Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Whole Lotta Camping for This City Girl

Dating a Nature Boy has its perks.

We definitely fuel each others sense of adventure.  While I like being in nature, especially the ocean, there's still the bit of uncertainty about being in the middle of the woods.

My family is not a camping family.  Whenever we went to other places, we would always stay at a hotel.  Perhaps it was coming from a different culture where having a bed was more of a luxury.  My mom would even question why I would want to sleep over a friend's house.  "You have your own bed already. Why would you want to sleep in a different bed?" she would question.  It was a similar line of questioning when it came to camping - "You have your own bed already.  Why would you want to sleep outside?"

When they finally allowed me to go on a camping trip with a mentoring program in middle school, I realized I was definitely afraid of the unknowns in the dark of nature.  I felt safer when we were carrying large, bright flashlights.  I had to walk in the middle of the group - because if something or someone attacked from the front we would be able to see it and run away, and if something or someone attacked from the back then people in the group might not realize it right away.  Being in the middle was the safer option for me.

With the Annual All Night Costume Dance Party in Vermont, I've been more comfortable with camping, mainly because it's not at all far from the rest of civilization.  Though I had invited Nature Boy last year, I didn't really pursue it because at the time we were both dating other people.  But this year he received the official invitation - Facebook invite and all.
campfire cuddling
This year, the theme of the All Night Costume Dance Party was the Apocalypse/End of the World.  I decided to go for a silly costume, as though I was ready for the impending flood.  Nature Boy went as, well, a Nature Boy, complete with fur loincloth.
ready for the end of the world
He grew up with a camping family.  They would often go on trips that involved setting up tents and pop-ups and things like that.  So, I made sure to rely on him for his tent construction skills as well as making sure we had the right kind of gear.  But his experience also made him aware enough to invest in better camping gear - like an inflatable mattress and a larger tent.
another dresser on fire...
destructive beauty
Dating a Nature Boy also means possibly going on more than one camping trip.

His brother and brother's friends were going on their annual camping trip together and invited us.  This time, we were in Saco, Maine at a KOA site.  Nature Boy and I couldn't figure out what KOA actually stood for, so we made up things like "Karaoke Outlawed Area" and "Kangaroos of America."  But apparently, it's as simple as "Kampgrounds of America."

These campgrounds are pretty awesome, actually.  I had never been in such a luxe campground, with all the amenities like clean showers and toilets.  It was also nice to have access to a power source so that we could have lights, fancy meals, and charging stations for our phones.  But it was also nice to get back to basics around the campfire.
We were there for Labor Day weekend, so 3 nights of camping.  Three whole nights of camping.  At this point, 2 was my max.  But, in such a cushy situation at the KOA, it wasn't to difficult to feel comfortable.  We had a tent that was large enough for us both to stand in and fit a queen-size inflatable mattress, and it even felt like we had a little entryway area.  I basically had nothing but mosquitoes to complain about.

So, for a City Girl like me, nature is much more manageable with a Nature Boy around.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Toesies of the Month - September 2012

Generally, I didn't think animals are really allowed in a nail salon.  But I suppose some places will make exceptions depending on the circumstances.

I was getting my pedicure in the South End of Boston, where there is somewhat of a more classy and sophisticated feel to parts of the neighborhood.  This one girl walks in with her little shih tzu, and I couldn't help but take a picture of it.
Puppy Pedi
It was fairly well-behaved, and it was somewhat of a cooler day.  I'm not a big fan of seeing dogs tied up to a tree or a post, mainly because I question why they took the dog with them in the first place if they're not going to spend time with them.  So, this was a pleasant time at the nail salon.
Designed by Kim at City Nails and Spa, South End, Boston
Color:  OPI - Just Spotted a Lizard
Occasion:  Changing seasons
September 2012
The color itself was more of a goldish-greenish in the bottle.  But on my toes, it looks more gold unless I flex my toes a certain way. 

The word "gilded" floats through my head when I look at my toes.  At the very least, it reflects the tanning I've done this summer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Water Water Everywhere - Beach Adventures 2012

At the start of 2012, I set the goal of visiting the ocean more than I did in 2011.  I am certainly proud to say that I have definitely accomplished that before the summer had ended.

Starting with going to Crane Beach even before Memorial Day Weekend, I went to the beach almost every single week this past summer.  There were even times when I went several times in a week!  The weeks when I wasn't able to make it to the beach, I was in some other form of water, like a pool or waterfalls.  Suffice it to say, I'm pretty tan as of right now.

Crane Beach
A little more than a month after the first beach day, I rejoined those same girl friends back at Crane Beach, and I ended up going to Crane Beach 2 more times with the summer camp.  Crane is really great beach, with or without kids.  Other than the long stretch of beach, there's a lot of parking (albeit expensive parking), decent changing and bathroom space, a kiosk with food and cold refreshments, and an outdoor shower/cleaning area.
beautiful sunny day at Crane Beach
Revere Beach and Nahant Beach and All Points Inbetween
There was also quite a bit of time spent in the Revere and Lynn this summer.  On Memorial Day weekend, a date took me to a beach somewhere between Revere and Lynn (maybe somewhere in Winthrop?), after a night of dancing at a drag queen bar.  Even though there were so many mosquitoes attacking me, it was a beautiful night, and watching the planes land and take off is really quite a romantic idea.
Logan Airport in the middle of the night
Later in July, I took my group of kids to Revere Beach for the Annual Sand Castle Competition.  I hadn't been there for quite a long time, so I didn't anticipate that there were going to be so many people and other camps present that day.  But the kids seemed to enjoy the free samples being handed out, and the sand art was quite impressive.
even the artist was impressing himself enough to take a picture...
how do they do it???
About a week later, I ended up back at Revere Beach, and once again at night time.  Originally, some of my coworkers and I were just going to hang, but when someone joked about going into the water only 2 of us were actually quite serious.

Remember last year when my girl friends and I celebrated one of their 40th birthdays by running topless into Revere Beach at midnight?  Well, I got to reprise this action with a couple of changes.  My guy and I both went in with just our undies, as I didn't want to go completely topless around my coworkers.  It was really fun, actually.  There were so many stars, and the water was relatively calm.  I wouldn't hesitate to go in topless next time, as there will obviously be a next time.

On July 1st, a friend invited me to join him and some other friends at Nahant Beach.  Though we got there later in the afternoon, it was still a pleasant day filled with riding around in my friend's Porsche during the day and a bit of hot tub action later in the evening.
a little topless action in a Porsche
In mid-July, I was once again at Nahant with friends.  This time, it was much more sunny, though the water was still a bit colder than I would have liked.
trying to touch the sun
Nantasket Beach
Early in July, we went to Nantasket Beach with the summer camp.  Nantasket is located right at Hull, south of Boston.  It's not too far a drive, actually.  There's an arcade and playground area for the kiddos, and there's also food kiosks along the boardwalk.  My only issue is that there isn't much beach between the wall that protects the boardwalk and the actual water.

But the water is shallow for a longer stretch, which allows the kids to think that we're going out much further than we actually are.

Good Harbor Beach
In the beginning of August, my guy and I decided to explore a new beach that neither of us had been to.  He had heard about Good Harbor Beach, located in Gloucester, and that it was a good one for families.  So one night after work, we drove up to the North Shore and discovered an amazing beach.  Two weeks later, we took the camp there.

There's a couple of showers, and a small bathroom area.  There's also a food kiosk with some pretty decent items, like a bacon cheese burger.  There isn't a lot of space to sit and eat by the kiosk, so we struggled with that when we took the camp.  But there's plenty of parking.

The waves are amazing!  I mean, real actual waves.  At all the other beaches, the kids would get all loud and scream when an ebb of the ocean would come at them.  But these are waves at Good Harbor.  Like, knock-you-off-your-balance-type waves.  The kids had a blast.
mermaid in the waves
My guy and I also had a great time here.  I don't think I've ever been at a beach on the East Coast when it's been around sunset and dusk.  I'm personally a fan of sunsets over the Pacific Ocean, but clearly I'm biased.  But the way the clouds looked and just being out in the water together, well, it was perhaps one of the most romantic things I've done.  You wanna sweep me off my feet?  Well, well-timed sunsets and oceans are a good way to do it.

Horseneck Beach
With the end of the summer camp nearing, my guy and I decide it's time for another beach trip just for the two of us.  On a related side note, it's pretty awesome that he's so into playing in the ocean.  He's really much more into nature than I am, having not grown up going on camping trips with my family.  He's also more willing to go into frigid water than I ever will be.  Regardless, it's been kind of an epic summer because of our ocean adventures.
mermaid and merman
Horseneck Beach is located on the Cape of Massachusetts.  It might as well be in Rhode Island, as it's at the bottom part of the state.  The beach houses are all eco-friendly, with no-flush toilets and automatic sensor faucets and paper towel machines.  There's a shower to rinse off the sand right outside the bathrooms, and an outdoor changing station.  The best amenity, really is that parking was only $7!! On a weekend!!!  Most of the North Shore beaches request about $25 just to park, which is ridiculous to me.  So $7 to park at a gorgeous beach makes the longer drive worth it.
clear blue-green waters
Oh, and the waves were awesome!
Old Orchard Beach
On Labor Day weekend, we went with his brother and friends up to Saco, Maine, for a weekend of glamping - that's glam-camping - at a KOA.  Basically, I was still in a tent, but there were restrooms and showers and a laundry room and electricity hook-ups.  There were also little extras, like a swimming pool, a playground, and bikes and trikes you could rent by the hour.  There are even cabins folks can stay in for the non-campers.

I had never been to Old Orchard Beach until then, but it reminded me a lot of Santa Cruz.  There's a trolly that picked us up from the campground and dropped us off right in the center of it all.  Old Orchard Beach has a small amusement park, with a couple of rides, games, and arcades.  There was also some fairly decent food choices at the boardwalk as well.

