Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I stare at maps

So, I've been home for a solid two days now.  I'm hungry and I ache all over from sitting in a desk chair all day.  Which means I'm already planning my next excursion.

Technically my next excursion is next weekend with DeLee, but that will just be overnight, and I expect it to be fun and easy.  I am not bothering with much planning.

The excursion I'm planning now is for next year.  I figure I'll have about two weeks of vacation to blow on long distance hiking.  So, which section to do?  I have fewer than 250 unhiked miles of Appalachian Trail to pick from so my options are getting a wee bit slim.

I could opt to go south again, and do Mahoosuc Notch before I get any older or more decrepit.  Although that would mean doing Mahoosuc Arm southbound, which doesn't sound like fun.  Maybe I could start in Gorham, New Hampshire and hike north up to Rangeley?  That's only 78 miles but some of them are tough miles.

I need to order some new maps, obviously.  Gotta get some staring done.  JD reads books at night and I stare at maps.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

All this inactivity is wearing me out

Last night I stepped into the shower (my very own shower) and started giggling.  Because I had noticed water droplets on my glasses.  I've worn glasses for over thirty years, and this was the first time I had forgotten I was wearing them and walked into the shower with them on.

I was really tired.

This morning I feel immediately into my normal home routine, the one where I hit the snooze once and then head downstairs.  I noticed that JD had managed to leave his phone home.  I packed up lunch (with extra snacks) and eventually got out the door.  As soon as I got to work and parked I realized that I had also left my phone home.  I felt naked and bereft.  No phone!  No podcasts!  No facebook!  No gmail!  Very sad.

This was the first thing I saw when I walked into my office:

My coworker had made a sign for me because I forgot before I left. It was hung from my cubicle, projecting out into the air.  You will note that he taped on an addendum.

Even the guys working on the building noticed I had been gone and welcomed me back (as  they cut panels to put into the hung ceiling.)  It was nice.

I managed to knock out about 500 of the 1100+ emails, not counting automated emails, that I got over the last month.  I hope nothing in the other 600+ was due today.

I went for my daily walk and found that the woods around work took quite a bit of damage from the hurricane.  I lost track of number of trees down, but there is a LOT more light getting to the ground than there used to be.  I think this is going to be one of those events that leads to change.  The extra light is going to let a lot of undergrowth grow up.  In a year or two my daily walk could lead me through a lot of different sights than I see now.

My first day back to work was pretty painful.  I'm used to walking all day now, and sitting still makes me ache.  I suppose I'll get used to slack again soon.

Monday, August 29, 2011

In which I finally get home, and I am tired

I am home.  I am too tired to write a blog so this is not a blog.

JD's car engine is trashed.  They did actually pull the spark plugs and used a breaker bar to try to get it to turn, and nothing.  They have to order a new engine.  It will take a while.

With that established we rented a car.  Amazing that they actually had one, and they came to get us minutes after we called.  In fact just about everybody involved in our extended stay was incredibly nice and helpful, except the passing policeman and the tow operator's coworker, who (correctly) thought that we were four letter word idiots.  And with the blue sky today, New York was really pretty.  So I must say that my opinion of New York (aside from the Appalachian Trail, and the Adirondaks where I worked) has been significantly improved by our problems there.

Anyway this is not a blog, this is a picture post.  All pictures by or of me on or near the Appalachian Trail in Maine.  Not in order, either, because the software isn't good at that.  And not even labelled.  It's Maine.  There ya go.

PS I took over 400 pictures so just be grateful I didn't post them all.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Help I'm stuck in New York and I can't get out

I'm losing my sense of humor about this hurricane. 

Friday night JD and I stayed in Rangeley. Saturday morning we had breakfast with my erstwhile companions, and then JD and I headed south. We stopped in Natick, Massachusetts to see Austin and Kristy, who were visiting family. After a little while I wandered out and sat on the porch watching rain come down. A month in the woods had not prepared me to be thrust into the middle of somebody else's family reunion. The porch was nice, though. 

Around four we said goodbye and began driving again. Hurricane Irene was getting more insistent as time moved on. We had thought to stop around Newburgh, but by Hartford the road was getting a little treacherous so I called ahead to make a reservation in Danbury. Ruh roh. No openings for five days at the first place. Next I tried a motel which catered to business travelers and fortunately got a room. It was cheaper than the one in Rangeley, even. 

