Hiking Basin and Saddleback and Camping at Rollins Pond

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day Weekend! Mine was fantastic!

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The past few weeks have been pretty great. I started my Dietetic Internship, did a few other hikes, and this past weekend got together with my closest hiking friends for a weekend in the Adirondacks.

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Brendan, Jenna, her friend Colleen and I booked a camp site at Rollins Pond in Saranac Lake for two nights. We had the best camp site! It was big, secluded, and right on the pond, complete with its own beach. How had I never camped here before?? We arrived Saturday afternoon, set up camp, and cooked dinner. We went to bed pretty early because we had a big hike on the agenda for the next day, Basin and Saddleback Mountains!

One of the things I’d suggest about doing this hike is waiting until you have perfect weather. We got up at 4:30am, cooked breakfast and drove the 1 hr 15 minutes to Keene Valley to park at the Garden Trailhead. The Garden parking lot is small and famous for being full at early hours, but we were lucky and snagged the last spot! If it had been full, we would have had to take a shuttle from another lot a few miles away, which would have sucked if we missed the last shuttle after hiking all day.

We started hiking at 7am. The trail is nice and easy for the first 6.8 miles. It was a lovely walk in the woods. We passed the John’s Brook Lodge, where I stayed a few years ago when hiking Haystack. I hadn’t been on this trail since.

 

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We arrived at Slant Rock and took a connector trail to the Great Range Trail  on to head up to Basin first. We chose to do a counter-clockwise loop so we could climb the famous cliffs of Saddleback rather than descend them. But I’ll get to that later. First, we had to hike up to Basin! After 9 miles of hiking, we got to the summit. There were a few sketchy spots but nothing too bad.

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Lots of rock scrambling on this hike!

Basin makes 41/46. Getting so close!

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Next up: Saddleback. I had been fearing this part of the 46ers journey for the past few years. Saddleback is known for its tricky ascent up some steep cliffs. It was about a mile in between the two so I had time to prepare and convince myself that I had this!

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Colleen contemplating her route up

The photo below sums it up…Jenna pulling herself up the side of the rock.

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There were only two big sections that I had trouble with. Thankfully, a nice guy was there to help push my foot up behind me. If it wasn’t for him I probably would have had a little freak out.

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This picture of Jenna should be on the next Adirondack magazine, no?

The whole climb of the cliffs lasted about 15 minutes, but felt longer. We were so happy to be at the top. We shared the summit with a group who was finishing their 46. How awesome! That’s going to be me soon. 🙂

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42 peaks done! This was such an epic hike (and probably one of my favorites so far!) It was just what I needed after some previously soul-crushing hikes.

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Looking back at Basin from Saddleback

 

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A great view of Gothics!

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Some day I’d like to hike the Great Range in its entirety. We stopped for a breather and a few snacks on the summit before heading down the other side of the Saddleback, down the Ore Bed Trail.

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This trail was phenomenal. There was an enormous slide to the left of the trail, which was actually wooden stairs following the slide all the way down to the base. It was insane!

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Looking up the massive slide

On the way back out to the car we stopped at the Johns Brook Lodge briefly to refill our water bottles. I had brought my MSR pump, but didn’t need it. The last 5 miles of the hike were pretty, but uneventful.

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Basin and Saddleback Mountains
Counter-clockwise loop from the Garden trail head
Distance: ~17 mi RT
Time: 11 hours, including stops
Gear used: Osprey Sirrus day pack, Salomon hiking shoes, EMS hiking pants, tasc long sleeve merino/bamboo blend shirt (unpictured), Smartwool hiking socks, 2 L Camelbak bladder, 1 L Nalgene

We got back to the car and promptly drove to Tail o the Pup BBQ joint in Raybrook, in between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, for some BBQ and beverages to celebrate hiking Saddleback and Basin.

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We got back to our camp site at about 9pm. I was exhausted. I crawled into my sleeping bag and passed out. It was probably the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a tent in a long time. The next morning, I enjoyed some coffee by the pond. It was so relaxing.

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It was a great way to end the summer. I have to say, I’ve had a pretty epic one.

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Saratoga Springs Food Tour

Recently I was invited to attend the Saratoga Springs Food Tour, in Saratoga!

