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The New Phone Book Is Here!

Put on your way-back hats kids. Think back twenty years. Think about when you used to move. About the packing that you'd do. I remember a particular dilemma: should I bring the yellow pages to my next house, or should I leave it for the next resident? Seriously. This was something I gave thought to. I didn't want to doom the next resident to a costly future of 411 calls, but Lord knows I couldn't afford that either. Would I get a new book when I set up service at the new apartment? I seem to remember that wasn't the case, that the phone book came once a year and that was that.



Of course it's 2011 and I haven't looked a phone book in 15 years. Still, every year some poor Labor Ready-scouted ex-con comes by my house with a plastic bag containing the massive Yellow Pages (the residential listings have been mercifully discontinued). I cringe when I see see the workers canvassing the neighbourhood, knowing that soon they'll visit my door step, leaving me with a burden that I'll be responsible for recycling. How does one opt out of this? Is this even legal? Really. I mean if I went around and left a 12lb copy of my epic memoir on everyone's porch, would that be okay. What is the definition of littering?

Of course this is all pretty banal right? Why waste time thinking (or especially complaining) about this, but this year I was particularly insulted by the whole process. Not only was our front door hit, but also a door that connects our bedroom with its deck. Yes the worker went around to the back of my house, climbed up a massive set of stairs that rise 30', and left a phone book at my bedroom door. Gee, thanks.

the start of something big

Hello.

Everyone seems to begin their LJ entries with "I haven't written here in..." confessions. I echo that and agree with the sentiment; this is a bad thing. So let's fix that in 2011 okay? It's the time for resolutions after all.

Although I have ignored LJ for a while, I've not been AWOL. Most of you got a holiday card and letter from me. If not, then I guess we're not friends IRL. As e-friends are pretty lame, I'd like to change that if you're game. We'll meet at Blanc Burger from some truffle fries or head to a random show at Record Bar that might be great, or I can be dragged to just about any film as long as I'm promised the presence of popcorn (ask Kate who took me to Wolverine last year). Is that how you make friends? Is that what friend's do? I'm confused by the process as Kate and I are trying to make some new friends just down the street from us, but right now it's as much stalking as friendship. Man the internet makes these things odd. Thanks to Flickr I know what the couple's bedroom sheets look like, but I've never spoken to them. That's weird right? Gotta fix that now that the holiday rush is slowing down.

Speaking of popcorn, I got two 5lb bags of it as Christmas gifts. I guess my friends and family know what makes me happy. I think I did pretty well by others even though one big gift to Kate was a fail. Hopefully she'll find the ukulele I gave her to be life changing, earning it the title of best gift ever received. Currently she seems a little afraid of it and would like me to enquire about lessons. And in case you're wondering, yes, Big Dudes will provide ukulele lessons. No word yet on a beginning kazoo seminar.

Kate and I spent the holiday in town this year, making it only the second time that I haven't woken up Christmas morning with my family present. It was rough, but it was nice to have a bit of Christmas at home, as well as lots of it with Kate's family. As with their Thanksgiving dinner, their Christmas brunch is an absolute feast. Om nom nom nom.

The holidays were generally pretty relaxed as I finished my gig in Connecticut in early November. I left work Friday November 5th – a week earlier than I intended – so that I could accompany Kate to Los Angeles for a filming of Jeopardy. While I got to enjoy the studio audience, she got to play the game and did quite well. While I can't say what happened, I will say start watching on Friday March 11th, 2011 and continue watching until she loses. There is talk of a large viewing party at a bar here in Kansas City, so get in touch if you'd like the particulars. I know that Kate and I would love to have you in for the weekend.

Trivia in general has been pretty dry though. As soon as I came back, our regular trivia night at Czar Bar ended abruptly. We've tried a few other nights out (Buzzard Beach, Record Bar) but haven't found home yet. We were supposed to do Bulldog yesterday, but somehow we blew it off without realizing it (until this very moment). Instead we stayed home, I made pancakes for dinner, and Kate emptied her inbox in preparation for a new year of incoming clutter.

