Friday, July 31, 2009

99 Problems

Cranberry Lake in the Morning/Goodbye to the Pretty

Saturday morning we re-packed the tent and threw all our stuff back into the car. On the way out we dropped our recycling off at the recycling station and that's where I saw what looked like two crows doing the nasty. In the end I think it was an optical illusion. But they sure were making a racket.
The park had a mini drive-thru, though it was actually better to come on your own feet (according to one o the dudes at the entrance). We considered going down to see Peter Pan but, in the end, we did not.
Cranberry Lake is considerably larger than Silver, Streeter or Crystal Lakes.
I thought it was kind of lame that one could only swim in a small roped off area when there was so much more lake.
I'm sure they have their reasons. This ends my Adirondacks posts. I thank A. and his family, and M., for being so generous with their space and family reunion time. It really was a great break from my day-to-day life. In fact the camping and the hiking has made me strongly consider going to every state park in the state of Pennsylvania (closer than NY). We'll see how that goes.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I haven't really mentioned the whole roommate search that took place between late May and late June. I posted three Craigslist ads, received 2-8 responses per ad and actually showed the place to three people. Of those three, none took it. One woman wanted the bedroom furnished. Another, well, she seemed nice but non-commital. The last came with her mother and asked about bus routes. None called back. Now this might suggest that the apartment blows and that I am entirely rude or off-putting to these people. I don't think either is true. It's the luck of the draw, really. My new roommate is named S., he hasn't arrived yet and I have never met him in person. I found him through Quakerly channels, it was sort of a Craigslist of a different kind (that's funny to about three people). I am hoping that we will get along. It has been a while since I lived with a dude that I wasn't sleeping with...but, when I think about the dudes with whom I lived with in a non-romantic context (5?), I remember the experiences, as a whole and in the end, all fondly. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders and we share a few similar interests, so I think it'll work out. I google image searched 'new roommate' and these are the images that came up in the top spots.
Maybe my roommate will have a beard and I will scratch it while someone takes a blurry photograph of us. What a great memory!
I don't really understand this. The dialogue bubbles (there must be a more proper term) are confusing and the actual words just don't make a lot of sense to me. Narrative fail (or cc Fail).
This is moderately more interesting and not without the possibility of humor, though it doesn't apply to my upcoming living situation. I did once live in an apartment above a lesbian couple and I most certainly heard them when they were intimate (I did not, however, pleasure myself at the same time).
This accompanied a pretty funny Onion piece. I rediscovered cereal last month by the bye.
S. arrives on Monday and I have been cleaning one area after the other in preparation for his arrival. The problem is that I started too soon. The rugs have been vacuumed, but not so recently that Zul's hair hasn't already reasserted itself as part of the their pattern and color scheme (grrr). And I am a clutter magnet. I do leave little piles of things to deal with later all over my space. So, since D. hasn't been in the apartment since the 22nd, I've made a few more piles in the commonspace (I did not do this when D. was home because I have manners). So now I have all these frackin areas I need to re-organize, both in my bedroom and in the greater apartment. Sigh. Is it simply that I'm lazy? Or can one really be naturally better or worse at cleaning and staying organized? I know people work at it, but what if, even if I worked at it, my environments would always fall back to their natural state of dishevelment? Saturday and Sunday will become days of cleaning...and watching the final two discs of the last season of Battlestar Galactica (I have not written at length about how much I have fallen for this show and its storylines and characters but serious watching has been taking place).

