white mountains beyond mountains

Jason has been telling me about the White Mountains since we met (eight years ago today, actually), and I was always a little dismissive. How could New England mountains have anything on my Wasatch Front? Well, I have now seen the White Mountains with my own eyes and they are beautiful.

We started with a hike in the Flume Gorge, which of course started with a walk across a picturesque covered bridge. Sometimes New England is too idyllic.

The Flume Gorge is an 800 foot long carved gorge at the base of Mount Liberty. Apparently it was discovered back in 1808 by a 93-year-old woman whose family didn’t believe she had actually found a natural wonder. Bummer. She must have eventually convinced them to come see it because now there is a walking path built along the rocks.

In some cases the stairs are actually really close to the water flowing below.IMG_2458

The surrounding area is verdant and overgrown and beautiful (oh, and that gentleman below is pretty awesome as well).

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t even close to this. The walk was incredible. It was the closest I’ve ever felt to being in a slot canyon outside of the west and I loved it. One of my favorite parts of the walk was the suspension bridge at the end. Apparently there was a giant tree (called “The Sentry,” I think) that grew along the edge of the cliff. It came down in a hurricane, and they used it to build a bridge across the chasm. The whole trunk of the tree makes up the bottom of the bridge. You can barely see it below behind Jason’s head, but I’m sure we have a better picture somewhere.

I need to get the rest of Jason’s pictures because I know he got some good ones with the nice camera.

We also went to the Lost River and Boulder Caves. On the way, we passed a sign for The Frost Place, permanent home of Robert Frost from 1915-1920, and summer home for the next twenty years. How could we not stop?IMG_2512

Every year an emerging writer is awarded a Poet in Residence post, which includes a stipend and the chance to spend a summer living and writing at the Frost home. I am so jealous. 

Apparently on a Frost family vacation long ago young Jason requested a visit to the Frost Place, to the chagrin of his younger brothers. Our trip here went much more smoothly. I loved it, especially after having read The Art of Robert Frost earlier this year. I can see how he was inspired by New Hampshire. It is an amazing place.

After our not-so-out-of-the-way detour, we headed to the Lost River.
This gorge was evidently formed by a glacier, which deposited giant boulders along the way. When everything eroded, some little caves remained. Like the Flume Gorge, the gorge was accessible by a wooden path built right into the rock.

So much green.

True to New England hike form, there was a water feature alongside the path I’d like to know more about how they built the walkway.

The walk isn’t too long, and there are little turnoffs where you can scramble through the caves. None of them were very long (as evidenced by the fact that you’re not issued a headlamp and helmet at the beginning).

It was beautiful, though.

I don’t think I have any pictures of the caves, but here is a better picture of the walkway, along with some strangers. There were lots of families out with kids on a last trips of summer.

At the end you could turn left and go straight to the lodge, or you could turn to the right and explore more trails. We went to the right, of course, and found a gazebo and chairs. In my vision of our future we have a porch with adirondack chairs (but real wooden ones, none of this plastic nonsense).

I love just getting to spend time with Jason.

After finishing the Boulder Caves, we decided to hike the Dilly Overlook, described as a steep, 3/4 mile one-way hike for only experienced trekkers in appropriate boots. Check check. We started up, and indeed, the trail got a little steep. In fact, it wasn’t so much a trail as a rock scramble…and it just kept getting steeper. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was as steep as the last bit of Angel’s Landing (though there was only a 100′ drop off the side instead of 1,400′ on both sides). We turned around probably closer to the end than we would like to admit because it was so sketchy. On the way down, Jason lost his footing on the wet rocks and slid toward the edge. I turned around just as he was falling, which was one of my more terrified moments. He skidded into a tree (thank goodness!) and was a little shaken but fine aside from some serious rock burn on his arm and leg. I offered to take a picture of it, but he’s not as enchanted with documenting injuries as I am. We went back to the lodge so he could clean himself off in the bathroom and then we headed on our way.

We didn’t go too crazy on the food front in Littleton. We ate at a diner that only accepted cash (thank goodness they had an ATM on site), and we picked up (more) homemade ice cream at Bishop’s (again, cash only. Oh, New England).IMG_2473

We ran into our first real GPS trouble as we left the Lost River heading home. Neither phone had service, so we just started off in the way we had come. I kept checking the phones, but still, no service. Finally, for just a minute, we ended up with just enough service for me to see the proposed route on one of our phones, and I realized we were going in the wrong direction. Then the cell service was gone again. Fortunately we had picked up a map from the Flume Gorge, which I used to navigate us through the wilds of New Hampshire (no really. So many back roads.) and back to the freeway in Vermont. I was very proud of my effort.

