Lobsterpalooza in Maine

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They eat lobster in Maine like we eat chicken in the South. It is everywhere. Lobster omelettes, rolls, wraps, chowder, BLT, poached, broiled, boiled, whole, half, stewed and then there’s everything I haven’t had a chance to eat yet.

20140810_201003 It’s a good thing they have some spectacular walks to burn off those rich calories. However, according to the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, lobster has less calories, less total fat and less cholesterol (based on 100 grams of cooked product) than lean beef; whole poached eggs; and even roasted, skinless chicken breast. It is also high in amino acids; potassium and magnesium; Vitamins A, B12, B6, B3 (niacin) and B2 (riboflavin); calcium and phosphorus; iron; and zinc.

20140813_133047Must be true because lobster doesn’t stick with you long. After a nice walk, I find myself having to reach for a nice ice cream chaser.  I must not be alone because there are many tempting flavors to choose from in Maine. I prefer the native blueberry myself.

But I digress. Best walk in Kennebunkport? The one on Ocean Drive that takes you to the Bush compound, as in Presidents 41 and 43. Politics aside, the property is massive as it juts out into the Atlantic and it’s worth the walk to see. The way is paved and offers spectacular views of the ocean and manicured mansions.  There is access to the rocky oceanfront below.  Definitely worth taking a stroll.  Head in the other direction into town and there are beaucoup shops and eateries. I recommend Hurricanes for a spectacular meal. Pier 77 for a spectacular lobster roll and views.

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Charlottetown, PEI: Plenty of Mussel!

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Canada’s Prince Edward Island is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and produces 19,000 tons of mussels annually. If you live in the U.S. chances are you’ve enjoyed some PEI shellfish at your favorite restaurant.  However, I found the real strength of this island to be the options it provides for walks that are both beautiful and historic.

Charlottetown dates back to 1720 and is considered the birthplace of Canada. Downtown is situated along the harbor which provides for picturesque walks along the harbor and neighboring shops. The village is pedestrian-friendly with well-maintained sidewalks shaded by trees and a friendly citizenry always eager to offer directions or advice on shops and dining. Guess what’s on the menu?

If lobster is more to your liking, there’s tons of that too. In fact, the fishing village of North Rustico, about half an hour from Charlottetown is one of the many spots where they haul em in. Lobster boats and traps are everywhere.  If you are lucky, you might catch a tale from the Bearded Skipper who happened to be dockside when I was there. His picture alone is worth a thousand words! The tide changes every six hours so if you park your car near the water, keep an eye on the time.

If you are looking for a beach experience, head over to Greenwich Park which features a beautiful  beach and trails. Take your shoes off – I am told the water here is a comfortable 72 degrees, some of the warmest water on the seaboard, because it is so close to the gulfstream.

Apparently, the best time to visit PEI is from June until the end of September, before the cold sets in. My experience was a pleasant 65 degrees under beautiful blue skies, but I did experience rain the day before, farther south in chilly Peggy’s Cove near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Let’s just say Mother Nature was in full force, spewing rain, wind and fog in a furious way.

Still a nice respite from the hot temps in the U.S., I say!

 

 

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Bar Harbor Shore Path: Shore is Pretty

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The first stop of my Canada/New England cruise took me to Bar Harbor, Maine and it was everything I thought it would be. Quaint and lush, what’s not to like? There is a very convenient Shore Path that goes for about a mile and makes for a leisurely stroll. It begins and ends in town and you are just steps away from shops and restaurants.  Lobster is plentiful here and you can get some fantastic lobster for under $20.Acadia National Park is just minutes away.  Unfortunatley weather prevented me from taking on Cadillac mountain but that was okay by me because I was still getting my sea legs, if you know what I mean.  The ranger recommended Jessup trail for a nice hike but I opted to stroll through the wild gardens cuz I’m that kind of girl.*

* That is a joke.

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Boston STRONG!

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It sure is. Spent a night in Beantown and the city is looking great. It was the perfect night to stroll along Hanover Street in the north end – a pleasant 72 degrees at the end of June.  Harbor Walk, just outside the Italian District, is so enjoyable. Really pleasant. And if you work up an appetite, I highly recommend Mamma Maria’s. Lobster ravioli anyone?

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Bar Harbor on the Horizon!

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Bar_Harbor_Maine_Shore_Trail_mdI couldn’t be more excited about my upcoming voyage to Maine and Canada’s east coast. I got some great advice from Amy Roeder, a local, about how I should spend my day in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. I thought I would share it with you. She writes:

I highly recommend the Shore Path (starts in town, level walking, approx 1 mile in length, out and back walk or you can come back via town) or Compass Harbor.  Compass Harbor is just a short ways out of town and it offers varying terrain (though none very steep) with harbor views and the chance to see the remnants of the Dorr Mansion.  It’s one of the most picturesque walks on Mount Desert Island.  If you head out of town on Main St., the entrance to this trail will be on your left after a half mile or so.  The Chamber of Commerce (corner of Main and Cottage) should be able to give you a map to the trailhead.  You can totally do both in a day, btw.  As for lobster, my favorite is at Thurston’s in Bernard, but that’s kind of far away.  If you’re looking for a good in-town lobster, I recommend Side Street Cafe.  Their lobster roll is the best in Bar Harbor.  I also really like the lobster roll at the Thirsty Whale, but Side St. has the best full lobster dinner in town.

Can’t wait to try it out. Thanks Amy!

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Shoulda Stayed in Brownies: Jenny Lake, Wyoming

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Jenny Lake I dropped out of Brownies so I was not a Girl Scout, which means I don’t know nuthin’ about maps. But ponder this:

The trail around Jenny Lake in Rockefeller National Park in Jackson, WY, is 7-8 miles long. You can hike 2.5 miles and for the low, low price of $7.00, a boat will pick you up and bring you back to where you parked your car. How nice.

Jenny Lake boatOr, you can go in the opposite direction and walk over 5 miles to reach the damn boat.

Guess which one I did?

Merriam-Webster just added “aha moment”  to the dictionary in 2012. I wonder when “oh sh*t” will make it into the books? That’s a familar feeling for any hiker of compromised direction. When you realize your hike is more than twice as long as you thought, that’s when you when you take a deep breath and stop thinking about lunch for a few.

So how to reach that boat after all? Don’t ask my hiking partner Debbie. She just tripped on the trail and did a full body twirl onto the rock solid path. (Though I must admit I thought I would be the first to drop.)

Being from New Orleans it is only natural to rely on the kindness of strangers. And sure enough, along came Al and Amanda, a nice young couple from back east. Al must have been a Boy Scout because once he realized the shortest distance between two points is to take the boat, he got down to business. He pulled out a map.

Imagine that.

And a few steps later, Al spotted this: DSC_0211

“I am in good hands, indeed,” I thought!

Al led us to the promised land. We hiked a couple miles more around a creek, alongside a mountain and finally saw the shore. We joined a queue of about 20 people who waited for the water ferry for the 10 minute ride back to the dock. Once on familiar ground, we soon lost our fears and celebrated our 5 1/2 mile conquest.

Day of rest tomorrow. I am 50 years old for goodness sake!

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Thank You Rockefellers!

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Let’s hear it for rich people who give back in enormous ways. John D. Rockefeller Jr. (1874.1960), of Standard Oil lineage,  thought preservation instead of development when he donated 24,000 acres that connect Grand Teton National Park with Yellowstone, the world’s first national park.
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Located a few miles outside Jackson, the Laurence Rockefeller Preserve, named after Junior’s son, offers some great hikes and lookouts. At left is a shot of the view just as you begin the trail.  It is a pack it in, pack it out kind of place so you won’t find any trashcans.

 

 

 

Phelps LakeThis is bear country. That fact is top of mind at all times. I don’t know what I would do if I came face to face with a grizzly. One thing the signs consistently say is don’t run. So that doesn’t leave me many options, I’m afraid.

