Day Trippin – Sunfish Pond

Our son Greg recently spent 10 days on the Appalachian Trail, hiking through Virginia. Yesterday was a beautiful day, so the three of us decided to wander along a small portion of the trail where it crosses from Pennsylvania into New Jersey.  After the Delaware Water Gap, the Appalachian Trail passes through Worthington State Forest, and intersects with those trails near Sunfish Pond.   

Appalachian Trail Marker

White Appalachian Trail Marker on tree

Greg and I had read Bill Bryson’s book, “A Walk In the Woods”., which describes his Appalachian Trail Endeavors.  Unlike Bill (and Greg on his solo trip across Virginia),  we did not  experience the silence of the forest.  Instead, Bollywood music from a parking lot party accompanied us part of the way, and when that sound faded, it was replaced by a hiking family’s boom box playing Asian music.  Sometimes you get a multicultural experience when you least expect it.

We're off. only 1,500 feet up, and 2.5 miles to go!

We’re off.  Only 1,500 feet up, and 2.5 miles to Sunfish Pond!

It was the perfect day.   Not too hot — not too cold, with only one small stream to cross and just a few feet of muddy trail on either side.  

It took about an hour to get to Sunfish Pond.  At first we were admiring the view of the lake while we watched the huge blue dragonflies whipping through the air, doing their best to keep the mosquito population under control.  

Darn dragonfly was moving too fast --but at least the lake is pretty

Darn dragonfly was moving too fast –but at least the lake is pretty

These guys really move--it was hard to get a clear shot.

Finally one stopped for a second so I quickly (and unsteadily) shot.

Then we noticed what initially looked like bumps on a log.  These guys were  basking in the sun, right by the shore.


It took a while for us to realize we were being watched by lots of eyeballs.  Once we started looking though, we saw them everywhere!


The hike down was actually trickier than the way up, because loose stones can cause you to lose your footing. One advantage was it forced you to go more slowly and look more carefully.  I hadn’t noticed these tiny mushrooms on the way up.

P1000040I am in awe of the through hikers that tackle the trail — including, and especially, my son.  After yesterday’s five miles, Mike and I’d had  quite enough, and were glad we would be returning to a full refrigerator, indoor plumbing, screens on windows and comfy beds!


Today’s snowfall looks like it could actually amount to something. The trees toppled by hurricane Sandy, lying every which way on the ground, might create some interesting sculptures.


Mr. and Mrs Cardinal are wisely loading up at the bird feeder.  If the flakes keep falling, it might be a while before the feeder filler (otherwise known as Mike) gets back out there.


So, what’s a girl to do as she hunkers down for some serious indoor time?  Why, start looking through photos of days filled with sun and fun.   And, having just seen several of my Villa Buddies over Christmas –Diane, Karen, Denise, Emily, Wayne and Sandy– (We missed you, Greg and Sally!), I decided to take a trip down Memory Lane, all the way back to July, by reliving one of our day trips.

We had heard so much about Cinque Terra, we decided to venture forth from our villa to explore a couple of the five seaside villages.

The Lucca tourist office offers a series of regularly scheduled day trips, however the Cinque Terra trip wasn’t scheduled for the day we wanted.  Instead, the tourist office helped us find a far better alternative: a private tour.  Our driver, Wolfgang, picked us up at our villa, drove us to the ferry in Portovenere, got us our ferry tickets and an itinerary, then met us at the end of the day in Monterrosso, to return us to the villa.

Of course, we COULD have managed this on our own, but that would have meant driving in two separate cars, figuring out parking, the ferry schedule, taking a round trip ferry ride–nothing tremendously difficult, but the driving had fallen to the one person willing to brave the Italian roads, and it was time to give Diane a break.

We drove through La Spezia, the cruise ship port for those cruisers bound for Cinque Terra, on our way to Porto Venere, a cute little seaside town.  We had just enough time for a cappuccino and pastry before boarding the ferry.


It was the perfect ferry ride: warm, with a cool breeze, clear skies, with spectacular views along the way.  We could see the cultivated fields stretching up the side of the mountains.

On the way to Manarola

I wouldn’t want to have to plant and weed THOSE  gardens!

As you can see, stone was quite plentiful, and incorporated into the seaside buildings.

Why is it that even laundry looks picturesque in Italy?

Manarola’s bathing beauties

There was only time for a quick stroll up into the town, (and I do mean UP), then it was time to board the next ferry for our last stop, Monterrosso.  We were told there is a hiking trail between the villages, but given that we were now in our lazy phase of the trip, decided to take the easy method of transportation.  The trip UP into town may have helped us make that decision.

This village had an actual beach, with umbrellas and chairs for rent.


P1040110I, however, was more interested in this lovely alcoholic version of iced coffee.  I got all of the benefits of the beach, without sand in my seat, or sunburned shoulders.

And since today is a day for looking through photos, I decided to include a couple from a trip Mike and I had taken in 2004 to Portofino, another seaside village further up the coast. Like Cinque Terra, the houses were sherbet colored, built tightly together.

It too was lovely, and for THAT trip, we actually DID stroll along the hillside trail.  Take a look.

Come a little closer…

Although it lacked a beach, there was plenty to see on that day trip.

Ah, Italy– something tells me I’ll be back!

I Love a Parade

We were fortunate enough to be in Lucca during a festival.  Several nights worth of parades with costumes, music, flags, scary weaponry…who could ask for anything more?

One question:  What do you think would be more difficult–tossing and catching flags, or marching with a flag covering your face?  These guys were masters at both.

True confession time:  i just learned that WordPress will arrange photos into a collage, so I had to give it a try.  Pretty cool, huh?  And very easy–at least from my home computer.