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

Friday, November 23, 2012

Squamtoberfest 7, part 2: Apple Picking and the Sandwich Fair

As Kevin and I washed dishes, people started to wake up and eat random stuff that was left over like grapes, Amanda's 20% cooked pumpkin muffins and candy corn. I finally broke out some apple cider to make it a true fall festival. Check out this guy:

is he breathing smoke?

We then got ready and headed out to go apple picking. Look at Amanda's socks!

We lost Tobin on the way, but he eventually found his way to us. We just hung out and did the thing in the parking lot while being colorful. It was a perfect day.

Apple picking went about like it always does- some people get really excited, others (me) just wander around, take pictures, throw apples at people and buy mini pumpkins. 

I ate 1 apple, which of course was documented on instagram. Apparently I look pretty damn good while eating apples.

The Squamtoberfest tree wasn't quite as orange as it has been in the past, but it was still pretty gorgeous. I love how the tips have several colors while the rest of the tree is still green.

Sadly though, this:

was gone. 

That's right, the Squamtoberfest truck- THE TRUCK that everyone with a camera always takes a picture of every time we go to this orchard (Surowiec Farm) is suddenly gone. It's funny what that truck has come to mean over the years. I mean, it's just an old truck. But its old time look, the fact that it's parked in a pile of trees, the view behind it... it just always made for the perfect fall/NH picture. And since I only go to this place on Squamtoberfest, it's become a tradition. Honestly, I don't even care about going apple picking, but I'm very big on traditions and I don't ever want to have a Squamtoberfest without visiting here. And sadly, it looks like I may have to visit here without seeing the truck. I hope it was actually being used or maybe fixed up and we'll see it next year, but I won't know until then. Kevin's old house being abandoned and now this? Don't take what you have for granted people- things change way too fast. I'm praying for you, Squamtoberfest truck.

A few years ago, most of the girls of the group climbed into the tree to take what's become another traditional Squamtoberfest picture. Happily, Dustin immediately made us laugh and took away the pain of the truck not being there.

I really love the instagram I got of this tree.

After the apples, we all split up. Dustin, Amanda, Morgan and Lyle went rock climbing, Kevin, Gina, Tobin, Kira and I headed to the Sandwich Fair, and Mysterio and Masha did their thing where they say they're gonna meet us at the fair and then never show. Bastards. 

I really wish more people went to the fair. Sure, it's 10 bucks just to walk around, eat overpriced food and look at weird people and cows, but to me, it's an integral part of embracing the spirit of fall in New England, and I will be going every year. 

I started to think everyone made the right choice this year though, when we sat in traffic for probably 40 minutes as the unbelievably stupid town of Sandwich directed people into 1 of 2 parking lots, or directed them outside of town. They closed the entire center of town, thus making it impossible to go any faster than a half mile an hour. In the past, we've gone through town and parked at one of many less known lots closer to the action and had everything work out perfectly. This year, not so much. 

By the time we got down there (after paying to park and walking much farther than I was expecting), we were all pretty psyched about cramming some fair food into our faces.

We saw some cows,

I saw that they've moved on from the rasta bananas of last year and were giving away rasta alligators as prizes now,

and we got to see some of the lovely things you can buy at fairs. Like socks. Apparently.

Or maybe guitars covered in paint.

Or very well intentioned, but failed and cute-because-they're-not-good wooden sign things.

Nobody went on any rides this year, but I did get a fairly evil picture of Air Force one, while Skrillex was blasting out of it.

No, we were there for food. I started with some fair pizza. I know some people will call me stupid for getting pizza at a fair, but square fair pizza has its own distinct taste and crunch, and I've actually grown to crave it over the years. Rich had failed miserably when he tried to enjoy fair pizza at the Deerfield Fair a week before. I was very successful. This was perfect.

Gina and I split some absolutely fantastic and surprisingly crisp fried zucchini (which I get every year),

and I got some fried dough. I said I was gonna take a break from it since it always makes me feel horrible, but I couldn't deny it. It ruled.

Tobin got his favorite, chili with some weird meat (I think Bison) and Kevin tried to eat his fingers.

and we all looked real mad about it

I got a big chunk of mudslide fudge and a bigger chunk of cookies and cream. These got demolished later on. The skies looked beautiful as we headed out, and I really felt like even though the day before had sucked, and some key people were missing, Squamtoberfest represented well this year. And leaving the fair sick from food was the perfect end.

