August 30, 2008

After a short and expensive stop over in Boston ($120 for one night!) the bus took me all the way up through the beautiful green mountains of Vermont before hitting the Canadian border which we passed through relatively smoothly despite having to take everything out of the bus and have all our passports checked. When the bus finally made it Montréal, 2 hours later than the 7 hour trip was scheduled to, I realsied the lack of planning would cost me dear again havig to spend two nights in a shady hotel by the bus station before any hostels came available. However once in the hostel, which is less than half the price of the hotel, it had much more to offer, including free internet, free USA/CAN calls and free laundry etc. Before coming to Montréal, I was well aware of the duality between French and English, but was not expecting everything to be so dominately French.

Montréal at night

At first I found it hard to find where everything was in Montréal, but after finding a tourist information and realising the majority of the new city is underground, as part of the interconnected ‘La Ville Souterraine’ it made life a lot easier. On Sunday I explored more of ‘Vieux-Montréal’ and went to the Museum of Contempary Art in the afternoon, before heading back to the hostel to share a few drinks with people there. Monday was more of a lazy day just staying around Old Montreal some more, I went to the archaeological museum which goes under the streets of the old town before meeting up with Jess in the evening. Now being with someone who knows the city I got to see many parts of the city that I would never of found was I here by myself, for example Monday we went to one of the student areas around McGill to a few bars, including ‘Brutopia’, which brews it’s own beer. 

Now comes the interesting part… I’d planned to stay with Jess during my time here, however she doesn’t have an apartment herself yet so we had to hunt a place while crashing at her friends, but everyone has been great and I’ve met people from all kinds of places. Luckily Jess found a place, signed the lease and moved her stuff in on Saturday when her parents came up who kindly took us both to breakfast. However we still had an amazing time and Thursday evening we went to see a film as the international film festival was in town, ‘Brides of Allah’, a documentary on jailed female suicide bombers which raised lots of questions and on Friday we went to the world press photo exhibition which was really interesting to see and some of the photos were amazing and thought provoking. On Saturday while Jess moved her stuff in I climbed Mont Royal and got to see the city from a different perspective while sweating out all that alcohol from the countless nights of drinking!

The view from Mont-Royal

Tomorrow I leave to go to Plattsburgh, NY before going to NJ/NYC the day after…



August 21, 2008

After leaving WAJ on Saturday for the last time, Hannah Rikki and I left on the road to head up to Maine. The first night we spent in East Providence with Courtney, while waiting for her to finish work we hung out at Crescent Park where we got to see a wedding photo shoot, ride a carousel and look at some antique cars at a meet.

The carousel in Riverside

A vintage cadillac

After staying the night at Courtney’s we left early in the morning up I95 to pick up Hannah’s Dad from Manchester Airport, NH before continuing the rest of the journey up to Richmond, ME. The house where I am staying, I’ve been told is in the typical New England style of: big house, little house, out house, barn, where all four are interconnected so that in the winter farmers wouldn’t have had to go outside, but all it means to me is that this house is massive and the grandparents weren’t lying when they said they didn’t throw anything away.

The view from the house where we’re staying

We were quickly whisked away to be given a tour of the local Pownalborough Court House, which was built by the early British settlers and was full of full of history, before coming back to the house for dinner. Dinner was an experience for Rikki and I as neither of us had ever had lobster before, but it was really good even if it was extremely messy! While staying here, Rikki and I have been staying in a campervan which has been fun, but is also a great escape from all the cats in the house.

The lobster for dinner

Monday morning gave me a chance to get to the bank and cash in the first of my paycheck as well as send a package home of all the stuff I didn’t want to carry around for 4 weeks, luckily the post office do a fixed rate package which is the same price what ever you but in the box, so I managed to squeeze everything in to a small box that weighed 7 pounds and it cost me a reasonable price of $39, which isn’t that bad considering what was in there. In the afternoon we went out on a whale watch from Boothbay Harbor for a 3.5 hour boat ride which was good but we saw more seals than whales.

A complete change in the weather from the clear blue sky’s of yesterday made Tuesday a wet, rainy day, but still we went out to Pemaquid Point to go to the beach, see the lighthouse and have some fun, on the way back we had ice-cream in Richmond before a quick dinner back at the house. In the evening we were taken to the theatre to see ‘Arsenic and old lace’ a comedy, performed at the ‘Theater at Monmouth’ which was really funny and a good night out. On our last day we took kayaks out on the river around Swan Island, a deserted island with old houses that remain untouched as no-one lives there anymore.

Me kayaking around Swan Island

While staying here most of Hannah’s family is here so it’s been really busy, her grandparents and entire family have been so hospitable and they’ve organised so much for us and it’s been great to do things and visit places that just wouldn’t have been possible without their help. From here Rikki and I will get a bus from Brunswick, ME to Boston, MA where we will go our separate ways and I’ll leave for Montreal, Canada in a days time which will be my next adventure…

Week 10: The Final Week

August 16, 2008

This week is unfortunately my last here at WAJ and this week I have been on resource in order to finish up my work with the photos and get the slideshow done. This week I was in cabin but this time with an older group which has made life so much easier, they actually want to shower and inthe morning you don’t need to remind them about everything and push them along every step of the way. During the week I’ve been up in the office until midweek before the slideshow was done and then cleaning everything around the EEC for the rest of the week. On Wednesday I got to take some more pictures, possibly for the coveted cover shot which also gave me my first chance to drive the vans down Little Camp Road, so practicaly off road! On Friday we had to move the vans up to the main office and wrap up everything and put it away.

Friday evening we had our end of year celebrations, which put an end to an amazing summer. The evening started with a lovely meal of salmon and lemon chicken before the awards started to be awarded, after which we split off into our different camps to recieve our staff gifts and dicuss our rose, bud and thorns of the summer which became very emotional at some points. The co-ordinators, made us a personalised photo frame with our staff picture in, along with the staff CD’s, a satchel and our jars of sunshine, which I’m currently still deciding how to ship home, so I don’t break them. After returning for desert we had the second round of awards where I some how managed to win the most artistic with Sara, before it was time for the slideshow. The thing that took so much of my time to produce turned out really well in the end and provided a tear-jerker for many people.

It feels wierd to have finished camp and the reality of it all has yet to really all sink in, I suppose it won’t until I actually leave tomorrow, from which I’m heading to Maine for about a week, then I’m on the open road until my flight back from New York which I’ve yet to book. So let the second part of my summer begin…

Week 9: Waterworlds

August 9, 2008

This week saw we teaching something different; Waterworlds is a program where the campers get to go ponding, swimming pretty much everyday, go on a stream hike and go to the beach. It was also the first time that I’ve taught by myself with the help of a Junior Counselor (JC) but everything turned out fine and she was excellent and stood up to lead a few lessons and run alot of the games.

The week began as usual and the Sunday was just like any other Sunday, meeting the campers and getting to know their names. On Monday we began the the teaching part of the week by going ponding up at the duck pond where we managed to find quite an array of creatures, before going swimming in the afternoon. All this week I’ve had all evening programs off to work on the end of the year slideshow, which is starting to come together but is still requiring alot of work. Tuesday saw more swimming and a dusk walk to turtle haven had to be abandoned after having to call the nurse about a camper, but everything worked out in the end. Unfortunately on Wednesday the rain came in hard for the entire morning which kept us inside in the pond room but as the weather cleared we went to look at the vernal pool on the Basin Rock trail. In the afternoon we did our stream hike and then hiked back to camp along the Niddy Noddy trail where we saw another vernal pool but this one had 3 big sacs of frog eggs which was really amazing to see.

A vernal pool on the Niddy Noddy Trail

Our beach day was thursday, where we went to East Beach to go ponding in the salt pond and had a free swim in the ocean afterwards. I managed to get a bit sunburnt as the clouds cleared and I was just a sitting duck on the sand but nothing too bad. Next week I’ll be in a cabin but will be on resource so I can finish the slideshow and get a few other things sorted for the end of year celebrations. The summer has gone so fast and I can’t believe that this time next week I won’t be here anymore…

Week 8: Photojournalism

August 3, 2008

This week has been a very interesting and very rewarding one. To start I wasn’t teaching and nor was I in cabin but had a special schedule outside of Earth Camp to go visit the rest of camp and catch a glimpse of what they do. On Sunday I spent all day in the office uploading and organising all the photos I’d taken so far (~2000) which was something I’d needed to do for a long while. On Monday I was supposed to be rock climbing but this got postponed due to thunderstorms on Sunday but instead I visisted the two day camps, Farm Camp (Ages 5-8) in the morning and saw them doing chores around the farm and petting all the animals. In the afternoon I headed down to Eco-Zone (Ages Eight – Eleven) and got to hike to Devil’s Foot Rock with them before playing some games in the field down there. Since I’ve been working Earth Camp all summer (Ages 9-13) the different ages of the campers made each camp completely different, just in the way that they were run.

Kids on the farm

On Tuesday I headed out early after breakfast to Conneticut to set up the ropes for the ‘Rock and Trail’ Teen X trip. I got a quick lesson in rapelling down the 60ft drop before the group arrived. I spent most of the day hanging halfway down the wall taking pictures of the kids climbing. It was a really fun day and good to go rapelling and rock climbing, something which I haven’t got to do for a while.

Me rapelling into position

Wednesday saw me finally doing some sea kayaking with the ‘Kayak Rhode Island’ Trip, not the type I’m used to but still good fun and nice to know that I haven’t forgotten how to roll. We kayaked around the coast near Tiverton in East RI, unfortunatley there were no waves but it was still good to get out in a boat. The campers really enjoyed it and they got to get wet and play games in the boats.

My nice orange sea kayak

Friday saw me back on campus and back in the office for the first part of the morning, before getting a call down to the farm for a photo assignment where all the kids were in fancy dress for the day. After that I headed back up to the EEC, took the Earth Camp photo, had lunch and ran the camp store during check out. I really enjoyed this week and hopefully will have the last week as resource to work on the slideshow but for next week I’ll be teaching waterworlds where we get to go to the beach!