Monday, November 24, 2014

Not every pregnancy is nine months of nausea and discomfort

I don't mean this blog post as a boast. I only want to encourage any woman out there who are considering becoming pregnant, but have only ever heard horror stories of how their mother, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, or whomever, spent their entire pregnancy feeling miserable.

I'm beginning my 39th week, and I've felt nothing but completely normal. I can only guess why I feel so well, and I prefer to think it's not because I'm lucky. I prefer to think it's because I'm doing something right. This is all anecdotal, of course, an N of 1 doesn't equal irrefutable proof, but I hope it might be inspiring to others.
Three months along and heading up Mount Monadnock one muddy, spring day.
First, let's talk a little about food. Andrew and I eat a fairly balanced and varied diet. Generally, we follow Michael Pollan's advice of: eat food, mostly vegetables, not too much. When we go grocery shopping, the contents our of cart tend to be at least 50% fruits and vegetables, and we stay out of the centre aisles were the highly proceeded foods are. We're not vegetarians, but we don't eat meat every day, and even when we do, we tend to limit our intake to the recommended serving sizes of 4 oz (or roughly the size of a deck of cards). Further, as much as I love to bake, we don't eat desert with every dinner, usually just on weekends.

So, how does this play into my pregnancy? Well, I haven't changed the way I eat since becoming pregnant. I still eat lots of veg, limit my meat intake, and since I don't ordinarily eat most of the things that were on the list of band foods (i.e. processed deli meats, sushi, etc.) I didn't have to worry about cutting things out of my diet. Although I used to claim that if I was ever pregnant I would eat ice cream everyday, I've done no such thing. The old adage of 'eating for two,' simply isn't true--or at least, you're not eating for two adult humans. You're eating for yourself and an unborn infant, which of the recommendations I've seen suggests around 300 calories more a day at most. That's eating an extra bagel (nothing on top), around 2-2.5 servings (2-2.5 ounces) of crackers or pretzels, 3-4 large apples, 2-2.5 bananas, or about 1/2 cup of most ice creams.

Between 4.5-5 months, at a beach near Gloucester, MA on a beautiful day in August.
Fortunately, I've experienced neither strange food cravings, nor morning sickness. The former, I again attribute to a varied diet. I assume because I regularly consume different foods, I should be getting all the different nutrients my body needs and so I'm not craving anything to make up for it.

As for morning sickness, truthfully, I threw up once, and I'm pretty sure it was because I had a smallish dinner the night before, then waited wait too long to eat breakfast the next morning. Also, I do occasionally experience mild nausea in the morning. In these cases I'll munch on a few crackers or half of a Clif bar while I prepare for my regular breakfast (oatmeal with Bran Buds mixed in) and I'm fine. The precise cause of morning sickness is unknown, but there is some suggestion that it might be linked with blood glucose levels, which tend to be lowest first thing in the morning. Of course, morning sickness is a misnomer, and can occur at any time of the day. As I said, the cause isn't fully understood.
Almost 6 months pregnant, hiking and camping at Pilsbury State park over Labour Day.
Now the other reason why I think I've fared so well during my pregnancy: exercise. I haven't stopped. I've had to modify things, especially during the last two months, but I haven't taken the attitude of, I'm pregnant, therefore I must sit still and let my baby gestate. Rather, I've remained as active as possible.

I'm still running, although again, I've had to make some modifications. First, my gear. I wear a belly support strap specifically made for pregnant women (the Fit Splint), then I wear snug fitting Lululemon shorts that I used to wear for aerials over top of that, then I wear leggings. It's a lot of layers, but it seems to keep my belly secure. I also don't run continuously over our 5 km (3 mile) route. We run 5 minutes, then walk for around 4 minutes, so that I can have time to recoup, sip some water, catch my breath, etc. The biggest thing with running (as it's actually my least favourite exercise) is that I'm keeping up my cardiovascular capacity for as long as possible.

Seven and half months pregnant and still in the air. My belly makes a funny conical shape when I tense my abs.
And I haven't stopped going to aerials. Granted, I haven't done a horizontally rotating drop (ones that tend to wrap around the stomach) for almost 5 months, and I haven't done a forward rotational drop for close to 3 months, but I've kept going. I've also seen my stamina tapper off over the last several weeks, but I try to remind myself that I am hauling an extra 20lbs or so around in the air with me. The most important part of keeping going with aerials is maintaining my strength in the hopes that once Root is born I'll be able to get back to where I was faster. I mean, I'm not going to be able to jump straight back into advanced classes, but it won't be like I took my entire pregnancy off and my muscles have gone completely flaccid either.

The last thing I think might have helped me to continue to feel so good is the high volume of water I drink. Water, in general, keeps the body hydrated, but in a pregnant woman there are even more demands as amniotic fluid develops and blood volume increases. My midwife told me right from the get-go that I should try to consume as much as 3 litres of water a day, and I think I'm pretty close to managing that most of the time. It likely helped that pre-pregnancy I probably drank between 1.5-2 litres of water daily, meaning I didn't have to make many modifications with my normal lifestyle to accomplish the desired water consumption.

So, in sum--and if I had to guess--I would surmise that my pregnancy has gone so well because I've continued to live as normal a life as possible by eating well and remaining active. I can't promise that this will work for everyone, or anyone who isn't me, but maybe it will give other women hope, that pregnancy isn't nine months of misery.



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Alas poor Smart Car, we knew you well

If I was better versed in Shakespeare, or at least feeling more witty (I've been hampered with a cold for over a week now), I might try to craft some play on the line from Hamlet or compose a ridiculous ode to our Smart, but just now I can't whip my brains up to that sort of effort. Instead, I shall tell you, dear readers, what it was like to drive a Smart car for six years.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, perhaps in hindsight, purchasing a Smart car wasn't the smartest of decisions. We could never offer rides to friends if Andrew and I were going somewhere together (although we always said in an emergency we could fit someone in the back); and cargo space is limited. However, at the time Andrew and I were DINKs (duel income, no kids), and Ks weren't even a glimmer on our horizon, so we bought the car we wanted.

The 2008 Smart had some notable improvements over its 2006 predecessor, such as a 70 horsepower engine (double the original 35 horses). Having driven the 2006 a couple of times, I can say it was a vast improvement. In the older model you literally had to put the pedal to the floor to go anywhere, not so for the 2008. The interior had an upgrade as well making it more attractive and comfortable. Additionally, by the 2008 model, the Smart was no longer available in diesel (not that this was of much concern for me).

