August 2017

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Earlier this week, we took a walk down my road, in the valley along the Barton River. These pictures, which we taken the day after the walk down my road, couldn't be more different. Instead of the valley, this walk was along the ridgeline of Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest mountain. Instead of soft meadows, a gently coursing river, and a palette of colored trees in the distance, the landscape here is ragged rock and plants tough and strange enough to survive in such an unforgiving climate.

The only similarity was the weather: It was borderline unpleasant on both days. This was the weather on the drive down to Stowe. It was supposed to clear up but really didn't.

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(As always, click for full-size!)

We ostensibly opted to do the Mansfield hike because of the views, but there weren't many views to be had: We were above the clouds for most of the walk, which only added to the strangeness of the scenery. The temperature on the ridgeline hovered right around freezing with wind chills dipping to the mid-20s F when the wind would kick up. Those were moments of ambivalence: They often swept away enough of the clouds to get a glimpse of the view, but they also tended to occur at moments when I was making crossings on rocks where I was not fully comfortable. I felt like the Fellowship on Caradhras, with the sense that the mountain was mocking me!

The ecosystem is alpine tundra, which exists in isolated pockets atop the highest peaks in New England. The linked Times article describes the alpine tundra as such:

Such is the weird world of alpine tundra, where life adapts to cold stone and thin soil, and snow, ice, wind, water and sunlight mix in rare and intense proportions to mimic conditions not widely seen since the end of the last ice age. Hike uphill high enough in parts of New England and you might as well be trekking in far northern Canada. Save for polar bears and permafrost, the look and feel of places like Mount Mansfield’s summit — a bald schist knob at 4,393 feet — mimic the arctic no-man’s land east of Hudson Bay.

We had originally planned to take the gondola from the resort and hike the Cliff Trail to the summit (called the Chin because the profile of Mansfield looks like a face in repose), but the poor weather made this unwise, so we took the Auto Toll Road to the end and hiked out from there instead. Take a walk above the clouds )
Our primary source of heating in our new house is a wood pellet stove. Back in Maryland, we had a woodstove in the basement and electric baseboard heat upstairs that we resisted turning on as long as possible because it was so expensive. The woodstove, on the other hand, was wonderful, and we used it as much as we could. However, it took a while to start it, and it was messy, producing a lot of brown ash that would cover everything in the house.

The pellet stove, on the other hand, starts with the push of a button and does not seem to be nearly as messy. We've had it on three times now--temperatures were in the upper 20sF/-3C a couple nights this week--and it made the house a little TOO hot! But since we live in an area where it is not uncommon to have temperatures as low as -30F/-34C, then we will be grateful for it in short order, I suspect!

Midway through the summer, Tractor Supply Company had a great pre-sale on wood pellets, so based on the usage of the previous owners (who used the pellet stove as their primary heating source as we intend to do; we have a kerosene backup), we ordered three tons (2.7 metric tons). This weekend, they were delivered, and the entire weekend was blocked off on our calendar for transporting them from the TSC in Derby--which is about twenty minutes away--to our house.

We have a little cart for our Subaru, and using that, it took three trips and about three hours to move all three tons of wood pellets. We put about 2.5 tons in our new barn and about a half ton in the log cabin shed alongside our house. Let me tell you, moving three tons of wood pellets is hard work! They come in 40 lb/18 kg bags. A 40-lb bag is not difficult for me to lift and carry, but repeated 150 times with much bending and lifting was rough! By the end of the third round, my poor little forearms were DONE. Bobby drove the Subaru down to the barn and was carrying the bags from the cart to the barn, where I waited with outstretched arms for him to dump the bag onto them, which I would carry into the barn and add to the pile. One of the last ones he plopped entirely on my forearms, and I barely made it! He was complaining of fatigue, and I wanted to say, "Imagine how I feel!" I have above average upper-body strength for a woman, but really.

Well, it's done now. My upper arms and shoulders ached something fierce this morning, so we went hiking on Mount Hor to keep me from stiffening up and so I could enjoy a dose of pain-fighting endorphins. Also because the views were going to be amazingly gorgeous.

