vacations


GULF SHORES, ALABAMA

What with rushing back into life as soon as I got home, I never had the opportunity to tell about the Mom’s Day Out I had at the end of February:  I spent a week at the oceanside with my parents.

I had my own bedroom.  My own bathroom.  My own television (with cable).  How.  About.  That.

For the past several years, my parents have spent some winter time in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  Up until recently, Gulf Shores has been a mix of wild natural places and small condos.  They stayed at a place called The Lighthouse, a condo that was a small family in and of itself, where everyone went down for coffee in the morning, doors were unlocked, and every person knew every other.

gsfloridapoint5-xanga

But new owners tore it down and replaced it with something that no one can afford, and its former snowbirds are scattered in other places now (although they still have monthly get-togethers).

The new Lighthouse (photo from vrwd.com)

lighthouse-new

In 2004, Hurricane Ivan came to change the look of things.

royalpalms-neighbor-xanga

The exciting thing about that event is that now everything is new:  the sidewalks, the roads, the buildings-everything!

The not-so-thrilling side of it is that everything is bigger and more commercial.

gsconstruct3-xanga

Here I am in front of the last remaining building crane:

img_2188-xanga

Advertisements

ONE OF THOSE “REMEMBER THAT CHRISTMAS?”

The boys and I just got home from Iceland.

Not the one close to Europe, but the icyland of northern Indiana.

When we drove the 8 hour trip on Saturday, it was 1 ½ days after the big ice storm that so badly damaged trees and left much of Ft. Wayne without power.  But it seemed as if it had just happened-the trees and grass were astonishing and eerie, and when we opened our car doors upon arrival, it sounded like a thousand tiny chimes of tinkling.

The next day was the Christmas celebration of the Harvey sisters (and their children), and the temperature never rose above -3 degrees.  The wind made the snow blow horizontally across the farm fields, and so the wind chill factor was very very bad.  But since the only time they have ever cancelled the celebration was when it was twenty-five below, 40 people came to my parents’ home for lunch, gifts, bingo, and a visit from Santa.  Many of them brought sleeping bags “just in case,” but at the end of the day all got home safely.

The house was so full, and there was so much chatter and laughter, the windows fogged up and we were safe and snug inside.  Every once in a while, I would take a towel and clear a space for me to peek outside to see the wild wind and snow.

If you would like to see the whole group of us trying to sing the last verse of The 12 Days of Christmas, go here.

On the way home today, our first “rest break” was at a very very large department store in Ft.Wayne.  Most of the residents have power restored now, but you could still feel the shell-shock.  As we waited in line to pay for our stocking-stuffer oranges and apples, the lights flickered, and the whole huge building of shoppers paused and gasped.  But nothing bad happened, and we got out of there as fast as we could!

BACK HOME IN INDIANA

Seventeen years ago, I surprised myself.  Growing up on a farm in Indiana, I had always longed to live in a woodsy place.  But when we moved to Pennsylvania, down a long, wooded lane, I learned that the farm fields have tied themselves to my heart too strongly, and they won’t let go.  So I am very contented to go back home for a visit.

We were just in time for my son to help his grandfather finish the harvest.

I am always amazed at the largeness of farming in the Midwest.


My mother informed me that when they die and we sell their house, my brother and I will have to cut down and take this as part of our inheritance!

THE LITERAL TRUTH

When we were in Maine, I learned the literal truth of two common phrases:  “I walked my b– off” and “biting off more than you can chew.”

The latter phrase really happened when I was eating an apple.

The former phrase kinda happened.  A common lament from a certain person (that would be me) on this trip was, “I thought I was going to GAIN weight on this vacation!”  Instead, I lost 2 pounds, in spite of enjoying good eating such as ice cream almost everyday.

Here are directions for visiting Acadia National Park:

1.     Buy a book called Easy Hikes of Acadia National Park.

2.     Choose Easy Hike # 13 (of 15), which allows you to huff and puff up a boulder-stepped trail.

3.     At the top of the mountain, see a trail going down the other side, and say to oneself, “Gee, we don’t know where that trail goes, how long it is, or what its difficulty rating might be, but let’s take it anyway!”

4. Proceed to climb almost straight down a boulder-laden mountain side.

Later, a ranger taught that because of the glaciers, southern sides of Acadia mountains are much steeper. Well, we already had THAT figured out!

There was a point where I thought I would have to be rescued by park rangers, but that seemed to be too very much embarrassing.  After a few deep breaths, my son talked me down out of that one. For some reason, I don’t have a photo of THAT spot.

You know what I always say about situations like that:  MAKING MEMORIES…

A DIFFERENT WAY TO WALK

I saw a lot of people last week just stomping along the trail as fast as they could go, with their eyes on their footing, which had to be done.  Maybe they think of hiking as a physical task alone.

But I am a slow hiker-a stroller, really.  It’s an emotional and spiritual experience as well.  Here are some things I relished:

Bluebead lily

A pier at Bar Harbor

In the town of Bar Harbor

Bunchberry Dogwood

VIEWS FROM ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

Northeast Harbor

Exploring tidal pools along the Shore Path

In the village of Mt. Desert

FRANCONIA NOTCH, NEW HAMPSHIRE

Who needs to drive up Mt. Washington to get thrills?  We had our own walking version by taking what was touted as an “easy access” trail to the top of Bald Mountain.  A 1 1/2 hour simple trail that would satisfy the hikers and yet be light-hearted enough for those who were older (that would be me).

Somewhere there’s a bunch of park rangers sitting around with their coffee cups chuckling to themselves over the grand joke they’re playing on a bunch of tourists.

So we had steep climbs

Changeable weather

My husband, waiting out the rain

weak tires, faulty brakes, and astounding views.

It took us a lot longer than the time allotted, but the boys say it was the best memory of the day.