Saturday, August 15, 2009

So Long, Summer!

I don't think the fact that the summer's over will hit me until I get home and have nothing exciting to do, until I wake up at six o'clock in the morning (not on purpose, believe me) and, instead of eating breakfast with a lot of other people who are also awake at that unearthly hour, it's just me and the cat. I've spent three months with the same twenty people, and five days of each week with only five other people, so it's going to be really weird adjusting to not seeing them every day.

We spent all of Thursday taking down base camp, which was ridiculously fun. The weather's been crazy hot the past few days though, so we were all baking in the sun as we took down tents, washed vehicles, and packed up possessions. That afternoon, we headed down to Lake George to meet up with the rest of the crew for a picnic. That was also when the Olympics took place. I am proud to report that my team won the knot tying, trivia, and haiku competitions, and thereby locked in first place. We were actually really surprised, considering we had no idea how we did in trivia or on the haiku!

Friday was bittersweet. The team leaders took their teams out for breakfast. We went to the Empire Grille in Skowhegan, which originated as a movie set for the HBO movie Empire Falls. Our waitress was not having a good morning though. We thought we had gotten on her bad side, but then we got a free muffin! Apparently, there's this "Sham Foundation" which was started by people involved with the movie that lets the diner give away one free muffin a day. And we were the lucky winners yesterday. Graduation followed breakfast, and it wasn't as horrificly boring as graduations tend to be. The speakers were short and to the point; the team leaders spoke from the heart. After a trip back to HQ and final paperwork, we were free to go.

About twelve of us weren't leaving right away though, so we went to Bradbury State Park, near Freeport, for the night. We did a ten o'clock hike up the mountain (which isn't so much a mountain as a really large hill) to stargaze. And before the night was over, my team shared a really long goodbye which included a massive, swaying group hug. I left early this morning, and my departure was sadder than I expected. I hope to keep in touch with the people I've met, hope to make the most of my experience in the future.

The drive back to PA is a beast, so I'm breaking it up a bit. I cut across Massachusetts to hit Lenox and visit Edith Wharton's estate, The Mount, this afternoon. It's spectacular. Edith Wharton's been my favorite author since my junior year of high school, so it was really cool getting to see where she wrote and lived. She designed the house, and if I ever get enough money, I'm totally building a replica. I'll post pictures when I get my camera battery charged.

Speaking of reading, have I done an update on my reading material lately? Well, I finished Pride & Prejudice & Zombies last week. It was completely ridiculous, but some good light reading. Right now I'm really into Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett. I've been meaning to pick up something by her for a while now, ever since I saw her speak, but I haven't been able to find the book I wanted. I got this one instead, and man, I should have picked it up all those months ago! The prose is gorgeous, and it had me hooked in just a few pages. I definitely need to read more by her.

I'm in Scranton for the night, so it should be a fairly straight shot home tomorrow. I don't actually know how long it should take though, so who knows when I'll get there! My big plans? Some Chinese food and a good movie. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Last Week

It was our last week on the trail, and what a week it was! We lazed a bit, as expected, but we also got some work done, finishing two of our staircases (we took a 'family portrait' on the second one on the last day).

On Saturday, my team leader and I were cooking dinner, burgers. I was in charge of burgers, so I threw the pot on the burner and tossed in some cooking oil. I got distracted, though, and ended up starting a grease fire. We both looked at the flames and went, "Oh, the pot's on fire," before I had sense enough to throw the lid on top. One of my teammates who was reading nearby laughed and said, "It's just going to light again when you take the lid off, you know." And sure enough, it did. But I scrubbed it out and we eventually got the burgers cooked. All in all, no harm done. And I've seen worse fires at Wendy's. :P

We decided to take the second half of the day off on Tuesday and go for a hike on the other side of the mountain, around the Gulf Hagas loop. We saw some really cool waterfalls and lounged a lot on large rocks, but the funniest part was when we got back to our suburbanand saw the note on our windshield. It was from our project sponsor and all it said was: "Hi there! Lester. 2:30." Caught red-handed! He was apparently there for a dedication of a new kiosk and recognized our vehicle. We shrugged it off, piled into the 'burban, headed back to base camp, where who do we immediately encounter? But our glorious sponsor, who's there checking the tents for damage. We were a little afraid to get out of the car, since we all knew that he knew we weren't working, but we were able to pass the afternoon off as education hours, lol.

