August 29, 2008

Trip to Maine/NH (continued)

OK, so I guess Sarah wants me to write about the rest of the trip. (Please read her post below.) Firstly, I'd like to apologize to all the folks we didn't get to see this time around. We miss you all.

In a stroke of convenience, I was able to arrange a trip to Portland, ME to make a quarterly appearance at the FetchDog Mothership and coordinate the timing to allow us to attend Tera and Jeff's wedding in Auburn. I also used the opportunity, to see my family in Epping, NH. I flew into Manchester on Friday night, where my Brother, Jay picked me up. In the morning he kindly took me scuba diving (his new hobby) for the first time ever, using some of his spare gear. My parents, my sister Jules, and my sister-in-law Jeannine were there to root me on. Apparently, conventional wisdom dictates one should have several days worth of training in shallow pools learning to breathe underwater and operate the equipment. However, I don't think there's any room in the big-brother/little-brother paradigm for conventionalism. After all, I've also taken to 11,000 feet and simply told him to point his skis down the hill. So maybe this was payback I thought as I submerged myself in the Atlantic, tightly bound in an ill-fitting, 7-mm wetsuit with 60 pounds of Ghostbusters Proton Pack on my back. The initial discomfort and aimless flailing gave way to novelty as I scoured the shallow shoreline inside the breakers. We then decided to head out a little further. That's when it got really interesting. As I headed out to the deeper areas, I found myself lost in a dark world of kelp, which basically freaked me out. So I fought through it thinking it would lighten up any second. Before I knew it, I had made my way out well, past any comfort zone I might have known and started freaking out. My brother was right behind me and helped me take a break to get my heart rate under control. We made our way over to a set of rocks, away from the kelp jungle, where I was able to regroup and eventually explore down as far as 10 feet or so, and see crabs, lobsters, snails, and of course golf balls.

Later in the day, we met up with my other brother, Jim and his wife Abby and my 6-year-old nephew Jimmy. We attended a dedication ceremony of a large wind-mill at a farm in Greenland, NH and then headed out for ice cream. The next day, we headed out on Jay's new motor-boat. I don't know what kind it is, but I think it's a really nice one because people stared at it a lot. We cruised from Dover Point out the Piscatiqua River to Portsmouth/Kittery and down to Newburyport, MA for lunch. It was one of the first nice weather days in a while so there were a lot of boats out. But we had a great lunch and headed back up. On the way back, we stopped by our old grade school, Lady Isle School in Portsmouth's Little Harbor. The little Catholic school on an island had been boarded up around 1992, a year after I left and had been mostly unoccupied. Apparently it is now owned by a single family who seems to have no interest in restoring or developing the gorgeous property and has instead let the old school buildings decay in the harsh New England climate.

That night I met up with Pete Clarke and his fiancee (!) Jenn. It was great to catch up with them but I took great satisfaction in meeting them at the church up the street from my parents' house which has been converted into a fantastic bar. I grew up attending mass in this old building when it was hot and sticky, staring at the ceiling and counting the links of chain holding up the chandeliers. The new decor, and the new purpose I found refreshing and very well done.

In the morning, my mother and I drove up to Portland, where I worked for the week at the FetchDog office on Fore Street. The week went smoothly and it was great to catch up with co-workers I usually only converse with over email or instant message.

Sarah arrived on Saturday and we began our whirlwind tour of Maine as she described, concluding with Tera and Jeff's wedding. Afterwards, we returned to the hotel in Portland around 2am. Our flight out was at 6am. Why would we do that to ourselves you ask? It's complicated. But we set the alarm for 4:30am thinking we'd get up, shower, get dressed, throw everything together, check out, drive the 20 minutes to the airport, return the rental car, check in and make it through security — NO PROBLEM. As you can imagine, that was at best, wishful thinking on our part; a poor judgment call made out of sheer exhaustion. Our lack of common sense was exacerbated when the alarm actually sounded and we hit the snooze button twice and proceeded to each take a shower. By the time we frantically got in the rental car and more or less got lost en route to the airport, our hopes of making our flight were nil. Luckily, a nice US Airways employee named Shannon did some fancy footwork and was able to get us on the next flight at 7:15 which made stops in Philadelphia, Charlotte, Phoenix and eventually Salt Lake. What's more, she did it for free, and she even got us seats next to each other on each flight. WOW. 17 hours later, we were back in Utah being serenaded by our tone-deaf dogs, safely cradled in the comforting expanse of the Wasatch Mountains.

View more photos from the trip here:

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