North and South Twin Mountains

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We recently hiked North and South Twin Mountain, making us officially 50% done with the New Hampshire 4000 footers! We began the hike off Haystack road, approaching from the north. There were some crazy river crossings on this trail, including a scoot across a fallen log over a raging torrent of rushing water – perhaps approaching from this side is a better idea when there hasn’t been heavy rains in the area?

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After what seemed like forever (but was really only 3.5 hours), we reached the overlook for North Twin. Although only 1.3 miles from the summit of South Twin, the distance looked long and daunting, especially since this hike was and in and out instead of a loop, which meant hiking over to South Twin, then back over to North before heading down. Basically hiking up – down – up – down – up – down. There’s no way your legs aren’t going to feel that :-/

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At 4902 feet, South Twin is the 8th highest of the 4000 footers (North is 12th). This hike was a challenge, but the views were incredible! The 11 mile hike took us just under 8 hours, which would have been shorter if my knee had been a little more agreeable on the way down. All in all, an awesome hike with breathtaking payoffs at the top. If you approach from the south, the AMC’s Galehead Hut is about a mile from the South summit, providing an alternative for those who don’t want to tackle the hike in a single day.

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Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll ~ Fiction Book Review

22609317This book was well written. And who doesn’t love a good damaged character? But I’ve got to be honest – this book annoyed the bejesus out of me.

I LOVED the opening. I identified with parts of the books (the flashbacks), quite strongly being rather close to the age/generation described. Parts felt overly autobiographical on the part of the author. But at one point, eyes rolling like a wild horse (and snorting just as hard), I thought, “Please let it be the author’s intention to be facetious.” The book only worked for me as a spoof.

Then ‘serious’ got even more ‘serious’, and I realized that there was no mockery intended. On that level, the book failed for me. Again, it was well written and not entirely predictable. It was entertaining. It wasn’t the Gone Girl-esque thriller it was hyped to be, but no surprise there. 4 stars.

Fiddle Me This – What’s a Fiddlehead?

IMG_20160607_183621280_HDRMaybe those of you who are Northerners already know the answer to this question, but for those of you who don’t, let me tell you. First, a little back story. At the grocery store, in the produce section, I kept seeing these . . . things. Things that I could only describe at green little alien coils. Things that did not look like anything that I’d want to put in my mouth.

Only . . . that’s not entirely true. Those of you that know me (or have followed my blog for a while) probably know where this is going. Because you know my secret. You know that I have a habit of being strangely drawn towards eating odd things. There’s really no way to explain it. I’ve always been this way. So while a part of me was repulsed by the strange looking things I saw in the grocery store, another part of me knew that it was my destiny to one day eat them.

I didn’t do any research until the day I put them in my cart. After I brought them home. I had no idea that Fiddleheads are part of the Ostrich Fern, or that they’re rather healthy for you. With some exceptions.

IMG_20160607_190957000_HDRI read conflicting reports, but the bottom line is this – if you want to eat Fiddleheads, clean them well, snip the ends, and boil them for about 10 minutes first, which is what I did before I sauteed them in olive oil with a smidge of butter, garlic, shallots, white wine, lemon juice, and a bit of shaker Parmesan cheese. Then I served them over pasta with fresh grated Parmesan. Not only were they good, but my husband asked when we’d get to eat them again before we even finished dinner. (I have fully completed bringing him over to the interesting side of eating new things.) Mission complete.

All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg ~ Fiction Book Review

30687885This book is one of those rare literary gems that has a bit of everything. Gorgeously written, All the Best People unabashedly explores the messiness of real life. Told through the voices of three generations of women, and spanning history from the twenties to the seventies, the pages of this book are filled with, “madness, magic and misfortune” in the great state of Vermont. How could you ask for anything more?

Author Sonja Yoerg artfully delves into the dangerous territory of mental illness, including its treatment, its effect on families, and its stigma, in a novel taught with suspense, pain and longing. The voices of the characters were masterfully crafted, the emotion keenly real, and the story kept me on tenterhooks. I couldn’t put this book down, as in, my fingers feel blistered I was turning the pages so fast! 5 stars!

So the good news is . . . I’ve got an incredible book to recommend to you. Now, the bad news . . . I read an advanced copy, so it won’t be available to you until its release in May, 2017. (Sorry, not sorry). But . . . and maybe this will soften the blow . . . the author, Sonja Yoerg, has written two other great books, House Broken and The Middle of Somewhere, which you can get your hands on now!

(Surprise) to Mount Moriah – Another 4000 footer bites the dust!

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So . . . what can I say that’s nice about this hike? The view was gorgeous. And that’s about it. While incredibly beautiful, Moriah was one nasty lady on the day we hiked her. Or maybe I shouldn’t blame her. Maybe it’s not her fault. Maybe it’s that the surprise part of hiking over (and especially back over, on  the way down) Mount Surprise is that it seems to never end. Ever. Twilight Zone, stuck doing the same thing forever, never. Surprise!

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Of course, it could also be that we hiked it on what was the hottest day of the year so far. And being 4000+ feet closer to the sun really does seem to make it feel hotter. Especially when you’re drinking over a pound of water an hour and sweating it out twice as fast as you can drink it. Then there’s that whole searing heat radiating up from the sun baked rock thing. It could be that some of that added to the sour taste this hike left in my mouth.

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Whatever the case, I didn’t love this hike. Except when it was over. Actually, not until it was several days done with, but who’s counting (besides me). The important thing is that we completed the 9 miles safely. Some hikes are better than others. Some days make conditions more difficult. That’s what we prepare for. It isn’t always easy, but most things worth working for aren’t. The next hike will be better.

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At 4049 feet, Mount Moriah is #41 on New Hampshire’s list of 48 4000 footers.

Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder ~ Fiction Book Review

12112724I opened this book knowing only that it was written by Mo Hayder. I’ve read enough of her books now to know that I’m in safe hands when I find myself in pages she’s authored. My first shock – this is a departure from her D.I. Jack Caffrey series. My second shock? I missed Jack Caffrey. Not that this book lacked the merit to  stand on it’s own, because it didn’t. Or that Jack Caffrey is an unlikable character, because he’s not. I’ve just found that I tend to dislike detectives – even though you’ll find them often enough in my own writing. (FYI – male detectives do not have to have a drinking problem and female detectives do not have to ride a motorcycle and suffer from an alienating form of macho-ism.)

Now . . . about this book in particular. Another solid, mercilessly brutal novel. Not as dark as some as Hayder’s work, and perhaps not as deep into her characters’ psyche, though that is probably due to this book not being a part of her long running series and the characters she usually writes. It kept me guessing. I thought I had it, but I was wrong. And the very end – enough to give you shivers and keep you up at night. I thought that this one would have less of an impact than her series, but then she pulled the rug out from under me over the last few pages and left me breathless. Five stars.