I have a ton of photos to post from a stroll along River Road last week for the peak leaf weekend, and a hike along the ridge at Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest mountain. Honestly, I have been completely lost in this story I am writing based on the Scottish folk song "Tamlin." I am hoping to have it done in time to post it for Halloween at this point; it is much longer than I expected, in a large part because my first attempt at it was not as character-based as I like my writing to be, and characterization eats a lot of pages, at least how I do it. But when I'm on the computer, I don't want to be doing anything but working on this story. I stayed up till 1:30 last night with it.

I'll try to get those other pictures posted soon, but Mount Hor is going to jump to the head of the line. It was a gorgeous day: sunny and mild. Last weekend was the peak for the leaves, but as you will see, the leaves are still pretty spectacular!

Willoughby Gap Just after Peak Weekend )
Mount Hor has a terrible name. Apparently, Mount Hor is also a mountain in the Bible, and I suppose it was named after that; I haven't been able to find anything about the history behind the name and can't fathom why you'd name a mountain "Mount Hor" without precedent. So Mount Hor is like the poor kid in school who gets assigned a storied, ancestral, and absolutely awful name: Benjamin Dover or Michael Hunt or Richard Lipshitz. And amid the teasing and the alienation that comes from a decision completely outside his control, he has to deal with the "But your great-great-grandfather the Civil War hero was named Benjamin Dover!" LIKE THAT MAKES IT OKAY. (I got relentlessly teased for the last name Walls, for pity's sake! Kids are senseless and cruel!) So poor, poor Mount Hor.

All this to say that yesterday, Bobby and I hiked Mount Hor. It is in what I term The Willoughby Complex but have since learned has the official name of the Northeastern Highlands of VermontTM. This means that they are not technically part of Vermont's Green Mountains! We have already hiked the two larger mountains in the area--Bald Mountain and Mount Pisgah--and I hiked Haystack Mountain* with my school.

*Which, until I learned its real name, I had named Boob Mountain because it looks like a boob in profile! The Willoughby area brings out the middle-schooler in the best of us.

The Willoughby Complex/Northeastern Highlands of VermontTM easily offer the most dramatic landscapes in a region of dramatic landscapes. The gap between the mountains Pisgah and Hor was ripped open by a retreating glacier, leaving Vermont's second deepest lake (the deepest being Lake Champlain) and dramatic cliffs pressing the lake shores on both sides.

The hikes to the summits of Pisgah and especially Bald Mountain were rather steep and rugged. (They are considered "moderate" in our Vermont hiking book, lol!) I expected much the same of Hor, but the mile-long (1.6 km) ascent to the summit was steep but not nearly as rugged, which made for a much nicer climb. I can pace myself on long ascents--this is why I'm good at snowshoeing--but scrambling rocks makes me tense and fatigues me very quickly. The hike to the top offers three different views: to the south and west from the summit overlook (looking toward the Greens) and two overlooks looking to the south of Willoughby and the northeast of Willoughby that are accessed by a flat trail that runs along the lake-facing edge of the mountain. This hike was pleasant enough that it's one I would strongly recommend for the Mereth Aderthad, because it is doable for someone in moderately good shape, even without experience hiking in the mountains. (For the truly adventurous, Bobby and I will take you to the fire tower at the top of Bald Mountain! :D)

If you want to SEE what I mean about Hor, click for pictures! )
I am presently on the train to New York, for the New York Tolkien Conference, stopped in Brattleboro in sight of Whetstone, the excellent nanobrewery that changes their beer menu daily. My train left Waterbury ... at 10:20, more than four and a half hours ago.

No, Vermont is not that big. The train was slowing down to stop in Brattleboro, people were standing in the aisles collecting their luggage, when the brakes went on hard. I heard one of the conductors say, "Uh oh, what happened?"

Remember last time I was on the Vermonter, when the train in front of us derailed? I didn't think we'd top that.

A few minutes later, the conductor came over the PA system. The train struck a "trespasser" (their words; I detest it in this context, although I understand the legal reasoning for it), who was pronounced dead immediately.

This was at 1:30, so two and a half hours later, we are just beginning to move. You know what? I don't care. I keep thinking about the poor person on the tracks, the "trespasser," and wonder why they were there, did they not hear the train? Or ...? To be fair, everyone was really decent about it, at least in my car, even though quite a few people were destined for Brattleboro, which was just a short walk away. No one complained, although the people seated near me for some reason misunderstood universally (maybe hopefully?) that the train had hit an animal. Ever the Mary Sunshine, I corrected them.

