Throwback Thursday: Haleakala National Park in Maui, HI

Today I’m throwing back to my Hawaii trip from April of this year to talk about Haleakala National Park on Maui! You can read my last throwback from this trip here.

We almost skipped visiting Maui’s volcano because the sunrise/sunset trips to the summit are so hyped that we didn’t know if a midday trip would be worthwhile. I’m so glad we went because Haleakala is out of this world!

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It was a cloudy day on the beach but we ended up driving through all the clouds for clear views.

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Volcanic rock formations

It’s much colder at the summit than it was at our condo so we made sure we wore pants and jackets.

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If you start at the beach (aka sea level) it’s a 37 mile drive to the summit which makes Haleakala one of the greatest elevation gains in the shortest distance in the world!

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Haleakala crater

The most stunning part of the trip was seeing the volcanic crater. The different colors of the dirt and sands were beautiful and really made me feel like I was looking out at a scene from Mars!

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It was amusing seeing planes go by because it was like I was looking down on them! Haleakala was amazing and I’m so glad that we didn’t skip it! If you’re not a morning or a late night person don’t let that deter you from visiting. I would love to go back and see a sunrise or a sunset next time but I didn’t feel like I was missing out at all this visit!

Having done the drive up and down in daylight I would HIGHLY recommend doing a tour bus to the summit if you want to do a sunrise or a sunset tour. The roads are winding and narrow so personally, I’d be uncomfortable driving them in the dark.

If heights aren’t your thing consider visiting the coastal area of the park called the Kipahulu District which can be found just past the town of Hana. Make sure you dress appropriately for either side of the park you visit as weather can be vastly different!

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Stay Adventurous!

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Arrigoni Winery in Portland, CT

With the holiday season gearing up I definitely fell off the blogging wagon a bit. I usually keep all my blog ideas saved as scheduled drafts and I make sure I write them up before the schedule posting time but I felt so unmotivated that I procrastinated writing one and accidentally posted a title with no post body! Whoops! Before you go looking- yes- I deleted the post and tweet out of complete embarrassment.

I’m feeling back on track today so I’m going to write about my hands-down favorite Connecticut winery: Arrigoni Winery in Portland, CT!

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Every good winery needs to have a giant shrimp statue outside!

Not only do I really love Arrigoni’s wine but it holds a lot of sentimental value as the first Connecticut vineyard that I visited. I’ve also visited here the most and made a lot of fun memories that set it apart from the rest. Arrigoni is open year round so I’ve been in the spring as the trees start to bloom, the summer for yoga by the vines, and for fall which is complete with a fire on the back patio! They have a Christmas shop which makes them a perfect destination to sip wine and shop this holiday season!

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My favorites are the Orchard Valley and the Sugar House (bottom left corner.)

 

To be fair the one thing I don’t love about Arrigoni and that’s their tasting set up. Arrigoni uses a set tasting list so as a repeat offender I’ve tried those five wines many times! However, I like that they allow you to add on additional pours off the extensive wine list for $1/each. Often everyone in my party will pick one more to try and then we all share a sip which makes for a cheap way to try a bunch of new wines!

During summer months Arrigoni has wine slushies available in Mango Madness, Blackberry Sangria or a swirl of both flavors (my favorite!) During the fall and winter Arrigoni Winery serves mulled wines available in an apple or red flavor.

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I thought their slushies were good but HOLY MOLY THIS MULLED WINE IS AMAZING!

My most recent visit was my first one trying the mulled wine and it was amazing. Lucky for me Arrigoni is willing to share their secret by offering the mulling mix for sale!

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Arrigoni’s spacious grounds- during the summer they offer monthly yoga classes on the grass complete with a tasting on your yoga mat afterwards!

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If I’ve interested your enough to try Arrigoni Winery out make sure to check Groupon before you go. They offer a Groupon for first time visitors for a tasting for two or four people with a cheese plate. Exact hours and special event info can be found on their website here.

Building your travel scrapbook

Stay adventurous!

November Blog Review and December Goals

Wow- I can’t believe it’s already December! It feels like November was over in the blink of an eye. I swear I was just passing out Halloween candy! I really enjoyed trying to meet my goals from last month so I wanted to take a post and reflect on my stats, goals, and make new goals.

Don’t have many pictures to share with this one so here’s my Christmas tree!

November stats:

Number of posts: 29

Number of total views: 498

Most viewed post: runDisney’s Dopey Challenge: 4 days, 4 races, 48.6 miles

Most commented post: runDisney’s Dopey Challenge: 4 days, 4 races, 48.6 miles

Number of Twitter followers: 645

Number of Instagram followers: 457

Number of Pinterest followers: 107

November goals:

  1. Focus on growing my Pinterest account– Success! I increased my followers and joined one group board though I’d like to join more in the future.
  2. Grow my Twitter followers to 600– Success!
  3. Participate in four blogger chats– Success! Squeezed some in late in the month but I made it.
  4. Comment on one blog every day– I fell flat here. I did comment on a lot of blogs but I didn’t end up with 30 comments.
  5. Stick to planned posting schedule– Success!