I'll return to work in CT next week for a few days, and then it's back home for a few weeks, then out again for a week, then back home for a month or two then back out for three months or so. It's all up in the air though after these first two short work excursions. As I probably noted in your xmas letter, 2010 was pretty good to us work wise, so I'm not so terribly worried about the particulars of work in 2011. If it's slight, we'll be fine. If it's big, well we may spend more on a remodel than we bought the house for. Can you say dream kitchen?

The gym has been going pretty well. I make it about 6 days a week, though lately I've been considering occasional 2-a-days. If only I had my high school wrestling coach here to drill the hell out of me (wait that made wrestling sound even more gay), I'd be in shape in no time. A number of friends seem to be running marathons, half marathons, or just 5Ks. While I'm not sure I want the 26.2 version, I should really go do a 5K. I mean it's a half hour, who can't jog for a half hour? I say that now, but after all those months at work, with very little time spent in the very little hotel gym, my 5K time was like 50% off my pre-work pace. I'm back in form now though. Let's hope the 8lbs of gut I gained disappears just as easily. I'm starting to dread the "resolution rush" that will crowd my gym through January.

Too Much Rock is going well. Plenty of time to listen to music so the weekly podcasts have been just that. I also kicked out a "Top 30* Songs of 2010*" list that I defend on the website. If you're curious, peek over there. A list of top albums has been created but not yet posted. iTunes tells me that I added 149 albums released in 2010 to my library this year. This sounds like a lot of new music until you remove the 2010 release date limiting criteria and then it's 251 albums added in 2010. So five new CDs a week. This tops Kate's pace this year which has put her at 51 movies (new or revival) in the theatre this year. We're both likely to create a list of 2010's top films sometime in the coming week. I'll be sure to share it.

Well there's lots more to report, but mostly it's because I haven't kept anyone updated in months and months. Oh well, as Kate is fond of saying "We'll make better mistakes tomorrow."
I'm proud of myself, so let me crow.

I wanted to upgrade the virtualization software on my Mac that allows me to run Windows (so I can use Microsoft Visio and Microsoft Project which were never released for the Mac).

New Parallels 6.0 is $79.99
You can upgrade for $49.99.

Instead I bought Parallels 5.0 (old version) for $39.99 on Amazon (free shipping as anyone who can find a .edu address can get Amazon Prime for free).

That version came with a $20 rebate.
It also came with a $20 rebate if you had any previous version of Parallels. I had 4.0.

So now I've got Parallels 5.0 and $.01 profit. I want 6.0.

Luckily Parallels is giving anyone who bought Parallels 5.0 in the last month a free upgrade to Parallels 6.0.

Voila. New version of Parallels and I've got a penny profit instead of a $49.99 capital outlay.

But wait, this is for work I'm doing for a client so I can expense that $39.99 too. Oh yeah see, now I've got $40 in my pocket (as who reimburses their client for rebates that come months after a project has ended?).

And to think, I thought about just downloading it from the Bay.

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Luckily there are no kids on the LJ so we can talk freely. You know what scares me? Kids. In particular those of Generation Next.

Last night Katie and I (and chums) went to see She & Him in Kansas City. As with the next few big concerts, I didn't bother get a photo pass, giving me the rare opportunity to stand in the middle of the crowd and watch the show. Turns out that watching the concert is a rarity.

All around me kids were pulling out their lit cellphones to send text messages, read emails, or check Facebook. I stood behind one girl who must have sent 300 text messages during the 75-minute She & Him set. Of course I read them all.

Turns out she and "Black Chris" were so inspired by the show that they're going to start a band. So inspired that they couldn't just watch it, but instead had to text to each other, non-stop, throughout the entirety of the show. My little texter suggested that she's going to get a tambourine. Of course she also had another conversation where she counseled a friend who was going to give into "hormones" and "do you know what" with a boy she just met. My texter disapproved.

Really though, these short attention spans are going to kill us. Studies have shown that we just don't comprehend or retain things as well when multitasking. Surely we're going to need one or two deep thinkers out of this generation right? Well I can tell you that none of them were at that She & Him concert.

First World Problems

Just so you know, I'm dying on the inside and crying on the outside. And it's over technology.

