Sunday, August 29, 2010

Once Upon A Star

The wind blows the smell of salty air. The tide ebbs & flows, and for at least the next two days, our lives just slow. We are staying on Star Island out in the Isles of Shoals, which is off the coast of Rye, NH. We arrived yesterday afternoon after a brief ride on the Uncle Oscar, a charter boat at the Rye Harbor Marina. We quickly settled into the routine with a nap out on the lawn, then a rock in a couple of the comfy rockers on the porch of the Oceanic Hotel. Ahh, Island life, it's nice to just relax and let it all go.

A wonderful view of the ocean from the rocking chairs.

We ate dinner family style with other guests here. Some conferencee's, and some, like us, just here for a personal retreat.

I booked this trip to celebrate Steph's 40th birthday. She works way too hard most all the time, so this "doing of nothing" for a couple of days is just what she needed.

Last nights Sunset from Star!

That's all for now. Back to R&R.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summertime Ticking Away

 Hauling the Webber Grill out to High Bank Campsite 
Telos Lake, AWW. September, 2009

The weather is changing, I can smell it, I can feel it in the temperatures the last few mornings.  I don't really care either way, especially since we don't have much choice in the matter, Fall then Winter, it's the natural progression.  I love fall!  Looking forward to fresh apples, and fresh doughnuts & cider from the local Apple Orchard. Crisp air and crackling leaves under foot. So, before all that, go out and enjoy every little bit of Summer we've got left. 
Steph and I are headed out on vacation (love that word) the first week of September and we're not sure just what to do yet.  Possibly some mountain bike riding at The Kingdom Trails in Vermont, along with a few days in Burlington?  Maybe some road riding in the Green Mountains? Plus, I have a bike race on the 11th.  I am riding / racing in the inaugural Crank The Crawford Time Trial, which starts at Attitash Ski Area in Bartlett, NH and ends 18 miles later, uphill, at the top of Crawford Notch.  It should be a great ride, um, I mean race...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Long Time, No Bloggie

Hey, I'm back, I'm back, back from my funky groove...Seriously, I didn't really go anywhere, but I have been out there, right down in there, up there (a couple of times), around there, through there, and now I am right here. Here to stay, and I continue to go outside and play or O n P.

Let me continue by telling you, or suggesting to you, where not to go. If you love the Northern part of Maine like I do, and you're a snowmobiler, ice fisherman, or your more into summer style water activities and you like to paddle places like the West Branch of the Penobscot, Lobster Lake, or Chesuncook Lake, please, please, please, DO NOT patronize the not-so-kind folks at The Chesuncook Lake House (not even worthy of a link to their website, but if you really want to know ask Google). Seems even when you're nice to people like David and Luisa Surprenant, you're destined to look "suspicious". Even when you've researched a trip to Northern Maine and you've emailed back and forth with someone like David, and you have thanked him for his service and all his effort grooming snowmobile trails throughout the Chesuncook and Allagash area and you've gone to the Lake House on a long snowmobile ride to get gas, find your way to "scope" out the Lake House, only to plan on returning the next day to give these people money for a damn good meal, (we didn't have the chance to return, and never will) don't be fooled, don't be nice and appreciative to people like The Surprenants, for your kindness and sharing of thoughts on how much you love the wilderness and "our" fare State of Maine will only leave you looking suspicious in their minds. Seems these people from away, (Massholes) can't tell the difference between some genuinely nice people and someone who might be looking to rob them in the spring when the ice melts out and the riff-raff flock to camps to B & E on people like them. You made a big error in character judgment, David, and Luisa. What ever gave you the thought we were up to something suspicious? Being nice to you all, praising thanks to you for your service, gas on site, your well groomed snowmachine trails, telling you how fortunate you are to have a home in such a spectacular location with such a dramatic view of Mount Katahdin? Maybe we should have been assholes, smoked a few cigarettes or spit chewing tobacco while drinking some beer on our visit, then maybe you would have felt more of a Masshole homie, touchy, feelie, warm and fuzzy feeling in your guts, instead of being paranoid and emailing the local overzealous Game Warden, asking to go check us out. You're a bunch of loosers David & Luisa, and as I type this, picture a big sarcastic thumbs-up pointed in your direction!

So, now that I've got that out of my system and I've recovered from the post traumatic stress of having my Fourth Amendment Rights violated from Mr. Overzealous, let's move on to more positive things that Spark-less-wonder has been up to. Well this involves bicycles for the road and the dirt trails, rock climbing shoes that hurt my feet when just thinking about them, hiking off to far in the distance mountain peaks in the heart White Mountains, tidal waters of Southern Maine in a Kayak and oh-so-many-more enjoyable moments of life as I know it. I can even toss in visiting the White House on a late spring vacation to Washington, DC. Yeah, if you're wondering, David, Luisa and Bobby Jo, oddly, no one accused us of trying to scope out the White House for a future robbing mission? Though we were followed by a couple of suits after filing a complaint at the EPA building regarding the Gulf Oil Spill, but immediately after, we visited Olympia Snowe's office and were given VIP tickets for a tour of the Capitol building as well as a tour of her personal office.

Summer is in full swing as I sit and type this on August 2, Twenty Ten. I am about to show some photos of my recent adventurous missions...Enjoy!

The Washington Monument from the Vietnam War Memorial.

Steph outside of a house we considered buying.

Outside of the FBI building, I had some questions for them...

A late night visit to the Thomas Jefferson memorial, very powerful!

Before we headed home, we went to Camden Yards to see the Red Sox whip the O's.
A great game, and a lovely Ball Park.

DC was amazing, it's such a great city. You really feel the power of our country when you're right down in there. We walked around the whole city on one of our days there, it must have been twenty miles, we saw it all, well almost. We definitely will be back for the stuff we missed, but we visited museums like the Natural and American History, the Native American museum, the Capitol and Senate buildings, The Vietnam War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, our Maine Senator's offices, The Archives of the United States of America, and so much more. Both the Senators were out of town for recess, but we did get to meet the office staff, all Mainers! We stayed in Georgetown, a short ride on the Metro into to the city from our hotel. Georgetown itself was a nice touristy area, lot's of shops and restaurants, including the famous and chocolate coma inducing Georgetown Cupcake! Cupcakes? Yes, cupcakes of all flavors and varieties, simply delicious!

June brought some long distance bike rides, lots of training on both the mountain bike and the road bike. We've had quite a fantastic streak of weather this spring and summer and I've managed to get in a lot of ride time. As I type, I am about 1350 miles combined on road and mountain bikes. One thousand plus solid miles on the road bike, with a couple of nice rides in the White Mountains. One of the rides Steph and I did was with our friend Al Hospers. From his house in North Conway up and over Bear Notch, to the top of Kancamaugus Pass and back dowm to North Conway. It was about 57 miles, and 4500 or so, feet of climbing. A great day to be on the bike-cycles, even if it was 98 degrees and we all drank almost a gallon of water each!

Steph, just finishing the days climbing at the top of the Kanc pass, smile and all, feeling great inner reward.

A few days later, I had the opportunity to help out some Mount Washington Bicycle Hill Climbers by driving the get-down car to the summit for friends, Tom Scontras, and Steve McGrath. Well, the race day was rained out, so the rain date the next day kicked in and the race went off without a sprinkle or flash of lightning. What a day to be on Mount Washington, always special and spiritually powerful for me. Tom put in a great ride considering his "stuff" he's dealt with over the previous few weeks before the race, illness, lack of hill training due to the illness...etc. Respecting his privacy, but including some pictures.

Looking North and slightly East to the top of Huntington Ravine.

The race winner and current course record holder, Tom Danielson.
He missed beating his record by about 8 seconds on this day. He was absolutely flying!

Tom, two times on the summit out of four races attempts.

So then, the following weekend, the opportunity presented itself to join in on a long hike to the summit of Owl's Head in the Pemigawesset Wilderness. A friend of mine, Bill, who is trying to get his Four Thousand Footers done in New Hampshire was headed to the Owl. Knowing Steph still needed this one for hers, I suggested we go along for the ride and the hike! Yes, that's right, we rode our mountain bikes on the Lincoln Woods trail the first three miles, locked them to a tree and then hit the foot path. Five miles and several thousand feet higher, we stood on the tree filled, view-less summit. The last mile up the slide was a blast, steep and fun, some bouldering off the "trail" and lots of loose rock. Bill's son, Jack, sprinted from the bottom of the slide and we never saw him again until the summit. A great day to be out in the woods. The hiking through the wilderness is truly amazing, but the ride back to the cars kicked ass!

The three first timers before heading out. Steph, Bill and Jack.

Bikes R Fun!

Steph, Bill & Jack headed up the steep and loose slide.

Bill on the summit.

That about rounds up as much as I want to put into this edition of Sparky's Ride. Stay tuned, I'm crackin on with the writing. Happy Reading! Ride On!