Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bucket Listin'

I know I have limited time left on the East Coast, so I'm trying to take advantage of everything I can while I'm here. Exactly 2 months from today, my ferry departs from Bellingham for Juneau! The time crunch is on. In addition to enjoying all of the things I'm used to having, I'm trying to knock a few things off my East Coast bucket list. Last weekend, I visited my oldest friend in the world in New York City. His wife and I went out for a fancy dancing night at The Standard Hotel, I spent time in Brooklyn, and we brunched like New Yorkers do... with lots of bloody marys and bacon.

I've been to New York City countless times, and it never gets old. I've been enjoying watching the Freedom Tower get higher and higher every time I visit. I'm sure when I see it next, it'll be completed.

View of the Freedom Tower (pink for some reason) and Lower Manhattan from The Standard Hotel
My cousin and I visited a square in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) that was dedicated to my great uncle, Edward Giorgio. We also visited the neighboring Catholic War Veterans post where cousin Mary Ann made all sorts of connections with the aging vets who were cooling off in the AC and watching the ponies on TV.

See the resemblance?

My oldest friend (left- Josh) meets one of my newest friends (right- Erik, an Alaska 2012 companion)
over a game of Dominion

This weekend it was Baxter State Park in northern Maine... like 7-hours-north-of-Boston-northern Maine. No wonder I hadn't been there. It's a loonnnnng haul. I've been hearing about Baxter for a very long time, and I figured this was my chance to get there. With a 7 hour drive in each direction, you really need a good chunk of time. I only wish I had more time... and more in-advance planning. They are very strict there- you can only camp in designated areas, and it's all by reservation. I only started getting serious about going there a few days in advance so my camping options were very limited. I also wanted to climb Katahdin, but given the lack of campground availability, it wasn't in the cards this time.

Baxter State Park is home to Mount Katahdin- the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and the highest point in Maine. I couldn't help but feel like I was in Alaska. Maine has many similar qualities. It was truly the most primitive place I've ever been on the East Coast. There were many moose about- although I didn't actually see one. I did, however, have a very close encounter with a black bear. It was by far the closest call I've had with a bear. I was nearing the end of my 2-day, 26 miler, when I heard a rustling off the trail a bit. I thought it was a kid at first because I was nearing a campground where there were lots of families, but no. It was a black bear. I started making lots of noise- as you do when you come across a black bear. They always run right off once they hear you. Not this one. He charged right at me... a few times. The nearest he got was only about 10 feet away from me. I got the distinct impression that he didn't mean any harm- he was probably just a yearling missing his mother. But still. I was 10 feet from a friggin' bear. I'm sorry to report that there are no pictures. My camera was in my pack, and when you're staring down a bear, there's just no time to pull out the Nikon.

More bucket listin' to come.

Mount Katahdin

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It's gettin' real up in here.

Well, things are getting real very quickly here. It would be hard to back out now. My position at work has been posted, and I just threw down $900 on my ferry ticket to Juneau! It's official now, I guess. I depart Bellingham, Washington on the M/V Columbia on Friday October 19 at 6:00pm, arriving in Juneau on Monday October 22 at 4:45am.

M/V Columbia of the Alaska Marine Highway System
The Alaska Marine Highway is a very cool system. I've traveled on it twice before- once from Juneau to Haines when I was in high school, and then again for a week long tour of southeast Alaska in 2010 when I visited Sitka, Kake and Ketchikan. The ferry is a great way to see Alaska- it goes to many of the same places cruise ships go, but there are far fewer blue hairs. It's certainly more rustic, but it's still quite comfortable. When I spent a week on the ferry system in 2010, I slept up in the solarium every night which is basically the top deck but under a glass roof. There are heat lamps up there for when it gets cold. I hope it's still warm enough to sleep in the solarium in October. If not, there are cabins you can reserve (not for me) or people grab recliners or floor space downstairs.

Solarium on the ferry
On the ferry, 2010
Ferry trip to Haines, 1994

Myself, Jamie and cousin Nicholas on the ferry to Haines, 1994

It very much feels like the ball is rolling now! I'm working towards getting my apartment cleaned out. I've been inviting people to come over and raid my STUFF. I'm trying to be proactive with the downsizing so that I won't have too too much to deal with at the last minute. I'd rather spend my last few days enjoying my friends and family... not worrying about moving logistics.

I'm also trying to knock a few things off my East Coast bucket list. I'm going to trek all the way to northern Maine this weekend to backpack in Baxter State Park. I've never been, and I don't know if or when I'll have another chance to see it. Mount Katahdin is there (the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail). I spent last weekend in New York City with friends, and I doubt I'll be back there again before the move.

More soon.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Little House with the Blue Lights

I stepped outside tonight to enjoy the warm August evening and a beautiful sunset on Tower Street and realized that my Boston home deserved it's own post. My "House with the Blue Lights" (aka Tuck Towers South) has been my home for the last 6 1/2 years, and it will be one of the tougher things to say goodbye to when I move.

Actually, let me refine that statement... the people I live with will be hard to say goodbye to. Along with my roommates and housemates, we also have many neighbors that form a wonderful circle of friends here, and we have such fun together. It was Kismet from the start- the connections I had with everyone in this circle were amazing, and I really found my niche among them. Over the years, the group on Tower Street has morphed from one form to another, and the vibe has changed with it. We now have outposts in San Francisco, New York, Arizona and elsewhere, but this little street in Jamaica Plain still serves as our base camp. I've been here longer than most, and now I shall establish my own outpost... far north and west of Boston. Some say it's the end of an era, but I say it's just the start of another.

I've certainly grown immensely since living here. I guess everyone goes through a major transitionary phase in the 2nd half of their 20s, but my Tower Street people got to be a part of it. This is definitely going to be a HUGE chapter when I write my memoirs-  it might even deserve its own volume.

This is Rob. He's the landlord, but more importantly, he's one of my best friends ever. I have to publicly thank Rob for being a cool ass dude, and making our street what it is today. He bought our house and a very similar house directly across the street roughly 12 years ago. At the time, they were horribly beat-up and in need of some seriously TLC... well, Rob provided it. Rob cares tremendously about the properties and the people in them, and we are all very lucky to live here. BONUS- he's the hostess with the mostess. He hosts all sorts of fun viewing events in his home... sports games, popular TV series, new movie releases, etc. He's also a great friend, and a fantastic listener. This guy is the bomb-diggity.

Feeling like superheroes over Boston

This is Richard. He's been my roommate for the last four years, and he is also very very special to me. I have two younger sisters in real life, but Richard is definitely my long-lost brother. Sometimes after a rough night, we'll crawl in bed with each other to comfort each other or share epic stories of our historic partying. Late one night, Richard decided he wanted a mohawk... so I obliged him. This picture was taken shortly after I completed the haircut. Smiles remained the following morning.

... and here are a few more shots of my Tower Street peeps and our shenanigans:

Fun with costumes 
On Falcor!

Forest Hills Cemetery Disc Golf

Figment Boston Hooping

Geminja (2008?)

Guinness at The Dogwood


Arboretum Spring

International Pillow Fight Day

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cat is my co-pilot.

Meet Kameko. You're going to hear much more about her. She's been my furry companion for the last 10+ years. I adopted her from the SPCA in Houston in January 2002 when she was about 6 months old. She stuck with my through the move to Boston in 2004, and I'm hoping she sticks with me through the move to Alaska!

Kameko and Katy on the way to Kape Kod, August 2012

Kameko is a special cat. She's very affectionate... as long as she's comfortable. She doesn't have an aggressive bone in her body- you never have to worry about her biting or scratching. It's just not in her vocabulary. I bring her to my parents' house on Cape Cod at least once a month so she's no stranger to the car, but her experience has been mostly 3 hours (max) at a time. This is going to be like 60 hours... in just a few days.

I'm not too worried about how she'll be once we get to Juneau, but the trip there might be a little rough for a few reasons.

1. Staying in strange homes on the way. I think I'm going to work it out so that we have a place to stay every night on the way to Washington state. She can get very frightened in an alien environment so I think each place we stay will be a new experience in terror.

2. She gets car-sick sometimes. Yup. She pukes sometimes in the car. I wonder how many times she'll boot in 3,000 miles.

3. The ferry. Kitty must stay in the car for the entire 2 1/2 day sailing from Bellingham to Juneau, and I can only check on her only when we're in a port- which isn't too often.

4. I could kill her. She has a tendency to meow in the car pretty much constantly, and even after 2 hours going to Cape Cod, I can get pretty irritated. I kid. I get REALLY irritated.

Well, I have many ideas about how to make her comfortable on the way, and I'm sure I'm going to like having the company. :)

... and here's more Kameko (because she's so pretty!):

Kameko on the Catwalk

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Messy room.

I'm continuing the process of getting rid of the STUFF. It is an interesting exercise to look critically at every single item I own and deciding what to do with it. I've come up with the following categories at this stage:

1. Definitely keep, no matter what (cat, valuable heirlooms, laptop)
2. Definitely throw away (old papers, sentimental items of no value*)
3. Try to sell  in a yard sale (sewing machine, books, DVDs)
4. Give to friends (items of shared sentimental value)

*Here's a trick- take a picture of it, throw it away.

Again, by the time I'm done, everything has to fit in my car for the road trip. No trailer, no nothing except for the space inside Dent. I don't think I'm going to ask my parents to store anything for me. I've been living in the same house for 6 1/2 years so I've accumulated a lot of STUFF. This is a cool process I'm going through. I'm glad to be disassociating myself from the STUFF. I'm sure I'll miss some of it, but my guess is that I'll forget about most of it.

I make you jealous now.

Sorry to make you all jealous, but this is my aunt and uncle's house (where I'll live when I first get to Juneau).