Friday, August 17, 2012

Stand-Up Paddleboarding

This past weekend (wow, we're talking about an event in August now, not July!) I went stand-up paddle boarding with a big group of ladies from work. It was something I've been meaning to try and had wanted to do on the French Broad back in Asheville, so I was pumped when the trip was planned. (I was especially excited for the group rate.)

Anyway, it was great! The instructors were really good at explaining everything, and it was fun to try something new. We were taught the basics for about an hour, and then we kind of aimlessly paddled and floated around the lake for a while. A good amount of us just kicked back and stretched out along our boards, catching some sun. The weather was perfect! It was 9:00 and plenty warm, and the water was just cool enough to be refreshing but not cold.

Now that I've digressed into talking about the weather, let's have some photos. I'm the hussy in the black bikini.




What a photogenic lake and group of coworkers :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cape Cod, Dahling.

Ahoy, Polloi! Don't mind me, I just spent a weekend on the Cape. My Aunt and Uncle share a cottage they inherited, along with another couple in my Uncle's family. Whenever people hear 'cottage on the Cape', I feel like the dollar amount they've assigned to my family goes up. It's a wonderful and comfortable cottage, but it's not a grand affair. See?


Ok, let's continue.

A short walk, or an even shorter bike ride away, are a series of fresh water ponds. We played a kind of volleyball with a little inflatable ball for a while before swimming around and generally lazing about for a while. Happily, I got to spend time with my cousin Rachel for the first time since Christmas.


That night, most of the family went into Provincetown, or P-Town. It was pretty much as I remembered it, which could be described as 'fabulous'. Drag queens call for you to come and watch their show, people of all kinds walk the main drag, the shops are open late, and there's ice cream on every other corner. Mmmm. After most everything had closed and we had gotten some ice cream for the walk, we walked out on the pier to see the historic (replica) ship docked at the end.


In a word, it was ROPES. See? I tried to find a descriptor but all I can say is ROPES.


I can really only imagine what it would have been like to be up in the crow's nest during a storm, being whipped back and forth by the sea.


On the walk back in, I took a picture of this lovely painted sign. Funny dog/blob/human, isn't it?


We can't forget Bubbles the whale.


The next morning, we went to the flea market, which is half new crap and half old crap. It's wonderful! Look at all these Sharpies you can buy for $3!


Wait a minute...


 Super Shoupies? You tricksters, you.

On the other side of the parking lot you have antiques and oddities. I liked this duo, seen baking on the asphalt.


After grabbing some lunch back at the cottage, it was on to the ocean, which I remembered (from high school) to be an inhospitable place, with killer waves, tons of seaweed, gale force winds and freezing cold water. Not too much has changed. To be fair, we were there at high tide and things would have been a little nicer at low tide, but such is life. We still had a lot of fun playing Paddle Ball on the beach, and dipping in for a cool-down every once in a while.




It was so windy, one had to be careful not to be impaled by feral beach umbrellas.


These goofballs are my family. Can you believe it?


After the ocean, we hit up a pond really quickly, then headed back to shower up, go out to eat, and hit the road. When I got back to the cottage, though, Steve informed me that a large branch had broken off in the wind and landed on the roof of my car.


Oh, cute. The offending branch can be seen on the right, next to the car.


Poor thing. On the drive out, a can of root beer had gotten stabbed by a broken pair of glasses and leaked, in its entirety, onto the back seat, leaving a large water (or root beer) stain in the fabric. It was not a good weekend for the car at all. Ah well, there's nothing for it.

The old rattletrap still made it to dinner, where we ate and then walked the beach for a little while before heading 'home' (to the hotel).


Tiny crab.


Bigger crab.


Little dog.



Unfortunately, an Alien style face sucker got Travis, but sometimes the vacation gods require a sacrifice.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Durham Visit

This took place on July 15th, the weekend before I moved to CT.

Before leaving NC, I wanted to get over to Durham to visit my aunt Edie and uncle Steve. I hadn't been to their house since maybe high school, or even middle school.  Edie was free and agreed to show me around. Durham gets a bad rap, and of course it is hot as heck compared to Asheville, but Edie knew all the cool and artsy stuff to do there. Plus, there is the hand-made popsicle place, Locopops, to consider.

We started out the day at Duke Gardens.




Next, we hit up the old tobacco district. It's done up really interestingly, and was fun to walk along. Unfortunately, it was Sunday and a lot of stuff was closed for the whole day. Boo.



After that, we drove over to see the building where Edie's got her studio.


Here's Edie's wonderfully colorful studio with her artwork peppering the walls.


Just across the parking lot was The Scrap Exchange, which was wonderful. All sorts of recycled materials, along with a small shop of crafts made from upcycled things.

The Scrap Exchange

Aisle upon aisle of old suitcases, strangely shaped glass vases, sheets of plastic, bins of bottle caps, rope, old typewriters and suitcases, fabric, ribbon, buttons, stuffing, cassette tapes, etc etc etc.

The Scrap Exchange

In the back was a workshop area, where you could work with the materials you picked up.

The Scrap Exchange

After The Scrap Exchange, we booked it back to do dinner with my cousin Travis before I hit the road back to Asheville. A whirlwind tour that hit all the good stuff :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Camping on Slate Rock

This took place on July 7th/8th.

For this adventure, Jon and I hiked up to Slate Rock, camped on top and hiked down in the morning, with time to eat breakfast at a diner, shower and get to work. Since I didn't have a pack at the time, Jon was stuck hauling all of our gear...

Big Pack

... while I skipped on up with a small Osprey hydration pack. To be fair, I had also recently injured my knee and was taking it easy.

Tiny Pack

Due to the lighting, the ailing camera, and pulling my hair back and securing all fly-aways with a headband, I look as bald as the rock we were hiking towards.

What I would look like bald.

Me, Waterfall, etc.

It was getting dark as we were hiking up. I had worked until 5:00 and then run home to pack, so we got a bit of a late start.

Hiking through the ferns.

Jon, Waterfall, etc.

On the hike up, I got my picture taken with a snail.

Me and a snail.

(He was fastidiously working away at the mushrooms, and couldn't be bothered to notice us.)


On a scale of Pretty to Not Pretty, what would you guess the view was at the top? Trick question; the answer is Very Pretty.

Slate Rock


I made a fire and Jon cooked us up some Ramen and mac n cheese.

Mac n' Cheese

In the morning, this was our view.

I camped here. Believe it.

Not a bad way to start your day, huh? Another great little Asheville trip, about a 30 minute drive from my house.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Shining Rock

This adventure took place on Tuesday, July 17. Being as I was too busy adventuring and packing, I'm only getting around to it now.


I call this photo "Monster Leg".

Before leaving NC, I hit up Shining Rock with Robb, as I had never been to that area of my 'back yard' before. When we got to the top, I could see why it was named Shining Rock... I romanticize it to the point where I imagine the early explorers hacking through the forest to an adjoining peak and getting the first glimpse of the white quartz glittering through the trees. Maybe I like it so much because it hasn't changed - it's the exact same thing that the Native Americans and European explorers saw, and the name is simple and true, with a hint of imagination.


May I continue? I shall. The Cherokee name for it is Datsu'nălâsgûñ'yĭ, which translates to "where their tracks are this way" and refers to a rock that is said to have tracks of Tsul 'Kalu and his children. (Thanks, Wikipedia) What's that? You don't know who Tsul 'Kalu is? How uninformed you are. Wikipedia's on that, too. (He's considered by some to be a sort of Native American Bigfoot.) Sorry to parrot Wikipedia to you, but this stuff is interesting, and it adds more to the adventure. Honestly, I don't like hiking, but it's a good way to see some fascinating and beautiful things.

Ready for some of those beautiful things? To get up on the rock, you have to go to the base of it, then do a little low-level rock climbing to scramble to the top. Meaning, you're in the woods facing a big pile of white quartz, then you climb it and are suddenly up above the trees, looking out on this.

From one direction there was a storm rolling in...


... from the other, low-lying clouds and rays of sunlight streaking the hills. I think I breathed 'Oh wow' as I took it in.





Katy at Shining Rock



Before we hiked back we checked out the forest below. You may notice Robb's got a big honkin' pack on - he did that just for fun, and to train for an upcoming trip.



There were lots of these little guys on the hike down, and they were easy to spot because they shone in the light of the headlamps.

Plethodon whatsitsfacerii

I guilted Robb into chasing down a small snake and getting a picture of it 'for the blog'. You're welcome.