Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vermont Wander: Pine Hill Park

I had a great weekend in Vermont mountain biking at Pine Hill Park in Rutland.  It was the first time I've had the opportunity to play on my mountain bike this season.  We rode over rolling single track trails through the woods.  It took me a little while to get re-acclaimated to my bike, but once I did it was a blast.  I only took one spill, luckily I landed on my meatiest part.  My right glut has a good size bruise but it was worth it.

Pine Hill Park has 16 miles of single track trails on 300 acres open to the public for mountain biking, hiking, running, geocaching, snow shoeing and cross-country skiing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wonder: What I am looking for...

Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable. ~Bruce Lee

Friday, July 22, 2011

Rhode Island Wander: Block Island

Summer is such a fun time of year, especially when you have a good friend who has a beach house in Rhode Island and she invites 11 of her closest girlfriends to stay with her.  My friend Lorraine, who is a gracious hostess did just that.  We arrived Monday, hung out at the beach all afternoon then ate dinner and socialized in the evening.

On Tuesday morning we were all up bright and early and headed over to Point Judith to take the ferry over to Block Island.  Some of us brought our own bikes and some of us rented bikes.  We rode to Mohegan Bluffs Beach.  The parking area where we left the bikes was high above the beach, and we descended 142 steps to get to the sand, rocks and crashing waves. 

By 1:00 PM we were all hungry, and ascended the 142 steps back to our bikes, and rode to Spring House Hotel's veranda for lunch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  When we arrived an ice cold beer was well deserved and we drank it enjoying our breath taking surroundings.  I had a delicious Lobster Cobb Salad.  After lunch we rode the rest of the way back to town and took the 3:30 PM ferry back to Point Judith and returned to Lorraine's house.

Some of the gals stayed one more night.  I decided to head home - my spirit full from the beach, fun and good company, and in dire need of a good night's sleep.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Adventure in the Kitchen: Tialla

It is getting to be that zucchini time of year.  If you have friends with vegetable gardens, you know what I mean.  They start giving you zucchini, which is initially appreciated, then you are afraid to open the door when they visit, because you know they will have yet another grocery bag of zucchini to share. 

photo via FLOWERS.VG

I would like to share with you one of my favorite zucchini recipes passed down to me from my mother, Tialla. The exact amounts will vary depending on the size of your zucchini and potatoes.

1 qt  Spaghetti Sauce (homemade or jar)
2-3 medium to large  Potatoes thinly sliced (1/8")
2-3 medium to large  Zucchini  sliced (1/4")
1 1/2 cups Bread Crumbs
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese grated
1 cup  Mozzarella Cheese shredded

Preheat oven to 350*F.  In a separate bowl mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  In a greased 8" x 11" Pyrex casserole layer the first 5 ingredients like you would a lasagna, beginning and ending with tomato sauce.  Reserving 1/2 cup of  spaghetti sauce.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes or until you can see the sauce bubbling.  Remove foil and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top then bake until the cheese is evenly melted on top, approximately 15 minutes.  When done let cool about 15 minutes before cutting and serving.  Serve heated reserved tomato sauce on the side.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ganglion Cysts

I have been having a great summer so far except for the developement of a painful ganglion cyst on my left wrist. 

A ganglion cyst is a fluid filled sac on a joint or covering a tendon.  This cyst is not harmful and accounts for around half of all hand tumors.  They are usually found in the hand or wrist, but can rarely be found on or near the knee or ankle.  One theory is that these cysts are caused by acute or chronic trauma to a joint or tendon (WebMD).  I have a tendency to develope these cysts on my hands and wrists, and a few years ago I did have one on the back of my left ankle.

They are also known as Bible Bumps, because one nontraditional cure is to hit it with a heavy book, which ruptures the fluid filled sac and gets rid of the cyst (Wikipedia).  The nontraditional method is not recommended by the medical community, since the wack may cause damage to the surrounding bones or tissue. 

The more traditional treatment is to have the cyst's gel like contents aspirated, or to have it surgically removed by a doctor (  In the past I have used both traditional (aspiration) and nontraditional (a good wack) to get rid of ganglion cysts.

This cyst started putting a damper on my activities.  It is aggrevated by rowing, paddling, riding, sailing, yoga, keyboarding, driving... just about anything that involves using my wrist. 

Last week after getting home from Montana, I went to visit my hand surgeon to have the painful cyst aspirated.  The cyst (smaller), but not the pain returned.  My dilema is now whether to pursue the tradional route go back to the doctor for multiple aspirations and possibly surgery, to pursue the nontraditional route and hit it with a book, or do nothing unless continues to grow and the pain returns.

