Friday, August 31, 2007
Yup, our sojourn at Chocorua Camping Village in Chocorua, NH is drawing to an end. I have really loved it here. I thoroughly enjoy my co-housekeeper and boss, Nancy (who is slightly younger than my youngest child), my manager Janet (maybe slightly older than my oldest child?), my hiking buddy Sue, and all of the other work-campers (I avoid the cutesy "official" coined word "workamper.") The work has been sometimes physically demanding, but has required relatively little brainwork, and the company has been congenial.
The geographic location has been phenomenal. With a block of 3 days a week off, I've been able to hike and backpack in the White Mountains, including rather large chunks of the Appalachian Trail, which I'll be happy to recognize next summer as I approach the end of my thru-hike. I'll be happy to know that I was able to hike them this summer as a neophyte, next year by the time I'm way more experienced.
But I am happy to move on. We're going to spend about 3 weeks going to various spots in New England, including Bar Harbor, ME, Cape Cod, Rhode Island (because we need Rhode Island to fill in the spot on our map on the side of our RV.... kind of like my "50-State Marathon Quest" map in my sidebar; states we've visited at least overnight -- just driving across doesn't count), the Boston area (I have a half-sister there whom I haven't seen for a very, very long time), finally getting back to Garrett County, MD about Sept. 24. Then after about a month (to catch up on doctor's appointments, lab work, etc., to say nothing of spending time with family) we're off to the Columbus, OH area (to see more family, our 2 daughters and our Ohio grandkids Collin and Gracie), then to Michigan to see more family (Steve's parents, his sister and her husband, their daughter and her husband and two little girls) and finally on to the Austin, TX area where we have a winter gig lined up (they promise us it's out in the countryside, not in downtown Austin. But there should be plenty of outfitters where I can get my final gear for my AT hike.)
All of this means....
I have to clean up our mess. We've been here 4 months and the difference between this and a short stay is like the difference between pulling an unrooted cutting out of a flower pot, and removing a potbound plant whose roots have practically grown to the pot.
I have to sort. And toss. And organize. And batten down. What to do with stuff that goes in the closet? The closet is pre-empted by my backpack now.
I think we need a bigger boat. But that's not gonna happen unless we win the lottery.
So instead of doing something about it, I'm blogging about it....
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
It's going to feel different, emphasizing walking over running. I've done day hikes of up to 10 miles but only once a week or so; I haven't walked day in, day out, or even every other day or a few days a week. I need to start on this. It's enough different from running that, when I've needed to walk more than a mile or so of a marathon, my feet have started to hurt from the unaccustomed mechanics. I'd better learn them.
Well, I need to mail something and the P.O. is a couple miles away. No time like the present. Up and at 'em.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I should say "observed" rather than "celebrated," maybe, because in the morning we observed that it was our anniversary, kissed briefly, and headed out the door for our day's work at the campground. We did spend a couple enjoyable hours together in the afternoon as we were both assigned to restroom-cleaning.
And in a way, that was a relevant way to observe it. Not restroom-cleaning, specifically, but just doing what we do every day, since being married is what we do every day, and what we do every day is the stuff being married for 35 years is made of.
As I cleaned rental cabins with my campground manager, she congratulated me on our long marriage, and she asked me what advice I had for other couples. I hadn't really thought about that, and had no particular pearls of wisdom to dispense. She asked, "Well, how have you stayed married for so long? There must be some secret you can share."
All I could think of was.... just keep putting one foot in front of the other. So I said that, along with, "I guess a variation of that is -- take one day at a time."
"After 35 years that's all you can say?" she exclaimed. "Put one foot in front of the other? One day at a time?"
Yup, that's about it. All those steps and all those days add up to a long, long journey. All those steps and all those days are what keep us on the trail.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
It wasn't nearly as serious as it could have been. Thank goodness for everyone on the island it veered south. What a mess if it had gone right smack through the middle, as it had looked as thought it might. Big disaster averted there.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Our son Jon and his wife Jamie decided last week on a spur-of-the-moment, "whirlwind" trip to Jamaica to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary, which was day before yesterday. They planned to stay until tomorrow.
At least, until Hurricane Dean got tough and then picked Jamaica as a target. See that little spot right smack in the middle of the "cone of probability" which is the projected path the storm is most likely to take? Yeah, that's Jamaica. Yesterday they tried to get a flight out, but they haven't been able even to get a call through to the panic-packed airlines, let alone get a flight.
So they're going to have to stay and ride it out.
Dean is just a few mph short of becoming a Cagetory 5 hurricane.
We've got the Weather Channel on; apparently plans for evacuation to shelters are in place and functional, with Jamaica getting hit about every 3 years. Jon and Jamie will have an adventure they'd rather not have, but will most likely be OK. And in the aftermath, well, Jon's a firefighter-paramedic and Jamie's a nurse. Both have disaster-response training and are the take-charge sort. Jon has water-rescue training. They might rather not be there but it may be good for others that they are.
What a bummer. Head for the South Seas for a leave-it-all-behind anniversary getaway and land in the middle of a friggin' hurricane, one as strong as they get.
Kind of like a marriage. You get married surrounded by light and lace, dreaming of happily-ever-after. But sometimes you get a hurricane. And at least you're together.
