Hike up Mt. Hale’s Firewarden Trail

Mt. Hale during the summer can be accessed by a trail head off Zealand Road for the Hale Brook Trail. It makes for a quick hike up 2.3 miles, down 2.3 miles. I did it in June a couple years ago and its steep, but fast. In the winter, Zealand Road is closed to traffic and becomes a snowmobile super highway! Another route becomes popular in the winter, an unofficial unmarked trail off the North Twin Trail. In the winter, there is an area to park at the end of Little River Road in Bethelehem and you take a herd path for a mile to the North Twin Trail for about a mile before you come to “the mightiest tree in the middle of the trail”. Its actually a small tree but the trail is so nice and tracked out right now, we didn’t have to search for it. Someone did knife a blaze into the little tree which is nooooo good, but in any case, it was easy to find.

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Little River is beautiful right now, looks more like a series of small alpine pools with the rest covered in snow

Turning left at the tree takes you up the old Mt. Hale Trail, aka the Firewarden’s Trail. It is more gradual than the trail on the other side of the mountain, but takes longer at 4.7 miles. There are some switchbacks on the trail through these beautiful birch glades. I got a good picture of Mizpah in the glades. A group of backcountry skiers were on the trail too to ski through the glades which looked a bit scary, but fun. There was probably 4-6″ of new snow on the trails, so we used snowshoes the whole time to preserve and maintain the tracks.

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I call this, ‘Mizpah in the Birch Glades’

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There was a nice view area on the trail but no views with the cloud cover. The summit of Mt. Hale is wide and flat without views. There is a very large stone cairn that was barely showing above the snow, and of course the remnants of the fire tower were buried too. The fire tower on Mt. Hale was built in 1929 and removed in 1972. To see pics, head here. I wish I could have seen the tower when it was in use because the little cab on the top is unique.

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Old Man’s Beard on the trees right before the summit!
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No views on the summit, but the snow covered evergreens are so pretty
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And of course, hanging with the pups on the summit is a huge plus. This cairn is usually so tall! SO much of it is under the snow.

The fire warden’s trail is used in the summer because even though its a longer trail, it is more gradual. Its not as easy to follow though I am assuming in the summer when there aren’t snowshoe tracks. In the summer you can park right at the North Twin Trail head too so you can cut off that one mile herd path. It was a really nice day, over freezing and no wind, so I was nice and warm. I wish there were views, but there is always next time. Mizpah was great, got to hang with a golden retriever up on the summit. I hadn’t hiked since my birthday, so I definitely felt out of shape, but it was such a nice gradual hike, I lived through it haha.

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Girls Weekend at the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa

Spring has finally begun! There might still be a half foot of snow on the ground, but according the calendar, it is spring! This past weekend a few girlfriends and I spent a night at the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa right in the heart of the Old Port in Portland ME. We had such a great time catching up and spending time together.

I was the first to get there Saturday, so I walked around for a while to enjoy the daylight. I have been to Portland many times with friends & family, but I had never really had an opportunity to just wander around alone.

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This is where the Casco Bay Island Ferry is! A cruise around Casco Bay is definitely on my list for a summer visit!

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Quiet in the off season!
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The old US Custom House on Fore St., built between 1867-1872
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Loved the light blue and white on the Proctor Building
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Living in these apartments would be rough in the winter, but it must be nice in the summer!

I popped into a few stores and just wandered through aisles. I wanted to get a snack and a drink so after all my wandering, so I walked into The Holy Donut. It was late afternoon so there were very few donuts, just got a hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was AMAZING!! Thick, rich, chocolatey, creamy….all the good words. Their donuts….are made….with Maine mashed potatoes. I got a maple donut the next morning, so amazing. The dark chocolate donut with coconut was so good too….lets be honest, they are probably all fantastic.