Now, the beach itself was nice.  It was packed, naturally, on this holiday weekend.  I noticed quite a number of folks speaking French, and I'm assuming they came down from Canada.

But holy-mother was the water FREEZING!!! I mean, even the wet sand started to make the bottoms of my feet go numb!  But, being that my guy was going to go into the water, I was at least going to be brave enough to submerge myself in the water several times.

And then there were the dead bugs  I'm assuming they were little gnats of some sort.  As we were walking towards the water, I noticed rows of little things in the sand.  I was pretty sure they were bugs, but that's always my assumption.  "No way! They're just plant matter!" he said.  But when we got in the water, I was even more certain they were bugs, and he couldn't deny it any more.

So, the water was freezing and filled with dead bugs.  I looked around and realized that I was the only person of color actually submerging myself into the water.  There was one man who was only in the water up to his ankles.  I joked saying that I was starting to really dislike white people at that moment, but it felt kind of real as my body went numb.

Venice Beach and Santa Monica Beach
That's right.  I got to go to some West Coast beaches as well.  After the freezing waters of Maine, it was a wonderful change to be back in California.

Naturally, I wanted to bring my guy to the beaches, even though he's been there, just to provide a comparison.

The waves were the waves that I so loved playing in.  He seemed to enjoy himself in the water as well.  So much so that even though we were only really in town for 48 hours, we got to go to the beach twice.

For the most part, my friends and I had explored Venice Beach.  It had been quite some time since I had stepped foot on Santa Monica Pier.  But when we went to meet up with one of his friends from college, we met at what basically was a playground for adults.  There were rings, balance beams, ropes, and tension ropes.

Truth be told, everyone was so fit and athletic that it made me extremely self-conscious of my own body.  I knew there was no way I was swinging on the rings like a monkey.  But I decided to give the tension ropes a try.
quite difficult...but fun to try!
16 Beach Trips Total... of today.  With fall in the air, I'm sadly putting away my bathing suits.  But, who's to say that there won't be a randomly hot day that calls for the beach?

I'm still quite satisfied with all the trips to the water I was able to make this year.  It made for a truly epic and unforgettable summer.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Get-Away in the Berkshires

Before the summer officially started, my friends, coworkers, and I had been saying that we could almost sense how amazing this summer was going to be.  We could just sense that it was going to be filled with adventure and good times.

This summer was perhaps the first summer in a long time that actually felt like summer vacation.  I mean, I was working full-time and definitely keeping busy.  But, it truly has been an amazing summer.

Having a little summer romance just seemed to highlight all the great parts.

Some close friends sent out an invitation a to hang at their house in the Berkshires of Eastern Massachusetts, which I forwarded to my close work friends.  But in the end, I ended up just bringing my summer romance.

The last time I was at this house, it had been in the dead of winter.  I believe others went skiing, but I chose to chill at the house.  Being that this was the weekend after the 4th of July, this was the first time I was able to explore the grounds and greenery around the house.

Apparently, there's an amazing little pond right behind the house called Hallockville Pond.  The house itself was located in the Hawley State Forest, so it was quite idyllic.  There were several tents along the pond's shore and a camp site on the opposite side from the house.
campsites at Hallockville Pond
We ended up taking advantage of a rowboat that sat at the shore of the pond.  I'd have to say that I had never felt like I was really living a scene from Disney's "The Little Mermaid" until this man started rowing me around the pond.
I was literally waiting for a little crustacean to appear and start singing.  It was honestly hard not to completely geek out at that moment!  But, unlike the movie, we actually chatted a bit as we rowed around.  At some point, he asked me if I wanted to try rowing for a little.  I was a little nervous that I was just going to have us spinning in a circle, but I think I did I pretty decent job and managed to row us around for a bit before going back to the house.
"there you see her, siting there across the way..."
In the afternoon, the group of us went to a more swimmable pond.  The Plainfield Pond was a little more than a mile away, but there was a little bit of beach attached to it.  There were several families taking in the sun that day, including a family of ducks which would sometimes get close to the humans with food items.
The pond itself was fun to swim in, but we would continuously feel plants and other unknown algae-feeling things at our feet.  After a while, it just started to creep me out a bit and I needed to get out of the water.

Later that night, after the delicious feast of bbq and veggies from the garden, we decided a bonfire with Smores was needed.  It was nice to have a little fire pit a bit away from the house, enough that we could see stars. 
apparently, Smores are called "Pogos" or something in Canada...
Honestly, it was an amazing weekend.  It felt nice to be away from all the business and noise that's part of a city, especially knowing that the summer camp was starting that following Monday. 

On Sunday, we got to spend a bit of time in the sunshine before driving back to Boston.  Hopefully, next time we go out there, we can explore some of the other attractions in the area like zip lining or hiking.  Either way, this city girl is learning to enjoy these country get-aways.
gorgeous weekend

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