We spent the rest of the evening team-building, going into town for pizza and watching The Goonies. We stayed up late, too, to try to catch the meteor shower. At first, we had no idea which section of the sky to look in, and it was slightly too cloudy for my liking, but we were able to see some meteors. Some people got discouraged early and headed off to bed (it was way past our bedtime!), but I think I saw about ten in a half-hour. So yeah, it was a pretty good day.

I'm not sure how the rest of the week will go, but I'm heading home this weekend. Hopefully I'll be able to stop in Lenox, Mass to see Edith Wharton's estate. :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Can you collect libraries? I'm definitely giving it a shot. I spent much of the summer hanging out in the Abbot Memorial Library in Dexter (They have cats! Seriously, how could I not love it?), and I think I've found a library in every little town I've visited over the past two and a half months. (The Bangor library is gorgeous, btdubs.) So it's my last official weekend in Maine, and I decided that I needed to get out of base camp, which is why I'm sitting in the Peavey Library in Eastport, the easternmost city in the United States.

I can't seem to break out of my work schedule, because I woke up this morning at quarter 'til six, two hours before my alarm was supposed to go off. And when I say "woke up," I mean, slowly crawled to consciousness, realized it wasn't even five-thirty in the morning, and tried to go back to sleep but barely lasted for fifteen minutes because it was so cold. One thing about August in Maine - the nights are getting cold!

I'm camping in Cobscook, so I just headed out to Lubec (the easternmost point in the US) for the morning to do some hiking and check out the lighthouse. After hiking a bit around Cobscook, I'm exploring Easport and thinking about eating pizza for the first time in over a month. (Whoa . . .)

This coming week is our last work week. We're still putting in stone steps at Gulf Hagas, and let me tell you - rocks are heavy! Then we take down base camp on Thursday and 'graduate' on Friday. After that I'm a free woman! I'm trying to make plans for my week between work and school, but all I can come up with are going to Kennywood and the driving range. . . . I'll have to work on that.

Sorry for not updating in a while. There hasn't been much to say! Hopefully I'll have lots of good pictures soon!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's Been a While!

I'm exhausted.

I'm finally back to base camp after two weeks in Baxter State Park. I think I told you we've been doing stone steps, but we've actually been highlining rocks down the trail in order to build stone steps. The main goal of the project was the get the rocks moved so they could bring another pile over in the fall. We did some odd projects, like riprapping side areas of the trail to prevent erosion, but it was mainly moving rocks. If you look at it from above, it looks like a big Y. The main line is attached to two trees, and then there's a supporting vector with a griphoist on one end to move the line up and down for loading and unloading. Once the rock or rockbox is attached and the line is tightened, someone gets to guide it down using a rope. It's actually pretty fun work, though slow at points.

We stayed in the park during our days off last week. On Wednesday, we drove into Millinocket, the closest town, and went to the Appalacian Trail Cafe, which is home to the Summit Sundae Challenge. It's fourteen scoops of ice cream, a banana, a king-sized Snickers bar, a handful of M&Ms, five cherries, and an entire pastry (ours was a blueberry muffin). It's meant to be eaten by one person, but we split into teams of two for a challenge. We made quite the spectacle, and the locals were even getting into it, cheering us on. Turned out to be rather anticlimactic though, as all three teams finished at the same time. My stomach was fine, but my mouth was cold! We warmed up by lying in the sun on the sidewalk for a few minutes!

We spent the rest of the afternoon driving around town looking for t-shirt supplies to make team tie-dyed shirts. We actually drove forty-five minutes to the nearest Walmart to get the actual shirts, and the only color dye we could find was green. But it was my first time tie-dying, and the shirts turned out pretty well. We used cardboard to make a stencil with our team name on it, and we spray-painted it onto the shirts. Low-budget, but effective. :)

Thursday, we woke up at the unearthly hour of five am - even earlier than we get up for work - to climb Katahdin. But we hit the peak at about nine-thirty and were down again in the early afternoon. We went up the Hunt Trail (which we worked on!) to Baxter Peak, across Knife's Edge, and down Helon Taylor. I'm not the most experienced hiker, so it was a challenge, but it was definitely worth it. I tried to take lots of pictures, because the views even halfway up were incredible, so we'll see how they turned out.

