All posts tagged Maine

Reflections on 2013

Published December 30, 2013 by Susan Woodward

2013 was a year of changes for me… challenges, both physical and emotional, tested me to my limits, and I am still here to talk about it!  In one year, I made significant changes that I have, sadly, let slide a bit as the weather turned colder and I began the new school year.  However, I recognize my backsliding, and I am going to make sure that I do something about it.

I really decided to start posting my challenges online because I wanted to leave my thoughts to my children for the future.  I want them to be able to actually look at pictures of their crazy Mom, watch videos of her trying to make a 50 year old body do aerial arts, and read my introspective thoughts so that they might have an inkling of what goes on under all the red frizz.  It’s a pictorial diary, complete with video clips that they can look back on later, when I am no longer here.  That’s why I put these thoughts out there.  If people read them and are entertained or provoked a bit, then that’s great…but the ones I really want to have access to my thoughts are my kids.

So here are some thoughts about 2013:


Bat Girl

The year started off with a real bang…most of them on the mat as I made my aerial arts “debut”.  My first night on the silks and I was flying!  (sort of).  And I remember my two new best friends… Ibuprofen and Epsom Salts!  I am also reminded of my nemesis that was sent into oblivion… yes, Pall Mall and all his cohorts!  No more tobacco!  I have been smoke-free since January 8 and I will continue to be for life!!


In February, I turned 51, and Will D’Ovidio helped me ring in the new life year with 51 push-ups for my birthday!  The most surprising thing, though, is that I actually DID 51 push-ups during that Cirque Fit class!  I was eating better, getting stronger, and feeling a whole lot more optimistic about my future.


Jenns 6 InjuriesWell, March brought my Circus dreams to an end with tendonitis and problems with both shoulders.  I held on to the hope that I could return in a few weeks, which turned into months, which were finally crashed and burned with a bout of vertigo.  Although I am not able to get back on the silks, March also brought me to the YMCA.  I worked hard to keep the momentum going!


beet juiceApril is when I got the idea to try my first 5K, and so I began training.  I have no ACL in my right knee, so I am more of a power walker than a runner, but that’s okay!  I was off the couch!  I also began juicing as a way to cleanse and detox my body.   The weather was getting warmer, so I was making more regular trips to the Rochester Public Market (THE best place to be on a Saturday morning!).


2013-05-18 16.32.04 May brought the premier of Ombis: Alien Invasion, my screen debut!  Even though I have never really been a horror movie fan, I have to say that I had a BLAST getting zombified a la Tom Savini School of Make-Up and then slimed by what seemed like GALLONS of green goo!  It was a terrific experience, and I am sooo glad that I was able to be a part of the fun!


Hiking and Teacher Rally 020Ask anyone my thoughts on the current state of education, and you’d better be prepared to pull up a seat for a long tirade!  The fiasco of the implementation of the CCSS, APPR, SLOs, PLCs, and a host of other acronyms led me to get involved instead of just bitching about conditions.  I went to Albany along with THOUSANDS of others to let John King and Andrew Cuomo know how we felt!  With all the changes so far in the year, I felt my confidence soaring, and I joined in with another acronymical group: the BATS (The Badass Teachers Association)!    I also completed my first 5K in June!


Portland Headlight with Ram Island Ledge 4 In July, I decided that I was going to head out all by myself,  I was feeling strong enough and confident enough to just get in the car, drive east till I hit an ocean, and then turn left, driving till I found lighthouses and cheap lobster!  And I DID it!  Not only that, I had no hotel reservations or anything…I trusted that everything would turn out okay.  And that is exactly what happened!  I climbed a mountain, hiked, ran in the ocean, climbed into a lighthouse, took TONS of pictures and managed to find about a dozen lighthouses.  The cheap lobster was pretty terrific, too!


100_0746When my Marine daughter told me that she could not come home from San Diego before her deployment in September, I decided that I was going to go to her!  I managed to pick up a summer tutoring gig that paid enough to cover my air fare, and I got to see my Sarah Bear! Never in my life would I have thought that I would put my feet in both oceans that come in contact with North America within a few weeks of each other!   I also spent a lot of time hiking and taking Nature pictures throughout the month of August.


Fist batThis month was certainly a challenge as I began teaching consultant classes for the first time.  Worries over standardized test results (it was announced that 70% of New York State’s 3rd through 8th graders “failed” the state exams).    I was still feeling confident, still working out, still pumping that blood through those veins…and ready to pump up the BAT action with my voice via phone calls, emails, tweets, and Facebook posts.  For so long, I’d felt sluggish, complacent, and didn’t want to get involved with much of anything.  Thanks to everything I’d been working through, I put that energy to work, and the BATS are working hard to make a positive change in educational reform!


SeanceI returned to performing in October with the Rochester Landmark Society’s annual Ghost Walk.  I hadn’t performed since Titanic and the One Acts in 2012, and it felt good to do a little bit of acting again.  The best part was that we had an indoor scene on the tour, so we didn’t have to worry about the cold and rain!


NaNo logoNovember was National Write a Novel in 30 Days month.  Actually, what was required was to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  I’d had The Red Brick Road rattling about in my brain for quite a long time, and I did have a little of it started, so I had a jumping off point.  It was hard as hell keeping up with daily deadlines, trying to make sure that I had the magic number of words so that I could say, “Yes!  I did it!”  Now all I have to do is EDIT it!  But I DO have over 50,000 words!!


meNearly one year after getting my behind off the couch and actually getting out to DO things, I am still going.  I do have to admit that I have not been to the YMCA recently, but I will be making that change to get back on a healthier track.  Backsliding happens, but NOT ONCE in this year did I pick up a cigarette!  My friend Jeanette and I participated in the It’s a Wonderful Run 5K…in 16 degrees and in the middle of a snow storm!  It was cold as all get out, but we were both dressed in layers (you can see that I look about 150 pounds heavier because of all the layers!) and we survived.  And in January, this body is going to get back out to Bristol to SKI!  I haven’t done that in a couple of years, and I am so looking forward to it!

For me, 2013 was one of my most memorable years!  So many challenges, changes, successes…I feel truly blessed.  Thank you to my friends and family for your support and encouragement, especially to Will D’Ovidio (of Rochester Aerial Arts) and my daughter Illy Welden who got me started and kept me going!

I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!!

Happy New Year to everyone!

Following My Bliss: Lighthouses!

Published July 15, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Bass Harbor 5 And now, finally, to the Lighthouses!!!

I was lucky enough to see a little over half a dozen lighthouses as I wound my way south along Coastal Route 1 after leaving Acadia National Park.  After having spent the day hiking, climbing, and wading, I still had enough energy to hunt down one lighthouse before calling it a night.

This is Bass Harbor Lighthouse.

Maybe I was just tired from all the activity and the driving (it took me a couple of hours to find this place), but I kind of found this one anti-climactic.

Bass Harbor 2This is a different shot of it.

But I did have ONE MORE climbing expedition that day…climbing down those stairs to get to the rocks below.  My legs were shaky, but I was determined to see the whole thing through!

Bass Harbor 3After all that climbing and hiking, I was ready to find a bed and get some well-deserved sleep– after eating lobster, of course.  So I drove and drove, knowing full well that the Universe would provide even though it was the 4th of July.

The Universe certainly has a sense of humor:

Baits MotelOk!  So I was going to stay at the Bait’s Motel!

At least it wasn’t this one:


Happily, there was the Anglers Restaurant right next door, complete with a whole lobster dinner for $18.99.  And, boy, was I hungry!!  Washed that baby down with some Belfast Brewery (local) Lobster Ale.  Yum!

I slept the sleep of the dead that night and completely missed the fireworks.  I was OUT before 9:00!

When I awoke, it was fully light out and I thought it must be about 7:00 already.  Ha!  I looked at the bedside clock and it said 4:36!  AM!  I had to go look at my phone to check to see if the clock was set wrong, but sure enough, it was now 4:37.

Time to get cracking, I guess!  After hopping in the shower and packing, I was on the road by 5:30.  Nice!  All I needed was coffee, which a gas station was nearby to provide (sadly, I could not find a Tim Horton’s).

I was on the Lighthouse Trail!  I had my map (sort of…more like one of those travel booklets) and I had a full tank of gas.  I was off!

I found Camden first, though.  What a gorgeous harbor!  And by then, I was ready to scrounge up some breakfast.  It was already 6:15 for heaven’s sake!  I wanted to look at the harbor first, though.

Camden 3 Camden 5While I was looking at the boats and wandering the docks, I noticed a waterfall that seemed to come from beneath the buildings at the top of the hill.

Camden 2

I was really thinking how lucky the folks who got to sit on that deck must be to have that waterfall right there all the time.  After looking at it for a while, I decided that breakfast really was in order, so I headed up to the town.  When I went down the main street, there was a cute place called Camden 6Marriner’s.  I entered and noticed that there were window seats in the back that faced the harbor, so I asked to sit back there; however, once I saw that there was an outdoor porch, I asked to sit outside in the sunshine.  Guess what?  I was on that porch at the top of the waterfall!!  What a perfect place for blueberry pancakes and coffee!

Once my tummy was satisfied, it was back on the Ol’ Lighthouse Trail.

The next one I managed to find was Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse.  That was after my little off-shoot to Rockport, thinking that’s where I was supposed to be.  But I finally found it.  Oh my.  When the brochure said that the lighthouse was about a MILE out into the water, I thought, “That don’t look like no mile!”  Optical illusion.

Rockland 1Yes, it looks like it extends WAY into the water, but a mile?  I didn’t believe it.  So I decided to walk it.

Yeah.  It’s a mile.

Not that it was a strenuous walk.  Actually, it was just what I needed after all those blueberry pancakes!  It’s just that I found it so hard to believe.

 Rockland 2I want to know who cut all these giant stones and laid them out for a MILE to build a lighthouse at the end of it!  Probably the same folks who built the Jordan Pond Boardwalk…magicians!  At this point, you cannot even see the lighthouse at the end.

Rockland 3 Ahhh…here it is!Rockland 5

I walked out onto the floating (and rocking) dock to take this shot.

Rockland 6

This is the view from the rail on the upper deck of the building.  That was a LONG walk back!  I cannot imagine being out here in bad weather.  I was extremely fortunate with the weather the whole trip!

From there it was on to Marshall Point Lighthouse.  Now I was only going by the little tour book that I’d found in my first motel, and after going back to the internet, it seems I missed a LOT of lighthouses in between the ones I saw!  I guess I will have to go back!

Marshall Point 1This was a very pretty little place, but it was still not even 10 AM when I arrived, so the museum wasn’t open.  But at least I got to climb around on the rocks!  Those $5 water shoes I bought at Big Lots the week before leaving really came in handy!  I put quite a bit of climbing time on them, and they smelled like the ocean to boot (along with the sea shells in my car trunk).

Marshall Point 2 Marshall Point 3My next stop (and it was not yet noon) was Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.  Of the lighthouses I saw, this was my favorite!  Not so much the lighthouse, but the ROCKS were CRAZY!!

Pemaquid Point Pemaquid Point 2I scuttled along on what looked like petrified wood all the way to the water’s edge…and that was some strong water!  I REALLY wanted to have that water splash over my feet (but not my head, ok?), and I noticed that there were barnacles on the lower rocks.  Hmmm… I wondered if they kept the rock from being slippery.

Pemaquid Point 7

Pemaquid Point 8

Pemaquid Point 6The brown stuff is barnacles…and they made for very sure footing as the water washed up and over my feet!

Pemaquid Point 5Okay, now THERE’S the lighthouse!  WAY up there!!  This is one CRAZY rocky shore!

Pemaquid Point 3Fortunately, the museum was open, and I actually climbed up that lighthouse!

Pemaquid Point 11There was quite a line to get out of the sun, and since only four people could go up at once, it made for interesting chatting while in line.  Seems there were a couple of families where the parents were teachers- one family from Massachusetts and another from South Carolina.  We had a very nice chat about the Common Core Standards.

Pemaquid Point StairsNarrow, steep…just the way I like it!  And a ladder at the top to get up to the final observation deck.  Good thing my vertigo is in check these days!  Notice that the pic is a bit out of focus?  That’s because my hands were shaking.

Pemaquid Point 12The view was gorgeous!

Pemaquid Point LightAnd we were severely warned NOT to touch this lantern in any way.

After that I found Portland Head Lighthouse, and Ram Island Ledge was just in the distance out in the water.

 Portland Headlight with Ram Island Ledge 2By the time I arrived, the museum was closed; however, the grounds were gorgeous.

Ram Island Ledge 2It was hard to get a clearer picture of Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse, but I zoomed as best I could!

Portland Headlight with Ram Island Ledge 4You can see both lighthouses in this one!

Since I’d hiked on Homan Path, went to Jordan Pond, I had to go to Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse for my eldest daughter.

Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse 1 This one was on private property, so this was the best picture I could get of it.

One thing I WAS looking for (even though I knew it was fictitious) was Passamaquoddy Lighthouse (come on, Pete’s Dragon fans!).  There was a West Quoddy Lighthouse, but that was WAY up north and I wasn’t going to drive that much further (almost to Canada).   There is, though, a Passamaquoddy Bay and Native American tribe in that region…so I learned something new.  I kind of wanted to see where the movie was filmed and pretend to be Helen Reddy up on the walkway. 🙂

But, then again, it was filmed at a California Lighthouse near Montana de Oro, and not in Maine!

Just so that I have all my lighthouses in this post, I am going to re-post a picture of the first one I saw on the day I arrived in Maine: Cape Neddick (Nubble) Lighthouse.

Nubble 2Anyhow, by the time I’d seen Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse, I was ready to call it a night and begin the journey home in the morning.  I got to do everything I’d wanted to, which was to eat inexpensive lobster and take pictures of lighthouses.  I’m feeling confident that I can do things on my own, like get out there and take road trips, and be okay with it.

Actually, I was more than okay… I felt empowered.

(NOTE: for those who want more, each lighthouse picture has a link that contains historical information about it.  See more about American Lighthouses at the link below.)


Following My Bliss: Exploring the Varied Terrain of Acadia National Park

Published July 14, 2013 by Susan Woodward

I have been taking time following my bliss of doing nothing for the past few days…and liking it!  But I do want to share my Acadia adventure up a mountain, down to the seashore, and into a forest around a pond.  Such diverse terrains on one island!

Welcome to Acadia National Park (click on the pic for a link)!acadia-map

It took me several hours to get from Moody Beach to the Bar Harbor and Acadia region, and because I didn’t take the coastal route, it wasn’t as pretty.  I took 295 and then 95 north, and it was just highway driving.  But I’d left at 5:30 AM to get an early start, so that wasn’t too bad.

I originally wanted to stay in Bar Harbor, but when I finally found the place, it was crawling with people for the 4th of July…craft show included.  And my car literally crawled through there amidst the other crazies who dared to drive down those roads, even before noon!  Actually, I am happy simply being able to say that I passed through Bar Harbor and leave it at that.

Not stopping in Bar Harbor allowed me to go straight to the part right then and there, and I am so glad that I did!  I first found the Wild Gardens of Acadia.

100_0353After walking the paths through the gardens for a bit, I was beginning to feel adventurous.  The man in the Nature Center told me about a challenging hiking path that led up Dorr Mountain behind the Sieur de Monts Spring House.  Feeling up to the challenge, I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

Acadia Hike 1I am so very glad that I brought my hot pink running shoes!  My sandals never would have made it!

At first the hike started out pretty neutral, and I was feeling pretty darned confident that this was going to be a walk in the park (ha ha).

Walking though the woods was so much cooler than the humid, blistering 96 degrees in the sun, and the trail seemed so tame.

Acadia Hike 2Now doesn’t that look gentle to you?  I thought so…till the steps became steeper and steeper, and steeper!  I was wishing that in some past life I’d been a mountain goat just to climb some of those steps.  I have not been as glad to have quit smoking as I was during that hike!  Turning around did cross my mind, albeit briefly.  I wanted a challenge, and I was going to rise to it no matter what!  In the future, though, I think I will make sure that I am hiking with someone else…just in case.  These are just the pictures going UP!

Acadia Hike 3 Acadia Hike 4 Acadia Hike 5 Acadia Hike 6 Acadia Hike 7I was very glad to have a water bottle, good shoes, and to have been working out.  I was also glad to have my cell phone just in case.  Once I finally made it to the trail that would cut across (I didn’t go all the way to the top, but darned close), I had to laugh and take a picture of the sign:

Acadia Hike 8 HomanI had to call my daughter, Robin Homan, to tell her that I was on their hiking trail!  According to the link, this trail was closed for a time due to earthquakes!

Here’s a view from as close to the top as I got:

Acadia View 2

Acadia View 1

Acadia LedgeSee that ledge?  It’s not as wide as it looks.  This was where I was telling myself that my next mountain climbing extravaganza will include another person.  Doing this solo wasn’t the smartest move…but I did have my cell phone.

Acadia Hike 14 Acadia Hike 12 Acadia Hike 11 Acadia Hike 13And then I finally made it down!  I was COVERED in sweat and glistening like I’d just been oiled (except for the red face and hard breathing, it might have been attractive to some mountain man…).  The first thing I asked the park ranger was for directions to the nearest beach!  I needed to cool off, pronto!

Parking at the beach was not the easiest thing…after all, several hundred other people thought that going to the beach on the 4th of July was a good idea.  I had another hike along another trail just to get to the beach from where I had to park my car.

Acadia Sandy Beach 1

Acadia Sandy Beach 2

Acadia Sandy Beach 3

This is me trying to be artistic.  I managed to get a flying gull in there within the “frame.”

Acadia Sandy Beach 5The water was very cold and a dark, almost black seaweed lined the shore.  Because I was carrying my camera and didn’t want to put anything down while I took a total plunge, I contented myself with wading in the 50+ degree water.  I certainly cooled off in a hurry!  And I splashed myself with water as well.

Acadia Sandy Beach 4This cool cave was at the far end of the beach.

Well, after my beach excursion, I decided to head toward Jordan Pond.  Hey, I’d seen Homan’s Path, right?  Well, Jojo needed to have her place on my trip!  So off to the next type of terrain.

Acadia Jordan Pond 1I was told they serve tea and scones at this restaurant.  I won’t know on this trip…there was a two hour wait!  (4th of July thing…)

Acadia Jordan Pond 2I did sneak upstairs to the closed-off area to take a quick pic.

Acadia Jordan Pond3Even the outdoor seating had a waiting list, so I decided to take a hike along the trail.

Acadia Jordan Pond 5In order to avoid disturbing the natural environment, hikers are asked to stay on the boardwalk.  This thing goes on for what must be miles!  I’d like to know who split all these logs and placed them, LEVEL, all along this “pond” (which, by the way, is larger than some of the smaller Finger Lakes).  Passing folks who were coming from the other direction while still remaining on the boardwalk was a challenge!

Acadia Jordan Pond 4Three terrains: mountain, seashore, forest/pond.  I feel like I traveled to three different places miles and miles away from each other, and yet I was on one island.

How awesome is that?

Following My Bliss: The Quest for Lighthouses and Lobsters Begins!

Published July 10, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Well, technically, it began July 3 when I left, but I didn’t take my computer with me…and I have been lazily “recovering” since my return.  😉

As take-off day was a cloudy, drizzling day, it was perfect for driving because I didn’t feel like I was “missing” any good weather.  After all the last second running about (getting gas, hitting the ATM, and the all-so-important fuel, coffee), I was heading East by 7:11 AM.

I was originally going to drive right into Boston to hit the ocean and then turn north, but this was the beginning of the 4th of July holiday, and I was not dumb enough to drive into Boston during that time.  Happy 237th Birthday, America!  And I am avoiding the holiday traffic to your birthplace by heading north on 95!

Route 95 ran right through Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and by 3:30 in the afternoon, I crossed the stateline into Maine to continue on my eastward oceanic pursuit.  By this time, any hint of rain had been left behind on the New York side of the Appalachian Mountains, and the sun shone gloriously hot here!

Within ten  minutes, I was rewarded with a little sign that said, “Lighthouse” with an arrow on it.  Woop!!  I followed the sign and came to my first Maine lighthouse, Nubble Light.

Nubble 2  If you click on the picture, it will take you to a link about Nubble Light at Cape Neddick.

For me, it was thrilling to come around a curve and have it just appear!  I’d seen Maine lighthouses in movies and on the internet, but it was quite different to actually be there in person!  It made me think that I had somehow stepped into a virtual postcard and could walk around in it.

I hung around the area for a bit, going down to the rocky shore on the opposite side of the peninsula and watching the ocean lap up hungrily against the rocks.  And speaking of hunger, I was starting to feel dinnertime pangs and continued on my quest to find a room and then some lobstah!

Part of driving out to a resort area during 4th of July weekend is the quest for a room.  However, I was certain that what I needed would appear at just the right place for me, so I trusted that the Universe would provide, and It did.  Soon I found a great place to stay, the beach was nearby, and an inexpensive lobster dinner was right across the way!

Moody Beach 2    Moody Beach 1There was a time I really would have been afraid to jump in a car and just head someplace all by myself, but I am so glad that I am beyond that.   Learning to do things for myself, even if by myself, has been a good growing experience for me.  The lapping of the waves on Moody Beach was soothing, and the cool air off the ocean took the edge off the high temperatures.  I walked up and down the beach, exploring as much as I dared before it got too dark to walk the unlit half mile along the side road back to the hotel.

TreasuresThese are my treasures from the ocean!  I am creating a personal medicine wheel with them once I return home.  This is the basic layout, and I will work my own symbolism into it.  I did make the mistake, though, of placing them inside a plastic bin in my trunk.  I was carrying a blanket and additional supplies in a plastic bin in the event of an auto breakdown emergency…and it was 96 degrees out.  Putting the shells straight from the ocean and into the bin was not the best idea.  The smell was horrid!  Lesson learned for future excursions!

Lobster sign Once I returned from the beach, the sign across from the motel got my attention– see for yourself.

Lobster dinner for $15.00?  Yes, please!!!

As a newbie, I had to get some assistance from the waiter regarding how to “wrastle” with the lobstah!  I am happy to say that he was not only willing to indulge me in my ignorance, but he took a picture to commemorate the event!

Dinner 2








This entire dinner, pint of Nut Brown ale and tax included, came to $19.21!  Now THAT’S a bargain!  And it only took me 51 years to get to Maine to experience this treat!

Restaurant signI highly recommend this place (click on pic for link)


And I will be back!

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