Third Times a Charm

Last week I received an e-mail from wordpress.  My blog subscription was about to expire.  This e-mail gave me pause.  I liked knowing I had the blog around in case I ever wanted to post, but did I really want to keep paying money to have it look exactly how I want…the answer is yes.  But if I’m going to pay for something, I should probably actually use it, so here goes.  I’m hoping the third time will be the charm and that I will actually blog during the school year. So to make up for the last nine months of no posting I thought I would highlight one thing from each month.  Here goes:

September: What, me, a runner?

David and I with our pie after the pie race in November.

My school has this really old tradition, called the Pie Race.  It’s actually the oldest, continuous road race in America. The race is a 4.3 mile loop around campus.  If you can run the race in under a certain time (40 minutes for women), then you win an apple pie.  The race takes place in November between the fall and winter sports seasons, so a lot of students, faculty, and staff participate.  A couple of David and my friends put together a training group for faculty and staff wanting to do the race.  David decided to participate and I gave into the peer pressure.  Now we have run two races – the Pie Race and Old Sandwich Road Race (in case you were wondering – this race did not end with an old sandwich for the best times – unless freshly grilled hotdogs and hamburgers count…).

October: Snow Days

David’s snowman.

A blizzard, in October.  It was crazy.  We lost power, sent as many students home as we could, and had two days off from school.  Sunday, David and I took and incredible snow walk and then built snowmen with a few students.  Monday, we went down to Hartford to go shopping because somehow the mall had power even though the rest of Hartford was without power – people were literally charging phones and computers in the lounges. It was also hilarious because my students had a big project due Monday and I had given a long speech about how there were no excuses for turning it in late, so then when power went out Saturday night they all were really worried that I still expected a typed, printed paper on Monday morning (I didn’t).

November: The Loss of Wisdom…teeth

Resting post-surgery with Calvin.

I was actually dreading this for almost the entire month of November, mostly because I couldn’t eat or drink anything before the surgery.  As soon as someone tells me I can’t have water I get thirsty.  In the end, it was kind of a fun experience.  It was only mildly painful and David and I used the recovery time to watch the first season of Battlestar Galactica (we finished the series last month).

December: Christmas with the family

Warren Christmas tree

The end of the semester was actually slightly sad for me because I really loved the group of students I was teaching.  The spring was also the beginning of teaching two brand new courses, which was daunting to say the least.  In the middle of all this, it was wonderful to head back to Kansas and spend some quality time with my and David’s family.

January-February: Coaching an Undefeated Basketball Team

Rather than pouring gatorade on my and head coach’s head, the girls gave us cupcakes in the face after our final win.

The highlight of the season was the seventh game, when we played another undefeated team.  At halftime, we were losing by over 12 points (which is a lot in JV girls’ basketball where the average score is like 30 points).  In the second half we opened a can and came back to win by 5 points. It was incredible.  Beyond the actual wins, the girls on the team were (and are) just wonderful.  They were a real team and cared a lot for each other.

March: Spring Break in Chile

Hiking Villarrica Volcano in Pucon, Chile.

Its hard to summarize this trip in a few words. The highlights were getting to be out in nature.  We went on a couple really wonderful hikes, visited the dessert (my first trip to a dessert, and bought some wonderful Chilean yarn.  Sadly the trip ended with David and I both coming down with some sort of traveler’s sickness.  Thankfully it was the last night.

April: Leading a class trip to Turkey

Sunset over the Galata Bridge in Istanbul.

The travel was awesome.  We got to see really amazing sites around western Turkey.  I loved visiting centuries old mosques, churches, an underground city, shopping in the market, and walking through the cities. Traveling with students was wonderful and challenging. I had the opportunity to get to know students in more personal ways and see them get excited about the various sites around the country.  Yet it was also challenging keeping track of the students and caring for their mental and physical health (only one trip to the Turkish hospital…).

May: Finishing a Sweater (pic to come)

With graduation and end of year happening, school was pretty much all consuming during the month of May.  I felt like this year I was more prepared for the end of the year and planned my curriculum better so that my year didn’t end with a lot of long papers to grade, but it was also my first semester teaching seniors and I have a lot to learn about how to energize students (and myself) during the last months of the year.  Oh wait, but the highlight was this sweater.  When I first finished it I thought it looked terrible, but this just proves the power of blocking (washing the sweater and laying it out to dry).  After this process I fell in love with the sweater. Sadly its been too hot for much of the summer to wear it, but come fall…   My mom also came by for a long weekend, we had a wonderful time of fabric shopping and eating out together.

