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Monday, August 29, 2016

House Guests

     For the past week we have had the pleasure of hosting multiple house guests in our motorhome on the edge of Penobscot Bay and showing them the various reasons why we are here. Our daughter, Cindy, arrived on Monday. She left Saturday, and somewhere on the Maine Turnpike handed off the baton to our granddaughter, Melissa, her husband, Illia, and our precious great-granddaughter, Madeleine. Cindy took a nice selfie of herself and her mother.

     Cindy has been here many times before. As a matter of fact, she's has been vacationing in Maine for some forty years. So, while we did some modest driving around (the ladies visited New Harbor), mostly her vacation consisted of relaxing here. She enjoyed the scenery, the camaraderie and the Happy Hours of the campground.     
 The Zotos' one night stay, on the other hand, resulted in a madcap "Maine in One Day" adventure. They arrived around 1000 Saturday and we quickly and rather impulsively decided to drive down to Camden for a lunch at the Waterfront restaurant. Illia decided to have his first ever lobster. The best they could do was a pound and a half, recently molted soft shell that had a lot of water in it. It was good and Illia liked it, but I assured him that lobster could be a lot better than that. It did make his first lobster easy to eat. 
     After lunch, while Durelle and I watched Maddie, Illia and Melissa checked out a few shops and got some ice cream cones. Then we took them to a lookout to get a view of the Curtis Island light house.

     From there we drove to the top of Mount Battie.

     I'm the one on the left. On the way back to Belfast we drove slowly through the village of Bayside in Northport. By the time we got back it was almost time for Happy Hour. As you might imagine, seven month old Maddie was the hit of the campground.

     After an hour or so of enjoying the conversation(s) of the Happy Hour, Illia decided that he wanted lobster for supper, too. I could have easily passed on supper, but that crazy Aussie came back with two four pound lobsters and four ears of corn!!

    The ladies did not want any lobster, so I was sorta compelled to eat a four pound lobster with him just to be sociable. These were real hard shells. We had nothing with which to crack those claws until Melissa got a hammer out of my tool box. There were lobster rolls for Sunday breakfast. They departed midday and were back in Nashua by 1615. Maddie slept until 1730, had supper, slept until 2200, woke up, downed 8 oz. of formula and slept until morning. She had had a weekend of activity and stimulation.
     These sorts of visits are fun, but hectic. Durelle took a long nap Sunday afternoon. And Monday we crashed!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cardboard Boats

     A couple of posts ago I covered a Saturday "race" among the Belfast folks that had assembled their wooden dinghys that morning. On Sunday there was a race for the young folks that built their boats out of cardboard and duct tape. I did not attend, but Ann Dunn did and provided me with the following cute and colorful pictures.

     Needless to say, a good time was had by all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


     This blog doesn't fit any previous themes, but I thought the picture on which it is based might be appreciated by some. Brielle is our great-granddaughter who will start the sixth grade in a few days. She had shown some unusual talent with pencil sketches to the point where she started taking some art lessons from a friend of her father's. She asked her father what he wanted for his birthday. He said that he would like one of her pictures framed on his office wall. When asked about a subject, he said, "How about the Boston skyline?" She said, "Daddy, that's too hard." A week later she gave him a pencil sketch of the Boston skyline.

     I find that sketch astonishing. I'm told that her father, Dave, has tears in his eyes whenever he looks at it. By the way, the picture of the picture is worthy of note in its own right. It is a well composed shot of a beaming, proud girl with some flowers for a bit of color. It was taken on her grandfather's deck with an old, partially obscured, router-engraved sign that I made for her great-great grandfather forty plus years ago.
     I think that's a keeper. I hope you like it.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Boat Race

     One of the interesting events in Belfast's summer "Harborfest" is a boat building/racing contest. The rules are fairly simple. You and your partner build a wooden dinghy in the morning and row it around a designated course in the afternoon. Up until a few years ago the builders were provided with a stack of lumber and tools and told to, "Go to it." A lot of boats sank. Now they are provided with a boat building kit with pre-cut parts. "Some assembly required". With the judicious use of the one tube of caulk, most of the boats stayed pretty dry.

     If you should lose an oar, desperate measures are required.

     In the end it was unclear who had won. It was clear, however, that no one seemed to care.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Happy Hour

     As regular readers know, on Fridays the campground provides the beer and wine while the campers bring hors d'oeuvres. It's a great opportunity to meet new campers. Today we had a couple from the Netherlands. They store their motorhome in the states and tour for five weeks each summer. Below are a couple of the camp workers that make it happen.

     The next shot is one of the many conversations that characterize the event.

     The background, of course, is Penobscot Bay. Finally an example of what we have in our front yard every day.


     From the grill:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sixtieth High School Reunion

     Durelle and I are both members of the Athol (MA) high school class of 1956. At the well organized sixtieth reunion there were about four dozen people. Sixteen were class members. We have lost 52 of our original 105. The dominant activity was it should be at this point.
     We stayed with my sister in their majestic log home in Royalston. I've shown pictures of the home in this blog before. This time I want to show you some of the pictures I took from their deck. There was a black bear, three foxes, raccoons, porcupines, turkeys, assorted songbirds and a dozen hummingbirds.
     First, the bear. It was a little too dark, and he was out of flash range. There's also a raccoon and a young porcupine in the first shot if you look closely.

     There were several foraging porcupines.

     And, of course, the ever present turkeys.

     The next shot is of a hummingbird. It was taken over the weekend and is so severely back lit that it is almost a colorless silhouette. I only include it because I caught him with his tongue fully extended.

     When it finally got absolutely too dark for wildlife pictures, a pleasant sunset appeared.

     Back to the reunion. It was held at the home of our perennial hosts, Claire and Buddy Carey.

     It was professionally catered by Craig Twohey and his crew from the nearby King Philip Restaurant.

We are fortunate to have the rock 'n roll steeped Mike Dube to spark-plug these events.

     The goal line marker comes from one of our significant games and is signed by many of the team. There were five teammates present.

     It would be a major accomplishment for some of us just to get down into a three-point stance!
     On Monday morning we headed "home" to Belfast with a stop at the Yankee Golden Retreiver Rescue in Hudson, MA to visit with Logan, a candidate to become our fourth rescue golden. Decision deferred.
     We arrived home after a pleasant but tiring weekend only to have a lobster feed the next day arranged by the usual stalwarts and held in the front yard of Dick and Eleanor Roth.

     We are still keeping busy.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Christmas Cove

     Yesterday was a road trip to meet Estelle Anderson and her daughter, Karen at the Coveside Restaurant and Marina in Christmas Cove in South Bristol, ME. Estelle, as some may remember, is Durelle's "second mother". She's 93 and in better shape than I am. The cove was named by Capt. John Smith when he visited it on Christmas Day of 1614.

      A large part of the Maine coast is a series of southward extending peninsulas. South Bristol is on the tip of the one just west of Pemaquid/New Harbor. It is home to one of those quaint, but generally upscale, clusters of vacation homes that can be found scattered along coastal Maine.

     If one were a really good photographer with the mobility to get properly positioned, this world is full of photo ops. Occasionally even I can stumble into an "out the window" shot that measures up.

     After a pleasant lunch we decided to pay a visit to New Harbor, a place of so many pleasant summer memories. An interesting coastal feature here is a ring of rocks that is completely exposed at low tide so that it traps the water that came in during high tide thus forming a pool. These are called salt ponds.

     Here it is shown at nearly high tide with the seaweed covered rocks barely visible. The pool is only  three feet deep, and it warms up in the summer sun and makes a great kiddie pool that is much warmer than the normal Maine water temperature. It's a wonderful place for kids and adults to examine the tidal flora and fauna.

     On the way back, Durelle was pressed into service to snap some more pictures out her window. This cove is Long Cove with Long Cove Point in the background.

     We left Route 1 to take some back roads back to Belfast. Along the way Durelle took another shot of the blog stalker's favorite red barn.

     When we finally arrived back in Belfast after a 150 mile day, Happy Hour was almost over...oh well.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Visit to the Salt "Mines"

     Today was an interesting visit to an operation just NW of Machias, ME that produces about five tons of sea salt a year. It was about a two hour + drive each way, and I managed to get a few pictures out the window while we were traveling. Barely east of Belfast is the Penobscot Narrows Bridge.

     At the far end, on a platform on top of a telephone pole, is an osprey nest.

          Machias is waaay down east and nearly to Canada. Eighteen years ago, an enterprising couple decided to make a living by carefully turning sea water into sea salt for commercial and private use. They built a series of 200 foot, plastic covered greenhouses in which to evaporate the sea water. Since they are not actually on the ocean, a water tank truck delivers the water to the evaporators 8,000 gallons at a time. The water moves via pumps from one evaporating/settling tank to the next. As the salinity becomes more concentrated, solid impurities settle out. The evaporating/settling tanks are only a few inches deep. Unlike the processing of maple syrup, there are no burners. Only the sun is used to evaporate the sea water. The temperature inside the greenhouses can reach 140 degrees. When a door is opened, out wafts a hot, salty sea breeze. It's enough to fog your glasses.

     It takes several weeks for the final crystalline salt to be produced. Here's a shot of a container of a thousand pounds of salt.

      The final drying occurs between towels. 

     The next step is to sift and season and/or smoke the crystals. 

     After sifting the salt may be flavored with a number of flavors such as: garlic, lemon, herbs, or pepper. They also smoke the salt with apple or hickory smoke.

     This is a labor-intensive process whose results I am anxious to try. We all bought an assortment of their products.
     After we were done, we adjourned to Helen's restaurant in Machias. They have recovered from their fire and have resumed their status as one of Down East Maine's iconic restaurants.

     Ann could not wait to order a platter of steamers.

     On the way back we came across a couple of the institutions unique to Maine...the roadside flea market and the fields of low bush, wild blueberries.

     And here are the blueberries.