Jul 26, 2006

Lost River, NH

NOTE: This should be dated July 26, 2006.

I visit New Hampshire every summer. I live in California, but it's nice for me to remember where I grew up (and why I moved). Anyway, during this trip back east, I went on a day excursion to the White Mountains with my friend Amy. We drove from Manchester for about 2 or 3 hours north, to the White Mountain National Park. This is basically a gigantic forest. It stretches from Eastern Canada all the way to the Southern USA. The northern New Hampshire part of it is extremely unpopulated. You might find a quaint town or two, but mostly, it's trees. Lots of trees. The mountains are furred with pine trees and look like hills or clouds from a distance, because they're round and hump-like, but up close, you can see they're taller than hills. The tallest White Mountains are known as the Presidential Range (named after U.S. Presidents), and they tend to have tundra or bare granite peaks due to the awful weather at the top. In midsummer, the tops of these mountains experience freezing rain and the highest windspeeds on Earth. In winter, it gets worse.

We didn't visit any granite peaks on this trip. Instead, we visited Lost River Gorge.

Lost River, NH
This is one of several parks in upstate New Hampshire where you can explore granite caves (the most well-known one is the Polar Caves). At Lost River, you follow the trail, which consists of walkways between, over, and under giant boulders in the woods. Every so often, you'll see a crack between boulders with a sign inviting you to enter the cave. If you can contort your body through the crack, you're fine. Some of these caves involve spaces that a child has trouble crawling through. Seriously, you need to be flexible and NOT claustrophobic.

Here's a man emerging from a cave:

a grown man emerging from one of the caves
Here's a view of the White Mountains. Appalachia at its finest!

a view of the White Mountains, from Lost River gorge
So, what does one find in a Lost River cave? Somtimes chilly little underground ponds. Sometimes old-style lanterns. Sometimes ladders made out of sticks that you have to climb in order to get out. Sometimes children (or adults) looking for an easier way out. Not much else!

Abby at Lost River, admiring a waterfall
At least it's a fun hike, and there are plenty of nice views.

Jul 21, 2006

ComicCon 2006

So far, I've been to two ComicCons, each more crowded than the last. Nerds take over the entire city of San Diego! Look at them all:

San Diego ComicCon 2006
Last year, in 2005, I had the supreme honor of being a guest at a private fan dinner with author Robert Jordan. This year, I had a lot of fun hanging out with my friends Brianne and Heather. Here we are in front of the Star of India, a sailing ship near our hotel:

Heather, Brianne, Abby
We met a number of pirates, but Captain Jack Sparrow had a certain allure, so we took photos with him.

Captain Jack Sparrow with Brianne and Heather

Captain Jack Sparrow with Abby
Part of the joy of being an Attending Professional is avoiding lines. Comic Con attracts over 150,000 people from all over the world. Some of them wait in line for hours just to enter to convention center. Here's a line we skipped:

Comic Con line to get in
Last year, I avoided the crowded floor and spent most of the weekend at panels, which were fun and enlightening. This year, I avoided the panels and browsed the floor. The San Diego convention center is so huge, no photograph can convey its size. There are over 5,000 booths in one massive room. There are contests, clothing and jewelry, prints and fine art, comics and toys, celebrities, costumes, novels and author signings. You can spend a day on the floor and not see it all.

Here's a sliver of it:

Comic Con floor
We met some storm troopers and Jedi:

Storm troopers and Jedi at Comic Con
And Heather met some comic book heroes:

DC comic heroes
We saw lots of strange costumes, including five women dressed like Wonder Woman, a giant panda on a tricycle, and a naked old man. The thick crowds made it hard to snap shots of individuals. Here's some strange ones:

Comic Con costumes
Finally, we took breaks and explored beautiful downtown San Diego. We went to clubs (full of Comic Con attendees) and restaurants (full of Comic Con attendees). Here's a view of the harbor within walking distance of the convention center:

San Diego harbor
Will I go again? Surely! But if the convention keeps growing like this, they'll need to rent a larger city.