No Snow, No Problem

A couple of months ago, my friend Cindy asked if I would be interested in going dog sledding. I was unaware that such an activity existed in New England.

Obviously, I said yes. And that is how I found myself hanging out with 4 mushers and 24 huskies at a campground in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, a few weeks ago.

One of the teams
One of the teams











We chose to go on a one-hour tour with Valley Snow Dogz. The company is owned by Lidia, a lovely woman from Manchester, England. Her lovely husband, Richard, helps out and was quite the adventure photographer on the day of our tour. Kim and Kelly are lovely twin sisters who also help give the tours.

Before we started the tour, we were introduced to the three teams of eight dogs. The dogs—all Siberian Huskies or Alaskan Huskies—were beautiful and SO sweet and gentle. Some even liked to give hugs.

There was little to no snow on the ground, so instead of sledding, we sat on the back of ATVs for our tour. The dogs were hooked up to the front of the ATVs.








When we met them, they didn’t make a peep, but as soon as they started getting hooked up, one by one, they started barking in an excited chorus. Luckily it was a sunny day and the temperature wasn’t terribly cold. We took all kinds of windy paths in the campground. The “musher” would give commands when she wanted the team to turn left or right. Sometimes they were confused, but one of the “leader” dogs eventually got it right and led us in the right direction.

I expressed my surprise at how hard the dogs were working, but Lidia assured me that this is what they are bred for. They thrive in temperatures below freezing and heat is released through their paws, so they never get too cold.

Action shot of Kim and me (courtesy of Richard Dale-Mesaros)
Action shot of Kim and me (courtesy of Richard Dale-Mesaros)







At the end of the tour, we said our farewells to the dogs and chatted with the mushers a bit. Their enthusiasm and passion for their work was a joy to witness, and I found it inspiring. Next year, I hope to try dog sledding

Cindy gets a kiss from a friend
Cindy gets a kiss from a friend




Saturday and Tuesday

Thanksgiving is nigh! I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy taking time to ponder what you’re grateful for and enjoy spending time with family and friends.

If you participate in the events on Friday and Monday (that shall not be named), best of luck to you. I hope you will also participate in Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday:

On Saturday, visit your favorite small business to buy some one-of-a-kind gifts.

On Tuesday, donate to your favorite charity. Why not make a donation in a family member/friend’s name and give that as a gift this season? I’m adopting a wild animal and buying a share of an animal for my family this year. Or you can pledge to donate some time this season. Visit Volunteer Match to find opportunities near you.

Listen to these smart people:

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Teresa

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

“For it is in giving that we receive.” Francis of Assisi


Lake Cruises, Forests, and Bears, Oh My!

At the end of May, Mom and I went to the Adirondacks to celebrate our milestone birthdays. Even though I grew up in New York, I had never been to the Adirondacks.

We spent three nights in the area, so I chose three items for the birthday list.

#36: Took a cruise on Lake George.

Mom prefers to stay on land, so I took a solo morning cruise on the Minne Ha-Ha. It was a bit chilly but sunny. There are 3,000+ lakes in the Adirondacks!














Steam calliope
Steam calliope!








One of many "summer camps" aka mansions on the lake
One of many “summer camps” aka mansions










#37: Visited the Adirondack Museum.

This is an amazing museum! It’s a whole campus with different exhibits housed in different buildings. Visitors can learn about the area’s logging history, camping history, boating history, and recreational history. We spent a few hours there and could have easily spent the entire day there. I’ll definitely return if I find myself in the Adirondacks again. (I hope I do.)

I was especially interested in the logging exhibit because my second great-grandfather was a well-known log driver in central Pennsylvania. It was a dangerous job back then!

Log jam!
Log jam!








A typical hunting camp
A typical hunting camp








Mohawk basketry exhibit
Mohawk basketry exhibit









#38. Saw a black bear.

