Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mainly, Maine

The Pier at Old Orchard Beach
On Sunday morning, after dropping Cam off at work (he didn't want to go anyway...) we turned the car east and headed down the thruway on our journey to Maine. It was a quick trip; the main (Ha! No pun intended!) purpose of the trip was for Mark to spend some time fishing for the continuing celebration of his 50th birthday last October. You do the math:

Mark  Fishing + 
Judy Hanging at the beach and shopping = 

We got to the Waves Resort at Old Orchard Beach around 6pm on Sunday, dropped our stuff, and took the short walk into town. Perhaps the most redeeming quality of OOB is...wait for it...the beach. The hotel was a typical beach hotel (outdated, and you get the feeling the rug gets a lot of sand action), The town itself is totally tacky (but fun) featuring tons of souvenir shops and an old-fashioned amusement park. We had a great dinner at The Landmark restaurant (good food but the service was a little backed up - plus a lobster to any dinner for $6.95!) before heading back to the hotel so Mark could get to bed for his 4am wake up time to get to his fishing location by 6am.

A surprising part about OOB was how many Canadians, specifically from Quebec, there were. Tons and tons. It felt like we were in Canada.

On Monday morning, Annalisse and I got up at 7am and headed out to walk the beach on our way to breakfast "in town." It was very low tide (although not the actual "low tide") and the ocean was "way back." It was very cool. We didn't find a lot of shells, though, which was a little surprising. After a breakfast at Beach Bagels (whose "everything" bagel ranks right up there with the best I've had - I even brought back a 1/2 dozen) we walked back to the hotel to take showers before doing a little shopping. In the afternoon we joined our friends who live in Ocean Park, a little town a couple of blocks from OOB, and hung at the beach for a couple of hours. SO BEAUTIFUL! Soon enough Mark walked down from the hotel and joined us at the beach, having had a successful day of fishing (he caught "7 or 8" and had a good time). That night we headed to Portland and had an AMAZING dinner at one of our fave restaurants there: Street & Company. OMG. So good!!!

On Tuesday we got up early again to walk the beach (...and get more bagels; bonus: Mark found a shark's tooth on the beach) before taking the short trip to Kennebunkport, a charming little town best known as being the home of George H.W. Bush. It was very upscale and so cute. We had lunch there before going back to OOB so Annalisse could get some beach time in with her friend, Evelyn. Unfortunately, a storm suddenly swept in and she was not able to go to the beach, so went back to the hotel and took a little nap (you know how the Bakers love their naps!). When we woke up the sun was back out so we decided to get a little beach time in before heading to our friends, the Smiths, for a fresh lobster dinner. Once again, though, as we were walking on the beach a storm came up quickly and sent us running to the Smith's house a little early.

When we got there we were greeted by our dinner, freshly caught Maine lobsters. Y-U-M. We all got a chance to hold one before they met their untimely demise in a boiling pot of water. Ahhh, poor little (delicious, succulent, sweet) guys! I love lobster but boy, what a lot of (stinky) work they are for very little reward!!

Then, quicker than you can say crabcake, it was time to come home. It was a great trip, although too short. While I like Maine, I still love Vermont, more. Although, to be fair, we've seen but a small portion of the state, and have never been to Acadia National Park, which is supposed to be gorgeous. But you definitely can't beat the beautiful beaches!!

Frank the Lobster before the hot pot
Poor old Frank! 
Foggy Morning
Maine on Rice
Surf Girl

Saturday, July 21, 2012


This has been another whirlwind of a week. People who know me are asking, "Don't you ever stay home?" It sure seems like I don't, and I'm feeling a little worn out. Today is a precious stay-at-home day with just the usual running around to do until our quick trip to Maine tomorrow morning.

On Wednesday after work, I drove to Albany for the NYGAP meeting. It is super tough for me to do any kind of driving in the late afternoon (I'm best first thing in the morning), and I fought fatigue the whole way. After getting there I had dinner with a few friends, then we went back to the hotel bar for a couple (I nursed one beer for two hours...). Around 11pm I decide to head up to my room when at the bar I spotted:


I wasn't totally surprised to see Pete since he had previously told me he came to Albany a lot for union business, but he was totally surprised to see me. He was a little, er..., alcohol impaired, so he was really confused about me being there. But, we chatted for a little bit then I headed up to my room, exhausted from the long day (Remember: I usually go to bed around 9pm). The next day I attended the all day meeting but left around 2pm as I wanted to get home in time to connect with Annalisse before she went to the mall with her friends. 

On Friday, we got up at 4am to leave the house at 5am for the Allegheny College Open House program. The drive was about 3 1/2 hours, so we got there about 8:30 and had plenty of time to grab a quick bite before going to the program. She really like the college, and I did too. I think it would be a great fit for her. The town of Meadville, PA, however, leaves something to be desired. It reminds me a lot of Massena with its run down buildings and vacant store fronts. While she liked it well enough, she still has not had that "WOW" factor at any of the colleges, with the possible exception of Roanoke College, which came pretty close. We visit Edinboro University next Friday, then Dickinson College the week after, then we don't have any additional visits scheduled. We're going to take another look at the list of possible colleges, so we line line up one or two more during August, before the opportunity to travel to colleges runs out.

I'm looking forward to our trip to Maine, but not necessarily to the long trip there and back. I've got all my reading lined up, though, which I love. I think I'll need another summer for vacation (just for relaxing) after this summer is over!

Monday, July 16, 2012

19 Again

On Saturday night I went t0 the B52s and Squeeze concert at CMAC with my friend Melissa. The amphitheatre was amazingly sparsely populated, so I was surprised we had such incredibly bad seats (first row of the last section toward the back). I was super excited to see Squeeze, one of my ALL TIME favorite bands. While I do like the B52s, I never really got into them. Now my friend, Sue, that's a different story (it turned out I really only knew about five of their songs. Sue would have been rocking through all of them).

The B52s opened the concert, which was also a surprise. I would have thought they were the 'bigger band' but my high school friend, Mike, whom I chatted with before the concert texted me a little later to say he had heard from people around him that when Squeeze opened before the B52s in previous concerts half the audience got up and left before the next act. Huh. Very cool for Squeeze!

The B52s put on a great show. Their voices are still strong and clear, especially Kate Pierson's who it turns out is 64 years old! Wow, she wears it well!! They played for exactly one hour, start to finish, and closed with "Rock Lobster," of course. Fun stuff.

As they were changing sets I texted my friend and former neighbor, Chris, who had seats "way down front" and she said there were a ton of seats near her if I wanted to try to come down. So, Melissa and I, looking cool, waltzed pass the guard like we were heading to our "real seats" and had a great view for Squeeze: 15 rows from the stage.

Glenn Tillbrook, 1983
Squeeze (which were really just the two founding members, Chris Difford and Glenn Tillbrook, with a new band) sounded great. The most unsettling thing, though, was how different Glenn Tillbrook looked. He went from "cute, new wave '80s pop star" to the "Elder Statesman from Mississipi" and was pretty much unrecognizable (especially with the long billy-goat beard and light-colored sports jacket) from his past self. I know it's 30 years down the road, but WOW. Still, when I closed my eyes (!) the Squeeze I knew came through loud and clear. This is my second time seeing the and I love them as much as I ever did. 

Glenn Tillbrook, 2012
At the concert, Melissa and decided we might also go see Journey (minus Steve Perry, of course)/Pat Benatar/ Loverboy in August. Then, of course, there is the awesome Train/Mat Kearney concert coming up. What great music this summer!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Temporarily Full Nest

As of yesterday at 1pm, all the Bakers were in the same place, albeit for less than 24 hours.

