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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

6 days of awesome, part 2

The next day I slept in, chilled out for a bit, then headed out way too late (shock) to attempt to mountain bike, swim, and get to the ashland fireworks pretty much all in fast forward. If there's one thing I can do well, it's cramming a lot of good things into way too little time, so I was up for the challenge. 

It took so long to get to Franklin Falls, but once I got in there, I was instantly so happy. Even though I was still far from having biker butt, it felt so great to be on my mountain bike again at such an awesome place. Oh yea, biker butt is what it's called when you've biked enough that your butt doesn't kill the entire time you're sitting on that god awful bike seat. It takes awhile to set in. 

something about just following a thin trail through the woods...

The bugs were atrocious- somehow worse than my visit a few days before, and I realized that I had completely forgotten to bring the bug spray when someone leaving the trails told me how horrible they were in the parking lot. "Just go fast" she said. I did my best, but when you stop to take pictures nearly as often as you stop to wheeze uncontrollably, they find you. SO, I went all Bear Grylls on their collective asses and smeared dirt all over my legs and arms. 

and it actually did help a little bit. Plus, I looked AWESOME.

I started on the trail I first rode there, and realized it flowed pretty perfectly into the best trail there- Mighty Chicken. It felt so awesome and terrifying to be back on it. For new readers, it's basically a ravine with the trail going up and down the sides the whole way, like a half pipe. It rules.

I almost exploded in the middle of it, but that allowed me to take a hasty panorama while getting attacked by bugs. This of course doesn't really illustrate the steepness of it, but it's still neat to see.

I was super happy and immediately scared to see that the end was not only steeper and harder, but Kevin and NEMBA had designed a berm turn followed by a decently sized roller to make the trail even more awesome. I wish the whole place was like this. 

I then went down a trail I swear I've never done before and continued to follow the map to get out in about an hour. I did somewhere around 5 miles and had the time of my life. I was practically screaming "I FUCKING LOVE MOUNTAIN BIKING!" It was one of those rare times where I felt outstanding, it was shady while being super humid and warm, and I was just panting and pouring sweat while not tiring out at the level I usually do. I rode very aggressively and was just attacking everything (except uphills). What a great day to ride. 

I then B-lined it the hell out of there, practically threw my bike in the car and floored it to Webster Lake. I had extremely limited time, but I wanted to wash the stink and dirt off just as much as I wanted to be able to say I did everything I had planned on. I figured if I got limited traffic, I'd have a few minutes to swim, and I pulled it off. I forgot to take a picture, but I swam for a few minutes, changed behind my car, and started flooring it back past Franklin Falls and towards 93. It was absolutely worth it.

When I got there, I was absolutely astonished at the amount of cars. Based on going years ago, I knew that Ashland took their fireworks seriously. But this was when Kevin and Gina lived in town and all I had to do was walk a quarter of a mile to a good spot. I wish I had taken pictures, but I was too in panic mode trying to find a spot. There were more cars jammed into a small space than I think I've ever seen. They lined both sides of the road, filled every parking lot, were parked in people's yards, etc. Both on and off ramps to 93 north and south were lined with cars practically to the highway. 

I had a lightbulb moment and decided at the last second (as I realized I was beginning to drive out of town) to park on the on ramp to 93 south, and get back on my bike to ride into town. Going in wasn't too crowded, but I could already tell this would work great as an escape route too. My bike started to jump gears right as I reached the top of the hill Kevin told me he was stationed at with Gina. Someone said "Good for you, I wouldn't have even gotten that far" and I turned to see Kevin not even 30 feet away. It had all worked out perfectly, minus the fact that I was now sweating pretty hard again. 

We were forced to move from our perfect spot because some moron in the center of a town that spends all of its money on fireworks didn't want people sitting on the 4 by 15 section of dead grass crap across the road from their apartment, but we still had basically the space we wanted. And within 15 minutes or so, the fireworks began. 