Mom and I left the Adirondack Museum around 5:00 pm. It is an hourlong drive from Lake George on two-lane highways. We were about 20 minutes into the trip back when we came upon a serious car accident. We ended up having to turn around to take the only other route that would bring us back to Lake George, which was two hours out of the way. We were pretty frazzled and worried about the people who were involved in the accident. We stopped at a gas station for dinner (hot dogs) and to buy a printed map, since we only had verbal directions from an emergency crew worker to go on.

So we’re driving along. We drive by deer crossing signs, which works Mom up because she’s had some deer run-ins before. Then we see a bear crossing sign and have a chuckle. Really, bears?

And it wasn’t too long until, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a large four-legged animal loping off the road into the ditch. Um, it was a black bear that seemed to come out of nowhere. I chirped, “Mom? Was that just a bear?”

“Yes,” she chirped back. Lots of sighing and gasping ensued. The next day, we went shopping in Lake George and noticed that many of the stores had entire black bear figurine sections. So we each decided to buy one to commemorate our first-ever black bear sighting.

The Adirondacks is a great getaway and I hope to return someday. Have you been?

New Arrival for Will and Kate

Congratulations to Will and Kate on the birth of their daughter! I wonder what her name will be…

According to Ladbrokes, the British betting agency, it will be Alexandra. Corgi lovers, if you haven’t seen the Barkingham Palace Gold Cup Race, here’s a link. Amazing!

In other news, today is Independent Bookstore Day. Go buy a book today…if you’re one of the lucky ones who still has a neighborhood independent bookstore. I thank my lucky stars that I live down the street from the wonderful Brookline Booksmith.

In Case of Fire

I’ve logged my first random birthday list item for the year: touring a fire station. I always have a number of “randos” on my list = opportunities that randomly present themselves. I love the randos.

This opportunity arose through an organization I volunteer with. On Saturday morning, about 10 firefighters showed our group the six different vehicles at Cambridge Fire headquarters.

I’m still in awe 24 hours later. We were shown just about everything on the engine truck, the ladder truck, the ambulance, the dive rescue truck, the hazmat truck, and another truck whose purpose has slipped my mind.

We saw tools: different types of axes, halligans (look it up), hook tools that can tear down ceilings, some rabbit tool that can knock down a door, some jaws of life (!) , diamond-blade saws. We felt how heavy their gear is (50–100 pounds worth). We were shown a monkey suit that the divers wear and were shown where the disposable hazmat suits are stored. We were told about the different air supply packs and how the fire hose gauges work.

This particular department’s responsibilities are mind-boggling. The 250+ firefighters housed at eight stations in a six-square-mile radius are not only responsible for putting out fires, but they are also charged with handling incidents at Harvard’s and MIT’s labs, along 7.5 miles of the Charles River, AND in the subway (one of the stations is one of the deepest in the world—105 feet below ground).

One of the firefighters mentioned that a little more than half of calls are about fire; the rest are incidents such as water rescue, medical calls, etc. These brave people need to know how to respond to what seems like a million different situations.

There was much excitement when an actual call came in while we were there. Unbeknownst to me, I was standing right by the pole, and a guy swooped down about three inches from me. I hadn’t noticed the pole because the hole was covered by some plastic flaps. As the alarms sounded and the firefighters hopped into the trucks, my heart immediately started racing and all of the tour members looked at each other with widened eyes. I was relieved when the engine and ladder trucks returned in under 20 minutes.

The deputy chief also spoke a bit about the department’s role in emergency management. He and his team ensure that shelters will be ready to go when there is a big emergency, such as a hurricane. I almost cried on the spot as he went through the list of the types of trailers: He told us that after Hurricane Katrina, the federal government required cities to include pet trailers in their emergency shelter plan because so many people died from staying behind with their pets when they were told that they couldn’t bring them to the shelters.


It was a great experience that prompted me to re-learn how to use a fire extinguisher!

Cambridge Fire Headquarters
Cambridge Fire Headquarters