Category Archives: Troy’s Blog

Another Halloween

Halloween Fun and Creativity

Great! The one day a year when children are taught how to go around and beg for candy from strangers. So I’m not a huge fan of this event. Now, if you’re like most people when I mention this your probably rolling up your eyes, getting ready to click away because you don’t have an interest in reading about a Halloween Scrooge. I don’t have an big interest in being bothered to answer the door and give away candy only to have to do this again 2 minutes later. Are you wondering how I became this way? Yes, I did go trick or treating when I was younger and yes my children go trick or treating now. I try to not hinder their enjoyment even though I wonder how many more years I have to endure the dressing up and walking through the neighborhood freezing my hands off while the kids bother each person possible looking for candy. There is one benefit of all this. They often share their candy with me (they don’t always know this….oh, did I type that out loud?)

Pumkin Carving

As my children are growing up and my oldest is getting to the questionable age for trick or treating I am starting to remember all of the fun parts that I will miss someday. What?! I’m not a total Halloween Scrooge? NO! The part of this day that is the most enjoyable for me is the creativity that people put into it. It may take a minute or two to get into carving the pumpkins but I do have fun creating a new design and challenging myself and the children to come up with something different. It is amazing at what can be created out of a pumpkin. To see some of the best check this place out …Villafane Studios as seen on the Today Show. They are truly some of the best and most creative carving I have seen.

Bat Pumkin

People that take the time to get into full costume and put a lot of energy coming up with their costume are impressive to me. I do enjoy a great costume. I tend not to get invited to Halloween parties anymore because I don’t dress up because I’m a Halloween Scrooge. O.K. so there was this one time that I did actually dress up and had some fun doing it. My wife and I knocked on the door to the hosts and they could not tell who it was. Unsure if we belonged there they eventually let us pass as we said nothing and drove a car we had just purchased the month before so they could not tell it was someone they were familiar with. It was at least a half hour before we broke our silence and began to reveal who we were. Fortunately I don’t believe there are pictures around of that so I can deny it and continue with being a Scrooge.

            Dressing Up

Finally, people who put time and energy into creating a great Halloween landscape around their home make this event more enjoyable. For a few pictures of some outstanding Halloween landscapes click here… (There are also some cool posts about pallet furniture). Maybe I should start putting more energy into decorating outside for Halloween since my job limits how much time and energy I have available for the Christmas season. I bet if I start planning a Halloween yard in May I could come up with some ideas that the neighbors would enjoy. Scaring the older trick or treaters sounds like some fun for me and for them.  Hmm.. a few trap doors placed strategically in the yard, maybe a few ghouls flying from the trees with a few more greeting people at the driveway. It might even bring a few smiles to scare parents as they wait for the children to go to the door. Who doesn’t like to get a little scared on Halloween? O.K. so I really don’t but I know my oldest child and her friends are at the age that getting scared makes for a memorable night.

For those that like to go on adventures for Halloween there are usually a multitude of haunted houses being put on during the last few weekends in October for all to enjoy. If your interested in going further, here is a list of the 10 best places to go in the US. Another reason I don’t enjoy Halloween is because of what comes next!

Soon to Follow

 

The Conclusion of an Evening Adventure

The Beautiful Night Sky

We continued to descend as quickly as possible but that was slow going at the best because each step had to be felt before placing your full weight on your next step. A fork in the trail arrived and while I was pretty certain which direction to go, I did not want to end up making a very costly error so out came the lighter. Most of the time you would think of a lighter as a source for light because there is so little there. In complete darkness a lighter can blind you for a minute or two. After a little light near the sign indicating which way to go a little feeling of calmness fell over me and now time to continue on. Unfortunately it took another minute to go as my eyes needed to re-adjust to the darkness. Moving slower once again we came to a staircase built out of rocks. I recalled this part of the trail and knew that Karen should be at the bottom waiting – this is if she was still brave enough to be sitting in the dark forest. I was anticipating that she moved on to the car. There was just one problem, I had the only set of keys. What I believed to be the bottom of the stairs was approaching but I could not make out a bench and there certainly was no sign of Karen. I stopped and tried to get my baring’s but the feeling of being lost was creeping in. I could not find the direction of the trail and where to go next. Finally I decided that the best direction was to continue in the same direction we were already going.

An Airplane Streaking Across the Sky

Moving extremely slowly we I found more stairs to descend and in a short time the place we left Karen was in front of us. Still no sign of Karen though. I was pretty sure that she had returned to the vehicle. Maybe it was more hope that she had gone back. Only one way to find out – continue on. The trail was relatively flat at this point with few stones to trip over allowing us to move faster. FINALLY! THERE IT IS THE PARKING LOT! There may have been more whoops of joy if it were not for the welcoming words of Karen. O.K. so they were not as welcoming as scornful. The ensuing conversation does not need to be repeated here but I was still extremely glad to see her standing by the car.

Finding the Parking Lot

Kristy and Lysa have agreed on a new hiking rule since this – no hiking within 45 minutes of darkness. I believe we just need to bring flashlights next time. A good night hike can be a great experience. The next day the girls thought we should go back to bubble rock so mom could see it. What they didn’t realize is that mom had no interest what so ever to go back to that location after the less than positive experience the previous night. I believe this was a great learning experience for all of us and created an adventure we’ll never forget.

An Evening Adventure Continues…

Bubble Rock in the Dark

The view from this location was spectacular being able to see the remaining remnants of daylight and the glow of several towns off in the distance. Over one of the towns we witnessed fireworks being set off. A great location to see fireworks from above them. Watching fireworks from an airplane is something I would like to do someday. This was as close to that as I can imagine for the time being. Now for the inevitable problem. The trail was extremely difficult to see as there was very little light and trees sheltered the trail from any light at all. We were not carrying flashlights. Our only source of light was a cigarette lighter. As we started the hike back towards the vehicle I wanted to check in with Karen to make sure she was alright and that we were on our way. Wouldn’t you know it, my cell phone battery was dead. Not that I would have had great reception if it did work being that service had been spotty all day as it was. The only option was to get back to were Karen was sitting as fast as possible while traveling in the dark over loose rocks and branches. Seems like a good recipe for disaster.

Our Path Back to the Car

As our eyes adjusted to the limited light conditions you could make out some of the light colored rocks in some areas. At least enough to know where the trail was – thankfully! Did I fail to mention that on our way to Bubble Rock we came across a dad and his two children that had taken a wrong turn and struggling to get back to their car? We could here them off in the distance and eventually met up with them. Once they were pointed in the right direction off they went and we did the same. It was obvious when they found the parking lot as there were loud whoops of joy! That brought a smile to my face as we continued on our hike. I only mention that here because now we were in the position to take a wrong turn and make this an extremely long night. At this point Kristy and Lysa were getting really nervous. I assured them that things would be fine as I have been traveling in the woods in the dark before while getting to my hunting locations. What I did not tell them is I was more familiar with the land when heading to out for hunting. The only familiarity I had here was going up the trail the first time and that was after sunset.

To be Continued….

An Evening Adventure at Acadia

The Setting Sun in Acadia

After a full day of exploring Acadia National Park, the sun was beginning to wane so off to find a great spot to watch it set. Looking at the photo above I would say we were successful although I’m sure there are a number of great spots to watch both sunrises and sunsets. We pulled over on the side of the road, got the tripod and camera, and found the best spot to view the sun as is slowly merged into the horizon. There were a few other cars that stopped to quickly take a picture and then moved on but for most of the time we were able to enjoy a spectacular sunset on Mount Desert Island, Maine which is were Acadia resides. This was likely going to be our only opportunity for enjoying a sunset as Hurricane Irene was headed our way and the next night would be filled with clouds. Once we were satisfied with the viewing it was time to move on to our evening residence.

Off on Another Trail

Along the way I caught a glimpse of Bubble Rock sitting high above on a ledge of stone. Wanting a longer view of this large rock that appears as though it could tumble over the edge with just the smallest incentive we found a parking lot with a trail to a better viewing area. Earlier in the day this parking lot was full so we continued on planning on returning later. There was about 30 minutes of daylight left and the hiking trail was only 1/4 mile long. Doing the math assuming a walking rate of 2 miles per hour it should take us about 15 minutes to get there, 15 minutes of pictures and enjoying the surrounding and 15 minutes back to the parking lot. I knew it would be getting pretty dark by the time we got back to our vehicle but we should be fine so off on another adventure it was.

An Evening at Bubble Rock

About a third of the way Karen decided she was going to utilize a bench along the trail and would wait for us. I expected that the trail should terminate not to far ahead and we would get a nice look from a viewing point and then return to the car. As we continued on the trail it kept winding back and forth and then began to ascend more than expected. The longer we followed the trail, the darker it got and the more I began to realize this trail led right to the boulder we had seen from a distance below. Well, it shouldn’t be to far now so on we went. Finally we were at the top of the trail and near our objective. It was amazing to me that the National Park Service would allow people to get so close to this rock at the edge of a cliff. Once we finally saw this boulder I understood a little better. There was no way anyone was going to move this rock allowing it to go over the cliff. Once you realize that it has been in this location since the glaciers you can understand how unlikely it is to move.

