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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Quiet Times With Friends

     We are enjoying a few days with only occasional commitments.  Durelle has pretty well caught up with the laundry and ironing prior to going to Maine where we'll get by with bi-weekly pump outs by the "honey wagon" instead of a sewer connection.

     My father's last house was built by his son-in-law, Eldy Taylor, in 1975.  At that time I scrounged from the construction site a 2 1/2 foot cut off end of a 2x12.  With a handheld router I engraved his name in the piece and hung it over the garage door.  After he died in 1983, and there was no longer a Cloutier living there, I gave the sign to our son, Mark where it has remained to this this day.  As you may surmise from the additional sign in front of it, it now resides on his large back porch where it has been for twenty years.  The raw piece of lumber has weathered nicely for forty years and counting.  It's a small symbol of the continuity of family.
     Last night we took Mark and Heather to downtown Nashua for an early 30th anniversary supper.  Nashua has not outgrown its small town roots even though it is now a city.

     This the unchanging Main Street.  We lived there from '77 to '84 and from '89 to '04.  Both kids graduated from Nashua High School.  As befitting a small town, we exited the restaurant to find, at the outside seating, a couple of Durelle's golfing buddies from 25 years ago.  
     The Jeep's bumper gets repaired today.  We've got a few days in the nineties, then we head for Maine on Monday.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Field & Stream RV Park

     We are quietly settled into a perfect gem of a small, private campground in Brookline, NH.  We've been coming back, year after year, for a decade or so.  It's not on the ocean, nor does it overlook great vistas.  It is not located next to a major travel route, nor does it offer a hot tub, clubhouse, or pickle ball courts.  It is just a quiet, friendly, landscaped oasis in a busy world.  It does have a solid 50 amps, water, sewer, and the best WiFi anywhere.  It helps that the campground owner previously made a living as an IT manager.  Though we don't have to use it, the new bathhouse and laundry is outstanding.  It is buried in a pine forest on a lake about 20 minutes from Nashua, a cosmopolitan city of over 100,000.  At the same time it has a strand of an electric fence around the property to discourage the black bears.  Bird feeders are not allowed.
     We come here every year...usually twice.  It is close to our son and daughter-in-law and their assorted progeny.  And, since we used to live in the area, it gives us a chance to visit old friends, even childhood friends.  This year it also allows us to stall for a half a month as Maine returns to temperate climes.
     Well, that's enough verbiage without a picture.

     The picture is significant.  That recliner of Durelle's used to be Baxter's favorite spot.  This year, however, there were only a few longing glances as he was convinced that there was no way he could climb into that moveable chair.  This morning, however, he looked at us, then slowly, one leg at a time, crawled up into his favorite perch.  We were sure that last summer would be his last year of enjoying motorhome travel.  Yet here he is enjoying life to the fullest.
     Today was a trip to Hanscom AFB to do some major grocery shopping.  We are still waiting for the date to settle to have supper with several couples of high school classmates.  Sunday is a major league, Memorial Day barbecue at Mark's and all our grandkids and great grand (except for Melissa in Australia) will be there.  Tuesday we'll take Mark and Heather to supper to celebrate their 30th anniversary a few weeks early.  Wednesday the front of the Jeep gets repaired.  We leave for Maine on the first.

Friday, May 15, 2015

We are in NH

     Another milepost.  We are now at the Field and Stream RV Park in Brookline, NH.  There are no RV Parks in Nashua where our kids, grandkids and great grandkid live.  So, Brookline it is.  They have an electric fence to keep out the black bears.  Bird feeders are not allowed.
     Why haven't I posted a blog in a week?  I have a contract with Verizon for 40 Gbytes per month.  I crossed 38 Gb a week ago and have been limping along until I could get to a site with a good WiFi.  We have not been idle.  Tuesday we wandered down to Plymouth, MA so that we could have lunch with Durelle's college roommate.  Below is Durelle and Marcia Dudley.

     On Thursday we drove down to Portsmouth, RI to visit one of my roommates, albeit for just one semester.  Ted (and Rene) Bierman live there.  Ted is a cosmopolitan fellow.  He's a retired Marine Colonel who restores old cars (1975 BMW CSI) and repairs old clocks and watches.  Rene also raises orchids as seen below.

     Their back yard is a thing of beauty.

     This morning was relaxed as we got ready to leave Fourth Cliff and head to NH.  Everything was nominal until I started to pull away.  I heard the noise in the bus.  What happened was that the base plate, that addition to the front of the Jeep that allows it to be towed, lost a bolt that attached it to the frame of the Jeep.  As a result, I pulled off the right side of the plastic bumper.  Well, with the help of Jim Medeiros, we got things disconnected.  Then, with his nylon tow strap, we cinched up the bumper to make it driveable.  The picture shows what it looked like.

     So, Durelle drove the Jeep up route 3, I-93, I-95 and route 3 again to Nashua and route 130 to Brookline.  I followed her in the bus.  I told her to drive it like a large crate of eggs.  I tried to stay about a hundred yards back to watch over things and be a blocking back if required.  I assumed she would baby it at or under the speed limit.  She was very gentle for a while.  Then she figured everything was sound.  She was at 65 for much of the northbound rte 3 into NH.  When we got to 130, she ran away and hid.  I couldn't keep up.  All's well.  we are settling into a pleasant fortnight in NH.  We even got the satellite on the second try!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

More Fourth Cliff

          It has been an interesting few days on this quaint little fishhook of a peninsula.  First of all, it has been as relaxing as it possibly could be…and we needed that.  I make morning runs in the Jeep to pick up a copy of the Boston Globe.  Durelle, on the other hand, has been happily sitting here from midday Sunday to midday Thursday.  At least two days of that was spent watching the whales.  We are about a hundred feet away from the shoreline both horizontally and vertically, so we have a very good vantage point.  She does a lot of dog walking in the immediate area, but it has been a long time since she has spent five days in a quarter mile radius.  Hell, that’s just a good par five.
     The whales are right whales and are distinguished by their double spray when they vent.  They are endangered.  They have a huge forehead which is filled with whale oil which earned them the name the “right” whale.  There have been up to four of them for two days.  At times they were right in front of our site and only a hundred yards off shore.  After a while a local boater went out to take a closer look.  A fellow camper called the Coast Guard who came and shooed the boaters away.  The best views were in the morning, but we are looking east into a ferocious sun.  The Leica is not fond of that.


     The other noteworthy aspect of this spit of land is that it is recovering from the frequently vicious storms of last winter.  After all the years, much of the sand is gone and stones, from pebbles to medicine ball sized rocks, were washed and blown across the spit to the western side.  Along the way they battered pilings and removed stairways.  All along the road I take to get the paper in the morning there are crews making repairs of various degrees of severity to the piling supported houses facing the Atlantic.

     Today we had lunch with Bill and Diane Russell.  It is the sixth time we have crossed paths, but it is the first time that it was intentional.  We have met at Red Bay, Alabama, a campground in Georgia, at a rest area in Maine, a Tiffin Rally in Massachusetts, and once before here at Fourth Cliff.  Today we found a burger place in Marshfield called KKaties Burgers that sufficed nicely. 
     All of this variety and camaraderie are the essence of the RV lifestyle. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Whale Watch

     Our location is on a bluff with an 180 degree view of a horizon that is defined by a line between the sky and the Atlantic Ocean.  This afternoon a solo whale wandered around in our front yard,  He/she spent most of her time on the surface, but without any breeches or other demonstrations.  The following pictures were taken through a dirty windshield, so cut me a little slack.

      There's another shot of the bus and the bunker that captures the essence of the place,
Today was a wonderful, do-nothing day...slept in...pleasant shower and shave...gentle walk with Baxter around the perimeter.  Had a nice breakfast of one slice of sausage, homemade hashbrowns with onion and one egg.  I read, and cleaned up the email system while Durelle did some cross stitch.  I think we are getting back to normal.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fourth Cliff 2015

     Fourth Cliff is a 56 acre recreation area administered by Hanscom AFB.  It's a wonderful spot with tall bluffs with clear day views of both Boston and Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod.  Erosion of the bluffs was pretty severe last winter, and there is a new fence about 12 feet back from the old one.

     The old concrete slab that you see was previously used to mount six inch guns used for the defense of the Boston Harbor in WWII.

     The grown over mound with a visible blast door behind the bus was the camouflaged bunker that housed troops, supplies and ammunition.  Note that I had to pull exaggeratedly close to the front of the site to get my rear wheels up high enough that the leveling system could handle it.

     The old reinforced concrete observation tower still stands.  The first federal use of the property was in 1880 when it became a life-saving station.  After WWI it became a Navy radio-navigation station.  During WWII it was a potent Coast Artillery site.  It became an Air Force Field Station in 1948.  At that point it became an antenna range for the noteworthy MIT/Harvard Radiation Laboratory (the famous "Rad Lab").  Shortly thereafter it sprouted the huge ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) test antennas which verified the capability to have limited communications with submerged submarines a half a world away.
     In recent years the historic little hilltop has hosted many thousands of military families as a vacation site and recreation area.  We'll be here until the 15th.  I haven't gotten up early enough to capture a sunrise, but looking shore ward there are some nice sunsets.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

55th West Point Reunion

   From Thursday to Sunday we have been dry camping in the parking lot of the Sheraton/Mahwah, NJ.  It's a big complex mix of commercial offices on floors 2-12 and hotel accommodations above that.  It was chosen for it's proximity to West Point and it's being adjacent to I-287.

     We checked in and confirmed our parking permission with the hotel.  

     Then we found a quiet place to park.  We would be making extensive use of the generator, and this was a perfect spot.  It did mean a half mile walk to the hotel, but we managed with some discomfort.  Friday morning was a bus trip to West Point for facility tours, lunch at Ike Hall and briefings from the Supe, the Comm, the Dean, and the AD.  One of the new facilities is the USMA Prep School.

Then there were some more self-guided tours. 

     The statue is Eisenhower with the Supe's house in the background.

      Here we see the three couples from H-2 and one of the widows who was able to attend.
Friday night was the dinner dance.  Company H-2 did not have enough folks to occupy a whole table, but we did bring our own tablecloth.  The back story behind the tablecloth is worth the telling.  On Valentine's day of 1960 there was a special dinner at the Bergman's.  He was an eye sugeon whose daughter, Jitske, was engaged to one of the H-2 cadets.  The table was set for a dozen: candelabra, linen tablecloth, silver, wine, etc.  Somehow, a bottle of wine was spilled.  Jitske and her mother agreed to write off the tablecloth.  Everyone present autographed the tablecloth.  In subsequent reunions the tablecloth collected more and more signatures.  Jitske embroidered the signatures, so that they wouldn't be lost with fading.  Over the years, many H-2 signatures appeared.  Durelle cross-stitched over many of them.  Now the tablecloth is a wonderful source of many memories.

         The "graffiti" and wine stains are original.  There was no more wine spilled on it this year.  You get less rambunctious as you approach our ages.  By the way, the DJ announced that the first dance was reserved for those who had been married more than fifty years.  The dance floor couldn't  hold them all!

         Saturday was the Alumni Review.  After painful review, I decided to join  the "walking wounded" and join the class after they had marched on.  The next two pictures are courtesy of John and Jackie Fare, Maine camping buddies with whom we shared the day.

     That's me headin' out.  I found a spot in the rear rank and observed what my legs thought was an interminable parade.  Below is a picture of the class of '60 in the bleachers.  The collective contributions of that group are hard to measure.

     After the parade was lunch in the cadet dining hall.  The Fare's live just north of West Point, so we invited them to join us for the parade and lunch in Washington Hall.  Jackie's gift made Durelle's birthday.


     Above is a small section of the 120 foot wide mural at one end of the dining hall.  Later there was a memorial service for our fallen classmates in the cadet chapel.

     It was a grueling weekend for those not well equipped for walking, but we are already talking about our 60th.