Monday, August 30, 2010

American Folk Festival

Nothing too crazy this weekend. Just relaxed a bit and went to the American Folk Festival in Bangor. It is a annual festival that the city puts on that spotlights all kinds of traditional music from bluegrass, country and celtic to native american, cajun, and african. And it is totally free, which is right up my alley! Some of the people I saw perform were:
Dr. Michael White Quartet,

Taste of Celtic Colors,
Linda Lay and Springfield Exit, The Old Grey Goose, and Paddy Keenan.
Paddy Keenan played the Irish pipes and the low whistling flutes which I think have a beautiful sound. But he said with the wind blowing across the stage he could not play the flute. He then made a joke about using someones umbrella (lots of people had them for shade) to ward off the winds. So sure enough someone gave him an umbrella and he hid behind it and played his flute. :)

I really enjoyed my time there, but it was actually qutie hot!! A whole 92 degrees and I was burning up. Are you guys sending that hot weather up here? Well, stop it cause I don't have AC in my cottage.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Where to start

Sue and I did so much this weekend I really don't even know where to start. I guess the beginning is as good a place as any. :)
We left my house Saturday morning and headed to the Blueberry Festival in Machias. Along the way we saw a huge field of blueberries with a bunch of blueberry pickers out working. Maine wild blueberries are a lot smaller then what you get in the store. The pickers use these rakes to pick the berries off the tiny bushes.

  The blueberry festival was much nicer then the Skowhegan State Fair that I went to on Monday of last week. I tasted a bunch of different blueberry jellies, salsas, and preserves. We had blueberry pie and saw the end of a blueberry pie eating contest. Sue met some people she knew and they had friends in town from Gainesville! What a small world. It was a nice to feel connected to Florida. We left the festival with a few books from the local libraries book sale and 15 pounds of blueberries. Yum!

Then we went over to Campobello Island, New Brunswick. This little island is a part of Canada even though its only connection to the main land is a bridge connecting it to the US. It was strange that while you are standing on the island you can see US soil. In fact, you could probably swim across to it if you were a pretty good swimmer and you didn't mind hypothermia, but you can't call there without international long distance charges and you can't cross the bridge without a passport.
The US so close, yet so far away.
Campobello is only 8 miles long and 5 miles wide, and is home to about 1,000 people. It lays claim to having the only international park in the world, The Roosevelt Campobello Park, along with Franklin D Roosevelt's summer home since he was a child. The island is surrounded, in part, by the Bay of Fundy which has the largest tides in the world. They can be up to 25-30 ft high! It was amazing how the landscape changed from high tide to low tide. We went to the northern tip of the island to see the East Quoddy Lighthouse which you can only get to during low tide. At high tide it is no longer accessible by foot. There were gorgeous views and it was neat to think that you were walking over the bottom of the ocean floor (or what would be the bottom in a few hours.) There were some pretty steep stairs to get over to the lighthouse and you could see seaweed growing on the stairs that were near the bottom.

standing at the base of the stairs, low tide
Tide coming in near the stairs I mentioned from the previous pic.
Water up to the stairs now. All the rocks covered.
After we hiked the little trail back from the lighthouse to the mainland we spent quite some time just sitting looking out over the bay. We saw whales, porpoises, and seals hanging out in the water. It was so peaceful.

Since this is the "busy" season for the island they were having a little concert at the lighthouse. Which consisted of a three person singing group and about 20 people in the audience. So we got to see the sunset while we listened to music...  BUT what was even more entertaining was when someone came up and announced that there was a boat sinking on in the harbor. Apparently, this boat had hit a whale and the boat sunk in less then a minute. There was another boat nearby that picked up the people. The whale...just swam away like nothing happened. Do not try to take on a whale in a boat. You will lose. According to the locals this type of collision was a first and, let me tell you, it was the biggest news this little island has seen in a while. Everyone knew about it before the evening was out.
So what did Sue and I decide to do the next day? ... Go on a whale watching tour! :)
It was a ton of fun and we did not hit any whales. The whales that we saw were fin whales which can grow to be about 80-90ft long. I have never seen a whale in real life before so I could never really get a good perspective on how big they are. I have my perspective now...they are pretty darn big! It was one of the most amazing sites.  I loved it when they would come up to breathe and you would hear this big puff of air and water and when the sun would hit it just right it would make a rainbow in the mist. Breathtaking!

