Sunday, July 31, 2011

Work Shoes

This is what took over my life last week:
Horse Summer Camp! It was a lot of work, but worth every minute. The kids are so dang cute!

So, my running totally took a nose dive last week. I was going to run early yesterday morning, but I got to talk to my sweet husband on skype for a whole 50 minutes, that's the longest we've been able to talk so far! And skype was working reasonably well for once so I wasn't missing half of what he was saying. So, my time avalible to run got shorter and also later in the day so it was hot as blazes outside. I ran along the road, mistake #1, where is was even hotter and Okinawa seriously needs to get on the tree band waggon. I need some shade, people! After feeling like I'm going to die and soaked like I just jumped into a pool of hot water after 4 miles I called it quits. Some days are just not going to be good runs.

I did however do one of my favorite things this morning though! I ordered new running shoes. I've mentioned before how I'm huge Asics Gel Nimbus fans and so I bought the 13s. I could feel how my current shoes were just breaking down and not giving me what I need in the foot department. Any runners out there have a problem with the side of their big toe rubbing and hurting? It's only on my right foot.

I also bought new hiking boots for my upcoming Mt. Fuji hike. I hope they come quick so I can break them in!

Speaking of foot hell, I'm breaking in my new riding boots this week too. Ouch!

Don't you just love new shoes!

Mountain Horse Victoria Dressage Boots
Hi-Tec Light Hiking Boots in Grey/Violet
Asics Gel Nimbus 13 Running Shoe (in pink of course)

And since we can't have all work (shoes) and no play: BCBG Ballet Pump in blush - I had to just throw these babies in. I got them and this hot little pink BCBG dress while I was in the states. That store is a little slice of my heaven.

Time for me to get off to work. We have a big field trip of kids coming out today!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lobster and Lighthouses

If you haven't been to Maine, go ahead and add it to your list right now. My grand parents started the tradition my becoming friends with a couple who built a cabin on the lake, my parents followed suit and passed on this wonderful place to my sister and I. My parents have been going up to Maine, to the same lake and the same areas for 40 years, that's just how much they love it. I've been going my whole life and my parents love to tell the stories of my sister wanting to see her brand new baby sister and tumbling me out of my bassinet, my sister dumping melted butter for the lobsters all over herself moments before I split my lip open from bouncing on (or rather off) the bed and the septic tank decided to back up too, and how we've taken the same picture beside the same cove of rocks every time we've come. Maine is not only a vacation destination for my family, it's full of memories, familiar places and nostalgia. I love it. It is something so very special.

Pemaquid Lake, Damariscotta, Maine. The lake we always stay on is Pemiquid Lake. Damariscotta is about the cutest little town ever. It's small, quaint and picturesque. It is so beautiful it's a small wonder why there are so many artist galleries. Small, non chain stores and restaurants thrive in Maine and the locals love to keep it local. There was a huge stink a few years back when the town got a McDonald's. We stayed in the very same island cabin that my grandparents used to come to and I'm pretty sure that the cabin and the things in it are exactly if not perfectly the same from when they used to come. This cabin is rustic. I'm pretty sure it qualifies as camping. No heat or AC, no phone, maybe 5 tv channels if you're lucky, and lake water is pumped into the cabin for washing and bathing so you have to use bottled water for everything that's going in your mouth like brushing teeth, cooking and drinking. We did wash the dishes in the lake water and I tried not to think about that. Don't get me wrong, the lake is huge and beautiful and wonderful to swim in (you can see your feet it's so clear or rather brownish from the tannins in the leaves). Ok so there is the inconvenience factor of having to row ourselves and every single thing over to land in a row boat every single time you want to go anywhere. And there is the bug factor, hordes of mosquitoes and moths and god knows what would get into the cabin and as I read with my kindle book light at night the buggies would dive bomb my light. But, big but here, it was fabulous. The nightly fires in the big old fireplace, the smell of the old log cabin, the views of the lake and the haunting calls of the loons at night made every second a treasure. Plus, I had my parents blissfully all to myself. Since the cabin owner is an old friend of the family we got to stay for free in exchange for my dad doing some minor handy-man repair work around the cabin. My dad is a fabulous woodworker and repaired a bed and a bunch of other wooden things. We swam, floated, rowed and kayaked around the lake and had a grand 'ol time.

