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!
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