My 10 Favorite Photos From 2019

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! It’s the last “TGIF” of the decade!

I cannot believe that in a few days 2019 will be on it’s way out and we will be welcoming 2020. I am still in the process of *trying* to finalize my New Year’s Eve plans with minimal success- but there’s still a couple of days left to make reservations and book accommodations- so I’m struggling not to lose my mind too much.

I’ll have my annual “Year in Review” post up bright and early on Tuesday morning before I head off to wherever my date for the evening and I end up choosing as our champagne and countdown location- but before I do- I wanted to revisit some of my favorite photographs I’ve snapped over these past twelve months and give a little backstory on each of them!

Narrowing down hundreds of photos from 2019 to just ten was no easy feat- and in-between marveling at just how many interesting places I visited and how many surreal experiences I had this year- I agonized over what pictures to include and what ones to keep in the digital scrapbook.

But I DID emerge with ten photos I am very, very fond of- and am excited to share before I head off for the last round of holiday parties this weekend!

10. Green River Festival (Greenfield – July 2019):

Shortly after moving to the Pioneer Valley in the Spring, I discovered that the famed Green River Festival took place within a short walking/driving distance from my apartment. Having never been but hearing nothing but good things from the locals- I decided to head down on it’s last day to check it out.

I had a great time watching live, local bands/artists perform- eating plenty of snacks from surrounding food trucks and shopping small business vendors who had set up impromptu tented storefronts on the grounds- but the fields itself were vast, rolling, and very picturesque. While looking for some shade so I could sit and listen to the music without getting sunburnt- I snapped this photo of a gigantic tree in the middle of everything- just looming in the distance against the blue sky.

I thought it was absolutely lovely.

9. “Bad Bitch Falls” (New York – August 2019):

When Troy tells you he has a surprise for you and that he’s picking you up for an adventure- you just roll with it. Such was the case in August when, after a successful dance performance in Salem the day before- he thought he’d take me somewhere new and beautiful to celebrate.

Over an hour in the car and one grueling uphill hike over the Massachusetts/New York State Line later- it paid off. Bash Bish Falls remains one of *the* highlights of my Summer and 2019 overall. It was breathtaking, refreshing- and despite there being a ton of people with the same idea coming and going- for a little while it felt like Troy and I were the only two people there.

And that feeling was divine.

8. Hozier, Boston Calling (Boston – May 2019):

After joining the Indie617 on-air team in March- I never in my life expected it would lead to me being considered “MEDIA” at the biggest Boston-based festival of the year. But, sure enough- I was all over the place that weekend- hosting my show from a nearby hotel/restaurant, running around the press area, having drinks with friends and watching some of my favorite artists perform insanely good sets.

I snapped this photo of Hozier from the lighting rig just as the sun was setting- and right before I had to run across the field to catch the opening of Tame Impala’s set from a different stage.

I got plenty of sun, cardio, and possible alcohol poisoning during Boston Calling ’19- and I hope I get to do it again for 2020.

7. Now It’s All Covered in Flowers (Shelburne Falls – June 2019):

The only selfie of 2019 comes courtesy of my best friend Sean, who snapped this photo of me while visiting my new place one weekend during the Summer. While showing him around my neighborhood and surrounding attractions- we stopped at the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls to take photos and dodge a LOT of bees.

While walking near a moss/leaf covered building just across the street from the bridge on our way back to my car- Sean snapped this photo of me in my little black and pink floral dress with the impressive backdrop behind me.

I always liked how bright and vibrant the colors were in this picture- and I wish I could have made it back in the Fall  to see the difference the season made.

6. Spider Gates (Leicester – October 2019):

While highlighting some of the creepier, more notorious areas in New England this past Fall- I made a stop at the famed Spider Gates cemetery as I was en route to visit my mom. One of the oldest Quaker cemeteries in Massachusetts- Spider Gates has a chilling (but long since debunked) history of the supernatural.

