Weekend Getaway to Skaneateles, NY

Matt and I have been having a great summer so far, with lots of long weekend vacations including the Hunting Camp, Bethany Beach, and a 4th of July celebration on the Jersey shore. We still have a few trips ahead of us, including the Poconos and Vermont in September and a combined business/pleasure trip to California in October. (We’ll be driving up the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible… I’m SO excited!!)

339 Bonfire by the lake

Our most recent weekend getaway took us to the gorgeous Finger Lake region of New York. We stayed with my brother and his fiance’s family at their house on Skaneateles Lake. I hadn’t been to the Finger Lakes before this and wow… I never knew what I was missing!! The views were breathtaking, the water was crystal clear, and the whole area had a relaxing, laid back vibe that was perfect for a mini vacation.

273 Piper waiting patiently for me to throw the stick

Piper is now a total water-loving fiend, so naturally she came along with us and spent hours in the lake. The water was so clear that I could stand knee-deep and still read the logo on my shoes. Unreal!! In fact, the water was SO clear that I actually went swimming… a rarity for this “dark-water” fearing girl!

The house that we stayed in was built in the 1890s. It was floor-to-ceiling dark, varnished hardwood and featured a wraparound porch, 9+ bedrooms, a huge kitchen, and, of course, amazing lake views out of nearly every window.

The sides of Skaneateles Lake are very steep so in order to get down to the house and lake front we drove straight down a half-mile long cliff driveway. This made for a fun start to my run on Saturday morning!! A creek bisects the property as it tumbles down from the main road to the lake. My brother, his future father-in-law and I followed the creek’s course up to the road and scaled several waterfalls in the process. The water was perfectly clear and I loved how it slid effortlessly over the shale rock formations on its way down to the lake below.

There were six dogs at Skaneateles including Piper. We tried to get Piper to follow the yellow Labs as they confidently jumped off the dock but she wasn’t so sure she wanted to take the leap. Instead, Piper entertained herself by retrieving EVERY SINGLE STICK we could find on the edge of the lake. After paddling each stick safely to shore Piper would proceed to chew it up until it was unrecognizable. (Unfortunately she also found the S’mores stick stockpile and chewed those to smithereens… oh well, she was on vacation!!)

In addition to fun at the lake and house, we also visited the local winery two (two!) times and had dinner in the cute little town of Skaneateles, New York. Our hosts recommended that we stop by Doug’s Fish Fry for dinner and they were spot on… best fried fish sandwich I’ve ever had!! I was too busy stuffing my face to take a photo, sorry. 😆

We wrapped up each night with a big bonfire by the lake. The weather was pleasantly cool and breezy and the views of the full “blue” moon were ridiculous. We sat by the fire as this moon rose up over the horizon… I sure was happy that I still happened to have my camera on me!

Matt, Piper and I thoroughly enjoyed our weekend at Skaneateles Lake. Thank you to our hosts and hopefully we’ll get to return next summer! I know Piper has certainly spent many happy nights dreaming about sticks and blue water ever since… 😄
131 Piper galloping thru the water

 

The Hunting Camp, 2015 Edition

912 Piper on the ATV

Last weekend Matt, Piper and I took a mini vacation in the central Pennsylvania wilderness. We stayed at Globe Run Rod and Gun Club – fondly referred to in my family as simply “The Hunting Camp” – for our seventh year of outdoor fun. 😄

I’ve blogged about our Hunting Camp adventures in previous years so feel free to check those posts out for more background (2013, 2014). For this year’s recap, I’m going to summarize the Hunting Camp in “Five Things Friday” style.

Five Things we enjoyed at the Hunting Camp in 2015

1. SWIMMING

Matt and I were excited to discover that Piper LOVES water!! She paddled around the lake with my brother’s German Shepherd, Lady, and even swam WAY out into the lake with Hershey to flush a flock of geese. (I don’t think Piper knew what was going on until the geese actually took off!)

I’m not a fan of swimming in “dark water” but it sure was fun to watch Piper take the plunge!

2. BOURBON

I don’t know anything about bourbon so for fun we had a bourbon tasting on Friday night. Our family members each brought various bourbons (we ended up with 11 bottles!) and it was fun to try them all. The verdict? Basil Hayden was my favorite (probably because it had the lowest alcohol content), but ultimately I think I’ll take a glass of wine over a bourbon any day!