HDR view from the parking field:

That wasn't it though- we stopped at another fair where I bought the most beautiful bottle of maple syrup (to make old fashioneds!) ever. I tried to get cider doughnuts, but that part of the building was closed. Sad. Still though, I left with lots of fall stuff from various places- maple syrup, apples, an apple BBQ sauce, apple pie jam, pumpkins, and half a bottle of bourbon. 

the leaves were what sucked me in, but I couldn't deny the ducks.

I'm very happy that Squamtoberfest has become a yearly celebration that I know will always exist. Well, as long as Kevin and Gina live in New Hampshire I guess. Which ought to be forever. I'm already looking forward to next year. We're gonna get 2 perfect days of perfect weather, there will be an even bigger crew, and I'll DJ perfectly. PUMPED.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Squamtoberfest 7, part 1: Gentlemen's Lounge, Hiking, and a Bonfire

The coming of October meant it was time for my favorite holiday of the year, Squamtoberfest- where a bunch of my best friends join up at Kevin's house and indulge in all things fall- hiking, biking, foliage, bonfires, candy corn, pumpkin beer, etc. This year wouldn't be quite as mega as some in the past, since, even though I had been given the clear from my doctor a few days before to "resume normal activities," I hadn't exercised in 3 weeks and felt like biking would be a bad idea. But I was game for everything else, and hoped for the best, even though it looked like we'd be seeing some rain.

Kevin decided to class it up by having a "gentlemen's lounge" on Friday night. I have no idea where he got the idea for this, but it may have been a bit influenced by dinner parties on Peaks Island, listening to big band music. He would solely be serving Gin and Tonics and Old Fashioneds, and we'd be listening to vinyl that he inherited.

He also dressed up. And for the first time in the 13 years I've known him, had a beard- or at least the closest he could come to having a beard.

Gin and Tonics are gross.

It was hilarious. The Old Fashioneds were delicious (he puts maple syrup in his!), the music was hilarious (since we were just grabbing random records and playing them), and conversation was great. It was a hell of an idea, and it worked. I think I've learned I like pretending I'm classy.

this was a big hit

I slept on my standard couch, and the cats, for the most part, left me alone. I was happy to have set up my travel fan, both for coolness and to block out the noise of Tobin snoring.

The next day, as always, everyone got up insanely early. Pog, Simone, Mysterio and Masha were all heading up, and even Ben was coming just for biking. I decided to try and hike Mount Potash, and Tobin was along for the ride.  We set out a bit before everyone left for biking, and immediately ran into trouble. 

The line on 93 for the exit to the Kanc was terrifying. We were expecting some traffic (since it was at the height of leaf-peeping season), but we weren't expecting this. We made the incredibly stupid command decision to loop around on Route 3, then come back on the Kanc from the other direction. This was the dumbest idea possible, since it put us heading towards Conway, and then driving on the exact same road, all with an hour of driving out of the way. I don't know what the hell we were thinking. Maybe we were still drunk. 

As soon as we hit Franconia Notch, the weather got disgusting. This isn't surprising going through the notch, but it didn't get better when we got out. 

It rained the whole time we were driving, and we began to wonder if we would even be able to hike. I was beginning to get bummed out pretty bad that this Squamtoberfest was going to fall apart before my eyes because of bad weather. 

We found what looked like the trailhead based on the guide I stupidly followed and parked across the street at some tourist destination. Thank god we did, since we both suddenly felt quite uncomfortable in the digestive area. Tobin and I bonded pretty well in the bathroom, chatting it up. We got out and decided to give this hike a try- we had come this far and the rain had stopped. I don't even remember what site I used, but I screwed up again. 

trailhead? I guess...

I had barely moved in 3 weeks and was still a little unsure of my heart and how it would handle a big hike, so I started looking up possibilities the night before. I found a hike that was 5 miles round trip, with only like 1200 feet of elevation gain and what looked like amazing views. I went full bore into hiking it without (again) finding other sources that gave better instructions on where to start the hike. You'd think after some of the hiking disasters I've had, I would have learned. But I guess not.

The trail started like this, and honestly, never got any better:

We did see an enormous rock in the middle of an otherwise non-rocky area,

I got some great pictures of foliage, 

I love how just the ends of the trees are orange, like they caught on fire

and I really liked this random clearing/field at the point where we gave up.

