A Beachside Holiday

This holiday season, I left the cold mountains of the northeast for the sunny shores of Florida.  After a long roadtrip down south, it was nice to head to the beach and enjoy the season with the sand, shells, and seagulls!

15747668_10208044484778136_3739923748581616487_n

15781773_10208044482858088_7250927416402062506_n

15826217_10208044500858538_9060080526657327727_n

It’s a little bit of a tradition to head down to the beach and play with those giant bubble wands on Christmas (my family gets them every year in our stockings!).  It’s so much fun!

15781468_10208044483218097_8935413634116894542_n

15780710_10208044484578131_4737616165175817320_n

15590621_10207982574830426_6462833571529637030_n

It certainly wasn’t the warmest day ever for the beach (the water was too cold for swimming), but it certainly was nice to walk along the sand, play with some bubbles, chat with family, and truly enjoy the scenery and the day.  It was a lovely beachside holiday!

sarahheart

 

 

Winter Woodland Walks

There’s nothing quite like going for a woodland stroll in the woods.  It feels and looks so magical! Last weekend, I visited a wonderful, small, western New Jersey town that gets all decorated for Christmas.  There’s an adorable main street lined with small shops and cafes and lots of nearby farms perfect for visiting for some homemade apple cider and live Christmas decor (pine wreaths, anyone!?). After spending the day wandering the cute little shops and sipping coffee and cider, I decided it was time to see what walking paths and parks were nearby.  Lo and behold, the Cooper Mill was just down the road.

The Cooper Mill was built in 1826 and is on the National Historic Register.  During the warmer months, there are tours and events at the mill.  On this particular day, it was snowing, the water in the mil had begun to freeze over, and it was extremely picturesque.

15317857_10207887164165219_8183266594997969898_n

15350505_10207887165005240_6890438405369865262_n

15350703_10207887166285272_4942360795230269859_n

15541140_10207887164285222_5031368023457945789_n

 

sarahheart

Corn Mazes and Apple Cider!

15037177_10207605643607381_8174087283269552110_n

Autumn is the perfect time for some outdoor adventuring. The temperature isn’t too cold, the air is brisk and refreshing, the trees turn magnificent colors – it’s wonderful! I have always enjoyed fall hikes through the mountains, corn mazes, and apple picking and this year has been no different!

I daytripped out to gorgeous small town with cute cafes, antiques stores, and a farm that was perfect for some fall festivities!  After a wonderful organic lunch of fig, apple, and brie cheese and a hot panini at The Robin’s Nest, it was on to Stony Hill Farm Market.

14915705_10207605644927414_7346350767887374693_n

14963291_10207605642607356_5056252632229730334_n

Stony Hill Farm is home to a number of fun autumn activities to partake in.  There are hay rides, corn mazes, rope mazes, gemstone mining (for the kids!), apple picking (at their second location), photo spots, and yummy donuts and delicious cider to enjoy.  I grabbed a hot cup of apple cider and a yummy apple cider donut before heading into the giant corn maze!

The corn maze has a number of activities to complete while inside the maze itself. I focused primarily on finding my way and enjoying the sights from the bridges that place you above the maze itself while crossing, offer great views of the maze and surrounding trees.

With the clocks having rolled back an extra hour recently, the sun began to set incredibly early, casting a glowing, golden light over the corn field.  Looking around, it was impossible not to feel warm and happy 🙂

sarahheart

Flying in a 1930 Biplane

Since dating the son of a pilot, my life has become much more steeped in aircraft, planes, and general aviation.  I have always liked planes – they’re pretty cool, after all, and a huge part of my travels! This past weekend, I had an incredible aviation experience unlike any other.  I was invited to come along on a photo shoot that focused on military veterans after their service.  The veterans participating in the shoot fly vintage biplanes from the 1930’s and 1940’s at the Bayport Aerodrome on Long Island, New York.  Needless to say, it was like aviation heaven!

14642377_10207425654507766_1067080236624669647_n

The shots for the photo shoot required being in the air, naturally, and I was fortunate enough to score an open seat with one of the pilots going up.  I have never before been in a biplane and wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was positively one of the best experiences ever!  I enjoy “regular” commercial planes quite a bit but this biplane experience took my enjoyment and appreciation of airplanes to new heights (pun intended).

The photographers for the shoot and the pilots discussed formations and directions for what to do in the air – many of the planes do not have radios to communicate to each other, so knowing what to do ahead of time was crucial. Afterward, it was time to jump into the planes!  A wonderful gentleman offered to take me up in his beautiful green biplane from 1930 during the airborne photo shoot – I was very excited!  I sat in the front seat and he piloted from the rear seat. I donned a flying cap with headphones and a mic, and off we went toward the runway!

