Fun on the Cheap

This afternoon, a friend and I caught up over lunch on a local pub's shady, cool, brick patio. After we exhausted work and industry topics and the empowered-yet-terrified feeling of freelance life, we got to some girlish giggling over my current crush. Or rather, over the complexities and circumstances that make it a bit challenging to figure out how to get to know him.

I explained that I made a promise to myself some time ago to break my habit of asking out whatever guy I fancy. Not like I'd make some poor guy just guess. I'm fine expressing interest, or at least trying to do so. I just have a long history of misreading cues, so it's important to me that a guy is willing to be straightforward if he's interested. My pal considered that for a minute and nodded, "I get that."

Then I described my recent realization that I am absolutely horrible at traditional dates, which my friend, through an eruption of bubbling chuckles, deemed "like a formal interview." The fact is, those weirdly formal first dates reduce me from an intelligent, perhaps interesting, sometimes funny woman to a nervous, lightheaded, incoherent weirdo. I would way rather a guy say, "Hey, there's this thing I was thinking about going to...," or, "I'm doing this thing on the weekend...," and ask me along. (Or be open to me redirecting a traditional first date invite toward, "Let's go do a thing.") Save the sit-down dates for later, when they're exciting and romantic instead of terrifying.

All of which brings me to the desire to find interesting, low-cost things to do within driving distance of home. Not necessarily for date purposes, although that's a lovely idea. Just the kind of wanders that I could and would go off and do on my own, anyway. If you've read the blog at all frequently or know me personally, you know that extra credit is given for activities involving water or the opportunity to "learn stuff."

Here are five ideas that come to mind for this summer and fall:

  1. Bennington Battlefield. While Saratoga Battlefield is practically in my backyard, it's also my go-to place for longish rambles. So, not exactly something new. Bennington, however, I haven't visited since I was a kid. Just far enough away to be an adventure, but close enough for an afternoon jaunt over 2.7 miles of trails. And I can't remember most of what happened there, so a refresher's in order.
  2. Yaddo. The fabulously wealthy Trask family endowed Yaddo as an artists' retreat on the edge of Saratoga Springs. While most of the estate is reserved for the rarified solitude and silence of the artists in residence, the gardens are open to the public. Given that my knowledge of flora is limited to levels around "pretty flowers" and "very pretty flowers," I could stand to visit when the plants are in bloom and I can read the little placards. 
  3. Lake Placid/High Peaks. While I don't claim to be in any shape to take on the highest of the Adirondacks (see previous posts about my 5K ambitions), it's been far too long since I did any exploring around the Lake Placid area. There are some trails out to really cool waterfalls, ponds, and lakes that are well within my abilities. This one's definitely something to do with others, though, for safety's sake. It's not exactly cell phone territory.
  4. Harkness State Park. This is one long day trip (a bit above three hours each way), but the park on the Connecticut shore was one of my grandmother's favorites. And on the right day, with some good tunes in the car, the sun shining, and an easy picnic lunch in the cooler, it makes for a super summer escape. Where else can you tour a mansion, look at beautiful flowers, play frisbee on the lawn, and build sandcastles on the beach all in the same place?
  5. Fort Ticonderoga. It takes only the mention of the name, "Ticonderoga," to have me in the car and headed north. While the most expensive entry on this list, it's also full of things to do and see. Even after years of visits, I've never been up Mount Defiance. I still get confused about who was there when (English? Scots? French? Americans? Algonkian? Iroquois?). In fact, the last event on this year's calendar is a reenactment of the 1777 retreat of the fort's German garrison. I don't think I knew there were Germans at Ti. See, learning new things.