A graduation roadtrip

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My sisters graduation… a second graduation!

06-May-15 (Wednesday) through 11-May-15 (Sunday)

 

6 days

1400 miles

24 hours driving

25 mpg

Four states

One grand adventure!
<Ed Note: Pictures will be added later, once Ben has his Desktop again>

 

That’s how it all came out in the end – an epic roadtrip spanning hundreds of miles. My younger sister was graduating from her masters program, and my Dad was flying out to come see it. I’d volunteered to drive, and to go out to New York to pick him up from the airport so that we could do a short visit with my Grandma before we headed onto the open road.

But that’s getting ahead of everything… it all started with a few hot dogs and some Yoga.

 

Wednesday, 06-May

Because that’s clearly what you have as breakfast before going to 10am yoga, right? A pair of hotdogs?

Well, I had them. Then I yoga’d it up with Mary and friends, which is honestly an extremely excellent way to get a morning rolling. I left the house a little late, but it didn’t really matter since I wasn’t actually going straight to the airport anyways. I had a phone interview with a fairly famous west-coast company, one known for strange interviews and for having invented the iPhone.

So I stopped off the highway to do a final prep, and relax a bit before the screen… which they were late to call me for. Really late… which was when I realized that they were on west-coast time, and weren’t going to be calling me for three hours. Right.

Back on the road it was, which led to a rather uneventful pickup at the airport, into an extremely excellent dinner following the interview happening at the actual west-coast time.

The rest of the night? Spent chatting and catching up with my Grandma and Dad – I can’t remember when we finally threw in the towel and went to bed, but it wasn’t early, I can promise that.

 

Thursday, 07-May

Thankfully, the next morning didn’t happen early either (this would end up hurting me in the long run, but more on that later) – I think I was up and about by 10:00, give or take.

The day went nicely; starting off with an excellent breakfast, then moving to some fix-up work around the house. The TV splitter wasn’t working particularly well, so my Dad and I took a look at it, and found a few concerning things – it wasn’t plugged in right, and it was massively overheating.

So, what do an Electrical Engineer and a Mechanical Engineer do? They fix it! In a semi-excessive way, of course… but we did get it fixed before too long, don’t you worry. Just in time for dinner, and a second phone screen with a company that I wasn’t ever expecting to head back from. But I guess I made a better first impression than I thought, so the second screen went quite well indeed.

But sleep… sleep didn’t really happen too well. We were planning on doing a rather epic drive rather early in the morning the next day, so I think that was slightly stressing me out… but no matter what the reason, sleep didn’t come easily that night.

 

Friday, 08-May

Friday started very early. The goal was to be on the road early enough to dodge the rush hour traffic around Worcester, so we planned on leaving right around 5:30 or 6:00.

Well, nothing goes quickly, so we were on the road around 6:15… not that bad for my Dad and I, if we’re being honest.

But the drive… well, I’ve accepted that I can never beat the expected drive times. I always think that I can – I hold a steady pace and try not to stop too often, but somehow stops take longer, traffic is tigher…

Either way, we were successful with our stops. We got gas, and we even picked up some of my sisters favorite flowers along the way. Hell, we even found some extremely excellent crab meat rolls to have for lunch!

All of those adventures, unfortunately, lead us to be just late enough to miss the lab tour that my sister was leading, and instead be just in time to jump into the main ceremony itself. Which was actually quite lovely, ignoring the impressively bad keynote speaker that they got. I don’t remember who she was, except that she concisely managed to insult every age group in the audience – talking about how lazy millennials are, how inept her generation is with technology, and how annoying her boomers are.

Moving on – my sister made us an extremely lovely dinner. She’s an amazing cook any day, but on a special occasion like this, when she has an excuse to go all out? She outdoes any chef that I’ve heard of.

Tonight was Korean BBQ dinner, served with all the sides and amazing parts that you could ask for – lettuce rolls, taco shells, rice, beans, you name it and there it was.

But the biggest excitement of the night was the news that her Boyfriend had proposed! So… I guess not a boyfriend anymore, more of a fiance, right? Right. Either way, the rings (Yep, they already had wedding bands made up) were excellent – the engagement ring was a very traditional style with a lovely heirloom diamond, and the wedding bands themselves were titanium rings special-made.

The rest of the night was hearing about research, proposals, plans and goals, and possible future movements. Nothing too unexpected, but all in all enough new information that I was asleep that night before my head even hit the pillow…

 

Saturday, 09-May

And now, for the complete graduation ceremony. The day before was only the hooding ceremony, for graduate students only. Now that we were dealing with the entire school… well, it got a little insane.

