A Christmas Whirlwind In New York City

Seeing New York City at Christmas has been on my bucket list since I was a kid, first seeing the Rockefeller Center tree on tv. When I mentioned that to my Pittsburgh pal Nichola earlier this year she said “let’s do it.”

Everyone needs that friend who makes adventuring a priority.

It was a whirlwind involving Nichola, her mama Patty, her college aged son and his girlfriend.

We hit the highlights but the list of wants that we didn’t touch was a mile long. Rest assured we are already talking about a sequel trip in warmer weather.

That’s the thing about a place like New York. There is so much to see in the way of iconic landmarks that it’s hard to get to all the cool off the beaten path stuff. Plus, there’s always something new to see

It would be amazing to spend time wandering neighborhoods and seeing what’s what.

Another time.

For now, I am home with lots of memories and stories to share with you. I also have a burning desire to sleep for a hundred years since rest wasn’t really a priority. Plus, I ate very little that was good for me so I was stoked to come home and make a veggie omelette and sautéed zucchini for dinner.

So check back for more on the holiday stuff, the observation tower we chose, lots of random pictures and many thoughts from a country mouse who had a fantastic time in the big city.

Plus, I have photos from the Phipps Christmas display in Pittsburgh and from the Christmas fun in Cambridge, Ohio. I’ll squeeze it all in soon!

The Look

When planning a trip, part of my ritual is to pull the suitcase from the closet several days in advance. This is Scout’s cue that I will be departing soon. He seems to do better when he is warned than when I just pack up and leave.

I recently did this in anticipation of an impending adventure. He studied the bag several times a day, sniffing and watching me for signs that I was leaving.

Sadly, the day of my departure was a different story. He knew without my saying a word that it was travel day. I don’t know how he figured it out because the day didn’t start out any differently than all the others.

Whatever his trick, he knew and he followed me around all morning. He wanted picked up and cuddled. A couple of times he clung to my shoulder like a little kid begging to not be left behind. Once, he bit my hand in protest. He is apt to violence in these situations because he clearly can’t vocalize his displeasure.

And I felt like a heel for abandoning him. The above picture illustrates the concerned look he carried around all day long.

I just call it The Look. Poor baby.

As pet owners or perhaps more accurately stated, as people who are adopted by pets , we play a pivotal role in their lives. Scout’s life is quite big, roaming the house as he pleases and monitoring all things that go on in and around the house. He looks after the birds, squirrels, bugs and all the other little creatures. He is well cared for and a bit spoiled.

Yet, his world is quite small too. Confined to our house, I’m his only companion and my leaving is hard on him. Luckily, he forgives and forgets within a few hours and all is right with the world.

Country

A postcard recently arrived in the mail. Not the good kind from a pal on vacation. This was a plain note from a publisher letting me know that a magazine I subscribe to is about to cease publication. It’s called Country and is about unique places to visit and things to do around the nation.

Would I like to replace my beautiful travel magazine with the cooking publication A Taste of Home?

Indeed, I would not. So now I need to call to let them know that the pescatarian trying to avoid gluten and sugar would prefer to not receive a monthly missive that’s mostly filled with meat and baked goods.

Meanwhile, I’m out a publication that I truly enjoy. It is picture heavy with short articles and teasers on interesting things to see and do across the country. I always end up with a list of new places to investigate and dream about seeing someday. It’s a great collection of bucket list items that otherwise aren’t as well known as they probably should be.

I had noticed the advertising was becoming increasingly sparse.

Sadly, readers have moved online. Why pay for a paper magazine that you have to wait to receive when you can rely on the internet to show you stuff for free right now?

Personally, I think that there’s still a market for this kind of publication but that could just be my inner traditionalist talking.

Americans today are overwhelmed by information. The next time you pump gas, entertain yourself by counting the number of marketing messages within range. I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of messaging I see via social media, email, traditional media sources and my own friends trying to sell me stuff. There’s so much fake information out there that sifting through it all and finding what’s real sometimes feels like a full time job.

People today are starved for the truth. We are starved for something real. We are starved for authenticity.

They did all the work, sifting through the crap and finding the real America – the unique and special places in small towns and rural areas across the nation.

It sounds silly, but this delightful little slice of Americana was just what I needed. It will be sadly missed.

Bridge Of Dreams

They call it the Bridge of Dreams because skeptics thought that turning a 370 foot long railroad bridge into a covered bridge was impossible. Turns out it was expensive but not impossible at all.

Today, it’s the second longest covered bridge in Ohio, second only to this one up in Ashtabula County. It’s also the third longest in America.

The railroad bridge was constructed over the Mohican River in the 1920s and abandoned about seventy years later. Like so many abandoned rail lines in this country, a portion was acquired locally and eventually transformed into a rail trail called Mohican Valley Trail. The bridge was covered through private donations and grant money.

I visited on a cool October morning, pulling my jacket tighter as I walked the short distance from the parking lot to the bridge. The foliage along the trail was quite pretty. The trail is paved and rather wide so I’m told you sometimes will see Amish buggies along the way. In other words, watch where you step.

As much as I enjoyed being in the bridge, I better appreciated being under it. There’s enough room to park under the bridge and east access to the shore. This is clearly a popular place to fish and there are plenty of rocks to admire.

The view of the bridge from this vantage point is second to none.

The Mohican Valley Trail stretches about 4.5 miles from the village of Danville to the Holmes County line. It is open to pedestrians, cyclists and horses.

If you go, the address to use is 16606 Hunter Road. Use Brinkhaven or Danville as the town, depending on your navigation system. This is a great side trip if you’re in Ohio’s Amish Country.

Vacation

I was on vacation last week. I stayed close to home, taking a couple of day trips and spending a few days in Ohio’s Amish Country.

It was an appallingly short week but I spent it mostly doing as I pleased so that was nice. It’s almost as though vacation days operate in some kind of time warp. They just pass too quickly.

We all occasionally need time to decompress and do the things that make life worth living.

Tales to come!

Durango

Of all the places we visited in Colorado this summer, Durango is the one I truly hated to leave.

The climate was pleasant and the town is the rare combination of charming AND prepared for guests. There’s a ton of opportunity to get outside and plenty of places to be entertained and engaged.

This southwest Colorado town was founded in 1880. It has a rich railroad history and is near Mesa Verde National Park which I enjoyed immensely (aside from the snake).

The Animas River cuts through town and there’s a River Walk that gives you a beautiful place to view the water while getting some exercise.

The historic downtown district has a host of restaurants and cute shops including some great used bookstores. We had a few delicious meals here too.

My friend was especially thrilled to find that the local humane society runs a thrift store. It was a nice one too, arranged more like a boutique than a traditional thrift store which always seem a little too messy.

This area is blessed with charm, beauty and so much opportunity for exploration I regretted not scheduling more time to enjoy it.

I’m already plotting a return trip next year. This time, I’ll be with two friends and I’m hoping to find a good Airbnb in Durango to use as home base while we adventure.

Isn’t it wonderful having a place to look forward to exploring?