 

I highly recommend a jaunt to Phelps Lake.  My Tracks app calculated it as 1.82 miles in and 1.88 miles back. I would consider this a moderate hike since there is a slight incline along the way. In the beinning of the hike you will come upon  a creek. You can hike around the lake once you arrive. It’s a beauty.

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Touchdown Jackson Hole, WYO

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Taggart LakeI arrived in Jackson, Wyoming thinking that was cloud cover we were flying through. Wrong.

Smoke from seasonal fires are blowing this way, creating a hazy but not lazy summer in Jackson. You can’t smell smoke but the haze adds a filter that makes you wish for a good rain to wipe it away.  No fires here but they are in neighboring Idaho and four other western states.

But the nature here is breathtaking nonetheless. The trails are challenging and the scenery and wildlife are one of a kind. Spying on a moose drinking in a creek is a sight you just don’t see while shopping downtown.

DSC_0219Here’s a delightful moose who has taken a liking to the creek just outside the Jenny Lake visitor’s center. Either that or the town’s convention and visitor’s bureau is paying him a nice wage to sip water all day while folks take his picture.

 

 

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Ten Best Hiking Trails in the World

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Can’t beat that! I didn’t see a way to share this article on my blog so I’ve copied and pasted. Full link:

http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/09-02/10-best-hiking-trails-world.html

Here are the ten best hikes on the planet, each with a combination of scenery and special extras that make them well worth going out of your way to enjoy. If you can do all ten of these hikes, then you just won the lottery!

Tongariro Northern Circuit, North Island, New Zealand

It is certainly no secret that New Zealand boasts some of the world’s most beautiful and dramatic scenery, which is why it’s not surprising that one of the world’s most spectacular hikes is located on these mountainous islands. While many people who hike in the Tongariro Reserve (a World Heritage site) on the Northern island stick to the one-day Tongariro Alpine crossing, the multi-day (2 nights and 3 days) Tongariro northern circuit provides hikers with a much richer and scenic experience.
Hikers on the Tongariro Northern Circuit hike for about 35 kilometers through non-stop compelling volcanic and desert environs that will make you feel like you are trekking on the surface of another planet—all while giving you high mountain peaks as a backdrop, diversely striking vistas wide variety of different scenery. Hikers who set out on this out-of-this-world hike (quite literally) will circumambulate the active volcano Mt. Ngaurube (Mt. Doom for those Lord of the Rings fans out there) while hiking past boiling mud pools, craters, interesting lava features, the amazing water filled volcanic vents, glacial valleys and water-filled explosion craters called the Emerald Lakes. Things stay nice after dark, as you get to stay in comfortable alpine huts along the way that have decent beds, gas heating and stoves, running water and toilets. Hikers on this trek can also easily do two short side trips to the tops of both Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe—allowing hikers to gaze out at the captivating volcanic scenery below.
Zion Narrows, Utah, United States

While hiking through the volcanic landscape of the Tongariro northern circuit may provide enthusiasts with an extraterrestrial experience, hikers are sure to be amazed at the unique and stunning scenery of trekking through the Zion narrows in the American southwest. Recently ranked as #5 on National Geographic’s list of America’s Best 100 Adventures, this trail will have you hiking up streams through dramatic, narrow slot canyons.

Hikers will wind their way through colorful, sculpted sandstone walls that rise up to 3,500 feet (that’s just about 1 km). The trek will also lead hikers through the famous “Wall Street,” a 2-mile section of the journey that crosses through a narrow canyon where the walls close to just 22 feet wide at the top. Hiking through water for about 60% of the hike up the streams that wind their way through these breathtaking slot canyons, you will see hanging gardens bursting from the red canyon walls, trickling water threading through cracks in the canyon walls and sprouting patches of moss, waterfalls sliding over the sandstone, and sandy banks with towering ponderosas. However, while this wondrous journey is sure to enchant hikers, it should be noted that hiking through the Zion Narrows is extremely dangerous, as flash floods can come quickly and the entire area is a huge drainage. Rainstorms up to 50 miles away can storm down the canyon and every year hikers die on this trail. Make sure to check the weather report in advance to make sure there is NO RAIN whatsoever in the forecast. However, with proper precautions, this hike, which is rated as one of the best hikes in the entire U.S. National Park system, is truly unparalleled.
Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Any serious hiker or trekker dreams of going to Nepal to journey through the world’s most dramatic mountain landscape. While most hikers think of Kathmandu and Everest when they hear the word Nepal, the Annapurna circuit (which circumnavigates the Annapurna massif) not only has staggering snow-capped and rugged peaks providing for a spectacular backdrop, but the hike also offers trekkers great opportunities to see a wide range of natural and cultural diversity.