I ordered my new i7 quad-core 27" iMac a week ago yesterday. On Monday the free printer and free iPod Touch shipped. They arrived on Wednesday. I sold the iPod on Craigslist eight minutes after it arrived. The printer will hopefully sell tonight as a buyer has told me he's coming. The computer shipped on Tuesday. It was supposed to arrive on Friday. On Thursday and Friday, the FedEx site showed a Friday delivery, however the last location update was on Thursday morning -- still in Sacramento, CA. Well Friday came and went with no sign of the computer. FedEx removed the "Estimated Delivery" section from the tracking page. There is no longer any estimated delivery, still no update since the computer's arrival in Sacramento on Thursday. This morning Apple says it should be here today or tomorrow, but if not wait three days then call them. FedEx has been a trace on it, though FedEx ground is closed on Mondays so we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see if they're able to locate the package.

The waiting is the hardest part.

Home Sweat Home [Yes, I meant "Sweat"]

Well I'm home.

I'll go back and clean up the photos for the old posts today, but I don't think I'll be catching you up on the rest of the vacation. I figured it was best to spend more time on the vacation and less time documenting it. Sometimes I feel that way anyway.

You can see all 410 photos that make up the trip, in the order they were taken in this Flickr set. Sadly there are no photos of TreeGo as I was too busy having the time of my life.

Oh I will say that returning to 100+ degree weather (with heat indexes like 124) was HORRIBLE after being in the mid 60s and low 70s for three weeks. Simply lousy.

So now I'm back to my routine.

Wake up and take care of the dogs. Watch The Daily Show over breakfast. Get through my Too Much Rock mail. Do a crossword puzzle. Putter around the garage or yard. Make lunch. Watch TCM (today I stumbled on Crossfire from 1947). Listen to some music and work on the podcast. Feed the dogs. Watch Jeopardy. Make some dinner. Listen to music. Do another crossword puzzle. Watch Colbert. Go to bed. It's a hard life I tell you.

I tried watching Shopgirl last night btw. I got like 20 minutes into it and switched it off. I'm so not interested in the characters on the screen. I'll slog through it some other time I suppose.

Yesterday I dropped Kate off at the airport so she could go to her Jeopardy audition in Chicago. We'll be back there in a week for a wedding and then again the next weekend for the Slaughterhouse Rally, so I figured I'd let her have at this one alone. Wish her luck.

BTW don't you hate it when you eat food you have to (because it's going to spoil or it's already opened) instead of the food you want to? Man that sucks.

I still haven't upgraded to the iPod 4. No reason not to since the 3G is worth more used than the 4 will cost new. Well no reason except I'll be stuck with AT&T for another two years and with all the Verizon rumbling going on, I'm just not sure. I will buy my new i7 iMac here shortly though. Dunno what's keeping me from pulling the trigger there (other than just returning from a $8000 vacation).

Oh and money. I think I go back to work Sept 7th for just about 8 weeks. The 3-month gig in Boston that could of started in December is a no-go as my client wasn't the winning bidder. So around Halloween I may be unemployed again. Boom and bust I tell you.

Anyway photos need replaced, so I better go do that.

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A word about photos

Okay so the photos are gone. Well not gone but just not all pretty right now. iPhoto and Flickr have been fighting and I'm afraid I got in the middle of it.

1) A bunch of Flickr images were deleted, others double uploaded. So I deleted them all a few days ago and now I'm reupping them. That is why the links below don't work right now. I'll re-link the stories with the images when I have a chance. Lord knows when that will be.

2) The Flickr photostream is just out of sequence. I can't seem to figure out how to upload more items to a Flickr set in iPhoto and have them upload in the right order up to photostream. Now I can reorder the set in Flickr and that should all be correct (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sidmuchrock/sets/72157624465138447/), but the photostream itself is a mess. I guess I need to look at using an external tool if I want to order how things show up in the photostream when I'm uploading to an existing set.
Thursday July 22nd

The next morning we woke up to blue skies, electricity, and most importantly, internet access. After our breakfast-for-two (half of which I couldn't eat) on a small sunny table set up in the dining room, we cleaned up then packed up. We stopped for a moment to tour the small Victorian garden attached to the inn (it had fared pretty well through the storm -- a storm we learned spawned four tornados elsewhere in Maine), but then it was top down and highway ho for us.

