April, 2023

My month in Amesbury, Massachusetts is coming to an end tomorrow. The past month has been lovely on so many levels. First and foremost, I found that I was able to sleep in a bed for the first time in nearly a year. Thanks to my anxiety being at a more reasonable level it allowed for me to use my CPAP machine night after night without having anxiety attacks due to my claustrophobia. On top of that, the guest bed that I have been using is very comfortable. I think what I’ve been lacking is a properly firm mattress. I don’t need something rock solid but I need it to be supportive in all the right places so I can lay on my back and give my achy shoulders a break.

Getting a lot more sleep than normal allowed me a little more energy to get out and explore. I did a total of four excursions during the past month. I started out with a short drive to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge the last day before they closed the beach through July or so for the nesting Piping Plovers. With it being so early in the spring still, there was not a lot of foliage that you would come to expect in a place like that but it was still nice to see the ocean and walk in the sand a bit, even if it were a bit on the chilly side. I stopped by the marsh before leaving as well to see what sort of wildlife might be out and about, not a whole lot it turns out. This little excursion did mark a big event though, it was the first time I’d gone out and done any landscape photography in over a year. It felt really good from that standpoint to be able to push myself to get out there and do it.

The first longer trip I did was to Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury, Vermont to visit the Dog Chapel. This was a very emotional experience on so many levels. When you first walk in, you notice right away all of the photos of dogs and notes taped to every square inch of every wall in the building. I wanted nothing more than to look at every single one but it just seemed impossible to do. The chapel is both a place to grieve the loss of and to celebrate the life of the special dogs that have passed from our lives. It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking to see so much love and loss all in one place. It’s comforting to know that the degree to which I miss Cole seems to be shared by many other people for their own dogs. There is some comfort in knowing that I’m not alone on that. I brought a photograph of Cole with me to hang on the wall. As I was looking for the perfect spot to hang it, a woman came up to me and started asking about Cole and talking about her dog, picture in hand. With tears in her eyes, she shared that her dog had passed on a year ago that day. I told her that Cole had passed away a little over two years ago now with tears streaming down my face. It was at that moment that the woman reached out to give me a hug and right there in the middle of that little chapel, two strangers hugged and cried about their dogs. It was a pretty powerful moment and one that I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.

My next trip was to Acadia National Park. I made the drive north into Maine, all while hoping to see a moose at some point in the next day or so (spoiler: I never did unless you count a statue of one). The weather was predicted to cooperate and be a good mix of sun and clouds, perfect for picture taking. Unfortunately, all I got that first day was clouds. I think I can count on one hand how many times I saw a small patch of blue sky for a minute or two, here and there. It was still a beautiful place to explore and I imagine even more so when the trees fill in with leaves a bit more. After driving around and exploring multiple spots throughout the park, I made my way to Ellsworth to stay in a super cute little motel called the Atlantic Coast Inn that had contactless check in which may be my new most favorite thing ever. I had dinner across the way at Shinbashi Asian Cuisine which had a pleasant atmosphere and decent food. The next day, I left early in the morning to explore the Maine coastline on my way back to Amesbury. Lucky for me, the sun decided to come out an hour or so into my drive so I was able to get some prettier pictures than the day before. The absolute highlight of the day was accidentally discovering a cabin that the Maine Cabin Masters remodeled on Season 2, Episode 1 of their show. The fact that I even noticed it was a bit of a miracle as I just happened to take a side road contrary to the Google Maps suggested route. After I had just rounded a curve in the road, I noticed out of the corner of my left eye a momentary glimpse of something vaguely familiar. After my brain had time to catch up, I decided to slow down and turn my car around to go back. So excited at what I thought I had found, I hit my shin on the corner of my car door, getting out so fast and running down the side of the road to see if I would be able to confirm my suspicions. Low and behold, I was right! It was indeed the cabin I saw once on the show a few years ago. How in the world I remembered and recognized it on such a small glance after so much time, I have no idea, but I’m thankful the universe brought me to that place at that time.

Lastly, I drove to Winstead, Connecticut to spend the weekend with a friend I haven’t seen in many years. Having purchased a historic former governors house about 6-months ago and having seen the photos of all the work they were having done, I was excited to see her place in person. I was most excited though to meet her new pugs, Luna and Bubba. When I arrived, we spent some time getting acquainted with the dogs and she showed me around the house. Then we packed everyone up and hit the road for a hike at Enders Falls. It was a lovely little hike and the first I’ve done in over a year. It was good to get back out into the forest and soak up all that nature. Later that night, her husband joined us for cocktails at 2nd Home Lounge and then dinner at Puerto Vallarta. When we got back to the house, we watched several old episodes of Gilmore Girls, in anticipation for our adventure the next day in Washington where we visited several places reputed to inspire the show. First we had dinner at Luke’s Diner AKA Marty’s Cafe. Then, on our way to Stars Hollow Books AKA the Hickory Stick Bookshop, we stopped at The Hen’s Nest Gallery and perused some lovely local art. After buying some books and gifts at the bookstore and gallery, we stopped at Doose’s Market AKA Washington Food Market and then finally the Independence Inn AKA The Mayflower Inn & Spa. Thoroughly exhausted from the day’s adventures, we headed back to the house and relaxed by hanging out on the couch with the dogs and a few more episodes of the Gilmore Girls before I said my goodbyes and headed back to Amesbury.

Over my month here, I have gotten quite attached to Trillium the cat. She is just the sweetest, gentlest little cat I’ve ever met. She follows me around the house, hangs out with me no matter what room I’m in, and sleeps with me at night. She is very calm and well behaved, loves treats and her nightly wet food snack, belly rubs and head scratches. She even likes to hold my hand! As much as I miss Luke and our furry family back in Wisconsin, I’m going to miss her very much and am sad that I have to say farewell soon.

Other than my handful of excursions, I’ve split my time at the house between sleeping and working on several projects for some new clients while also keeping up with the work of my current clients. I’m excited to announce that Luke and I decided this month to open a joint Etsy shop venture called the Angry Frog Emporium where you’ll soon be able to buy all sorts of items with our fun and quirky creations on them. I’ll be sure to provide more updates as our shop grows. A couple weeks ago I got a last minute request to squeeze in a four day pet sitting gig for a former client in Oklahoma. It’s hard to say no to a cutie like Sacho the pug so I will be heading home for a whirlwind few days in Wisconsin with Luke before heading to Oklahoma for four days and then onward to my scheduled one month trip to the west coast. Stay tuned for next month’s update on all the adventures I have in store.

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