When I visited in October, however- I was the only one there- which is highly unusual given it’s a popular attraction leading up to Halloween. The grounds were- admittedly- a little eerie, and I ended up getting out of there a little quicker than normal after I’d snapped some photos.

This one, showing the entrance gates and the alleged “hanging tree” overhead- was one of my favorites.

5. Hiking Mount Grace (Warwick – January 2019):

A few days after New Year’s of 2019, Massachusetts experienced our annual “January Thaw”- where the temperatures get a little warmer than usual and any accumulated snow begins to melt. The result is typically rainy, foggy mornings/afternoons.

I went hiking that weekend at Mount Grace- and captured this photo of myself crossing a rather rickety wooden bridge over a rising stream of melted snow and rainwater with the remnants of the Fall leaves passing through. Out of all the pictures of snow-covered trees, mossy rocks and storm clouds I had managed to collect- this one was my favorite- because it reminds me of my favorite king of weather here in New England.

4. Orchard House (Concord – February 2019):

I haven’t seen the new adaptation of “Little Women” yet (although I’ll probably catch it tonight after work or later on this weekend)– but back in February I decided to visit Louisa May Alcott’s home on a whim for a tour and to snap some photos of it’s gorgeous and historic exterior.

If you’re ever in Concord- which is a beautiful town all on it’s own- this cozy little home is a must see. I’m sure with the success of the revamped movie it’ll see an influx of tourists flocking into town to experience it for themselves- but don’t let that stop you. It’s a piece of history and the staff there are extremely friendly and kind.

3. The Eyrie House Ruins (Holyoke – October 2019):

I love this photo for a lot of reasons. Not only because I love abandoned and creepy places- and not only because the story of how this hotel burned down to nothing but ruins in 1901 is a borderline comedy- but because I almost died hiking to get there and this photo is a sort of testament to my own strength and resilience.

Following a heavy rainfall in October, I began the longest and steepest hike of my life to the summit of Mount Tom to photograph the ruins. Soaked, slipping, and out of breath by the time I got there- I was ready to just collapse and curl up- but the ruins were worth the trouble and I had the best time exploring them and taking photos.

Next time I’m wearing proper hiking boots, though.

2. The Stolen Artwork (Boston – March 2019):

There are a lot of places in the Greater Boston area that I have yet to visit- and in 2019 I wanted to scratch a few of them off my Bucket List- starting with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum where I got to see the empty frames that held still missing artwork- stolen from the museum back in 1990.

Although the museum was absolutely packed the day that I went- I had a wonderful time- and caught this photo without interruption despite the crowds. The galleries are beautiful and I could have easily spent hours longer in there admiring the art and the indoor courtyard- which made even a frigid March day feel like the middle of May.

1. MASS MoCA (North Adams – October 2019):

And finally, on another one of my “Troy said we’re going on an adventure” outings- this shot was taken in the stairwell of MASS MoCA on a rainy October afternoon. Despite all the art, all the intricate paintings and sculptures and prints and designs around the museum- this shot of the building while I stood in the stairwell with Troy was one of my favorite moments of that day and of 2019 because I was so indescribably happy at the time.

That, and MASS MoCA is a beautiful building in a beautiful town.

It had been a perfect day.

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And there you have it- my ten favorite photos from 2019!

I’m hoping to have even more photos to choose from in 2020, since I intend to take my camera with me wherever I go- but for now I’m just going to reflect on these ones I’ve chosen for this year and remember how many good times and good trips I’ve had so far.

I’m off to get some work done and prepare for the very, very busy days ahead. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

I’ll see you all again on New Year’s Eve!

xx

– Ashley –

Hike to The Hotel…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

In continuing my “Haunted/Creepy Massachusetts & New England” posts for the month of October- I wanted to share another abandoned location that isn’t too far from where I live now- although you’ve got to hike a ways through the woods and up a mountain (literally) to find it. Be sure to bring some water and a comfortable pair of shoes!