The Pros:
So, some pluses for the Smart? Well, one of the obvious was parking. We could fit into spots that no other vehicle could even consider maneuvering into--we also rarely needed to perform a 'proper' parallel park. Its size was a definite plus after we moved to the Boston area as parking spots can be hard to come by. Not to mention, in recent years, mall parking lots have started to mark out prime spots for small cars/hybrids/electrics, which although wasn't strictly necessary (I mean, we aren't disabled in anyway, we just drove a small car), I often made use of anyway. Linked closely with the parking benefit, you always knew where the Smart ended. There was no long nose to have to worry about bumping into things with, which made it easy to maneuver.

The other great advantage of the Smart was millage. In general, we don't drive much, so we could often go a month (or at least 3 weeks) between fill-ups, but that doesn't really indicate much. I think Andrew calculated that we could get around 45 miles per gallon, or  20 kilometers per litre (the tank capacity was around 8 gallons/30 liters). We've only had the Fit for a month, but so far we're not coming close to that sort of fuel economy.
Camping--before we headed off to hike the Jasper Skyline.
Camping--this summer on our way to Mount Monadnock.
Camping--this summer on our way home from Pillsbury State Park.
The Cons:
Okay, so lets go with the glaring con first, cargo space. There isn't a lot, although as you can see from the pictures, we often managed to fit more than one might have expected into the back. Really, your biggest enemy was long items. Cross-county skies, for examples, aren't very bulky, but they're long, so we'd have to nestle the tip of them down in the passenger-side leg area, and they'd stretch the length of the car. We were able to fit a plastic folding table in the car once (sorry, no picture). We had to slide it in along it's side in between the front seats, and as I commented to Andrew as we drove it home, he could have been naked over on his side of the car, and I never would have known.
The time we fit a cube freezer in the Smart.
The car with the cube freezer from the back.
The Christmas tree was 2/3 as long as the car.
There's a clear breaking point where the car shifts gears at around the 30 kpm mark. It actually accelerates pretty well up to that point, then you get a little kick back as the car hits the gear-shift. I don't recall any noticeable hiccups after that as you accelerate up to whatever cruising speed you were aiming for.

Hands down, the biggest problem we had with the Smart was the muffler--although from my understanding this isn't necessarily a problem unique to Smart cars, but just to small cars in general that are driven in cold, snowy climates. Shortly after our last camping trip I was out running errands when I noticed that our car sounded like a crotch-rocket-type motorbike. I suspected it was our muffler, and once we got around to hoping the car up on a curb it was clear, there was a hole. The most likely cause of this hole was due to snow getting caught in the muffler (and Heaven knows Edmonton does a terrible job of clearing its streets in the winter), the snow melting when we drove the car, then freezing again once we'd stopped. As one might imagine, such a cycle would not be good for metal objects. It was quite the hassle fix, which I won't get into, unless I can convince Andrew to write a blog post about the day-long marathon he and a friend spent fixing it (he was gone one Sunday from 9:30 am to nearly 9:00 pm).

The Unexpected:
I could comment again on how we were frequently able to get more into the car than one might imagine, but how about the fact that it actually has more head and leg space than one would expect. Andrew is about 6 feet tall, which certainly doesn't qualify him as giant, but it also means he's not short and he had spare space both above his head and beyond his toes. You also sit surprisingly high up in the Smart, so we never felt like we were inside a small car when we drove. Finally, despite the havoc the winter weather wrought on the muffler, the Smart handled snow conditions well. I don't think we ever felt unsafe in the car regardless of the weather, or where we were driving (ie city streets v. highway).

The Annoying:
Almost immediately after getting the Smart I noticed that the adjectives people would use to talk about what it must be like to drive around in a Smart car were not the same as what you might use if you were driving around in a van or truck. People would say things like: 'You can tootle around town.' Tootle? (Zip around was another one.) Imagine how an owner of a F-150 would respond to being told that they could tootle around in the truck.

Similarly, you get a lot of people asking things like: 'Is it safe?', 'Can you take it out on the highway?' Um, yes, and yes. It wouldn't be available in North America (never mind that the Smart is made by Mercedes) if it wasn't safe. It isn't a Tata, which from what I've heard is pretty much a death trap on wheels. And sure, the Smart's top speed is only 160 kph, but that's still sufficient to drive it on the highway. I mean, we drove the Smart across Canada and it was perfectly fine (never mind that we only had to stop for gas once a day).
The kitten, looking out the back of the car as we drove across Canada (we were, of course, stopped when I took this picture).
Finally, people (especially children) stare and point at the Smart. Yes, even years (8 years, I think) after they first appeared on the North American market many people still seemed react as though they've never seen a Smart car before. I never really minded this and I'm actually a little sad that our new car won't attract the same attention the Smart did--but at least the Fit is bright yellow.

So those are my thoughts on driving and owning a Smart car. We did know it well, and we'll miss it, a little bit too.



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

One last getaway: Squam Lake, New Hampshire

Upon writing this I've realized that we've been to New Hampshire 4 times since May. I find this surprising since, when we lived in Edmonton, we didn't even make it to the Rockies once a year. I suppose the difference is that the most northern part of New Hampshire we've driven to is only a 2 hours away, compared to the roughly 3.5 hours it took to get from Edmonton to Jasper. At any rate, we went to New Hampshire for the fourth time last weekend, to the small town of Holderness on Squam Lake.

We stayed in a pretty little B&B called the Squam Lake Inn, which reminded me very much (from the exterior anyway) of Green Gables. As we were out of the peak season it was fairly quiet in the Inn and I think there may have been only one other couple in residence on Sunday night. We stayed in the 'Bennet Cove' room, which was probably one of the smaller rooms, but the bed was comfy and that was the most we were concerned with. The breakfasts at the Inn were fresh cooked each morning, and varied from a cider french-toast-type-thing and bacon to a vegetarian omelette and Vermont sausage. Yum.
The Squam Lake Inn, we were in the room on the end.
We arrived late Saturday afternoon (check in wasn't until 3:00 pm), walked about for a little bit before heading out for dinner at the local pub called Walter's Basin. The pub reminded me a great deal of the Castle on King (where I worked for a short period) in atmosphere and style of dinning. Had it been summer we could have gazed the Lake while we ate, but being late in the fall the sun was mostly down by the time we were seated.

The weather on Sunday was a bit dodgy, but we still managed to have a good time. We made a little circuit from Holderness, to a slightly bigger, close by town called Meredith. There we stopped at a cluster of shops (mostly 'stuff shops'), but it was a pleasant way to kill part of the morning, especially as it rained. After that we continued to the Castle on the Cloud (cue a young girl singing wistfully about her imaginary sanctuary, if you wish). Before visiting the castle--mansion, really--we ate at the carriage house restaurant, which really used to be the carriage house for the mansion. The tables were set up inside the old horse stalls. After that we took a trolly car up to the house and toured around.
Once we were finished at Castle on the Cloud we decided to visit the Sandwich Creamery. It was a fun little side trip where you went from driving on a secondary highway, to a still paved, but much smaller road, to a gravel road, to a smaller gravel road that went down a very steep hill. No doubt the inhabitants of the Sandwich Creamery get snowed-in in the winter. We only spent 15 minutes at the Creamery, but it was a neat little place to stop. Payment for their goods (ice cream, cheese, and eggs) was on the honour system. We picked up some cheddar, looked at the sheep and cattle for a few minutes then headed back to the Inn.
The little shop at the Creamery.
Monday morning we grabbed breakfast, then set off for home. It was a short trip, but it was nice to get away even if it was only for 48 hours. Both Andrew and I agreed we really need to take a proper vacation where we can relax and rejuvenate, but it's going to have to wait until the spring. Of course at that point we'll have a little one with us, which will make vacationing a very different experience, but I'm hopeful we can manage--after all, lots of people manage to have lives (fun ones, even) after they have children, so we should be able to too.



Monday, October 20, 2014

Andrea and Andrew, and the epic search for a new car

Andrew and I started our search for a new car several months ago. I can't say we've been continuously researching and testing new cars weekly since May, but it's definitely been at the back of our minds all this time. As much as we loved our Smart (and I will do another post about it) it simply does not baby. Back seats, and at least some stowing capacity are required.

We started by checking out the Chevy Spark. We went to the Best Chevy dealership, which we'd actually heard discussed on Under the Influence (Mike O'Rielly, CBC), as a place with exemplary customer service. We headed out one fine Saturday afternoon, drove the Spark around and talked to a sales representative. We liked the Spark. It was cute, still fairly compact, seemed comfy to drive, and was relatively inexpensive. We knew we weren't ready to purchase just yet, but put the car down as a definite maybe.

Then we started to worry, the Spark only has four seats, and the trunk space...well, we'd actually be able to get less in the trunk than we could in the Smart (assuming at least one of the back seats were occupied by a human and couldn't flatten them). We thought we better try another car for comparison.

The next on our list was the Ford Fiesta. Well, you readers might remember what happened there.

After that we decided we would try a Honda Fit based on recommendations from a friend, some of the key pointers being that Hondas tend to be sturdy, dependable cars that hold their value better than other vehicles. Also, Andrew's sister and brother-in-law purchased a Fit when they had their son, so we knew it could handle the extra space required for travelling with an infant.

Mistakenly, we went to test drive a Fit at one of the big car dealerships in town owned by Herb Chambers. Although their billboard ads are rather clever, we received terrible service. Where to start? Well, even though I called ahead and made an appointment, the person we were supposed to see wasn't there. Their offices were bland and depressing, with no music playing and limited windows, which made it extra oppressive when we were left waiting at our salesperson's desk. Two different sales people talked to us, both of whom took the exact same information from us. Even though we stated upfront that we weren't interested in buying that day, they tried to pressure us into a sale (and then continued to call me for weeks afterward). All told, that visit took us close to 2 hours, and it sucked.

That's not to say we weren't interested in the Fit.

We held off on our car search for a few weeks mid-summer as we waited to hear the results of an interview Andrew had attended back in Canada. Unfortunately that position fell through, so at the end of August we resumed searched for a car, determined to get something ordered. This time we opted to go to Honda North Danvers based on good Internet reviews, and guessing that a place outside the city might be have better customer service and fewer high-pressure sales tactics. We visited the dealership on a rainy Wednesday evening at the end of August, and met with an unassuming and soft spoken salesperson by the name of Nagi. We discussed what we were interested in a vehicle, and got our name on the waiting list for a Honda Fit (there were several people already ahead of us).

Six weeks passed.

Due to some minor car troubles of our own, we allowed the time to pass without following up with Honda North, but once the Smart was running smoothly again we thought it was time to find out when we might expect to see a Fit with our name on it. Originally we'd hoped to purchase a car with a standard transmission (both Andrew and I learned on standards), but as there still wasn't one available (the beginning of October), we were happy to take what was available. So, on Saturday afternoon (October 11th) we drove out to the dealership, expecting to finally purchase a new car.

Sadly, we were wrong.

Each time we visited a dealership we asked about the trade-in value of the Smart, making it clear each time that the car was purchased in Canada, and the speedometer and odometer only read in kilometers. Best Chevy said they could give ups $4,000 with the possibility of negotiation, Herb Chambers tried to offer only $2,500, but when we said we'd been offered $4,500 they quickly retracted their offer and said they could give us more (another reason we didn't like them), and Honda North also said they could give us around $4,000, again with the possibility of negotiation. Ideally, we would have liked something closer to $5,000 (after all, the car only as 50,000 km on it), but for the convenience of not having to try to sell the car ourselves (for which we would have had to get it back to Canada) we were willing to take it.

On Saturday, Honda North said they could give us a maximum of $2,500. What? But that's not what you said last time. Perhaps now that our trade-in and purchase were at hand they actually took a closer look at the car and realized what we meant by saying the car was Canadian. We wanted more for our car and felt we couldn't go through with the deal, and we left the dealership shortly there after. For the drive home, and much of the remaining evening we bounced around ideas of how we could sell the Smart and still get the Honda Fit we'd been hoping for. Could we get the car back to Canada? Could we just sell it here in Massachusetts (which we understood to be illegal)? Could we do without a car altogether when there were other options like Zip Car?

This was also when that 20/20 hindsight came into focus:
Maybe we should have investigated getting our car switched over to Imperial measurements as soon as we moved to the US.
Maybe we should have sold the Smart before we left Edmonton.
Maybe we should have never purchased a 2-seater car in the first place.
Should have, would have, could have, all too late.

Our bad car mood continued over to Sunday. Eventually we decided we should go back to Best Chevy (hoping they could still give us the $4,000 they'd originally quoted us) and investigate the Sonic (the step up from the Spark). The decision to go back to a Chevy was partly made because we could get last year's model, but also because we hoped we could negotiate a better deal than what we'd get with Honda. So, first thing on Monday (Columbus Day in the US) we headed off to the dealer, hoping by the time we returned home we would be driving a new car.

When we arrived at Best Chevy we were quickly put into a 2014 Sonic (I called ahead) and we took it for a short test drive. It probably drove as well as any other car we'd tried, and it fit our baby seat (which we'd decided to bring along). It was nice enough, but we'd definitely be settling. The console and the interior were much nicer on the Fit; however, with the pending arrival of Root we had to get a new car and soon. So, once we returned to the dealership we entered into negotiation for purchasing the Sonic--or rather Andrew did, and I sat beside him and nodded. Considering we made no attempt to haggle for the Smart, I think Andrew did a pretty good job. He got them to honour the lower price advertised by another dealership, and when the trade-in value for the Smart was offer (the same abysmal offer made by Honda North) he got them to agree to the upper range value of $2,500. I put my signature down on the first set of documents to get things rolling.

Then the crazy thing happened.

Can you guess?

Don't worry, I'll tell you.

Honda North called us. The GM had reviewed sales that hadn't gone through over the weekend and they were willing to offer us more for the Smart. Still not quiet as much as we would have liked, but better. After a series of quick phone calls and back of the envelop calculations we determined that the final price of the Fit would be $500 less than the Sonic. So we backed out of the deal. As I said, we would have been settling with the Sonic, the Fit was the car we wanted.

I felt terrible. I know, we're talking about car sales. It's a big business, lots of money changes hands, dealerships make and lose sales all the time, and on more valuable vehicles than what we were looking at. Still, I felt really bad after having gone through the hassles of trying to get a better price, etc. The salesperson was polite as I think anyone could have been under the circumstances as we packed up, and left. And for anyone in the Boston area, let me clear the people at Best Chevy did nothing wrong, they're a good dealership. The Sonic just wasn't for us.

We grabbed some lunch before headed off to North Honda, and that's more or less the end of the story. A couple of hours later we drove home with our new 2015 Honda Fit. Hopefully we won't have to go through the car buying process again for another six or eight years.

We tried to take a selfie with the didn't quite work.

Our new, very yellow car.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Camping at Pillsbury State Park

Andrew and I went on one last camping trip over the Labour Day weekend. I mean, it probably won't be our very last camping trip ever, but it will be the last camping trip we take where we don't have to worry about keeping track of a little one. Certainly lots of people still camp with kids, but we're probably going to have to buy a new tent (ours is a wee 2-person tent), maybe get a dinning shelter, and we'll have to do our meals differently too. I suspect there are a large number of other factors we'll have to take into account, but those considerations are for another day.

So, Pillsbury State Park. We chose this location with the hopes of going out into either a canoe or kayak for at least one of our days at the park. Even though we left our apartment at 3:30 pm, we didn't get to our site until almost 7:00 pm (due to traffic and stopping for dinner). This meant that we didn't do much on our first night besides set up and sit by the fire. Our campsite was one of the more secluded sites and considered a 'walk-in' site, although the walk was maybe a minute long. Overall, I'd say Pillsbury State Park is more rustic than Monadock State Park as it has only latrines, and water taps.
The marker and path leading up to our campsite.
Our campfire, just as it's beginning.
After our camping trip in July, Andrew researched methods on building campfires. He located several videos on YouTube on the 'Swedish Torch' method of starting fires, which he had to modify slightly since we weren't working with a full log. It worked like a charm each of our nights in Pillsbury.

On Saturday we spent the bulk of the morning and early afternoon in a canoe. We haven't honestly spent a lot of time boating, this was maybe the third time I can remember paddling together, but I think we both had a good time, and were reasonably successful (i.e. we didn't tip, and were able to navigate to where we wanted to go). Butterfield Pond (where the boat rentals are located) and May Pond are connected directly, and according to the map they're approximately 1 mile/1.6 km from tip-to-tip, then Bear Pond (0.25 miles/0.4 km) and North Pond (0.5 miles/0.8 km), can be reached by a short portage. We'd never portaged before, so we were very glad the trails between the bodies of water were short. I took the bow for the first two, but I couldn't see far ahead of me so navigation was....challenging. On the return trip Andrew took the bow, which seemed to work better. Regardless, I'm not ready for any extensive canoe camping.
A view of May Pond from the shoreline (I didn't want to take the risk of taking the camera onto the water).
Bear Pond from the shoreline.
We were out for approximately 4 hours as we paddled along the shore lines rather than cut a path directly across the ponds. Once we got back to our campsite (around 2:00 pm) we took a break before going out for a short hike up to 'Balancing Rock.' The path was pretty gentle, mainly dirt and roots, with a fairly slow slope upwards, with somewhere between 400-500 feet/120-150 metres of elevation gained. We went up with only our regular running shoes (which are the minimalistic kind) and without hiking poles. The rest of our day was spent at our campsite having dinner and relaxing by our fire.
Andrew balancing on balancing rock.
Sunday was mainly overcast and eventually rainy--although thankfully not until after we'd had our fill of hiking. Overcast weather is actually preferable for hiking in my mind because it's generally cooler, which isn't to say we weren't sweating anyway. Our goal was Lucia's Lookout (2,493 feet/760 metres), a point along the Monadnock Sunapee Greenway Trail (a 51 mile/82 km trail that runs between, not surprisingly, Monadnock and Sunapee Mountains). On the way up we took the 5 Summers Trail (4 miles/6.4 km), which was a pretty easy going path that doubles as a snowmobile trail in the winter. The trail was fairly wide with a low grade incline until 3 miles/5 km in, where it narrows to a foot path. Only the last 5 or 10 minutes up to the lookout were of any difficulty (some rocks, much steeper), but in general the hike was fairly comfortable and took us a little over 2 hours. That's not to say that it was easy-peasy and anyone could hike up there, but for two reasonably active people with some backpacking experience it was fairly relaxing.
Me, while we rested and ate lunch at Lucia's Lookout.
The view from the lookout, although this is from a spot (maybe a minute) away from the main lookout area, on the edge of the cliff.
We took the Monadnock Sunapee Greenway Trail back down the mountain. I think this trail was prettier than the 5 Summers (forest hiking trail v. mainly a snowmobile trail--although still forested), and slightly longer. There were probably a few more ups and downs on the section, but again, nothing major. About a mile (1.6 km) from Lucia Lookout we took a short detour to the Moose Lookout due to some confusion about which way to continue along the trail. The Moose Lookout was a camping spot for hikers tackling the whole Monadnock Sunapee trail, and not really much of a lookout from what we saw (i.e. it was in a well forested area). The detour took us maybe an extra 10 minutes, then we were back on our way.

Just as we reached the start (or our end) of the trail a couple of park rangers were headed up to look for a group of 10 that had gotten lost, or confused, or something...At the time it struck me as very odd that a group of 10 could have gotten lost. It's a large group, and not a particularly challenging trail and someone ought to have known how to follow the trail markers. When we checked out on Monday, Andrew asked if the rangers were able to find the group--they had. Apparently no one in the group could read the map and got confused around the Moose Lookout. Oi. At least no one was hurt, although they probably got wet as it was around that time (when we saw the park rangers) when it started to rain.

It rained for most of the rest of the night. Fairly lightly to start, not even enough to thoroughly soak the ground, but around 7:30 pm that changed to quite a downpour. Thankfully we had large tarp, and had set it up for shelter on Saturday morning, so we stayed dry. We were even able to have one last campfire since the tarp reached far enough to keep it dry.

Monday was a beautiful sunny morning, although we spent most of it packing up our site, then driving home. We could have stayed at the park for part or the rest of the day if we'd wanted, but we knew we'd have to run errands and unpack when we got home--plus we expected the traffic driving into the Boston area on Labour Day Monday would probably be atrocious if we waited too long,
One last picture of our fully packed Smart car. Next time we go on a camping trip we'll be driving something bigger.


Monday, August 25, 2014

There be whales here (aka we went whale watching)

I suspect that no self-respecting Boston-area resident would do something so tourist-y as go on a whale watching tour (or one of those hop-on, hop-off trollys, which we've also done), but that's what Andrew and I did on Saturday afternoon. I don't quite remember when the discussion first came up, although I'm pretty sure it was Andrew who expressed the initial interest in going. We went with the New England Aquarium Whale Watch tour, which leaves from the Long Wharf in Boston, and takes passengers to the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, (close to the tip of Cape Cod). Although it's billed as a 3 hours tour, we were out for closer to 4.
On the bow of the boat, waiting for our tour to depart.
Saturday was a lovely day in Boston, not super hot (low 20sC for those of us who prefer metric), although fairly breezy. The breeze was pleasant while we were inland, but it translated into fairly choppy water. It was recommended to us that if we went on the tour, it would be smart to bring warm clothing (long sleeves and a jacket) even if it was a nice day, since it would be much colder on the ocean. Plus, if you wanted to hang out on the bow while the ship powered through the water, you'd be much happier with a few extra layers.
On the cruise out to the Sanctuary.
It took us over an hour (close to an hour and a half, maybe) to reach the Sanctuary. We took it slow for the first few minutes to navigate the traffic in the harbour, but once we were through the densest area, the captain punched it. I have no idea how fast we were travelling, they might have said something over the loud speaker, but the rumble of the motor was such that Andrew and I had shout to talk to each other. What I can tell you is we were moving fast enough that I felt like my nostrils were being pushed open as wide as they would go--it was fast. With the water being choppy is made for an almost roller-coaster like ride, which didn't suit some people's stomachs.

It took us a while to find any whales once we reached the Sanctuary. I think the tour operators allot a certain amount of time for searching for whales (they communicate with other ships in the area to figure out where they might be feeding at the surface), and they offer rain checks to all passengers if no sightings are made during your tour. We lucked out, though. First we found a single humpback, then we moved on to find a group of four humpbacks feeding together (apparently not common, since they're typically solitary creatures). Three of the whales in this group were adults, and one was a calve.
I shot pictures like mad, trying to catch whatever I could of the whales.
I'm not sure how long we stayed at the Sanctuary, maybe about an hour given the length of time we were out. For the ride back Andrew and I stayed back at the stern of the boat. I was feeling overly wind-blown (although thankfully not sea sick) at this point and didn't much feel like hanging around at the front for more crashing through the waves.

All-in-all, if you know you a reasonably stable stomach when it comes to the rocking motions of a boat, I'd recommend going on a whale watching tour. It's pretty cool to see these animals at a reasonably close proximity. If you get motion sick, however, I wouldn't recommended. There were a lot of people on the tour that spent the bulk of it throwing up, in which case it might turn into 3-4 hours of torture.



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Beet pie, a recipe

I don't normally post recipes. Most of my day-to-day cooking is too ad hoc to bother recreating here, never mind that there are plenty of blogs devoted to food already. Last night, however, Andrew enjoyed my beet pie offering so much that he thought I should write it up. So, I halted dinner long enough to take a couple of pictures of my plate, and now I'm taking a few minutes out of my day to record my process.

Andrea's Beet Pie:

I make my own pastry, but you don't have to by any means. I like the deluxe butter recipe from Joy of Cooking. The only change I make is that rather than the 2 1/4 cups (or is it 2 1/2...) of flour called for, I prefer to only use a scant 2 cups. I always found in Edmonton (where it's very dry) that using the entire amount of flour called for in pastry recipes ended in a dry crumbly mess. I've continued to skimp on the flour quantities here in the Boston area and it seems to have made no difference--i.e. I have delicious, flaky crusts.

Pie Filling:
1 onion
1-2 tablespoon of oil (I used olive oil)
1 cup of oatmeal
1/2 cup of almonds (scant)
3 oz of Parmesan cheese (that was all I had left)
1 lb of beets (I used Chicago beets, which I picked up at the farmers market because I didn't think I'd ever had them before--turns out they're white and red stripped in the middle. I'm sure it doesn't matter what kind of beets you use.)
3 cloves of garlic
1 handful of fresh herbs (chopped)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of mustard
salt (Sorry, I don't really measure this, I just pour a small mound in my hand, then dump it in.)
pepper (I also don't measure this, I just sprinkle in the pepper until it looks good...this is why I don't write recipes.)


For the crust: If you're going to make your pie shell yourself, you need to do this well in advance. I actually made 2 shells on Saturday (that's what the Joy of Cooking recipe makes, the other was turned into the base for lamb pie--delicious) kept the unused disk of pastry in the fridge until yesterday, rolled it out, then stored it in the freezer until all of my filling was prepared. If you're using a pre-made pie shell, follow the directions for preparation it comes with.

