Thursday, July 24, 2008

New job!

It's official, I'm taking a new position within my company, effective August 1. This comes with a boost in pay (as well as travel and responsibility). It's kind of hard to describe what I'll be doing, but it's a good natural progression from my current position, and it opens up a lot of avenues. I'm very excited about what the future holds

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Here's your sign (sorry Trixie)

Thus ends our Bar Harbor trip. We had a great time, and most importantly, my mother in law said it was her best birthday ever. Now that's saying something! We got to see and do a lot of things over the course of 5 days, but our favorite part of the drive was the signage:

That's right, we were on 4 highways at once.

4 highways, and we were going in 2 different directions.

Don't even get me started.

We hope to make it up to Bar Harbor sometime again real soon. At this rate, we're heading there every couple of years, which isn't a bad length of time. We're starting to find our favorite places there.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Whale watching day!

This was my first whale watching tour, and Jim's mom hadn't been on one in 20 years. She was in Hawaii this spring and didn't get to see whales, so this was a perfect opportunity. Our hope was to see some humpbacks.

A word of caution to anyone who wants to do a whale watching tour: make sure you know whether or not you'll get seasick before trying one of these tours. You don't want to end up using one of these:

We had the calmest of winds and perfect seas, and there were still a couple dozen people sick as dogs throughout the trip. This meant you couldn't make eye contact with anyone in the cabin, since they looked like death and had Sic Sacs in front of them, and it just makes you queasy. You couldn't make eye contact with anyone in the doorways, since they were usually getting sick there. And you couldn't use the bathroom, because it was full of people getting sick in the toilet, the sink, or anywhere else that looked convenient.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

But I digress.

The tour was cool. They bring along a naturalist who can point out all the birds, seals, and whales we happen to see along the way. During the cold and windy parts, you can hang out inside the cabin and enjoy some refreshments. As soon as we saw our first whale, we came to a stop and hung out for an hour or so watching the entertainment.

The following are pictures of our buddy Flyer. Humpback whales have distinctive tail markings, and that's how they're tracked from year to year. In the cabin, they have a catalog of all the whales so you can get an idea of who's who. Flyer has shown up every year in Maine since the 70s, and he had a lot of fun making us chase him through the sound as he checked out his summer feeding grounds.

Flyer doing one of his surfaces. Humpbacks tend to surface a few times to get air, then do a terminal dive to head down to eat. That's when they show their tails off:

There was a research boat following us on the trip. I'm not clear on their purpose, but I think they track the whale populations from year to year.

The trip back was just as lovely. We got to see a finback, who waved its fin at us.

And we saw the Queen Mary 2, which was in port for the day. In fact, many of the passengers were on our whale watching tour. Why you'd go from a bigger boat to a smaller boat to take the same route to see whales is beyond me, but strokes and folks.

As we came back into port, we saw a lot of lobster boats. Almost makes me want to eat lobster. Almost.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

First full day in Bar Harbor

And what a day it was! We started off by sending my mother in law for a relaxing spa morning. She had hot stone and foot massages, and felt great afterward. Then it was off to Acadia National Park to see what there was to see.

After a lunch at the Jordan Pond House (mmm, popovers...), we headed onto the park loop with our CD audio guide.

A scene from the Wild Gardens of Acadia. Sort of a mini-ecosystem showing the different foliage that make up the area, including a bog, a pond, and some great mountain plants. I took lots of pictures, in case we want to try our hand at growing some at home.

A view of Acadia. Yes, we're weird. We buy stuffed animals on our trip, and the get to pose in our pictures. But he looks so happy :)

A view from one of the paths we stopped at. It was a nice walk through the forest to see this.

Thunder Hole. Waves come in and make a thunderous noise when they hit the back of the granite depression. The tide was just coming in, so we saw some good spray.

Bubble Rock. Left clinging to the side of the mountain when the glaciers receded.

Next installment: whale watching!

A place to lay our head (Maine, Part II)

I love B&Bs. We've had great luck with them so far. When I saw that the Harbour Cottage Inn in Southwest Harbor had a 2-room suite for us, I knew it would be perfect.

It's an amazing property, both inside and out, and the staff were wonderful. We had such a nice stay there.

This is the porch where they serve breakfast in the mornings. If you look through the trees across the street, you can see Southwest Harbor from your breakfast table.

Our room. Very comfy, if I do say so myself.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Maine trip, Part I

My mother in law turned 60 this year, and we decided to celebrate by taking her on a trip. She and my husband camped up in Bar Harbor, ME when he was in high school, and we love it up there, so we thought that would be a good destination. We left on Wednesday night before the 4th, had a quick stop in Portsmouth, NH, then took the coastal route up through Maine to Bar Harbor. Here are some quick notes from that part of the trip:

The clock when we went to bed in Portsmouth.

One of the ads for yet another lobster festival in Rockland. We had a great lunch there and window shopped.

Welcome to Camden! We love stopping here, and these pictures will show you why.

The view of the harbor in Camden

One of the many lovely places to sit outside the library. The library itself has an amazing kids section, full of Maine-centered activities. There's a child sized lighthouse and a boat to play in. Right outside is this childrens' garden. The benches are held up with replicas of childrens books written by Maine authors, and are surrounded by flowers. It's a wonderful place to spend some quiet time.

Another view of the children's garden

Another "Camden nook". Along many of the side streets, there are stone benches just off of the sidewalk surrounded by flowers. Now can you see why we love it there?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Grey Towers

So my mother-in-law came to visit us, ostensibly to hit a local Celtic festival. It was their first year, so it didn't take long to check that out, and we had a free afternoon. We decided it was time to visit our favorite PA town of Milford. Every time we go, we try to get into the Grey Towers historical home. And every time we go, it's closed. Until this time.

Grey Towers was amazing. I learned the following things:
  • Gifford Pinchot was at one time a two-term governor of PA
  • Gifford Pinchot was also the first head of the US Forest Service
  • When the house was built, logging had left no trees in the area
  • Gifford's wife Cornelia (who sounded like quite the firecracker) hired an army of gardeners and architects to design the beautiful grounds that now exist
  • The goal of the US Forest Service is not strict conservation, but to use the land's resources wisely so that future generations can still benefit from them
  • The US Forest Service is the largest provider of 2x4s in the country
  • If you're on the first or the last tour of the day, you get to visit all 3 floors of the house instead of just the first floor

What a house it was. Several prominent politicans, among others, stayed at Grey Towers when it was a private home. The Pinchots traveled all over the world, and many of the artifacts they collected are still in the home. And the library--I covet a room like that.

It was a great tour, and a wonderful way to spend the day. We want to visit again at Christmas!

So I've been busy

It's been a crazy, chaotic few weeks, so I haven't had much of a chance to post. But I have a ton of pictures to share--soon. Until then, check out these sites for some teasers of what's to come:

Grey Towers site
Acadia National Park Site
Bar Harbor Whale Watching
Harbor Cottage Inn