Hike #35: Westwoods Reserve Trails- Lost Lake in Guildford, CT

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A big thing I did when I lived in Los Angeles were the Secret Stair walks. That guide book got me out in the sun, visiting a neighborhood that was new to me, plenty of exercise, and all of the cheap price of a one-time book purchase. Now that it’s spring, I dug out my AMC Best Day Hikes In Connecticut hiking book and decided that I should tackle the hikes in this book during 2017. I won’t be able to do all 50 in 2017, but I certainly hope to do most of these hikes. My posts will not reveal all aspects of the hike, as I am not a replacement for owning this book, but hopefully my images can help encourage you to buy the book and follow along. Or at least inspire you to get a hike book for wherever you live and to get outside!

Now to share my first hike from this book! I started with hike #35 Westwoods Reserve Trails- Lost Lake in Guildford, CT.

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I went right to the small lot that the book described (which only holds about 5 cars by the way). I imagine street parking is allowed as overflow from the lot.. but I’m not exactly sure, so check road signs! The first thing I did was photograph the map. I ALWAYS photograph the map of the trail I’m about to climb with my cell phone, to use as reference incase I get lost. This is surprisingly helpful.

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The book clarifies this hike as “easy with moderate sections” and I would totally agree. For the most part is was small hills and wide stone paths (like photographed above) but there were short sections that involved steep climbing over rocks, up hill and down hill. I was very glad to have my hiking boots on and was glad there wasn’t more snow on the ground – too slippery!

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This path starts be taking you by the railroad tracks which meant you could hear train noises frequently along the trail.

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There are several splits in the trail, so keep vigilant looking for trail markers and confirm on the map.

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At a few points you climb down the rocks along big boulders. The book talks a lot about the types of rock, trees, and plants.. although in the snow none of this was really applicable.

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There are some steep uphill sections that lead to great water views of the lake.

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Okay this made me laugh out loud when I saw it. I have no clue what/who this group is and I refuse to google “Team Alpha Butt Stuff” for obvious reasons.

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Great views from the trail! I saw birds circling, so I imagine this is a great birding spot.

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The hike takes you from down by the water to up on large rocks high above the lake.

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This was a section where I had to use my hands to get up the boulders and then be careful not to slide down the rock faces. This is where the hiking boots really came in handy. It was also around here where I totally got lost. Since it was snowy, I figured if I followed the fresh footprints, Id eventually link back up with the trail. This theory turned out to be a good one, as it did lead me to where I needed to meet back up with the trail.. but I did end up climbing through muddy/swampy areas. So if you find yourself no longer seeing trail markers, work backward until you meet back up with the trail.

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At the furthest point in the loop, there are some watery areas with little wood “bridge” planks. It was pretty fun. Don’t fall in!

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The blue path that I was on became the orange “X” trail, which would lead me back to the parking lot.

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Snowy, but pretty! I like that this trail had a pretty wide path, and the snow actually kept it from getting crowded. I only passed two people on the trail, but I imagine on a nice day this would be a busy trek.

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Once again, you pass by the train tracks to get to the parking lot.

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One thing that is fun about doing a hike in a new-to-me area is checking out the local coffee shops after the hike as a reward. I’m not new to Guilford but it was fun to make time to visit a local coffee shop and soak up the pretty Guilford Square scenery.

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I stopped into Cilantro Specialty Foods Coffee Shop along the Guilford Green to warm up (it was a very cold day), refuel, and read up on the next hike I was headed to this afternoon.

Next up: Hike 47, McKinney National Wildlife Refuge (Salt Meadow Unit) !

March 10, 2017

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I have to say, as much as I miss Los Angeles, this is still really freakin pretty to me. There’s nothing like the silence of snowfall, and it somehow makes everything really quiet and peaceful. Of course now that it’s late in the day the snow is starting to melt. It’s loud again, and the day goes on as usual.

This weekend in Connecticut is expected to be really cold which really bums me out. I’m so longing to be outside hiking, and moving up hill. Well this will give me a chance to figure out what that smell is that’s coming from my fridge (it’s really bad) and hopefully cross something off my “things to see in CT that are indoors!” list. Aquarium? A museum? Something with a big fireplace to sit in front of?

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Last night I attempted to visit the Nasty Women New Haven exhibit at the Institute Library downtown. The opening event ran from 6-8p, and I arrived around 7:15 to not just a packed gallery but a packed street leading to the gallery.

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The closer I got the more congested it was. There was a long line to enter the event, and there’s nothing I hate more than a packed exhibit (makes it way too hard to really see the artwork). I’m glad it was packed, as that shows just how much New Haven cares, and from images online I’ve seen of the art, it was a very entertaining exhibit. I did not wait in the line and decided that I would come back, not on opening night, so I could really see the pieces in the exhibit. It will be running until April 8th!

