Take Me Home, Country Roads

Take Me Home, Country Roads

Ali Feller, host of the Ali on the Run podcast, writes about her experience moving from New York City to New Hampshire with her family. And what was one thing she realized she couldn’t live without? Insect repellent.


I remember my husband calling me late at night last March. He was in Pennsylvania for a business trip while I was at our home in Weehawken, NJ, with our daughter (Annie, 16 months old at the time) and dog (Ellie, 4).

“I think this is going to get pretty bad,” he told me. “I think we should think about going somewhere else for a while.” 

News of the Covid-19 pandemic was starting to circulate in the United States. There had been a confirmed case in Washington, and one soon followed in New York City.

We were living in a three-bedroom apartment on the Hudson River. He commuted into Manhattan every day, and I worked from home, where I host the Ali on the Run Show podcast.

But suddenly, seemingly overnight, everything changed. And with a daughter who had just learned to walk (everywhere; fast) and a 65-pound dog with lots of energy, we decided to go stay with my parents in my former hometown of Contoocook, NH, “for two weeks, to ride out this pandemic thing.”


With my husband, Brian, daughter, Annie, and dog, Ellie. Little did we know how many times we would be hiking in New Hampshire in 2020

Mid-March is a funny time in New Hampshire. One day it can snow, the next it’s 75 and sunny. And most days in between, it’s “mud season.” We arrived without much — the essentials, mostly for Annie, and a few cold-weather running outfits for me.

But as the pandemic raged on and two weeks turned into three, four, and, ultimately, more than a year, we all fell in love with the country life.

We were so fortunate to be able to spend ample time outdoors; something we wouldn’t have been able to do back in NYC. We hiked. I ran. Brian rode his bike. We took Annie and Ellie for walks to see the llamas that live next door. I became obsessed with bird watching. My husband — originally from Long Island — worked with the windows wide open every day. Most days were spent outside, from sun up to post-dinner s’mores by the fire, enjoying and appreciating the good New Hampshire air.


Enjoying the New Hampshire air, scenery, and quality time with Annie

There’s just one thing about being back in the place where I grew up, though.

One thing that, as I told my husband, could potentially prevent me from wanting to stay here forever.

The bugs.

For all of New Hampshire’s most wonderful qualities, this one thing threatens to ruin my summer, every time. I try to take it as a compliment: “Bugs love me! My blood must be delicious! How kind of them to be attracted to me!”


Bugs love me. I most certainly do not love bugs. Ranger Ready is a lifesaver.

Since I was little, I’ve been one of those people who gets absolutely ravaged by black flies and mosquitoes. I’ve been known to try every post-bite remedy on the planet, from the heavily medicated to the woo-woo essential oil varieties.

I don’t want to stay inside. I want to be out, in nature, every single day. That’s the life I want for my family and myself. Annie loves being in the backyard, splashing at her water table. She’s happiest in a sandbox or on a slide. Ellie is happiest in water. Throw a tennis ball into a river, lake, or pond, and she’ll swim to chase it for hours. New Hampshire, all year long, is such a beautiful place to enjoy life.


Moving from the NYC to New Hampshire was tough, but seeing this girl smile makes it all worth it

Except for the bugs. The mosquitoes. And this year, especially, the ticks.

So, thank goodness for Ranger Ready. Thank goodness for an insect repellent that isn’t sticky or gross or smelly. Thank goodness for child-safe and dog-safe Picaridin. Thank goodness for additional tick protection for our dog and for ourselves. And thank goodness it all works. (Seriously, thank you.)

I never leave home without a bottle of Ranger Ready (the Orange scent is my personal favorite). I spray my running shoes, my socks, and myself, head to toe. And then I can actually enjoy the reason we came here to begin with.


I never leave home without a bottle of Ranger Ready, especially Orange. Smells great, easy to apply, and – most importantly – it works!

We haven’t figured out our plans for the future, at least not long-term. We’ll be in New Hampshire for one more year: We just signed a lease on a new home, in the same town we’re in now, that we’ll move into June 1. From there, who knows? But among all the lessons we’ve learned in the past year, one of my biggest takeaways is that I need to spend as much time as possible outside.

And I can’t do that without my BFF Ranger Ready. Because once I polish off that last s’more, I want to go to bed — and not stay up all night scratching!

Follow more of Ali’s adventures - as a mom, a runner, and a nature-loving New Hampshire-er - at @aliontherun1 or at aliontherunblog.com, and listen to the Ali on the Run Podcast wherever you download.