And we did give up. After awhile, it just felt ridiculous. We didn't see any mountaintops near us, and the trail was supposed to only be 2 miles. We had walked at least 1, and there was nothing. The guide said going in on this road meant we'd cut out a stream crossing, and the main trail intersected it, and I just never saw such a thing. In fact, when I looked on a map a week later, it looked like the road we were on led miles and miles into the middle of the woods. Thanks again, horrible internet directions. I know it's 100% my fault, but I was still furious. 

To add to my fury, it started to rain about half of the way back, and then it started to pour. Luckily, my bag has a waterproof cover, but I didn't. I got absolutely soaked, and I got back to my car drenched through like I had just jumped in a lake, more mad than I'd been in quite awhile. 

We got in the car, and it continued to pour. And I was in a baaaaad mood. My favorite weekend of the year, and I couldn't even go for a goddamn hike on a pretty day after being cooped up and on meds, scared to move for fear my heart might explode. After all I had been through, all I wanted was 1 beautiful weekend, then fall could die right there and I wouldn't care. And I didn't get it. 

We started heading to Ashland to try and get calzones to salvage the day, and randomly stopped at a liquor store in Center Harbor just for something to do. We got some sweet bourbon and actually enjoyed looking at all the weird stuff they had there. 

Then we hit up Ashland, and thankfully, it stopped raining enough for me to get some awesome shots from one of my favorite places to take fall pictures- the area by Squam River behind where Kevin used to live. 

I mean, could there be any more of a perfect fall shot? I took a bunch.

Then I looked up to see that it looked like nobody lived in Kevin's old house. So I walked up to the porch to look in, and turned the handle just to see if, by some crazy chance, it was unlocked. And it was.

I probably shouldn't talk about breaking and entering on my public blog, but I didn't break anything, so I'm gonna say it's fine. Is "entering" illegal?

I walked in, and the place STUNK. There was still food in the cupboards, there was mail (and a TV) on the floor, and there was furniture in every room, just not much. It looked BAD. For example, there used to be a railing here:

It was good to see satanic symbols all over the walls of Kevin's old office. 

Windows in every room were open, and doors were unlocked. It looked like maybe the owner was trying to air the place out, or maybe squatters were trying to live here and wanted to make sure they could get back in. All I know is, it was quite the adventure wandering around in there alone (Tobin was too scared to come in with me). The basement was particularly terrifying (it was even when Kevin lived there), since I was using my phone to try to illuminate rooms that were full of stuff. I kept waiting to stumble onto a dead body, or crackhead squatters ready to attack. As neat as this was, it was a bit sad too. This was where Squamtoberfest started and Kevin and Gina lived for years. There are a lot of great memories based around this place, and even though the last people to live in it were huge douchebags, it's a bit sad to know that it's basically an abandoned hellhole now instead of the happy place it once was. 

I came out and we took some more pictures, then we picked up our calzones, which looked (as always) tremendous. We headed back to Kevin's, where people were starting to set up a bonfire outside. We had made the day better with liquor stores, calzones, foliage pictures, and breaking and entering. I had had some good laughs with Tobin, who I lived with for a year and a half and barely talk to anymore.  But I was still in a pretty bad mood. Hopefully the fire would help.

I wish I had taken a picture of the calzone, because it was so good. I ate half of it in fast forward by the fire, then put on warmer clothes, grabbed some pumpkin beers and started to get in position to do my favorite thing at Squamtoberfest- play fall emo music and group favorites people could sing along to by the fire. 

and a beautiful fire it was

But this day just wasn't going my way. I couldn't bike, the hike was a massive failure, and we got soaked. The foliage was maybe the best foliage I'd ever seen, but no shot would have been worth it for the rain, and there were a billion people parked everywhere taking the same pictures. I had had a heart attack scare 3 weeks earlier and had been scared to do anything since, and at this point, all I wanted was to be able to play emo songs I had spent hours collecting into a playlist by the fire, and my goddamn piece of shit ipod dock refused to work. I'm not lying when I say I literally almost cried trying to get it to work to no avail. It was such a piece of crap thing to be so upset about, but all of the frustration from the heart attack scare and the weeks after were all coming out at the same time. I was losing my mind. I just wanted to go home. 

So thank you Gina, for very calmly saying that I could use the speakers they used to use at the old house for playing music outside, and that they also had enough extension cords to be able to get it out there. I should have remembered that (we've done it before), but I was blinded by hatred of technology and cursing the world for ruining my day. And you stepped up and saved it. I almost cried again when I hugged you and told you how happy I was that you made my day. Thank you.

And then Pog led the charge of making fun of every single song I tried to play. To be fair, I screwed up. I started playing real slow sad stuff right off the bat. I hadn't DJed in awhile and was trying to make myself feel better by playing stuff that meant a lot to me, but nobody else wanted to hear that. I screwed up- you play hits first, then you slowly start playing more and more of what you want to hear, then people trust you by the end of the night. I made a DJ mistake. But Pog was still a complete ass, complaining about everything I did and getting other people in on it too. So instead of fighting it, I gave up and just said fuck it, whatever horrible thing he jokingly suggested, I would play. And I had a lot of it. So instead of American Football, Jimmy Eat World and The Appleseed Cast, I played Sugar Ray, Tonic, Hootie and the Blowfish, etc. It was my big "fuck you" to give them exactly what they wanted. 

And it worked. It became funny, I had fun doing it, and eventually everyone shut up and just let me play what I wanted. I started playing all the hits everyone knew, and it started becoming a very good time. 

People attempted to slackline (this is one of the hardest things I've ever attempted and I gave up almost instantly). Here's Pog trying.

And here's Kevin after his attempt.

didn't spill his beer. PRO.

Trust me, it's HARD. The thing just doesn't stay still. I have absolutely no idea how people are able to do this.

As the night went on, we collectively drank nearly every beer we had brought. We brought out coolers full of beer and ice, we had chips, we had chairs, we had s'mores, and we had music. In past years, bonfires have failed for reasons I didn't understand at the time. One big reason was temperature, and it was reasonably cold this year instead of frighteningly cold like in the past. The other reason was snacks and beer- we didn't bring enough out so people would go into the house to get some and never come back. Sometimes people would go to bed super early too. I don't entirely know what it was this year other than beer being right there, solid music being played and people just in better spirits, but we all stayed out there for way longer than usual. And even though A LOT of beer was dranked, everyone was pretty reasonable too. It was magic. Eventually, I found my way to Weezer's blue album, and it was just like all the old blue zoo parties of the past.

good singing faces

kevin screaming

and air guitar. Or in this case, shovel guitar.

I wanted to embrace the true blue zoo way of listening to the blue album, and wanted to represent for Jake, who wasn't there and is notorious for destroying things to "My Name Is Jonas." So I played some of my best guitar ever, at one point falling over into a huge bush, and then spending a lot of time doing splits and playing the shovel in the fire. Newcomers like Lyle and Morgan (friends from Saratoga who were randomly staying at a B&B down the road- a Squamtoberfest miracle) assumed I was wicked drunk (and admittedly, I was kind of drunk), but I can assure you, this kind of guitar playing is always ready to come out, you just need the right conditions. I instantly became an instagram celebrity, with 5 people all posting pretty much the same picture of me. What can I say, I like playing the shovel. 

I like this one a lot:

As the night winded down and people started to go to bed, I played a lot of the stuff I wanted to play in the beginning, and felt generally pretty happy. It was a perfect example of what good music and good friends can do. I was pretty low, and got even lower when I tried to get out of my hole, but with time, the night became everything I wanted it to be- just good friends having a good time around a fire, singing along to songs that mean a lot to us, drinking pumpkin beers and staying up late. The day felt like the worst Squamtoberfest in years, but the night was one of the best.

The night was done, and people were hurting. Here is an absolutely terrific picture of Kevin and Gina looking their absolute best: 

When I tried to go to bed, I saw that Pog or Simone were looking to steal my bed, and I happily let it go. There would be 4 people sleeping in that room, sunlight would come in early, etc. I had started to consider sleeping in the entry room anyway, and this was all I needed to make that decision. I went out and got my Aerobed out of the trunk (always be prepared) and set it up while Adam tried to sleep in the entry way, and promptly collapsed, falling asleep instantly. 

I woke up like 2 hours later shivering uncontrollably. It may have been the coldest I've ever woken up. I had just a sheet on me and a fan on medium blowing like 3 feet away in October. That was smart. I put it on low, moved it mostly away and buried myself in my sleeping bag. It was heaven. 

Adam got up at like 8 in the morning and left. He had things to do apparently. And very randomly, I was wide awake. So I got up at 8:30 and started doing dishes and cleaning, BEFORE Kevin. I never in a million years thought that would happen. And I couldn't wait to go apple picking and hit up the Sandwich Fair. Squamtoberfest could be saved.