This 3-week trek allows you to stay in comfortable lodges as you hike from lush sub-tropical landscapes into the highest mountains in the world (beware of altitude sickness as the trek goes to a elevation of 17,749 feet). As you hike the Annapurna Circuit, you will get to interact with the Tibetan mountain peoples, see Buddhist temples, visit teahouses, soak in hot springs and take in some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in the entire world.
Inca Trail, Peru

Most people who know something about travel, know about the famous and world-renowned Inca Trail. While some of the more hard-core types out there may think of this amazing trek as cliché, the truth is that this trail is popular for a reason. Peru offers some of the most beautiful South American mountainous scenery and, while some criticize the trail for being over-regulated and too popular, Machu Picchu is a destination worth seeing and the hike along the way is sure not to disappoint, with plenty of scenic vistas and amazing views.

Along with offering spectacular scenery, the Inca Trail is not only safe and easy to organize, it also allows trekkers to hike through jungle to high alpine terrain, visit 3 sets of Inca ruins along the way, and take in the beauty of the Peruvian mountains over the 3-night, 4-day hike. Plus, at the end of the journey, hikers will arrive at one of the most celebrated man-made destinations on Earth.
Tiger Leaping Gorge, China

This 15-km gorge located along the Yangtzee River between approximately 6,000-meter Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the 5,300-meter Haba Xueshan mountain, in China where rapids pass under a series of dramatic 2,000-meter cliffs. The gorge got its name from a legend that says a tiger once jumped the narrowest point of the gorge to escape a hunter (which is still 25 meters). As one of the world’s deepest river canyons, Tiger Leaping Gorge is a beautiful and scenic hike for those adventurous trekkers.

The high-road trail is well-maintained and marked and takes hikers on a 14-mile journey with varied mountain views that features a surprising variety of micro-ecosystems, waterfalls and even guesthouses where hikers can stay along the route.

While this gorgeous gorge is a essential and protected part of the World Heritage site of the Three parallel Rivers of Yunnan, the Chinese government has proposed building another hydroelectric dam that would flood this place—meaning hikers interested in seeing this beautiful, lush canyon should probably head there sooner rather than later.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

If summiting the tallest point on any continent has always had major appeal, but you are not sure you’re up for a technical, dangerous and rigorous climb, then hiking to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro is a great option. Kilimanjaro is often called the world’s tallest walkable mountain, because while it stands at nearly 20,000 feet, no technical climbing skills or equipment are needed (mind you, this does not mean it is an easy hike—the journey is still physically demanding and people die every year from altitude sickness on this mountain).

There are several routes to the top of the tallest free-standing mountain in the world and the highest point in Africa is not only of the seven summits (the tallest points on each of the seven continents), but it’s also one of the most diverse and varied hikes in the world. Hikers start near the equator and hike through every climatic zone on the 6-day, 5-night trek that leads you from hot grasslands through temperate forests to glacial valleys and a frigid summit.
Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai’s Na Pali coastline, which translates as “the cliffs” and which distinguishes the most impressive feature of this stretch of coastline boasts some of the most dramatically beautiful scenery in the world. Sheer cliffs dropping into the blue Pacific waters below, lush tropical valleys with picture-perfect waterfalls, green, velvet coated mountains and waves crashing dramatically into the rocky cliffs mark this hike into the remote and protected areas of coastline, where you can also spot pods of dolphins, humpback whales and sea turtles off the coast.

