Tuesday, September 2, 2008

9/1/08 Happy Labor Day

I woke up at 4:40 this morning. I had the alarm set for 5:30 in order to have time to pack everything up and get to breakfast by 7 on the other side of camp, so I was thrilled to wake up earlier than that. More blogging! But even better . . . sunrise! Maine has Texas beat in so many areas of natural beauty, but it's really hard to see a good sunrise or sunset in Maine. Since Texas is so flat, we almost take them for granted. So today I can get the best of both worlds . . . Maine's finest beauty AND a sunrise! I had tried the first morning I got here to blog from the dock on the lake but the only place to sit was on the dock itself and that was too hard and flat plus it was wet. So I blogged both Friday and Saturday mornings from the dining hall porch. But this morning, I knew there were still two patio chairs down by the dock leftover from yesterday's frivolity (or observation of frivolity of others). After I settled into my perfect viewpoint of sunrise, I looked around at the rest of the sky and to the south was Orion! It was barely visible and those were the only stars that were visible, but it was definitely Orion. I don't remember seeing Orion in the morning before, so that was a serious bonus to getting up so early.

I was able to get Internet access on the dock (I'm pretty sure I'm the first ever to do that, according to Rodney and Marcus), so I checked wunderground.com. I was looking for what time the sunrise was going to happen and found out that it is 39 degrees in Jackman, Maine. And they say it's always colder at MRO than it is in Jackman. Brrrrr! I did not bring enough layers for this! But so far, I'm okay except for my fingers. I wonder if anyone sells blogging gloves--something warm enough yet flexible enough to type in. I wonder how big the market might be for that. Here's what I found out about sunrise:

September 1, 2008 Rise: Set:
Actual Time 6:02 AM EDT 7:17 PM EDT
Civil Twilight 5:32 AM EDT 7:48 PM EDT
Nautical Twilight 4:55 AM EDT 8:24 PM EDT
Astronomical Twilight 4:16 AM EDT 9:03 PM EDT

Who knew that there were four sunrise times?! I missed astronomical twilight but I was there for both nautical and civil twilight as well as actual sunrise!

Today is all about departing . . . on so many fronts. Ben and Tracy are moving to Boston area where he will start a 3 year divinity school program and she will take on a temporary career as a nanny since her counseling license doesn't automatically transfer to Massachusetts. Tasha is starting a new job. Jenn, Christine, and I are all starting new school years as teachers. And then there's Rodney. But today is also about the physical nuisance of packing up all your stuff that you've let get spread out in a giant mess around the cabin and loading up the car in time to get to breakfast at 7 and get on the road by 8 for a day of white water rafting!! At least if you have to leave, you can leave on a high note!

Rodney, Marcus, Dale, and Cuz (Heidi's cousin who arrived some time in the middle of the night just to be one of our guides to take us down the river) left at 7am to get everything ready. The rest of us said goodbye to the ones staying behind (Cindy and Carol were staying to babysit the little ones while Tracy was staying behind to hang out with kids, help clean up, and enjoy a good book and some sunshine) and then caravanned to our designated meeting spot. We left cars at the bottom of the river run and then squished into two vehicles to go to the top of the run by the dam. There were a lot of logistics involved and Marcus took care of all of them. What a host . . . what a guide. There's a reason he's the director of a Christian camp that gives retreats and changes people's lives. He is the consummate host, making people feel welcome, and the perfect guide to help you find yourself and strengthen your relationship with God in that amazing chunk of nature that he's in charge of.

The rafting. Oh my goodness. Where does one even begin??? Pictures will tell part of the story. Those are to come. The basics: we had 2 boats--smaller rafts than the typical 12-person commercial rafts that you see in brochures. They were actually "wilder" and more fun than the bigger rafts based on my limited experience (I have rafted 3 times prior to this . . . very long ago but I still remember). The part of the river that we rafted is 12 miles long. The first 6 miles are all the serious rapids with all the white-knuckling, adrenalin-rushing, frigid-water splashing you can imagine. The last 6 miles are more about floating downriver with occasional milder rapids and waves. Though I must say, we were floating pretty dang fast! The entire 12 miles had gorgeous pine trees on both shore lines, crystal clear blue skies above, and sunlight reflecting on the waters all around. Incredible. We stopped at the half-way point (distance-wise, not time-wise) and had a delicious lunch with a fire to warm ourselves. We also picked up Marcus' dad, Ron (second oldest of the 5 C* brothers), at the half-way point (he drove our lunch to us so we didn't have to have extra cargo as we maneuvered the top half of the run) and he got to experience his first white water rafting from the halfway point to the end. He was very grateful (more than he'll ever know) to only have to go on the second half. People fell out of their boats on both halves of the trip, both on purpose and accidentally; no one was injured or maimed during the experience. There was lots of laughter and stories and wonder. All in all, it was a most amazing day.

And then around 2:00, it was all over. We took a group photo and exchanged a lot of hugs, people changed into dry clothes and got into their cars, and then we all went our separate ways.

And so endeth my summer of 2008. It was an incredible summer. Think about the bookends: I kicked off the summer hiking 20 miles of the Appalachian Trail with some of my oldest and dearest friends: college buddies that I've known and loved and who have been a part of my life for over 30 years. And I ended the summer with 4 days of wild adventures, the last of which was the white water rafting, with brand new friends. I've known Ray the longest and that's only been for 18 months, the rest I've really only known for 4 or 5 months and some for only 4 or 5 days. Adventure to adventure; old friends to new friends. And that's just the bookends! Think about what kind of amazing summer was packed inbetween! God is soooo good.

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