Friday, August 19, 2011

craft craft Leroux

Well, I guess now I am "craft craft Martin" but somehow it doesn't yet sound the same to me...

I have been very excited to knit and crochet lately. I can only work on small cool projects because of the heat, but I've got many going now.  I'm actually feeling stressed about it. There's too many projects going at once. And, because I have to keep all of the proper sized needles and hooks with the unfinished projects because I would never remember which goes where whenever I might finally get back to the project, I'm finding that the number of projects I can start is seriously limited.  (maybe that's a good thing)

craftiness in progress...

I've started a new craft blog, hoping that by writing about my projects and posting some photos of them, I'll be more motivated to get some of them complete before starting in on new ones. 

My yarn basket runneth over, and I must get this stuff done!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Honeymoon Part II - Prague

We've been back about 10 days, but I didn't want to leave our blog readers hanging about our honeymoon, so here's a quick report about the second half of our honeymoon in Prague, Czech Republic. As we mentioned last time, we took the train from Budapest to Prague where we spent three nights. We liked Prague a lot, although it was noticeably more touristy and crowded. It's a beautiful city, with lots of little alleys and old buildings to explore. This picture gives a good idea of the architecture and the crowds:
We spent one day just wondering around on our own, and on another day we took a "free" walking tour. There was no charge for the tour but the guides work for tips. The tour lasted three hours and was actually very informative so we didn't mind tipping our guide. As you can see from the above picture, the weather was cloudy and cool, but pleasant enough. We also appreciated that most of the US, including Boston, was caught in a major heat wave while we were there, so we didn't mind the cooler weather. You can see the rest of our pictures, but we pretty much walked, drank beer and people watched. Overall, we had a very relaxing time on our honeymoon, both in Budapest and Prague.

We've been married a little over three weeks now, and as I suspected, not a whole lot has changed, which isn't surprising considering we've already been living together for over five years. We got the rest of the pictures back from the photographer, but we haven't sorted through them all yet. (We did post a few preview shots of the wedding and reception but there are lots more to post.) We're also creating a photo book of our favorite pictures.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Honeymoon Part I - Budapest

So we're on our honeymoon, and the following is a report of our time in Budapest, the first stop of our two city mini-tour of Eastern Europe. We arrived after an overnight flight from Boston through Munich and took a "minibus" to our hotel, the Best Western Hungaria. The hotel was what I would call nouveau Soviet chic, which means the building had an industrial feel to it, but you could tell the management was trying to overcome the communist influence. The staff was mostly young and good looking, and there seemed to be a young lady in a maid outfit perpetually cleaning the doors and wiping down various surfaces every time we walked through the lobby. I only noticed her because she seemed out of place, and she was always chatting with the elderly concierge hosts who didn't seem to have anything to do.

We took a short nap, but in an effort to overcome jet lag we forced ourselves to stay up and went out for a walk, landing at a "build your own falafel" place for dinner. We didn't quite know how to order, but we ended up with healthy and filling sandwiches. We got soft serve ice creams on the walk back and called it an early night.

The next day we had the included breakfast at our hotel, a sort of combination between Turkish style (tomatoes, cucumbers and feta) and German style (soft boiled eggs, brown bread and salami) breakfasts. It was an odd spread, including super-runny scrambled eggs, watery juice and a coffee machine that dispensed coffee about three ounces at a time. We took a swing by the train station so we would know where to catch our train when it was time to leave, and after a bit of searching found the Metro and took it across the river so we could explore the castles of the "Buda" side of Budapest. The weather was threatening rain and it did rain a bit now and again. We had coffee while overlooking the Parliament building, then walked up and down the walled area, searching at first for the Labyrinth (a glorified wine cellar where we declined to pay the $10 entrance fee), and then for something cheap to eat. We ended up getting sandwiches, where Jaimee had the tuna and I the salami. We both remarked that for a landlocked country they seemed to eat quite a bit of fish here.
Parliament Building from "Fisherman's Bastion"
We walked down the hill and over the picturesque "Chain Bridge", into the city and back toward our hotel. We found a cute little wine bar and had a couple glasses of wine before getting an early dinner of vegetarian tapas and more wine at a little cafe recommended in our guide book. We went back to our hotel, but again in order to not fall asleep too early we went out for ice creams at McDonalds and enjoyed the free wifi. McDonalds in Europe are the equivalent of coffee houses in the US. It seems people socialize and use them as meeting places. In the US, I'd be mortified to be caught hanging out at McDonalds, but it seemed acceptable in Hungary, especially when the Internet was faster than what I have at my own house.

Day three was more walking around, this time to the beautiful "Hero's Square" where we caught a brief military presentation of some kind. We walked all around the park nearby, stopped for a quick coffee at a square-side cafe and then walked back into the City Center. We were on a mission for a nice piece of orange chocolate cake (something Jaimee got in her head that she wanted), but most of the cafes we found in the city center were overpriced. We eventually ended up back at the same wine bar as the day before where they in fact had a delightful orange chocolate cake, which we had with some wine. We remarked that our glasses of wine were at least twice as big as the previous day, which we chalked up to the fact that they must have remembered us and were happy to see us again.

But we got the bill and realized we actually paid for "double" pours of wine, even though we didn't explicitly order such. They were still only $5 glasses of wine, which is a good deal, but not as good as the $2.50 we thought we were paying. In any event we left with a bit of a buzz and had greasy gyros from a takeout place, which contained a spicy sauce and definitely hit the spot. We got lunch supplies for our train trip the next day and retired back to our hotel where we uploaded pictures and planned our visit to Prague.

The hotel breakfast was packed the morning of our train ride to Prague, many of the people evidently on some sort of organized bike tour. I can't say I envy them given the rainy and cold weather. We had leftover Hungarian currency so at the train station we bought a bottle of wine and converted some of the money into Czech money, although we're still left with a 500 forint note which the change person was only going to give me one Euro for it. The current exchange is about 285 forint to the Euro, so I kept the bill as a souvenir. Which is stupid because I never would have paid one Euro to have a 500 forint bill souvenir, but out of principle I couldn't let the exchange person rip me off. Alas, this brought back memories of our around-the-world trip. We have a box full of currency from around the world, that I don't believe we've looked at once since we've gotten back. I'll be sure to reminisce when I put this 500 forint bill into the box when we get back.

The train ride to Prague was fairly pleasant and uneventful; we shared a six person berth with a family traveling with a little well-behaved boy. At first we just took the compartment next door which only had a German couple in it, but a few stops in we were kicked out by another German family. Our reserved tickets were window seats, although the country-side through Hungary and Slovakia was fairly dreary with the sky being mostly gray with on-and-off showers.

So far our impressions of Prague are positive, but we noticed a huge difference in the number of tourists. Prague is packed with tourists, including what seem to be large groups of men, seemingly on bachelor parties. Maybe it's all the cheap beer. We're enjoying the cooler weather compared to what's back in Boston right now. We actually both wore pants today and I used my sweatshirt this evening as we sat at a street-side cafe for dinner of pizza and beer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


After five and a half years together, and countless trips and excursions we finally got married! July 16, 2011 Jaimee and I said our vows in front of close family and friends in Guilford, Vermont. My Aunt and Uncle, Betsy and Neil graciously allowed us to use their house and garden for the event, and it went off exactly as planned! The weather couldn't have been better, and all the hard work by everyone paid off in that the grounds looked beautiful, the food was amazing, and we had our perfect Vermont wedding.

We leave later today for our honeymoon in Budapest and Prague, but I wanted to post a link to a few pictures from the wedding. When we get back we'll hopefully have more pictures, as well as pictures from the reception which took place the next day.

But in the meantime, I hope you enjoy these pictures. We certainly enjoyed being there when they were taken. Thank you to everyone who helped create a truly memorable weekend.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Plans...

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick-off to summer, so we decided to celebrate it with a trip to the beach! We went to Kennebunkport, Maine for the weekend. We decided to go there after getting an email offer from a "resort" that got our information from the Boston Travel show that we went to a few months back. See, mass marketing works! The hotel was adequate but nothing special, but we had a nice, relaxing weekend. Here are some pictures from the weekend:

The weather wasn't great, including one very overcast day, but since we were so close to the outlet stores of Freeport, we took a ride to do some shopping. I even managed to find my wedding outfit at a most unlikely place. It will be a nice, summery outfit, perfect for our garden wedding. Speaking of, we've been slowly finalizing the plans, and have almost finished the invitations. Because we're having the wedding and reception on separate days, we actually have two invitations. We sent out the ceremony invitations already, and the reception ones should get mailed soon.

