It’s 11pm and I’m shivering in a cemetery in the woods of New Hampshire, trying to coax information from the spirit realm out of a creepy-looking wooden idol. The icy wind is whipping through the trees and the noises coming out of the darkness seem like ghosties just out of reach. What the hell am I doing here? I think to myself. And why didn’t I bring gloves?
What I’m doing is investigating the paranormal at the Mount Washington Hotel, a notoriously haunted location (and inspiration for The Overlook in Stephen King’s The Shining). I’m one of a group of weekend ghost hunting warriors who are all on a Strange Escape together. Some of us have been on one of Amy Bruni’s investigations before. The Kindred Spirits and Ghost Hunters star hosts paranormal trips to notoriously haunted locations all over the country. For this weekend, people have brought along their own equipment to record EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena, ghostly recorded communications), and other above-my-pay-grade tools like K-II meters, EMF detectors and spirit boxes. The pros say spirit boxes aren’t totally reliable, but they do add to the spookiness factor - which at the moment, in this cemetery, is high.
I’ve dabbled in the paranormal before - I once went on a ghost hunt at the Sprague Mansion - but I wouldn’t say I’m a total believer. If anything, since that other hunt produced no credible evidence of the supernatural, I arrived this weekend feeling skeptical. The other escapees seem to be fully expecting (and very excited) to experience ghosts and get face time with some of their favorite celebrity paranormal investigators. (Those are a real thing. Just trust me on this.) Still, I’m open to the possibilities of the weekend. I guess you could call me para-curious.
The investigators with me at the Crawford Family Cemetery - as in Crawford Notch, one of the earliest settlers of the White Mountains - are Dana …
Most of us know Martha’s Vineyard to be a beautiful island with gorgeous beaches and celebrity guests, but not many know what goes on behind the scenes. The island actually hosts over 42 working farms, 16 oyster cultivators and local artisanal cheese, charcuterie, honey, chocolate, coffee, beer and elixirs of all kinds.
If you’re interested in exploring this unfamiliar side of Martha’s Vineyard, check out the group Farm.Field.Sea, makers of experience that connect sea and soil directly to diners. The group is collaborating with the island’s farmers, food producers and fisherman to inspire people to think differently about the food they eat every day. Take a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard to be a part of Farm.Field.Sea’s Pop-Up conversation and dinner series GATHER, and discuss the island’s unique culinary culture at Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard and Featherstone Center for the Arts. Each dinner has a different theme and provides an intimate space where guests experience an authentic Island feast while learning more about the food on their plate, while benefiting island non-profits.
Be sure to check out the next event on Food and Waste with Doug Rauch, former president of Trader Joe's who helped found Daily Table, on July 27, and the event on Food and Art with Jennifer Rubell, an internationally-renowned artist who creates art using food and drink as the medium, on August 10.
A coastal destination like Plymouth, Massachusetts, right in the grey area between the South Shore and Cape Cod, isn’t exactly where you would think of going when it’s still winter coat season. But it turns out that if you can manage to stay inside, and that your primary sources of warmth are a fireplace and a hot tub, you’ll be just fine.
I was recently invited to visit Mirbeau Inn & Spa, a new French-inspired spa hotel at The Pinehills in Plymouth. A staycation in a spa hotel is exactly what the doctor ordered to cure my late winter blues, so my boyfriend and I took off on a sunny, cold Saturday to spend 24 hours in luxurious bliss.
Lucky for me, we were able to book our trip for the day after my birthday. I knew we were in good hands when the concierge greeted me by name before I gave it to him, and then wished me a happy birthday. Even better, when we opened the door to our Executive Suite to be greeted by classical music, a roaring fire, a chilling bottle of Rose with crystal glasses, and a tray of birthday chocolates. C’est bon.
The hotel is split into two buildings: the Manor House, where we were staying, and the main building housing the spa (more on that later) and two restaurants: Henri-Marie, serving fine French cuisine, and The Bistro, which is more casual. There was a wedding in Henri-Marie that night, so we watched the bride and groom float around with their families as we dined in The Bistro. If what we tried was their casual fare, their haute cuisine must be served by unicorns to top it.