From the website:

Our cultural walking tour pairs delicious food with tales of Saratoga Springs history. This 2.5 hour tour is suitable for all age groups and fitness levels. We start with a leisurely stroll through Saratoga’s famous farmer’s market before walking to taste some of Broadway’s finest treats. Along the way you will learn about the culture, history and architecture of one of New York State’s most interesting cities.

Saturday Chris and I drove up to do the tour–it was a beautiful day and we were very excited!

We met at the Saratoga Farmer’s Market where Joe, to the tour guide, gave us each a bottle of Saratoga water so we’d stay hydrated on our tour. Very important!

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Our first stop on the tour was the So Lively Tapenade booth at the farmer’s market.

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We sampled the home made chips and the tapenade.

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There were two flavors, the original tapenade and roasted red pepper. Both were delicious!

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We also got a baggie of chips to enjoy.

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AND I bet you didn’t know, the first potato chip created was made in Saratoga Springs…

The next stop was the cheese and yogurt booth! Heck yes.

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Argyle Cheese Farm had some of the best yogurt I’ve ever tasted! We got a sample of the maple greek yogurt. It was so rich and creamy. They make their yogurt with only a few ingredients, milk and cultures, so it is all natural and healthy.

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In a blind taste test, their yogurt was voted the best greek yogurt against some of the popular New York-made yogurt brands out there. As we know, New York seems to be the capital of greek yogurt.

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I would love to get my hands on some of their yogurt again!

We hit a few more vendors at the market, and then we got a little history lesson on the water of Saratoga Springs, which was what made Saratoga famous in the first place.

I had no idea there were actual springs you could drink from scattered all throughout the city.

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The water is coming directly from the ground, pretty neat! I sampled a little bit, it was like bubbly sulfur water–haha.

Our next stop on the tour was the Olde Bryan Inn.

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We sat on the patio and enjoyed an appetizer, mine was a roasted red pepper bruchetta. It was delicious.

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We learned all about the history of the Inn–so fascinating.

Next up:

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This was one of the coolest stores I’ve been in! The Saratoga Olive Oil Co–where you can sample SO MANY different types of olive oil and different flavors of balsamic.

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One of my favorites — the Thai lemongrass mint balsamic. I also really loved the mango!

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This olive oil was a favorite, too.

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Next we went to Saratoga Salsa and Spice shop.

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We got to sample some realllly good salsas, like the autumn salsa and the cranberry salsa! My favorites.

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Chris and a few other brave souls tried some of the more spicier ones–like the Scorpion Salsa…craziness. The scorpion pepper is the world’s hottest pepper…

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Chris liked it enough to buy a jar…he’s crazy. 😉

And last but not least–my favorite portion the tour. Dessert!

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Eugene makes the gelato right here and it all looked so amazing! I sampled a few and ended up going with the sea salt and caramel combined with the rocky road.

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An awesome end to such a fun (and filling) tour!!! I want to thank Joe for inviting me and Chris to the Saratoga Food Tour ! He was a great tour guide. It was so much fun and we learned a lot. I would highly recommend this tour if you want to explore Saratoga Springs on a nice day, or if you have guests visiting and you want to something fun in the Capital Region. Check out the details on Saratoga Springs Food Tours Website.

I ended up meeting Alicia after the tour! She took us on another mini tour of Congress Park!

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It was SUCH a gorgeous day out.

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We really enjoyed our time in Saratoga!

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Summer in the City – Day 3: Scones and Barbecue

Catching up on my NYC recap?

Previous Parts:
Part 1 Summer in the City – Day 1: Pancakes, Wine & Cupcakes
Part 2 Summer in the City – Day 1: Drinks at Macondo and the Spinto Band
Part 3 Summer in the City – Day 2: Kiss-In, Lush & Whole Foods Lunch
Part 4 Summer in the City – Day 2: Zen Palate and American Idiot

——-

Finally, Chris and I had our last day in the city, Sunday! I started the morning off with a walk to Amy’s Bread, by myself! (It was right around the corner from my hotel, so I knew I wouldn’t get lost.) I loved walking so close to the bakery. Walking around alone in the city so invigorating! It is so busy, even on Sunday. There were so many delicious looking baked goods at the bakery. I had to go with scones! I got two for Chris and I to share. Cherry Cream and Banana Walnut.

