adventure

Living the Chocolate Life

Only in the great state of Pennsylvania can you be on Chocolate Avenue, turning onto Cocoa Avenue leading to the Chocolate Museum. The sweetest place on earth, they claim. Yes, I am in chocolate heaven in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Home to Hershey chocolates and Hershey Park. A chocolate-themed amusement park.

While here I walk down memory lane from times when I was a child visiting Hershey Park and all its wooden roller coaster memories to times I took my kids when they were little. It’s amazing what scenery can do to trigger your memories. 

My youngest is in tow this trip. She doesn’t remember her last trip here but she likes the country flair of the corn stalks on the roadside for what seems like miles. However, just around the corner there is the vision of old and new coasters. Hearing her dialogue on the old wooden coasters is mesmerizing.

Hop into town and you see light posts designed as chocolate kisses adding to the ambiance. Oh how I love flair and this town has it. From small town ice cream shops to local vendors on the the town square.

My hotel is next to a car museum housing many interesting items. An old-time bus is out front peaking interest from the roadside. A little further up the path is the Hershey Kisses mobile. Three wrapped kisses forming a vehicle. I never saw this until today. Made me think of the Oscar Meyer Weiner mobile that I have posed with dozens of times. So much fun to adventure to new places and see what is beyond your normal. It’s also cool to visit a place at different age points. I’m sure my visit here was more candy focused when I was a kid to ride focused when I took my kids to now me taking it all in as a mature adult.

My lens may be the same but my visions are different. Just like the light post above. Each view or angle of the post offers a different perspective.  As I travel I look for unique photo opportunities and try to use my imagination to create lasting memories. The sign below captured my thoughts along the way to Hershey, PA.

O

Off I go to explore in chocolate town. As I explore I know I’m using my imagination to fill in the blanks for my next adventure. Sending you virtual kisses from Hershey, PA.

healthy hacks

Healthy Hack: Travel Edition

The 2 Chicks have been on the road a lot this summer. So much joy, so much adventure, the occasional stress.

I’ve shared my favorite tips for experiencing local flavors and activities. Here’s another quick tip for life on the go that has saved me stress this summer.

And so, without further ado, here’s my fab tip:

Have a separate set of toiletries. And not just travel sizes.

Extra skin care, hair stuff, deodorant, makeup, brush, toothbrush, sunscreen…All. Of. It.

I actually discovered this hack during last school year. With all the stress and shuffling of schedules, I often went straight from the gym to work. My gym bag grew from just having a very basic set of skin care to the full assembly over time. All summer long, I’ve either taken my gym bag (with toiletries and my gym clothes / shoes packed), or grabbed the toiletries to put in a larger packed bag.

There’s nothing really magical about it, I guess. Still, it has saved me so much time in remembering all the odds and ends I need on every excursion and adventure this summer. If you don’t have any spares to start with, be on the lookout for coupons and deals. (Some might happen shortly when college students head back to school.) I also stockpile stuff from Clinique free gift offers.

Once you’ve got your set, you’re good to go!

Hope this helps at least some of you with that inevitable travel stress (or the pain of forgetting your toothbrush!)

dare to be different, fitness and nutrition

Sense of Direction

It’s true, I’m getting older.

As I age, I notice that certain things are starting to deteriorate. Today’s example: my sense of direction.

When I was young, I would read Atlanta’s Creative Loafing newspaper every Thursday or Friday. I’d check out the list of festivals, events, art openings, even new music releases, and make my weekend plans. I’d pull out my mom’s Atlanta road atlas and set on my coordinate spree to map my weekend adventures. From these jaunts week after week, year after year, I got to know my way around Atlanta inside and out.

These days, I can hardly find my way around my little suburb without waze or google maps. If I’m somewhere without service, I get nervous and often guess the wrong direction. Such a change. It may not just be due to aging. Maybe more a combination of getting older and over reliance on technology. Still not a change I like, no matter the cause.

I spent the past week in a confusing condo building. Actually there were two buildings connected by bridges and corridors. There was also a parking garage. None of the connecting floors had the same number. Walk through a hallway from one building’s first floor and suddenly, without stairs or elevators, you’re on another building’s third. The garage was a totally different mess. I felt lost and disoriented much of the week.

After a couple of morning condo workouts, I went to the gym one evening to make sure I could find it from our room. The next morning I spent a half hour with dumbbells in the gym. After I was done, I decided to test myself and make my way back to the condo from the gym using stairs instead of the path I already knew.

I walked into the stairwell. When I opened the door, I was surprised to find an old man, slightly hunched over, standing at the bottom of the stairs. He was short with groomed gray hair. He wore a cotton t-shirt, athletic pants and tennis shoes. He was there to exercise. He smiled at me.

Good morning, I said.

Are you still moving every day? he said,

Yes sir, I replied. I want to be sure I can move for as long as I can, so I try to do it first thing every day.

Good for you, he replied. I do the exact same thing. Keep it up. It’s so important.

And with that, one floor up, I walked out of the stairwell. He kept walking up the stairs. Up. Up. Up. Moving. Ascending.

