Another Airport, A New City

I travel a lot. Some people tell me too much.

Years ago, I imagined that traveling for work would be glamorous. It didn’t take long to figure out that it’s been a long time since travel has been glamorous. (Have you been to an airport lately?)

It’s also a bit disappointing to fly into a great city, be so close to some amazing sights and experiences and know that there just isn’t time to explore when you’re there for work.

So earlier today, when I posted on Facebook that I was walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago on my way to a meeting, and my niece responded that she wished she had my life, my first reaction was “if she only knew.”

Then I took a moment to reflect on the fact that I am, in fact, very lucky.

Though I rarely have the time to really explore and fully enjoy the cities I visit, I have gotten bite-sized moments allowing me to appreciate them. Though I yearned to stop to explore the Art Institute as I walked by it today and felt a little pang of disappointment as I looked out on the Field Museum from our meeting venue, I still felt gratitude for all I was able to see.

Walking down Michigan Avenue, I was able to stop and appreciate the beauty of both the Chicago Tribune and Wrigley buildings. I snapped a picture of the river. As we took off from O’Hare and climbed to 30,000 feet, I was treated to a fireworks display at one of the ballparks.

Now, I have just landed in Cincinnati. While it may not be at the top of my list of places I’d choose to travel to, people have been telling me great things about the city. Though I suspect I’ll be stuck inside the walls of the convention center during most of my stay, I want to find some bite-sized moments to help me appreciate all the city has to offer.

Any suggestions? Restaurants? Neighborhood to walk?

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Week Nine: Exploring Cambridge

On Saturday, March 3, I was not home, but in Cambridge MA. I am at Harvard for a two-week stint studying at Harvard Business School. I did not really get a change to get away from the city, but did spend about three hours on Saturday afternoon exploring Cambridge.

I met up with a friend of my sister’s and he took me all over Cambridge — from Harvard Yard to Radcliffe to Cambridge Common. We explored buildings and cemetaries as we came across them. The highlight of our wandering was stumbling upon Longfellow House/Washington’s Headquarters. I was surprised to learn that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had selected the home that George Washington selected as his headquarters and home in July 1775 as he began to build the Continentental Army.

Sadly, the house was closed for renovations, but we did get to wander through the grounds and the brochure shared this lovely Longfellow quotation:

Once, ah, once within these walls,
One whom memory oft recalls,
The Father of his Country dwelt.
And yonder meadows broad and damp
the fires of the besieging camp
Encircled with a burning belt
-from To a Child by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1845
 

Lovely day and a great reminder for this California girl of just how tangible US history in the east.

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Week Seven: Mt. Tamalpais

On Saturday, Jeff and I took a day hike on Mt. Tamalpais. It was a great day to try out the Matt Davis-Steep Ravine Loop. Starting at Pantoll Ranger Station, we took the Matt Davis trail over to Stinson Beach (where we had a late lunch) and then took the Dipsea Trail over to the Steep Ravine trail.

To say the scenery was beautiful would be an understatement. When a day includes both sweeping views of the Pacific and secluded redwood groves, it’s easy to be grateful to live here in the Bay Area.

The only downside of the day was when I misstepped and twisted my ankle. That wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t have another mile and a half to go. Despite my whining, I survived and by the next day, my ankle was doing fine.

  • Weather: Sunny, but with an ocean breeze and a bit chilly in the shaded areas.
  • Distance: 7  miles
  • Time: 5 hours (including an hour for lunch in Stinson Beach)
  • Highlights: Amazing views of the Pacific. Waterfalls. Lush redwood forest.
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Week Six: Point Pinole

Today Jeff, Ethan, Jane and I completed our first hike from the 2012 East Bay Regional Parks Trails Challenge. We went out to Point Pinole Regional Shoreline. We followed the Bay View Trail, then went down onto the beach and followed the shoreline all the way out to the point. Coming back we came back through the Woods Trail and spotted a number of bunkers, as well a few Monarch butterflies that are known to hang out in the woods during this time of the year.

I never would have imagined such a great park tucked between Richmond and Pinole. The park was expansive and absent of crowds. My only complaint: The park is not far from the Richmond Rod & Gun Club and we spent much of the time listening to the sound of gunshots echoing. That made it a little hard to just relax and enjoy the beauty around us. I’d recommend checking out the shooting schedule before planning a trip.

  • Weather: Yet another beautiful, Spring-like day.
  • Distance: 4  miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Highlights: Pilings from original pier that was used to load dynamite onto ships at the turn of last century. Monarch butterflies.
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Week Five: Lafayette Reservoir

Yesterday was lovely. Met my sister, Tracy, for lunch and then we walked the lakeside trail at the Lafayette Reservoir. The weather was beautiful, though both of us lamented the fact that it’s Winter and there has not seemed to be Winter weather. I suspect that come Spring, when we’ll be expecting the Spring-like weather, the Winter weather is going hit. After our walk, we went to visit our parents. All-in-all, a really nice and relaxing day.

  • Weather: Another beautiful, Spring-like day
  • Distance: 2.7 miles
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Highlights: Time to catch up with my sister.
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Week Four: Panoramic Ridge/Claremont Firetrail

Today, we went looking for Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve. After reading about it, I was intrigued to learn of a regional park behind the Claremont Hotel. We followed the road up the hill and I was so distracted by discovering the environment above the hotel, I completely missed the turnoff to get to the park.

We kept driving up hill on Claremont and made it up to Grizzly Peak before we confirmed we’d messed up. Coming back down the hill, we spotted turnout and the entrance to a firetrail and decided to park and start climbing. Once we were done and found a map, we discovered we were hiking on University of California land, rather than East Bay Regional Parks land, and we ended up on the Panoramic Ridge.

We didn’t have too much time to explore, but we found some sweeping views of Oakland and spotted a number of trails worth exploring. On the way back down the hill, we did actually find the turn-off to Claremont Canyon. At some point, we’ll go back to where we intended to begin and see if we can make our way up to where we ended up.

  • Weather: Beautiful day, you’d think it was spring.
  • Distance: Unknown
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Highlights: Quiet, peaceful, no one around. All you could hear (besides our kids) was the creaking of the eucalyptus in the wind. Reminder of how easy it is to “get away” without even leaving town.
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Week Three: Point Isabel

On Saturday, during the break in our weekend storm, Ethan and I went out to Point Isabel in Richmond. Given all the rain on Friday night, I went looking for some place with a paved trail and Point Isabel seemed like a nice choice. Since the park sits right on the Bay, there was quite a breeze and my ears were cold. The park is a well known local dog park, so I was treated to a full hour of Ethan sharing why we should get a dog and what kind of dog we should get (yes, tactical error on my part).

Running parallel to one of the trails is part of the San Francisco Bay Trail – so much more to explore.

  • Weather: Very chilly, but not raining
  • Distance: About 3 miles
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Highlights: Great views of San Francisco and the opportunity to check out every type of dog imaginable
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