The drive home was incredible. New England really is a beautiful place.

When we got back, we met Jason’s mom at the airport so we could return our rental car. Then we stopped in at Jason’s grandparents’ house for a few minutes. As usual, I was in stitches by the time we left. We also stopped in to see his cousin Kelley and her sweet baby boy. He is the first baby who seemed to like me, and actually let me carry him around the house for a while! Babies always love Jason, but I’m hit or miss.

After our visit with Kelley and Maureen, we went to Mexicali, a newish restaurant in Windsor (I think?). The food was awesome, and Jason had a good conversation with our waiter in Spanish. Jason also goaded his mom into trying some of the habanero salsa, which was not her favorite. She’s a good sport.

The next day Jason and I played some tennis and went to Frank Pepe’s for lunch. Our flight kept getting delayed, which meant I had time for one more game of Scrabble with Mom Frost. We finally went to the airport, but the flight was delayed further still for bad weather. We were supposed to get into D.C. at 7 p.m., but ended up landing around 10:40 p.m., leaving us no time to fill our bare cupboards before heading back to work the next day.

I’m so glad we made the trip. I love seeing places that Jason loves, and spending time with his family is always wonderful. His parents are too good to us.

blueberry pancakes, all the art, and a maine wedding

This is another post bereft of Jason’s good-camera pictures. 

Anyway, we got up early on the day of the wedding and went to the gym for some DIY weight training, during which we watched a Maine public television program about extreme sports enthusiasts boogie boarding down the Kennebunk (Kennebec?) River. Takeaway: do not try this at home.

Then we went out to find us some breakfast. We settled on the Purple Cow, since in true Maine fashion none of the other establishments accepted credit cards. The Purple Cow is not, as you might think, just a breakfast joint, though. In fact, there is a drive through window, a lounge, and a laundromat attached to the premises (because why not). Jason ordered two pancakes and sides and I ordered one, but by the time they arrived we realized we may have been better off just splitting one. The pancakes, stuffed with juicy blueberries, were the size of dinner plates. Nay, they were larger than dinner plates, as their footprint exceeded the very plates upon which they were served. (To be fair, they were not only late but also delicious and we did indeed eat all the pancakes that were placed in front of us.)

After the Purple Cow experience we visited the Colby College Museum of Art.   

Colby has one of the largest (hopefully I am getting this right) American Art collections of any college. Plus they have a really cool building to house said art.  

My favorite piece was this room-size installation into which patrons were invited to walk.  It was weird.

Sometimes we just ponder the art and what it is saying to us.   

I also really likes this Bougereau painting that my dad has said reminds him of little Mariel.  

It was almost wedding time, so we went back to the hotel to get ready. We ended up riding the bus to the venue with the other guests. The wedding was at Colby College, where the bride and groom (one of Jason’s good friends from high schoo/his former doubles tennis partner) met.

Have I mentioned yet that Colby is beautiful? It is unreal. This is the view from the entrance of the on-campus chapel.

The ceremony was lovely and the inside of the chapel actually looked a lot like the inside of the Kirtland temple, so that was interesting.    

We had a great time at the reception and after party, and didn’t make it home until after 1 a.m., which is far later than we are accustomed to staying up. It was worth it, though, to spend time with Jason’s oldest/dearest friends. It is actually a little sad that everyone is married now, so we won’t have regular reasons to see everyone anymore.

We loved spending time in a place that meant so much to Tyler and Rachel and were so grateful to be part of their beautiful day.

in which we drive to maine

We set off for Maine on Friday. It was raining (as usual when we go to Maine) and we realized very early into the trip that our rental car did not have the expected USB port through which we had hoped to charge our phones (also, for this trip, functioning as our GPS devices). We stopped at a rest stop (someday we can talk about how, as a Utahn, I find the concept of a rest stop very funny) and bought a USB converter and an audio cord so we could listen to music on Jason’s phone. These would prove to be excellent purchases.

The rain continued through Massachusetts and a bit of New Hampshire and finally hit its apex right before we hit Maine. The drops were so dense that we could barely see ahead of us. Fortunately this only lasted twenty minutes (if that).

We meandered (as one does) through the hamlets of Maine.   

Finally, we stopped in for a late lunch at Cappy’s Chowder House, a.k.a. best seafood in Maine.  

