Sunday, October 19, 2014

REI Garage Sale

REI the outdoor gear company had their "garage sale" on Saturday. The sale is stuff that has been returned to the store. Things are sold as is and there are no returns. However, things are returned for a variety of reasons. Bought wrong size, didn't fit right, just didn't like it are just three of a thousand reasons things are returned. The company can't sell the stuff as new anymore so they save it up and every so often have a "garage sale.

Saturday was the "garage sale at the Cranston store. The sale is for members only. To become a member of REI, you have to pay a one time twenty dollar joining fee. The doors opened at 9am. DJ and I got there about 8:55. There was a line 200 feet long and I thought I wasted my time.

When doors opened a few minutes later and most everyone went in. Right outside the doors were the hiking boots. I tried on several pairs, most looked brand new. I wear between a 9-10.5 depending on width. There were many in that size range but I just couldn't find the perfect fit. Since boots were the main reason I went, I spent a lot of time looking them over and trying them on. So much time in fact, I was afraid everything else was picked over. I was wrong, they had a lot of stuff for sale.

I went into the storage room. This is where tents, sleeping bags, and pads were sold. While I was doing this, DJ was trying on backpacks. Not used or sale packs. These were the full price packs. He had no plans of buying any. DJ was just killing time waiting for me. He was hoping to get an idea of ones he liked for the future. The one he liked most and was most comfortable was 239 dollars.

I didn't find anything in the sleeping bag room. There were excellent deals on pads, but I did not trust them to not leak. We went upstairs. There was a rack of daypacks. DJ had been trying on the huge packs that hold a weeks worth of gear. I didn't see any of those. Then he came up to me holding the exact backpack from downstairs. The price. 89.53 dollars. The reason it was returned " the tag said medium and it was a large". Needless to say, DJ held onto the bag. Before he bought it I made him check reviews on line. It got a 4.8 out of 5 with over forty reviews. There wasn't any reoccurring problems such as ripping at the seems, broken zippers, or rips easily. All reviews were quite positive. Talk about a deal!

I found a pair of snowshoes. They are the brand I have been eyeing for ten years (MSR). I just never made the commitment. The ones I bought were last years rentals. They look used but got them for 54 dollars. They sell new for over one hundred. They also came with the attachable fins that are thirty dollars when purchased separately brand new. I am very pleased and can not wait to snow shoe.

Like I said this sale is members only. For twenty dollar that I paid years ago we saved almost two hundred dollars today while spending about one fifty after tax. REI sends regular newsletter with upcoming events to its members, if you would like to get in on this sale, it may be something to consider.

Friday, October 17, 2014

JFK Library

I make no secret about the fact that I think JFK was the greatest non-wartime president ever. It is my belief that if not killed Kennedy would have been one of the few world leaders to make the world a better place. If I would have been alive when he was assassinated, I believe I would have cried.

Since I took Sunday Oct 12 off from work because of my brother's wedding Saturday, I refused to waste my first Sunday off in a year. If Laurie would have been hung over, I would have gone to'gansett and fished all day. I was up and ready to go at 7:30. When I woke her up, she was okay. Our plan was to drive to the T and take the red line to the JFK stop. At the station we had to hop on a shuttle bus that comes every 20 minutes. It's only a short ride to the presidential library.

Admission is fourteen dollars for an adult. After we paid our admission we joined a tour group. The first stop was a movie about his early life. After that the docent explained the different rooms. Each room had a theme.

The space race was explained. The Bay of Pigs debacle, Cuban missile crisis and desegregation were a few of the things to learn about.

There is a lot of video footage. The debate versus Nixon was one thing I watched. There was also a tv with a lot of his press conferences. I stayed and watched most of that too. Some of it was pretty funny.

There was a lot of info and memorabilia about Jackie. She was extremely intelligent. She spoke conversational French and Italian and knew some Spanish. She cared about history and was an excellent writer. She loved the arts. Hell ya, I would have had crush on her. Fifty years later I can't help but admire her.

Learning more about my favorite president, I grew to respect him more. I did not know the whole story of PT 109. I knew he was borderline genius, but it was cool to see it put into action. I did not know he was an author writing a couple of books that you can bet I will read.

