Thursday, August 30, 2012

Goodbye Acadia, hello York

We packed up camp for the final time and headed out of Acadia on Wednesday morning. We drove to York, Maine, to an amusement park/zoo that Bruce visited with his summer camp and has been talking about ever since. There were lots of rides for little kids, and Bruce was a good sport about going on rides with Phoebe.
 Scott and I rode a lot of the rides too, but we got our fair share of standing at the side with the other parents, snapping pictures and waving at our kids every time they went by. We spent a few hours on rides. Bruce said he liked the mirror-walled fun house the best. Phoebe liked the Scrambler. And the bumper boats. And the roller coaster. And the "Princess bounce house." And the Ferris wheel. It was hard to pick just one favorite.
After many hours of rides, we headed to the zoo. There was a cool petting zoo. We fed goats and walked alongside fawns.
 There were huge lions and tigers in sadly small exhibits. It was cool to see them so near, but also a little scary too: the fence isn't that thick and it isn't that far from your fingertips.
We ended the day with bumper cars and dinner at a surprisingly good roadside restaurant called Lucia's Kitchen, where Scott scored a black bean, avocado, feta, tomato, chipotle-mayo sandwich and I grabbed a grilled eggplant, garlic carrot, roasted red pepper, mozzarella, and sundried tomato sandwich. The kids downed black bean burritos and we survived the last leg of our trip in style.

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Hiking with the Raymonds

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Hiking can be pretty entertaining with Bruce and Phoebe around. Sometimes they tell stories (most of them don't make any sense) and sometimes they sing songs, but most often they just laugh at each other.
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Acadia: day 4

Tuesday was our big day in the park. The weather had been perfect thus far, but today it rained on and off. It was not about to spoil our fun though. We drove to Sand Beach, which was much too cold to swim in (the warmest it gets in the summer is 55 degrees - no thanks!). We hiked along it to Great Head, which had an initial steep climb and then a gentler trail.
 Phoebe and Bruce are pretty good climbers. Bruce is quick, and Phoebe likes to take her time.
 These are the faces they make when I ask them to smile now.
 We made it to the top, then Scott and Bruce headed down the shore and hiked to Thunder Hole.
 Phoebe and I hiked back to the car and met them there.
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Thunder Hole is best appreciated with a movie rather than a still picture. It's a little pocket in the rock that traps air and makes a loud thunder-like noise when the waves come in. Bruce watched it for almost a half-hour, announcing when a big wave was coming.
 We made sandwiches for lunch before heading to our next destination. Our poor car was/is not only filthy from all the sand/dirt/rocks/soot, but now has one working lock. The driver's side door ate Scott's key: it got stuck in the lock and wouldn't come out. We spent an hour on Tuesday picnicking by a car dealership while they attempted to get the key out. They couldn't do it, so they sawed off the key for us and took out the whole lock cylinder. We spent the rest of the trip using my key, opening the passenger door, and climbing through the car unlocking the rest of the doors. Awesome.
 After our hike, we drove to Otter Point. Phoebe fell asleep in the car again, so the boys hiked to the Otter Cliffs while Phoebe and I hung out on the shore.
 When she falls asleep, nothing wakes her for at least an hour. She was completely limp until we pulled up to the Jordan Pond House.
We hiked a little on the carriage trails there, but the kids were pretty tired. We headed to the Jordan Pond House restaurant for a snack, which is famous for its popovers and outdoor dining. I tried a popover while Scott and the kids ordered desserts. We agreed that the hot chocolate should be more famous than the popovers; even on a warm day, it was so good.
 We headed down the lawn...
 ...to Jordan Pond. We hopped around on the rocks and found a few fish.
We ended our day at the Bass Harbor Head Light and with a stop at the Ship Harbor trail.
The trail led to some really colorful tidal pools. Phoebe made a friend on the trail, another three-year-old girl from Massachusetts, and they hiked with each other for more than a half-mile. They called each other "my best friend," and "my hiking partner."

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Acadia: day 3

On Monday morning, we packed up camp and headed to Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. Phoebe fell asleep in the car, so we dropped Scott and Bruce off at a trail head and they hiked up Dorr Mountain...
 ...which required hanging onto chains and climbing up ladders...
...but it appears to be worth the climb. Gorgeous. They descended and met us at a nature center. When Phoebe woke up, we occupied ourselves by checking out animal exhibits in the nature center and finding frogs by the trails outside. We spent the afternoon swimming and building sand castles at Echo Lake. I think I left the camera in the car, so you will have to imagine tall pine-covered cliffs and a pristine (and cold, in my opinion) lake wedged in the middle. That night we set up at Seawall Campground and, as with every night on this trip, the kids asked to be put to bed.

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Acadia: days 1-2

This past weekend we did some real camping. We have always wanted to go to Acadia National Park and we finally got to go! We drove the five hours on Saturday and set up camp at Lamoine State Park, a quiet seaside campground with a rocky beach, a playground, a tree house, and a boat dock that was always occupied by fishermen. We went to church on Sunday morning and then drove to Grindstone Neck afterward.
Grindstone Neck, on the Schoodic Peninsula, has a rocky shoreline with big slabs, little round pebbles, and plenty of boulders to climb on. We climbed around for a few hours, finding snails and mussels and clamshells.
Grindstone Neck is across the harbor from the main portion of Acadia National Park, so we got a great view of Cadillac Mountain.
On our drive back to the campground, we stopped at a river and skipped stones. Throwing rocks never gets old - and there are lots of rocks in Maine.
We watched the sun set from the boat dock, had our nightly s'more, and turned in.

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Bruce's talent

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Bruce has many talents, but one of his most unique talents is his ability to beat-box. He can carry a tune while adding beats in the background, maybe some circular breathing in there. As his mom, I am biased, but I think it's pretty cool (and I'll admit very annoying at times).

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Weekend Camping: the trial version

The summer is nearing an end and I realized we had not been camping yet. Friends from our former church congregation were going camping in Vermont to a nice plush campground, so the kids and I joined the crowd. Scott was working so he camped in the hospital. We drove to Vermont on a Friday night and got in late, got help from friends to set up the tent, and enjoyed a s'more around the campfire before heading to bed. In the morning, we played on the swing set...
 ...and played Frisbee.
We went hiking on gorgeous trails. Bruce found a salamander that he insisted on carrying for a few miles. By the end of our hike, the salamander was stiff and lifeless. Oops.
 We hiked up to the top of Patriarch Hill...
 ...and then Phoebe announced that she had to go potty. In fact, she had to poo. We ran down with Phoebe moaning on my back. Thankfully, she made it to the potty.
 The campground is in Sharon, Vermont, at the birthplace of Joseph Smith. There is a tall monument and a visitor's center, but it is otherwise a woodsy, beautiful, peaceful place.
 After our hike, we went for a swim in a pond.
And this is how our trip ended: Phoebe in her swim suit and towel-jacket, asleep in her car seat, with an Oreo mustache. This was our quick camping trip just to get out and go camping. The next weekend we did real camping with Scott; more adventures to come.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Making a splash

We visit a splash park almost every day. The kids love getting outside and it's the only way to be outside when it is so hot. We often bring buckets and sidewalk chalk, but a few weeks ago Bruce brought some leftover tubing from a stomp rocket project. He was the cool kid at the park: everyone asked him where he got such a cool "toy." Home Depot is where it's at, my friends.

 Phoebe's favorite splash park activity is to fill a bucket and then dump it on my or Scott's toes.
 She also loves to get her hands on sand when she can.
 Ever since we returned from visiting family in Ohio, Phoebe has been elongating and sometimes accentuating her "a"s. Yes, she picked up an Ohio accent that is still here one month later.
Now she says "hey-elp" instead of "help" and "fay-ell" instead of "fell." Phoebe had so much fun in Ohio and still talks about the bus, the bounce house, the tractor, and Grandma and Grandpa.
Enough reminiscing about Ohio; after one splash park outing we went out for ice cream. The kids always get the same thing: chocolate chip cookie dough for Bruce and strawberry ("pink ice cream please!") for Phoebe.
 Phoebe likes to share with dad. One bite for her, one bite for him.
Miss J joins us on our weekday adventures to the various parks and beaches around. She loves to follow Phoebe around and do whatever she is doing, which makes it easier to keep track of them. J has been walking for awhile now, but is getting a little more adventurous and running a little faster; she had Band-aids on her knees for a few weeks from fall after fall on the pavement. Ouch.

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Squeezing the last drops of summer

The summer is coming to an end and we are trying to get every last drop out of it. School starts in two weeks and I will admit to being very excited about that, but I do love having lots of fun family outings during the summer.
This outing happened to be at Crane Beach. We spent the entire day there, watching the tide move in and then out. We dug our own swimming pool...
 ...and at one point, Bruce recruited the sunbathing lady in the pink hat next to us to help build. She ended up making buckets of sand around the edge of the pool for an hour. Bruce told her she could work at his factory someday.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Foiled again! and again! and again!

I am still running, but haven't blogged about it in awhile. While in Ohio, I ran a 4-mile race on Independence Day. I trailed the leader for two miles, caught her on the third mile, and then she caught me with less than a half-mile to go. As it turns out, she had just finished a collegiate track season and still had that kick in her. I collected my second-place plaque (do I really want that on my wall?!) and headed home.
A few days later there was a 5K on the Kent State University campus. I thought it would be a good hometown race to go for the win. I won, but the competition wasn't as good and it ended up being the hottest race I have ever run in my life (and I have run some hot ones lately). At the starting line that evening, it was 97 degrees. Earlier in the day, it was 104 degrees!
When I returned to Boston, I ran the Carver Cranberry 5-mile, this year's USATF-NE Grand Prix 5-mile championship. I had a great race, getting out quick and maintaining a quick pace. There were so many people in the race that I couldn't tell exactly who was in front of me, but I saw lots of ponytails and assumed that I was in about 10th place. I was wrong: with 100 meters to go, two women that I had passed earlier blew right by me. They ended up 3rd and 4th, and I got 5th in 29:20. I was handed an age group prize, a water bottle, which I threw in the dishwasher as soon as I got home. Only when I unloaded the dishwasher the next day did I realize there was a gift certificate stuffed inside it. Thankfully, it survived the wash cycle.

Last weekend I ran the Bridge of Flowers 10K, a race that I last ran in 2010 and enjoyed and hated so much that I wanted to do it again. It is a beautiful race in a small town in western Massachusetts with good prizes and a fun atmosphere, but with a gigantic mile-long hill. I started well and came through mile two in third place. I hit the hill and dropped back to sixth place. I crested the hill and caught four women within a mile: I love downhills! I caught up with my teammate, who was leading, and we carried each other through another 1.5 miles. I pulled ahead, knowing that she always has an amazing kick. I led until the final hundred meters, where her amazing kick prevailed. She felt bad about it later, but it is a race and if I have to lose to anyone I would love for it to be her.

As much as I love second place, I am thinking about adding some speed work. I need to remember how to finish a race!

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