Tuesday, June 02, 2009

usa part three: maine, new hampshire

Gazebo, Gorham Judy and Paprika

Finally arrived at the family home in Maine on wednesday april 29th! had a warm reunion with dogs, cats, chickens, etc. and it felt so good to drop some laundry in the washer, browse for snacks in the fridge, and relax with some pups on the porch. We had one quiet day of chores and freelance work and stuff. Then on Thursday we packed up to head to the summer cabin in Intervale, New Hampshire. It's a beautiful hour-and-a-half drive, and we got there around 3 or 4 on Thursday afternoon.
Intervale

The house was all closed up for the winter so we had to start by unlocking, moving some furniture, turning on the main circuit-breaker, and then trying to turn on the water. I've never done the spring opening-up alone. Richard had warned me that the plumbing would be the most complicated part of opening up; every year something always goes wrong with the water turn-on. "What kind of problems? where should I look first?" "Well, it's different every year. You never know what's going to happen until you turn on the water main!" Sure enough, we sprang a leak in the bathroom near the toilet, and as the evening turned to night, we decided to give up plumbing for the evening and made do for the night with just one outdoor faucet running. In the morning, with lots of indispensable help and advice from Richard over the cell-phone, we devised a solution, bought the hardware, and fit everything together! Plumbing success!
fixing the toilet!

Feeling grand after this problem-solving victory, we spent the rest of the day working furiously to drag furniture into place, sweep up drifts of pine needles, locate and dispose of dead mice, mop, scour, and generally clear away a winter's accumulated dust and disorder. Finally we cooked up a great big pot of corn and potato chowder and had a well-earned delicious dinner by the fireside. Friday night around midnight, Emily and Pete and Elizabeth and Caroline all arrived from New York!
livingroom, Intervale fireplace mayflowers Intervale train tracks

We spent a beautiful and crisp, chilly weekend relaxing and hiking in the White Mountains... Saturday we went out for a hike on the Imp Trail. We had expected a pleasant, moderate hike of a few hours; we had not expected that the upper half of the trail would be covered with deep, icy crusted snow. I'd never really hiked so high up in the mountains around Intervale so early in the year and I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. At first we thought it was fun to see a bit of snow, but it made the hike a lot more challenging than we'd expected. Every third step sent our sneaker-clad feet crashing through the snow and splashing into the mud and icy water running below.
hikers trillium

Because we had mis-read the trail guide, we kept thinking we were almost at the top, so it didn't seem worth it to give up and turn back. The last hour before the summit was kinda brutal, there was a lot of screaming as we continually plunged into ice and mud up to our knees, and a lot of laughing about our ridiculous situation, and I felt ignorant for not having had any idea about the conditions I was leading my friends into! I was a bit nervous that someone would break an ankle and the sun would go down and then we'd all freeze to death on the mountainside. But after wading through a few icy waterfalls and crashing and lurching our way very slowly through the final mile of the trail, we found ourselves at a spectacular summit indeed!
Imp Trail summit

We limped out onto the sun-warmed rocks and took off our muddy shoes to dry our feet in the sunshine. Enjoyed some superbly delicious trail mix and sandwiches, took lots of photos, generally felt our spirits lifted by the beautiful panoramic view of Mount Washington Valley and warm spring sunshine.
Imp Trail panorama

The downhill part of the loop was much much easier, less snowy, and we thankfully made it back to the car just shy of sunset, several hours late but in good spirits, filled with the warm camaraderie of having survived a surprising and exhausting challenge and having a warm fire, a nip of whiskey and a big pot of corn chowder waiting for us back at camp.
mountains seen through trees

All in all, it was such a lovely and cozy weekend that it was hard to head back to Maine again on Monday. The rest of the week was spent quietly with some delicious family dinners, visits with some old friends, freelance work and art projects, jigsaw puzzling with Judy, tasty home-cooking, fireside knitting and lots of snuggles with the dogs and cats. Mike's last afternoon in Maine, we went out to visit the famous Portland Head Light, a picturesque 1791 lighthouse originally commissioned by George Washington, which was charming despite the cold grey misty weather.
Portland Head Light

Mike had to get back to Buenos Aires for work but I had work to do in Maine (packaging and preparing cards for Morris & Essex) and enjoyed more quiet time with the family.
Mother's Day Dinner evening, Stroudwater

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