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Head in the clouds

I found a hiking friend who is also a traveler and for three weeks in a row our mutual day off was rainy and our hike was rained out. This past week we decided to go for it; we both had rain gear and decided to test it out.

As it happened, it was cloudy and overcast for our hike, but the rain stayed away. Nonetheless, we were PREPARED!

Earlier this summer, the Hubs and I hiked a nearby ski mountain, Mt. Ascutney in Vermont, and the day was hot, we had just arrived and neither Bandit nor I were in hiking shape, much less straight up a mountain. Red faced, sweaty and feeling defeated, I vowed to return and take back that mountain! Last week was that day. Ha. <cue laughter>

I wish I could tell you things went better. Actually, they DID go better. The temps were in the 60s and with the cloud cover and occasional breeze we were off to a good start. Having been up here for almost two months and more hills and elevation under my belt in that time, physically I was more prepared as well. It would be the day I exacted my dominance on that mountain. Ha. <cue more laugher>

Arrow marks the summit

One thing didn’t change: the mountain. The dang trail was STILL straight uphill. Wet in areas creating waterfalls (which was fun), humid so the gnats were aplenty—in my nose, eyes and once or twice swallowed, and straight uphill. Apparently this makes for good skiing, just not so much for good hiking. The scenery was still gorgeous, so we just stopped a lot to take in the views (and catch our breath and let our calves relax). A lot. We stopped A. LOT.

The camera never adequately captures uphill. Ever.

Exerting dominance. Pshh. <more laughing>

Fortunately, my friend and I found compatible hiking partners in each other which meant we both enjoyed frequent rest stops. We also made it much further than my first attempt at the mountain. Quite a bit further. Not to the summit though. But close……..

With the cloud cover, also came intermittent fog and the higher we went, we entered the clouds. One of the lookouts nearing the summit housed an old ski patrol building and a great view of the town below between the clouds. We determined from the map we had about 800-1000 feet to summit which would take approximately 45 min +/- based on our progress and couldn’t guarantee a view with the weather once we reached the top. So we called it.

Peep the leaves starting to change…….

I thought I’d be bummed about not making it to the top, but the purpose of the hike was to explore and enjoy the views and we did that. It wasn’t a contest. There was no medal or trophy. The “prize” was getting out there and doing it and enjoying the moment(s)—which is exactly why we came up here in the first place. Perhaps that’s what the mountain needed to teach me. (And a little humility—or a lot)


Facing fears

Last night we planned to catch sunset on a local trail, however, I could not remember if I had turned off the oven before we left. We had to turn back around and the delay left us approximately ZERO minutes of to spare. (The stove was in fact OFF) The hike itself is not long, slightly over a mile, however, it’s a pretty steep (to me) ascent at the last quarter mile-ish. We had to hustle to make it up in time for sunset and so we did. With seconds to spare.

Just made it!
going, going….

One aspect of watching sunset on the top of the hill is that there is very limited light on the trail back down. And it is rooty. I have a comical fear of bears and haven’t received my bear horn yet….soon and very soon… this meant not only hiking with headlamps for the first time, but overcoming my fear of surprising a bear on the trail. (Honestly, I talk so much, no one is surprised we are coming down the trail, but again……a comical fear, but fear nonetheless. And there ARE bears, so it’s not irrational). We lamped up and headed down, with Bandit in the lead—glowing eyes and reflective harness bopping down the trail.

Ready, set, go. And it was a bit chilly, so we were happy to have our hats on!

I honestly felt ok. Mostly because the Hubs kept me chatting and my mind was occupied. It was so peaceful in the dark and the cool air, no ambient noise or light—just us and the early evening trail.

The roots are no joke, so we went slow and steady. A great first effort. We are talking about a sunrise hike in the next week or two so this helps me to be less anxious about that and more excited to experience another dark hike with a gorgeous gift at the top. This hiking can be some addictive stuff.

Bandit the trailblazer
You can’t see the light beyond the trail with the headlamp on, just the darkness. But when you turn off the headlamp…….this is the view.


Lighthouses and lobstAH

Now that we are settled in for a bit, we are working on visiting some friends and family along with checking out cool places (Boston and NYC, we are coming for you!). This week Hubs traded a weekday for Saturday on one of my days off and we ventured to Portland, ME to visit some friends from Florida (lucky snowbirds). The weather shifted into full fall temps and I never took off my sweater and had my jacket on standby, which I never used, but better to have and not need…….. zero complaints, ZERO.

We checked out multiple lighthouses along the coast. I won’t try to give you a history lesson, but I will provide some links which will be far more accurate than my attempt at historical accounting.

Something about the beach, no matter where you go, it never disappoints. Our day was bright blue sky and breezy/windy (depending on where you were) and the rocky coastline, choppy seas, Navy jets flying over on practice runs (I hope) were just breathtaking. It was low tide when we were on the beaches and it is hard to imagine high tide much less angry seas in the midst of a Nor’easter but I can imagine that it is beautifully magnificent in an entirely different way.

