Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meet me on Bog Road

When J and I bought our bikes at the REI Garage Sale in August, I have to admit, I really thought they'd just collect pollen. J intended to commute to work, but since he loathes mornings, I couldn't picture him getting up and jumping on his bike to ride. Luckily, I was wrong!

Instead, he's been amazing me with his commitment to biking! He rides to/from work sometimes 3 times/week. It's 12 miles one way, so that's pretty darn good. Since my commute is about 300 feet from my bedroom to my office, I had to get creative. So when J rides home, I hop on my bike and meet him for some of the ride. I usually make it 4-5 miles, then ride the way back home with him. Sadly, with the days getting shorter and the temps dropping, our season of biking is probably ending soon.

I brought my camera with me last week, so I present to you our bike route. The colors of the leaves had really just started to pop. Even yesterday on our ride, they were so much brighter than they were in these pictures.

The first mile is Washington Street, which is nice and wide and really quiet (in terms of cars).

The second 2+ miles is on River Road, which J affectionately calls Death Trap. It is gorgeous because it rides along the Contoocook River, but it's very narrow and winds back and forth. In fact, he was NOT happy to hear that I stopped to take some pictures.
You can kind of see that there isn't much room for cyclists. But this section is actually okay because most of the other sections have guardrails, leaving even less room.
And here is the beginning of Bog Road (and its hills). This is Contoocook River Canoe Company, where we bought our kayaks in 2007. I make it about 1-2 miles on this road before meeting up with J and turning back around.I read that there was going to be a pumpkin shortage this year in New England because of all the rain we had early in the summer. These pumpkins don't look too shabby though! Maybe they were on steroids.
You can see people are really getting ready for the winter!

Back on River Road for the ride home.

Overall, I still have quite a bit to learn about my bike and road biking, but I've enjoyed it thus far. Rule #1 I learned this year, keep mouth closed. I think I've only swallowed 3 bugs, but it is not pleasant. Anyways, I can't even believe I bike commuted to work when I lived in Phoenix. I broke all the rules (never used hand signals, rode with my earphones on). Which could be why I ended up with a few broken ribs from hitting a car ... Let's hope our biking days in New Hampshire do not result in any more.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Welcome fall

J & I spent Saturday exploring Mt. Greylock State Reservation in Mass, which happens to be the location of the highest point in Massachusetts. You can drive up to the top got $2, or you can be cool like us and hike (and save $2). Bagged and tagged that peak. I was pleasantly surprised with the area and hiking. I had low expectations since it’s not a very high peak, but it was very pretty.

Check out this guy hang gliding!! J plans to do this next month. It actually makes me queasy to think about!!

Now here’s the part that may land me a spot in hell. Hundreds of museums across the country participated in “free museum day” on Saturday. When I looked it up, I saw that the Norman Rockwell Museum was on that list and just happened to be near where we would be hiking. Not to mention I've been obsessed with his pictures since my teenage years.

Norman's last studio

So we mosey on up to the museum after our hiking and J walks right through, like he was Norman’s son. I, on the other hand, get stopped by someone asking for my ticket. Not to worry, it was free day after all. Yeah, they had no idea what I was talking about. I ran back to the car to get my the info I printed out to prove them wrong (I realize now that I actually did not have the right thing printed out, so they would have denied me entrance anyways). When I came back in, the admission people were busy and J was all, “you’re missing the tour, come on!!!” I had 2 choices. I could go explain the free day thing to the admission people. Or I could enjoy the tour. Guess what I chose?

For most of the tour, I was sweating bullets. Eyes darting away from the guards. When we were in this one room, the guard got some sort of call and I thought it was about me …

So whatever. I broke into the Norman Rockwell Museum. My argument is, it was free museum day, we arrived at 4 and the museum closed at 5 and the admission is $15! What would you do? Even my mom told me I made the right choice. According to J, he technically did not break in because no one even stopped him in the first place, so he didn't know any better ... Not so sure how that flies with the Big Guy Upstairs.

