Palm Springs CA, 2011 - Day 3 - Oh, This Can't Be Good!

Now that we have officially wasted 2 day of our vacation at airport of your pick, it was now time to do something to move past the horrible start. I woke up at 8:00am which was quite awesome. For months, I have had issues making it to the alarm, waking up before it goes off. Now keep it in mind, I woke up at 8:00am PST, which is 11:00am EST. Considering how I would always wake up prior to 6:00am, every single day, I was excited to have slept in so late. Original plans were to wake up early do to the time change screwing up my body, taking the children out to the desert, and leaving them there! No, I am kidding! We were gonna head out to the desert before it got to hot to check out the desert life. I had done this last year and I thought the children would love to see the native environment. We didn't end up doing this though because of the set back we suffered over the last few days, so instead, we were off to Sea World in San Diego.

The trip to San Diego started around 10:00am. Sarah and I had been to San Diego last year for the San Diego Zoo and a Padres game, so getting there wasn't hard. We had to take Route 74 through the mountains, which is an amazing road. it twists and turns through the mountains at speeds of 55mph. Seems a bit to fast but not for me! I love the speed around the corners. I would love those corners a bit more if we were driving my WRX instead of the Prius, but nonetheless, I enjoyed it either way. Can't say the same for Sarah. She used a few choice words as we cruised around some of those corners.

The trip to San Diego took about 2 hours. The parking lot was packed and the walk to the gate was long. Once we made it through the gate, we planned our route. The Shamu show had started already so we decided to come back to it a bit later. We saw plenty of fish, seals, whales, and sharks, on our way around the park. One place we stumbled on as we started around the park was an arena which hosted Cirque De La Mer. I had never seen one of these shows and it was gonna start in about 30 minutes so why not grab a seat before they all disappear.

We sat in the front row of this show and while we waited, two Cirque characters started a pre-show show. There was a platform out in the middle of the water where many more performers would do their thing in a little bit, but back to those two Cirque Characters. They would do a bit of a comedy act for the crowd and eventually make it to a platform which was right in front of everyone. This is where things got interesting. They started trying to impress each other by getting their respective half of the arena to cheer louder. What first started out as a hand raise quickly turned into arm flexing. What first started out as an act on this platform quickly turned into and act that went around the arena. The character on our side of the arena would stop at each row and do a bit of flexing and growling to get the crowd louder than his counter part. Row by row he would do this until he reached the last row. He would return back where he came repeating himself over and over again until....... he stopped in front of me. He flexed and gave a growl directed at me. I growled back and took a picture. It was at this point I knew I was in trouble. He pointed at me and called me "Paparazzi!" He grabbed my hand and brought me up to the platform in where we met his counterpart, whom had found someone himself. This was gonna get good!

We'll call my guy "Green," as he wore a green vest, and the other guy a "Blue," for the same reason. So Green indicated he wanted me to do what he does, so he flexed one arm, flexed the other, and did a jig. I can't say it did it exactly as he did, but I'd say it was rather close. I had almost fell over in laughter amaze by what I got myself into. Blue had done a few things and the person he found repeated. This would go back in forth for about 5 minutes, showing off my skills to the crowd, receiving applause for everything I did. Finally, they switched off, Blue indicating that I was not as good as I seemed. Blue had done a few karate chops which I did followed by the water sprinkler. I was having fun. Now Green showed the other guy a few things consisting of an arm flex, another arm flex, hand clap push ups, and a hand stand. Blue was flipping out as he felt his guy couldn't do it, but wouldn't you know, he attempted it anyway. I gave that guy such props for doing it all. in the end, Blue and his guy won the competition and I headed off to my seat. The guy that won had actually continued to be a part of the show. He ended up being bullied by Green and Blue during the whole show, getting stuck in a huge ball which floated in the water, hit from time to time by a jet ski during he show once it started. Even though it would have been awesome to be that guy, I had already done more than I thought I would have done all vacation. This totally made up for the beginning of my vacation.

Once the show ended, we continued around the park to a Sesame Street 4D show. It was cute and actually scary from time to time. Water would be shot at you from the back of the seat in front of you. Air would be shot from the same place as well as from under your seat. And once in a while, your seat would shake violently! Think about how crappy your cell phone vibrates and multiply that by a million! It was enough to scare anyone!

From there we ventured off to the seal lion show called "Sea Lion Live." It was kinda a knock off of Saturday Night Live, where they would do skits of different things. They did Sea Lion Idol, and Sea Lion S.I.. They had a seal dress up like Superman and an otter would show up from time to time and be a part of the act as well. A very cute way to do a show. A break from the norm.

Afterwards we headed off to the turtle reef. I guess this is a new exhibit in the park and the turtles they had came from all over the world. As we walked around this part of the park, we stumbled across a statue of a turtle on a fake sandy beach. I wanted to get picture of the children with the turtle but as we walked up to this statue, a small boy ran over to it and hope on. I have no idea what this kid was doing. It looked like he was trying to mate with it. Sarah and I watched, making comments about what the kid was doing. Eventually we started to grow frustrated with this child hoping he would stop humping it so we can get some pictures. I don't think he spoke any english as Sarah and I made comment indicating we want to get pictures when your done frisking it. A guy, whom I would assume was his father, finally came to get him, and we finally got to take pictures before someone else came by to hump the turtle.

After the turtle, went to get lunch. Food was outrageously expensive there but it wasn't half bad. It was a lot of food. So Sarah had 1 tray of food and I had another, hers seemed a bit heavier than mine. I placed my tray on the table we were to sit at outside, where all the tables were, and went back to help Sarah since she was lagging behind. As I started back to help her, a huge seagull which was walking in front of her, started to fly up and attack her, or at least that's what it looked like it was doing. I quickly grabbed the tray as Sarah started flipping out and brought it to the table. The bird flew away and Sarah calmed down and headed to our table. We discussed what had just happened and I noticed that some seagulls were hanging out around the tables looking for food. I put down a few fries and then started feeding them by hand. It was at that point when I started feeding them by hand that I had realized I was probably rewarding the bird that attacked Sarah, with fries. Oh well.

After we got done eating, we watch the most amazing animals on the planet. We saw the Blue Horizon show which took the grace and elegance of a dozen dolphins and some beautiful birds from all over the world and watched as they combined them both in a show. Dolphins jumped about 14 feet into the air, splashed some people, and danced atop the water with ease. I truly love dolphins as I think they are the smartest water animals. We had sat further back since Sarah didn't want to get wet, but even though we sat out of water range, I still enjoyed the show as the children did.

As the day turned to night, it was now time to head back. It was a long drive and I didn't want to be driving all night, and Sarah didn't either. So we left for Pines to Palms Highway. Now if you remember how I had mentioned Sarah's dislike of our drive earlier in the day, you can only imagine her dislike of the ride at night. Now last year when I took this route for the first time at night, I drove it rather slow. This time around, I was not taking any prisoners. I drove that road as if I owned it. Sarah had spit out more choice words this time around and it even got to a point where it seemed as though she started to cry. It was at this moment that I decided to slow down. Of course, it was at this point the highway was not so twisty and turny. Either way, she was not a happy camper and she was upset with me for the rest of the evening. Hey! We got back in record time, and I wanted to go to bed!

Palm Springs, CA 2011 - Day 2 - California Love

Day 2 started right where day 1 left off, in Logan Airport. Things started off quite interesting. Not only did we have to sleep in the airport out side of the security checkpoint, but we had to sleep on the floor! Yes, I said the floor. All the chairs were hard as heck and not that there was a chair to be found anywhere. So we dropped our bags on the floor and tried to do our best to get some sleep.

Now I had set the alarm for 4:00am to make sure we get up nice and early to try and get on the flight plane out of Boston. Little did I know, we would not need an alarm. All 3 of us would have our issues trying to sleep. Between the guy who had to clean the floor with his big loud cleaning machine, and the people who were arriving at the airport from other places, that was enough to make for a long night. There was one point were I woke up needed to use the bathroom. I found out it was all the way down towards the end of a long hallway, way down there! Not far from where the children and I was camped out was an older couple. I bothered the gentlemen for a second asking if he wouldn't mind watching the children for a moment while I head off to the bathroom. e said that would not be a problem. Except it was! When I turned to show Michaela and Bailey were sleeping, Bailey was no where to be found. He was not sleeping where I last saw him or around the pillar where Michaela and I were sleeping! Where did he go? I looked up and Bailey was heading my way with a Logan Airport employee, face full of tears. It sounded as though he had wandered off in his sleep. When he came to he realized he had no idea where he was and freaked out. Luckily, someone saw him and they started walking the length of the hall, eventually finding me. The guy stated he called the State Police and someone will be by to check on Bailey and I in a minute or so. He did show up and all was well.

We did manage to get about and hour more of sleep until we gave up and started watching old episodes of The Simpsons on Hulu, about and hours worth. Then, we saw that Lindsy and Valina were heading to the security checkpoint to ensure they got good spots in line. We would soon join them. At 4:00am, the checkpoint opened and we started filing through, until a small set back! "Bag check on 3!" Yes that was my bag! Now, I had not put anything extra into may bag since first arriving at Logan Airport the morning prior. What could possibly be in my bag that set the alarm off? It was the laptop. Now let me go back for a second to yesterday when we first arrived. I had my laptop in my backpack and sent it through the scanner as everyone else did, no problems. So why this time. The guy told me that I had to take the laptop out of the bag when it goes through the scanner as you can not see through the laptop. It's a security thing. I told him about how I didn't do it last time and nobody said anything to me and he did not look happy! I know better next time!

So we finally get through the checkpoint and we head back to terminal 33B where the first flight heads out at 6:00am. When the flight showed up on the terminal screen, it showed we were people 5,6,7, on the standby list. We had lost a few spots on the list. So getting out on the first flight did not look good at all for us, or what it would seem for anyone else for that matter. This was going to be a long day. First slight came and went, with only a couple of standby folk getting on the plane. Second flight was scheduled for 7:00am, and again a couple standby made it on the plane. 8:00am flight showed some signs, but when our name was called, we were informed they only had 1 seat. I had to turn it down. Now, something very strange happened when the 11:00 flight to Dallas popped on the screen. We were no longer on the standby list. Oh no, this would not do. I headed to the counter to find out what the issue was and the teller had no idea why I was taking off the list, but assured me that things would be fine. Of course, I had no idea what that meant, but I hoped she knew what she was talking about. Now, something I failed to mention earlier in this post, we were guaranteed to leave Logan at 6:45pm tonight, a direct flight to LAX, told to us last night just after the last flight left for Dallas. When I approached the counter, I asked if that was the reason we were taken off the list. I explained that half of my family is already in California and I am growing ever increasingly frustrated that the reason we slip up was to make it easier to get to Cali, not make it just as hard. she again told me everything would be fine. We would see.

So the 11:00am flight to Dallas started boarding and in the end, again only 1 seat was available. No such luck. Once the flight had gone, Valina and Lindsy came over and started to hang out with us. They were by themselves on the other end of terminal 32B now and figured we can all pass the time together. I got to know them a little better and the children had someone else to help pass the time. We would find out shortly that we were going to be leaving our company for the friendly location of Dallas Forth-Worth.

The 12:45pm flight for Dallas was boarding and I could here the teller calling a party of 3 several times before they gave up and called us to the counter. I raised 3 fingers to check if indeed it was for 3 seats and she shook her head yes! YES! We were out of here! 30 hours at Logan and no more! We boarded the plane after saying or goodbyes to Lindsy and Valina, wishing them luck. I never thought I would say this, but the flight was the worst ever! Now, don't get me wrong, I was certainly glad to get the heck out of Boston, but try sitting down for 30 hours in crappy seats and then fit yourself into an airplane seat for 3 more hours! They were not to forgiving either. It wasn't until we reached Dallas that our rear quarters got some relief.

I can't ever say I have actually spent anytime at the Dallas Forth-Worth Airport. I have been there several times but never had a layover of any sort. It was always get off the plane and hurry your tush up to the next terminal, all the way on the other side of the airport. We had an hour to eat lunch and relax a little before heading off to Santa Ana for our final destination. The children got to charge there portable DVD players and I the laptop. Surprisingly, my cell phone was doing rather well, still half charged, being as the charger was in my luggage, in California. I did do a lot of Facebooking on my phone in Boston before I figured out how the free Wi-Fi worked there. Anyhow, at 5:00pm, the flight for Santa Ana started boarding and we were one of the first on the plane. Found our seats and we were well on our way to California now!

In the plane looking out, you could see some of the wild fires still burning in Texas, the dried up lake beds and rivers that were to have fed them if they could. You could see huge canyons where water once flowed and mountains waving at us was we flew by. And then there was California, the Golden State greeting us on the runway. It never felt sweeter.

Sarah and Levi were to meet us at the airport. How to find her would be the tricky part as she does not do cell phones. I don't want to get into it right now, so don't get me started. We stood out by the curb once we exited the airport and waited for her. Probably about 10 minutes worth of waiting which felt twice as long as everyone else outside was being picked up. And then my phone rang! Pretty weird since I am waiting for someone whom doesn't carry a cell phone, and she is calling me. Come to find out, she was waiting for us inside the airport. I told her where I was and she met us outside. It was a happy moment seeing her again. I thought we would never get to California and have our vacation as a whole. We headed to the car and the drive began to Palm Springs. That was the best hour and a half drive I ever made! When we arrived, we ate real quick and we were all out cold.

Palm Springs, CA 2011 - Day 1 - You F*ckin Kidding Me!

The time is 3:ooam, when my alarm went off. It was important that we left on time to ensure we get to the airport on time. I took a shower and dressed and everyone was out the door, in the van, and on the road by 3:30am. Now the trip to Boston's Logan Airport is only an hour from our house. We stopped at the bank real quick as well as a gas station to grab some breakfast, which couldn't have taken any longer than 5 minutes at the most. traffic was light and the drive was rather smooth.

Now, here is where is gets real tricky. We arrive at the airport and had to find parking. I tried to get into the lot we parked in last year for this vacation, but it was not open. As I tried to circle the lot, but somehow I got on to Route 1A. I had to take the next exit and turn around. Easy! Went back to where we started and found the lot I needed to park in. Parked the van, grabbed our stuff and then boarded the shuttle bus. The bus took probably 5 minutes to get going and about another 5 minutes to get to our terminal. Got in the wrong line, was directed to the correct line, waited there for about 5 minutes, went to check in and found out we checked in a couple minutes to late. Now let me start by telling you that there were 5 of us. Sarah & I, Michaela, Bailey, & Levi. I kinda failed to inform you of this prior, but nonetheless, things were about to get interesting. I wanted to start crying. The women at the counter told us we needed to get in line over there and rebook our flight. I looked at that women and couldn't believe was she just said. She told us we were late and we needed to be here atleast 45 minutes before our flight. It was this moment I had realized we lost about an hour of time somewhere. Either way, I told her the ticket that was printed said 30 minutes, so take that one lady! Either way, it got us no where, we were late!

We got in the line she told us to get into and waited, and waited, and watched as our 6:00am flight to Chicago left the departure screen. The women that told us we were late came over to us originally and told us to stand in this line, was looking for people that were boarding at 7:00am, found a couple and seemed like she made a point to point out to us that we didn't fall into that category before we were late. Not a happy camper I was. She did this twice as if to continue to rub it in. We waited and waited and watched as the 7:00am flight boarded. We were in line for close to 45 minutes before we finally got to speak to someone. It was then we got some even more bad news. We were given the option to go home and come back with a rebooked flight which probably wouldn't happen until Wednesday at the earliest, or we could be put on standby and if seats open on any flight, we would be eligible for them. Problem was, we were not the only ones on that list. We had so much money invested on this trip to that we were not about to head home now. I wanted to cry some more! Ta hell with it! We were added to the list.

We made it through security with no problems. The only thing that didn't go wrong the first day, but wait until I write about day 2! But let me continue with day 1. After security, the first flight out was an 8:05 flight to Dallas. The standby list was crazy long, but we happened to be mid pack. There were about 5 or 6 people in front of the 5 of us. Not a good outlook for us. So we didn't get on the first flight at 8:05am, next flight at 9:10am, or the next flight out at 10:00am. The last 2 flights though, our names on the list jumped all the way up to 1-5 on the standby list, but with every flight, it would seem that several people would jump our names on the list. Didn't quite understand why, so I went up to the counter and asked if it would be easier if we separated and the women I asked said it would be. Good thing I asked because there were 2 seats available on the 11:30 am flight to Dallas. So Sarah and Levi took those seats. But after they boarded, I suffered from a brain crap! Minutes after Sarah and Levi boarded the plane, they said they found 2 more seats on the plane if we wanted them. I told them I didn't want Bailey and Micheala to be alone, forgetting Sarah had already got on the plane. So 2 other people got those seats. It wasn't until the plane left that I realized I screwed up! This would have left me left to catch a flight which I would have gotten by the end of the night. You'll know what I mean shortly.

So Sarah and Levi were on their way. We had an understanding that if she had the opportunity to continue to Santa Ana, CA, then she should do it. So they were on their way. The faces around us started to become very familiar as there were the same people that have been on the standby list as us. Flight after flight, very little of us made it on the plane. There was a kind women from Arkansas and another from Dallas, whom I never got their names, but they were a pleasure to talk to. There was a family of 4 whose little boy would run around the terminal like a mad man, and then crash for 3 hours, then run around like a mad man, then crash for another 3 hours! There was a guy from Texas somewhere whom had been in the airport for 3 days and still hadn't gotten on a flight. His clothes had already been sent home and he had been wearing the same clothes for those 3 days. He was a trooper though. There were also 2 girls that were from Oklahoma, Valina and Lindsy, who we got to know the second day in the airport, which even though they are sitting in front of me now as I write this post, I can't find it in me to ask their names again! Sorry ladies! But rest assure, I waited until they accepted my Facebook friend request before posting this so that I don't seem so ignorant. I mean come on, spending as much time as we already had in a airport can do a number to any ones mind! Anyhow, we all became family as the night went on and none of us were called to board a flight until it finally happened!

The final flight to Dallas was originally scheduled for 8:00pm but had been delayed 3 times, eventually landing it at a 11:00pm departure time. It was shortly before the plane started loading for take off, when the family formed in the airport. We all talked about how it seemed likely that some of us were heading out on this final flight. There were not a lot of people in the terminal for this flight, but things would begin to look rather ugly. As the time grew closer, more people showed up, and show up they did. One by one they filed in as they started being called on to the plane. Wait for it! Wait for it! "Baril!" What was that? "Baril!" Our name was called! Bailey was out cold and Michaela was half in the bag at this point. I had to wake both of them up and pack them up. I pretty much sprinted to the checkout counter, raised my hand, and what happened next was killer! "We have 2 seats on the plane, do you want them?" You f*ckin kidding me! They had the nerve to ask me if I wanted to send 2 of the 3 of us off to Dallas, where I have no way of getting a hold of anyone, where we might get stuck over night. Think about this. Eventually, I was to find out that Sarah and Levi had made it out to Santa Anna. If I had sent 2 of the 3 of us to Dallas on that last flight, that would leave 1 in Boston, 2 in Dallas, and 2 in Santa Ana! It was bad enough we split up earlier to make things easier for us to leave Boston, which failed horribly. But back to Logan Airport. I was pissed! I through a couple choice words into the air as I walked away from the checkout counter and to an area of the terminal to sit and shed a tear. I couldn't believe what had happened. This is not how I intended to spend the first day of our vacation. Now this wasn't the way how I intended on spending the first night.

The Protector of the Patch

Usually I tell you the tall about our Turkeyboxing Day ventures on Thanksgiving, but today, I wanna tell you about a story behind a letterboxing I planted today. It is not a turkey related stamp, but still rather seasonal. It is the story of the Protector of the Patch.

The year was 1796. The town was Manchester, New Hampshire, where a fellow by the name of General John Stark lived with his wife, Molly, and 11 children. On the Stark plantation, they would grow their own pumpkins to carve and bake with. It was much cheaper to do this as the other local farmers charged to much for their produce. They actually had done this for about 20 years before they decided to get into the farming business and started growing a much larger pumpkin patch. The first year they did this, they first started giving them away to their friends and family. As the season grew late, they still had a rather large amount of pumpkins left and decided they should try to sell them before they spoil.

It wasn't until they tried to sell them, that one of the Stark children, started seeing a figure in the pumpkin patch. This was scary figure, made up of a skeleton body, with a large pumpkin head. He never said anything, but the look on it's face was enough to scary anyone away. The child ran into the house and found General Stark. They both went outside to find no one in the patch. The next day, one of the Stark daughters went outside to pick a pumpkin from the patch, not easily scared by the story told the night prior, only to find the same figure standing there once she began to bend over to pick a pumpkin. Not only did she see the figure, but everyone was watching from the windows of the house. The whole family now saw the figure, soon dubbed, the "Protector of the Patch."

Word quickly spread around Manchester about this "Protector." Folk from all over town would venture out to the Stark residence to see it for themselves. No one ever saw the figure in the patch. After awhile, the story of the "Protector" grew old. No one had ever seen this figure except the Stark family. The Stark family soon found the town staring at them where ever they went. Dirty looks and comments flew through the air as they would walk by.

The Stark family quickly abandoned the pumpkin patch and let the rest of the pumpkins spoil. Since that time when everyone of the Stark family saw the figure standing in the patch, they never saw it again. After all the pumpkins rotted to the ground, General John Stark went out to the patch and turned the soil. This would be the last year they would ever grow pumpkins. As a matter of fact, this would be the last year they would ever have pumpkins at the plantation, grown anywhere.

You can find the box I planted for this story I just made up, in Manchester, NH.
Protector of the Patch

John Hancook and His Mountains

The man, the myth, the legend that is John Hancock, was born in 1736. He was most known for his rather large signature at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence, but did you know that John Hancock was born on 2 days! Back in the colonial times, they used a different calendar, now considered the "Old Style" calendar. This calendar would note that he was born on January 12th, in 1736. The calendar we all use today notes he was born over a year later, on January 23rd, in 1737. If you wanna learn more about these 2 calendars, check out this link "Old Style, New Style."

Sometime after his death in 1793, 2 mountains were named in his honor. They sat for years between the notches of Franconia and Crawford in the Pemigewasset Wilderness, rather untouched until the completion of the Kancamagus Highway in 1959. A 26.5 mile road that runs through the White Mountains from Lincoln to Conway. This past Sunday, I decided to find these mountains, Hancock Mountain and South Hancock.

My journey started about 4:30 in the morning. I had set my alarm for 5:00 but for some reason, my body decided that I should wake up a half hour early. I tried to go back to sleep for that extra half hour, and I did, but for only about 10 minutes. Not by choice of course. I went back to sleep again to again wake up 10 minutes later. I hadn't the slightest idea as to what was going on, but it was getting a bit frustrated. So after the second time waking up, I just got up and started getting ready for the hike. It was my plan to arrive at the trail head at 7:00 and as it would turn out, waking up that extra 10 minutes allowed me to get to the trail head on time.

When I arrived at the trail head, there was already 1 vehicle in the lot. It was a bit chilly at this time. I had dressed a little light but not light enough for the chilly air to bother me. The first stretch of my trek was on the Hancock Notch Trail. It was 1.8 miles of mostly straight and relatively flat trail. Honestly, the only time the trail turned was when it crossed over the stream. And it did this several times. Honestly, this was the first time I ever had to find ways across streams while hiking. As many times as I have hiked, I have never had to find ways to cross river. These streams weren't all that wide, but sometimes they were deep. There were plenty of rocks to cross on, but remember, it was cold out so I was worried about ice. I found some at one crossing, but I noticed it before stepping on it and falling in. The next .7 miles was spent on the Cedar Brook Trail. More water crossings here, sometimes not making any sense at all, as you would need to cross back over minutes later. But anyhow.

Now even thought I had just hiked 2.5 miles, the real hike didn't start until I reached the Hancock Loop Trail. a 4.8 mile loop that runs up one mountain, along a ridge, and down another. The one thing I had done the night before was do some research as to which mountain to climb and which to descend. As noted in my findings, it was said that I should climb Hancock and descend South Hancock. Considering it had been three months since I last hiked anything, it really didn't matter which mountain I hiked up, until I actually found the base of the mountain. 1.1 miles on the Loop Trail and it finally split. I had chosen to climb Hancock.

Now for a bit of history for you. I had hiked mountains such as Mt. Chocorua, Mt. Major, Mt. Kearsarge, and Mt. Moosilauke. All these mountains are very rocky and steep at times. All of which I found to be fairly easy to handle. I could tell you right now, I had my butt handed to me on a platter. I think that taking 3 months off of hiking probably had most to do with it. Hancock was very rocky and very steep. I had to stop many times on the way up the 0.7 mile climb. The worst part about it was, when I rested, there wasn't a view to enjoy as with most mountains with such accent. Rocks turned into boulders, boulders turned into steps. Steps finally welcomed me to the top where the wasn't much of a view, but there was an outlook were the picture posted on top of this post. I really didn't spend much time at the top since the view provided didn't allow me to sit and enjoy it. I had to stand for it.

From Hancock, I continued on the loop to South Hancock. The trail was covered in snow, packed buy those that hiked before me. The trail was 1.4 miles and a welcome sight after what I had just experiences climbing Hancock, but the fun wasn't over yet. First, before I had even reached the summit of South Hancock, I found an area of water that was iced over. For the most part, the ice was thick enough, except for the spot I stepped on. My foot fell through the ice and into 6 inches of mud which I tried to avoid by pulling my foot back up. The suction was so bad, I felt the muscles in the back of my leg feel like it was being pulled a part. Good thing I was hiking because I had to walk that off. I felt it for quite some time as I continued along. I reached South Hancock and there was an outlook, but nothing to brag about. I am now realizing, not every mountain will have a view from the top. What every 4,000 foot mountain needs though, is a summit sign. I could tell that I was at the summit since there was a cairn, so I rested there. After 15 minutes of rest and a picture or 2 of me at the top, I decided it was time to head down South Hancock and head home. Easier said than done. This part of the loop was 0.5 miles, and it had to have been the worst 0.5 miles I had ever hiked. The descent was steep and glare ice! I had never been so scared in my life! But I was determined to finished this hike instead of turning around and climbing down the way I came. I would have taken a picture of this trail, but please do understand, I probably would have lost my life doing so!

Once I made it down alive, I crossed over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house. No, I did cross back over those streams I crossed over before and walked through the woods I hiked before. When I arrived back at my car, I hiked a total of 9.8 miles. This is the longest I have hiked in New Hampshire, only second to my 11 mile hike up San Jacinto in California. Thinking back, I was rather satisfied with the hike. Even though the climb was hell and the descent was hell, I regret nothing. My knee we tested and it passed with flying colors. So in closing, John Hancock was known for being a pain in the side of the British Government. Today, he was a pain in my side, but nothing I couldn't over come!

What Has Team New Hampshire Been Up To?

I guess the question would be, what have we not done. Unfortunately, letterboxing has been on the back burner recently. A few months ago, I had left my job of 7 years for another job. The whole pizza thing hadn't been cutting it for quite some time now. The down side, I work more hours, which tends to leave me with little time to do anything. As well as little energy to wanna do anything. So I went from working at Sal's Pizza full time to Rent-a-Center. I still work at Sal's Pizza Tuesdays, so if you wanna come by and visit me, or find the box I have panted there, please do! It is still there! And no, I have no intention of planting a box inside of Rent-a-Center. I had been asked already if I was gonna do it. The answer is always no!

Shortly however, the wife and I did go on vacation in California. NO CHILDREN! Oh, I never thought that would happen again. This vacation of ours had been planned for some time and with the new job, I thought we weren't gonna be able to go! My mother-in-law had also moved out. She found it very stressful to continue living at our house. THE CHILDREN! Now we needed to come up with more money. No vacation! But wait! My mother-in-law told us we were still going on vacation! AGAIN, NO CHILDREN! Closer, closer, closer it came! California, here we come.

Not to jump around, but Elijah (Spider Writer) and I had been climbing mountains. To be more specific, the 4,000 footers in New Hampshire. We had knocked off Mt. Tecumseh, which was the shortest of all 48 of them, and Mt. Moosilaukee. Moosilaukee had been a bit challenging. The hike up was fine, but my knee gave out on me while climbing back down. Not good.

Now to get back to California! I had been planning to climb a mountain out west and since we were staying in Palm Desert, the closest mountain worth climbing was San Jacinto. San Jacinto sat at a mere 10,000+ feet. Since my issue climbing down Moosilaukee, I had been icing the knee just about every night. I felt no pain while walking, walking up stairs, or during heavy lifting at work. The day came when I was to hike San Jacinto and this would be a day I would never forget. 11 miles round trip, meaning 5.5 miles one way! The 5.5 miles down were just like the climb down Moosilaukee. My knee gave out on me which made it the longest hike ever! Unfortunately, Elijah and I will be taking the rest of the fall and winter off. We might hike something small just to test it out, but we will see. Other than my mountain fiasco, California was relatively problem free. We had a great time. Weather couldn't have been any better! Not a drop of rain!

Back on the East Coast, we got back to reality! CHILDREN! School started, work was busy, time was rare! Letterboxing seemed to take a bigger back seat to everything else. Work on the house, homework, baths, yard, cars, animals! Where will I ever find the time to do anything worth talking about?

Got it! So here I am telling you about what we have been up to. I didn't even tell you about apple picking, LTC making, leaf peeping, Red Sox game, checking out the Pumpkin People in Jackson, NH, the book I am beginning to write, and last but not least, Hamlet! But I suppose I will have plenty of time to talk about that now! I will find time darn it! I miss writing!

Hiking Mt. Tecumseh, Twice

One of the things that the great state of New Hampshire has been blessed with, are her mountains of plenty. While any given person can climb any of those mountains, there are a select few that are among some of the highest. These are New Hampshire's 48 4,000 footers. I started planning sometime last summer, setting a goal to hike all 48 mountains in 4-5 years. In my mind, it would seem rather doable, but with everything I find doable, it never turns out how it seems. Let me explain.

The first mountain on the list, which happened to be the smallest at 4,003 feet, was Mt. Tecumseh. I had planned on hiking this mountain for several months now. Sunday, June 13th, we set out for the mountain just south of Lincoln. We arrived later than I wanted but looked forward to climbing the mountain and knocking the first of the 48 mountains off the list. The temperature was rather comfortable, but it was a bit humid. As we started into the woods, we hopped over 2 streams and the trail started up. Then it went up and up and up. Now, we have hiked plenty of mountains, none 4,000 foot+, but plenty nonetheless. I really don't think the humidity helped as the mountain kept going up. It wasn't to rocky, the hike wasn't all the hard, but there really wasn't any flat areas to speak of. This has to be the first mountain were flat areas were slim and none. So we stopped plenty of times on the way to the top. At an hour and a forty-five minutes, we reached the top. I started searching for a sign or something to indicate we reached the top, but found nothing. There was a small trail off to the right which headed up a little farther, so I figured we were at the top. I searched the net on my phone to find out if in fact we reached the top but couldn't find anything that was helpful. So we continued on the trail a little way and it started heading down. Since we didn't want to hike down the other side of the mountain, we figured that that was the top of the mountain. What I had found on my phone was how people commented about the lack of view from the summit of Tecumseh. We were satisfied with our accomplishment, so we headed back down the mountain. When we got home, I did some more research and found we actually didn't reach the summit of Tecumseh. Not cool!

We could have waited until a few weeks went by when we could head back out and finish the hike, but I wanted to get it out of the way. The first chance we got to hike to the summit was the following Sunday, Father's Day. I didn't want to hike on this day to start. Originally, we were going to hike Tecumseh this day, but I pushed it up a week. So much for that! Not only did I hike it the weekend I wanted, but now we have to hike it again on the day I didn't. So we drove to the mountain trail head and started our trek up the mountain yet again. The temperature was a little cooler than last week, and it was a tad less humid. We reached what is now known to us as "fake top," in an hour and twenty minutes. A lot better time than last. We also knew what we were getting into as well. So now that we knew what needed to be done, we continued down the trail passed "fake top." The trail was fairly flat until it just started downward. It wasn't that steep but it just didn't seem right. Aren't we supposed to be heading up? Sure enough, in the distance we could see the "up" we were looking for. We could see the summit of Tecumseh. But getting there would be much harder than we expected. The trail did eventually start up after a brief hike on flat trail. When it was time to climb, you literally had to climb. But that summit was ours! We were the first on the mountain this day and I was not gonna let the steep climb get to me. I stopped and looked up the rocky climb and prepared myself for some fun. With a deep breathe, I started running up the rocky trail. I picked a spot to stop, and when we got to that point, it just kept going! There were more rocky on this steep climb. We stopped for a breather and continued on. At two hours and twenty minutes, we reached the summit of Tecumseh. Yes, this time we made it! The view from the top still wasn't all that great but it was better than I thought it would be. People can be so critical. I say they should be glad there was a view at all!

So after 10 minutes at the top, we headed down. We didn't have much time to spend at the top, since we had to make it home early. Sometime we hopped and ran down the mountain. It was quite fun until our feet started to hurt a little. But all and all, we both really enjoyed hiking Tecumseh, both times. We already have our second mountain picked out for next month.
Next-Mt. Moosilauke @ 4,802 feet