Microadventures in Fairfield County, Connecticut: Mill Hill Open Space

Last year, I read an article in The New York Times about NatGeo’s 2012 adventurer of the year, Alastair Humphreys and The Virtue of Microadventures. At the time, it struck me. It’s a lesson that took me too long to grasp: in pursuit of living a big, adventurous life, you don’t always have to go far from home.

Connecticut is perfect for microadventures. As I mentioned in my post about how settling in to CT, there is an abundance of open space areas to wander through & break away. On a run one day, I stumbled upon Mill Hill Open Space.

Town of Fairfield Mill Hill Open Space April 30 May Sign

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Are we Yankees yet?

Fun fact: Yankee Doodle Dandy is the state song of Connecticut.

Come Thursday, we’ll have been residents of coastal Connecticut for four months. A third of a year! The time has gone by a lot more quickly than I thought it would, but I guess that’s how things usually go. We’ve settled in pretty well, I’ll say. Looking back, it’s almost hard to believe how much I hated the idea of the move.

Tobias warmed up to our new town quicker than anyone could have guessed. His first day coming home on the school bus, (after calling for him through the doors, “Tobias! It’s your stop!”) a boy that had just gotten off said, “Tobias, this is your stop, too?!” I soon learned the two boys, who are in the same class, had bonded in the bus line over their love of all things science and their passion for making art. In world full of hockey-loving, football-watching, soccer-kicking, all-thing-sports boys, it’s great that Tobias was able to quickly meet a boy that shared his interests–who lives down the street!

One of my favorite things about the new house, other than the backyard and the wildlife I spot in it, is the 5+ acres of open space that we have to explore down our street. An off-the-leash area, it’s Laser’s very favorite thing and right up there in Tobias’ list. On my runs, I’ve stumbled upon other open space areas that vary in topography and size, and it’s been such a pleasure hiking through and exploring. Between the nearby beaches and these open areas, my nature-loving hippie side is satiated.

Open Space law ConnecticutOpen Space Law CTSasco Beach Connecticut

There’s more great things in store for our little corner of coastal Connecticut. This past Sunday, a Michael’s craft store opened it’s doors that is in walking distance to our house. I can see its sign lit up at night from my 2nd story window–it’s that close. Within weeks, a vegetarian restaurant/juice bar is opening nearby, and across the street, a health food market is being built. All in under a 5-10 minute walk! My favorite things!

love michael's craft stores.JPG

One of the things I was most worried about when moving here, was not being able to meet people and that strangers would have the hardness about them that NYC is known for. I had believed, all these years, that Southern Hospitality meant that people up north lacked the kindness and considerateness I took for granted.  Boy, was I wrong.

Now, it’s different in the city. In fact, the closer you get to the city, the more often you’ll come across someone who’s…well, snobby. But all-in-all, I’ve had more conversations with friendly strangers in the grocery line and the like than ever, and I’m slowly but surely finding out how to make friends in a new town.

I knew going in to the move that the worst thing would be Mark’s commute. And it has taken some getting used to for the whole family. The good thing is, we’re really carving out for quality time more than quantity. And, as spring nears and things warm up, we’re getting back into our triathlon training with better scenery than ever.

Sherwood Island State Park Connecticut

All in all, it’s been a great experience. Do I miss my family, and the friends I’ve had for over a decade? Of course. But, despite my sadness upon learning of the move, I always knew that this would be an experience worth having: the kind of out-of-my-comfort-zone, scary-as-hell, learning adventure that I’m made for.

The Stay-at-Home Mom’s Guide to Meeting Friends in a New Town

Disclaimer: this isn’t a cohesive guide. I’m still navigating how to figure out this one, and I’m definitely not ready to write the book. Just the blog post. 😉

Back in Houston, my friend Kellie (who has a blog about running and yoga and is a Houston transplant) once mentioned that meeting friends in a new city is a lot like dating. Now that I’m going about the effort myself, I couldn’t agree more: I put on makeup and dress smart-casual, worry over what we’ll talk about beforehand, obsess over “should I have said that?” afterward, along with “does she like me?” and “when should I call her to hang out again?”It’s an overly self-conscious matter, and for someone like me, who was very traditional in dating, it’s much more of a challenge than dating ever was. The fact that I don’t work outside of the home is just another obstacle in meeting people.

The house has been coming along, the weather has been warming up, and I’m finally putting myself out there more than ever. I’ve gone on a few “first dates,” so I thought I’d share a few ways I’ve met people in my new town. Continue reading

So, Now I’m a Birdwatcher.

Not really.

Last Sunday, before I got crazy sick, Mark decided it was high time I upgrade my Canon Rebel XS to something…that works.

I feel like I wasn’t actually ready to upgrade, because I still–shamefully–haven’t learned all of the features of the camera. I wasn’t intending on getting something new until I believed I was well versed in the terminology & technology of a DSLR, but then when I was on my road trip to Yellowstone National Park from Denver, I started getting some errors at all of the most inopportune moments. Unable to get the shots I wanted at the right times, I resorted to using my iPhone again and again. Kinda silly if I’m hauling around this DSLR, no?

I soon found that if I turned off the camera, took out the battery, replaced it, and turned the camera on again, the error would subside and I would then be able to resume taking photographs.

Jury rigged, I know. But it was something.

After taking it to the repair shop, I learned the fix was at a higher cost than the camera was worth. AKA: it was totalled. I bought it second hand from a neighborhood Facebook group and had seen negative reviews for the long-discontinued model prior to purchasing it, but it was definitely the cheapest way for me to get my feet wet with DSLR photography before diving in to the higher cost models.

Thus, forced upgrade.

Now, I’ve got the Canon EOS 70D. We bought a refurbished model with a warranty, so we ended up with a great deal. This time, I know I’ll be eating up YouTube videos and blog posts so I’ll really be able to hone some skills.

I’ve also been making a habit of “target practice” every morning. I’ve been using my macro lens and practicing using manual focus on the birds that have been showing up in my backyard.

Here are some of the photos I’ve been taking. I know, I’ve got a lot to learn and a lot of practice I need to do. But now, I have a camera I LOVE!

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