3. HIKING

There are miles of wooded trails at the Hunting Camp and the adjacent Rothrock State Forest. Every day we took at least one hike with the dogs and on Saturday morning I ventured out on a solo 6 mile run in the state forest. My brother saw a black bear at camp just before Matt and I arrived on Thursday, so naturally I spent the whole run worrying about what I would do if a bear appeared around the next bend. (Run the other way? Make a lot of noise??) Luckily the largest animal I saw on my run was a squirrel so I was OK.

4. FOOD

Matt and I were in charge of dinner on Friday night and we had fun with it. We made BBQ baby-back ribs, panzanella, potato salad, cornbread, and strawberry-rhubarb crisp. YUM! The other days we feasted on sausages, burgers, hot dogs, shepherd’s pie, and lots of chips and guacamole. Good thing we did so much hiking! 😃

5. RELAXING

One of the best activities at the hunting camp involves no activity at all.  The huge rocking chair-lined wraparound porch is the perfect spot to relax with a book (or Kindle or iPad). The porch is also a great place to watch the dogs (all four of them!) who spent hours in the yard wrestling, playing chase, and chewing on sticks. By Saturday afternoon the dogs were exhausted!!

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After three days of fun we drove home late Saturday night with a very tired, very happy Piper.  We all had a great time and can’t wait until next year!

367 Piper in a clearing copy

 

Whirlwind Spring Recap

Matt and I have been going non-stop this Spring with yard work, running, family gatherings, weddings and work trips.  As a result, I’ve been pretty bad about blogging (I need to use our rare down time to relax!!).  Nevertheless, I do want to share what we’ve been up to so I’ll attempt to use this post as a catch-all recap of our Spring…

After returning home from California in mid-April, we spent a weekend in New Jersey to celebrate the marriage of two of our college friends, then I raced three weekends in a row (Rick’s, St. Tim’s, and Elwyn) before we embarked on another work trip, this time to Baltimore.  We were in Baltimore for three days and got in some good meals and two nice runs around the Inner Harbor (which is beautiful!!).

After Baltimore we were home for a few weeks during which I ran three more races (Victory, Rocky Run, and Radnor).  We also celebrated Mother’s Day, my mom’s and brother’s birthdays, and Memorial Day, AND started on a major home landscaping project… ripping out and replanting all of the overgrown shrubs along our front walk (more on that in a future post!).  For my mom’s birthday I did a photo shoot of her on her new horse and then Matt and I had my mom and stepfather over for a fancy dinner of grilled salmon and avocado with roasted corn relish and Mexican rice pilaf.  (And don’t worry, that recipe will be up on the blog soon!!).  🙂

After Memorial Day we had the pleasure of taking care of Matt’s parents’ German Shorthair, Bella, for a few weeks.  Bella patiently watched us dig up stumps in the front yard (fun!), went running with me at Ridley Creek State Park, and, best of all, got to come with us to the Hunting Camp where she got to experience the central PA wilderness.  We were at the Hunting Camp for 3 days, during which we hiked and ran over 20 miles.  Matt and I also made a big taco dinner for everyone on Saturday night but we were too busy cooking and eating to take photos of the food, sorry!

Matt and I left the Hunting Camp late Saturday night so that we’d be home for our first wedding anniversary on Sunday.  We celebrated by sleeping in, doing some yard work, then spending the afternoon wine tasting at our wedding venue, Sweetwater Farm and Grace Winery.  The winery recently started hosting dog-friendly tastings so Bella came along and happily flopped on the ground between our chairs as we sipped our wine.  After the tasting we had dinner at La Porta, our favorite local restaurant, and then returned home to — you guessed it — MORE yard work!  🙂  Good thing we both like hauling rocks, compost, and stumps around!

The Tuesday after our anniversary we headed out of town again, this time for a work-related trip to a nuclear power plant to do a nighttime lighting demonstration.  It was a productive visit but between the Hunting Camp (4 hours away) and nuclear power plant (5 1/2 hours away) it meant that we spent close to 20 hours in the car in less than a weeks’ time.  And the road trips weren’t quite over yet…

On Saturday we were on the road again, this time to Avon-by-the-Sea, New Jersey for another fantastic wedding celebration.  The weather was perfect and we spent the night in Asbury Park right next to the boardwalk and the beach.  I loved waking up to the view of the beach and sand right outside our window.  New Jersey is pretty nice!

That’s about it for my whirlwind Spring recap.  Now that our travels are done (until 4th of July, at least), I’m hoping that we might have a little more time to kick back and relax.  First I need to make it through the Media 5 Mile race on Friday night!  🙂

How’s your Spring going so far?  Has it been busy or relaxing?

A Weekend in Wine Country

As promised, here’s a review of the weekend that Matt and I enjoyed in California’s Temecula wine country earlier this month!  I’ll pick up where I left off in my last post – Las Vegas, NV.

On Friday afternoon Matt and I finished up our work week at the Sands Convention Center around 5PM.  We picked up a rental car at the airport and set out on a 4 hour drive over the mountains and through the Mojave Desert to Temecula, California.  The sunset was beautiful!!

We arrived at Ponte Vineyard Inn in what felt like the middle of the night and went to sleep immediately, oblivious to our surroundings.  (Between the long week in Vegas and still sort of being on East Coast time, we were exhausted!)  It wasn’t until I woke up early the next morning and peeked out the window that I realized we had arrived in a beautiful fantasy land of vineyards, sweeping vistas, and gorgeous weather.  I snapped this photo through a crack in the drapes before going back to sleep for an hour to dream about wine and hot air balloons.  🙂

4 View out our window Saturday morning

Matt and I officially began our first day in Temecula with a 3 mile run that took us past 4 wineries, orange groves, and a horse farm.  Then we set out by car to Mount Palomar Winery where we feasted on an outdoor lunch at Shorty’s Bistro before enjoying a leisurely 6-wine tasting in Mount Palomar’s relaxing, flower-filled courtyard.  True to its name, Mount Palomar is situated on a high hill with breathtaking views of wine country.  We wandered up to the terraced gardens and took a few photos – the blue California sky with perfect fluffy white clouds was unreal!

We next visited Wiens Family Cellars, which is conveniently located less than a quarter mile from Ponte Vineyard Inn.  (Which should have been an easy walk except I was in heels and it was a deep gravel road… good thing there was wine waiting for us at Wiens!!)  We did another 6-wine tasting at Wiens while snacking on cheese and crackers before trekking back to Ponte (where I promptly changed my shoes!).  Then it was time for our final tasting of the day at our ‘home’ winery, Ponte Family Estate.  We took our time working our way through Ponte’s selections (our favorite was their 2011 Zinfandel Holiday Reserve), then headed back to the room to relax (and blog about the Security 5K) before enjoying a late dinner at The Restaurant at Ponte.  All in all a great day!

On Sunday we visited Miramonte Winery.  Like Mount Palomar, Miramonte is up on a hill overlooking the vineyards and they had a beautiful outdoor space that encouraged relaxed, comfortable wine tasting.  The Miramonte bar tender served our Sangria with a little champagne and ice and we liked it so much we bought a bottle to bring back to Ponte with us.  Once we returned to Ponte we walked over to the other neighboring winery, South Coast, where we split a few glasses of wine over lunch.  Then we took a guided tour of Ponte’s vineyards, tasted some “young” wine straight out of a steel cask, and sampled a port wine that was still in the process of barrel aging.

All of that tasting and touring made us tired, so we settled down with our books (well, Kindle and iPad, to be exact) in Ponte Inn’s courtyard for some reading accompanied by Miramonte’s Sangria.  Reading, sunshine, and sangria made for a lovely afternoon but I have to admit that by the time we made it to our 8PM dinner at Ponte’s outdoor restaurant, I was super sleepy and just felt like drinking water!!

On Monday morning we said goodbye to Ponte paradise and headed back to the real world of business meetings.  Fortunately we finished up our meetings (and made it thru LA traffic) fairly quickly which gave us time to explore the area around our hotel in Irvine.  I did a quick web search and discovered that we were fairly close to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, so we drove to the access point at Woods End Wilderness Preserve and set out on a hike on the rolling hills above Laguna Woods.

The weather was pleasantly hot (80°?) and we jogged a little before being startled by a loud noise on the side of the trail.  We stopped and discovered a huge orange rattlesnake casually sunning himself on the edge of the trail… eek! (I guess he thought 80° was pleasantly hot, too!!)  We gave him a wide berth and continued on our hike (keeping away from the trail’s sunny side), but I was a little freaked out so we didn’t make it much further before I voted to turn around and head carefully back to the car.

Tuesday marked the end of our west coast adventure.  After some meetings in the morning we headed to LAX (again, somehow managing to miss all LA traffic, which was awesome!) and returned home.  I always like arriving home after a long trip, but I have to say that California was pretty amazing.  Our weekend in Temecula wine country was completely relaxing with beautiful weather, good wine, and, of course, good company.  🙂  I thoroughly enjoyed our time there and I would go back in a heartbeat!

Security 5K in Las Vegas!

Hello blog world!  Matt and I are enjoying a relaxing weekend southwest of L.A. in California’s Temecula wine country.  We tasted wine all day and as I type this post I am sitting on our private patio at Ponte Vineyard Inn looking out at this gorgeous view of grape vines and mountains… AMAZING!

Ponte Vineyard Inn

I’m getting ahead of myself, though.  I’m sure I’ll be doing a full recap of our time in Temecula next week, but the purpose of this post is to recap the 5K that Matt and I ran in Las Vegas on Thursday!  The race was the Security 5K, a fundraiser event sponsored by the security conference/expo that we were exhibiting at in Vegas for work.  Here I am post-race, just before we jumped on a shuttle bus to get back to our hotel in time for the expo’s 10am start.

Annie Security 5K

The flat 3.1 mile course was a few miles off the strip at a local park just south of the airport.  There were 380 participants (308 men and 71 women) and the race started at 7:30am.  I typically eat breakfast 3 hours before race time, which meant that I had to venture down to the Palazzo Casino’s gaming floor to get breakfast at 4:30am.  That’s the earliest I’ve been in a casino and there were some interesting characters down there who had definitely been up drinking and gambling all night!

The start of the race was pretty chaotic.  The only other race that I’ve done with more than 300 participants was last year’s Turkey Trot.  For that race they had the 600+ runners lined up on a road that was the same width as the starting line so that start went pretty smoothly.  That was not the case for the Vegas 5K though, where all 380 runners plus all of the 2K walkers were massed together in a big, wide blob at the start line.  The crowd was significantly wider than the start line, so when the gun went off everyone patiently began to walk forward before politely waiting their turn to cross the line.   This makes sense because the race was chipped, but it was still weird not to take off running when the race started!!!

Matt Security 5K

Matt finished the race 122nd overall (113th male) with a 24:41.  I finished 146th overall (13th female!) with a 25:26.  I’ve really been hoping to go sub-25 but considering the traveling, long work hours at the expo, and higher than usual elevation, I was pretty happy with my time.  As my splits show, I felt like I got a great start (I even kept up with Matt for a while!) but then my speed sort of petered out in the last mile.  I didn’t know at the time because the race was chipped, but the 12th place woman beat me by less than a second! I’m pretty sure that I would have been able to run a little faster at the finish if we had been running neck and neck, so I’m going to use this as a lesson to always finish as strong as I possibly can, especially in a chipped race where the actual person you’re competing against might be several seconds ahead of or behind you.

Security 5K Runkeeper Stats

After the 5K we spent Thursday and Friday working at the expo.  Then we packed up on Friday and headed west to California!  I’ll wrap up this post on that note because it’s time for me to stop blogging and start reading a book while watching the sun set over the vineyards.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday evening!