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These scones were amazing! Chris and I split both of them, for breakfast. The cherry cream was my favorite though, it was really sweet, and had dried cherries in it. Yum.

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I also slathered on some Trader Joe’s sunflower seed butter onto the banana walnut scone. I love sunflower seed butter! I think it may be my new favorite nut butter!

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Oh, and I also got an iced green tea at the bakery, what a surprise. I love green tea!

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Amy's Bread on Urbanspoon

After our small breakfast, we headed over to H&M for some shopping! Chris and I both left with new fall jackets! Woohoo, we’re stylish now.

For lunch, we were meeting up with one of my other college roommates, Jackie, and her boyfriend! We met them at Virgil’s BBQ in Times Square. This bbq place was another one of Chris’ choices!

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We waited at the bar for our friends, and got some drinks! I ordered a Lambic! My favorite. Lambics are really sweet, fruity beers. I think this one was raspberry.

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Chris got a beer too.

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Our friends arrived soon after, so we went upstairs to eat some barbecue! I ordered a grilled catfish! The entrees came with two sides and cornbread! I got a side of mac & cheese and mashed potatoes. Both were delicious. I love mac & cheese. The catfish was grilled, almost blackened, but pretty tasty! I didn’t have much of a choice at this barbecue joint. 😉 It also came with a crawfish jambalaya sauce, and I put a little bit on the fish, it was really smokey and delicious.

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I also ordered a white wine, because I’m classy like that.

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Chris got some brisket and ribs, along with a Brooklyn Lager.

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Virgil's Real Barbecue on Urbanspoon

After stuffing our faces with barbecue, Chris, Jackie, her boyfriend Brian, and I walked over to Central Park! We checked out the mac store. The store was gigantic. And super crowded.

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Central park was nice though. Chris and I walked through the zoo area, and watched the end of a baseball game going on in the park. It was peaceful to walk around the park. Although, I expected it to a bit greener in the summer. I had only seen Central Park in the winter/early spring.

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Central Park was a perfect ending to an awesome trip with my awesome guy. Until my next vacation… 😀

Blogging will resume back to my normal schedule this evening…with an important post…about starting half marathon training. Eeek! Here we go!

 

 

 

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Summer in the City – Day 2: Zen Palate and American Idiot

Previous Parts:
Part 1 Summer in the City – Day 1: Pancakes, Wine & Cupcakes
Part 2 Summer in the City – Day 1: Drinks at Macondo and the Spinto Band
Part 3 Summer in the City – Day 2: Kiss-In, Lush & Whole Foods Lunch

—-

Saturday evening brought dinner along with a show on Broadway. How exciting! I’ve only seen a few shows on Broadway, and they’re always an exciting experience. But before I get into that, let’s have a talk about dinner.

I picked out the restaurant Zen Palate, in the Theater District because it was 1) close to the hotel, 2)close to the theater and 3) vegetarian! The website looks awesome, so I was pretty excited to finally eat here.

The restaurant is way smaller inside than it looks from the outside. Chris and I wanted to sit inside to get the “experience” but, outside probably would have been just as nice. Anyway, first, we walked through the kitchen to get to the main, small, dining area. A group of people actually walked in front of us, after we were told to wait to be seated, which was a little irritating. (Zen Fail #1) Also, this group of people got served before us as well. We waited about 10-15 minutes before anyone even came to take our drink orders. Once the server arrived, I ordered one of the special drinks, (non-alcoholic, since I don’t think they serve alcohol), and they were all out of them. (Zen Fail #2) After waiting another 10-15 minutes, they finally came back to take our order.

Chris got a Ginger Beer, which tasted like really good, all natural ginger ale. I should have ordered that, but got an iced green tea instead.

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We started with three different appetizers, since we wanted to try as many things as possible, because we don’t get eat at a full vegetarian/vegan restaurant often (or ever). Most of the dishes had faux meat in them, which was kind of cool, since usually I’m stuck ordering vegetables or salads at most restaurants.

Appetizer 1: Sweet Yam Fries (sweet potato fries). I’m really glad I ordered these. They were crispy and delicious.

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Appetizer 2: Scallion Pancakes. Probably the highlight of my dinner! They were so tasty…the crust was crisp and flakey, and had good scallion flavor. Inside was a slice of what I’m assuming was faux ham. I haven’t tasted the flavor of ham in so long, at first I couldn’t figure out what it was! It was pretty tasty though.

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Appetizer 3: Autumn Rolls. I wasn’t sure what was actually supposed to be in an autumn roll, but when we asked, the server told us slivered mushroom and bamboo. Something inside the filling did not taste right to me. (Zen Fail #3)I was pretty surprised because I rarely dislike food. These were not my cup of tea…Chris said he enjoyed them though! I pulled the filling out of a few of them and ate the orange crust. 😉

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I was actually pretty full from the apps, and I didn’t want to waste an entree since I didn’t think I’d be able to eat one. So Chris just ordered a stir fry of whole wheat noodles with veggies and slivers of fake meat and shared it with me. It was pretty tasty! I liked the fake meat slivers. 🙂 It was a pretty big portion, so I’m glad I didn’t order my own, I never would have finished it.

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Since I was feeling a bit disappointed with my experience at Zen Palate, I ordered dessert at the same time Chris ordered his entree. I ordered the chocolate raspberry cake, and the server told me they were all out! (Zen Fail #4). How can you be all out of a dessert when it was 5:00PM, the beginning of dinner time?! Strange to me. She suggested the vegan cheesecake. So I figured why the hell not? How bad could vegan cheesecake be?

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Not bad at all, actually. Once you take a bite and get over the initial shock that this is in fact, completely dairy free and tastes nothing like real cheesecake, it tastes pretty good. The texture mimics cheesecake because I believe tofu takes place of the cheese ingredient. I’m not exactly sure how you make vegan cheesecake, but I’m pretty sure tofu is involved. The crust tasted great and the blueberries were the star of the show. If it wasn’t for the blueberry sauce, this cheesecake probably would have been awful. I’m actually glad I’m not vegan.

Overall: mildy disappointing, after having somewhat high expectations. I guess I have to do more research when looking for places to eat in the city.

After waiting what felt like forever (Zen Fail #5) for our check, it was finally time to get out of there.

Zen Palate on Urbanspoon

We had time to spare before our show, so we walked over to Riposo 46, where we ate brunch the day before.

Chris and I sat at the bar, and enjoyed a glass of wine! They were out of the Shiraz I had Friday (boooo!) so, I ordered a Riesling.

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After a quick drink, it was time for American Idiot!

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Chris and I are both huge Green Day fans, so we had been looking forward to this forever! Chris actually wrote a special review of the show for my blog, my first ever guest writer! Here it is:

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 I should probably preface this guest post with a few things about me. First, when I was in middle school and high school, I wanted to be in Green Day. My friend called me Tre Cool, I called him Billie Joe and we spent hours with our guitars playing Green Day covers in his basement. So I may be a little biased towards American Idiot. Second, I am a really visual and musical person who will listen to a song on repeat for hours. When I watch movies I try to take in the whole experience and can talk for hours about shots composition and editing. So in short, I walked into St. James Theater with huge expectations of a great visual and musical show written by my favorite band of all time.  

To sum it up, American Idiot on Broadway was probably the most exhilarating entertainment experience I’ve ever been privy to witness. There are just so many amazing parts that all add up to a moving and thrilling experience. If you’re going to see this show I recommend that you first buy the original cast recording. First, it will acclimate you to hearing someone other than Billie Joe singing and second, it will get you used to some of the new arrangements, because the show is not just a simple reproduction of the album. I bought the soundtrack about two months before seeing the show and was instantly hooked on listening to the new interpretations. There is the exciting and fast ‘American Idiot’, the dark pulsating ‘Holiday’, and then a few surprises such as an all-girl rendition of ‘Letterbomb’ (maybe the best song of the musical) and a sad ballad of ‘Whathername’. So that’s just the music. On a visual level, there’s a reason American Idiot won a Tony for set design. There are televisions hung up all across the back of the stage and if you watch them during the show, you are treated to an incredible mixture of media-induced fear, Youtube technology and visuals that enhance the songs/story. Finally, the cast does an amazing job of creating a simple but moving story of disenchanted youth in America. There are moments of real emotion, whether it be a girl sharing a pregnancy, soldiers rolling and ducking under the sound of bombs, and a spectacularly haunting depiction of the September 11th attacks that will simply take your breath away.

