Plant ID by Facebook

This summer I’ve been bitten by the botanical bug and channeling my inner 5 year old asking “what’s that?” of every plant I see.

I have Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide at home but my plant identification skills are rather rusty so when I stumbled across this large Facebook group, Plant Identification, my biggest issue has been not spamming it with ALL THE PLANTS.

Here’s a smattering of the plants I’ve seen in Massachusetts this summer that I added to the group for identification.

Common Milkweed. Asclepias syriaca.

I usually only notice it when the seeds burst later in the year but now that I know what I’m looking for, it has been so pretty to watch through all its stages.Milkweed plant id common weeds

Pokeweed. Phytolacca americana.

I’m really tempted to dig one of the many plants in the yard up this fall to make a tincture out of its root. But it is toxic so I’d have to handle with care not to mention get a proper shovel! In complete honesty, I’m rather lazy and will probably skip it.Pokeweed common weed plant id

Prickly Lettuce. Lactuca serriola.

This is the one that really got me hooked on using the Facebook group! The detective work that went into this ID included me driving home between dinner at a Korean restaurant and dessert at a coffee shop to get better shots. Plant Id prickly Lettuce common weed

Prickly Lettuce milky sap plant id common weed

Poison Ivy. Toxicodendron radicans

Plant Id poison ivy common weed

Conyza. Erigeron canadensis.

Conzya common weeds plant id

Norway Maple. Acer platanoides.

Norway Maple. Plant Id common weeds

I posted this college on Instagram with #plantid hashtag but dropped a single picture of the top left plant and within minutes got an ID. I should’ve known it was articum lappa (Greater Burdock) since it’s everywhere and even saw on my plant walk in June!

There were a couple more, but you get the idea! What about you? Do you use social media to decode your weed-ridden lawn as well? Share your plant identification tips please, I could use the help!

Three Ways to Mt. Washington Summit without Hiking

One day's exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books. John Muir Click To Tweet

John Muir was a naturalist who transversed obstacles to get closer to nature. I am in awe of hikers of his ilk, yet am inclined towards laziness.

When it comes to seeing amazing vistas and scenic views I don’t mind a walk to get there, but I’m not a great hiker. One does not simply hike Mt. Washington without preparation.

In the meantime, I’m planning to visit Mt. Washington this summer during our annual camping trip to New Hampshire. So far I’ve bamboozled two other humans and a dog into the adventure which limits our mode of transportation. But let’s break down three ways you can visit the top of Mt. Washington without hiking up. Once you get there is up to you.

Photo by benfrantzdale via Flickr
Photo by benfrantzdale via Flickr

Take a train
Interested in gorgeous views and not in a rush to get there? Try taking a steam train (there are also biodiesel trains available) to the summit and back. You can book a three-hour round trip ride from late April to November. Check out Mount Washington Cog Railway website for schedules and specials. Two things reviewers often mentioned about the Cog Railway was the family friendly atmosphere and the knowledgeable conductors.

Cost:  Adult Round Trip $69 biodiesel and $75 steam. Adult One-Way Up or Down is $48.

If you decide to hike halfway, awesome, but make sure you understand that you can get a guaranteed ticket up on the train by calling in advance, but getting a one-way down ticket must be purchased on the summit and that is only if there’s any space available.

Take Mount Washington Auto Road

Self-Guided along the Auto Road
Want to tackle the Auto Road, but at your own pace? You can drive your own car, listen to the audio tour by CD or your favorite playlist while you climb up winding roads. Stop along the way at the scenic points and don’t fell rushed once you reach the summit. You can drive along the auto road from late May to late October but check out the vehicle and other safety restrictions before you go. If you don’t think your car or your nerves are up to the narrow road consider a guided tour!

Cost: $29 for car & driver and $9 per extra adult passenger.

Guided Tour along the Auto Road
Want someone else to do the driving? Take a guided tour by van from mid-May to mid-October where you can enjoy tidbits from your “stage driver” and take pictures at the same time. A two-hour tour takes you straight up to the summit and gives you an hour on top while the three-hour tour gives you chances to get out along the way up.

Cost: A two-hour tour costs $36 for one adult while a three-hour tour costs $65 for one adult.

Bonus: Hikers can get a guaranteed ride up for $31 or a less guaranteed ride down for $31.

Going in the winter? Try the SnowCoach!

One last note is while it may be summer at the beginning of your trip the weather at Mt. Washington is unpredictable and swiftly changes so bring extra layers.

Now that I’ve done lots of “sleuthing” online for my trip I’m more in a quandary than when I started. I’ll let you know which one we ended up taking!

Have you tried the AutoRoad or taken the train? Let me know which you liked best in the comments below.

Off-Season Solo Trip to Acadia National Park

Acadia in February. From Bar Harbor. cmckane
I took a solo trip but wasn’t the only one who braved the winter to visit Maine this past February; there were over 12,042 people enjoying Acadia National Park. That sounded like a lot to me but there were over 2.8 million who visited the national park in 2016! Acadia is found mostly on Mount Desert Island and with gorgeous coastal views it’s popularity is understandable.

Why Acadia

Some may want to see the gorgeous sunrise from Cadillac Mountain or drive along scenic Park Loop.

I went for two simple reasons: it wasn’t crowded and I had a couple of free days.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Especially since our mild winter turned into ALL THE SNOW and I got to drive there and back during storms. Acadia is less than a five hour drive for me so even with snow storms it was convenient.

If you want to enjoy amazing vistas and peace in the woods visit when you don’t have to wait in lines of people clamoring to view the sights.

Why Off-Season

Since it was off-season, accommodations are limited but most places open are at a reduced rate. I got to stay in a B&B, Saltair Inn, right in Bar Harbor on the water for a great price. Not only did it come with a delicious breakfast but I got to meet another solo traveler and the innkeepers were full of great ideas.

Acadia in February. On the way back from Bar Island. cmckane
Off-Season Limitations

  • The fickleness of Mother Nature may leave you snowed in
  • Partial road closures shorten the scenic drive
  • Limited activities in town

Off-Season Benefits

Being the first to Sand Beach! Even if I had to wade through snowdrifts to make it to the stairs.Acadia in February. Sand Beach. cmckane

SolitudeAcadia in February. Driving around Mount Desert Island. cmckane

Different seasons means different views. When I returned in April I discovered there was a path past the fence and led to some breathtaking ocean views.Acadia in February. Park Loop. Overlook. cmckane

Braving the elements to walk to Bar Island during low tide. I’d like to try again when it’s not below negative and so windy my glove blew away! This picture was on my way back and I ended up waiting for a car that got stuck trying to drive back up onto the icy road.Acadia in February. Bar Harbor at low tide. cmckane

Planning and Inspiration

I went on Acadia National Park’s website a ridiculous amount of times. But it’s chalk full of useful information that I found especially helpful for off-season planning.

Now if you truly want to be inspired by some sick images from Acadia check out these Instagram Feeds:

Next week: I’ll share my urban walk pictures from HerbStalk this month!