Camping In The Everglades

I love this picture because if you look closely in the center, you’ll see a bit of swamp gas light. This green will-o’-the-wisp is just one of the many very cool things I was fortunate enough to see while camping in the Everglades early this year.

Despite having grown up in Florida, my husband and I both made our first trip to the Everglades last year. We spent a day exploring Everglades National Park and knew we needed to plan another, longer trip to fully appreciate the area, so this year we planned a weeklong camping trip down in South Florida.

We spent the first night at the Flamingo Campground at the far tip of the park, where the only amenity available to RVs and travel trailers was electricity. If you ever want to unplug, this is the spot for you. No cell service, no internet, no cable, a short walk to the water . . . this is the epitome of a serene setting.

But I’m not going to lie – even though I am by no means one of those people who needs to be on the grid, it’s uncomfortable when your phone becomes nothing other than an expensive clock. For me, it wasn’t even the social aspect of it. I am a person who wants to know all the things. I’m used to being able to search the internet from the palm of my hand for the answers to all my crazy questions, species identification needs, etc. And apparently I perform these searches at least a dozen times a day. It was a little frustrating not being able to get instant gratification when I wanted to know if the islands I saw in the distance were part of the Keys and the difference between an anhinga and a cormorant and the answer to all the other things I feel the need to know, but I’m proud to report I survived it.

Luckily, we were scheduled to spend the rest of our trip camping in Big Cypress National Preserve, where cell service is spotty, but can can be found. It’s an important distinction.

Let me tell you – Big Cypress is where you want to go if you want to see wildlife! It seems like once we passed the Oasis Visitor Center the small river that parallels the Tamiami Trail was lined with alligators and birds of all colors, types and sizes! I saw SO many perfect pictures! Unfortunately, while the birds don’t care about cars whizzing pass as 65+ mph, if you get out of the car, or even just try slowing down enough to get a picture from the car, they fly off.

I was a little offended because surely I’m a little less threatening than the alligators that feed on them, but whatever. I don’t have to ask Google to know the reasoning behind the term ‘bird brain’.

One of the great things about the Everglades is that the water is so clear! Like, see the fish and reeds in the water clear. Or what an alligator’s hands look like when they’re chilling beneath the surface clear.

We spent our days driving around looking at the scenery and taking short hikes. As much as we would have loved spending the entire time on the trails, we had our 14 year old dog with us, and while we’re very lucky that he’s in great health and has plenty of energy, he only has one speed, and that’s full!

The Collier-Seminole State Park has some safe, pup friendly trails. We were also able to find a number of wide dirt road trails well distanced from the water. And when tiny legs get tired, there’s always the option of traveling in style!

But after all that fresh air, there’s nothing like curling up for a good nap on the drive back to the campsite!

Once back at the campsite, it was time to work on some of our other outdoor skills! Over the course of our stay we finally perfected the art of starting a campfire from scratch using only the sparks from a piece of flint!

Full disclosure – early efforts were more frustrating than going without a phone. But with patience and effort, a new and possibly important skill was learned.

Alas, as much as we enjoyed our time in the ‘glades, we were all looking forward to a return to civilization (and real beds!) by the end of the trip. So, we left super early to get a jump on traffic.

We took a different way home, one that would take us through the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. Most of the park is closed to the public, and while they do have two short trails you can hike, we didn’t even look into it because of the pup.

But, as we were driving down the road shortly after dawn, going slow to get one last drink of the scenery, we saw a cat standing by the guardrail on the side of the road. A big cat. Big, big. With a long tail tipped in black.

Even going slow it was gone by the time we could come to a safe stop hauling the travel trailer behind us, but it. Was. Incredible. We’ve seen some pretty awesome things on our hikes over the years, from bobcat to wild boar to a mating ball of snakes, but considering how rare the Florida panther is, this was the sighting of all sightings. We were so reluctant to actually believe it that I spent the next hour Googling images of and questions about panthers. But that long tail left no doubt. We saw a panther. And while this seems like a once in a lifetime kind of thing, we can’t wait to go back and try again!

Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves


lostriver1lostriverLast month, thanks to an awesome deal through Groupon, we went and explored Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves in Woodstock, New Hampshire. This attraction features a series of over 1000 stairs leading you up, down, and through a glacial gorge notched into huge slabs of granite rock. Winding your way past a series of cascades, you can’t help but feel the weight of the passage of time upon the landscape. And while I wasn’t feeling the caves that day, (I proved myself enough at the Polar Caves in Rumney), there were a ton of tight, twisty little passages for spelunkers to explore. This is a fun excursion, easily lengthened by numerous hiking trails. While there, I highly recommend exploring the great towns of Woodstock and Lincoln, and taking in  the gorgeous views, especially if you find your way to the Kancamagus Highway.


The Travel Tag ~ What’s Your Adventure?

A huge thanks to K.M. from over at Ankor You for nominating me for the Travel Tag. If you haven’t been by her highly endearing, super entertaining blog, you’re missing out. So head on over and let her give you an eye full!

I love exploring new places, plain and simple. Whether traveling near or far, I’m always up for a new adventure, and my wish list is miles long. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to eventually check all the places off my list, but until then, writing about it (living vicariously) will have to do!

1) You are leaving tomorrow to start a life in a new country, where would you go?
This is a really hard one, because I have a top three of other countries I’d love to live in, but I’m going to have to go with New Zealand because the country offers enough to keep me busy exploring for a long time and they speak English (I am, unfortunately, horrible at speaking and audibly translating other languages.)

2) You can take someone for a weekend away to the place you had the best holidays ever, where would that be and who would you take to go with you?

I would take my husband to Lymes Regis in England to go fossil hunting on the cliffs and beach.

3) You can get married wherever you want to, your budget is limitless, what is your choice?

I would have LOVED to have gone to Iceland to be married! Standing on the edge of a volcano, underneath the aurora borealis . . . is that weird?

4) During your travels you can bring back home one animal as a pet, which one would you pick?

Another hard one! Among many animals on my wish list, I always wanted a monkey (new world, with a prehensile tail so it could hang from things, like a Capuchin), and if it could learn to pet my dogs I think it would fit right in, so I’d have to go with that.

5) You can go back in time and relive one family trip, which one?

I had a blast going to the National Museum of Natural History and the National Zoo while visiting my grandparents in Washington, D.C. I’d love to go back to all the same places and do it all over again! (Including that Mexican restaurant!)

6) What is the first thing you would pack for a one year travel around the world?

My kindle, so I would have endless books to read in the down time traveling between one spot to another.

7) What would your fantasy 100th birthday destination be, and why?

Norway. I think my 100 year old self would look awesome in a Viking helmet, and after I failed to wake up the next morning after consuming too much chocolate in celebration, they could launch me out on a boat for my funereal pyre.


8) During your travel you can learn one sport to become a pro, what would that be?

Image result for rare animal photographyWildlife photography! Crawling on my belly through the grass on the Serengeti, wedged in a tree in the woods, camouflaged in all white on the arctic snow plains, I would chose to become a pro at finding elusive animals and taking spectacular pictures of them. If that doesn’t count as a sport, then something medieval, like jousting.


This is the most fun I’ve had with a tag in awhile! I hope you had some fun reading it, and if you’d like to share some of your answers, I’d love to read them! I hope my nominees enjoy this one as much as I have! Don’t forget to check out their answers as well!

The rules are easy and fun. Just answer the questions below, repost the questions and tag fellow travel lovers, let them know you tagged them and let your blogosphere travels begin!

  1. You are leaving tomorrow to start a life in a new country, where would you go?
  2. You can take someone for a weekend away to the place you had the best holidays ever, where would that be and who would you take to go with you?
  3. You can get married wherever you want to, your budget is limitless, what is your choice?
  4. During your travels you can bring back home one animal as a pet, which one would you pick?
  5. You can get back in time and relive one family trip, which one?
  6. What is the first thing you would pack for a one year travel around the world?
  7. What would your fantasy 100th birthday destination be, and why?
  8. During your travel you can learn one sport to become a pro, what would that be?


Mount Washington, NH ~ through the hiker’s lens

At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the highest mountain in the northeastern United States, and one of the 48 New Hampshire 4000 footers. Home to a weather observatory, a cog rail, and an auto road, it’s accessible to anyone in the area that wants to visit. For those who choose to hike to the summit, it’s an entirely different experience – one as beautiful as it is dangerous. The view as seen from the trail:
















Exploring Redstone Quarry

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redstone7redstone2The old Redstone Quarry is part of the Green Hills Preserve land in Conway, NH. Miles of trails lead you through a maze of old equipment and abandoned structures in this area that is rich in history. Granite from this quarry was used in the construction of Grant’s Tomb in New York and the National Archives building in Washington, among many other notable landmarks.

redstone5redstone4The quarry closed in 1950; now it’s a recreational area frequented by hikers, bikers, runners and snowmobilers. You can spend hours wandering the woods and still not see everything that’s been left behind. If you’re up for a little incline, you can hike up Rattlesnake Mountain and see the chunks missing from the side of the mountain where the granite was mined and taken away. This is a great place to experience history while getting some fresh air and exercise. I’m looking forward to going back with snowshoes this winter.

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Peaked Mountain

peaked9A chilly but sunny Saturday afternoon found us back at the Pudding Pond trailhead in North Conway, NH, only this time, instead of hiking around the pond, we were headed up to Peaked Mountain, one of the three summit trails that can be found in this section of the Green Hills Preserve.

peaked2At 1739 feet, Peaked Mountain isn’t the most challenging hike, but it is a rewarding one, with breathtaking views that can be reached in less than an hour, making this a great stop for a quick hike when you don’t have an entire day at your disposal. If you have a bit more time, you can add a trip over to Middle Mountain (which I haven’t hiked yet) to your itinerary.


The trail is lined by a series of small falls and is well sheltered from the sun. This was a great little hike that allowed for some fresh air and exercise while still allowing plenty of time for weekend errands.

Pudding Pond

pudding2With winter quickly approaching, we’ve been scouting out places to go snowshoeing in the area. When we moved here in March, there was still four feet of snow as far as the eye could see, the result of sno-mageddon 2015. Unfortunately, with all the extra tasks that come with buying a house, we didn’t get much exploring done then. So we’re making up for lost time now. pudding6

For some strange reason, a place by the name of Pudding Pond caught my attention. I can’t imagine why 😉

pudding1This is the trailhead for several nearby mountain paths, as well as a 1.7 mile loop around a huge pond with sparkling waters, a beaver dam, and gorgeous scenery. 1.7 miles might not seem like very long, but it’s the perfect length for that first hike out while you’re getting your snowshoe legs, and with all the offshoot trails, we can easily extend the length of our hike. With such a beautiful place to get outside, I (almost) can’t wait for winter!



Burnt Meadow Mountain

burntmount2It was supposed to be a quick hike, more of a walk, really, just a little fresh air and exercise. It was called the Burnt Meadow Trail. We passed Burnt Meadow Hill Road on the way to the trailhead. It wasn’t my turn to choose, so I hadn’t read anything about the trail, I just grabbed a bottle of water and got in the car.

burntmountI suppose I should have known when the trail was immediately steep and craggy. Or maybe when the trail failed to level out. But I was duped by the name. When I picture a meadow, I see a flat expanse. Not a mountain. But that was what we were on, climbing by (my) surprise.

burntmount1There came a point when it was obvious, when we looked ahead and saw a rocky summit in the near distance and realized that’s where we were headed. Sure, we could have turned around. But where’s the fun in quitting? So we continued up to the summit of what I now know is the North Peak of Burnt Meadow Mountain. And the trail did eventually level out after 1.25 miles. At the top.

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