Sunday, August 19, 2012

My Passion Took me to Some of my Favorite Places

Last week, I talked about my original passion sprouting branches and guiding me to other pursuits. However, my main passion, day tripping and picnicking, like the mighty oak, has grown so strong through the years, it still has the power to bring me great joy whenever I get back to it.

In early June, before the weather got really hot, a friend and I hiked the one and one-quarter miles up to the Heublein Tower at Talcott Mountain State Park in Simsbury.  Interesting how the trail gets steeper as I get older! But, it was invigorating. I dropped some of my books off at the bookstore, then climbed the stairs to view the dining room and Gilbert Heublein's bedroom, both renovated in recent years to resemble the way they looked in the early 1900s. After a light lunch at one of the picnic tables we walked around the outside admiring the flora and fauna before heading back. A great afternoon.

Twice this year, I took visitors on the Thimble Islands Cruise in the Stony Creek Section of Branford. Both times, it was a beautiful day for the 45-minute narrative boat tour through the interesting islands. The unique dwellings never fail to amuse me. On one island sits a 27-room Tudor Mansion with miniature golf course, swimming pool, gardener's cottage and other amenities, including - why not? palm trees. And, then there is the island with one small room on stilts.

Both times, we simply parked and waited for the next available tour. Once it was the Sea Mist and the other, Volsunga IV. Both were fun and informative. At the town beach which is adjacent to the dock and where I suggest picnicking, I found something new - a cement slab with several picnic tables. Nice.

Although it had not been planned, on the way home after both visits, we ended up on Main Street Essex. We drove almost to the bottom of Main Street - normally we would have enjoyed walking but it had been a full day - to visit the Sweet Pea Ice Cream shop. Yum.

I didn't have time to tour the following places in detail this year, but I did enjoy driving to and eyeballing the following destinations when I dropped off the 3rd Edition of my book to the gift shops:

Connecticut Trolley Museum, East Windsor
The Nature Center at Hammonasset Beach State Park
Gillette Castle State Park, East Haddam
Mark Twain House & Museum, Hartford
Rose's Berry Farm, South Glastonbury (a new addition to the 3rd Edition)
UCONN (Bookstore)

Future plans this year include Gouveia Vineyards in Wallingford for an annual family picnic on the lawn and some of the younger generation want to revisit Farmington River Tubing in New Hartford, although we only have until Labor Day. Yikes! We'd better get going. I still have vivid memories of the 2005 trip with five teenage grandkids and the fun we had. In fact, the chapter in my book is all about that trip.

And, finally, I can never let mid-October go by without my annual fall foliage day trip, usually to Kent Falls & Cornwall Covered Bridge in Kent and West Cornwall, (only 7 miles apart,) Mohawk State Forest in Cornwall, and Hopkins Vineyard in New Preston, where the view across Lake Waramaugh is the best.

What is your passion? Whatever in your life is calling to you, whether it is spending more time on your art, taking a class, renewing friendships, or getting out and about more often, take time to pursue it with vigor and joy. Discover the gifts that are waiting for you.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Passionate Pursuit Sprouts Many Branches

Isn't it interesting how a simple passion can grow like a mighty oak, and then branch out to take you in unexpected directions. Such as it was with day tripping and picnicking. For many years, I was absorbed in touring Connecticut to discover everything the state had to offer in the way of leisure-time activities. There was no end to the destinations I found, and after awhile I had enough information to fill a book.

So, that's what I did, wrote a book about all my favorite places; then because accuracy and timing was crucial, it was obvious I needed to self-publish; and, oh yeah, how to get my book baby out there so people could find it. Well, now I was in the marketing, promotion, and publicity business, and what automatically follows is warehousing, distribution, accounting, and well, on it goes.

During this process, I found another passion - speaking to groups about day tripping and picnicking, sharing all the exciting possibilities for adventure. In all, there have been over 200 book signings and talks during the past six years. And, this is where the irony comes in.

My original passion of day tripping and picnicking has taken me along so many roots (sorry!) that I sometimes long for the joy of those carefree days when I actually had time to cruise around the state with my picnic basket.

But, there are no regrets. I've couldn't be happier with the course my journey has taken. I guess that's the way it is with a passionate pursuit. Like a tree, it just keeps on sprouting and growing in new directions. The latest direction is my new book to be released in 2013, a travel memoir about a solo cross-country trip I took to visit ten national parks. Talk about an adventure.

Although I am working hard on this book, I still managed to get to some of my favorite Connecticut places during the past few months. I'll tell you about them next week.

I hope your passion takes you to incredible places!