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Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday night at North Dock

     Well, here we are at West Point, parked at the North Dock on the Hudson River looking north up towards Newburgh.  The river at this point is, according to some knowledgeable folks, the only fiord in North America.  The banks are steep and high and the river is deep (350 feet).  It is still tidal up here, fifty miles from the ocean.  The storm surge from Irene flooded the lot in which we are currently parked.  On one of our dog walks we saw debris deposited at a high water mark several feet above the level at which we are parked.
     During most of the afternoon a helicopter landed at a nearby landing pad and picked up a half dozen sky divers who dropped onto the plain (parade ground).  The chopper must have made eight trips.
     Our trip down from Foxboro was uneventful.  We stopped in Stonington and visited two different groups.  Bonnie and Carl Banks came over to clean up some business that resulted from the Cloutier reunion.  We also wanted to visit Skip and Donna Anderson, some Maine camping buddies.  We visited with Skip, but Donna was on her way back from Maine where she was attending to her mother.
     We got set up here by two, so we had time to make an excursion to the Association of Graduates where I had some modest business to attend to, and Durelle found a cross stitch while I picked up a stemless wine glass with a West Point crest.
     I have a few pictures (all of which were taken from a lawn chair with a martini in close proximity) taken on the Hudson plus a shot of the "skydiver express".


     Tomorrow promises some rain.  I sure would like to see Army beat Tulane.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 2 of the Foxboro Rally

     After a week or so with a dearth of blog material, I now have more than I can use.  Yesterday was a bunch of so-so technical seminars, a large supper and a line dance instructor... NOT!  The best part of the day was a trip to Benjamin's Restaurant in Taunton where we had a very nice lunch and Durelle enjoyed a two hour visit with her UMass roommate, Marcia (Smith) Dudley.  Today the organizers pulled out all the stops.  Busses took us on an expertly guided tour of Providence, RI.  The streets were more of a challenge for the bus driver than the tour guide.  I won't begin to summarize the significant history of the area, nor can I show all of the pictures I took.  I edited down from the original 55 to about three dozen.  There were a few of the buildings in Providence.  Then we boarded the largest sightseeing catamaran in New England, a 400 passenger, three deck vessel.  The tour showed us ten of RI's 22 lighthouses, and we cruised slowly through the Newport harbor.  I got a nice picture of eight of the ten lighthouses, a number of impressive yachts, six or eight 12 meter class sailboats which had competed in (and sometimes won) the America's Cup.  Upon the completion of the boat tour we ended up at the long-closed Quonset Naval Air Station at the "O-Club" for lunch.
     The pictures of the capital and some other classic buildings in Providence are nice, but I think I will utilize my available bandwidth for the pictures taken in Narragansett Sound and the Newport Harbor.  The second of the ten lighthouses was the Plum Beach Light.
     The third was the Dutch Island Light.  Nearly all of the lights were less than 50 feet high...hey, RI is a small state.
     Perhaps the classic RI lighthouse that often shows up as an icon on annual reports and such is the Castle Hill Light.
     There were many more attractive scenes of waterfront estates that I have not included.  The harbor shots started with the Queen Mary II.  She was too big to go into the harbor.
     Next I will include shots of some of the more impressive yachts.  Then I'll show some of the America's Cup boats.


     The narrator identified all the America's Cup boats we saw and which ones won in what year.  I did not take notes.  Some of you aficionados (Ann) may recognize some of the names.  If you want more shots, drop me a line.



     The Columbia, the Intrepid and the Waverly (Westerly?) were all present.  As I mentioned, we ended up at the "O-Club" for lunch.  I took a picture of the plaque on the front of the building.
     Believe it or not, I have one more picture for you.  While parked in Providence and waiting for our tour guide to show up, I took a picture of a bird in a tree.  I think it is either a night heron or a bittern (Duane?).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tiffin Rally at Normandy Farms

     Today we had another one of those tough drives...69 miles from Brookline, NH to Foxboro, MA. so, we did not have to get away very early.  Last night we met the Bouchers, Tim and Wendy, at the Mile Away restaurant in Milford, NH.  They are GOOD friends from the Moorings who live in southern NH.  They are also nationally ranked grillers, smokers and generally prize winning chefs.  The Mile Away is one of those classic old New England restaurants set up on property that was a pre-revolutionary farm.  I thought about bringing the camera because I'd been a week without a blog.  Instead I opted for a quiet dinner for four,
     We arrived at Normandy Farms shortly after one.  It is a large facility with a great reputation as a camping destination.  They can handle 131 Tiffin motor homes without even breathing hard.

     The first picture shows a half dozen Allegros on display from The Campers' Inn in Merrimack, NH, and the second shows a very small segment of the 131 Allegros set up throughout the park.  There is a full slate of activities for the next three days.  There should be some better photo-ops.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cloutier Family Reunion

     Yesterday, the 17th of September, a reunion of the Cloutier family was held at the Fish and Game club in South Royalston, MA. About six dozen attended.  My father was one of eight siblings, five boys and three girls.  His father died in a wintertime gravel pit accident with a collapsing bank of frozen soil in 1921, shortly after the youngest was born.  My grandmother brought up the eight kids on a subsistence farm right through the teeth of the Great Depression.  The farm was located about a mile or so from where we held the reunion.  All eight grew up to be a feisty, hard-nosed clan of many talents and a universal, and sometimes unappreciated, sense of humor.  That generation has all passed, but their many descendants get together irregularly in order to stay in touch and meet the newest members of Nannie's Clan.  I will include a picture of most of the group present and a picture of Durelle and I  with ALL of our progeny.  It is the first time for such a picture.

     Our corner of the family also provided both the oldest and young member of the clan who are named Cloutier.
     For those of you who may be new to the blog, that's Durelle and her great-granddaughter, Brielle.
     The weather was great, the food was plentiful, and our fund raising efforts for scholarship funds were modestly successful.  With any such event there is always one dedicated spark plug without whom the reunion would not have happened.  Thank you, Bonnie (Cloutier) Banks.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Arrival in Brookline, NH

     After a summer in Maine we have arrived in New Hampshire for a scant two weeks.  The Field and Stream RV Park is one of our favorites.  We have been here many times.  It is not a big place but it has a lot of regulars.  It has 50 amps and sewer at every site...something we didn't have in Maine.  It is located adjacent to Lake Potanipo.  Besides, it gives us easy access to our Nashua grandkids.  
     It was a sentimental departure from Maine where we had spent nearly seven weeks.  We will be back there for six weeks next year.  The rest of the summer is still TBD.  We have put approximately 350,000 miles on motorhomes.  But, with all the friends we have visited along the way, the times on the Maine coast have been the best.  As we left at about 0930, the Dunns, the Roths and Jeri Johnson were all out to see us off.  The picture below shows the group.
     When someone leaves (or arrives) there is a receiving line with hugs for everyone.  The travel adventures and the photo-ops make for great story telling, but the friendships are the real basis for the RV lifestyle.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Packin' Up day

     We've been here for nearly seven weeks, and it's time to move on.  As happens every year here, as departure day approaches, we all scramble to do and see all the things we want to do and see before we leave.  Today I did Frogmore stew for fourteen.  For those who are unfamiliar, Frogmore stew is a "low country boil' containing shrimp, sausage, 1/4 ears of corn on the cob, red potatoes, onions, lemons a a substantial amount of Cajun-like seasonings.  The pictures below were taken before and during the meal.  Rick and Judy Feyler drove up from Owl's Head to join us.

     Tonight Dick Roth and Bernie Dunn did one last batch of lobsters.  Because of the breeze off the bay, we set up the tables in the lee of an expensive forty foot windbreak.  During the day I got all the things packed that I could, leaving as few chores as possible for tomorrow morning.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 plus ten

     This is not going to be an editorial or even a recollection.  The world is full of pundits who earn their livings explaining and/or describing what we all know.  It's a different world, and we all have to learn how to live in it.  In our own little, isolated and largely protected world here on the mid-coast of Maine we have all spent varying amounts of time with our memories.  What marked the day for me was a couple of new friends that joined our happy hour.  They are Riverside, CA folks, Gary and Cheryl Priest, who thankfully felt comfortable enough to come up and announce, "We are going to crash your party."  Hey, he's retired Air Force so he must be OK.  He's also quite a photographer.  See www.garypriest.zenfolio.com.  
     It was a quiet day.  As usual on Sunday morning here, I drive down to Hannaford's to pick up the Globe and a couple of bagels.  Today I also purchased the ingredients for tomorrow's Frogmore stew.  It was cool enough this morning that I used the quartz heater to take the chill off.  The outside temperature was about 50.  Since we are post labor day, the campground has some empty spots. That enabled me to take a picture through the windshield to give you a feel for our location.  The view is toward the northeast at low tide.
     Tomorrow is Frogmore stew.  Tuesday will be lobsters and Wednesday we leave...another summer come and gone.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Clear, Crisp Fall Day

     After yesterday's wonderful escapades at Schoodic Point, today was quiet.  Durelle had hair (permanent) and nail appointments in anticipation of the Cloutier reunion this next weekend.  I didn't.  As a result, I went to the VFW Pig Roast in Belfast with the Dunns and the Roths.  Fred, who used to do the pig roasts in Stockton Springs, was on hand to do a great job for the VFW.  Seven bucks (eight including a drink) got you more than you really needed to eat.  The pork was fine.  Below is a picture of the Roths and the Dunns at the table..  My candid shots have not been successful lately, but this one is much better.
     Later, it quickly became clear that, although I had had a big lunch, Durelle had not had any.  No problem.  Durelle went up the hill with the Branns to Papa J's for supper and I passed.  We did have a happy hour (don't we always?) before supper.  Kirin, Dick and Hilda Brann's grand-daughter, showed up with a purple Halloween wig that resulted in the following picture of Bernie Dunn.  Retired Marines in drag are not a common occurrence.


     I have one other shot that I hope someone can help with.  It is a large colorful mushroom for which I have no identity.  If anyone can help, let me know.  There is is nothing in the picture for scale, but the plant is about a foot and a half across.
     So, what do you think...anyone recognize it?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Schoodic Point

     I've got more pictures than I can use.  Today was the aftermath of Katia.  It is now probably 750 miles offshore.  But, we all expected that the winds would still be able to generate some nice swells that would make for some good pictures as they broke over the rocks at Schoodic Point.  Schoodic is east of Mount Desert Island and Bar Harbor and, as such, offers the first landfall for the storm's waves.  We were also aware that we would arrive at dead low tide.  Both factors; the storm's distance and the tide, led to lower expectations.  Guess what?  The waves were spectacular!
     As you can imagine, I took a lot of pictures following the old adage about blind pigs and acorns.  I deleted a lot of pictures that were really pretty good.  There were eight of us: the Dunns, the Roths, the Cloutiers, Jeri and Sheryl.  We brought a lunch and the dog and unfolded our chairs at the edge of the rocks.
     The weather was great.  It was much warmer on the shore than we expected.  There was some sea fog to the east, but it did not restrict our enjoyment.  There were lobster boats working out in the turbulent surf.  Dick, with his binoculars, said that they were pulling traps with lobsters in them.
     I did catch one picture where a sea gull served to add some scale to the picture.
     After we returned to the Moorings, it was almost time for happy hour.  Wouldn't you know, the sunset mandated one more picture.
     I realize that downloading this post will take more than the usual bandwidth.  I apologize, but it was a special kind of day, and I wanted to capture it all.  Trust me...there were a lot of unused shots.  This was the sort of day that we live for and makes all the travails of travel worthwhile.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

X marks the spot

     Things are quieting down.  The campground is only one quarter full.  Today I stopped at a farmers' market/deli only to find a sign that said,"Closed for the Winter".  Hell, it isn't even fall yet.  I had been down to Warren to visit the Lie-Nielson Toolworks, the Mecca for woodworking hand tools.  When I came back, there was a small happy hour...just the Dunns, the Roths and us.  The sky was populated with some very high, alto-cirrus ice clouds and some unusually persistent contrails.  The picture below shows a "X", but a few moments before it was a perfect cross.
    Durelle had done a pot roast in the slow cooker that made for a very nice supper, but we are all very aware that our days here are numbered and there are so many things we haven't done.  C'est la vie!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Campfire

     Saturday evening the Branns and the Cloutiers, with four others went up to Papa J's for supper.  Brielle and her two new friends enjoyed the meal.  After supper we all went to the Branns to sit around a campfire.  Hilda had plastic "light sticks" and sparklers for the girls and, of course, S'Mores were on the agenda.  The Branns have been long time residents of the Moorings.  Usually they come up for the weekends as they are both still working.  Dick is the postmaster of an endangered species, the small, neighborhood post office.  Hilda keeps the books for seven McDonalds in the area.  Since it was nighttime, I had to use the flash to take pictures.  That meant that all I could see through the viewfinder was black.  It really was "point and shoot".  

     Although the photography was pure guess work, the two shots of Brielle were special.  Check the eyes.

     We enjoyed the fire until it was bedtime for the girls.  The Branns have an elegant fire ring with their name on one side and a replica of their fifth wheel on the other.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Windjammers in Camden, Maine (300th post)

     Today was one of those cool, early fall days in Maine with enough breeze to set sail but not enough to keep you inside.  We did a bit of shopping in anticipation of a visit tomorrow by grandson, Dave and Brielle, our six and one half year old great-grand-daughter.  The weekend is due to be warmer, so we are looking forward to an enjoyable weekend as seen through the eyes of someone three generations behind us.  While Durelle was vacuuming and generally cleaning up, I did my part by getting out of her hair.  Labor Day weekend is a traditional time for assorted windjammers to congregate in Camden.  Today was no exception, plus there was plenty of sun and a "high sky" to satisfy the many photographers.  Below are shots of three ships.  The routine is to sail into the mouth of the harbor under at least partial sail for the sake of the spectators, come about, lower the sails, and motor on in to the docks.


     I'm no sailor, but I never get tired of watching their graceful ballet.