Tuesday, September 4, 2007
So Long Summer, Hello First Grade!
We closed out Summer 2007 by spending it in the Poconos.

The first order of business was to ditch the kids and go for a hike. We drove to Highpoint State Park in Northern NJ (this was also the site where we spent our last day of vacation last month).

We stopped into the Ranger Station which itself is a really cool building, and picked up a map. We decided to hike the Iris Trail because it was short (less than a mile) and it links up at the end with the Appalachian Trail. We drove out to the trail head, sprayed ourselves with sunscreen and bug spray and started walking.

Had this been a bad 70's TV show, very ominous music would have started playing as we walked right past the sign that said the Iris Trail has a very high difficulty level. Then the camera would have focused on our footwear, which was of the sneaker variety and totally unsuitable for what we were about to do.

So we headed out on the trail and it has wooden planks you can walk on and I thought "Gee, these are nice!" when suddenly there were no more wooden planks to walk on and I was practically tripping over tree roots.Then the terrain got rocky and it seemed we were just rock-hopping. We stopped to consult the map, which said the trail is steep. We didn't think it all that steep, just very rocky so we pressed on.

A little later we noticed the grade and agreed, that yes, it is getting steep but not so bad so let's have a water break and keep going.

Now, if you are a novice hiker like me, let me tell you the first rule of hiking (beside being prepared with the proper gear): once you think "Hey, this isn't so bad," it is about to get a whole lot worse.

At one point I could barely catch my breath and John wondered aloud why he didn't pack his hiking boots. We were not so much hiking as we were scaling the side of this mountain just to hook up with the Appalachian Trail. (Damn you, Bill Bryson!) At the steepest point, there were little pockets beneath the rocks we were climbing and I couldn't help but think that there was probably a bear sleeping in one of them, just waiting for two dumb, poorly prepared hikers to happen by.

But there was no bear, only a gorgeous view view from the top of the large rocks we just climbed over. And running, almost perfectly perpendicular to the Iris Trail, was the Appalachian Trail. We began walking the trail when I suddenly I realized "Cool! I'm walking the Appalachian Trail!" (Love you, Bill Bryson!)

After our hike, we headed back to the family homestead and had an afternoon swim, followed by a lovely dinner at a restaurant we'd been wanting to try for a long time now.

On Sunday, we drove around looking for a farmer's market that is reportedly held every weekend in town only to discover it is held Friday nights and Saturday mornings only. Who the hell opens a farmer's market on Friday nights? We head back and spend a few hours at the pool but not before stopping to eat at a roadside hot dog stand called Jersey John's. Hoo boy, all dishes ought to come with a side of Lipitor.

A lovely element to this weekend was the no/low water pressure thanks to the community only having one working water pump. I was doing my best to conserve water by doing things like not bathing during peak hours and holding off on doing dishes until the early morning hours but when you see your annoying neighbors doing wasteful things with water, like washing their two SUVs and hosing down the road so passing cars didn't kick up dust, well, that's when I realized that I truly dislike them.

A result of the water problem was the fire ban, but we made a campfire anyway (take THAT, Property Owners Association!) and let the kids toast marshmallows for s'mores. It must be noted that that is a very sweet way to end the summer, I don't care how cliche it sounds.


As of 8:40 this morning, Sophie officially became a 1st Grader. We were fully prepared, having labeled supplies and packing them up in her new backpack weeks ago. We left the house and walked together, and I was able to take some pictures despite Sophie's protests. She is even smiling in some.

We arrived at the school yard and I suddenly became nervous. My little girl is no longer chaperoned to the classroom door. She is just left to fend for herself in the schoolyard with the entire school population. Alright, she isn't fending for herself but still. It was a mighty nerve-wracking scene to leave her and not worry if she will be OK and wonder if she will remember to follow her new teacher to the proper class room. I realized I never told her that the room number is above each door.

The tightness in my chest is gone, the sitter hasn't called to tell me they can't find Sophie, neither has the school and the only thing I've been able to do is buy the kids cupcakes for tonight's dessert because
it seems like cupcakes would be a sweet way to end the first day of first grade.


Blogger Andie said...

what? no pictures? i was hoping to see one of Soph's 1st day. good luck sweetie!

Anonymous Mom said...

Hi My Chickies,

Well my Dear Heart, 1st grade already! Good Luck for the new school year!!
I know Mer, when you just leave them there, it is scary, but the kids get used to it real quick. Also, Sophie knows everyone and everyone knows Sophie.
Wow, that was some hike you and John took, I would have been scared to death. Did i ever tell you about my first trip to Bear Mtn.? Well i went with my girlfriend Eileen and her Dad. There we were, all 3 of us climbing and climbing. At one point i looked around and got really scared, so i decided that i'd had enough. Wasn't going to climb up or down. After much coaching from her Dad, he promised to hold my hand all the way down, and he did. Eileen was JEALOUS and really pissed at me, i guess you could say it was almost the end of our friendship.

Love to all Mom

Anonymous Mom said...

Hi Sweetheart, I was just reading your blog again and clicked on "restaurant". That place looks devine - Stan and my type of place. The menu - very different. Yum, Yum

Love you, Mom

Blogger CatMar said...

Wow! Sounds like you guys had a wonderful hiking adventure! I used to love to hike in my younger days. Tell Sophie I wish her lots of luck in first grade. She's a beautiful and smart child who I know will do well. I put off reading and writing a comment because I needed to recooperate after meeting my spec ed kindergarteners. It's going to be a long tough year. I really have my work cut out for me but I love a challenge and this is a big one!

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