Sunday, December 28, 2008

A New Year's Day Celebration

What will you do to celebrate the first day of 2009? I don't know about anyone else, but as much as I've enjoyed all the cooking and eating and partying during this holiday season, I'm ready for an outdoor activity, something different and unique. So, where did I go for ideas?

My book, Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket of course! And, judging from the number of gift books I sold in the weeks before the holidays, a lot of folks already know that Cruising Connecticut is not just for summer picnics. In fact, it is not only for picnics. First and foremost, it is a day tripping book. I've long believed that when a picnic is added to a day trip, it is twice the fun, but I'm realistic to know that each outing requires its own meal plan.

So, picnicking or not, here are five suggestions for a January 1, 2009 celebration:

1. A hot dog roast at the top of Talcott Mountain State Park in Simsbury. This would be a fun destination for a family or a group since it will take a few backpacks to carry all the stuff, like charcoal (there are grills), utensils, hot dogs, rolls, condiments, chips, and drinks, oh, and maybe a salad or two if you can manage it. The parking area and entrance to the park is on Route 185, seven miles west of Hartford. The hike to the top, one and one-quarter miles, is invigorating, and isn't this just what we need after indulging for the past week? As you look out at the flora and fauna covering the beautiful countryside, you will agree that it is a great way to celebrate the New Year.

2. Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison. Although many people think of the beach only during warm weather, there is a segment of the population that knows beaching is a year-round activity. I still remember many years ago when I was in another state over the New Years holiday and saw a man x-country skiing right on the beach. Up until that point I had never seen a snow-covered beach, and was I ever disappointed that I didn't have my skis with me! Although it doesn't look like Connecticut will have another snowfall before January 1st, you can still enjoy a brisk walk on the sand or on the boardwalk or one of the walking trails while you observe the ocean in a different season.

3. All the wineries in my book, Gouveia Vineyard in Wallingford; Haight-Brown Vineyard in Litchfield; Hopkins Vineyard in New Preston are open until at least 5:00 on New Year's Eve, but it looks from the website like Haight-Brown will also be open on New Year's Day. It's probably a good idea to call ahead to confirm (860-567-4045) but wouldn't this be a cool way to welcome in the New Year?

4. Connecticut College Arboretum in New London. In this chapter of Cruising Connecticut, I focus on my "Spring Wildflower Hunt", but I also talk about the versatility of the Arboretum's Native Plant Collection. I suggest visiting in different seasons, like "late summer for the meadow's native grasses and wildflowers, October for the fall foliage and hydrangeas, and winter for the hollies and conifers."

5. I've never been to Mystic Aquarium or Mystic Seaport on New Year's Day, but I think it would be a fun time to visit.

Whatever you do to celebrate the first day of the New Year, enjoy and be safe. Oh, and go to my website to check out the special holiday price for Cruising Connecticut, lasting only a few more days.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A White Christmas

There is no doubt we will have a white Christmas in Connecticut this year. And, I'm happy about that. But, I was not happy when I had to miss A Christmas Carol at the Hartford Stage on Friday because of the first snowstorm, OR the Connnecticut Authors and Publishers Association holiday party on Saturday because it took me so long to shovel my car out, OR the shopping and lunch date with my daughter today because a second storm hit on the heels of the first.

I tried to take it in my stride since a lot of folks missed more important events, like a friend who was supposed to fly to California on Thursday but didn't get off until today. Now that called for a pity party.

To get in the mood for baking and gift wrapping today, I got out my holiday CD's and sang along with the old crooners, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Dean Martin. The music, plus a glass of wine, got me right into the holiday spirit!

During the next couple of weeks, I hope to take a drive to one of the light shows around the state. The 45th Annual Festival of Lights on Constitution Plaza is lit every day at dusk until January 6th, and the Festival of Silver Lights at Hubbard Park in Middletown is open from dusk to dawn every day through January 7th. Also, luminary candles will light up the Town of Woodbury on Christmas Eve, and hopefully West Hartford will get to light their 400 luminaries on the lawn of the West Hartford Art League Saltbox Gallery. It was postponed two Fridays ago because of the weather and re-scheduled for this past Friday, but with the storm, assume they had to postpone it again! Some towns, like Watertown have posted a map that drivers can follow to view all the spectular houses decorated for the holidays.

What about your town? Are there any special outdoor displays or light shows? Let me know and I'll share them with my readers in next week's blog.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fun Holiday Activities

What a season! Not only are we busy with our day to day comings and goings, we also have shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking, entertaining, and all the usual holiday activities. And, don't forget to sneak in a few holiday festivities. Check out the following possibilities in Mystic:

Mystic Seaport Lantern Light Tours: "A New England Holiday Tradition" takes you through the Village as it was on Christmas Eve in 1876. Dates: December 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 27 & 28. Tours start at 5:00 and run every 15 minutes; each tour takes one hour. Reservations are recommended. Check website for rates. or call 860-572-5331.

Mystic Seaport Carol Sing. On December 21st from 3-4pm. Just bring a canned food item for local charity and admission is free. Also, The Mystic Seaport Planetarium will present The Star of Bethlehem. Call 572-5315 for more information.

Olde Mistick Village Festival of Lights on December 12th begins at 4:30pm. Enjoy complimentary refreshments in Meeting House and holiday music and outdoor entertainment from 5:30-8:30pm. Event phone number is 860-536-4941.

Mystic Aquarium free admission on December 12th from 5:00-8:00pm with a canned food item to be delivered to local charity.

Mystic Aquarium Holiday Sea of Trees through January 2, 2009. Over 20 trees donated by local charities are on display throughout the Aquarium, all decorated with different themes.

Whatever you do for your Holiday Outing, be well and safe.