The Cubbies!

In light of the current World Series, I thought it would be appropriate to speak of my time in Chicago.  I was working in Michigan at the time and took the train over to Chicago.  I have always loved traveling by train and in the midwest, it’s a fairly easy way to travel.  I am the kind of person that packs in as much as I can in a trip to see as much as possible.  Sometimes that doesn’t work in my favor because I just try to do too much, but I figure it will all work out.  I had bought the City Pass (which I have in a couple of other cities-VERY worth the money.) to maximize my trip.  I started out my day at the Shedd Aquarium.  I do love to see the penguins, dolphins and otters especially.

 

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My next stop was at the WIllis (Sears) Tower and I had to go see the room where you can stand on a glass floor and look down about 1200 feet to the ground below.  I didn’t have any issues with, but I am sure there were plenty of people that did!

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I then decided to go back to my hotel and get ready for my fancy steak dinner at Don Shula’s steakhouse.  I wasn’t at all expecting to have 3 waiters and once and I have never paid so much for a steak; but it was SO worth it.  My after dinner treat was to go to the top of the Hancock building to see the lights of Chicago at night.  It was quite beautiful.

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The next morning, of course, I had to fit in a tour of a ballpark-Wrigley Field!  It was my first time there and I was very excited to see it.  I was with a fairly large tour group and it ended with a marriage proposal to one of the people in the group.

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To finish up my tour of Chicago, I went to Adler Planetarium,  which I was over the moon for!  Haha.  Then over to the Field Museum.  I saw Sue, the famous T-Rex.  I also learned the the Field museum has been used in many movies.  Chicago has so much to offer and I have returned a couple of times, but look forward to my next visit,

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The magic of New England

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One of my favorite things about this job is my ability to go see new things.  I always encourage people to not forget about the wonderful places to visit that are in their back yard.  I know that most people who think about vacation want to plan it somewhere different than where they live and while that is a great thing to do, I find that people (myself included) miss so much close by.  Many people have said to me, “I’ve lived here my whole life and you have seen more than me.”  I find that to be true everywhere.  My response has always been that I have a finite amount of time at each assignment and I really want to  make the most of it.  The small places I visit are generally not what vacation plans are made of.  For example, someone might plan a vacation to Wyoming to see Devil’s Tower, but maybe not the Battle Site of Little Bighorn.  I was lucky to see both.  My point is that I have recently been thinking about all the places in New England that I have never been despite growing up here.  I have never been to Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, really explored the Freedom Trail in Boston, Salem and until recently, Mt. Washington.  These are places I have taken for granted that I will always have time for because they will always be there.  However, just like anything else, unless I make the effort and build time in, I won’t ever see them.  So, just like diving into the ocean, I took the starting plunge of exploring the parts of New England that I haven’t seen starting the with the big girl….Mt. Washington.  My perfect excuse for this trip was the see a friend of mine who is thru hiking the Appalachian Trail.  I told her I had never been, had always wanted to and thought it would be really cool to see it with her.  As planned, I drove there and somehow made it up the slightly scary auto road with my poor car chugging along sounding like the engine would explode at any minutes and at the summit, I was treated to gorgeous views of….a thick swirling fog.  It wasn’t cold, but I was cursing myself for wearing my glasses and not my contacts as I kept having to wipe thick mist off them in order to see where I was walking.  However, it was wonderful to see my friend and meet some of her hiking friends.  Also, to send some postcards from the summit post office!  On the way back down, now loaded down with 4 hikers and their packs in my little Ford Focus, the skies decided to take pity on us and give us the amazing views I had so hoped to see.  It turned out to be such a beautiful day and I was so happy to be in the company of thru hikers again.  We went into Gorham, NH and got them checked into their motel while also seeing another 4 hikers in town.  Of course I knew they were headed to the Chinese buffet- the best thing for hiker hunger is a buffet!  I was quite amazed and startled at the amount of food that was consumed, but it was such a wonderful gathering of great people.  Thru hiking season is winding down and I am faced with a sadness that I won’t be seeing many of them until next year.  But hey, having Red Sox baseball and hiking season to look forward to is always a nice thing to think about.

A big birthday bash…

My latest adventure has been one with the U.S. government-a VA hospital to be exact.  This is a whole different kind of work environment and there is a lot of get used too but I am very much enjoying taking care of some of our Veterans.  This year is the 150th birthday of the hospital I am part of and there seem to be quite a few plans in the works for the celebration.  However, the most interesting thing that I have come across is that a Civil War soldier will be honored by being buried at the closed cemetery on the property. His remains were found on the west coast and they have made their way back to Maine in order to be part of this event.  He fought for the 20th Maine in the war and now he will be placed back at home.  I often think of the brave men and women who have the courage to be part of our military.  I honor and respect them.  I am glad to be giving back to them in my home state.  And above all, want to thank them.

More ramblings….

I experience simple moments and simple pleasures.  In my opinion, life is about finding them, whatever they happen to be.  I have always said that I am not one to buy shoes or purses, but choose to spend my time and money on adventure in whichever form I enjoy.   The simple truths in life that I adhere to are: 1. being near or on the water brings me a kind of peace that is good for me 2. Travel is a nourishment to my soul.  There are very few things that can give me the joy that I feel when I experience a new place.  3. Kindness and positivity are far better ways to exert my energy than a bad attitude ever could be.  I have had many people tell me that my smile is what they remember about me.  It takes more effort to be negative or mean and I just don’t think that is productive.  People tend to respond to kindness.  I have found that the quickest way to disarm someone is by giving them a genuine smile and making them feel that they are very important to you in the moment you are with them.  I think it’s amazing that a simple smile can sometimes turn a whole day around for someone.

The glory of a Maine summer

Spring and summer in New England are the only reason that I even put up with winter.  I am of the mindset that you can only pick one season to complain about, so I choose winter.  I was recently reading something on a Facebook group that I belong to and It just reminded me how many people love this great state that I call home.  I have met many people in my travels that tell me how much they love Maine or how much they want to visit.  I never realized when I was growing up how big a deal it was that I grew up on Mt. Desert Island and all her glory.  MDI has it all: seashore, mountains, forest, ponds and Acadia National Park.  I spent many summers working in Bar Harbor wishing I could get away from all the tourists.  Now that I am away, I do love visiting, but it is also a bit sad to see some of the things of my childhood gone.  I think that is inevitable for anywhere though.
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I am lucky that I will be getting another position in Maine and will be spending the remainder of the summer in the place that I always want to spend summers.  I have taken advantage of the New England spring so far!  I spent a weekend with friends visiting some places that I never knew about, but so glad my friends did.  We visited Quechee Gorge, which is Vermont’s deepest gorge and also the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park.  It was beautiful!  We spent time in Woodstock, VT and Hanover, NH; where I hoped beyond hope that I would see some thru hikers.  It was still too early in the season, but I went to one of the trail crossings to check it out anyway.  We ended the weekend at Fenway Park with a game against the Orioles, whom I had never seen at Fenway.  It was a great game-the Sox lost, but I still had a wonderful time.  I probably wouldn’t have cared anyway because right before the game I met one of my favorite retired players, Tim Wakefield.  I was so star struck that it took an enormous effort to construct a coherent sentence.  He was a very kind and down to earth guy though.
So now, the summer is about halfway done and I’m hoping for more Appalachian Trail adventures and some great weather to enjoy them in!

Good old Maine

I have been working in a small community at the very tip of Maine.  It’s in what us southern Mainers call “the county” and I have discovered that people here call where I’m from in Maine, “downstate.”  I find it amusing that we as Mainers have all these funny little terms for things and I don’t tend to notice them until I am trying to explain to someone from out of state.  I hear all kinds of jokes and assumptions from people that are not from here; and even though there may be a grain of truth in them, most of the time I just brush it off.  Some of us say “ayuh” as yes.  Most of us use wicked good; and I can assure you that I have been using that expression since I was little.  Mainers are a hard bunch to impress and I can assure you that unless you were born in this state, no matter how long you have lived here, you will always be “from away.”  We are proud, hard working, down to earth people for the most part that cherish our natural landscape and resources.  I personally love being a coastal girl; growing up on sailboats and ferry boats.  I am finding that as I get older, I can appreciate the part of Maine that has the mountains and vast wilderness.  And now that I have had a lot of time to live in other places, I can truly appreciate my home for what it is.  I get excited when people want to talk about Maine and tell me how much they love it here or would like to visit.  This current assignment is my first time ever spending more than a day in northern Maine.  It’s not all that different to me….small town with community pride.  I can get on board with that.

And in another country….

I recently took a trip to Quebec City to finally say I had been there.  I have wanted to go for quite some time and any excuse to bust out my very rusty high school French is good with me.  I went up for one day and stayed at a beautiful place in the old part of the city called Hotel Manoir Victoria.  I felt almost instantly like I was in Europe; even while I was driving into the city.  All the signs are in French, which I am usually not too bad with, but when you’re driving 60 miles an hour, looking out for all the crazy lane changers and listening to your GPS, translating a sign becomes infinitely harder.  Needless to say, I was ecstatic to hand my car keys over to the valet as soon as I got to the hotel.  It’s a beautiful, historic building just inside the fortification.  I didn’t realize until a couple of weeks before my trip that Quebec City is the oldest walled city in North America.  French is also still the first language to most people there and it’s about 70% residential.