We cruised US 1 up the coast headed for Camden which we were told was a cute and quintessential Maine coastal community with a harbour full of tall ships. Okay maybe a couple of schooners but nothing like what I had been lead to believe. The town itself was cute, but wasn't anything I'd really stop for, so that's my recommendation. If you do stop though, and you need a little something to sustain you a bit longer, there is a hot dog shack on the harbour front where you can get an over-priced veggie dog. Any port in a storm though right?



The real treat of Camden is about two miles north of town in the State Park. Pay the $9 (yeah I know painful) and drive up what was once a carriage road to the top of Mount Battie. The site housed a gilded age hotel for the summer cottage set but that was long ago destroyed. All that stands there now is a single stone tower, but oh what a view. You can see the town nestled between the hillside and the water, the ships laid out in the harbour, the enormous Penobscot Bay, Mount Cadillac in the distance, and other peaks behind you. Spend your lunch money on this drive, or better yet, make a morning of it and hike up.



While we dawdled at summit, identifying harbour islands with the map, grey storm clouds snuck up behind us. Halfway down the mountain large drops started falling. With the top up we followed highway 1 for the next hour or so. After stopping for lunch in Belfast (at a very friendly, and surprisingly good pizza an sub shop) the top was once again dropped. The rest of the trip was blue skies and Car Talk podcasts. Oh and this bridge in Bucksport, Maine.



Although I thought pulling into Bar Harbor at 3:00 in the afternoon on a Thursday would probably bring us bumper to bumper with other vacationers, we drop directly to the Harborside Hotel in the thick of Bar Harbor without issue. The issues came inside. This was to be the luxury resort splurge hotel. The nightly rate was higher than any I'd ever paid for a hotel (including my stay at the Gramercy Park Hotel in NYC), but somehow I had conscienced that it would be worth it. And I was still on board with this until we saw our room. Next to the guest laundry, next to the work out facility, first floor, no window -- only a sliding door to a tiny tiny porch that sat three foot from the cars in the parking lot. $389/night for a view of a parking lot?

The hotel couldn't fix this so Kate and I hot hotels.com and scouted the area. Pretty booked. Finally we walked down to the Bar Harbor Villager Motel where Plymouth Steve and I stayed after missing the last ferry to Nova Scotia some years ago. Sure it was a motel with a view of a parking lot, but the location was just as good, and it was $250/night cheaper than the Harborside. After arguing with the Assistant General Manager for a bit, and ultimately telling her that I would have American Express dispute any charges, we were released from our reservation.

I decided that since we were saving all this money, we should donate $50/night of it to a charity. Since lodging was the concern of the day, I decided we'd give Thursday's money to a women's day shelter in Kansas City.

The rest of the evening was delightfully tacky tourist shops, a surprisingly wonderful gnocchi on Cottage Street, and a performance from the community band in the village green. Soft grass, no bugs, a thousand screaming kids, an amateur band, and a great event that ended with The Star Spangled Banner. Lovely.

Friday July 23rd

Friday morning was spent reading tourist pamphlets and checking the weather reports. Friday, it seemed, would be the best day for whale watching. We signed up for a 1pm cruise, paid the $60 or so dollars each, and then hit up a local burrito joint for some tofu-filled wraps. Ah fresh lemonade under umbrellas on the patio. This is the definitely of vacation. While we were a bit early, it seemed that heading back to the dock for the tour was about all we had time for. Very smart move.

While the tour operator tells you to be there a half hour early, if you want to pick your seat on the boat, plan to be there almost an hour early. We were, and thus got the perfect spot on the top deck, in the very back of the boat. Although sunny and warm (but definitely not hot) on shore, once out at sea, jackets went on and I regretted wearing shorts. 25 miles out to sea there was a finback whale sighting (or so we were told) but no other whales. There were a few dolphins, and a lot of harbor seals, but that was it. Still it was nice to be on a boat cruising around for four hours, spying nice boats and amazing homes. Since we didn't spy any whales, we were awarded a voucher to take this cruise, or any other, anytime we like for free. Not bad.