I did get a lot of work done while waiting, and some non-work too. I remember reading someone once remarking that many academics write their conference presentations on the plane to the conference. I couldn't do that! Anyone who knows me knows that my inner Hermione is hyperventilating at the mere thought. Of course I am not an academic and don't really aim to be! But I did do much of the Powerpoint on the train, so maybe that qualifies me to move up from baby-scholar status to wannabe-scholar. (I'm never sure what to call myself. The s-word seems fraught.)

I'm going to get something to eat. And a beer. I was expecting to arrive in the city in two hours and we just crossed into Massachusetts. I'm hungry, but I couldn't bring myself to buy pizza and beer while a person was dead under the train.

This week was pretty busy, mostly with getting ready for the conference (I think Oshun will be happy to not get any emails from me for a few days! I clicked the wrong button my phone today, and she was listed as my only Frequent Contact, which sums up my last week quite succinctly!) but also continuing to work on the house. We painted the living room and hallway this week, which involved a lot of taping and finicky, detailed work and so took longer than I wanted to spend on it.

We had fun too. On Sunday, we climbed Mount Pisgah, the third-highest mountain in the Northeast Kingdom, with both dogs. We didn't mean to. We thought we were climbing the more modest nearby Bald Mountain, but Vermont played a joke on us and had two identically named roads on opposite sides of the access area, with both trails blazed in blue. The only clue was to "walk east" from the access area, and I guess we walked west. (We did, I realize now that I'm thinking about us in relation to nearby Lake Willoughby, but I honestly wasn't thinking about it. I saw the road name, Bobby found the blue blaze, and we were both like, "HERE.") We made it to the top--even Lance! our little old man--and the view was as stunning as one would expect of the third-highest mountain in the Northeast Kingdom and overlooking Lake Willoughby to boot. We only figured out that it was the wrong mountain because there was supposed to be a fire tower and wasn't!

Oh am I out of shape! Remember when I was snowshoeing up mountains this winter? Four months of thesis-writing followed by all the chaos of moving (and making it to the gym maybe twice per week and usually copping out and doing weights when I did) means that ain't happening unless I get back to work.

On Wednesday, we took our trusty old inflatable Sea Eagle kayak out on the Barton River that runs near our house. We rowed (and floated a good deal, enjoying the scenery, the wildlife, and some incredibly scented flower that we never identified) for three and a half hours and made it most the way to the South Bay of Lake Memphremagog and back. We now know that if we row more than we float, we can easily make it. (If we cross the entire South Bay to Newport, we can treat ourselves to a nice lunch as well, but our neighbor says that it is ten miles from the access area near our house, so we might have to build up to that.)

We saw and heard these massive brown birds and assumed, they're massive so they'll be easy to identify, right? And it's Vermont, so it's not like there are hundreds of species of things. We've struck out utterly. Anything that lives in Vermont that looks like them doesn't sound anything like them.

Yesterday was Lancelot's ninth birthday, so we took both Goldens to Prouty Beach on Lake Mem in the evening and let them get in the water. It was Gwen's first time in the water, and she jumped and splashed with such unbridled joy that, when she'd stop, she had to catch her breath. Lance frolicked a little too but mostly acted like an old man in a pool and stood belly deep in the water. Gwen also treated herself to a nice roll in the sand that left her filthy. (Whose birthday was it again?)

I have so much catching up to do--including pictures from our various adventures!--but for now it is pizza and beer time.
Monday, April 1, the day after the Grand Canyon trip, was pretty low-key. Luxor had just opened a Titanic exhibit that Bobby and I went to see in the afternoon. Okay, okay, go ahead and laugh: Titanic was possibly my first fandom, unless one counts playing Hey Dude with my sister when we were kids. The Titanic movie came out when I was sixteen, and while my classmates were mooning over Jack and Rose, I became fascinated by the history, which spurred a spate of book purchases and the construction of a website (that never made it to the web) in Microsoft Front Page ... so yeah, sixteen-year-old me is a lot like current me it seems.

