Monday, June 30, 2008

On the Road

May and June have been a pretty crazy month for me. In the past four weeks, I've been in eleven states (plus DC), slept in eleven different places, and racked up more than 2,600 miles on my odometer (I don't even want to think about how much the gas cost for those miles). I've had a lot of fun, though, and the fact that I have no road trips planned for the near future makes me feel almost ancy.

Some highlights of the New England roadtrip:
  • Visiting former Bates haunts with old friends, climbing Mount David and eating brunch in Commons (it was New Commons, but the French toast still tastes the same).
  • Camping in ME and VT with Nate, discovering Burlington (a very cool city) and exploring shops and neighborhoods in Brattleboro, planning for my move there in September.
  • Swimming in Lake Champlain to cool down from the 95-degree heat (yes, even in Vermont!)
  • Kicking off the summer season floating in Candlewood Lake, bonding with my family over gin and tonics and cheese and crackers.
  • Wading in Kent Falls.
  • Revisiting my youth by playing on the tank and dancing old-timey style in the bandstand on the green in New Milford.
  • Rediscovering beautiful New England and getting excited about living there again!
The trip was a blast from beginning to end, although the one low point came when I realized I had lost my camera. (Yes, some of you may remember this is the second time this has happened to me, don't remind me, I'm kicking myself really hard for being so absent-minded). So I've had to borrow photos from other people to show off my adventures.

From Basil: Alison and Henry and I in front of Old Commons, feeling nostalgic for the small and middle rooms.
Old Commons

From Nate:
Where did I go to college?

Overlooking the Connecticut River in Brattleboro:

Ice Cream Mecca!

Who took that?

Oh, and we also learned a little bit about Maine's own Moxie soda:

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Road trips!

Today is the first day in two months that I've spent at home, alone, with no agenda or plans or responsibilities. It's wonderful! I took two naps already.

May and June are very busy months for me, and I'll be spending a good amount of time traveling. Recently, I've been spending some quality time with my car, and in the next couple of weeks I'll be spending even more time driving. This past week the driving was mostly a bad experience. For future reference, the next time I suggest that it will just be easier to drive to Washington, DC, then New York, then back home again, remind me that IT WILL NOT. I should take the bus or train like other normal people. The combined travel time for these three legs of the journey should be about 12 or 13 hours, and yet from Tuesday through Friday I spent 19 hours driving, and about $30 in tolls. The terrible traffic I encountered and moments of getting lost in unfamiliar places could be described as a comedy of errors, and yet it WASN'T FUNNY. I was so relieved to get home on Friday night that I've been content to do absolutely nothing this weekend.

Other than this trip, the rest of the summer's road trips should be lots of fun. The good times started on Memorial Day weekend, which was a really fun weekend spent with Nate. First we hiked local landmark Mount Nittany, and on Sunday we embarked on a GeoDate. We took out a Pennsylvania Atlas, flipped a coin to choose between the pages in the vicinity of where we live, and then threw a dart at the chosen page to determine our destination. The winner? Yarnell, PA, a place so small, it's not actually a town at all! Along with nearby Rhoads, Fetzertown, Runville, and Dry Top, Yarnell is included in Boggs Township, population 2,783.

View Larger Map
It was a sunny day, and we parked at the church, were greeted by several local dogs and had a picnic by a small stream. Afterwards, we stopped in at Jack's Snack Shack for ice cream, and asked the owner, Ed, about any local attractions not to be missed. We also clarified the correct pronunciation of the town's name (according to Ed: "yar-NELL. It used to be called YAR-nell, but over the years, I'm not sure why, it changed to the more fancy pronunciation of yar-NELL.")
Welcome to Yarnell
Ed suggested we head up Devil's Elbow road to see the "engine" carved into the rock. Ed's particularly rural pronunciation at first shocked me into expecting a silhouette of a Native American tribesman of some kind, and I was relieved to realize that he meant a train locomotive. A local attraction, the train was carved in the 1800s but its artist and reason for being seem lost to history and subject of some local speculation.
(Photo by Nate)
The train was pretty interesting, and while checking it out we met two families who had come to show their kids the train and go on a Geocaching excursion. Geocaching, which was a new concept to me, is a worldwide hobby for GPS and exploring enthusiasts. Containers are hidden, their coordinates and details written up online for other geocachers to seek them out. These sleuths sign a logbook and take and/or leave trinkets to be later deposited in other geocaches in other locations. (Oh, and for the record, Nate and I were calling our day a GeoDate even before we met the GeoCachers!)

This turned into a fortuitous meeting, because our new friends told us about a local spring where we could fill up our water bottles, and pointed us towards another Geocache at a historic church about a half-hour away. Thus we continued the adventure, seeing more beautiful countryside, learning about some local history and finding another treasure trove.
Old log church Geocache

I highly recommend the GeoDate as a great way to get to know someplace (or someone) new, especially on a beautiful, sunny day at the end of spring. In fact, we plan to use the dart-throwing technique in another week during our New England road trip through Maine and Vermont. Stay tuned for more adventures!