We started with a Warm Beet Salad with baby kale and white truffle vinaigrette for me, and Calamari with honey and sweet cherry peppers for my boyfriend. We were enjoying them when our waiter brought out an order of Sacchetti, which he said were a must try: pear and mascarpone tortellini, mostarda fruit, grape must and chive fondue. The combination was unexpected and delicious - even my guy, who isn’t an adventurous …
Cross the state line into Massachusetts and enter a whole new world of luxury. Harwich’s Wequassett Resort and Golf Club is worth a visit in any season, but now that spring has arrived in New England and the weather is warmer every day, it’s time to get in the car and go. The tulips are blooming in their manicured gardens, life is back in the frog pond, and it’s finally warm enough to take a barefoot walk on the beach.
With sweeping views of Pleasant Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, Wequassett was recently awarded the prestigious five star rating in Forbes Travel Guide - one of only six added to the list this year, and the only property on Cape Cod to hold the distinction. It’s not hard to see why. The property is home to a collection of historic buildings that hold 120 luxurious guest rooms and suites, with not just two pools, but two private beaches as well. The four restaurants offer casual and fine dining options for any meal. And the golf at Cape Cod National - an 18 hole championship course - is unmatched.
Twenty-eight Atlantic is the hotel’s signature fine dining restaurant, where Executive Chef James Hackney serves a menu of gourmet twists on iconic New England dishes. Thoreau’s, in the bar area of twenty-eight Atlantic, is a casual and delicious tavern. The Outer Bar and Grille serves impeccable coastal cuisine. Libaytion, a beachfront bar, is a place to relax and enjoy a cocktail in the summer months.
For fun, Wequassett offers boating and sailing lessons, kayak rentals, tennis courts and endless bike paths. The Children’s Center offers innovative and educational programming for toddlers through teenagers, and boasts a pirate ship playground straight out of a storybook. Swimming, sailing and tennis lessons will keep them engaged during the day, and at night there are movies and teen activities. The annual Cape Cod Jazz Festival starts June 30, and offers live music every Tuesday and Wednesday night through …
I’m just going to be honest here: I did not want to go up Mount Washington on a rickety old train. But given that my options were either driving, which any local will tell you to rent a car to do to avoid the significant wear and tear to your own vehicle, or hiking, which, just, no, a train it was. And so I found myself on a chilly, sunny fall day, standing at the platform, gazing up a cool 6,000 vertical feet.
The Mount Washington Cog Railway is an institution in the White Mountains. It’s been ferrying passengers up the East Coast’s highest peak since 1852. Thankfully, we’d be going up in a biodiesel engine installed in 2008, and not the original coal-burning train.
I wouldn’t say that I’m afraid of heights. I have distinct memories of my 10-year-old self on the Observation Deck of the World Trade Center in New York, pressing my forehead against the windows to get a better perspective on the 110 stories below. I’m just, to put it mildly, an accident waiting to happen. I fall out of chairs when I’m sitting still. I once fell out the front door of a bar that I wasn’t even leaving. So tell me I’m going up a single track up the side of a huge mountain, and all I see is possibilities for my imminent doom.
But, as a great poet once said, “a promise made is a debt unpaid,” and I had been promising my mother that I would ride the Cog Railway with her for juuuuust about two decades. So I got on the train. In the front row. And you know what? I’m really glad I did. The view was gorgeous, and we had the best possible vantage point for photography. It’s just one more time that I conquered my (considerable) fear and came out happier on the other side.
I expected the hour up to be difficult, but considering that the conductor sat outside the train on the front platform, I probably could have guessed that the trip would be easy and painless. We waved at hikers heading up to the …
The quintessentially New England town of Stowe, Vermont may be a skiers paradise, but there are so many great things to do there, even when there is (blissfully) no snow on the ground. I recently spent a fall foliage weekend in Stowe, which was so picturesque and relaxing that on Monday morning when we were driving to work, my traveling companion and I both fantasized about turning our cars around and heading back to Vermont.
I was expecting Stowe to be a relatively sleepy town in the off-season, rich with scenery but not much else. It turns out my expectations were completely wrong: there is so much to do in the area, mostly involving food or drink. On the drive from the highway to our hotel, I was begging to stop every two minutes - for “the world’s best” cider donuts, at a distillery or gourmet cheese shop, at a farm-oriented general store. My willpower ran out at the Ben and Jerry’s Factory, where they offer tours, and there’s a “flavor graveyard” in remembrance of dearly departed flavors like Rainforest Crunch and White Russian.
We had to work off all of that Wayne’Swirled (a Saturday Night Live flavor mixing vanilla and caramel ice creams with a dark caramel swirl), so as soon as we checked into our hotel, we headed back out for a scenic hike.
