Tuesday, June 24, 2008


J and I had a near-death experience at about 6,000 feet Sunday. No kidding. Let me start from the beginning.

The father of the Is/Was family (who will now be renamed Bolt) wanted to summit Mt. Washington, the highest mountain in NH and in the Northeast, during his trip (which *sadly* came to an end Tuesday). Anyways, the peak of Mt. Washington only sits at 6,288’, but is known for having the worst weather on the planet. That’s right, worse than Everest! They once recorded wind speeds of 231 mph!! In any case, many people summit it every year, even in the winter via ice climbing. I was particularly excited about it since I hadn’t been there (J has) and we are trying to bag as many high peaks across the country as we can.

So, we picked out Sunday to do it. There are many trails to take, but we took Crawford Path, a 10-mile hike along the AT that crosses 5 of the presidential peaks above treeline (4,000’) to the peak of Mt. Washington. The plan was to meet the family up at the top since you can drive there. The weather predicted thunderstorms, but we figured we’d give it a try starting early morning and turn back if the weather got bad. Famous last words for may people trekking to the peaks of Everest, Denali and Whitney …

The hike was going really well. The weather looked good and the trail was a really good workout. There are 2 AMC huts along the way, one at 2 miles and one at 8 miles. Well, the weather got bad at the second hut, which was at about 6,000 feet. The hut crew advised not to press on, as we all watched lightening strike immediately followed by a clash of thunder. For those unfamiliar with thunderstorms, you can see how close the lightening is to you by counting the seconds between the lightening and thunder. Two seconds equals 1 mile. There’s not much reason to be concerned when you are surrounded by trees and buildings that are so much taller than you, but when you are on a mountain and are the tallest object around …

So we sat around the hut for a bit and debated. Bolt was hellbent on getting up to the summit, mostly because his family was up there waiting and with limited communication, he didn’t want them to worry when we didn’t arrive by our planned time. For a moment, it did look like the storm slowed a bit and the crew said since we were pretty fast hikers, we could probably make it to the summit in an hour. We decided to press on. The rain (hail) was still pounding us and we were traveling up on rocks, meaning we were basically hiking in waterfalls. And the fog was socked in, so we could just about find the trail and see 2 feet in front of us. In any case, the lightening was harsh. Mind you, June 22 started “Lightening Safety Awareness Week.” One minute it was 1 mile away, the next it would be right there on us. They say you have a better chance of getting hit by a car than getting hit by lightening and I’ve already gotten hit by a car, so um, I didn’t want to tempt fate. Although there have never been any fatalities on the Presidential Range due to lightening, there’s a first for everything. I was freaked out. We were only .25 miles into the hike when J and I decided to turn back to the hut. Bolt decided to move forward. Separating is the worst possible thing you can do as hikers. Not only could Bolt get hit by lightening (which actually you wouldn’t want to be too close to the person who gets hit), but he could twist his ankle or fall off a cliff. He is hard-headed though and we didn’t want to take our chances. On our way down, lightening struck close to us at least three times that we could tell. We kept ducking and waiting until it struck, then running a few hundred yards to duck again. But it was still pretty unpredictable.

J and I returned to the hut and the crew was pleased to see us, but not pleased that we let our buddy go on. About 20 minutes after constant worrying, we got word via satellite phone from the summit that Bolt made it. His family was there and of course glad to see him. He has some good guardian angels! So now the question remained as to what we would do. We could sleep at the hut, or try to summit if it cleared, but we had to get up to the top by 6pm, because all cars had to leave by then. Well, we were munching on some snacks when all of the sudden, the skies cleared completely and the rain stopped! The crew predicted we had about an hour before another storm came through so we quickly re-suited and got on our way. We did finally make it safely to the top! Yahoo!

In retrospect, it may have been the scariest moment in my life, but I feel like I’ve had some vicious moments, so I don’t know. It all seemed so surreal and happened so fast. I can see why climbers on bigger mountains get themselves into trouble so much … you just think it looks so close and you can do it. But weather is a nasty thing to play around with.

If that experience wasn’t bad enough, the Is/Was Family drove us back to our car at the trailhead and drove away before we realized we left our credit card and cell phones in the other vehicle. We were only 30 miles from camp, but we had NO gas. This is typical of us. We wait until the very last minute to get it. But with no money and no phone … hmm. We chanced it and pulled in a gas station and begged for mercy. We thought maybe we could call my mom and she could give a credit card number over the phone to buy us some gas. But, the gas man was like no other and gave us 2 gallons FOR FREE. We took his address andsent him the money even though he insisted it was okay. Gotta love those Nice Hampshires! Guess it was that whole “what goes around comes around” since we picked up two hikers from a trailhead earlier (before we realized we had no gas) and took them back to their car. We will still pay it forward some other time.