December goals:

  1. Find or make three group boards on Pinterest- Anyone interested in joining a group board? I think this would be a great way to boost my engagement.
  2. Curate my Pinterest boards to 50 pins each- Despite getting more followers I neglected building my boards which I’ve heard is key to success. I want to find meaningful pins that I enjoy for each of my boards to build them to about 50 pins each. If you keep a Pinterest board for your build posts please send me the link. I like supporting other small blogs!
  3. Tweet 4 times per week– I want to write/post original tweets 4 times per a week. This doesn’t seem like much but lately I’ve fallen into the rut where I’m using Twitter just to like/retweet other people which is a great way to support but doesn’t do much to show more of my personality.
  4. Beat out my old record for a post with the most views or comments- Just for fun I’d like to write a post that beats out the aforementioned runDisney post for most comments or most views. I’m hoping that a combination of a popular topic and a lot of publicity will do the trick!

What are your goals, blogging or otherwise, for December?

Five Things Friday: November 30th, 2018

It’s been ages since I did a Five Things Friday! I figure I’m overdue and this will be a good way to round out November. With 2019 barreling towards us I’m going to share five trips I plan on taking next year!

  1. Walt Disney World- January 2019- That’s right, I’m going to Disney World (queue the Superbowl Commercial confetti haha!) My sister and I make an annual trek to Disney for the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. Training has been rough so I’m nervous about the marathon but excited to get back to Disney!

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    Flashback to WDW Marathon 2018 where we bought beers BEFORE the finish line!
  2. Las Vegas, NV- January 2019- After running the marathon at the beginning of the month, I’m heading to Vegas for the first time at the end of the month with Morag on the Map and our friend Seb. This is my first time in Vegas so I’m really excited- any must-do suggestions?
  3. Adirondack Park, NY- May 2019- Morag is coming to visit for two weeks in May and for part of the trip we’re headed to the Adirondacks for a week in the mountains. This is originally where we met so we’re excited to hit all our favorite local joints.

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    The Adirondacks is so beautiful- it’s why I love to visit so much!
  4. Boston, MA- May 2019- Though not officially planned yet I’d love to bring Morag to Boston for a few days during her visit. There’s a ton of cool U.S. history in Boston and it’s home to many of the North East’s most famous sports teams. What’s your favorite thing to do in Boston?

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    Taking in a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston
  5. Paris, France- September 2019- Morag and I are excited to see each other three times this year (which is rare because she lives in Scotland and I live in the U.S.) In September we’re meeting in Paris for the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon weekend of races. We’re planning a couple days at Disney before heading into the city for a couple nights. If you could pick one thing to see in Paris, what would it be?

Stay adventurous!

Hartford Baking Co. in West Hartford, CT

Today I bring you another local coffee place that serves up coffee and so much more deliciousness! Hartford Baking Co. was another Yelp fueled discovery that I found in West Hartford, CT. They have two locations though I like to visit their New Park Ave shop because the parking is easier than the other location on Farmington Ave.

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Walking in I was immediately tempted by their baked good case!

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They also sell bread loaves, rolls, fresh made sandwiches and DO YOU SEE THOSE GIANT PRETZELS?!

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HOLY YUM!

My favorite thing they make (that I’ve tried so far) is the banana chocolate chip muffin.

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I came in close to closing time so I gobbled this down in my car.

One thing I really like about HBC is that they don’t do the typical pumpkin spice for fall- instead they offer a delicious autumn spice latte which I tried on my first visit.

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The autumn spice latte has a cinnamon/spiced type of flavor. It’s really good!

HBC has a good amount of tables so I can usually find a seat if I want to sit and work on my blog while I sip.

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Love to grab a seat in this cozy corner!

I’ve been to Hartford Baking Co. a couple times now. It’s definitely in my coffee shop rotation. They’re open daily 7:30a-3:00p (at both locations, I believe!) Let me know what you think if you’ve checked them out!

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Stay adventurous!

 

runDisney’s Dopey Challenge: Walt Disney World Half Marathon

This is part three of a recap of the 2018 runDisney Dopey Challenge. For part two click here!

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With the 5k and the 10k races complete the distance on the Dopey Challenge starts to get serious. The Walt Disney World Half Marathon starts on Epcot Center Drive, takes you down World Drive and into the Magic Kingdom, by the Magic Kingdom area resorts, back to World Drive and Epcot Center Drive and into Epcot’s Future World before you cross the finish line. The size of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon is considerably larger than the previous races of the weekend so the start corrals are much larger and further from where the race transportation drops off.