The Titanic exhibit was really good: a display of various artifacts brought up from the ship, coupled with, of course, a description of the ship's brief life and profiles of various passengers. It was informative without verging into being pedantic and blended the various threads of the story very well to keep it interesting. The exhibit had reconstructions of parts of the ship (including the grand staircase that pretty much anyone who's seen the movie remembers) that were really cool for a one-time nerd about this stuff like me. There was a poignant irony in the survival of so many delicate things--porcelain cups, letters, clothing, delicate jewelry--brought up from the deep after a hundred years, in a disaster where so many people died. The showpiece was the "Big Piece," a large section from the side of the ship. I hadn't realized that the ship is decaying so quickly now that no trace of it may remain in as few as a couple of decades.

Photos weren't allowed, so you don't get pictures of all of this stuff!

Luxor is the Egyptian-themed hotel-casino. The decor was very cool, but the people were very pushy and annoying. We discovered, as we journeyed in and out of the various hotel-casinos, that some of them have legions of employees devoted to trying to convince you to go to "free" shows and meals--I put "free" in quotes because I'm not so dumb to think that there isn't a gimmick, especially in Vegas--and it's nothing to be accosted by one of these people every few minutes while strolling around or heading to a particular place. It had the effect of making Bobby and me not want to go back, if we could help it; Bobby was going to go play over at Luxor, since it was basically across the street from the Tropicana, but decided against it because of the pushiness of the people there.

Here it is.

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Rest of Diary for April 1 & 2 and Pictures below the Cut )
Saturday, March 30, we picked up Bobby from the drop-off spot after he was done snowboarding and then had supper at a California Pizza Kitchen that was right across the street. The next day was an early one--our Grand Canyon trip!--so we kept it low-key that night and went to a neighboring casino, Mandalay Bay, to walk through their Shark Reef Aquarium.

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The highlight was the two tunnels where the sharks and other fish swim over and around you.

The next morning, the tour van picked us up at 7:30 in front of the hotel. *groan* Bobby and I have had a lot of luck with smaller tour groups like this one--not the huge buses where the guide sits at the front with a microphone!--because they tend to go off the beaten path quite a bit more, and it's nice only being with a handful of other people, whom you generally get to know a little by the end of the tour. This one was no exception; our tour guide, Tracy, was an energetic blond-with-pink-highlights who had seemingly bottomless knowledge about the area and a great sense of humor. The south rim of the Grand Canyon, where we were headed, was a little over four hours outside Vegas. The west rim was closer but is not on National Park land; it is owned by the Hualapai Indian tribe, and not only is it very expensive, but they do not allow cameras or cell phones into the park. They take pictures of you, which you can buy. They do allow helicopter tours, which is apparently very disruptive (and the helicopters for the Grand Canyon tours flew directly over our hotel pool, so I can believe it). The west rim is the site of the famous Skywalk, which is supposed to be pretty awesome, but the consensus still remains that the south rim is the better spot to visit.

Rest of the Day's Diary and Photos below the Cut )
Our First Snowshoeing Adventure )
I wasn't going to post today because I have a lot of things I should be doing in my wisp of free time. However. Bobby and I went hiking at Patuxent State Park today and, wow, what a day! We got some great pictures, and I couldn't wait to download them and share them, so here I am.

Patuxent State Park runs alongside the Patuxent River. We discovered it some years ago, while living in Ellicott City. The hiking trails are unmaintained, so it tends to be fairly deserted. The first time we went was during a drought and, aside from a tiny stream running down the middle, the river was nothing but mudflats. Since then, whenever we've gone, there's been an actual river (and, after this past winter's snows, this time was obviously no exception), but it's just a really nice walk with lots to see and relatively easy. The hardest part is because the trails are unmaintained, so there tends to be a lot of brush to wade through, fallen trees, and the like.

Details and Pictures )
Cut Because My Day Wasn't Exactly Exciting )
Today, Bobby and I went hiking out in Frederick County at Sugarloaf Mountain. Sugarloaf Mountain is a monadnock, or stand-alone mountain; all of the other mountains around it have since eroded away. (The Appalachians were once the highest above-water mountain range in the world. They're significantly humbler now, but they've earned the right. :) Because Sugarloaf is largely composed of quartzite, it has resisted the erosion that has destroyed its brethren.

