Friday, December 31, 2010

A Winter Adventure

With this posting I may have to really rethink the whole "Chasing Summer" title for this blog. I just spent three days enjoying the aftermath of the "Blizzard of 2010" up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. (Jaimee could not go with me as she had to work.) Last Sunday night New England, especially coastal areas like Boston got hammered with snow. Boston alone received 18 inches of snow. Before the storm, we spent Christmas Eve to Christmas morning at Jaimee's dad's house in Shrewsbury. We had a lovely, festive time, and pardon the inside joke (but let's be honest, only "insiders" are really reading this anyway) no churches were burned down on Christmas Eve. We left Shrewsbury Saturday evening and drove down to Cape Cod where we visited with Jaimee's visiting Mom and her brother and sister. The storm began rolling in late Sunday morning, and although we had plans to return to Boston on Sunday night, we spent another night and braved the roads back to Boston on Monday. Although by Monday most of the snow had fallen, the roads were still somewhat treacherous and parking in the city was a nightmare. Our downstairs neighbors were out of town so they said we could park in their driveway, but that meant I had to shovel it. It took over two hours to shovel out the driveway wide enough to park the car. Dealing with this much snow is certainly never something we had to deal with in Seattle.

However, the timing of the storm couldn't have been better with respect to my planned trip up to the White Mountains. I spent two nights with our friends Liza and Michael at the AMC Zealand Falls Hut. The hut is rustic, only heated with a wood stove that they stoke between 4PM and 9PM each day. The hut has bunks for about 35 people and it was filled to capacity each night. This meant for cozy accommodations especially in the main room with the stove. We had a great time though, playing games and meeting new people. Not only did I meet someone who knew one of the Appalachian Trail through-hikers I met last summer while hiking the Long Trail, but I also met people who knew my Aunt and Uncle, Neil and Betsy. One guy said he'd house sat for them, and another said he used to work at the West Hill Bike Shop when my uncle owned it. It truly is a small world.

We also got in lots of snowshoeing during the day. The first day was a relatively easy snowshoe into the hut because the trail was already broken out. The second day we took the trail up to Zealand Mountain which was not already broken out. It took the three of us five hours to break through snow that was often up to our waist deep. We eventually got to the summit, which sadly had no view. Although it is a 4,000 foot peak so it helped my friend Michael who is attempting to climb all 48 of New Hampshire's 4,000 foot peaks in the winter:

The third day we returned to the car via the summit of Mount Hale, another 4,000 foot peak. Again, waist high snow where we took turns breaking trail to reach the summit. Hale actually had somewhat of a view and the day was beautifully sunny, so we enjoyed basking in the warm and calm summit:

It was a lot of work snowshoeing through the mountains, but it was a ton of fun and I hope to get up to the mountains more this winter. I'm not necessarily trying to climb all 48 New Hampshire 4,000 footers in the winter, but I am keeping track of which ones I've climbed; I'm up to 16 peaks climbed (and now two in the winter). You can see the rest of the pictures from my hut adventure here.

Now we're finishing packing up and are headed to Neil and Betsy's for the weekend. We might get in some cross-country skiing, but overall hope to have a relaxing New Year's. 2010 was a tremendous, life-changing year for me and Jaimee and I'm hoping 2011 brings more adventures and fun!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Home for the Holidays

Although Jaimee and I have enjoyed our Holiday travels in the past, this year we're taking advantage of being in the area to do many of the family things we were too far away to do in recent years. As we mentioned in the last post, a couple of weekends ago we went down to Cape Cod to visit Jaimee's brother. While there we helped him install Christmas lights on his house. They were the "icicle" style:
Although the Chatham stroll was kind of a bust (we thought it was happening both Friday and Saturday nights, but when we went on Saturday night many stores were closed), we still had fun visiting family and friends.

This past weekend, we attended the Annual Leroux Christmas Party at Jaimee's dad's cousin's (aka Jaimee's first-cousin once-removed) house. He lives in a beautiful, recently remodeled house in central Massachusetts. The house was like a Bed and Breakfast, and good thing because there were probably 50 people there. The main event of the party was an "As seen on TV"-themed Yankee swap. If you think a Yankee swap with 42 gifts sounds like a nightmare, well, you'd be right...Actually it wasn't that bad, although the gifts were about what you'd expect given the theme: there were three snuggies (one plain, one with the Patriots and one with the Boston Red Sox, the Patriots), three Perfect Brownie pans and several other gifts that were good for a laugh, but not much else. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprising for those that know us) the gift we bought for the party, we also got to keep (I traded for it). It's the Twin Draft Guard, a contraption for blocking cold air on drafty doors or windows. The door that leads down to the basement in our apartment is super drafty, but after putting the Twin Draft Guard on the side of the door - the draft is gone! It may not be the most stylish thing in the world, but it certainly works!
Speaking of drafts and cold weather, today was the first big snow storm of the year! It started snowing around Noon, and by the afternoon there was a good couple of inches on the ground. I was a little nervous to ride my bike home in it, but it wasn't all that slippery. It's still snowing and we have to go to the airport in about an hour to pick up Jaimee's mom. Her mom is visiting for the next two weeks from Idaho. She's spending the night with us tonight and then going to the Cape tomorrow. We're spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Jaimee's dad in Shrewsbury, than heading down to the Cape to visit with Jaimee's mom and her side of the family. Here's the Leroux family tree (they seemingly buy gifts for everyone and his brother):
It's shaping up to be a busy Holidays, but my office is closed between Dec 23 and January 3, so it should also be relaxing. For me, anyway as Jaimee still has to look after the babies that she nannies for. While Jaimee is doing that I might be spending a few of my vacation days hiking up the White Mountains. My tentative plan right now is to snow shoe into Zealand Falls Hut for a couple nights and hike a few of the 4,000 foot peaks in the area. Given the recent snow storm, it should be beautiful up there.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Getting into the Christmas Spirit

After such a New England Thanksgiving we are continuing the Holiday season with what's shaping up to be a very New England Christmas too! In fact, my company already had its Holiday Party. It was a pretty low-key affair (on a Monday night!) but Jaimee made the trek into downtown Boston after work. It was actually pretty fun, because at one point Jaimee and I got on the subject of our trip with a few people. Most people are amazed when we talk about spending two and a half months in South East Asia or two months in New Zealand. It was fun to reminisce and it made me really miss our trip. I'm glad we don't forget about it and find new opportunities to discuss and remember it.

Last weekend we visited Vermont for two reasons. First, we spent Saturday doing some trail work on the Catamount Trail. The Catamount Trail is to cross-country skiing what the Long Trail is to hiking. It's a cross-country ski trail that goes the length of Vermont. They were having one of the final work parties of the year so Jaimee and I made the trek up to Killington to help clear a section of the trail. They were rerouting part of the trail off of a snow mobile trail. Here's Jaimee ready to go with the brush cutter:
And as is typical in Vermont, one of the people working that day knew my Aunt Betsy and Uncle Neil. We discovered he knew them because this guy started talking about how he's attempting to ride his bike along every paved road in Vermont, and he was wondering out loud if anyone had ever done that before. I said, well my uncle was telling me about someone who was attempting to do that, and as soon as I said it, I thought, wait maybe he's the same person. And sure enough he was. It's a small state.

After our day of trail work, we headed across the state to East Thetford where my cousins Jenny and Campbell live. We spent the evening babysitting their two kids while they had a dinner out with some neighbors. Their kids, Kate and Mack, are the kind of kids, as Jaimee likes to say, who could trick you into having kids. They are the cutest, smartest, most well-behaved kids. The next morning, we went with the family to pick out their Christmas tree. In true Vermont fashion you drive on a dirt road to a big field with a bunch of trees. You pick out the one you want, cut it down yourself and then mail the owners $16. (Subaru station wagon is optional, but strongly encouraged, as four of the five cars parked along the road were Subarus.) It was fun picking out the perfect tree, and my cousin's family did some nice posing for pictures. Here's Mack and Kate in front of the tree:
Then the whole family posed for a nice picture:
Continuing the Christmas theme, Jaimee and I are headed to Cape Cod this weekend for the Chatham Christmas Stroll. I'm actually in the strange situation of having to use up some vacation time. I accrue a certain amount per month at my job and I'm not allowed to carry over any vacation time to the next year. So, I'm taking a paid day off tomorrow, which is a strange feeling since my last few jobs have not had any paid vacation. Anyway, one last picture that Jaimee took of Jonah and Grace this week. It's been quite cold out recently, but Jaimee has been quite the trooper in wrapping up the babies for at least one trip outside each day. Here they are ready for the cold:
Aren't they lucky kids to have such a nice nanny?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Most New England Thanksgiving

We spent the weekend as if we were on a mission to fulfill every cliche of a New England Thanksgiving. We began at Jaimee's dad and step-mom's house on Thursday where we helped prepare a traditional turkey dinner while watching the New England Patriots beat the Detroit Lions 45-25. Then we welcomed a houseful of guests, a mixture of both friends and family, including five visiting Australians. There was a little pressure presenting a "typical" American Thanksgiving for the visitors, but as usual, Jaimee's dad and step-mom were wonderful hosts and could definitely qualify as model hospitable Americans. The Leroux house was like a revolving door all afternoon and evening as people came and went. There were probably a total of about 40 people that stopped by at one point or another.

Jaimee and I headed back to Boston on Friday where we met up with a couple of her friends from Cape Cod. We toured them around Roslindale and drank hot chocolate in our little apartment. Then on Saturday, we drove to Plymouth to meet some friends of Jaimee's from Chicago who were in the area visiting family. We met up for breakfast at a cafe right next to Plymouth Rock! How could we not snap a couple of photos next to the iconic 1620 rock?
After a brief pop-in at Jaimee's Aunt and Uncle's house in Plymouth following breakfast, we went back to Boston for a late lunch of turkey dinner leftovers with my sister and her wife's family. Isn't Thanksgiving about going from one meal to the next, all the while visiting family? After the brief lunch we came back to Roslindale and wandered into the village for the Christmas Tree lighting. We even got to see Santa Claus arrive on a fire truck! We didn't stay long but we appreciated living in such a cute neighborhood with lots of families and fun activities for them.

We then went home and waited for our couchsurfing guests to arrive. Those who'd been following our travels know that we used couchsurfing quite a bit during our travels. We begun using the website back when we lived in Seattle and hosted several people before we left. We then "surfed" many times while traveling and we vowed that when we settled down again we'd return to being hosts. Well, Dominic and Audrey from Saguenay, Quebec became our first guests in Boston. Saguenay is way up in Quebec; it took them almost 10 hours to drive to our house! They are incredibly nice. As is typical when couchsurfers meet, we enjoyed talking about our travels. We also helped them plan their time in Boston.

They were kind enough to bring us a little house-warming gift of a bottle of Sortilege: Canadian Whisky mixed with maple syrup! We cracked it open and shared some on a little ice. It was so delicious! The gift reminded us of when we hosted other Canadians last year in Seattle. Canadians are always so nice!

Today, while Dominic and Audrey went off to explore Boston, Jaimee and I met my cousin Bevan up in New Hampshire for a hike up Mt. Monadnoc. It was a typical New England winter day with crisp cold air and cloudless blue skies. We took the supposedly less-traveled Dublin Trail up the mountain, although there were quite a few people out climbing today. The trail was somewhat treacherous, especially at the top where there was lots of ice; Jaimee even got to use her Yaktrax to keep her from falling on the ice. It was a beautiful but cold at the top.
The hike was a wonderful finish to a wonderful weekend. What a great Thanksgiving, and as we mentioned briefly on Thursday we really do have lots to be thankful for. It might not seem like it with all our running around this weekend, but we did reflect on how lucky we are to have so many loving friends and family.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

A brief post today wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. Today we are spending the day at Jaimee's dad's house where we're busy preparing for a houseful of about 20 friends and family who will all be arriving shortly. Meanwhile, the Patriots and Lions are playing football, so it's shaping up to be a very New England Thanksgiving.

This is the fifth Thanksgiving Jaimee and I have spent together, but it's only the second one we've spent with family. We spent Thanksgiving of 2006 together in Portland, Oregon, 2007 in Idaho with Jaimee's Aunt and Uncle, 2008 in Whistler, British Columbia and last year we were in New Zealand with our first WWOOFing hosts, Jeanette and Doug. I think on actual Thanksgiving day last year we had home-made chili after a day of working on their farm.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, which is sort of ironic, considering I didn't celebrate Thanksgiving growing up and then I was vegan for several years while in Seattle and I spent Thanksgivings with my vegan friends, consuming more Tofurkys than I care to remember. So in some sense, this might actually be my first traditional Thanksgiving.

We have many. many things to be thankful for this year, including our loving families. On Saturday we'll be in Boston, spending part of they day with my sister and her wife's family, then on Saturday night we host our first couchsurfers in Boston. We recently reactivated our profile on and we're scheduled to host a couple from Montreal as our first guests since our return from our world-trip. Look for an update later!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

20 years ago...

On November 16, 1990 my father, Ludlow Fox Martin died after a short bout with cancer. It was two days before his 45th birthday. I've been thinking a lot about him this past week, especially in light of the fact that, as my Aunt Lisa (my dad's sister) pointed out to me via e-mail recently, in two days he would have been 65.

