Merry & Happy

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from The Heftis!

 

In lieu of bringing yet another tree into our lives (we have enough of them here in Maine), we decorated a happy little pine just off the back porch.

 

Using up some leftover felt to create a festive necklace for the little pine out back.

 

The Hefti Family Christmas Tree – our first one!

 

We hung one single, non-felt ornament sent to us by the Grand Junction Chamberlain Clan – a “baby’s first christmas” spoon. Thank you Chamberlains!!!

 

Hugo also received the most beautifully-knitted hat and sweater – complete with little sailboat buttons – from our friend Julie. Such a special gift! And it fits perfectly (which means it won’t fit for long)… ūüôĀ

 

So…what else has been going on at The Heftis the last month?

Stéphane continues to concoct fabulous foods in the kitchen Рpictured here with his latest batch of clementine jam.

 

Biscom (like gingerbread but ten times better), lemon cookies, jam, and homemade oatmeal bread.

 

Lots of jam sessions with Hugo.

 

We try and keep doing things we enjoy – here at the climbing gym.

 

Playing around at the gym.

 

Giving Hugo his first climbing lesson.

 

We dress Hugo up in cute outfits and take pictures of him while he’s passed out (this elf suit from Carrie!)

 

We do the same thing with Myra so she doesn’t feel left out.

 

Stéphane is still working hard at LifeFlight

 

On a scene call – beware black ice!

 

Hugo feels the love at Life Flight!

 

Myra and I are slowly starting to build up our running legs again after several months’ hiatus. Feels so good!!

We spend a lot of our time shoveling the never-ending driveway.

 

I mean, seriously, look at this driveway.

 

We dress Hugo up in cute outfits, take tons of pictures, and debate over who he looks like (I vote Stephane, for now).

More posing with The Little Bear.

 

Another storm. More shoveling.

 

More posing.

We bundle up and go on walks (soon, runs!)

 

And every morning when the sun rises and we find ourselves still in Maine, we realize how amazing our lives are, even if we aren’t where we want to be – yet. The wonderful friends we have made here, the sweet little cub we made here, and, yes, some fabulous memories too. Life is good. So Merry & Happy to you, from the Heftis!

Dodging Bullets

The heating oil is low.

It’s been snowing all morning and our steep, slick driveway, now hidden under five inches of powder, must be tamed by Wednesday or we will go without a heating oil refill ’til who knows when. Which means frequent trips to the gas station, filling five gallon jerry jugs with diesel and schlepping them home to heat Hurd House. Not great. Better than nothing but not an option we are stoked about.

It’s a good thing I am cold and itching for some exercise. I have been dying to move and sweat – to wake the next day to achy muscles and a feeling of accomplishment. Taking on the driveway with a shovel will be the perfect solution to my temperature and temperament. Hopefully when I have finished and Wednesday rolls around, we will be rewarded with a delivery of sweet sweet oil and a little peace of mind. That is, until the tank gets low again.

 

 

Biting off a little more than I could chew, Stéphane steps in and finishes the job Рanother Hefti tag-team mission accomplished!

Here’s hoping the snow stays away until after our oil delivery on Wednesday.

 

By the Numbers

Tomorrow Hugo will be two months old. I have no idea where these past sixty days have gone and what I have actually done during this time; they have zoomed by in slow motion. A friend of mine shared a “new mommy” saying that I find quite appropriate to our new life:

The days are long and the years are short.

The days are ridiculously long Рparticularly if Stéphane is on shift Рbut the weeks are just flying by. All day long I do nothing and everything, all at the same time. It is the most important nothing and everything I have ever done.

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Me and my little man.

 

We celebrated Hugo’s first Thanksgiving by going on a family hike / trespassing event. Bundling up The Little Bear in his warm, fleecy bear suit and telling Myra the magical words that make her life (“let’s go for a run!”), we headed out the door and bush-wacked up the thickly-forested hill in our backyard. We quickly crossed into no-man’s-land – not sure whose property we were on – but we didn’t quite care: who gets mad at a couple hiking with a newborn on Thanksgiving? You’d have to be the biggest douche in the world, really.

Up and up the hill we went, determined to find a view that let us see over and beyond the thick curtain of trees. And we did eventually get a peep of our Phillips Lake from above – after which we came across a hunter’s stand at which point we decided to evacuate the area.

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Happy Thanksgiving! Family selfie during family hike.

 

We are slowly collecting more “baby things”. Try as I might to keep our belongings to a minimum, we keep increasing our inventory of “Hugo stuff”. Each item does seem necessary though, like this newest addition: an Osprey (supporting our local Colorado businesses!) baby carrier (for extended hikes in the back-country). He’s a little small for it yet but we could not resist the half-off sale at Cadillac Mountain Sports!

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Returning to work has been challenging with a newborn in tow. It has taken St√©phane and I a month to figure out how I can best work and be a mommy. What I have learned, after many failed attempts, is that I cannot do both at the same time. Thank goodness for St√©phane’s work schedule and for his willingness to be super dad so I can devote a little time to my business!

 

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My attempt to multi-task as Mommy and Developer. A mega-fail.

 

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p.s. If you were wondering, The Magic Coffee Table is still in full effect.

 

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Behold the almighty cloth diaper: cotton rectangle of many uses (none of which include that of diaper-ain’t nobody got time for that).

This just in: all those bibs that you received, washed, and stored away in the back of the dresser because you thought they were for when Hugo was older and eating messy things like seafood (think Joe’s Crabshack)? Yeah, guess what? They are for when Hugo pukes up milk! Guess how many onesies have been changed due to milk puke? A lot. Guess I was out sick the day they went over that little gem. Yet another Mommy Memo missed.

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Note to self…Remember: the bib- it’s for milk, NOT seafood.

 

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Mighty Myra is endlessly patient with Hugo Bear.

 

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He loves his daddy.

Okay, let’s crunch some numbers:

1,609

The number of ounces of milk I have pumped to date. To put this into perspective, that’s 64 bottles of wine, 12.5 gallons of water, or 201 cups of coffee. The Girls are hanging tough and performing admirably.

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If you can’t tell by the copious rolls and double chin, Hugo is packing on the pounds, sucking down the milk like a champion.

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The number of hours I have sat hooked up to the pump so far.

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It’s a love-hate relationship. Love because it allows me to give Hugo my breast milk. Hate because I have to use it in the first place and it determines my schedule, every 2-3 hours each day every day for the next six-to-twelve months (or however long I can take it).

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The most number of consecutive hours Hugo has slept in one night so far – go Hugo!!

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He has the most beautiful eyelashes, just like his daddy.

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Most miles run post-Hugo.

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Times I have been peed on while changing Hugo’s diaper. I must have missed that Memo too. Have since learned a pee-protection technique that has been deployed successfully on the changing table.

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Cheers & Happy Holidays from The Heftis!

 

The First Month

Well, The Hefti Family has survived¬†over a month. As I type, I hear Hugo Bear’s soft coughing/grunting noises coming from the crib. Which means he’ll be up soon. Which means a slapdash eeeeeep post – so here goes:

Top seven observations from our first month (because ten would take too long and I’m tired)

  1. When changing the diaper, make sure that you point the penis DOWN before closing the diaper. Otherwise you will get a wet baby, soaked onesie, and soiled crib sheets (thank you, YouTube, for helping us figure this one out).
  2. When baby starts to cry, insert pinky finger into mouth: you have now earned yourself an extra ten or fifteen minutes of quiet so you better find some breastmilk wherever you have it stored – in the breast, in the bottle.
  3. If you want to get anywhere on time, add at least an extra 30 minutes.
  4. Projectile pooping mid-diaper-change happens. Excellent hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes are crucial in minimizing the impact to the surrounding areas.
  5. Crying typically means: change me, feed me, pay attention to me, I’m gassy. Not sure about the order. I’ll have to get back to you on that.
  6. When out in public, you are a walking target for moms. Be prepared to answer the following questions: How old is he? What’s his name? And be prepared to smile and listen to the Mom Stories that ensue. It’s actually quite endearing if you have the patience and time (the former I am learning, the latter I have nothing but these days).
  7. Laundry… << insert something witty and clever about doing laundry every day because your newborn poops and pees and pukes. The sleep-deprived brain is shutting down… >>
  8. You have no time for yourself, not a second. You are crazy busy all day but then at the end of the day you wonder what the hell you did all day…Rinse and repeat…

 

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Hugo is growing like a champ! His last weigh-in was 10.5 pounds! (and yes, we like patterns in the Hefti Household).

 

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Mom and dad came out to visit and got to meet their first grandchild!! Taking one for the team, mom put up with the airport ridiculousness (this is huge for those of you that know her) in order to meet Hugo. True love right there, people.

 

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Getting out for a run on a beautiful Fall day.

 

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Myra photo-bombs like a pro.

 

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Trying out the baby-carrier. We love the Boba Wrap but this little carrier is much easier to use – slide the baby in and you’re done.

 

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Hugo is not a particular fan of the carseat (I think it’s because he has to be strapped down) but once the truck is moving, it’s nighty-night for the little man.

 

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We have had the most amazing outpouring of support from our Life Flight girls – Veronica, Nicole, and Kathy. Not only have they shown me some advanced holding techniques (not to mention the invaluable move: the “butt tap”) they have been so kind to stop by and give me a few breaks here and there, as well as a little company. Love my Life Flight girls!!!

 

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Mommy multi-task: chilling with Hugo Bear while getting a little work done. It usually doesn’t last for long though – Hugo requires movement if he’s in the carrier – standing still will simply not do!

 

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Shopping for books at The Briar Patch – thank you Dave & Elaine Blue for the books! We bought the first five Beatrix Potter books!!!

 

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Checking out a new trail.

 

And as the cries have now moved up a level from minor to premium, it is time to attend to the my little schnacki (that’s snail in German). Here’s to another month!

