Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Great Vacation in New Hampshire and Boston Must End

Boo. Boo. I do not want to fly back to BWI Ariport tomorrow afternoon, this was a great 8 1/2 day vacation (last Saturday doesn't really count as a day since it was a late afternoon flight and drive to Ossipee Lake, NH). But it must come to an end, I really needed to get away from DC / work / the daily grind of living in DC that can wear you down mentally and physically like no other city I've experienced. And I had a fantastic break. I spent Saturday - Friday morning in Ossipee and the remainder of the time in Dracut, MA and near Boston. I'll update it in rapid-fire, semi-coherent fashion, here's what I did:

Sunday - went swimming with my nephews and went to my nephew's eighth birthday party in Eliot, Maine. Luckilly there is no evidence of a failed Slip N Slide attempt.

Rest of time in NH: Kept up with my running, 8 miles or so on Monday, 14 on Thursday, presuming 9 minute mile pace since I don't have a Garmin or one of those tools that measures distances. Hey, I just got A 18 for my flight tomorrow! That makes leaving a bit more tolerable! I prefer to sit near the front of planes since staying on one and waiting for everyone to leave irritates me. I was happy with the mileage I ran both days, and got on plenty of hills on Thursday's run.

Wait, there's more! I hiked Green Mountain once on my own and once with two of my nephews. Hiked Mount Washington again too. My only regret was taking the Nelson Crag Trail down Washington since it was exposed a bit. It's not often that you want to stay out on exposed ridge areas up in the Presidential Range but it was a very rare 60 degree day (It has NEVER been above 72 on Washington's summit). But avoid the Nelson Crag Trail: it goes on forever and forever, doesn't want to end, and once you're low enough so you can't see much of fellow mountains Jefferson, Adams, and Madison you don't have much to look at. I'm grateful the trail exists but you'll never see me on it again. If I had to do it again, I would have roamed around on the ridge and stopped at Lake of the Clouds Hut, which is cooler than coolness, before heading down. I may never get the opportunity to roam up there for hours since you're almost always under the possibility of storms rolling in before you can get to safety but it was a great hike nonetheless.

More NH fun, bought some more khakis for work at Settlers Green / Haggar Outlet, and some more workout shorts at Ocean State Job Lot. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled at my weight loss over the last year and a half but it did require me to spend a bunch on new clothes, which is just about done. Had some great times swimming in the lake too. Great memories and lots of relaxation.

I found a great Thai restaurant, Thai Nakon Ping, in North Conway on the way home from Washington. Had an excellent chicken satay appetizer and an awesome noodles, vegetables, and shrimp dish. I'm going to start a Thai Restaurant Review Project in the next few months. Every time I eat at a Thai place, I blog about it. And I could put peanut sauce on just about anything.

Massachusetts was in on the fun too. Caught up with one of my best friends from high school at a 99 Restaurant. Trying to catch up with more of my closest friends from school before I leave. The 99 was excellent as usual. I spent most of Saturday and today running along the Charles River, hanging out with friends in Cambridge/Somerville, and catching up with as many people as possible. The rundown of memory lane (I've only gotten to Cambridge/Somerville 3-4 times since leaving in 2002):

Davis Square: A bit more corporate than it used to be but still seemed to have the cool, funky feel. I realized that I have no clue how to find the small trail that goes from Davis Square to Alewife Station unless I'm approaching it from the Davis terminus. Not knowing this added to my Saturday Charles River loop run, which was 14-18 miles depending on how accurate maps were, if I actually kept a 9 minute pace, et al.

Harvard Square: Don't like it anymore. Keeps going downhill. Although I hope John Harvard Brew House still makes their Chicken Pot Pie. That would salvage it.

Porter Square: Has not changed a bit. This is a very good thing. Christopher's is as great of a place for food, beer, and relaxed vibe as you'll get near Boston. I liked it so much, I stopped by again on Sunday! Thank you to Audra and the staff for holding on to my debit card that I forgot to pick up before closing my tab on Saturday (it was just two beers, not like 10-12 years ago when I may have forgotten it after 7-9 beers and conversations). There needs to be Christopher's in VA/DC/MD.

There is Willard's BBQ in Chantilly. Not that I've been there, but I need to go because the founder of Blue Ribbon BBQ moved to VA and founded Willard's. Get me some of a pulled chicken platter, mashed potatoes, and cornbread please. As good as it ever was.

Not being able to start my car for 20 minutes in a parking lot in Arlington after my Saturday run, not so cool. But that got resolved.

The Rose Kennedy Greenway is absolutely amazing. It really makes Boston shine like never before. The parkland and sculptures are an absolute joy to see, I just wish I had a camera. Makes the North End and Seaport District look fabulous too, just by being adjacent to it. I sat down across from the Moakley Bridge had a quick lunch by the Seaport. Life was very grand today.

Boston, you did yourselves proud! Seeing a lot of the changes that have taken place recently You're still my home at heart. Now, and I wouldn't be a New Englander without this, a couple gripes. Get the Big Dig Honchos in jail for embezzlement. And to the guy on Boston Common who felt compelled to wear a Yankees Hat and Maple Leafs T Shirt: Double Fail!

Overall, a fantastic eight days. I do not want to go back to my current home, but take solace in that I leave for Colorado in 13 days. And I will get back on track with upper body exercises (i.e. lifting twice a week) and yoga (which I hope I remember how to do after 2 1/2 weeks away). Next time I return to Boston, in 2010, a trip to Boloco's is on the docket, as are trips to places I missed this time around.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Bialetti Experiment gone good and an odd storm

Ran 18 miles today through Rock Creek Park with a bunch of friends. Picked up order at REI and a new pair of hiking shorts. Crashed at the pool for a couple hours before giving up on seeing any more sun. Listening to The New Pornographers on the Rhapsody Player. 6 pm hits and the sky is a combination of light clouds, a nasty downpour, and a small speck of blue sky to the east. No thunder yet. I needed to cook dinner so I decided to use the Bialetti cookware that I bought last year. I was going to do an experiment. Half of a package of chicken drumsticks the conventional way, baked, some poultry seasoning spice sprinkled on them. The other half, sauted in a pan with cooking spray, extra light olive oil, Hickory Smoke BBQ sauce, sea salt, pepper, and Teriyaki Marinade.

So far, the results from the saute experiment are positive. While not a traditional saute, my experiment turned out okay. Still pouring at 6:05 although it looks like the sun will be out of the west side of the horizon in ten minutes. Gives me time to finish dinner before heading out to get some goodies from a friend's birthday cookout tomorrow. 6:07 pm - never mind the sun, just heard the thunder.

While tonight I am not planning on doing anything but crashing after a trip to the grocery store, my weekends have been very, very full over the last 3-4 months. This is a very good thing. Tomorrow is packed too. A yoga class at some point, TBD depending on other events. Aforementioned birthday cookout. Possible Thai dinner here. Things are pretty good for me. 6:11 pm: downpour more intense and is landing in my second floor balcony. 6:14 pm: sunshower is now as odd as I have even seen it. Truly bizarre.

I've got lots going on, meeting more and more people, and am doing a bit of traveling in the upcoming weekends. Next weekend is the last one that I'll be in town all the time until late September. From Aug 15-Sept 13, five weekends in a row out of dodge: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Annapolis for half the weekend and the legendary 10 Miler, Colorado, Colorado. 8 whole days in New England, parts of the 2 travel days, 7 whole days in Colorado, part of 1 travel day. My calendar's filling up here, but I need to get out too.

6:25, after a four color sky, storm seems to have passed by, nice and cool. For about 10 minutes anyway. I wish I had a digital camera or a camcorder for the last half hour. I hadn't seen the sky that odd since New Years Day 2006 in Colorado when the sky was purple. Take care.