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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Departure Day

     Well, tomorrow morning we leave the  Field and Stream RV Park.  When we stop here next year it will be eight consecutive years that we will have stayed at this little gem of a campground on Lake Potanipo.  Field and Stream  There are not a lot of campgrounds in this part of southern NH that can handle big rigs.  Dan MacLean runs a nice shop, and he can help with your computer problems.
     I did one last day of playing photographer and picked up a few things to take back, Beefeaters and Absolut for $24.99 are an example.
     The first picture I took was looking across Lake Potanipo.  As is usual, the color starts at the waterline.
     Later I checked out our old house on Marian Lane in Nashua.  We were the first owners in 1977.  It is now surrounded by shrubs/trees so a good picture was not available.  Because this was the place we lived when the kids were in high school, it contains many good memories.
     Later, on the way back I took some pictures at the Lull Farms in Hollis.  Do you want to make a jack-o-lantern?
     So, the summer is ending.  Tomorrow morning we'll hook up the Jeep behind the bus and head south.  On Tuesday we'll arrive in VA.  There we will reconnect with Tom and Dagmar Loose, Lee and Dodi Myers, and Allen and Joyce Wegner.  We'll be home on Friday.  It has been a great summer.  Keep in touch.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Wandering Around Nashua, NH

     Today I spent a couple of hours wandering around in search of photo ops and getting some last minute groceries.  The first such opportunity was a former railroad station for the town of Brookline where we are staying.  I drive by it every morning to get Durelle her morning paper and had always planned to take a picture.  Today I did.  It has been turned into a comfortable home, but it still sports the station name and the railroad semaphore tower.
     The next stop was in Hollis (est. 1746) to see if there were some alpaca shots.  They are cuter than a basket of bunnies and produce some wonderful wool.
     Here's a close-up of one of the youngsters.
     And, of course, kids and animals are always a safe fallback for a photographer,
     Later, I drove by our penultimate house.  It was supposed to have been our last house when we had it built in 1990, but we sold it in 2004 (timing is everything) and moved to SC.  It is a wonderful, rambling place on the Nashua River with many original and attractive features.
     As you can see, it certainly had room to park a motorhome or four.

Smokey Bones in Nashua, NH

     We only have two days to find that classic fall foliage picture.  Yesterday's steady rain has ceased, but it is still too cloudy for really good foliage shots.  Last night there were eight of us at a popular local spot for supper.
     Here is the girl's table with Durelle, Heather, and Carolyn, Brielle's Mom. It was too difficult to get a flash picture of two adjoining tables, so I took a separate picture of the guys.
     This, of course, is Mark (with a Coke!) and our two grandsons, Kevin and David.  Clowning in the background is great granddaughter Brielle  who has never seen a camera she didn't love.
     This afternoon I'll be doing some last minute grocery shopping and returning a favor to neighbor Janice who helped with my car troubles a few days ago.  She'll be packing up her rig which has been in place for the summer.  Keep in touch.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Supper at the Mile Away

     Last evening we met our barbecuing friends, Tim and Wendy Boucher for supper at the Mile Away in Milford, NH.  This restaurant, nicely situated in an old New England farm, has been one of our favorite restaurants in the area for over thirty years.  See Mile Away .  The farm was built in 1746 and was turned into a restaurant in 1967 by a couple of folks from Switzerland.  Ownership changed hands thirty years later, but it still retains a largely European and mostly Bavarian flavor with a couple of traditional  Yankee accents.  For example, my dessert was pumpkin bread pudding.  It's the sort of place where you can order roast duck and be sure that it won't be over-glazed or over-done, and I did.  Veal and schnitzel entrees are good choices as well.
     I didn't use the camera yesterday, so there are no pictures to fit the narrative.  Nonetheless, all prose and no pixels makes Frank a dull boy, so here is one of Baxter with a few of his friends.
          It rained steadily all day, but we'll venture out tonight to meet a large portion of the clan at Smokey Bones for supper.  We head south on Monday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Another search for fall foliage

     Today we returned to our old stompin' grounds in the Athol/Orange area.  About a mile and a half north of Route 2A on Wheeler Avenue in Orange is the classic old Johnson Farm.  www.johnsonsfarm.net.  They have re-invented themselves as a restaurant and gift shop specializing in traditional fare, wonderful attitude and some atypical  farm animals.  They also make a lot of maple syrup.  Below is a picture of a trailer with a pile of sap buckets waiting for spring.
      The farm has a number of interesting animals; there is a sturdy donkey and an even sturdier ox.

     One of the reasons for the trip was to have lunch with Linda Cain.  Her husband, Bill, was the best man at our wedding 52 years ago.  Bill passed last fall.  After we left the restaurant, we stopped by the Quabbin Nursing Home to visit Hilda Hastings, a close friend of Durelle's parents, who will be 100 in March.
     On the way back to Brookline we took 202 north to 101A and east to Milford.  We stopped in Peterborough to take a few foliage shots and to walk the dog.
         We also swung by 15 Tamarack Court in Milford to take a picture of the place we lived while our house was being built on the Nashua River from '89 to '90.
     Tomorrow we'll meet Tim and Wendy Boucher for supper at the Mile Away restaurant in Milfiord.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Premature Leaf Peeping

     Yesterday we decided to take a drive north to Henniker, NH to look for fall colors and take pictures of their famous covered bridge.  The 2003 Jeep is part of this story, so let me say that I already had an appointment for this morning at the Jeep dealership where I bought it to deal with the fact that I couldn't keep it idling until after it was well warmed up.  I assumed that there was an oxygen sensor or some other such sensor which was giving the computer false information.  As a result I have had to be very judicious in getting it started by using a lot of left foot brake and right foot throttle.  Once I'm running, it is OK but I was glad to have the appointment.
     At any rate, I was able to take a couple of early season fall foliage shots.  You will notice that only the so-called swamp maples close to the water have turned.
     Later we drove up to the center of Henniker, NH, the home of New England College.  Just west of the center there is a parking area which allows access to excellent views of their covered bridge.
     The classic fall colors had not arrived, but I took a couple of shots anyway.

     A couple of weeks from now that particular shot would be calendar art as the leaves will be red and yellow and will be reflected in the river.  (Un)fortunately we won't be there.  The overnight low in Nashua last night was 39 degrees and Pepperell, MA was 34!  The next shot is the same bridge in more of a close-up.
     Just a few yards downstream from the bridge is a classic old swimmin' hole.  Note the stair steps on the tree leaning over the river and becoming a diving platform.
     When it came time to leave Henniker, the car would not start.  This time there wasn't enough battery to turn it over.  I called the Good Sam emergency roadside service, and they sent a truck from Concord which arrived over an hour and a half later.  It was an hour's drive back south with every stop sign being an adventure of left brake and right gas.  I could NOT afford a stall.  The initial plan was to drive directly to the dealer and leave it for the next day's already scheduled appointment.  We had arranged for grandson, Kevin, to meet us there and bring us back to the bus.  Then we decided that I would drop Durelle and the dog off at the bus on the way to the Jeep dealer.  Unfortunately, during that stop, the car stalled.  By then it was 1900.  A fellow camper, Thanks, Janice, gave me another jump start with her truck AND followed me on the twenty mile drive to Nashua.  It was with some trepidation that I turned on the lights as the battery was hanging on by its fingernails.  Again there were some precarious traffic situations, but I got it there without stalling, and Janice drove me back home.  You recall from a few posts ago that Bernie Dunn and I had provided similar help to another camper, so I didn't feel too guilty about accepting the favor.  I think it is a part of the culture of this RVing community.
     Some of the Boucher's wonderful leftover brisket made for a convenient and enjoyable (if belated) supper.  As I post this, I am waiting to hear from the Jeep dealership.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Collection of Coincidences

     Twenty eight years ago I left Nashua for a substantial promotion in Greenlawn, Long Island.  When I returned to Nashua five years later, I became the Program Manager for the Comm/Nav/IFF (CNI) antennas for the F-22.  Working for me was a bright, energetic, strong-minded young engineer with a newly minted Masters in microwave engineering.  It wasn't long before I made her my lead engineer despite the fact that she was the youngest of the group.  She vindicated my judgement in spades and twenty years later became the VP of Engineering for the BAE Systems' electronic warfare business.  Now she is moving to Greenlawn to become the VP/GM of BAE Systems' ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) division with about a thousand employees worldwide.  She's the same age I was when I made the move, AND her deputy is a young lady I worked with in Greenlawn who had just started there with a new MBA when I arrived.
     Last evening Durelle and I went to their (to include husband, Bob Banks) house for a fine supper and enjoyable visit.
     As many of you know, we had Samoyeds before we switched to golden retrievers.  Below is a picture of Durelle with their Sammy, appropriately named Sammy.
     Another young lady from that F-22 crew of a couple of decades ago was Jill Shea.  Leslie invited Jill and her husband, Fred, to join us.
     For several years that crew shared great accomplishments and great frustrations with equal perseverance.  While falling well short of a combat environment, we "had each other's back" through some tough stretches.  We came away with the camaraderie of those who have shared difficult environments.  We wish Leslie good fortune with her new challenges.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Driving Range

     As advertised, this afternoon we went to the driving range at Ponemah Green in Amherst, NH to hit some golf balls with great granddaughter, Brielle and her mother Carolyn.  They are both taking beginner's lessons.  I think that golf is the least intuitive game known to man.  One wag described the game as,"attempting to hit a small sphere into a hole in a large sphere with instruments ill-suited to the task." at any rate, they are learning.
     This is Brielle approaching her battle with the golf balls.  Here's a shot of one of her swings.
     WAY down the list of my capabilities is being a golf pro, but I tried to help a little.  I think my suggestion to Carolyn may have helped.
     Of course there was the old standby pounding out solid drives, although even she could keep her left arm straighter on the take-away.
     It was great fun for folks many generations apart to be participating in the same game.  On the way back to the campground we saw enough turning leaves to reassure us that there will be some good photo-ops before we leave on the first.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Miscellaneous

     It has been a relatively quiet time here in Brookline, NH.  Yesterday we visited my sister, Marian, in Royalston, MA.  Their magnificent log home is still a work in progress.  They can live in it, but it is not finished.  It has electricity, water and sewer.  The views are magnificent and the creature activity is heart-warming.  The family of gray foxes that shows up every evening is particularly entertaining.  There is still a lot to do, but when finished, the place will be awesome.  A couple of pictures show the extent of the home.  I didn't take any outside pictures as it was raining, but the first shows the wonderful 12 inch logs.
     The wood stove installation is also classic.

      They have been expending their sweat equity on this place for eight years.  We all look forward to completion.
     Today Durelle had lunch at Nashua Country Club with all of her old buddies.  Thanks, Cricia.  We had  a rainy evening with some gusty winds, but today everything cleared out.  The clouds today are the classic alto-cirrus "mare's tail" clouds that presage good weather for the next couple of days.
     As we sat outside with snacks and a drink, Durelle and Baxter communicated.
     Tomorrow we travel to Ponemah Green so that Durelle and Brielle can use the driving range.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Feeding Friendz

     No, that is not poor spelling.  That is the name of the barbecueing team of Tim and Wendy Boucher.  They have been mentioned before in this blog as they are good friends from the Deerfield, NH and the Moorings.
     Today was the final day of the Fall Festival in Harvard, MA (no relation to the university).  In addition to many events such as a Trebuchet demonstration, classic car show and live music, it hosted the New England Barbecue Finals. Tim and Wendy are perennial contenders.
     I have wandered around such competitions before, but all I did was sample some wares and occasionally bought some while taking in the atmosphere.  Today, thanks to Tim and Wendy, I learned what really goes on behind the scenes at these events.  There is a well defined agenda for each weekend, and it doesn't change much.  Saturday is the grilling day with competitions in four categories: wings, sausage, shrimp, and dessert.  Sunday is barbecue day with, again, four categories: chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket.  Are you hungry yet?
     Here’s what I learned.  Each of the four submissions to the tent-full of certified judges must arrive at a certain time +/- 5 minutes.  Late entries are DQ’d.  For each submission the competitors present to the judges under a blind numbering system a 9" by 9" Styrofoam tray of greens with the meat artfully arranged on top.  There must be at least six pieces as there are six judges at each of several judging tables.  Subsequent submissions are routed to different tables.  What came as the biggest surprise was the amount of meat that is cooked in order to present those 6+ pieces.  With the ribs, for example, they cook six racks of ribs.  At the appropriate time (more on that later), Tim will carve off a rib.  Then he will taste one end and Wendy the other.  They will comment to each other on appearance, taste and tenderness, and go on to the next rack.  Eventually they agree on which rack(s) will provide the competitive ribs.  Below is a picture of their ribs.

     If you think they would melt in your mouth, you are right.  They are not falling off the bone, but are still tender, juicy and tasty.  As you can imagine, this generates a lot of wonderful food that is far beyond their needs.  Let me attest that the “worst” of the rejected ribs are ribs that you would be proud to serve to your most discriminating guests.  I asked about the reason for the variations (which I could barely discern).  The short answer was, “different pigs”.  Fat content and other features vary.  The same thing occurred with the brisket.  There were two complete briskets from which were selected only a dozen slices for presentation.  In this case, Tim and Wendy both agreed that the “burnt ends” were not up to snuff, so they just used whole slices.  Meanwhile, I sat there in their Toy Hauler Trailer by Raptor happily nibbling on all the rejects.  When I left, they sent me on my way with at least six to eight pounds of outstanding ‘Que.
     The timing of all these events is only slightly less rigorous than a space launch.  A submission one second late is DQ’d.  Prominent in the Boucher’s rig is a large, wall-mounted atomic clock.  The judges’ tent is similarly equipped. 

           In addition there is the “time line”.  This is a detailed, minute by minute, schedule for each of the meats.  In my framework from decades ago it is accomplished with military precision.  These competitions are won by the folks who are obsessive to details.
     The next picture is of their brisket.  Let me assure you that the backyard hobbyist never achieves this level of perfection.  I've tried.
     Below is a picture of Wendy in the back of their "Toy Hauler" at the end of the competition getting ready to secure all of their paraphernalia.  Trust me when I say that this sort of barbecuing is not just a matter of "throwing another shrimp on the barbie".

         This shot shows the three large cookers properly stowed.
      Below, if you can stand a few more pictures, are some shots of their competitors...a small tribe of good friends who count on each other for help when a calamity occurs.
     If you should find one of these competitions in your area, get off your duff and attend.  It is a wonderful piece of Americana.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Family in NH

     We have been in NH for five days, and, other than a brief check-in post, I have posted nothing.  Wednesday we went to grandson Dave's and Carolyn's condo for a very nice supper...would you believe Carolyn did a very nice lobster pasta?  Great granddaughter, Brielle, is a bright, well-behaved 7 1/2 year old second grader.  After supper we played four handed cribbage.  At one point the count to her was nine and she played a face card with a count of ten.  As she struggled to add ten to nine, I asked,"How much is ten plus ten?  She said,"Twenty...oh, it's nineteen!"  I loved the thought process.  She'll do fine.
     On Thursday we, Mark, Heather and second youngest grandson, Kevin, met at the Bahama Breeze to celebrate his 24th birthday.  It was early because he had to go to rugby practice, and we promised to make it to his game on Saturday.  When reduced to its basic principles, rugby is a simple, if somewhat violent, game.  For the uninformed it is like watching cricket.  To portray it with a camera is even more uncertain.  Nonetheless, here are a few shots from the game.
     This is the opening scrum/face-off/jump ball that determines who is on offense first.  The fellow at the upper left is Kevin.
     Here he is having a difference of opinion with the referee.
     At halftime Durelle was getting acquainted with a six-month old Bernese Mountain Dog.  Baxter was in the car.  I'll include a couple more rugby shots.  Imagine football with no pads!  We could hear the contact up on the hillside where we found seats.  Kevin is 6'3" and 230 pounds.  He was not one of the bigger guys out there.  In college he was on the Plymouth State College team which won a national championship title in division III.
     This shot shows a break in the action after a penalty.  The ref is in orange.  Note Kevin on the ground with his hand by his chin.  Also note the opponent walking away rubbing the back of his head.  After the game, Kevin had to go to the wedding of the captain of the team.  He was a little bit the worse for wear, but, Hey that's rugby.  He lost a cap on a front tooth.  He has it, but it certainly won't be re-attached until after the wedding.
     Tomorrow we will go to Harvard, MA to attend the Harvard Fall Festival where friends Tim and Wendy Boucher will be competing in a barbecue contest.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Brookline, NH

     So, here we are in Brookline...a small town west of Nashua where we have friends and family.  It was an uneventful (always a good thing) 230 mile day.  Just as with the Moorings, we have been here many times before.  Below are a couple pictures of our present setup.
     No big news or photo ops...just an update on change of location.