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!

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