Scratch that. We headed out for what I thought would be a pleasant, easy jaunt to Sterling Pond, but was actually a tough mile-plus up Smuggler’s Notch. Just past the pond - which, ok, fine, was beautiful, once my vision came back - is the trailhead for several ski runs on Mt. Mansfield. So yes, we hiked to a gorgeous pond. I just didn’t know we were hiking up an entire mountain to get to it.
Despite my best attempt to fall off the mountain on our descent (I wish I was kidding), we made it down. But I …
Surely, many people can reminisce on the pen pals they had in their early school days, but what ever happened to this now lost art?
With the help from Val Khislavsky, formerly the owner of PVD Pudding Pops, she is bringing back the beloved interaction with complete strangers. Just like you remember in middle school, the PVD Pen Pals are connecting the Providence community through a monthly pen pal organization. A quick sign up form is required, then you will receive an email with a PVD Pen Pal’s information and voila! This isn’t limited to Providence residents: anyone is welcome to join. The cool thing is, you will be writing to someone while a different person will be writing you. This is a way to broaden the pen pals throughout the city, and even the state. All matches are generated by a computer program, so the possibilities are endless. However, if you want to continue writing to the same pal, that is perfectly fine. Don’t know what to write about? A theme every month will help stir up interesting conversation, but you don’t necessarily have to stick to it. It’s all about a friendly connection with your neighbors.
Back in 2012, in the wake of the 38 Studios meltdown, I used this very column to make a proposal to the RI Economic Development Corporation: $75 million to launch VagiTech, my company that would manufacture synthetic, on-demand vaginas. Predictably, the EDC did not respond. This past month, there was a major medical news story of four successful implantations of lab-grown vaginas. With that proven track record of success and business genius, I now submit to the State of Rhode Island, the City of Providence and any other interested party with a checkbook, my proposal for the Superman Building. I ask you to please refrain from “making it rain” until I’m finished speaking.
First up, there’s the matter of me acquiring 111 Westminster Street from the current owner, High Rock Development. The building is currently valued near $30 million. The most desirable option would be to simply win it outright in a high stakes horse race bet, but as that does not appear to be an option, I’ll take a little lesson from my business hero, Miami Marlins owner/former sheisty art dealer Jeffrey Loria. I will offer High Rock $5 million in cash (raised through a 99/1 public/private partnership with the City of Providence), outright ownership of the Providence Journal (which the State will seize on my behalf under eminent domain) and a lefty bullpen guy to be named later.
With that simple matter sorted out, my efforts will turn to redevelopment. My vision is for an innovative, mixed-use urban community, which is just my nice way of saying “dystopian hellscape of every bad idea in urban development.” The occupants will run the gamut of commercial, office, food service, residential, light industrial, hazardous chemicals, infectious disease laboratories, methadone clinics, those weird storefront churches and, of course, an Alex and Ani store. The first floor lobby will contain a combination frozen yogurt/hookah lounge, just one of my many …
Michelle Kwan is an award winning athlete whose educational initiatives encourage and support America's young girls.
In 2006, the two time Olympic medal winner was named the first U.S. public diplomacy envoy by Condoleeza Rice. In 2010, President Obama appointed Michelle to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
Michelle is currently a senior adviser for public diplomacy and public affairs, serves on the State Department’s Council to Empower Women and Girls through Sports, and is on the Board of Directors of Special Olympics International. She is also a locally based leader living in Providence with her husband, Clay Pell.
Catch Michelle at the Southside Cultural Center April 12 as one of the Lady Project Summit's Keynote speakers. Buy tickets here.
President and Founder of She's the First
Tammy graduated from The College of New Jersey with a journalism degree that unexpectedly led her to a career in social entrepreneurship - specifically, founding an organization that sponsors education for young girls in developing nations.
An obviously driven individual, she became the first social media editor of Seventeen magazine, and landed a spot in the industry's "13 Under 30" straight out of college. She began a social media campaign inspiring women to raise funds for girls' education sponsorships, and within 3 years this campaign developed into the skyrocketing non-profit, She's the First.
Tammy frequently speaks on social entrepreneurship and Millennial leadership, and she has been recognized as one of Fast Company's League of Extraordinary Women as well as one of Forbes' 30 Under 30 in Education.
Catch Tammy as one of the Keynote Speakers at the Lady Project Summit on April 12 at the Southside Cultural Center. Buy tickets here.