In addition to our Maine adventure, at the beginning of the month, Jaimee and I participated in the New York Five Boro bike ride. It's a 40 mile ride through all five boroughs of New York City. We had fun visiting New York and it was definitely fun to ride through the city, but the ride was overcrowded, and there were actually bike traffic jams. At one point, because of construction on a bridge we were stuck on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (without cars) for about an hour. It was pretty crazy. We tried to get some pictures, including a few to show how many people were on the ride:

We got back from Maine to super warm weather in Boston, which is gratifying after such a long, cool Spring. We're definitely looking forward to the summer.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Family Filled Weekends

Our weekends have been very full of family activities lately. Its been great fun to see so many family members this month and I must admit that I've loved the chance to get dressed up for a change!

We started the month with my bridal favorite day so far this year. I got to get dressed up, wear ridiculous shoes, and see almost my entire female family in one day! Here I am in the library at Cyprian Keyes.

We also managed to celebrate the birthdays of Asa and my mom and step-mother on that same day (enter the male side of the family!) While my family often celebrates multiple birthdays in one celebration and with one cake, its not often...or ever...that we've celebrated my mom's birthday and Sandi's at the same party, even though they share the same birthday.

The following weekend Asa, my sisters and I all conspired to throw a surprise anniversary party for my dad and Sandi. While we weren't able to surprise Dad, we did shock Sandi!

We had so much fun planning the party and were very pleased by the big family turn out. We served Mexican food as well as margaritas and sangria. One of Janelle's friends made and delivered a delicious cake and I made an apple crisp for dessert. While it isn't apple was the dessert served 25 years ago at Dad and Sandi's wedding. Here's Asa, Jonah and I having a quick cuddle before Jonah got wisked home to bed.

The next day we raced back to our apartment to spend the afternoon with my mom, Nate, Abby, and Shaun. Mom was still in town after her surprise appearance at my shower. Asa and I were excited to be able to host her again at our apartment! It was the first time Shaun made it to our place and it was a great day for a walk in the Arboretum. Here we are on Peter's Hill, a short walk from our apartment.

We don't only spend time with my family, you know. We love spending time with Asa's family and while they aren't in as close proximity to us as my family, we really look forward to our weekends away visiting them.  Asa's Aunt Betsy and Uncle Neil, who live in Vermont, invited us up for a weekend and we were thrilled to be able to go to Goose Landing (their home) after a great morning of cake tasting for our wedding reception. We are going to have our wedding ceremony at Goose Landing this summer and we have offered to help them with the yard work as much as we can before the we did some raking while we were there this time.

This weekend we were able to go to a nice Easter Brunch with my dad, Sandi, Janelle, Michelle, Russ, Meme, Auntie Linda and my cousin Matt. We went to the Grafton Inn for a nice brunch and then traveled back to Dad's house for a fun game of bocce.  

The next couple of weekends we'll be heading to New York to see Asa's cousins Lexy and Vahop in Brooklyn and Asa's Aunt Lisa and Uncle Dick in Catskill. Really looking forward to those adventures as well!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

It's Nice to Be Loved

Living in New England we are lucky to be surrounded by loving and supportive family and friends. Last weekend we experienced that love first-hand when Jaimee's step-mom Sandi organized a beautiful and well-attended bridal shower, in anticipation of our wedding this July. Jaimee's sisters enjoyed planning the party, which was originally supposed to be a surprise, but because of Jaimee's sleuthing skills, she found out about it well before hand. Here's Jaimee with her sisters and step-mom:

Jaimee's mom did do a surprise visit all the way from Idaho, so at least we were able to get one surprise:

Jaimee received many awesome gifts, that we've put to use right away, including a few sets of nice glasses, an amazing coffee maker and various other kitchen items. Some of items will take some getting used to, such the set of "rolo" shot glasses, which I found out pretty quickly you need to hold on to when pouring:

After the shower, Jaimee's dad hosted a joint birthday party for me and Jaimee's step-mom (she's April 3, I'm April 5). It warms my heart to be part of such a loving family:

Readers of my last blog post took note of the fact that I said I didn't get the memo regarding a yellow biking jacket, so one of my gifts was a bright yellow jacket along with a memo:

Now when I do my group bike rides (or even when riding solo), I'll be highly visible and safe!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

We survived the winter

With April just around the corner and a full week into Spring, I'm happy to report that we made it through a New England winter. And as far as winters go, it was a good one. If by good, I mean lots of snow, and very cold. I'll admit I'm glad to see that Spring is here, some flowers are sprouting, and last Friday it actually hit 70 degrees for a minute. Of course, Monday saw snow flurries and it turned cold, but warmer weather is definitely coming soon.

