Sunday, September 30, 2012

No Color Could Be A Problem!

Just had to post this little fellow for my non facebook followers. He's just about 1/4 of a mile from my house and brought to my attention by our UPS driver. Thank you Beau! While our little porcupine here is white, I see no pink eyes so he is not a true albino. I hope he make it to winter....

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Nothing But Nature... and footprints

Yesterday afternoon was devoted to the art of fishing, not for me, mind you but for Carl. Although to be perfectly honest, you have to actually catch some fish in order for it to be called fishing. I walked the beach looking for stuff, stuff to take photos of, stuff to fill my attention span and stuff to pick up and throw away later. I took a photo or two of all the human trash I picked up in just a one hundred yard section.  I vowed to come back today with a plastic bag to collect more. I had my hands full of camera, Crocs, sun umbrella and barn boots which were supposed to keep my feet dry while walking along the surf line. All it took, though, was one large wake wave to swamp those babies and then it was boots off for the rest of my walk.  If we sat very still, the plovers and sand pipers would come within 20 feet of us. Of course the minute one of us would move, they were off. By the end of the day, Carl had one striped bass in his bag. Today, we were off to another Wal-Mart for a proper pair of needle nose pliers to remove hooks and a filet knife, well to filet the fish of course. I stayed at the camper to listen to the Red Sox get beat by the Texas Rangers and Carl went fishing again. I caught up with him later, without the boots, umbrella and Crocs today. I did remember the plastic bag to collect trash and had no trouble filling it. I will be so happy on the day I can walk a beach and only find marine debris like bits of shells, seaweed and surf washed rocks. Human footprints are also acceptable.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Scituate Light

Okay, so with almost no humidity in the air and bright blue skies above, the light was a must see. The Scituate Light was built in 1810 and manned by two women during the war of 1812.  The Bates Sisters kept British shore parties at bay by beating on drums and burning huge fires on the breakwater. They were known as the army of two and their bravery is celebrated still today. Like so many still active aids to navigation, the house where the keeps once stayed is now private property but the grounds around the house are not. We walked the manmade jetties looking for just the right angle to capture a beautiful piece of New England history.  It was the navigational help I got from Verizon that left us wanting today. Thank goodness, my phone knew where we were because I didn’t. The sun high overhead caused the lighting to be a bit on the harsh side so I used my polarizing filter and stopped down to f7.1, a full stop less than I would normally have shot. Once we returned to Fourth Cliff, the ladies at the office were most helpful in directing us to the local bait shop ( it seems Carl may have not been using what the fish were wanting yesterday ) as well as a recommendation to Polcari’s Bridgewaye Inn and restaurant for lunch. After three visits to the seaside, I finally got my swordfish, grilled over rice with onions, peppers and zucchini. Carl had a fried fishermen’s platter with oysters and scrod instead of the usual clams and cod. If you’re ever down this way, I highly recommend the restaurant, the view, the food and the prices were all within reason.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Day Of Expeditions

Today, I completed my very first navigation by Smart Phone. We needed to find the Wal-Mart in Plymouth to pick up a few thing. Go figure, us needing a Wal-Mart is kind of like a hummingbird needing nectar, right? So, I punched into the 4G lte Verizon Wireless network and searched for the location. Then the site very wisely offered me both turn by turn directions as well as a map. We arrived at our destination with no sexy lady’s voice to announce the feat, did our shopping and then I asked the smart phone to reverse our odyssey and get us home before the ice cream melted which it did although it probably wasn’t our smartest move to buy a quickly perishable item without benefit of a cooler or freezer bag. On our way home we passed several floating docks covered in diving birds, probably cormorants. The tide was on it’s way in and along with it must surely come a sumptuous buffet so they wait. Carl dumped me off to store our provisions while he dashed to the campground office to rent his fishing pole. He has it in his head to “provide for his family”. I have a box of Gorton’s in the freezer just in case. As it turned out later, Carl returned, sun burnt, frustrated and empty handed. I on the other hand had a great bone in rib eye steak ready to take center stage. Then, all we had to do was wait for the show, sunset I mean which was pretty nice. Note to self: Bring bug spray to tomorrow night’s sunset due to biting flies, mosquitoes and no see ums. We had them all.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fourth Cliff, MA