The Magic Coffee Table

He has many names:

The Curve-Breaker (coined by our group because he is so amazing at pretty much everything)

AirWolf (remember that 80s high-tech helicopter show?)

Bug

 

And in the last two weeks, a new one has emerged:

The Magic Coffee Table

 

Yes, you read right. The Magic Coffee Table. Just check out this short video and you will start to understand why:

The Magic Coffee Table

 

Having lost three times the normal amount of blood during delivery along with the typical wears and tears (literally; ouch) that occur with a natural birth, I was pretty wrecked and exhausted once Hugo joined us. The second we arrived home to Hurd House, the day after Hugo was born, Stéphane was in instant caretaker mode.

Knowing how I hate clutter, he is in a constant buzz around the house: folding baby blankets, re-arranging pillows that had been tossed to the floor after failed breastfeeding attempts, and washing Hugo’s pee-stained onesies (we’ve since figured out the penis has to be pointed DOWN before closing the diaper; the pile of pee-stained onesies has greatly diminished since this breakthrough).

 

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Chef Hefti working on his latest bread masterpiece.

 

St√©phane zooms around the house in constant work mode: sweeping up the never-ending piles of Myra’s hair, baking amazing oatmeal and walnut breads, making homemade yogurts, and cooking up fabulously tasty, nutritious meals. Washing clothes, dishes, floors, and butts (Hugo’s thankfully, not mine); caring for Hugo so I can catch up on sleep and get my strength back.

 

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Some of St√©phane’s bread experiments – the middle one is a pain d’√©pi – you can pull apart each section and it is made to look like a stalk of wheat.

 

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Another of St√©phane’s fabulous bread creations. It would have been really nice with a glass of the Chianti too, except we are still in Parenting 101: Survival Mode. The alcohol/parenting combo just seems way out of our league at the moment.

 

The second he learned that the proper position for breastfeeding is 90 / 90 (ninety degrees at the knees and then again at the back Рstraight posture), Stéphane disappeared down to the garage. The whirring of drills and other such tools ensued and a short time later he emerged with a stool Рtopped with a scrap of carpet Рfor my feet: to help me attain the 90 degree knee bend while sitting in the La-Z Boy chair (my legs being too short otherwise).

 

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The La-Z Boy chair + stool ready for action.

 

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Homemade mixed berry yogurt, homemade oatmeal bread, and some fabulous eggs. SUNNY SIDE UP – finally get to eat runny yolk again (yum!)

 

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Yet another amazing meal – roast in a red wine sauce with brussel sprouts and homemade bread.

 

Waking up for the fifth time that night for my hourly pumping, I entered the living room which had been transformed into a calming environment: la-z boy chair prepped with boppy pillow and supporting pillows, fire going, mellow music playing softly in the background. Lactation tea in a mug next to my pump, and a zip-lock baggy holding buttered, homemade oatmeal bread as a snack and delivering a special message: I Love You! You may think “cheesy”, but let me tell you, when your body is torn up and exhausted along with your emotions and you are trying to figure out how to take care of an actual human being that you grew; throw in a little sleep-deprivation and hunger and make it 3am: ¬†tell me THEN how amazing that zip-lock baggy and its message becomes. It’s all about perspective. And it’s looking pretty fabulous from mine.

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Ziplock baggy delivering food for the body (consumed immediately) and a little for the heart ūüėČ

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Hard-boiled eggs and homegrown tomatoes (courtesy of Dave Burr – thank you very much sir!!)

 

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A list of foods that reduce milk production. Always looking out for me.

 

So yes, this post is super braggadocious on my part but I am just so proud of Stéphane; proud to call him mine and proud of the amazing husband and father that he is. The Hefti Clan of Maine, now numbering three, is hanging tough and figuring it out.

 

Some more pics of our sweet little Hugo:

 

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Hugo’s first bath!

 

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Hugo sleeping (he sleeps a lot – they tell me this is normal for a newborn).

 

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Testing out the Boba Wrap. It’s hands-free except I don’t want to take my hands off him!

 

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Posing with the little man; fall colors / Phillips Lake in the background.

 

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More posing with Hugo.

 

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Our new little family.

 

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So, I was thinking that all I needed to lug Hugo around was a Boba Wrap. We were given a hand-me-down stroller for when Hugo is bigger but didn’t think we needed a stroller for newborn. WELL, let me tell you, getting this one was a game-changer. It is a jogger (for when Hugo is bigger) and we can click Hugo’s car seat into it and GO. This stroller thing – what a fabulous invention! BIG shout-out to Ma and Pa Stew for the gift of this jogging stroller – we are calling it the StewMobile ūüėČ

 

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And one more of Hugo Bear.

Hugo

So very much more to say on this topic but at the moment I have the use of just one arm Рthe other is engaged in infinitely more important business: holding our son.

So to be brief: Hugo J√ľrg Hefti joined St√©phane and I Monday morning, October third at 11:46. I was able¬†to have the natural, non-medicated birth we were hoping for (ouch) and after an hour and a half in the birthing tub and fifteen minutes on the birthing stool,¬†Baby Cub is here.

St√©phane caught and placed Baby Cub¬†on my chest, face down. We were so excited that BC¬†was here that we didn’t even think about the gender until one of the nurses asked! We then flipped him over and…

Version 2

Baby Cub is a boy!

 

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Welcome to the world, little Hugo.

 

 

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Love at first sight.

 

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Lots of sleeping going on.

 

 

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Proud papa.

 

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Our little man.

 

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Mom, dad, and Hugo Bear are happy and healthy. Mom and dad are sleep-deprived but Hugo is getting tons of food and sleep and that’s what matters.

 

Lots more photos and stories to come.

 

Paul

During our sailing adventure, St√©phane and I had the pleasure of spending time with Paul Denton, fellow sailor and adventurer extraordinaire. We met Paul in the Bahamas and buddy-boated with him and a few others – island-hopping around the Exumas, sharing meals and stories on each others’ boats at night; bonding and enjoying life together in a way so very different from how it is done on land in the M-F 9-5 Life.

 

He was a quiet man but once engaged on a topic, witty and generous with stories of his time sailing and exploring the world. He was encouraging of and so very inspiring to Stéphane and I.

 

Monday night Paul took his life.

 

His last note to friends spoke of his unbearable struggle with depression and loneliness. I would not ever have guessed he possessed these inner demons. We had no clue.

 

And so, dear Paul, fair winds and following seas, friend.

 

Be at peace now.

 

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Paul, Phyllis, me, St√©phane, & Bill. Farmer’s Cay, Exumas, Bahamas.

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Planning the next day’s sailing route and getting some advice from the pros.

“The Barbeque”

“Don’t forget we have Lorry and Kevin’s barbeque next week!” says St√©phane.

It was the fifth reminder in as many days; if I was perceptive or even slightly suspicious, I would have thought something was up.

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Well, something WAS up: a super secret baby shower was up, that’s what.

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Given by the fabulous, generous, sweet-hearted ladies of Life Flight of Maine: Kathy, Nicole, Veronica, Lorry, Kim, Missy, Jodie.

I was completely blown away by the kindness of these women who really don’t even know me. Onesies were bestowed, a stroller and Boppy pillow revealed themselves under lovingly wrapped paper, and even the long-sought-after Boba (baby-wearing wrap) made its appearance. All of these items started showing up as “fulfilled” on our gift registry over the last few weeks – which was puzzling because my Michigan baby shower had come and gone. Little did I know that the Life Flight Ladies, led by Kathy, were gearing up for Round Two.

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Well, “the barbecue” was a complete success and such a special evening. It’s a pretty powerful thing to know that you have a community of people behind you, rooting you on and looking out for you. Until the evening of “the barbecue”, such a community did not exist for us in Maine but just. like. that….how things change.

 

Thank you Life Flight Family!

 

 

Climbing For Two

We’d been working so much lately it was like I’d won the lottery when St√©phane presented me with a gift borrowed for the weekend: a full-body climbing harness! I’d outgrown my regular climbing harness a few months back¬†so had given up on the idea of climbing until after Baby Cub arrived. However, a full-body harness is a game changer! Definitely able to climb safely and comfortably in one of these babies! A big thanks to Jon Tierney for loaning me the harness!!

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Setting up at the base of my favorite route at Eagle’s Bluff.

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Myra’s super happy to be out and about again too! So many squirrels to chase!

 

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When you have lost the ability to bend over, you have to create new techniques for very basic things, like putting on shoes and trying them. Patience and the ability to laugh at oneself goes a long way too.

 

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Stéphane gearing up for the climb.

 

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Twenty extra pounds and a very round belly out front makes for some interesting climbing.

 

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So many noises in the forest!

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The next day at Park’s Pond, we met Matthias, a photographer who was there to take photographs of climbers for a new book on the area’s local climbs. Thank you, Matthias, for sharing your great shots!

 

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Go bug!

 

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My superman.

 

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My turn! Climbing at 34 weeks – for me – happens at a very slow and methodical pace. Slow because I get winded pretty quickly moving the extra weight up the wall; methodical because with each movement you want to make sure the bump is protected. My signature belly flop move no longer flies these days.

 

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Taking a breather. Feeling the extra weight.

 

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Honing the peek-a-boo skills.

 

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A fabulous weekend of mellow and very safe climbing. Fall will be here soon…and so will Baby Cub!

Home Again

Note to self:

When going on a road trip to Michigan from Maine, knowing that the route will go through Canada, please remember to bring your passport with you next time.

Because we all know that the very best part of a road trip is the beginning: the excitement of leaving home, cooler packed with spritzers and snacks for the road, podcasts downloaded and ready to be listened to, the road opening up before you, the anticipation of the upcoming days off. The middle and end parts of the road trip you tend to find yourself “in the driving zone” (middle) and then “ready to be done” (end). But the beginning? That’s magic. And nothing kills the magic faster than having to turn around and go home an hour into the trip. You get ONE shot to set the proper road trip vibe – it is a precious moment that fades all too quickly into the monotonous grind that it actually is. And I ruined it by forgetting my passport. Son of a….!!

After a grueling twenty hours on the road, we made it to Exit 222 – St. Helen, Michigan – the cottage!

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Euchre on the deck at the cottage. All Or Nothing!!!!

We were only able to spend a day and a half up at the cottage with Pete and Ryan, but we had a fabulous time nonetheless.

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Soaking up the sun on the new pontoon boat! What an upgrade from The Green Machine!

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Ryan set up a special chair just for Myra.

 

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She really loved that camp chair.

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So the cottage has definitely seen better days but thankfully it will be getting a face lift this year thanks to mom and dad! I have decided that I should begin the demo early. Because I watch HGTV and am therefore qualified to swing a heavy hammer at walls and such.

 

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Heading south to St. Clair Shores for the final few days of our trip, Mom and Grandma threw us a wonderful Baby Cub Shower!

 

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Thank you for the super cute cake, Aunt Chris! (We still do not know if Baby Cub will be a boy or a girl. According to The Cake Oracle, we are having a girl…something to it?)

 

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Aunt Shelley made this fabulous fruit art arrangement. Too pretty to eat! Thank you Aunt Shelley!!

 

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A wonderful afternoon filled with talking, laughter, generosity, smiles, sweetness, and love. I am so blessed to have such amazing women in my life. I only wish I could spend more of my life with them.

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The trip home would not be complete without eating some kind of yummy grilled food. This time around – chicken burgers (which I am now obsessed with). You can put so many different things in them – dried cherries, nuts, cheese, etc. soooooo good.

It was a whirlwind of a trip home, as usual, but, as always, so worth it. While we aren’t in love with Maine, it is nice to be a day’s (albeit long) drive from home. Because it’s always good to be home again.

A big huge special thanks to Grams and Mom for throwing me the bestest shower for Baby Cub! Love you both so much!!!

Up in the Clouds

Life Flight of Maine is an IFR program. IFR stands for Instrument Flight Rules (versus VFR, Visual Flight Rules). IFR means you can fly in the clouds with zero visibility. You use only your instruments to guide you (instead of looking outside). So, instead of looking out the window and seeing that you are X number of feet in the air and that X mountain is off to your left or X building to your right, you rely on technology alone to get you where you need to go.

In order to do this, you have to be flying the right helicopter (not all helis have the stuff you need to fly IFR), and you need to have nerves of steel.

Here’s a video of St√©phane getting a little IFR practice flight in. The flight nurses tag along (in case they get a call while they are out flying) and one of them took a little footage of the trip.

 

 

Bugs

Summer has arrived: the time that we were told was so beautiful and perfect; the season that made the windy, bone-chilling, gray winters and rainy, muddy springs all worth it. It’s the time of blue skies, fresh lobster, outdoor concerts on the river, increased road traffic from tourists, ninety degree, 100% humidity days, and…

… bugs.

 

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Picking wild raspberries in the front yard (long sleeves help a little with the bugs).

 

As I sit on the deck, reclined in one of our red plastic Adironack chairs, swatting at horseflies and batting away gnats and mosquitoes, I wonder if Maine summers live up to the hype and if they truly tip the scales, making it  worth living here the rest of the year. While it was another hot and humid day, at least the evenings bring some relief from the heat, if not from the relentless irritation of bugs.

 

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A big enough raspberry harvest for Stephane to make some jam! (Note the long sleeves).

 

I am fairly certain that Maine has the largest collection of the most irritating, obnoxious bugs around. They bite your skin whether exposed or covered, swarm in your ears, launch themselves at your face, crawl up your legs if you dare to shed your flip-flops, and make it pretty unbearable to be in the great outdoors.

 

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Eschewing all chemicals these days, my form of bug spray is my flailing arms and long-sleeves.

 

Basically, bugs abound in Maine. And they come out to play hardball in the summer. And they don’t play nice. It’s ironic in a sick sort of way, our little nickname for each other (bug). Little did we know when we first coined our pet name that the word would take on new and irritating connotations in Maine.

 

In other more upbeat news, mom and dad came out to visit! Among other things, we burned pork in the fire pit and played lots of euchre (girls got crushed by the boys and Stephane’s Swiss Shuffle – he flipped a bower AND had a loner pretty much every time).

 

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Pretending we’re Daniel circa 1996 when he blew up the chimanea.

 

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Played tourists for the day at Acadia National Park. Posing at the top of Cadillac Mountain.

 

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Awesome lunch in Bar Harbor, watching the boats sail by.

 

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Me & Dad.

 

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Dad playing around on the rocks near Otter Cliff, overlooking the ocean.

 

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Pretending he’s falling over the edge (because mom’s saying, “don’t mess around! You’ll fall over the edge!!”)

 

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Mom & Dad.

 

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Euchre intermission: a diaper tutorial using Baby Cub (who fits perfectly in a newborn-sized diaper, I might add).

 

So we’ll see what August brings – perhaps all the bugs drop dead, the temps drop to the seventies, and the humidity lightens – perhaps AUGUST is what everyone was talking about.

 

Perhaps…

 

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Cheers from Maine! Here’s to August!

Goodbye, Great White Buffalo

Today marks the end of The Great White Buffalo era- a small era in the scheme of the Hefti timeline, but a pretty epic one nonetheless. The Great White Buffalo was our first land home after returning from our sailing adventure and today we send her on to her next owner with relief, a little sadness, and lots of nostalgia.

 

In a similar fashion to island-hopping on Free Range, we roamed around The West in The Buffalo: pulling out a map, pointing to a destination that looked interesting, and checking it out.

 

Just like on Free Range, after learning all of the systems we settled into a steady rhythm: each of us with our tasks, coordinating with the other in preparation for departure, settling into a new camp spot, dumping the holding tank, or squeezing into/out of a tight spot on the road.

 

Life on The Great White Buffalo was perfectly simple: a couple of pots and pans, a french press for coffee, a few clothes, internet for work, and a quiet, scenic spot to set up camp. Our household was in complete and perfect order when the following items were achieved: a fridge packed with foods for salads and breakfast sandwiches, a bottle or two of red stuck in between the cushions of the fold-out couch (the absolute best spot to store wine when en route), full water and propane tanks, an empty holding tank; gasoline for the generator, and a full tank of diesel for the truck; Myra in the backseat, me in shotgun, and Stéphane at the wheel.

 

It doesn’t get much better than that, let me tell you.

 

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Thanks for the adventures, Great White Buffalo!

The Lobster Bucket List

After Matthieu and Christelle departed for the rest of their Babymoon in Canada, it was time to prep for Sarah & Brian’s visit. The Newmans came to us with a very specific goal in mind: feed Sarah lobster at every meal and thus fulfill one of her bucket list items (eat lobster in Maine).

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Prepping for The Newmans’ visit: scoping out a sweet little spot to eat lobster. Picnic benches adorned with cheery red umbrellas line the pier, it’s BYOB, and the lobster doesn’t get much fresher than this.

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Welcome to The Lobster Shack.

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The lobster shack: you could get lobster or mussels or mussels or lobster. The kitchen inside the little shack consisted of a stove upon which sat a large pot of boiling water. That’s it. Throw in the lobster, throw in the mussels, wait a few minutes, and voila, you have one pricey meal.

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Simple but perfect – customers bring the booze, owners provide the seafood. A brilliant business plan.

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Posing with the lobsters.

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Scoping out another spot for Sarah to fulfill her lobster dream: McLaughlin’s on the Penobscot River. A fun little spot (and you can order stuff other than lobster, like lobster mac ‘n’ cheese!).

 

Brian and Sarah arrive and bring with them the rain and cooler temps – which was actually a nice change of pace from the 90 degrees / 100% humidity days we’d been sweating through.

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Sarah posing with her Maine lobster (Lobster Meal #1). I have to point out that this girl knows how to eat lobster. Not one piece of lobster meat is wasted when this girl is through with her work. It is quite a thing to behold, Sarah vs. Lobster.

 

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Heli show and tell.

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So many buttons!

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Lobster Meal #….not sure, lost count. Stephane decided to order one too. His normal-sized one-pounder looked like a little shrimp next to Sarah’s monster (“It’s not the size that matters”, he says ūüėČ

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Working off the lobster on the Beehive Trail @ Acadia National Park.

 

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A rare occurrence in Maine: a view! The trick is, you just have to get up out of the trees – not as easy as it sounds.

 

We put Sarah and Brian on a plane and they literally flew off with the rain. It poured down their entire visit but none of us really minded – we were happy to watch Sarah perform surgery on her many lobsters, play euchre, and drink (everyone else) / smell (me) beers. Good times with the Newmans!!

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Hurd House

Home #2 in Maine we are calling Hurd House (because it’s on Hurd Point Road).

And we are all moved in.

The effort involved was about 75% cleaning to 25% moving stuff in (because the house was really dirty and, thank goodness, we are still keeping the “stuff” to a minimum so there wasn’t too much to move in).

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Hurd House!

Hurd House has got a few things going for it:

  1. It’s up on a hill OUT OF THE TREES! We get an amazing amount of natural sunlight. It’s fabulous.
  2. It’s still on Phillips Lake.
  3. It’s got a wild, fun yard filled with rose bushes, random plants, grape vines, fruit trees, a firepit, and several garden beds.
  4. The neighborhood seems nice and friendly so far. It is quiet at night and the fireflies come out to play once the sun goes away.
  5. Cell reception – we are out of the Dead Zone that is 6 Potters Drive. Literally every time I made or received a call at Potter’s, it was a 100% given that the call would be dropped at some point. Even with all of the man hours Stephane put in to trying to fix it – microcell, countless hours on the phone with AT&T, trouble-shooting – it never worked as it should. At Hurd House, the bars on the phone are many.

 

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Looking up towards Hurd House. Lots of vegetation going on.

 

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Garden beds – cleaned and prepped by Stephane.

 

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Myra loves yard work.

 

The only thing that Hurd House does not have going for it is its steep driveway (which wouldn’t be necessary if it wasn’t sitting on a hill, which we love so…catch-22, there you go). This will prove treacherous in the winter AND may cause issues if the oil company cannot make it up the incline to deliver our heating oil. And it will be pricey to keep plowed if we get a lot of snow.

The winter is definitely going to be interesting…

 

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Hurd House was missing a mailbox. Stephane bought one and installed it like this. How cool is that? It is one of my most favorite things ever.

 

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He even made sure it was regulation height (which, in case you were wondering, is between 36 and 48 inches).

 

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The oven was left in a ridiculously disgusting state by the previous tenants. So there will be no using of the oven until it has been cleaned at least five times. And then maybe a few more. Because that’s just gross. This left us with an excellent opportunity to test out the firepit – warming up our two-day old pizza!

 

Here’s to Hurd House! May we be able to stay here until the time is right to head back West.

A Week with the BabyMooners

Amidst packing up Potters Drive and securing a roof over our heads for the upcoming month (phew, it finally happened – I’ll tell you about it in the next post), we had the pleasure of spending a week with Stephane’s (and now mine) very good friends from Switzerland, Matthieu and Christelle.

We spent our final Potters Drive days dipping our feet (me) and bodies (everyone else) into the cold water of Phillips Lake, eating late dinners out on the deck, and taking in the nightly light show, compliments of the fireflies.

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Over a scrumptious dinner of leftover kebobs, Italian sausage, and kale, we decided that Matthieu and Christelle were on their “babymoon”. This is a new word we had heard recently, referring to the new trend: pregnant couples taking a pre-baby vacation- presumably their “last big hurrah” before baby comes. Personally, I am not a fan of this concept. While we accept that our lives will definitely change when Baby Cub arrives on the scene, we will not become housebound agoraphobes nor will we quit doing things we enjoy. We’ll just do them as a threesome – where we go, Baby Cub goes, right?

 

The BabyMooners are visiting Quebec for a month but took a detour down to Maine. This is a big deal because the Swiss don’t really DO driving long distances. To a Swiss, driving 30 minutes is kind of a big deal. I am not sure if this is because most people do most of their driving locally / within their countries (which are a lot smaller than the US – In Switzerland, you drive four hours and you are in Paris. Drive four hours in the US and you’re MAYBE in another state, but not much has changed.), or because gas is so much more expensive, or it’s just a cultural thing? Or maybe a mix of them all? Or maybe none of it. No clue. Anyways, the concept of a “road trip” is definitely an American one. So BRAVO to Matthieu and Christelle for making the big five-hour drive down from Montreal to spend time with us!

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Taking the canoe out for a spin. Myra decided that she absolutely could not wait for us on the dock.

 

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Checking out the very popular ladder-rung trail called “The Beehive” at Acadia National Park. If you are afraid of heights, this short hike could be an issue for you.

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The Beehive – if you look very closely, you can see little white dots here and there – those are people hiking up to the top.

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Shot of some of the hikers making their way up the ladder trail.

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BRAVO to Christelle for fighting her fear and making it to the top!

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Don’t look down!!

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Baby Cub!

 

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Down at the ocean, a picnic lunch of goodies grabbed, randomly, at the local grocery store: hummous, watermelon slices, baguette & brie, carrots & pineapple. In the spirit of providing a true American experience, desert consisted of fruit-roll ups (strawberry, of course).

 

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The summit of Cadillac Mountain – tallest on Mount Desert Island.

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After a fun-filled week together, we sent the babymooners off to continue their adventures in Canada. Ciao ciao Matt et Christelle!!!!

Lodge for Less at The Ranger Inn

It was our backup plan, our failsafe: in the scenario where we can find no decent rental before the end of the month, we’ll move in to The Ranger Inn. Because at The Ranger Inn, “You can lodge for less!” and pay by the week OR the month – a temporary solution if we need more time to find our next spot.

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Out driving around Bangor one afternoon, a little dejected after checking out a giant Victorian house in the middle of town – too much house, too much rent, too much in town…meh – I tell St√©phane: “Since we’re out this way already, we might as well go check out The Ranger Inn, see if they have availability in July, check out a room…”

 

We pull up to The Ranger Inn. First impression- seems okay – it is a motel / short-term rental after all – we aren’t expecting The Ritz Carlton. Approaching the office, I hear “It’s closed!” and look to my right, down the narrow strip of building that makes up one of the rows of The Ranger. There’s a scruffy-looking guy in sweats loitering in front¬† of his room. A rusty old grill sits under a window and older, banged up cars line the lot in front of the rooms. A woman who poured herself into her tights this morning mills about her car, doors opened, music blaring. She bends over to pull some trash out of the car and – yep – not much left to the imagination. A few seconds later, as if on cue, a Bangor police car creeps slowly but purposefully through the parking lot, as if its been here many times before.

 

I hop back in the truck, look at Stephane. He says one word: “No.”

 

On to the next…

 

There’s No Place Like Home

The population of Maine increases with the temperature: each day we see more and more cars on 1A (the main highway between Bangor and Acadia National Park) and our once-quiet lake¬†community¬†is overrun with the buzzing of pontoon boats, yapping of dogs and/or their owners down on the railroad trail, and the shrill screams of children as they take turns cannonballing into icy-cold Phillips Lake. While we are enjoying the more social vibe “the summer people” have brought to our neighborhood, we are not digging what the population increase has done to our local national park…

 

Taking a break¬†from the rental search for a quick day trip to Acadia National Park and a little climbing…

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We have heard that Otter Cliffs are a “must do” – a section of cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. You set up an anchor at the top, lower down, and climb out.

 

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Except…what are all these people doing here? Oh wait, we forgo: A), it’s the east coast. B) It’s a National Park and C) It’s Memorial Day Weekend. The quietness and seclusion of the Western Slope of Colorado has completely spoiled us. To me, this climbing scene is such a turn-off.

 

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Thanks to St√©phane’s persistence, we were able to find a secluded section of the cliffs to climb. Here he is setting up the anchor.

 

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Enjoying the sea breeze.

 

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We’ll come back on a non-holiday, non-weekend, early morning and climb so of the more legit routes but it was nice to get a little taste of the area.

 

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Waving to the passing tour boats.

 

One of the realities of living out here is that there is¬†just a lot more people packed into a lot less space: something we are trying to get used to; something we don’t really want to get used to… I keep telling myself, “we aren’t in Colorado anymore”… Now where are those ruby-red slippers?

 

 

Ad-libbin’

One thing our sailing adventure on Free Range taught me was to be comfortable living a more ad-lib lifestyle. To-do lists, routines, and type-A personalities just don’t really mesh all that well in the Hefti household. We have learned over the last few years that we operate best as a flexible, minimalist, impromptu kind of couple.

 

So the fact that our beloved cabin on the lake has been sold and we’ll need to find new digs come end of June is not very daunting – just a little sad: we were just starting to reap the benefits of a lake house (of which there are zero in the winter months).

 

So, on to the next – bring it on. Here’s to flying by the seat of our pants and making it up in Maine as we go!

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Springtime at 6 Potters Drive: freshly-mown lawn and lots of happy, green things popping up out of the soil after their winter slumber.

 

A Country-Kind of Wedding

It’s 941 miles to Detroit, we’ve got a full tank of gas, a cooler full of spritzers, it’s dawn and we’re wearing sunglasses.

Hit it!

 

We kick off the week-long festivities with a non-eventful but full-on day of driving to St. Clair Shores for the wedding of my big brother Pete to his girlfriend (now wife!) of four years, Ryan.

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Newlyweds!

 

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Stephane stepped up to the plate and did a masterful job of officiating the ceremony. Bravo Bug!

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In addition to investing in my very first pair of cowboy boots, which I love, I also had the pleasure of standing up with three very lovely and fun ladies – Nora, Emily and Heather. Congratulations to Nora (dark purple flowers) on her seventh and final showing as a bridesmaid (I kid you not) – put away the bridesmaid dresses and kick off the cowboy boots girl: you are officially retired!

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Notice the belt buckle bling – the guys all received nice leather belts and ridiculously large (but oddly, they work) belt buckles with the initial of their last name. “H” for Hefti, etc.

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Dan and his sweet and fun girlfriend, Chantel (note the belt buckle bling).

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Pre-wedding contemplation. With beer.

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The wedding party rides in style.

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“Hey! Your tag’s showing!” Can you tell they are brothers, or what?

 

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After what seemed like several hours of posing in various positions (both casual – “look away and laugh!” and formal – “take off your sunglasses, smile, and look at the camera”) and settings (chapel, train, park, limo), our very thorough photographer freed us to go eat, drink, and be merry with the rest of the wedding guests (who thought we had gotten into an accident on the way over because we were taking so long).

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Pete & Brian

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A good time was had by all.

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The bartenders mixed the drinks too strongly, the DJ played the music too loudly, and the guests were too rowdy: it was the perfect Trombley wedding reception.

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Mom and dad cuttin’ the rug.

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Scott & Missy.

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The “church lady” and Care-Bear.

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Pete singing country and posing with his new ball and chain.

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Cowboys.

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Cheers!

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Photo Booth Madness

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Just hanging out with my new sis!

 

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Me and my guy!

 

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Fun on the dance floor!

 

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Father and sons.

 

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Happy couple! It was the most perfect, awesomely fun, so Y-O-U two kind of day. Thank you Pete & Ryan for letting us share in your day! We love you SO much and are over-the-moon excited and happy for you two! Ryan, my sister, welcome to the family. We love you!

Where the Magic Happens

The weather in Maine has shifted and spring is here! The days shuffle between gray and calm to blue-sky-sunshine and breezy. Regardless of the wind factor, we have been treating our Cabin Fever with mega doses of granite walls, root-infested trails, and cold, clear lakes.

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Gearing up for some exploratory climbing at Park’s Pond – another local crag.

 

The first few climbing days spent at Eagle’s Bluff – one of our local climbing areas – were frustrating (mostly for me – Stephane can get on anything and climb it). The climbing out here in Maine is very different from what we are used to in Colorado. First of all, the rock is different – Colorado is gritty, dry sandstone sliced through by beautiful cracks. These cracks are what we use to climb up the rock:

 

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Charlie leading a line @ Indian Creek (Utah).

 

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Depending on the width of the crack, you can get your feet (or a toe) into it, your hands / arm / fingers into it, and move on up. Here’s Lee on a climb @ Escalante (Colorado).

 

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Because you are sticking your hands into the gritty rock, you tape them up to protect your skin (and sometimes wear a long-sleeve shirt).

 

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If you are lead climbing (this means you are the first one to go up the route – it is your job to climb the route, taking the rope up with you, and then set the rope through the anchors at the top), you place this gear in the crack as you move up the route. This is called a “cam” (short for Camalot) and it protects you while you are climbing. You secure the cam in the crack, put the rope through it and if you fall, the cam will hold you.

 

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Cams look like this – they come in different sizes because cracks some in different sizes. Part of the job of the lead climber is to look at the route they are climbing and determine what kind of cams (which sizes and how many of each size) to bring with them on the climb.

 

The cam is then placed into the crack, like so, and the rope runs through its other end, like so. The lead climber climbs over this piece for a bit, then places another piece. The process is repeated until they reach the anchors (top of the climb). The rope is then threaded through the anchors and down below. Then other climbers can then climb the route on “top rope” – meaning they are not at risk for a fall because the rope is already secured at the top.

 

We’ve established that the rock out west is this beautiful, red, crack-filled sandstone. So, what about out east? Here, we have granite. Granite is much harder than sandstone, more slippery (you’ll use a lot more chalk on your hands to keep them dry), and there are fewer cracks in it. So a lot of the climbing done out here is called SPORT climbing (versus CRACK or TRADITIONAL climbing like I just explained).

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With sport climbing, you grab onto little (or sometimes big) pieces of rock that stick out of the wall; you place your toes on the tiniest little granule and hope it holds. I think it requires a lot more finger / hand strength and balance. As you can tell, I am missing the crack!

 

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With sport climbs, there are no cracks in which to place gear and protect yourself. Instead, the person who has put up (created) the route has drilled bolts into the rock at certain intervals up the rock until the anchor is reached.

 

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In place of cams, “quick draws” are used. With these, you clip one end to the bolt and the other end to the rope (which is attached to you). If you fall, the bolt / quick draw / rope combo will hold you.

 

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This is what it looks like on a route.

 

Now that you are a little more educated on the climbing that we do out west versus what we have to climb here in Maine, you can see that there is a big difference between the two! This new style of climbing is taking us outside of our comfort zones; making us to push a little more (each in our own ways).

 

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Me on top rope. The rope goes all the way up, out of the picture (through the anchors), and back to me. See how tight the rope is? If I were to fall off the rock, I would go absolutely nowhere. I might drop *maybe* a couple of inches. The beauty of climbing top rope is feeling secure. You can also try moves that you wouldn’t feel comfortable trying on lead.

 

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This is an example of lead climbing. Stephane’s job is to climb to the top of the route and put the rope through the anchor. Right now, he has placed one piece (in this case, a cam because it’s a crack) and has put the rope through it. So, if he were to fall right now, he would be held up by the cam. The scary part for him is that he needs to climb up and over the piece of protection, another four feet or so, and then place another piece that will protect him further up. He’ll continue to climb and place pieces until he reaches the top. The beauty of lead climbing IS the fear factor and mental challenge of climbing knowing that if you fall, you could fall a good 6 feet or more, depending. Physically AND mentally demanding.

 

Last Sunday was blue-sky-sunshine and a little breezy but we’re protected by the warm, south-facing granite wall of Park’s Pond. Stephane’s leading a really hard climb (unbeknownst to him, it’s a 5.11d – that means its really hard). He is on the route a good while, trying this move, trying that hold:¬† he’s focused and creative, careful and thoughtful. After much effort and time on the wall, he finally concedes, down climbs, and we move on to another route.

 

Later in the day I find myself on top rope facing a swing if I fall while attempting a series of three moves. One of the things I fear while climbing is swinging. I know that I’m completely safe if I swing but just the thought of the split-second free-fall petrifies me (my palms are sweating and gooping up the keyboard as I type this). So, I’m standing on a ledge, staring at the moves and thinking it’s time to tap out, tell Stephane I’m done, and have him lower me to the ground.

 

Except, I don’t.

I actually surprise myself and go for it.

I make the moves and I don’t swing.

 

I don’t remember where I saw this image, but it resonates with me and I try to apply this not just to climbing but to all kinds of random daily life things.¬† It doesn’t happen all the time; I’m not perfect and I LIKE being in my comfort zone but when I do try and push outside my bubble of well-being, I have never been disappointed.

 

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This past weekend on the wall, we both happened upon a little magic of our own, each in our own way. Maine’s got some lessons to impart. School’s in session and we are sitting in the front row.

The next home away from home

We keep having close calls on the sale of The Great White Buffalo (and Truckee, the 2WD-diesel-wonder-mobile). Thanks to the awesomeness of our slick used RV salesman, one Dan Quigley, and the magic of Craigslist, we are definitely getting some bites. Now that spring is here we are hoping for The Big Bite.

While we enjoyed our time roaming free in The Buffalo, she no longer suits our needs and seeing as she lives two time zones away, slowly devaluing, it’s time to send her on her way.

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The Buffalo has allowed us to play in and explore some amazing places out west. While the exploring continues in Maine, we’ll do it on a smaller scale since our next camper will not be our primary residence.

 

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The Buffalo hosted morning coffee, breakfast, and Pente sessions while out camping and post-dirtbike/run showers and beers.

 

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One of the Buffalo’s cooler features (and Myra’s nemesis), the outdoor shower: because when you roll in dead skunk, it’s just a crime to wash that scent away.

 

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Great times tailgating in the boonies of Western Montana.

 

So, the search is on for our next camper. Options we are considering are:

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A truck camper, like Tom & Melisa’s. The truck camper sits in the bed of your pickup. It features a bed, small stove and refrigerator and most have heat. Some have a table/eating area that converts to a second sleeping area as well. You can take them wherever you can take the truck – much different from hauling a 32 foot Buffalo behind you.

 

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A pull-behind pop-up, like Dan & Karen’s (in the background). D & K’s is a high-clearance, off-road style pop-up (beefier tires). These also have a stove and bed; some have a fridge and heater. What we don’t like about these is they seem kind of chinsy and flimsy.

 

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New to the list of contenders: the A Liner. Pros: all walls are hard (instead of tent material). Seems more sturdy/solid. Also has fridge, stove, bed, heater…

 

Thoughts from our readers? Any suggestions one way or the other? Submit feedback now or forever hold your peace on the Hefti’s next home away from home…!

 

Some Observations on Maine

Stereotype Busted

In telling people that¬†¬†we were moving to Maine, we often received¬†this response, something along the lines of, “Good luck with that, everyone is mean to outsiders in Maine.”

Leaves you with a big warm fuzzy, right?

Well, after living here for 3+ months, we can say with confidence that nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone we have met so far Рfrom the chatty dog-walker at the riverfront park to the quirky, Newsie-cap-wearing cashier at our local grocery store Рall have been very open, friendly, and kind.

Maybe it’s because of this cute guy with the funny accent:

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She’s got moxie

Exploring a local store, “The Christmas Tree Shops” (think Walgreens + Bed Bath Beyond + Dollar Store), we came upon a display of “Moxie”.

“What is Moxie?” you might ask? Well, thanks to some special behind-the-scenes-in-depth digging¬†by staff researcher Debbie Trombley, we can now tell you this about Moxie:

 

  1. Moxie is one of the first carbonated beverages mass-produced in the US.
  2. We all know the definition of the word “moxie” as “having daring, courage, or spirit” – but did you know that this word came to be BECAUSE OF the brand advertising of the cola Moxie?
  3. Moxie is the official soft drink of Maine (designated as such on May 10, 2005).
  4. Moxie’s flavor is unique, as it is not as sweet as most modern soft drinks and is described by some as bitter (I can neither confirm nor deny this as I haven’t tasted it).
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Make Mine Moxie!

 

Mailboxes…

In Maine, many mailboxes hover over the ground suspended by chains which are attached to wooden beams, metal poles, you name it. On windy days (nearly every day), they sway back and forth in the breeze; some hang on long chains, other on shorter chains; some on thick chains, some on thin chains. Is this decorative? Functional? Is there some historical or cultural significance? Is it just a Bangor thing? We have no clue as of yet but will report back to you on our findings once we investigate further.

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Boom

Driving down highway 1A on our way to our new home for the very first time, we passed Main Fireworks Company on our left. A few minutes later, another fireworks store comes into view – Big Bang Boom! Yet further down the road, ¬†on right-hand side of 1A, we roll by Phantom Fireworks. And no, these are not the red-and-white-striped tents you see pop¬†up in parking lots mid-June – these are legit, brick-and-mortar buildings. And another thing…THEY ARE OPEN ALL THE TIME. WalMart’s closed, and you’ve got Phantom Fireworks’ neon sign flashing “open”. Something very sketchy is going on if you are open more than WalMart. Just sayin’. Stephane and I are convinced these are fronts for some much seedier (and more profitable) business.

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Tree Roots for Nimble Feet

I always thought I liked trees before moving to Maine. Now I feel choked by them. They are everywhere – blanketing the land, blocking out the sun, hiding any hope of a view; of open space. On the plus side, their root systems -which grow in thick, intricate patterns covering¬†the trails – make runs much more focused – you drag¬†one – just one – foot instead of picking it very much up and placing it very much in the proper hollow between roots, and you’ll be washing dirt out of your hair for a week.

 

Other random observations

For some reason we thought of Maine as a more wild, untouched, natural place. Well it certainly has not remained untouched by the government – lots more rules and taxes here. Also there’s a lot of smokers which surprised us. People don’t use Rs so much when they speak (“Park the car” becomes “Paaaaaaahhhhhhhk the caaaahhhh”) and there are holes (legit, not bullets like in Montrose) in a lot of the traffic signs (assuming that is so the wind can pass through…)

 

Regardless, we are enjoying our little corner of Maine – our trusty¬†log cabin on Phillips Lake, our local trails and climbing crags; the natural food store with the yummy, daily, fresh-baked bread. And we are (still) looking forward to some NICE WEATHER – after mud season (a.k.a spring) and then black fly season…

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He’s dead set on enjoying the sunny day (finally a sunny day!), freezing cold be damned!

 

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Taking our mountain bikes out on the road (huh? The trails were too wet to ride) at Acadia National Park. Many of the roads at Acadia are closed during the off-season so we took advantage of checking out the views by bike without any cars zooming by. We’ve been told come summer Acadia is overrun with tourists so we are enjoying the calm before the storm.

 

Intake, Burn, Repeat

Our days as of late have taken on a steady, simple rhythm:

ingest calories, burn calories, repeat.

Egg, turkey sausage, and cheese breakfast sandwich (don’t forget the slice of tomato- tomato makes it); hit the trails on the bikes.

Homemade vegetable soup (Stéphane makes the best vegetable soup); a session of sweaty P90-X plyometrics upstairs.

Hike up Mount Megunticook for a view of the ocean (all we saw was fog); ¬†flatbread pizza down in town (I might add that the Flatbread Pizza Company of Rockland, Maine, definitely rivals Colorado Boy for the Hefti’s vote of best pizza ever).

Crusty, fresh-out-of-the-oven bread slathered in brie or camembert; strawberries for dessert; hit the lakeside trail for some mileage with Myra.

Homemade apple pie (yes, Stéphane makes the best apple pie too), and…oops, a movie. Meh, hit the gym tomorrow.

 

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Hiking up Mount Megunticook down in Camden, Maine. Behind me you’ll just have to imagine the ocean spreading out in the distance. It’s there, just not on this day.

 

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Post-hike splurge: AMAZING pizza at the Flatbread Company. With each bite we were torn at the thought of de-throning our beloved Colorado Boy pizza but…Flatbread Co. just might take the crown. We’ll need to go back again (and again) to confirm.

 

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Flatbread Company lives in this super cute red barn-type building. Inside, although large, is cozy and homy with a funky bar and large pizza oven dominating the back. Another cool thing about this place? They are one of the many Maine companies that support Life Flight of Maine. A month or so ago they had “Life Flight of Maine Night”: money earned that night went directly to LifeFlight. It is so great to see the people of Maine come together to support a company that they trust, believe in, and are proud of.

 

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Myra dipping her feet into the chilly stream on our way down Megunticook.

 

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The landscape of Maine reminds me a little of Michigan (not the SE Armpit-of-Michigan but more Up North): lots of roots, pine trees; dark, rich soil, wet, lichen-covered rocks.

 

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Taking advantage of one of the nicer days we’ve had in Maine, we hiked up Chick Hill, one of the larger local hills in the area with really nice views – the mountains of Acadia National Park behind us.

 

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Of course, a photo of food must follow a photo of exercise. So this apple pie doesn’t look like much but let me tell you – I have to start rationing what I ask for because when your husband is the amazing St√©phane Hefti, Ask And You Shall Receive. One evening I was talking¬†out loud about how yummy a piece of pie would be. Of course we don’t keep pies or cakes around the house but we do keep the ingredients and my husband, being the fabulous baker that he is,¬†decided to whip one up, no problem. Me: “but we don’t have that pie crust thing or the filling, do we?” Him: “We have flour, sugar, and apples. We’ll be fine.” This pie did not have a very long life after emerging from the oven. Soooooooo good.

 

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So St√©phane’s been working quite a few shifts down at the Lewiston base (about 1.5 hours SE of us) this past month. One weekend I met up with him and got to check out the base, meet some of his co-workers (so nice and drama-free! What a happy change!), and get a quick tour of the helicopter!

 

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It might be hard to see on the picture, but all the little points of glowing light? Yeah, those are all different switches and buttons and screens – so much data to take in, so many things to keep track of…nuts.

 

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MORE screens. I’m not even going to pretend I know which one tells you what. I think there’s a weather one in there somewhere, and an altimeter and a…gyroscope? That is the extent of my helicopter vocabulary.

 

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While in Lewiston we found the PERFECT mountain bike on Craigslist! It’s been quite a while but I am excited to get back into mountain biking! Check out my new ride: a 2014 Santa Cruz Juliana – dual suspension, 27.5″ wheels – yeah!!

 

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Getting the bikes ready for our first excursion.

 

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Please note that St√©phane took these photos within a few seconds’ time. Look at Myra: have you ever seen a more ridiculous dog? Her absolute favorite thing in the entire world (after licking our yogurt tubs clean) is to be outside running around and rolling in the snow. If you can’t tell, she is smiling. Pure happiness.

 

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On one particularly dull day, St√©phane decided to call the local creative arts center¬†in town and see if we could come in and “play with clay”. The woman on the line seemed confused at his request saying, “I’m open but not teaching any classes today…” To which he replied, “That’s okay – can we just buy some clay and mess around with it?”. A pause on the other end then: “Ummm…okay”

 

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I felt like I was in Ms. Katanick’s pottery class in high school again! Just like back then, I could not for the life of me center the dang lump of clay on the wheel so I worked on a pinch pot instead.

 

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Taking his work very seriously.

 

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There’s this shop in town called “The Christmas Tree Shops”. I’ve seen it in a few other towns in Maine. I just assumed it was a seasonal shop that was only open during Christmas-time until one day, bored and driving around, we decided to pop in and check it out. The Christmas Tree Shops is like Jo-Ann Fabrics meets Bed, Bath, and Beyond meets Walgreens: selling an assortment of random knick-knacks (shnick-schnack as Papi would say), makeup, candy, decorative pillows, and…MOXIE.

 

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I actually have no clue with the drink Moxie is all about, but the WORD Moxie (mox·ie / noun: force of character, determination, or nerve) is in homage to my friend Sue McDonald and her Crescent sailboat, Moxie. Back in my sailing days I would race against her on another Crescent. Here she is, ripping it up in the Detroit River. Badass.

 

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Consider yourself caught up on All Things Hefti! We are doing our thing in Maine and looking forward to spring: some climbing, more hiking, trail running, mountain biking, and exploration!! But first we need to get through mud and black fly season…To Be Continued…

 

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Arrrrrggggghhhhhhhh!!!!! Polar Plunge!!

Free Range Update

 

Remember that time when we bought a sailboat and went for a 9-month sail? Well we are happy to report that our beloved Free Range is having a great Chapter Three of life down in Antigua with her new owners.

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Neem (a.k.a Free Range) sporting a more subdued, taupe-colored stripe. The new owners also extended the stripe of color all the way forward to the bow and backwards to the stern.

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For comparison, Free Range with her old blue stripe. At anchor in Little Farmer’s Cay, Exumas, Bahamas. Ahhhhhh.

 

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Styling with brand-new cushion covers! Bright, cheery island yellow.

 

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The original blue cushion covers.

 

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Here she is under sail as a Canadian boat (her owners are from Nova Scotia) and with new lettering / name.

 

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I do have to say I prefer our choice of font ūüėČ

 

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A multi-national sailing vessel! Sail on, Free Range!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trips & Redemption Centers

I remember when I was little sometimes my mom would let me keep all of the aluminum can deposit money if I rounded up all of the cans, cleaned them out, and took them to Farmer Jack’s¬†(well, she would take me to¬†Farmer Jack’s¬†since I couldn’t drive). At the front of the Farmer Jack’s¬†stood a wall of¬†can-sucker machines – mouths the diameter of a coke can –¬†patiently waiting to be fed. Place a¬†Bud Light¬†in the mouth, watch it get sucked in on a little conveyor belt, rotated around, scanned, and then…wait for it…you get the 10 cent credit on screen (score!) or you hear the sound of the can hit the reject bin (but why?).

 

In Maine, you get 5 cents per can and a whopping 15 cents per wine bottle. But you don’t return your cans to your local grocery¬†store. Here, you go to¬†a redemption center.

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First trip to our local redemption center.

 

So redemption centers work pretty much the same way as the Farmer Jack’s in Michigan except each redemption center has its own little personality and theme.

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The theme of the Brewer Redemption Center? Seventh-grade girl doodles?

 

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No machines to feed at the redemption center – instead, there’s REAL PEOPLE!

 

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A display showing items the redemption center does not take.

 

The weather in Maine hasn’t been all that great since we moved here so we’ve had to get¬†creative about staying active.¬†Between racquetball and yoga / spinning classes at the gym, an indoor climbing wall¬†at the University of Maine, and cardio / pilates / kickboxing sessions at home in our upstairs “workout studio”, we’ve done all right.

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Have you ever been to a climbing gym? It’s fun and if you’ve never been, you can go and get instruction on how to climb! See the different-colored tape all over the wall? Those represent different routes you can take to the top. So if you are following the “brown route”, then you can only touch the holds that have brown tape next to them – this is a fun way to challenge yourself.

 

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(or you can just use whatever hand / foot hold you want, like I’m doing here – it’s much easier and a good way to warm up).

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Stephane demonstrating “T-Rex arms” (super tired, pumped out arms after climbing) and our friend Kevin. Lorry and Kevin just moved out to Maine too. Stephane knew them from back in the day in Montrose – small world!

 

 

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It seems we “take our gear for a walk” more often than not lately. What this means is that we get dressed / packed to ice and/or rock climb, then we hike with our backpack and gear to the area, but for whatever reason – usually conditions, we don’t end up actually climbing. On this particular day at the local climbing area, Eagle’s Bluff, the granite was just super wet (read: not safe to climb).

 

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Stephane’s enjoying the work at LifeFlight of Maine. He spends a lot more time flying out here! In Colorado, there were quite a few other helicopter company / bases and so – competition / less flying. In Maine, there is ONLY LifeFlight of Maine – they are non-profit and no one can compete – so with two helicopters to service the entire state, they are in the air a lot.

 

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A few weeks back we took a trip to southern Maine to check out the Sanford area. LifeFlight is potentially opening another base here and so we wanted to see what Sanford was like. I made Stephane stop and pose for a photo here because it was one of the very few areas that actually opened up and a little view. Mostly you are swallowed by the trees out here in Maine.

 

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Of course Myra came with us on our little road trip. We were even able to find a pet-friendly hotel.

 

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Best buds.

DSC_0121Sanford doesn’t have much going for it but it does have a pretty sweet street name…NEARLY SPELLED CORRECTLY…

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The Sanford area seemed pretty similar to Bangor – lots of trees, not much open space… we drove an hour north and into New Hampshire to check out White Mountain National Park. Here we are driving through the quaint (but super touristy) town of Conway, NH, with Mount Washington looming in the background.

 

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The slogan on the bus at the Mt. Washington Visitor’s Center – GET OUTDOORS! We were surprised by how many people were at the visitor’s center and/or getting ready to hike/climb or getting back from a hike/climb. Even though it was COLD and WINDY out, the people of New Hampshire were getting after it!

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Wintry hike near Mount Washington. Stephane pushing his luck.

 

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A real mountain! (Mt. Washington)

 

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Sweet little covered bridge in Jackson, NH.

 

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Back at the homestead, another awesome meal prepared by Chef Hefti – mushroom risotto-stuffed bell peppers. Amazing. To those of you who are willing to make the trip to come visit us in Maine this spring/summer, we will make it worth your while!! Come hungry!

 

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Parting shot: family hike up to the summit of Chick Hill – another one of our local “mountains”. In the background are the mountains of Acadia National Park. Chick Hill is a great spot to get above the trees, get some distant views, enjoy the open feeling, and breathe deep.

Random thoughts on a rainy day

Outside, rainwater drips ceaselessly off the eave of our cabin; the pine trees, which house our fat squirrel friends, shift and shiver in the wind. I sit here in a tank top sweating as a I type because St√©phane has built an outrageously hot fire. He’s out sitting in his “new” truck learning how to use all the gadgets in his bat-mobile. We’ve been looking for over a month for the right truck (proper combination of cylinders (6 not 8 – for better gas mileage) / doors (4) / year (>=2009) / miles (<=100,000) / gadgets (yes please) / price (how low can you go?)) which we finally found – unfortunately for us at a dealership, but we stuck to our budget and got a great deal.

 

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Proud new owner of a Ford F-150! Thanks to our super cool salesman, Declan @ Casco Bay Ford – come climb with us when the weather gets nicer!

 

So, it’s gross outside today and I’m missing Tom & Melisa, Pat & Kim, Dan & Karen and all of our Colorado friends – and all¬†of the adventures we went on together. Just the other day we got a text from an old-new friend, Julie – it’s so funny how people come in and out and then back into your life:

 

Super Bowl Sunday at Puerto Bahia in Samana, Dominican Republic. We share slices of pizza, laughs and stories with a woman named Julie who has escaped the cold, Maine winter for a week. A year later, cleaning out her purse, Julie comes across our boat card, pulls up our blog and sees we have moved to Maine and live only a few hours away! We’ll meet up with her when weather gets nice and we start exploring Maine further afield.

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Beautiful Puerto Bahia – the one and only time we paid to stay in an actual marina.

 

Craigslist add: free ink for HP Deskjet 423C printer (before leaving for our sailing adventure we were giving things away, shedding our belongings like so much skin we had outgrown). Tom Lamb, who just so happened to be perusing Craigslist that morning and needed printer ink for his own Deskjet 423C, answered the ad, picked up our ink (and dropped of some of Mrs. Lamb’s very tasty cookies), and has been our number one blog fan ever since.

 

Georgetown, Bahamas: a supercharged midnight gale dislodges¬†Free Range’s¬†anchor and blows her into Adastra, a neighboring sailboat. The next day, we sheepishly deliver a bottle of wine, boat card, and our apologies to Bob and Judy, with whom we become fast friends and traveling companions for the next month.

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Boating buddies! Us, Bob & Judy, and Steve.

 

The docks of Sailcraft Marina in Oriental, North Carolina. A beautiful Island Packet, s/v “Someday”, rests a few slips down. St√©phane strikes up a conversation with Dale, Someday’s owner, who later gifts us with paper charts (which we treasured and used throughout our journey). Although we never met up with Dale and Merna again, we each follow each other’s blogs and revel in each other’s (mis-)adventures.

 

The blisteringly hot cement shoulder of the Ohio Turnpike: a busted tire en route to Virginia and our sailing adventure had us spending an afternoon at¬†Auto Smith Tire & Service in Newton Falls, Ohio¬†(home of Ohio’s¬†second oldest covered bridge, also zip code 44444).¬†When you can fit everything you own into your car, there’s usually some kind of interesting story as to why –¬†the boys at Auto Smith were interested in hearing¬†ours. We had no clue that T.C. and the gang had been following our adventures on eeeeeep until they left a comment on the blog one day – to our great surprise and happiness.

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Good people @ AutoSmith.

 

We have some pretty cool stories about the people who have come into our lives. And we count ourselves lucky to have you travel along with us – whether we were buddy boating with you down in the Bahamas, climbing with you at Indian Creek, picking your brain on how to sail in North Carolina, or making you eat fondue in Michigan, a big cheers to you! Thinking of you all on this rainy, gray Maine afternoon and thankful to have each of you, in whatever small or large way, in our lives.

 

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Master Mariner One, Marc Lucas, breaking out some boating knowledge.

 

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Celebrating Tom & Melisa’s marriage! Climbing, camping, and celebrating with the best of friends in Escalante.

 

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Pant- work @ Indian Creek

 

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How many can we fit on Free Range? That’s how many, right there.

 

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Family!

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Family! (on the other side of the Atlantic)

 

 

And a parting shot:

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Doing our best to control the Myra-hair infestation at the cabin.

On furniture, helicopters, & snow

It’s not that we live in the total backwater of Maine, but the furniture selection here sure makes it feel like we do. One’s furnishing¬†options in Bangor range from the “unfinished” Maine log-cabin look to Great-Aunt Matilda’s frilly, floral-patterned loveseat complete with matching pillows and ottoman – not really our style. (Please note I did not say “grandma’s frilly loveseat” because my Grams¬†is pretty much the most modern grandma out there, so when I think of fuddy-duddy, I do not think of Grams).

 

So, we bit the bullet, hitched up our little wooden trailer to The Tig, and drove the 4.5 hours south to Boston and the nearest IKEA.

 

After a total of nine hours on the road, six hours in IKEA, and two hours placing our purchases tetris-style into the trailer, we returned home at two in the morning, tired but victorious.

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Couch: check.

 

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More couch pieces. One of the reasons why IKEA is so cool – couch doesn’t fit in your current space? Pull a few pieces out of it and now you have two chairs!

 

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It’s not much to look at it but it is functional. There’s a little hand crank which you use to raise or lower the desk so you can work while standing or sitting. New desk chair too – sure beats the camp chair for working.

 

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Lighting fixture ($10), and bed frame which also doubles as a dresser.

 

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Our socks, underoos, and pants now have homes.

 

In other news..

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St√©phane’s been working through ground and flight training in preparation for the new gig. Here is his study station, complete with a print-out of the cockpit controls.

 

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Here’s what the real cockpit looks like. So many buttons, pedals, gadgets and levers!

 

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Get back to studying!

 

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This is the helicopter that St√©phane flies for Life Flight of Maine. It’s an Agusta 109. It’s quite a bit bigger than the A-Star that he flew in Colorado.

 

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There is more room for the nurse and medics to work on the patient, and more room for everyone in general.

 

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Here is what the little A-Star looks like.

 

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It is smaller and lighter than the Agusta 109, which makes it really good for high-altitude landings like the one St√©phane made here, at 13,600 feet (they saved a guy who was having a heart attack near the summit of Handies Peak). p.s. Aren’t those mountains fabulous?

 

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Yesterday over a foot of soft, powdery snow dumped down. And this morning, we took advantage of the blue-sky-sunshine to get fresh “tracks”

 

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We made tracks with our own two feet! We’ll probably invest in cross-country skis but we’ll save that for next winter – I’m still recovering from all the new furniture purchases.

 

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Snow art.

 

 

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Snow Removal – capital S, capital R – is a real thing out here. More than half of the trucks driving around have big plows attached to their fronts. If you don’t already, you better make sure you have a plowman engaged before the next winter storm comes because otherwise, you will be in a world of trouble, my friend. You will not be getting your car out of the driveway for a long while.

 

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Mainers must remove the snow from their roofs as well. Enter this handy-dandy tool. It’s like a scraper on a giant, extended arm.

 

 

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St√©phane says its a good arm workout, so I’ll be doing it next time (gotta whip my wimpy arms into shape).

 

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My birthday was last weekend and it was awesome. My special day included: A. A family run in up to the top of Bald Mountain whereupon I wiped out on ice, busted my knee and my phone. B. The most fabulous lunch AND dinner cooked by my fabulous husband C. All the red Haribo gummy bears I wanted to eat. Can’t beat that with a stick.

 

And so…Month #2 in Maine begins…

Out & About

Out and about with friends and family in Switzerland…

 

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Trying out a new sport: urban golf!