After breaking the law, we headed toward home looking for a place to eat. We stumbled a neat hippie town outside of Springfield, Mass. J had flashbacks and realized he was there for a concert some 15 years ago. This happens often. We’ll be driving and J suddenly remembers being there. Anyways, we chose Northampton Brewery to eat, which was literally tucked away. But this is a familiar pastime for us. J samples new beers and I watch every time we are on a road trip. There was actually a beer at this place that I liked! Imagine that. Ended up being a really cool pitstop though with a great outdoor beer garden for eating and wicked good food. Next time you’re in Mass, stop there.Some strange things we saw on our road trip. Yellow road signs that read “children.” I understand “Blind Person” or “Deaf Person,” but show me a neighborhood that doesn’t have at least one child? Strange. Then we passed the World War II Club, which was happening on a Saturday evening. Apparently 80- to 90-year-olds party hard.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Boats, Booze & Block Party

J and I spent the weekend at his dad’s on the coast of Mass. His Grandma and Aunt TravelWhore (she picked the name, I swear!!!) were visiting, so it was a bit of a family reunion.
J’s dad and stepmom (MartiniShaker and GottaMove) recently moved to a new seashore town where J’s stepbrother and family live (in fact, right down the street). After several grueling months of renovations, they were finally ready to show off their house to their neighbors, so there was a big party Friday night.

Picture the street like it's stuck in the 1950s, where children can play freely and families gather and talk.
Houses on this dead-end street don’t actually go on sale. And this is the only street where the real estate crash has been non-existent. It’s word of mouth. It's just that great of a street.
Trying to keep the kids in line.

J, Aunt TravelWhore and I were helping with the food situation so MartiniShaker and GottaMove could socialize. Which led to us being mistakened for the caterers. We should have put out our tip jar.

On Sunday, we went sailing!!!!!! My first time ever! And I’m hooked! I already wrote my letter to Santa asking for a sailboat, so fingers crossed. I had to dig deep in my brain to revive my boating skills from earlier in the summer. Although, I realized sailing was a whole new ballgame from motorboats, with a whole new jargon!

Other than all that, I had one too many blueberry lemon drops and melon martinis, courtesy of my FIL, J got to play his first game of golf all summer, where he proceeded to show that he still had game and hit his ball on the top of someone's golf cart (that’s called a hawk) and we spent enough time with young children to know ... you know.
Me with our step niece and nephew.

Friday, September 18, 2009

On school bus stops

For your viewing pleasure, I've updated this post with different pictures ...
I ran by many schoolchildren waiting for the bus this morning and it brought back painful memories. You see, I went to Catholic school through 8th grade. And even though my bus stop was 5 houses down from mine, my mom INSISTED she stand there with me at the stop every morning. Granted it was on a "major" intersection in my town and I was the only one standing there, but still. So there I stood morning after morning in my plaid dress and knee-high socks darting my eyes from the public school kids passing by on their own buses. I was so nervous to go to public high school thinking the kids would remember me as the nerdy private school girl ... but instead, I went into high school with glasses, braces and bad hair, so they forgot my past quickly.

This is me in 7th grade. I couldn't use the one from 8th grade because my mom chopped off my head in the picture. She's short you know.

Here I am on my first day of 9th grade. The quality sucks, but you get the idea. The after-perm look, the Daffy Duck glasses ...

Bus-riding got better in high school after I figured out that my bus went right by my house and the driver liked me enough to stop as she saw me running out of my house. And yes, I rode the bus pretty much up through my senior year. Kids today would gaffe at that!

Ahh the memories ... sorry for my random post!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Girl time

J may not have had a good weekend, but I sure did! Shadow, my friend from college, lives in a beautiful area of NY. Lots of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Too bad she and the outdoors are barely acquaintances.

We of course had our share of girl talk and girl time and laughs (she tells the funniest stories), but we also hung out with some of her friends and her blah-blah-blah on Saturday. For most of us, that would be her BOYFRIEND. But he's not into labels. So we'll just call him her blah-blah-blah to keep him satisfied.

On, Saturday night we went to a cool place called The Castle where we played laser tag, mini golf and go karts. Shadow's friends are in a band called Downfire. I have to admit, it was a little funny to me to go mini-golfing with these heavy metal rockers. I mean, can you picture Metallic mini-golfing?? But, put those stereotypes aside and all you have are normal guys who like to have some fun on a Saturday evening.

Crazy side note. I saw a freakin baby black cub running across the road when I was driving home this evening in NH. I thought for a minute, boy that's a large cat.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thumbs, gums

J's thumbs have been replaced. Except they put his left thumb on the right. Anyways, he is in pain and drugged up. I'm such a wonderful wife that I am leaving this weekend to visit with Shadow in NY. Can someone else check on him? Thanks!!! I gave McKinley explicit instructions, but he just looked at me and meowed. Not sure what that means.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Telephone Game

I had a conversation with my mom the other day and for 15 whole minutes, we both were talking about different things and didn’t know it.

Mind you, my mom was driving and talking on her cell phone. My sister can appreciate this, but when my mom is driving and talking on her cell phone, she also has her CDs playing at decibel 90. So the conversation generally goes something like this … “Hello honey … I’M ALL SHOOK UP … I’m driving right now … MM MM OH … How are you? … YEAH YEAH”

Anyways, I told my mom that J was getting GUM surgery on Friday. We both were told we have receding GUMS and need the surgery, but apparently it’s pretty routine and as horrible as it sounds, they say with the latest technology it’s quick and painless. Regardless, I’m letting J get the surgery first to see how it goes because we all know my track record with elective surgeries.

She was not reacting well to the news of the surgery.

“But why? … MY HANDS ARE SHAKY AND MY KNEES ARE WEAK … I just don’t understand and I’ve never heard of that surgery before … I CAN’T SEEM TO STAND ON MY OWN TWO FEET … Have you talked to other people who got this surgery done?”

I’m all, “Mom, no worries. I swear it’s not a big deal and insurance covers it, yada, yada yada.”

The ah-ha moment came when she asked, “Is it because of all the rock climbing you guys do? Is that why you need your THUMBS replaced?”

Monday, September 7, 2009

Anyone want a house in Danville?

Our trip to Danville this weekend was met with mixed emotions. It usually is. We own a house there. I've blogged about it once, twice or 15 times. It's either the biggest thorn in our side or the greatest idea we ever came up with. We can't decide yet.

The house is part of our "retirement plan." We bought it with big ambitions. Then we half-finished it, moved, unsuccessfully tried to sell/rent it out, got robbed a number of times ... so you see our dilemma. It's just there. Sitting empty. Waiting for the perfect renter. Or any renter for that matter.

I hate to be so negative, because, like I said, we haven't fully determined how the house changed our lives. Time will tell. In the meantime, it brings us back to Danville time and time again. Thank goodness we have good friends there! We spent lots of time with the Wolf, the Falcon, Moonshine, the Posse, the Is/Was family and many others. We accomplished a lot at the house and even got to do some rock climbing! So I can't complain that much ...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Baxter State Park

J & I returned from our trip to Baxter State Park in Maine and I feel like this could spread across multiple posts with all we did!For the ADHD type, here’s the short version of the trip—
Moose sightings=1
Miles hiked=20+
Nights camped=3
Days without shower=4
Number of outhouse visits=14
Mysterious bites on body=17
Hail in the face while on top of Katahdin=too much
Wind speed on top of Katahdin=your kite would definitely fly away
NB thru-hikers spotted (that means people hiking northbound from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail)=4
Canadian plates=10
High temperature=70 degrees
Low temperature=30 degrees

And now, the long version for my journaling purposes. But you can certainly read on if you have the stamina ...

We started Friday with the 6-hour drive up to Maine. Nothing eventful there, aside from the beauty of a road trip through Maine while listening to good tunes.

