Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fall Break

I'm going to come out right now and say my fall break was too short- that dratted Physics GRE exam was scheduled for 830am Saturday morning (a great way to kick off your vacation, I assure you!), and honestly it's amazing how much a difference one night makes when you only have four to work with. But a few hours after I hopped on a plane-
(The view over Western PA was just awesome...)

...And ended up for a few days in New Hampshire. Where the most beautiful foliage on the planet was in full swing, of course, so this was the best Fall Break activity one could concieve of doing.
Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous... Though to be fair, I was probably a week late for foliage because it had clearly peaked on the mountainsides (if this sounds odd as Ohio hasn't yet, keep in mind it's already snowing up there meaning it's a fair bit colder!). Luckily the lakeside keeps things a few precious degrees warmer, meaning the area was ripe for canoeing about to see the leaves. And what a stereotypically pretty activity it was too- this time of year most of the cottages are vacant on weekdays, not to be visited until next summer in most cases, so while there were one or two motorboats on Sunday I saw or heard none at all on Monday/Tuesday. Absolutely silent, and the only ripples were the ones from paddling.
Another pretty foliage shot from the lake. The odd structure to the right is actually a hundred-year-old boat house, built by a wealthy Bostonian who used to own the whole lake shore in this area back then. His daughter had a steam-powered yacht with a tall mast (click here for a picture), thus the odd boat house was constructed to accommodate it.
This little guy was what got me most excited about going past the boat house that day- believe it or not, it's a loon! Loons are very iconic for their gorgeous summertime plumage on lakes in northern North America, of course, but this guy is busily changing into his winter duds. If you look at a close-up of the picture you'll see his beak is still primarily black and he still has some semblance of a checkered back, but overall he looks a totally different bird.

And because I've always liked loons ever since I did my "bird report" in 5th grade on them and I'd never seen one ready for winter before, trust me, this was very exciting. Unfortunately the loon decided this was fall so he didn't need to stick around for photo ops anymore, so he dived under for a long time and we never really saw him again.
The reddest tree I have ever seen in my life, even if you might not be able to tell in the picture. You could spot this tree as standing out even though it was on the opposite shore from us.
This picture was taken on Tuesday, when it was cloudy so the leaves didn't look half as impressive, but I was nonetheless a fan of the orange tree and thought I would post this in the name of tree foliage diversity.

Tuesday was also noteworthy in canoeing because I went out alone, and it was dead calm again so I set off for the opposite shore. Except it turned out on the opposite shore it wasn't calm at all and in fact quite breezy, and believe you me when the wind picks up canoes just go. And this wind will always blow in the exact opposite direction of the way you want to head! To make a long story short, there was a fair bit of frantic paddling while kneeling in the middle of the canoe to overcome the wind (as opposed to the seat in the back- more awkward, but more stable), and my jeans got a bit wet. Not complaining though, as the story of paddling small craft over troubled waters is way better than whatever I would have been doing at school.
And I will now finish my fall break post by posting a picture of my Halloween gingerbread man from the local grocery, as he was just that awesome. Almost too cool to eat, until I remembered the only thing cooler than looking at a Halloween gingerbread man is cannibalizing him. The poor guy's disguise was no match for the hungry canoer.