It was really hard to get a picture or video of the whales since you never knew where they were going to come up for air, but I did get one video just by pure luck. However, it would not let me post it to the blog (maybe it is too long). Anyway, it is posted on my facebook profile if you would like to see it.

After the whale watching we walked some trails in the park and toured FDR's summer home.
Since we had seen the East Quoddy Lighthouse on Campobello we decided we needed to see the West Quoddy lighthouse across the bridge in Lubec, Maine. The sight of this lighthouse is the most Eastern Point of the US. I have been to the most southern point in Key West and now the most eastern point. Maybe I will add hitting all four points of the US to my bucket list.
After the pic of the West Quoddy lighthouse are some random pics from the trip. 
passing between the mainland and the lighthouse...this time on a boat.
cool rocky beach where you could hear the rocks tumbling during the tide change.
Quaint little, out of the way, Seafood Restaurant Sue knew about where they catch their food and serve it that day. Great seafood chowder!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sweeter still

Another week done. Is it weird that while I am driving home on a Friday afternoon new treatment ideas for my patients are running through my mind? Sometimes it is hard to turn it off. Of course, I will probably forget them all by Monday... which is why I am seriously considering getting one of those little voice recorders that physicians or physiologists have :)
Another thing I was contemplating on my ride home was a call I got from my boss today. As we were talking she asked me if I wanted to sign on for another 13 week contract at this facility. She said I did not have to give her an answer right away, but that the offer is out there. I am 90% sure I am gonna say no (I really want to go to Tennessee), but there is this little 10% of me thinking about all the things Sue has told me we could do if I signed on again and stayed through the winter such as downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling...etc. Then the other 90% kicks in again and says that I have a goal of seeing all 50 states and I can't spend that long in Maine. And it will be FREEZING in the winter. And I must be crazy thinking that I can handle being in the "country" that long. Plus my parents are already planning on going to Tennessee for Thanksgiving. What do you guys think I should do?

Finally, after this long, thought-filled 15 minute drive I got home! ;) And low and behold a package was waiting from me. FUN!
"Brown paper packages tied up with string. These are a few of my favorite things..."
It was from my friend Dawn! Filled with things she knew I would love. One was a CD from Andrew Peterson. First of all, I think he is one of the best song writers in Christian music today. Secondly, this album is called "Counting Stars"and as you may have figured out I am fascinated by the night sky. (I think my Dad had something to do with that!) Third, he has a quote from The Lord of the Rings inside the CD case. Do you think it could get any more catered directly to me? I think not! Thanks Dawner! It was perfect.
I have received quite a few things from people that have made my day. Thanks!
Also, a big Happy Birthday to Heather!! Maybe we will stop playing phone tag and I will get to tell you in person at some point. ;)

This weekend Sue and I are going to the Blueberry Festival! And then to Campobello Island in Canada.
What adventures are in store??

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend at Lake Moxie

This weekend Sue's sister and her husband were having a little gathering at their lake house for a group they are members of called "MOAC" or Maine Outdoor Adventure Club. Their group does all sorts of cool stuff like hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking. Sue and I met them out there on Saturday morning. Soon after we met everyone we were headed out to hike Mosquito Mountain. (Thank goodness there were not any mosquitoes.) This hike was not at all like anything I had ever done before. It was basically 60 minutes of up-hill climbing all the way. No gentle, sloping switchbacks to be found on this mountain. It was really cool to see the change of scenery as I ascended.

At first it was normal forest and a well worn rocky trail. Then, it turned into heavy woods full of Balsam Firs (which are Christmas trees). The aroma going through this part of the trail was amazing! I think Christmas tree scent is my favorite scent in the whole world. However, while soaking in the wonderful fragrance I realized that up ahead of me was a rocky part of the climb. The last few hundred feet of the climb was over these huge boulders. The problem with these boulders was not so much in the climbing over them, but in the fact that there can be no well worn trail over rocks. I had to follow these little orange and red ribbons that were tied to tree branches every once in a while. How to get from one ribbon to the next...well, that was up to me.
 Once I got to the top the 360 degrees view were well worth the trek up there.

Afterward, I decided to go kayaking in Moxie Lake. I have never been kayaking alone before, and it's probably not the safest thing to do, but it was a really nice day and the water was calm. (Isn't that how all the "nature-gone-bad" stories start? ;) Oh well, I was okay.) I saw some Loons out on the water. It was really difficult to get a good look at those little buggers, though, cause they dive under the water and don't come up till they are well away from the boat. They can swim pretty darn far! I paddled out and around a little island about a 1/2 mile away and just enjoyed the sounds of nature and the water.

Later, a few people wanted to go for a bike ride on an old logging road where you can pick blackberries and raspberries. They invited me along. The first 3/4 of a mile was all up hill and it kicked my butt. These guys who are twice my age were crusin right along and I am dying trying to make it to the top. So after that humiliation... I mean "experience" (as they would call it) the fun part happened! Downhill! It was exhilarating, and sometimes terrifying, flying down this dirt road, avoiding big rocks and pot holes. About half way down we stopped at this hidden trail that leads to a waterfall and spring. The water was so cold! It was like giving my feet an ice bath which was probably good after the hike that morning. We finished the downhill ride and went back to camp for dinner and a fire. It was great getting to meet and talk to all these different people who are really fun and have lots of stories to tell and advice to give.

   The following morning Sue and I walked a little nature trail to Moxie Falls before heading home. Another fun filled weekend in Maine. What can I say? It can't get much better than this.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lobster and Meteors

End of another work week. I now have a few more patients my schedule so I am staying pretty busy throughout the day. I had one major success today when one of my patients who really dislikes me (since I work on her leg that is very painful almost every time she sees me) actually smiled at me. You have to know a little about the type of place I work to really understand this story. Basically, I work in something similar to a nursing home, except the patients I work with are not going to stay permanently. Anyway, the point is I see the same patients everyday so they really get to know you, even though most of the older patients are dealing with cognitive deficits such as memory loss and confusion.
So back to the story…It’s a little funny because usually when this patient sees me coming she closes her eyes and pretends like she is sleeping and will not wake up for me no matter what I do. Recently, I have decided to put off working on her leg and try to rebuild a good relationship with her so that we can actually be productive during our therapy sessions. So today, after bingo, I went into the activity room and talked with her about the prizes she won. They were little stuffed animals, and one of them could be turned inside out to reveal a different animal. One way it was a cat and the other way, a bunny. Well! When I showed her this you would have thought she won the lottery. She was so tickled. She smiled so big at me and was willing to talk with me for a while and even did some therapy with me (but no leg stuff…I was not going to push my luck.)
Yesterday, I had my first lobster roll. You cannot leave Maine without trying this dish so even though lobster is not one of my favorite things I broke down and tried it. It was pretty good. I am not about to make lobster one of the staples of my diet by any means, but now at least I can say I have had Maine lobster. (Don’t tell anybody, but I couldn’t really taste the difference between Maine lobster and Florida lobster. I am sure some people would disagree, but it’s just my opinion.)
When I got home last night I found out there was going to be a meteor shower. (Thanks for the heads up Dawner!) I turned all my lights off and sat out on my back porch in the 63 degree night. It was actually kinda creepy till my eyes adjusted, but once they did there was a spectacular show in the sky. About once every minute or so I saw a meteor streak across the sky. Most were small and quickly disappeared within a split second, but the others… well they must have been HUGE because as they would come shooting into the atmosphere it would light up really bright for a whole two or three seconds. Totally cool! I stayed up way too late looking at the sky and it was rough getting up this morning, but it was worth it. As I was sitting out there I realized how some people could want to be away from all civilization in these remote areas where you can really experience the awesomeness of nature. But don’t worry I am not about to turn into the guy from “Into the Wild." Although, I do want to go to Alaska... ;)
This weekend Sue has a trip planned for us to her sisters camp. There is a mountain she wants to hike called Mosquito Mountain. I hope it does not live up to its name. I am sure I will have stories and pics to post after this weekend. Can’t wait!
Here are some random pics from this week.
a dirt road I got lost on... but are you ever really lost with a GPS sitting beside you in the car?
There are TONs of cemeteries on the side of the road here that are not even near a church. I pass by three on my 15 min ride to work!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Weekend at Lake Deering

     The entire rehab staff at my work consists of me and an Occupational therapist named Sue. We have had lots of time to talk and get to know each other since we are the only people in our area of the building. She recently went back to school for Occupational therapy and she is also a "traveler". She has been traveling all over the country for about three years now, but she is from Maine. Her permanent residence, when she is not working, is a beautiful lake house about two hours north of where we work. This weekend she invited me to come up and hang out so I could experience “real” Maine, as she calls it. 
    It worked out really well because one of the things on my “Maine bucket list” was to go to the end of I-95 and her place is so close to Houlton (the last city along I-95 before Canada) that I decided to stop there first and then head down to the lake house. So I can now officially say that I have been to the Southern most point of I-95 and the Northern most point. Pretty cool I think! Houlton was a cute little town. It had a nice historic district, but mostly it had a lot of border patrol cars roaming around. 
     When I arrived at Sue’s lake house (which Mainers call a “camp”) I was immediately struck by how incredibly beautiful it was. The lake was flat and all around it were hills filled with trees. It was not very developed which added to the beauty. 
One of Sue’s neighbors was having a birthday party (he was turning 80 years old!) We walked down and said hello to everyone. They were all really nice and I met the birthday boy, his children and his grandchildren who were around my age. We played volleyball and I had a red hotdog which is, apparently, a Maine specialty. It’s really just a hotdog with red food dye in it, but I was told I had to try it anyway.  
     After the party we drove around the area so I could see the sites. We went through a little town that was about 10 minutes away where Sue used to live back when the town was thriving in the 80’s. Her and her husband owned the general store on the main street and they lived in a little apartment right above the store. How cute is that!  Now the town is pretty small and the general store is not open anymore. Further, along the road there is a windmill farm where you can drive up to the base of a windmill and stand right under it. I have seen plenty of windmills from afar, but to stand right underneath one is really cool! They are HUGE and when the blades are moving it sounds almost like a distant airplane engine. 

Finally, on our way back to her place we drove up to Peek-a-Boo Mountain where there is a lookout tower. It was great. The sun was setting and the cool air was so clear you could see for miles. Looking out on one side of the tower you could see into Canada and on the other side you could see Mount Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine, which is in Baxter State Park. Amazing!! 
These five islands are creatively named "Five Islands" and beyond them is Canada. Technically, the islands are in international waters.
Mount Katahdin in the distance before the sunsets.
this is a more zoomed out view of the five islands and the Maine/Canada border.

     When Sue and I went back to her place we had a fire in her back yard, cooked turkey burgers, made S’mores, chatted and enjoyed the great weather. (It cooled down a lot this weekend. Highs of 65 and Lows of 45.) This morning I woke up to Sue’s friend (and tenant) cooking blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Tammy is a nice girl who is a little older than me. She helps to maintain the house since Sue is away most of the time. She works as a camp counselor at a Christian summer camp, and was actually packing today to leave on a weeklong canoeing trip with 10-12 year olds this week. Both Tammy and Sue are great Christian women and I am so blessed to have met them. I am always blown away by how God continually provides exactly what I need everywhere I go! Sue has so many ideas of stuff for us to do that I am not sure I am going to have enough weekends to do it all! Its great I have my own personal guide to Maine. After we ate breakfast Sue and I took a drive over to Canada just so I could say I have been to Canada. It looked pretty much just like Maine except there were Canadian flags flying instead of American. Other than that we just hung out till it was time to drive home. Another work week starts tomorrow and I just can’t stop thinking about what we are going to do next weekend! 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A day at work

I have a new patient at work. She is a wonderful lady who is always so pleasant and positive. I had heard from a little birdie that she is an excellent piano player, so today I took her down to the dining hall where there is a piano. She played all kinds of songs and even asked for requests from me (she said nothing too new, though). I asked for a song from "Sound of Music." That's all I could think of right off, so I need some suggestions if you have any.
Anyway, a couple songs later she played a very upbeat song that I recognized, and a gentleman was walking into the dining hall for lunch with his walker. He stopped by the piano and danced for us; walker and all! It has to have been the most precious thing I have ever seen while treating patients. You could just see his face light up! Even patients that are not usually very alert were paying attention and enjoying themselves. It is really amazing what music can do. It is moments like this that make my job worthwhile. Later in the day I had the pleasure of meeting her great grandchildren. Seeing her with them reminded me of my great grandmother, and I think the two of them would have been great friends. I have been blessed with knowing some great examples of how to stay young at heart and I hope to stay just as positive and encouraging as I go through life.