Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011

My husband and I just returned home from a nine day trip to New England. It was our second trip up north in the last three years, but after encountering monsoon like conditions the first time around Maine decided to treat us with some of her best, if a little bit hotter than normal, weather.

We started with a 10 hour trip to visit a dear friend and her family in south central Maine. They were kind enough to sell their used pop-up camper to us, and I think I may have left tent camping behind forever. Even though our camper is old enough to be considered an antique by auto standards, it was in good shape and we slept comfortably all week.

After a too-short overnight visit, we hitched up the camper and headed north east to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. If you have never had a chance to visit the beautiful area of Downeast Maine, you need to try and do so. We don't live far from the beaches of New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, and I love to go to the beach, but this is a whole different world. The rocky shore lines and the unique mountains of MDI make for unforgettable views:






There were so many things that we could do, but after the last view months we decided that coming back for a second visit would be better than trying to cram in so much that we couldn't relax and feel refreshed. We chose a variety of different activities on both the land and the sea. These included a trip around Park Loop Road, hiking up Gorham Mountain, going on a puffin and whale watch (yes! Puffins, several other types of sea birds and and between 10 - 15 whales!), sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, and Tide Pool School with a park ranger.

Me on top of Gorham Mountain

Puffins!

Finback Whales

If you look carefully you can see the humpback whale's white fins under the water

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain

Our "classroom" for Tide Pool School. I would LOVE to have a classroom like this!

We didn't get the chance to see a moose, ride bikes on the Carriage Roads, or go kayaking, but it was time to pack up and head to visit some relatives in Vermont. On our way we passed Mt. Washington - I'm too afraid of heights to drive up it, but the weather was incredible so at least I got a picture.


Finally, we arrived in Vermont. We visited with my husband's family and celebrated his uncle's mother's 101st birthday! How often do you have the chance to participate in that kind of celebration?? Not often, so we were honored that we were included in the party. Vermont was also kind with her beautiful scenery as well:



I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to have such an incredible adventure for this summer. While we won't be going back to Acadia next year, I have a feeling it will not be long until we visit MDI again.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Watching History

One of my most vivid memories from elementary school was gathering as a class (or two or four) around the small cart TV and watching the space shuttle launches. I remember cheering and clapping as the shuttles would spin off into the blue and walking away from the TV talking with my friends how cool it would be if we were astronauts. I remember the pit in my stomach and crying when Challenger exploded.

Today I was lucky enough to watch the space shuttle Atlantis launch into space for the final shuttle mission. I still felt just like the elementary school kid who was sitting on the classroom floor 25-30 years ago: butterflies in my stomach hoping all would go well and awe... what it must be like to launch into space.

I know there is a great debate going on about the fact that our shuttle program is ending and we have nothing prepared to immediately replace that. But I think the shuttle commander said it best when he said that this was not the end but rather the closing of a chapter as we get ready to move on to the next. It's just a shame we have to wait for a whole new book.