The 11-mile trail etches into the cliffs that raise as much as 4,000 feet above the ocean below and crosses 5 major valleys and countless smaller ones. The sometimes-treacherous trail takes most experienced and fit hikers one day and many hikers two, who camp in a permitted spot along the way. The trail was first built in the late 1800s, with portions rebuilt in the 1930s. It is almost never level, and in some spots the trail is quite narrow along cliffs dropping hundreds or thousands of feet to the ocean below.
Torres del Paine Circuit, Chile

Those looking for dramatic alpine landscapes, glacial fields, astonishing, jagged mountainscapes and a chance to get a look at the stunning spires of pink granite that make the famous towers of Paine should hike the Torres del Paine Circuit in Chile’s Patagonia mountains. Named one of the 50 places to visit in your lifetime by National Geographic, as well as being named a UNESCO biosphere reserve, this 100-km circuit offers surreal mountain vistas, glacial lakes, unique wildlife. You might even see a glacier calving. The wondrous track takes you through Magellenic forest, muddy bog, rocky gullies and over makeshift bridges.

Hikers should be weary that while this region is totally gorgeous, it is also notorious for inclement and often quite horrendous weather—meaning that not only will your pack be heavy laden with all of the appropriate gear to keep you warm and dry in the event of a storm, but it is also possible to get stuck in a bad storm or run into closed portions of the trail. But, the bad weather keeps this trek from getting overly crowded and you’ll feel all the more rough’n’tumble and accomplished for having braved harsh conditions (and those towering spires of the Paine will probably look all the more beautiful).
Tour de Mont Blanc, France

Regularly making lists as one of the best hikes in the world, this route circumambulates Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak standing at just over 15,000 feet. The 170-km hike offers stunning views of Mount Blanc and other Alp peaks, beautiful green valleys, blue alpine lakes and huge glaciers. The well-marked and maintained trails also lead hikers past wild chamois and ibexes, allow them to climb iron ladders bolted to the mountains and enjoy the alpine charm of the French Alps.

The other great part of this hike? While you may not feel quite as tough staying in the comfortable and warm refuges (hiking huts) along the way, not having to carry food or a tent makes for much lighter loads. Also, while opting to take the cable cars and chair lifts along the way could be considered cheating, it’s a great way to shorten your hike on certain days and be able to take in all the beautiful scenery without having to be too hardcore. Plus, the refuges offer comfort along the route—serving up hearty and delicious French food and wine and allowing hikers the chance to stalk up on food and supplies.
West Coast Trail, British Columbia, Canada

If you are looking for a surreal experience hiking through pristine Canadian wilderness, catching beautiful vistas of both temperate rain forests, rugged coastlines and dramatic mountain peaks, then the West Coast Trail is an absolute must. Hikers will awake to misty dawns, enjoy unbelievable sunsets, cross boulders and logs over rivers, scramble up creeks, hike past waterfalls, be dwarfed by enormous trees in an old growth forest, spot whales, sea lions, minks and maybe even bears or wolves, and check out shipwrecks and other historical sites.

This unique, stunning hike with immensely varied terrain can be difficult to get one of the limited permits available every summer and costing about C$200 per person it is also the most expensive hike in Canada. Also, inclement weather even in the summer months can make for heavy packs for climbing over mossy rocks and all of those ladders. That being said, this hike is well worth both the money and the heavy pack, as no other hike in North America offers such varied scenery from forest to mountains to sea.

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Another Discovery in Sedona – West Fork Trail

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So I guess I have been sleeping under a rock. As many times as I have visited Sedona, and that includes at least six trips, I just visited West Fork Trail in Oak Creek, 12 miles north of Sedona.

During this time of the year the trees are changing colors in dramatic fashion.  The golden maples (at least I think they are maples) are magnificent. All this set against the red rocks and turquoise sky is simply amazing.

It’s a well maintained trail along Oak Creek. Three miles each way but go at your own pace and enjoy the changing fall leaves and the creek that runs by.  There is a $9 entry fee so bring some cash.  I arrived late in the afternoon and didn’t get a chance to hike the full trail. I am told you might get a little wet as the trail crosses the creek. I will definitely make time for a return trip here.

 

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