Hitting The Trail…

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Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Last week, when I went to MASS MoCA for the very first time– Troy drove us there by way of Route 2 West- a scenic roadway that dips between mountains and alongside rivers. I had stated I spent most of the drive with my face essentially pressed against the window as I took it all in- and knew right away I wanted to come back to see/photograph some of the roadside attractions (my kryptonite!) along the Mohawk Trail.

The opportunity presented itself yesterday morning during a scheduled day off for me. The last of the furniture I had ordered for my place was arriving in the afternoon- giving me a solid block of a few hours in the sunny A.M. to go exploring before the delivery people arrived to set up. I grabbed my camera, my keys- and a coconut cold brew via Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters and hit the road.

Now, because it’s the Mohawk Trail- there’s no shortage of Native American-inspired gift shops and trading posts along the way advertising moccasins, pottery, jewelry, etc. None of them were open as I was stopping/passing by- and they were definitely a little tacky- but that’s the beauty of roadside attractions.

When I did eventually reach a decent area to park alongside a low-flowing river near a state park, I kicked off my shoes and headed on into the water for a super cold, super refreshing calf-high dip. While I was splashing around, I found what looked like two pieces of smoothed over quartz. I cleaned them off and brought them back with me- one for myself and one for Troy- who was the reason I even found out the river existed.

One of the more interesting finds was on my way back to Greenfield where I stopped at the Hail to the Sunrise Monument in Charlemont. Although the reflecting pool was empty, I still got to see the stones depicting various tribes and councils around the United States- and the statue of the Mohawk Native American was in pristine condition.

I was the only one there at the time, and snapped some great photos. You can click on any of the images below to enlarge them.

Although the rest of my day was uneventful- apart from running some errands and tidying up my place- I had such a lovely morning and I’m glad I had the opportunity to go on a mini adventure during the week.

I’m working from home today, and should probably finish breakfast and get comfortable before I launch into my e-mails, voicemails, etc. Here’s hoping you all have a good “Hump Day!” Gotta’ keep pushing through to the weekend!

See y’all on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

Into The Woods…

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far- and are staying strong as we work our way to Friday and another weekend ahead. Just a couple of days left and we’re free!

Tonight after I leave my office, I’ve got to head over to Cambridge where I’m meeting an old friend of mine I haven’t seen since this past Summer and some of his co-workers/business associates for a belated holiday party they had invited me to. The plan is dinner and an escape room experience- which should prove to be interesting. My closest friends and I were at each other’s throats the last time we all got locked in a room together for an hour- so it should be pretty entertaining to see how it goes with a few complete strangers!

This past weekend saw me actually escape the city instead, however- as I headed out to Western Massachusetts (and a bit North into New Hampshire) to jump start my New Year’s fitness regimen and spend a little more time outdoors and in nature- and hiked a good portion of the forest surrounding Mount Grace.

It’s been an odd mix of rain and snow here these past few days- and Saturday was no exception. I ended up bringing an umbrella with me to avoid getting sick because of the low temperatures and on/off sleet. It helped a little, but made some of the navigating and balancing myself as I stepped across wet/icy leaves and steep inclines a little difficult. I admittedly took more than one tumble during my trek- but thankfully no serious damage was done!

Best of all? I captured some really nice photos as the fog rolled in and out. You can click on the photos below to enlarge them!

There’s apparently a guard tower that you can scale to get a better view of the forest and surrounding areas- but I didn’t get an opportunity to locate it. That, and with the sun setting early these days- I also didn’t want to chance getting lost in the woods in the dark!

I’ll definitely have to go back and find it when the weather clears up a bit.

I’m hoping to be outdoors some more this coming Saturday/Sunday, although with everything I have planned- I think most of my time is going to be divided between driving to and from- and being indoors with friends and family as we celebrate belated birthdays and milestones that were overlooked around the holidays.

But I’m off to get some work done before the pandemonium goes down in Cambridge tonight. Here’s wishing you all a great rest of your Wednesday!

