Posted by: rachelanne229 | October 6, 2010

when you’re full of LIFE

sunday, october 3, 2010, was one of the biggest days of my life.  i was desperate and forlorn at 5 am, exhausted and beleaguered at 11 am, and by noon i was elated.  triumphant.  grateful.  in the morning i crawled, a couple hours later i ran, and the rest of the day, i FLEW.

i woke up at 5 am on a futon in the basement of my mom’s college roommate’s house.  my right foot seared with pain as i stood up to walk to the bathroom.  i had pleaded with God all nite to let me run this marathon, but to have to strength to let it go if i wasn’t meant to run this race.  i tried to accept that this day might not be the day i had waited for so eagerly.  i was embarrassed by the thought of having to tell my parents, who had driven 5 hours, that my foot hurt and i might not be able to finish, or even start.

but i got ready just the same– eating my oat wise cereal with chia seeds and getting into my race clothes i had set out the nite before.  Dee and i set off for the USM campus center at 6:30 am.  the sky was dark and it was only 40 degrees outside.  we parked at the campus center and walked down to the start on baxter blvd.  not many people were milling around yet, but a few volunteers were getting food ready and setting up stations for coffee.  we sat on the cold bleachers and watched some guys put up the American flag and balloons over the starting line.

my parents arrived around 7:15, around the time that the medical tent opened for business.  i hobbled over with  my mom, and got my foot wrapped up tight to hopefully remedy what the sports med guy thought was a case of plantar fasciitis.  i profusely thanked the guy, and took a step.  it felt better!  the pain flowed thru my foot, but most definitely did not sear.  i grabbed a 5-min pre-race massage and then lined up toward the back.  something big was building inside of me.   for the first time since the foot pain had amplified a few days before, i felt cautiously optimistic.  not quite excited, but calm at least.  something good was in store.

at 7:45 the gun went off, and i shimmied past the start line with the crowd.  the course took us along back cove for awhile, and i enjoyed the warming action of the sun and the gentle pounding of the runners passing me, and the ones i was passing as we jockeyed for position.  the pain in my foot was ever-present in the first 3-4 miles, but not debilitating.  i said a silent prayer, telling God that i could deal with this level of pain if he could please hold off anything worse.

and suddenly, before i knew it, the pain had dissolved.  where an angry heat had been apparent at every footfall, only a dull twinge remained.  “i feel…good?” i asked myself in disbelief.  and then i stopped thinking so damn much and ran my race.  i ran and ran and ran, cutting seconds off my time every mile and getting more and more pumped.  i passed a couple who had been married only 2 days before, high-fived approximately a bajillion kids, and even saw my friend Saylor and other members of the USM xc team hanging out on the course.

i saw my mom, dad, Dee, and aunt Becky for the first time at mile 6, and was absolutely floored.  my family can make NOISE, and make noise they did.  i waved my arms around a bit and flashed a smile to let them know i was feeling just peachy, and then kept on cruising.  the next time i saw them was mile 10, and i was heading down a long hill.  i felt like a million bucks.  “thank you, God, thank you, thank you, thank you, i feel so –whoa, girls playing trumpets on the side of the road– i feel so good, and i’m friggin pumped you’ve brought me this far!”

by now the course had brought us runners up through falmouth and into yarmouth, where we neared the turnaround point.  the scenery consisted of beautiful houses, beautiful foliage, and beautiful water.  even the people cheering on the side of the road were beautiful.  soon i was on a dirt road, about 0.1 mi from the turnaround point, and i did a happy little shake-my-booty dance for the poor volunteer chilling at the cone directing runners.  i was gonna finish this mother, baby!  wooo hooo.

i kept on cruising till mile 15-16, where i hit the biggest hill of the course.  i passed a few people who were walking on it, but slowed down significantly.  luckily for me, my family was perched at the top, and waving their brains out.  i waved my brains out too, and then something troublesome happened.  the tape that was holding my potentially PF-ed foot together started to feel like it was pulling away from my skin, or that it was pulling my skin away from my heel.  at this point i actually started to focus on the discomfort in the rest of my foot to take my mind off the heel pain.

these shenanigans continued till about mile 21.  i tried to stop thinking for these 5 miles, because at mile 16, all i could think was “shitttt,” and that was not a productive thought.  even though i was not very tired, aerobically-speaking, i had 10 miles to go, was beginning to feel some real discomfort, and decided it would be best to go on auto-pilot for awhile.  at mile 21 i snapped out of auto-pilot.  “this is farther than you’ve ever gone, Rach!  efff yeah!”  i took a few lines from the delightful “what about bob?” and cheesily told myself, “i feel GOOD, i feel GREAT, i feel WONDERFUL!”  only 5 miles to go, that’s a fresh pond run–piece of cake.

then i got to mile 22, and all mental hell broke loose.  i hadn’t seen my family in awhile, and realized at this point that i wouldn’t see them till the finish.  the water stations seemed so far apart now, and my body felt like it was starting to shut down.  the knees didn’t want to bend, my abs were sore, and the insides of my upper arms were starting to chaff against my t-shirt.  finally mile 23 came.  i was still ahead of schedule as far as pace went, and i told myself to keep my chin up and just keep doing what i head been doing.  it wasn’t hard to run.  i had been doing it for 3.5 hours.  just keep doing it, just don’t stop.  it’s the easiest thing in the world not to stop.

mile 24.  residential area, getting close to the finish.  2.2 left– that’s the distance to the charles river one way, or the distance to a little past porter sq. and back.  two freaking miles is nothing!  yet i still let out a little sob.  my body was revolting and my feet hurt everywhere.  even my boobs hurt, what the hell.  ask for more strength, just don’t stop.  think about your family waiting at the end.  think about the moment where you cross the finish line, that split second after the screaming pain of the sprint and before the victorious fist-pump.  the quick and quiet moment of affirmation in which you know you have reached not just a goal, but a dream.  it sounds crazy, but i was running this race to experience that split-second.

and then my wild thoughts of mile 24 had brought me to mile 25.  i let out another small sob, because 1.2 miles seemed like a very far distance.  but then i ponied up and gave myself a mental slap– back to reality.  i was heading back around the cove– it wouldn’t be long now!  this was fun– this was exhilarating–this was a pretty ballin’ experience for a sunday morning.  soon i was at mile 25.2.  ONE MILE.  one little baby mile.  one time i ran a mile in 6:05 in high school.  those days seemed very far gone.  one time i told chris blackistone, the star xc runner, that he was out of his effing mind when he asked me to go for a 10-mile run with him.  those days seemed pretty far gone, too.  all that mattered was right now!  time to lay down whatever i had left inside, sore feet or not.  i passed a group of 3 people.  i turned a corner and saw the 13 mile marker, which meant i had 0.1 to go.  got passed by one of the people i had just passed, but couldn’t have cared one little bit less.  one of my favorite songs, “hallelujah” by rufus wainwright, was playing on the pod, and i knew my moment was coming.  i couldn’t think, but i felt “hallelujah” in my every motion.  after 5 months, 650 miles of training, and a 4:09:58 race, my moment had arrived.

the moment was blinding, like a bright light, but quiet. it was held out to me, like a gift, and i accepted it, embraced it, gave that moment a little hug:)

and then i was throwing my arms up and getting a medal placed around my neck by a soldier.  someone put a space blanket on me, and i found a poland springs water bottle in my hand.  how’d that get there?  the girl who had passed me moments earlier shook my hand and we congratulated each other, and then i bent over and happy cried.  my pain-riddled body had seized up with joy.  i stood alone for a few moments and reveled in this strange feeling, almost overwhelming in its power, and waited for my family, who had been cheering at the finish.  Dee got to me first, and she hugged me, and then my mom and dad and aunt were there, and then my cousin Will and his fiance Ella, and i had flowers and hugs pushed on me, and it was wonderful.  i felt so blessed to have been able to start and finish, and to have my family supporting me.  i thought of my friends on Daily Mile, and was thankful for them, too.  during this period of training, i had stumbled upon the coolest community/support group/awesome collection of athletes, and i couldn’t wait to share my happy news and read about their races later in the day.

i had just received my moment, and nothing could be better.  especially when it came topped off with a bagel and pb from the snacks tent!

halle-freakin-lujah!  this race for me was about putting mental strength over physical pain, and about putting spiritual belief over mental weakness.  i felt humbled because my many weaknesses had showcased themselves pretty well throughout this race, but somehow my fervent prayers had still been answered.  weak or not, i still found my moment, and all was right in my world.