My Dad and I headed over from the hotel by way of a breakfast joint in downtown Bangor; no bad, but nothing to write home about. And it was a light breakfast anyways – Hannah was just setting out sandwiches when we arrived, just the right amount to fuel the rest of the day until we all headed out for dinner after the ceremony.

And… those were really the only main events of the day, to be honest. The ceremony was long, and we actually ended up ducking out before the end, thanks to a sneaky play by Hannah when she led us out a side door. It helped us dodge the long lines and rush hour after the ceremony, and gave us the time to take the lab tour that we’d missed the day before.

Dinner? A place called Thai Orchid, which had the most amazing waitress you could ask for, and some of the tastiest drinks I’ve had in a long time… advantage of not being the one driving us home, right?

Lobster ice cream, watching Crank; a good night. No long stories to be told… just a relaxing evening with family. One of my favorite kind of evenings :)

 

Sunday, 10-May

You can’t be that close to Acadia without at least taking a quick hike, right?

So we all hustled into cars, My sister leashed up her dog, and we all went into the woods.

Interestingly, we went to a trail that a friend of mine and I had hiked a long while ago, back when I was driving up to the area on a semi-regular basis to visit. It was interesting to see it again after a few years – not much had changed, but a few small improvements to the trails were definitely noticeable.

It’s nice when a place keeps the good, and improves upon the parts that make it extra special…

especially when you’re coming back from a long hiatus.

But the hiking couldn’t last all day, unfortunately, since my Dad and I still needed to make it back to New York in time to do a Mother’s Day dinner with my Grandma. So after hiking we got ourselves back on the road, with only a single lost cell phone, and retraced the steps that had brought us all the way up to Maine.

This drive was a bit more relaxed, since we didn’t have as tight of a time commitment… but it still wasn’t a slow affair. We did need to get home in time for dinner, which was no easy feat when you take into account the sheer distance we needed to cover.

But the Mustang performed admirably; churning away the miles and bringing us home just as dinner was coming out of the oven…

Literally, actually. Our timing was just that good.

Exploring Quincy, a second recon run

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Wednesday, 15-April-2015

 

Today was gorgeous.

And what do we do on gorgeous days?  Do we stay at home and apply to jobs?  Do we sit at computers in the dark, not exploring or enjoying the sun?  Do we?!?!

Yes.  But then what do we do after?

We explore and enjoy the sun!

 

Which, incidentally, is exactly what Tara and I did with Quincy Quarries.  We drove down, and for once we didn’t even hit super horrible rush hour traffic at 2:00 in the afternoon!  It was just normal rush hour traffic at 2:00 in the afternoon.  Damnit Boston, your rush hour is ridiculous.

But past the driving adventure, the quarries were lovely – a huge departure from the previous time I’d been there (Ed Note: See post “A quick Quincy recon” for details, dear readers!) due to the… what’s it called… Ohh!  Ground!

Yeah, due to being able to see the ground.  Kind of crazy, there not being 3 feet of snow, right?  I mean, it’s not like Boston has been held hostage by nearly 10ft of snow this year… <cries in the corner>

 

Anyways.

The trip was lovely, please see the pretty pictures below.

 

 

On the excellence of microadventures

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Spring, 2015

Note: This post is based off the New York Times article on the same subject: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/22/travel/the-virtues-of-microadventures.html?_r=0

 

So, I’ve been stuck inside a lot recently – cold / dark winters can do that to you, especially when they’re combined with losing a job and needing to spend time doing the whole job hunt thing.  So when Daniel sent me this link, it resonated pretty well with me.  I could only do so much, but what I could do I’ve been working on vigorously.

First, I’ve been sleeping outside a lot more.  It’s not bad – I have a back porch that’s nicely secluded, and isn’t easily accessable.  It’s in the back, hence the name, and so street noises don’t transfer too much.  And by layering my mattress pad on top of the crash pads that I have for climbing, it’s actually really comfortable.  A zero degree sleeping bag does definitely help though.

And aside from sleeping outside, it’s finally warm enough to start biking again!  I’ve re-visited my love for the Boston Esplanade, but I’m also trying to explore more places around.  Instead of picking a destination and a projected path, I’ve been just following a circuit trail, and then veering off anytime I find something interesting.  I’ve been exploring a lot of the new construction around Storough Drive thanks to this plan, and it’s quite fun.

Outside of the city, I’m hitting up short daytrips more and more as well… an advantage to being unemployed, I guess.  I’ve climbed during the day a ton, and have gotten to get some early runs throughout Quincy – way earlier than I normally would have.  Climbing was cold, but it’s actually easier to climb when it’s chilly out; you don’t sweat, and shoes are nice and solid for holding onto tiny little edges.

 

Future goals with this entail doing more photography, and hiking around Boston some more.  There’s tons of construction, so possibly exploring those as they’re built?