Once at the hotel, I went to my charming, 5th floor room with a beautiful view of the city.  I had decided to book one the city tours and am so glad that I booked a bus tour as it was off and on snowing/raining and just all around dreary.  I wouldn’t have been too happy to be walking around in that mess.  The tour included some of the most famous and old hotels. churches, French architecture and history galore.  We saw  Place Royale, Plains of Abraham, the outside of the Citadel and all kinds of cute shops and houses.  I was sorry to say that I only had one day in that city and look forward to a return trip.

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Baseball is back!

It’s a good time of year when I can say that baseball season has started again.  I look forward to it every year and always harbor fantasies of going to spring training.  Somehow I just haven’t been able to have that happen yet, but I still have it in my mind.  I do however still keep my annual tradition alive of going to a game on Jackie Robinson Day-April 15th.  All of baseball celebrates that historic day: April 15,1947.  This past year I was again lucky enough to go with my Dad to Fenway Park.  They played the Toronto Blue Jay and they gave us a victory.  This is big because every other time that my Dad and I have gone to a game, it’s always a loss for the Red Sox.  I was so happy that bad luck streak had finally ended!  The weather was nice and I always love a trip that involves a train ride.  One of the best things about that day is that I unexpectedly saw one of my favorite retired players: Tim Wakefield.  I was busy watching something else and he just appeared on the field.  I was totally starstruck and despite having my camera in my hand, I wasn’t about to think straight long enough to get a picture.  It does amaze me that I can be reduced to that behavior even as an adult!  I guess we all have our weaknesses!

The beauty of the Whites

In the last year I have become increasingly obsessed with the Appalachian Trail.  It started with a book I read that a friend wrote.  I thought it was really interesting, but certainly something I would never be a part of beyond reading.  I had spent a good portion of my adult life thinking that I hated hiking mostly due to one negative person in my life.  As it turns out, that isn’t the case at all.

It really started when I took an assignment in southwestern Vermont.  I was located close to a trail crossing and I ended up going to a “hiker feed” that was sponsored by the Green Mountain Club.  I was finally experiencing the hiker culture in real life and I fell hard and fast.

I have read as much as I could get my hands on and I still find new things to read every day.  I became a member of the Appalachian Trail Convservancy and will talk about the trail any chance I get.  I have certain go-to friends who share my crazy obsessive nature in regard to the AT and hiking in general.

Recently, I spent a weekend in a resort tucked into the White Mountains-The Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa.  It was a spectacular weekend with some incredible views and fun not soon forgotten.  I admit, that of all the AT, I am most nervous about the Whites and Maine.  I have heard time and time again that it’s the hardest part of the trail.  But, what a challenge to overcome it!  So, as I sat on the beautiful wrap around porch staring at Mt. Washington, I couldn’t help but mentally wander along that amazing trail that defines the true outdoor experience.  IMG_5272 IMG_5278 IMG_5307 IMG_5323

Arkansas…oh Arkansas!

I completed the number one thing on my bucket list at the end of January 2016!  The last state I had left to see was Arkansas.  A little anti-climactic, I know-I mean, I really should have ended with something a bit more exciting, but I am still thrilled for the completion!  Without this traveling job of mine, I can say that it would have taken a lot longer, so I am even more grateful that I was about to accomplish this.

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Why was I in Arkansas besides the obvious?  Well, I have wanted to go to Branson, MO for years.  My grandparents enjoyed it there and I am fascinated with Titanic history.  There is a Titanic museum there that has a life-sized replica of the Grand Staircase and you can walk on it.  To be honest, once you stand next to it, it’s overwhelming.  It made me think of all the people who were on that glorious ship and what a sad story most of them had.  The museum is quite amazing-no photography allowed inside and they make you turn off your cell phone, but such a wonderful place to visit,  I think I easily spent about 3.5 hours in there just looking at all the artifacts and pictures.  Admittedly, you need to be a big history nerd in order to appreciate it, but still very informative.

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Also, during that long weekend trip, I stopped in a small town called Wamego, KS to go see the Oz Museum.  Make all the Kansas/OZ jokes you want, but this museum is very cool.  They had so much memorabilia and interesting facts, that I think even the most avid Wizard of Oz fan would be impressed.  It is set up like you started in Kansas and walked through Oz meeting characters along the journey.  They even have a constantly running loop of the original movie.  Also included is information about the books, The Wiz, Return to Oz and other books not written by Baum.  Totally worth the 10 mile detour off of I-70.

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