Despite the cool temperatures, the sun had taken quite a bit out of me so I was happy to go back to the hotel and recuperate for a bit while a Whale Wars marathon played on Animal Planet. At 8pm we ventured back out for (what turned out to be) lackluster black bean burgers at a local pub. We then walked the very dark (and technically closed) shore path from the harbor around to our hotel. Not much moonlight to navigate by, which make have made the lit galley on the giant schooner anchored in the bay all that much more inviting. I don't think I could live at sea though; when boats pitch, I tend to get sea sick.

Friday's donation is most obviously for the whales.

Saturday July 24th

Friday night there was rain and Saturday morning was still feeling the affects. Kate and I got up late and crawled down to Jeannie's Breakfast for the tofu scrambler that I had spied on the menu a few days ago. That is a busy place lemme tell you. While we waiting for our table, I shopped a few of the local outfitters, deciding that I probably need some pants if we were going to go hiking. The chance of rain was high, the temperatures were low, and hiking in wet jeans is near the bottom of my likes list.

Breakfast was good and fast. We walked back to the motel, I changed into my fancy new pants and my Nu Balance Off-Road trainers (I've yet to find non-leather hiking boots), Kate put on a par of shorts and her gym shoes, and then we were off to Acadia National Park for a hike.

While I couldn't convince Katie to do the (supposedly terrifying) Precipice Trail, I did find a nice 1.8 mile hike up Gorham Mountain that we both agreed on. The bonus? It was right by Thunder Hole which was just too wonderfully named to pass up. Turns out Thunder Hole doesn't thunder very often. We were there during falling seas a couple of hours after high tide, and there was definitely no thunder and no spray. Just lots of tourists climbing around on rocks. After a quick stop and no photos, we continued to the base of Gorham.

The hike up was nice. The hike starts through a quickly thinning pine forest up a granite path, as the climb continues, the trees become fewer, and the rocking outcroppings become more dramatic. We could hear the ringing buoy bell throughout the hike, but the thick fog that had settled over the water kept us from seeing the awesome vistas the guide books all effused on. Still, the air was cool (mid 60s), the breeze was nice, and the elevated rocks made for nice resting points. After following near-constant cairns up the mountain, we finally reached the peak. A dis-heartening sign stood at the summit, informing us that we had climbed a 525 foot mountain. Really? 525 feet? That's it?



The views of the bay were still very much fogged in, but the view to the west -- of other mountains, and houses nestled in valleys -- was fairly clear and terribly scenic. After a quick stop for some photos, I tried to convince Kate to continue on to The Beehive, but after a German tourist chimed in that he had heard it was very strenuous, Kate vetoed the idea and we returned back down the mountain.

To throw me a bit of a bone, Kate did concede to taking the Cadillac Cliff's trail down the mountain which is a very steep rocky scramble instead of the gradual accent of the main trail. Here we climbed (and more often than not) lowered ourselves down from rock to rock, pressed to the sides of a rocky cliff, and even walked through a cave of sorts before rejoining the main trail for the final quarter mile down to the parking area. This bit of trail, however, was different than it had been an hour ago. Rain had evidently swept through this part of the mountain and small rivulets ran down the smooth granite path with us, meaning every footing had to be considered. I'm not going to tell you who, but one of us took a misstep and ended up on her ass just as a family passed heading up the mountain.

After the hike we decided to circle the island on the park's loop road. While never clear, we were never fogged in so vistas as Otter Point and the like were still breath-taking. In Northeast Harbor we stopped for yet another lacking veggie burger (though the attached bakery did provide Kate with a chocolate glazed donut that did meet her high standards). Outside of Southwest Harbor we stopped and played on low-tide rocks, and watched an oblivious beaver work on his dam. At Bass Point we visited the lighthouse. While the lighthouse was nothing spectacular, we did see dolphins playing just off shore.