Posted by: rachelanne229 | September 20, 2010

waiting games

conflicted.  in so many areas of my life.  i like my life to be black and white, right and wrong, yes or no.  i like it to be comical and mirror alan jackson songs and be as simple as apple crisp and ice cream.  love, school, marathon, faith, family, friends.  so much going on.  i want to do what’s right for myself, but i can’t even tell what that is; that’s how muddled i feel.  i don’t want to hurt anyone, i can’t bear to cause someone pain.  yet i can’t neglect my own feelings.  but they change every other week.  i used to be so concrete– i knew what i wanted and who i loved and what i was doing with my life– and these days i feel like there are so many knots that i’ll never get them all untangled in time.

i went to that alan jackson concert with my mom a couple weekends ago, and it HIT me during that show, as AJ was singing about family and love and home.  simple simple simple is all i want.  a guy who gets that, who gets my sense of humor and has a sense of humor all his own, that’s all i need.  a steady job, a cute little house, a piece of life out in the country with a couple kids and a couple dogs and a couple flower beds.  those are my dreams, but the dreams we dream in our youth are rarely the dreams we discover as we get old enough to realize what we really need.  but i’ve had these dreams for a long time, and i can’t help feeling like i’m on the wrong path.  i can’t give up right now, so i will absolutely finish this grad school shizz and keep finding guys who ask me out because they’re impressed by my pizza- and beer-consuming skills (i know they’re astonishing, but come on, i have other wonderful attributes:P).  or maybe i should start looking for a job and remember to love the one who loves me?

i feel ungrateful in being so indecisive.  i have options; i should just pick one and be content.  but what if i’m wrong?  what if i pick the wrong guy and the wrong experiment and the wrong way to live my life?  so many times, after a lot of deliberation, i’ve closed my eyes and plugged my nose and jumped right in, only to find i’d made a less than desirable choice.  so now i’m not doing anything.  i’m waiting.  not doing anything rash this time until i get the lay of the land.  some time to pray, some time to reflect, some time to feel it out.  the knots have to untangle themselves sometime; i just hope i’m left with my dreams intact by the end.

this post is such a sapfest, my apologies.  gotta get the thoughts down tho.  and you really can’t write anything but sap when listening to deana carter.  MMM strawberry wine!

i'll take one of these

Posted by: rachelanne229 | September 12, 2010

the Dicker girls on top of the world. Or at least New England.

Road Trip Extravaganza Days 9 & 10

Mt. Washington, White Mtns., NH and back to Maine and Mass

Saturday, 14 August and Sunday, 14 August 2010

The scratchy radio alarm clock went off in our bedroom at Tom and Heather’s at 4:15 AM. I got up and got ready, and then woke up Dee while I started packing up extra clothes and food. We walked out their door about 5:15 and got into the dew-covered Blueberry. The sky was dark, dark blue and the air was chilly. I ate my raisin bran muffin and Dee ate her blueberry one, and we quietly drove to Rt. 16. She dozed a little and I listened to whatever country music station would come in at the time. Before long, rays of sun started blazing across the sky and we realized that yes, today was the day we would summit Mt. Washington.

I was a little fuzzy on the directions to Pinkham Notch, but we pulled into the gravel driveway of the PN Visitor Center around 6:30. Thirty or so cars were already there, and hikers were slowly mulling about, waiting for the visitor center to open its doors. Dee and I squabbled over who would carry the marshmallows and who would carry the bagels and who would carry the apples, because we love to squabble, and then we adjusted our socks and boots, and when we felt like real hiking women, we went up to the visitor center to sign in. We saw a couple women getting ready to head up, but mostly big groups of guys. They were adjusting the straps on their huge packs, wandering thru the room to see if they needed any extra shot blocks or sock warmers for the trek up, and were very excited to prove their manliness. We chatted with the ultra adorable guy at the desk, and signed in. “Tuckerman Ravine to summit!”

Of course we had to pee before we set out, so we made use of the compost toilets and I had some flashbacks of outhouses from the days our dad used to work on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and family fishing trips and the time I locked little Dee in an outhouse with a massive wood spider inside. Muahahahahaha. When she finally busted out of there, she streaked across the trail with her bathing suit still down around her knees. Another one of those sweet, sweet sisterly memories I will always cherish:).  Anyway, we asked someone to take a start-out picture of us by the Tuckerman Ravine sign, and then we hit the trail, baby!

kicking off, 6:45 am

We took a break after about 10 minutes. Dee ate an apple, and we kept going. Poor Dee was a little cranky, because as you may remember from a previous post, she is not particularly keen on hiking. But here we were climbing the tallest peak in the Northeast, and I was loving every second. The weather was perfect: about 70 degrees and sunny, with nary a cloud in sight. After an hour or so, Dee perked up and we finally found our groove. We weren’t hauling, but we were making good time and enjoying ourselves. At one point we got passed by a guy sprinting up the mountain in VFF KSOs! I was so impressed. The bros we had seen earlier that morning at the visitor center also passed us, and they looked a little less excited, but still manly, and we were happy to have them ahead of us and go our own pace.

After a couple hours, we reached Hermit Lake, and went into the hut there to talk to another ultra adorable guy. I think the job requirements for being a ranger on this mountain go something like this: Must have sparkling eyes, a strong jaw, and be an ultra adorable mountain man under the age of 30. We devoured some Nutty Bars and carrots on the picnic table outside the hut, and noticed a couple guys walking by in flannel PJ pants and wool hats. This wouldn’t be the last time we ran into them!

hermit lake hut

Before we hit the trail again, Dee had to pee. By this point in the trip, I was getting tired of her pathetically small bladder, so while she was in the bathroom, I hid her pack near the entrance of the men’s bathroom and walked down a little side trail to get a look at the beautiful sunny vistas surrounding us. A couple minutes later I walked back up to the bathrooms, and Dee was coming out in a panic without her backpack. Unfortunately, I’m a terrible liar and have never been able to keep a straight face while I’m trying to play tricks on people, so she knew of my dirty deed right away. I giggled to myself and she scowled and we started climbing again. The summit was in sight!

and here is hermit lake

half-way point

The scenery at this point started getting really cool. We were getting out of the cover of all the trees, and moving up into a more boulder-covered area, complete with flowing mountain streams and wild flowers. We kept remarking on how DELICIOUS the air smelled. But wait, what was that new smell floating in on the breeze? Marijuana?! We climbed over a few more corners and came across the flannel-legged guys, only now they were in shorts. Well, one of them was; the other one quickly finished changing and hurriedly pulled his up. We chatted with them for a sec, and they lamented the fact that it was sooooo hottttt outtt, and we agreed. It was pretty hot out. Over the course of the trip up, they passed us again and asked for sunscreen. Unfortunately, we had nothing to offer them. After another half hour or so, we overtook the flannel boys for the last time.  One of them was lagging pretty bad. He was bummed for a second that he was getting passed by girls AGAIN, and then mentioned that it was soooo hotttt outtt. We concurred, and forged ahead, never to see the flannel boys again, even on the way down.

Dee and a mountain

we smoked them boys! ahahahah

Climb, climb, climb, we kept climbing. By this time we were having a blast, because we thought we were getting real close to the top. We had climbed through a waterfall (badass!) and taken some nice pics of each other, and we generally feeling good, when we saw the two women from earlier in the morning coming DOWN the mountain. This sight bolstered our spirits and we decided to “git ‘er done,” as we say in the County.

she'd kill me for putting this in, shhh:P

back sweat like you've never seen!

We scrabbled to the top of the section we were on, and read the sign at the top. It said something ridiculous like 0.8 miles left. Are you serious?! We thought we were 10 minutes away! Every 0.2 miles, we would come to another such signpost, and the distances traveled would only discourage us. Dear Signpost, are you telling me I just pulled myself up over all those huge rocks, sweating like it’s the last thing I’ll ever do, and I’ve only gone another 0.2 miles? But we kept our noses to the grindstone, literally, and kept winding our ways up and up.