It’s hard to say more than will capture the experience of seeing this musical. It runs until the end of January so I encourage everyone to go check it out. You never have and never will see anything quite like it.

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So, after the show, which was only an hour and half with no intermission, we decided to relax back at the hotel for a while, so we could talk about the show. We then later went and walked around Times Square until 1:00AM. What else would do you in the city that never sleeps? I may have ordered a frozen yogurt at a shop in Times Square at midnight, but forgot my camera. I love NY!

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Summer in the City – Day 2: Kiss-In, Lush & Whole Foods Lunch

Missed Day One?
Part 1 Summer in the City – Day 1: Pancakes, Wine & Cupcakes
Part 2 Summer in the City – Day 1: Drinks at Macondo and the Spinto Band

—–

Onto Saturday morning in the city! The weather was gorgeous. I was so happy, because every time I’ve ever been to the city, it was either raining, or snowing, in the dead of winter. This was my first time visiting in the summer! 🙂 How perfect.

Leaving times square, Chris & I noticed a commotion going on. It was the Times Square Kiss-In!
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There was a 26-foot statue replica of the famous photograph:
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(Source)

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It was so awesome! I love that photograph, so seeing the statue was really cool! I tired to take our picture in front of it, but you can’t even see the statue! Oh well. It was still cute!

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The morning’s mission: Union Square! Specifically, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Since we don’t have any of these stores anywhere near Albany, I really wanted to go.

On the way, Chris stopped and got a NYC hot dog at the hot dog cart! So cute!
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On the way to Union Square, we got distracted by Lush. I went into this store with my friend Krista the last time I was in the city, but Saturday Chris and I spent some time talking with the sales people about the different products. Lush is a bath and body store, and they really care about the environment, so all of their products are made from fresh, organic fruits and veggies, and some are even vegan! Although expensive, I’m a big fan of this company and their beliefs.
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We left with with a bag full of goodies. I got the Creamed Almond and Coconut Shower Smoothie. Bonus: it’s vegan! Nice! And smells yummy and feels great on my skin.
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I also got a sugar scrub, the Sugar Babe Body Sugar Scrub, which is made with fair trade sugar, beeswax, and coconut oil. This also feels great and helps relieve dry skin. I’m sure it will be awesome for the winter time, if I still have some left!

Chris got a bunch of cool products too, a tea tree face toner, and a nice body wash. I really like this store! Too bad there weren’t any around here. I guess I’ll just have to order online when I need more!

After our stop at Lush, we headed down to Whole Foods! Hurray!
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And it was glorious! I probably could have spent all day in here looking around at all the goods. But, we just had lunch. Oh, the amazing food!
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I tried some of the quinoa salads they had…What can I say, I was craving quinoa! I can’t even remember what I grabbed besides the quinoa, some arugula, roasted veggies, sun dried tomatoes, feta, a slice of naan, and some fruit. It’s was all in a big pile in my container.
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And my favorite coconut water that I can never find.

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Happy at Whole Foods! It was a tasty + healthy lunch. I think my body needed that healthy food after eating pancakes, cupcakes and too much wine the previous day. 😉

After Whole Foods, we walked down the street a little bit to Trader Joe’s! TJ’s was great too, much more in my price range!
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I actually picked up a few things, some TJ’s almond butter (cheaper than my almond butter here) and some sunflower seed butter! I also got random tea tree oil face cleansing pads.

The only thing crappy about TJ’s was horrendous line. I guess that’s the price you pay in NYC. We went to the wine shop too…which was awesome as well. They had my Vino Verde for only 3.99! But I didn’t get it. So much wine!
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On the way back…my dream clothing store! Beautiful running and yoga clothes.
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I think going in here was a mistake, because it just tempted me with all of the gorgeous workout clothes that I can never afford…so sad! They didn’t even have a sale rack! Boooo.

Anyway, after checking out a couple of places near Union Square, it was time to go back and get ready for dinner! Its funny how FAST time goes in the city! We felt like we hardly had time to do anything! But we did get a lot done that we wanted to, its just we didn’t fit everything in…there is SO much to do! Crazy.

I took some pretty pictures in Union Square.
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Saturday evening is coming up…complete with a Zen Experience, and American Idiot on Broadway! Woohoo! 😉

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