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I headed back to the hotel and my friends arrived! We had a fruit/cheese/cracker plate and champagne at the hotel and caught up. Maybe we watched School of Rock, maybe that happened too, the final scene at the battle of the bands? Loved it haha. Then we headed out to dinner at Five Fifty-Five on Congress St. The building was really unique. The second floor where we were seated was completely open in the middle looking down on the first floor. Top recommendation would be the truffle mac and cheese with lobster. It was amazing, a little pricey, but the cheese/truffle sauce was delicious, and of course, Maine lobster meat is the best. I also got the side of roasted brussel sprouts, and we got chicken liver pate for the table. For dessert, we got the chocolate parfait, key lime pie, and creamsicle. The desserts were a little…artistic (read not a slice of key lime pie but a plate with 3 blobs of key lime filling on graham cracker crumbs with three little piles of whipped cream arranged around it), but they tasted great.

From dinner, we went to Bull Feeney’s to listen to live music and hang out, and then The Armory Lounge at the hotel for a nightcap before heading upstairs to bed. I had been to both these bars in the summer, and man what a huge difference in the off season! Both of these bars this past weekend were very relaxed, not empty, but quieter and relaxed. Seats were available, bartenders were attentive, and while the atmosphere was not as lively as in the summer, it wasn’t dead either.

Next day my friend and I headed to The Holy Donut to get fresh donuts. It was so busy! The two of us are the ones who need to eat first thing after we wake up. Thankfully we have each other so we don’t have to wake our other friends that prefer to sleep in a bit! Then we all went to brunch around 11 at the hotel restaurant, Twenty Milk Street Restaurant. We packed up our room, checked out, and went downstairs to the spa! I got a facial and my friends got massages. I love getting facials because with my pale complexion, I worry about environmental damage from the sun in the summer, and the wind/complete lack of moisture in the winter. It was such a nice way to end the weekend and we are definitely planning to go back this summer and see the area in full swing!

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Thinking warmer weather with J. Crew Factory

This past week with the ridiculous blizzard, I got to day dreaming about warmer weather hopefully coming our way! I checked out one of my favorite sites for those basic wardrobe essentials like shorts and tees, and I think I found some good items!!!

First up, the striped studio t-shirt. I know, navy and white stripes for summer in New England? Groundbreaking! Seriously though, the price on this tee is $18.50 now which is a great price and this is one of those essentials for me to wear casually with shorts, OR throw on a nicer statement necklace and pair with a skirt.

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So if you read my blog or check out my instagram pics, you know about my dalmatian Mizpah. She is my best friend and I just love her to pieces. I saw this tee, now $21.50 and literally eeped out loud! I wish it wasn’t a gray tee because its a little blah, but the dal on it is too cute.
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This mini skirt is navy on white for $32, and the print is just beautiful. I think it would look great with a tee or tank top or could be dressed up a little with a sleeveless blouse and navy blazer with the right shoes.

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For me, the 5″ length shorts are my happy place, you might be happier with 3″ or 10″, to each their own. J. Crew Factory has these pull on shorts….and they do have the elastic waistband, but they look nice, not like workout or pajama shorts! They look perfect for throwing on with a tee or tank to head out for a warm day…..especially if you know you are going to be eating a lot haha….cookouts…fried seafood….ice cream….ugh is it summer yet?? I got the coral and navy…might end up getting the green if they work out!

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Other items that I was checking out as part of my summer daydream storm retail therapy include this shimmer boucle dress,  this gemstone tassel necklace, and this camp tunic shirt.

What items have you been checking out for this coming spring and summer??

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Some Florida snaps during Blizzard Stella….

A couple weeks ago was the school vacation week in New Hampshire, so I took some time to run away to Florida and see my lovely parents. They are a bit outside of Tampa, living the retired life! Now I am sitting in my living room watching the blizzard through the windows definitely missing the sunshine and warmth! Besides spending some time in Tampa and at my parents’s house, we also spent some time in Tarpon Springs and Clearwater.