The runway itself was a grass strip.  The planes all lined up for takeoff and, before I knew it, it was my turn to head down the runway! The propeller spun furiously and we quickly gained speed before finally lifting off the ground.  It was such a bizarre yet incredible sensation! For a few minutes, I had that feeling you get while free falling on a roller coaster – I kept waiting for gravity to kick in and to feel some sort of steadiness or balance (like you do on a large commercial plane), but it never came.  Instead, I quickly adjusted to the bouncing of the small craft and the wonderful experience of truly feeling like I was flying (compared to a larger, commercial plane where you know you are flying but you don’t necessarily feel it). The whole time while in the air, I couldn’t stop smiling.

We flew out over Long Island and then over the water toward Fire Island.  The planes circled the lighthouse on the island a couple times for the photos and then my pilot flew me out over the beach, did some quick turns, and was able to really show me what the plane could do!  It was pretty windy up there, especially since the cockpits are open-topped, and a little cold, too, but nowhere near as cold as I had imagined it being.  After some time flying around up in the air, we turned and headed back toward the airfield.

14721546_10207425655067780_1322919750850734848_n

Landing the plane went much more smoothly than I had envisioned it in my mind.  I had anticipated a bumpy and rocky landing, but my pilot put the plane down gently and with ease back onto the grass runway – a sign of great skill and experience!  My only complaint was that I had to exit the plane when we were finished.  I wanted to keep flying!

After the flight, I perused the old planes in the hangars.  One was especially stunning – a black and blue WACO biplane.  The man who owned it asked if I’d like to sit in it, so I did! My cousin captured a great shot:

wacoplane

Photo by B. A. Van Sise

I am so grateful to have been able to experience such a fantastic flight. Flying in a vintage biplane has only strengthened my love for flying and appreciation for aviation!

 

sarahheart

 

Summer Perfection: Hoboken’s Pier 13

IMG_4355new.jpg

Summertime means getting outside and enjoying the sunshine, preferably with a refreshing beverage in hand. In Hoboken, New Jersey, the “Mile Square City,” that means heading over to Pier 13.  With food trucks, fun drinks, and incredible views of the New York City skyline, it’s hard to beat!

Pier 13 stretches out into the Hudson River on the north end of Hoboken.  It’s a bit unassuming if you merely walk by it on a stroll of the waterfront, but once you walk out onto it, everything changes.

At the front of the pier, you’ll encounter that day’s food trucks.  Pier 13 has a pretty great “collection” of food trucks that change and rotate day-to-day.  My favorites include the Dark Side of the Moo (burgers, wings, tacos), Amanda Bananas (banana-based ice cream!), and Carnivale (stuffed donuts!).  There’s generally at least five options to choose from, unless you happen to go during their monthly Food Truck Frenzy, when ALL the food trucks come to share their deliciousness! It’s quite an event!

After the food trucks comes the booze! If you want to drink, you’ll have to get a wristband as you walk farther down to the pier toward the water.  Here, you’ll encounter the drink stations.  There are two structures on the pier that serve alcohol – one is more geared toward cocktails and the other is a bit more beer-centric. Pier 13 is home to all sorts of fantastic drinks! You can get a “beach ball” or a “party pail” to bring out into the seating area with you. I personally enjoy their spiked lemonade and Arnold Palmer beverages – super refreshing on a hot day!

Once you grab your drinks, grab a seat! The remaining stretch of the pier is devoted to casual and relaxed grass-carpeted seating.  These brightly colored lawn chairs are perfect for sitting back and enjoying your food, drink, and friends.  Around 5pm each day, the crowd on the pier switches over from moms-with-their-kids-enjoying-the-sunshine-and-booze to young-and-hip-twenty-somethings-getting-a-drink-after-work.  It’s a great place to head with friends and coworkers to unwind from the day’s work grind!

Of course, you can’t talk about Pier 13 without mentioning the stunning views.  New York City serves as the scenic backdrop, with the iconic Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, and Freedom Tower taking center stage. Even if you go it alone to Pier 13, enjoy your drink and just take in the incredible sights!

IMG_4346

Pier 13 is always hosting fun events ranging from movie nights and painting classes, to silent dance parties and mini golfing.  There’s also boating and water activities available from the pier, too, if you’re looking for something that gets you off the concrete and into the waves.  Summer is the perfect time to try paddle boarding and kayaking!

For more information about everything Pier 13 has to offer, check them out:

Website // Instagram // Facebook

 

Happy travels and happy summer!

sarahheart