(older entries, separated by genre or date, are listed at the bottom of this page.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trip to NYC: Art, food, wandering, Foxwoods

When I was going through all of the things I wanted to do on my vacation summer, taking a trip with a bunch of people to Foxwoods was listed very early on in the things I wanted to do. Rich had just gone to a bachelor party there, and I wanted to go with a big group. As time went by, less and less people seemed to be interested or able to go, so we decided to just go as roommates- Rich, Josh and I. Josh said there was an art gallery he wanted to visit in NY on a certain weekend, and then Rich realized that that weekend was the same as the absolutely massive New York Comic Convention. SO, the plan came together perfectly, and we went for it: Drive to New Hampton, CT, take the train to NYC, meet Cousin Johnny, go to the art gallery, go to the comic convention, go out to dinner with Johnny, sleep in his tiny apartment, take the train back to New Hampton, drive to Foxwoods, win billions of dollars, and head home. We started the trip by staying up too late, getting up and leaving at 7 in the morning. I had slept about 2 hours.

It took about 3 and a half hours to get to New Hampton, and the train ride was about 1 and a half. I didn't fall asleep on the train at all, so I was already quite exhausted when we got to NY.

New Haven Train Station

Waiting on the train

When we got to Grand Central Terminal, I took a few tourist shots (of course) and we immediately called a cab, since we were at least 45 minutes late from when we told Johnny we'd meet him. I didn't want to take cabs, since I hate them (incredibly awkward silence and waaaay too much money) but oh my god am I happy we decided to bite the bullet and do it. We made it across town sooo fast. It was perfect. And we rode in a weird SUV cab too. We met Johnny at the Art Gallery and upon seeing the building, loved even more than we were all wearing t-shirts.


We went for the Jenny Saville gallery- she's an artist that Josh has been into for years and Rich and I have liked some of her stuff. She mostly paints very large, usually messy and usually very unflattering nudes. We had no idea that Bob Dylan was also showing. We also didn't know that Bob Dylan even did art at all.

This was one of the only pictures I could get of the Jenny Saville stuff, since there was a guard standing there watching us and I asked if we could take pictures and he shot me down before I even finished the sentence. 

Her stuff was pretty neat, but it was only 10 paintings. 1 was it's own thing, and the other 2 were all variations of this one or another- mostly a sketched version, a half painted version, a fully painted version, etc. She just redid the same piece a bunch of times basically. I wasn't too impressed, and Josh quietly said something along the lines of "If I had come all the way to New York just for this (which he was considering before we put the trip together), I'd be PISSED."

Bob Dylan's stuff was pretty blah too. I kind of liked this one, if only for the fact that it was a painting of a cockfight:

After leaving, we wandered for several blocks looking for something to eat. I wanted a slice of genuine crappy New York pizza, but there was nothing in sight. While we were walking, I noticed that every fancy shmancy designer I'd ever heard of (remember, I worked in a fairly classy mall- I remembered some of their names) had a store here. It suddenly dawned on me that we were on Madison Avenue- like the Madison Avenue I'd heard about on TV shows for years. And it was exactly what you'd think- every store was fancier than the one before it, everyone was just some designer's name, every clerk was standing there in a full suit, and everyone of them had overpriced garbage I'd never even consider wearing even if I was a millionaire (ok, maybe a wicked nice suit). I saw Gucci and then joked "where's Dolce and Gabbana?" Sure enough, it was on the corner of the next block. "Oh, there it is." Madison Avenue is ridiculous. I was a tourist. 

We finally gave up on finding pizza and settled on some sketchy food place that had paninis they'd warm up. They were ok, but any food was good at this point. We got to be true city folk though, and eat out of a plastic container while standing next to the street, trash, and a billion people. How do people eat like this? It was horrible. We ate as fast as possible just because of how awkward it was. 

skinny guy eating nothing, josh awkwardly trying to enjoy his food and not understanding why he has to stand on the street to eat it

We then got in a cab where I got to sit up front with the driver for the second time in a row. This guy was the worst of the drivers for safety and nerves, but the best for humor purposes. Cab drivers really don't believe in lanes- if they are in front of you, just let them go wherever they want, because they will swerve across everything and believe that you will never try to pull up alongside them. They are also (at least in this guy's case) the most impatient people on earth. Every horn honk you hear in the city is a cab driver. If the guy in front of us didn't floor it within half a second of a light turning green, he'd honk. He honked at people just because it LOOKED like they might slow down. And he just kept saying how horrible it was. I kept trying to be like "dude, it's fine. we'll get there when we get there" but I slowly realized that A. he was crazy and this was just what he did, and B. if his car isn't moving, he's not making money. It all finally made sense why cab drivers hate traffic so much. But jesus did this guy need another profession. I've never seen anyone so stressed out while driving. Ok, maybe Rich. 

He was good though, since he talked to random people on the street while we were stopped, and nobody could understand anything he said. We stopped next to a guy on a motorcycle, and he asked him if he was a ninja. The guy was incredibly confused. I feared for my life.

We made it to Comic Con and it was everything I had dreamed a huge comic convention would be. BUT, that will be saved for my next post, because I just have too many pictures and this post is long enough. 


AFTER the comic con, it was dark, and we walked a few blocks to get away from the crowds, eventually getting in cab #3 to get to Johnny's place. 

We headed up to his apartment, and I got to meet Jack. Jack is an absolutely hilarious dog that freaks out so hard on toys that he nearly makes himself pass out. At one point he jumped for the toy that Josh was holding, and he flew over the back of the couch, nearly jamming himself in the crack between couch and wall. Jack rules. 

Jack, mid Taz freakout

Jack, nearly killing Josh for the toy

We mostly just sat for a little while though- walking around the city and Comic Con for 5 hours or so had taken a serious toll on us. Rich wasn't as bad as us (he stands at work for most of the day) but conventional sitters Josh and I were in pain. I hike and stuff, but I had newer shoes I wasn't entirely used to, and I had had 1 soda the whole time, so was horribly dehydrated and had zero energy. Sitting was nice, but Johnny's apartment is veeeeeery small and he only has a couch that's slightly bigger than a love seat. We made the best of it. 

We then walked to a restaurant Johnny had heard about and sold us on, called Jekyll & Hyde. The one we went to was a second location with not a lot of space (I think the original one is much more serious and huge). The idea was that the place was very halloween-themed year round- decorations everywhere, very dark, animals on the wall talking (like bugaboo creek), weird vampire-type people walking through the crowd, talking to customers, etc. I think we all got into the spirit of it and didn't want to say anything bad about it (even though Johnny had never been there either), but it was pretty bad. The animals talking was all live, done by someone in the back, who clearly didn't understand the idea of a microphone. Every time an animal talked, it was distorted and deafening. One person walking through the crowd did just that- she never stopped and talked to anyone. The other was absurdly loud and VERY flamboyant. He wasn't dressed as anything scary, and would just talk to people endlessly and loudly about anything. I didn't get it. If he was scary or using a weird monster voice or acted like you were eating brains or something, it would have made sense- but it was literally like the managers were like "oh, you're incredibly gay? Cool. Can you talk endlessly about nothing? Awesome. Go bother customers and be as loud as you possibly can." Our waiter also wasn't apparently supposed to be a waiter, so he kept forgetting about us and things we ordered. The food was pretty basic- nothing blew us away. Except for the prices. Gotta love NYC. I ordered a beer that I had never heard of to try something weird. Guess how much it cost? Here's a hint- I found a pint bottle of it at the reasonably priced convenience store down the street from where we live for $12.95. 1 12 ounce bottle at this restaurant? 12 bucks. 12 dollars for a beer! AHHHHHHHH! I was blown away. It was made by monks. I guess that means it's worth 12 bucks? That's the last time I order a beer from a restaurant without knowing how much it costs first.

We had fun though, and sitting and pigging out after a long day was niiiiice.

Why am I sitting on the end, instead of right next to Johnny? Everything in NYC is too small. This was one of the larger places to eat Johnny knew about, and the space from the edge of the table next to Johnny and the opposite table's chair was about a foot, MAYBE 2. I would definitely not describe NYC as a stretch-out-and-relax kind of place.

I'll slam the entertainment at Jekyll & Hyde (which, by the way, there was a charge of 9 dollars for on the bill (!!!!)), but the decorations there were top notch.