In the late 1800s, the Eyrie House Hotel- perched on top of Mount Nonotuck in Holyoke, Massachusetts- was THE go-to spot for travelers and high society. Overlooking the picturesque region below- the hotel featured all the extravagant amenities one would expect to find at a five-star hotel in that day and age.

However, in April of 1901- while cremating two deceased horses on the property- owner William Street accidentally set the hotel and surrounding forest ablaze. The hotel was destroyed, unable to be repaired or replaced given Street’s rather frugal views on insurance policies/premiums- and all that remained was a small section of stone ruins that can now be accessed with a lengthy and steep climb up Mount Nonotuck.

This past weekend, enchanted by the idea of finding the old hotel during one of our famous rainy October days- I embarked on the long, exhausting journey- and wasn’t disappointed when I finally came across the ruins. My photos are below- and you can click on them to enlarge!

Honestly, my legs still feel a little like Jell-O from the hike, but it was so worth it!

But with it being a Monday morning, I’ve unfortunately got to get to work and make sure I’m staying one step ahead of things here at the office. I should be back on Wednesday with more Halloween-inspired fun!

Enjoy the start of your week, everybody! Let’s push through to Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Pencil Skirts and Stripes…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

It’s hard to get back to work this early in the morning- especially when most of my weekend was spent working on other projects, too- because I don’t really feel particularly rested or recharged from my “days off”. Although I’m so excited and so grateful to be productive and in demand for so many different things right now- I have to admit it’s going to feel very nice to come home after work tonight, put on some sweatpants, wrap myself up in blankets and just do absolutely nothing for a few hours!

I digress- this past weekend saw me sneak a *little* time away (35 minutes, to be exact!) to take a brisk stroll in Thompson, Connecticut’s historical district- where I struck a pose outside one of my favorite abandoned buildings in the area. This dilapidated mansion, left to essentially rot by the owner/architect who purchased it to fix up years and years ago- and then gave up shortly thereafter- is one of my dream projects. I’d love to build it back up and restore it to it’s former glory if ever given the opportunity. It’s breathtaking- even in it’s current state.

Since I was in “work mode” while out and about- I was sporting one of my favorite olive green, horizontal striped pencil skirts with a black, long-sleeved thermal top, black tights- and a black, bell-sleeved sweater/cape since it’s been ridiculously chilly as of late.

I know my Winter wardrobe consists almost entirely of black, grays and dark browns- and it has for years- but I’ve been trying to incorporate more colors into the mix without going overboard (I know neon is really in right now- but I need some time to prepare myself before I just jump right into something like that!) 

This green, while definitely on the safer, neutral/Earth tone side- still breaks up the dreariness of my otherwise all-black ensemble and makes me look less like I’m going to a funeral and more like I’m going to a meeting on a painfully frigid day.

Also, this cape/cardigan combo is another piece from my closet I love to wear as often as possible this time of year. The buttons are so big and over-the-top- and it’s so unbelievably cozy!

Over the next couple of days, I’ll be sharing some of my upcoming projects (more in-depth, of course-) as well as a really delicious potato recipe before the end of the week reaches us and I prepare to launch into my birthday celebration(s) next week- so be sure to check back for all the tasty goodness!

Until then, here’s wishing you all a wonderful start to your week! I hope it’s an easy and painless one for you!

xx

– Ashley –

Two If By Sea…

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

One of my favorite things about living in New England is that for as long as I’ve been here and with all the exploring I’ve done over the years- I still find new places I’ve never visited before that delight, dazzle, and surprise me! That’s why when a friend recommends going someplace unfamiliar or even a bit unconventional- I rarely protest. You just never know what you’re going to see and find!

Case in point? This past weekend when my BFF Sean- who is just as much of an adventurer as I am- suggested we spend an afternoon catching a boat to Georges Island (about 45 minutes off of Boston Harbor.) Now, I love the sea- and I love sailing- but most of my boat experiences have been limited to areas around Cape Cod and in some instances, right off the coast in New Hampshire. I’d never actually visited Georges Island before- and it’s one of the few Boston Harbor islands that Sean hadn’t visited, either. Of course I said yes!

Georges Island is home to the remnants of Fort Warren. When construction of the fort completed in 1860, it served as a prison for captured Confederate soldiers/sailors and as government offices- and continued to be utilized as a control center until 1947. It now stands empty and foreboding on the island- but can be explored by visitors during the day. Although a lot of it has since crumbled or has been overtaken by nature again- I had an absolute blast photographing some of it’s flooded corridors and tunnels!

Below are some of my favorite snapshots from the Fort! Click on an image to make it bigger!

The fort is allegedly haunted by a widow who went to the island to rescue her imprisoned husband- only to die by hanging once she’d arrived there and was subsequently captured- but Sean and I didn’t see her around. Believe me- we looked.

After the island closed for visitors for the day and we’d returned and docked back in Boston Harbor- Sean and I headed over to The Barking Crab to soak up a little more sun in their outdoor seating area and indulge in margaritas, crab cakes, baked haddock- and some good ol’ Boston Cream Pie while the sun began to set. The place is a little pricey- but oh so worth it if you love seafood as much as I do!

It was a beautiful afternoon- and worth the little bit of red I got on my shoulders later on that evening (it’s since gone away!) Someone please remind me to reapply SPF *before* I start drinking margaritas and get forgetful.

And now, I’ve got to get to work and make enough money to eat at The Barking Crab again!

Just kidding- but I do have to get to work so that I’m not completely swamped by noon.

Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone! See you all on Friday!

The view from Dinner! 7/8/18.

xx

– Ashley –

My 10 Favorite Photos From 2017

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope those of you who celebrated Christmas had a wonderful, relaxing and fun weekend surrounded by loved ones. My holiday was lovely, spent mostly with my family and a few friends- and we actually had our first white Christmas in years- having been buried under a few inches of snow overnight on Christmas Eve!

As 2017 winds down and we prepare to welcome 2018- one of my favorite year-end traditions is looking through all of my photos over the past few months and narrowing them down to create a “Top Ten” of the year- and while the task has been relatively easy in the past- 2017’s collection proved to be a little more daunting. I visited so many amazing places this year, met so many amazing people, and participated in so many amazing things- that picking only ten photos from such an extensive collection of memories was a lot harder than I thought it’d be!

I digress- I’m satisfied with my top ten- and each photo tells it’s own fun story about a place/time from this past year. Stories I’m excited to share again!

Here are my 10 Favorite Photos From 2017!

10. Tranquility in Vermont (Wilmington – September 2017):

Over Labor Day Weekend, my best friend Sean and I decided to use our time off to head up towards Wilmington, Vermont to spend the extended weekend hiking, antiquing, and relaxing at an old mansion-turned-bed & breakfast and neighboring ski resort (that still had plenty to offer in the off-season!) On our last day, while going for an impromptu hike- we came across a footbridge that crossed over a river- and I snapped this photo of the view with my cell phone.

I’d love to go back to Wilmington and re-visit this spot during the Winter to see how much different it looks covered in snow.

9. Where is Spring? (Boston – March 2017):

In contrast, this photo I snapped of an empty outdoor patio area on St. Patrick’s Day in Boston painted the picture of what was undeniably one of the coldest days of the year. Blocks away, people were still lining up to get into pubs and bars to drink (and warm up)– but I was the only person as far as the eye could see in this small section of the city.

I’d ducked into the walkway of this cafe/restaurant- which was closed for the holiday- to answer a text message without taking up the sidewalk- and thought it was too neat-looking NOT to photograph.

8. That’s not creepy at all… (Medfield – October 2017):

During one of our annual stops at Medfield State Hospital in the days leading up to Halloween, my friends and I discovered that the fronts of some of the abandoned buildings and wards had been decorated with Jack-O-Lanterns that were carved by a Boy Scout Troop who had planned an overnight camping trip on the grounds.

