Misc Liisa

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Archive for sabbatical

Day 3- The Infamous Falmouth Road Race

Start- Bay View Campground, Bourne, Cape Cod MA

End- Saco KOA, Old Orchard Beach, ME

Miles- 193.6

Total Miles- 570

We packed up most of our stuff the night before since we knew we needed to get out of camp early in order to get to the race and find a spot to park the camper. We were up and showered and out of the camp pretty quickly- before many others were around. Originally we had come here because Tom was going to work one of the splits for the race. We’d found out the day before that the race organizers had nixed the split and that there really wasn’t work for Tom. But as a visiting race official (he’s got certification in 5 areas of judging from USA Track & Field) we had access to the finish area and the VIP seating in the tent and Tom is always interested in checking out how others run finish lines and score events.

We quickly ran into traffic getting into Falmouth. One of the things about bringing 9000+ people in to run a road race is that they come with cars (and lots of other stuff). We had eyed a large parking lot not too far from the finish line the day before as a good place that had possible pull-through spaces. Once we got there, we realized we weren’t the only ones who had eyed that lot. It was full. So we found a building with an “opening soon” sign in the window and parked in their lot since it didn’t look like they could possibly open in the next few hours. We got to the finish line and Tenzin and I got settled in some chairs in the back of the tent. Tom went to sit with David and check out the scoring operation.

The race at Falmouth started back in the early 70s when a bunch of guys who had been drinking at a bar in Woods Hole decided to run to another bar along the beach in Falmouth. It happened to be 7 miles and after running it, they thought it would be a good race. Tom’s college landlord, Dave Douba, was the winner of the first official Falmouth Road Race in 1973. Now there are more than 9000 people who come to Cape Cod every August to run the race. It’s a nice course through town and then along the beach road.

Tom thinks that we were bored at the race. Not so. It’s just that Tenzin had settled into a nice nap on my lap with his head on my purse and I didn’t want to wake him or bother any of the spectators who were actually there to see people run. So we sat and read. After the race, I got a picture of the winner with Meb by the port-o-john. Nice. And we got to see Frank Shorter.

We got back to the camper and back on the road, thinking we’d have an easy time getting to Old Orchard Beach. We almost immediately got caught up in the onslaught of racers leaving Cape Cod. At an entrance ramp, a particularly rude driver cut me off without even looking. The woman in the car leaned over and waved and Tom realized that it was Joan Benoit-Samuelson and her husband and two girls. She had just run the race. (For those of you who don’t know- she’s a US marathon celebrity having won the NYC Marathon more than once) I hope her husband isn’t that aggressive when he’s driving his UPS truck!

We stopped for lunch at Panera, which is what we consider to be acceptable fast food so we eat there a lot. It also happened to have a lot big enough to get the car and trailer into. And there was a Trader Joe’s next door, so we were able to pick up a few things for our on the road pantry.

We got to the camp at Old Orchard Beach in the early evening. It was a KOA, so on one hand there is always an expected level of service and on the other hand there are always rules. Tom was immediately annoyed by the fact that it had a gate that you had to give a deposit for a keycard to get out of. And they had a “greeter” who took you to your campsite. I was just happy that he didn’t stay around to “help” me park the trailer. We got settled in and camp setup pretty quickly.

I wanted to go down to the beach and see the amusement park there, so we packed the dog into Blubaru and went. This is always a struggle for us because I love these cheesy old amusement parks as being reminiscent of my childhood and Tom gets sick at the idea of something spinning. We wandered through the park and I decided to ride the Matterhorn while Tom took pictures. We were unimpressed by the beach, but a little frightened by the size of the bleeding sea birds who seemed at least 2 or 3 times as big as the gulls at the Cape. Then we got in a little skeeball action. The woman laughed at us for taking a few minutes to decide on whether to get the deck of cards or bouncy balls with our tickets (we got the cards). We debated whether to stay and try to win the 250,000 tickets necessary to get an iPad (we estimated it would take no more than $600 worth of games to get it). But instead we headed back to camp and made mango chicken sausage with yellow pepper and israeli couscous for dinner.

Pics from today are here- http://bit.ly/czbzQu

Day 2- Circumnavigating Cape Cod

Start- Bay View Campground Bourne, Cape Cod MA

End- Bay View Campground Bourne, Cape Cod MA

Miles- 124
Total Miles- 376

Today we got a leisurely start. Tom went for a run while Ten and I strolled through the campground. Then we grabbed showers (had to get the marshmallow from s’mores out of my hair) and had oatmeal and coffee at camp.

We met up with our friends David and Jermaine who are in town from Detroit for the race. The four of us and Tenzin wandered through Falmouth and we sat outside at Laureen’s for lunch. Tenzin and I enjoyed some lovely chicken salad with cranberries (he’s nit as discerning about chicken salad as Tom and I are, but he enjoys it just the same). Tenzin was well behaved and sat on top of my shopping bag (he prefers to not sit on the ground)- note to self, take him a little mat. We were happy to hear that David had recently settled a difficult legal battle he has been going through with a former business partner.

After lunch we decided to drive towards Provincetown and check out some beaches and we meandered through a bunch of towns.

One of the interesting things we noticed about Cape Cod is the large number of bookstores. Every town has at least one little independent store and likely a used store as well. There are significantly more bookshops than ice cream shops which either says something about what these folks like to do with their leisure time or something about how many months of the year it is not ice cream weather.

Another thing we noticed about Cape Cod is that in Massachusetts they seem to like using “mouth” in place names the way New York uses “kill”. They have Falmouth and Yarmouth and Weymouth and Plymouth. We have Fishkill and Peekskill and Plattekill. Our kills were named by the Dutch for creeks. And from the map it is clear their mouths were named for round bays shaped like mouths.

We ended up at a beach out at the Cape Cod National Seashore. One with cliffs and a steep slope down to the beach. I was cautiously inching my way down the slope when Tom ran back and pulled me down the last little bit. We walked the beach and realized it was cold and rocky, but pretty. Back to the car and we drove for miles to find an ice cream shop. It was one of the best hot fudge sundaes ever and Tenzin totally enjoyed his vanilla cup. I started to worry that dogs might get ice cream headaches.

We got back to camp just before dark. Tom was dismayed to realize that the open air theatre where they had a live band playing loudly was on a cliff overlooking our camper. After we found out that the band would play till 10pm, I tried to convince him to just go with it. We have 3 weeks to talk to one another. One night of listening to the Klassics play Elvis covers won’t kill us. After a dinner of steaks cooked in our fire pie cookers and some pasta and snow peas and wine, he even did the big shoe dance on the picnic table. We were tucked into the Shadow by 10pm since we had to get up and out early in the morning to get to the race. We heard a weird noise and I got out to check. Our neighbors had a blender and were making margaritas. They partied much of the night.

FYI- our Internet access is somewhat sporadic, so I’ll post when we can.

Pics from today are here- http://bit.ly/ceTmXn

Day 1- It’s never easy to get out the door

Start- Home Garrison, NY

End- Bay View Campground Bourne, Cape Cod MA

Miles- 252
Total Miles- 252

Accidents seen- 1 car in the median that had just rolled and several cars off the road.

We started on Friday thinking there were just a few more things to take care of before we left and we’d be on the road at noon. Most everything was packed, the car was looking like everything fit, it all seemed simple Thursday night. We just needed for Tom to pick up glasses and me to put stuff on iPads and drive some notes for our cat sitters and get their stuff together. I got up early and had a plan. But it was wishful thinking.

First, the Times got delivered, again. Tom cancelled it more than a month ago and has called repeatedly to get them to stop delivering it. But no. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday there is still a paper in our drive. Tom got into another debate with them on the phone. He just doesn’t want papers piled up in the drive and another thing to ask someone to take care of while we are away.

I woke up with terrible wrist pain and no strength in my hand. An old problem with a nodule in my wrist that pinches the nerve was flaring up again. I packed my wrist braces.

Then the cat got out and hid in the garden and wouldn’t come when called. All of our cats are indoor cats, but the oldest one has rushed us at the door several times in the last month and then lingered around the house when he got out. We think he thinks that this is a privilege of getting old. He certainly uses it to taunt the others when he comes home smelling of catnip and catmint and telling tales of the chasing of chipmunks. He disappeared for an hour the first time and half an hour the second time. This really slowed us down.

Then we realized the cats had damaged a screen in the basement window and we had to fix it.

Then we discovered that the electric from the car to the trailer wasn’t right and the trailer lights wouldn’t work. This was very frustrating for Tom who feels he doesn’t know enough about how electricity works. With a little trial and error, we got it figured out.

By the time we finally got on the road it was after 2pm and Tom was having some severe hypoglycemia. He needed lunch, so that was our first stop, 20 minutes in to the trip.

And of course we ran into the usual Friday afternoon, everyone headed to the Cape, traffic. We detoured around what appeared as a big red line on 95 on the iPad. We’re not sure that the side roads saved us time, but they gave us the opportunity to discover that when you really have to pee and you have a trailer to worry about parking, a movie theatre is a good option for a stop. Twizzlers and bathroom.

In the midst of heavy traffic, Tom told me that he is always amazed there are so many other people. Then he tells me he is worried that the production crew has had to work hard to arrange all the extras we’ll need (he has a fantasy that his life is a tv show like that movie Truman and that all the challenges in his life are things the production team dreamed up to amuse the audience). I told him that the troubles getting on the road were just their way of buying some time to work out some details for filming in Falmouth. And that if this trip doesn’t go well, the show will be cancelled because the audience isn’t testing well.

Then he tells me he doesn’t remember how we used to get anywhere without iPads in the car. I rend him we used to use paper maps and get lost more.

By the time we got to the camp it was 8:20pm and dark out and I still had the challenge of backing in the trailer (always a good time). It is very hard to back in this little trailer. It jack-knifes very easily. Of course someone followed me and I had to circle around the camp. Then about 8 adjustments into the procedure I was blocking the camp road and cars in both directions. I managed to get out of the way enough to let them by after a few more adjustments and then got the trailer in a good enough spot that we could move it by hand (it’s about 800lbs unladen).

We were setup with a fire and chairs and all ready to camp by 9pm. We slept pretty well last night in our snug bed in the Shadow. It was cool out and we’re in a spot in the trees with high scotch pines overhead.

This morning as I sit by the fire pit drinking camp coffee and writing on my iPad, I can hear the people at the next camp talking about us “and did you see that little dog with the light around his neck and his own chair?” Then I look over and they realize I can hear them and they whisper. Yes, we’re fancy campers. All headlamped and geared out. And with a super cute tiny trailer.

People drive by in a truck and point at the trailer. I think I’m going to have a lot of ‘splaining to do on this trip. It’s a Silver Shadow. It’s a queen sized bed on wheels with a little kitchen. He’s a shih tzu. Yes, that’s his car seat.

More pics from today are here- http://bit.ly/9rzOFV

T Minus 19 Hours

By this time tomorrow, Tenz, Tom, me, Blubaru and the Silver Shadow should be in Falmouth- at Cape Cod. The big sabbatical adventure will be underway and we’ll be setup with the first of 12 campsites along our way.

There is one last big errand to run (Tom needs to pick up his new glasses in the morning) and still lots to get tucked away into the car and camper before we get on the road. Many things that should have gotten done before we left won’t be finished and that’s ok. We got done what we could and what was necessary (my new passport arrived!). Everything else can wait until we’re back.

It’s very surreal that this day is almost here. We’ve been talking about this for what seems like forever, but has actually only been a few months.

Well, back to that list of things that must get done before we go- tonight the miles to go before we sleep are only figurative ones, tomorrow they’ll be real.

Being prepared

Ok, so I was a girl scout. Maybe some of my penchant for preparedness comes from that. And maybe some it comes from having lived as a kid in two places (a house and a boat) and always having to make sure I had what I needed with me. Or maybe it’s because I’m a diabetic and I always need to be prepared for whatever my disease will require. Suffice it to say, I like to prepare and plan. And for a big trip like the the one we’re about to embark on, I’m going all out.

There are some vacations/trips that you may want to wing. But a 22 day, 13 stop camping trip across two countries isn’t one of those trips.

This is the kind of trip where you want to have everything you may need with you. You want to be prepared for all kinds of activities (hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming). You want to be prepared for all kinds of weather (cold, hot, rain). You want to be prepared for “impromptu relaxation” (hammock, kite, marshmallow roasting stick). You want to make sure you can get to where you want to go (car washed, tuned, and window deflectors installed). You want to be comfortable (camper ready, extra bedding, everything tested). You want to make sure the dog is ready (haircut, bags packed, car bed clean). You want to be sure things at home are ok (cat sitter ready, house clean, mail stopped, sick cat staying with trusted friends). You want to have plenty of entertainment (eBooks, movies and tv downloaded to iPads, iPod stocked with driving music, appropriate apps loaded, knitting, painting, photography gear packed).

And though not everything is done yet, by the time we leave tomorrow I (we) will be ready!

How we came to own the Silver Shadow

Near the end of April, I was having a bit of an existential crisis. I’d been working hard and was getting a little burnt out. I had put off a sabbatical in order to work on growing my team. I was starting to get to a point where I felt like the team was coming together, but I needed something to recharge myself.

Tom and I took a long weekend and drove up to Woodstock for the day to wander around and chill out. While we were there, we saw a small teardrop trailer parked in our usual lot. Tom was surprised and impressed with it.

I had seen them before when I had recently thought about the possibility of renting a motorhome for a cross-country drive as a sabbatical possibility. I had looked at teardrop trailers and quickly dropped it because they were a little pricey. And because Tom had nixed the idea of renting a houseboat to travel on the canals of NY because “I don’t want to relive your nomadic childhood.”

(note- I grew up on boats and with campers. We had campers and motorhomes, a sailboat, cruisers, runabouts and a houseboat when I was growing up in Cinti. We lived about half of the year on the houseboat moored across the river in KY. We drove across the country twice on vacation- once with a convertible and a popup trailer and once with a motorhome.)

So I never mentioned teardrop trailers. And now here we were, having lunch in Woodstock and talking about what it might mean to give up the tent camping and buy a little trailer. It would mean we’d be able to go at a moment’s notice. It would mean we would be able to do one night trips. It would be a place we could use to sleep outdoors at home and to use as an extra room. Hmmm. This was starting to sound like a good idea.

Once we got home, I ordered a book about teardrops (that’s right, a book- a physical, wait until it shows up, book) (and sidenote- whoa! this book is now available for Kindle! Yay! I’m buying another copy!) and started looking at all the info I could find about them online. It didn’t take me long to find Little Guy– a company in Indiana that specializes in making teardrop trailers. And from there the trail led me to Miller Trailer Sales, a small reseller a few hours away in Pennsylvania. It quickly became clear that there was a retro style of teardrops that really appealed to Tom and I. And getting your hands on one of these little retro trailers was NOT easy. They were impossible to come by used and not easy to find new.

But, the folks in PA had one in stock that was exactly what we wanted. I called and talked to them. Tom and I talked it through and there was a Saturday coming up that looked good to drive down and go see it. When I called earlier that week to schedule the appointment, it seemed like they were selling a lot of trailers. And she said that if they sold this one, they’d have to order another one and it could take months to restock. So I told her I wanted it.

So on a friday exactly 2 weeks after we first saw a Silver Shadow, I got a hitch put on our car. I ran around Saturday morning getting details worked out while Tom worked. Who knew that getting a hitch put on the car meant they only give you a “tongue” and that you have to separately acquire the “ball hitch” necessary to pull a trailer? Tom got home late from the race he was scoring and it was another mad race off to PA to meet with the Millers and buy a trailer. Patsy called while we were enroute and said the title guy was only going to be around until 4pm, so she thought it would be best if Preston met us with the trailer at the title place to save time. And then we ran into construction traffic.

We pulled up at the title place at 4:15 and the Silver Shadow was sitting out front. We looked at it for 2 minutes before we ran inside and did all the paperwork to make it ours. And then we did the walkaround and learned more about what we were buying. Preston gave us a cooler full of cookies that Patsy had baked and helped us hitch up the trailer. Since I had never pulled anything behind a car before, he had us follow him on some backroads until I was ok. And then he took us to Lowes to make sure that the electric hookup stuff we had for the lights were all good. And then we drove off- having parted with more money that we’ve ever spent in cash on anything and full of excitement for where we might go with this little baby.

Even when you don’t have to work…

So I’ve got that Sunday night thing. You know the one. Where you know that you have a gazillion things to do, and you don’t want to do any of them? You don’t know really what you want to do, but it’s definitely not anything on that list. So you putter. And sit. And veg a bit.

The funny thing is that this usually is the way I keep myself from 1- getting freaked out that I have to go back to work monday morning and 2- doing all the stuff that I know needs to be done for work on monday but that I feel like I would be giving in to work and giving up my “me” time to go ahead and do.

But tomorrow I don’t have to “go” to work. I am on sabbatical.

Well, I do have a few more things I need to finish up for work before officially being off for 5 weeks, but I don’t have to go there to do them. I just want to get them done so that I can get on with the sabbatical, but I don’t want to even think about those things tonight. So instead I think of the 47 other things I’ve told myself I’ll get done in the next few days before my niece comes to visit and then think- it’s sunday, relax.

Hmmm. Right. Well, I guess if I’m supposed to be “relaxing”, I’ll need to walk away from this computer.

And so it begins…

Tonight begins my 5 week sabbatical from work. Of course, there are still a few loose ends to wind up for the office before I completely let go, but a sense of peace and space and time have already begun to shroud me.

I was supposed to be in Cincinnati tonight, visiting my parents. But that didn’t happen because Rami Noodle had another urinary tract emergency and ended up in the hospital. So I’m staying around to nurse the cat back to health before we go on the big trip.