After checking in we found an open restaurant on our third try. I ordered a fantastic layered salad that I would love to reproduce at home. It had chicken grilled in hoisin sauce and some sort of peanut buttery dressing. Definitely a win. After dinner we retreated to the motel and passed out (having alerted the various family members to our state of health and location.)

Before bed I dug out my headlamp and put it on the bedside table, and made sure my electronics were charged up. Sure enough, sometime in the early morning hours the motel lost power. I ate breakfast out of my camping supplies, and JD ate leftover bread from his trip to When Pigs Fly. I was satisfied, he wasn't. Between his sore back, headache, and hunger, he turned into a close imitation of an angry bear. The winds were still strong and it was still raining, but he wanted out. And he was surly about it. I decided that I wasn't up for an argument on the merits of staying put in a motel with no power. I started packing up. 

We took the stairs down to the lobby and JD went out in the rain (having forgotten his raincoat at home) to get the car. The angel standing in the entryway with me told me of a diner two miles away with power and good food. Those few sentences salvaged my morning. 

I directed JD to the diner and an omelet soothed my savage beast. We stopped across the street to fill the car's tank and set out. Stoplights were out but the roads seemed otherwise okay. 

Shortly after we got on Sawmill Parkway we found a little bit of ponding on the road. Not so deep that the lane markings weren't clear, and we got through with ease. However, after a few miles the road was closed. JD turned the car around to go back the way we had come. Northbound, the water was deeper. We plowed into it and the car struggled and then stalled. 

JD pushed the car out of the water (which only came up to his ankles) while I steered. The car wouldn't restart. A highway help truck stopped and tried to jumpstart us with no luck. He called us a tow and moved on. 

It turns out that we had entered that section of road while they were in the act of closing it. No information about closures had been available because it wasn't closed when we left the motel. While we were getting stuck they were placing barriers across the entrances. Just a little too late for us. 

A state policeman checked that we were okay and then yelled at us. "You should have stayed home!" yes, officer, I would LOVE to have been at home. Thanks. 

The tow operator showed up after about an hour. He seemed competent but mute. He warmed up a little, which was fortunate because it took a long time to get us to a car dealership where we could leave the car. Road after road was blocked by fallen trees and wires or was flooded. We ended up redriving the area where we stalled (very slowly) and by then there was a definite current. We must have gotten there originally very soon after flooding started. 

The tow truck driver had been working all night. He was exhausted. I felt for him. At least he lived nearby and would probably be able to go home when his shift ended. He dropped us off at a motel in the next town, as there wasn't one in the town with the dealership. Before dropping us off he got a call from a coworker who wondered if we were f*cking idiots. I couldn't really disagree with the assessment but our driver was embarrassed. 

So tonight JD and I are safe and dry. The car has some problem which may or may not be a quick fix. If it can be fixed quickly, or we can rent a car, we still may not be able to drive home, as portions of roads throughout the area are closed, as are some bridges. And of course power is out here and there, which snarls traffic. Basically we have no idea what is going to happen, other than we are both going to miss work tomorrow, at a minimum. It is outside of our control. 

We are fortunate to have good friends and neighbors who are keeping an eye on our property for us. Our beloved petsitter reports that all is well at the house, and all of the animals are fine. My stupid horse apparently spent the hurricane out in his field, grazing. Shelter? Who needs shelter. 

Last but not least today we walked to a restaurant for dinner. The wind was enough to make me stumble on the way there and back. Upon reaching the motel again we found a fire truck and other emergency vehicles. The motel had been evacuated due to a power glitch. Luckily, power was on and people were allowed back in by the time we arrived. 

I have my headlamp out again. With all the wind another glitch isn't out of the question. I will retire to bed with no idea if I can get home tomorrow. I'm afraid this doesn't seem like any fun to me. I prefer my adventures better planned. If we can't leave we at least have a safe place to stay, but right now I just want my life back. I want to go home, see my friends, and sleep in my own bed. 

For somebody who just walked a couple hundred miles over treacherous terrain in all weather, you'd really think I'd deal with adversity better, wouldn't you?