Introducing Pudgey

I can’t believe I’ve been writing this blog for a year and a half now and I still haven’t introduced you all to Pudgey!


Pudgey was my very first beanie baby; I got her for Christmas when I was seven. Over the years, she’s come just about everywhere with me – gymnastics meets, camping trips, hikes, vacations, etc. At this point, she’s basically a member of the family. If something ever happened to her, I would be bawling my eyes out.

My mom loves Pudgey just about as much as I do, so when I went off to college, we decided to do a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants type thing with her. Every time we see each other, Pudgey switches hands. And when she’s with my mom, she goes on adventures with her instead.

Despite Pudgey being quite well-traveled, she didn’t really feature in many photographs until recently. When I moved to CT in 2012, Pudgey came with me. When I went home for Christmas that year, Pudgey stayed with my mom and sister until they came out to CT the following August. Not only did Pudgey go on adventures with them, but they also started taking pictures of her at each destination. Originally it was so they could send them to me to prove that Pudgey wasn’t sitting at home alone while they went hiking. Somehow – I’m not completely clear on the details – it morphed into a photobook called Pigtures. I’m pretty sure the discovery of the “pigtures” pun was what spawned the idea. Regardless of how it began, I received a hilarious and very unexpected Christmas present that year. Continue reading


Thanksgiving in North Carolina

By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I was still struggling with this whole living in New England and being a grad student thing. Actually, school was going okay. Living in CT was not. I got along well with my roommates and the other students in my department, but I missed my family and friends back home. And I was in serious mountain withdrawal.

Fortunately, I had a few days off for the holiday and a good friend who was also adjusting to grad school life down in North Carolina. Neither of us could afford to fly home for the week but we both were in need of a break and a familiar face. So I bought a train ticket and headed off on a 12-hour journey down the east coast.

I’ve always loved train trips. They’re so relaxing and it’s great to not have to worry about driving and sitting in traffic. Instead, I could look out the window and catch glimpses of many east coast destinations that I’d never seen before. Continue reading

Our all-time most epic vacation fail

If you travel enough, it’s inevitable that things will go wrong. I count myself very fortunate that, so far, I’ve managed to avoid any extreme crises while traveling (knock on wood).

We’ve had a few hiccups – a couple flat tires, almost running out of gas once (this one was 100% my dad’s fault), forgetting something (this has happened more than once, we now own 3 hammers…), and I remember as a kid I once left one of my favorite books on the plane. But these are all minor inconveniences.

The time we drove 2 hours out of our way to visit Four Corners and arrived to find it closed certainly wasn’t one of our best moments.

But in all honestly, our biggest vacation fail didn’t really involve our vacation at all. In fact, we didn’t even realize what we’d done until we arrived back at home. Continue reading

Autumn in New England

I’m just going to come out and say it: New England isn’t my favorite place. It’s been a good experience for me to live somewhere different, and I’ve largely enjoyed my time here, but it’s not a place I want to stay after Pat and I finish school. Too many people, too much traffic, too many months of crappy weather…you get the idea.

But one thing that New England does better than anywhere else I’ve ever been is autumn. The colors here are just amazing!

Fortunately, I was able to begin learning this within a few short weeks. One of my then-roommates and one of her friends are as adventurous as I am; the 3 of us hit it off and began spending our weekends exploring the area.

Over the course of my first New England fall, we visited two local state parks, a state forest, and hiked a couple of local trails. I also went apple picking and pumpkin picking for the first time ever – two important New England fall traditions! Continue reading

Eastward Bound (part III) – Ontario to the Atlantic 

Day 5. The last day of our cross-country road trip.

After catching one last glimpse of Niagara Falls, my mom and I set off for the long drive across upstate New York. We drove I-90 from Niagara Falls all the way to Schenectady before branching off onto Highway 7. This wasn’t the fastest way to Connecticut. But as per usual, my mom and I decided that if we were going to be in New England, we were going to visit as many states as we could. We ended up hitting 5 of the 6, so I’d say we did a pretty good job.

First stop: Vermont. Continue reading

Eastward Bound (part II) – Indiana to Ontario

At the end of my last post, my mom and I were wading in Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Day 4 of our cross-country excursion, however, was the one I was most excited for. Our destination: Niagara Falls!

We left Indiana early in the morning, continuing across the northern edge of the state and crossing into Ohio. By lunch, we were just outside of Cleveland. Coincidentally, earlier that morning my mom and I had been discussing national parks and the fact that there aren’t any in Ohio. She grew up there so I didn’t have any reason to doubt her. However, when I pulled out the map to find us a suitable picnic location, I spotted the small green area labeled Cuyahoga Valley National Park just south of Cleveland.

And so our picnic spot was chosen. Continue reading