We chilled on Friday, finished our t-shirts and went to the Ledges - the swimming place with the natural water slides. We were back at work on Saturday and left on Wednesday morning. The weekend in the park was nice, but staying in a tent for two weeks straight is not the most comfortable thing in the world. It starts to smell after a few days (mostly from socks), especially when you don't do laundry or take a shower! Also, it's tough to dry clothes out when they get wet.

So now I'm back! We got in yesterday morning, had lunch, went for showers and laundry, and then immediately piled into the vans again. We camped last night and went white water rafting today! It was my first time (I know - for shame! I live so close to the Yough!), but it was pretty fun. Most were class 2 and 3 rapids, but there was one 4 I believe. The first half of the trip was more exciting; the second half was a lot of drifting and minor rapids. We occupied ourselves for at least an hour with a riddle about two men in a restaurant and an albatross, lol.

Whew. Well, that's all for now. It's already past my bedtime, so I'm off to sleep! Catch you on the flip side. :P

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Natural water slides in Baxter State Park.
Sunrise over Flagstaff.
Flagstaff Lake.
Rainbow Lake.


Sleeping in a bed is a good feeling. It's not something I realize that I miss when I'm in a sleeping bag and a tent, but, if asked, I would probably take the bed over the sleeping bag, especially in a torrential downpour. I'm in Bar Harbor with my family for the 'weekend,' and every morning, I wake up diagonal across the bed. I always manage to stay on my sleeping pad when I'm in my tent, but the mattress seems to be just too big. Too much room!

It's been fun being out on the town and hitting the sights. It was rainy yesterday, so, after lunch (and a shower for me), we went to the Whale Museum in downtown Bar Harbor. We did some shopping and then went back to the hotel to play some cards in the bar, where I had my first legal drink. It was a . . . Bluberri pink lemonade? I'm not actually sure what was in it, but it was . . . interesting.

It was a gorgeous day today! Sunny, low 70s. We had breakfast at this cute little restaurant, where I had chocolate chip pancakes. Yum! We explored the BH shops a bit more before going on a lighthouse/harbor boat tour, which was fun for a number of reasons. I didn't get sick on the boat! The tour guide was funny and he was from near Pittsburgh. We've gotten stopped at least three times in the past few days because of our PGH college sweatshirts, and the general consensus is that Pittsburgh is awesome. :) We're all set to go kayaking tomorrow. I'm super excited for that. Being on the sea is definitely a worthwhile experience.

As for work, I have to be back tomorrow night to get everything packed. We leave again on Saturday for our second week on the Hunt trail, on Katahdin. Last week, we fixed up some extra things. We'll be doing stone steps for the next two weeks. We have plans to stay an extra day one week so we can hike to the summit. I'm not the best or most experienced hiker, but I'm really looking forward to that. I don't want to spend three weeks working halfway up the mountain and never experience what it's like to make it to the top. I can't wait for the view!

We also have plans for an ice cream competition! There's an AT cafe in a nearby town that serves fourteen scoops of ice cream, one for each state. We've already split up into three teams of two. The goal is to finish. If more than one team finishes, then it's fastest time. We've been "training" for weeks, eating seconds and thirds at dinner in the name of this competition. I think the gaps between appetites are starting to decrease, and it's going to be a close contest. The biggest thing I'm worried about is brain freeze!

I have more pictures to share! I'll try to get some up soon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dusk on the shore.

Hiking along the beach.
The border!
It's easy to lose track of the days in a job like this. Two of the most frequently-asked questions are: "What day is it?" and "What's the date?" It's not something we need to keep track of, as long as we show up at the beginning of the week. Distance means very little as well, beyond how far we have to hike in and out.

So when we had an extra day and a half off for the Fourth of July and I wanted to get out of base camp for a while, I didn't think too much about the distance when someone suggested Canada as a possible destination. And because I had no idea what the date was, I ended up pulling into St. Andrews in the midst of their Canada Day celebrations. I got some free flags out of it! I almost got to see a fireworks display as well, but a fog rolled in about the same time I did, and the fireworks looked more like big flashes of light than anything distinguishable.

St. Andrews is a nice town though, and I had fun exploring. I tried to do a lot of the historical things, so the first order of the day was to walk down to and check out the blockhouse (where I tried to watch the fireworks). I also hit up the Loyalist burial ground, which had some really cool old gravestones, and the Ross House Museum, a 19th-century period house with some great room displays and paintings. The woman working at the Ross Museum kindly gave me a map marked with some things to do and a newspaper article on the St. Andrews trail crew. Thanks to her, I went for a great hike along the beach and went up Chamcook Mountain (where the Rosses had their actual home).

I also traveled over to Minister's Island. There's a great little summer cottage built by William Van Horne, a major player in the Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I went for a tour of the house (which William designed himself) and the barn (where he raised cows and horses). The tides in the Bay of Fundy are apparently some of the biggest-swinging in the world, and it's so fun to watch. I tried to go to Minister's Island around 10:30 in the morning and found that there was no way to get across. When I came back during low tide, there was suddenly a land bar to cross, big enough to drive my car over. Later that night while walking along the beach, I walked out on a promontory to take photos. I was out there for about ten minutes, not quite paying attention. When I turned to go back, I realized the tide had already started to cover my route back to shore! Luckily, the water wasn't high yet, and I was able to cross without getting soaked.

I camped that night and spent some time reading on the shore. It had drizzled a bit in the morning, but had cleared up during the day. It was gorgeous by the time I went to bed. Even so, I bought some a tarp to put down under my tent. "Just in case," I told myself. I didn't actually think it would rain, or else I would have rigged one over my tent. Alas, I was awoken at 6:15 in the morning (Atlantic time) by a thunderclap. I woke up enough to register the raindrops falling on my tent, but it was another five minutes before I realized that water was actually pooling inside my tent. When the thought Why are my legs wet? ran through my head, I knew I was in trouble. I sprang up to assess the situation, threw on my rain jacket, and proceeded to toss all my wet possessions into garbage bags (that I luckily had in my trunk).

I high-tailed it out of the campsite around 6:45 and drove to Saint John in a rainstorm. It was quite an experience. Because I arrived so early, I killed some time sipping a hot chocolate in the market while waiting for the New Brunswick Museum to open. That museum is an awesome deal. I think I got in for $3.50 as a student, and, because I was there so early, again, I got a one-on-one tour of the shipbuilding exhibit and there were only two other people on the tour of the whale hall. Very cool stuff, especially the shipbuilding.

Luckily, the storm cleared up while I was in the museum, so I was able to walk around the city a bit. I went to the Saint John Centre for the Arts, where they had some nice galleries. There was one with a Spanish/dance theme that I especially liked. I'm a self-proclaimed used bookstore addict, and I think I went to . . . four in Saint John. At one, I found a Myst book! I couldn't pass it up, because I loved Myst when I was a kid, and, sadly, I've kind of been looking for those books for years. I picked up an Ann Patchett book at another bookstore/coffee shop. I actually got invited to a book club there and had to explain that I was just visiting! I did a little shopping as well and picked up a mug to add to my collection.

All in all, I thought Canada was beautiful. I definitely want to go back for a proper visit. There are so many things I'd like to do (namely: spelunking!). I'll try to update tomorrow about our new project and what I'm up to this weekend. Pics to come?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Staying in NB, Canada for my days off. Camping - woke up to a thunderstorm and water in my tent at 6:15 this morning. Nice wake up call eh?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our suburban is bad karma on wheels apparently. Last week, we got a flat tire ten minutes into our weekly commute. We pulled the suburban and the trailer off to the side of the highway, and it took us an hour to get the spare on. One of the other crews rode by and stopped, but they couldn't do much as there were already six of us there. Luckily, the spare lasted the entire week, even over the bumpy, pothole-plagued logging roads.

Our streak of bad luck was still going this week. We leave base camp at seven on Saturday mornings, and by this Saturday, it'd been raining for at least 24 hours. The team vehicles are also parked in a lawn area. So when we tried to pull out of the yard, with the trailer attached, we pretty much just sunk into the mud. We tried putting boards under the rear tires (rear-wheel drive), rocking the car, and just pushing, and we eventually got it out. Maybe our car troubles are retribution for not having to live in tents for three weeks . . .

There's not much else to say about this past week. We're still at Flagstaff. The weather's still gloomy. We're still sidehilling. One day, though, we got to load lumber into a boat, so it could be transported across the river to the bridge site. It was cold, wet day, and the lumber was delivered late. The good part was that we got a boat ride afterwards, instead of having to hike in. I got soaked, though, because the boat was tiny! Also, the lake is man-made, and it flooded three towns, so I spent the boat ride trying to look under the water to see if I could see any church steeples or roofs of houses . . . no luck. The water was too dark and churny. Other than that, though, it's been business as usual.

As for my reading list: I finished Soul of the Fire (SoT, book 5). Not my favorite in the series, but I'm looking forward to book six. My cousins sent me Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, which I'm super stoked to read. And a few of us made a trip into Bangor today, where we visited three used book stores. I bought a few things - a book of Edith Wharton short stories, a book of poetry by Sara Teasdale, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, and The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. So I should have enough books to keep me occupied for a while. :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Our living accomodations for this project are posh. We're staying in a ski lodge! It was built in the seventies, but some trail groups and hikers objected to the idea of this mountain becoming a ski/resort area, so the plan was basically abandoned but the lodge was never torn down. So now it's used for groups like us, who come through every once in a while.

As cool as living in a tent is, there have been no complaints about the lodge. There are enough rooms that we each get our own, we get to eat at an actual table, and there's a decent-sized fireplace in the living area. Our evenings are usually spent sipping hot chocolate, reading, and chatting around the fire. Also, it rained the first three days we were there. We got so much pleasure out of just sitting inside and basking in the fact that we weren't out in the rain, or out sleeping in tents. Like I said: nothing to complain about!

Our project is at Flagstaff Lake. We're working on a relocation, in order to get the AT away from the snow mobile trails and to get the new section closer to the lake. It's a lot of sidehilling, which is basically cutting into a hill to make a flat trail. We also got to bring out the grip hoist to pull out tree stumps. You hook two ends up to tree trunks and use a pulley system to crank the stump right out of the ground. It's a little less cool than it sounds (because it can get anticlimactic), but it's still pretty cool.

So, what have I been reading? I finished Stardust (Neil Gaiman) and Sunfall (Aiden Bell), both fantasy books. My sister sent me the next two Sword of Truth books for my birthday, and I'm already about 60 pages into book five. I've also started another Neil Gaiman book called Neverwhere, and I've recently read some short stories by Arthur C. Clarke and Edith Wharton. Aaaand I also picked up a nonfiction book called Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy (because I'm really that dorky!). So I'm pretty much living the good life when it comes to reading. I just need to remember to bring more than one book next week, in case I finish the first too early!

This morning, we all decided to wake up at four o'clock to walk down to the lake to see the sunrise. No one really knew what time the sun rose, so we ended up waiting for almost an hour, but it was definitely an experience. I got some pictures, which I hope turn out well. After about ten minutes of staring at a slowly-lightening skyline, we all kind of shifted on the uncomfortable rocks we were sitting on and went, "Uh . . . I don't think we needed to wake up this early." But when the sun finally rose, it was definitely worth it. I think I'm hitting the sack early tonight though!

That's really all I can think of right now. I'm sure I'll remember what else I meant to say as I soon as I leave. Hopefully I'll update again soon. Take care!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I've seen a moose, and my life is complete.

This week was fairly similar to last week - setting stepping stones, living in a tent, etc - but there were definitely some highlights. Since it was our last week at Rainbow Lake, we had to pack out our tools and all our kitchen gear, which means a two-hour hike to the suburban with lots of weight in our packs. We lost a few team members to WFA training, plus our team leader to a site visit. Because of low numbers, we decided to carry out the tools the night before. It took us approximately four hours round-trip, but there are some experiences that definitely make things like that worthwhile.

And seeing a female moose and her calf about twenty feet away is one of those. The assistant team leader and I were hiking back to camp after dropping off the tools when he noticed some movement off the trail near the lake. Sure enough, two enormous, magnificent moose came traipsing out of the trees, right onto the path. Our reactions were basically: "Do you see that?" It was pretty amazing - very quick and hard to take in at the moment, but definitely amazing to see a creature that big and that fantastic up close.

Of course, I couldn't get my camera out in time and no one believes us! But anyways, the rest of the week was regular work. We've got a few days off, so we'll probably go into Acadia tomorrow and maybe Bangor on Friday. Then we head to Flagstaff Lake next week. We apparently get to stay in a never-used ski lodge. I won't freeze at night, we have electricity to cook, and we can get away from the bugs! Sounds perfect!

Until next time!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I'm clean!

Today was our weekly shower, and it was heavenly. We trekked back from our camp site to our car, which took us about two hours (my feet were dying in my water-logged steel-toed boots), and then drove about three hours back to base camp. It took us so long because half of the way back we were driving on logging roads, which are filled with pot holes and ruts. Very bumpy. Also, we have to get out of the way when a logging truck comes by. We only met one, but it was flying. Luckily, we were yielding and not already on the road, because we might have been toast if he hadn't seen our relatively tiny suburban because of the dust or if he just hadn't stopped in time.

Anyways, our work week started on Saturday. We were the first team out, pulling out of base camp just around 7 A.M. After the five-hour commute (car and hike), we finally arrived at our campsite. Our tools got flown in, which was fantastic (but we have to carry them back out next week . . .). Apparently Rainbow Lake is a very popular fishing spot, but it's remote, so a lot of fishermen get flown out in tiny planes. After setting up camp and eating lunch, we hiked another mile along the AT to our work site, checked it out, and learned what our job was from our supervisor (who is just . . . beyond words. A description will have to wait for a later time, lol).

Sunday was the start of actual work. Up at 6, starting at 7. My sleep schedule has completely turned around. We go to sleep around nine. One night we actually turned in around 7 PM because it was raining and we didn't really have anything else to do (I got a lot of reading done that night!). So we dug a ditch and drain the first day. It's basically a really long hole that builds the trail a little to the side and allows the water to drain better. Then we rip-rapped it, which is placing rocks along the side.

This section of the AT is pretty mucky, so our big job is to set a lot of step stones. That's basically what we did Monday and Tuesday. We quarried huge rocks in the area, which is a long process because they're deep in the ground and it takes a few of us to move them (with rock bars, webbing, and sometimes pure physical strength or frustration). And digging the holes for them is sometimes tough because the path is either covered with roots or it's buried in the mud, so you can't see what you're doing. Either way, it takes a while. We ended up setting about 13 stones altogether. We're supposed to do about 40 in all, I think, so we have next week to reach that goal.

The bugs were pretty horrendous. No wonder God sent flies to Egypt. Crikey. We were lured into a false sense of security at base camp, because it's such a nice atmosphere. But then we landed at our campsite for work, and they just swarmed on us within a minute. I don't think our bug nets came off for more than a few minutes at a time (they're nets they you wear on your head - very attractive - very tricky to eat under - and they don't completely keep the bugs out). We were forced to eat dinner while walking in a circle some nights, because if we sat still, they'd attack us. Our only respites were when it rained (like on Sunday and Monday) or when the weather was cooler. Hopefully we'll be a bit more prepared next week, but today, I think I have at least a hundred bites on various parts of my body. Fun!

I should go. The library closes in 45 minutes and I want to see if they've got some good books. I finished the first section of Little Dorrit this week, so I want to take a break from Dickens for a while, give something else a shot. Maybe I'll finish the fourth SoT book! :) I have off until Friday evening, so hopefully I'll get a chance to update again in more detail! Until then, live long and prosper!

Friday, May 29, 2009


So I finally made it to a library and a free computer. We have a computer at the base camp, but it's a communal one, and I don't feel right taking up so much time on it. So I drove to the not-so-tiny town next door and found the library, which is quaint and awesome. They have cats. Just walking around and following the patrons. I've seen two so far, one black with green eyes who looks just like my cat at home and another who's got some white patches and is chubbier. They're both really subdued and let you pet them. But enough about the cats!

So what have I been up to? Orientation was last Wednesday to Friday at a camp in southern Maine. We learned some first aid, did some team-building things. On Friday morning we finally learned who would be on our teams for the summer and what our projects would be. Then they let us loose for the weekend! So I spent Friday night and Saturday with my mom and aunt in Auburn and Boothbay. We went on a whale tour, on which I promptly got seasick. Not too bad, but enough to make me nauseated and sleepy the rest of the day. I got some good pictures though!

