Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer is here!

The posts this last week have been kind of serious, time to lighten things up!

Summer officially arrived this weekend in New England when the thermometer topped out at 85 degrees on Saturday. That means the beaches are packed, motorcycles are out, and boats are back in the water. Up and down the shoreline there are surf shops, lobster shacks, and ice cream parlors that are packed with beach goers.

This holiday weekend I soaked up the best of what New Hampshire has to offer: hiking in the mountains and sunning on the beach. What better way to spend my long weekend?

Sunday I ventured northwest into the lakes region of New Hampshire to do a little hiking. My first stop was a lovely park called Profile Falls in Bristol. I spent about two hours walking the trails, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, and eating a little lunch in front of the waterfall.








Then it was off to Alexandria in search of Grafton Falls. This one proved to be too elusive for me. I made my best attempt to locate the falls, but was deterred by having to cross the rushing river bottom. I did take some time to dip my feet in the cool water and soak up some sunshine. While sitting on the rocks, an older couple emerged from the woods on the opposite side of the stream. They were in the same predicament as me, trying to find a place to cross. We chatted quickly across the water and I ventured halfway across to lend a hand as they jumped rock to rock. When we all made it back to my side of the water, they informed me that in order to see the falls, I would need to cross the river and hike up the hill. After already hiking about 2 miles to no avail, I decided I would turn back and head to my next destination and attempt the falls another time.

















On my way to my final stop of the day, I drove along a road that hugged closely to the lake shore. There were campers, tents, lawn chairs, and coolers abound. The smell of barbecue hung in the air. I made it to Sculptured Rocks park in Hebron. Unlike my other two destinations, this one was crawling with people. In particular, hormonal teenage boys challenging each other in a game of who can be more brave and jump from the highest rocks into the rushing water 50 feet below. Needless to say, I was less than impressed. It is times like this when people doubt the power of Mother nature that bad things happen. I took a few pictures and proceeded home.

After a quick shower, I met up with one of the girls from work at her house for a cookout. We jumped in the car with her adorable 6 year old son and drove to the coast. He was thrilled to get out of the car and scramble on the craggy rocks. The night was filled with lots of laughs, good food, and great company.


All in all, the weekend so far has provided the lighthearted fun I needed after the previous week. In observance of the holiday, I'm off work today as well and have more plans to spend time with a few of my new friends, sunning on the beach and taking in the downtown area of Portsmouth. Happy Memorial Day to everyone and remember the reason for the holiday!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Invested

When I first started my assignment, I went into work with the mindset that if I didn't make any friends at work, that would be okay. I was here to better myself, gain new skills and knowledge, and see the country. I was here to do a job, not make friends. I think I wanted to believe that if I didn't make friends with people, it would be much easier to leave after three months. No strings attached. I've said goodbye to many people in my life and didn't want to deal with saying goodbyes every three months.

That idea went out the window my first day on the job.

I don't know if I am naturally drawn to people or if they are drawn to me, or both. But I find myself intertwined in the lives of my co-workers, forming what I hope will be lasting relationships. I attend their softball games, eat dinner at their houses, and hang out with their kids.

This week, I realized how invested I am in these new people in my life.

With a flair for sarcastic humor, Annie and I were instant friends for obvious reasons. We kept each other sane during the work week, went to the movies together, I even had the opportunity to spend an evening playing with her three beautiful kids. She and her husband, a minister, are some of the most down to earth people I have met. Real people. In the past week, their lives were turned upside down.

Only 26 weeks into her fourth pregnancy, she was put on bed rest after her water broke while I was visiting home. When I heard, still 3 days away from getting back to New Hampshire, I was anxious to return to offer support and help if she needed it. I planned on braving Boston to see her in the hospital and ease some of her inevitable boredom on Sunday. She developed an infection and required an emergent C-section on Saturday. She was 28 weeks pregnant. She delivered a beautiful baby boy, who they named Ethan. Over the next few days, she kept me posted via Facebook updates and text messages on Ethan's fight for life, battling infection, poor lung development, and a brain bleed.

Sadly, Ethan passed away last night. He was 4 days old.

They have dealt with this tragedy with strength, faith, and grace that you rarely see in life. After speaking with her husband this afternoon, I realized how lucky I am to have come to know such amazing people.

Relationships comprise such a large part of our lives, good ones and bad ones. Hopefully we soak up the joy of the good ones and learn from the bad ones. All my friends have taught me something that I carry with me in my daily life. Some have taught me how to laugh till it hurts. Some have taught me to let go of the little things. Some have taught me when life hands you lemons, find someone life handed vodka and have a party. While I still love and adore my friends and family at home, I get the amazing opportunity to form new friendships, learn new things, and make new memories. And how awesome is that?

One last thought:
If I accomplish anything by writing this entry, my hope is that it is prayers lent from my old friends at home to my new friend and her family during this difficult time.



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Extending myself, again?

I meant to upload this when I got back from home. I forgot my phone cord at home and was waiting for it to come in the mail. So, sorry for the late post! 

 
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Perserverance

This week was...rough. In the midst of family health problems back home, a crisis with one of my co-workers and a challenging work week, I was happy to see the weekend come around.


My co-workers ask me every Friday what my plans for the weekend are. Some like to live vicariously through me I think and others want to give me ideas of things to do. As of Friday night, I still had no plan for my Saturday. The usual fallback is either the beach or hiking. Hiking won out this time.

I had wanted to venture to a city in the White Mountains called Moultonborough. It houses the infamous Castle in the Clouds. The mountaintop estate was built in 1913. Nestled in the Ossipee Mountain range, the estate has vista views of Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in the state. While the house and grounds draw crowds of people, I ventured the hour and a half north for a whole different spectacle: waterfalls. Bridal Veil Falls, Fall of Song, Roaring Falls, Twin Falls, and Whittier Falls. That's right, count em, five waterfalls all on one trail.

The directions to the falls were, as usual, vague at best. I bypassed the $16 admission fee (free is always a good thing) to the Castle and parked in the trail head parking lot and started up the Shannon Brook Trail with the hope that I would soon stumble upon the first set of falls. After about a mile of steep uphill hiking, I hadn't heard the rushing of water anywhere. I toyed with the idea of returning to my car and calling the trip a wash, as I was getting deeper and deeper into the forest. But, well equipped with water and granola bars, I trekked forward making the best of the trail I was on.














About another mile of hiking led me to the Brook Trail. It was here that I began to hear it: the rushing waters of a waterfall. A steep decline led me down to the brook bottom and it was here that I found the first waterfall. Fall of Song. A 50 foot drop and nestled between two slabs of granite, it was stunning. Legs tired and the sweat starting form on my brow, I pushed forward and followed the Brook Trail hoping to see the remaining four falls.



In less than a mile, I was able to see all five of the falls. Each had its own characteristics and charming beauty. As I looped back around to head back to my car, I came to an opening with a vista view of the mountains. I took a moment to sit down and take in the view; I reflected on my first week back here after being at home. Getting a taste of life back home made me miss certain things, sure. Having a family member with health issues pulls at my heart and triggers my desire to be there to help. Leaving home was hard, but I know I made a commitment here and have a job to finish. My remaining time here is like my trail hike. I may not know what is around the next bend in the trail, but if I press forward, good things will hopefully await.





The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lucky

I'm back in New Hampshire, safe and sound. Of course, I didn't post any blogs while I was home because, well, the majority of people who read this blog I was spending time with! While the trip was short, it was oh so sweet.

The first few days were spent at home, romping around my parents property on their Bad Boy Buggie and searching for morel mushrooms. My birthday was great and I appreciated being able to spend time with both sets of grandparents. The meal was filled with Wisconsin stables: brats, beer, cheese, all eaten on a table covered with a lace tablecloth. Hey, we are a classy bunch!

After my birthday festivities came to a close, my mom and I headed to La Crosse, my second home. Anxious to get back, I had a long list of things waiting to be done at my house. It has been a challenge managing a home from over 1300 miles away, but I have a great crew of friends who did most of the leg work for me while I was away, so the house was in good shape.

While in La Crosse, I made sure to hit up many of my favorite local spots including Rosie's Cafe, Fayzes, and Riverside Park. I was also able to see many of my former co-workers and friends, including a new little addition to the Williams family, Emmalyn. I was even able to do a brief photo session with her, what a doll!

My time at home was perfect. I realized I am so blessed to have such a great group of people surrounding me. The outpouring of love and support I got while I was home humbled me more than I can say. I appreciate all those who take time out of their days to read this blog, cheering me on from afar, relishing in my successes and lamenting with me on the days that are a struggle. One person, who is near and dear to my heart, told me while I was home that my writing reflects reality. I don't ever intend to sugar coat anything about my experience here or paint a picture that life is perfect now that I am traveling. My only goal during this adventure was to, as I stated before, squeeze every bit of awesome out of this experience and take you all along for the ride. That's what I intend to keep doing.

On one last note, I wanted to send out a special thank you to my Mom on Mother's Day. It was with her unwavering support that I made the decision to embark on this adventure and have continued forward with the confidence that I can do anything. Thanks Mom.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Home bound!

T-minus 2 days! I am coming home! But....only for a visit!

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As part of my new contract, I requested a week off to come home, visit family and friends, check on my house, and take care of anything I needed to in La Crosse. The longer I am at work this week, the more I realize I NEED to come home for a little reprieve. I will say I've done better with being away for 3 months than I had anticipated. But, I am excited to come home! I will do my best to see everyone I can, if I miss you this go around, don't worry because I plan to take the month of July off and can catch up with everyone then!

Obviously the blog will be on hold for the next week but I plan to start posting again when I return, as my co-workers have big plans for my last few weeks here (including a harbor cruise, hiking a mountain, and more of the wonder than New England has to offer!).