June: Family Trip to Friday Harbor and Seattle

Celebrating Daniel’s graduation from his residency program with the whole family.

At the end of June, David and I joined the rest of the Warren clan on the San Juan Islands. The Islands were incredible with a lot of fun adventures in the outdoors – like kayaking with orcas, walking the beach as sunset, and hiking.  But the real highlight was spending quality time with David’s family.   Christmas is often incredibly hectic, so having time to share with the family was a real gift.  We also had the pleasure of running into three friends from divinity school – all unexpectedly.  While I generally think the check-in feature on facebook is slightly creepy – in this instance it helped us reconnect with two friends, not bad facebook. Hopefully my next post won’t take 9 months.

trip to mount washington

For our anniversary David and I went to Mount Washington in New Hampshire for a long weekend of hiking and sight-seeing.  Here are the highlights in collage form.*

1. sunset over mt. washington     2. david and i in front of arethusa falls      3. starting on the owl’s head trail (little did i know that i would still be in pain three days later)     4. start of the trail to arethusa falls     5-8. diana’s baths     9. view from a scenic oerlook     10. view at the top of owl’s head trial (the photo is slightly off because david was tired and ready to head back)     11. diana’s baths     12. end of owl’s head trail, we were running low on water so david tried filtering water from the stream we crossed     13. frog we found on the owl’s head trail     14. picture at scenic overlook     15. view of the presidentials from the top of the owl’s head trail     16. scenic overlook     17. view of mt. washington from owl’s head     18. diana’s baths     19. view of mt. washington from our bed and breakfast     20. frankenstein cliffs     21. sunset at the scenic overlook     22. david ‘whittled’ walking sticks for us for the trek back down from owl’s head     23. arethusa falls     24. diana’s baths     25. top of a tree     26. roots of a tree     27. arethusa falls

*Since I made this collage in Picasa you can’t click on a picture to enlarge it, but in a couple days David will have edited the pictures and placed his favorites on his flickr stream.  You can access the stream in the bar to the right.  

Breezy Belize, Part 2

 

beach chair on the pier

nervously awaiting our flight

The second part of our trip began a little rocky, with a flight on a very small plan from Belmopan to Placencia, a peninsula right on the Caribbean Sea in southern Belize.  As many of you know.  I get nauseous easily…really easily.  So the prospect of taking this flight on a cloudy day was daunting to say the least and let’s just say it didn’t go well.  I had two breakfasts that day.  So did David, but that’s was just to commiserate, he really enjoyed the flight.

 

the beach of our hotel from the pier

Our time at Placencia was much more laid back.  For two of the four days, we spent our time:

swimming in or walking along the beach,

playing cards during happy hour, reading on the beach,

and flying our kite from the dock.

It was pretty awesome.

On the other two days we had two more adventures.  The first is less exciting than the second.  According to our guidebook, our hotel was about 7 miles outside the village of Placencia.  The peninsula was really flat so we thought it would be fun to bike into the city.  We did not account for the direct sun, lack of wind going in, lots of wind against us coming back, and the miscalculation of the guidebook.  By seven miles it meant as a bird flew, not by road, which was about two and a half miles longer.  Let’s just say, that while the city was quaint and had some interesting looking restaurants and souvenirs, we did not partake in either after that trip.

 

people always look funny under water

Our second excursion was more planned and way more enjoyable.  I think it was David’s favorite day.  We went snorkeling.  After over an hour in the boat out to this tiny island that David thought looked like an island in a cartoon, we got to see a lot of awesome fish and sea life.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

a school of fish,

technicolor fish with coral,

seeing a fish that looked like Dory from Finding Nemo,

swimming with a turtle,

sunburned faces (wait that wasn’t a favorite moment…)

Spending our final day snorkeling was a tiring, but really fun way to end out our trip.  While we were bummed to leave the warmth and relaxation of vacation, I was excited to return to Calvin and to finally spend a day without having to use sunscreen.