The hike was beautiful. More and Pictures beneath the Cut )

In non-mountain-related news, I am no longer a squatter on LJ. I have purchased another paid account for myself. Which I said that I was not going to do, being as I was/am/something pissed off at LJ. But I've decided that 1) I know the place, 2) all of my friends are here, and 3) no matter what, LJ ain't going back to what it was. And I do believe in supporting groups financially when I use their service regularly, and I have been on LJ for over five years with five years' worth of rambling, pictures, and so on kept here. So I guess I'm back. And now I will have more than the same few icons that I've been using for the last year! And going to the full-page view of my LJ will use my layout and not the dull LJ layout. It's the little things.

(And no more ads! The big things too!)

Howdy, Murphy

Apr. 26th, 2008 09:49 am
dawn_felagund: Skeleton embracing young girl (Default)
Murphy has been having fun with me lately.

A few weeks ago, I posted about our outing to see Stars on Ice. Well, that morning, Bobby had complained of a scratchy throat. We chalked it up to spring in Carroll County and allergies. By the car ride home from the show that night, he was running a fever and chilled and achy.

For the next two weeks, our family would basically be immobilized by this little virus. First Bobby had it, and it put him out for about a week. Then, right as he was recovering, lo! I got it, and I was out of work for three of five days.

This threw a serious wrench into the cogs of multiple plans. We missed SCA, gaming, and a ballroom dance we were supposed to go to. It sucked.

Well, we're all recovered now. So yesterday, we decide we want to kick off the hiking season by taking a stroll with the Goldens in the Charlotte's Quest Nature Center right here in Manchester. We crest a hill and there is a most lovely pond, and I'm so absorbed in looking at the tender spring leaves reflected in its dark waters that I step right off of the path and into a ditch and twist my ankle.


I also scraped up my elbow, wrist, hands, and leg in the fall. I went down like a sack of cement. The only good thing was the my mind had wandered so far that I was about a half-inch from the ground before I realized, "Oh. I fell down," 'cause otherwise I might have hurt my wrists too, trying to catch myself, and would have been scraped up worse than I am, which isn't too bad, all things considered.

Bobby was most impressed that I never let go of Lancelot's leash all during the fall.

I finally got to go back to SCA last night. And Master Tristan had found a good piece for me to work on for my first official illumination. Unfortunately, I will have to remove the miniature painting of the guy being flayed alive before I can stand to look at it without passing out.

Howdy, Murphy.

Trail Mix

May. 14th, 2007 06:50 pm
dawn_felagund: Skeleton embracing young girl (Default)
Aside from looking for a house and building the SWG archive and writing a novella and everything else, Bobby and I have been hiking a couple of trails per week. The weather has been beautiful here in Maryland; Spring was late in coming, but she's treated us well since. And I've needed to walk, both physically and mentally. Having spent the winter inactive thanks to my hip and the lack of skating, I am really out of shape. For me. Slowly, I can feel my body coming to its senses and realizing, "Oh, yes. I'd forgotten, but I'm not supposed to just sit around, am I?"

Mentally, when hiking, I can feel order coming back into the scattering of pandelirium that is my brain these days. It sounds strange to say, but walking and being in nature is like a good housecleaning for my head. One of the theories behind while humans need sleep is the consolidation of memory, and when I walk and don't force my mind to concentrate on any single task (which is, admittedly, most of my day when not hiking, eating, driving, or watching an hour of a movie each night--and sometimes I work while eating too), I can feel something like that happening. I can almost feel the short-term memories clicking into place and connections forming between things. This is helpful for tasks both logical and creative. And it helps to put stressful things into perspective too. Of course, endorphins don't hurt either, no pun intended. (Okay, yes, that was a very bad biopsych pun. My apologies.)

The walks/hikes we've done so far:

Cut for the Benefit of Teh Flist )
A day early, yes, but I'm not sure if I'll be on the computer tomorrow. We have tickets to the ballgame in the afternoon, and I have stuff to do for betas and SWG ... and I do occasionally still work on my stories too. :)

But a radical conservationist like me can't escape without mentioning Earth Day. It's a day that I treasure every year. It's not steeped in commercialism like most American holidays. It's not meant to make people feel bad or guilty or lonely or inadequate. It's a day to appreciate what a beautiful world we live in and make changes--no matter how small--to help keep it that way. So happy Earth Day!

Earth Day )
This entry was written over the course of a couple of sittings. Pictures will soon follow, as soon as I yoink them off of Bobby's camera and get my film developed. (I What is that?!)

Thursday )

Friday )

Saturday )

Sunday )
Last Monday, Bobby and I took off from work to hike to the Cat Rock in the Catoctin Mountains and take photographs of the autumn foilage. We ended up with seventy-five pictures, many of them redundant, so I'm only going to post a limited selection here. If you are interested in viewing all of the hiking pictures, they are available in [ profile] the_nautilus here.

Autumn in the Catoctin Mountains )

Today, I carved another pumpkin since my wolf pumpkin had collapsed last week and is currently growing an interesting array of mold on the ledge between the kitchen and the study, and I wanted a pumpkin on the balcony for Halloween. Time and energy permitting, I might carve a third. But this one, I asked Bobby to choose the design. Last year, he really wanted a headless horseman pumpkin, but because I was a beginner and the design was rated "challenging," I was afraid to try it. This year, though--having proven my mettle with the wolf design--the headless rider would be a piece of cake. Not surprisingly, he requested the same design this year, and I spent about two hours carving it tonight.

The Headless Rider Pumpkin )
Life has been busy lately in the rather random sense. I've taken lots of pictures over the last week, during our various excursions, and finally have the chance to upload and post them.

Last Saturday, Bobby and I went to the Capitals Game, and it was a special tribute for Alex Ovechkin (my favorite pro player) winning the Calder Trophy last season as the best rookie of the year. For attending the game, we got commemorative coins.

Of course, being an Ovie fangurl, I had to take the camera and take teeny-tiny pictures from way up in our nosebleed seats. We were literally next-to-last row. The award was given across the rink from us. Nonetheless, given all of this, the pictures turned out fairly well.

Verizon Center, Caps Warming Up, and Ovie's Award )

Yesterday, Bobby and I decided to take a walk before it got dark, so we went to Patapsco Valley and tried out a short little trail called the Peaceful Pond trail. The leaves are really starting to change around here, and the reflections on the water were beautiful.

The Peaceful Pond Trail )

Then, last night, I finally realized how to use my digital camera to photograph my fish. [ profile] rhapsody11 requested a good picture of Celegorm, our bala shark, and I was finally successful! I also snapped Mack the Knife.

Fish Update and Pictures )

Finally, over the past few days, I have been working on carving the first pumpkin of the Halloween season. This year, I managed to get my grubby paws on a book of challenging carving designs, so I tried what I thought to be the easiest of the designs to get warmed up. It took two days of work, totally close to four hours, but those who know me know that I love to lose myself in tedious, meticulous work. It's very relaxing to the mind, like meditation only with tiny saws. *sigh*

Of course, in the Annals of Dawn's Stupid Injuries, I can't work with sharp and pointy things for any length of time without doing some terribly stupid injury to myself. True to form, I accidentally cut the nose off of my carving and had to pin it back in place with a toothpick. Naturally, I stabbed myself under the fingernail with the toothpick not once, not twice, but three times before realizing that it would not be pushed in with my fingernail and deciding to hammer it with the saw handle instead.

Other than that, no injuries to report, and the carving turned out lovely!

Behold Dawn's Pumpkin-Carving Skills! )

I haven't forgotten my memes either for [ profile] atanwende and [ profile] sirielle. I just have to face the idea of unearthing my models from my closet...and my shoes too! I hope to post them sometimes next week.

Also, I owe about a dozen people comments. I haven't forgotten them either; there just aren't enough hours in the day (and too many of those hours I have restricted Internet access. Bleh.)

Pic Spam!

Sep. 5th, 2006 08:25 pm
dawn_felagund: Skeleton embracing young girl (Default)
Here are about two-weeks worth of pictures that I've been meaning to post. Sadly, more often than not, I fail to download pictures off of our camera because--now that we have wireless Internet--I'm too lazy to set up on the desk and plug into the USB hub. Yikes.

The first set is the much-anticipated fish pictures. Our camera is not very good, so I will take more if I get the SeaLife camera for Christmas. (I say "if" because--since the SeaLife officially arrived a week-and-a-half ago--it has been hidden at my inlaws' house until the holidays. So it is offically a gift, and I am therefore not supposed to know about it!)

Fish Pictures! )

Next are the pictures of our rink that I took on what might be the last time I skated there. This is only a selection of the best; I will post them all if the rink does in fact close, most likely.

Putty Hill Skateland )

Finally, Bobby and I went hiking yesterday on the Ridge Trail at Patapsco Valley State Park. This is just a selection of the pictures that I took, those that I think will interest people the most. All of the pictures (and an account of the hike) can be found in [ profile] the_nautilus here.

Turtles, Toads, and Cicadas )
Bobby and I tried out a new park today, or rather, a new area of the extensive Patapsco Valley State Park called Orange Grove. I do not know why it is called that, as oranges certainly do not grow in Maryland. "Blue Crab Grove," certainly, or "Silver Queen Corn Grove" but oranges? Not hardly.

The Orange Grove area boasts a 300-foot (100 meter) bridge suspended over the Patapsco River called the Swinging Bridge. The main trail runs between the Patapsco River and the railroad tracks and leads also to the Bloede dam, the first internally-housed hydroelectric dam. The trail was flat and very easy, but Bobby and I had decided to walk to the Trolley Stop for supper last night, which is about three miles from home, one way. It was a lot of fun, but I think we both appreciated an easy walk today!

We did about two to three miles, I estimate, at Patapsco Valley today, which totals to about eight miles in twenty-four hours. Ai! My legs and feet were sore by the end of it, but it was a good kind of sore--this sounds odd, yes, but will make sense to other athletic-types, I'm sure--not a painful kind of sore. That also probably sounds strange, but to me, there is a difference between "stop what you're doing right now!"-sore and "you've challenged yourself in a pleasant kind of way"-sore.

Go Take A Hike...with Pictures! (dial-up beware) )
Today is the 4th of July, Independence Day, following right on the heels of Canada Day. So happy holidays to my North American friends! (I don't think I have anyone from Mexico on my flist, so I'm safe. :^P)

In honor of the holiday, Bobby wore a Finland shirt and I wore a Puerto Rico diving shirt. We got a good chuckle off of that. Well, technically Puerto Rico is an American commonwealth, so I said that my own patriotic spirit was more in the lines of saying, "American mainland, I shake my fist at you!" and hopping off to Puerto Rico to open a diving outfit to Mona Island. (I wish.)

It was hot in Maryland today. So Bobby and I did the logical thing and went out to engage in some physical exertion of an outdoor nature. In other words, we went hiking. It was very hot, the trail was very overgrown, Bobby got a tick on his leg and I got some sort of strange rash above my knee that has since stopped burnin' like a mofo, which is a good thing. When we got back, it was 97F/36C. The trail wasn't a difficult one...but did I mention that it was very hot outside today? Then we really did do a logical thing, put on our swimsuits, and went down to the pool. After about fifteen minutes of me floating and Bobby practicing clearing his mask underwater, we were called out of the pool because of an imminent thunderstorm that never manifested. But this is true of a lot of storms around here, which are all blow and no show.

Bobby made a delicious dinner tonight: turkey burgers for him and vegetarian barbecue chicken for me, waffle fries with KFC honey mustard sauce, baked beans, and loaded salads that contained lettuce, four kinds of bell pepper, red onions, cucumbers, hardboiled egg, imitation bacon bits, croutons, and sunflower seeds. It was delicious and I ate waaay too much and feel quite unnecessary now.

I don't think that I've officially mentioned that Bobby and I are going away again next weekend to Ocean City. Yep, we planned this one pretty much the day we got back from Puerto Rico. It lessened the sting of leaving Caribbean sun for hot, humid, sticky, rainy Maryland. Ocean City is an annual pilgrimage for most Marylanders; it is a little town on a slip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and Assawoman Bay. (No, I did not make that name up. I could not make that name up!) Bobby and I generally find ourselves there two or three times a year. It makes a nice weekend trip.

Ocean City! )
First things first:

☼☼☼ Happy Summer Solstice! ☼☼☼

And what better way to celebrate the Summer Solstice than by hiking the El Yunque tropical rainforest?

Day Five )