Tip: Consider taking the 0.5 mile walk to your start corral early. Each corral is sent off in mini waves so the earlier you arrive, the more likely you will be in the first wave.

At this point in our weekend we had switched to Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom Lodge to we were up and in the Kidani lobby by 3:00am to catch a bus for the 5:30 am start.

Today’s costumes were the Toy Story aliens!

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We bought plain blue t-shirts and wore an athletic tech shirt underneath. The pizza planet logos were made by my friend from felt. The headpieces were attached to plastic headbands and made from felt and foam. The gloves were $1 (or something crazy cheap) from Kohl’s. These were simple, effective and comfortable (and made with lots of hot glue!)

We tend not to take too many pictures from the start of the race into the Magic Kingdom because the course can be very dark. It’s popular for people to stop and take pictures with the big mile marker signs but we opted not to do that this year. The sun had just come up as we were going into Magic Kingdom which was perfect timing to stop for lots of pictures.

Once arriving at the park we started by coming down Mainstreet USA and turning right into Tomorrowland.

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Then we followed the path into Fantasyland where we decided to wait for our first character.

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The Little Mermaid has always been my favorite princess!

Tip: I won’t lie- character lines can be long. Make sure to budget your time and monitor your pace accordingly. In total we spent 1 hour in the Magic Kingdom this year (approximately 1.5 miles distance) getting the characters that I’m sharing.

Next we continued through Fantasyland and through the castle.

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On our way through Frontierland we stopped for Woody and Bullseye!

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Tip: See those people running behind Bullseye and Woody? They’re coming back from the Frontierland bathrooms. We stop here because it’s indoors (no port-o-potties!) and there are tons of stalls so there’s never a line.

After spending about an hour in Magic Kingdom we knew it was time to hit the road and take Floridian Way by Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. This is an under appreciate part of the course. People often complain it’s narrow and crowded but Disney will put multiple photo opportunities here and guests from the hotels will come outside to cheer runners on!

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We stopped for Mary and Bert’s Penguins at the end of the Grand Floridian’s drive way.

Generally there will be character greets at the Grand Floridian and on the golf course that’s on your right as you run. Over the years I’ve seen Lilo and Stitch, the wedding pavilion gentlemen, Tourist Genie, and Golfing Mickey or Goofy make an appearance (among others) on this stretch!

We took World Drive to Epcot Center Drive and were headed back into the Epcot parking lot. While crossing through the backstage area we stopped for Tink and her fairy friends.

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The Epcot portion of the course takes you past the Fountain of Nations towards World Showcase Lagoon where you make a U-turn and run back towards Spaceship Earth and out to the finish line.

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We stopped for Stitch on the U-turn.

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Almost lost my ears at the finish line!

With this finish line crossed we had completed 22.4 miles of the Dopey Challenge! What I find a little daunting about this challenge is that even with three races down we still hadn’t complete half of the distance. Just speaks to what a beast a full marathon is! As we get closer to the 2019 Walt Disney World Marathon keep your eyes peeled for the final installment of this series: the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon recap!

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Stay adventurous, friends!

 

 

Prospect Mountain in Lake George, NY

During our girl’s trip week in Lake Placid and Lake George it rained…a lot. In fact, it rained almost everyday but despite that we had a good time and made the best of it! I felt like we were rewarded for our positive attitude because on our last day the clouds parted and the sun shined over a beautiful blue sky! This made the perfect day to drive up Prospect Mountain as a final goodbye to upstate New York. I’ve been lucky enough to spend two summers living upstate and have spent lots of time in Lake George but until this trip I never noticed the highway entrance up Prospect Mountain tucked in between business along the strip. While there are hiking trails to the top we opted to pay $10/car to drive up the paved road. While traveling up the Veteran’s Memorial Highway there are three scenic overlooks to view:

The First Overlook: The Narrows

 

The second overlook: Lake George Panorama
Million Dollar Beach can be seen on the right side of the lake.
The third overlook, the Eagle’s Eye, was a little overgrown and didn’t offer much of a different view than what we’d seen so far. Upon almost reaching the top, we parked in the parking lot and got in line for the shuttle that makes the final drive to the summit. The shuttle runs continuously back and forth during highway open hours.  
Views from the very top of Prospect Mountain! On a clear day you can see 100 miles in each direction.
Plenty of room to picnic at the top
Stunning views no matter where you stand!

We decided to take the walking trail back down. It was interesting that the color wasn’t that bright on the Lake George side but was much more brilliant on the opposite side.

Views on the way back down
Before getting in the car we stopped for a seat on this natural bench on the rock face!
I can’t believe I didn’t see Prospect Mountain before this trip but I’m so glad I made the drive up. I would put this down as a must-do if you’re in the Lake George area especially if you want to get out and see nature but you’re not a hiker. I bet the views are beautiful in all seasons!

Stay adventurous!