Going stag into the woods…

View from the Summit House, Mt Holyoke, MA

View from the Summit House, Mt Holyoke, MA

I start tomorrow for the great hot river I’ve been wanting so long to see and alone as usual...”

I’m reading “John Muir’s Last Journey” right now and though I’ve only reached page 29 it has inspired me. Mr. Muir took his final 8-month journey to South America, Africa, Egypt and back through the Mediterranean at the age of 73 years and he did it alone. I’ve been ruminating on this aloneness in my own travels. I thrive on solo adventures, hiking, and seeing new places I’ve never been.

Summit House, Mt Holyoke, MA

Summit House, Mt Holyoke, MA

The first time I drove to Northampton, MA I was intrigued by a white dot on top of a mountain in the far distance. Perched high it must have a fantastic view, so I did a little research and found out that it is an old hotel from 1851 and now part of Skinner State Park.This week I finally took a quick hour hike to the Summit House. Just as I guessed, the views were breathtaking. I took a crunchy icy, assent up the road, as I didn’t have enough time to find my way through the snowy trails. I had a show to perform in the evening and I didn’t want to risk calling in late from the backside of some mountain lost in the dark. I’ll come back when I have more time.

I had a friend ask me after the trip, “did you go alone?” My response a resounding YES! Am I a loner, lonely, or somehow avoiding society? No, anyone who knows this gal, will tell you that I enjoy people, parties, playing and being the center of attention. A birthday crown? You bet! No shyness when it comes to talking to strangers and inhabiting social moments. In fact, on this quick hike I met a guy and his $8000 dog. While cooing and petting the small dog he told me this cute bit of white fluff was paralyzed recently and he spent $8000 in vet bills to revive him. I gulped being more careful not to damage the precious goods. I digress…

My point is that my nature time is best explored alone. Why? My first adventure in the great outdoors was in high school climbing Half Dome in Yosemite with a group (see blog post…One Touch of Nature) and it was life-changing. So I’ve participated and grown from hiking with others, but it is different from going solo. When I’m alone there’s only my thoughts and impressions. Yes, I would miss out on having my teacher point out the trickling water down the bank as being the little rivers that elves and sprites bathe in, and maybe I am missing a whole lot of camaraderie and insight that hiking with others would bring. But for now it is MY time, without distraction, without having to impress another, without expectations and I love it.

IMG_2032How about you? Do you find adventure alone or with others more satisfying? I come across many people who never go anywhere alone. Especially women. Even going to a movie is a challenge for some without company. I think it is important to find out what it’s like to be in the world alone, to be empowered by only yourself.

I know that my hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (Cinderella goes to the Canyon) would have been a completely different experience if I had gone with anyone. Changing it up is good! I grew in ways that I did not know were possible. I challenge you to spend some time outside as far away from your normal world as possible and go alone. See what happens. My challenge to myself is to continue to walk well into my 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and be like John Muir…

“…oftentimes our loneliest wanderings are most fruitful of all.”

(John Muir’s Last Journey)

Love handles…

I’m in a hilarious mood today, my writing is as witty as a 70’s sitcom, well, maybe not, were they witty? I am veering from my norm and  having a blast thinking about online dating. I have never done it, or explored it, I should say? But at the enticement of my sister, who is threatening to dip her toes in the online pool, I’m thinking “who doesn’t like company for a dip in the pond?” I’m having more fun just thinking about it, and in all honesty, JOKING about it, than I probably will actually meeting anyone.

First up is picking my online handle. Continue reading

Questing on the backroads…

IMG_1986New Marlborough, New Marlborough, New Marlborough just try saying that three times in a row. I was practicing yesterday as I was exploring this new-to-me area of the Berkshire Hills, and finding it one tricky tongue-twister. New Marlborough is a conglomeration of 5 tiny villages, Mill River, Southfield, Hartsville, New Marlborough, and Clayton. There’s not much here, but the appeal is strikingly cozy.

And as usually happens, a perfect Rodney Atkins song came on the radio for me to sing along to…

And it makes me wanna take a back road
Makes me wanna take the long way home
Put a little gravel in my travel
Unwind, unravel all night long 

It’s still freezing cold here, but I’m determined to keep exploring. I am brave in many ways and a complete wimp in others. Driving in snow equals wimp! Even with my new snow tires, I find that I am hindered in what I am willing to risk. There was no snow where I grew up so there was no practice doing 360’s, or digging out of a snow bank. Consequently, the back roads I look forward to exploring turn into white teeth ready to gobble me down their gullets in the winter.

Umpachine River

Umpachine River

My first effort at finding a hike called Dry Hill (how NOT “dry” can you be?) was met with turning around when things got a bit too slippery so I never made it there. Next up…Umpachene Falls…failing yet again, because of a bridge being closed and nowhere to park.

I decided to throw in the towel on the hike idea and head to the Southfield Store for lunch. Finally hitting the sweet spot, this is a darling cafe, with great food, a cute green door, nice coffee and amiable ambience. I sat there and had a wonderful BLT with carrot soup, looking at where I might venture next.

