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Sunday, December 26, 2010

RIP Belle Cloutier


                                 Belle Cloutier

     We have lost Belle.  As I type this, Baxter has his head in my lap.  He'll never be the lovable gentle soul that Belle was, but he tries.  What follows is the email I sent to the Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue League yesterday.

     "Well, once again we have spoiled the holiday season by losing another lovable golden. It was New Year's Day of 2004 that we put down Riley (YGRR #2424) after determining that a brain tumor was causing his seizures. We got Belle (3852) from you five months later. She was euthanized this morning, Christmas day, just three weeks short of her fifteenth birthday. Actually we had taken her to the vet a week ago anticipating putting her down then, but she got a second wind. X-rays and blood tests couldn't find any organ problems or cancer, so we got some pain meds and canned food and took her home. She had been exhibiting severe lethargy, a loss of six pounds in four weeks, lack of mobility and a fist sized (but unattached) growth on her right shoulder that had been there for six months. For a few days she seemed comfortable and would go out in the back yard as needed. She NEVER had an accident inside. We got up Christmas morning to find that the growth had burst and was bleeding. She couldn't eat or get up. I guess all that sleigh chasing last night was just too much. Fortunately, the Charleston area is blessed with a very professional, 24/7 emergency vet service. It was they who had taken care of Riley for us six years ago. So Belle made her last trip in our Jeep. She actually managed to get to her feet with assistance and walked to the car which always excited her.
     Belle was a special lady. She was turned in to YGRR at 108 pounds and with heart worms. Through your excellent care, we inherited a healthy, gentle senior. She was an enthusiastic puppy for all but the last few months of her life. This spring, before we left on one of our five month long motor home trips, she went to the vet for a check-up. Dr. Lerma pronounced her "the healthiest 14 year old golden I've ever seen!" She had a great life highlighted by appearing on page 2 of your 2011 calendar. 
     We thank you again for all you do. We still have Baxter (4552) and can't imagine not having a golden."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The night before the night before Christmas

     Christmas approachesIt is cold by SC standards.  Nonetheless, Durelle and Cindy played golf yesterday in the seventies...the temperature, not the score.  A low key Christmas is planned.  We will do a prime rib and some traditional fixins, but nothing major and only minimal gifts.  The decorations are up (again minimal), the tree is decorated and the few presents are wrapped.  We are enjoying the season and our good fortune; little else is required.  The bus is at the shop, plugged in and furnace set at 55 degrees.  I didn't trust my "blow out the lines" winterizing when it came to the washer/dryer, dishwasher and ice maker.  The weekend overnight lows are predicted to be in the low 20's.  The two pictures show Belle in front of the fireplace and our Bradford Pear in the back yard.  Belle is on her last legs.  I don't expect she will see her 15th birthday on 18 Jan.  The personality has never changed, but she has trouble moving around.  There have been several vet trips, and we are now dispensing pain meds.
     The back yard picture shows the Bradford pear.  It looks nice in the morning light, and it has many white blossoms in the spring.  This is the time of year when all of us should pause and be grateful for all we have been given.  We wish you all the best possible Christmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ice On The Pond

     This morning the retention pond was frozen over.  I guess if you weren't told, you would assume that this was the normal look of the water surface.  Trust me, it's frozen.  The pond is not small.  I would estimate that it is 200 yards by 75 yards and is deep enough to support enough fish for the neighborhood kids to go after.  It would have been nice to see an ibis or other water fowl standing on the ice, but none would accommodate me, so I guess you'll just have to trust me when I say,"That's ice." 
     Snow is particularly rare here, although we did have a Valentine's Day storm this year (see Cindy's Christmas card).  Normally when the weather gets cold enough to snow here, it is because we are under the influence of an arctic high pressure.  Those conditions are accompanied by clear skies, nighttime radiational cooling and very low, lip-cracking humidity and therefore no snow.
     This is supposed to be the end of the cold spell, but winter hasn't even started yet so we'll see frost again, but probably not in the teens like the past two nights.  We kept water trickling to preclude frozen pipes.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Update...Nuthin' special