For the filling:
Preheat the oven to 375F.

1) Preheat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat while you chop the onion to your preference of dice (I'm not terribly particular about my vegetable chopping).
2) Saute the onion, occasionally stirring or tossing until it turns golden brown. If you're adept at multi-tasking in the kitchen you can continue with the following steps while this happens (which is what I do).
3) Pulse the oatmeal and almonds together in a food processor until you achieve a breadcrumb-like consistency (you can also use breadcrumbs instead of doing this).
4) Remove the oatmeal and almonds from the food processor, place 1 cup of it in a mixing bowl, while saving the remainder 1/2 cup for topping the pie.
5) Either with the shredding attachment for your food processor, or a hand grater, grate the Parmesan cheese.
6) Place half of the cheese in the mixing bowl, retaining the other half for the topping.
7) Shred/grate the beets (this is so much easier when you have a food processor).
8) Add the beets to your mixing bowl.
9) Add your sauteed onions, and all of the remaining ingredients (garlic, herbs, eggs, mustard, salt and pepper) to the mixing bowl.
10) Stir until everything is combined and spoon it into your pie shell (which you should only just be removing from the freezer).
11) Mix together your left over oatmeal, almonds, and cheese. Feel free to add some more herbs and spices to this if you like.
12) Drizzle 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the topping to help make it clump together like a crumble topping on a desert pie, then spread it over the pie.
13) Bake for...oh...this is the tricky part. I started the pie in the oven for 20 minutes, then Andrew messaged me to say that he was running late so I turned off the heat and let the pie sit (in the oven)...then 15 or so minutes later Andrew message me to say he was on his way, at which point I turned the oven back on again and cooked the pie for another 10 or 15.
So...I'd *guess* at a continuous heat of 375F you should cook the pie for 35 to 45 minutes.


For 1/8 of a pie: Calories: 526; Fat: 37 grams; Fiber: 3 grams; Carbs: 37 grams; Protein: 14 grams.



Sunday, August 3, 2014

My big news...a couple of quick additions

I know I said I'd keep my pregnancy posting to a minimum, then I remembered a couple of things I meant to mention the first time around. This will be quick, I promise.

1. Running while pregnant: My belly is still fairly small. I mean you'd have to be pretty unobservant to not notice, but it's not anywhere near as big as it's going to get; however, I've starting using a belly band. It's call the Fit Splint and is specifically designed to keep pregnant woman active. It has two strap positions, one that supports only under the belly, and another where you can place one strap below and one above. I'm not sure how much it's doing to support me right now, but I have found that it stays where I put it, which is a major plus in my book.

2. Aerials while pregnant: As I have said to many people regarding my continuing to doing aerials--I've already been training for 3 years, I know my own strength, what I'm capable of, and what is a good versus a bad circus hurt. If I had just begun training, I probably wouldn't have kept going. Also, there is a precedent before me of  pregnant ladies continuing with their aerial training and performing (both at NECCA and Esh), so it's not as if I'm a trail blazer in this arena.

3. Fetus pet names: Andrew and I both really hate it when people refer to 'baby,' not the baby, just baby, while it's in utero. I also wanted to avoid calling it he or she while we didn't know the gender, so I suggested the alternative of 'Root.' 'Root?' you might say, 'Why?' Well, because when Andrew and I got married (almost 10 years ago) we were A2, and what's the opposite of a square function...? Groan if you will. Now we have to remember to stop calling the baby Root once they're born.



Saturday, August 2, 2014

My big news

I told close friends and family weeks ago, but I've been slow to alert my social media channels to the news that I'm pregnant. I'm a little over 22 weeks, or 5 months, along which means I'm a halfway through my journey. I know this sort of topic is not of interest to everyone, so I'll try to make this my only, or at least one of my only, posts about being pregnant.

To start, I've been feeling almost completely normal. Most of the time I really don't know what to say to people when they ask how I'm doing because I hardly feel pregnant. I haven't experienced many symptoms, mainly shortness of breath, and the obvious, weight gain. The shortness of breath is due to the baby sucking all the iron out of my body, and as iron is used to help transport oxygen it leaves me gasping after runs, and especially going up stairs.

If you've ever read this blog before, you'll know I'm very conscious about my weight. It's one of the tricky things for me about being pregnant (the others being not being able to drink alcohol, and my trying to maintain as much of my strength as possible), I have to gain weight. I'm definitely eating more than I used to, probably eating a few more processed snacks that I should, but I'm still tracking my calorie intake to make sure things don't get out of control. From what I've read, an appropriate amount of weight gain from a woman of normal weight before pregnancy is between 25-30lbs, which I'm on track to do.

My personal belief for why I've been feeling so well (as side from the fact that I'm rarely ill) is that I haven't changed much about my diet and exercise regime. I haven't had to say this to anyone, but if anyone asks me if I think I should stop biking, or running, or doing aerials while I'm pregnant, my prepared response is: "I'm only pregnant, not ill or disabled."

So yes, I'm still running twice a week (albeit rather slowly), I'm still biking to work everyday (I've got bike lanes almost all the way), I'm still doing body weights at home with Andrew, and I'm still going to aerials. When I told the folks at Esh (where we take classes) I was immediately told to keep training for as long as I wanted--and so far it's been fine. I did have to stop going to the advanced silks class because we were doing a lot of drops, many of which required ties around my waist, but it means I get to work on an apparatus I haven't used in 2 years, the trapeze. Not that I exactly love trapeze (it hurt so much more than silks, I swear!) but it keeps me going--and I can still train basic stuff on the silks on the weekend.

I think that's about all I've got to say about being pregnant right now. I'm seeing a midwife at MIT, and so far things are good there. We still need to replace our beloved Smart car (I will write a moratorium when we finally buy a new car), which is being held up while we wait to hear about other decisions that aren't exactly in our hands. Then we can make a few more of the major baby purchases like car seat, stroller, etc.



Monday, July 14, 2014

Camping at Monadnock State Park

After Andrew and I went for our hike at Mount Monadnock over the Memorial Day weekend, we thought we'd like to go back there to camp. It's not exactly our standard style of camping, mainly, you can drive up to your site, meaning we weren't limited to packing only what we could carry. Don't get me wrong, I love back country camping. I love roughing it, pitching tents, cooking with our little one burner stove, slogging to the top of a mountain to get a breath taking view (if the weather cooperates), I even love wearing a hat all day to hide my unwashed, uncombed hair, and smelling like bug spray, sunscreen, and sweat all at the same time. I really do.