I also survived a winter of bike commuting. When winter began I wasn't sure when I'd stop riding, but turns out I never did. I just bundled up, put on studded tires and kept at it. It was actually kind of fun. Since most of my commute is on a bike trail, I had the trail mostly to myself. Now that the weather has gotten nicer there are a lot more riders out there. Which is fine too. In fact, I'm become friends with some of the other riders. On a commute earlier in the winter I started chatting with another biker and it turns out he runs a Roslindale Bike Club called RozzieBikes. They do various events in and around Roslindale including group commutes into Boston on the last Friday of the month. I joined them yesterday. There were only three of us, and they went painfully slow, and we took the longest route possible, but it was a beautiful morning so I didn't mind too much. We even stopped for a picture near the Charles River. I guess I missed the memo to wear my yellow jacket:

Jaimee has also been riding with me sometimes. She bought a bike last fall and we've been doing little rides around the neighborhood, or over to my sister's house in Jamaica Plain. But otherwise, not a whole lot to report. We were interviewed for a fellow travel blog a few weeks ago. Some other around-the-world travelers, whose blog I follow asked us to write up a short description of our experiences WWOOFing, as they are doing a series of posts about planning an around-the-world trip. The post is about working while on the road. I love reading about how they travel. It's definitely not the way we traveled, and they had two to three times our budget. I like how they state on their on their budget page, "we don't need all that much: WiFi, air conditioning, and a clean room are more than sufficient for us." I thought when I read that, that's like three more requirements than what we had. But, they were working while on the road, and Jaimee and I have both admitted (well, Jaimee more than me) that if we were to do it again, we'd probably spend a little bit more per night. A few extra dollars can make a huge difference in many countries.

Anyway, as I've said before, although I love reading about other travelers, I sometimes have to take a break because I get too nostalgic for the road. I miss our trip so much; it's crazy to think it's been almost 10 months since we've been back. We've settled in quite nicely here in Boston, and we love it here, but I still don't know if it feels like home. I recently finished reading a great travel book, called The Lunatic Express. It's about a journalist who travels around the world, purposely seeking out the most dangerous pubic transit he can find. Not only does he go to some crazy places, but he talks about the meaning of home, and what it means to him to travel. I could definitely relate, and I think some of our travels would rival the situations he found himself in.

Monday, February 28, 2011

More Adventures in the White Mountains

This weekend, Jaimee and I spent another wonderful weekend in the winter wonderland of the White Mountains. We stayed for two nights at Carter Notch Hut near Mt. Washington. We drove up on Friday and when we left Boston it was a hard rain that turned to snow as we progressed north. It took over six hours to drive there, more than double what it should take. This meant we got a late start hiking, leaving the trailhead at 4:15PM for the four mile hike to the hut.
We made good time on the slog up the Nineteen Mile Brook trail, but when we got to the top of the ridge, it was pitch black with a hollowing wind. Even with our headlamps on full blast we could barely see in front of us, and when we got to a trail sign that said the hut was 0.3 miles we were super excited. The problem was, with the blowing wind, there was no trail. Having never been to the hut before we didn't know that it sat just above two small lakes. All we found were the lakes, and as we wondered across the frozen surface we noticed that our tracks were blown away so it was impossible to backtrack. I'll skip to the ending in that we eventually noticed the lights from the hut, but I will say, I was very, very scared. The White Mountains are a dangerous place, especially in the winter, at night, in a blizzard. It was the first time I'd ever seriously contemplated activating the 911 feature on our Spot device, but luckily, we stayed calm, found the last bit of trail that we recognized by walking the perimeter of the lakes and were able to find the path people take in the summer. There was another sign at 0.1 miles from the hut and at that point we could see the warm glow of the hut.