Goodbye beach, goodbye ocean…

this shot took 10 minutes

Jump into Belize

sunset in the jungle

So this time I have a good excuse for not writing…David and I went on vacation to Belize.  David and I both knew that if we stayed at home, I would either work all break or go crazy sitting  around and knitting all day.  So we chatted with friends, looked up flights on Kayak, and then decided to book a trip to Belize.  Since I know David’s pictures are more interesting than verbose descriptions, I’ll let the pictures tell the story….

a glimpse at our tree house

Our trip began with a visit to Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch.  David likes to call this place summer camp for adults because its an all-inclusive place where you eat meals in common, sleep in tree-houses (ok, they were just called tree houses they were actually really nice), and then go on adventure excursions.  While the adventures were incredible (more to come in a minute), we really loved the community atmosphere the place fostered.  At the end of each day people would gather in the pool or around tables for dinner and talk about the adventures they had been on earlier in the day.  A couple nights we sat around for a good couple hours getting to know people.  It was really cool.

The Waterfall Excursion:

the entrance to the cave

the bats that greeted us when we entered the cave

To be honest, I was dreading our first excursion a little.  A major reason David wanted to go to Caves Branch was for a trip called the “Waterfall Excursion.”  Here’s the plan for this trip: you hike 2 miles into a pitch black – spider, crab, and mayan ghost filled – cave, then you risk your life climbing up

the cave's brain-sucking larva (or so our guide said)

seven waterfalls, varying in height from a couple feet to twenty feet.  Then when you reach the top of the last waterfall you turn around, jump down the waterfalls and hike out of the cave.  Now I ask you, with all this life-risking, etc. wouldn’t it seem smarter to just avoid the cave.  Turns out no…because it was AWESOME!  Probably my favorite day.  One of the best ways to grasp how crazy and awesome this trip is all at the same time, you have to watch the following videos of me climbing up and then jumping down the largest of the seven waterfalls.

Climbing up: In the first part of the video you see me listening as the guide explains how to get up the waterfall.  You’ll notice that I ask a lot of questions.  I think that’s my subconsious way of trying to get out of actually climbing the waterfall. Jumping down: In the second part, you see our other guide jump part of the way down.  Then I follow.  Next he instructs me how and where to jump.  You’ll notice that he does a lot of pointing.  What he is saying is, you see the white spots on the left and right and directly down?  Don’t jump there, that’s rock.  Then he points again, jump there.  I look at him and then ask, is this the only way down.  He then lies and says yes.  I count to three and then jump.

checking out the mayan ruins in the cave

The Black Hole Drop:

our rappel began at the end of the tree line above this cave opening

Our second excursion is called the black hole drop.  Here’s the plan for this trip.  You hike a couple miles into the jungle to this sink hole.  Once you reach the top, you rapel down the side of the cliff and into the hole.  Then you climb back out.  Going in, I was less nervous about the trip…until I got to the top.  Then I was really nervous.  But once I got the hang of it (no pun intended), it was pretty fun. Truth be told.  The guides did most of the work to get me down.  I just hung on the rope, trying to take in the view without freaking out.   The hardest part was probably the hike in up these really steep cliffs.

'rappelling' down the mountain

Tikal:

a mayan pyramid partly excavated

mayan sculpture

For our final trip we took a three hour trip across the border into Guatemala to the Mayan ruins of Tikal.  Tikal is at present the largest known and excavated site of Mayan ruins in central America.  Which is crazy given that of the 222 sq miles of land only a tiny portion has been excavated.  We got to see five temples, a pyramid, former lodgings, and much more.  One of the temple reaches over 200 hundred feet and has really incredible views of the entire park.  What I found most interesting about the site was how much of it was still underground.  We would walk by

pushing over temple 1

these huge hills and our guide would say, that’s another temple/pyramid/lodge/etc. that still needs to be excavated.  Above, David took a really cool pictures of one of the pyramids.  Only two of the four sides have been fully cleared.  One could probably wax poetic about the theological and ecological significance of this, but since I already bored David to death talking about it on the drive back to the Lodge, I won’t go on about it here.

david and i had a lot of fun exploring the ruins

Sadly, our trip at the Caves Branch had to come to an end.  But we weren’t too sad because the vacation continued…find out more later this weekend!