I had lobster tacos and they were amazing. We also ate mussels and clam chowder and all manner of marine life.

Camden, home of Cappy’s, is the prettiest little Maine town.  

It is so perfect that it reminds me a little bit of Sea Haven in The Truman Show. Jason broke out the camera to capture some picturesque views (which will have to be featured in another blog post, since I am typing this on a late-night train ride home from New York and have no access to our computer).  

We love Maine.We hopped back in the rental car and drove another hour to Waterville, ME. We checked in at our hotel, then decided to make the most of the (many great) recommendations we had gotten about things to do in town and picked up ice cream at Gifford’s. It was too late to play on the adjacent mini-golf course, but the ice cream was top notch. 

in which we go to connecticut, part I

We knew we’d be up in New England in August for Tyler’s wedding, but when we found $35 one-way tickets to CT on JetBlue a couple months ago we decided to make a full eight-day vacation of it. Our flight in landed around 9 am Tuesday. We stopped in at Jason’s grandparents’ on the way home, which is always interesting. The first thing Grandma Funny said to me was, “Amanda, with those glasses you look about twelve years old.” Awesome. We had a nice visit, then came home. I think Jason and I both took naps (we’d woken up at 4:45 am to catch our flight). We ran some errands with Jason’s mom and played tennis that night after supper.

The next day we went for a short run in the morning, during which Jason stepped in a not-immediately-visible hole and hurt his ankle and I felt terrible. Then we headed to Rhode Island for a day at the beach.

The water was a little cold, but not so cold that you couldn’t get all the way in. Jason’s mom brought snacks and an umbrella and chairs, so we were good to go! We stayed in the water for a bit then would come out and eat and relax and head back in.

That night Jason and I made a favorite recipe for supper and we went on the first of many trips to Dairy Queen.

I love seeing old pictures of Jason at his parents’ house, so in the spirit of the first day of school I shared this one. He looks just the same to me (except that he doesn’t have a bowl haircut anymore).

For good measure, here’s my fam on my first day of kindergarten some 22 years ago. Right now, at 27, I’m five years younger than my mother was in this picture.
 Later we had lunch at Frank Pepe’s (best pizza joint on the east coast) and saw The Man From U.N.C.L.E. We played more tennis and ate more ice cream and played a lot of Scrabble. Even Jason joined in, though he despises Scrabble.

On Friday morning I ran ten miles in pouring rain while my saintly mother-in-law waited for me in the car at the beginning of the route. Then Jason and I packed up our gear and headed up to Maine!

how is it the middle of august??

 My dad inadvertently ran into Adam en route to Baltimore at the airport! Adam already looks older and wiser to me.  

I spent the last bit of last week at a work retreat in Annapolis. My favorite part was our tour of the Naval Academy.

I got home from the retreat and cleaned up the house in anticipation of Jason’s arrival home after a week away.

Dani and I did an epic 16-miler on Saturday morning. The marathon is 6.5 weeks away and I am feeling (knock on wood) pretty good. Grant has even done some running this summer in between life guarding and cherrying!

After a big breakfast and much-needed shower I went with Lara to run errands. I found the most adorable miniature pineapples at Home Depot. (Aside: I don’t think I have been to Home Depot in YEARS. It still smells the same.) We also went to Cava because Lara is a good sport and indulges my addictions.

Jason and I had planned to play tennis on Saturday night, but his flight was delayed and then cancelled so he did not get home until almost 10 pm.

He was back at it early Sunday morning for meetings at the church, whilst I made blueberry muffins for my class. They were awesome, in my opinion. 

 We learned during sacrament meeting that some of the ward boundaries in our stake are being realigned. It seems likely that our ward will be changed up, which is weird and sad. I am hopeful that this won’t be a repeat of the Kentucky rezoning disaster of 2011, in which Jason and I and the DuBravacs were the only members of the Bluegrass Ward who were reassigned. If anything I think Jason and I have a decent shot of staying in our current congregation because we contribute much-needed diversity (apartment-dwelling and # of children-wise). We’ll see what happens on Sunday! (Actually, again in the spirit of 2011, Jason and I are on vacation and will miss the boundary-change fireside. We have enlisted good friends to keep us posted on the changes, though!)

Soon to come: our last hurrah of summer trip to New England and a visit from Grant! 

true stories

– Last week we played tennis three times, which has never before happened.