The year 1990 was not a pleasant time for me and my family. My grandmother (on my mom's side), with whom we lived, died in April of 1990, then in June my dad was diagnosed with sinus cancer. He went to the doctor complaining of sinus pressure and after a couple of exams and biopsies we found out he had cancer. After trying surgery and radiation, he tried alternative forms of treatment, including a special clinic in Mexico and a place in Wisconsin that specialized in ozone treatments to attack fast-growing cancer like his. Ultimately, however, he succumbed to the disease, dying at home (in the same house where he was married to my mom) on November 16.

It's amazing that it's now 20 years later. I think about my dad often and have many good memories: watching football on Sunday afternoons (including hot pastrami sandwiches), playing tennis, his love of games, including chess, checkers and backgammon, and his great sense of humor. We spent a lot of time laughing as a family, a tradition that I carry on to this day. I also remember numerous family vacations, including trips all around New England and Northeast Canada, as well as at least one trip to Florida where I got to ride "Space Mountain" at Disney World with him. I believe my younger sister was too short to ride it and my older sister had a broken leg and was in a wheel chair (a fact she doesn't let me forget to this day!), so it was just me and my dad for the mostly pitch-black ride. 

Part of what is strange about talking about someone who died in 1990 is that there are very few pictures of him. Now a days, everyone has pictures of themselves readily available. I haven't taken the time to scan in any of the few print photos I have. There are a few framed ones in our apartment, but sadly nothing to post for the blog. Also, many of my current friends never met my dad, and many might not even be aware that he died (it doesn't always come up right away). 

And since ostensibly this is a travel blog (although I acknowledge it's morphing into something slightly different since we've gotten back from our trip), I'll also mention that in late November of 1990 after we'd finished the funeral and burial, my sisters, mom and I took a short "vacation" to the Bahamas. We went to Harbor Island, a small secluded island recommended by one of our travel agent friends (remember travel agents?) We stayed at a resort that came with golf carts to travel around in, and my 13-year-old sister loved driving us all around. And I loved playing backgammon with the bartender while sipping my daiquiris and other yummy rum drinks (we joked that the drinking age was based on height; if you were tall enough to stand at the bar, they'd serve you a drink.) It was also during that trip that I read The Catcher in the Rye. Given my circumstances I could definitely relate to the protagonist Holden Caulfield, and I've often thought about re-reading it to see if my impressions would change. On the other hand, sometimes I feel like the memory of that trip is just perfect (given the circumstances) so I'm not sure if I want altered memories of it.

As readers of this blog know, visiting Vietnam was very special for me, because when my dad served in Vietnam he was exposed to Agent Orange, which more than likely contributed to his developing sinus cancer all those years later. It was closure on some level for me to visit the places he stayed while in Vietnam. Again, I wonder how different my life would be if he'd never served in Vietnam (or if he'd received a state-side assignment instead). Also, I mentioned my grandmother at the top of the post, and I explicitly remember being in Invercargill with our lovely WWOOFing hosts Colin and Ellen on January 17, on the day when my grandmother would have turned 100. I will never forget either my dad or my grandmother.

[Update: I received a correction from my mom that apparently my dad started having sinus issues in the Fall of 1989 and knew by early 1990 that he had cancer. In June he had his final surgery and learned the news that they weren't able to remove it all. Because of the form of cancer (schwanomma) he would have needed a craniotomy, which although the doctors were prepared to do they didn't follow through on for various reasons, partly because the tumors were too big and too close to his eye. I do remember discussions of whether they should remove one of his eyes in another surgery or if he should explore other options. Can you imagine facing this choice? Ultimately he looked at other treatments. My mom also reminded me of the generosity and kindness that many people showed us during that time. My mom, who has a memory even better than mine, knew exactly who did what when during that time. The list of people is too long to list here, but I thank everyone who helped our family during that difficult time. That immense outpouring of kindness will not be forgotten either.]

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nannyhood in the Neighborhood

I've been working as a nanny for about a month now for Asa's nephew Jonah and another little girl, Grace. The kids are now five and six months old respectively, so you can imagine how hectic the days can be.

This job has been working out quite well for me for a variety of reasons. It's a great deal different from my last job as an intensive special needs teacher in a public middle school. I don't attend staff meetings that don't apply to my students anymore (always a huge waste of my time). I don't have to work with assistants who aren't very cooperative. I don't have mountains of paperwork or deadlines (except for feedings). And now we can go on walks throughout the day, including walks to the neighborhood shops, banks, and libraries, making it fairly easy for me to keep up with errands and chores. This includes my eight minute walk to work. It's so nice to be a walking commuter! And let's not forget that I only work four days per week (10.5 hours/day). I love my Fridays off!

There are some similarities, however. I still change diapers though its much different when the diaper isn't worn by a 14-year old. I still structure my day ahead of time, to allow for walks outside and certain amounts of playtime between naps. I still have a super rushed meal time, though now it's me chowing down while the kids are napping (you never know how long you'll have), instead of racing through my lunch after my long walk to the staff room and then my wait at the microwave for the other 10 teachers, and then a sprint to the bathroom, all in the 30 minutes allowed by the bells.

The job is very fun for me, and I hope also for the babies. We've gone to the park a couple of times now, though Jonah has been asleep both times by the time we roll up in the double stroller. We get to walk the dog, Story at the Arboretum. We spend time outside visiting with the very friendly neighbors at Grace's house. And we sing and play throughout the day. All of our time walking around in the stroller has helped me learn our neighborhood and West Roxbury too. We can go to the grocery, the libraries in both villages, parks, and coffee shops and restaurants. And, look at these babies, they are a hit everywhere we walk! People are always asking after them and wondering if they are twins.

Being a nanny is not without its challenges, though. Grace has been going through what her parents call a sleep strike, not wanting to sleep in her crib. She will sleep in the carrier or in my arms, but this will not be a long term solution (I hope). When one baby is hungry, both are starving once the bottle comes into view. This makes for some intense seconds until I get everyone positioned for a group feeding. And when one baby is tired, that doesn't mean both are. But crying and clinginess are contagious, so if one is tired and clingy, I've usually got both kiddos attached to me. Sometimes its a bit wild, like while I'm wearing a sleeping Grace in the carrier and trying to get Jonah off to sleep, by bouncing him in my arms. Luckily they both tend to nod off in the stroller; if only we could walk for two hours at a time twice a day, everyday!

Because the babies are so young, they are changing a lot all of the time. I've noticed big differences in Jonah and Grace in the four weeks since I've started watching them full time. I'm very excited to keep watching them grow, develop, and learn in the months ahead.

In other neighborhood news, Asa and I had the opportunity to walk to the polls last week for election day. We hadn't been able to do that in a few years, as Seattle moved to all-mail-in ballots. Our polling place was the local church in our village, three blocks from our apartment. We were impressed with how organized they were and how quickly our line was processed. It was a pretty low tech situation, with small counters and felt tip pens to fill out our paper ballots, but the turn out was impressive and it seemed like voting was a family affair for many of our neighbors. Here's a photo taken outside our polling place, the Greek Church.

Fifteen years ago...

November 7th, 1995 I visited Seattle for the first time. I arrived in a 1988 Subaru Justy with my good friend Brian from New Hampshire after a 10-day road trip across the country (we took the "Northern route" through New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, etc.). I didn't intend to move to Seattle, but stay I did, and the rest, as they say, "is history."

Now Seattle seems really far away as we're settling into a new routine in the Boston area (maybe we've already mentioned this?). Last weekend, we went to Vermont for a couple days and had a wonderful time doing "Vermonty" things, like a trip to the farmer's market, walks in the woods, and leisurely breakfasts. (Not to imply that Vermonters live the life of leisure; only visitors to Vermont live this leisurely life. Living in Vermont involves many chores, which luckily we were able to avoid this time.)

We stayed at a converted "Bed & Breakfast" that used to be a two-room school house. The owners rent it out per night and stock the refrigerator with breakfast foods that you cook up yourself. The adorable little house reminded us a bit of our apartment as it had lots of windows and skylights. Notice the tall windows that are original from the school house days; if you sit down inside you can't look out the windows, which I guess is the point if you're trying to keep the attention of school children:

We visited the Brattleboro Farmer's Market on the last Saturday of the year before it moves indoors for the winter. I was surprised  by the number of prepared food vendors at the farmer's market, including exotic food, like this Malian food vendor (there also were two Thai places and a Vietnamese vendor):

But mostly, as we keep mentioning, we're living a pretty relaxed life in Boston, enjoying semi-city-life in Roslindale. I say semi-city because although Roslindale is technically part of Boston, it feels more like its own small town than the city of Boston, actually a lot like our old Seattle neighborhood of Ballard. The Fall weather has been very nice, it's definitely getting colder, but it's been dry for the most part, which is a welcome difference from autumn in Seattle. The November I arrived in Seattle, it literally rained every single day for my first month; I suppose that indicates I was destined to stay there. If I could tolerate a solid month of rain, the weather wasn't really going to bother me that much. On the other hand, the following summer it was sunny for, again literally, every day in July, August and September (with no humidity!) which became the cycle of living in Seattle - recharge during the sunny summer for the gray, rainy winter. In any event, we've already had a bit of frost in Boston, which I noticed the other day on my bike commute to work (it might be faint, but it was definitely there):

Again, pretty cool that this is right in Boston (and that it's part of my daily commute). I feel lucky to live in such a nice place.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lantern Festival

Now that Jaimee and I are both working full-time, it's amazing how quickly the week flies by. I suppose it's a good sign that the week goes by quickly - it must mean work isn't too terrible - but it does mean that we don't have a whole lot of time mid-week to do "fun" things. But, this weekend we took advantage of being in Boston and went to the Jamaica Pond Lantern Festival. Every year the weekend before Halloween, thousands gather around  the Pond right after sunset and walk the one-mile path with homemade lanterns. It was mostly full of families, but Jaimee donned her grand-mother's square-dancing cape and we enjoyed the full moon and relatively mild night:

Otherwise, not a whole lot else to report. Our apartment is taking shape and is really starting to feel like home. In fact, I will go so far as to say I really like it there! It's super bright, and we've adjusted to climbing three flights of stairs everyday. Although to remind us of Seattle, we framed a poster of a map of Seattle and put it next to the Boston version:

We're also planning a weekend trip to Vermont next weekend with my sister, her wife and my lovely little nephew. We'll be sure to bring our camera and get some pictures of our weekend away.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

90 years

So, our weekend plans of visiting with my aunt and uncle from Vermont didn't pan out. Because we're sad to report, Jaimee's 90-year-old grandfather George E. Leroux, (whom she called Pepe), passed away last Wednesday. You can read his obituary in the Worcester newspaper. (Which incidentally marks the second time in the last two months that Jaimee and I have appeared in the Worcester Telegram. I never blogged about it, but Jaimee and I were interviewed at the Shrewsbury Public Library one Tuesday when we attended the bi-monthly Scrabble club. You can read about it, and see a terrible picture of me along with some ridiculous quotes.)

Jaimee's pepe struggled the last few months with a bout of shingles which had him bouncing between his apartment, the hospital, including a couple of stays in intensive care, and a few different rehabilitation centers. We were happy to be local and see him on several occasions during this time. I've only know pepe for about five or six years, but I've always know him to be smart, funny and a joy to be around. He took a great interest in our trip around the world and followed along by reading our blog. He was quite computer savvy for a 90 year old; he even had a facebook account and knew how to skype. A few times on our trip when there were family gatherings at his apartment, we'd skype with him and Jaimee's meme.

All of Saturday was taken up with funeral and visiting hours. There was a lovely service at the funeral home in Shrewsbury, then a touching mausoleum-side service in Worcester, including a flag-folding ceremony and the playing of taps to commemorate his service in the Army Air Corps (now Air Force) during World War II. He served in North Africa, where he told me when I asked him about it one time, "I played a lot of cards." He was extremely well-loved by his family and friends, and he will be missed dearly.

Interestingly, many of Jaimee's relatives are entombed at the mausoleum where Pepe rests now, including her grandmother and grandfather on her mother's side. After the service we took a short stroll to look at the gravesides of some of Jaimee's other relatives. It's a beautiful spot on top of a hill, and walking amongst the different sites, we remarked at how many people were well into their 80s and 90s when they died. It's a hearty bunch, those in and around Worcester!
Ninety years is a long time, and for 62 of those years he was married to Jaimee's grandmother. That is an incredible accomplishment and I am proud to have know him. Jaimee and I will miss him very much.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A weekend at home

We spent this past weekend without ever leaving the city of Boston (well, we drove through Brookline at one point, which technically isn't Boston, but I won't nitpick here). This marks the first weekend in a long, long time where we haven't traveled anywhere. Even last weekend, when we had out of town visitors, we traveled out to Northboro in central Mass to go apple picking. This weekend, however, was an all Boston weekend, and more or less all in our neighborhood too. We even saw two Boston themed movies on Saturday. First we saw, The Town, which one reviewer called "aggressively regional" with all its myriad outdoor shots of Boston (she was one of the few reviewers who didn't like the movie). Second, we saw The Social Network, where part of the story takes place at Harvard so there were numerous scenes in and around Cambridge. (Both movies are highly recommended by the way, and they make a nice double-feature, albeit with each one clocking in at over two hours, that's a lot of movie watching in one go.)