I think at this point I will take the conservative and whimpy course of treatment, and do nothing unless it starts to hurt or impede my function again.  I will add a comment at a later date if I change my course of treatment.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Connecticut Wanders: The Hartford Jazz Society Monday Night in Bushnell Park

Oh summer is finally in full swing.  The outdoor concerts have begun.  Sitting outside on a beautiful summer evening listening to music is one of my favorite things.  Last night was the first of 5 concerts in the Hartford Jazz Society's Monday Night in Bushnell Park.  The concerts run through Monday, August 1st.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Exploring the West Side of Glacier National Park

We spent Tuesday through Friday night's in Whitefish Montana and drove back to the west side of GNP park for our daily adventures.  Many of the more spectacular sights near Logan's Pass were inaccessible due to high snow cover and flooding of the roads and trails.  I guess I'll have to return in the future to experience them first hand.

Actually the high snow is good for the park.   It may help delay the retreat of the remaining glaciers.  There were approximately 150 glaciers in 1850 and most of the glaciers were still present when the park was established in 1910.  In 2010 there were only 25 glaciers left larger than 25 acres in GNP.  It is predicted most of these will be gone by 2030(

Wednesday the temperatures hit 80+ degrees and we rafted the middle fork of the Flathead River with the Glacier Raft Company located in West Glacier. The river was running high and fast, and the mountains looming over us made a spectacular view as we rushed down the river.  We covered over 27 miles on the river in less then 5 hours including a hour on shore for a BBQ lunch.  Later in the season when the water levels are much lower, the same distance is covered in a 2 day trip.

Thursday we went horseback riding through the woods and marshes at the Apgar area of the Park, located by the West Entrance of the Park.

Friday morning we hiked in GNP, and in the afternoon we checked out the Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort. We didn't ski, but I did take Hayley on her first chairlift and alpine slide ride. Saturday we wondered around the town of  Whitefish before we headed to the airport to fly home.

Glacier National Park Continued.... Exploring the East Side

Monday Morning, June 27th we headed south through Blackfeet Country into Montana to explore the eastern areas of Glacier National Park (GNP). 

Cows roamed free as we drove through Blackfeet Country

We spent the next 2 days kayaking, canoeing and hiking the eastern side of GNP at Many Glacier, St. Mary and Two Medicine areas. 

Many Glacier Hotel overlooking Swiftcurrent Lake

It was fun to paddle across the lake, dock our boat then hike to another beautiful lake or waterfall.  The weather warmed up and we were hiking though snow 18" deep with T-shirts and water sandles, it seemed surreal. Monday night we drove west on the Going to the Sun Road from St. Mary's to our lodgings for the night.  A rustic cabin at the Rising Sun Motor Lodge right in eastern GNP. 

In front of the Boat Dock at Lake McDonald

The lakes and streams are formed from the melting snow and glaciers.  They are the liquid aqua marine color of a glacier.  One of the park rangers told us the water is so clean that their aren't many fish that live here.  Very little microscopic vegetation for the fish to feed on.  The water was around 39*F.  Most lakes and streams have 2000-3000 fish/acre.  At Glacier this time of year it is more like 500 fish/acre.

Did I mention the abundance of wild life we saw in the and around the park? Grizzly (luckly we were in our car driving by when we saw him), deer, cows, moose, chipmunks, squirrel, marmots and beautiful wild flowers.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

National Parks Wander/Wonder: Glacier National Park Montana

I have wanted to visit Glacier National Park ever since I watched the Ken Burn's National Parks series "The National Parks: America's Best Idea."  Well that is where I spent the past week.  Feasting my senses on the beauty of the park and its surroundings.

I made the decision to go less then a month ago.  I really didn't want to travel there alone, so I asked my niece Hayley, who just graduated from college the week before to join me.  She shares my love of nature and an energetic love of adventure.  Her company was the icing on the cake, so to speak, to a perfect adventure vacation.

We arrived at Glacier National Airport in Kalispel, Montana on Friday June 24th, and we drove directly to Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta Canada.  The two parks make one continuous eco-system of rugged mountain, glaciers, Crystal blue waters and an abundance of wild life.   In 1932, Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park were officially linked across the international border to form the first International Peace Park

We stopped at the ranger station on our way to get trail and road information.  Some trails and roads were only recently opened or still closed due to snow and/or flooding.  The Going To The Sun Road, which bisects the park east to west across the Continental Divide, may not completely open at all this season.  As of last week there was still over 40 feet at Logan Pass, that meant we had to take the long way around the park to get to our destination in Canada.

The drive to Waterton was breathtaking.  We arrived at the Prince of Wales Hotel to gusting winds and temps in the low fifties. Needless to say we were worried we hadn't packed enough warm clothes.  The low that night was around 39*F. 

The following morning we took a brisk boat ride across Waterton Lake the the Goat Haunt dock in Montana's Glacier Park.  After clearing customs at Goat Haunt, we hiked back 10 miles along the lake back to the hotel.  We warmed up quickly as we walked and the temps climbed into the mid-60's.  On the way we almost ran into a moose.  Literally he was standing just a few feet from the trail when we saw him, we cautiously backed up and took an alternate route.

We stayed at the Prince of Wales 3 nights before heading south back to Montana and Glacier Park.