Annalisse arrived home safely from Germany on Friday night with many tales and a hunger for American food that was satisfied by a trip to her work, Otto Tomotto's (not American, by the way). Mark picked her up at the airport as I was still in Las Vegas, and he said she hit the wall and crashed on the way home. But, she was oh-so happy to be home!

I arrived from Las Vegas on the red eye on at 9am Saturday morning, and after basically three sleepless nights took a nap (as did Annalisse) so I would be awake for the B52s/Squeeze concert Saturday night.

The last little chick arrived home at 1pm on Saturday. Cam went directly from work on Friday night to dinner with his counselor pals then to a bonfire where he apparently slept on a sleeping bag under the stars. I was waiting (un?)patiently for him to get home so I could complete the Baker Laundry Odyssey and repack his bag for Sunday morning.

We went out to Cheeburger Cheeburger (Cam's choice) for dinner, being together as a family for the first time in over three weeks. The "family togetherness" is short lived...Cam is back to work this morning and I'm off to Albany on Wednesday for an overnight/meeting on Thursday.

Still, much appreciative of our time together!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hot Hot Hot

I'm heading out to Las Vegas for my quick trip this morning, returning on the red eye Friday night. 113 degrees? Yes, please.

I've been communicating with Annalisse via text and she'll finally be home in two days. She is missed by all and Jasper, in particular, keeps checking her room just in case she returned when he wasn't looking (probably during one of his all-day naps). In LV I'll be another three time zones away from her...too far!

Safe travels, Little Bird!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad and Other Random Thoughts

Happy Birthday to my great dad, Louie, who would have been 85 today. Of course, his smile is now frozen in time at a younger age and not a day goes by that I don't think of him. His birthdays were always a big celebration that we usually combined with the July 4th family picnics. We were luck to have had him so long, but would love to have had him longer!

In other Baker news: Annalisse is home in less than a week. Tomorrow starts the "travel" portion of her trip where they will see the sights of Southern Germany, as well as a little of Austria and Switzerland. We're looking forward to her safe return! Cam is about to start "week 2" of his job but he's been at it for three weeks since he had a week of training. It's been pleasant having him home on the weekends.

On Wednesday, I head to Las Vegas to participate in NAGAP's Professional Development Institute. I'm flying out, attending the program on Thursday, and flying back on the red-eye on Friday night. Quick trip! Annalisse comes home Friday night so I won't be there to pick her up, but she can pick me up on Saturday morning at 9am. Then (FUN! FUN!) on Saturday night I head to CMAC for the B-52s/Squeeze concert with my friend Melissa.  We'll also be going there on August 24 for the Train/Mat Kearney concert. This is turning out to be a great summer for music.

Then, in a couple of weeks....sitting on the beach in Maine while Mark fishes. Ahhh....summer!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Empty Nesters

We are in the middle of week 2 with (mostly) no kids - with the exception of Cam's brief respite at home from Friday night until Sunday morning.

It sure is quiet here. [crickets, crickets]

There's a lot less laundry, no picking up, I've hardly run the dishwasher (you need to cook to create dirty dishes). Unlike in years past we haven't really eaten out a lot (trying to keep the expenses down with another round of tuition due soon).

The German trip is going "okay." Some of the issues that occurred here with personalities have continued to Annalisse's homestay and are making for a true learning and growing experience for her. She's trying to keep positive and appreciate the opportunity, and is looking forward to next week when the kids travel around a bit more. Cam is, of course, enjoying his time at camp and was actually quite pleasant and talkative when he was home last weekend. A nice surprise.

I'm taking advantage of this time to have a couple of dinner dates with my girlfriends, and will head up to Massena to see Mom on Friday (picking up Mary on the way). Then, next week it's off to Sin City as I head to Las Vegas for a quick trip to present on a panel for NAGAP's professional development institute. There's nothing like LV in July. Ugh.

In the meantime, I am enjoying the quiet!