wintech explorer which was a little wider, and then today in a peinart which was more narrow. It was a really fun experience, I am so glad I did it.

Growing up, I played tennis and did Irish step dancing. My junior year of high school, I was having knee problems, was diagnosed with patella femoral syndrome, and was faced with finding a new activity. My orthopedic doctor had rowed for St. John’s in Worcester so he suggest rowing as a way to strengthen my inner quads to support my knee better. That summer I did the learn to row camp at Northeastern University, then rowed at CRI my senior year, and then rowed for four amazing years at WPI. While at WPI, I did a little sculling- most of it was good, but there were definitely some disasters. I remember walking off the dock holding a single with my coach my freshman year, then I flipped a double with my best friend Jen in the summer after my junior year of college, and then flipped a single senior year during spring training down in Cocoa Beach. This morning…I flipped and fell in the water reaching out to my oar lock hahaha- oh well, I had a change of clothes.

Sculling is awesome because you have two oars and use both sides of your body more evenly I think. I really liked rowing a single. The reward for good strokes is big, and crappy strokes are on you and only you, so you become really aware of what you are doing well, and what you need to work on. I had our coach video me on Monday and today so I could see my body and blade position. It’s really helpful to actually see whats happening with your rowing.

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A shot from Monday’s row in the wintech explorer!
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A shot from today’s row in the peinert! Had shorts on, pants were my extra clothes in my bag after I took a little swim! oops!
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The boat named for one of my best friends, teammates, my co-captain, and even my sorority sister Jen. She passed away in 2008 and I miss her all the time.

It was so good to get back into rowing. After my friend passed away, going to the boathouse was hard- it felt like a place of mourning, like I was visiting her grave instead of the happy place it had been. Reconnecting with Jon, one of my teammates from college that knew Jen started to bring back the happiness in rowing, and I started to feel that healing and instead of just hiding and shutting away that void from when I left crew behind, I am starting to fill it again.

New England LOVES crew. There are so many colleges and clubs on the Charles River,  Lake Quinsigamond, the Mystic River, and the Merrimack River in Massachusetts. Many private and boarding schools have crew programs as well. Groton School rows on the Nashua River which is near where we run with Mizpah. The Head of the Charles is a huge event here in the fall, and in the spring there are many prestigious sprint races on Quinsig.

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Vermont Brewers Festival on Lake Champlain

Happy Monday!!! I just spent a lovely weekend up in Burlington VT with a great group of friends. This past weekend was the annual Vermont Brewers Festival at Waterfront Park right on Lake Champlain. We dropped the pup off Friday morning and headed up with a couple stops along the way. We stopped at Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT for a tour and some free cheese. The tour was great, just $3. I love how the Cabot Creamery works- its a coop, owned by the dairy farmers that supply the milk. Over 1 million pounds of milk arrive at the creamery from farms across New England and New York. Favorite cheese? Definitely the alpine cheddar- it was so good, had to get a block to take with us.

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Cabot Creamery- World’s Best Cheddar!

From there we stopped at the Ben and Jerry’s in Waterbury. Oh man, it was so packed. There were so many people, we walked around but didn’t stay…..I did get some Ben and Jerry’s at the scoop shop in Burlington though 🙂 Last stop before the campground was Prohibition Pig, also in Waterbury. They had some great beers of their own on tap, and then an awesome selection of local beers- some from Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Hill Farmstead, and Alchemist that are tough to find!

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Ben and Jerry’s! So much sugar, milk, and cream! Look at those mountains in the distance 🙂
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All the flavors that have been retired over the years- RIP
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I would totally camp in this instead of my tent!
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Scoop shop in Burlinton! The line was much better here. I am usually a phish food kinda gal, but gave chocolate therapy a chance- so good!

We stayed at North Beach Campground for the weekend, 4 couples, 4 tents, 2 sites. We put all the tents on one site and used the other site for the fire pit, picnic tables, and set up the screened in EZ-up. We were close to the bathrooms, and they had battery operated hot showers, which are great amenities at a campground. It’s not my favorite campground that I have stayed at, but the location was perfect. It was just a short walk to the lake, and just a little longer walk to the park where the beer fest location. The beer fest on Saturday was great. It was hot, but they had plenty of free water thankfully. We pooled our tickets to try as many beers as possible, attacking each brewery with a divide and conquer strategy. Thankfully we are all close friends, because there were a lot of passed beers! In all, I think we tried around 75 different beers!!! Not bad! We made really great food for the weekend- marinated steak tips, turkey burgers, rotisserie chicken salad with dried cherries and walnuts, and of course, s’mores. We had a camp fire and played cards for hours…it just seems like time doesn’t exist when you are camping.

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I was trying to get a picture with this lovely light house but my friend was being such a goof ball I couldn’t stop laughing. Dress is from Mahi Gold 🙂 
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I love lake views with mountains as the backdrop- do you see Champy out there? That’s Lake Champlain’s version of the Loch Ness monster!
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North Beach- we think those are NY mountains over there!
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Love water views

Sunday we got up, packed up the sites, and explored Burlington a bit. I loved Outdoor Gear Exchange, had to hold myself back from LLBean, and grabbed a couple chocolates at Lake Champlain Chocolates. We did lunch at Farmhouse Tap and Grill and I got the best BLT I have had ever. Everyone loved their meals and beers, definitely recommend it!

Very last stop for the weekend was the Magic Hat‘s brewery which is called the artifactory. It’s a very cool brewery….the building itself looks like a plain, industrial warehouse, but they have really done a lot inside to make it feel like a different planet. It’s dark, neon, and kinda psychedelic- lots to look at. You can try beers there and get growlers. I really liked the Single Chair Golden Ale, dedicated to the single chair lift at Mad River Glen, and Stealin Time which is a wheat ale with ginger.

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Artsy-industrial tower outside the brewery. They definitely know how to dress up the factory. 
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Very cool poster for Magic Hat #9, an elixir that is not quite a pale ale 
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Fitting for my ski bum to take a pic with the Single Chair frame!

We had such a fun weekend. I loved Burlington and Lake Champlain and think we will be returning next year. It was definitely tough getting up this morning to row at 5:30. Oh yes, I am in a learn to scull program this month, what a throwback. I have loved every second of it, but man is it early. I will write a post about it soon! Anyone else been to Burlington? Where did you go? What were your favorite spots?

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Southernmost Presidentials Hike

Last week, I got to do a midweek hike with my sister who is just starting out doing the 4,000 footers in NH. We did Mt. Jackson and Mt. Pierce, which are the most southern 4,000 footers in the Presidential Range. This was actually my third time hiking these two, but first time in the summer!

We took the Webster-Jackson Trail from Rt. 302 to Mt. Jackson, and then the Webster Cliff Trail over to Mt. Pierce, and finally the Crawford Path back down to Rt. 302. It was my first 4000 footer hike without my husband, and so I felt a little pressure to make sure we were on the correct trails, going the right way and so on. Mt. Webster is up there too, named after Daniel Webster, but it’s not a 4000 footer so we had to make sure we avoided that trail.

Mt. Jackson is actually not named after Andrew Jackson, our 7th president. It is named after Charles Jackson who was a physician and the state’s geologist! On the way to Mt. Pierce, named for Franklin Pierce, is the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) run Mizpah Spring Hut. It was a really nice one. It made me miss my pup, Mizpah, but her paw pads were still healing.

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View down from Mt. Jackson. You can just barely see the Mt. Washington Hotel down there! Just to the right of center with that red roof!
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Sisters at the summit!
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The rest of the Presidentials from Jackson, you can see Washington perfectly high up on the right!
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Mizpah Spring Hut, just below the summit of Mt. Pierce
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The Mizpah bell in the hut, reminded me of my pup!
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Matching Merrell boots up on top of Mt. Pierce! Mine on the left are just really old haha. Mt. Pierce was originally named Mt. Clinton after DeWitt Clinton, a governor of NH.
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Just starting out on the Crawford Path, beautiful views of the Presis
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Someone on the trail got really excited about my mountain hat, said he was friends with one of the Harding Lane guys! We probably could have had a nice convo if I wasn’t so awkward and unable to speak more than “hi, how are you, have a nice hike” haha

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The Crawford family….you really can’t discuss the history of the White Mountains without talking about a few families, and the Crawford’s are definitely one. Abel and Ethan were father and son. They cleared a path up from Rt 302 to Mt. Pierce (Clinton then) over to Mt. Washington and guided hikers up. Abel at 75 years old in 1840 ascended this trail to Mt. Washington on horseback!! The path is just over 8 miles and goes over Mt. Eisenhower, Mt. Monroe, past the Lake in the Clouds, and ends up at Mt. Washington’s summit.

It was a really hot day which meant drinking lots of water. Having the hut was nice to fill up and not have to worry about running out of water. When we finished our hike, we headed to the Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery for a beer and some food. So delicious. I got the chicken salad melt which is an open faced sandwich on their spent grain bread, and my sister got a bison bacon bbq burger. We both got their summer beer which is deliciously light and refreshing. It was just a great day with my sister, so thankful to be able to hike with her!

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Sites in Historic Concord, MA

This past weekend, my husband and I spent the day in Concord MA checking out some of the historic sites and houses. We went to The Old Manse, North Bridge, The Orchard House, The Wayside, the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and finally the Colonial Inn. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter  and The House of the Seven Gables, two books that I actually read and loved in high school. He was born in Salem and then lived in The Old Manse in Concord, moved to the Berkshires, and then came back to The Wayside in Concord. Rev. William Emerson was the first inhabitant of The Old Manse, and Ralph Waldo Emerson lived there for a time too with his grandmother. Hawthorne lived there in his first three years of marriage with his wife, Sophia Peabody.

We walked from The Old Manse over the North Bridge and checked out the grounds there. The original North Bridge is no longer there. I think its actually been rebuilt a couple times. April 19, 1775 was the big day, the shot heard round the world, the battle of Lexington and Concord. A few ancestors on my mother’s side, Phillip Robbins and his son Jeremiah Robbins, Sr., were there that day. Minute Man park is really beautiful, its really hard to picture the battle that actual happened there.

From here, we went to The Orchard House and The Wayside. I have read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott probably a dozen times. It is such a good story, and at this point because I have read it so many times through my life, it feels like it has become part of my story. Alcott  set and wrote Little Women living in The Orchard House (1858-1877), but many scenes were inspired by earlier times living at The Wayside (called The Hillside when they lived there). The Alcott family lived at The Wayside from 1844-1848 and then rented it out until they sold it to Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1852.

The Orchard House was cool because of the book, but I definitely fell for The Wayside .

The gorgeous piazza was added by the Lothrop family who lived there in 1887. The tower in the center of the home was added in the time that the Hawthornes lived there. Harriet Lothrop wrote the children’s book series Five Little Peppers under the pen name Margaret Sidney. The photo of the window above is actually the loft above the little barn where Louisa May Alcott and her sisters staged the plays that inspired parts of Little Women.
From here we went to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. A section of the cemetery is referred to as The Author’s Ridge and thats where Emerson, Hawthorne, Alcott, and Thoreau are buried. A founder of WPI, George Frisbie Hoar is buried nearby, and his gravestone brought me to tears.

Here is the George Frisbie Hoar Grave.

Finally, after lots of walking it was time for a snack at The Colonial Inn. The actual building has been there since 1716 and it served as a storehouse and a hospital during the American Revolution. Room 24 was the operating room, and Room 27 was the morgue! Eek! Post-war, the hotel was a store and boarding house. Henry David Thoreau lived there from 1835-1837 while he was attending Harvard. It started operating as a hotel in the mid-19th century.

We sat outside, Jon got a 1716 Colonial Inn Ale which is made by Sam Adams for the inn, and I got a shirley temple. We had dinner plans so just grabbed a spinach artichoke dip. There are all different rooms inside the hotel for small gatherings/meeting, and multiple areas to eat. A cool spot was the Village Forge Tavern- it was dark, earthy, lots of equestrian/farrier stuff for decor….you can almost picture militia having a tankard of beer in there. It was such a beautiful day we had to be outside. Historic Concord is an amazing place to visit because while there are many sites related to the American Revolution, there are just as many sites related to the transcendental literary revolution. Next year we want to try and make it for the reenactment they do for Patriot’s Day!

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Zealand Mountain Hike June 30th

We stayed at the Mt. Washington Hotel last week for a few days, and of course had to do a hike while we were there. The trailhead for Zealand is just 15 or so minutes from the Mt. Washington Hotel. Its a longer hike distance wise, but only took us 6:30 to do! The Zealand Falls Hut is on the way, and past it you can see the falls. The falls are beautiful. Zeacliff has beautiful views on the way to Zealand. Zealand’s summit doesn’t have views, it is tree covered.

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Beautiful scenery on the mostly flat first few miles
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The falls on the way up
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The view from Zeacliff
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Looking out over Carrigain and the Hancocks from Zeacliff. I did this same hike in November 2014 and this was all covered in snow!!
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The summit of Zealand
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More of the falls on the way down
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The Zealand Falls Hut
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One of the last little lady slippers of the season all by itself out on the trail

Interestingly, the Zealand Recreation Area you see off of 302 before the trailhead which is up the road a bit is where a small town used to be. Zealand was a town set up by J.E. Henry from Lincoln that had a boarding house, school, and a dozen homes. John Henry was into logging, and once they clearcut the entire wilderness in that area, they picked up and headed back to Lincoln leaving behind the town. The buildings all burned down between 1886 and the turn of the century, and the town faded into the past. There were many abandoned and now almost forgotten ‘company towns’ built for the logging industry in New Hampshire. Anyway, it was really cool leaving this hike and instead of just driving by the Mt. Washington Hotel, turning down the drive to our room!