Although the sun threatened a few times throughout the day, it was never able to burn through the thick haze. Still, as we headed towards home, we hoped for the best and made a stop on Mount Cadillac. Blue skies were visible at several points during our climb, but the top was completely fogged in. Or, as one Indian tourist noted, we were in the middle of the clouds. Still, there was only about 40' visibility and not much of a summit. Halfway down we found a clear spot, climbed out onto some rocks, and enjoyed a lovely view while the fog circled around us.



Although we had (inadvertently) timed our return to town with the start of "Inception," after seeing the giant line outside of the theatre we figured we were out of luck. Yep. Sold out. So after stopping by a tourist shop and picking up a few books on the history of Bar Harbor, we returned to the motel.

Saturday's donation: national parks.

And then there was Maine

Tuesday July 20th

I'm reaching back in my memory for this one. Tuesday morning Kate and I woke up to an alarm clock and checked out of the Mount Washington Hotel bleary-eyed. We had a 9am date with a cog railway to keep. The base station was only 10 or so minutes from the hotel, and after eating a few peanut butter crackers in the car, it was a mad dash for the train. It seemed odd that everyone was lined up so early -- until we actually stepped on the train. There are no assigned seats, and seating is two on one side, three on the other. Katie and I both got aisle "seats" on the three side next to gentlemen who were already quite settled on the idea that they would have the bench to themselves. With no window for a view, only one buttcheck on a seat, and no narration from the guide, this train ride wasn't worth the $62.50/person by any stretch of the imagination.



The view up top was nice and clear, but we only had 40 minutes to take it all in. So after taking in the 360 degree vantage points, we had little time for the gift shop, just enough time to grab a bag of chips from the snack bar, and no time for the museum before the whistle blew and we were back in line for the train. We made sure to get in line early this time to ensure we'd sit on the way down. Hopefully even together. The ride down was much like the ride up, just with more ash now that the train car followed the engine down the mountain instead of being pushed as it was up. The cleaner bio-diesel engines are probably better but luck of the draw gave us one of the old coal-fired engines.



When we arrived at base camp we visited the museum (where I learned I want to ride a devil's shingle down the mountain) and tried to regain our strength. We drove east to Portland on route 302 through occasional rain drops, but mostly with the top down, wind blowing through our hair (I've grown some) while episodes of "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" played on the stereo. En route, Kate looked up vegan joints in Portland and we set the GPS to take us to Green Elephant. However at 3:30 it had just closed from lunch and wouldn't re-open for dinner until 5pm. We whiled the time away walking up Congress Street, stopping at the recently renovated public library and then heading to the east end for a yarn shop called KnitWit. Can you tell who planned these stops?

On the way back we walked Commercial Street by the harbor. As advertised, Portland seemed like a really cool town. We didn't have much time to explore many shops, but I was jealous that the few we stopped into weren't in Kansas City (Eli Phant for example). At 5:30 we returned to the car (not ticketed despite an expired meter) and the restaurant. The food, delicious. And this Maine Root natural soda that is all over up here, primo. Just saying. Sadly we needed to hit the road at that point as we were expected by 7:30 at our bed & breakfast up in Round Pound, ME. With the sun out, and the top down, it was up highway 1.

Round Pond was a curious stop recommended entirely by a friend of ours. I knew nothing of the area or the bed & breakfast (The Inn at Round Pond) that we were urged to stay at. The inn itself has a history dating back to the 1830s though it is currently a frilly three-room b&b of the most usual sort. We arrived with moments to spare, met the proprietors, and then slipped down the street per their instructions to see the harbour. We also took their advice and got ice cream (yeah Raspberry Sorbet) from a small general store for our walk.

Kate and I reclined on a floating dock while the sun set on a very still harbour. It was lovely -- until the flies and mosquitoes kicked into overdrive. At that point we scrabbled the 1/4 mile back to the B&B, climbed up to our very tall four-post bed, and went to sleep.