Miles since last post:  20.0
Days since last post:  6
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2014 TOTAL MILES: 456.3

Related Posts:
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•  Athlete’s Closet March 5 Mile (3/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4/14)
•  New Year’s Eve 5K at the YMCA (12/31/13)
•  Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14/13)
•  Turkey Trot 5K (11/28/13)
•  Let’s Go Streaking! (11/21/13)
•  Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2/13)
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Weekend Getaway to Virginia’s Eastern Shore

This morning it snowed (AGAIN!!) but as I type this huddled next to our propane stove I am thinking of the warm, sunny, amazing weekend that Matt and I just spent with our friends in the quaint seaside town of Cape Charles on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Cape Charles Beach

We drove down to Cape Charles on Friday afternoon and checked into Cape Charles Blue, a cool boutique hotel with exposed brick walls and super high ceilings.  Then we walked down the little main street to Kelly’s Gingernut Pub, a great restaurant/bar in a converted bank that dates back to 1907.  We ate in the old bank vault and the food was delicious… I had bangers and mash (yum!!!) and Matt had a rich shepherd’s pie with lamb and beef.  In addition to excellent food Kelly’s also had 10+ beers on tap which made it the perfect place to hang out with our friends the next day.

On Saturday we woke up to perfect blue skies and amazing temperatures in the mid-60s.  After the insanely cold winter we’ve been having in Pennsylvania it felt like we had traveled to an exotic tropical island!  I went for a run that I had intended to be around 4 miles, but I felt invigorated by the great weather (and the total lack of hills) so I kept on running until I hit 6 miles.  I paused a few times to take photos of the beach and fishing pier.  What a beautiful day!!!

After my run we joined our friends at Kelly’s for drinks before hopping on a chartered minibus and heading up to nearby Machipongo, Virginia for the weekend’s main event – the Barrier Island Center’s Annual Oyster Roast.  The Oyster Roast is an all-you-can-eat oyster and clam fest that benefits the Center’s mission of protecting and preserving the history of Virginia’s barrier islands.  And when I say all you can eat, I mean it!  There were huge metal counter-height tables set up on a grassy lawn and the caterers continuously delivered perfectly roasted, steaming hot oysters and clams to the tables by the bushel-full (or maybe by the half-bushel-full… either way it was a lot of mollusks!)  We crowded around the tables with little containers of melted butter and cocktail sauce and ate oysters as fast as we could.  They were delicious!

31 Shucking Oysters

That’s Matt shucking an oyster in the photo above.  I was a little hesitant about using the oyster knife so Matt opened my oysters for me.  Luckily the clams were already steamed open so I could eat those while I waited.  🙂

After a late post-Oyster-Fest night at Kelly’s we woke up to another unseasonably warm day on Sunday.  Matt and I went on an easy 3 mile run around town before joining a few of our friends for breakfast and saying our goodbyes.  5 hours of driving later we returned home to our snow-covered yard and cold temperatures which was a bummer, but at least we got to enjoy two days of spring-like bliss in Virginia!

Cape Charles beach

Viva Las Vegas!

As I mentioned earlier today, Matt and I just returned from a week-long trip to Las Vegas, Nevada.  Despite the fact that we were in Vegas for work (we go every January), we still managed to squeeze in lots of good meals and fun.  We even went running!  Here are some photos from the trip.

The most epic run of the trip (or actually maybe the most epic run of my adult running career?) was on Friday when my brother and I ran nearly 7 miles to see the famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign.  The length of this run shows you how HUGE the Las Vegas Strip is.  We were staying on the Northern end of the strip at the Palazzo and the sign is located at the southern end of the strip near McCarren Airport and Mandalay Bay.  So the run to the sign involved us running on the sidewalk past several casinos… easy, right?  Nope!!  Not only did we run by casinos for 3 1/2 solid miles (that’s a LOT of casinos!), we also crossed 8 or 9 pedestrian bridges (3+ flights of stairs up and down for each) and got waylaid as we wove around construction sites (Vegas is always changing!).

It was totally worth the crazy journey once we got to the sign though.  We were the only people there who had made the pilgrimage on foot and a group of friendly tourists took our photo for us in exchange for us taking theirs.  We also saw Elvis and a taxicab full of reallllly drunk guys who told us that they had been awake for 48 hours (for the record it was about 8:15am at that point).  Fun times!

Runkeeper Stats for our Las Vegas Sign Run

All in all we had a great time in Vegas.  Matt and I will be heading back in April for another work trip and I’m already looking forward to it!

Miles since last post:  75.3
Days since last post:  15
Avg. Daily Miles since July 18th: 4.86
2014 TOTAL MILES: 91.6
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Have you ever been to Vegas?  What was your favorite attraction or activity?
Any running recommendations for when Matt and I return to Sin City in April?