29 August 2008

Our Vacation - Last One

Yes, these are the last of the vacation photos. Sorry if I've taken advantage of the internet's collective good nature. At least I gave you a few days off. And really, there's been nothing new to see around our house. Soon you'll see pics of a renovated bathroom, and while there is little else as exciting as THAT, these will do for now.

Near the end of our week at the lake, my oldest was able to take a 24 hour break from his RA training and he spent the time with us. Typical college student that he is, within moments of his arrival, he promptly fell asleep in the hammock on the porch.

After dinner, he fell asleep again, only to awaken when the rest of us were ready to go to bed. But I did drag him outside for a couple of photos in between sleep times...

The next morning, my youngest and I got up for a 6 a.m. kayak tour of the islands on the lake. This is what we saw when we ventured outside, just after dawn...

Although it was cold, and it wasn't the sunrise we'd been hoping to see, it was still an amazing experience. Spooky, actually.

Later that day, the sun came back out and we were able to snap a photo of the turtle we'd been watching all week. Every time we got close enough to the log to shoot a photo, he plopped back into the water. This time, we got him.

Pretty thrilling, huh? Yeah, we were pretty relaxed by the end of the week, so spending all our time trying to photograph a turtle didn't seem so odd.

After a last day of more of the same, my son went back to college, and my middle daughter, who is not as inclined to wake up early, did a sunset kayak ride. This photo seems an appropriate ending to this post. Her ride came to an end as did our vacation; one we'll never forget.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

26 August 2008

Our Vacation - Part 3

Most mornings, we woke up to views such as this...

And this...

And this...

And this... (this is a reflection in the water - see the moon?)

While our days consisted mostly of things such as this...

And this...

And this...

And this.

Just when we didn't think it could get any better, along came sunset time...

And as the sun sunk down, it just kept getting prettier.

And while I rarely "doctor" my photos, I sometimes add a bit more light or crop for effect. But in all these, what you see is what we got. The colors were amazing.

Sigh - how I miss that lake.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

25 August 2008

Our Vacation - Part 2

Our first full day at the lake began misty and clear, and the boat was all set for fishing.

Understand, however, that I really don't like to fish. I have nothing against it and I've fished with the best of them in days gone by. In fact, when I was 14-years-old, I caught a 5.25 pound rainbow trout in Colorado, which my dad took to a taxidermist, and I still have it. I just don't enjoy it anymore. I feel sorry for the fish. Yep, I'm one of those.

So my husband goes fishing all day while the kids and I have REAL fun, doing things that don't involve hooking defenseless animals by their lips.

We had a lovely floating dock on which to sit and enjoy the sun. The problem with a floating dock, is that we rode the waves each time a boat or jet ski went by. Not a problem, really, unless one is trying to take a picture. Notice in this next one how it looks like my daughter is kayaking down hill.

I promise, the gravity in Maine is not special - it is just like everywhere else. This was the result of the floating dock.

This next picture is one only a mother could love.

You have to understand that this daughter has named her biceps "Chuck" and "Norris." On a daily basis, we hear about what Chuck and Norris are doing and how they are becoming stronger all the time. Of course, if she is asked to do an unpleasant chore, she is apt to tell us that Chuck and Norris are taking the day off. Yeah, she's a kidder.

A while later that day, as we were swimming and lounging in the lake, my husband was on the dock taking pictures and he told us to turn around. There, not 10 feet behind us was a beautiful loon that had just popped up out of the water. It hung out near us for quite some time and then dove under and went away.

After all the swimming, we went for a boat ride - check out that blue sky...

And in the late afternoon, we relaxed on the porch.

The next morning, the fisherman left early and the scene looked like this:

A few hours later, he returned in pouring down rain.

I might add here that he did not return BECAUSE of the pouring down rain. No, it had been raining for about two-and-a-half hours when he finally showed up. The only reason he came home was to show us this:

What's that, you ask? Another small fish? He kept yelling for me to snap a photo, and I kept yelling for him to come closer (I wasn't going to take my beloved new camera out into that rain).

He came closer and I saw the reason he came back. He caught me a delicious bass...

At over four-and-a-half pounds, this is one for the record books - in our family, at least.

I don't think he stopped smiling all day. The fisherman, that is. Not the fish. Well, the fish smiled a bit when he was set free. Yep, only catch and release for us.

More to come tomorrow, but I promise, that's the best fish you'll see. :)

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

24 August 2008

Our Vacation - Part 1

We just got back today from a week at cottage on one of Maine's many lakes. We rented it sight unseen and hoped for the best. Turns out it was as good as we'd hoped, and more.

The main ingredient, of course, was the weather. After nearly a month of rain here in Maine, we had several days of abundant sunshine and warmth. We swam, we kayaked, we sunned, and we slept. I actually read two books while there, something it usually takes me over a month to do at home. We had meals on a screened-in porch over-looking the lake. Wow.

We haven't had a vacation like this in - well, I can't remember how long. It's been a tough year, so it was a welcome respite.

We took about a zillion pictures, so I'm going to dole them out slowly. This week while I'm doing a ton of laundry, getting the kids ready to start school, and continuing with all our renovations, rather than suffering through it with me, you can re-live my vacation photos. Trust me, it's worth it.

These photos are going to get me through the upcoming winter - I'm counting on it.

So here you go - first day or two...