Look at these skeletons!! There were 4, upside down in a super long canoe running the length of the place. 

After that, we walked 20 minutes (that was a long running joke, since Johnny's answer to where everything was by foot was "about 20 minutes" (he was actually pretty accurate though)) to the closest Pinkberry, only to find that it didn't exist anymore. Pinkberry is a frozen yogurt place where you order 1 of 5 different flavors of frozen yogurt, then they load it up with any of like 20-30 different toppings. It's kind of a healthier version of a sundae bar, and it's really good. We had it the last time we were in NYC (the doomed roadtrip 4 years ago), and we all wanted it pretty badly. Rich was crazy for it. We found another about 20 minutes away :)

It ruled. 

I got mango frozen yogurt with strawberries, mango, yogurt chips (which tasted mostly like white chocolate chips) and coconut. It was incredible, but probably would have been better without the coconut. Rich was crazy about his, and I still don't understand what he was thinking when he got it- he got chocolate bits, chunky peanut butter topping and captain crunch cereal on pomegranate frozen yogurt. Ew.

I don't know what anyone else got, but what I do know is that after trying a sample of rice pudding from the place next door (yuck/yawn), Rich and I got more. And Johnny too, since the person there gave me the wrong kind of frozen yogurt first (score!). 

We then headed back to his place, which was about 20 minutes away. I played the part of the tourist again. I loved this Old Navy display:

I had to take a picture of the small Steve Jobs shrine in front of the Soho Apple store:

I saw the coolest lamps ever created:

I saw some hot chicks with really nice legs:

I actually saw a lot of hot chicks with really nice legs. We were in Soho, which is a nice area, so attractive people in nice clothes wasn't a strange sight though. At one point, we all realized that we were the only fat people in NYC. Maybe they were all in restaurants eating, or they were all fat italian gangsters/italian restaurant owners, but we saw nobody that was anything but skinny. Maybe the area just doesn't attract fat people. Maybe the food is so expensive that they all went broke and had to move away. Maybe all the walking everywhere either sends them back to where they came from or got them all in shape- I don't know. I just know that we were the only fat people in NYC.

We had been asking if we could go to Wall Street to see all the Occupy Wall Street mess, but Johnny didn't want to go (long trip). Very surprisingly though, we saw a group of people marching down the street (occupying the street), yelling about a lot of stuff. I ran after them to try and get some photos, but this was a very fast moving group. Later, they ended up right in front of Johnny's apartment. I'm behind a lot of what the occupy movement started out as, but it seems to have grown into a lot of people whining that they aren't rich or protesting for the sake of protesting. This group didn't change my mind about that at all. The people in the front were chanting "WHOSE STREET?! OUR STREET!" and 4 or 5 guys in the back who thought they were in a rap video were rapping "THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!" Is it? Sad. 

they didn't occupy for long- my camera got nothing but blur in all 3 pictures I took

We went upstairs and collapsed. I slept with Josh on Johnny's bed, Johnny slept on an air mattress on the floor, and Rich slept on the loveseat. 

no room for you, Jack

All the windows were open, and through Josh's snoring and the sounds of NYC (yelling, horns honking, etc) I didn't sleep well at all, at least until 6 to 10, when the streets calmed down a little. I guess you get used to that, but it was quite different than what I'm used to. It truly is the city that never sleeps.

The next morning, Johnny took us on a 20 minute walk to The Grey Dog- a place he goes to get coffee, on sadly their last day of existence (at least that location). The coffee was superb (that's what they all said) and my breakfast was fantastic. We got a corner seat too, so it was comfortable. And they were playing Oasis and other 90's hits. Nice spot.

We then met Johnny's girlfriend, said our farewells, and took the cab to Grand Central Station to head back to CT. I was a super tourist.

The last time I was in NYC, I saw Kyle Glass of Tenacious D in Times Square. I was taking pictures and saw that a farly hot chick was with a fat bald guy and started taking a picture, when he realized I was probably taking a picture because he was famous, and he made a weird face. I THEN realized who it was and I actually took a picture of him and his lady friend using his camera. 

Johnny had told us that Liev Schreiber rode his bike right past us that morning (he said he lived in Soho) but we didn't really see him. Josh would have bet his life he'd seen Senor Chang the night before, smoking a cigarette in front of a fruit stand, but no Josh, that was just some Asian guy. SO, it was pretty neat when right as I was walking into Grand Central Station to end my NYC trip with no celebrity sightings, a black woman with braided hair walked by and I thought "why do I know her?" and then it hit me. "Hello Robin Quivers" and she answered back with a 100% Robin "hellooo." I've listened to enough Howard Stern that seeing her was pretty cool, especially since the Howard Stern show is such a staple of NYC. In hindsight (i.e. now) I'm mad I didn't try to get a picture with her, but at the time I thought about how sick these people get of having their picture taken and decided to be the 1 tourist that week that didn't ask her for a picture. 

We were there in perfect timing for the train, and I managed to sleep a few minutes on it, so it was much better than the ride there. 

We then headed to Foxwoods to complete our trifecta trip in millionaire fashion. 

The foxwoods indian

There was a huge Princess Diana exhibit we'd seen billboards for the whole way down that I really wanted to go to for the sheer hilarity of going to a Princess Diana exhibit, but you needed tickets and they were like 25 bucks. No thanks. 

Pictures are sketchy in casinos, so I didn't really take any. But our trip didn't go entirely as planned. Rich and I went straight to the Casino War table, where I doubled my 20 dollars half as quickly as Rich lost his. I left feeling high and excited to win more. Rich and Josh went to a roulette table, and I joined them for a few spins. I managed to leave somewhat evenly, hitting red 5 for a 35 dollar payout once, but losing everything else. I went to a blackjack table alone, and lost 40 or so pretty fast. It was 10 bucks a hand! I wanted 5, and was prepared for 5. 10 bucks was the minimum, and that's a very fast way to lose a lot of money. Also, the dealer went so fast I could barely tell what was happening, and she spoke so quietly, I couldn't hear a word she was saying. She barely spoke english, and none of the people at the table did either. It was awful. I got the hell out of there fast. I went back to Roulette and Rich yelled at me to go away (apparently he started doing well right when I left). Eventually, they both lost really badly, and after trying another table, Josh was out. Josh has left Foxwoods up 300 bucks before, and usually at least breaks even. He said that this was the worst foxwoods experience he had ever had. Josh lost 80 and Rich lost 100 faster than they ever had. The last time Rich went to Foxwoods, he made 40 bucks last like 4 hours- this time, 100 was gone in just over an hour. They wandered around while I had a good game of up and down blackjack, playing at the only table with a fun dealer I saw there. He was super excited, looked genuinely upset when we lost, and was happy when we won. He was great, and I told him that when he gave me the arms-in-the-air-shrug when he took his break and saw me standing with Rich, looking sad. I thanked him for being an awesome dealer and told him I would have loved to have tipped him, but, as he knew, I was broke. I couldn't help but notice that not only was the only white dealer I'd seen there, but also the only one under 30, and the only one with any ounce of anything other than complete misery in his soul. 

That table didn't go well for me. The first guy that got dealt to every time got blackjack like 7 times. His first card was nearly always a face card. I started to wonder if something was going on. I got an awful lot of 12s or 13s, which are just disastrous cards to be dealt. I knew I should have left when 2 loud high rollers walked in and put like 200 bucks on 1 hand and started yelling BLACKJACK GIVE ME BLACKJACK in some accent I still don't know. 

I was down 80 bucks, and had gone planning on losing 100 (you have to go expecting to lose a certain amount), so I decided to see if I could win it all back with my last 20 bucks at War. The game was insanely up and down (at one point having like 80, and then a few turns later being at 5). It was mostly me playing (which I won't do again, as the game that fast with nobody else to break up the cards (which still doesn't really matter, but it felt like it did) wasn't good). There was some drunk douchebag that kept coming back, and at one point asked me for 5 dollars so he could go to war and keep his game alive. He said he had nothing left, and please, just give him 5 so he can keep playing. I replied with "this is all I have dude, I'm nearly broke too" and he responded by looking mad, then pulling another 5 dollar chip out of his pocket. What a piece of crap. 

Right when Rich and Josh came back to see how I was doing, I evened out. I had hit 100 bucks on an original 20 played, evening out completely. So did I get up and leave the table? Of course not. WHY DON'T I SEE IF I CAN MAKE A LITTLE MONEY TOO!? I laid down 4 cards and instantly lost 20 bucks. OH NO, NOW I HAVE TO GET BACK TO EVEN, THEN WE CAN GO! Nope. 

I'm so good at gambling, that not only did I lose 100 dollars- I lost 100 dollars TWICE. Now that's skill. 
But clearly, I should have been playing war all night, as it was the only game that worked for me at all. Clearly Rich should never play again, as he laid down ANOTHER 20 bucks after swearing he was done, and lost it in 4 turns. You're welcome for the 300 dollars combined, foxwoods. Why don't you put it towards something nice, like ventilation to suck all the cigarette smoke out?

At least Foxwoods is really nice, so when you lose, you can take sweet HDRs of everything:

We headed out, stopped for some snacks (where I screwed up getting gas twice because I was so tired and braindead from losing money), blasted hardcore the whole way home, stopped at Mcdonalds in Tewksbury, and got home at about 10. What a long, pretty much non-stop, completely awesome weekend. Johnny, thanks for the place to stay (and your bed) and tour-guiding. 

classic awkward group picture

currently listening to: Sunny Day Real Estate- The Rising Tide

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Apple Picking and The Sandwich Fair

The next day, we all got up super early as always, with the plan to go apple picking/pumpkin buying, hit up the sandwich fair, and possibly throw a trip to Gyroscope in for some mountain biking. It was over 90 degrees. I'd like to just take a monent to say a big "eat shit" to this fall. I look forward to this weekend all year, in addition to fall in general. And the weekend came, and only half the leaves had changed, and it was in the 90s. What happened after this week? Rain for several days, leaves changing full force, and then rain for what seemed like the entirety of October, knocking every leaf off. And it snowed yesterday (remember, I'm 2 weeks behind on this blog). There were like 4 total days where the leaves looked pretty and it had that crisp, cool air feeling you crave in fall. 4 DAYS. Worst fall ever. Can I at least have perfect, crisp fall weather on the weekend of Squamtoberfest?! 90 DEGREES?! SERIOUSLY, AL GORE!? Arg. 

But, at least I don't get sick in warm weather, and a blue sky is always good for taking pictures, even when the pictures are shockingly more blue than the actual sky was. 

We all had different plans, so we left Kevin's in like 9 cars to go to Surowiec Farm to pick some apples. 

It was hot and sunburn city, but gorgeous. 

Kevin, surveying the land

Jake only likes apples with bees on them.

I took the standard Squamtoberfest apple picking shots, but this time with my phone so I could HDR.

yea, it really looked like this

This got like 17 likes on Instagram (lots of chevrolet fans I think)

I've taken this exact picture every time I go here- the "Squamtoberfest Picture." It's a tradition that must be continued. If they ever get rid of this truck, I'll be destroyed.

The added bonus this year was that we now had an adorable child to take pictures of. 

Wyatt in the back of the truck

Wyatt driving the truck

So excited, he jammed his foot right through his flip flop

And I was there to document what I am pretty sure was the first time he ate an apple using his first and only tooth. Adorable. 

A bunch of people then went home. Dustin and Amanda went to go ride bikes at Gyroscope, and I decided the only way I could do everything I wanted to do was to go to the fair, eat garbage, and then attempt to mountain bike before the sun went down. So 9 of us went to the fair. 

This was my third fair of the year. I had planned on going to 4, but never put together a trip to the Topsfield Fair. The Sandwich Fair is my second favorite, and the only place I ever get fried zucchini. It was fun, but the 100% absence of any clouds in the sky made it pretty painful. I was squinting my eyes while wearing sunglasses. It hurt. BUT, worth it, if only for this guy:

The zucchini was better last year when it was in stick form, but it was still neat to eat it. 

I also ate an ostrich burger, mudslide fudge, lemonade, and a slice of garbage fair pizza. This marks the first fair in probably 4 years where I haven't gotten Fried Dough. The piece I got at the Deerfield Fair wasn't great and I never feel good after eating them. I decided to take a break, and I don't regret it at all. But next year, I'm gonna kill me some fried dough. 

I did get to finally take a picture to document how stupid the prizes have become at these things. I present to you, the prizes I talked about in my Rochester Fair post, but never got pictures of- RASTA BANANAS:

so mad they didn't have skeeball so I could have won one of these stupid things

We hit up some animal sections for as long as we could before we all felt sorry for the animals. This cow had to have its horns cut, because they were on their way to stabbing the cow in the face. How shitty does your life have to be if your horns are growing out of your skull, then INTO your eyes/right back into your skull? This cow's own body hated him. He was giving Tara the death stare. It was pure evil. 

Look at this guy, owning the day:

This is a world I've always been fascinated by. Look at this picture from the Deerfield Fair:

Imagine what these people's lives are like. They raise cows and then bring them to a fair once a year to have people stare at them. They sit in the barn for the entirety of the fair, next to cows and wheelbarrows full of cow shit (that they shovel periodically). That's it. That appears to be their lives. And there are little kids there every year too, just sitting in chairs next to cows for 8 hours at a time. This is their lives. Do they go back to school and brag to their friends that their cow took first prize at the Sandwich Fair? Maybe I'll make a documentary. This is a world that needs to be infiltrated. This is a story that needs to be told. 

Towards the end of the fair, I joked to Natalie about going to Plymouth to get balboas at Biederman's Deli (a sandwich place/bar on the main street of Plymouth State College). She didn't freak out about the idea, but Tara did- enough to make everyone decide to go there. I was heading there anyway to ride my bike at Gyroscope, so the day worked out perfectly for me to spend even more time with them before separating. Right when we got into town, I called Dustin to ask him how Gyroscope was. Right as he started answering me, I said "wait, where are you?" He answered and we realized we were about 100 feet from each other. They had gone to the top floor of Biederman's. Small world. 

Sadly, Gyroscope had been pretty destroyed by the hurricane flooding a month or so ago- most of that area was under 10 feet of water (and much worse things, since septic tanks were nearby). He said it was nothing but downed trees and too confusing to try and ride there. This broke my heart a little, since I wanted to ride there so bad, but it meant I could stay with everyone and have a beer at Biederman's while watching some football. Not the ending of the weekend that I had imagined, but it was nice. I ordered a beer and "tapped the keg," meaning my order was the one where they realized the keg was empty. I got a Biederman's beer glass and some stickers. It was pretty hilarious. They had all been coming here for years, and the first and only beer I've ever ordered there got me free stuff. Woo! Jake stepped it up though:

Then we all headed back to Kevin's, packed up everything, and went our separate ways. Another fantastic Squamtoberfest weekend. Now I just have to figure out some way to get all of these people together for more than 4 weekends a year. 

currently listening to: Into It. Over It.: Proper

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Best Place Ever (Georgiana Falls, Lincoln, NH)

I took a backpacking class as part of my phys ed requirements back in college. It was pretty awesome- people just took us on a different hike each week. One week, we were taken to Georgiana Falls in Lincoln, and my life forever changed. Pretty much everyone who knows me knows about this place, and knows that I refer to it as "the best place ever," because it is absolutely one of my favorite places I've ever been to.

The last time I went there was on "National Dirty Mike Day" as I nicknamed it. Last year, I decided to take 1 day and do 4 of my favorite things. I hiked here, biked at Gyroscope (a favorite place to mountain bike in Plymouth), ate my favorite food (a bbq chicken calzone from Ashland House of Pizza), and saw one of my favorite bands and certainly my favorite live band, Caspian. I did them all in 1 day, and drove 280 miles (Winchester, MA to Lincoln, NH back to Boston for Caspian), and it was glorious. I included a picture from it in the original video post announcing my new life. It was from the top of the best waterfall at the best place ever. 

It's kind of neat looking back on that day, since it was basically a sneak preview of my summer. Obviously, I took it a lot easier this summer, since I wasn't trying to cram everything into 1 day, but still- just the very idea of trying to do a bunch of my favorite things in 1 day just to do them and be happy- to name a day after myself and do whatever I wanted, etc. It was great, and I definitely think we should all do stuff like that more often. 

After Dan and I went to the Flume, we drove the few miles down the road to this glorious place and headed up. I really love this place (and may go again before winter is officially here). Here's a whole bunch of pictures, including some sweet HDRs taken with my iPhone. 

For those who don't know about this place, you basically walk down a very big trail/road towards the sound of a river, then follow the trail along the river, and finally end up (if you are like me) hiking up the river itself on all of the rocks. The goal is to spend as little time as possible on the actual trail, but it's pretty impossible at times to stay off it as some of the rocks aren't exactly hike-able. I usually go off trail a little after the "Calendar Tree," pictured below. I call it that, because the first time I saw it, it was perfectly covered in red leaves, and just seemed to glow in that "this should be in a calendar" way. Actually, here, I have a picture from that time:

Sadly, much like a metaphor for the lack of leaves changing and speed of fall before all the leaves were knocked off the trees by rain, the calendar tree has definitely lost some of its beauty (and limbs). I guess nothing is forever.

still nice though, especially in HDR

Here is why I love this place so much. You get to hike up this:

and then hike around several waterfalls, like this one: 

It can be tiring though. I think it's a mile to the top of the biggest waterfall, but it takes forever from having to chose paths through and eventually jump from rock to rock.

Primus Dan, dead.

Here's Dan, lost in the rocks, trying to find a path. I went far left (right in this picture) and found a nice path, but couldn't get back to him until about where I took this picture. He clearly was having some trouble.

Dan started a pit while I took an HDR:

I could have taken 100 pictures, but I already did that the last time I came here (friends on facebook: go find my album for National Dirty Mike Day if you want to see them all), and you can really only have so many pictures of the same place, even though I still take the same pictures every year. We decided part way up that we were only going to get to the top of the biggest waterfall, where the best view is. Here is that waterfall:

Dan, tired from the big climb through the woods and its wandering non-trail, staring at the pure awesomeness of the waterfall.

And here he is at the top.

I love this view so much. I think I skipped one year, but other than that, I've climbed up to this view every year for probably the last 7 or 8 years now. It's a tradition I plan to keep. 

And now, through the beauty of iphone technology, I was finally able to capture what I never could before- both the forefront of the waterfall and trees, and the background of 93 and the mountains far in the distance. Of course, I added some effect to it, but this is pretty much what it looks like, just with texture and lots of color:


We headed back down through the woods, which is always a rough trip. There really isn't much of a set trail, and certainly nothing that's maintained, so you just wander around losing trails. But we got out, and the moon came out early.

And by the time we hit up AHOP (ashland house of pizza), the sky was gorgeous (especially with some photo editing).

We sat down by the river, in the area next to where Kevin used to live (and Squamtoberfest started) and took in some views. This has always been a great spot to get some foliage/water mirror shots, and even though it was dark, I was able to get some good ones, which again, got much better once I played with them a little. 

I forgot to take pictures of our calzones, but here is the one from last year's visit to the best place ever. AHOP is really consistent, so this is a pretty accurate representation. Except honestly, I think ours had even more cheese this year. So good. 

We then headed back to where the party had already started. Everyone had done different things that day (mountain biking, hiking, staying by the house and hanging out with kids), and it was great to reconvene, sit by the fire in 60 degree temperatures, have some pumpkin beers and, once I took over the music, blast some classic emo favorites (another staple of a successful Squamtoberfest). It was great- all too often our parties end up having techno and joke music playing. This is fine, as it's weird to play sad rock hits at parties, but I always thought it was kind of weird and also special that when this group got together, we'd often listen to much more serious and meaningful music, and I think if we don't do that anymore, we should at least embrace it on the time when meaningful emo songs we can all sing along to sound their best- fall. It was great to play some classics and some new ones that made people go "oh my god nobody talk during this song" (Naro during Bon Iver's "Holocene"). I had forgotten how perfect it felt to sit around a fire with some of my best friends and sing along to stuff like The Anniversary, Saves the Day, and The Get Up Kids. I love Squamtoberfest more than any other holiday. 

Mysterio freaking out on the fire

currently listening to- Into It. Over It.: Proper