One Last Hurrah of the Summer

the cabin in vermont

When David and I first coordinated this trip to Vermont, I looked forward to it as one last exciting weekend away before I would start work, but as the day approached, I began to feel that even the trip was overwhelming.  We had just moved in to the new apartment and badly need to go search for additional furniture and organizational stuff.  It wasn’t just the unpacking that overwhelmed me, but the realization that moving in put me one step closer to actually living among a bunch of high school boys.  The day after we moved in, the Assistant Head of School sent out the orientation and registration schedule and something is happening non-stop all day everyday.  I’m pretty sure that I don’t have to be present for everything, but I have yet to find out exactly what is expected and when and of course there are ‘volunteer’ opportunities that aren’t so volunteer.  But I’ll know more on that after tomorrow when new faculty orientation start.  This post is about how sometimes a weekend away is the best possible medicine for being overwhelmed.

While we were only there for 48 hours, we packed in a lot of awesomeness.

Hiking:

creek at the bottom of the hill

Kayaking…

beautiful sky, beautiful lake

Stargazing…

there was a meteor shower...we don't always do this

But the best part was spending time with people we really love and that’s harder to capture in pictures.

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Here Begins Year 4

Three years ago today I married my best friend.

a walk down memory lane courtesy of my dad's awesome picture

Sadly this is the third year in a row that a job or internship has attempted to keep us from celebrating our anniversary on the actual day, but we were not deterred.  We said who cares if David has a conference it’s in New Hampshire.  What are New Hampshire and Vermont known for…bed and breakfasts.  WHAT UP conference, take that.  So we found a cute bed and breakfast in Woodstock, VT and then went to this really fun restaurant/glass blowing worship shop/waterfall/Simon Pearce store.  Here’s a window into our brief, but really enjoyable anniversary celebration.

three years later and still smiling

the handblown glass with waterfall in the background

not quite niagara but still awesome

O Canada

After just under 2,000 miles and 10 days of travel, David and I have returned to home, or at least to the summer home…It was a great trip, filled with much exciting sight-seeing, great food, incredible travel knitting and much, much more.  Since it’s hard to encapsulate the trip in words, without boring you for days, David and I put together two lists, which nicely sum up our experience, The Top 10 List of Joy and the Bottom 5 List of Frustration.  *As a side note, I got the idea of making a list of our favorite experiences from an article in Real Simple once and I’ve been trying to get David to participate for almost seven years with little or no success.  Thanks to the blog, David was blindsided and participated without even realizing my tricks.  Since it’s always better to end on a positive we’ll begin with…

The Bottom 5 List of Frustration

#1: At rock bottom was our hotel stay in Syracuse, NY (this will be the only non-Canadian part of the list, I promise).  It started out awesome, the shower looked like a rainfall, the bed felt like a cloud.  I thought, we will finally have air conditioning and I can sleep.  And we did have air conditioning…as long as we kept moving.  That’s right the air conditioner was/is set on a motion detector.  So if you stop moving, i.e. go to sleep, the air conditioner will turn off, regardless of whether or not it has hit the right temperature.  This ranks at the bottom of the list mostly because I cannot fathom who thought this was a good idea, and on top of that, how they convinced this hotel to pay extra to install these motion detectors.  CRAZY…but it did get us a free breakfast.

#2: I got a cold.  I first felt it coming on in Toronto, but it hit full force on our first night in Montreal.  That first night was terrible, I’m pretty sure I went to the bathroom to refill my cup of water every hour.  Thankfully, you can get Codine-cough syrup over the counter in Canada without a prescription so the next two nights were okay.  Also thankfully, David had stowed some cough drops in our car from earlier in the year when he had a cold.

#3: Our hotel experience at the Hilton in Niagara Falls was equally ridiculous.  After a lovely evening enjoying our view of the NY falls, we woke to discover not only were we out of hot water (I got a cold shower in), we were actually out of water entirely.  We couldn’t flush the toliet.  We had to brush our teeth using water leftover in our water bottles.  David didn’t shower at all.  Once again free breakfast and this time an angry e-mail to the Hilton people when we returned home.  I mean seriously, the point of a hotel is to sleep and shower, I’m pretty sure we deserve some sort of refund.

#4: Quebec province, and more specifically Montreal rush hour, traffic.  A six hour trip turned into an eight hour trip after hitting 4 spots of construction, rush hour, an accident during rush hour, and another bought of construction during rush hour.