While I was there I took some photographs of photos of him. I was hoping to get a couple to put up in my house. I have photos of portraits of Washington and Teddy Roosevelt that I
took at the National Portrait Gallery in DC. However the portrait there of JFK sucked. So I took a few pictures of pictures while I was at the library.

Overall I had a great experience. We stayed about three and a half hours. For me, this is a special place since I think of JFK as one of the few truly great presidents. For any history buff, it is worth a visit.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dino's Wedding- The View from the Best Man"

Preamble- The world's longest blog introduction

On Saturday October 11 my brother Dino Pacelli married his fiance Eilleen Flynn. I was the best man. I'm writing my account of the day on my blog for a couple of reasons. I want to write down my memories of the day while they are still fresh in my mind. The blog is a great place to keep this document. By posting it, I can not lose it. If my computer would crash, I would still have it. If I made a hard copy, God for bid and yes a little paranoid, there was a fire at my house, a journal or three ring binder could burn.

I will write about the events in the first person as I am describing them to you the reader. However , make no mistake, this post is for me.  The bride and groom were clearly the most important participants at the wedding. They have many ways to remember the date, professional photographer, cards, gifts, etc. Still it is not everyday your little brother gets married and I'd like to remember it. If you read this and you find yourself asking  "why is that relevant to the wedding?" remember it is relevant to me. So we begin

The Beginning

Where to begin? A week or so after Dino and Eileen announced their wedding, Dino asked me to be the best man. I  tried to talk him out of it. I told him that I would totally understand if he chose Jim or Scott, he spends a lot more time withem than me. Also, I had never been in a wedding before and never been to a bachelor party. Although I think I am hilariously funny, I know I am not fun. I hate dancing more than intense pain. Also, I barely drink, going months at a time without a beer and years without being drunk. These are not good qualities for a best man. Not knowing what my duties would be other than the bachelor party and speech, I asked Dino several times over the last few months what I should be doing

The bachelor party was awesome. We didn't do anything crazy that had to "stay at the bachelor party". We went to the Colonial Inn in Concord. We sat around a 300 year old pub drinking hard cider, listening to the band and making Dino laugh. The other two groomsmen, Scott Rathburn, and Jim Halloran and I came up with a plan to get Dino there as a surprise. We all met at the North Bridge. I don't want to forget anyone of the guys so here goes: Me, Jim,Scott, Brian Pinnetti, Paul Montani, Tim, Chris and Dan Flynn, John Riendeau, Jeff Jennings, my son DJ.  

Dino seemed to really enjoy it and that is all that mattered. It was low key and right up my alley. With the love of history from most of us, I think it was a hit. Never throwing a bachelor party before I relied heavily on Jim and Scott. There's no way it would have been nearly as awesome without their ideas. Although I had final say, there was no reason to veto anything. They were great.

Onward to Wedding Weekend we go... Thursday was the Wedding Rehearsal Dinner. As someone who hates the spotlight, just going to the rehearsal dinner was unnerving to me. That ended quickly and I had a fun time. I suspect my nerves were eased because all we really had to practice was where to stand and where to walk. The Maid of Honor, Diane was nice and happily, just as nervous as myself. After our practice WE ATE!!!  The food was amazing. We ate fingerling potatoes, veggie ravioli, stuffed pork, a stuffed pumpkin, yes a stuffed pumpkin and strawberry rhubarb pie, Again, I sat with Jim and Scott and their significant others both named Sam. Eileen's brother Chris who I have know longest sat with us. We had the honor of sitting with the one and a half year old flower girl, Jim and Sam's daughter Dakota. She happened to be the most significant person at the table, because all night she was making faces at us and we would make faces back. Even though I might have mentioned I'm hilarious, she by far was the light of the table

On Friday night, the night before the wedding I couldn't sleep. I practiced the best man speech over and over in my head. Because I couldn't sleep, I went online and researched best man speeches for advice and maybe a memorable quote to use. I spent an hour or so doing this. I ended up falling asleep at 5:30 am. I somehow woke up at 8:30 am on my own. The whole sleep I dreamed about the speech and the wedding. It made me wonder how nervous the groom/bride must be.

I also need to point out that DJ was in the wedding. He was one of the Officiants. He along with all of Eileen's siblings married Dino and Eillen.They were certified to legally perform the ceremony. One day last week they all got together and planned everything they had to say for the wedding. When DJ came home I didn't ask any questions. I wanted it to be a surprise to me as well as everyone else.

Here is the timeline for the day for me
DJ, Laurie, and Julie meet at my house               1pm
Get gas, bank, card                                               by 1:30
Be at Scott's house in Foster, RI                           at 2:30
Be done putting on tux and be at Foster                by 4:00
                         Country Club
Wedding                                                                  5:00

I will skip ahead to Scott's house. When we got to Scott's we put on our clothes. I put on my tux and Laurie put on her dress. Scott and Dino also got ready. Sam, Scott's girlfriend was ready when we got there. Nothing special to remember. None the less, it was part of the day, and I think only the second time I've put on a tux. I got to wear a bowtie, which I requested when Dino asked me to be the best man.

As expected, we were among the very first to get to the wedding. Jim, who met us there arrived when we did.  The bride arrived on the rented bus (going from motel in Warwick where many people were staying) We had to usher Dino to a place where they could not see each other. It had been raining most of the day but by the time we arrived at the country club it was clearing and we were assured of an outside wedding.

There were two buses bringing many of the guests from the motel. The wedding could not start until they got there. During the hour between 4-5 my job was just to hold on to the rings. I then had to give them up so the photographer could take pics of them. Somehow with everything going on I forgot I gave them away. I thought I left them at Scott's house. I paniced, checked my coat five times, ran back to the car and I thought I had to leave. Then as I was about to tell Dino, I saw Paul. Paul is the photographer's (Sarah) husband. They are two of Dino's closest friends. When I saw him, I realized he was in charge of getting the rings back to me. That is something I knew but somehow had forgotten. It took me a few minutes to come down from my fear of losing the rings. I never fully recovered because I knew I had my speech only a few minutes away.

I went outside to practice my speech and I saw Dino alone. I went down to him. He brought up our parents. It was the first time I thought of them. I had been so pre-occupied, some of it selfishly (worrying about my speech) some of it unselfishly (doing everything in my power to be fun) ,that I hadn't the time to think of them. We had a quick talk and I told Dino that mom would have loved his wife. It was a sad moment, but one that I wish we would have had longer to digest.

Also during that hour, I talked with my cousin Mark who lives in Maine and I went to Florida with last year. The most important thing I learned during that hour was that I was to give the rings to the lead Officiant (Tim, Eillen's brother) one at a time. Until then I thought I was to hand both of them together. This seems trivial, but I did not want to forget which one first. I asked Tim a second time to double check. I then said over and over in my head "small ring first"

The buses arrived and things moved quickly from there. Everyone sat at there seats and we were lined up rather quickly.  We paraded outside. First all the Officiants including my son, then Dino, myself, Jim, Scott. Following that were two boys pushing a baby in a push car and a girl doing the same. The boys were carrying Harry Potter wands that had rings on them. I took the rings from the boys as they passed. Then the three bridesmaids came down followed by a glowing bride.

The Officiants did an amazing job. They each had a small segment of the speech to give. It flowed perfectly. It was funny, yet extremely classy. There were references to Lord of the Rings, (such as "two rings to rule them all") one of which I did not get right away and had an embarrassingly late laugh. I didn't screw up my ring order.

 DJ was in charge of asking the bride and groom to recite there vows. As with the rest of them, he did a great job. The thing I will take away from the ceremony was the love in her eyes Eileen has for my brother. I had a front row seat only five feet from her. She has looked at him that way for over 8 years. She still has that beginning of the relationship magic for him. It was beautiful, and hopefully the video did not pick up that I got choked up, but I did.

After the ceremony, we walked and went behind a bush while the guests went inside for cocktail hour. We then went back to get pictures. I was a bit of a douche because there were a couple pics I wanted (such as me with Dino and my son with me in the middle). Sarah was patient with me, and for that I am thankful.

After I was dismissed from pictures, I went inside and pounded a cider and a beer. I wanted to be as relaxed as possible for my speech ( I can't stress enough my fear of public speaking so yes, for me the biggest part of the day was devoted to worrying about my speech).

Everyone was told to find their seats then we were introduced. I told Diane the M of H  that if she wanted to dance our way in or act the fool, I would if she wanted. It was up to her. She was cool with just walking in. Then after us, Dino and Eileen were introduced. They had their dance while everyone was standing.

Then the Maid of Honor was introduced to do her toast. She absolutely rocked it. She told a quick story that was extremely funny. She got a huge laugh from the crowd. Then she handed the mic to me. The crowd was still laughing and I was waiting a few seconds for the crowd to settle when the DJ told me I could begin.

I cut out half of what I planned on saying because I felt it was to long. I cut out my "funny" story because I knew it wasn't nearly as funny as Diane's. I brought up how I've seen for years how Eileen looks at Dino and I toasted with a line Robin Williams spoke in Good Will Hunting. (yes I used the Robin Williams card)

"Your not perfect, sport. And let me save you the suspense, the girl you just met, shes not perfect either. But the question is whether or not you're perfect for each other"

Well everyone in the room knows the answer to that question. Your not only perfect for each other, you were meant to be. So with that Congratulations!"

I sat down and the song "Drink a Beer" was played and the names of all the people from our families that died were read. This was a sad moment. For me, I was walking back to my seat when it started and people were making eye contact with me whispering"good job". I did not get the full effect of the power of the names that were read. This time, I was glad to not be thinking to much about our parents and I'm glad I was being distracted. I know for sure some grown men cried.

After that was read, we ate. My plate consisted of delicious squash, mashed potato and the best tenderloin. It was crusted with coffee. Sounds weird but it was great.

This seems like a good time to mention all the quirks of this wedding. No one had ever been to one like it. The tables were the names of characters from tv shows. We sat at the Sheldon table from Big Bang Theory. To let waiters know what each person was getting was a little Muppet. For example there must have been a cow on the Muppet Show and there was a little picture of him. The card box was a giant comic book. You open the cover and put the card in. There was a digital camera guy. You could use props and get pics taken. your group would get a copy and the bride/groom got a copy. The cake weighed 120 pounds. Each layer had a different significance. One layer was "the eye Sauron". The layer above it was a smore being melted by the eye. There were statues of Dino and Eileen but also Kermit and Miss Piggy. There was a telephone booth (tardis) from Dr Who that people went in and snapped pics of each other. Basically they embrassed their inner dork and ran with it.

As much as Jim' Scott and myself would have loved to have busted on Dino everyone of their ideas was awesome. Granted  it was their day, so whatever they wanted should have been fine, but it really was a lot of fun for everyone. I, yes I, went up and got my picture with props three times. Once with Laurie, once with my cousins, and once with Dino and Brian Pinnetti.

For drinks I ran the gauntlet from a girly fruity drink litterally called Island Girl to hardcore homemade Moonshine. Jeff Jennings, one of Eileen's brother and laws asked for something fruity. the bartender made the Island Girl. It looked so good I ordered myself one. It tasted so good I had to order another one. I drank quite a bit, but never lost control, stumbled or slurred. None the less, I don't drink and drive, so even though I was fine, I had DJ drive home. As best I can tell, I had about 8-9 throughout the night, including the first three before my speech.

After dinner, came the dreaded dancing. I devised a plan to get out of dancing. I went out to my car and got my good camera. I started going around to friends and relatives getting pictures. I told Laurie she was free to dance all she wanted. I danced "The Twist" but that was it. I had fun, as I love taking pics. I got pictures of people that I wanted without bothering the professional photographer. However I got a really nice picture of Sarah and Paul, maybe the best shot I took all night.

What stands out to me after dinner and the real reason I wanted to write all this is the interactions and the friendships I made with people I barely knew. Starting with Tim Flynn who was in charge of Officiating, we(and his wife) had a good chat at the bar. We had to get to know each other a little with our positions in the wedding. He also sat with DJ and I at the bachelor party and we hit it off.

With everyone else that Officiated I tried to tell them how great a job they did. Not because I felt it was my duty, but because I was blown away by them. I did miss Chris who left early to take care of his puppy and Dino's dogs.

I had a terrific conversation with John Lincoln, one of Dino's good friends. I told him never to worry if your overdoing putting stuff on Facebook about your kids. John just moved to Maine and I told him, that his parents will love watching their grandchildren grow through pictures and funny stories. That happened to be my wise old man advice for the night.

As always, I had a good time talking with my cousin Richie, his wife Barbara, my cousins Cindy and  Pam, their husband's Floyd and Tony. Tony reminded me that he owes me rabbit sometime. Richie complimented me on my writing skills. I love hearing compliments,so yeah I enjoyed that talk. I talked with my cousin Michelle. I mistaken thought her husband was only 28. This made for a good laugh but also a compliment for him as I believed it.I was disappointed my cousin Mark bailed early. We are close, I consider him and Richie more like big brothers than older cousins. I wanted to get a good picture of me with the both of them.

I didn't know either Jim's wife Sam or Scott's girlfriend Sam. They were both great. Of course,
and I can't stress this enough, if their wasn't a bride in the room, Dakota would have stolen the show. DJ even asked to dance with her. Permission was granted, however Dakota was already dancing with someone so he had to "cut in" making for an adorable moment.

As for my brother and Eileen: I am so happy for both of them. She loves Dino so much. As I said I changed my entire speech because of the love in her eyes. They have been together over eight years. She has treated him so well. They really are very best friends. I do not worry about their future. They are a perfect and quirky couple. They compliment each other fully. My brother loves her so much. It may have taken all this time to finally say "I do" but he has known for years that this woman was the person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Congradulations to you both. Thank you for letting me have a part with a view from a few feet away.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Getting Lucky Taking Spills

   So far this year I have managed to avoid any serious injury. However, that said I have taken a couple of serious spills. In June I went fishing at the Cape Cod Canal. I was fishing the jetty at the East End of Scusset Beach. It started to rain and the rocks got slippery. I was hopping from one rock to another (actually walking very slowly trying my best to not lose my balance) and slipped. I fell completely backwards and fell in between two boulders. I fell into the space. The first part of my body to hit was the back of my head. It took the full force of my weight. When I came to a stop my body was in the shape of a V with my body wedged between the rocks and my feet in the air.

   My first thought was I must have something broken or have a concussion. At first I thought my head was not clear. But somehow it was clear. I could think straight and was surprised by this. Next I tried to figure out if anything was broken. Again somehow I was not hurt.  Nothing seemed to be in pain. Then my problem began, I had to figure out how to get out of my predicament. It took me a solid ten minutes to figure out how to move. Finally, I wiggled my way out, stood up, felt the bump on the back of my head and went back to fishing. Pure luck

   When I hiked Friday as I was hiking down the Falling Waters Trail, I came across a  rock scramble. It was just a flat rock that was kind of steep. There was a couple going up and the girl slipped on the rock. She stepped on some leaves. Under them the rock was wet. Luckily she did not get hurt. After I made sure everyone was okay, I took one step. I fell on my butt and slid down the slide. I slid down about 30 feet. It was wet and I flew down. Somehow I stopped at the bottom without injuring my leg/foot/ or ankle. When I looked back the couple was far enough above me to look small. I don't know how I managed only a small scratch om my elbow and a little bruise on my behind.

   I don't know if I have nine lives, a guardian angel, or somebody watching over me, but I got lucky on these two falls.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Franconia Ridge

On Friday I did the Franconia Ridge Loop. This, as opposed to the Baldfaces is one of the most
popular hikes in New Hampshire. On my hike, I saw over 100 people. This would be a lot, but I found out that over the previous weekend a ranger had a counter and he had 800 people pass by him by mid-afternoon. The hike goes over both Mt. Lafayette and Mt. Lincoln. Both mountains are over 5000 feet. The hike loop is about eight and a half miles. I got so lucky. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and even at that elevation it was sixty degrees in October.

The loop goes up either the Old Bridal Trail or Falling Waters. Most people go up Falling Waters then walk the ridge and come down Greenleaf and Old Bridal Path.  I do not. I like getting all my climbing done first. Climbing to the summit of Lafayette first gets most of the climbing done at the beginning of the hike. However the pitch up from Greenleaf to the top is a full thousand feet. It is not a cliff, but it a steep set of stairs that just keeps coming at you. From the summit of Lafayette there are some small ups but mostly downs to Little Haystack and the Falling Waters Trail.

From Lafayette to the Falling Waters Trail it is 1.8 miles. The scenery is spectacular. You are on top
Franconai Ridge
of the world with steep drops on both sides. The path on top is a few feet wide so it is plenty safe. The views look down into Franconia Notch on one side. The view on the other side is even better. You look all the way into the Pemigewaset Wilderness. I could see Mt. Washington along with a multitude of other peaks.

As I said, there is no lack of people on this hike. Although I admit, all these people did not in any way take away my enjoyment of this hike. It is absolutely beautiful and there is good reason it is so popular.

One of the falls on the Falling Waters Trail

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fishing was Amazing Sunday but I Couldn't Go Until Monday

Under the heading of a dollar short and a day late, fishing at the ocean was epic on Sunday. Fish were blitzing rocky shorelines for hours. Guys were catching fish on every cast for hours racking up huge numbers of big schoolies and small keepers.

I of course couldn't go until the next day. However it wasn't all bad. I hit multiple spots. There weren't a lot of fish around but I managed to get three. So it wasn't a waste of time. I had fun and caught stripers. So although fishing wasn't epic, it wasn't a waste of time either.I'm hoping to get down again a few more times in the next two weeks.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Baldface Circuit

Last week I went up to New Hampshire. I spent three full days hiking. I got in a little fishing in after my day hikes. I only fished for about two hours total catching fourteen fish from three different ponds. Instead of giving a play by play of my trip as I usually do, I thought I'd describe my fabulous hikes in different posts in case anyone would like ideas for some of the best hikes in the White Mountains.

On Thursday I did the Baldface Circuit. This loop is off of Route 113 just over the border in Maine. It is a long almost two hour ride from I-93. It is probably forty minutes from Conway. The loop that I did was just under ten miles.

First off because this loop is out of the way, it is not very busy. You will see a few people, but this hike is great for not seeing many people. During a weekday dur

ing peak foliage I saw a total of four other people. When I returned to my car there were four cars in the lot. Another reason this hike is not more popular, the mountains are under 4000 feet. This keeps 'peakbaggers' away.

Now the positives. There is almost four miles above treeline. Four glorious miles of almost completely unobstructed views. Also if you take the route I did, there is a cliff that is 1100 feet. There is a root up this cliff that is .7 miles. It is a difficult scramble, but oh the fun.

The circuit goes over North and South Baldface. It is known as a lollipop. After first three quarters of a mile go you reach a fork. At this point you can choose to go over north (right) or south (left). Since I would rather go up a cliff then tumble down one, I chose to go over South Baldface first. Its 2.6 miles from the car to reach the Baldface Shelter. I had my first snack there. Just past the shelter the view opens up. It gets really steep. This is where the cliff begins. In the next .7 you climb 1100 feet. There are places I had to climb up on my hands while sitting on my butt going up backwards. At many points I had to keep three points on the ground as I went up on hands and feet. Word of warning, DO NOT CLIMB THIS TRAIL IF IT IS WET OR ICY BECAUSE THIS SCRAMBLE IS DANGEROUS!!.
This is the very bottom of part of the
cliff  after the Baldface Shelter

After you reach the top it is utopia. For the next couple miles are 360 degree views. There is still some steep uphill that will make you sweat, but no worries, it is so worth it. I had my lunch on top of South Baldface then tramped on over to North. After I knew I had to eventually go down, I went down the Bicknell Trail. This trail is really nice. There are views almost the whole way down. Everytime I thought I'd be in the trees the rest of the way I'd be surprised by one last view. The other option is to stay on the Baldface Trail but I'm told it is not nearly as pretty and leaves the views and heads into the woods much sooner.

This hike is awesome. Everyone that does it knows. Happily not a lot of people do this hike. If you want great views, few people and a great memory, this hike is for you.
This was a happy surprise in October.