Red's Eats, Wiscassett, ME. This place has won all kinds of fab reviews and rewards. I have dreams about these lobster rolls. Yes, they are that good. These rolls are huge, piled high with fresh Maine lobster meat. We accompanied ours with sweet potato fries and onion rings. It was the perfect start to our Maine trip.

Rachel Carson's Salt Pond, New Harbor, ME. This is a very cool spot to see even if you aren't nerdy and into biology like me. This tide pool captures all kinds of see life, the same ones that inspired Rachel Carson. We love this spot because of the incredible panoramic views of the spectacular Maine coast and my dad happens to be a big fan of "the big rocks" a short walk and around the bend from the tide pool.

Shaw's Wharf, New Harbor, ME. This is our favorite fish and lobster restaurant. Right on the water, the views can't be beat. And you can watch the lobster men coming in with their catch. You know the lobsters and fish are the freshest they can be.

Back Cove. Back Cove is off the beaten path a little bit and it's a bit tricky to get to, but if you ask locals they will point you in the right direction. This quiet, beautiful spot also has a big field of wild lupines, my mom's favorite Maine flower.

Boothbay Harbor, ME. We all love this adorable town. It's got a ton of interesting shopping and places to eat. All of which are local and of the kind you've never seen before. We always go Duck Pin Bowling when we're here too. It's like regular bowling, but you use a little ball and the pins are super skinny. This town has a little shop next to the bowling place and they make amazing fudge. We also had an incredibly good dinner at The Boathouse Bistro.

Monhegan Island, ME. I had my birthday in Maine and I got to pick what we did, so we went to Monhegan Island for the day. We took the Hardy Boat Monhegan Island Ferry over to this magical little island. There are no cars and no paved roads and I think someone told me there are only something like 70 people living there year round. The island has a village, an artist colony, a beautiful 17 miles of hiking trails, an old shipwreck, lighthouse museum, art studios and boast the tallest seaside cliffs. 3/4 of the island remain "forever wild." This island has a lot going on for only being 1.5 miles long and 3/4 mile wide. I never thought I'd go hiking with my parents and my yorkie, but we did and had a wonderful time. On the boat ride back we even saw a bunch of harbor seals.

For my birthday dinner we went out to the Schooner Landing in Damariscotta. We went back to the cabin for angel food cake with local Maine strawberries and whipped cream (my favorite cake ever) and sipped on almond champagne. Happy 27th to me!

Mt Battie, Camden Hills State Park. Another one of my favorite things is to have a picnic up on Mt Battie. "Camden Hills State Park signature location is the scenic vista high atop Mt. Battie where sweeping views of Camden, Penobscot Bay, and surrounding islands await." We stopped briefly in Camden on the way home.

Kennebec River Cruise, Boothbay Harbor. We took this 44 mile scenic river cruise and saw the beautiful Maine coast and 7 lighthouses.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Bristol, Maine. "Pemaquid Point, with its dramatic streaks of granite reaching to the sea, shaped by massive movements thousands of years ago, would be a fascinating place to visit even without its pretty white lighthouse. The spot is one of the most frequently visited attractions of the Maine coast."

