A Top 10 Countdown of a Truly Never-Ending Summer 2011

Thankfully the topic of my last blog entry did not set the tone for my entire summer, that being the unfortunate, yet hilarious vandalism that happened on June 25th. While the phrase “Poop Fart” continues to make an appearance in conversation amongst friends in the Backroads community, things only seemed to get better, and better making this year a summer that I’ll truly never forget.

I figure the only way to kick off this post is by means of photos to try and summarize what it’s been like to chase summer on three different continents in six months.

#10: Having the opportunity to be in Maine this summer, living in downtown Portland, with family so close by made it really convenient to be able to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday and my 27th, as we share the same birthday. I had some much needed visits from friends in Boston, beach and farmer’s markets dates with cousins, and a best buddy from Boston, Julia who moved to Colorado a few years ago spent July in Portland for her fiances medical rotation. Needless to say, I was spoiled by social activity with friends and family in my free time.

Andrea, Julie, and Alison brought Boston to the Old-Port for the night!

#9 Fortunately, the guests over the summer were just as amazing! In my first family camping trip we presented our first of many lavish Backroads picnic spreads. Right then, I overheard one of the boys say to his cousin, “See dude, I told you there’d be crispy lettuce and fresh tomatoes.”  And so the phrase stuck for the rest of the week….

"CRISPY LETTUCE & FRESH TOMATOES!"

Then came a private group in Maine of 19 mormon family members. The grandparents wanted to take their children and 9 grandchildren who live all over the U.S on a family vacation in Maine. I have never had a better time on a trip nor experienced such gracious guests and would’ve gladly spent the rest of my summer leading the entire family around. A high light was the surprise “show” the kids put on in the middle of Acadia National Park.

A highlight of summer: Watching 9 kids hip-hop dance to "I Whip My Hair Back and Forth" for their grandma's 70th!

Couldn't help but put this cute one in of rock climbing. I was so tired, they caught me pounding a "5 hour energy" and lunged at me in their harnesses yelling, "Noooo Hanna! That's not FDA approved!"

#8  During another week off in July, I was finally able to do a mini-biking trip with a soccer and biking afficionado friend, Q!  I have Q to thank for helping me transition from urban single gear biking, to all day road biking last spring, when I accepted my job with Backroads.  We embarked on the boat from Boston Harbor to Provincetown and planned a three day bicycle trip down  Cape Cod and back home to Boston.  Not only were we able to crash in Brewster at family friends’ homes, but Andrea had won a lottery at her work to stay in her boss’ cape home for the week.  I was able to walk down memory lane of summer after summer in the Cape with my mom and sister, and also live it up on our last overnight with good friends, wine, and outdoor jacuzzis.

Our distance for day 2 of biking: Brewster to Cautamet, MA!

Q and I visiting Sheep Pond on day 2, the place where my cousins and I all properly learned how to dive off a raft.

Bike by day and wine with friends by night? Dulce Vita!

We had to get off the Cape somehow! 80 mile day, back to Boston via the Bourne Bridge.

#7  Being in Maine on a trip in August and receiving a phone call about a potential schedule change.  I was supposed to go to Jackson Hole for a few weeks and then back to Maine in the fall.  I had fifteen minutes to be dressed and ready to bring guests to dinner.  As I was applying make up with one hand and haphazardly drying my hair with the other, I let out the most unprofessional scream over speakerphone to my manager in Berkeley, indicating that I would of course accept my schedule change and be ready to lead biking trips in Crete, Greece for the fall season.  Unfortunately I have no photos to capture this moment.

#6  So there I went, leaving behind the land of lobsterman, with Cretans on my mind, but all of a sudden landing in Jackson Hole to hang with the cowboys for a week and lead a family trip in the Tetons and Yellowstone National Park.

I showed up and was told this year our leader house was a 1.8 million dollar ranch house that was for sale. This is the backyard and I woke up to horses running around outside my window every morning! Could've stayed there for longer than 10 days!

3 leaders for 10 guests = leaders feeling like they're on vacation. Here we are singing our hearts out to Meatloaf's "I would do anything for love" in the back of the trailer.

One of the best parts of the trip that I don’t have pictures of is an elk scat presentation I planned for one of our hikes.  All the kids fell for it! As I was chewing on rolled and squished brownie bits, they thought I was scientifically deciding the gender of the elk by tasting it’s scat! Ha!

The kids on this trip were fabulous. One of them was even the 12 yr old national champion of trampoline!

#6   As quick as I had to say goodbye to the cowboys of Wyoming, I was whisked away to our European headquarters in southern France to pack up a van and trailer and drive with my co-worker Devin through France, Italy and two ferries later arrive to the land of the Cretans!

Outside our villa in France. The entire property smelled of thyme and lavender. It was a dream land!

Bike rides in southern france: hopping between fig trees, chateaux's, and vineyards!

I think we are still on the Cote d' Azure here, with Monaco off in the distance. I lost a sandal at a toll booth, and I had no AC in my van, but an Aux cord to play Adel's album as loud as I wanted...

My first time in Italy. Proper pizza on the beach.

There are no words to describe the ferry loading and unloading situation. Old men yelling at your in Greek to spin the wheel left and right and around and back around to do something so simple as to back into a space. It's a crazy trucking and cargo world going on underneath those cabins!

We made it! Arriving at 4 am and watched the sun come up at our home in Chania, Crete for two months. Ocean view every single day!

# 5  Did I mention that a day after arriving in Crete, I flew from Crete to Athens to Paris to Boston and drove to Connecticut for Lauren’s  epic and most fabulous wedding?

All of us girls from our freshman year at Northeastern, floor 3 of stetson east to be exact, were reunited at Lauren's wedding!

#4  Any of you who knew me in college new I was obsessed with Greece since my summer study in Thessaloniki in 2004.  Leading in Crete, a rather touristy island, we were away from the daily, grave situation going on in mainland Athens.  I was yet again exposed to the best bits of culture, food, dance, bike rides, beaches, and landscapes. On top of that all, I had the best group of co-workers with me who stood by one another’s side as we had to take another potent free shot of the after dinner burn-your-throat-homemade raki that was served to you in small, but frequent doses.  One night after too much raki, we all ended up bringing a litter of 7 puppies that lived in the entry way to our rooms, to the bar for the night.

Best Co-workers!

Best Street Food! Gyropitas!

Best Biking and fantastic guests.

Best Dance Parties. Those Cretans really know how to have a good time while high kicking.

Chair tricks and dancing around fire circles. Standard weekly events.

Biking up and down Crete's mountains all the way until the Libyan Sea!

Just an old man picking olives outside a Ceramics shop. For the record, Cretan olive oil trumps Italy's!

It would not be a complete biking trip in Crete without a picnic on the beach!

#3  I’ve got three words for my # 3 spot in the countdown: THE FISH SPA.  The pictures below depict very well what this experience was like for me as those live fish nibble away at your dead skin.  These “spas” are found on ever other city block on the island.

The moment the fish swarmed at my feet I screamed "THIS IS MY NIGHTMARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Erin thought this was funny. For me, I never knew what it really meant to feel tense until this moment.

# 2  Nannying in Norway for a week for Fredrik (9), Henriette (12) and Christine (14).  Picking the kids up from school, going to spin class, getting dinner on the table, just a normal week stop over in Oslo!  I have been so lucky with this job to be able to pass through Europe via Oslo on an annual basis now since I met the Fougner and Witzoe families in 2009.

Make homemade mac n' cheese in any country and the kids will come to dinner and bring their friends from the nieghborhood!

We danced every night in the living room. Disco ball and strobe light inlcuded.

We played the Oreo challenge.

We took jumping pictures...probably should've had them jump off something other than the living room furniture.

We went to their cousin's Lauritz's 3rd birthday party. Fredrik adorned himself in a suit and red sox hat.

# 1   And the coveted #1 spot in the Top-10 countdown!  Drum roll please….I was getting ready to go to bed for the night in Crete at a restored Venetian palace, and I quickly checked my email and to my absolute surprise found out that I’d be sent to the Lake District of Argentina in Northern Patagonia to lead mountain biking trips for December to March.  In some ways it feels like I just got home from living in Buenos Aires. Talk about a full-circle kind of a year, and in addition I’ve lived “in summer” since February.  Oh 2011, you have been so good to me.

How else would one try and get two 70 lb bike boxes from one place to another? One piece of twine goes a long way...

A view of the Llao Llao Peninsula in Bariloche, our home for two nights of the bike trip.

Tough Research! We've clearly got some great bike rides ahead of us!

This is our home in Villa La Angostura, and one of my favorite running routes so far.

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5 responses to “A Top 10 Countdown of a Truly Never-Ending Summer 2011

  1. Hanna what a dream! I will be cooking our wonderful Norwegian Christmas eve dinner this Saturday at Mormor and Farfar’s. Uncle john’s family will be there. We will definately be missing you and your family this year. But we will say skol to you with our champagne and pommegranate! God Jul. xoxo Aunt Ruth

  2. We enjoyed your blog with all the pics-that makes it possible to see some of your story as it is. We had a really nice Christmas eve dinner that Ruth preparedd at home then lugged all the way here for the eleven of us here. Kate had gone to N.J>John provided the drinks & he even went out & got some Akvavite- not too many takers any more! We missed your family and for sure we know they missed you . Godt Nytt Ar Love, Mormor & Farfar

  3. What a great way to recapture your hectic international work /fun . Enjoyed all the photos along with your descriptive naratives . I know there will be many more to follow in 2012. Keep up with Hannas Memmoirs , we all enjoy them so much . Love, and good health to you and all your backroads friends . oxoxox Mom

  4. Hanna

    I just read your latest addition and felt that I was touring with you. I was salivating through all your trips through France, Greece, and especially that Cretan food, along with the Dudes in Mt. Desert. Those beautiful colored dresses at Julia’s wedding were stunning. When I finished your latest blog, I continued on and lived through a review of all the first ones. It was so good to see you, Andria, Julie and Alison. What fun you had with your cousins in Norway. All this information as a prelude to your future book.

    Love and Happy New Year to you and your friends around the globe,

    Gram and Gramps xoxoxoxo

  5. Hanna,
    The boys recently asked, “when are we going to see Hanna again?”. We so enjoy reading about your latest travels! Continue to enjoy your once in a lifetime experiences. It is so inspiring! We will have to catch up the next time you are home. xoxoxo Michelle & the boys

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