Lunch on the water at a local marina restaurant, Salt Water Grille was a highly anticipated (and not disappointing) lobster (lobstah) roll and cup of corn chowder (chowdah). So good. So good. Our friend had fish tacos which are generally my go to and he enjoyed them (his wife also had the lobster roll). Did I mention how delicious the lobster rolls were?

The downtown section of Portland was a great spot to stretch our legs after lunch and sightseeing. Main Street pier, Old Port, cobblestone alleys leading to shops, restaurants and bars. Had to do a little shopping—a few kitchen items at Leroux and a coffee mug and magnet—restrained shopping. But we did drool a bit over the bags at Sea Bags and may have to revisit them for a Christmas gift or two. Old sails turned into bags of all shapes, sizes. They are pricey and we have a lot of bags, soooooooooooooo. We’ll see.

We also had a driving tour of Cape Elizabeth as well as lots of the streets in and around Portland from our friends. Beautiful area and we will definitely be back to visit, eat, shop and enjoy! I mean, the holidays ARE coming!

Two lights lighthouse near the state park. Along with the rocky coast, there were plenty of beach rocks and seaweed and water that was way too cold to even investigate!
Also at Two Lights beach
The other side of the rocky cliff from Two Lights beach (previous pic)
Bug Light and passing ferry
Cobblestone alleys of Portland

Rainy days and Tuesdays…….

It has been brought to my attention by the Hubs that New England has a different kind of rain than Florida. A rain that is mostly soft, often lasts all day and can last dayssssssssssss.—PLURAL I did not understand this, but he’s pretty smart and went along with his plan to purchase rain gear for hiking, with the idea that the rain jacket would be used during the above-mentioned rainy days when not hiking. My rain gear arrived yesterday and today it rained. All. Day. Long.

Another hike scratched.

I did have a few windows to walk the dog for necessity’s sake and was able to grab a 40 minute exercise walk. But it rained. And rained. And is still raining.

I wore that rain jacket though. I wore it to the grocery story. I wore it on the dog walks. I took it to Mass tonight. That thing is handy. Hubby is spot on—again! It now lives at the front door, ready for action.

Since it was such a wet day, I cooked a few things for the week: Hard boiled eggs, sweet potatoes and pepper mixture for lunches and a White chicken chili for dinner tonight. Y’all. I don’t know if it was the weather or what but that soup…………..a gift. So good. So, SO good. I’m going to share a link HERE and a pic below (for inspiration), but you should absolutely make this once the weather reaches soup-appropriate wherever you live. You’ll thank me! I’m thanking myself and froze half for another night—yum!

The recipe doesn’t call for carrots, but we like carrots so I threw a whole bag in there. I also simmered the soup with uncooked chicken instead of the rotisserie chicken—-but it’s soup. Doctor it up however, you wish. Just don’t leave out the cream cheese, I’m pretty sure that is the magic!


New faces, new places

While we absolutely LOOOOOOVE New Hampshire, we knew that our biggest downside would be leaving our family and our friends. I’ve talked about this before and we weren’t wrong. But, what does one do when you are new to an area, have no kids in sports/extracurricular activities and most of the people you work with live 30min+ out of town? Well…….You figure it out—-THAT is part of the adventure.

This part of the adventure is not my favorite part—-I don’t care for small talk and putting yourself out there is vulnerable and HARD. BUT, as humans, we are social creatures and as much as I like to be a homebody, I realize the importance of socialization so………..we’re doing it. We are working on making FRANDZZZZ dang it!

Hubby has the AA community and as he plugs into meetings, he meets more people which opens up all kinds of local knowledge, activities and budding friendships. We joined a dinner cruise last week and it was fun meeting some new folks, putting names with faces as well as enjoying some yummy food and scenery of the lake at night. (Word on the street is Steven Tyler from Aerosmith has a house on the lake and frequently shops and greets at the local grocery store. I’ll be on the lookout.)

We are also making new connections at Church; our neighbors go to the same church as well as some of the folks Hubby has met. One of the gals I have met a few times at church was through a Facebook group which is another way to meet people now—-weird, but nice to see social media used for good stuff.

Another Facebook group—a women’s hiking group—introduced me to a traveling nurse. Our hiking plans were rained out so we met for coffee and chatted for a couple of hours and will try again for a hike this week. Another social media intro. What a time we are living in.

Bandit also has a few new friends. We’ve found a boarding/doggie day care spot near our condo and he’s been a few times now—-when you no longer have kids available to pet sit, you resort to other means. He plays, I get photo updates and when I pick him up he eats dinner and crashes—I’d say it’s a success so far.

Happy boy

I also ventured out to a new trail with Bandit and my AllTrails app. It was a good test. I did get off trail—there are a lot of trails connected to the one I was on so it happened easily, BUT, I managed to figure it out and navigated us back on trail. A great experiment and a beautiful day for a new spot to adventure in.

As challenging as it is, it is worth it. Exploring new areas, meeting new people, all part of the adventure. If we don’t step out of our comfort zone, how do we ever get anywhere?

“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, I’m saying it’s going to be worth it.” Anonymous

Until next time, peace!