For 4th of July we went into Damariscotta for their adorable small town 4th of July celebration. There was a nice big town turn out and a pretty good local cover band kept us entertained as did a spectacular sunset as we waited for the fireworks to begin. I was thinking small town, dinky fireworks, right? Ummm no. This fireworks show knocked our socks off. It was so loud and close over our heads pieces of the fireworks were falling on us and the sound was overwhelming. We were in the right place, everyone was packed into the same place by the waterfront around us. Poor Sparky (my yorkie) was freaking out. I was freaking out! It was scary, a whole sensory overload for your eyes, ears, nose and whole body absorbing the explosions. The show was long and wonderful. I may go deaf a few years sooner in my old age because of this artillery/fireworks show. I was too busy trying to cover up my pups ears to cover up my own. My mom totally loved it and she said it's the fireworks show she's been waiting for. Who knew my mom was such an adrenaline junky!

This is a slideshow I put together for my parents.

I hope you all enjoyed learning some of my little Maine gems, you seriously just have to get up there. I know I'll be going back before too long and one day I'll bring my kids to continue the tradition.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Setting the bar high

Well, I got out of the habit of blogging when I was on my trip and man alive, it's hard to kick start myself into doing it again. Ok, I'll be honest, it's been hard to kick start myself into doing much of anything after this trip home. I have the post vacation blues, majorly. While my motivation levels were sky high in the states now that I'm back here I'm struggling to hang onto those feelings and keep myself pushing forward. I found myself again when I was in the states. I got the feeling that I was strong enough, smart enough. I remembered who I was and what was important to me. I got my confidence back and I'm going to run with it. Literally.

I ran a lot when I was in the states. I ran a 5k right before I went home and kept up with my running. I loved it. I loved running at dusk when the fireflies came out, I loved running on the trail around Burke Lake and around my neighborhood. I was running fast, feeling great. The day before we left for Maine while stocking up on chemical free bug spray and sunscreen at REI I grabbed a women's running magazine at the register. I didn't open it up until a few days later and saw there happened to be a half marathon training plan in there. I got to thinking. Then a couple weeks later, after finding the first magazine so motivating, I grabbed a second running magazine and it had an article about running your first half. So... here it goes. I am going to see if I can train for a half. Just see how it goes. Ok, I've said it on here, announced it. So now I have to do it. I'll keep you updated and posted about how this goes for me. I'll say this, I ran 7 miles this morning and thought I was going to pass out or barf, but I didn't and I'm super proud of myself. I haven't picked the half I want to run, but I want to do one in the fall before Brad gets back. And preferably one with the least amount of hills possible.

Massive, overwhelming and scary goal #2: In the states I got a crazy thing in my head, the desire to go back to school. It crept up on me suddenly, hard and fast like a wave. I graduated college in 2006, I have no idea if I could even get into a grad program and how I would navigate starting a program while overseas or if I'd have to wait until I get back to the states. If I have to wait I'm worried this desire for school will wane and I'll never do it. I feel like I need to do it now. So, there are a lot of questions, a lot of areas that I need to explore, but I'm just thrilled that I want to even think about going back to school. Up to now this was unheard of for me, college was hard, borderline hate-my-life hard and on my graduation day my friend reminded me of my exclamation of "thank god I never have to do this again!" So, I'm going to talk to some people, do some poking around on the internet and see what I can see.

Of course I have other more attainable, small goals like taking a scuba class this summer and I have my usual horse related goals. Bring it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Is it really over?

I cannot believe how fast these 4 weeks back in the states have gone by. I fly back to Okinawa tomorrow and I have so much to catch you up on once I get back. I went to Jersey to visit family, Maine for a relaxing week and a half, back to Jersey and even snuck in a quick trip to NYC to visit my dear friend. I'm back in VA now and have been just savoring every minute. I don't feel ready to go back and there was a lot I didn't get to do that I wanted to, but I have 7... yes 7 boxes of USA goodness that I am shipping back to Oki. I'm usually not a huge shopper, but I went into a shopping frenzy these last 4 weeks apparently. This trip has done so much for me mind, body and soul. It was exactly what I needed.
Saying good bye once again to mom, dad and Sparky, my friends and to this place that I love so much will be terribly hard. I have been literally feeling sick about it all day. But, all good things must come to an end and it's time to get back to real life. Bye USA!