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One of my favorite things to do at my parents’s house is just walk around or go for runs to enjoy the nice weather. The birds are so pretty down there, and so are all the flowers and plants. My parents have a couple palm trees and beautiful hibiscus flowers in their yard. Their backyard is actually the golf course, and it makes for some fun people watching from the lanai.

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I wore this outfit for a luncheon with my mother and some of her friends. Lilly Pulitzer shirt is sold out but this one is similar. White jeans here from Vineyard Vines and sandals are here from Palm Beach Sandals!

Tarpon Springs is a coastal city on the Gulf of Mexico northeast of Tampa. It is an important location for harvesting natural sponges and the historic sponge dock area has fun shopping and Greek restaurants. Tarpons Springs has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the US.

It was so nice to be near the water and all the sponge boats. My past few visits to the water had been pretty cold compared to this one 🙂 Walking around Tarpon Springs, there are lots of decorated bikes. My favorite was the one above decorated in sponges. They started appearing in the spring of 2015, and they are truly art. Warren Gregory is the artist behind the bikes. He was inspired by many years living in Amsterdam. From Tarpon Springs, we headed south to Clearwater for some beach.

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The Clearwater Beach sand is very fine, so soft on your feet. I love all the palm trees and the dunes here.
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Clear water indeed!
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The hotels along Clearwater Beach are so colorful
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Dress from Mahi Gold// Hat from Vineyard Vines// Sandals from Jack Rogers// Bracelet from Kiel James Patrick

Watching the snow fly and blow around outside, its hard to believe I was ever in warm Florida. I have gone down every February since my parents moved down there, and it really is such a nice winter getaway. Hopefully anyone else affected by this winter weather is staying safe and warm and maybe, just maybe, my pics will help get you through!

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The Oxford Exchange in Tampa

I have been following Carly Heitlinger’s The College Prepster for years. She is from the Tampa area and I have seen many pics from her trips down there, including some posts about a spot in Tampa, The Oxford Exchange. My parents live in that area of Florida so when I went to visit this past week, we checked it out! According to my parents, it’s in an older part of Tampa, far from the big shopping malls and airport which are the parts I am most familiar with. It actually is only open til 5:30 which I thought was interesting! Not sure if maybe that area just doesn’t have a nightlife or what?

The exterior of the place is crisp white brick with black accents. The store front really pops among all the others. I love the Spanish terra cotta style roof styles.

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When you walk in, there are sunglasses/glasses displayed for sale to the right, and books for sale to the left. This part sort of reminded me of an upscale Urban Outfitters without clothing. They don’t have every book, but its a good collection of books. I loved the white and black floor in this part too!

Continue walking and you will come to a cafe counter with great lounge/work area with chairs and places to sit. There are stairs with fabulous portraits but I didn’t venture upstairs. Continue on and there is a very cool gift shop….think Anthropologie meets Williams & Sonoma? There’s also Aesop skincare in that area too which I believe is a newer addition.

From there to the right is the hostess area for the restaurant. There is a dining room that is nice, but I was pretty excited that we were seated in the other room which has the white brick walls, a fountain, palm trees, and feels a bit more like a courtyard or atrium.

The food is amazing, all made from scratch. I wanted the club but with grilled chicken instead of turkey- done. My dad did the burger, and my mother did the chopped salad. We also got the maple bacon brussel sprouts side, which is amazing. We loved everything! They have an extensive list of teas and coffee drinks as well as fresh squeezed juices and wine. The sandwich I got might be the best sandwich I have ever had- thin sandwich appropriate grilled chicken, avocado, bacon, lettuce, tomato, garlic aioli all on buttered toasted white bread…just thinking about it, I want another one!

It was a great spot, definitely one that we will continue to visit over the years! Next time I want to go for brunch…. 🙂

Here is the main post from Carly on Oxford Exchange, although really most of her Tampa posts involve pics from trips to the OE!

Oxford Exchange (a must see in Tampa)

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