The plan was to leave Whitefield by 9:30 to get ahead of the traffic but we were about ½ hour late. I didn’t think that would make a difference. By the time we hit the Hooksett toll booth rest area, the flow of vehicles was down to about 35 mph. And the line for the ladies rest room was out the door so I decided to use our camper “rest room” but not before I listened to the E-Z Pass promoters explain how the improved program works. Right now, the device is linked to 14 states and allows a 30% discount on all passenger class tolls. The initial investment was $25.00 and the device came activated with $9.05 credit on the account which meant the device we purchased today was mounted on our windshield before we left the parking lot and we sailed through in relatively short order for the amount of backup there was. Boston traffic flow for a Sunday wasn’t all that bad and we arrived at Fourth Cliff Military Reservation in the township of Humarock, just outside of Scituate, MA about 3:00PM. It took a bit of mastery on Carl’s part to get into our site due to the afternoon beachgoers all parked along the seawall. We knew it was warm but it was still a breath taker to climb out into the 94 degree salt air. By the time the camper was level, plugged in and hooked up to town water, I had the slider into position and the air conditioner on which didn’t shut itself off for more than two hours. By the time the temperatures outside modified, a thick and angry gray sky would prevent us from seeing much of our first sunset. The wind, strong when we arrived, has picked up considerably and is shaking the camper with fierce determination. I asked Carl if we were back in South Dakota where we were caught in the tail of a micro burst last year. I have high hopes for tomorrow but the Accu-weather forecast is calling for thunderstorms. It figures! The weather jonahs are in town.    

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Another Photo Shoot?

We had only been home a few days when Carl announced he’d found a military reservation on the seacoast somewhere between Quincy and Plymouth, MA. It’s called Fourth Cliff and the site Carl reserved overlooks the ocean. We’ll be spending 5 days in a campsite where we can see sunrise from the passenger side of the camper and sunset from the driver’s side. He’s excited because they rent fishing poles.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rain Postpones Art

We have to leave today so we can be in South Paris for the show tomorrow at Moore Park. I finally got a wireless signal from the Lowe’s in Auburn, ME and find more than 150 emails, most of them junk. The one that really mattered was from the event coordinators who made the decision to postpone the show until Sunday. It seems some meteorologist expected severe weather including gale force gusts and flash flood type rains. It’s never an easy decision to use a rain date option even though that option had been on the posters and announced in all the press releases. The decision, not made lightly, involved 4 people. I just wish I could have found out sooner. we would have stayed in Acadia for another day. As it happened, the bad weather never materialized and I think it would have been a fairly good day. We’ll never know how many people might have shown up on that Saturday. Our extra day was spent in the Wal-Mart parking lot watching Red Box movies and it only rained a little in Auburn. We found out on Sunday the rain never materialized in South Paris.

Sunday morning dawned gray and dreary. We set up our tent in South Paris while holding our breath that we could get everything under cover BEFORE it rained. I’m happy to report we finished setup with about an hour to spare. The photo I chose for the Art Show judging was my shot of the sea grass carving an graceful arc in the sand taken on the Cape earlier this year, the piece I call “Nature’s Artistry”. The image received great reviews from many of the patrons and as it happens, I sold the piece but with 4 photographers and 3 prizes, guess who was left out?  When all things are considered , I guess I’d rather sell my work than get a bit of brightly colored ribbon. It’s just that validation for my work seems to eat at me, somehow making it important. Will I let that stop me? Not on your life. In fact, I’ve printed the same image to be judged in Littleton the end of September. Hope the judges there have a better sense of the dramatic.

I must say the event coordinators did a great job. It’s a wonderful venue with what could have been a high volume traffic flow. I’m looking forward to next year already. We’ve already discussed a plan to do the Yarmouth Clam Festival, the Moore Park Art Show and the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland without returning home.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fishing Or Catching

He said he wasn’t going fishing. I knew better. He found a commercial fishing boat who also ran about 120 lobster traps, the Vagabond, whose rates were very reasonable. It left from Beal’s Lobster Pier every morning and afternoon and since I really didn’t want to go, Carl made an afternoon reservation for one. I had plans to walk the beach and take a few more photos but woke up with a migraine and spent the day in bed. He came home happy, with Mackerel, Pollack, Cod, a Stone crab and a lobster. It seems pretty much everyone on board ends up with a free lobster to take home. It’s something the Vagabond has been doing for 29 years. Now, I love the ocean but can’t stand the smell of lobsters cooking in the pot and it was worse in the camper because it took longer to get the water back up to the simmer once the deed was done ( placing the lobsters in the water head first, I mean ).