As we were picnicking in Baxter and deciding where we wanted to kayak for the afternoon, we met an older gentleman who made a suggestion because of its view of the great Katahdin—Lower Togue Pond. He even invited us to stop by his camp for some swimming if we wanted.
Doesn't this look fake?
We had a hard time finding his camp because there truly didn’t seem to be any sign of life/civilization. But we finally stumbled upon an island with multiple primitive “camps” (probably better known to most as shacks because of their lack of running water and electricity). And low and behold, the gentleman was there to greet us. Turns out, the island has been in his family for almost 100 years. It’s the only private land in the whole state park and the state couldn’t pay him enough to give it up! I don’t blame him! I’m waiting for my family to inform me we own a random island in the middle of nowhere … On our way back to the car, J spotted a moose. It only took me 10 minutes to see it myself. “Right by the tree babe. Right there.” Cause there aren’t a million trees in front of us. But once I got her in view, she was grand. We kayaked within 75 feet of it, keeping a safe distance. J was sure to go over the safety precautions in case it did charge at us, which made me move a few feet back. My first moose spotting in the Northeast and it was definitely unforgettable.

She's taking a wiz in the profile picture!

We finally settled into our first camping spot (which we reserved 4 months in advance!) and went to bed the regular camping time … around 9ish. We needed the rest though because the following day, we got up at 4am to make it to the trailhead. You see, Baxter State Park is very popular because it’s the gateway to the highest peak in Maine—Mt. Katahdin, or Baxter Peak. Rising 1 mile above ground, it’s also the northern terminus to the AT, or the beginning for some (hopefully for us in 2011). There are a few trails that take you to the top, and we chose to try the famous AT. The park restricts usage of all the trails, so you basically have to be at the trailhead by 6am to secure your spot. The park also looks out for your safety and rates the day according to the weather forecast.
Class I – Free to go
Class II – Weather is iffy, go above treeline at your own risk
Class III – Weather is iffy, some trails are closed. You may get struck by lightening.
Class IV – No one is going anywhere. Sorry if you drove 6 hours to get here, but you are SOL.

Saturday was a Class II day. It was drizzling when we started hiking at 6:30am, but we figured we’d try and see what it was like above treeline. Plus, J and I were extremely “geared” up, meaning we were decked out in all our rain gear, from head to toe. We just shake our head in disbelief when we see people hiking without rain gear. Because, in my opinion, hiking in wet clothing and shoes is just about as fun as getting my wisdom tooth pulled again, but without anesthesia. Sometimes it's inevitable, but to willingly get wet ...

Anyways, we layered up and down as we were hiking over and over again throughout the 5.2-mile hike up. Once we hit treeline, the weather hadn’t changed much beyond cold and wet with limited visibility, so we figured we’d press on. The hiking itself was pretty intense. Our thighs grew about 10 inches around from the workout and we are still wincing in pain when using stairs. The rain turned to hail once we reached the last 2 miles, but we just had to bag the peak at that point. At the summit, we pretty much turned right around after getting the celebratory picture because it was so damn cold.

Now this is where it gets dicey. The way down is supposed to be easier. But that was before Hurricane Nipple Ripper swept in. Mind you we are hiking along a ridgeline exposed to the elements. I was just about crawling to keep from blowing away. I’m not kidding. 50-mph winds with gusts up to 70 mph. Not to mention my nose was running continuously. I lost so much snot on that mountain. I wish I could have pulled out my camera to videotape it. The wind that is. When we got down, we found out we were only 2 of 8 people that summited that day. If that was a Class II day, I'd hate to see what a Class III is like!

The rest of the trip was less dangerous. We got some scoop on AT thru-hiking and climbing in the park from the rangers. We did some more hiking, but we didn’t try to summit again. Our legs really wouldn’t let us. We spent our last night at a place called Chimney Pond, a backcountry lean-to at 3500 feet. Definitely wished we could spend more time there actually. Next time. Because there will be a next time.

Chimney Pond and the mountain range in the background
Need to rest our legs
J protecting our food from da bears

PS – Where did summer go? We left our windows opened overnight and woke up to a 40-degree house.