Dee making her way up some bouldahs

oooh pretty flowers in a mountain stream!

psshh yeah we're almost there

Suddenly, there was nothing left to climb, and BOOM, there we were! And there was….a parking lot. And another parking lot. And tourists with fanny packs and flip flops and white Ralph Lauren sweaters without so much as a smudge of sweat or grime or blood. I want to see scratches on your legs and smears of dirt on your face if you’re going to share the top of this mountain with me! We had to get in line behind a group of people who had driven to the top to take our pic with the summit sign. This situation was super lame in my book. We had just hiked 4.2 miles over a period of 4 hours, to an elevation of 6288 feet, and we had to share this achievement with the people who had driven up in 45 minutes, eating Bonbons and listening to Elton John on the radio? OK, I don’t even know what Bonbons are, so I forgave these touristy types and took my damn picture. I was actually way too scared to drive to the top, since I have a fear of steep things, so even tho I was sweatier, the touristy types were the far braver souls.

beautiful

oh terror of terrors! how do they insure this thing?

DONE. pretty pleased:)

Dee and I wandered around the top a little, checking out the Tip-Top House, the original hotel on the top of the mountain, and decided to eat our lunch. It was 10:45, after all.

We sat on some rocks by the edge, and some guy and his wife hollered to us from the safety of the boulders by the weather station. They thought we were brave sitting on our little perch. We hollered back that we were from Maine, and I’m sure another high-five happened here. They were from Florida. The guy wanted to take some pictures of us, so I hiked up and gave him my camera and he shot away. We tried to look like mountain women, and then we tried to look pensive, and then cute, and then we looked like we were just happy to be at the top and with each other. And we were.

We left our parents a voicemail from the summit, just because we thought it was awesome that we could do so, and to tell them we were still alive, and then we devoured our lunches. These were composed of 2-day old bagels and croissants from Verna’s Bakery (the bakery next to my apartment, mmmm, delish, amazing, heavenly), Cheeze Doodles, granola, Hershey’s, carrots, apples, Pringles, and Marshmallows. Good thing we’re not on the Atkins. Dee “accidentally” flung the Cheeze Doodles over the precipice in her fit of mirth, and had to go retrieve them.  She climbed back up, and we sat and looked out across the chains of mountains.  We were so elated at this point in our journey. Our trip had gone perfectly and we had successfully navigated ourselves all around New England and New York and back, while having non-stop adventures. And at the end of all of it, we had summited Mt. Washington! So to celebrate, we cracked up. Everything we said made us bust into a bout of uncontrollable laughter. We couldn’t stop smiling, we were wildly inappropriate, and we chortled until the sides of our mouths hurt and we literally starting to choke on our food and suffocate. It was a good time.

oh hey mom, we're calling you from mt. washington.

oh hey new england, i can see all of you

deidre's face of mischievous mirth

verna's bakery is my homeboy

By this time, some clouds had started to roll across the sky, and we were a little chilly. We couldn’t complain tho, since we were still in shorts! We decided to head down the trail and get back to the car. We made the trip down in about 3 hours, encouraging those going up, and asking how much farther once we were getting close to the bottom. We kept leap-frogging a guy from the areas who said he’s climbed the mountain dozens of time, and exchanged niceties with lots of others. AND we saw 10 dogs on the way down, which caused us to miss Jackie very much. Not sure we’d bring her here tho; she has a hard enough time recovering from a hike up Quoggy Jo:P After Hermit Lake, we pretty much flung ourselves down over the hill. Our legs were tired of getting jarred by all the rocks, and we were ready to go home and eat supper. We hit the base around 2:45, and felt triumphant beyond words. We did it! We climbed it and made it down!

hand-washing station

After signing ourselves out and hobbling to the car, we peeled off our boots, grabbed the remainder of the granola, and sped away, back to Stark for our final nite before we headed in our separate directions. We got back early, and took showers and got ready to treat ourselves to a nice and hearty post-summit supper. The only restaurant options in Stark were a pizza place and a family restaurant. I wanted the family restaurant, but Dee wanted pizza, so pizza it was. I actually ended up ordering spaghetti, she a pepperoni pizza, and we split some cheese sticks as an appetizer. We were really friggin hungry. And weren’t watching our carbs in the least. This place, Stone Pizza, was empty as a tomb. Everybody Loves Raymond was playing up in the corner, which was great, and we were the only ones in the place besides the guy at the cashier and the guy cooking. After a time, our food was ready and we went up to get it. My spaghetti wasn’t cooked thru, and her pizza was greasier than a mechanic’s fingernails, but we ate ravenously. We decided we wanted ice cream after, but Stark does not have an ice cream place, so we ordered soft serve twists for dessert. They tasted like plastic, but at least they were cold. We paid, once for our meals, and then separately for our cones, which was weird, but we were too tired to care.

We were done supper and back to Tom and Heather’s by about six, and we collapsed in their living room in front of Monsters, Inc. until they came home. It was Tom’s birthday, and they and the kids had gone to a BBQ for the day. They didn’t get home till almost nine, and Dee and I were absolutely zonked out of our minds with exhaustion. The kids, our little second cousins, were so cute. Catherine ran in the door and gave me a big hug, and immediately started chattering, and Levi sat in his mini-recliner and told us all about his favorite parts of Monsters, Inc. The kids got ready for bed and gave us big hugs again, and then we sat with Tom and Heather and told them of our adventures and talked about our relatives. Since our eyes just couldn’t stay open, we got ready for bed, and collapsed again. This time Dee got the double bed and I got the bunk, but I don’t think I would’ve noticed if I were sleeping on a yoga mat in the kitchen. I just needed to lay down and pass out.

so much comfort all in one place

The next morning we rose at the crack of dawn again; we had lots of driving to do. Dee had to get back to the County to see her boyfriend, and I had to get back to Cambridge to run 18 miles. We left Tom and Heather’s around 6, and quietly said goodbye to the town of Stark before much of anyone was awake. On our way west, back into southern Maine, where Dee had left her car at Aunt Becky’s, she dozed a little and I tried not to do the same. We passed by Santa’s Village, and Storyland. Man, I miss that place—the place where childhood dreams come true! After about 4 hours, we rock ‘n’ rolled into Maine: The Way Life Should Be. Ain’t that the truth. I dropped Dee off at her car, and we divvied up the remaining food. I had 2 hours of driving to the south, and she had 5 hours of driving to the north. Even tho I had spent the past 240 hours with her, I missed that kid already, and was sad to part ways. I wanted to drive home with my sister more than anything in the world! But I had miles to run and a paycheck to earn. So, like the previous 10 days, I hugged my little sissy and then kept on driving. The Road Trip Extravaganza 2010 was complete—the Dicker girls had conquered New England, baby!

residual vermont hiking pic:)

done. SEEYA!

ok, last one i swear

Posted by: rachelanne229 | September 6, 2010

Friday the 13th in spooky Salem

Road Trip Extravaganza

Day 8

13 August 2010—FRIDAY THE 13th!

Salem, MA and Stark, NH

Dee and I awoke early to another sunny and warm day.  There was something eerie about this day tho—it was Friday the 13th.  Dee had had the brilliant idea that we trek up to Salem on this spooky day, and I thought this was the best idea yet.  For some reason we haven’t quite figured out, Deidre and I love to be scared.  We scare ourselves to death with horror flicks, and keep coming back for more.  As kids, we’d get together with our friends in our babysitter’s basement and make haunted houses, using peeled grapes for eyeballs and cooked spaghetti for brains, etc.  So we thought it was completely appropriate that we head up to Salem and see what kind of scares we could get ourselves into.

First, we had stuff to do in Cambridge tho!  We finished the Time Traveler’s Wife, were only semi-impressed, and then I used my powers of persuasion to make Deidre think she wanted to embark on a 5-mile run with me!  This from the girl who hates running, who once ran a 5-mi road race with me and was so angry she could barely spit out the words, “I. Hate. You.” as I told her to pump her arms up the hill and provided words of encouragement and comfort like “we’re almost there!” (at mile 3) as we puttered along.  Luckily for me, this race was a couple years ago, and had begun to fade in Deidre’s memory, so we set out for a lovely 5-miler all decked out in our new workout clothes, which always makes running more fun.  I took her around the Fresh Pond loop, and she loved it!  Well, I wouldn’t exactly say “loved,” but she did great, and we finished in less than an hour.  I was so pumped that she ran it with me, although I couldn’t quite convince her to put in another three with me and round it up to 8.  I have to admit, this run was my favorite of the entire summer.  Not only did we run in a primo spot and have terrific weather, but my running buddy just happened to be my favorite person in the world!