Our two-night stay at the hut was fairly uneventful, except for a drunk person in our bunk room. We stayed in a six-person bunk house the first night and one of our bunk-mates threw up inside the room, multiple times. It's a pretty horrible sound to hear retching and then the sound of vomit hitting the floor. Luckily the room was about 10 degrees so the vomit froze and actually didn't smell. But the guy did cause some drama looking for the door, falling on ice, making all sorts of noise. The second night was less dramatic as we had the room to ourselves.

We climbed one 4,000 foot peak during out stay, Wildcat Mountain A, which was quite the hike. It's only one mile up to the summit but because we had to break trail through drifts of snow over four feet high it took us two and a half hours to get to the top and only 40 minutes to come down.
The hike out to the car was much easier than the way in, but we decided to just return the way we came on the Nineteen Mile Brook trail instead of out and over Carter Dome, another 4,000 foot peak in the area. We got back to our car, and although the car was fine, we'd left a Sigg water bottle full of water in the car and when it froze it broke the metal bottle! The weather and conditions of the White Mountains are not be taken lightly!

Other than our little weekend adventure, we've had more quality family time. We celebrated Jaimee's birthday with her cousin and meme, who all have birthdays within a few days of each other. I love this picture of the three of them blowing out the candles on the cake. Take away the smart phone on the table and it could be a Norman Rockwell painting:
We also got in a trip to Vermont to visit my Aunt and Uncle, where Jaimee and I pinch-hit for my Aunt (she hurt her knee and has trouble snow-shoeing) and led the wine and cheese snow-shoe tour at Grafton Ponds where she works. Much easier than hiking up Wildcat Mountain, this was a 45 minute hike through the woods to a waiting bonfire where they'd already brought up bottles of wine and blocks of cheese via snowmobile. We drank four bottle of wine between 10 of us, which made for an interesting walk back down through the woods. We've had an amazing snowy winter here in New England and we feel lucky that we've been able to enjoy it as much as we have.

Monday, February 7, 2011

40 years ago...

No, I'm not turning 40. I may be old, but I'm not that old (not yet anyway). Forty years ago today my parents got married. They were married for 19 years when my father passed away, and I have no doubt that if he hadn't died, they'd still be married and celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary this week. Their anniversary was a big deal in our family because, as some of you may know, we didn't celebrate Christmas growing up. (We also didn't celebrate Hanukkah, which is always the next question when you tell someone you don't celebrate Christmas.) Instead, my parents arranged what we called, in retrospect somewhat unimaginatively, "Present Day" which coincided with their anniversary. We took the Christ out of Christmas and moved it to early February. We also took out the lights, decorations, stockings and trees. In reality it was nothing like Christmas except that we exchanged presents. This tradition fell by the wayside as my sisters and I got older, and I honestly couldn't tell you when the last official "Present Day" was.

I mention my parent's anniversary today, not so much because of the memories of "Present Day", but because my dad has now been gone longer than my parents were married. I got to thinking about this recently because I have a strong tendency to dwell on the past, and while I never ever want to forgot the people from my past, sometimes the past has a way of covering over the present. Life moves forward, and it sounds like a cliche, but you can't live life looking backwards.

Take for example our around the world trip. Before we know it, we will have been back in the States longer than we were away. It's not that the memories of the trip are fading, but the relevancy is fading, or at least that's how it feels. It might seem obvious, but the trip we took will never change, which means we'll always be answering questions such as, "Did you go to Cambodia?" with "No." Or  "Did you go to South America?" and we'll have to say "No." We'll answer "What parts of Africa did you go to?" and it will always be "Just Egypt". And we'll always be explaining that we only visited southern India, and didn't see the Taj Mahal.

This isn't to say we won't travel again, and indeed I intend to continue traveling and visiting new places. I recently found myself on-line playing around with around-the-world tickets, which even though we didn't end up using one for our trip, I still find intriguing. Not to alarm anyone in our family lest they think we're planning another big trip, but I read a lot of travel blogs and I happened to click on an ad for a "South American around-the-world" ticket that stopped in Columbia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Costa Rica. All those stops (and there were multiple stops in some of the countries) cost less than $1,500 per person. That's an amazing deal, and part of me wants to head to Miami (where the ticket originated) and leave on that trip tomorrow. And not just because Boston has three feet of snow on the ground, although that certainly is big motivation.

