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July 30, 2006

Lundquist New England Hoedown 2006

It was a rare treat to have so many Lundquist's in the New England area. We converged on a small inn in Woodbury, CT to visit L's uncle and cousins to celebrate Luis and Alpana's wedding. We had a fantastic afternoon chatting with folks about everyone's upcoming adventures -- this family sure does travel! Then, we sped down to Westport for the evening. We woke up to the site of the Long Island sound outside our window. We had a relaxing breakfast beside the beach, watching folks wade through the water digging for clams. It was a fantastic weekend getaway...

See a few more photos from our trip...

July 11, 2006

Loraine in Japan!

Loraine went to Japan for the first time over the Fourth of July week. It was just a short, one week trip for work and she spent almost all of it at the office. Still she got a bit of a feel for the country and enjoyed it greatly. She also took some time to scope out the housing situation and tour some Japanese apartments. And somehow, she managed to fit in a quick karaoke break.

Next time you talk with her, be sure to ask her about her food that moved...

See a few more photos of the Japan trip...

July 5, 2006

The Nation's Top Birthday Party

Fourth of July has special meaning to folks here in Boston, in part because they feel a little bit responsible for what happened around that time. So, there was no way I could pass up the opportunity to join what is billed as the Nation's top birthday party.

The radio said that people started showing up at the Hatch Shell at about 7 AM to get good seats. I arrived around 4 PM, after a few pretty ugly downpours. Because there was only one of me, I squeezed into a very nice spot fairly close to the stage with an excellent view. I placed my low lawn chair down and got myself settled in preparation for the show, which would start in about 4.5 hours. I spent the time conversing with the people around me, doing Japanese homework, and eating a picnic dinner that I packed for myself. I sat next to a family from Honduras, which was fun. We talked in Spanish, which I still remember a surprising amount of. Unfortunately, it sort of disrupted my Japanese studying so that I started counting in Spanish during my Japanese class the following night.

The show was spectacular with some July 4th classics by the Boston Pops (1812 overature) and some more playful pieces ("There's no business like show business..."). Rockapella (of Carmen San Diego fame) performed, including their signature theme song which was greeted by amazingly loud cheering from those of my generation. Finally, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith performed, backed up by the Pops. Quite an evening lineup, especially when you consider that Dr. Phil MC'd the event!

I actually headed out of the concert area a little early so that I could change my position to a spot with a better view of the fireworks. After a little exploration, I was able to find a spot with an amazing view -- pretty much as close as you can get to the spot where the fireworks actually launch (which is in the middle of the river. I FELT the fireworks as much as I saw them -- each one accompanied by an explosive blast a few seconds after it lit up the sky. It was truly an impressive display and I've never seen the sky lit up in so many different ways. In addition to complete sky coverage and a medley of colors, other unique fireworks were ones that exploded and then after a few seconds of spreading out like a normal firework, the little bits all sped up and spread apart even faster.

In total, they estimate close to half a million people attending the festivities and I think I believe it. It was a mob scene making my way home. I rode my bicycle to the event, but I couldn't start riding until I got to a spot free enough of people so that I wouldn't run anybody over. I still ended up getting home fairly quickly. It was a fun time!

See a few representative photos (from the AP wire -- I didn't have my camera)...

July 2, 2006

Playing in the Waves of New Hampshire Beaches

Each year since we have been married, L's work has scheduled a conference in an exotic location around the time of our wedding anniversary. We spent our first anniversary in Hawaii, our second in Yellowstone, and our third in New Orleans (though that one was in May, which is pretty early for our actual anniversary). This year, the conference convened in New Hampshire about a month before our wedding. M had almost no extra vacation time left (spent it all on our recent Egypt excursion) and L had to fly off to Japan two days after the conference. Nonetheless, we didn't want to miss our opportunity for an early wedding anniversary celebration with a nearly free trip.

The conference was so close to our new home base in Boston, that we were able to cram in one day of vacation on the New Hampshire coast. We went tidepooling, got to pick up starfish and sea urchins in the touch tank at the adjacent Science Center, and then headed to Rye for some serious beach time. There are several beaches in the area, some of which have beautiful sand but are extraordinarily crowded. We opted for a slightly quieter spot with only a few feet of sand left above the rising tide. We started by playing in the waves, though the New England water was positively icy (59 degrees F at this time of year, which is actually close to the warmest it gets this far north. I think you get much warmer temperatures south of Cape Cod.) We set up camp next to some beautiful granite boulders which show up in some of our photos. We found that burying our feet in the sand while sitting on one of the boulders at the edge of the splash zone kept us at the perfect temperature -- it cooled us down enough to stave off the hot sun and kept us warm enough that our feet didn't go numb. After we had our fill of splashing, we went up on the beach and listened to the waves while relaxing. We did a little bit of reading and a little studying of Japanese. It was wonderful to spend such a relaxing time together, even if it was only for a day in between being apart for several weeks.

Eventually it was time to head home, so we made our way back to Boston. We cooked dinner together and then spent the rest of the evening (and into the wee hours of the morning) getting L ready for her trip to Japan the next morning. It's always a tradeoff between traveling light and packing enough to survive a sojourn into a foreign land. The alarm went off at 5 am and she got to the airport on time!

All in all, a beautiful weekend together and a fun day exploring the New England coast.

View three photos...