Camp Out Kinda

So, the truth is that we did not end up pitching our tent in the lean-to and staying out in the wilderness. There are quite a few reasons for this turn of events. First, the extremely long time it took us to find the lean-to dampened our spirits a little. Second, as we swam in Crystal Lake and sat eating our snacks, it began to rain. Third, M. had never gone camping before and this level of roughing it may not have been the best first experience for her. And fourth, we were not, in any way, shape or form, efficient packers. While we had all the necessities for camping out, they were in dribs and drabs. Our bedding was not efficiently minimized -I had the comforter from my bed as padding, two pillows and a sleeping bag and M. had three blankets and a pillow similarly uncontained. For us to get all the necessary gear out to the lean-to would have taken at least two trips in the rain and we just weren't feeling it. What we were feeling was a little bit of shame. Many of the G. party seemed a bit skeptical about our ability to camp, well mainly A. seemed to not like the idea, and for us to return defeated did not sit well with us. So we went with a plan B that we hadn't even known we had: go to the Cranberry Lake Campground and don't tell the G.'s about it (which is a little troublesome since they very well might read this post and think less of us for not telling them that we did this...sorry, we were ashamed). After taking a drive around the camp sites with a map that let us know which sites were available, we decided that camp site 149 was the place for us, so we went back to the entrance, paid for the site and then bought a bundle of firewood from the side of the road.
We set up the tent first. I can't remember the last time it was used if it wasn't in Florida. Two years without a proper airing out and use is pretty sad. I think the tent missed me. I did, at one point, spend six consecutive weeks with it as my only home only to pack it up and bring it out oh so very sparingly ever after.
While I took the main responsibility for getting the tent up (M. helping of course), M. took the lead for getting the fire started. Unfortunately, just like our search for the lean-to and Crystal Lake, getting the fire started proved far more challenging than expected. Now look, M. and I have both started fires in our time. I grew up with a woodstove in my house for god's sake. But after the rain it became quite difficult to find kindling that wasn't damp. It took three, maybe four, attempts to get even a bit of fire going and then another hour or two of keen poking and prodding to keep that flame alight. M. named the fire Ferdinand.
And once Ferdinand starting behaving like more of a proper fire (you'd think the picture below would be the photographc evidence of this...but you'd be wrong, it took another half hour) M. commented that it sort of felt like she had given birth to the thing. I think.
M. and I played a game of scrabble while eating Feta cheese with a knife and our fingers. I won by almost 100 points, which is a marked difference from our games in high school, or during our trip to Europe, when, I'm pretty sure, M. won almost all the time.
Final thoughts: M. and I both commented that even though we had many troubles throughout the day, our spirits remained, on the whole, upbeat. This is saying something. I have been put in similar situations, in the woods or on streets, when neither I nor the people I am with really have a clue as to where they're going...and more often than not I get super grumpy, recalcitrant even. I don't like stomping around places without having a destination, unless it's a very pretty place, and sometimes even that won't improve my attitude. So, the fact that we hiked and hiked and backtracked and backtracked and, while I certainly wasn't singing a little song about how awesome it was, I didn't end up being a grumpy mcgrumperson, well, that I attribute to M.'s attitude and friendship. Similarly, there were a few moments there where we both felt in our bones that the fire was not ever going to light up, but instead of getting pissy about it, we perservered. I like this part of my friendship with M.

For dinner we stuck sausages in aluminum foil and placed them in the glowing, successful coals of Ferdinand. We also tried this approach with corn, but something went awry and we gave up. Oh and there were s'mores and extremely strong gin and tonics without ice or lime. The tent-sleeping went pretty well. It started to rain a bit at daybreak, but we were prepared with the tent's rainflap. The only downside was the fact that this sleeping on the ground without a lot of padding led to severe back pain on my part, which only really let up two days ago.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fish on Fish Action in the Wilderness

In discussions with M. and A. of my joining the G. clan's family reunion and being the sole interloper (I use that word in this context: that I was the only person who was not a G. by birth or by relationship or marriage), I certainly brought up the fact that I had a tent and if it was pretty we could camp. M. also thought that camping sounded like a good idea. It wasn't until I got up there that I learned that M. had never actually camped before. We decided that Friday, assuming the weather was nice, we would go out and sleep in a tent but we didn't know where that ultimate sleeping spot would be. W. recommended a lean-to on Streeter Lake (I'm not sure if I'm remembering the name correctly). She said that Streeter Lake was beautiful to look at and had a flock of loons, but that it also had leeches. So, no swimming there. The upside was that just a little further bit of a hike would bring you to Crystal Lake, whose waters were so very clear. We liked the sound of this quite a bit and got the driving instructions and map that would help us get there. This was no touristy camp area. This was wilderness-y. There was a single unpaved road that twisted its way into the Forest Preserve, some sections of which were so bumpy I feared for Duckie, Ambassador Iron Face's undercarriage. Eventually we arrived at relatively primitive campsites (a fire pit and outhouse, but no running water or electricity) and found three possible paths that would lead us to the lean-to and lake. While W. gave us a lot of landmarks to go by, the terrain and choices were not easily discerned. No trail colors on trees, no signs saying 'Crystal Lake: x miles--------------->', so it was a bit of process of elimination and 'if you don't succeed try, try and try again'. This was Streeter Lake, we parked the car by it.
It took us maybe an hour, maybe three miles, of being wrong before we finally found the lean-to. Once we found it, we returned to the car to get more provisions for spending an afternoon swimming and sitting by Crystal Lake. Then we proceeded to get even more confused by the path choices put in front of us that there were moments where it seemed like the lake and its pristine waters couldn't possibly exist.
All the while these frackin bugs were trying to attack our heads. I extreme bugsprayed myself, which did a pretty good job of repelling the suckers.
One of our wrong turns led to a very unexpected sight. In the midst of the woods there was a clearing, with a few rectangular plots of planted flowers, as well as a rock with a plaque and a large stone structure. So out of place.
The Shuler Family.
The day before, during our walk back from our swimming/sitting spot my foot got caught in a dip in the ground, which led me to fall over and into a fallen tree's stump. It hurt. This is the bruise that appeared the next day. It was taken right after M. and I, on the brink of turning back, finally found and swam in Crystal Lake.
The water was, I'm actually shaking my head with the pleasure of this memory, really, really, really clear. Swimming pool clear, no. It was more like a less vibrant version of Caribbean know what I mean, when you can see the bottom long after you can touch it. And the bottom was sandy not mucky mucky. The water was bracingly cold but you could adapt; I enjoyed it after the walk.
After swimming we sat down for a snack that included left over smoked salmon, rosemary Triscuts, tuna fish and mayonnaise, and artichoke hearts. I believe there was chocolate for dessert...though that may not be true when I think about it for a second.