Friday, August 17, 2007
FINISHING WHAT YOU START.
Of the 1,000-2000 hopefuls who set out on the Appalachian Trail every spring, about 10% actually make it to the other end.
I want to be one of those 10%.
Some leave the trail for physical reasons, injury or illness.
However, barring injury or illness, most people who have the nerve or craziness to start have the physical ability to put one foot in front of the other until they get to Maine (or Georgia, if they start in Maine.)
It's the mental stick-to-it-iveness that nails you.
Hikers get tired of the walking, or the loneliness, or the mosquitoes, or the mice in the shelters, or the grunginess and sweat and dirty clothes (opportunities for a shower and washing clothes come maybe once a week, if you hike several miles off the trail to a town), or the rain (or snow, which falls in spring on the southern end of the Trail and every month of the year in the White Mountains), or the terrain (it is not a smooth gravel path), or of living in a tent, or living on Ramen and Snickers bars, or of lack of any number of accoutrements to which they have become accustomed prior to setting out on the Trail.
Someone on a backpacking forum told me, if I can finish the Ironman, I can finish the AT.
Hmph. Ironman took me 16 hours. The AT will take more than 16 WEEKS, 5-6 months of walking 10-20 miles per day over boulders and mountains carrying a 25# pack in all kinds of weather day after day after day after day after day.
This thought came to me in startling clarity when I was stranded on Mt. Jefferson in NH having clearly bitten off more than I could chew in one day, face with the decision to try to complete my day's planned itinerary or do the obvious and set up camp where I was and increase my chances of survival as a backpacking newbie.
OK, back to the life lesson.
10 years ago, we hosted this exchange student from France. Cecile. She was 16. (Talk about nerve, 16 years old and taking off on a plane to spend a whole year in America with a family she'd never met in a school where the only French spoken was in French class.) So that was 10 years ago. This summer, Cecile got married. In May, I started crocheting a bedspread for her and her husband. I got bogged down because it is a huge project. I have let it go for weeks at a time, thinking, "It's a wedding, not a birthday... it doesn't have to be exactly on time." The thing is big, and heavy, and I get hot holding it on my lap and over my legs and feet while I work on it. I procrastinate. I read email and my special-interest forums (fora?) and books on hiking the AT, while the bedspread rests in its plastic bag under our dining table.
I have got to get this thing finished. She got married almost a month ago.
How can I keep at it on my way to Maine, when I'm tired and cold (or hot) and bug-bitten and hungry and dirty and discouraged.... when I couldn't even finish crocheting a bedspread in the comfort of my own RV with its two TV's, air conditioning, and microwave oven?
Personal commitment: No more reading about the AT until Cecile and Joachim's bedspread is done. It will probably only take me about 10 or 12 more hours.... a day's AT hike.
I'll take a picture and post it when it's done.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
About an hour into my intended 3-day, 16-mile backpacking trip in the White Mountains a few weeks ago, I realized that not only was my backpack quite heavy, but I was carrying very nearly the same amount of extra body weight, effectively doubling my pack weight.
I got far more fatigued than I expected, got into a risky situation due to not being able to cover the distance, and had a few revelations.
I lost 5 pounds in those 2 days, a combination of mild dehydration and not eating enough (which added to my fatigue.) I refueled and rehydrated for a few days. Then I made a chart and started "lightening my pack" -- my body -- aiming for a pound a week, 25 pounds. (My pack weighed 30, which is probably what my AT thru-hike pack will weigh, including food and water.)
Rather than a specific food plan or eating schedule, when I eat or think about eating, I'm just asking myself the same question I ask when I select items for my backpack: Do I need or want this enough to justify the weight?
This mindset seems to be hitting the spot. Since July 8, I'm down 6 pounds. It hasn't gone evenly, exactly a pound a week (I plateaued for a couple weeks), but I'm more or less on schedule.
When I hit the trail 25 pounds lighter next spring, it will be like carrying just one backpack instead of two. Who wouldn't rather carry just one backpack?! Or a 30-pound pack instead of a 55-pound pack?
I'm on my way.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
You might remember I've hardly run all summer. After the Vermont City Marathon I thought I might just quit running.
So I went to the race and registered and that's when I saw the t-shirt, whose design featured the course elevation map. Oh, great!
I figured to start slow and then ease up. It did turn out to be hilly, but only one was one of those long slow killers. Most were very substantial rollers, with the elevation changing a couple hundred feet in between. Well, I haven't been running, but I've been hiking in the White Mountains....
Ask me my time. Go on, ask me. You know you're dying to.
48:42!!! For 5 miles!! On hills!! When I haven't run all summer!! Gol-durn! Averages out to 9:44/mile. Gol-DURN!!!
Mile 1: 9:44
Mile 2: 9:07
Mile 3: 9:37
Mile 4: 10:45 (obviously the mile with the bad hill)
Mile 5: 9:27
I am astonished. Looks like I run my best when I don't run for weeks :-)
P.S. As I saw my splits add up (at least till mile 4,) I began to hope I might win something. But I was 4th out of 4 women 50-59. Sandown has some FAST WOMEN!! First in my AG ran 41:xx. Third was about 40 seconds ahead of me.