March 3, 2017: Trolley Trail Branford, CT

How do you like the new logo? Thought it was about time I jazzed it up a bit, as it hasn’t been touched in 2 years.

One thing that I miss  about my LA life is doing fun activities and blogging about them, which I stopped doing due to lack of time now that I’m on the east coast. I also noticed that I have a hard time finding important details about hikes on the east coast. I’m channeling my inner MODERN HIKER and sharing a post about a fun outdoor walk in Branford, CT called the Trolley Trail.

The Trolley Trail is a very easy, flat outdoor trail along the water in Branford, CT… specifically the Thimble Island area. The views are excellent and this one-way-out, one-way-back trail is pretty short so you can add on laps in the neighborhoods on either side of the walk (obeying privacy signs) to make it a full workout. Super easy, super pretty, so bring a camera and a picnic lunch 🙂

The Map:

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There are two areas to park (“P”). One lot is by W Point Rd & Thimble Island Rd (by a baseball field) and the other is at the end of Tilcon Rd. The walk stretches between these two lots. In my images I start by the baseball field, walk out to Tilcon Rd, and back (adding on an extra walking loop down Thimble Island Rd for more exercise). I imagine on a really nice summer day, parking would be harder to come by, but I was surprised at how generous both lots were.

Check out the RULES:

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The walk begins by taking you over a bridge (fun photo op!)

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There are excellent views throughout the walk, so be sure to look up while you stroll. See the Thimble Islands off in the distance? Bring binoculars for birding/gawking at gorgeous homes.

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A chunk of this path is even PAVED (and there are benches to rest!). I should note that there are some additional trails that go off into the woods from this trail. We didn’t explore this, but families with children were heading off to snack on the rocks overlooking the trail.

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This was a surprisingly sunny (but chilly) Sunday in February at low tide, so it wasn’t the most colorful time for plants and trees (dullsville) but there’s still something beautiful about dried muted plants.

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At one point we went under a bridge and there was a well dressed graffiti artist working his magic. I’m not sure what he was adding to these walls, but it had to be Banksy. I’m sure of it 😉

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After looping back, this is the view heading back over the bridge to the parking lot.

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On our way back to the car (just beyond the bridge) is a little trail with a tree swing and a spot to get closer to the water.

TRAIL EXTENSION:

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So to make this a longer walk (although I guess you could just do laps back and forth along the Trolley Trail if you wanted) I suggest leaving your parked car in the lot and walking into town along Thimble Island Rd. This above is a view from a little sandy beach front. If it’s warm, put your feet in!

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Above is the view from the dock where you can take a ferry boat around the Islands (in the summer). I will 100% be doing this in the summer, and I’ll share the deets with you when I do. I suggest walking down the little side streets, stop at the deli by the water for lunch (or pack a picnic and eat it on the beach) and enjoy the pretty views and gorgeous houses.

 

My Birthday Week

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’ve been pretty quiet this week. While I’m no longer in Africa, I’m still technically on vacation. This week (cough Tuesday) happened to be my 28th birthday. I know, I’m so old I fart dust. It’s been a fun week of celebration.

On my actual birthday my friend Jess and I drove down to Westport, CT to explore. We took the Merritt Parkway out there (so pretty), hit=up West Elm (well, because it’s West Elm), and then meandered back along the coast. We even stopped off and found Martha Stewart’s former property (Turkey Hill, Westport). We stopped at beaches to walk around, and I got a tuna sandwich at Oscar’s Deli.

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(Wandering around Westport, CT)

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(The PEZ Visitors Center)

See, such a pretty day! We also stopped into the PEZ Visitors Center in Orange. How cool is that?! That make and package PEZ in CT and they built a beautiful visitor’s center, with games, puzzles, and a find-the-7-dwarfs pez dispensers to win a free pez holder and candy. IT’s a game everyone plays and wins. The price is $5, but comes with a coupon to use in the gift shop as well as the free pez at the end of the visit… it felt like we got back the $5 we paid. I highly recommend stopping in there!

For a special birthday dinner my parents and I went to Geronimo in New Haven. It was a great meal and the restaurant atmosphere/decor is a lot of fun. My mom made me a special birthday cake and then I crashed. I’m still on Africa time!

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Yesterday I trekked into New York City on a Metro-North train. Met my friend Lily for lunch and then my friend Diana joined me for a walk along the river and High Line visit. I love that place, and they keep expanding it! It’s so fun at sunset to just walk above the city, free of cars.

Then Dot, Diana, Sally, Lily and I had a fabulous dinner at En Japanese Brasserie. Dot took the photo of me at the top of the post. These girls are the best 🙂 I took a sleepy ride back to CT last night and have been working all day today.

