Friday, July 29, 2011

This weekend: Get lost in a field of sunflowers

It’s the Lyman Orchards sunflower maze. Follow the path as it meanders through three acres of butterfly-friendly big-faced yellow flowers. Think autumn corn maze except at the end you pick blueberries or peaches instead of pumpkins and apples.

Admission to the maze is $10 for ages 13 and up; $5 for ages 4 to 12; free for children 3 years and younger. If you get there early, $5 gets you a ride up in a hot air balloon for a bird’s eye view of the maze. (Just this weekend for the balloon.) And all proceeds from the balloon ride go toward a good cause, the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

More information about the maze here and map to Lyman Orchard below.

Oh and still time to enter the contest for free FroyoWorld goodness! Check out my previous post... ends today!

View Lyman Orchards Sunflower Maze in a larger map

Friday, July 22, 2011

Beat the heat -- And win tasty, cold FroyoWorld goodness!!

OK, so this blog is all about going outside and being active and doing fun things. But sometimes – like when it’s 95 degrees outside and there is a soupy layer of asthma-inducing ozone invading the area – you’ve got to take it inside.
Luckily, there are plenty of fun and active (or semi-active) things to do in doors around here. These are my ideas for getting OUT of the hot sun and IN to the air conditioning for some good times.

  1. Hit up the climbing gym!
There’s one right in New Haven, guys. It’s called CT Rock Gym. And there are a couple in the area – Prime Climb in Wallingford is awesome too. You can rent shoes and a harness, take a lesson and get on the walls. It’s safe. It’s fun. And it gets you pumped. And there is no need for bug spray.

  1. This is going to seem out of place, but it’s not really: Free art galleries at Yale University. Yes, I said free.
Mother and Child, Picasso
The Yale University Art Gallery and Center for the British Arts are two of the best kept secrets in New Haven. Both are on Chapel Street between High and York. At the Art Gallery, you can view works by world-famous artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, Hopper, Warhol. At the British gallery, check out hundreds of paintings, sculptures, prints and rare books and manuscripts. Workout-wise, you’re not likely to get the same flash pump you might get from “sending” an overhanging 5.10 at the climbing gym, but there are plenty of stairs to scale at these art galleries.

BONUS: After the galleries, stop by FroyoWorld Frozen Yogurt Lounge on High Street for a tasty frozen yogurt treat. Cool off with creative flavor concoctions like peach tea tart, kissed cherries and mango swirl. It’s right around the corner from the Yale Center for British Arts. (Read to the bottom to find out how to win FREE FroyoWorld goodness.)

  1. This one’s obvious: indoor swimming pools.
The Soundview YMCA in Branford is a great family choice. Day passes are $10 for adults or $8 for kids. Make sure to check the Soundview pool schedule for what times are best for family fun or swimming laps. Kids in New Haven can find cool things to do at the New Haven YMCA Youth Center on Howe Street. Membership to the youth center is $45 a year and gives kids access to an indoor swimming pool, indoor basketball hoops and a game room. For more information, call the Soundview YMCA at 203-481-9622 and the Youth Center at 203-776-9622.

  1. Yoga
So this one might not cool you down, because yoga studios keep it pretty toasty to boost your flexibility. But you stay out of the sun nonetheless and can get your heart rate up without choking on ozone. Here are a few local places to check out: Fresh Yoga, Bikram Yoga New Haven, Breathing Room, and Balanced Hot Yoga Studio.

  1. Last but not least: the public library.
Sawtooth mountains, Idaho
New Haven Free Public Library may not be the best place for active adventure. But it provides the next best thing: Access to hundreds of books to plan your next outdoor adventure. I plan on stopping by the library to check out some books for a backpacking trip in Idaho’s Sawtooth mountains I hope to take this August.

Now I want to hear from you: What are you and your family doing to beat the heat this summer? And here’s an incentive, the nice people of FroyoWorld have offered up $10 worth of gift certificates for their yummy yogurt treats. To be entered for a chance to win, just comment here about your idea for summer adventure or recommend this blog on Facebook! I will pick one name at random to win the prize. While you’re at it, check it out FroyoWorld’s Facebook page and give them a friendly “like.” Cheers!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A challenge: Bike to work with me

I broke up with my bike a while back, but we are thinking about getting back together.

It’s a basic Trek mountain bike that I bought new for $250 when I was in grad school at the University of Colorado in Boulder in 2003. When the bike was stolen over Christmas break that year, I bought the same bike at the same store and took it back home. 

There is a long, winding bike path that runs along Boulder Creek from the east end of the city all the way west and into Boulder Canyon, the gateway to amazing wilderness and snow-capped mountains. 

The city and its drivers are very bike-friendly. A lot of the streets have designated bike paths and drivers are pretty courteous about sharing the road with their non-motorized friends. My bike got me to class, the grocery store, my newspaper internship and the hiking trails of beautiful Chautauqua Park.

And my bike travels.

I’ve lugged it to Moab, Utah, for ungraceful attempts of beginner slick-rock trails. I’ve ridden it on the beach in Florida, to vineyards in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, along the coast of Maine.

And I still have that bike. It’s right here in New Haven, sitting in the back of my garage covered in spider webs and collecting dust. 

Shame on me.

I admit it. I’m scared of riding in traffic. It seems like there are a good number of people in New Haven who drive like maniacs, think bikes belong on sidewalks and are not of the “share the road” mindset.

But that is changing.

Thanks to the strong cycling advocacy community in New Haven, which has been working with the city to promote safer roads for cyclists and pedestrians alike, things are looking up. One of the catalysts for change is Elm City Cycling, a nonprofit bike advocacy organization with 400-plus members in and around New Haven. The city itself through its Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking is supporting the cause with its Street Smarts campaign and initiatives like the new Smart Cycling handbook.

Elm City Cycling is partnering with the Devil’s Gear Bike Shop to put on the monthly “Bike to Work Breakfast” starting at 7:30 p.m. every third Friday of the month at Pitkin Plaza, on Orange Street between Chapel and Court. The idea is to bike to work, meet some cool people, have good conversation and enjoy coffee and baked goods from Bru CafĂ©.

So I am calling on fellow bike-to-work newbies to join me this Friday in greasing up our bikes, strapping on our helmets and heading to Pitkin Plaza. Then, if you’d be so kind, I’d love to chat about our experiences biking to work and write about it in a future blog!

So join me!! If you're in, comment on this blog, email me at or tweet me @abbegsmith.

For tips on getting safely to work, check out Elm City Cycling’s “New Riders and Safety” link.