Instead of us traveling this weekend, people came to visit us in our new, bright apartment. First, we hung out with my sister and nephew on Saturday, going to the Farmer's Market in Roslindale. Then on Sunday, Jaimee's dad and step-mom came over for lunch and a walk. We strolled through Arnold Arboretum, and admired the view of the Boston skyline from Peters Hill, which at 240 feet is the highpoint of the park. (But not the highest in Boston; that belongs to Bellevue Hill, which is actually quite close to us so expect to see a report of our adventures there soon).
Later on Sunday my sister and her wife brought little Jonah over again for another visit, and we all hung out in our apartment. We took a family picture where we all had to huddle around Suzanne who was holding Jonah because once he falls asleep you don't want to stir him. Apparently he sometimes doesn't like to take a nap, worrying he'll miss out on something. It's good to see he's got the adventure spirit in him already!
Overall, it was a wonderful weekend, and next weekend we expect even more local fun as my Aunt and Uncle are coming to visit. Don't know if the weather will be as nice as it was last weekend, but stay tuned for details.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Our first guests, and a perfect Fall weekend

We'd been in our new apartment for less than a week before we entertained our first visitors. Our friends Kate and Kyle from Seattle came to visit us last weekend. They are the same Kate and Kyle whose wedding we went to over Labor Day in Seattle. It was great to see them, and the weather in Boston turned out to be just perfect, especially Saturday. It was one of those perfect Fall days; crisp and sunny, warm in the sun, yet cool in the shade. If only we had more days like that, Boston weather would be great. As it was, the previous week was rainy, muggy and steamy warm (temperatures reaching into the 80s) with Friday being a real "soaker" as they say around here.

However, Saturday was perfect. We visited the very cute Roslindale Farmer's Market (is anyone not on Facebook?) in the morning and then embarked on a major walking tour of Boston. We didn't calculate it, but we must have walked over 10 miles, covering just about all parts of the city. Boston is a very pretty city, with great architecture and between the Charles River and the Bay, you're never very far from the water or boats.
Sunday, the weather wasn't quite as nice, but we ventured out of town to go apple picking at Tougas Farm in Northboro, Mass. It was pretty much peak apple season, with over 20 varieties to choose from. We especially enjoyed the "under appreciated" Empire variety, a cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious. I don't usually like Red Delicious, but Empires were quite tasty. In addition to over 20 pounds of apples, we also got apple cider donuts, and together with the apple cider we'd picked up at the farmer's market at Saturday, we had our fill of apples!
As an aside, we paid $25 for 20 pounds of apples (1/2 a bushel), which seemed like a good deal until we stopped at the grocery store on the way back to get ingredients to make an apple crisp, and discovered that Empire apples were on sale for $0.99 a pound! So, in other words, we paid extra money for the privilege of picking our own apples. Although, the apples we got looked better and we got a bunch of different varieties. And we had fun, so there is that.

Our apartment, thanks to lots of diligent work by Jaimee in searching out cheap furniture, is coming together quite nicely. We've uploaded more pictures to Our Apartment album. Despite not being there for long, it's starting to feel like home. I'm also getting into a groove at work (starting week three!), although I can't say I've contributed too much to the team just yet. But, so far I like the work and my co-workers, and I've already been paid, which of course is the real reason I got the job in the first place.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Our New Home

We just spent most of the weekend moving into our new apartment! We mentioned in our last post that we'd rented a really cute attic apartment in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston. Well, this weekend we moved in. The stuff we'd moved from Seattle we'd been storing at Jaimee's dad's house, so on Saturday we borrowed two pick-up trucks and we were able to transport it all from his garage into our little attic house in two trips. We also got some help from Jaimee's dad and step-mom. (Thanks!) Today we began the process of unpacking and organizing. It's a long and narrow space, with five skylights and lots of angled spaces. We'll post more pictures when it's all nice and organized, but here are a few shots of the inside:
We're super excited to have a place of our own again. I think we'll also enjoy getting to know Roslindale. It's a very quaint neighborhood with lots of large old homes, most of which are split into multi-family units like ours. And so far our neighbors are very friendly. While moving in a few of our neighbors walked by on their way to the farmer's market (another great plus!) and stopped to welcome us and say hello.

Also this week, I completed the first week at my new job. It went pretty well; we stayed at my sister's condo in Jamaica Plain while they were away on vacation and I was able to ride my bike to work three of the days and I loved the commute. From Roslindale, the bike ride will be a little longer but I think I will still be able to ride my bike often, at least while the weather holds out. I met some people at my office who bike commute all year around, so I'll probably be talking to them for pointers about cold-weather riding. As for the job itself, I think I'll like it. I'm part of a software team of about 10 other developers and in my first week I already got a few assignments so I'm helping out right away (or at least will be - I need to complete the tasks this week).

In addition to moving and starting a new job, we're still working on our wedding plans for next year. And for the purpose of scouting out a cake (or as I like to say, cakes, plural) we went to the New England Dessert Expo at Copley Place in downtown Boston. We bought our tickets through Groupon (an on-line deal-a-day website), and based on how many people were at the show, it appears that we weren't the only ones to take advantage of Groupon's half-price deal. The place was packed! In fact, way, way overpacked. (For a blog post that shows that writers can spin any experience into something positive, take a look at this post, but you'll notice from the comments that we weren't the only ones to complain about the crowds.) Here's a picture I took while trying to navigate through the exhibits.
Jaimee e-mailed Groupon complaining about our experience, and they quickly refunded our money AND gave us a $5 credit toward our next "deal of the day". And since we actually did get to see the exhibits and sample some yummy desserts (although I'm not sure if we found our cake baker yet) I'd say it worked out in the end.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

An Adirondack Adventure

Things really came together for us since our last post. For starters, I was offered a job at one of the places where I'd interviewed. Prior to our trip to Seattle, I'd given the company my list of references but because of the holiday (and because I knew some of my references were on vacation) I wasn't sure how quickly they'd be able to contact them and then make me offer. However, when we landed in Boston from Seattle I had a message from the recruiter with my verbal offer. We made it official via e-mail the next day. My start date is this coming Monday, September 20. I'm excited for the job. I'll be working for an Internet Marketing company doing some programming and data manipulation. I'm excited because their primary programming language is Python, a language I've never used before. I'm really glad they trusted that I'd be able to learn it quickly enough.