     We are back at "home" in Hanahan,SC...have been for a couple of months.  We are getting ready for Christmas as you all are.  So, there are no great stories or great pictures.  The weather has been cool for SC.  We had one night when the pipes froze...not enough to break, but enough that not all the faucets worked when we first got up.  I have been going over to the RV storage area on base on a daily basis to make sure the batteries stay charged and the furnace is working.  Yesterday I was unable to start the generator so tomorrow morning I'll be driving the bus to my local service guy to get things squared away.  Tuesday morning is projected to be 18 degrees.  That's no record for us, but it may be for SC.  Tonight we almost finished off the turkey soup that remained from out fried turkey in Huntington Beach State Park.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Last Day at HBSP

     Well, we've sorta packed up in preparation for heading home tomorrow.  It was cold (relatively speaking) this morning...38 degrees, but it warmed up nicely in the afternoon sun so we wandered over to the causeway between the fresh water marsh and the salt water marsh.  It's a birder's paradise, and it's pretty convenient for those who feed on them.  There were hundreds of birds: pelicans, egrets, ibises, herons, assorted ducks and, lurking in the bullrushes, a sizeable old alligator.  We had left the dogs in the bus, which probably was a good idea.
     We are still eating Thanksgiving leftovers, so tonight I'll saute up a pan of smoked turkey sausage, veggies and rice.  Tomorrow the bus goes into storage for a couple of months.  The next trip will be to Red Bay, AL and points south in February

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

     What a great day!  Eat your hearts out, SkipnDonna.  Everything went like clockwork.  We ate at 2:30 and all ingredients and the weather cooperated perfectly.  Jeri's stove has three burners and ours has two.  We used them all.  Mashed potatoes, butternut squash, turnips (rutabagas, if you will), cornbread stuffing, gravy from Trader Joe's, a bottle of Riesling and, of course, a fifteen pound fresh turkey (deep fried).  There was just enough peanut oil and just enough propane so disasters were averted.  After a suitable respite, Jeri produced an apple/pecan streusel pie a la mode for desert.
     The first picture shows Cindy and our next-door neighbor campers watching the Patriots.  As regular readers know, I'm usually behind the camera.  Thanks for the third picture, Jeri.  As you can imagine, we will be doing a replay tomorrow.  Nobody wanted any turkey sandwiches tonight.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving at the beach

     We decided to spend Thanksgiving week at Huntington Beach State Park in Murrell's Inlet, SC.  Cindy and Jeri Johnson are joining us, but Skip and Donna Anderson had to cancel out.  I'm going to fry a turkey, but the rest of the ingredients will be pretty traditional.  I suppose a 70 degree, barefoot walk on the beach would not qualify as traditional in some circles, but you make do with what you have.  I'll get some turkey pictures tomorrow, but today you'll have settle for Baxter.  We didn't feel that an energetic romp in the water would be too good for Belle, so she stayed in the bus.  The caption for the middle picture is,"Oooh, a jellyfish!  Do I eat it or roll in it?"  Actually, when I called him off it, he left it alone.
     We hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More backyard wildlife

     This morning I was putting the finishing touches on a nice breakfast when Durelle said,"We've got a photo op if you're interested."  I put down the spatula, picked up the camera, slipped outside in my bathrobe and snapped the shot of the eagle with a nice blue sky background.  The picture of the two deer was taken yesterday.  They are out there many mornings. 
     The breakfast was to fortify Durelle for her first round of golf in three (!!) months.  She and Cindy played at the Charleston Naval Weapons Center (in shorts for my Maine readers).  With the help of a mulligan she recorded a 93.  After golf I met them at a favorite Mexican restaurant.  No supper tonight.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Two weeks at "home"