There are beautiful white churches to admire, but what I’m really looking for is outdoor adventure. Back in the car I make it around to Mill River where there is a library and an old general store. The store houses the post office window and is the social hub of this quaint vill. Is that a word? Short for village, hey, Mr. Shakespeare I can make up words too!

I am tickled by the walls and pillars of mugs with names painted on them and ask the proprietor about it. He said that for five bucks you can join the Coffee Club and you get a mug with your name on it and free coffee for the first 30 days. After that, coffee is free every Friday and maybe Sunday, I got lost in following all the rules, and they keep the mug there on the premises hanging from a hook. He stressed that you can’t take it home. They even had a row of mugs saved from members that have passed away, an uncommon, touching memorial to loved ones lost. I wished that I lived closer because this is a club I would join in a heartbeat, not the deceased one, but the living….well, you know what I mean.

Mill River has a simple-life feel, going back to basics, unpretentious, natural and quaint in a sweet way. As I chatted with the owner I asked him about hikes and he pointed me in the direction of two. One to my left and one to my right. The first was back to the falls that I tried to get to with the closed bridge and he said you just park on the other side and walk across. So back I went to Umpachene Falls this time approaching it from the west and enjoyed the short, icy stroll around the frozen falls, but it still wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

Umpachine Falls

Umpachine Falls

Next up was Questing, yep, now there’s a good name for the end of this day’s adventure. I drove up a hillside and shimmied my way into the snowy parking lot and strapped on my yaktrax and away I went. It was a quiet, beautiful hike, a fine place to see the sun go down while standing in a snow-covered pasture and…

Get lost and get right with my soul
Makes me wanna take, makes me wanna take a back road 

Questing Trail

Questing Trail

Questing

Questing

Questing in Mill River, MA

Questing in Mill River, MA

IMG_1990“The greatest delight…which the woods minister…They nod to me and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me…” (Emerson)

Icy Beauty of Connecticut Crystal

Sheffield, Connecticut

Sheffield, Connecticut

I have always had a romantic notion of winter in Connecticut after being raised watching movies like Christmas in Connecticut, Holiday Inn and White Christmas. There were horse-drawn sleigh rides, beautiful inns with huge fireplaces, hot toddies, snow-covered barns, bells, singing and plenty of picturesque magic. Continue reading

A Pictorial Toast to 2014

Another full year flies by with many new homes, hikes, plays, friends, family and surprises. What a lucky girl I am, in love with life, my girls, and the next adventure around the corner. Looking back as I dream forward. Happiest 2015 to you all!

January…

February-March… Continue reading

Mapping the River of Life

I know, I’ve abandoned you, my sincere blog readers, as I got busy with life. I have missed writing and sharing with you all. I’ve been in Lenox, Massachusetts working for Shakespeare & Company and seeing so many of my goals come to fruition. I found a “map” that I created last February of all the hopes and dreams that I had at the time. When I unpacked from yet another move 7 months later, there it was, and four of the six things I had schemed about had come true already! These were things that I hadn’t expected to see happen until many years ahead.

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Private Eyes at S&Co

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Berkshire Bohème

I miss you. I miss writing, sharing, watching for events and photos that may please and heighten life’s experience for another. But more than that, I miss what writing does for me. I view life differently when I am searching for words to describe my feelings or for a camera angle that will show what my eye sees. Do I have less to write about because I am having less interesting experiences, or am I having less interesting experiences because I am writing less? I am playing with the idea of the latter and so have been on the lookout for topics and vignettes to tantalize. photo-6

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Sap happy in Vermont…

So many firsts today! First time in Vermont, first time seeing a strutting wild turkey, first time at a maple sugar shack, first time to eat “sugar on snow” with pickle and donut thing, first time driving over a covered bridge, and first time to buy a homeless man a cup of coffee. A day beautifully spent.

Bennington, VT

Bennington, VT

I headed north from Lenox, MA, destination Vermont. The state has held a secret fascination for me since I was young and watched White Christmas every year on TV during the holidays. “Vermont should be beautiful this time of year, all that snow….” But the state somehow eluded me until this month. Continue reading

Intrepid, really?

Kayaking on Lake Tahoe, CA

Kayaking on Lake Tahoe, CA

My boss introduced me to a group of people as the “Intrepid Lori Evans.” He meant it in the most complimentary fashion, but I reacted inside to the word intrepid. It spoke to me of stubbornness, a bulldog that bites and doesn’t let go, and had whiffs of the USS Battleship Intrepid in it somehow. Does anyone want to be referred to as a battleship!? Not this girl. I don’t want to be some huge aircraft carrier that plows through water and breaks down the icebergs in its path. Continue reading

Dreaming of Puck’s Trail…

Benedict Pond, MA

Benedict Pond, MA

Strapping on my yaktrax I hopped out of the car to meet my old friend Benedict Pond (see my post On Benedict Pond). Always in pulling into the parking lot and seeing the pond, there is a familiarity of bonding, of shared experience, of connection. Yep, the pond is rather human to me, a living, pulsing ecological beauty, with life throbbing around her thick frozen top. Interesting I see her as feminine when her name is Benedict.  Continue reading