I’ll be back on Friday with a peek into my Winter wardrobe- provided I make it out of the escape room, of course!

xx

– Ashley –

“She was an American girl…”

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

It’s back to blogging for me after a few days off to celebrate the Fourth of July, spend some time with friends, and just unplug for a little while. As much as I enjoy putting together new content for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays- sometimes it’s nice to just leave e-mails on unread for a bit and reconnect with nature and loved ones.

I highly recommend taking a break like that every once in a while! I try to do it once a month if it’s possible. It isn’t always easy- but it *is* always rewarding.

But these past few days have been a lot of fun, and I have the photos to prove it!

On Saturday, I headed down to Foxwoods for their annual ComiCONN Comic-Convention with my friend Evan to browse local artists/businesses and see some stars (also also eat the most delicious nachos and quesadillas at Scorpion Bar.) I’ve always been a bit of a Mohegan Sun girl- since most of my favorite bands/artists typically play there- but my first trip to Foxwoods in a long time didn’t disappoint. They’ve really done a lot with the place since the last time I was there and it’s very nice.

While we were there, I got to see/chat up ‘The Walking Dead’s Ross Marquand (he plays Aaron)– and he was an absolute sweetheart. He was so kind, funny, charismatic, and personable. That show might be taking all the wrong turns lately- but I’m so excited to see what he does next!

On Sunday, after running some pre-work week errands, I once again found myself in Western Massachusetts- this time at Ashfield Lake for the very first time with a friend of mine. We were desperate to beat the heat wave that has been mercilessly hammering down across New England for the better part of a week- and the water couldn’t have been more perfect. Not too cold, but not too warm after roasting under the sun all day. It was just right- and completely refreshing.

After we dried off, it was off to Amherst for dinner before I had to head back home and get ready for work.

The photo at the top of the post was taken right before we left the lake- as the sun was setting. One of Massachusetts’ hidden gems!

Although I had to work on Monday and Tuesday (and again yesterday and today)– the Fourth of July was spent in the wilderness. Specifically, in the White Mountains- where I spent the day hiking and swimming in streams, under waterfalls, and in lakes until it was time to head back into civilization, the city- and enjoy some fireworks and BBQ.

I especially love the White Mountains this time of year because it’s not ski-season, which means many of the busier areas and attractions aren’t as busy. I was able to rest and relax and just take in the sounds of the mountains around me until I had to rejoin Boston’s nightlife again. It was beautiful.

And now- back home and rejuvenated- I’m preparing for the weekend. After work today, I’ll be visiting a friend in Northampton before he takes the stage this weekend for a Summer-long theater project, and I’ve got a pretty great recipe up my sleeve that I’m excited to whip up tomorrow (and share next week!)

With that and a planned beach day with friends? It’s shaping up to be a lovely couple of days ahead!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Friday, and an even better weekend! I’ve got to get some work done before I take off again!

See you all on Monday!

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 –

“Walking in a Winter Wonderland…”

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! It’s a short week for me at work- since I took this coming Wednesday-Friday off so that I can get the last of my Christmas shopping and gift wrapping done while spending some time with friends and family leading up to the holiday- so I expect the next 48 hours to be jam-packed with making all my phone calls and sending all my e-mails in advance.

I’m excited, though. It’s always nice to take some time off- especially around Christmastime since it gives me the opportunity to really enjoy all the fun and beauty that comes with the season.

This past weekend marked the first significant snowfall of the Winter season here in New England- totaling about 3-6 inches around various parts of Massachusetts. It was thankfully light and fluffy (and easy to shovel!) instead of the wet, heavy, sleet stuff we typically get. When I was done clearing both my and my neighbor’s driveways and walkways- I took some time to have a late afternoon hike and snap some photos of the aftermath of the storm. It was gorgeous! There’s a couple of my favorite shots below.

I’m sure I’ll be over and sick of the snow within a month, but for now- pre-Christmas- I rather enjoyed it!

After work tonight, I’m having dinner and drinks with some of my girlfriends- where we’re going to have a group therapy session to talk about last night’s mid-season finale of “The Walking Dead”. I NEED a cocktail after that one.

Enjoy your day, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –