Monday, August 31, 2009

Time with the Family

Along with a nice walk in the Cathance River Preserve yesterday afternoon, and a short run this morning on the powerlines, there was a fair amount of family time this weekend. My parents have been visiting since the beginning of last week. Of course, we've been working and they've been spending some time with my sister and family, who are now living in Gorham, but it has been a big family week and that continued into the weekend.

Last Monday, we met up with my sister and family, grandmother, cousins, 2 aunts and an uncle for a picnic at Portland Head Light. Then this Saturday, during the storm, my sister and sister-in-law threw me a great baby shower. My family was there, as was Snowman's, and some of my bestest friends came from far away (Krisser even came from CA and surprised me!) to join in on the fun. It was was a great day, and we came home with a lot of baby loot too! Thanks everyone :-)

So, for your enjoyment, here are some photos from the week, and for good measure, a few photos of Ronnie and Gigi too :-)

Snowman and Morgan

These glasses fit, right?!

What is Snowman saying to me? And why does Nancy find it so funny?!

Larry, Mim and I

The girls and I - Kristen, Krisser, Gannon, Corie, Ruby and Heather

The Sparkplug side of the family - Caitlin, me, Kristen, Mim, Susie, Mom and Lillie
(Snowman's family left before we remembered to take photos!)

Lounging on the sleeping bags

Kitty in a bag!

Friday, August 28, 2009


It was 52 degrees when I headed out for my run this morning under clear blue skies. Perfect running weather! I wish I could have enjoyed the morning more with a nice long run, but I'll settle for my "mini" 2-miler at this point in the game. It was just good to be out!

It was wonderfully cool in the shadows, but I could feel the heat from the sun in the open areas. The purple asters are blooming amongst the blueberry bushes, as were some of the sheep laurel. There were still a few ripe blackberries to enjoy, while the blueberries are beginning to fade. The clusters of berries on the high bushes (I don't know exactly what they are, unfortunately) along the powerlines, white in the summer, are now beginning to turn a rich blush pink color. The Towhee and Phoebe were out singing in the brush, and I noted a small flock of six Cedar Waxwings flying overhead. Fall is on its way...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

3 Days in a Row

Yesterday morning, Snowman and I got up early and were out running by 7am. He stayed with me until we crossed the street, and then took off. We both headed out on the powerlines. After a stop for a few blackberries (I can't resist them!), I turned around at the one mile point on the top of a rise. I could see Snowman way far down the trail, and figured he would catch me on his way back, even though I was doing 2 miles and he was doing 3. Yes, I am that slow these days! And I felt extra slow yesterday, as it was really heavy out (surprise, surprise). However, I did actually manage to get back to the door about 1 minute before he did, which was nice :-)

Yesterday's run meant 3 days in a row of exercise for me, which I haven't been doing for a while. And I must admit that by last night, I was feeling tired! It could have also had something to do with being out in the sun all afternoon yesterday with the family down at the park at Portland Head Light. We met for a picnic on the tables by the water, and then walked up to the Light and back down along the short Cliff Walk. It was the perfect day to be out, enjoying a summer day, and fun to see everyone!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bradbury Hike

By real hiking standards, Bradbury really isn't a mountain. It's more like a hill. But it is called Bradbury Mountain, so I'll call today's walk a hike :-) Snowman was planning to meet some of the Trail Monsters there for a run this morning, so I tagged along. They headed to the fun singletrack trails on the east side of the park, while I headed up the South Ridge Trail to the summit and the trails on the west side.

There was a nice breeze blowing, but it was definitely still heavy out. The woods were quiet, with the exception of the leaves shifting and shaking in the wind. I had the summit to myself, looking out over the green valley with a few red barns and a white church steeple visible. I could see out to the ocean, but just barely. From the summit, I headed down the Tote Road, where I came across the one person I would see on the trails during my time out - a biker who we had seen in the parking lot earlier. I said hello, and he said, 'I figured you were running with those guys and thought well, that is one crazy lady!' I laughed and said 'No, not that crazy.' Although really, I did wish I was out there running with everyone! Still, I enjoyed my walk in the woods. It was very peaceful, and nice to get a decent workout in.

I got back to the parking lot in exactly 1:00, logging 3.1 miles, just in time to see everyone come back to their cars after loop #1 on the Scuffle course. They all headed out again, and I made myself comfortable at one of the picnic tables under the pine trees with my book until their return. A good morning :-)

Then it was home to tidy up the place and get things crossed off the 'to-do' list, as my parents are arriving tonight for a visit!

In last week's running news, I did get in two more runs, although Thursday's run turned into 1 mile of running and 1 mile of walking. The little lady was clearly not happy with the running, so I walked the rest of the way back. Oh well. Saturday's run was more successful and I got in a nice 2 miles on the powerlines. I had intended to go further, but it was just so muggy out that I decided not to push it, as I am definitely feeling the heat and humidity a bit more these days. I did of course made my requisite stop to eat a few blue and blackberries along the way :-) Can't pass those up!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

32 Weeks and Still Shuffling Along

32 weeks down as of yesterday. 8 to go.

I was up and out early yesterday morning for a run on the powerlines. I took it nice and easy as it was warm even at 7:30 am, doing 2.5 miles in 30 minutes. Still, I felt good and enjoyed being out there. I stopped to eat some yummy blueberries and blackberries, and looked up to see a doe bounding across the lines into the brush. She looked at me briefly and then got down to munching on the greenery. I guess a 32-week pregnant lady doesn't look too threatening! :-)

Later that morning, we headed to the hospital, as I had to get an ultrasound. I have measured small the past two doctor's visits, and so although the doctor didn't feel there was likely anything wrong with the baby, they do this as a precaution to be sure. The ultrasound measures specific body parts, as well as testing for certain things, like is she practicing breathing, is she moving and is the amniotic fluid level OK.

She was moving around and practicing her breathing, meaning she wasn't in distress. In fact, it was very cool to watch her little heart beat! She was being stubborn and had her hands and feet up around her face, with her head way up against my right rib, so we didn't get any good photos this time around. She was indeed measuring a bit small for 32 weeks, but not significantly, and came in at the 23rd percentile for her weight. It sounds like I'll likely have to come back in for another ultrasound in the next 2 weeks to a month to see that she is progressing along OK, but in the end (luckily!), no one seemed too concerned. They are just being cautious, and I have to appreciate that. Plus it allowed us to look at her again!

In kitty news, here are a few photos of Gigi and Ronnie. Gigi is getting big! And Ronnie has accepted that he now has a little sister who likes to follow him around and jump on him :-)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Morse Mountain Walk

After a very fun and full day on Sunday of volunteering (for me) and running (for Snowman) in the heat at the Breaker, having lunch with our AT friends Hairball and Snowbunny, lounging with the Trail Monsters oceanside, and having dinner with my sister and family, we were looking for a mellow outing yesterday. I suggested a walk out over Morse Mountain to the beach, and then lunch at Anna's Water's Edge, where I had a gift certificate from work.

We hit the parking lot at Morse Mountain a little after 10am, and it was relatively empty. Where was everyone?! Well, we wouldn't complain as there is nothing like walking on the beach when it is quiet. It was already hot and muggy, and the parking attendant warned us that the bugs were pretty nasty. And unfortunately, we had forgotten to bring the bug spray! The walk on the road through the woods was pleasant, except for the mosquitos which kept us swatting and swearing and bleeding and itching the whole way.

August marsh

Once we hit the sand, the greenheads were out in force, so we hurried to the water's edge, happy that the tide was going out. The plovers and sandpipers were scurrying along, pecking away at the surf line, and there was enough of the breeze to cool us down.

Snowman was still feeling grumpy from all the bug bites, so I suggested we take off our shoes and get in the water for a bit. We did just that, and waded in up to our knees, enjoying the waves and the water, which was the perfect temperature. We stood in the water for a while, and then picked up our shoes and walked back barefoot at the edge, happy.

Snowman in the surf

Me at 31 weeks 5 days

After battling the bugs on the way back, we headed to Anna's Water's Edge for a yummy lunch before heading back home. Perfect!

Snowman's lobster roll plate

Here are a few photos from the day.

Flora and fauna notes: Along with the mosquitos and greenheads, we did see a small flock of turkeys in the blueberry bushes along the side of the road as we headed over the "summit" of Morse Mountain. They were making a racket! On the beach, we chased several flocks of plovers and sandpipers, and noted a few cormorants playing in the waves.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lowering the Bar

I know the saying is supposed to be "raising the bar" but as this pregnancy progresses, the bar just keeps getting lower and lower in regards to how much I can run. Ah well. My last two runs - Friday and Saturday - were both two milers. I have always thought that 3 miles is the minimum it was worth going out for, but this is not your typical running. This is 31+ week running! Therefore, while I find the fact that I only managed two miles both days a bit depressing, I also realize that at this point, any exercise is good exercise and I'm just happy to be out there.

Friday I ran across the street on the roads around the high school. Not much excitement. Saturday, I headed to the Commons for a change of scenery and pace. I did a nice lollypop out-and-back and enjoyed spending a bit of time in the woods on a warm August morning.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

31 weeks and 3 miles

Well, I'm at 31 weeks today. 9 weeks to go.

To celebrate, I got up and out this morning for a very slow 3 mile run. I think the best way to describe how I felt on the run was "heavy." And granted, I am heavier! I am still moving around pretty well, all things considered, but my belly is definitely getting bigger and bigger and that certainly is slowing me down a bit, especially while running in this muggy weather. But I was out there, and hey, at this point, that's what counts!! :-)

In other news, according to Ryan, I am nesting. I have a big list going for myself of things to do before the little lady arrives, and of course, I have a good sized list for him of tasks to complete. Now really, a lot of things on his list are things that just need to get done regardless, especially as some of them have been in the works for a while, but I really want as many things done as possible before the baby's arrival, as I know there will not be as much time to do things once she is born!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fun Day

This morning I headed up to Great Glen for the final few hours of the 24 Hours of Great Glen mountain bike race. These mountain bikers are crazy, but what a fun event! Imagine a 24 hour trail running race! There could be solo racers and teams of 2 and 4. Very cool... Anyway, Great Glen does a wonderful job of putting on this race, and everyone racing, volunteering and watching seemed to really be enjoying themselves. Not to mention, as an extra bonus, the weather was beautiful this weekend!

I helped at the timing table, checking people in and out as they came through on their laps. It was a good spot to be in, under the tent, chatting with the racers and other volunteers, and looking out onto the meadow and the Presidentials beyond. After the final racers had come through on their last laps, I headed out onto the trails for a short run. I stuck to the lower part of the trail system, where things were a bit flatter, running out along the meadow, replete with daisies, black eyed susans, thistle and a few remaining lupines amongst the grasses, enjoying the views of the Presidentials set against the blue sky. Then into the woods, where I noted many blue bead lilies and red bunchberries, along with a few red berries on the remaining trillium stalks. The Garmin didn't pick up a signal before I started running, so I am unsure how far I ran, but I was out for 30 minutes, which was good enough for me for the day.

Today's extra: The video below of Joan Benoit winning the Olympic Marathon in 1984 has shown up in a few spots recently, but it is very cool. If you need some inspiration, it is definitely worth a watch!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Three Days in Baxter

View of Katahdin from our cabin, Loon Lodge, on Daicey Pond

We just got back from three great days in Baxter. Now that our self-imposed hiatus from the park is over after finishing the AT last year, we really wanted to get up there this year. With me being pregnant, sleeping on the ground in a tent didn't sound all that appealing, so we figured this was the year to try out one of the cabins we had seen while hiking along Daicey Pond on the trail last year. What a great spot! Perfect...

Photos from our trip can be seen here.

Day 1:
We were up and on the road around 7:15am, fueled by Tim Horton's breakfast sandwiches and coffee, arriving at the gatehouse about 3 1/2 hours later. There, we switched off our phones and the radio, rolled down the windows, and headed into the park, enjoying the breeze and the scenery. We stopped in at Daicey Pond to check things out, but we were too early for check-in, so we headed up the road a bit to Kidney Pond, where we planned to start our hike of Sentinel Mountain. We sat down by the water and ate our lunch in the breeze, smiling all the while. We were in Baxter! What's not to love?

Snowman was the sherpa for the hike, carrying his big pack with extra water, all the food and extra clothes. I was happily equipped with just my Nathan pack and my poles. You might think this set-up was good for fastpacking, but the reality is I was really slowpacking - going as light as possible and as slow as possible :-)

Snowman along Kidney Pond

The trail skirted Kidney Pond before beginning the ascent up Sentinel Mountain. This was a fairly rugged little mountain, but we just took our time and enjoyed the woods. Snowman was a gentleman and assisted me where I needed an extra boost - with my ever-expanding belly, I am not quite as able to maneuver up and over, around and down things as I typically have been. There was one knee-deep stream crossing along the way, but it was so warm and muggy that the cold water and wet shoes felt really good! The trail topped out on some open ledges, complete with a good breeze and a fair number of perfectly ripe and yummy blueberries, not to mention nice views of Katahdin. After a bit of time relaxing on the ledges, we headed back down the way we came for 5.6 miles in 3.5 hours with 1/2 hour or more of stops included.

Me on Sentinel Mountain Ledges. 29 weeks 5 days.

As we pulled back into the parking area at Daicey Pond, it started to sprinkle, but we didn't care - we were in a cabin tonight! Loon Lodge was a great spot, in a wooded area at the edge of the pond. The cabin had two twin beds, a wood stove, a nice porch, firepit and picnic table. As it was raining, we cooked pasta on the porch and relaxed in our chairs, playing Cribbage and reading until bedtime.

Day 2:

It rained through the night, I awoke at 6:30am to clearing skies. I had my breakfast out on the porch, watching the bugs jump on the water and reading until Snowman woke up. Today's plan was to drive up to the far end of the park, where we had never explored. The Tote Road is long. And dirt. And the speed limit is 20 mph. Or less. It took us about 1 1/2 hours to get to South Branch Pond campground, but it was a nice ride, with some pretty views along the way. The South Branch Pond area is beautiful and much less-frequented than the other end of the park.

Lower South Branch Pond

We decided on a hike up to South Branch Mountain, with the option for a loop up, over and around the pond. The trail started with a stream crossing, so our already wet shoes were now even wetter, and then proceeded to climb straight up for 2 miles. Everything was wet and slippery, so it was slow going, but the woods were pretty. Lots of red bunchberries contrasting with the lush greenery. As we hit the ridge of the mountain, the breeze picked up, and we had some nice views from a rocky ledge before the summit. We sat on the rocks at the northern summit and ate lunch, debating whether we should continue on with the loop, or go back down the way we had come up. I was feeling good, and so we agreed to continue on.

We were glad we did a short while later, as we topped out on the south summit of South Branch Mountain. There were gorgeous views down onto the ponds and out over the Peak of the Ridges and the Traveler, as well as back towards Katahdin. The summit ridge was like a meadow, with blueberries, bunchberries, indian paint brushes, lichen and grasses blowing in the breeze. Beautiful.

Snowman on South summit of South Branch Mountain

The trail wandered steeply, but dryly, down to Upper South Branch Pond. From there, it was 2 miles back to the trailhead. The breeze that had been so nice up on the ridge was non-existent along the shores. I was hot. And getting tired. Perhaps the loop was a bit much after all, but it was a lovely hike and I'm really glad we did it. We finished off the 6.4 miles in 5 1/2 hours with 1 hour or more of stopping. When we got back to the end of the lake, we dropped our packs and went right in up to our knees to cool, and clean, off. A great way to end a hike!

Snowman cooking up dinner on the fire

Snowman cooked us sausages and veggies over the firepit for dinner, and we took in a great views of Katahdin over the pond in the early evening light, then we read until the light got low enough that it was time to go inside. I slept like a rock, so I think I really did tire myself out!

Pregnant lady and the mountain. 29 weeks 6 days.

Day 3:

We slept in and had a leisurely breakfast before packing up the car. We decided it would be a shame to leave Daicey Pond without taking one of the canoes out. The pond was quiet, with a bit of a breeze blowing on a gorgeous sunny morning. We hugged the shores, enjoying the water lilies and the tadpoles and minnows swimming along in the clear, shallow waters. The canoe afforded us some fine views of Doubletop, OJI and Katahdin over the trees.

Canoeing Daicey Pond

Upon our return, we got in the car and headed to Katahdin Stream campground, where we took a short 1 mile hike out to Grassy Pond. It was a nice mellow morning. And then, it was time to hit the road for home. But what a great trip!

Flora and fauna notes from the weekend: The woods were lush and green from all the rain. Bunchberries and Indian Pipe were plentiful, as were the blueberries up on the ridges. The most abundant wildlife was the many toads, from one the size of my thumbnail to one the size of my hand, as well as frogs that we saw. We did spot one Red-tailed Hawk, as well as a number of sparrows, swallows, juncos and chickadees, but were disappointed with the lack of large mammals seen on the trip. Baxter is prime habitat for moose, but somehow, despite spending time along a lot of ponds and traveling most of the tote road, we didn't see one! Snowman thinks they don't exist :-)