Second, we found an apartment! As we might have alluded to in this blog, apartment hunting in Boston was a real challenge. We looked at dozens of places, but apart from one place where someone else rented it between us seeing it and telling the landlord we wanted it, none of the other places grabbed us. Until we saw a really cute third-story attic apartment, advertised on craigslist as the "tree-house apartment". It's the top story of a three-unit building in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston. It's essentially a big studio apartment with five large sky-lights and plenty of closets. It's within our budget (although more than we were paying in Seattle, for less space too) and it's within walking distance of both Roslindale village, with numerous shops and restaurants, and the commuter rail station where I'll be just a 12 minute train ride to my new office (the office is on the 7th floor above the train station at Copley Place in Boston). We'll show some pictures after we move in on September 25.

So, with the job and apartment all squared away, we decided to take a mini-vacation during our last week of "freedom". We drove up to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York for what we thought might be a few nights of camping. Our main purpose in going up there was to climb Mount Marcy, the highest point in New York state. Unfortunately, we did very little planning with regard to the trip so it didn't work out quite how we would have liked.

For starters, it took a long time to get there, and we got kind of a late start so we didn't get to the area until after dark. Then, the campground we'd planned on going to was closed for the season. Since Mount Marcy is really close to Lake Placid, there were plenty of hotels, but none were very cheap. We found a little "cabin" in nearby Saranac Lake, which was habitable but full of mouse poop and if we turned on the gas heater we felt like we were going to get asphyxiated. We ended up sleeping on the bed in our sleeping bags, although we did use the little gas stove to cook our camping food.
From Mt Marcy
The next day we climbed Mount Marcy, which was a 15 mile round trip hike with about 4,000 feet of elevation gain. As mentioned, it's the highest point in New York (and therefore all the Adirondacks) at 5,344 feet. Despite the length, the hike was pretty easy, except for the summit push which was quite steep and the top was very windy and cold. We took a few quick pictures and headed back down.
From Mt Marcy
In addition to being a state highpoint, Mount Marcy has historical significance as well. In 1901, Theodore Roosevelt was camping in the area when President McKinley was assassinated. He was summoned to take over and he then became the youngest President ever at 42 years old. (President Kennedy would later become the youngest elected President at 43 years old).

There was a campground at the base of the mountain, but they charged $40 per site to camp! Plus, "room tax" of 10% and $10 a day to park! That would add up to $54 to camp for the night. Seriously? Even though that was cheaper than a hotel room (or cabin) nearby, we felt that was a ridiculous amount to pay for camping. So we left and got a hotel room in nearby Lake Placid. We probably violated all sort of regulations but we cooked up our camp food on our camping stove inside the hotel room.

We then came back to Massachusetts, stopping for one night to visit my lovely Aunt Lisa and Uncle Dick in Catskill, New York on the way. We had a quick visit, but we enjoyed catching up with them and having a nice dinner. We came back to some sad news regarding Jaimee's family though. Her grandfather spent the day after his 90th birthday in the intensive care unit of the hospital. He'd been having various health problems over the past few months, but he got a bladder infection that sent him to the hospital. We visited him at the ICU and he was not doing that well, barely aware of his surroundings. As of this writing he's still there and hanging on, and we're all hoping that he can pull out and survive the infection.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back to Seattle

We just got back from a wonderful, albeit short trip to Seattle. It completed a full circle for us, returning to where we left last August. We stayed with our friends Greg and Laura, the same people who we stayed with our final two weeks in Seattle. It was a whirlwind tour, similar to the type of visit we used to do when visiting the East Coast; we visited many, but not all, of our friends spending a few hours with each group. We also went to two weddings, one of which was south of Portland, Oregon (about a four hour drive each way). In between the weddings and visiting we found time to go to many of our favorite Seattle places, including several yummy meals.

The trip started out on a good note leaving Boston when, on account of hurricane Earl, flights were rearranged. We originally had a flight to Seattle connecting through Houston, but instead they "bumped" us to a direct flight! This got us into Seattle two hours earlier than planned. However, because we'd prepaid for our rental car we couldn't pick it up early unless we paid for an extra day (which, according the helpful rental agent would be three times our online daily rate, plus taxes of course). We decided to wait. Then they "upgraded" us from a compact car to a Ford Flex! It's a nice car, but it seats seven and doesn't get the greatest gas mileage. We complained and tried to get a compact car like we'd requested, but in the end were saddled with the Flex. (It was actually very comfortable but ended up getting 20 mpg; it cost over $50 to fill up the tank!)

Then more travel-related snafus occurred with the first wedding we went to. We had to drive to Hillsboro, Oregon for the wedding on Saturday, but when we showed up at the wedding location it was empty with no cars or anybody around. We didn't have the invitation with us, nor did we have Irene's phone number so we had no idea what was going on. Eventually as we were walking around someone came up to us and asked if we were there for Irene and Chandler's wedding. We said we were, and he said the wedding had moved to a new location about 45 minutes away! Apparently she'd e-mailed/messaged me somehow but I never got the message. Anyway, we found the new place, but missed the wedding. We did enjoy the reception (along with the open bar) and excellent cake.
Then the next day it was back to Seattle to meet some friends for breakfast. This began the baby tour part of our visit, where we got to meet all the new babies from our many friends who had babies while we were gone on our trip. We met up with Lynn and her son Theo and Sadie and her son Angus (who was born February of 2009 so we'd met him before). Here's everyone in front of the big Lenin statue in Fremont:
We then had a nice barbeque dinner at Greg and Laura's house where we met more babies: Jeff and Rae's daughter Addy and Brendan and Sara Ann's son Jasper (who we'd met before in Boston). On Monday we went to our second wedding down in Gig Harbor, followed by the reception in Tacoma. It was a beautiful morning ceremony and yummy brunch reception. Here are Kate and Kyle walking off into wedding bliss after brunch:
The rest of our visit consisted of seeing more friends - Lane via a quick visit to his house, Chris and Cass and their daughter Caroline at lunch at a Thai restaurant, Greg and Erin and Betty at Elliot Bay Brewery in Burien, Corey at Bauhaus Coffee and Andy, Kendrah and their son Charlie along with Goldin and Kiyoshi at Agua Verde for dinner. But despite all this running around, in honor of our trip we found time to play a game of Scrabble over mochas as the glorious Caffe Fiore in Ballard, and in honor of many a past Seattle Sunday, we had Bloody Mary's at King's Hardware in Ballard.
I'll close this post with a few thoughts about what it was like returning to Seattle. I thought returning might make me miss Seattle, but although I love Seattle and always will, I don't really miss living there. It's a wonderful place, but now a place I can enjoy as a tourist and visitor instead of a resident. I'm not quite to the point where Massachusetts is my "home" but it's getting closer. (Does this mean I'm "homeless"? Maybe...) As I've said before, I think moving to a new location after our big trip has helped psychologically in that many things in our life are new and different, which eases the inevitable letdown of returning from our trip. Jaimee and I are both starting new jobs (more on that to come), we'll be moving into a new apartment (at some point when we find a nice place) and meeting new friends. The Seattle phase of our lives is over, and we're on to new things. I'll always cherish my time there, and plan on visiting as often as I can. Our next visit will be November of 2011 when the North American Bridge Championships will be held in Seattle. I guess I better start practicing now so that I can put on a good showing with all my old bridge friends next year.