Okay, I’m almost done with my rant, I promise.

We just thought that if we did die up on the mountain, our surviving families would have a lot to deal with since it was just last week that we added some life insurance coverage to our current policies. Do I smell something fishy?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Is/Was Family Adventure in Acadia National Park

I know I am seriously lacking in the blog arena and it seems this blog has become nothing more than my weekly trip descriptions. Bad news folks. It’s probably not going to get better anytime soon, so bear with me.

The Is/Was family (from good ol’ Danville) arrived last Wednesday and they will leave this Tuesday. While we do love visitors, it will be nice to say hasta luego. I just never knew how much food two growing children can eat and how much laundry they can produce. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we are waiting on them hand and foot and they’ve been in and out exploring the area, but we are still trying to be a good little host and hostess.

So this past weekend, we all ventured to Acadia National Park in Maine. Oh.my.beautiful. J and I are die-hard NP fans and this one is definitely up there on our favorites list. Whenever they ask you on those silly surveys if you’d rather the ocean or the mountains, I always answer that I like a mix. Well Acadia is definitely a perfect mix.

We camped outside the park on the Gulf of Maine, so again we had access to water to take the kayaks out for a spin. Unfortunately, the kids took them out before us and put a few too many scratches on our babies. But, again, guess that goes with the territory of having kids around. J and I did sneak away one night for a 5-mile trip where we saw porpoises (literally 2 feet from the boats), a bald eagle, an osprey and seals. Not to mention the drool-worthy houses along the Sound. Dream big, right?

Other than the kayaking, we did tons of hiking. Even though we hiked about 4 miles each day, we only covered approximately 10 percent of the 150 miles of trails in the park. There’s definitely more to explore.

Also had to have some Maine lobster while we were there, especially since the Is/Was family was fresh lobster virgins. And it was so cheap! $9.99/lb!

The Is/Was family is now up in the White Mountains now and we will join them for part of the weekend. For now, we are enjoying the peace and quiet at the house and restocking the supplies.

On a side note, I missed my opportunity to publicly wish Big on Lotto a Happy Father’s Day. Most of you know my dad has more sickly days than healthy ones, but he still manages to show me how to ride the rollercoaster we call life. He is a prime example of how you have to adapt to the hand of cards you’re dealt. And I’m proud of him for it. I may grunt a little bit with his frequent mid-day phone calls (You’re not busy are you honey? No Dad, it’s not like I’m WORKING or anything), but I secretly love seeing my cell display his name …

On another side note, belated happy birthday to SILAdventure and to Phoebes (who turned the big 3-0!). I will call you soon Phoebes, I promise!!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

First camping trip of the season!

Last weekend, we road tripped to the Adirondack Mountains. We actually met friends from NJ (DogLovers) there as a sort-of halfway point. The male counterpart of DogLovers is one of J’s buddies from the Prep. They were just married last year and have a pop-up camper. While it was pretty sweet digs, we almost felt like we were cheating having a fridge and other amenities. In fact, we tend to do more backpacking than car camping, so it was so different to be able to throw everything we wanted to have in the car.

Our campsite was right on the pond, one of the many bodies of water in the Adirondacks. So we did lots of kayaking!! We also hiked to one of the local peaks where there was fire tower and small ranger cabin. It was very, very windy up there and we were only at about 3000 feet!

This week, we have visitors from Danville, the Is/Was family. Camping trip #2 will be up to Acadia National Park this weekend with them. Can’t hardly wait for the 5-hour road trip tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Well, when you put it like this ...

we really are to blame for all the self-image problems that exist among females (and males too).

Click here to watch from the eyes of a young girl.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The High Life at the Seashore

This weekend, we headed to the coast of Massachusetts to visit J’s dad (MartiniShaker) and stepmom (GottaMove). I love going there because they have a beautiful home and we mostly just eat good food and drink alcohol. It’s like visiting the set of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, at least in comparison to our daily living. Plus, I just love being by the seashore ... the smell, the sounds, the sights ...

Saturday, we went to J’s stepbrother’s for a birthday party. Hung with the family, even saw his stepsister and kids, who we almost never see. At night, MartiniShaker made a great meal and drinks to match. I got a little drunk, I’m not going to lie. They were good martinis, what can I say? So then Sunday, J went to play golf with his dad, stepbrother and some others. I took a nice run along the harbor to the Scituate lighthouse (the 3rd oldest in the New England area), then edited some of theFr’s book on their awesome porch. GottaMove and I went out for a nice lunch at Mill Wharf, such a great restaurant. I got seafood, of course.

On the way home today, we stopped for dinner with Roid and his wife-to-be. They are moving out of Boston in a few weeks to Kentucky. How sad!

This coming weekend is our first (of many) camping trip of the season! Can’t wait!!!