Then again, as I've mentioned repeatedly, I am enjoying myself in Boston. Yesterday we had a lovely Superbowl party at Jaimee's dad's house and on Saturday, Jaimee and I had a long visit with my sister and nephew. I cherish those moments, and am truly happy that we are close to family. But, the travel bug is hard to kick and I sometimes wish we didn't fall into jobs and a routine in Boston so easily.

When we came back from our trip, I had a grand vision of finding some way to finance more travel, finding a way to break free from the "9 to 5", three weeks of vacation a year syndrome. Alas, Jaimee and I found jobs, good jobs that we both like, and an apartment that we love. So what's the problem? Nothing really, except that I still have unfulfilled dreams. I guess the take-away from this somewhat long rambling post is that I plan on spending more time in the present (and future), and less time reminiscing about the past. In reading other around-the-world bloggers, I noticed a similar struggle that sets in a few months after returning. Often it seems the blogs morph into something else. The most explicit example of this is AwayTogether, a blog about a family of four who traveled around the world, which turned into A Runner's Trip, a blog about long-distance running. Another example is our friends Jason and Gillian from Victoria who have continued their blog, but with a focus on motivation behind travel, living in the moment, and challenges to move out of your comfort zone. I know that Gillian sometimes reads this blog, so I don't mean to misrepresent her blog if my description isn't her intent, and I really encourage people to check it out for themselves, as it's quite motivating.

Maybe this blog will change into a place to motivate others to fulfill their dreams and live in the present. I suppose we can do that by setting an example ourselves. So, maybe you'll see more posts about dreams, goals and living a more fulfilling life.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lonesome Lake

As promised, here's an update of our latest winter adventure at Lonesome Lake hut in the White Mountains (with pictures). It started, like many trips to New Hampshire do, with a stop at the Liquor Store right off the highway. We had to stock up on "nips" to keep us warm in the hut, and we also wanted to pick up some Sortilege, that super-yummy Maple Canadian Whiskey that our Canadian couchsurfers brought us a couple months ago. We couldn't find Sortilege in Massachusetts, but we'd heard it was available in New Hampshire. Sure enough, they had a huge display of it, although they were the small 375mL bottles which was disappointing, but it just meant that we got two!

The hike into Lonesome Lake hut is fairly short, a little over a mile, but like many trails in the White Mountains it is very steep - it gains about 900 feet in that one mile so it was a good workout. The lake was completely frozen over so we could take a shortcut across it to get to the hut:
The setup of the hut is a large main building where the caretaker keeps a wood fire in the evenings surrounded by two unheated bunk houses separated into rooms with four or six beds each. The entire compound sleeps about 45 or so, but when we got the hut, the very nice caretaker told us it was only us and one other couple that night. So we had privacy on our anniversary after all. We soaked it up that first night because on Saturday night the hut was filled to capacity, half of them a "Women of Newburyport" group. They certainly took advantage of the short hike in as they carried in at least a dozen bottles of wine.

Our friends Michael and Liza met us at the hut on Saturday morning and we did a day hike of two 4,000 foot peaks in the area. The conditions were amazing. The trail was already packed out by other snowshoers and although there wasn't much sun, there also wasn't any wind so it wasn't all that cold (as long as you kept moving). It truly was a winter wonderland. We summited both North and South Kinsman, making it peaks 17 and 18 in my quest to hike all 67 4,000 foot peaks in New England.
Even though supposedly the hut was packed the second night, no one shared our bunk room with us so we had the room to ourselves again. Of course, the temperature in the room was in the single digits so we didn't spend too much time in the room itself; mostly we were bundled up in our sleeping bags. I'm a pretty warm sleeper so I was comfortable in my 25 degree down bag, while Jaimee had borrowed her dad's 0 degree bag. It took up most of her backpack on the hike in and out but she claims it was totally worth packing in.
We had a great weekend at the hut, and I'd totally recommend Lonesome Lake as a place to try out "winter camping" as it's a short hike in, the hut is very comfortable (even with 40 or so people), and the setting is beautiful. We're already planning our next outing, probably to Carter Notch Hut at the end of February. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

60 Months

As of today Jaimee and I have been together for 60 months! January 28 is our recognized "anniversary" date of when we officially started dating. Sixty months is five years to those that celebrate in terms of years; we've gotten in the habit of celebrating Monthaversaries on the 28th of every month. We're celebrating the occasion by going up to New Hampshire and staying at Lonesome Lake hut for two nights. Yes, we're celebrating our anniversary by staying at a wood-stove heated shelter in the middle of the mountains that we have to snowshoe into, bring our own food and sleep in bunk beds! Yes, I realize our idea of romantic is quite different from other people.

We've been having quite the winter in New England. It seems every couple days we get another snow storm, so we're expecting great snowshoeing up in New Hampshire. We'll provide a trip report (with pictures) when we get back.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year's Report and Kicking it in Boston

Happy Belated New Year! And Happy 1/11/11 day. (Is that even a Holiday? If it isn't it should be!) We were in Vermont for New Year's Eve and Day, staying with Neil and Betsy. We had a wonderful time and we went to a New Year's Eve party at their friend's house, a party this particular host holds every year. We'd actually been to his New Year's party three years ago so it was fun to see the beginnings of a tradition of sorts. The party also doubled as a 60th Birthday so there were poetry readings, toasts and tearful speeches by the woman's son. Plus the food was catered and it was outstanding, including an amazing chocolate mousse cake!

New Year's Day we took a snowshoe up at Grafton Ponds where my Aunt Betsy does cross-country skiing and snow shoe instruction. She was leading a wine and cheese snowshoe tour where you snow shoe up the little mountain to a cabin where there is wine, cheese and a little camp fire waiting for you. It was amazing! A great way to spend the first day of the year!

Back in Boston, after that large Christmas snow storm, we've only gotten a few more dustings of snow, but apart from a warm spell on New Year's weekend, it has stayed cold, causing snowy/icy conditions on the roads. I've decided to try and commute by bike all winter so I picked up some studded tires for my bike. They're small studs that are placed on the outside edge of the tire to primarily help with lateral sliding. You also run the tire pressure a little low so that you get more surface area under the tire. For the most part, Boston treats the roads (including the bike paths!) exceedingly well so I wasn't needing the studded tires too much, although yesterday morning I took my normal route through the Arboretum and came across packed ice and snow:

See what I mean about treating the roads. This is inside the Arboretum, where no cars are allowed, so they plowed this for pedestrians and bicyclists. I was a little hesitant at first but then I realized the tires were gripping just fine so I made my way through. Here's another shot of the tires, all packed with snow:
As I've said before the commute is actually the best part of my day; despite the cold I love riding every day, and I hope to keep it up the rest of the winter. Plus, the studded tires are harder to pedal so I will be very strong when Spring rolls around. When I switch back to my "slicks" it will feel so fast.

This past weekend, we received a last minute couchsurfing request from an Australian guy doing a two month bus trip around the US. He had only one reference from a fellow traveler and not a host, but we took a chance on him and it worked out great. He's a super nice guy, very knowledgeable about the US, including sports. We went down to the local pizza place to watch one of the NFL football games (since we don't have TV at our apartment), and I was surprised how much he knew about football. But apparently basketball is his favorite sport and he went on ebay and bought two tickets to last night's Celtics game. He wouldn't let me pay but he took me along, and it was super fun, even though as it turns out, the Celtics lost. As luck would have it, we watched the first Celtics home loss since mid-November. But, I'd never been to a Celtics game before so I enjoyed it. I'd never seen so much green before; next time I go I should definitely get a team jersey:
He's moving on today to Montreal, then Ottawa, Buffalo, Detroit, Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Austin, and who knows where else, eventually making his way to Los Angeles where he flies back to Melbourne, Australia.

We might have more couchsurfers this coming weekend. A couple, he's from Philadelphia, she's from Taiwan and they're trying to couchsurf in all 48 of the lower 48 states (while writing a book about it). Meeting all these travelers makes us miss our travels a lot, and it feels odd to now be in the position of living vicariously through other people's travels. Part of me wants to just jump on a bus like our Australian friend, but then again, Buffalo and Detroit in January? Detroit at all? I think he needs some help planning his itinerary.
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