We got back and showered up so we could head to lunch.  Once we arrived at Davis Square, we decided on a little diner called the Rosebud.  Dee ordered pancakes and I got the meatloaf special, because meatloaf + potatoes + gravy make up my personal version of heaven.  We also sucked down some iced coffees since we knew we had a big day ahead of us.  I put an entire thing of cream in mine, because the best coffee is the kind that doesn’t taste like coffee at all.

not much better than pancakes and iced coffee

except this

and homemade minestrone

We enjoyed our lunches, quickly checked out the Buffalo Exchange (you never know when you might catch a good deal) and headed out of town to gas up before we left.  At the gas station I realized I didn’t have my credit card, and after a brief moment of panic and cursing, sped back to the Rosebud.  The ladies had seen me leave it on the table, but weren’t able to catch me before we left the diner, and they set it aside.  Crisis averted!

Now back to Salem.  According to my TomTom, which Deidre calls Nigel and I call Jim, we had a 37-minute drive to Salem.  Piece of cake.  According to reality, the drive sucked up 2 hrs and 37 minutes of our afternoon.  I will leave out the description of the road ragy-ness of this day; quite frankly, it is embarrassing, although much warranted.  The drive was afflicted with detours and idiots, and I swear every car on the east coast found its way to northeastern Mass on this particular afternoon.  We sat and sat and sat.  Last year my New Year’s resolution was to become a more patient person, but I was too impatient to see it through, so needless to say, this drive pushed my buttons in all the wrong places and I was ready to have a coronary by the time we got to Salem.  And then finding a parking place!  GAH.  We were already running late, and I knew we wouldn’t get to our cousins’ place in NH, where we were staying that nite, till late, and then we’d be tired for our Mt. Wash hike, and GOOD LORD I was annoyed at stupid Salem.  Who really cares about old graveyards and fake tarot readings and séances and wax museums that cost a bajillion dollars to enter anyway?

witch monument in here

coming into town

Finally, we found a place to ditch the Blueberry, and since we were there, decided to make the best of the town in the one hour we had allotted ourselves.

she had it coming

you got the wrong sister!

poignant to read

gave us the chills

old burying ground

hey real witches, i'll cast a spell on yer mom

oh look, yer mom's already here!

We followed the walking path around the town and stopped into Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery.  This place was ballin’!  For students, the admission was only $6, so we excitedly paid, and got ready to get our pants scared off.  This small gallery had life size replicates of the monsters from every scary movie you can think of.  It the clown, Carrie, the little girl from the Exorcism, Freddy, Jason, Jack Nicholson from the Shining, and Count Dracula all made appearances as we wound our way thru the darkened hallways.  The Nightmare Gallery had been rated #1 out of 38 things to do in Salem, and it was pretty sweet, we both agreed.  We left sufficiently frightened, and sufficiently thrilled.

empathizing

We walked around Salem some more, but everything was starting to close, and we decided we needed to boogie.

boogeying up the new england pirate museum

Dee had to pee (obviously), so we went into a gas station to pee and to look for something quick for supper, since we’d miss suppertime up in NH and didn’t really have time to stop and eat.  The gas station had nothing besides exorbitantly priced meatball subs and Slim Jim’s, and we didn’t feel like fast food, so we decided to suck it up and eat whatever we had left in the car.  Our rations pretty much consisted of stuck-together marshmallows, graham crackers, and carrots, but somehow we managed.

Around six or so we started driving to Tom and Heather’s place in Stark, NH.  Little did I know this drive would take an estimated FOUR HOURS; I expected it to be more along the lines of two.  Even so, this drive was surreal.  Deep in the mountains of New Hampshire, we watched a glorious sunset and were blown away by the beauty of the landscape.

sun setting over the white mountains

The last couple hours of driving were pitch black, and fluorescent DANGER signs regarding moose accidents dotted the highway.  We felt like we were driving into the middle of nowhere, into the heart of the boonies, which is saying something for us country bumpkins.  Around 9:45 we turned off onto a dirt road with very few houses.  The road seemed to keep going forever, and I wondered if Jim/Nigel was leading us into a deserted swamp to be hacked by a chainsaw murderer.  Dee and I both exclaimed that this place would be a great locale for a horror movie!  We found the correct “side street” off the dirt road finally, but Jim/Nigel tried to get me to drive into the middle of the woods after tearing thru some poor person’s driveway, which I refrained from doing.  We couldn’t make out any numbers on the few houses on the road, so we drove and drove around trying to figure out which one might look like Tom and Heather’s.  Finally, on our third or so loop, we saw porch lights flashing, felt like dumbasses since we had sat in this driveway trying to make out a house number for a good three minutes, and quickly pulled in.

We got warm greetings from our cuz Heather and her husband Tom, and then Tom called us hicks and sassed us for wanting to climb Mt. Washington.  Apparently a young guy they knew had slipped the week before and was in the hospital suffering head injuries after his attempt at the summit.  Their kids had waited up to see us for awhile, but had to get to bed before we got there, so we sat up for a bit and chatted with Tom and Heather.  Deidre and I have loved Tom and Heather ever since they visited us up in Maine when we were kids.  They picked us up from our grandparents’ place, took us food shopping (putting everything our little hearts desired into their cart, from s’mores supplies to DORITOS!!!), and took us swimming up at the camp and made us hotdogs wrapped in pieces of bread.  Such badass cousins.  Heather gave us a tour of the house, which they had been painting all day, and we watched some of the Sox game till 11, when we decided we absolutely had to get to bed.  We set the alarm clocks for 4:20 am, and played Rock, Paper, Scissors for the comfy double bed vs. the bunk beds.  Since I always win Rock, Paper, Scissors, I sunk into the luxuriousness of the big bed, and drifted off to sleep before I could even finish my prayers that we wouldn’t slip off a big rock and crack our heads on our trek up the mountain.  This Friday the 13th had turned out pretty good after all.

Next:  We STILL have point four miles left?! : the Dicker girls summit the highest mountain in New England and live to tell the tale (and make a phone call from the top!)

Posted by: rachelanne229 | September 2, 2010

things that we love: whales!

Roadtrip Extravaganza Day 7

12 August 2010

Massachusetts

Ahhh, Dee and I awoke in good old Cambridge around 8, and got ready to head down to Provincetown for our whale watch action.  I made her pack a million warm clothes, because the mom in me remembered how frigid the temps were out on previous whale watches, and I wanted to be comfy.  We set out on our 3-hr drive about 9:30, picked up our daily sub from Subway, and gassed up.  To tell the truth, I was a little ticked at myself for picking a whale watch that was THREE hours away.  For crying out loud, we could’ve hopped on a whale watch boat at the New England Aquarium in Boston, and wouldn’t even have had  to drive at all.  But the Dolphin Fleet whale watches were pretty cheap, $36, and took passengers out by Stellwagen Bank, which is a national marine sanctuary.  This place is full of life—very productive, very diverse, and as we had talked about it a lot in my oceanography classes, I wanted to get out there.  Also, I really wanted to see P-town and be on the very tip of the Cape!

Much to our dismay, the 3-hr drive turned into a 4+-hr drive due to traffic heading to P-town.  The next week was “Carnival Week,” and people were flocking to the one-lane road that slowly extends down the tip of Cape Cod.  We patiently waited, often almost stopped, in a massive line of cars.  OK, that’s a blatant lie.  Deidre did a pretty good job of patiently waiting, while I anxiously looked at the clock a thousand times, knowing that we were barely going to get onto our 2 pm boat, since we were supposed to check in at 1:30 at the latest.  Luckily, the drive into P-town was gorgeous.  We slowly filed past huge sand dunes, the likes of which we land-lubbers had never seen before.  The sand was literally touching the sides of the road, and we wondered what this place looked like in the winter.

We pulled into P-town around 1:30, and were blown away by all the goings-on.  People strolled in the street, colorful banners and flags flew, delicious smells floated thru the air, and kids and dogs and transvestites flourished.  But I didn’t care about that too much right then; we had a boat to catch!  The problem was, there was absolutely nowhere to park.  We could forget about parking on the street, and over and over we passed lots that were full to the brim.  Finally we found a lot, and then guy said that for $10, he had a small space if I could squeeze my car in.  He helped me back into a random corner, and Dee and I bounded off in search of the Dolphin Fleet stand, since it was already 1:45.

We hurriedly checked in, and ran down the pier to our boat.  A few minutes later, the passengers were allowed to board, and we excitedly climbed up to the top deck and grabbed a couple seats.  Dee had to pee (of course), so I saved her seat and got chatted up by a nice man from Detroit sitting next to us.  The boat pulled out of the harbor, and a girl about my age, a grad student from Canada, started telling us about the ecology of the area and the different whales we might see.  She passed around some zooplankton and then some baleen, which was obviously VERY COOL!

At this point, the crew made an offer of complimentary Dramamine for those prone to seasickness, which I usually am.  I didn’t feel like going down to the galley, though, so I abstained, and luckily felt great the entire boat ride.

As we bee-bopped out to sea, Dee and I stood at the rail of the boat with the breeze in our hair, and told ourselves that even if we didn’t see any whales, that we would still be satisfied with a nice ride on a boat on a lovely summer day.

whales, we're comin for ya

We also made a $1 bet about whether we’d need all the clothes I demanded we bring.  Dee won, dammit!  We stayed toasty the entire friggin ride with only our sweatshirts.  And then BAM, before we knew what was happening, we spotted a whale not too far off in the distance.  We squeezed and shimmied our way thru the crowds and pressed ourselves against the railing to get a good luck.  In our frenzy, we took about 6 bajillion pictures of this whale flapping its fins against the water.  We exchanged “HOW COOL IS THIS?!” looks and kept snapping away.

A few minutes later, we spotted seals on the horizon and a few more whales surfacing further out.  We motored toward the animals and idled here in the water.  Now, I must preface the next few sentences by saying: if you know me, anything about me, you know I am crazy about whales.  They are truly my favorite animal and I love them with my whole heart.  If you asked me if I would rather eat a dozen Reese’s cups or see a whale breaching, I would pick the whale, and that is saying something.  “PSHAWWWWKSHH!” A humpback breached and its tail glistened in the sunlight on the way down.  Dee and I ran to the front of the boat to get a better look and to take another three thousand pictures, and within a few minutes’ time, we counted between 9-14 whales RIGHT NEXT TO US.  We must have entered some awesome feeding ground, and the whales were right on the surface, breaching, and swimming under the boat, mingling with several very active porpoises.  They were blowing repeatedly and we could actually hear some of their grunts and groans.  The sun glistened off their shiny skin, and…we screamed.  This moment was absolutely thrilling.  Whales covered the perimeter of the boat, and no matter where we looked, we could see countless humpbacks coming to the surface and then dropping down again.  The moment was magical and the only thing that interrupted our smiles was our shrieking “oh my gosh, oh my gosh, it’s right there!”

At one point about halfway through this miraculous frenzy of joy, a whale propelled itself straight up and out of the water, and the people on the lower deck could have easily reached out and touched it.  Afterward, it kept sticking the tip of its be-barnacled head out of the water, as if curiously checking us out.  I have a theory that whales, being the charismatic megafauna that they are, are as interested in people as we are in them, and that our shrieks of delight actually amuse them.

Dee and I and the passengers around us stood on the upper deck in amazement, murmuring among ourselves that we couldn’t believe our good fortune.  All too soon, we turned around and headed back for the Cape, leaving Stellwagen Bank and the humpbacks behind.  The grad student guide grabbed the microphone and told us the scientists had recorded a grand total of 27 whales (!!!), more than they had seen on any trip the entire summer.  I guessed we picked a good day for a whale watch!  I don’t know of a better $36 I’ve ever spent.

The ride back to P-town was quiet, but content, and a little windblown.

We were almost in shock at the beauty we had witnessed only an hour before.  In less than an hour, we reached land again, and although we hated for the trip to be over, we hustled off that boat; we wanted food!  It didn’t take us long to find a place called John Dough’s, and we were seated upstairs, in the open-air next to the street.

Dee and I split a Margarita pizza, and then decided to wander the streets of P-town.

hello sweet, sweet pizza

a face only a mother could love:P

exceedingly thirsty

Our first stop was obviously to buy more fudge—rocky road this time.  We also wanted to purchase gifts for each other, mementos that we could cherish forever and use to think back fondly upon our trip.  After weaving in and out of a few shops (about half of which only sold leather;)) and ending up in one that was a combination touristy joint/sex shop, we settled on gifts.  Dee bought me a beautiful pink scarf, and I got her a journal made in Nepal, made of rice paper, or some exotic-sounding fiber like that.  I also got myself a pair of new sunglasses, and Dee found herself an awesome and crazy dress.  And by crazy, I mean it had pom-poms.  This place was cheap as dirt, and we were thoroughly pleased with our purchases.

Oh yeah, and we saw this crazy statue guy!  He followed you with his eyes, but didn’t move another muscle.  Creepy, yet quite ballin’.

stop looking at me

By now, it was about 7 pm, and we knew we had a long drive back to Cambridge, so we found the Blueberry and made our way home, in sort of a tired and contented stupor.  Once in Cambridge, we stopped into Shaw’s to stock up on food for the next day and for our Mt. Washington adventure, and also grabbed “The Time Traveler’s Wife” out of the Redbox.  Finally, about 10:30, we crashed into my apartment and settled in front of the TV with some popcorn and watched about half the movie before we ended up dozing.

By some act of God, we had the energy to get ready for bed, and then we slept hard.  What a day.  27 whales plus seals and porpoises to boot, a pizza in P-town, and falling asleep to a Rachel McAdams movie.  Good thing we slept well, because we needed to rest up for….duh duh duh….SALEM, on Friday the 13th.

Posted by: rachelanne229 | August 29, 2010

Driving, driving, driving.

Road Trip Chronicles Part IV

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Day 6

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island

After having been awake since 0-dark hundred, I kept a careful eye outside the zippered doggie door of the tent, and as soon as 5:30 am hit and there was enough light to get to the bathroom without my flashlight, I woke Dee up.  We were gonna RUN, baby!  Groggy, but enthusiastic, we changed into our sneakers and set out to explore all the trails the Mo had to offer.  The one closest to our campsite was about a quarter mile jog away, and we were feeling pretty good about ourselves being up early and running.  Well, we hit the trail, and it turned to roots and rocks and steepness.  Deidre’s go get ‘em attitude turned to an “eat shit and die” attitude, in a loving and sisterly way, of course.  We ran for about 40 seconds before we were huffing and puffing.  I was loving the hike and bouncing right along, pointing out frogs and slugs and making appreciative “ooh,” “ahh,” “gasp” noises about the impending sunrise over the forested hills.  Dee didn’t really care about the forested hills or the impending sunrise; she cared about getting her heart rate back to 60 or lower.  Up and up and up we went, getting sweatier and sweatier.  Poor Dee’s stomach hurt, and in an effort to bolster her spirits, I frequently guessed that we were merely minutes from the top.  Of course I was also frequently wrong, until about the 7th guess, when we really did reach the top.  The sun was just up ahead, and we could see it peaking through the trees around us.  We took a quick look, and then bustled our way back down.  Toward the bottom, Dee got a slug on her shirt, and freaked out in a sort of squealing/tribal dance way that will last forever in the “gross/unfortunate/terrifying things that happen to Dee that I think are really hilarious” file in my brain.  All in all, the hike was about 2.5-3 mi round trip, and I got Dee to admit that she felt pretty satisfied by the time we got back down!  *Yay endorphins*

I scarfed down a muffin we’d gotten at Wegman’s the day before, and then we made a beeline to our personal pool.  There’s not much else like having a cool river pool to yourselves at sunrise after a tough hike.  We jumped in and did a few laps, and that little swim served as our shower for the day.  On our way back to our campsite, we passed a guy we had seen the day before.  He commented on our early bird-ness, and we told him we had been up before dawn for a hike.  He looked amazed, and I boastfully hooted, “We’re from MAINE!”  I made sure not to tell him that I still have to plug my nose when I jump in the water, and then Dee and I probably high-fived at this point.

We got back to the campsite and devoured some of the roadside stand fruit we’d picked up on our way to the Mo the day before: peaches, plums, and some combination of a cantaloupe and a mango made by Disney/Pixar (?!)  The fruit was delicious (we made sure to select pieces NOT being devoured by fruit flies), and we felt ready to seize the day.  We packed up the camping gear and hit the road.

Drive, drive, drive.  Stop at Salmon Falls while still in Mass.

Drive, drive, drive.  Stop at a sheepskin shop on the side of the road and covet moccasins.

of course we had to stop!

Drive, drive, drive.  Stop at McDonald’s for an iced coffee with three drops of coffee and three hundred pieces of ice.  Drive, drive, drive.  Take some Cosmo quizzes; apparently my style of lovin’ is like Rihanna’s.  Hmm.  Drive, drive, drive.  Stop at a Mobil so Dee can pee.  Drive, drive, drive.  “HEY we’re in Connecticut, this state is kind of ugly.”  Drive, drive, drive.  Dee chatters to her boyfriend about the style of kitchen she wants in their future home, while I gag and turn up the radio and try to defend my car from crazed Connecticut drivers.  Drive, drive, drive.  Finally in New London!

At this point, Dee and I feel like crap.  We haven’t slept, we haven’t eaten anything for lunch but blueberries and liquefied Hershey bars, and we have been sitting in a car forevvvvvver.  Plus, it’s a thousand degrees outside.  You think I’m lying?  No, I don’t have the capacity to lie.  That beach was a thousand degrees.  Poor Deidre (and poor me): her deodorant melted!   Nonetheless, we were thrilled not to have been shot up on our way through New London, and were determined to enjoy Ocean Beach, pretty much our only stop in the entire state of Connecticut.  We carried out towels and reading material and water across the scalding sand and set up shop in close proximity to one of the male lifeguards.  For safety purposes.

We lay out and tanned and read and jumped in the ocean.  The water wasn’t even frigid, so we frolicked some and felt thoroughly refreshed.  I was having a grand time trying to catch ctenophores (another type of gelatinous zooplankton) and show them to Dee, because I cannot pass up a chance to educate about zooplankton, when she started to flail her arms, causing me to flail my arms, since flailing is contagious.  There was a jelly in the water, and this ain’t no moon jelly!  We alerted the parents/young child nearby, and decided we felt like getting out of the water and lying on our towels a little longer.

killer jelly! (maybe)

After a bit, we were all hot and greasy with sunscreen again, so we decided to brave the jelly-infested water.

oh just sweatin' on the beach

We were SO glad we did and were inching into the water/bopping up and down over the waves as they crashed in, until Eagle Eye Dee spotted a SHARK!  Well, we’re not sure it was a shark, but it sure looked like a sand shark to us.  It was big, and swimming around our feet, and holy heck, we decided we were ready to go check out the pool.  Unfortunately the pool cost $5 to enter, and County girls don’t shell out that kind of dough to swim in pee-infested waters, so we splashed around this little sprinkler park and then took a ride down the FAST level water slide.  It wasn’t that fast, but it was still a scream-inducer, so we’ll call it a success.

thanks for the memories, Ocean Beach

After a few hours at Ocean Beach, we were ready to get the eff out of Connecticut.  Next stop: Providence!  We piled back into the Blueberry, and drove north.  After not too long, we ended up in a random parking lot in Providence.  We had no idea where we were going to eat, so we just paid to park and started walking.  Providence is a pretty cool city, and we marveled at the shops we passed by.  We finally decided on a little pub on some corner.

our supper selection

Dee made healthy choices and ordered a salad, and I asked for chicken alfredo.

girl's got good taste

yum-tastic

After a yummy supper, we went to Coldstone.  YAY!  I don’t think either one of us had been to a Coldstone since the last time Dee came to visit Bowdoin a couple years ago, so we both indulged in a “Like It” size of our favorite flavor: Cake Batter.  I had crushed Oreos in mine and Dee had Kit Kat pieces in hers.  That kid loves her Kit Kats:)  We wondered over to a fountain and enjoyed the evening summer air.  The couple sitting on a bench beside the fountain giggled at us as we repeatedly almost fell backwards into the fountain.  And that was our time in Rhode Island!

aww sisters

discombobulation

Now back into Massachusetts.  We pulled into my apartment in Cambridge around 9:30 or so.  Throughout the day, I had been feeling increasingly bleary-eyed, but I chalked it up to physical exertion and lack of sleep, rubbed my eyes a little, and just left it at that.  But as we stepped outside the car,  I felt a stinging pain in my right eye.  I looked in the rearview and there was a bug in there.  This situation wouldn’t have been nearly so revolting, except that I knew this bug had been in my eye the entire day.  We’re talking since 7 am.  As we were leaving the Mo State Forest, I told Dee a bug had just flown in my eye and asked her if she could see it.  She said, “oh yeah, it’s just on your cheek,” so I wiped my cheek and went on with my day.  But in reality, that little bastard was still in my eye, and swam around in there all day.  Nasty nasty nasty.  After about 10 minutes of digging, I finally scraped that thing out.  Ahh sweet  relief.  This anecdote may seem irrelevant to our trip, but NO, when there is a foreign body stuck somewhere in your face that it should not be, especially if this foreign body is/ever was alive, the situation reaches emergency level, and the relief felt upon removal of this previously living foreign body was tantamount to my feelings upon witnessing Niagara Falls.  Pretty sure I raised up a “Hallelujah,” even.

We got inside and my roommate Tanya was happily awaiting us.  Our other roommate was gone, so she’d been alone all week and had made brownies in anticipation of our arrival!  Best roommate award!  Dee and I chilled on the couch, started to watch “Next,” because our dad is obsessed with this movie and wanted me to see it (I recommend, by the way), and then we crashed.  I slept soundly in my own bed, Dee happily chattered away in gibberish, and all was right with the world.

taken in vermont. but we still like each other in massachusetts.

TOMORROW: WHALES WHALES WHALES! Oh happy day!

Posted by: rachelanne229 | August 26, 2010

Road Trip Extravaganza 2010 Day 5!

10 August 2010

Massachusetts

Day 5: Onto the Berkshires

Dee and I left the Mitchells around 9:30 or so, after another hearty breakfast of Aunt Ellen’s granola, blueberry muffins, and multivitamins, of course.  The dear also packed us a lunch of turkey sandwiches and chopped carrots.  Our first stop after departure was to the post office; we needed postcard stamps.  Next we went to Wegman’s, where we purchased many delicious and healthy foods to sustain us for the day.

nom nom

Actually, the carrots are from Aunt Ellen and the blueberries were picked with Aunt Jane, so our only contribution was the Reese’s.  And if you know either Dee or me…duh.  We also picked up a bunch of s’mores and hotdog fixin’s for our impending evening camping in the Mohawk Trail State Forest.  Finally, we made a 10 am stop at a liquor store; I wanted a bottle of wine from NY, dammit!  My purchase was an $8 dessert wine, which was significantly more than I usually spend on wine, because wine is gross, so I was pleased.  Now: back to Massachusetts!

The road was long and arduous, but our spirits were bright and we trucked along.  Somewhere in New York, Grafton I believe, we took a screeching right turn, while Nigel (the insistent, yet lovable) Tom-Tom, sputtered mightily.  The words “Peace Pagoda” caught my eye and I would not be deterred.  The path to the Peace Pagoda took us on a winding road into the boonies, but Dee and I know exactly how to deal with the boonies, and it was a sunny day, so we didn’t care.  We were two explorers marking the uncharted territory of New England!  Actually, at this point we couldn’t have told you what state we were in, but that’s not the point.  Our windy road turned into a dirt road and Deidre pulled out the camera to take some video, because we have seen WAY too many horror flicks, and knew that for blockbuster purposes, we need to take some quality video of our last moments in case we were chainsaw massacred or the like.  Unfortunately, the Peace Pagoda turned out to be too peaceful, and we put the camera away.  We’d have to hike into it, and didn’t want to risk the ticks.  The exploration was fun while it lasted.

Now onto bigger and better things, like camping in the wilds of western Mass!  But first we had to survive more windy roads.  We got back on track and eventually found ourselves screaming around (OK, I was going 5 mph)  this hairpin turn somewhere near Florida, MA.

home of the death-defying hairpin turn

The grades of the roads were steep, the views were long, and we were really high up.  I needed a “break to view the scenery.”  Yeah, that’s what we’ll call it.  We pulled off onto this bumpy gravelly pull-out.  The next moments were tense, and went something like this:

Rachel: “Shit, I can smell brakes, I hope nothing’s wrong with the car.”

Deidre: “Shut up and stop worrying, there’s no brakes smell.”

Rachel: “You don’t know what I smell, and I smell friggin brakes!  Stop arguing with everything I say; actually, just don’t talk at all.  FRIGGIN A!  I am the elder sister, and therefore I am prettier and wiser and much funnier, and your opinion has no bearing in anything we do.”  (ok, maybe I just made up that last sentence, but I was surely thinking it.)

Deidre: “You’re crazy, can we go now?” (And I’m pretty sure she threw in other choice words, but I will leave them out for posterity’s sake :P)

bundle of joy

That is the G-rated version of it, anyhow.  Despite this exchange, we managed to take some pictures in which we look quite sisterly and affable.  After my feet had been on firm ground for a few minutes, I stopped being afraid of this death-defying drive, and we carried on.

"ok i posed, can we please get the heck out of here now?"

"gulp"

affable again

the faithful "Blueberry," brakes ok.

Next stop: FIREWOOD!  By now we had been driving pretty much all day and were getting a little antsy to find the Mohawk.  We saw a sign for cheap firewood and pulled into the driveway of this seemingly legit firewood place.  Something was eerie tho, something was off.  Our horror movie-driven minds were cranking again.  It was just too quiet.  This place had a big garden growing in the back that you could see from the road.  Stalks of corn?  This could easily be the locale of a horror movie.  I dropped Dee off by the piles of firewood, $2 for split logs, and free kindling and paper, while I scoped out the perimeter.  There was no general entrance to the building on site, and it in fact turned out to be a conglomeration of several apartments.  There was a handwritten sign scribbled on a piece of paper, telling us that if we needed assistance, to go to apartment such and such.  I grabbed Dee and we went in.  She thought it was a bad idea, but the allure of knocking on a stranger’s apartment door out in the sticks was too strong; we were in too deep now to turn around!

We entered the building and walked down the hall.  We found apartment such and such.  We knocked.  A old man opened the door and lunged at my face.  He was only drunk tho, and a little uneasy on his feet.  The curtains were covered with blankets and the room was dark.  An old lady babbled at him from the background.  All I could think of was the Princess Bride scene with that old couple, but I managed to say, “We’re getting one bundle of firewood—can we pay you here?” “Yeah, OK….”

I asked him where the Mohawk Trail State Forest was, and he said he thought it was a little ways down the road.  Well, that was anticlimactic.  Yet again, we had no basis for a horror movie.  We loaded up the Blueberry’s trunk with firewood, that we later found out was illegal to bring into the state park, and tried not to knock over the old suitcase and flea-market-esque stuff he was selling on the side of the road as we made our way deeper into the woods.  We were getting hungry!

Before we knew it, we were pulling into the Mo, as I like to call it, and checking in.  We found our campsite, and set up the tent (that Dee had bought for her boyfriend’s birthday so we could “borrow” it on this trip) in 10 minutes flat.  We’re from MAINE, baby!

hammerin

Dee is doing work

done!

We then changed into our bathing suits and run/scrabbled down a steep embankment to the river we were promised in the online write-up of the Mo.  On our way, I found a little orange salamander.  I couldn’t resist and had to pick him up and examine.

who doesn't love an amphibian?

Soon, we found ourselves at the river, and were pleasantly surprised to find a deep pool, all to ourselves!  We stood on rocks and made Charlie’s Angels shadows.

we need practice

high five!

We waded up and downstream.  We jumped in the water and pretended to swim laps in our personal pool.  It was heavenly.  The cares of the day floated away on down that river, and we laughed and splashed and jumped.

sissas

jumper extraordinaire

plugging my nose

hey, this is fun

really fun

and peaceful

But then we were HUNGRY!  We walked back up to the campsite and Dee got busy making a fire while I got busy searching for and sharpening sticks with which to roast our supper.

fire pro

stick pro

HOTDOG PROS

Dee had the fire crackling in no time at all, and soon we were on our way to finishing off an entire package of hotdogs.  I realize how disgusting this feat is now, but at the time we were quite proud.  After so many hotdogs, we could only eat a single s’more each, but it sure was delicious.  Before it started to get dark, we had to pack away all our food/cosmetics/toiletries/and clothes worn while cooking into the trunk of the car so bears wouldn’t ravage our campsite in the middle of the nite.

The rest of the evening we sat at the picnic table next to the campfire.  We talked about everything under the sun, sang songs our mom used to sing all the time when we were kids, and fought a little over whether the correct lyrics were “moondust in your hair” or not, and generally cracked up.  We sang rounds and looked at the stars and reminisced,  got creeped out by the guy who walked by our site 25 times, and laughed about the drunk high schoolers next to us who were well on their way to starting a massive forest fire.

We saved a toad that had been in the road and almost jumped in the campfire from almost certain death, explored our scientific curiosity by examining a glowing slug creature, and cranked up my LED light and flashed it around, searching for bears that might ravage our campsite and provide footage for the next great horror movie.  We closed our eyes and prayed and reflected, and felt thankful for our lives and our opportunity to spend time with each other.  We each had a “moment” to ourselves in which we thought our thoughts and felt good and peaceful.  These moments may have been my favorite of the trip.

a cool shot, potential horror movie material

Before it got too late, we settled into our tent.  We didn’t have a pad to put under us, so we had nothing but our sleeping bags and a blanket between us and the rocky ground.  To ward off any bears that did decide to ravage our campsite, I had mace, my Swiss army knife, and a lighter handy.  Dee wished I had brought a Taser, and we both wished our dad was there to ward off bears, cougars, yetis, etc.  We slept for a couple hours, then didn’t sleep anymore after about 3 am.  I unzipped the window of the tent by my head and smelled the night air and looked at the blackness, and waited for dawn.

Next: the hike of doom (for Dee) and the 3-state day.

Posted by: rachelanne229 | August 21, 2010

blue ponchos

9 August 2010

Geneva, New York

Monday: Day 4

We got our lazy bums up and at ‘em at a leisurely 8 am, and took  even more leisurely showers at the Mitchells’, since the Carys’ water tank had been hit by lightning and we’d had to abstain from being too clean to conserve water.  Dorothy and Dianne graciously waited for us to indulge in 15+ min showers before letting them into the bathroom, and then we noshed on granola + yogurt + blueberry muffins, and the multivitamins Aunt Ellen had set out on our placemats (cute!)  We got on the road to Niagara Falls (Or Viagra Falls, as Deidre craftily wrote in the postcard to our rents…) about 10, and arrived there around 12.  On the way we jammed to “Getting Jiggy With It” over and over and got caught up and shared good gossip, etc.  We dined on our turkey sandwiches and carrots, and then trotted over to the Falls area.  Apparently some relatives from our dad’s side, who were en route to Maine from Alaska, were at Niagara Falls on the same day– whoa coincidences!

she's really a joy

In short, Niagara Falls is really cool.  We did lots of walking and picture-taking.  Down at the water level are some abandoned structures with windows, and the inquisitive, but gullible, Dee asked me what they were for.  I told her that the Canadian government kept prisoners there, and that they raised the water level at nite to drown them in their cells.  She was aghast at the atrocities the Canadians are capable of.  Muahahaha.

Canadian atrocities!

We four cousins continued to walk around to the viewing tower, and took the elevator down to the Maid of the Mist.  We were given the famed blue ponchos, which let me say, are not very good at wicking moisture, and happily crowded onto the boat.  We cruised near to the Falls and took a bazillion photos.  The scenery took my breath away.  All I could think about was looking at the rocks with all the water removed and how the geography was formed and what remains of things are down below the water, just constantly pushed and tumbled and polished by the torrential rush of so many gallons.  We followed up this wonder of wonders with another wonderful thing: ice cream!  Dee and I tried “Panda Paws,” and were supremely satisfied.

whoosh!

ready to get splashy

lens getting wet

As we left, the rain broke thru—perfect timing!  We made a stop at a mall near the Mitchells’ place on our way back, and Dee and I made some purchases in a Reebok.  Purple/loose running shorts, score!  Next we made our Wegman’s debut and picked up some roasted taters for supper.  Supper tonite consisted of STEAK and corn on the cob.  Again, let me reiterate, our relatives are awesome.  Dee and I ate so well during the first few days of our trip that we almost didn’t mind living on cheese puffs, marshmallows, and iced coffees the rest of the trip.  Dot and Dit and Dee and I grabbed a movie after watching Jeopardy (you know you love that show), and enjoyed brownies and ice cream while watching “Brothers.”  We were pretty zonked, so headed to bed afterward.  Dee and I had a rough nite because of different temperature preferences/phone annoyances/miscellaneous problems that arise from sleeping with your sister, but were so thankful to have spent an awe-filled day with some of our favorite cousins!

Tuesday: onto camping in the Berkshires.  County girls let loose in the woods with a knife and a tent!

Posted by: rachelanne229 | August 17, 2010

Road Trip Extravaganza 2010: Days 1-3, ME-VT-NY

Maine:

Friday, 6 August 2010

Dee and I kicked off our trip at Aunt Becky and Uncle Phil’s house in South Berwick, ME.  Dee drove down from PI and I up from Cambridge.  Poor Dee got stuck in 2+ hours of traffic due to an oil spill/accident on 95, and at one point, had to drive north on the southbound lanes of the highway before she could turn around and head south on Rt. 1.  I also got stuck in traffic getting out of Mass, so unfortunately we were late for our lunch date at Margarita’s with Aunt Becky.  I made a pit stop at a grocery store in Dover to fuel up on sour gummy worms for my poor sis and Coke Zero for me, and I got into Aunt Becky’s around one.  We grabbed some subs and copious pastries from a local sub shop, and hung out till Deidre pulled in around 2.  I had a chance to catch up with my sweet lil aunt, who was just about to give her Masters presentation (she graduated the next day, wooo!), and check out her beautiful new house.  We ate a delicious lunch (our first of seven days of sandwiches), and then embarked on our drive to Wilmington, VT around 3.

Vermont:

We made good time and pulled into Aunt Jane and Uncle Mike’s place around 7 pm.  We are in love with their little Corgie, Ranger, and he entertained us to no end during our stay.  Uncle Mike grilled us some chicken sausages for supper, and then we stuffed ourselves with Reese’s ice cream (YES!)  Uncle Mike and I chatted some about potential career opportunities with the NPS after I graduate, and we did a little reading and watched some of “Jarhead.”  This was our first of many nites of no cell service—we and our kin love them boonies!  Dee and I crashed pretty early and pretty hard because we were zonked from our heavy driving and I had gotten up at 5 am to run 17 mi that morning.  We enjoyed the sleep of the dead in a pair of twin beds upstairs.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

The next morning we got up around 8 and devoured some of Aunt Ellen’s delish homemade granola with blueberries, and then donned our hiking boots for a jaunt up Haystack Mtn., right behind Jane and Mike’s house.  My knees/legs were screaming a little bit since I had promised them a rest day after the long run, but the day was lovely and crisp and cool, and a hike was the perfect way to spend the morning.  We got on the 4.8 mi round trip trail around 9, and reached the top in a little less than an hour.  We powered right along to keep up with Uncle Mike’s clip, and enjoyed chattering away and watching Ranger bound along the trail.  He probably climbed 3-4 mountains to our one!  The hike was moderate; we had steep patches and flat rocky sections, and only had to use our hands to scramble over rocks at the very top.  The vistas were great, and Uncle Mike pointed out a nearby lake that he and Jane and Ranger snowshoe on in the winter.  We bounded down and ate a lunch of turkey sandwiches, grapes, and carrots on their deck overlooking their beautiful yard.

Our cousin Kate arrived after lunch, and Jane, Kate, Dee, and I drove about 30 mins to pick 10 pints of organic blueberries at a daylily farm.  They were so friggin good!  I must’ve downed at least a pint in my picking frenzy.  I almost started to feel guilty about my gorging until I realized how absolutely pleased with it I was.  We headed back to the house and Kate and Dee and I walked down to the “Clubhouse” to lie in the sun and swim while Aunt Jane planted the raspberries Mom had sent down for her.  We lazed on chairs and read (the “Myth of Sisyphus” for me, what was I thinking?), swam in the indoor pool, went back to the outdoor pool, and then basked in the sauna before we left.  Since we were so high up, the sun was pretty intense despite the cool air, and we certainly got some color.  We walked back up the steep hill to the house and took quick quick quick showers (since their water tank had been struck by lightning a couple days before) and ate tons of steak and corn on the cob.  After supper we went to this place called Wahoo’s for ice cream and the ‘tives showed Dee and I some of the countryside.  Vermont is beautiful.  The landscape was scenic, the weather was nice, and we enjoyed catching up with family.

Wilmington, VT

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Dee and I got up around 8 again to the smell of blueberry pancakes cooking downstairs.  OH YES PLEASE!  We devoured a few with VT maple syrup and platefuls of fruit salad, and then bid farewell to the Carys. We drove into downtown Wilmington to explore a little bit before we left, and had a jolly ol’ time.  We first got real touristy and went into a gift shop to see what we could see.  We ended up buying a HUGE hunk of PB-chocolate fudge, probably ¾ lb, and started slicing off pieces right away.

We kept checking out Main St. and eventually found the bead store, “Bead It,” that we had noticed the day before.  Such a great little shop!  We spent probably an hour in there, and we each ended up with a single bead and some ribbon/silk to fashion super cute necklaces.

my beadDeidre's bead

Shortly after, we left Wilmington and found ourselves in Bennington.  We followed signs to the Bennington Battle Memorial, and were totally wow-ed by its 20-story height.  The gift shop was selling tickets for admission into the Memorial, so we paid our $2 (and bought some VT maple syrup; we just couldn’t resist after those pancakes!), and caught a ride in the elevator up to the top.  Windows on all four sides of the monument allowed us to see long distances to various locales, like Massachusetts and the Green Mountains.

After this neat little detour, we hopped in the Blueberry (my Civic), and crossed into New York.  My sister loves to pee all the time, so we made a bajillion stops at service stations along the way.  The traffic was pretty thick at a few points, and cute boys in a big yellow truck stuck themselves out the windows and amused us as we crept along.  We hugged the Erie Canal for a good portion of the drive, and tried to remember how we knew the song “15 miles on the Erie Canal” and what the hell the rest of the lyrics were.

We rolled into the hood of Geneva, NY around 5, and were greeted by not only Aunt Ellen and Uncle Kevin, but also our cousins Dorothy and Dianne, who miraculously happened to both be home at the exact time that we were visiting!  After unloading our stuff in the upstairs guest bedroom, we ate SO MUCH FOOD!  (Are you sensing the pattern here?)  They had cooked a HAM, as well as a 3-bean salad, a spicy corn salad, and a beet and feta salad.  We then had brownies and ice cream for dessert.  Our relatives are awesome!  After supper we chilled upstairs with the girls, and tried on some clothes they no longer wanted/needed.  Dee and I made out like bandits and pretty much re-filled our stock of jeans for the next couple years.

Soon after, we crashed, but had a little trouble sleeping since Dee likes to sleep pretty much on top of me and I like to sprawl my limbs all over the bed.  Also, this kid mumbles random mumbo jumbo all nite long and pops her teeth like a friggin bear.  I have to hear her talking the entire day, and then she keeps at it through half the nite too! 😛  I don’t know how she gets any rest.  Nevertheless, sleeping with her kept me from throwing my arms up in the air and waking up with dead limbs, which was a huge plus.  We went to bed excited, knowing that the next day we’d be oohing and ahhing over Niagara Falls!

Posted by: rachelanne229 | July 29, 2010

how to catch gangrene

the past couple weeks i keep waking up and wondering where the hell my arms are because I CAN’T FEEL THEM! then i’m like, oh shit, they’re flung up above my head and are absolutely and positively numb. sometimes i am lucky and only one of my arms is in this unfortunate position, and i can grab the other gumby-esque limb with my functional hand and awkwardly drag it down into its rightful spot– below the level of my heart where it can receive ample bloodflow to remain alive. the last time this happened tho, both my arms were up so high above my head that i was unable to feel anything up to my shoulders, and couldn’t move either arm in the slightest. the only remedy for this downright embarrassing situation is to use your abs to pull your torso up from the bed and let your limp arms flop down to your sides. a display such as this is none too attractive. i have a sinking suspicion that lack of blood flow to the arms can lead to pretty undesirable consequences (ie permanent nerve damage leading to inability to brush my teeth, put on mascara, eat ice cream, etc), especially when this condition is ongoing throughout the nite, so i’m hoping tonite i can break the cycle and will be able to fall asleep in a manner somewhat more beneficial to the health of my poor little arms!

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