Hey Soul Sister!

New England and the upper Midwest are SO different. In North Dakota there is a joke that you can watch your dog run away for a week. This is due to how flat it is. Some find this flatness boring. I think it is beautiful. One can see and feel the “amber waves of grain” when the wind blows (and it is ALWAYS blowing). The sky hugs your body while the earth blankets your feet. In New England, the beauty is in the vast amounts of trees and hills. The curves of the roads, even the major highways, are like the outlines of a voluptuous woman’s curves. There is a sexiness to the land of New England that I haven’t seen in any of my other travels. Full trees mask the road ahead of you which adds to the unknown. New England has this way of making me feel like I am in a new relationship – it is that scary part of the unknown along with the curiosity and excitement to discover more.

When I left Lisa and Sylvia’s, I headed south towards Boston. My soul sister, Lacey, lives in a small town surrounded by a plethora of other small towns north of the city. Greenwood Estates welcomed us with open arms, tight hugs, tears of joy, and ginger brandy. Charlie was welcomed by three other dogs, a vast yard to explore with ducks, geese, rabbits, and a Nana. We slipped into our roles as the welcomed house-guests quite easily.

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Charlie with his new Nana
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Ducks on the run! Greenwood Estates
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Me and my Soul Sister

Lacey and I have been close for the last few years when she lived near me in North Dakota. One of the first things that struck me about her was not her height (although she is a beautiful Amazonian!), but her smile and terrible Boston accent. I have missed her company so much since she moved back to MA two years ago. We quickly made up for lost time by exploring the state and sitting up late talking until we were blue in the face. I had tons of fun poking fun at the accent – Worchester (pronounced Wus-TAH) and Gloucester (pronounced Glous-TAH); however, Sacajawea is pronounced sack-uh-juh-we-uh not suh-cah-uh-we-ah. Yeah . . . Massholes (their term, not mine. I found them delightful. They have a ways to go before they become Jersey boys 😉) have a tendency to remove the middle of a word completely and then forget that there is an “r” at the end of a lot of words. Not sure if this is because they think it makes them sound tough or if they just like to be difficult. Either way, their pronunciation was fodder for my amusement. Also, no one even commented on my North Dakota accent (cough cough no lies are coming from these finger tips)! Not even the tour guide at the House of the Seven Gables commented on my “fer fun” statement. I have been told that I need to learn how to give the “Greenwood Salute” with a bit more pizzazz . . .

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My Greenwood Salute is lacking erectness . . . 😉

Yes – I went to the house that inspired Hawthorne’s novel, “The House of the Seven Gables”. I had never been to Salem, MA before this trip and did not realize that this museum even existed! Our tour guide was AMAZING!!! He either really knows his history and work OR he is a fantastic story-weaver. I prefer to think that he is a little bit of both. If you ever have an opportunity to take the tour, I highly recommend that you do so. You will not regret it. The home is a thrilling walk into the past. The house has secret passageways, old stone fireplaces, amazing furniture, secret liquor cabinets, and paintings. The paintings are breathtaking portraits of those that lived and died in the house. Seeing the faces of those that ate at the dining room table and slept in the bedrooms brings the story of the house to life.

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Lacey and I did not do a ghost tour in Salem. Although they are famous for them. We did not buy a bunch of charms, even though they were in abundance and we had money we were itching to spend. We did get a few sweatshirts (twinsies!) and had some amazing food. We will need to go back there and explore some more in the future, but for that day, we walked far enough and needed to get home to our pups.

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Twinning in our matching Witch sweatshirts and hanging with our pups.

We spent another day exploring the shore, eating lobster rolls, and taking pictures of the ocean. Prior to this trip, I had never really seen the Atlantic Ocean. I have been in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, but the Atlantic is a whole other ballgame. The Indian Ocean, where I saw it in Mombasa Kenya, was warm and clear, almost passive. The Pacific Ocean off the SoCal, Oregon, and Washington coasts was also fairly warm (not as warm as the Indian ocean), somewhat calm, but a bit darker with a hint of danger. Then there is the Atlantic. It does not matter where I have seen this ocean – Maine, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey – this body of the water screams danger, cold, fear, POWER! I LOVE IT!!!! I have never loved “the ocean” until I met the Atlantic. It is cold. It is dark. It is powerful. I stand next to it and I feel like it is feeding that strength into my soul. I grow stronger with each cold, salty spray. I think I have fallen in love.

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Truly – I feel at home in New England. I know they still have the winters that I wish to avoid. I also know that their winters are NOTHING like the ones I have endured for the last 40 years in North Dakota and Minnesota. They may get cold. They may get the heavy snow. They may get the freezing rain. What they don’t have is 6 months of it. What they don’t (typically) have is a month of sub-zero temperatures (that is in Fahrenheit, my non-US friends). What New England does offer is access to many cities and major airports, mountains, camping, hiking, solitude in nature or solitude in a crowd. It offers history, arts, and literature. It offers jobs that appeal to me. It also offers friends. I have so many people in New England that I can call friends – and I have friends and family just outside the area to visit when I want to get further away. So far, New England is at the top of my list for a future home. Stay tuned though as I have a lot more of the country to explore.

Until the next time, find what makes you smile.

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To The Pumpkin House

I am sitting next to a creek on my aunt and uncle’s property in West Virginia as I write this. Pictures cannot show you the beauty and serenity of my current surroundings – nor do I have the writing skills to describe it. All around me are the sounds of birds, the rustle of leaves, and breaking of branches from some animal (bear?!?!?!). Charlie has made himself a bed out of the weeds in the shade of a super tall tree. Sometimes I really wish I knew how to identify plants (leaves of three – let them be) . . . Alas, I did not pay enough attention when my grandfather tried to teach me plant names. The sounds of nature are all I hear, yet I am polluting it with the tapping of my keyboard. (I did create a short video, but don’t make fun of how I look. 92% HUMIDITY!!!! Not sure if it is my super slow internet or the video quality, but it isn’t a great video on my end).

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The “creek” (need a bit of rain) that I am sitting near

The last few weeks have been so full of life and love. I have met so many people and seen so many different places. I have traveled only 3600 miles but feel like I have been to the moon. My heart is full. My soul is singing. I have not felt such peace within myself in a very long time. There are only three things that could make it better: 1. Less humidity (I am so swollen in the heat that my fingers are fat), 2. Having my daughter with me for a short while as I miss her and am sad that I missed being with her on her birthday yesterday, and 3. Sharing these feelings of tranquility with the one who holds my heart.

When we left Acadia, Charlie and I traveled down the Maine coastline into New Hampshire to visit my friend, Lisa, and her wife Sylvia. I will admit, I was a bit nervous to go to their place. Lisa and I have known each other for years through our online MLIS program and social media; however, we had never met face-to-face prior to this visit (I had been threatening/teasing her for years with the possibility of a visit). What can I say? Lisa and Syl are amazing. They are kind, welcoming, and genuinely warm-hearted people. I am so proud to be able to call them my friends and so appreciative of them for inviting me into their home, The Pumpkin House.

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The Pumpkin House (with Blue Steel blocking the amazing view)

The Pumpkin House is a beautiful, quirky, OLD house that Lisa and Syl have made into their home in the last 20 years. It has a warmth that makes you want to curl up on the sofa with a good book and a hot cup of tea (ya’ll know that I am not a tea drinker, but I could not help but love drinking tea with them!).  The bones of the home emit this feeling of story yet untold. I felt that if I quietly sat long enough, the house would tell me a tale of loves lost and found, tragedy and heartbreak, resistance and rebellion, and family ties. Perhaps that is just the romantic in me, but I really felt that the memories of the house were echoing around me and it made me want to learn more.

Lisa is a youth librarian at the Rye Public Library. Her home away from home is perfect, cozy, inviting, and filled with books! Ok – so I am biased. I think that anywhere with books is cozy and inviting. You work in a hospital or clinic and want to warm up your cold, sterile, examination room – add a bookshelf, just one floating one would work. Put a few old and new books on it and it will immediately warm the room up. Patients will be more at ease. Just don’t have a bunch of medical books on there. No one wants to read about leprosy prior to getting an unsightly mole examined. Again . . . I got off subject – back to the Rye Public Library and Librarian Extraordinaire, Lisa.

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Me and Lisa Librarian Extraordinaire!

I suggest you check out the RPL Facebook page or website and see what awesome programs the library has to offer. I also suggest that you check out your own public library. You will be amazed at some of the items, programs, even classes your local library has FOR FREE!!!! Many people think that libraries are becoming a thing of the past and that the internet (especially Google) have made libraries obsolete. This is only because many libraries cannot afford to do the marketing that they need to bring in patrons. Money is hard to come by and often is allocated based on the number of people they reach . . . see the catch-22 here? Support your library, peeps, and remember – Google may give you a 1,000,000,000 answers, but your librarian can help you find the correct one.

I also want to give a shout out to Lisa for the publication of her first book released this week!!! Go to Amazon and find Serving LGBTQ Teens (Practical Guides for Librarians). Support your library. Support your librarians and most of all, support our kids.  Congratulations, Lisa!!! I am so proud of you and all that you have accomplished!

I had a wonderful time exploring parts of New Hampshire with Lisa, Syl, and their friend, Janet/Karen. Ice cream on the coast, eating fresh lobster for the very first time, and watching Charlie explore the land of The Pumpkin House. I wish I had more time to spend with them. Alas, I had other places to go and see, but I do hope that Lisa, Sylvia, and their handsome boy, Nickleby, will let us visit them again sometime in the future (which may be sooner than they realize). Next time I will buy the ice cream at the Beach Plum (or a lobster roll if you would prefer!).

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Nickleby!!!!

While I have been writing this, three deer, a gazillion squirrels, and a google of insects have all been within 15 feet of me. I am going to miss this place when I leave. Thank goodness my aunt and uncle own the land and they love me 😊 I know I will be able to come back at some point . . . right?

Blog posts will be uploaded a lot this week. I have a lot of reflection to do and memories to archive. I guess my reflection is your gain(?). I will also be uploading pictures to my Instagram account and the Facebook account the same day that the blog posts are uploaded. This blog set up does not allow for a lot of pictures. I hope to change the format soon; however, it is just not that important to me right now.

Find me on Instagram (scottsweed). You can also find me on SnapChat (Heather Linstaedt or Better_Heather . . . either one should work). Sometimes I create stories. Sometimes they are interesting.

Until next time – Take care and remember that no matter where you are find what makes you smile.

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Charlie smiling at The Pumpkin House

From the Falls to the Top of My World

I know. I know. It has been nearly two weeks since my last update. I have attempted to write on multiple occasions, but there have been SO MANY ADVENTURES!!! In the last three weeks, I have driven 3,500 miles in my car. This does not count the many, MANY day trips my friends drove me.

Since my last post, I have traveled through New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and back into New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and, finally, Pennsylvania. I will be staying with my oldest friend, Sarah (“oldest” for the longevity of the friendship – not because she is old – although she is getting up there ;)); however, this post will not be about her – – or even PA. Today I will regale you with my love of the White Mountains and Acadia NP and how much I really dislike Niagara Falls.

Once I left Cincinnati (still one of my top picks for future living), I was lucky to briefly visit my lovely college friend, Jennifer. She and her family moved about an hour and a half drive south of Niagara Falls about a year ago. It was wonderful to see her and catch up. We had a wonderful chat sitting by the fire as Charlie snoozed in the nearby tent.

I find it amazing how after so much time, conversation is still so easy for some friends. Jennifer is one of those people. She is such a warm and genuine person. When you are near her, you feel completely at ease – she is truly a person who radiates comfort and warmth to all around her. I hope everyone knows someone like this. I also hope that you take the time to return that feeling to them. Jen, I love you. Thank you so much for being such a wonderful person.

It was not so wonderful when Charlie thought I had left him in the tent that night. He took out part of the screen breaking free to find me. My wonderful Kelty is now held together with duct tape (see Facebook post – no reason to post the darn picture again). Good thing I went against everyone’s advice about “saving room” and packed TWO tents. My Mountainsmith is also quite amazing and actually roomier than the Kelty. I highly recommend one if you are looking for a reliable tent. I have had this one for years and it has not disappointed me yet. Also, it is warmer than the Kelty . . . Just sayin’.

Tuesday morning, Charlie and I headed up to Niagara Falls. I did take pictures. Alas, they seemed to have disappeared . . . I did find videos though. You can check them out here and here. To be honest, I was not impressed with the park. It was extremely busy and commercialized. There seems to be more money going into the casinos than there is water in the falls. I guess everyone needs to make a buck (or millions).

I was only able to be on the US side of the falls due to me loving my dog and Canada (Ontario specifically) having Breed Specific Legislation. Perhaps the Canadian side is better as I have been told. I will never know. I have no intentions of ever giving money to Ontario until this get rid of BSL. The US falls were OK; however, I do not intend to return there either; however, it is an item checked off my bucket list!

Following Niagara Falls, we headed east and stayed in a campground on beautiful Lake George. Charlie loved walking near the lake; however, he is not a fan of water. He would not put one paw in the water. I hope by the end of this trip, he will be done with this irrational fear of water. We have made some progress, but we will get to that a bit later in the post. I posted a couple of videos on my Facebook page from Lake George, so I won’t fill up this post with those videos and pictures. You can find me on Instagram and SnapChat (better_heather) though. I tend to post random stuff from this trip as it happens on Snapchat. Ugh. Too much rambling. Back to my story.

New Hampshire — the White Mountain National Forest. My favorite camping spot to date. Phone service was non-existent. Internet — nope. What it did offer was plenty of trails, Mount Washington (will hike this soon!!), a quirky camp host (story for another time), a campsite right next to the river, and a super cool lady who was there to solo hike Mount Washington. Charlie LOVED Jessie. Pretty sure she and I will be meet again in the future. We had a quick cup of coffee and a took a few pictures before she left to climb the mountain and Charlie and I left for Maine.

Acadia National Park. Holy Moly. What can I say? For those of you familiar with Minnesota, take the Brainerd Lakes area with the trees and the fresh air, add to it the saltwater air of the Atlantic Ocean. The coast line brings to mind the stories of Scotland with the cold wind whipping the water against jagged rocks. It is apologetically dramatic. It is everything that I had hoped it would be.

Charlie and I explored many areas of the park. There are a few hikes that I would have loved to do; however, Charlie’s hips are not as young as they used to be. For those of you who love to hike, I recommend checking out the trail app AllTrails. It costs money to download the maps; however, it is great for trail reviews and those that are pet friendly.

 

We stayed in Acadia for three days. I could have probably stayed another week; however, my pup was pooped and I really needed a shower. Charlie did appreciate the wildlife around us though 🙂

 

There is so much more to tell, but I think that I will save that for the next post. I will try to get a few more uploaded this week. I am SUPER excited to tell you about the Pumpkin House and Greenwood Manor. Alas, you must wait. I need to find more words and right now all I have are thoughts . . . Once again – excuse the errors. I am not a writer. I sure as heck cannot edit my own crap. Just be happy that I finally posted.
LOVE YOU!