     We have been back for two weeks and it is past time to post a blog lest my loyal readership forgets me.  We are getting caught up on all the usual chores that follow a long jaunt in the bus.  We've been to the doctor, the dentist and the vet (for Belle and Baxter).  Prescriptions have been renewed and some have arrived.  Teeth have been cleaned and I have a new temporary crown.  The pups are doing fine although Belle is slowing down unless there are geese or a deer in "her" back yard.  The bus is at the shop, mostly for wash and wax, but Dometic will ship on Monday a new toilet to replace the cantankerous one we lived with all summer. 
     Last Saturday we had a pass to the Nationwide golf championships at Daniel Island.  Mostly we sat in the bleachers behind the 17th green.  Bud had a promotion whereby a birdie on 17 meant 15 minutes of $1 beer.  The birdies kept coming all afternoon.  Bud wasn't suffering, however.  At a buck for an 8 oz. Bud Light, they were still making money.  When I got up to get our first beer the folks behind us tapped Durelle on the shoulder and said,"Aren't you the Colters [sic.] from NH?"  We had met once before at the model home in 2003 as we prepared to move here.  I had no idea that the backs of our heads were so memorable.
     Today we went to a sports bar north and west of Mt. Pleasant to watch the Army-Air Force game with the West Point Society of Charleston.  Since I had spent four years at USMA and five years at USAFA, I could go either way.  I was rooting for Army and we lost by 20.  The first picture was taken in the bar when Army was leading.  We got home for a supper of soup and sandwich and a wonderful sunset.  The flower is a bit of an oddball.  The local informal name is Confederate Rose.  I have no idea what it really is.  A neighbor gave us a couple of shoots before we left and they have been unattended all summer and are now six feet tall.  It's really a bit of a weed, but it suddenly produced a nice blossom.
     I just finished reading, and can recommend, "Porcelain on Steel" by Donna McAleer.  It is a collection of a dozen or so stories of women graduates of West Point. It is a diverse assortment of accomplished women and I think many of you would enjoy it on a number of levels.  Kindle $9.95.
     Keep in touch.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Safe Arrival

     Well, we are safely home five months and eleven days after we left.  We are pooped from only a partial unloading.  A long Jacuzzi and a longer martini have dealt with most of the kinks.  It sure is nice to just open the door and let the dogs out into a fenced yard.  The battery charger is doing its magic on the Corvette, and soon we will be back to normal.
     The two pictures were taken in Fairfax, VA at the home of dear friends of over fifty years, Allen and Joyce Wegner.  You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of years that we haven't visited each other somewhere.  The first picture, of course, is Belle.  The picture doesn't capture the spring in her step, but she is beginning to show her age.  She'll be 15 in January.  The second shows the bus in front of the Wegner's house.  Joyce put on a couple of wonderful meals and we departed before ten for a relatively short day to Selma, NC.
     The last day of our 2010 summer was only 260 miles, and we arrived home at 1230.  There were no gas stops, no hills and no wind.  The result was a very respectable 9.1 mpg.  We were heavily laden as was the Jeep, but under good conditions we can get 9 mpg.
     It is good to be home, to see Cindy, and to get back to shorts and no socks.  Now that we are no longer on the road there will probably be greater intervals between posts.  In a month we head to Huntington Beach State Park for Thanksgiving week, and in February we head to Red Bay, AL.  Keeping checking the blog.  I'll try to find something of interest to post from time to time.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

RVing with a '37 Ford

Sunday was a pleasant but cool day. The temperatures barely made it into the 60s, but the wind was calm and the sun, intermittent. Durelle watched golf, college baseball and the Red Sox (and did some wash). We got up at 0830, walked the dogs, and I went to Hannaford to get the Boston Globe, and a couple of bagels. After a late but large breakfast I sat down to write my review of Linda Greenlaw's latest book, "Seaworthy" for the Charleston Post and Courier. I have sent it off. Should you want a copy, drop me a line. After the dog's supper and walk we ran into the unusual rig in site 40. Since they were only stopping for one night, I left Durelle to visit (she's good at it) while I went for the camera. The pickup is a 1937 Ford with a Ford 402 cu. in. V-8. The pictures don't capture it, but there is a green undercoat with blue over it. The colors change with the aspect angle. They started out in Vancouver and will rendezvour with a hundred other antique RVs in Nova Scotia in a few days and drive back together.

Pine Grove, Pennsylvania

Here we are at the Twin Groves Campground about five miles off I-81 at exit 100 (PA 443).  We got away from Brookline, NH at a respectable 0845.  It was a 382 mile day...a bit on the long side for us.  It was not a pleasant relaxing day.  We left in the fog which transitioned into rain.  The foliage colors for the first few hours were excellent even though the light was not great.  Then the ride turned a bit ugly.  The road was rough.  We broke a light bulb in Durelle's craft light and the dinette drawer containing the tray of dog food unlatched.  We are not sure how much Baxter ate before Durelle figured out where he went, but he got a quarter cup for supper with his fish oil pill.  There was a nasty headwind which knocked a hole in the mileage and there were crosswinds gusting to 30 mph.  Plus, large parts of I-81 were single lane due to paving operations.  These are not complaints.  All's well with the Cloutiers.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Last day in New England

     Well, this is our last night before heading south, and none too was 33.1 degrees this morning.  We decided to celebrate by dropping in to one of our all time favorite restaurants.  Some have said that this is a food blog rather than a travel blog.  Oftentimes it is hard to distinguish between the two.  The Mile Away restaurant in Milford,NH resides in a classic old New England farm.  The farmhouse, with its 28 foot, three fireplace central chimney was built in 1746...thirty years before the revolution!  The post and beam barn in which the restaurant resides was erected in 1812.  You might think that this would imply a farm-themed, kitschy sort of place.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Quiet elegance, damask and lace curtains set the stage.
     Now lets talk about the food.  I had a spectacular roast duck done to perfection with a delicate glaze served over rice which contained a hint of broccoli and cheese.  Durelle had weinerschnitzel parmigiana.  Mine was $24.95 and hers was $22.95, but (!) mine included an appetizer of veal and pork pate.  There were two meatloaf sized slices with a Dijon style mustard.  Her appetizer was baked stuffed clams, also included.  We each had substantial Caesar salads (included).  The vegetable we both chose was a Teriyaki medley.  There must have been ten to a dozen different vegetables, mostly julienned, with a touch of Teriyaki.  It was there, but very subtle.  Dessert was pumpkin cheesecake (also included).  Generous Beefeater martinis were $7.50.
     I can guarantee you that if you manage to find yourself in the area and try it, you will add it to your list of places to which you will return.
     Friday afternoon we will arrive at the Wegners in Fairfax, VA, and Sunday will see us back in SC.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Visit to a log cabin

     Today we took a short (90 minute) trip to Royalston, MA to see how my sister's log cabin is coming was also nice to see Marian again.  They are building the place totally with sweat equity.  It is three years and counting.  They have 25 acres on a spot that has a hundred mile view.  With exception of you folks with experience in the Berkshires, most folks don't believe those kinds of views exist in Massachusetts. 
     The first picture was taken in the town common in Royalston.  It is a classic Congregational church, and it shows that the fall color is past peak.  The second picture is taken from Marian and Eldy's place looking WSW.  The third shows Durelle and Marian in front of the house.  The phrase 'log cabin' doesn't do it justice.  Those are 12 inch logs from Montana.  It is a rustic site.  There have been bears, fisher cats, and coyotes wandering through the site.  The last shot shows a turkey that I saw today.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fall Colors in NH

   It's Saturday, if you are keeping track of weekends.  We stopped doing that in early 1997.  Today we decided to wander around our old stomping grounds in Milford, NH.  In 1989 we moved back to NH as I returned to Sanders' Associates.  By then Lockheed owned them, but that's another story.  We rented a house in Milford while we found some land on the Nashua River and arranged to have a house built.  We visited that Milford rental house today, had an ice cream at Hayward's (you are a bad influence, Eleanor), and took some pictures of the fall foliage.  The winds have been strong, and a lot of leaves are gone.  Nonetheless, we took some good pictures.
     We are operating with a rental car.  The Jeep is AWP ("awaiting parts" in maintanence lingo) at the dealership where we bought it.  It's a computer issue.  I was very frustrated today as Army lost to Rutgers in overtime at the new Meadowlands stadium.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


     'Twas a special day.  This morning Durelle left to get a perm from a long time friend while I did a bit of organizing around here.  Then we took a walk down to the shore of Lake Potanipo.  I still don't know how to pronounce it.  Passagassawaukeag was easy.  The first two pictures show the lakeshore and a view of the campground.  You can see the bus and the Jeep among the colors.
     At 5:30 we were at great granddaughter Brielle's T-Ball game.  It has been my observation that anyone who can coach a T-Ball team would have no trouble herding cats.  When two or more fielders get to the ball, possession is far more important than getting the ball to first base.  I told the coach, my grandson, that, "Next week we work on the infield fly rule, right?"  He laughed.  The third picture shows her winding up (without the ball).  In the fourth shot she is whispering in her father's ear, "Send me in, Coach."  The last shot is a young lady with a pink batting helmet.  That's our great-granddaughter!

Welcome to New Hampshire

     These two pictures were taken yesterday morning before we left.  The sunrise was an appropriate send-off.  When the second picture was taken, Jeri had left and we were the last of the Mohicans.  Granted, there are still a couple of seasonal rigs still on site but presently without inhabitants.  So when the Cloutiers pulled out, the only remaining occupants were the Bakers who own the place.
     It was an uneventful drive to Brookline, NH.  Uneventful is good.  I put in 86 gallons of diesel on the way out of town.  The last previous fill-up was in June!  After arriving in Brookline, we set up, cleaned up, fed and walked the dogs, and immediately drove to Nashua for supper with son Mark and most of his clan.  We'll check in at the office on Wednesday.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Our Last Full Day of 2010 in Maine

     Tomorrow we will depart Maine for NH.  Today, therefore, was our last full day and we made the most of it.  The weather was great.  The plan was to try Mount Battie again, but along the way we decided to drive up to the Summit at Lookout Point on the southern edge of Northport.  There had been an early wedding this morning, and it must have been special.  The first picture shows the pergola under which the vows were taken.  The second picture shows that the flowers set up for the wedding were white mums and bridal wreath.  The third picture shows the classic view of the Camden harbor from Mount Battie.  The color is a bit better than a week ago, but still not at peak.  The fourth picture shows a mega-yacht pulling into the Camden harbor.  The picture was taken from the top of Mount Battie, but you can see the relative size from some of the other moored boats and from of the size of the helicopter on the stern deck.  There is another shot of the colors at the foot of Mount Battie.  On our way back to the campground we stopped at Lincolnville Beach for lunch.  We chose McLaughlin's lobster shack.  We hadn't stopped there before, and we had a lobster roll, a haddock fish 'n chips and some onion rings with a local beer and a diet Coke.  The last picture was taken while we were eating lunch OUTSIDE.  It shows the Isleboro Ferry, the Margaret Chase Smith, pulling into the dock. 
     So, another Maine summer has come and gone.  There have been great quantities of lobster, oysters, mussels, scallops, clams, haddock and calamari.  Here's a toast to Dr. Amy Fairfax who allowed me to do that without a hint of gout.  There has been great fellowship with RVers that we have known for years and some that we just met.  Life is good!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


     Another blog with no pictures.  Oh, well; the last one had eight.  The weather was not clear enough and sunny enough to try another trip up Mount Battie, so we stayed here and did some packing up prepartory to heading south on Tuesday.  Did I say that the evernight low was 34.2?  It was.  The time has come to depart Maine.  It has been a top-notch summer here with great scenery, entertaining activities, and, most of all, wonderful friends.  We'll spend a week or so in Brookline, NH then head homeward with mixed emotions.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


     This is going to be a different attempt at a blog.  Almost by definition a blog is a written account.  Mine have always emphasized pictures, and in this one I've tried to include eight of them.  That is a lot, but I took several dozen and did several things.  The saga really started Monday when Durelle got up early to watch the Ryder Cup from Wales.  The pre-sunrise eastern sky, I'm told, was a spectacular blend of magenta, lavender and rose.  She almost got me out of bed to take some pictures.  So I decided to get up yesterday morning at six.  I took a bunch of nice pictures, but as the old fisherman said,"You shoulda been here yesterday!"  The first picture was early...note the gull, and the second was later as the sun was about to break through.
     The next item of business was a trip up Mount Battie to take some classic fall foliage pictures.  Alas, the color is not quite this far south yet.  I did include a shot of the Camden harbor that shows the rather subdued colors.  The light wasn't just right either.  We will probably make another try over the weekend.  We are leaving Tuesday, so it will be then or "wait 'til next year." 
     Next we paid a visit to the Merryspring Gardens in Camden.  The gardens are very attractive, but just as we were early for the foliage colors, we were late for the peak garden colors.  Timing is everything.  There is a picture of Durelle admiring the flowers.  Then I did find a splash of color (nasturtiums, I think) and took a closeup.
     From there we went to the Waterfront Restaurant in Camden for lunch.  It is one of our favorite restaurants, and it was warm enough to use one of the outside tables.  I had a half dozen local (Damariscotta) oysters.  They are from the same source that Jim Baker uses at Papa J's.  They are truly exceptional oysters.  For the entre I had a bowl of soup, but what a bowl it was.  Check the picture.  They called it a Tuscan Fish Chowder, but it is a close cousin to Bouillabaisse.  And that's a nice glass of Pinot Grigio next to my plate.  The next picture shows Durelle contemplating the activities of the Camden harbor and digesting a sandwich of crabmeat, bacon and avocado on sourdough bread.
    We still weren't done with our day.  On the way back north we made a stop at the Camden Hills State Park and took the walk down to the shore.  The last picture was taken there and shows a sailboat heading in toward shore. So we had a rather full day, and you can see why I had so many different pictures.  It remains to be see how well this format works for a longer blog with eight pictures.