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!