Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weeks 17 and 18 of Unemployment




John Muir said, "The mountains are calling and I must go." We agree. So we are going.

Today we leave to hike southbound on The Long Trail in Vermont. It's the oldest long-distance hiking trail in America (completed in 1930). We are going to try to complete between 150-175 miles of the 273-mile trail. The section we are doing is described as "very tough." I guess the trail is more of a rock and mudslide, but we think we know what we are getting into. We hope to test out all our gear and know that it is up to par for when we attempt to thru-hike the AT. We also want to test our limits. Neither of us has done more than a 4-day backpacking trip, so 13 days will definitely be a good, gulp, test. I do believe it will rain for 12 out of the 13 days, so this is another good test. And it's October in Vermont. It could very well snow!!

As torturous as that sounds to most, we are terribly excited. The views on the trail are supposed to be phenomenal, especially during the peak fall season we are in. I am just hoping we don't give up after the first 10 miles ... LOL!

QuickQuestion may update the blog with reports on our progress if she can and if I call her. Cell service is not the greatest out there. We only go through 1 town and all it has is a post office (so we mailed ourselves some food). Wish us luck!!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Just a basic Sunday

I'm not sure what to call it ... a triathlon ... a mini-adventure race ... all I know is on Sunday, J & I did 22 miles of activity consecutively and competitively ... and survived! This is a race in J's town we've wanted to do for the last 3 years. The first year here, we volunteered at it. We thought it looked like a nice, family-friendly event that would be cake for stellar athletes like ourselves. We thought wrong.

It started with a 2-mile run. J took off like a bullet, but I had him in sight the whole course. His time ended up being around 16.30 minutes and mine was 17 minutes. When I turned the corner to the transition-to-paddle area, though, he was already in his kayak racing down the river. I, on the other hand, spent some time at the transition area to change from my sneakers into my water shoes.

Next up was a 5-mile paddle ... into the wind. Most of it was on a section of the Contoocook River that we have never done. Besides the wind, which I continually cursed, I enjoyed the section very much. I wish I had my camera to take some pictures of the changing fall colors, the wildlife (I spotted 4 heron!) and the guy who competed in the race on his paddleboard. J's river run probably took him a little over an hour, while mine took me 1 hour, 900 minutes. All I know is it was long and tough. Did I mention that at 2.5 miles, you had to portage the dam? For the non-paddlers, that means you had to get out of the water and CARRY your kayak across the road. I'll admit, one of the volunteers helped me carry my kayak. But damn the dam.

While I was very happy to get out of my kayak, I was not happy that we had a 14-mile bike ride to finish up the race. 14 miles. With hills. At that point, I was pondering just riding my bike home, which was only 6 miles away. Or slicing my arm with my rafting knife and calling medical to escort me to the finish line. Either option seemed better than riding 14 miles.

But I hoisted my lazy big butt onto my bike and pedaled. A little over an hour later (wow! good time actually!), I was at the finish line and J was cheering me on. His bike time was somewhere under an hour.

J's Total Time: 2 hours 28 minutes
My Total Time: 2 hours 56 minutes

We finished. We pushed our limits. We survived (even though there were times I thought I might die). We had fun? Yes, we had fun.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My first earthquake!!!!

So last night at about 11:30 pm, I was on the phone with my mom and I felt the house shake and heard a loud boom. J thought it was ShortShorts' wood stove exploding or a tree falling on the house, but after further investigation, we found no evidence. There were no sirens either, so we figured it was some sort of explosion far away.

Come to find out this morning, it was a 3.1-magnitude earthquake centered in the town next to us!! My very first! And apparently the first one in NH since 1810. I don't have Facebook so I had to update the blog!

J's first earthquake was when he worked in Denali National Park and he said it was a much bigger magnitude and lasted about a minute. This one only lasted about 6 seconds.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Week 16 of Unemployment

What a boring week ... no work and I did not find too many places to apply. Ho hum.

I did hear back from one place. A medical editing contract job. It was only a first contact (the editing test would come next and we know how well I do on those), but I turned the opportunity down. It was another one of those weird schedule things. They would get me the materials to edit by 4pm every Wednesday and I had to finish it by 10pm that evening. And it would take anywhere from 3-5 hours to complete. I know, I am picky, picky, picky. So I shouldn't complain about not having a job ...

I could go on and on in a woe is me way, but I will spare you my negativity. I do have lots of things to look forward to in October, so I hope my attitude will change.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Enjoying the last of the summer

My favorite season of fall is definitely in the air, but we've had such an awesome summer in terms of weather (even too hot at times), it's hard to say goodbye. J & I hit the roads of Contoocook for a 16-miles bike ride today to enjoy the last of the summer. J definitely shows me up on the bike ... I need to get him to start riding his mountain bike when we are together. Or I need to get a better bike ... hint hint. Here he is doing some tricks. Riding on NH roads is usually pretty safe as drivers are good to bikers. But Friday, I almost got run off the road by some rednecks in a truck ... twice! And today, J nearly got cut off by some New Yorkers! Yikes!

J showed an adult "movie in the park" for his town Saturday night. Date Night! If you haven't seen it, check it out. It is ROFL funny!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week 15 of Unemployment/Self-Employment

I am no longer a contract graphic designer. I sent the auto repair magazine to print for the last time today. It feels good. I will miss the steady paycheck and the sweet computer, but I will not miss the anxiety I felt every other week. If you know a graphic designer (Shadow ...), go hug him or her. It is a hard job when you are under tight deadlines.

So it's back to the drawing board for job searching. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How I spend my (our) money

I saw this on another blog awhile ago and I thought it was an interesting post. Especially since I am quite the frugal lady (with an even more frugal husband) and we currently have limited funds, so the burning question is what are my my weaknesses when it comes to spending money.

I like spending money on travel, but I also like finding good deals. Naturally. I (we) usually opt for the cheaper hotel and search for the lowest airfares, which tend to send me to 17 different airports at ungodly hours of the day. Or I (we) opt for a road trip, which is more fun anyways. Either way, I get to travel, and that is always money well spent.

I like spending money on scrapbooking supplies. I don't go crazy, but I don't really think twice when buying some supplies (I mean, we're talking maybe $5/month).

I like spending money on gifts for other people. This is an area I've cut back on drastically in the past few years with the exception of family (although my parents often get just a card), and I miss shopping for other people.

I like spending money on groceries. But I make sure to shop according to what coupons I have and what's on sale. I love having a full fridge with multiple options for meals! J, on the other hand, loves when the shelves are empty.

I like spending money on gummy candy. I only do this twice a year or so. I used to work at a Hallmark store and the owner gave us permission to nibble on candy here and there. Here and there became taking bags home each night. That is clearly where my love affection for gummies began.

I like spending money to send things in the mail. I know that's strange, but I never think twice when sending packages. And I like sending packages to people, but I don't do it often. I probably got this trait from my mom, who spends approximately $1 billion a year sending packages to people. I laugh because often the contents cost less than the cost of sending.

I like spending money on charities. I certainly don't so this often enough.

I like spending money on races. I would love to run more 5Ks and other races, but I am picky about which ones I do. I like when the money goes to a good cause. This weekend, the 5K we ran was for the local SPCA. A worthy cause in my opinion!

I like spending money at REI. And it's usually big money. May be my biggest weakness.

I like putting extra money toward debt each month when possible. It's something we have been so diligent about during the past 2 years and it's paying off (literally).

I am neutral about spending money on eating out. J and I rarely eat out by ourselves, but when we have visitors or are traveling, we do it. And in those cases, I am happy to spend money on eating out. In my mind, it's a treat. Especially if we are traveling and can't really eat at home, it makes more sense.

I don't like spending money on clothes. I absolutely hate shopping for clothes, but if I can find a good deal, I am happy. I recently spent $85 on jeans (with birthday money). This pains me. The last pair I purchased cost $10 at TJ Max about 5 years ago. But SILMeow convinced me that they were outdated and so, we went shopping. She warned me to get the right pair of jeans, I would have to spend at least $100. I can't say I was happy parting with the money, but I will say I think I found the right pair of jeans. In fact, I think they are magic jeans. I have gotten a lot of compliments, including a very creepy compliment from my landlord ShortShorts.

I don't like spending money on haircuts. I only get my haircut twice per year and it costs about $28, which to me is expensive. But, I like my girl who does the cutting and I can justify since I only do it twice a year! J probably spends more annually on his haircuts, which costs $8 per time, because he goes once a month or so! Ha!

I don't like spending money on going out to the movies or renting movies. I love movies, but they are too darn expensive.

I don't like spending money on Internet service. My former employer paid for it for as long as I've had it and it has been quite an adjustment having to pay for it now!

I don't like spending money on concerts. I just don't love live music that much. We all know that concerts may be the ONLY thing he LIKES spending money on.

What about you?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Week 14 of Unemployment/Self-Employment

I didn't have any work to do this week. No magazine layout (that's next week). No magazine articles. My article in the local newspaper came out, but I did the work for it awhile ago. I looked for new work. High and low. But zilch. So I got very domestic.

ShortShorts and theQuilter are away on vacation for 2 weeks. They put me in charge of their garden (and cats). Their whole entire garden. I'm the girl who can't keep her peace plant alive.Taking care of a garden also means you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. We have fresh veggies coming out our ears.So I cooked this week. A lot. I made fresh pasta sauce! (J made the garlic bread). We dried herbs. We preserved an entire bag of peppers.This domestication thing is pretty cool and all, but I would rather be working and making money.

J & I ran a 5K trail run today. J got a medal for placing. I did not. Big surprise there. J also won a raffle prize. I did not. Not bitter at all.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

To NJ and back again

Well, there was not ANY traffic this past Labor Day weekend on our drive to Jersey. Which forces me to ask, where all the people at??? But, no traffic=happy road trippers.

The purpose of the trip ... you guessed it. A concert. It looks like J's all-time favorite band, From Good Homes, is semi-back together after more than 10 years of not playing together. Just a few shows per year. Phew! Because if they were completely back together, that may be grounds for divorce. Anyways, I think the next one is around Christmas time.So I tagged along to NJ to see friends and family (and did not attend the concert). No Accountant and Hallmark4Ever this time, but I did spend some QT with theMentor. I babysat all her kids and her youngest just got his license last week. I think that makes me officially old.

On the way home, we stopped to visit the rugrats in CT. We flew kites, ate ice cream and camped in the backyard (CurlyLocks ended up bailing on camping though). On Monday, we attended their town's Labor Day parade. I have been to small town parades before and mistakenly thought it would be an hour at most. Not this parade on steroids. It was more than 2 hours!!! But a really good one nonetheless.
And in other news, I am no longer the only published writer in the house. J signed up to write concert reviews and post videos to Jambands.com. His first one appears here. He did the article all on his own and I gave it a brief edit, but it actually came out pretty good. Music is his passion, can't you tell? Do you think he should quit his day job?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Week 13 of Unemployment/Self-Employment

I survived my 3rd issue of the auto magazine!!! It IS getting easier, but it's still extremely stressful and I officially decided Oct. 1 will be my last issue. I have some other freelance work coming down the chute in the fall, so I think I will be better off. Now onto the long weekend, in which J & I will spend probably half the time in traffic ...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Battle of the Free Lodging

Last week, J & I stayed in a Bed & Breakfast for free (my magazine assignment) and an AMC hut for free (J won this prize at a rec director conference).

Let's see how they compare.

Getting thereB&B ... 30-mile drive north on the highway in a car, walk up 3 stairs
Hut ... 60-mile drive north on the highway in a car, then a 5-mile hike up a mountain

Sleeping quarters
B&B ... Suite with a king-sized bed and 45 fluffy pillows, private bath with jacuzzi tub
Hut ... Bunk bed among 20 other bunk beds with snoring men & crying kids. Composting pit toilet in outhouse shared by other guests.



Meals
B&B ... 5-course gourmet meal at a private table with quite possibly the best beef tenderloin evah (cut with a fork only) and an extremely delicious dessert
Hut ... 5-course NON-gourmet meal at a shared table. And get this ... NO napkins (it's their way of limiting garbage)
View
B&B ... Mount Kearsarge & Pleasant Lake
Hut ... White Mountains









Celebrities Cited
Hut ... Northbound thru hikers
B&B ... Andrew McCarthy from the Brat Pack! I have a funny story about that, but it's kind of long. I'll save it for another time.

So which would you rather?

Oh, and HAPPY 9-02-10!! Get it???