#5: I feel really snobby saying this, but rounding out the list was the food we had on the road.  We knew we were picky about fast food before the trip, but we now need to scratch off Arby’s, Quizno’s, and Diary Queen (the food, not the ice cream, the ice cream is always a winner).  I just don’t understand why rest stops cannot include a Chipotle, Chick-fil-a or Sonic.

Now for the fun list, the Top 10 List of Joy.  For this list, rather than describing everything, I’ve picked a few choice pictures from the over 2,000 pictures David took over the course of our trip.

Top Ten List of Joy

#10 The View from the Top of Mont Royal: It was an excruciating climb in the heat and David and I were sure we would come home sunburned and sore (neither of which actually happened), but once we got to the top it was all worth it.

the view from the chalet on mont-royal

#9 Free Stuff: As I mentioned above we managed to get two free breakfasts for our trials, but this was only the beginning.  After bemoaning our bad hotel luck to the woman who checked us in, she sent up a free welcome snack and card.  We also encountered a very nice bus driver in Montreal who not only gave us a free bus ride, but went out of his way to point us in the right direction when we got off the bus.  Finally, when leaving Massachusetts we were given a free toll, I believe it was because the toll girl didn’t want to break our $20 bill.

the note accompanying our free westin goodies

#8 Notre Dame Cathedral: While it’s been a long time since I’ve visited the cathedral of the same name in Paris and I may have forgotten its true grandeur, the alter piece and nave of this cathedral may be just as magnificent.  I just love the blue.

the inside of notre dame

#7 CN Tower: Who knew that Canada had the second tallest (I think) building in the world.  The view was spectacular.  It even has this crazy glass floor, which is both cool and disorienting.

david's feet 1,122 feet in the air looking through the cn tower glass floor

#7b Seeing Mike Birbigilia in concert: I don’t know if it was the wine over dinner or what, but I accidently had two things on our list numbered at 7 and didn’t realize it until right now, whoops.  So here’s 7b, Montreal has this festival each July called the Just For Laughs festival.  Since we have crappy internet access we somehow got the impression that we missed the week, but when we arrived to the hotel we learned it was in full swing.  So we snagged tickets to see Mike B.  It was a lot of fun, especially because we had second row seats.  My making David arrive 45 minutes early paid off!

#6 Royal Ontario Museum: David was like a little kid in a candy shop checking out all the different dinosaur bones and reproductions.  There was also this really thought-provoking traveling exhibit on political cartoons on the top floor that gave me an idea for a possible class project in the future…

david vs. dinosaur bones

#5 The Food: Our guidebooks and the various people we asked for tips did not lead us astray.  Almost every meal was incredible.  The pictures speak for themselves.

cakes from the red tea box

incredible salads at olive and gourmando, just to the right of us sat snl comedian Nasim Pedrad

#4 Biking through Montreal: Montreal has these awesome things call Bixi bikes.  For only 5$ you can rent one for the whole day and as long as you never have a bike out for more than 30 minutes there’s no additional charge.  It was a much more exciting and healthy way to see the city rather than taking the subway.

that's me from the perspective of david's bike

#3 Queen’s West: Designer toy store, yarn store, tea shop with AWESOME cakes, and crazy condom and weed stores all over the place…need I say more.

our toy, ed, from the magic pony toy store

i know none of you are going to believe me, but we really didn't go in the condom store

#2 St. Joseph’s Oratory: Built in the 20th century, this place was just incredible.  There were two chapels, a candle room, and a spectacular view of the city of Montreal.  What can I say, I loved every minute.

us in front of st. joseph's oratory

#1 The Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls: Niagara Falls felt like the Branson of Canada, but I loved it.  The natural sights of the NY Falls and Canadian Falls were awesome.  We took a great trip outside the city for a lovely meal at a winery. Opening our whole experience was the Maid of the Mist boat ride and it was breath-taking.  It put us right in the middle of the action (really it was just on the edge of the action, but while you are on the boat it feels like you about to go into the falls).

in the action

trying to hide on the boat so we can go a second time

Sorry for such a long post, but it’s hard to sum up a ten day adventure.  I hope you enjoyed seeing Canada through our eyes, or at least our pictures.  Here are three of David’s favorite pictures, one from each city, at to end off the post.

the US falls at night all lit up

toronto's cn tower at night

montreal's notre dame at night, spooky eh?