Wednesday July 21st

Like the day before, the morning was postulated to be clear, with the afternoon looking a little like rain. If we were going to do any sight-seeing, we had to have a plan and execute quickly. After a breakfast of fresh fruit and most-certainly-not-vegan french toast with another couple staying at the B&B, we had such a plan. First it was down to the end of the peninsula for the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. We arrived at low tide and scrambled out on the rocks. I took photos, wrote postcards, and wounded Kate's foot. Sadly there was no way to get into the water as everything was very rocky, and at low tide, all rocks were covered with the mortal remains of sea life. After an hour in the sun, we were suddenly beseeched by fog. Having paid our entry fee to the park already, we went up the lighthouse despite the dense fog. Yep, no view. But really it is only a story or so up from the rocky ledge anyway; the view couldn't have been much different. The museum was okay, but nothing to write home about, so I wont.



Although it appeared rain was eminent on the point, on the other side of the peninsula, the sun was still shining bright. We had a nice lunch at The Cupboard Cafe (again on the recommendation of our hosts) and then continued to Colonial Pemaquid. First an old home, then an old fort, and then another museum. Seems Pemaquid was settled very early -- as early as 1607 actually. So Pemaquid thinks they're as important as Jamestown or Plymouth. I liked the rebuilt tower (rebuilt in 1908) on fort grounds the best btw. $3ea admission. You should add that to the $2ea for Pemaquid Point area if you're keeping track.



After exiting the museum, we discovered the the fog and grey skies had found us. We gambled with the top down and zipped back to the Round Pond Inn -- or rather we tried to. I missed a turn on an unmarked road, and ended up on a five or six mile dirt-road detour. It was just starting to sprinkle at 5pm when Kate and I pulled into home. Bill (the owner) was bringing in the flag from his front yard, and warned us that bad weather was on the way. It was.

In the Midwest we're used to seeing a heavy-duty thunderstorm roll through in the late afternoon at least once a week. Kate and I retired to our room and watched Heartlands on my computer, in an attempt to wait the storm out. It wouldn't give up. It rained and rained and the winds picked up. First the Internet went out, and soon after power went out. Without power for the well, water was also unavailable. Our lovely walk to dinner on the dock was not going to happen, and instead we shared a green apple that I had picked up from the hotel in New Hampshire during checkout. At around 10pm I blew out the lone candle and Kate and I went to bed.
Sunday July 18th, 2010

When Kate and I woke up Sunday morning it was sunny and entirely pleasant; this was not the case last year. A year ago we woke up to a cool tent and the wonderful sound of raindrops pinging the nylon tent. Then I found it impossible to enjoy the lazy morning because I knew that soon I'd be standing outside in the drizzle, whisking bugs, pine needles, and water droplets from the tent, and folding it away in a bag I'd be forced to reopen as soon as returned home to clearer skies. This Sunday there was no rain, no damp tent walls to avoid, no mud that would be splashed up against my socks as I packed, but still I was incapable of enjoying the moment. There was still camp to breakdown, and if we didn't get to it soon, even the tree canopy wouldn't block out the guaranteed heat and humidity. I had planned to spend the next few days showing Katie the parts of Boston I love, but the thought of suffering it under cloudless skies and 95-degrees was unbearable. Instead we changed plans and decided to head north for cooler climbs.

After a long breakfast that was more goodbye than pancake, Katie and I circled Boston and drove through the thick traffic of Highway 3 northbound. I assumed 3 might be more scenic than I-93, though 3 is, in this area at least, a three-land controlled-access road that is certainly no worse than any interstate in the country, and surely better than some. A large sign in the median welcomed us to New Hampshire, but due to its placement, we were unable to capture it for Katie's 50 States project. At this point it's a toss-up as to who will finish first: Katie or Sufjan Stevens. Soon the road was wearing on me, and as I watched Katie doze in the passenger seat, I began to realise that she has the right idea. At the next rest area I parked the car under a tree, put the top down, marveled at the cool breeze, and feel asleep to Hot Hot Heat on the radio, content in my smug self-satisfaction that this stop was my best idea I'd had all weekend.

Only 15 or 20 minutes later I was startled awake by my phone -- my business partner wanted project updates. Afterwards Katie and I walked into the rest area where we nabbed several tourist pamphlets and carbonated beverages. We read them in the car, making plans, and eating the peanut butter crackers packed for the trip. With an eye to the Mount Washington Cog Railway, we pulled back onto the highway.