It was like the (living) ghost of Christmas Future. Letting me know that taking time to move, for me, is what will keep me moving long term. I can feel confident when I get up and make my physical and mental health a priority each day. What others think of it is none of my business. My approval is what is required.

Did I find my way back to the condo? Happily, yes. And taking that different path gave me unexpected landmarks and signs. I’m heading in the right direction. It was a roadmap to the future I am heading toward, nimble and purposeful.

dare to be different, fitness and nutrition

Have Fitness, Will Travel

“It’s okay to live a life others don’t understand.” -Jenna Woginrich

The older I get, the more that quote rings true. Today’s example: Time away from home. Vacation, business trip, whatever it is. Many use this as a break from their regular exercise routine. Not this girl.

With fitness, consistency is the name of my game. I rarely go a day without intentional exercise. Some might scoff at this. But, I know I am happiest when I get it done, first thing in the morning if possible. It improves my stress level and mental outlook immensely. Those things need to be on point whether I am home or not…(even vacation travel is stressful!)

How do I make this happen? First, I pack exercise shoes. For a recent road trip, I packed CrossFit shoes, running shoes, and hiking shoes. Second, plan for some equipment if possible. On this stretch, I knew I had several nights in hotels with fitness centers. I packed a 25# dumbbell for other days. That’s about all I needed. The rest could be improvised.

Fast forward to my first night on the road. Reliable Hampton Inn. Saturday morning. Up early for coffee and a quick sweat before my daughter’s lacrosse games.

Walk to the hotel fitness center only to find it is closed for COVID. But the sign on the door says we can get in to the LA Fitness next door. Score, since I have my swimsuit and need to train for a triathlon anyway. Until….LA Fitness doesn’t open until 8:00 am on Saturday and we need to leave for the field by 7:30. What to do…go back to bed? Pout? Nope. Open up the Compass trunk and grab a dumbbell, start a timer, and away I go.

Pulled up a “travel” workout from Street Parking that I hadn’t done before. Pushups on pavement or overgrown grass were a no go. So, elevated pushups against a light post would do. Goblet squats with the dumbbell and some taps against the curb. Got sweaty. Got my heart rate up. Did something. Forty-five minutes later, I am good. The next morning, another parking lot workout with hang power snatches and some air squats. Is it perfect? Nope. But I moved and made myself a priority. Mission accomplished.

The rest of the week was a hodge podge. 5 bike miles to a local coffee shop, then back. Kayaking, running, and a couple of actual hotel workouts with pretty nice equipment to boot. Moved every day and felt much better than I would have otherwise.

Would this work for everyone? Surely not. But making my health a daily priority through movement is one of the ways I honor and love myself. Although some in the hotel lobby or parking lot might raise an eyebrow when they see me, perhaps there are others who feel inspired or encouraged to do what others may not. No matter what, I’m doing what feels best in my own skin.

challenges, fitness and nutrition

Running Uphill

“There’s never a good reason to run uphill.”

I said this to a running buddy as we were rolling through the early miles of a half marathon. During the many miles of training and training, I realized that I burn so much more energy going uphill. Instead, now I use it as a break. A chance to catch my breath. I just keep on walking and walking uphill, then run again once it flattens out.

Well, I stand corrected.

The other day I ran uphill in the parking lot outside my gym. It was a part of the annual Murph workout, the traditional way CrossFitters honor Memorial Day. There’s a mile run at the beginning and a mile run at the end and a whole bunch of other stuff in between.

Originally, I planned to pull out my AirPods so I had a distraction during those miles. I hate running without music. Whenever I run, I put on my favorite running playlist to tune out the pain. But then I thought about the reason we are doing Murph, to remember the fallen who have given the ultimate sacrifice, and I decided instead of tuning out the pain, I would tune into it. Tune in to the purpose. Tune in to the discomfort. Tune in to the labor and even the heartbreak of it all.

So I did. I thought about the soldiers. The meaning. What I have because of what they gave up. I thought about their families, their buddies, brothers, mourning, suffering, toiling but continuing on.

So I continued. I loved that one of my gal pals came up and ran the last lap with me. She gave me a pep talk about her grandfather who was an Army Ranger and using his memory and mantra to keep going.

Once I was done, one of the women who completed it with me brought me a fancy champagne glass of water to toast the moment and refresh. Then, I turned around and cheered for my friends who were doing it after. Noticing their efforts. Hoping to give them a lift.

Then I think of the many with PTSD, with depression, substance abuse, lingering effects of the time and service they gave. There are many who are running uphill every day without us even knowing it. Burning out their energies just to keep going. If you are someone who is running uphill, I hope you can find a way to pause and walk for a while to catch your breath. And that a good friend joins you on the path for the journey to keep you inspired, positive, and moving forward. I hope someone thinks enough to offer you cool refreshment.

There are very few good reasons to run uphill. Once in a while, it happens that we have to. If you are running uphill each day in any way, I am cheering for you, hoping to give you a lift.