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The Grand Mt. Washington Hotel

Before the automobile, there were many grand hotels and boarding houses in the White Mountains, called the Great North Woods back then, where people from the cities in Massachusetts would stay for a month or two in the summer for some fresh air and recreation. The Mt. Washington wasn’t open in the winter until 2000. They would arrive by trains and ‘tallyhos’ which were horse drawn carriages. It took so long to get anywhere, you would stay longer. The Mt. Washington Hotel broke ground in 1900 and opened for guests in 1902. It was built by Joseph Stickney, who also owned the Mt. Pleasant Hotel (which is now where the Lodges at Bretton Woods are) across the street.

It is breathtaking, the largest wooden structure in New England, all white exterior with that bright popping red roof against the most beautiful backdrop- the Presidential Mountain Range. I have driven by the hotel many times in my hiking adventures, and looked down upon it from many peaks in the area. Last week was the first time I actually stayed there, and honestly I could have moved in. We stayed Wednesday night and Thursday night, and it was really great being there midweek. It was a lot less crowded from what I have heard. There was rain on Wednesday, but Thursday and Friday were gorgeous. Wednesday night we sat out on the veranda overlooking our beloved mountains. They sat tucked under a blanket of clouds until the sun set and the alpine glow set in. We went to dinner that night at Stickney’s, a restaurant in the lower level of the hotel that used to be the men’s billiard room back in the day. After, we had a couple drinks in The Cave, a space that was originally squash courts that became a speakeasy during Prohibition years. They drank from tea cups and had a view out the window to the driveway to see if any officials were coming up.

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The beautiful mountains under the clouds

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Red clay tennis courts, new from when the conference center/spa addition took up space where the old courts were.
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The Ammonoosuc River
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The Bretton Arms Inn on the property
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The carriage house that is now the stables/equestrian center
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The alpine glow at around 8PM. From left to right, the peaks are Jefferson, Clay, Washington, Monroe, Franklin, and you can just see the slope of Eisenhower.
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Out on the roof of the newer section of the hotel which houses a conference center/spa

Thursday we hiked Zealand Mountain which was fantastic because it was only 15 minutes from the hotel. I will write up the hike in a separate post 🙂 Thursday night we did a little fly fishing in the trout pond out front before eating out on the veranda. After, we got a couple glasses of champagne, a book titled A Self Guided Historic Tour, and meandered around the hotel.

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No trout caught unfortunately, we just caught some creek chubs

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A place is always set for Carolyn Stickney, the wife of the original owner of the hotel. He died just a year after the great hotel had been built, and Carolyn remarried French nobility and used to summer at the hotel. The main dining room was built as a circle so that no table was inferior off in the corner, but the table just to the right of the entrance is always ready for the Princess.
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All the different place setting patterns over the years
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When Carolyn was summering at the hotel, she would watch all the dining guests make their way to the dining room and she would change if anyone was dressed more finely than her.
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The great hall aka the lobby of the hotel.
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The moose head above the grand fireplace in the lobby
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Ornate ceiling and chandelier where Carolyn would have private dinners. Now it is used as a lounge area, nice for getting a drink before dinner
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The veranda above, and Stickney’s dining below.

Friday we had breakfast and took a last lap around before heading out on a couple more adventures. We went to the Gale River right by the trailhead to hike Galehead and I happily read my new book, Kaysen’s Cambridge, while my husband caught around 5 brook trouts. From there we went to the Bretton Woods ski area and took the free ski lift up to the Latitude 44 restaurant. Bretton Woods is a part of the Omni Mt. Washington Resort as is the hotel. The view from the restaurant looking across to the hotel and the mountains was beautiful. What a great ending to our trip.

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It was an amazing place to stay. So many families and couples there were taking the cog railway up Mt. Washington, or driving up during their vacation. I heard excited children talking about their upcoming journey, parents telling them about the wind, or the pizza at the top! I have hiked all the Presidentials, and I will never forget hiking up Mt. Washington. A day in March when the world up there was still snow-covered and barren. The pizza wasn’t open, and there was no wind. It’s a beautiful place no doubt, but looking up from the plush cushions on whitewashed veranda wicker furniture to see mountains that you regard as familiar friends as opposed to awesome strangers is truly a gift.

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