What had been a fun and festive activity ended up creating some pretty interesting and spooky photos for those of us who were visiting! This one was my favorite out of the bunch of pictures we took that day.

7. Neighborhood Watch (Boston – May 2017):

After spending most of the morning and afternoon with my own mom on Mother’s Day- I dedicated a good portion of my evening to my fur-baby, Oliver, where we participated in his favorite pastime- watching the neighborhood from the window and howling at any other person/animal that happened to walk by (our neighbors love us.)

My mother took this photo of us mid-spying on the UPS guy who was delivering packages across the street from my place- and I loved the way it turned out.

6. Stacked Rocks and Seagulls (Hampton Beach – July 2017):

While cruising the coast in New Hampshire this past Summer, I had made an impromptu pit stop along the shore to stretch my legs and soak up some sun when I stumbled across an entire section of the beach that was lined with stacked rock formations from prior visitors. I had my camera with me, and spent some time snapping some photos of them (a few of which were really tall and impressive!) when this seagull flew into one of my shots and refused to move.

I think he adds a little charm to the photo, don’t you?

5. “Hiya, Georgie!” (Worcester – October 2017):

Out of all the movies I saw this year, I think the remake of “IT” was my favorite- so much in fact that I went as the ill-fated Georgie for Halloween. What was probably my least expensive and easiest costume to make in all my years of cosplaying ended up being one of my most popular- with people stopping me to take photos while I was out and about in this (and keeping one arm tucked up into the sleeve to give me a “just bitten” look.)

I had so much fun wearing this throughout Halloween and I hope I get the opportunity to sport it again!

4. First Snow of The Season (Belchertown – December 2017):

One of the more recent photos on this list came from a couple of weeks ago following the first significant snowfall of the season while I was in Western Massachusetts. I had stopped to take some photos along a popular hiking/biking trail by a local reservoir and found that I was the only person there- which made for some really nice, uninterrupted quiet time to stop and take in the scenery and being able to take some decent photos without having to wait for my surroundings to be clear of people or vehicles.

This photo in particular was my favorite out of the bunch.

3. I got Catfished (Worcester – May 2017):

While attending a film festival/competition at my favorite bar in my hometown one weekend back in the Spring- I had a fangirl moment when Nev and Max from MTV’s ‘Catfish’ (one of my favorite shows) showed up unexpectedly. It turns out they were filming an episode locally, and had taken a break from production to come check out the festival, too.

They were incredibly nice and obliged me when I asked for a photo- which at first I was going to just send to my mom since she’s also a big fan of the show- but eventually posted on my social media to show that they were really who they said they were online.

2. My Aesthetic (San Diego – May 2017):

While visiting with friends on the West Coast during the Spring, I found myself at Ocean Beach in San Diego during some of my downtime one afternoon where I drank cold beers and sat by the surf with artists and musicians who told me their life stories and played music for me.

One group of happy travelers arrived in a bright blue VW Bus- a vehicle I’ve ALWAYS wanted to own- and the photo I took of it perfectly captures a lot of what I love most about Southern California- including the palm trees towering in the background.

1. Vegas, Baby… (May 2017):

It’s been a tough year for Vegas- for people I love in a city and landscape I adore- so this photo, taken during a West Coast excursion in the Spring- seems especially poignant given recent events this year.

After spending the afternoon attending open houses for real estate that was on the market outside of the strip, and a good portion of my evening drinking and gambling a little- I snapped this photo with my phone while I was en route back to Caesar’s Palace- where I was staying during my trip. The fountains at the Bellagio were right in the middle of going off (bottom, right-hand corner) which added a little something special to this.

It was a warm and beautiful night- and I remember feeling perfectly content and safe.

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And there they are! My ten favorite photos from 2017. A lot of landscapes and a couple of selfies- but they all tell stories about really fun high-points of my year- and I’m looking forward to documenting more incredible memories in 2018.

And if you have photos you’d like to share about special moments in your year- feel free to send them my way! I’d love to see them!

Have a great day, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –