Sunday, November 1, 2009

My noisy girl

When I get home from work, Mike and Chalupa have already been in bed for awhile, and Lupa is busy getting "recharged" to play when I sit down to unwind.

It's my toy, don't take it!

Sometimes it's hard to get her to be quiet. She likes to tell me off in her loudest voice, and there's no stopping her. I can yell, bargain, whatever ... but she usually doesn't listen to me. One shout from Mike down the steps, however, and she zips up.

One night recently she was being especially cute (and getting in trouble for being loud at 1 a.m.). This video was taken with my phone.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer in Maine

For a week each year, we travel to Maine to experience its motto, "The way life should be." We love the coast, the lighthouses, the quaint harbors and basically everything about it.

This year, like last fall, we drove all night in order to be at the Maine border to start our first day. We had an interesting little detour on the way: We decided to pull off in Jersey City, N.J., at 2 a.m. to try to photograph the NYC skyline, and getting back on the highway, we headed in the wrong direction and took the Holland Tunnel into NYC! I've always wanted Mike to drive us to NYC, and it turns out the middle of the night was the perfect time! We ended up driving through Soho to cross the city and get back to Interstate 95 to Connecticut. Fun!

In Maine, we travel Route 1 and hit all the major lighthouses as we head up the coast. Nubble in York Beach is the first stop (really easy to get to off the highway).

Portland Head Light is surrounded by beautiful park grounds and a walking path. The first thing Mike does, though, to get the best photos, is wander off the path and climb down the rocks to get closer to the crashing surf.

Most times we are in Portland, it is pouring down rain. Our visit this year started with blue skies and white puffy clouds, and we had beautiful weather for the majority of the trip.

An artist was taking advantage of the nice day and painting a pretty good rendering of the scene.

In mid-Coast Maine, Marshall Point (which was seen in Forrest Gump as the easternmost point he ran to) and Pemaquid lighthouses are two of our favorites. This year, we went to Pemaquid at night to get a different shot. Mike shined a flashlight over the rocks to get the effect in the photo below. I was sitting on the rocks above at right enjoying the nearly full orange-colored moon over the ocean.

Up the coast a little in Rockland, you can walk out a nearly mile-long jetty to see the city's light that sits in the middle of the harbor. The morning we were there, a few loberstermen were checking their pots and getting dive-bombed by sea gulls hoping for some breakfast.

We spent four nights in Lubec, Maine, the easternmost town in the United States, where the sun rises in July at 4:50 a.m. Luckily, there was no hurricane forecast to hit this time, like when we were there last fall. From Lubec, you can also cross a short bridge to Campobello, Island, Canada, and in the area there are 3 great lighthouses.

It just so happened that the famed red-and-white-striped West Quoddy lighthouse in Lubec was open for tours while we were there (it only opens to allow people to climb to the top once a year).

This photo from the tower shows metal eagles that help with water drainage.

After enjoying some lunch and music that were part of the festivities at West Quoddy, we headed over to Campobello for the afternoon, and for the first time, saw finback whales from the shore! They were everywhere that day around the East Quoddy lighthouse, at the northern point of the island.

The cool thing about East Quoddy is that tides determine when you can walk to the lighthouse. Lubec and Campobello are separated by the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tides in the world. To visit the lighthouse, you must climb down 3 separate metal rung ladders and cross the bay floor. You can only do this within the two hours around low tide. If you don't come back in time, you get stuck for 12 hours. And in July, it was 55 degrees that evening!

We also discovered that they also now offer tours of the inside of this light. So this was something new that we got to do.

Back in Lubec, there's a short jetty you can walk out that has an international marker on it, where you are technically in Canada.

On our last evening in Lubec, we spent the sunset at West Quoddy trying to get a good shot. Although it wasn't perfect photography-wise, it was a peaceful spot to round out our time in northeast Maine.

Next stop, Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park ...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A tale of two boating trips

On Saturday, it was a beautiful day here - 75 degrees and sunny with little wind - a perfect day for our first kayaking trip of the season. It was my first time out in my new boat - a red Loon Classic 100 from LL Bean (my only other attempt to use it last August was disastrous; it was way too windy and wavy), but Saturday's trip was pretty good.

We went to the southern part of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County, Md., south of Cambridge, and did about a 3-mile round-trip on the Blackwater River. The tide was going out when we got there, and was a little swift. By the time we were well into the marshy areas, the water depth was very low in some spots (and it was very muddy). We kept trying offshoots to hook up with the main river, but each ended up being impassable, so we had to end up retracing the same path back.

Here's a short video from the swampy area:

At Blackwater, bald eagles are everywhere; we saw a few on the drive in, but not while kayaking. I saw at least one water snake (the trail marker sign tells you that you will not come across any VENOMOUS snakes; how reassuring) and fish, turtles and herons.

Mike loved this spot; I kind of prefer the river that I wrote about in a previous post, but we also have plenty of more locations to check out. Next up are a few in Delaware.

Row, row, rowing a boat in NYC

In late March, we went on an overnight visit to New York City to see a play and catch the sights. Friday, March 27, turned out to be a wonderful spring day, nearly 65 degrees and sunny. We spent most of the afternoon in Central Park, entering near 72nd Street and Central Park West where John Lennon's Strawberry Fields are.