One part of the walk to the lean-to and lakes was very different than the others. This was another, far more natural, clearing with lots and lots of moss. It was really beautiful.
I think this is the same kind of moss that grows on the rock in Sewanee.
I also saw these deep red wildflowers. I have no good excuse for why I didn't take a picture, especially since I kept asking M. what they were...and she kept on not knowing:)
The turn into the one-lane road had a really dilapidated house and car on the corner. I wonder what would happen if you called that number.

Brain 'Numb-er

Ever wonder "whether the level of international intellectual property law was ratcheting up to a point where innovation was stifled and the fruits of discovery were put beyond the reach of all but the richest occupants"?



I wish I had intellectual property in the form of a house.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dinner c/o Evergreen Cabin

After our afternoon by Lampson Falls (which also included a very strange interaction with a park ranger) M. and I returned to the G. homefront. Soon after our return we went to one of the auxiliary family cabins (B. and W.'s place is lovely and certainly has a fair amount of room, but not nearly enough for so many families and children, so, many of the nuclear families rented cabins nearby) to prepare an appetizer that M. was keen to make. This appetizer was whole wheat blinis with smoked salmon, salmon roe and creme fraiche. Somehow I didn't take a photograph of this construction process or the final result...except for this picture, which, unfortunately, makes M. and A. look like total wackadoos. The blinis were quickly consumed by the masses...because they were so gooood.
Dinner that night was just great. There was an orzo salad with feta, olives, and red onions to start.
We began our meal with champagne. I ended up being the main drinker of the only white wine on the table, the Muscadet, and enjoyed it thoroughly.
The entree was wonderfully baked chicken with rice and veggies. Mmmm.
Then there was another round of cheese plate madness, not to mention brownies.
After dinner I brought out Catan. T., one of A.'s cousins, was already familiar with the game. I continue to find myself instantly liking any person who can play the game and T. could certainly play....he was nefarious (asking to trade certain commodities then, once it was ascertained what everyone had, playing a development card and just taking them!) in a way that I really appreciated, even if it meant that I lost and he won. We planned on playing a second game of Seafarers, but a jaunt down to the fire and lake before play led to no game in the end.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lampson Falls

The falls were quite pretty and loud, a different breed of water fall from the ones I spent some of my time around earlier this summer.
Mostly becasue there was no sheer drop.
There was a very large overturned tree with quite a root structure.
M., peering through. I peered through too.

More of Lounging Near the Falls

We hung out on the rock for what seemed like days, in a good way. I read a bit of the book I brought with me, took a nap and got some color without getting burned.
M. went further downstream in a mission that ultimately failed.
The sun, the wind, the water, just magic.
Our view of another rock, from our rock.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Me, Me, Me, It's All About Me

After eating and sitting for a bit, I decided to brave the waters. The water was cold and it took a while for me to be ready to fully immerse myself. The surface started out sandy then seemed comprised of a lot of the rock we had been sitting on's underparts. Weird way to put it, but accurate. It was nice that the floor wasn't mucky (while I like the feel of mud between my toes in theory, I do not so much like it in practice) nor made up of a lot of smaller rocks (I always worry about what is under those smaller rocks). This meant that I could find a nice smooth chunk of rock to perch myself upon.
But sometimes I would pose for a picture and then the current would push me over and I would look like this.
Ideally, though, I would look like this all the time.
At a later point in time M. went downstream to investigate a thing or two while I decided to pose for the camera a lot.
Here I'm pretending that I'm looking at something mysterious and interesting over there...and I might be glad to see it.
Here I'm pretending that something funny just happened over there (nothing funny happened).
Here I am being an idiot.
Here I am also being an idiot.
Here I am pretending to look at someone over there while pretending that either a) I am giving myself bunny ears or b) that my arm is not connected to my body and someone else is giving me bunny ears...and regardless of which option, I am not pleased.