But, doing a stationary, drive-to-your-site camping trip wasn't so bad either. Again, don't get my wrong, it's not like we took advantage of this and brought all kinds of extras we didn't need, heck, we didn't even take showers, but we did have a few perks, like chairs, and a cooler (which contained bacon and sausage). Ultimately, we're still driving our Smart car, so it's not like we can fit much more in it than what our full camping backpacks could carry anyway.
Our beloved Smart car, packed full.
We arrived at Mount Monadnock maybe a half hour before the sun went down on Friday so we had to pitch our tent and set up our beds quickly. Thankfully, our tent is super easy to set up and had everything set before we were out of daylight. We tried to get a fire going, but as we weren't properly supplied (the last 2 bundles of firewood were bought just as we arrived at the entry booth) we didn't have a lot of success. We still poked around our tiny fire until 10:00 before heading to the washrooms (there were flush toilets and running water) and calling it a night.

Personally, I didn't sleep well on Friday. The noise level (both bird and human) wasn't too bad, but I just couldn't fall asleep. Of course I couldn't sleep-in either. The sun came up around 5:00 am, at which point the avian population surrounding the campsite got rather chatty.

Originally, we'd hope to hike for the morning, then rent a canoe or kayak for the afternoon. Note: although the Mount Monadnock website says they have boat rentals--this is a lie! Gilson pond, where the campsite is locate, is rather small anyway, so I'm sure it wouldn't have been a very exciting (or long) paddle. Instead we decided to hike to Dublin Lake, which started out on the same route as the one to the peak of Mount Monadnock. You take the Birchtoft trail up until you hit the Cascade Link then continue on it, rather than turn off it to the summit. As opposed to our first hike, which felt like we were constantly hiking through mountain streams, the terrain was fairly dry. This made for nicer hiking, although it was much hotter and sunnier than our last visit, so it made for a more sweatier trip too.
Part of the Birchtoft trail, nice and dry.
For some reason we thought the Cascade Link, which eventually lead to the Pompelly trail, would be leisurely. I don't know why we thought this. Sure, we didn't go to the peak again, and didn't have to cover the same elevation gain, but it's not like it was an easy stroll on flat ground. We faced several ups and downs, and ultimately we ended up on a much longer hike than we'd intended to take. Good thing we hadn't set our sights on paddling.

I feel that the hiking in New Hampshire is in someways, more challenging than hiking in the Rockies. These mountains are much older, and the elevation is almost half, I think, of what we were at on the Skyline in Jasper, but the trails seem more rugged. We've encounter several instances where we've had to put aside our hiking poles so we can use our hands to climb up a short, but mostly vertical rock face. Similarly, while descending I came to spots where I had to sit on my butt, while extending one leg to reach the next foot hold. Despite all this, it wasn't a bad day hiking, and provided us with some great views of New Hampshire once we got to the top of our trail.
The distant peaks as we hiked across the Cascade Link. There's also a little carin in view, pointing us a long the path.
Looking out over New Hampshire.
One of the hikers we passed mentioned there were wild blueberries on the rail...we couldn't help but stop to pick some.
One of the ridges we walked along on our way to Dublin Lake.
As I mentioned earlier, the hike to Dublin Lake was longer than we'd expected. We weren't working from an extremely detailed map, only the one that was given out at the entry toll both. It's enough to work from, but you have to guesstimate your distances. It was approximately 3 miles (we're in the US, so everything is Imperial, but in Canadian speak, that's 4.8 km) to the Cascade Link/Pompelly connection, then another 3 miles from there to the Lake. We decided to push on down to the Lake for lunch, so it was almost 2:00 pm before we ate. It was worth it when we got there, though. The cool water soothed our tired feet, and the scenery was lovely.
Dublin Lake. We were able to find a small patch not labelled 'No Trespassing' and relax.
The sky on Saturday.
For the walk back to Gilson Pond we opted to go for the more straight forward route along the road. It was still fairly pretty, with interesting houses to look at along the way, but much easier than going back up into the mountains. Plus the route was way shorter, only another 3 miles to get back to where we started, and were we ever glad to get back to our campsite.

Dinner that night took advantage of our being able to bring a cooler/heavier/larger food than normal, involving sausages, peppers, onions, corn on the cob and potatoes. Honestly, I was worried we'd have a dinner fail. First, that we wouldn't be able to get a decent fire going in time and we'd wind of ravenous before the food was ready. Or, that the food would either be under or over cooked. Tinfoil dinners were a common (I can't quite say popular) staple of girl guide camping, and typically you either wound up with raw food, or everything would be burnt. Maybe camping cooking karma caught up with me, as we had an excellent, fulfilling meal. By layering in the food according to how much time I predicted they needed to cook (potatoes: 1 hour; peppers, onions, corn: 30 min; sausages: 5-10 min) everything turned out just right.

Cooking over the fire is hard work--although Andrew did do a lot of poking and adjusting to keep the fire going.
We didn't stay long on Sunday. We felt we'd done quiet enough hiking on Saturday, plus we knew we still had all kinds of chores to take care of when we got home. Still, we enjoyed our time and would definitely consider returning if we were looking for another laid-back camping experience.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Happy Fourth

I had no idea that Americans actually say 'Happy fourth' to each other. For reasons I can't explain, I find this expression weird. People at work kept saying it (although at that point it was the third, since the office wasn't officially open on the fourth), and when I phoned to book another test drive the sales representative said it too. I refrained from replying 'I'm not American' throughout the day, or pointing out that I celebrated Canada Day a couple of days ago--I'm sure it wouldn't have been useful.

This may be related to why I find the expression 'Happy fourth' strange--I don't think we go around wishing each other 'Happy Canada Day,' do we? I was in the US for Canada Day last year (attending NECCA's aerial skills week), and the year before that we were at a back country campground that was half empty, so maybe I just don't remember.

Anyway...Boston has a big fireworks spectacular every year on the fourth. A huge barge is brought in on the Charles River which serves as the launching platform for the fireworks, while music is played over speakers positioned all along the river. There's a bandstand on the Boston side of the river where the Boston Symphony Orchestra is stationed. They (and other performers) present a live show, which most importantly ends with the 1812 Overture. Apparently some 500,000 people line the river to watch the spectacular.

This year festivities were moved up to July 3rd (reportedly the first time this had to happen) due to the pending arrival of hurricane Arthur. Andrew and I biked down to MIT on Thursday evening, stowing our bikes in his office for safe keeping. I'd guess due to the change in dates and expected storm there were fewer people out to watch--at least the area we choose wasn't all that busy. We got a pretty go view sitting on a curb, only occasionally losing lower rising explosions behind a tree.

The display started early--10:15 rather than the scheduled 10:30, and it was announced before hand (two MCs were apart of the broadcast) that it would have to be sans-1812 as the weather was looking increasingly chancy (musical instruments and inclement weather don't mix). The audience in the bandstand, sounded rather miffed that there would be no Overture. The fireworks were indeed spectacular. Lots of cool, multi-coloured, multi-shaped explosions, and several where we could feel the impact of the cannons from however far away we were.

Then it was over (we're not quite sure if the fireworks reached their full conclusions, or if the on-hand Marshalls pulled the plug) and everyone got up and left.

Unfortunately we didn't get out of the MIT area and home fast enough. We were maybe five minutes into our journey, when we could hear the rain approaching from behind us. Then it hit us, cold and furious. The many pedestrians on the sidewalks were half screaming, half-laughing as they too hurried to their destinations. We were soaked in under a minute.

Biking home in the rain is never fun. It was also dark, which didn't make things easier. Of course, by the time we were five minutes from home the rain let up, and it wasn't much more than sprinkling. This wasn't the effects of the hurricane yet.

That wasn't until Friday afternoon--and even then it just rained, and rained, and rained.

Hope everyone had a good Canada Day, Independence Day weekend--which ever you prefer.



Saturday, June 14, 2014

The day we test drove a car and it caught on fire

So, for those of you who follow me on Twitter, you've probably already gotten the sense that Andrew and I had an interesting Saturday afternoon.

To start, we're planning to buy a new car. We love our Smart car, but it's 6 years old, and it only has 2 seats. It's great for parking around the Boston area, but crappy for giving people rides or transporting large objects (although we've tested the latter fairly thoroughly). We're looking at something small, preferable domestic made, the top choices are the Chevy Spark, and the Ford Fiesta.

Today, we test drove a Fiesta. It started out pretty well, Andrew was driving. Approximately 5 minutes into the drive we noticed something smelled a little smokey, nothing huge, but there was something in the air. We'd gone another 5 minutes and Andrew was thinking we should pull over so I could try the wheel when we noticed there was smoke coming from the front of the car. We ducked into the parking lot we happened to be passing and got out.

The smoke was still reasonably light. The sales person (who was with us), put his hand to the hood and since it wasn't too hot popped it open. The engine was covered in old leaves, twigs, etc...and flames--yes, seriously, flames.

A bystander had also pulled over (I don't know if he was wanting to help us from the start, or if he had only been planning to go shopping), and asked us if we had a fire extinguisher--we didn't. He then advised us to get away from the car saying 'car fires can go fast'. I quickly grabbed my purse which I'd left in the front seat, while the sales person headed into one of the shops to see if he could find an extinguisher.

In a matter of, I don't know, maybe 5 minutes, black smoke was billowing out from the hood, streaking up the windshield and flames flickered from underneath the car. The call had been made to 911, and all kinds of shoppers were whipping out their phones to take pictures and videos.

It was crazy.

The police arrived first, meanwhile another sales person from the dealership showed up to pick us up along with the guy we'd gone out with. The second guy seemed pretty intent on getting us out of there as fast as possible (maybe afraid we'd give the dealership bad PR?) and so we didn't get to see the fire department handle the growing blaze--which Andrew and I both would have loved to see.

And that was pretty much that. We left the dealership another 5 minutes later. We're not against the Fiesta, it's not Ford's fault that flammable material had gotten underneath the hood, but if we go back to that dealership Andrew will surreptitiously take a look at the engine before we head out for a test drive.



Monday, May 26, 2014

Hiking: Mount Monadnock

It's Memorial Day here in the US. It was Victoria Day in Canada last weekend, but of course the US doesn't celebrate the birth of British monarchs, so I went to work and waited for this weekend for an extra day off. Honestly, I worked today too, but only my Canadian job, since my Albertan co-workers were in their offices at the University of Alberta.

However, I digress.

Today is Memorial Day, and to take advantage of the three day weekend Andrew and I went hiking on Saturday. Originally I'd hoped to go to the Appalachians, but they're a three hour drive away (much like how the Rockies are three hours away from Edmonton). In around-about way (Googling hikes in Vermont) I discovered another potential hike site: Mount Monadnock, which according to their website is the third most visited mountain in the world. It's located in New Hampshire, but it's only an hour and a half drive away.

As the weekend grew closer we hummed and hawed over whether or not we should go. The forecast was iffy (chance of rain), and the last thing we wanted was to be stuck halfway up the mountain in a downpour. In the end we decided the actual chance of rain was low enough to warrant going, and if it turned out to be cloudy, it would make better conditions for hiking anyway. A blazing sun leads to lots of sunscreen, and sweating.

So, the hike. We parked at Gilson Pond, and started out on the Birchtoft path. From the trailhead, the distance to the summit is 3.4 miles/5.5 kilometers, with a beginning altitude of 1300 feet/396 meters.
The trail started out reasonably easy. After 1.25 hours we'd covered 3 kilometers and were thinking to ourselves, there was no way this trail is going to take us 5-6 hours to complete (what the staff at the check in booth had told us).
The lovely Andrew, out on the trail.
Me, of course. I downed 1.5 liters of water during the course of the hike.
Although all the snow had melted off the mountain, there was still a lot of water on the trails. It made the return trip extra tricky having to be careful not to slip.
A look out point, a little over half way up the mountain.
The last trail crossing pointing us to the summit (or on to another trail).
The summit of Mount Monadnock off in the distance. Once we got close to the tree line we had to follow carins to guide us to the top.
At the top of the mountain, elevation 3,165 feet/965 metres. It took us 2.5 hours (minus 15 minutes for a lunch stop where we each devoured half a loaf of bread).
The view from the top. It was cloudy, but we could see enough around us to make it worthwhile. We stayed for fifteen minutes to rest our feet and refuel, then headed back down.
An example of the steep rock face we had to climb. I thought it was fun to have to scrabble up--albeit challenging.
I would definitely go back if we had the chance, maybe camp there for a night or two and check out some of the other trails, or rent a canoe or kayak.