I may have grown up on the ocean, love the smell of marsh flats and enjoy slogging through the mud at low tide but I’m one of those rare New Englanders who don’t like lobster or steamers. I do like some fish and scallops so it isn’t all bad.  Did I mention he came home happy?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Park Loop

When you’re planning a big driving day centered around photography, the last thing you want to hear is the pitter patter of raindrops on the roof of the camper. The second to last thing you want to hear is your husband playing the part of alarm clock long before you’re ready to get out of bed. It’s my own fault because honestly the book I was reading last night was too good to put down when I should have. Anyway, after stealing another 20 minutes or so, I finally got out of bed and was greeted by sunshine and blue skies. We couldn’t start the generator for another hour and agreed to hit the local coffee shop. The place is called Common Ground Soup Kitchen, a coffee and popover with free wi-fi kind of  place open 4 hours every morning and run by volunteers with all donated goods. Our hot from the oven popovers came with homemade wild blueberry jam and strawberry preserves. The donations left by summer patrons help the Soup Kitchen ( a misnamed establishment if there ever was one ) to care for the winter full time residents who may need a hand when all of us sun worshippers leave. Last year, they hosted 30 community wide family events including a huge Thanksgiving dinner. On most Saturday nights they have a family style pizza accompanied by open mike music. The building housed a traditional restaurant in 2006 and 2007 but switched to the all donation coffee and popover format in 2008. Since that time, they have satisfied for than 8,000 people and served more than 25,000 cups of coffee. I think this is a wonderful idea and know of many other tourist based communities that could benefit by this spirit.

Our trip along the Park Loop was a leisurely one since the first 25 miles were one way traffic at speeds of 25 mph and every ¼ mile or so there was a place for us to pull over to take photos. And when it wasn’t me asking Carl to park it, it was the thousand or so other shutterbugs who all wanted those drop dead gorgeous pictures even if it meant dashing out in front of oncoming traffic. I have to tell you my favorite was Schooner Point but there wasn’t a bad view anywhere. We had our lunch at the Fabrii picnic spot in the shade of some huge white birches but before that we went on a little nature walk at the Wild Gardens of Acadia. When I say little I mean I misunderstood the map and we walked about two miles without even being in the garden. Who knew? I guess I worked off my two popovers from breakfast.

A happy wrong turn in Southeast Harbor sent us along Somes Sound which was a lovely side trip and I highly recommend it but only in a passenger vehicle, no campers allowed.

We spent some time at the Beal Docks watching lobstermen unload their catch and decided to have supper right there on the wharf. I can certainly tell I got some sun and exercise today. The bottoms of my feet feel as if they are on fire and so does my nose and forehead. I took about 150 photos today most of them I consider vacation memory kind but there are one or two that show promise and may make the production line before too long.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cadillac Mountain

We had a few thunderstorms pass through during the night with more than a little rain. After a leisurely breakfast, Carl and I hit the road with the idea of covering some of the less spectacular scenery on the western side of the island but like so many plans, this one was thwarted by the pea soup fog and even if I could see what’s out along the coast, I didn’t have a shot through the fog. As we moved inland, the fog began to lift just in time for the rain to start. So much for photography. We changed our plan and headed to the Atlantic Brewery Company where you can sample about 6 different brews locally made in the company store where that very same beer is on sale. I had a sample of their Logger Lager and then moved on to their Old Soaker Root Beer.  Since Maine is famous for two things, lobster and blueberries, and lobster flavored beer would be just way too weird, the brewery also makes a pretty good blueberry soda and a not so good blueberry ale. In the spirit of cross advertising, they recommended our next stop be the Bar Harbor Winery which was our plan anyway. There, we sampled 7 different wines including a better than good blueberry wine. I had to bring a bottle of that one home with us. Our plan was to head into Bar Harbor for another brewery in the center of town but the place was hopping, with no parking available so Carl decided to pass on that one.