Sunday, I drove over to the Acadia National Park/Bar Harbor area to meet up with a few people in my group. We camped in Lamoine State Park, right near the water, and I grabbed some nice shots of the sunset. On my way from Augusta to Bar Harbor, I passed at least eight used book stores. I wanted to stop at all of them! I ended up stopping at one, which was this huge, three-story barn that sold antiques as well as used books. They had some signed Terry Goodkind books, which would have been really neat to have, but they also would have made a nice little dent into my budget.

Wednesday, we reported back to HQ and drove to our base camp. We actually got to work with tools yesterday, and we learned to side hill, dig water bars, and dig ditches and drains. Woo.

About base camp - it's a sheep farm. There aren't sheep there yet, but there are supposed to be by next week. We have lofted tents and cots, which is a bit nicer and feels a bit more permanent than sleeping on the ground. As I mentioned before, there's a computer. There's also wireless internet, which is no use to me since I did not bring my computer. With such decent technology, you'd think they'd have nice facilities as well. But we've got three outhouses and no showers. I used to joke about taking weekly showers and now that's coming back to bite me in the butt. Our work schedule is Saturday to Wednesday, so when we get back from our work/camp sites on Wednesday afternoon, they take us to the local YMCA to get showers and do laundry. Sounds like heaven, right?

We pack up tonight for our first assignment, which is at Rainbow Lake on the AT. Our gear's getting flown in (we have to hike), which is pretty cool, but we have to lug it all back out, so we'll see how that goes . . . I think that's it for now. I'm going to explore the library a bit more!

A few random things before I go: There are Moose crossing signs on the highway. Yeah, I'm going to need a little sticker or magnet of one for a souvenir, lol. And in Augusta, there was an AHOP - Augusta House of Pancakes. How fantastic is that? Haha, until next time!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Finally arrived after 14 hours. I think the sun is coming up! I have to be there by 8, so I've got two hours of sleep ahead of me. Woo.

Monday, May 18, 2009



I'm going away for the summer, from Pennsylvania to Maine, and I figured I would give blogging a shot, thinking it'd help me to keep in touch with family and friends. I'm working in an Americorps conservation program, and I'm not exactly sure how much computer access I'll have. But hopefully I'll be able to update fairly regularly through text messages, just to let you know what kind of work I'm doing and how I'm faring.

What's on the agenda: a twelve-hour car trip tomorrow (so I can have the car for the summer and explore the gorgeous state of Maine on my days off), and then a three-day orientation. (Please, no icebreakers involving "a word that describes you that also starts with the first letter of your name.) Also, the orientation includes a full day of First Aid/CPR. I hope there's nothing about getting limbs cut off. I'm a little squeamish . . .

My mom and aunt are driving up with me (and flying back), so they get to go to Bar Harbor, ME while I'm in orientation. I'm jealous. That is one of the first towns on my list of places to visit. Apparently they have whale watching tours and a ferry to Nova Scotia (Canada is awesome). Another city on my list is Camden. While shopping for steel-toed boots, I met a nice gentleman who hailed from Maine. His sister owns a store called The Smiling Cow, which apparently has a beautiful view from the back porch.

How I've done so far: The program sent an equipment list (full page front and back), so between the last day of school (which was only a week ago) and today, my mom and I have tried to gather everything I've needed. The hardest thing was probably my steel-toed boots. I have big feet for a girl, and there wasn't enough time to order any in my size. So I was forced to buy men's boots, but getting a boot that fit my feet longways and width-ways was tricky. I ended up going to (only) two stores and trying on about ten pairs before I found a relatively good fit. The good news is now I've got sturdy boots that'll get me a good decade of wear.

It turns out I'm not the best packer either. I kind of knew this from moving in and out of college - I tend to toss a bunch of loose things into boxes. My spatial skills aren't the best, so we'll see how long I last when I'm out on my own and have to find things at the bottom of my pack! The worst part of packing? Deciding which books to take. The one I absolutely could not leave behind was Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens. But it's massive - 844 pages - and it's going to be a pain to try to shove into my pack. I have no doubt that I will eventually end up sacrificing something vital in order to have my Charles Dickens, though. :)

But really, who can live without Charles Dickens? From here on out, I'll do my best to update often. I'll probably update from the road tomorrow. Until then, live long and prosper.