We were headed for the picturesque Bow Bridge, which has been in numerous movies. As we walked along The Lake, we saw a lot of people out in rowboats - and Mike decided, let's go do that! We went to the Boathouse and learned it was only $12 an hour to rent a boat, and off we went.

I never expected to be out in a lake in the middle of New York City in a rowboat, but I'm glad we stumbled upon it. It was so relaxing and fun, and it's so pretty in the park and neat to see all the tall buildings in the distance.

Here's a short video clip from the area around the bridge:

Such concentration!

The turtles were also out sunning themselves!

Exploring more of the park is definitely on my list for next time - but remind me to wear shoes that are comfortable, not the ones that I like. I could barely walk by the time we got back to the hotel!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spring and winter days at the beach

The beach at 56th Street in Ocean
City, Md., on April 8
Yesterday I had the day off, and though it wasn't very warm, I decided that I just needed to see the ocean. Sometimes, just stopping for a few minutes and walking through the sand and watching the waves roll in is the most relaxing thing you can do to refresh your mind (and it's only a half hour away).

It was 52 degrees, but when the sun wasn't behind a cloud and the breeze slowed down, it actually wasn't that bad. I didn't wear shoes for walking on the beach, since I also planned to go shopping, but once I got there and saw how nice it was, I carried my shoes and walked in my socks.

When late May rolls around, it gets too busy to go to Ocean City easily. April and September/October are the best time to enjoy the beach with fewer (or no) crowds. April can be cool or summer-like. In April 2006, I took this photo of Chalupa on the 15th, and it was 85 degrees.

I also stopped at Bethany and Rehoboth on my way to the Outlets. Rehoboth completed a Main Street revitalization project in the last few years, and it made the downtown main drag really nice looking. I'm going to go back and check it out again when more stores are open.

Here are a few scenes from winter at the beach. Ocean City hosts a Winterfest of Lights from November to January each year, with a massive light display you can take a train ride through and a second display you can see driving through the Inlet parking lot.

At the Inlet, I took this photo with my phone last December. It was such a peaceful scene one Friday night; there was a full moon, and the waves were crashing against the pier behind the seahorse display (the photo doesn't do it justice).

I've always wanted to see snow falling at the beach, but in my 12 years here I haven't done that yet. It doesn't snow that often, or that much. One year I was able to find some left over a few days after it snowed.

I'll wait for next year for the next snow. I'm ready for 80 degrees now.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A trip back in time

Back in the day, like millions of other teenage girls, I was a huge fan of the original boy band, New Kids on the Block. As a 14- and 15-year-old, I was happy to watch their videos and any TV appearance I could tune into. I never dreamed of being able to go to a concert.

So here it is, 20 years later. They've reunited with some new songs and gone on a tour also playing the old favorites. But now it's not cool to care, right?

I had seen them on "Today" last year and heard their song "Summertime." Otherwise, I wasn't paying that much attention until I read that they would be in concert on my birthday at Penn State, 30 miles from where I grew up. How could I not go?

So, to celebrate turning 34, an old friend and I hung out and relived memories of our 14-year-old selves.

And it was a blast! The whole show was built on nostalgia, and they are still great performers. If anything, I think they were better than they would have been live back in '89 and '90. I read that Joe has been on Broadway, and it shows in his stage showmanship; he does a really good solo medley. Jordan's still able to hit the high notes in all the popular songs. It seemed like they were having a good time on stage, too, and they were all gracious for welcoming them back.

Here's some highlights:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lazy (afternoon) on the river

Mike loves adventure: the bigger the mountain, the more strenuous the trail, he's there.

Me, not to such a great degree.

We take a yearly vacation to Maine. While he's on the toughest hikes, I'm usually camped out on the rocks, watching the ocean, reading a good book. I try out some of the harder trails, balk a little, but always end up having a good time.

His newest adventure is kayaking. Where we live, there are waterways ... everywhere. This spring, he bought a kayak and has been testing out several places. Last week, I rented a boat and went out with him on the Transquaking River in lower Dorchester County, Md.

The river was a great place to try kayaking for the first time ... very still, no current, not very wide and surprisingly, no bugs. Also, it had houses along the shoreline ... in case of an emergency =). The water was brown, and at the boat ramp it had a lot of murky stuff floating around in it, but I put my feet in it anyway, paddled my way into the river, and off we went.

And it was fun. We paddled and floated for about 4 hours, stopping so he could fish (the fish were jumping, but not biting). We saw egrets, herons and ospreys along the way. I brought a book along here, too, and read here and there while he tried to get a fish to bite, and it was a relaxing and peaceful afternoon.

Now, I'm going to buy a kayak of my own. I went to an LL Bean store 65 miles away today, only to find out they sold the one I wanted earlier this morning! I'm planning to try another store this weekend. On Sunday, we scoped out new places to put in along the Nanticoke River in the southern part of our county ... and we found some beaches there, too. After 11 years here, who knew?

So, our next adventure may await later this week ...