If you’re anything like me, once you have an idea to do something, you won’t chill out until it’s been done. At about midnight before I left my shift at the newspaper last night, I decided I wanted to go to Ohiopyle State Park today.

And it happened.

Luckily I have friends that can appreciate my spontaneity, and my good friend  Heather came along for the two-hour trip south.

Ohiopyle wasn’t quite what I expected. Though the scenery was incredible and the trail terrain was great, it was packed. Ohiopyle has a lot more going on than state parks I usually visit — zip lining, river rafting, lots of tourist attractions.

Because of this, it wasn’t really Murphy-friendly. My dog is kind of a basket case in large crowds. And since it was crowded, I couldn’t let him loose to get the exercise and freedom he usually enjoys during a hike.

Nonetheless, it was a lot of fun for a day trip. Next time, I’ll go without the dog and maybe even go ziplining, and definitely down the natural waterslides the park has to offer.

Here are some photos from Cucumber Falls:

Another adventure: Ohiopyle State Park If you’re anything like me, once you have an idea to do something, you won’t chill out until it’s been done.

Being healthy and active is not something that comes easy to me. We’ll blame genetics for that one. But, there’s something about hiking that makes me feel like I’m not exercising, and therefore, makes me feel pretty great at the end of the day.

For this reason, I’m calling my journey to becoming fit “Hiking to Healthy.”20140810_194203

I think there are a few things I like about hiking.

There’s always a destination. While some people love going to the gym, others find it to be incredibly boring. More often than not, I’ll start a work out on the elliptical or treadmill and ditch early because I’m no longer interested.

When you’re hiking, there’s always an endpoint. It’d be silly to turn around or try to cut through the woods to end it early.

There’s always something beautiful to look at. Even if you do the same trail three times in one week, you’re bound to see something beautiful that you didn’t see the trek before — like a new animal or a pretty sunset.

IMG_20140810_201120It burns calories. Using RunKeeper to track all of my recent hikes, it’s obvious that I’m burning a lot more calories while hiking than I would at the gym. The terrain is usually rough and incline usually steep — you can’t get that on a machine. By using RunKeeper, I also get to track my personal bests.

It’s fun with friends. While Murphy will always be my favorite hiking buddy, it’s fun to have friends tag along for company and encouragement on hikes. Big groups can hike together, too — the more the merrier!

Look for my #hikingtohealthy updates on Instagram and Twitter, and feel to join me in the hashtag use.

Here are some photos from some of my recent hikes:

Hiking to Healthy Being healthy and active is not something that comes easy to me. We’ll blame genetics for that one.

Favorite WordPress bloggers’ hiking photos

Using WordPress, I often find myself searching endlessly through tags like “hiking,” “outdoors” and “nature.” Scrolling through and reading others’ adventures is just one of the ways I’m using to plan (hopefully) trips I’ll be able to take myself some day.

There are many incredible photographers and adventurers on WordPress, and today I just wanted to share a few of my favorite photos, and…

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Rise and Shine: It’s Monday

It’s Monday. The most dreaded day of the week.

For me, actually, it’s my favorite day of the week. Now, this week, I can’t say anything, because this happens to be my day off this week–but I really think that Monday gets a bad rep.

Start loving Mondays:

1. A Fresh Start

Maybe you ended last week on a bad note. Maybe your weekend plans fell through. Guess what? You get to start everything from…

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PennLive writer Marcus Schneck recently reported on Pennsylvania’s Best Views: 13 destinations that need to be seen to be believed.

The article has a few spots you may have guessed, but others might not be places on your list to visit … yet.

For those of us in western Pennsylvania, the view from atop Mount Washington in Pittsburgh is a given. For my friends and I, a trip to Pittsburgh isn’t a…

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While I had every intention of updating the blog following each hike I did over the summer, life got in the way.

Murphy and I on the West Penn Trail outside of Saltsburg.

Murphy and I on the West Penn Trail outside of Saltsburg.