 

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The golf balls are rubbery and bigger than your regulation golf ball, and the golf club is made in such a way that it is both driver (side) and putter (back). The bottom of the club is hollow so that you can store your ball!

 

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There are 18 holes placed in different areas all around the medieval town of Fribourg. I hit my ball in the river, Stéphane hit his in a goat field; there are holes under old bridges, next to an abbey, etc

 

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GREAT idea, Lolo and GaGa! An awesome way to spend a day outside with great friends and to see more of the town of Fribourg.

 

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Right before sending my ball into the river.

 

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I have noticed all around Switzerland these diagnal-stiped shutters, in all different colors. The shutters on this building are painted black and white because it is in the town of Fribourg, in canton (state) Fribourg, whose flag is black/white. It’s all coming together now…

 

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Crane (homage to Gruyère) sculpture / funculaire Рa little train car that carries passengers up/down a steep section of the city. The way it works? The car that is going down carries sewer water with it Рthe weight of the sewer water pulls it down and in turn the car moving down pulls its counterpart car UP. / Airing out some pillows.

 

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We learned a new card game to play back home – Jass (pronounced “yass”). The suits here are: acorns, shields, flowers, and bells.

 

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The scoreboard. MUCH more complicated than euchre.

 

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We drove to Saint-√Čtienne, France, to see our brother-in-law’s band, Deos, play. Deos is a Death Metal band. We have never experienced this kind of music before so didn’t really know what to expect.

 

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A pre-concert beverage with the band. These guys are awesome! A great band and really good people.

 

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So there are different kinds of genres within Death Metal. Deos is inspired by ancient Rome and so their music / lyrics revolve around ancient Roman themes. Fabio calls it “war music”, and it’s really true. Total adrenaline. If I were skydiving and about to jump out of a plane, I’d probably have Deos cranked up in the background.

 

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We got to listen to three different Death Metal bands at Thunderbird Lounge. Deos’s vibe was ancient Rome. Then there was NeverCold and MythArk. NeverCold had organ music playing in the background and the singer was more screechy and high-pitched than Deos. Of the three, I liked Deos the best.

 

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Fabio wowed us with his top-notch cooking skills. He made us pasta (from scratch!). The noodles are made with flour and egg.

 

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I’m sure Adriano will be just as good a cook as daddy one day.

 

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I don’t have a picture of it, but for dinner we ate mutton kebobs, pork, and duck with a yummy salad. I think this is the longest I’ve gone without eating my boring chicken – so many other flavors out there!! Merci beaucoup, Fabio!!

 

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We strolled around Annecy Lake and checked out the medieval part of Fabio & Yvonne’s town, Annecy (France).

 

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They call it “The Venice of France” because of the canals that run through the old part of the city.

 

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Super tourists!

 

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Cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways.

 

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Our visit would not be complete without a timed Family photo!

 

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Amazing view from a Swisscom tower, high up on a hill. Love the layers: green meadows, forest, fog, mountains.

 

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View from the top of the Swisscom tower – yeah!! ‚ÄĒ

 

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360 degrees.

 

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With the boys.

 

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Look at this conference room!!! Who could pay attention to a meeting with these mountains in the background?

 

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Swisscom’s generator – nothing but the best: DETROIT DIESEL!

 

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A visit to the quaint village of Villette to walk through the vines.

 

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A walk through the vineyards of Villette.

 

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These vineyards are right on Lake Lemon and the views are beautiful. In the right season, you can walk from village to vallage on narrow roads through the vines and stop at different “wine caves” to sample the local fare.

 

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We were *just* above “the soup” (fog). The fog visits the area in the winter and settles over Lake Lemon. If you are at just a slightly higher altitude, you are up and out of it, like us.

 

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Sunset shot.

 

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Sunset over fog and vines.

 

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We checked out “Marche de No√ęl” – it is a Christmas market where local (and not-so-local artisans Yvonne Hefti wink emoticon ) sell their wares. You can buy a vin chaude (hot wine with spices) and Hot Fondue (think Hot Dog but instead of the hot dog in the bun, you have melted cheese), woolen sweaters, blown-glass baubles and other such schnick-schnack. And…CANDY!

 

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A kindred spirit.

 

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Next…time for more cheese!!!! Matthieu and Christelle had us over for raclette at their new and beautiful apartment.

 

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This is the little raclette oven. Each person gets their own mini-pan on where you put a slice of cheese. You can also put things like onions (pickled or salted or regular), pickles, tomatoes, olives on the cheese. Once the cheese has melted (it has to be goey but not TOO melty to the point where its oily), you scrape it onto your plate and eat with potatoes.

 

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The mini-pans and scrapers for the cheese.

 

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Mmmmmmmmm Raclette cheese slices…MERCI BEAUCOUP Matthieu et Christelle, pour la bonne journ√©e / soir√©e!!

Swiss Road Trip

Time to explore Switzerland! We packed our clothes and ice climbing gear and headed east to see more family and find some ice.

 

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We drove 3 hours east to visit family in Sargans. St√©phane’s cousin, Erwin, owns a farm and makes amazing cheese and meats. Every spring, he takes the cows up to the high meadows of the Alps. While the cows are up there grazing on yummy Alpine grass, their milk and cheese can be sold as “Alpine Cheese” / “Alpine Milk”, etc. It is amazingly rich and flavorful.

 

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View from the farm. I am now forever and completely spoiled by the proximity to the mountains that most of the Swiss enjoy.

 

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Cousins!

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The cows are brought down from the Alps in the fall and spend winter in barns. The cows here are all pregnant. They each have their own little stall area and lots of clean, fresh hay to eat. Erwin takes them out to a nearby pasture for sunshine and to stretch their legs. Happy cows!

 

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The cows’ tails are tied to a piece of rope so that when they are lying down, their tail does not slip through the openins in the grate (where the poo/pee goes).

 

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Each cow has a little plaque above her stall with her name and other pertinent information (I forgot to ask but I’m guessing due date, etc.).

 

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This is Denise. She is one of the really big, gray cows with horns. The other cows are all smaller and brown. Erwin is going to phase these gray types of cows out because the brown cows produce more milk for the amount of food they ingest. You can’t tell from the picture but Denise is absolutely enormous.

 

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Each cow has tags on their ears showing to which farm they belong.

 

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Lunch time!

 

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Family photo!

 

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This is St√©phane’s cousin, Ivo. Ivo is a professional paraglider. Guess what we got to do with Ivo?¬†

 

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Arrrrrrgggghhhhh!!!!!

 

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Flying!

 

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Sara Hefti December 14, 2015 · This was my first time paragliding. For the start, you run as fast as you can down a pretty steep hill, and then, before you know it, you are in the air.

 

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St√©phane’s turn!

 

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View down the valley from above.

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If you are in Switzerland and want to experience this, call Ivo! chickenwings.ch

 

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The family came to see me off!

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DANKE Ivo! Thank you for the special and memorable experience.

 

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After the farm, we headed into town for a visit with St√©phane’s Aunt Frieda and cousins Sybille and Carmen and their families. A fun evening of great food and catching up. Danke Frieda!!!!

 

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Our next goal for the trip is to find some ice to climb. After driving up to a high alpine valley into a little village…

 

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Ice!

 

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We rented two beds in a 6-bed room and got lucky – we were the only ones – yeah!

 

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Our little hotel at night – look at the stars!

 

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Check out the mountains and stars – we took a walk and saw four shooting stars in less then 20 minutes.

 

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Breakfast consisted of: various cheeses, meats, bread, yogurt, cereals. A pot of boiling water and these ingenious little metal cages which hold your egg in the pot while it boils. You can then choose a 4 / 6 / 8 minute timer, depending on how soft you like your egg. Swiss Precision.

 

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At each table, a weather report for the day.

 

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En route to the ice.

 

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We climbed the route to the right, just the first pitch.

 

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Pretty.

 

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View down the valley – our little hotel is somewhere down there.

 

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Phew! Made it!

 

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It’s been quite a while since we last climbed ice. We are happy with our one pitch and figuring out our gear and setups, etc.

 

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A great first day getting back into the swing of things on ice. Hopefully we’ll find some more tomorrow – heading to Andermatt in the morning!

 

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A cheerful pop of color in the mountains – the village children painted this lovely scene on a water reservoir – note Les Cloches – the cow bells!

 

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We spent two nights over in eastern Switzerland in the state (canton) of Graub√ľnden, one of the German-speaking states. Graub√ľnden’s flag is on the right. As you can see, their special animal is the bouquetin (alpine ibex, like we saw on our hike last week, left).

 

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The bouquetin is everywhere! On local beer cans / wine bottles, street art, and license plates and car stickers. The people of Graub√ľnden proudly fly their state flag.

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As charming as the canton of Graub√ľnden is, we were ready to get to the canton of Uri to search out more ice near the mountain town of Andermatt. After driving several hours on windy, narrow mountain roads, we were only 9 miles from Andermatt! Only one mountain pass left to go!

 

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Except that mountain pass, it was closed for the winter. Only 9 miles to go and we had to turn around. To drive to Andermatt from where we were, we would have had to backtrack 3.5 more hours. So…charming little hotel, time out, and plan the next move.

 

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Dinner. Cervola (my new favorite thing – it’s a Swiss sausage). Motta is an Italian sweet bread. And I discovered a NEW (to me) type of Haribo – Orangina!

 

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We discovered that we could put the car on the train and take the train the remaining 9 miles over the mountain pass to Andermatt. Voila!

 

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Car safely parked on the platform.

 

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Here we go!

 

12370943_10207000236618276_5574575813813533415_oNine miles of massive, snowy Alps.

 

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A little chapel along the way.

 

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Snowy mountain village.

 

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Majestic.

 

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The cars parked on platforms, pulled behind the train. Genious!

 

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Thanks to the car-hauling train, we reach Andermatt and the canton of Uri – their flag is a bull. And now, instead of bouquetins, we see bull imagery everywhere.

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