At the end of November (yes, I am still trying to catch up on life!), Lucas and I went to the Pittsburgh Zoo. It happened to be the prefect storm for a zoo-viewing day, cool and cloudy, producing active animal sightings again and again. And Lucas’ pictures perfectly captured the playful, adorable, amazing moments we saw.
It seems like fall is often the time when I blink and find that a month has gone by without blogging. I am going to blame (for the second year in a row) new jobs and new routines and my ability to get swept up in it all when we move to a new place. But, it is November, and the leaves are crackling under my feet and the air is finally crisp, and we even had a dusting of snow last week (I may be the only person in the Pittsburgh area excited about this besides Lucas), and I am happy to be back at my computer writing.
So here are a few of my favorite things from the last few months.
Warren Dunes State Park
This place is awesome! I have to say, I still love Lake Superior above everything else, but Lake Michigan is pretty great and the dunes in this part of the lakeshore are impressive and humbling and so much fun to run down (going up you really earn it). From the top of the dunes you can see out to the endless blue of Lake Michigan and back towards more rolling, sandy, tree-covered dunes.
The Mattress Factory
This is my favorite museum in Pittsburgh. It is a contemporary art museum tucked in the history district of Pittsburgh’s north side. It has permanent installation as well as new pieces. Always eye-opening and interesting.
Fall Hiking and Colors
Fall is my absolute favorite time to hike and camp. So we have been frequenting Racoon Creek State Park. I am always, always happy to be in the woods, especially as green gives way to bright pops of red and yellow and orange.
Last week we brewed our fifth batch of beer, a black IPA. We are loving the process and, of course, the results! It has been a fun new hobby for us that has easily transitioned from our backyard in central PA to our backyard in western PA. Now we just have to be patient as we wait for this new batch to ferment!
I am already enjoying the fact that we are within 45 minutes of three state parks and have even more options within a 2 hour radius. So on Sunday, I decided to explore a new place: Moraine State Park.
I hiked part of the Glacier Ridge Trail, the longest trail in the park (14.8 miles) and part of the North Country Tail, which holds a special place in my heart as it also crosses through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This trail sticks to a thick, wooded ridge line that runs above Moraine Lake. The trail was shaded, deep green, and almost-empty. I loved settling into the quiet, with sunlight filtering through the trees in blinding winks. It was good to breath deeply and think about nothing for four hours.
I also took a side trail down to the marina. It was loaded with people, and the sun was sticky-hot. But I loved watching the sail boats glide across the horizon and I saw butterflies flitting from flower to flower. A happy way to spend a water break.
A very nice Sunday afternoon!
The last few weeks have flown by as we made, what seems like our annual tradition, another move! We enjoyed our year in central PA, and we certainly had some cool experiences while exploring this part of the country: Tractor Square Dancing, Troegs Brewery, Ricketts Glenn State Park, the Grand Canyon of PA, the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, learning to brew our own beer, and a slew of new recipes and yummy treats. It was a great year.
Now we are starting to settle into our new home: Western PA! Another side of the Keystone State.
To be honest, we are getting a little too comfortable packing up boxes and driving large trucks and then unpacking everything again, but I always like the excitement and nervous feeling of starting out in a new place. It means find new gems, like a great bakery or new park, while at the same time getting lost and trying to figure out a new doctor and mechanic and all those everyday kind of things. But, the boxes are all unpacked (thank goodness!) and to celebrate we did what always makes us happy: We hit the trail.
It seems like the best way for us to settle in and start enjoying a new place. So, two weekends ago we set out for McConnells Mill State park and spent the day hiking. We last hiked at this state park in college so it has been a few years, but my favorite parts of it remained unchanged. The trails still run right along the rushing river and the water’s constant lullaby still makes me feel relaxed and refreshed.
We hiked and ate lunch on a patch of sunny rocks and skipped rocks. My kind of afternoon. I love the huge boulders that dot the landscape here, bunched along the river’s edge and scattered on the hillside. The woods were green and cool, and we spotted a bright orange salamander, a snake, and a tad pole.
A good way to kick off the beginning of a new chapter in our journey.