I’ve made a dent in the list of trails I was going to hike. You can read about those here.

It amazes me that anyone can spend any of their free time indoors when the area that surrounds us is filled with beautiful parks and trails. Over the course of the past month or so, I’ve seen so much of the natural beauty that Indiana County has to offer — all with my trusty sidekick Murphy by my side.

Being outdoors is the ultimate stress-relief. At least, that’s how it works for me. Nothing eases my mind more than spending a few hours, to an entire day, surrounded by nature.

Here’s what we’ve accomplished so far:

1. Blue Spruce Park. This park will always be one of our favorites. A friend that had grown up in the area introduced me to this park just after I started college, and it soon became the go-to place to read a book, have a cookout with friends or take a long walk around the lake. Can I count it as one of my “hikes” for the summer? Probably not, because we go there so much, but it’s worthy of noting.

2. Buttermilk Falls. Who knew that this gorgeous little park was so close? I sure didn’t. Though the lack of rain made the falls a little, well, wimpy, the park itself was great to explore. In addition to the hike down to the falls itself, there’s a short trail through the woods on the other side of the park.

3. Yellow Creek State Park. Yellow Creek wasn’t on the list of places to visit this summer, although I knew we’d venture out there anyway. The lake itself is 720 acres, surrounded by trails. Though I still need to venture through many more of the trails that Yellow Creek has to offer, we explored a path that, on one side, goes to a spot that we can now say is a new hangout (but don’t tell the park ranger we’ve been swimming there!) and, in the other direction, visits the lake’s dam. A coworker explained how to get to this “secret spot” one day, and we spent that afternoon swimming, grilling in the make-shift fire pit and exploring.

4. Co-op Park. Indiana University of Pennsylvania has a park at the edge of town for its students to visit. It has a pretty intense 5K hiking trail with a lot of steep hills that we hike regularly. On one end of the park is the Co-op Farm, an area where, once upon a time, students were able to rent plots of land to grow their own gardens. Now, the Farm serves as a catch-and-release fishing spot for some locals at its small pond.

5. West Penn Trail. Though I didn’t get to hike the full length of the trail due to time restrictions, we made a short trek on the West Penn Trail earlier this week, briefly crossing the Allegheny River on the Westmoreland Heritage Trail. It’s definitely something we’ll be exploring further.

Enjoy the photos from our adventures!

Update: Hiking Indiana County (and Beyond) While I had every intention of updating the blog following each hike I did over the summer, life got in the way.

Exploring Niagara Falls State Park

Last week my family and I took a trip to Niagara Falls. We rented a house on New York, and checked out the scenery on both the New York and Canadian sides of the falls throughout the week.

Niagara Falls State Park has miles and miles of scenic trails that go through the gorge, right near the falls and down past the whirlpool created by the rapids.

The first day of vacation, we planned a hike to…

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Spreading Cheer: Lonely Bouquet Day

Today is International Lonely Bouquet Day. That means, today, you should just consider spreading some cheer through a simple task: Leaving a bouquet of flowers somewhere randomly for another person to find.

I heard about the day of cheer through a call at work, a woman locally was participating and wanted to let us know about the day’s international recognition. I ended up writing this story…

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If you don’t like something in your life, fix it. It’s that simple. tumblr_n7qk4h9W881r8c4cyo1_500

Though many of my posts are based on focusing on the good, and finding the good in every day, some things  can not simply become better with wishful thinking.

For example:

1. You can’t wish for a better job. You have to work for it.

2. You can’t wish for a better body. You have to work for it.

And these are just two examples of…

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Don’t forget to do nothing

If you’re anything like me, the best word to describe your life is busy.

Wake up, walk the dog, go to work, attend 70,000 meetings, go to the gym, cook dinner, start work for job number two, sleep, repeat.

No matter what your daily schedule is like, whether it’s juggling the kids’ practices and schoolwork, trying to maintain a social life or just trying to make it through the work day, there’s…

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