To be Continued….

The First Place to See the Sun

Sunrise

Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park is the first place in the United States to see the sun rise during the winter months. This is because this location is far enough east in Maine and high enough to see the sun rise before areas that are further east. People like to be the first to do many things or experience something for the first time. Here is a place that anyone can do something before anyone else in the United States – watch the sun pierce the horizon. Unfortunately we did not make it to Cadillac Mountain to witness the sun rising but we still enjoyed setting foot in the beautiful Mountain. Even if we had it was during the summer so the first place to see the sun rise would have been Mars Hill, Maine.

Cadillac Mountain

My first impression of Cadillac Mountain was looking at it on a map while looking for the highlights of Acadia National Park. It was puzzling how this could be considered a mountain at only 1530 feet above sea level. I’m use to mountains being several thousand feet above sea level. After getting there and learning more about this place, I now understand why it’s considered a mountain. First of all the steep ascent from sea level to the top suggests a mountain. Also, according to geologists, what is currently the top of Cadillac Mountain was the center of the volcano which helped to shape this area. Apparently the mountain use to be considerably taller until the glaciers moved through and cut it down giving us the scenery available today.

The Big Dipper

After watching the sunset in other areas of the park we headed back to the top of Cadillac Mountain to witness a beautiful star filled sky. Most impressive was seeing the Milky Way. I have not seen it in a number of years so it was nice to be reminded of its’ spectacular display. Also, fewer and fewer people are able to see the Milky Way so it was nice to show our children what it looks like. Unfortunately I need to work on my photography skills capturing stars so I don’t have a picture that shows the milky way in all its glory. I was able to get a nice photo of the big dipper.

Acadia

Being Chased by Irene Continued…

Creeks Nearing Roads and Bridges

Further into New Hampshire we started encountering road closures due to flooding. It seemed as though every detour ended in another closed road requiring yet another detour. Crossing rivers became more nerve racking as the water was getting closer and closer to the roads that we could drive on causing me to wonder if the road was ready to give while driving over it. After about an hour and a half we made it out of this perpetual detour and found open roads again. Finally, the Vermont state line, not far now. At least this is what we thought. Daylight was once again leaving us making our task a little more difficult and discouraging.

Raging Rivers

Many of the creeks and streams were now raging rivers and nearing the roads that were open and covering the rest or washing them out. Once again there were constant detours as more and more roads where being closed. As the night wore on the only roads not closed in the areas we wanted to get to where interstates. Unfortunately there are only two interstates in Vermont and to get to Montpelier we need to drive south to almost the southern border on one interstate to get to the second one in order to get to this capital city. That was going to add 3-4 hours to our trip and we had been driving for 11 hours now. One last road and if this one is closed we’re going to find a place to stay and admit defeat. You guessed it – another road closure. Irene had won! It was time to quit driving for this day and re-evaluate our final destination another day.

More Flooded Waterways

At the worst point during the night there were 250 road closures in Vermont with video of cars and houses tumbling down the rivers. I felt frustrated and defeated because we were unable to get to Montpelier but also thankful that we were all safe. Our hearts went out to those who had lost so much and not sure of where to go and what to do. My desire to experience a hurricane is now gone. I enjoy storms but hurricanes are primarily wind and rain. The enjoyable parts of storms are the thunder and lightning so really the hurricane was disappointing. Also, being in the winds that hurricanes can produce for the length of time they can produce them is unappealing. Fortunately Hurricane Irene was less than expected but still provided plenty to remember.

Being Chased by Irene

Path of Hurricane Irene 

The itinerary for the last part of our trip to New England was to drive from Bangor, Maine to Montpelier, Vermont. We just finished seeing the areas of Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island in Maine and decided it was time to move away from the coast as Hurricane Irene was expected to move in within the next 24 hours. The day was growing long with any remaining light fleeting. It was about an hours’ drive to Bangor where we decided to find a place to sleep and weather Irene. Forecasts called for the Hurricane to diminish by morning giving us hope that we could still travel. Before falling asleep the girls were a little nervous and scared of being in a hurricane as this was a new experience for all of us. I assured them that they would be alright because this hurricane was losing strength and we have been in storms with a lot of rain and wind before.

rain falling

During the night we could hear the rain falling, heavily at times forcing the realization that this was it, Irene was here! I wondered on occasion if we would wake to find a lot of trees blown down or other storm related casualties. Once the morning light began entering our room we turned on the weather and began discussing what to do for the day. Hurricane Irene had been downgraded to a tropical storm with winds gusting to 65 miles per hour and periods of heavy rain. We have driven in these conditions before and what else was there to do if we stayed put? At the very least we wanted to get to a hotel that has a pool for the kids to swim in. Our decision was to head for Vermont. The drive time should be about 6 hours and then we could relax for the rest of the day in the hotel.