Without pouring in too many details, our mission was sidetracked by the promise of a aerial tram trip up Cannon Mountain. There we caught the second to last tram up the four-thousand plus foot summit, and the last tram down. We didn't have much time to waste though we did make a quick run through the closing gift-ship to nab an embroidered patch for collection, and to squish a penny for Sean's collection. Afterwards we walked to the viewing station for The Old Man in the Mountain -- which is of course not there anymore. Katie suggested it was all very meta and was excited to visit other destinations where tourists go to see where things used to be. I suggested Charter Oak in Hartford or the World Trade Center towers in NYC. This is a list we'll need to flesh out.



At this point highway 3 slimmed down to a pleasant one-lane scenic road winding around the White Mountains. I frequently called out the outside temperature as reported by the rental car. With each degree drop Katie and I would squeal with delight. "It's 74 degrees! 74! That's 20 degrees cooler than Boston is right now!"

Having already made decisions that would keep us from reaching the cog railway that evening, we began looking for dinner and a stopping point. Dinner came from a little Italian deli that (with a little investigation) was revealed to have been a Quiznos in the not too recent past. A piece of paper on the counter chastised the customer declaring that service was slow because he was understaffed as residents of the area would rather draw unemployment than work for him. And furthermore he was forced to hire three Chinese exchange students to work for him. In his words, they didn't speak much English, but they were willing to work hard. While I wanted to explain to the proprietor (a seemingly nice guy) that if he wasn't willing to guarantee full time work and a living wage then no one would logically give up their unemployment insurance to cover his lunch rush, I instead merely groused to Kate as I ate most of an exceptionally large and equally expensive veggie sub.

After locating the turn off for the cog railway, Katie and I continued to explore the area in sunset. This is when I saw it. A giant white hotel nestled at the foot of a mountain range. I stopped to take photos, forcing Katie to look up the rates for the hotel. Mount Washington Hotel is one of the beautiful turn-of-the-century hotels that I am simply in love with. Oh the golden age of travel. And this one was a doozy. I spurred Kate on by suggesting (rather blindly) to Kate that the Bretton Woods accords that created world-wide monetary policy after WWII, might very well have taken place at this hotel. We found a reasonable rate (for such a historic and luxury hotel) online and I booked us in for a two night stay.



While the front desk clerk could not find our just-made reservation, she did let us in at the same rate (several hundred dollars below the lowest rate they had in their system), and put us in a fantastic (and entirely unnecessary) two-room suite -- a suite once occupied by Andre Liautaud of Haiti during the 1944 United Nations Monetary Conference.



Monday July 19th, 2010

The impetus for checking into the Mount Washington Hotel for two days, was weather. When our iPhones had a connection they warned us that rain was coming, and it planned to settle into the area for the entirety of Monday. There was no point in heading up Mount Washington on a rainy day. Additionally, if you're going to be stuck indoors all day, there's little better than exploring a turn-of-the-century hotel.

Two fire alarms during the night ensured a late start on Monday. I was happy to sit in a wingback chair, my feet propped on the open window sill, gazing out the window across a great lawn at the misty mountains that surround the hotel. There is no better soundtrack than the new Sun Kil Moon accented by rain running running off of a gutterless metal roof.

After a bit of exploration, Katie and I found our way to Cold Mountain Cafe in Bethlehem, NH for lunch. We'd retrace that route later in the evening to visit Chang's Thai in Littleton, NH for dinner. In between the two excursions we explored the hotel -- both on our own, and as part of the hotel's guided tour. The tour was really just a quick history of the hotel that ignored all the nooks and crannies that Katie and I were curious to hear about. There is evidently a film titled something similar to "The Secrets of the Mount Washington Hotel" that may provide us a better view into the hotel's underbelly.

While road signs continually remind us to watch for moose, we've yet to spy one. Monday evening the hotel was visited by a small black bear however, and we did see it running across the lawn toward the visitor parking lots. A fellow patron seemed terrified by the process and continually repeated that "this just isn't safe." I thought the bear looked huggable. You decide.



The night was spent on the veranda, nestled into wicker furniture, reading books, and writing postcards.

[all photos from the trip will eventually end up in this set on Flickr]

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