On our way back to Seawall Campground, we approached the turnoff for the road  up to Cadillac Mountain.
I knew the weather was less than optimal but I had to find out what the big deal was. Everyone who found out we were headed up to Acadia inevitably asked, “Are you going to go up the mountain?”  It’s a short drive but it’s a twisty one. Probably not more than a category 4 climb on the Tour de France but we saw many cyclists turning their wheels with vigor along the way. When we finally reached the summit of the 1530 foot mountain, the highest point on Mt Desert Island, we had quite a view in all directions in spite of the low ceiling, fog banks in the distance and the hazy humidity hanging in the air. I can certainly see the appeal on a good day where you would get a breathtaking view of the western Atlantic, outlying islands, the interior of the island, several lakes and the bustling little village of Bar Harbor.

Our way home took us through Southwest Harbor and I asked for a side trip to Clark’s point where the commercial fleet unloads their catch. It seemed as if the skies were lifting so we parked and walked around the dockside complex which also included the local Coast Guard station. About 20 minutes later, it began to rain once more so we turned for home.

Monday, July 23, 2012

On To Acadia National Park

July 23, 2012

I’ve only been to this part of Maine once on a dive trip some years ago and to be honest I don’t remember much from that trip except the water was murky and really cold, my thick neoprene wet suit was cumbersome and the seals didn’t want to play with us uncoordinated humans so the drive onto the island, today, was a pleasant surprise. We checked in to the Seawall Campground, had an early supper and then went for a short drive to the Bass Harbor Head Light. We spent about an hour climbing over gargantuan slabs of sea worn rock to get the best angle of the warning beacon still in use today and although we were hours ahead of the sunset, I could see this site had potential. It also had the potential for a sunrise shot but the climbing out onto the cliff side during that predawn light could be a bit tricky if you weren’t careful. You’d also need at least one flashlight.

We weren’t ready to retire just yet so we stopped at one of the many trailheads for a short walk. The one we chose was called Wonder Land and Carl figures it was about a mile through scrubby woodlands and over huge glacier scarred slabs of granite until at the very end the hard pack earth from so many feet gave way to the sea washed gravel. Carl was surprised there has been no sandy beaches on this side of the island. But, oh, the rocky coastline with countless tidal pools was beautiful. I grew up off the coast of Massachusetts on Plum Island where salt air played havoc with my naturally curly hair and I dealt with more than a few painful sunburns during my childhood. I felt comfortable wandering along the shoreline looking for subjects for my camera. Finally as will all good things, we turned for home and our camper. I hope it was a great sunset. I didn’t see it from the campground. Acadia is a National Park and has ranger programs most evening which we enjoyed very much while at Denali last summer. The programs for our campground are at 9:30PM at the amphitheater. That’s way past our bedtime.

Yarmouth Clam Festival

July 20-22, 2012

Well, as the name implies, we just had to have seafood one evening after manning the booth in the heat of summer. Carl had a good sized bag of steamers and a soft shelled lobster while I had grilled scallops served in a hot dog roll. Yarmouth is a great place and they really know how to throw a party. The event is in it’s 47th year so they’ve had plenty of time to work on the small details. Things like music in three places, road and bicycle races through the Main Streets, a fireman’s muster under the Route 1 overpass, a huge “food court” where all types of social organizations are responsible for an incredible array of foods ( more on this later ), a craft fair with over 100 artisans and an art show with more than 40 artists, games for the kids and even karaoke on the big stage during the day, no liquor required. They also had Smokey’s Midway and Carnival rides for those who have to do that sort of thing.

We talked with a lady who worked the Lime Rickey booth. She said everyone from the boy scouts to soccer  parents get together, decide who will sell what and what the prices will be and then Sysco sets up two tractor trailers, one refrigerated and the other frozen for them to buy their food as they need it. Only one booth can sell pizza, one for fried clams, one for lobsters and so on. The only duplicate was bottled water and that price was preset. We never had a Lime Rickey but they were served in lime colored plastic cups and we saw a bunch of them. Everywhere you looked people were strolling by holding lime colored plastic cups or sucking on lime colored straws.

Our participation in the Art show was a successful venture. Sales were okay, business cards disappeared and we networked with several local artists and picked up helpful tips and chatted about other events in the area. We even lucked out with our overnight accommodations. The event staff created a mini campground at the Travis Roy Ice Arena which is part of North Yarmouth Academy. It was so close,  we had only to cross route 1 at the traffic light, 5 minutes down a lovely walking path, cross Main Street and onto the Merrill Library lawn where our booth was located.

Our days were long, dusty and uncomfortably warm but the nights were perfect for sleeping, no air conditioner needed. We decided to spend one more night in Yarmouth before heading off to Acadia National Park for a few days. We hit the food court just at the end of the Festival and in time for a couple of bargains, a lobster roll for Carl and a kielbasa on a stick for me.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dreary With A Chance Of Overcast

The results of last night’s game was not as exciting as the previous night but the weather has modified a bit today. There is still a serious pileup of clouds which will be with us for a while.  At least the driving rain has let up so we’re off today to visit a couple more lighthouses as well as some of the beautiful fishing fleets, harbors and beaches on both the Atlantic side as well as the bay side. We started with a visit to the Nauset Light, another of those moved back from the original position because they were threatened by serious cliff erosion.  Since most all ships now have GPS, the role of the lighthouse has slipped further back into the history books. Gone are the days of the lonely keeper ever on duty to provide a beacon to ships in danger of piling up on the rocky coast. From there we drifted on over to the Chatham Light next to the Coast Guard Rescue Station. Signage here told of the Mayflower’s trip from England, their landing near Provincetown to take on their first fresh water in more than 65 days and their eventual trip northward to Plymouth. Maybe I was absent from school the day they talked about the original land charter being nearer to the mouth of the Hudson River but due to a rip current, they had to turn around. The history of this area would be very different otherwise. During a short stop at the commercial fishing harbor in Yarmouth, we visited with a fisherman who was repairing holes in the drag net he uses to fish for squid. We talked about the bum rap most drag net fishermen get. His little net does not disturb the bottom or wreck coral. In fact coral, if it were even in the area would do more damage to his nets. He even commented on the impact the huge commercial drag net operations have on his livelihood. These factory ships impact the fisheries regulations as well. At another little harbor, I got permission from the harbormaster to go out on the floating docks to get closer to a resident swan, recently returned from it’s winter grounds. I took more than 20 photos over a 15 minute period but all she did was preen her feathers. Actually, I think she was a bit camera shy.  I can’t say enough good things about the local Chamber offices we visited. The one in West Yarmouth helped us find a place to fill our propane tank for the camper and directed us to a little out of the way place called Gray’s Beach. The Bass Hole Boardwalk juts out into the marsh area allowing access to tidal flats one wouldn’t normally be able to view. We watched several shore birds wading through the canals searching for bits of crab, clams and fish. The sun popped out just in time to turn the incoming water from that flat cloud cover gray to a bit more interesting steel blue. The dunes in the distance provided an interesting contrast. The patches of blue disappeared almost at once making my question to Carl about sunset photos moot. There will be no sun visible to set. Our last stop for the day was at the Truro Vineyards where I enjoyed a wine tasting seminar, including commemorative glass for just $10.00. This isn’t the way most vineyards we’ve visited do things but it was effective. I became convinced I had to buy a bottle of  a semi-dry white. Turns out this particular wine isn’t even made here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's Official-We're Weather Jonahs!

The Red Sox won last night which makes me a happy camper. What doesn’t make me happy is the meteorologist chose today to get his forecast right. We’re getting hammered with high gusts of wind and driving rain from the southwest. Now, our plan of attack for today is to find an information booth that’s open for directions to stores and restaurants. No luck on that search but we did eventually find the Provincetown Chamber Of Commerce after driving the wrong way down a one way street ( with a policeman’s permission ) and backing into a parked car’s rear tire ( Thank God ). No damage done from either event. We found the local Stop and Shop for a few groceries, ate at Napi’s Restaurant and had what I considered to be the best Clam Chowder I’ve had in a very long time and managed to get soaked while grabbing a few photos of the Atlantic side of the shoreline.  A small break in the weather provided us the opportunity to grab a quick photo of the Highland light, near our campground, which has been moved several hundred feet back from a seriously eroded cliff.  The rain continued at an impressive rate aided, no doubt, by the wind so we called it an early day.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Next Discovery-Cape Cod

After packing up last evening, we traveled as far as Lebanon, NH and spent a quiet but windy night at the Wal-Mart. Then it was up and on the road by 8:30AM. We hit very little traffic until crossing the Cape Cod Canal over the Sagamore Bridge. Now, this is a normal choke point for vacationers headed both south and northbound but today was worse than usual. They’re doing bridge maintenance and have restricted the travel to one lane in each direction. Once past the bottleneck, it was good going. We hit the “Closed For The Season”  Barnstable rest area for a camper lunch and I couldn’t help but notice all of the trash thrown about. Apparently, it’s okay to toss your trash even if there’s no barrel to put it in. Always looking for an interesting angle, I spotted the window boxes on the building growing soda and thick shake cups. Just couldn’t pass up a photo like that. We found out site at the Adventure Bound Camping Resort-Cape Cod in North Truro, MA and settled in for a few days. Carl is thrilled because they have cable TV and I’m not upset because one of the stations is NESN. I can watch my Red Sox. They are also supposed to have wi-fi but I haven’t had any luck getting connected. The weather isn’t looking good for tomorrow. We’ll have to find indoor things to keep us busy.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

First Show Is A Bust

Well, to say the weekend was less than successful is an understatement. The weather in St Albans, next to Lake Champlain, was blustery, cold and at times, snowy. The people who bothered to come out for the event were driven inside. We made no sales on Friday even though there was a half decent flow of potential customers. Saturday, normally the busier of the three days, seemed to be much quieter than other years. I spoke with other vendors who basically confirmed what I was experiencing.  Sunday didn’t disappoint with it’s tomb like qualities although the organizers of the event moved the popular parade to Sunday in hopes of drawing more people out. The winners of the weekend, well there’s no surprise there. The crafters who sold food did very well while us nature photographers didn’t break even. I sure hope this isn’t a sign for the entire season.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Look Back And Forward

It’s customary to look back on the previous year, reflecting on all that occurred, while at the same time looking forward to the new year with hope and refreshed aspirations. And, this is the case with me as well. I’m sitting here, looking out the window on a seasonally crisp morning as my husband burns a bit of brush, thinking about the trip we undertook during the summer. It was phenomenal and it’s hard to believe we’ve been back longer than we were away already. I promised some of you readers some additional details on the trip so here they are. We traveled 16,458 miles, covered 21 states and 4 provinces. We were gone 93 days and in that time we got to experience things I had only ever read or dreamed about. I won’t say it was my “Bucket List” but I did get a chance to cross several thing off that list while admittedly adding several more to it. But did you know:

We used 1,460 gallons of gas. This figure may be a bit higher due to some places just giving us receipts without liter amounts printed on them. I also admit I could be off due to my conversion from liters to gallons.

The entire trip cost the equivalent of $1.00/mile. This is a strange statistic because it includes all our expenses, haircuts, beer, post cards, magnets, hotel rooms, wine, ferry fees and even movies.

We spent 63 nights on campgrounds or paid rooms which averaged $26.00 per night. And, we spent 29 nights at either WalMarts, friends or rest areas which saved us more than $750.00. That’s a cool statistic.

Our expenses for food totaled $2,083.81 which includes both groceries and eating out or if you prefer, it averaged $22.41 a day for two people. I think that’s pretty good, too!

I’m not sure what other information might amuse people so if you have any questions about routes, statistics, border crossings, admissions to parks or attractions, just let me know. I’m happy to help in any way I can. And while I took more than 8,000 photos, I can honestly say about 7,500 where of the “vacation” variety. Of the remaining 500, there are but a handful I would consider “saleable” . Oh, but those handful can still take my breath away. And even the snapshots take me back to that place and time. This was a trip of a lifetime. We may never travel this way again. Carl has stated he will never drive to Alaska again although he is the first to admit everyone should do it once. And with all of his grumbling, he’s already talking and planning for the next great adventure. I just have 29 more states to hit!