One final note on the pictures. This trip was an experiment to only use the camera on my new phone. I love the phone, but the camera takes some getting used to. It's not very good in low light and because you have to press so hard to the take the picture, too many photos are blurry. I think I'll continue to bring a point and shoot for our travels as it's easier to use and takes better pictures. In any event, you can look at all the pictures online.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A state highpoint, a walkabout and apartment hunting

Last Saturday we took a ride out to Rhode Island to hike the state highpoint. As readers of the blog know, hiking state highpoints is a hobby/goal of mine, and I'd been meaning to climb Jerimoth Hill ever since we got to New England. Of course, at 812 ft. I use the words hike and climb liberally. You park on the road, and walk about 1/4 mile to a small sign designating that you're at the peak. I don't think there's actually any elevation gain on the stroll. It's more strenuous than Ebright Azimuth (scroll down on the link), but it is one more highpoint off my list. (I'm up to 15 now.)
We did manage to find some legitimate hiking nearby though, on a group of trails built by visiting Australians in 1965. A group of Aussie navy seamen were stationed in Rhode Island waiting for delivery of a Destroyer so they "volunteered" to build a bunch of trails around some lakes. Called, appropriately, the Walkabout Trail, it was a very pleasant stroll through forest and lakes. Not sure if I'd make it a destination in and of itself, but if you're in the area where Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island meet you might check it out (how's that for a glowing review?).
We also checked out Blue Hills Reservation in Milton, MA, just outside the Boston city limits. It's a great park, that includes a ski area and over 125 miles of hiking and biking trails. We chose to hike it on a day where the temperatures got up into the high 90s and we were sweating within minutes of starting the hike. The views, however, made it worth it.
We have also been spending a lot of time looking for apartments around Boston, which has been somewhat frustrating, as the prices are high and the quality is low. We found one that we actually really loved, but by the time we called back someone else had taken it. I guess we'll have to be more aggressive next time, although the people who took it did look at it before us, so it's not clear that we could have gotten it even if we'd asked right away. It is a shame though because of the dozen or so places we've looked at, it's the only one I could see myself living in. The rest seemed merely tolerable (and most actually not even that) which isn't exactly what I was looking for in a place to live. Especially one where we'd be paying 50% more than what we were paying Seattle. I know we'll find a place eventually, and probably in the next week or so more listing will open up. The beginning of September is a tough time to look for apartments around Boston as open units get snatched up quickly by the myriads of college students in the area. But, if any readers of this blog know of any good apartments in the Boston area, definitely contact us!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Settling into a routine, sort of

Since we've been back, we haven't really settled in one place. Although we've physically spent the most time at Jaimee's dad and step-mom's house in Shrewsbury, we've actually been moving around quite a bit, as recent readers of the blog know. Our routine seems to be, do some hiking, go to a family function, visit some relatives, do a little more hiking, visit some more family, etc. Although it's been chaotic and somewhat random, it's actually started to feel like a routine of sorts. It's been a blast staying with Marty and Sandi. They are super generous and we enjoy spending time with them. Plus, there's a swimming pool, HBO (with video on demand!) and a wonderful garden bursting with fresh produce this time of year. However, it's also starting to feel someone uncharted and like we're drifting. Jaimee and I both realize it's time to "settle down" and get our own place. There are also jobs to get, as we don't have unlimited funds.

So, we've been on both the job and apartment hunt. Jaimee had one interview, where she was promptly offered the job (I'll let her post about it), while I've had several interviews but no job offers just yet. We've also looked at a few apartments, but the rents in the Boston area are a lot higher than Seattle so we're having a hard time figuring out what's a good value.

All of this has been somewhat stressful (especially the job interviews for me, which have been much more intense than what I was expecting). Which is why we keep interspersing little hiking adventures along the way. We did a short hike up Mt. Wachusset, the "highest mountain in southern New England east of the Connecticut River." Despite all those qualifications, the hike was a good workout, albeit very buggy. The view at the top was beautiful. It's pretty clear this is the tallest mountain for quite a ways:
I also hiked some more of the Long Trail. I completed a 25 mile section over two days between Route 140 near Wallingford and Route 4 at Killington. I would have liked to hike more but because of my scheduled job interviews I wasn't able to get out there for more continuous days. Killington, the highest peak in southern Vermont is one of Vermont's five 4,000 footers, so it was neat to climb it. I'd skied the mountain many times when I lived in Vermont, but this was my first time hiking up it:
We also scheduled a return trip to Seattle. We'd been planning on returning for a visit on account of two weddings we wanted to go to, so we finally bought our tickets for September 3 to September 8. Somewhat of a short trip, but I guess I'm being optimistic about having a job by then, and Jaimee should have already started hers. The cool thing about our tickets though is that they were free! We cashed in on our Capital One miles, most of them earned from the spending on our trip. I'm always skeptical about being able to redeem miles, but it turns out the hassle-free part of Capital One miles is really true.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

One year ago today...

We left Seattle exactly one year ago today. It feels like such a long time ago when we headed out of Seattle with only a rough itinerary of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. Without a real end date to our trip, it's hard to know when it's over. Did it end when we arrived back in the US? Or will it end when we finally get another apartment? Or when we get jobs?

For the past two months since we've been back in the US, we've continued to travel around and do the things that we love, including this weekend going to Cape Cod for the weekend and catching up with our friends Karisa and Norman who we'd visited in Austin, Texas last Fall. Karisa grew up on the Cape and together with Norman are back visiting so we came down to hang out. Today Jaimee and I rode our bikes on the Cape Cod Rails to Trails for 25 miles and had a relaxing dinner, not a whole lot unlike a day we would have spent on our trip.

Eventually, we'll both be getting jobs again and settling into an apartment somewhere around Boston, but for now we're still enjoying our adventures. And I hope to get back on the Long Trail again later this week to continue my quest to hike all of it.

No new photos for the blog from this weekend. I suppose that's one indication that our "trip" is winding down. We're certainly not taking as many pictures in our day to day activities as we did previously. But we uploaded thousands already so feel free to peruse the albums.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Long Trail Report - Week 1

I'm happy to report that I made it through Week 1 of my Long Trail hike. I came off the trail after five and a half days and 85 miles in order to come back to Boston to do some job interviews. Yes, reality is starting to slowly settle in. After the interviews tomorrow and early next week, I hope to get back on the trail.