– On Saturday morning I slept in (to be fair it was in part because I have decided to finally believe all those articles about how looking at screens before you sleep is a bad idea, so now my cell phone does not cross the threshold of our bedroom and I’m using an old, non-internet-enabled phone for my alarm. Still getting used to it.) until 6 a.m., twenty minutes after I was supposed to meet Dani for our long run. She’d texted me a few times and even knocked on our front door, but I blithely slept through it all. I texted her back, tried to call, and then noticed that she was standing on the sidewalk three stories below our building. I threw on a towel and rushed out on to the balcony, half-yelling (because it is still early, but I was desperate) “Hey! Dani! It’s me! I’m getting ready right now!” It took a minute and some squinting before I realized I was talking to the pole that keeps people from driving down our walkway. Oops. Fortunately I got in touch with her by phone a few minutes later and she hadn’t gone far. We did a great 15 miles, after which I settled in with some breakfast and waited for Jason to get home from the move he was helping with.

– On Sunday I agreed to teach Relief Society a mere three hours before church because the regular teacher was very sick. I knew those years of debate would pay off sometime. I think the lesson went pretty well, and I was happy to do it.

– By the time Jason had been gone for six hours, I succeeded in cutting my thumb (with an uncooperative tahini sauce lid) and my little finger (with a straight pin). Can’t leave me alone anywhere.

– On Monday morning I had my annual physical, which meant taking the metro to work a bit later than usual. While I was standing on the still-pretty-busy platform downtown, an ordinary younger guy approached me (while I was reading) and said hi. I said hi back, thinking maybe I knew him from somewhere and just didn’t recognize him. Nope. Then he asked “Are you open to making new friends?” I firmly said no, and returned to my book. He walked off and I felt a little guilty for my harsh response, though I think I did the right thing. (Who even asks something like that?) I hate that my knee-jerk reaction to strangers is suspicion. I want to be charitable and I want to be kind, but I’m also a young woman and can’t be naive.

– Speaking of the metro (and because I’m too lazy to put this in a separate post), last week was rough. My commutes on Thursday morning, Thursday evening, and Friday morning were all at least double my usual commute time. The worst was Thursday night. I got on at my usual stop and rode to the transfer station. When I got off, I discovered that the line to which I transfer was single-tracking. Awesome. I got back on the red line, rode one stop, then walked to McPherson Square. The orange trains coming through were jam-packed–as was the platform–so I finally got on a blue line train and rode it out to Rosslyn. I got off and waited a while for an orange line train, along with the rest of humanity. I finally made my way onto the last orange line train for 25 minutes and made my way into Virginia. One more transfer and a mile walk and I finally reached our apartment at 7:45 p.m. Ugh.

run dc

I’m enjoying marathon training more this year than last, which I attribute to two things: running with friends and a less intense schedule. I’m using a plan from the New York Road Runners that cuts back long run miles on alternating weeks and it seems to (knock on wood) be working for me so far. I’m also incorporating waaay more strength training than I did last year. The race is two months from tomorrow and I am so excited!

On Saturday morning I got up a little before five to do a long run in the city with Dani. We parked at Roosevelt Island and ran over the Key Bridge and into Georgetown. I put my hand over my heart as we passed the Barlow Center, and then we turned down 23rd Street toward the mall. We headed east, up and around the Capitol and past the Supreme Court.  

We ran back down the mall and around the Tidal Basin, which is one of my favorite loops to add to a downtown run, except during cherry blossom time.  

We headed up toward the Lincoln and over the Memorial Bridge. This was around mile 11, and we both felt pretty great! I ascribe this to good weather, the availability of water fountains along the route to top off our water bottles, and the yummy waffle snacks we brought along. I’m trying to be more strategic about my food choices this year so as to avoid throwing up at the end of the race and the waffles are a must-have. 
We joined up with the Mt. Vernon trail and finished the 13.5 miles with a loop around Roosevelt Island. I dropped Dani at home, then did a 2.5 mile loop in my neighborhood to finish off my 16-mile day. It was a great run and, unlike last year when I did my long runs on the way to work, I could take it a little bit easy the rest of the day.

Not too easy, though, as Jason was ready to play some tennis when I got home. We played a great two sets.

A relaxing day at home was just what we needed, considering the rest of our week was unusually busy. On Tuesday night I taught calligraphy and lettering to the Mia Maids and Laurels. Wednesday night was book club. Jason spent much of the week feeling under the weather (which I blame on his insane travel schedule of late). By Friday he was feeling better, just in time for pizza night. Things should be back to normal next week, and then we end the summer with a bang with a trip to Maine and maybe a visit from Grant. Can’t believe it is already August!