Tree Causes Street Closure

After breakfast we packed up and headed out. Driving was as expected with rainy conditions and the occasional compensation for wind gusts. There were occasional downpours which required traffic to slow down but all in all we made it to New Hampshire without any problems. After getting a ways into New Hampshire our first detour was encountered due to a tree which had fallen over power lines and onto the road. This was only a 10-15 minute delay in our overall trip and we were back on our way. This detour was actually quite a nice drive going onto gravel roads by a couple of small waterfalls and swerving for the occasional small tree in the road. It felt like we were going to a cabin on a lake -a very comfortable and serene feeling. Little did we know that this was going to be the easiest detour to take.

To Be Continued…

Discovering Paul Revere

Exploring the Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts provided several experiences that led to a greater appreciation for our Independence and freedom. Witnessing the sights of the Boston Massacre and Bunker Hill where the first battle of the Revolution took place to the Old North Church made famous for the ‘one if by land and two if by sea’ begins to make you realize some of the things involved in bringing about our Independence.  History classes teach of Paul Revere warning about the British by signaling which direction they were coming from and his famous ride through Boston shouting “the British are coming, the British are coming!” Apparently he was involved in many planning sessions leading up to the Revolutionary War and was integral during the war as well.  But what else did Paul Revere do?Paul Revere's Ride

I was surprised to learn that he was a metal smith working with copper, gold, and silver. Many of his works were put into a number of building which can be seen on the Freedom Trail such as the Massachusetts State House and the USS Constitution. We visited Paul Revere’s gravesite along with other recognizable names from that time including John Hancock and Samuel Adams. Seeing all of these places brought a further appreciation for the freedoms I enjoy every day and also a few questions. There are people often saying the government is getting to much control. What conditions did the people of the 1770’s have to contend with that war was justified? What conditions would cause the American people today to revolt against the government? I believe we would have to lose a lot more freedoms to justify severe actions like the colonists took. When I compare what those colonists lived with to what we deal with today, we are very fortunate. Staying involved in our government is still very important to prevent those conditions from every becoming reality.

Paul Revere's Grave

Another interesting occurrence surprised me while visiting these places. I continued to have difficulty in believing that I was seeing these historic landmarks. I kept saying that even though I was physically at a location, it didn’t make the events that occurred there any more real. Trying to believe that what happened over 300 years ago was in that exact place was difficult. I know buildings have been re-furbished and updated making them less
realistic to me. Also, the surrounding buildings make it hard to imagine what people such as Paul Revere lived like and the difficulties in coordinating revolutionary activities. Even visiting the grave site didn’t help to bring me to the 1770’s. Some of the issues were many of the building being brick. Looking at renderings of these building when they were originally built show them mainly built out of wood. Also, Paul Revere’s house is still standing and that was made out of wood.  Historical buildings being remodeled along with the skyscrapers that exist next to them now give a very different perspective. Even so, what a great learning experience!

Paul Revere's House

Where Everbody Knows Your Name…

Cheers on Beacon StreetWe arrived in Boston after a short delay in our flight and hit the ground running… I mean walking. Our goal was to get information about the Freedom Trail which is part of the National Park System and possibly see some of the sites on that trail. After quickly finding something to eat we were off and managed to visit a few sites including where the Boston Massacre happened and the oldest graveyard in Boston which opened in 1630. I was amazed at the detail engraved into headstones over 300 years ago.

These sites were closing down for the day so it was on to one of the other landmarks that was on our list:  Cheers. Or at least the bar that the TV show Cheers was modeled after. Fortunately this was within a few blocks of where we parked the car so there really was not a lot of walking involved. Obviously this is still quite a popular attraction as there were trolley loads of people coming to take their pictures by the Cheers sign. The original Bull & Finch Pub that was the model for the set used in the Cheers series is still downstairs however a replica set has been added along with a giftstore to where “Melvilles” would have been. It was great to see this in person after watching it in a number of Cheers episodes. I would never guessed it would be in the location it is with a lot of residential buildings and parks around it.

Off to explore more of the Freedom Trail…..