Pumpkin Carving Adventures

It’s my favorite season of year and as usual there’s a shortage of time to enjoy it. Every October I continue to insist wppumpkin3on carving pumpkins. Even though it turns into a stressful orange cloud hanging over my head, I still somehow strangely enjoy the process. I
buy two, scoop them out, then struggle to find the time to wppumpkincarve them. This year is no different. I managed to get them done at the last moment.

Every year I also pick the image I would carve if I had the time, skill, and patience to create it. The celtic horse is this year’s winner.


Fall Moment

IMG_20141012_181839310There’s a fleeting moment in fall when the trees are dappled with candy colors. A moment when brightly painted leaves swirl through the air on a chill autumn breeze leaving the ground strewn with gems – rubies, garnets, and opals shining from the forest floor. A moment when the weakening sunlight reflects off the carpet of leaves casting the world in a warm rosy glow.

Blink and you’ll miss it. Blink and the trees will be bare, the ground littered with brittle brown leaves.

This was that moment.

Jodi Picoult’s “Leaving Time” Book Launch – and My Confession

jpLast night I was fortunate enough to attend a reading and book signing by author Jodi Picoult, who isn’t just an incredible writer, but also an amazing speaker with an admirable social conscious. As I sat in the audience listening to the Q & A session, watching the way Jodi connected with her fans, I knew it was finally time to say it loud and proud.

For those of you who don’t know, my name is Shannon and I want to be an author. I always have and always will. There was really no stopping it – it started when I was a young child. Somewhere at my parent’s house there’s a trunk full of stories I wrote and illustrated as a kid.

Then something weird happened. Somehow I got the message that you can’t be an author and pay the bills; that only works for a select few. Thinking back, I try to remember who planted this seed of poison – certainly not my parents. They always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be as they took me to the library each week to check out my tower of books. To a certain extent, I believed them. While I didn’t like school, I was good at it and loved to learn, immersing myself in any and every subject I found interesting. jp1

Perhaps that’s why I spent 7 years in college, earning several degrees but no PhD – I had no focus. I wanted – and still want – to learn about everything. I only have this one life and I want to spend it experiencing, learning, doing, living as much as possible.

I came back to writing off and on during my twenties, started a couple of novels, tried to submit some short stories for publication, but could never really find a balance between writing and paying the bills. Finally, though, I’ve found my groove and have become focused on my goal.

I’ve been successful in getting short stories accepted for publication and am working on the rewrite of my first novel, but I didn’t actually feel like a writer until last night. When I would say it out loud, call myself a writer, I felt odd, like a poser. A voice in the back of my head scoffed at me like the mean girl in high school. “As if.” Why the sudden change then? Because of something Jodi Picoult said. She talked about how, as a writer, she gets to play scientist and learn about what interests her. That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do my entire life. Suddenly the confusion, the guilt from my indecisiveness that’s kept me feeling so lost and awkward all these years simply melted away.

I was an archaeology major because I loved reading books where I learned about ancient civilizations. My fascination with bones led to a degree in Anthropology. I earned a degree in Crime Scene Technology because I loved reading forensic thrillers and writing mysteries. As I discovered during my time at the Medical Examiner’s Office, though, it’s not always as fun as it sounds. I love the science, but not always the hands on work. When someone asks you what you do and you say you touch dead people, they take a step back, one eyebrow raised, and look like they expect you to bite them. If you say you write mysteries, they take a step forward and want to know more. IMG_20141014_202407605_HDR

I love the opportunity writing presents me with. I can share what I learn with others. I can help raise awareness, shed light on issues that need attention, I can use my craft to make a difference, and hopefully provide a bit of entertainment in the process. If only a handful of people ever read it, it doesn’t matter. I’m still a writer because it is who, not what, I am.

So thank you, Jodi Picoult, for making me feel like a writer. I’ve been waiting for an ‘aha’ moment, something to make me own it, and last night, during your talk, your words made it click. And I’m really sorry for fanning out and making you smile for a picture with me. In my defense, however, it’s not like you’re some Hollywood actor, professional athlete or politician – you’re AUTHOR Jodi Picoult – how could I resist?

Acadia National Park, Maine

acadia13Acadia National Park is a great place to spend the day adventuring. Located on Mount Desert Island in Maine, it’s home to an amazing array of habitats. In one short stretch you can explore mountains, the beach, ponds, lakes and woods. The park is also just a stone’s throw from Bar Harboracadia21

so if you get hungry during your travels you can be in line for a lobster roll is mere minutes. Did I mention that the park is pet friendly? How much better can it get? It really is a perfect little spot to play.


And play we did! The dogs had a blast running through the surf on gorgeous Sand Beach. From one end of the shore to the other they chased waves, frolicked, and swam through the chilly Atlantic waters. The beach is capped by a wooded jetty on one end, a rocky outcrop on the other, and
is cornered by a pond whose clear waters acadia35reflect the mountain that watches over the
beach in the distance.

The pups raced across the summit of Cadillac Mountain, following the trails down the side like surefooted little mountain goats. We followed our little climbers as

acadia67they bounded around like jack rabbits, exploring, conquering, even taking the time to enjoy the view. While we didn’t let them out to experience the wonders of Thunder Hole, they did enjoy a lengthy hike on the wooded trails around Jordan Pond.


We had a great day at the park. Traveling with dogs can be complicated, and I’m so grateful for all the places that welcome furry family members with open arms. Mount Desert Island quickly became one of my favorite places and I can’t wait to visit again.

Sunrise on Mount Cadillac


acadia98Most people don’t rank waking up before dawn very high on their vacation to-do list, but if you visit Bar Harbor in Maine, watching the sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain is the thing to do. Located in Acadia National Park, Cadillac acadia109Mountain is a 1528 peak that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. At certain times of the year, the summit of this mountain is the first place the sun can be seen along the eastern seaboard.


It was still pitch black when we woke up, packed the pups and ourselves in the car, and began the quick drive from the hotel to Acadia National Park. Once in the park, we joined the line of cars slowly making their way up the winding road that snakes up the mountain. The sky began lightening, black turning midnight blue fading to indigo waning to cobalt. We soon found ourselves at the top, the summit littered with people, many still in their pajamas, cameras in hand. acadia103

Lavender and amaranth pink quickly rose from the skyline, coloring the sky with the first rays of light. Peach soon followed as the sun approached, until finally the glowing orb itself was visible, hovering along the horizon in the distance. Then it broke free, proudly rising into the sky, bringing a new day with it. The crowd dispersed quickly, quietly, still half asleep. After a few extra pictures we followed suit, driving into town on a breakfast seeking adventure, but we’d be back later to explore the mountain’s many trails.

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Sunset at the Bass Harbor Lighthouse

acadia124On the quiet side of Mount Desert Island, in the midst of a picturesque little fishing town, you’ll find the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. Nestled atop a craggy cliff, overlooking the Atlantic ocean, waves crashing against the rocks of the Maine coast below, this little spot is an ideal place to watch the sun set.

acadia119For the adventuresome, trails snake through the woods to the north, leading to a series of branch-offs where you can find your own, private cliff to watch on. This is a highly recommended option over sharing the scene with the crowd vying for pictures by the lighthouse. And, as with most places we encountered in Maine, your four-legged family members are invited to enjoy the show as well.

acadia114Shades of rose, peach and indigo melded like watercolors as the sun lowered in the sky. A sudden flash of tangerine sparked as the glowing orb sank below the horizon. As the last rays disappeared from sight, darkness fell quickly, enveloping the little town of Bass Harbor in a starry blanket for the night.

Fly Fishing on the Kennebec River

acadia195In Greenville, Maine, population roughly 1700, there isn’t much to do besides hiking, hunting and fishing. The economy centers on the tourists drawn to Moosehead Lake and the logging industry. There are no movie theatres, outlet malls or theme parks here, but they do have one attraction you might want to try – peace and quiet.


And what better way to spend a serene day of silence than fishing? Early morning found us on a float boat drifting down the Kennebec River, fly rods in hand. The day was shockingly cold, a sudden drop in temperature from the prior week. The sun danced behind the clouds, stingy with its warming rays. Several other fishers were out, braving the chill out in their waders, flicking their fly lines back and forth.

acadia189My first cast was rewarded with a bite. I quickly reeled in a landlocked salmon barely larger than a minnow. I thought the quick response would set the stage for the day. I was wrong. It seemed that hours passed between strikes, during which time we continued down the river, following the sun in its course across the sky. My next – and last – catch was a speckled trout.

acadia190You might think we were feeling defeated, but we weren’t at all. We traversed a gorgeous stretch of the Kennebec River. The leaves were changing, the water sparkled, mountains loomed magnificently in the distance, and our guide was great, managing to keep us dry even as we bumped our way across class three rapids. For lunch, he pulled the boat ashore, broke out a butane grill and proceeded to cook a feast of chicken, steak, mashed potatoes, pasta salad and more. He even brought Oreos for dessert! While not the most fruitful fishing trip, we still had a blast thanks to Chris at Kennebec River Anglers.

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