My First Summer Read

I've got an awesome best friend.  Allison just mailed me my next book, Room, and I can't wait to start it!!  The little monster came along for the trip to St Louis so the book didn't have to travel alone.  (That's not a true story, but I like to think it is.)

I haven't really figured out yet when I'm going to find time to read it between Microbiology this summer along with adding on 4 new summer students to my lab for the next 9 weeks, but I'll find a way.  From everything that she said about the book, I want to start it right this minute!!

Anyone else read it yet?  Thoughts?


Send us Cards in our pretty new Mailbox!!

We gave our mailbox area a substantial makeover last month, but ultimately (obviously) we decided on a little more upgrading.  We like it so much that we pretty much went postal over it!!! (I know, I went too far with the mail pun, it's bad, I get it, but I just can't go backspacing it away at this point.....well I could...but I'm NOT!)
As a reminder, this was where we left off:

While it was certainly in a working condition, the mailbox and it's wood post had definitely seen better days.  As you've seen from many house posts, the old homeowners were mesmerized by the fact that paint could transform things.  So it in no way surprised me to find our mailbox and post lathered with bubble green (the bubbles being where the paint has unattached from the mailbox and we delicately avoid it so it won't start looking camoflauged) paint.  Also, the mail post was well-weathered, so it was time for our "out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new" routine. 

And upgrade we did!

All it took was a muscle man (luckily I happen to have one of those) to crank the old post out, a bag of concrete, the same muscle man to set the new post in (everything would have gone wrong had a NEW muscle man come in at this point), a can of polyurethane wood sealer for the post, and a shiny new gray mailbox.....yah, we wanted to try and be trendy.  Call us crazy, but we're diggin' it!
You may also notice all the pretty flowers previously shown here.  Defintely a necessity, and probably my favorite part of the whole transformation.  Nah, I take it back, the gray mailbox still gets top billing.

The last necessity we need now......mail!!! And not bills. (Shout out to Allison and Megan for sending our mailbox (really sending me) some luuuurrrrvvvvvee.)  :-)


Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K

Last weekend, Sarah and I participated in the Race for the Cure in downtown St Louis.  Over 64,000 people were downtown to race or to walk the 5K in support of raising money and awareness to fight and find a cure for breast cancer.  Over 4,900 breast cancer survivors participated, and it was so moving everytime a woman in a bright pink shirt with bold SURVIVOR letters written across her back ran by.

I would assume we were ahead of this part of the pack as we ran the entire thing (well, ok, you caught me, we walked on one of the hills that was about 1/10 of a mile, but ran all the rest.....for real!), but you can see that it was jam-packed with so many fighters and supporters. 

 love it

We ended up coming across the finish in 35 minutes, which for this being my first ever 5K....and I "trained" a total of 3 days beforehand (ha), I was pleased with it.  Sarah could have gone faster, but we also enjoyed the run without murdering ourselves to the finish.  And we happily treated ourselves to a Starbucks afterwards! :-)  I'll definitely be participating again next year!


All the Pretty Flowers

Sorry that I'm struggling with posts here recently, but I just started up classes again for the summer (Microbiology) and it's already brutal.  To entertain you for the time being, here's all the pretty flowers coming out into full bloom in the yard.  Many many more overdue posts soon (computer room re-paint, bathroom update, mailbox finished, Race for the Cure 5K)


Canada (Part III)

As seen from Part I and Part II, this trip was quite remarkable. Our last days were spent Capital touring.  We saw the Government house in Halifax during our time in Nova Scotia, so we decided to drive to New Brunswicks Capital, Fredericton, on the drive back to the States.  The Governors Mansion was beautiful, and interestingly enough, we had quite the run-in during our visit.  We raced there to go through a house tour, and when we arrived, we were told that there were no tours on Sundays (Daggers!!!).  While we were walking the grounds however, the Lieutenant Governor (Canadian Version of our State Governor; he is the person who resides in this house during his term in office) returned home from his weekend trip. 

He came out and talked to us for a while and was so kind.  When he introduced himself, I immediately stuck out my hand to shake hands, but I really don't know if that's their custom or not.  Any history or government-lover friends, look that up and get back to me.  (Can't change it at this point, ha, but it could at least relieve some stress that I might have unintentionally offended him)

We got a recommendation for lunch that was a 15 minute walk from the Mansion, called The Lunar Rouge, which turned out being delicious, but also was a neat spot because it's a world ranked Whiskey Pub.  Today's tidbit of useless information. :-)

We set off from there to get back to our homeland.  On the way, we stopped and saw our last chance for a lighthouse.  Nothing spectacular, but it was a pretty drive out to it. 

Getting across border-patrol had me a little nervous again, but it was even easier than crossing over into Canada.  The patrol-woman didnt even ask to look in the car.  She checked our passports and then told us "Welcome back and enjoy the rest of your day".  Crazy.
We stayed the night in Bangor, Maine and woke up the next morning to go see Maine's Capital, Augusta.  Their Capital building was interesting, especially because they were in session while we were walking around, so we got to see lobbyists and hear the bells ringing and see their Senate in session.  For being as apolitical and ignorant as I am about government, it was fascinating to witness.

We drove from Augusta down to the 18 miles of New Hampshire coastline they proudly boast about. Embarrasingly enough, I never knew that New Hampshire even have shoreline.  It was very rocky, but the mansions along the drive and the yachts and sailboats were gorgeous (and made me green with envy).

My flight was delayed and I would have missed my connection, so I booked a different flight leaving out 3 hours later than planned.  Mom and I took advantage of the gain in time and drove up to New Hampshire's Capital, Concord.  Their Capital Building was amazing.  So much history there, and so many people proud of their history and wanting to tell you all about it. 

What an amazing jam-packed, fun-filled trip.  Great memories on this trip for sure.  Already wondering where next years Mom's birthday adventure will be.  Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?


Canada (Part II)

Picking up where I left off yesterday, this only moves us ahead a day, but the scenery is well worth it's own post. We left from Truro and headed to Cape Breton Island, which is the northernmost part of Nova Scotia. We went and saw Sydney, along with going to Baddeck to see Alexander Graham Bell's Museum in the morning, but the highlight of the trip (for me anyway) was our 5 hours on the Cabot Trail.  It is compared to California's Highway 1 along the coast, and I also thought it was in many ways like The Road to Hana on Maui. Either way, I would recommend it to any and everyone.  A photographers dream.

The start; blue skies, water, bright green trees, open road

20 minutes in, up the mountainside a bit with the afternoon fog rolling in (it felt like an afternoon in San Francisco)

30 minutes down the road, back to the coastline again and out to a beach (Ingonish Beach)

so scenic, had the feel and smell of a fishery town

I take a slap on the wrist on this next part in that I didn't want to stop, and Mom pulled in anyway.  She totally made the right choice!

We should have been a little more nervous getting over on top of the rocks to look out on the ocean considering the walkway got ripped out, but we were daredevils (hard to see, but Mom is semi-camoflauged in the rocks on her way over for the view)

We left the beach, and within a half hour, the mountains started to engulf us.  You can barely see the mountain peaks below as they almost blend in to the sky.

All the signs at this point (which happens to be the northernmost point on Cape Breton Island as well as the most Northern I've ever been in the world) said it was a perfect place for whale watching, but we didn't see any in the little time we stopped there to view.

We got the sun back along the western side of the island on the drive back to mainland, and had dinner while watching the sunset.  Funny fact, the sun didn't fully set until almost 9:30pm every night.

  My favorite shot from the trip, just south of Cheticamp

Only one day left to tell you about, and lets just leave it at Mom got her fill of Capitals. 


Ohhh Ca-na-da! (Part I)

I disappeared and didn't even mention I was leaving....oopsies about that.  But I'm back now, and boy do I have a few good stories and photos from my 5 day adventure in New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. 

Should probably start with the point of the trip; my Mom likes to go away for her birthday ('08 was Austin, '09 was Florida, '10 was Bermuda/St Louis, and this year she wanted to go to our norther neighbor, Canada).  I flew into Manchester, NH Wednesday night after work and Mom swooped me up from there (she drove up from Delaware).  We stayed the night in Portland, Maine, and got up super early to get to the border.  Now, from my only other encounter with Border Patrol, I was expecting it was going to be time-consuming and stressful.  Quite the contrary, so much so that it was mind-numbingly easy to go through border patrol.  The stressful part ended up being Mom with coming across as a stereotypical American asking the border patrol 15 questions about hotels, food, and travel speeds.  At one point she asked, "Do they accept English money?"....meaning American.  And the pure mortification moment, "My GPS stopped working, do you not have GPS in your country?" His response to her with quite a laugh, "We aren't a 3rd world country Ma'am".  Thank god I was driving so I could look up at him and apologize and turn to her and tell her to be quiet.  She said she could do and say what she wanted because it was her birthday......how do you argue with that?!
Mom turns 63 in Canada

We drove along the coast line once we were in, going by St. Stephens and St. Vincents until we got to St. John. (Mom could only say St. Johns and I just gave up after about 30 times.) It was not what I expected; WAY smaller and not a whole lot of things to do. There was a place though called Reversing Falls, where we could get our first real view of the Bay of Fundy and it's tides.  The Bay of Fundy is known for having the highest vertical tidals ranges in the world.  So at Reversing Falls, we got to see the first glimpse of the power and force of the Bay's tidal changes.  It was literally like a raging rapid of the water flowing out.  Really neat to see.

We didn't stay in St. John as long as we expected and instead took off for Moncton, which is where we stayed the night. We chose Moncton so again, we could get up super early and head down to Hopewell Falls during low tide. 
Hopewell Falls is up for nomination for one of the 7 new Wonders of the World, competing against sites such as the Grand Canyon or the Great Barrier Reef.  After being there, it was definitely something I will never forget.  I took WAY too many pictures, but heres a few.

First view down onto the ocean floor

Within 6 hours from when we were there, it would be high tide, which was roughly 15ft of water.  A guide there said that it's almost a foot of water in every 20 minutes until high tide....crazy.  People were probably kayaking over where we were standing later in the day.

It was really hard to capture the size aspect of the coastline, but the picture below is a little helpful in that there are two people out towards the left of the shot.  And I still think that they were a bit closer to me, so it still distorts the size. 

If you care to see any more of Hopewell, I have about 100 more, but I'll just email them.  After we had our fill of Hopewell, aka, the tide was going to be coming in shortly and we didn't want to get caught in the current, we headed off to what we thought was going to be a day on Prince Edward's Island.  When we got to the bridge, it was horrible weather, and then we also found out it was $40 to even get to the island. (Some private company built the bridge that cost them 1 billion dollars...$40 a pop for each car and I'm saying their making their money back quickly).  Instead, we just headed off for Halifax in Nova Scotia.  There was definitely an instant feel of difference crossing over from New Brunswick Province to Nova Scotia Province in that New Brunswick is almost entirely trees other than the coastline.  While Nova Scotia had it's trees, there were also grassland patches along the countryside. Silly thing to notice, but whatevs.
We drove over to Halifax to take in the "big city" of the Province.  Again, for being such a known city, I was so shocked by how small it felt. 
View of Halifax from the other side of the river in Dartmouth

There were fun things in Halifax though, and beautiful scenery.  We first stopped at the Downtown Clock tower, which is on the Citadel's grounds.  Really beautiful view of the city from there.

Finally got to see our first lighthouse from the restaurant we ate dinner, which was on the Boardwalk in downtown Halifax.  Great view, and delicious FRESH seafood.

We were going to stay there for the night, but a big convention was in town, so we decided to just get up the road a bit, and we stayed the night in Truro.

This looks like just about the perfect place to stop for now.  Part II is Cape Breton Island, Cabot Trail, Fredericton, Maine, and New Hampshire.