The first week was awesome. My cousin Bevan joined me for the first three days and we had a great time walking through the woods. Here we are getting dropped off at the Appalachian Trail in Williamstown, Massachusetts. (The Vermont border and official start of the Long Trail is 4.1 miles away):
There are three-sided shelters every five to 10 miles along the trail, so I based how far I'd go each day on which shelter I wanted to stay in that night. Bevan carried a three (!) person tent for the sections with me, which we used one night. The second night together we stayed in one the shelters. The scenery we walked through was amazing, particularly Glastenbury Mountain. There's an old Fire Tower on top and the views over all the Green Mountains were very nice.
Bevan even found his 700th geocache up near the Fire Tower. Good work Bevan! After his wife Tammi picked him up on the third day, I resupplied from a stash in Tammi's car and continued on. I packed a one-person tent and got to use it twice; once I pitched it inside a shelter to double as a mosquito net, and a second time I pitched it outside in the pouring rain. Both times the tent worked like a charm. I camped by a few lakes, including beautiful Stratton Pond, the biggest body of water along the Long Trail. Combined with a climb of Stratton Mountain, it would make a lovely day hike, or short backpacking trip.
Since this beginning part of the Long Trail overlaps with the Appalachian Trail (AT), I got to meet many, many AT thru-hikers. They are a varied and interesting bunch, to say the least. They're also very social for the most part and I enjoyed chatting with them and hearing about their journeys. All the hikers use "trail names" to refer to each other, in many cases they don't even know each other's real names. Since I was only out on the trail for a few days I didn't get a trail name, but when I continue on the Long Trail later, maybe I'll get one. Apparently, you can't name yourself; someone else has to give you the name.

I created a Picasa album of my pictures so far, including a map of where most of the pictures were taken. I'll keep adding to it when I pick up my hike, hopefully next week.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Off on the Long Trail

I'm headed to Vermont as soon as I finish packing. Tomorrow morning I start my Long Trail hike. My cousin Bevan is joining me for the first three days and then I'll be on my own for the rest. (Unless anyone cares to join me. Anyone? The invitation is out there.) I'm leaving the schedule somewhat open although I created a quick map of my projected route with each day's shelter stop marked on the map. The schedule is subject to change, depending on how I feel each day, but the plan is to stay at a shelter each night. (There are shelters approximately every five to 10 miles so I can adjust the schedule as need be.)

View Long Trail 2010 in a larger map

If all goes according to plan I will spend 18 days hiking with rest days after the first and second weeks (in Killington and Stowe, respectively). Jaimee is planning on meeting me for each of these rest days when I will resupply for the upcoming week. Be sure to check my Spot page as I intend to check-in every night, and if I get Internet access during my off-days I'll update the blog with some pictures of the hike. I'm super excited!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hiking and a trip to Nantucket

We've been back from our trip about 50 days now, and it seems with each day our trip seems further and further distant. We haven't quite developed a routine in our life back in the states just yet, but sometimes I reflect on our trip and am amazed that it's been almost two months since we were moving from place to place around the world.

We spent the last week on Nantucket, an island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Jaimee's dad and step-mom rent a house there for a week every July and we joined them this year. Well, I came over a few days late, as I went on a three day backpacking trip in New Hampshire before taking the ferry out to meet them. I did about a 35 mile loop in the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Even though I ostensibly did the hike "by myself", there were many other hikers on the trails, and one night I spent it in at Guyot Shelter and met many other very friendly hikers. I climbed six of New Hampshire's 4,000 foot peaks during the trip, and am now up to 11 of New Hampshire's 48 4,000 foot peaks. I had decent weather for most of my trip, but as is typical of the mountains in New Hampshire I had some windy weather as well as a little rain. Here I am on top of Mt. Bond in somewhat of a gale. It was mild by New Hampshire standards, but still quite rough.
From July 2010
We had a wonderful, relaxing week on Nantucket. On the way out on the ferry, I was treated to a wonderful sunset which set the stage for a beautiful week weather wise.
From July 2010
We had three gorgeous beach days and one partly cloudly, semi-rainy day where we lounged around the house playing games. Overall, Nantucket was a perfect way to spend a week. For now, we're back in Shrewsbury staying with Jaimee's dad and step-mom, but we'll be bopping around New England visiting various people. I still plan on doing my Long Trail hike I talked about in the last post, but I may delay the start a bit as I'm following up on some job leads and it would be most inconvenient to try and conduct a job interview from the trail (although I'd certainly love it if that were possible).

Monday, July 19, 2010

More hiking adventures, and a wedding

As I mentioned in the previous post about hiking in New Hampshire, we've been very impressed by the quality of the trails in the White Mountains. This past week we went up there again for some more hiking and were not disappointed. This time, we camped at a campground so as to get in two good days of hiking. We hiked with our friend Michael the first day and climbed Mt. Lafayette and Mt. Lincoln, both over 5,000 feet. It was a great hike which went by one of the many Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) huts that are all through the mountains. We stopped in and refilled our water bottles at the beautiful Greenleaf Hut.
From July 2010
We lost the trail on the way down, but were able to follow a brook down through the woods and eventually meet back up with the trail. It was a dramatic finish to a strenuous hike. After camping for the night, Jaimee and I hiked up Cannon Mountain the next day, passing by another hut at Lonesome Lake. Cannon was a good hike, but since there's a tramway that takes people to the top, we were the only two people who'd hiked up there. It's always a little disappointing to sweat and struggle up a mountain to then be surrounded by people in flip-flops staring at you wondering why you're so sweaty. This time on the way down we made sure that we didn't lose the trail.
From July 2010
After our NH hiking we went back to Shrewsbury for the wedding of Jaimee's cousin Frank. It was a traditional Catholic ceremony followed by a wonderful reception. Here we are all dressed up for the wedding (click through for some pictures of the reception too):
From July 2010
Now we're back in Boston, but only for the week, as Friday we're heading to Nantucket for the week. I might try and squeeze in another hike in NH, especially since my plan is to hike the entire Long Trail in August. Don't mean to hide this announcement in the bottom of a blog post, but yes, I'm planning on walking the length of Vermont from Massachusetts to Canada. It's 275 miles and I plan to complete it in about three weeks. This has been a dream of mine for a long time, so given that I'm unemployed, we'll be moving out of our sublet apartment in August anyway, now seems like the time. I'll do a separate post about my plans, but for now you can look at my spreadsheet of stops and read about the trail on the above link. Currently the plan is to hit the trail at the Massachusetts border on August 4th and finish up around August 25.
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