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Camping

Friday, August 12th, 2011

****Updated With Video*****

I went tent camping for first time in my life.  You probably can guess that I’m not much of an outdoorswoman.  In fact, a few months after I met my future-husband, I asked him if he wanted to go camping in New Hampshire with my college girlfriends and their boyfriends.  He was excited and said he’d love to and he’d bring his tent.  I looked at him befuddled and asked why he needed a tent when we’d be stay in a condo.

Recently, some friends asked us to go camping with them.  I thought about it for a week.  Bugs, public bathrooms, dirt, sleeping on the ground, and no electricity seemed incredibly daunting!  Of course, hubby was totally excited about going camping for the first time in a dozen years.  Ug!  In the end, I decided I like adventures.  I like challenges.  I like doing scary things sometimes.  And I can do anything for a weekend.

Below is a timeline of my camping adventure that I started when I realized I got cell service at the camp site.  It was done via my iPhone so it’s very rudimentary! I was updating as often as time and friends’ tolerance would allow.  Now that I’m home, I’m adding and amending on my laptop so you have a complete picture of my camping trip.

12:01a (Saturday) Arrive at camp site. Hubby and friend empty our car, drop me off and drive off to park the car. I stand there confused. Other friend, Paco, offers me a beer! I can do that.

(The reason hubby and I arrived after midnight on Saturday was that I had to work Friday night.  But our friends set up camp for hubby and me so we wouldn’t have to do it in the dark!)

12:10a I need to change out of work clothes. They hand me a flashlight but I can’t find ‘door’ to our tent.

(This is when I discovered I had cell service and that blogging about my first tent camping trip, stealthy, might  be fun!)

12:19a Eating and chatting. No campfire tonight. I’m told we don’t have a fire permit yet.

12:20a I have been told (scolded) to put away my phone! Bye!

12:57a Getting ready for bed. Bathroom is decent! Yeah!!!

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1:17a Getting ready to hit the sack. We don’t have sleeping bags. We’re on some blankets. Wish me luck. Here’s a look inside our tent. Well, that’s just all my stuff.

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1:27a Hubby is tolerating my Kindle reading.

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5:23a Nature; she is loud!

5:46a Can’t go back to sleep. Sun is rising. Crows are chatting. All sorts of critters are ready for the day.

5:54a Read Facebook posts on my camping experiences. Friends are finding it humors and silly. Most think the blogging is too much!!!

5:56a Maybe I’ll try the sleep thing again. (Didn’t work!)

8:10a So far I’ve brushed my teeth, packed for the beach, went and got coffee, and tried charging my phone (with apparatus I had for our international travels). Other campers in our group are still asleep!! Wake up!! Wake up! Wake up!

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8:18a We hear a crash and see a biker has crashed. We rush to scene. He says he’s broken his shoulder. Called 911 and his family. Waited with him till ambulance came.

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11:39p Arrived at beach at 9:30a. No cell service. In short, we spent 14 hours sunning ourselves, eating, riding boogie boards, taking pictures, playing Wiffle Ball, sitting around a bonfire, cooking hotdogs, playing tunes, taking crazy team pictures with a timer, having a mini-dance party, before finally making it back to camp.

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11:45p Took a shower that cost $.25 per five minutes.  It was kind of gross but after a day at the beach where at times I was covered in this slimy seaweed stuff, all I wanted was a quick shower.

12:29a I am hoping 14 hours at the beach will tire me out enough to sleep. Good Night!

5:42a (Sunday) Well, good morning Mother Nature.  Still tired back to bed.
6:45a Yeah!!!  I slept through the night while camping!!!  I think secret is to totally tire yourself out during a day of fun and sleep will come!

7:11a Heading out to get some coffee.

7:24a Dunkin Donuts line is out the door.

7:25a Hubby is kind enough to get in line solo so I can charge my phone.

7:32a Listening to Acoustic Sunrise. Charging phone. I know, we’re pretty lame campers. (But I slept in a tent and took a shower that costs $.25 a minute.)

7:33a Checking email, Twitter feed and Facebook. (Another lame camper move!)

7:50a Coffee. Check. Heading back to camp site.

8:11a Eating some awesome omelets that our camping friend, Brian, made.

8:18a Listening to a voice mail message.  It’s the wife of the biker from yesterday’s accident.  She says he suffered a fractured collarbone and 2 broken ribs.  Ek!  Glad she called as we were wondering how he was doing and hoping he was on the mend.

9:21a We decide that since it’s not a beach day, due to the predicted rain, we’ll end our camping trip early and head home.  (We were originally just going to go to the beach before heading home.)

9:23a Breaking down camp.  Every item of clothing I have is damp and dirty.  We collapse the tents, clean up the trash, and pack the car.

9:45a Heading home.

So the weekend camping trip was a TON of fun.  It helped that we went with a crew that has camping experience and was not totally into roughing it in the wilderness.  We went to Maurice’s Campground in Wellfleet and it was a perfect site for a novice.  I don’t think I could have stayed another day.  I don’t think I’ll do it again anytime soon but I’d definitely consider it as a possible annual event (Am I hedging too much?)!!!

small deeds

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

The other day I was walking to the grocery store when a woman ran up to me, tapped my shoulder and said, “you dropped this.”  She handed me my ATM card.  I got out a whispered wide-mouthed, “thank you,” but my desire to express my profuse gratitude didn’t make it before she vanished.  My mind started to swirl!

I felt an instant need to return the favor.

She just saved me God knows how much aggravation.

The world has way more good people than nefarious ones.

I really must return the favor, but what can I do?

I’m trying to think up a big idea, but in the meantime, I want to do 12 small spontaneous deeds for strangers throughout the holiday season. The 12 days of Christmas, for me, will mean little gestures that might, in some minute way, brighten a moment in someone’s ordinary day.

Maybe this is already part of your routine.  Maybe you want to join me.  Either way, tell me (via the comment section) about your daily bright spots.

Day 12 – Guess what?!  I know Santa Claus!  The real-deal, North-Pole-living, sleigh-riding jolly old man himself!!  And for my final small deed I asked him for help!  I took the money hubby and I usually spend on holiday cards for family and friends and we gave it away to strangers.  We had seven holiday cards, each with some cash inside and a message to have a happy holiday.  Hubby armed himself with the camera, I had a bag of candy canes and Santa, the master at deliveries, had the envelopes.  We hit South Bay Center one morning and surprised a parking lot of people.  It was amazing to watch how young and old came running to see Mr. Claus.  Cars, full of adults, drove around the parking lot, children dragged parents out of stores, and everyone beamed at having their pictures taken with Santa!  Ok, there were some children who hollered for Santa but when he stopped by, they started crying.  But that was kind of cute too!  They like Santa from a distance!  This young couple told us it was their daughter’s first Christmas and they waited 45 minutes the other day for a picture with Santa at a mall only to have him go on break.  They never got a picture, that is until Parking Lot Santa showed up!  We hope the cash was a nice surprise for some strangers, but it was all worth it to see the pure joy on so many faces at the mere sight of Old Saint Nick!

Day 11 – I went to get a cup of coffee and the woman behind the counter was super sweet.  I left her a big tip.  I hope it brightened her day just a bit!

*(Mike told me about his small deed in the comment section.  He gave his monthly Charlie Card to the woman about to put money on her card! I love that idea!  Yeah, Mike!!)

Day 10 – On my way to the store, I saw some litter so I put it in the trash.  I arrived to the store and before me, a few more pieces of paper were blowing in the wind.  It was so easy to put them in the garbage.  A man saw me doing my small deed and said, “thank you.”  I was grateful for his appreciation.

Day 9 – I took Cricket for a walk this morning and picked up some arrant piles of poop (a suggestion from my friend Jen!).  I hope Cricket and I saved your shoes from a stinky day!

*(Erinn shared in the comment section that she likes to brush snow off of neighboring cars!  I hope we all get a chance to park next to an Erinn!)

Day 8 – While at Dunkin Donuts to get a cup of coffee, I saw a stand full of gift cards.  I added several to my order.  When I went running, I took a different route and gave Dunkin Donuts gift cards to some folks who looked like they could use a hot cup of coffee.  It was great!

*(Marsha from NC left a note in the comment section.  She bought a meal for a stranger.  She was paying it forward!  How awesome is that?!  Thanks Marsha!!!)

Day 7 – I have a couple pairs of gently worn mittens.  I put them in my work bag and on my way to and from work, I placed them in areas where I’ve seen homeless women.  I hope the gloves will help just a bit this winter.

Day 6 – I ran into Walgreens to pick up some stuff and saw a Toys for Tots bin.  So in my basket with some water and face cream, I added a couple of toys.  I put them in the box with the rest of the collection and smiled as I exited the store.

*(Very excited!!!  My friend Anita sent me this awesome tweet:

Anita Moller@aamoller: @susantran It’s contagious! I was inspired to do a good deed today.
@aamoller: @susantran Yep. While on my run, I stopped to carry the newspaper to a cute little man so he didn’t have to walk down the icy drive to get it.)

Day 5 – On my run today, I had a pocket full of scratch-off lottery tickets, and as I jogged around town, I handed them to strangers.  It was much more fun and far more comical than I’d imagined it would be!  Every one appeared taken aback, confused, or shocked.  I smiled, said, “Happy Holidays,” and ran off (I should have worn my elf hat!).  As my strides moved me forward, I could hear them yell, “Thank You!”  Those two words powered me for the rest of my trek home.

Day 4 – I went to get a soda and a snack at some vending machines and I left the change.

photo by: tomlin

*(I applied to Caring Canines but got an email response saying its program is at full capacity.  Sad for me but awesome for the program!)

Day 3 – I noticed some union brothers in the cold this morning.  I stopped by a Dunkin Donuts and bought them some hot coffee.  It was their appreciation that warmed me.

*(It’s only day 3 and I’m finding it somewhat difficult to do a small good deed, which is kind of upsetting.  Please consider giving me some suggestions.  I’m looking for small gestures.  Thanks in advance!)

Day 2 – I walked to lunch with a pocket full of quarters.  I fed several expired meters.  I hope I kept you from a ticket.

Day 1 – I’m running along the Christian Science Center and I notice a family of four.  Mom is trying to get her two sons and husband in the perfect picture.  I stop and ask if I can help take a family photo for them.  They hand me their Canon, smile, and I capture their broad grins in front of The Original Mother Church.  I make sure they’re satisfied with my work and run off.  They put a smile on my face and my stride home had a new elasticity.

bathroom break

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Something you might not know about TV news (besides the fact we do our own make-up) is that often times we’re at the mercy of public restrooms.  99% of the time, we file our stories in the field.  My photographer and I will head to a scene, gather the elements (get video and interview witnesses), then meet up with our live truck to review the video, write the story and edit together the piece.  During the day there are always nice restrooms at city or county buildings but during the evening hours (I often report for the 10p and 11p news) it becomes a bit tricky.  Recently, I made sure to document a few of our ‘pit’ stops.  You’ll notice a couple of things; we frequent Dunkin’ Donuts and I have a penchant for paper towels.  I also want to thank all of these shops for letting us use their restrooms (sometimes without making a purchase) and all of you who’ve offered your homes when you see us camped out on your street for a story (I kept private homes out of this blog post for obvious reasons).  Sometimes knowing there’s a nice restroom in a city where we’re gathering a story can be a such a relief!

The Watertown Housing Authority had a very clean bathroom.

This Shell on Main Street in Tewksbury was surprisingly clean but didn’t have any paper towels.

Here at the Rt. 24 rest stop, the restrooms were decent but in desperate need of an upgrade.

The restroom inside this little coffee in Rockport was clean and the place poured a nice cup of joe.

This Papa Gino’s in Brighton had a very nice restroom.

Lynn’s Wal-Mart’s restroom was clean but there were no paper towels.

I had high expectations for this Lexington rest stop.  But there were no paper towels.

Fitchburg’s McDonald’s was clean but there were no paper towels.

Hungry Heroes in Fairhaven had very clean restrooms but no paper towels.

Dorchester’s Burger King was clean but there was barely any water pressure at the sink to wash your hands.

New Bedford’s Dunkin’ Donuts didn’t have any paper towels.

Concord, NH’s Cumberland Farms was clean but had no paper towels.

This Charlestown Shell station’s bathrooms were ok on the clean scale.

Bridgeport, CT had a clean Dunkin’ Donuts.

Bill & Bob’s Roast Beef in Woburn had nice clean restrooms.

Attleboro’s Dunkin’ Donuts was clean but didn’t have paper towels.

p/s help a reporter out… tell me about your favorite clean public restroom!