Friday, December 28, 2007

A pleasant surprise!

My wife is amazing.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pemi Loop

On October 6, Nathan and I embarked on a ridiculously ambitious one-day endeavor. We had decided to attempt the Pemigewasset Loop, a 31+ mile day hike over 10+ 4000 foot peaks.
We arrived at the Kancamagus highway late on the night of the 5th, hoping to find a spot to camp at the trailhead, the Lincoln Woods trailhead. We arrived at Lincoln Woods to find posted restrictions on camping for miles around. We would have had to hike in for over a mile and a half (it was after 10PM at this point) to reach a viable camping zone, and we were not prepared to carry backpacking gear on the entire loop.

So we set out to find a spot to spend the night. The surrounding campgrounds were all at capacity, so we drove up the road a few miles. We found a parking lot for a kiddy nature walk called the Discovery Trail. There was an unpaved overflow lot that was barricaded off, around a corner and hidden by trees. Perfect! We covertly gathered our gear and set up camp in my small backpacking tent, right on the corner of the gravel lot. Nathan remained pensive over the arrangement throughout the night, but we had a few good hours of sleep before the big day.
On the morning of the 6th we awoke at 5:30AM or so. We quickly packed up and returned to Lincoln Woods.

Lincoln Woods trailhead, around 6AM

After following Franconia Brook for several miles, we ascended the first peak of the loop - Bondcliff.

Bondcliff - this was one of the highlights of the trip

The Bonds would make an excellent (sensible) day hike by themselves.

the summit of West Bond

After the Bonds (Bondcliff, West Bond, Bond) came Mt. Guyot, South Twin, Galehead, then Garfield.

the wooded summit of Galehead

Galehead from the summit of Garfield - there is a storm rolling in...

The halfway point was between Galehead and Garfield. After Garfield came a long and grueling ascent to 5260 ft. Lafayette, a mountain that we had summited many times, but never from this approach (and never as a passing peak in the middle of a 33 mile day trip).

The weather turned after we summited Garfield, and by the time we topped Lafayette we were very cold and wet. We did our best to layer up and keep moving,

and the weather soon let up.

My favorite picture of the day. Wet air would flow to the top of Franconia Ridge (from the left), hit the cool summit air, and barrel over into the valley to the right as fog.

We were now on familiar turf, the Franconia Ridge Trail, which we had hiked many times, but it was getting late. Before reached the last two peaks of the ridge, Liberty and Flume, the sun set.

We had some difficulty keeping the trail on the open fields of the mountain summits, but otherwise it was pretty smooth night hiking.

After we summited Flume we descended a trail that was new to both of us, the Osseo Trail. Descending an unknown 4.5 mile trail in the dark in wet conditions was an uneasy prospect, but we soon discovered that the trail was extremely groomed, wide, and safe.

Wooden stairs! (Note the stylish headlamp courtesy of Nathan.)

Nathan in the dark.

So we made it! The last leg of the hike, all down hill and through the woods, seemed to take an eternity, but we at least knew we were in relative safety and heading in the right direction.

We made it back to the car at 10:20PM or so. 33 1/2 miles and just under 10,000 ft of elevation gain in little over 16 hour. We had completed a loop that was named the second hardest day hike in America (you're next, Mt. Hood!) and even added a couple of detours to bag some peaks not included in that assessment. It was an accomplishment that neither of us will soon forget, and it puts other area challenges that we've yet to attempt, such as a Presidential Range traverse in perspective.

Nathan has a Picasa album with all of these photos and more, each with captions and his own summary of the hike here.

Aurora Borealis in Bucksport!

Last night Kimberly and I were driving back to her parents' house after visiting my family in Bucksport when we saw a peculiar glow in the sky.  Having seen the Aurora Borealis one other time in my life (coincidentally on the very same road that we were driving on then), I recognized it fairly quickly.

(This is actually a picture of an Aurora Australias from Wikipedia... It was the best approximation to what we saw that I could find.)

The sight was obscured by trees that surrounded the roads we traveled.  We decided that we would keep driving past her parents' house until we could get a clear view of the sky.  As we drove down the hill that leads to the house, however, we found that the Aurora was in clear view from the driveway!

We saw something very similar to the red/orange glowing vertical lines in the picture above.  Once or twice per minute the bright green/white flash of an addition flare-up would be seen.  The weather was cold and we were tired, so we didn't stay long (and unfortunately our little digital camera wasn't able to capture anything worth sharing).  

Doing a little research this morning, I'm discovering that we were incredibly lucky to have chanced upon an Aurora Borealis under the circumstances.  Several things that made the event unlikely:

-Bucksport is a few miles south of the Bangor/Brewer metro area, which is the biggest source of light pollution in central Maine.
-Aurora activity in temperate latitudes is most likely at the peak of the sunspot cycle or for the next few years that follow it.  We're actually at the very beginning of a sunspot cycle -- the peak won't be until 2012!
-The most likely time to view the event is the middle of the night, around midnight.  This occurred at 8:30PM and was gone in the next half hour.
-The full moon is today, so we were just a few hours off from the brightest night of the month.  Auroras are most easily viewed during a new moon.

The event was an amazing, unlikely little additional treat for our awesome Thanksgiving holiday.

Friday, November 9, 2007


I miss blogging. It seems that life is too busy lately. I used to blog during my lunch break, but lately I've taken to eating while working instead :-/ I'll try to set aside some time to chronicle some of the notable things that have happened while I've been on hiatus.

Right now I'm on the couch. Kimberly dosed off beside me. We went to Best Fitness, our new gym three minutes down the street from our new place in Chelmsford, for the first time today after work. When we got home we worked together to cook an amazing meal of chicken with pepper jack/parmesan cheese sauce, fingerling potatoes, and romaine lettuce with homemade garlic peanut sauce!

After that we watched a very interesting independent film called "The Girl from Monday" about a near future US society ruled by a mega-corporation and capitalist ideals, covertly invaded by subversive extra-corporeal extraterrestrials.

Tomorrow I have to go into the office for a bit to do some time-sensitive work but then we have dinner plans with friends on both days this weekend. I'm really looking forward to a couple of days of rejuvenation.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Carbon Bigfoot Print

This weekend we went as far northeast as Calais, ME for a wedding. That's about 6 hours one way from Lowell. When we got back home we fed the ferrets and immediately headed for IKEA in Stoughton. Considering we had to drive separate vehicles back from Bucksport to Lowell, the grand total milage for the weekend is something like 1,057 miles! Yikes...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Work is Good

Just when I thought my work couldn't get any better (nerdier), all this week I've been learning how to test delays and levels and stuff with oscilloscopes and Audio Precision hardware. Woo hoo!

Though I've had to get up and go to work early for the past four weeks (with no end in sight yet), I'm really fitting in well here. I'm getting to know most of the people I work with in engineering and I've really excelled at the tasks at hand.

On a related note, going into work early has allowed me to get out a bit early too. This has given me time to go for a long run almost every day for the past couple of weeks. I'm up to a daily run of about six miles without soreness or fatigue during or after. I've had a chance to go running all over Lowell, really appreciating the city that I'm about to leave (it's not all that melodramatic, though, since I'm moving three miles away to the next town over).

Kimberly and I have really managed to fill our calendar lately. There's barely a day in the next few weeks without a meeting here or a necessary trip there. I used to think that October would be the time when things settled down, but between finishing up the move, Kimberly's trip to South Carolina, and a Journey Group Leader's retreat, that month is getting pretty dense already. November! I'll relax a bit then...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Sunflowers of the Highlands

There are many sunflowers in the Lowell Highlands. Yesterday Kimberly and I set out on a long walk and snapped some pictures of them.

We walked for 4 1/2 miles and it was surely a very cursory survey of the sunflowers in our neighborhood.

Here are some photos of bonus non-sunflower sights we found of interest:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

French Fries and Relatives

Last night we watched "Super Size Me," a documentary in which the director decides to eat only McDonalds for three meals a day for 30 days. He starts the endeavour in better than average health (he has three doctors and a nutrition specialist monitoring his progress from start to finish) and ends up in about as ghastly a state as you would imagine. It was very entertaining and somewhat enlightening. As someone who could do without fast food again for the rest of my life anyway, it stands only as an affirmation.

In other news, Kimberly's parents and her brother Ben are in town for the rest of the week. Ben is flying out of Logan Friday afternoon to embark on a nine month trip to Copenhagen. It should be a fun change of pace having guests around for a few days. Ben is probably even going to accompany me to the gym. It'll be good to have a running partner.

Work is going very well. I've started testing the software of a home theater processor and will be doing so for the foreseeable future. It's interesting work that is never the same from day to day, and I get a lot accomplished. What a difference my job change has made in my life!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


I've been at my job for less than two months, and I'm already appreciating the software humor. Case in point:


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Review: Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight

I went out at lunch and bought the new Rilo Kiley CD, "Under the Blacklight." They have long been one of my top five bands, so I was very excited to pick this up on its release date.

I went back to work editing test cases and popped it into my disc player. The first song, "Silver Lining," with its light folk-rock swing, soulful backing vocal lines, and high lead guitar licks, seemed to signal that this would be the logical next album for Rilo Kiley. It is the culmination of the masterpiece of alt-rock that was More Adventurous, and the country filled, vocal heavy, autobiographical Jenny Lewis solo album, Rabbit Fur Coat.

As the album progressed, though, it was quickly apparent that this was something totally different. Track two, "Close Call," was still Rilo Kiley, but with a distinctly more polished sound than I'm used to (this is their first major label release, so this is not surprising). By track three, "The Moneymaker," the album's true color is cemented. "Under the Blacklight" is a fusion of mere hints of the Rilo Kiley of days past with high production, classic hard rock (read Heart or Fleetwood Mac), and a surprising prolific Latin/R&B dance beat. This is perhaps slightly less surprising when one reflects that Lewis admits to listening exclusively to rap in her early adulthood, in the period between being a child actress and rising to indie rock stardom.

I have mixed feelings, since, like any devoted fan, I was anticipating and hoping for something that would add comfortably to the catalog that I know and love, but Lewis and co-writer Blake Sennett have never disappointed with their thoughtfulness and musicality. I'm sure this disc will grow on me in repeated listenings.

My one true complaint so far is that the lyrics are much less introspective and poetic than Lewis's previous pieces. Perhaps there is more solo material in her queue where she will employ her lyrical efforts in a more focused way once again.

Monday, August 20, 2007

We Need a Morale Booster

It looks like several of my friends and relatives are pretty down, according to their Gmail status, anyway.

In other news, it looks like we're on for a Wednesday night Starcraft party!

If you're interested it's totally open to anyone with Starcraft and a computer that he or she is willing to bring to my house around 7PM.

Active Weekend

This weekend started when I left work. I went straight home and helped Kimberly finish getting ready for our overnight trip to Effingham, NH.

No one really knows where Effingham is.

We decided to make this trip because Kimberly's entire family (her mom, dad, and brother) were at Camp Marist, on Ossippi Lake for the annual Northern New England Royal Rangers Pow Wow.

Traffic was pretty bad, but we made the distance in about two and a half hours. We stopped for dinner at the Poor People's Pub (flash and frames hybrid site!) in Sanbornville. The food was great but the locals took to making fun of Kimberly and me just loud enough so that we could hear. It's not even the first time that that has happened in New Hampshire. Hmm.

We made it to the camp to hear the last bit of a devotional from a visiting Teen Challenge member*, followed by an impressive fire works show. We got a chance to hang out with each of Kimberly's family members for a bit, setting up our tent with her brother Ben, sitting by the camp fire with her mom, and eating breakfast with both of her parents. It was sort of a long way to visit them for such a short time (another hour or so of travel each way and we could have made it back to our hometown of Bucksport) but it was fun. It had a bit of the crazy and illogical spontaneity that we love from time to time.

*Teen Challenge is an Assemblies of God sponsored rehabilitation program for young men that have been caught up in violence and severe substance problems.

Saturday morning we made our way back to Mass through the lakes region.

We got back fairly early so we decided we had time to go to the gym. We worked out pretty hard. I was thinking that we had a party to attend later, so I might as well push myself earlier in the day and then relax in the evening.

After the gym, we went and helped Nathan and Priscila set up for Nathan's big birthday party at the Lewis's in Billerica. The party was great. Kimberly and I ended up playing some volleyball and some hardcore ultimate Frisbee (so much for the hard work out theory, I was exhausted by the end of the night) and ate plenty of Priscila's delicious sushi and truffles.

Yesterday I played bass on the worship team at church, and then Kimberly and I went to see an apartment, which we weren't entirely impressed with. It's definitely time to get serious about finding a place, since our last month in our current apartment is coming right up. After this, we went with John and Laura to seek out an elusive Ribs and Brews festival in downtown Lowell.

Downtown was pretty much a ghost town. We searched all around to no avail and eventually went back to the Haven's where John looked it up again to find that the festival is actually several weeks away still. Oops. We gave up and had lunch at the Outback instead, which was good. We then had time to go back save a little bit of the universe in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance for Wii.

After going out for groceries, Kimberly and I spent the rest of the evening in, watching Click. I really liked it (I thought it was classic Adam Sandler humor) but Kimberly was a bit disappointed.

This week should be good. We're continuing to make it to the gym several times a week, and our calendar is otherwise filling up with fun stuff pretty fast.

Alright. It's well past time to get back to my test cases...