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 Wild…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

While I’m not particularly thrilled at being back at work in my office so bright and early this morning- I had such a great weekend that I’m still running on that energy so not much can bring me down at this point. I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune by like, 11 a.m.- but right now I’m feeling fine.

Saturday was my usual afternoon routine, where I hosted my Indie617 show from 12-4 (and thanks to everyone who participated in a lively lyric discussion!)– but from there I went on to perform in a “Summer Showcase” dance and performance event in Salem for a studio I’ve been working closely with over these past few months. I presented a piece I wrote and directed myself- inspired by my struggles with depression, anxiety, self-doubt and ultimately acceptance of my flaws- and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

I haven’t mentioned my work there- or my performance- until now as I’d been extremely self-conscious and wanted to perfect it before I went ahead and shared it with the masses via additional shows or social media- but Saturday night’s reaction was definitely a confidence booster.

Yesterday, in the post-show glow-y haze I was in- Troy advised me he was picking me up and taking me to an unknown destination in The Berkshires and, specifically, New York. Never one to back down from an adventure in a new destination- I agreed.

After a long drive through picturesque towns like Stockbridge and Great Barrington (with lunch at The Marketplace on the way)– we reached our destination on the Massachusetts/New York line- Bash Bish Fallls. Or, as I kept calling it- “Bad Bitch Falls.”

The place was absolutely incredible- and worth the steep 20 minute hike to get to. The views were amazing, the water was super cold and clear, and it was the perfect way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon in August. I was on cloud nine.

Of course, I snapped some photos. You can click on them to enlarge them.

On the way back to Northampton and Greenfield- we stopped at the SoCo Creamery in Great Barrington for some ice cream (banana brownie 4eva) and to take in some more views of the town’s most famous street/shopping area. It’s a super cute town with a lot of bouji boutiques and restaurants- but I enjoyed my time there and wouldn’t mind visiting again.

Overall, I had a really perfect weekend and I wish it could have extended another few days- although I do have tomorrow off and a half day on Wednesday- so here’s hoping I can keep that late Summer magic and adventurous energy going strong.

I’ve got to get started on my work for the week, but I’ll be back on Wednesday morning with more updates from the road. Here’s wishing you all a peaceful and stress-free beginning of the work-week ahead!

xx

– Ashley –

Stop and Smell The Flowers…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

While I prepare to launch myself into what will undoubtedly be another busy day at work and an evening of post-office plans- I wanted to look back on this past weekend- which was actually super relaxing, sunny, and warm!

I had mentioned last Friday when I was wrapping up the month of May and how it had been for me that my best friend Sean- who still presently resides just outside of Boston- was coming to spend the weekend with me so he could see my new place for the first time and be introduced to the Pioneer Valley with an impromptu tour. I had an idea of a couple of the places I wanted to take him while he was here (weather permitting)– but the rest was very much a spontaneous adventure!

I knew that after showing Sean my apartment and the surrounding neighborhood that I wanted to take him to Northampton- which is sort of the hub of the valley. We spent the entire evening walking around looking at all the shops, artwork, and scenery- and made sure to grab a bite to eat at Mama Iguanas and iced maple lattes at The Roost (we even had a special appearance from Troy who stopped by our table at dinner to say hello!)

Sean was blown away by just how much there was to do and see around pretty much every corner- and when our feet started to hurt from walking so much- we popped by the Tunnel Bar for a nightcap before it was time to return home.

On Sunday morning, we opted to stay a little closer to my neck of the woods and had brunch at the nearby Hope & Olive– where I had the best frittata and home fries of my life and met some of Troy’s theater friends- who he’d quested via text to find me and say hello since they were also having brunch in the same restaurant. It was a pleasant surprise and everyone was very, very kind.

Afterwards, with the sun shining bright and the temperatures (and humidity) rising- I took Sean to the two locations I had planned early on. One was the Montague Bookmill, which I had blogged about during my last visit there on a rainy day in April– and the second was the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls.

It’s been just about a year since I last visited the Bridge of Flowers- give or take- but what I love about it is that every time I come back- there’s something new and different to look at. The flowers are beautiful and the views of the Deerfield River are breathtaking. While we were there- I managed to snap some really great photos of the scenery and some of my favorite blossoms.

If you’d like to enlarge any of the photos below- just click on them!

By the time a couple of late afternoon thunderstorms began rolling through the area- Sean was already en route back to the city and I was back at my apartment doing laundry and cleaning. Perfect timing!

I’m hoping to visit a couple more destinations on my “to do” list now that I’m becoming more established in the area- and if the weather is as sunny and bright as the forecast is predicting- then this weekend is looking like a good time as any to check them out!

But before we get to this coming weekend- we have to finish up the actual weekdays, first. I’m off to get started at my office and have some much-needed caffeine- but here’s hoping you all enjoy your “Hump Day!”

See you again on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

Notes From Slay-Cation II…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

While my last update had seen me in San Diego, preparing to pack up and head out of SoCal after a fun couple of days- I’m happy to report I made it through the desert unscathed (and not sunburnt!) and am presently in Northern Las Vegas soaking up the sun, palm trees, good food and air conditioning.

I really, really love air conditioning, you guys.

I leave for home tomorrow morning to return to work and the pre-move craziness that awaits me this coming weekend- but for now I’m simply enjoying my last full day here. This trip to Vegas actually marks the first time where I haven’t been to the strip, gone gambling, or even drank alcohol (…yet.) and it’s been really relaxing and refreshing.

I’ve been spending my time locally in Henderson with Kelsey, her husband, and their little girl- going out to eat, running errands, binge-watching TV and vegging out- which is exactly what I’ve needed to give my batteries a boost since I’ve been so utterly overwhelmed and exhausted as of late.

No late nights, or forced obligations, or an over-packed schedule- just total calm and peace and good company.

Kelsey leaves for a work trip to Dallas later on today, which means I may venture out into the city for a little while just for the fun of it. I’m thinking of paying Fremont Street a visit- or maybe heading out a little further into the desert to take some more photos of the stunning scenery. It’s still early here- so we’ll see where the day takes me!

I’m off to get ready for the day, pack my suitcase for tomorrow, and rest up for the journey home- but I’ll be back on Wednesday with some more photos and updates!

Enjoy the start to your week, everyone. Here’s hoping it’s a good one!

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 –