I hope to have some Africa posts up soon, I’ve just got a packed schedule here as you can see above. I’ve also got some friends and family to see while I’m on the east coast.  I promise things will be back to normal soon enough.

Snowy Connecticut

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Happy snow day everyone! The East Coast got some crazy snow last night. It was actually a rare treat to shovel the driveway this morning (I volunteered). Shoveling is quite the full body work out. I even went snow tubing today- what a treat!

I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon/evening with another Israel post. Happy Friday!

Visiting Home 1: Getting There + Father’s Day

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After my last day at work, I hopped on a Burbank 9:45p Jetblue flight to JFK airport. It was a busy day, but thankfully it made me exhausted, so I slept nearly the entire flight.

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Once I arrived in NYC, I took the bus shuttle to Grand Central ($16? one way, no reservations required). It would have been cheaper taking the subway, but it involved transfers and would have taken extra time. Also, it was 6am and I was pooped.

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From Grand Central I took metro north to New Haven. Once on the train I closed my eyes, rested up and awoke to this view. How beautiful is that? It’s an excellent train ride along the coast.

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After a day of napping, seeing family and catching up with the three hour time change, it was Sunday! Father’s Day! We decided to spend midday visiting Grandma for lunch at her new facilities. Isn’t Grandma Trudie a cutie?

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They gave flowers out to all the dads on their special day. This dad was no exception.

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The next day I got to see my cousin Elena and meet her new baby Everett. He’s such a sweetie.

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I’m holding a baby!!

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Don’t these pictures just make you melt?

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I made it home before the clouds rolled in. About 5 minutes after I took this photo it started downpouring. It was such a treat for this LA girl. And such dramatic clouds!

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Rain, Rain, RAIN! We decided to use this indoor time tackling our object filled basement. This has been my parents project for a long time, so it was nice to come home and help them clear out a lot of my old belongings.

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Warning: Cleaning out the basement takes an emotional toll. Going through childhood treasures and having to decide what has value and what doesn’t, man it’s rough. There were certain boxes that were an automatic keep. My dad put these Mickey ears on my head and I was pretending this doll was my child. My lazy-eyed child. Sigh, what has it come to.

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In going through my old RISD boxes I found this homemade card from dear Ms. Sally Funn To (best middle name ever). This was in the “keep” pile of course 🙂

New Haven Part III: Pepe’s Pizza

After leaving the Yale Center for British Art (discussed HERE), we continued on to get an early dinner. New Haven is known for their pizza places. Just the other day I tried Modern Apizza (see that post HERE), which was my first taste of New Haven pizza. We decided to try Sally’s (or Sal’s as it’s also called.. at least by me and my friends) Apizza on Wooster Street. Sally’s only downfall is that she didn’t open until 5pm on Friday, and as we had a jam-packed schedule, we needed to eat before then. So we continued down Wooster St. past Sally’s where we hit Pepe’s Pizza, which s one (if not the) most famous New Haven pizza place. Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Robin Williams, Bill Murry, Danny DeVito, and even “The Fonz” have enjoyed Pepe’s Pizza when they’ve stopped in New Haven. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us! Check out this article to learn more about the pizza places in New Haven.

Pepe’s doesn’t have a huge amount of seating so it’s typical to have to wait to eat, but come in at 4pm on a Friday and you get your pick of seating. From our both we could see them loading pizzas into the GIANT oven.

We ordered a large pizza for three of us, knowing there would be leftovers for our fourth person (Jess) who had to work on Friday. We decided to do half cheese, half veggie, which was an awesome selection. The standard cheese side was so yummy and the veggie side was loaded with all types of veggies. They didn’t scrimp on the toppings.

They carry Foxon Park soda (which is made in Connecticut) so I had to indulge in a delicious cream soda. It just felt right. I have to say, I liked this pizza more than Modern. Don’t get me wrong, Modern was tasty but there was something in this pizza that made it really awesome. That ingredient is probably more fat (haha) but still, if you’re gonna do it, do it right.

The reason we ate so early is because we needed to leave New Haven and drive up to South Windsor for Jess and Lexy’s hockey game. That’s right, my two tiny Asian twin friends play hockey and are AMAZING at it. They are both working full-time in the medical industry until there is a major woman’s professional hockey league (which they would dominate at), in the meantime they just save lives. Yes, you could call them superheroes and that would be accurate.

I had to include photos from the game, because they played so well. The above photo is Lexy who scored 1 goal.

The above picture is Jess, who scored three goals. The overall score was 6 to 0, with the twins scoring 4 of the 6 goals! How impressive is that?!

I also need to include this photo. Lexy would be the one sitting in the penalty box (or the naughty time-out chair, as Mike and I called it). We all weren’t sure why she ended up in there (for being a hockey badass? Is that a crime?).