They were shorter and less mega than they had been years ago (which may have been the best fireworks experience of my life), but they were still awesome. That previous time, we had a big crew, I had a calzone from Ashland House of Pizza in my lap, and I listened to music for the first time while watching, playing Caspian and Explosions in the Sky while lying down on the edge of woods and realizing that beautifully epic instrumental music worked fantastically with fireworks. 

So, Caspian was my soundtrack again.

the correct way to do fireworks

Afterwards, I said my goodbyes as Kevin and Gina were in an unknown lot in the opposite direction. I flew down the hill and into the mess of the road, and then became extremely awesome. 

There were thousands and thousands of people walking down the middle of the road and through cops directing stopped traffic, all going to their cars which were generally all closer to them than mine was to me. BUT, I had a bike. 

I have gotten quite good at riding incredibly slow and balancing on my bike over the years. I have a weird love for riding through crowds- it's very scary as I feel like I'm going to tip over every time I get going too slow, or I am going to ride directly into someone or a car. I only had 1 super scare where I almost sidelined a little kid, but other than that, I weaved in and out of the crowd like a pro, hearing lots of "whoa, watch out!"s and "look at this friggin guy"s. And within 5 minutes, I was taking my front wheel off and putting my bike in my car, hopping in and driving past like 8 cars to be on an empty 93 south, all while thousands and thousands of people were still walking to their cars or sitting in them, swearing at the unmoving traffic. I was eating McDonalds in Tilton while the majority of them were still most likely sitting in the center of Ashland. All because I have a bike and a brain. I have seldom felt as awesome as I did that night. 

The next day I decided to take Irwin to Rich's parents' house as I would be out super late or gone in the next few days. He would be way better off with them, and they were psyched to have him. Here's an awesome picture of us singing in the car:

he might be high

I had planned on swimming again at Fernal, but the doomclouds looming overhead made me change my mind half way there. Plus, I had a party to get to. 

Earlier in the week, I had texted Phil from Caspian, asking if there were any good fireworks up near him (Beverly, MA) and if he was going with a crew, could I join. He said there are lots of good ones, but he was having a party at his parents' house and invited me. I've gotten to know him and a few of the other guys in the band fairly well over the last 8 years of being a fanboy, so this wasn't a crazy idea, but I was still a bit nervous about going to a party at someone's parents' house where I would know 5 people at best. 

I decided that if I was going to live a life more awesome, why the hell wouldn't I go? I like those dudes and had wanted to actually hang out in a different setting other than at or after a show, and this was my chance. If it was too weird, there is always alcohol. 

I got there at around 8, right when it was starting to get dark, and right when the sky was finally starting to get messy. The first people I saw were carrying beer and clothing items to their cars saying something along the lines of the party being put on hold for fear of the thunderstorms. "um.. is this Phil's house?" I asked.

People were very worried about the rain, and it was a weird, semi frantic time to show up. I wandered around aimlessly, and realized that yup, I knew 4 people there. Luckily, the few I did were social and introduced me to others. I decided to do my best to be social and got weird fast. In a few hours, I was standing around a table with 5 other dudes (only 1 of whom I knew before coming) dancing like a piece of crap and singing along to R&B classics like Boyz II Men and this gem of a Rhianna cover. Strangers asked who the hell I was and told people I had really good dance moves. And I may have been a bit off mentally, but I swear these random dudes and I sang pretty damn well. It was magical. 

The night continued to get better, as a few hours later, when enough people had passed out or left, Phil decided to put on some new Caspian songs. I had told him earlier that I didn't even want to hear them- that music I really loved and was waiting for deserved to be listened to in the perfect setting. I had owned the last Caspian album for a month before I played it, waiting until after I had mountain biked, putting it on as dusk settled in on an end-of-summer-beginining-of-fall, windows-rolled-down night. I didn't want to listen to new Caspian songs while drunk at some party. 

But it turned out to be the absolute perfect setting. A new friend named Forrest pulled out a telescope and we looked at the moon. It was dark enough that the pool was glowing perfectly against a black sky. I started taking pictures of the pool using that app I have that stacks pictures on top of each other, and stood there being blown away by the new songs while one of the guys who wrote and recorded them talked to me about how much music meant to him. It was a weirdly beautiful moment. Here's a shot I liked a lot, with ghost outlines of moving people in front of the pool.

And here's a shot I was able to get of the moon, through the telescope:

As an iphone-only purist of instagram, I had always called bullshit when people posted pictures of the moon. There was no way to get a picture of the moon with an iphone camera that didn't just look like a blur. Well, we figured out a way- very steady hands and a telescope were all you needed. Here's what the above picture looked like with some touchups. I'm still psyched about this picture.

The night ended with 4 of us playing beer pong on a super long table at 1:30 in the morning and me sinking 3 shots in a row to end the game. My partner was some dude from Germany and we kicked Forrest and Phil's asses. Then we all jumped in the pool and swam, jumped off the diving board into floats and passed the beer cooler the German dude threw in around, until probably 3.

The whole night kind of had a special, movie-like quality to it. I went to a party where I only knew 5 people I had never really hung out with before, and ended up singing along to Boyz II Men songs with strangers, having fairly meaningful conversations about the power of music with people I really respect musically, blasting new songs of my favorite band while looking at a perfect moon through a telescope, and playing beer bong with a dude from Germany and swimming in a pool with a floating beer cooler while 15 or so people slept upstairs. I'm so happy I went. It was just one of those weird nights where things just ended up awesome.

I ended up leaving at 4 in the morning and driving home instead of attempting to sleep in a hot house with a bunch of other people. I knew I wouldn't sleep, and I would be able to A LOT at home, so I fought sleep the whole way back and was disappointed to learn that the 24 hour McDonalds stops serving double cheeseburgers at 3am. Who knew?!

I slept really late and then went back to basically the same area the next day to mountain bike at Willowdale. I didn't really take any pictures, but rode probably about 8 miles- most of the first half, or the first third in the way my mind organizes Willowdale. It was tough riding, but it felt glorious to be back at the place where I fell in love with mountain biking. 

into the deep woods

I did get a nice shot of the swamp you pass about 4 miles in, which of course got a lot of added color from being an HDR:

I rode out the last 2 miles of fireroads in almost complete darkness. WEIRD. I had a nice little moment of horror and hilarity when I got back to my car and changed in the woods. Right when I got my bike shorts off, I stepped on the button that locks and unlocks my car, hitting the panic button and sending my car into a seizure of lights and horn honking. I was standing half naked 50 feet from my car, on a huge trail that crosses a fairly major road. Attention was not what I wanted. Once I got that settled and started taking my shirt off too, I heard rustling in the woods. Well, I had heard it before and figured it was a deer (there are a LOT of deer at Willowdale and I've gotten used to hearing them run through the woods while I bike past them in the dark). But this was closer rustling, and it was followed with a heavy exhale/grunt- almost like a challenge- a "I don't know what you're doing out here, but I'm in the mood to fight" grunt. SO, I went all Bear Grylls again and started making grunting/yelling noises myself, at a pitch black woods while standing naked next to a road. Just to make the story better, I kind of wished that this was the exact moment another biker turned his lights on, to see me yelling like an animal, naked and caveman-esque in the middle of the woods, trying to scare a deer. 

Luckily that didn't happen though, and I got the hell out of there and rode 8 miles in the wrong direction for one of the only things worth driving that far in the wrong direction for: Nicks' Roast Beef.

I tried to get Phil to meet me, but he was roast beefed out. I got 1 there, and 1 for the road (which I ate as soon as I got home). Good sweet heavens was it glorious.

large 3 way. the only way.

I pigged out when I got home, then promptly collapsed while still being filthy from riding. The next day, I'd be driving to New York and Vermont for 5 days.

currently listening to: The Lonely Forest- "We Sing The Body Electric!"

Friday, July 20, 2012

6 days of Awesome, part 1

The weekend after the last post started off a looong stretch of awesome stuff, and a large reason why I haven't blogged much. Sure, I've still had huge sections of the day where I wasn't doing anything, but somehow just having a busy schedule and plans takes me very far from the reflection, I'm-gonna-write-a-blog phase. 

Saturday, I didn't really have any plans, and saw by creeping on Kevin's google calendar, that Tony's 4th of July party was scheduled. Tony is Gina's dad, and even though I'd only met him once, I had heard his 4th parties were pretty solid- and he always welcomed anyone. 

SO, I decided to finally, FINALLY get on my mountain bike for the first time this summer and go terrorize some trails. Any good biking is like an hour away, so heading up to Franklin Falls, then shooting back through Tilton to Sanbornton and Kevin made sense. Plus, I looooove Franklin Falls. 

It felt incredibly weird to be on my bike again, and I was honestly somewhat worried it was gonna explode into a million pieces while I was on it. As soon as I hit the first mostly downhill trail (Moose Gully), I had a huge smile on my face. Holy shit I missed mountain biking. It used to be my biggest passion, but over the last few summers, I've realized how much it hurts- that I literally just kill myself out there and nearly collapse when I get home, and get beat up left and right and covered in cuts, all for the sections of downhill. I really should just become a downhill rider, as for me, it really is all about suffering through the other stuff to go really fast downhill. Through being a wimp and not wanting to get extreme and having the goals of hiking mountains and earning patches on my mind all the time, I just haven't gone out yet. 

Sadly, the inaugural first trip would be pretty short, as about 2 miles in, I got a flat tire. I usually have a fresh tube and mini bike pump with me, but I couldn't find the pump before I left (still haven't). "Am I really gonna get a flat? Screw it, I'll risk it." Yea, I got a flat. AND, all of the bugs that I haven't had swarm me this summer are ALL at Franklin Falls. That's where every mosquito in the northeast is. That was a fun walk out. 


I drove to Webster Lake (about 10 minutes away) and jumped in the lake as my ghetto way of bathing. Good enough! 

I then drove wet to the supermarket to buy beer for the party, then changed in Kevin's driveway, and headed to Tony's down the street. I felt quite odd walking onto the property of a friend's father, carrying beer and looking at strangers just going "SUUUP." Tony somehow remembered me and told me that Kevin and Gina were in the hot tub. As soon as Kevin saw me, I knew I would be in for a good night. He was VERY drunk. 

Shortly after, Naro and Sara showed up with Mysterio and Masha. I was psyched they were able to join in on the party. 

It wasn't much of a party- just a small crew of strangers, most of whom were very nice, drinking beers and setting off fireworks. Some hilarious attempts at pool were played, guitar was played, conversation was had. Everyone but me, Mysterio and Masha missed the fireworks because a cat got out at Kevin's, but I enjoyed them, and they were the first of the year for me. I tried out a new app that takes like 8 pictures and stacks them on top of each other. The results were kind of neat: 

Kevin and Gina eventually came back, and as the party died down, we hung out inside, playing with a breathalizer. I took close to 70 pictures of Kevin as he was falling into drunk sleep. Here are my favorites: 


"Back in my day"

"duuuuude, where ARE we?"

He finally died as I was attempting to play a violin. I like this picture a lot:

It looks posed, but I am playing some HORRIBLE stuff here, and very loudly

I finally was tired enough to turn in, and Kevin was dead and Gina was still in the hot tub. SO, I drove back to their house for one of the better nights of sleep I've had, which I'm calling "cat nightmare."

When I walked in, Wylee the dog freaked out and tried to kill me as I expected. Once she finally chilled out, I settled onto the porch/sun room couch, with Rug Necklace the cat all over me trying to cuddle. I like Rug Necklace, but I worried I would roll over and kill her in the night- she's very frail. So after struggling to keep her off me, and after Wylee came in, sat on top of the chair next to me and glared at me like a demon in the night, I finally got up and got Rug Necklace out of there, and shut the door enough that I hoped she got the message. Nope, she pushed it right open and jumped on top of me pretty much the second I lay down again. I got her out again, then locked the door, locking myself into the sun room, away from all the cats. I finally fell asleep after like 40 minutes of tossing and turning, and woke up probably 20 minutes later to a terrifying meow/squeel. I opened my eyes to see the phantom shape of a cat running across the room. Did I mention Gina had 5 cats? 

I turned on all of the lights and completely woke myself up looking for a cat that didn't seem to exist. Had I imagined the whole thing? I finally found Widget the cat underneath a couch, hiding. He had been in there the whole time. I pretty much had to attack him with a couch pillow to get him out from under the couch, sending him directly under the couch I was trying to sleep on. He then went under the 3rd couch, much to my fury. I had to open the door to get him to run out, and of course, Rug Necklace ran in. 

I got her out AGAIN, then realized I had to pee. So I went into the rest of the house, where Bonx the cat was glaring at me, Wylee the dog tried to attack me when I got near her, and Munster the cat was now up, literally walking in a figure 8 around my legs while I peed. I headed back to the sun room, as Rug Necklace and Munster were pretty much running alongside me to get in there with me. 

I shut them out and lay down to FINALLY get some sleep. And then the cats started hitting the door, trying to get in. THEY WERE TERRORIZING ME!

I got up and threw a pillow at the door, which silenced them. An hour later, I woke up again to Wylee freaking out and barking. Apparently Kevin had woken up at 5 in the morning in the chair he passed out in, didn't see Gina directly next to him, and walked a mile to his house, barefoot, to find that I had locked him out of his own house, and Gina wasn't even there. 

Hell of a night.

I had planned on biking with Kevin the next day, but he didn't exactly wake up feeing good and my bike was doing some stupid things. SO, we met Naro and Sara at the Tilton diner for some brunch. Naro randomly started talking about watermelon drinks you can get in Laconia- where they mix watermelon puree with rum and margarita mix, then serve you them in chunks of watermelon. 

So somehow, my plan to be healthy and bike turned into us driving a half hour AFTER eating to get drinks in the middle of the day. They turned out to be HUGE.

The menu said "serves two," but I was in a weird macho mood and picturing a scorpion bowl that serves 2, and got my own. "I'll be fine," I said. It was the biggest drink I'd ever seen. It was literally 40 percent of a watermelon, filled with drink.

And I somehow drank/ate it all. It hurt.

On the way home, I randomly noticed a giant rubber duckie in the river going through Rochester and got a sweet instagram out of it. It's still there, and I have no idea why.

Hilton was at our house, and I got home just in time to head back out to Oriental Delight for Jesse's birthday dinner, where I got a scorpion bowl. Yea, being on vacation!! It was a good time, but the true bonus of the night was when we started talking about playing basketball. 

Matt had just installed a basketball hoop at Jesse and his house a few weeks before, and we suddenly had a bunch of people who wanted to play. So, we randomly played a 3 on 3 game (with teams decided by who made foul shots first), after eating sushi and chinese food, and the biggest drink of my life in my case. Smart!

It ended up being Hilton, Al and me vs. Shawn, Matt and Tegan. I wasn't expecting much out of Tegan anyway, but as soon as Al ripped his shirt off the second we started playing, she cowered in fear of Al's sweaty rebounding. Shawn was super intense, driving to the basket in fast forward. Matt played surprisingly solid defense and they did ok, but they were no match for Hilton and my experience mixed with Al's sweaty rebounding tenacity. I somehow scored the first 3 baskets I think, and even sunk a pretty far away shot, screaming OH MY GOD! WHAT JUST HAPPENED!? like a complete asshole. It was awesome, and it felt neat to play with Hilton again, since we used to play pick up games in high school. But as the game progressed and the light died out, I was wheezing with exhaustion pretty quickly. Basketball is TIRING. 

The next day, Hilton and Josh packed up and left for a roadtrip from our house to Glacier National Park in Montana, and eventually San Diego, where Hilton lives now. The point was to drive his jeep that's been at our house with the stuff he never brought out when he moved out there 8 months ago. Josh wanted to go across country, see Glacier National Park and some other key spots along the way, and have an adventure. They set up a blog, but I think Hilton gave up on it half way through the trip. 

Here's the actual moment they left, with Irwin trying to follow them. Poor guy.

This would mark the first time I was completely in charge of the Weez. I had never even fed him before. Look at him, he's a lunatic. He's freaking out and running around in circles barking because I showed him his food dish!

We got along better than expected though- usually when Josh is gone, he just whines a lot and looks miserable. But he accepted that it was just me (Rich was in Vermont for a week with his family), and we got along well. He sat with me, he ate (after skipping the first meal), and he actually paid attention to me when he usually just ignores me. I'll take what I can get! I even took him for a walk in 85 degree heat. We bonded nicely. 

I then ended the day by going for a solo swim at Fernal. It was an absolutely beautiful day and I just swam some laps from the beach to the buoys and enjoyed the water since I had nobody to throw the B with. I even took my phone way out to get some awesome HDRs. I love this one: 

such a nice place.

I'm gonna cut this blog entry in half. These were 3 solid days in a row, and many more followed. The next 3 days will be posted after I get back from the Saco River!

currently listening to: Ween- "Caesar demos"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Weekend at Steele Hill Resort and Ridiculous Skyporn

Visiting Kevin so often, I always saw signs for Steele Hill Resort on the way to his house. I had no idea what such a place actually was, and also had no idea that the rumored timeshare my friend Dan had was actually there. I finally got the invite, and Rich, Holly, Josh and I, with the addition of Hilton (visiting from San Diego) headed up for a weekend of golf, swimming, camping, and ridiculous skies. 

I've been really enjoying this summer, and by doing so, have failed to practice the art of being a blogger. I always have my phone ready for instagrams, but I have noticed how bad I've been at taking pictures solely for the blog- something I was very good at last year. I think this is a good thing, because I'm living in the moment more and caring less about "oh this would be good for the blog," but at the same time, damn, I really need to take pictures of stuff other than skies. I'm remembering how to be a blogger. But it's harder this year.  

There were some ridiculous skies that weekend though- like Pixar clouds. 

After hanging out at the campsite for a bit and sweating a lot, I pushed to play golf. Dan had said there was a 9 hole par 3 course, and I wanted to get out there and kill it. 

The day started off great- Myers used Dan's clubs, and literally on his first swing, the head of his driver went about 40 feet farther than the ball. It just snapped right off to all of our hilarity. The day was off to a good start.

Here's Dan's beautiful swing as he tried to murder the ball:

And here's Dan playing the shortest hole I've ever seen. It was literally like 40 yards at best. 

This picture would lead you to believe that this was a short course, but I can assure you that it is not. Sure, there are some obvious par 3s, but also some of the longest and most ridiculous I've ever seen. We'd later find out that they changed 2 of them to par 4s, but I think they need to change at least 3 more to be accurate. 

We had a blast though- Dan played barefoot, and Hilton one upped him by playing barefoot with no shirt. Sunburn city!

There's a guy on vacation.

It was a hot, hot trip, but we had a lot of laughs and a few random good shots peppered in with a lot of awful ones. Dan and Myers would either hit it really far in completely the wrong direction or about 30 feet. Hilton would hit it 3 to 4 times too long on every shot, and I was about as consistently inconsistent as usual. 

Here's us looking defeated on the way off the course. Really, we just wanted to get in a damn pool.

It was BEAAAUUUUTIFUL out there though. I had no idea the Steele Hill Resort was on such a hill- I didn't realize Sanbornton had any real elevation. Looking over lake Winnisquam and to the Belknaps with just absolutely ridiculous clouds was quite a treat. 

I've hiked those mountains!

We took turns with pools, jumping in the smaller outdoor one to the inner very hot and extremely chlorined indoor pool, to the hot tub, to even the sauna at one point. I had never sat in a sauna and let it cook me before, and it was pretty serious. Hilton and I did 20 minutes and could wave our arms and cover the wall with splattered sweat in that time. Just the right thing to be doing when I had had barely any water all day, had been outside sweating for 2 hours, and had drank alcohol. I wonder why I had a headache? 

The pools were great though, and we hit the level of stupidity where I even jumped in the kiddie pool just to say I had been in them all. 

The best part was that a wedding was taking place behind us- possibly 2 in a row by how long it/they took. I hope they enjoyed a bunch of shirtless fat guys running around behind them yelling. 

We then travelled across the resort to jump in another pool, which we had to ourselves. B was thrown, good times were had. We headed back to the campsite to exchange some gifts (Josh, Dan, Myers and I all had birthdays around this weekend), eat some burgers and hot dogs, drink some dranks, eat some chips, etc. 

We decided to then hit up the indoor pool for the adult swim. 

When we got there, the sky started doing some craaazy things. 

In one direction was this weird tiny strip of rainbow, completely alone and very strong. Moving my head 40 degrees, there were weird light lines in the sky. This is super HDRed, but take out a lot of color, and this was still pretty accurate:

no idea what was causing those lines.

Here's another one of the weird rainbow (the Red Eye of Sauron) from higher up:

Never seen the sky do this. Insane.

And here's another super HDRed shot looking back at the building that housed the giant pool. I'm not sure I've ever seen a sky so busy and doing so many different things at once. It was incredible.

yea, it wasn't quite that color.

Kate told us that we could climb up to the top tower to get even crazier views, so while others swam, Rich and I, the true iphoneographers of the group, headed up. It was about 128982323 degrees up there, but we got to watch the sky change several more times, before finally turning completely evil red, 

and eventually exploding into pouring rain. It was amazing. 

We then swam in a dome building with windows everywhere, watching the storm. We found out that there was in fact, no adult swim, and we'd have to hang out in the pool with a bunch of punk kids. 

We had a blast though, going down a surprisingly scary water slide, going in the hut tubs, MMA fighting, etc. It was awesome. This made 4 different pools in one day. I will forever prefer lakes, but this was nice. 

Ray and Chanda showed up and after further exhausting ourselves (Hilton went down the slide at least 40 times), we eventually headed back to our wet camp. 

Dan cooked more dogs and burgers, I ate way too many chips, drank some BEAHS GUY, and we sat around the fire for hours listening to Rich's wind-up radio and talking about awesome stuff like wrestling. 

It truly felt like summer.

I of course went to bed last and had to get up 2 hours later to pee, but other than that, I slept about as good as I always do in a tent (not very well), and morning came way too quickly. 

We ate pop tarts for breakfast (since Rich brought like 40), and after sitting on our butts staring at each other for at least 2 hours, we finally got the show on the road and headed back to pool #3. 

When we got there, nearly everyone sat down and read for awhile. I didn't bring a book, so Hilton and I played 4 holes of golf, then went swimming again. It was another beautiful day.

we played 3 balls each on the short hole.

We then went back to camp and packed everything up, then headed towards a grill (they have them sporadically placed everywhere) and had a BBQ of the remaining food. Dan finally ate his cake, which was hilarious. Recently, while cleaning, Josh found a picture of Dan and Blade, a guy they've all been making fun of for years, together in high school. Josh got the picture printed on a cake as an amazing prank gift for Dan. Here he is with the best piece- Blade's face:

he pretended to hate it, but he was soooooo happy

When I was invited, I wasn't sure what a weekend on a resort where we had access to a bunch of things but were camping out would look like. It turned out to be exactly as described- full use of everything, just staying in a tent in a field instead of inside. It was awesome though. The place had everything, right down to 4 Xboxes mounted on the walls with giant TVs. I hope to go back, and this time, I've promised to do every activity in 1 day for the ultimate blog entry on the resort. Whether it be this summer or next, I will swim in every pool, sit in every hot tub, play golf, shoot baskets, fish, play video games, etc. EVERYTHING. And it will rule. Can't wait.

currently listening to: CKY- "Carver City"

Monday, July 16, 2012

Rattlesnake Mountain, Raymond, ME

Alright! Another 2 week break in my blog. I've been incredibly busy and it has ruled. Today was only the second day out of 16 where I didn't do something cool outside. And the other day I didn't do anything, I drove 400 miles. This summer has ruled. 

SO, like a month ago, I went home to Maine for my birthday (wow, I literally am a month behind). I got there with about 5 minutes to spare before we played 18 gorgeous holes of golf on Father's Day. Afterwards, I got 3 "holy shit"s out of my dad when I gave him a 50 dollar bottle of scotch (I usually only give him small things), and we watched the US Open together. Not a bad day. 

It was real pretty. 

The next day was my birthday and I wanted to do something cool, so I decided to go on a hike I had looked into earlier in the year when I realized I would be hiking a lot this summer- Rattlesnake Mountain in my hometown of Raymond, Maine. I followed this guide, and it was pretty accurate. 

After stopping at a convenience store I used to buy candy at in like 3rd grade and talking to the person working there (she at least remembered the friend who lived around the corner), I pulled into the parking lot, which was pretty much just a lawn on the side of the road. 

The trail was called the Bri-Mar trail. 

It starts with extremely thick grass and the mountain in the distance.

After entering the woods, the trail was pretty much a road. It eventually split. 

You can go either way here, as both ways connect and veer left. I went the left way. Shortly after that, the actual trail begins, turning right off the road. It was marked with blue blazes.

It was surprisingly immediately steep. It wasn't anything absurd, but for a mountain with only 625 feet of elevation gain, I think at least 500 of that was right away. And for a smaller mountain with a small town, beginner-mountain feel, it was steeper than I was expecting.

punk kids tagging everything!

It was doable though, and had been cleaned up nicely from some fallen trees (apparently in hiker's language, BLOWDOWNS- just learned that). 

Passing the best view, I followed a side trail to what seemed like the actual summit of the mountain. It was pretty thrilling.

Following the guide, I saw all of the side trails and agreed that they weren't worth going down. I also followed the blue-blazed trail for awhile past the summit as well- it kept going downhill and I'm pretty curious as to where it goes, as it's obviously another trail on the opposite side of the mountain. 

The only real reason to hike this mountain is to do some hiking in a small town and to take in the main view, about 5 minutes from the actual summit.

It's not white-mountains spectacular, but for Raymond, Maine, it was pretty awesome.

I was somewhat shocked that I had never hiked this mountain for school or as part of the cub scouts. Or I have, and I've completely forgotten. But for someone who spent basically the first 18 years of my life in this small town, growing up on Sebago Lake and taking swimming lessons on Crescent Lake, it was pretty awesome to be looking out over Sebago, Panther Pond and Long Lake.

I had no idea views like this existed in this town

Most of the trees that would have blocked the views were cleared out, and although I kind of wish there had been some sort of tower or area to climb up to get even better views, these were well worth the small effort it took to get up there. A perfectly surprising and satisfying hike out of nowhere. Gotta love that.

On the way out, I couldn't help but notice how awesome the grass and flowers were in the sunlight.

I stopped at Crescent Beach on my way out. I spent nearly every day of my summers here, taking swimming lessons my parents forced me to take. But as much as I hated getting there at like 7 in the morning (the advanced classes were early in the morning, so I kept going earlier as the years went on), I  always had great times here- whether they be with my 1st grade girlfriend I swam with after class, or the other 5-10 friends who would show up later in the day. I became certified (at least as officially as a 5th grader could be) in advanced water safety, got to swim with my clothes on, kick my teacher in the head, swim laps forever, shred water forever, etc. One of my best friends in 6th grade lived at the camp down the street too, so I found myself back there even later in life. Even though I attach this beach to bad memories in the "ughk, stupid swimming lessons" way, I have so many good memories here, and it felt weird and kind of neat to stand on the beach for the first time in probably 20 years, on the day of my 31st birthday, noticing just how small the beach and swimming area actually is (to be fair, it used to be much bigger- they did actually cut it down). 

I headed home and sat on the dock and read for a bit. Then Dad came home with pizza and we had cake. Can't believe I'm 31. Hiking a mountain I've somehow never hiked and reminiscing about my youth while revisiting old stomping grounds was a nice way to celebrate.

For those who are reading this for the Rattlesnake information, the parking lot is about a mile and a half down the road from Crescent Beach, on your left, going north on Route 85. The hike is about 625 feet of elevation gain and 2 miles round trip. 

currently listening to: Phish- Live at Saratoga Springs, 7/7/2012