First, here's the cottage - not large, but big enough for us. Besides, we spent most of our time outside...

The girls went kayaking the first evening, just before sunset...

Here is the view of them from the cottage...

My husband went fishing with all his new Cabela's gear (shh - don't tell LL Bean!) and he only caught this puny little guy...

Actually, he caught some really good fish later in the week, but this is all he got the first night. You'll see the big fish tomorrow - or the next day.

Here is the screened porch where we spent most of our time when we were forced indoors (like at night and the one day it rained). Check out the Christmas lights...

And here is the only good photo taken of me. You will never ever see the one taken on the first day when I was in my swimsuit and had no semblance of tan on my body. It was taken by my evil daughter, who will remain un-named, and it is from the worst possible angle known to man.

Anyway, here I am vegging on the couch in the evening...

Stay tuned... more to come.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

16 August 2008

Moving Day

Yesterday, the weather man told me it was going to rain all day. This was a bit of a bummer because it was also the day I was to help my son move all his belongings back into his dorm for the school year. He's an R.A. in his dorm, so he gets to move in two weeks before all the students.

The weather man was wrong.

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Maine. As we drove out that morning, heading toward the University, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. And when we got to the dorm, it was quite warm. Stupid me, since I actually believe the weather man more than I believe my own two eyes, I wore jeans.

The dorm in question has a bright lobby on the main floor which is surrounded by huge, floor to ceiling windows. In fact, the walls on the whole first floor are made entirely of glass. This has a wonderful solar effect that helps to keep the building warm in the winter time. Yet, it does the same thing in the summer time, and that is a bad thing.

No one else was at the dorm when we got there, but the security system was armed, which meant we had to open the doors with a special card EACH AND EVERY TIME we brought in boxes or furniture. This would have been tricky with an easy door, but these doors are big, heavy, and they are programmed to close as hard and as quickly as possible. Probably to keep the heat in, which, in the summer, is not what we want. Just inside the first set of doors is a second set which are equally heavy and evil, but at least we didn't have to unlock those. Thank goodness for small favors.

What we needed was just one other person to stand there and disarm the door and then hold the two sets of doors open for us as we carried in trunks and such. Instead, one of us would balance our side of the burden with one hand, swipe the card, and then try to hold the door open as we squeezed through. Then, we did it a second time with the second set of doors. All this while the doors kept closing on us. Hard.

We finally moved everything into the lobby, and then it was time to move it all AGAIN - up to the 4th floor. Oh, and did I mention - there is no elevator. Plus, with all the solar heat, the stairwell is nice and warm. Lovely.

Oddly enough, in spite of all the HEAT, we had a really, really nice time. It was just my little boy and me, and we chatted and laughed while we worked. We didn't have to worry about anyone getting in our way, we didn't have to worry about making a mess with all our empty boxes in the hallway, and we could yell up and down the hot stairwell to one another, since no one else was around.

He's all moved in now and darned if I didn't forget to take my camera.

I was sad to leave him there. Not because he was all alone (I mean, he had his TV, his xbox, his stereo, and all his other "stuff". Not because I think he needs to be at home. He's right where he should be right now and it's all good. I guess part of me just still wants him to be a little boy again. But honestly, I wouldn't change any of this right now. I not only love my little boy, but I LIKE the man he's become. That's pretty cool.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

15 August 2008

Cabela's in Maine

I don't know if I ever shared here that as we were driving from San Diego to Maine with three small children and four young pets, I celebrated my 31st birthday. As fate would have it, we were passing through Springfield, Missouri on that day, so being married to the kind of guy I'm married to, we spent the glorious day at Outdoor World. Before you think that I was treated to a day at a fun amusement park, click on that link and see for yourself.

Seriously, though, it wasn't bad. For hunter/fisher types, Outdoor World IS an amusement park of sorts.

For years, we wondered why there was no Outdoor World in Maine. Or Cabela's. We sort of figured it was because L.L. Bean had cornered the market.

Well, now in the hunting/fishing community of Maine, everything is right with the world. Since I'm married to one of the more active members of this motley group, everything is now right with the world in our household.

Cabela's has arrived in Maine.

And speaking of birthdays, my husband's birthday was earlier this week. After every one of his family members sent him Cabela's gift cards, it seemed only proper to pay our first visit to the store.

You can see the excitement and anticipation in their eyes, can't you. Especially the kids.

I honestly believe that as we walked through those front doors, my husband saw a blinding light and heard angels singing.

As it was his birthday, we couldn't exactly rush him through this shopping excursion, so the kids and I wondered around and checked out all the sights.

We passed by him a few times, but he didn't notice us. Once or twice, he looked at us blankly, and I honestly think he had no idea who we were. You know, the blinding light and all.

We spent at least a half hour in front of the aquarium watching the trout and bass moseying around their tank. See the edge-of-your-seat sparkle in their eyes?

After a while, we walked around the mountain that sits in the middle of the store. Yes, there really is a mountain. This moose is at the bottom.

Here's a lousy shot of the side of the mountain, complete with polar bears and musk ox, which, by the way, can NOT be found in the state of Maine.

Ah - a video game. Now the fun really begins.

I mean, isn't this what kids live for? Alas - Cabela's had found something for my children.

Yep, see the smiles? Who'da thought?

Of course, all good things must come to an end. But I'm sure we'll be back another day...

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes