Summer/Fall of 2015

With the tree leaves turning color, I realize that summer is over and once again, I ask myself, “Where on earth did summer go?” Gosh, as I get older, the time seems to whisk by quicker and quicker.

July 15, I flew from Namibia, Africa; where we are currently living, to our home in Maine. I always try to make it home for Old Hallowell Days and I got home just in time as it was on Saturday, July 18th. Hallowell is where I grew up and I always love going back to wander the streets and reminisce my childhood memories. Old Hallowell Days is our small town’s celebration. It began in 1968 to celebrate the clean up of the riverfront by the Hallowell Improvement Association. With the removal of trash, planting of flowers, grass and herb gardens, the association decided to share with the town their new waterfront park.

Over the years, the celebrations continues to grow and improve. Now, it is a staple of the central Maine region and most people reserve the third Saturday in July to partake in the festivities of Old Hallowell Day. There are many activities to keep one busy. There is a 5K road race, a parade, craft show, pie baking contest, the American Legion strawberry shortcake lunch, a dance presentation from the local dance studio and a variety of music played at different venues around Hallowell. The best part of Old Hallowell Days for me is the fact that most people, who grew up in this small town of 3,000, try to make it back for the celebrations. It is a wonderful time for class reunions and people fly in from everywhere. This year was no exception. I met classmates who I had not seen for over 40 years this year. The day ends with a grand firework display. It is a great small town celebration that can be found in just about any American small town in the summer months! This one is special for me because of all the memories and old friends I get to see. I look forward to it every year.

Old Hallowell Day Parade

Old Hallowell Day Parade

This Old Hallowell Day, the family dedicated a granite bench in memory of my stepfather, Paul McCourtney.  He died on March 16, 2014 and in lieu of flowers, we asked that money be donated so we could place a bench in his honor.

Kathy, Perry, Mom and Me in front of Paul's bench.

Kathy, Perry, Mom and Me in front of Paul’s bench.

In memory of Papa Paul

In memory of Papa Paul

Girls Trip to Prince Edward Island (PEI)

The last weekend in July was a road trip to Prince Edward Island with my mom, Jackie and my sister, Kathy. What a fun time it was. With the demands of life and me living out of the country, the three of us have rarely been able to spend quality time together. Mom mentioned that she would like to visit friends on PEI and I decided to make it happen.

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Myself, Mom and my sister, Kathy

What a beautiful place PEI is with the red soil, pristine potato fields framed with the backdrop of the blue, blue ocean. The scenery and views are unique to this little island gem.

Potato field of PEI

Potato field of PEI

Yellow mustard flower fields

Yellow mustard flower fields

I had visited the island back in 1989 when David and I lived in Madawaska, ME. Back then, the only way to get to the island was by a ferry. In 1997 a spectacular 8 mile bridge, connecting the mainland of New Brunswick and the island, was open. It is one of the world’s longest bridges.

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The area that we stayed and explored was near Kensington on the west side of PEI. Kathy and I stayed at the quaint Victorian Inn. IMG_1998We stayed in one of the 3 housekeeping units that is located behind the original inn. With the gardens for our view and a porch to enjoy the evening sounds, it was a lovely and pretty spot. Our unit was a comfortable, efficiency apartment with a sitting area and small kitchen.IMG_2004Kensington is at the crossroad of the island’s tourist area of Cavendish and the beaches on the north coast. One of the major landmarks for Kensington is the restored railway station. It is now on the National Historic Site and today houses the Island Stone Pub and has an area for art exhibits.

Restored Kensington Railway Station

Restored Kensington Railway Station

One night, Kathy and I enjoyed a glass of wine on the terrace of the pub and later enjoyed a walk along the Confederation Trail that passes next to the train station. The 221 mile trail, that runs from one end of PEI to the other, was originally train tracks that trains once traveled over.

The little part that Kathy and I walked on, we found it very well maintained with signs explaining places of historical value along the way. During the summer, people can be seen jogging, walking and bicycling and during the winter, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.

Mom stayed with her friends in Malpeque which was about a 20 minute drive from where Kathy and I stayed in Kensington. After we left mom with her friends, Kathy and I found a wonderful little cafe, to have dinner, in Malpeque at the O’Neil Home Art Gallery. The art gallery is in a two story house with a wrap around porch.

O'Neil Art Gallery

O’Neil Art Gallery

Since it was one of those summer evenings that invited you to stay outside for as long as possible, we opted to eat on the porch. Dinner was delicious! We shared PEI mussels and a gourmet, grilled three cheese sandwich.

The art gallery and cafe, is a family affair. Dad and one daughter are artist who have filled the walls of the house with exquisite scenes from island life on Prince Edward Island. I believe that the “artist daughter” was our chef, as well. Another daughter, who is studying to be a dentist, was our waitress. The next morning, Kathy and I went back to the O’Neil Art Gallery Cafe for a breakfast of coffee and scones. It was very delicious but I was hoping for something just a little more substantial.

Princetown United Church located across the street from O'Neil's Gallery

Princetown United Church located across the street from O’Neil’s Gallery

We gathered mom to do a little sightseeing of PEI. We all wanted to visit the Green Gable Farm in Cavenish that was the inspiration for Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables novels. The children’s story is about Anne, a young orphan girl. After a few rejections from publishers, it was finally published in 1907 and became an international best seller. It is particularly popular in Japan. Many Japanese make the trip to be married in a civil ceremony on the farmhouse grounds.

Green Gable Farmhouse

Green Gable Farmhouse

The nearby barn and surrounding yard to the farmhouse.

The nearby barn and surrounding yard to the farmhouse.

More of the fields near the house.

More of the fields near the house.

When she was 21 months old, Ms Montgomery’s mother died. Her father left her with her maternal grandparents and he soon moved to western Canada. Green Gable farmhouse was owned by her cousins and she had fond memories of playing there when she was younger. The nearby woods were inspiration to the “Haunted Woods,” “Lover’s Lane,” and “Balsam Hollow” which she writes about in her novels.

Today, the house, which is a national park, is one of the most visited historic sites on Prince Edward Island. The outside of the house remains the same as when Lucy was a young girl. The inside is decorated in the later Victorian period to reflect the style during the era that the novels took place.

Here are some of the rooms that we walked through:

The sitting room.

The sitting room.

The kitchen.

The kitchen.

“Anne’s” bedroom.

Here is part of the path through the woods that inspired Ms Montgomery for her story.IMG_1943
After spending the morning together, we took mom back to spend the afternoon with her friends. Kathy and I went to find a place to have lunch. We ended up in Malpeque Harbor at the Oyster Barn restaurant. There was a short wait but it afforded me the opportunity to take more pictures.

The bay that we looked onto as we ate lunch.

The bay that we looked onto as we ate lunch.

Across the street from the Oyster Barn.

Across the street from the Oyster Barn.

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Talk about fresh fish! The restaurant was located in the top part of the barn. The windows on the top side, allowed us a view of the harbor. It was very picturesque. The lower part of the building was where they unloaded the fish from the day’s catch and either sold it from the shop located in the bottom part of the barn or took it upstairs to be prepared for the diners. We had fish tacos which were very tasty.

Kathy and I ate lunch here.

Kathy and I ate lunch here.

After lunch, we decided to explore the area some more. We took a side road off the main road and then another road – Oyster Cove Road – to see where it would lead to.

Oyster Cove Road

Oyster Cove Road

It dead ended at Oyster Cove. There was a man digging for mussels in the cove. I took some pictures of him as it was interesting how he was harvesting them.

Harvesting Mussels

Harvesting Mussels

Oyster Bay Cove

Oyster Bay Cove

Oyster Bay Cove with farmhouse

Oyster Bay Cove with farmhouse

When he came closer to shore, I asked him if he was digging for mussels. It turns out his name was Edward. Kathy and I jokingly said that we met “Prince Edward” on Prince Edward Island. He was very nice to talk with and offered to give us some mussels. We really didn’t have a way to keep them fresh so had to politely decline. He drove his 4-wheeler to his nearby house and as we passed him and his wife sitting on their front porch, we waved good-bye.

“Prince Edward”

Our next stop was this spectacular Catholic church, St Mary’s. This parish has a long history. The first church was built in 1814 on the Malpeque Bay by early Scottish, Roman Catholic pioneers who had arrived on PEI in 1790. Later, it was moved inland to where this church is today in Indian River.

St Mary's Church

St Mary’s Church

St Mary's Church

St Mary’s Church

This French Gothic style church was designed by William Critchlow Harris after the church that was originally on this site burned in 1896. The cost of the new church was $20,000 and the whole community became involved with the building process. The parishioners hauled the stones for the foundation and cut wood from the forest for lumber. In 1902, after two years of construction, the church was completed.

One of the most interesting features of Harris’s design is the twelve apostles who are situated at the base of the steeple.

Apostles at the base of the steeple

Apostles at the base of the steeple

Harris, also, designed the altar. In September, 2009 the church was decommissioned. Today, thanks to the superior acoustic quality, it is used to host music for the Indian River Festival, who now owns of the building.

Inside of St Mary's

Inside of St Mary’s

When Kathy and I arrived, there was a rehearsal for an opera performance that was part of this years festival which is why I don’t have a very good photo of the altar. I didn’t feel that it was appropriate to take the performer’s photo without getting permission first.

I am so glad that we stumbled on this magnificent church. I am grateful that it is still being used in a constructive way that continues to give back to the community.

As it was getting late, we made our way back to Kensington and got some snacks for dinner as we had the late lunch. Sitting on the porch of our apartment, we enjoyed the peace and beauty of the gardens while sipping a glass of wine and eating cheese, crackers, hummus and fruit.

Some of the garden at the Victorian Inn

Some of the garden at the Victorian Inn

Sunday arrived all too quickly. We definitely needed more time to explore the beauty that PEI had to offer. After breakfast, we packed the car and headed home. It is most likely that PEI will become a “girl’s long weekend” destination next summer.

Thanks for the memories, Kathy and mom!

Home on the Maine Coast

I think I must mention this whenever I write about my summer in this blog but I just have to say it again, one of my all time favorite thing to do when I arrive home is to get up first thing in the morning, dust off my bike, pump up my tires, strap on my helmet and ride to Higgins Beach about 5 miles from my house. There is a farm stand right at the turn-off to the beach and I always stop for a cup of morning java. From there, I continue the short distance to the beach where I sit on the rocks and enjoy the beauty all around me.

Bike ride, Higgins Beach and coffee...it doesn't get much better than that!

Bike ride, Higgins Beach and coffee…it doesn’t get much better than that!

Early morning at Higgins Beach

Early morning at Higgins Beach

Another gorgeous day at the beach.

Another gorgeous day at the beach.

September sunrise over Higgins Beach

September sunrise over Higgins Beach

Clams moving in the sand to make this intricate design.

Clams moving in the sand to make this intricate design.

A few weeks this summer, I had my “nephew” Jack for a visit and would take him, in the car, for a walk on the beach.

My little

My little “angel” Jack

There is a whole “dog community” of wonderful people and dogs who I got to know while playing with Jack on the beach. Higgins Beach is one of the few beaches left in our area that allows dogs, off-leash or at all for that matter, during the summer months. Everyone has to be off the beach by 9:00 but that is fine as the summer days start so early. As you can see, Jack just loved the whole beach experience…socializing with the “big boys”, swimming and just relaxing.

Jack playing with gentle giant, Cooper

Jack playing with gentle giant, Cooper

Early morning wade in the ocean.

Early morning wade in the ocean.

May I stay here?

May I stay here?

We are blessed in the Portland, Maine area to have wonderful green space with spectacular views. This is of a ship coming into port one evening when I was at Bug Light Park.IMG_0976

These photos are from the Portland Head Light Park located in my town of Cape Elizabeth. This lighthouse is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world and also the oldest in the state of Maine. I am proud to say that this is the park for Cape Elizabeth and it is free for all to enjoy.

Heading to port.

Heading to port.

End of day

End of day

Ram Island Lighthouse

Ram Island Lighthouse

In my opinion, nothing can beat summer in Maine and it is why I come home, wherever I am in the world to enjoy it!

Seagull Cottage in Cundy’s Harbor, ME

During the summer of 2014, while David was home, we learned of a small (400 sq ft) cottage that was for sale in Cundy’s Harbor. From what we have learned, the cottage was vacant for over 20 years. When we looked at it, it only had a storm door on it nothing more. There was no way to lock it, either.

Seagull Cottage - Before

Seagull Cottage – Before

Living room - before

Living room – before

Kitchen - before

Kitchen – before

Bedroom - before

Bedroom – before

We were really not looking for another property to own but this cottage had potential and we decided to buy it.

We hired a designer and sat down with him to discuss what we visualized for the design of the inside. This past spring, we began construction. It has been progressing nicely. The outside is completely finished. The inside is all partitioned off, insulated and sheet rocked.

Seagull Cottage - After

Seagull Cottage – After

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Kitchen

Kitchen

Bedroom-Living Room

Bedroom-Living Room

From bed area looking to front of living area.

From bed area looking to front of living area.

This winter, Todd, our contractor is going to be working on the interior. I must take a moment to put in a good word for Todd. He is out of Thompson, ME and his company is Ridgeline Builders. I don’t want to praise him too much, as I do not want him to get so busy that he won’t finish our project. However, he is one of the BEST contractors I have worked with in a long, long time. If you have a project and your are in his area, I would highly recommend Todd Barbour of Ridgeline Builders.

View from our porch. Not quite on the water but close.

View from our porch. Not quite on the water but close.

Family Time

Most weekends, I go to the Augusta area where my 86 year old dad lives. He is very spry for someone his age. During the week, he has a very good social life. During the week, his friend, Roy, picks dad up and together, they go to Hallowell’s senior center for lunch. They have been doing this for about 3 years now and have a good group of people that they meet each day for lunch.

My dad lives alone, does his own cooking, cleaning and laundry and mows his lawn on his riding lawn mower. If the weather is nice, he will often walk around the neighborhood to get some exercise in.

The weekends are more quiet for him and so, when I am home, I go up to keep him company. We usually will take a Saturday ride and Sundays, we spend sometime with my brother, Mike, and his family. My nephew, Dylan, who is just as clever as his dad, built this mud truck. We had a blast in the field behind their house doing “donuts” and bouncing all over the place.

Dylan and his mud truck.

Dylan and his mud truck.

I needed help in getting into the truck!

I needed help in getting into the truck!

Another plus for visiting with my brother, Mike, and his family is Dylan’s little girl, Allana.  She is two years old now and so much fun to be around.  She has the cutest expressions and she is definitely a “daddy’s girl”.

Dylan and Allana

Dylan and Allana

My Japanese Visitors

In 1984, I went to England to visit with my brother, Perry, who was an exchange student at King’s College in Winchester, England. Perry had made friends with Michiko, who was an exchange student from Japan studying to improve her English. Christmas of 1984, Michiko came back to Hallowell, Maine with Perry and me and stayed through New Years of 1985.

Over the years, Michiko and I exchanged letters…this was the time before the internet. Once email became more popular, we were able to keep in touch better. Finally, in 2009, David and I made a trip to Japan to visit with Michiko and her family. It had been 25 years since we had seen each other but once we were there, it was like we had seen each other the day before.

Michiko used to be a flight attendant for JAL. This was us in 2009.

Michiko used to be a flight attendant for JAL. This was us in 2009.

We had a fantastic time meeting her husband, Junichi and two children, Natsumi and Takuma who were 12 and 6 respectively.

Natsumi - age 12

Natsumi – age 12

Takuma - age 6

Takuma – age 6

Earlier this year, I received an email from Michiko saying that Natsumi, who is now 18 years old, had been accepted for the Rotary Youth Exchange program and would be spending a year in Ecuador. Before leaving for Ecuador, Michiko wanted to travel with her two children throughout the United States and wondered if I would be in Maine during the time they were in the states.

As luck would have it, I was and so they came to visit for a week in August. What a fun, fun, fun time we had. It was interesting to view, what I usually take for granted, through their eyes. There was so much that I wanted to show and do with them. Time passed very, very quickly.

When they arrived, the Perseid Meteor shower, which happens annually in August, was just winding down. Their first night, we sat in our backyard and watched the shooting stars, making tons of wishes. They were amazed to see all the stars. I live on a dead end street and there are no street lights, so we were able to see the stars very clearly.

Michiko and her family live in a high rise condo in Yokohama City, which is near Tokyo. There is little green space and lots of “light pollution” which makes it difficult to see stars at night. Takuma was amazed by the size of our backyard, which is average, I would say. Our house sits on less than an acre of land. I kept mentioning that I wanted to take them to the park to see the lighthouse and Takuma asked his mother, “Why do we need to go to the park when we have one right here?” (meaning our backyard)!

Another day, we went to visit my cousin Mark and his family at his camp on Sebasticook Lake in Newport. To say that they were excited about this excursion, is an understatement. When Michiko arose on the day that we were to go, she said that she had woken in the night around 2:00 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep because she was so excited about “going to camp.”

Uncle Buster's camp to the left and Mark's camp in the middle.

Uncle Buster’s camp to the left and Mark’s camp to the right.

It was a perfect, sunny summer day and we had such a good time. It made me realize how long it had been since I had “played” at camp. We played croquet, a first for my Japanese guest.

Playing coquet

Playing coquet

We went kayaking…another first for them.IMG_1084

Swimming is a must at camp……IMG_1083

and rested in the hammock.IMG_1105

The day was topped off with a boat ride around the lake, courtesy of my favorite uncle and rides on his 4-wheeler and vintage Cadillac.IMG_1096IMG_1116

1976 Cadillac Convertible. 1976 was the year I graduated from college!

1976 Cadillac Convertible. 1976 was the year I graduated from college!

The store, Target, was a big hit for them. Not only did we stop to pick up a few items that they needed, it was requested to return for a couple more hours so they could do some serious shopping before they left. We made it back and spent about two hours wandering the store. Michiko has a dog grooming business and she bought practically a suitcase full of dog toys to take back to her 3 little dogs and for her business!

Takuma loves baseball so we made it to a Sea Dog game in Portland and the Sea Dogs won!

Enjoying the game.

Enjoying the game.

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Natsumi wanted to help in the kitchen.  Here she is making lasagna.

Such concentration!

Such concentration!

We made a trip to Hallowell so that Michiko could visit with my family. She was excited to see everyone and introduce her children to everyone. Like most visits, when you are having a wonderful time, the hours zipped by and before we knew it, we had to leave.

Michiko and Perry

Michiko and Perry

One of the side trips we made was to Seagull Cottage in Cundy’s Harbor. We had a lobster feast at Hawkes Lobster Shack located at the end of the point. This was definitely a first for them! They were surprised when the lobster came whole and they had to remove the shell to eat it. I guided them step by step and they all ate the whole feast….lobster, steamed clams, corn on the cob and cole slaw. Natsumi recorded the whole process. I am certain somewhere on the world wide internet, there is her tutorial!

Michiko, Takuma and Natsumi enjoy Maine lobster.

Michiko, Takuma and Natsumi enjoy Maine lobster.

Twilight over Cundy's Harbor with full moon

Twilight over Cundy’s Harbor with full moon

Before leaving the Harpswell area, we drove to Orr’s Island and Bailey’s Island.  This is Land’s End on Bailey’s Island, it is at the tip of Harpswell.

Land's End, Bailey's Island

Land’s End, Bailey’s Island

Sunset on Orr's Island

Sunset on Orr’s Island

Another day was spent around Portland. We walked around the Old Port area which is old warehouses on the waterfront converted to shops and restaurants. From the Old Port, we got a ferry to visit Peaks Island.

Natsumi and Takuma on ferry to Peaks Island

Natsumi and Takuma on ferry to Peaks Island

Peaks Island

Peaks Island

On the island, we had lunch and rented a golf cart to drive around for an hour.

Driving around Peaks Island

Driving around Peaks Island in style.

Sculpture garden on Peaks Island.

Sculpture garden on Peaks Island.

After the island visit, we finally made it to the park to see the lighthouse and then to Two Lights State Park to see two more lighthouses and more of the rocky Maine coast.

At Two Lights State Park

At Two Lights State Park

Portland Head Light Park

Portland Head Light Park

Before we could blink our eyes, the week was over and I was taking them to the airport to catch their flight to Miami. In Miami, Michiko’s husband was going to meet them to say good-bye to Natsumi before she left for Ecuador.

It was such a glorious week sharing Maine with my “Japanese sister” and her family. May it not be another 6 years before we see each other again!!!

I Turned 61 years old on September 25th!

Another rare family event happened over my birthday weekend. Perry, Jack and I drove to Moosehead Lake to spend the weekend with mom and Kathy drove from Bangor to join us. I cannot begin to tell you the last time the four of us spent a weekend together.

Jack choosing what toys he is going to take to Grammie's.

Jack choosing what toys he is going to take to Grammie’s.

This one is good!

This one is good!

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Perry, Mom, Kathy and Me

Perry, Mom, Kathy and Me

Moosehead Lake, the largest body of fresh water in Maine, is located in northwest part of the state. My mom spends her summers in Rockwood, a small town located on the west end of Moosehead. Rockwood is about 45 miles from the Canadian boarder.

Driving to Moosehead, we have to pass through Abbot, Maine, population 714. The sign that greets people says “Welcome to Abbot, Maine’s Number 1 town”. Cleaver as it is the first town in the list of Maine towns. There isn’t much in Abbot. There is a barber shop, bakery, a couple of antique shops, a convenient store and a beautiful furniture/gift store, The Maine House.

The Maine House

The Maine House

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This lovely store has been in business since 2002. The second floor of this building is where much of the furniture, that is sold in the store, is made.

Friday, the day we arrived was my birthday. Mom had made reservations at the Birches Resort for dinner. The Birches is another long standing, family owned business in Rockwood. It has been owned and operated by the Willard family for over 40 years. Built in 1930s as a hunting and fishing lodge, the business today has expanded to include small, overnight cottages and offers families and individuals a wide variety of year-round activities.

The dining room is located in the main lodge that was built by lumberjacks during the depression. At one end is a large, fieldstone fireplace. It is large enough for a person to walk into. The walls are decorated with old photographs, snowshoes and from the rafter hangs a wooden canoe. The wall of windows looks out onto the lake and beautiful Mt Kineo. It is a special place with excellent food.

Back at mom’s, I opened my gifts. What a special birthday is was to have my mom and siblings together for the first time in a long, long time.

This is what 61 looks like!

This is what 61 looks like!

Saturday morning, I got up quietly to let Jack out.  My sister scared the bigibies out of me.  She was sitting on the couch on the porch when I went out.  She couldn’t sleep and didn’t want to disturb anyone so was all bundled up as it was a cold morning!

She scared me!

She scared me!

Saturday, we went into Greenville which is 25 miles south of Rockwood. It is where anyone from the Moosehead region goes for major supplies. There are some quaint gift shops with handmade and rustic items great for decorating the many Maine wood cabins and camps along the lake. There are several nice restaurants as well. We ate lunch at the Rod-N-Reel Cafe. I had baked haddock that was delicious. We sat next to a couple from Houston, Texas. They had planned a trip to see the foliage. Unfortunately, not many leaves had changes which is very unusual for this time of year. Unfortunately, we had a very warm September and without the cold nights, the leaves were still very green.

Kineo Mt at sunset.

Kineo Mt at sunset.

Super moon over Moosehead Lake

Super moon over Moosehead Lake

Sunday morning came too soon. We were up, packing our bags and car to head home. However, my festivities were not completely over. The next day was my dad’s birthday. I drove Perry back to Hallowell, which is next to Augusta, where my dad lives. Dad, my brother Mike (a half brother from Dad’s second marriage), Mike’s family and I made plans to celebrate my Dad’s birthday at a restaurant in Augusta. I know that Dad enjoyed celebrating his 86th birthday surrounded by the love of his children, grandchildren and great-granddaughter!

Sunday night, Sept 27th there was a rare moon event. This moon was a super moon which is when a full moon is at its closest point to earth. When this happens, the moon can appear to be about 14% larger than a normal full moon.

Super moon.

Super moon.

Not only was this a super moon but the same night, there was a total eclipse. The sun, earth and moon all align causing the earth to block the direct light from the sun. This causes the earth’s shadow to cover the entire moon. The moon doesn’t have light of its own. It reflects the light from the sun. When the earth blocks that light, the sun doesn’t go completely dark but takes on a reddish hue which is the reason total lunar eclipses are referred to as Blood Moons.

These photos I took near my house in Cape Elizabeth.

Beginning of full lunar eclipse.

Beginning of full lunar eclipse.

Almost a complete eclipse.

Almost a complete eclipse.

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This is what the Blood Moon looked like. I got this photo off the internet.

This is what the Blood Moon looked like. I got this photo off the internet.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a photo of the Blood Moon but I enjoyed watching it for close to an hour in my backyard with a glass of wine. I believe that it was said the next total Lunar Eclipse won’t happen for another 22 years. I will be 83 by then. I hope that I am still alive and have all of my faculties to enjoy it as much as I did this one!

I Ran Away to Boothbay Harbor, Maine

When I was a teenager, I spent many summer days at Boothbay Harbor. It wasn’t unusual for my boyfriend and I to venture over there on a Sunday afternoon to walk around the picturesque village. I love the Boothbay region. It has a downtown area that hugs the harbor and full of shops where one can spend a whole day exploring. Boat tours are offered for whale and puffin watches or to the island of Monhegan, which is known for the artist colony and fairy houses made by visiting children or the Cabbage Island tour where one can experience a traditional lobster bake.

I only live about an hour and a half away but for a variety of reasons, it has been ages since I have been back to spend any quality time in this town. In 2007, a Botanical Garden opened with much fanfare. Martha Stewart was one of the guest at the opening day. I have wanted to visit the gardens ever since I heard they were open. This fall, I decided it was time.

I had been going through a challenging family time and needed to rejuvenate my soul. What better place than the peaceful village where I have so many happy memories and wandering around the gardens absorbing the beauty of nature? I looked at my calendar and saw that I had made plans to meet with a friend in Wiscasset for lunch. Wiscasset is about twenty minutes away from Boothbay Harbor. I decided that this was a great time to “run away”.

I told my family and friends that I was going to the coast for overnight and my cell phone probably wouldn’t have coverage. If they didn’t get their nightly call from me, not to worry.

I arrived in the Boothbay region around 1:30 and thankfully, the information office was still open late in the month of October. I had made no reservations because I figured, even though it was at the peak of fall foliage, it was the middle of the week there would be a room available somewhere. The “B&B Gods” were smiling on me. The sweet ladies at the information office told me of a special offer at the Harbour Towne B & B. It was their last room, for one night for $89 plus tax. During peak season, the rooms are $250…woooohoooo!!!!! I went directly to the bed and breakfast to check in. I arrived in time for afternoon tea served with freshly baked cookies. What a delightful treat!

Town Harbour Inn

Harbour Towne Inn

Stefanie, the proprietor, was warm and welcoming. The room was spacious, clean and comfortable. It is located within walking distance of the downtown. This day was sunny and almost summertime warm. I had hoped to visit the botanical garden on Wednesday but by the time I arrived and got settled in my room, I decided to walk around the town and visit the gardens the next day.

This was my mini-vacation. I visited art galleries, specialty stores, indulged in some hand-dipped chocolate from the candy store and just enjoyed the warm day wandering through the village with my memories.

Downtown Boothbay Harbor

Downtown Boothbay Harbor

Boothbay Harbor, ME

Boothbay Harbor, ME

Walking bridge that connects one side of the harbor to the other.

Walking bridge that connects one side of the harbor to the other.

Views around Boothbay Harbor:

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President Kennedy attended mass at this Catholic church when he visited Boothbay in 1962.

President Kennedy attended mass at this Catholic church when he visited Boothbay in 1962.

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These beautiful flowers were on the side of the street in downtown.

These beautiful flowers were on the side of the street in downtown.

I wasn’t really hungry at dinner time but had wanted to visit the Thistle Inn, a bar that I used to visit. I remember the Thistle Inn as a bar where the locals would hang out. It was always very entertaining with colorful, local fishermen.

I didn’t realize but in recent years, the inn had been sold and the new owner remodeled it. I was surprised when I walked it. The bar was more open and brighter with a ceiling of light wood than the bar of dark wood that I remember. There was an empty stool at the end of the bar and ordered a margarita on the rocks. Sitting next to me were a couple of friends who I determined were in their mid-60s. These two men had met while doing service in the Coast Guard during the Vietnam war and had maintained their friendship over the years. Connie divides him time between Boothbay Harbor and New Hampshire. Neil is an organic farmer in upstate New York. Neil had come to visit Connie. It sounded like it was an annual event. It was entertaining talking to them.

After I finished my drink, I left the Thistle Inn in search of food. I went to McSeagull’s Restaurant in the town center. It was around 7:30 and I still wasn’t real hungry. It was very quiet at McSeagull’s so I decided to eat at the bar. I ordered another Margarita while looking at the menu. Here I was in the heart of the Maine coast, and none of the seafood dishes looked appetizing to me. I ordered a half-order of black-bean nachos, something I rarely eat. They were delicious! The restaurant shut down at 9:00 PM. Goodness, the whole town shut down at 9:00. With nothing left to do, I called it a night and walked back to my room.

I woke the next morning to the smell of fresh brewed coffee and something delicious baking in the oven. Breakfast was such a treat of fresh fruit, blueberry cake, poppy seed muffins, two kinds of quiche, yogurt and homemade granola. I sat on the porch among the flowers boxes and sun. It was pleasant way to start the day.

It was a perfect day to explore the botanical garden. The gardens are located on 270 acres of land.

One part of the garden that I really liked was this grove of trees planted in honor of the seven founders of the gardens.  These people had a vision for the gardens, so much so, that they all put their homes up for collateral to purchase the land!

Founders Grove

Founders Grove

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I arrived around 10:00 and walked around the children’s area until the tour that was offered at 11:00. There is the Central Garden which is divided into smaller, specialized gardens.

Looking towards the children's garden

Looking towards the children’s garden

The Lerner Garden of the Five Senses was discussed in the tour that I took. This garden was dedicated to people who had physical challenges.

Looking back at the entrance to the Lerner Garden area.

Looking back at the entrance to the Lerner Garden area.

The fountain area

The fountain area

Flowers planted in standing containers to help disabled see them better in Lerner's area.

Flowers planted in standing containers to help disabled see them better in Lerner’s area.

There is the Perennial and Rose Garden, the Cleaver Event Lawn and Garden for fundraisers and weddings. My favorite garden area was the Bibby and Harold Alfond Childrens Garden. The children’s garden is full of special child-size buildings to encourage imagination, a barn full of books where I would love to have my book, Brave Nellie.

Cottage for your imagination.

Cottage for your imagination.

Looking inside the cottage

Looking inside the cottage

A boat to sail to far away places

A boat to sail to far away places

A barn full of books to encourage reading

A barn full of books to encourage reading

The Central Garden area is surrounded by acres of woods and trails.

Wooded trails

Wooded trails

I made my way to the the Shoreland Trail along the Black River. From this trail, I visited the Vayo Meditation Garden.

Meditation Garden

Meditation Garden

After saying my prayers of thanks I continued along the Huckleberry Cove Trail up to the Cedar Ledge Trail back to the Central Gardens. It had seemed like forever since I had done a walk in the Maine woods. I enjoyed the quiet, peacefulness of walking along a sun dappled trail.IMG_2167

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The sculptor George Sherwood had a display of his works throughout the garden.  The moved with the wind and reflected the sunlight adding to the beauty of the gardens.

Wave Clouds

Wave Clouds

Memory of Fibonacci

Memory of Fibonacci

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After spending three hours in the gardens, my “run away” adventure was coming to an end. I got in my car and headed towards home. It was close to 2:00 in the afternoon when found myself driving back through Wiscasset. I hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast and was feeling hungry. There is a famous eatery, Red’s Eats, that has been a Wiscasset establishment for 61 years.

Infamous Red's Eatery

Infamous Red’s Eats

They are famous for their lobster rolls. I have lived in Maine all of my life and have never eaten there. The lines have always been so long with waits of up to an hour or longer during the summer months.

In mid-October, there was still a line but it look much more manageable. The wait was only about 30 minutes and it was well worth the wait. My lobster roll and water came to $25 but as you can see, it was about a full pound of lobster. Growing up, whenever we had lobster rolls, the roll was a regular hot dog roll. Beneath all of the lobster meat, was a grilled lobster roll. It was really yummy and filling.

Red's famous lobstah roll!

Red’s famous lobstah roll!

Once I arrived home, the reality of the family issues that I had been dealing with before I “ran away,” smacked me in the face. However, my mini-vacation revived me and I as felt I was ready for “round two!” “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…” Kelly Clarkson.

Weekend Exploring with my Dad

David went back to Africa on September 10th. I was scheduled to go with him but due to a family issue, I felt that I needed to stay behind. I am a firm believer that good comes from bad. We are still going through the family dilemma but already, some good has come shining through.

The extra time home has allowed me to spend more quality time with my mom and dad. As I said earlier in this blog, whenever I am home I try to spend weekends with my dad who lives an hour and a half from where I live. With the extra weekends and the leaves changing color, Dad and I took off to explore the backroads of Maine.

Wiscasset, Newcastle, Pemaquid, and Woolwich

My thought for this ride was to drive to Wiscasset and have lunch at Sarah’s. Sarah’s is one of my favorite places to eat when I am in that area. When we reached our destination, it was only 10:30 in the morning and much too early for lunch.

We decided to continue along Rt 1 and head to Pemaquid. Dad said he had never seen the Pemaquid Lighthouse, so I figured at 86, it was time he did. We passed through the small towns of Newcastle and Damariscotta. Damariscotta has a wonderful “old style” downtown full of shops. I like to refer to it as what a downtown was like before the large box stores moved to the outskirts of town! It was bustling with people running Saturday errands.

Once we passed through town, made a right hand turn at the street light, we were on Rt 130 and it is a straight ride, about 14 miles, to Pemaquid Lighthouse at the very end of this road. I had forgotten but the day we were there, it was Maine Open Lighthouse Day where over 24 lighthouses are open to the public for free.

Amazingly, the park was not full, even though we arrived around noontime.

I didn't think to take a photo of the outside of the lighthouse so borrowed this one from the internet.

I didn’t think to take a photo of the outside of the lighthouse so borrowed this one from the internet.

Dad didn’t want to get out of the car because of back issues but he said he didn’t mind waiting if I wanted to go in lighthouse. I had about a 20 minute wait and before I knew it, I was at the “top of the world”. What an amazing view!!

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We arrived at the park just at the right time. When I came down from the lighthouse, the line was considerably longer and the parking lot was getting fuller. Dad and I agreed that it was a good time to get some lunch.

I thought that we might go to Shaw Brother’s Wharf, an institution for lobster dinners, in that area. Dad didn’t want to fiddle with eating lobsters!

Shaw Brother's Lobster Pound

Shaw Brother’s Lobster Pound

We rode over anyway so he could see the quintessential Maine harbor. New Harbor is one of the most picturesque working waterfronts in the state.

New Harbor, Bristol, Maine

New Harbor, Bristol, Maine

It had been years since I had been to this part of Maine. I can remember many a family outing to Pemaquid Lighthouse followed by a lobster feed at Shaw’s Brothers Wharf in my younger days.

We made our way back to Wiscasset and instead of turning to go back to Augusta, we continued south on Rt 1 until we reached Woolwich and the Taste of Maine restaurant. I have passed this restaurant many, many times but have never eaten there. We sat on the deck overlooking the Sasanoa River.

Our view while eating lunch.

Our view while eating lunch.

We both had a meal of scallops and salad. It was good but I don’t think I would ever stop in again. Somehow, the place just seemed too large and touristy for this Maine gal….especially when a tour bus pulled in as we were leaving!

Selfie with Dad at Taste of Maine

Selfie with Dad at Taste of Maine

It was a great day with dad, though. Love and appreciate the memories we made on this day!

Augusta, Chelsea, Whitefield, Jefferson, Union, Rockport, Camden and Lincolnville

On another lovely, sunny autumn day in October, we rode through small towns like Whitefield, Chelsea, Jefferson. We stopped at Bailey’s Apple Orchard and I bought some cider and honey.

This was along our route, I believe we were in Jefferson.

A splash of autumn color in the background.

A splash of autumn color in the background.

We continued our travels through Union and into Rockport, where we picked up Rt 1, the route that goes the whole coast of Maine and headed to Camden. Dad had never been to Camden. I think this is kind of sad as it is only about an hour drive from Augusta. He claims he never cared for the coast but really, once he is there, he enjoys it. I guess it was growing up in the potato fields of Aroostook County that makes him think that way!

In Camden, I drove around so he could see the historic houses that line the streets. The town was bustling with “leaf peeping” tourist. We passed through and I drove to Mt Battie so Dad could see the view of Camden and the harbor in Penobscot Bay.

Top of Mt Battie, view of Penobscot Bay and Camden.

Top of Mt Battie, view of Penobscot Bay and Camden.

Mt Battie is part of Camden Hills State Park. If you are more adventurous, there are wonderful hiking trails and a camping ground offered in this state park.

From Mt Battie, we continued north on Rt 1 until we came to the small village of Lincolnville. It is in Lincolnville that you catch the ferry to Isleboro Island. We didn’t go to Isleboro but stopped at the Whales Tooth to have lunch. It is a nice restaurant that I had been to before. The atmosphere is warm and inviting with nice views of Penobscot Bay. The food is always good when I have been there and today was no exception.

With lunch over, we continued north on Rt 1 towards Belfast where we picked up Rt 3 to head back to Augusta. Another fun day with dad!

Winthrop, Wayne, Livermore Falls, Farmington, Kingfield, Carrabassett Valley

This ride was by far the best for seeing the colored leaves. I would say that it was close to peak in this area when we went on this ride in the middle of October.  This photo was taken just outside of Wayne. IMG_2210We continued along driving through the town of Livermore Falls and into Farmington.  I thought we would have lunch in Farmington but neither Dad nor I were hungry so I kept going north towards Carrabassett Valley where Sugarloaf Mountain ski area is.

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Right before Kingfield, we saw a sign pointing to a scenic viewing area.  I turned and we proceeded to climb and climb and climb.  We drove about 2 miles up Ira Mountain to see this beautiful, kaleidoscope of color carpeting the valley.

View from Ira Mountain Lookout

View from Ira Mountain Lookout

We passed through Kingfield and headed towards Sugarloaf Mountain to have a look around.  Dad hadn’t been in this area for well over 55 years and I haven’t been to the ski area for a good 40 years! I saw the information office for Carrabassett Valley and decided to get a map to familiarize myself with the area.  I am so glad I stopped in.  The attendant told me that this particular weekend was one of the busiest non-winter weekends for Sugarloaf.  She called it “Homecoming Weekend” and said that we would have to take a shuttle bus from the parking area to the mountain.

I knew that Dad wouldn’t be interested in standing in line for a bus, navigating getting on and off it and then walking around.  Unfortunately, his back is giving him problems and walking and standing for long periods of time aggravate it more.  I decided to go with “Plan B” which was to return to Kingfield, have lunch and then head back to Augusta.

We had lunch at Longfellow’s Restaurant in the center of town.  It was extremely busy but after a 20 minute wait, we were seated at a table that gave us a view of the Carrabassett River that flows through the town.  My lunch of seared tuna and salad was delicious.  I can’t remember exactly what dad had but I do remember he thought it was good.

This was definitely one of our better days to see the fall colors.

Where does Rt 104 go?

Our last Saturday ride took us on Rt 104, north of Augusta.  I suggested that we take the backroads to Waterville and off we went.  We picked up Rt 104 heading north of Augusta.  It was a beautiful ride as we drove towards the small town of Sidney.  To our right side, we caught glimpses of a valley below us. It appeared that we were driving on the top of a ridge.  The homes on that side of the road had amazing views!

We passed through Sidney and kept driving towards Waterville.  Waterville was the “go to” place when in was dating in high school.  On the interstate, it is about a 20 minute ride.  Back in the early 70s, Augusta didn’t have a movie theater but Waterville did so that is where we often went for a Saturday night date.

Augusta has developed over the years.  There is now a 10 movie theater and many popular box stores to offer more of a variety of shopping than when I was growing up in that area.  Few people venture to Waterville these days but I imagine that more people from Waterville come to Augusta because of all that it offers now.

Once in Waterville, I asked dad if he knew where Rt 104 would go.  He didn’t so, I continued to follow the signs pointing the way to Rt 104.  Soon, we were driving through rural Maine again through Fairfield and into the bustling town of Skowhegan.  Skowhegan has been in the news lately because the mascot for the high school is an Indian.  Local Maine Indian tribes have held protest over the continued use of an Indian as a mascot.

In 1969, Maine artist, Bernard Langlis (1921-1977) built a 62 ft, wooden statue of an Indian and donated it to the town of Skowhegan.  This year, there was restoration work done on it.  I don’t believe I have ever seen the statue so while in Skowhegan, Dad and I found it.  It was very impressive, especially against the crisp, blue sky as a backdrop.

The Skowhegan Indian

The Skowhegan Indian

This sculpture is dedicated to the Maine Indians, the first people to use these lands in peaceful ways.

Well now, Dad and I know that Rt 104 takes us to Skowhegan and that is where it ends!

A Weekend with Mom

Mom closed up her camp at Moosehead Lake the first weekend of October and spent her remaining time in Maine at my sister’s home in Bangor before flying to Florida on October 20.  The weekend before mom left, my sister and her husband had planned a trip to the Dominican Republic.  Since mom was alone, I went to keep her company.   My niece, Jlynn, had gone on vacation to Iceland and so mom was taking care of her Golden Retriever, James.  It was a double blessing….spending quality time with mom and being with James.

One afternoon, we went to Treworgy’s Apple Orchard in the nearby town of Levant.  IMG_2232

The weather was unseasonably warm for October.  I think it was in the high 60s.  It was hard to get in the apple and pumpkin picking spirit with such a warm day.

The orchard and pumpkin field was abuzz with children running around looking for the best pumpkin for their Halloween jack-o-lantern and the tastiest apple from the nearby trees.  IMG_1330

A wagon ride was offered…..IMG_2240

Live music and homemade donuts topped off the day!

It was definitely nice to be able to enjoy some autumn activities with my family.  It has been a long while since I have been in Maine to do so.

Odds and Ends……

I have some photos that I want to share but didn’t really fit into any of the other events that I wrote about.  So, I will share them in this “odds and ends” section…..

We bought a new car while David was on his two week home leave.  It wasn’t in the big plan but when we discovered our transmission fluid was leaking on our 2004 Honda, we decided it was time to trade our 11 year old car.  I loved that little car and really hated to see it go.  This is our new Honda Accord.  It is an EX model and a tad larger than our LX model that we traded.  I am still getting used to it but I am enjoying the wifi features and sunroof.  By the time I left, I had already put close to 5,000 miles on it!  So, here is to another 11 years with our new vehicle…….

I look like a

I look like a “munchkin” next to our new Honda!

This was some art that was displayed near the ferry terminal in Portland.  I am not a fan of it but it is said that good art evokes emotions.  Then, I guess this must be “good art” because it gives me the creeps when I look at it.  It is supposed to be dogs but to me, they look more like vicious wolves.  What are your thoughts?IMG_1166

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This little precious is all dressed up for her parent’s wedding.  She was patiently waiting for the ceremony to start.  Her name is Coco after the fashion designer, Coco Channel.

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This is Jack with my dad.  Jack loves visiting with him and always jumps into Dad’s lap for some extra attention.

Jack is thinking,

Jack is thinking, “Just a little to the right. Oh, that is the spot, right there!!!”

Parting autumn shots……IMG_1337

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Euonymus alatus also known as a

Euonymus alatus also known as a “burning bush”

Looking down the Kennebec River. The Old South Congregational Church steeple is in the foreground. In the background is the dome for the Augusta State Capital building.

Looking down the Kennebec River. The Old South Congregational Church steeple is in the foreground. In the background is the dome for the Augusta State Capital building.

My last weekend in the Augusta/Hallowell area I was blessed with this rainbow as I was leaving town.

My last weekend in the Augusta/Hallowell area I was blessed with this rainbow as I was leaving town.

It was a good summer and autumn.  As I write this, I am going through a challenging time.  I try to stay focused on the positive and believe that good will come from it all.   I believe that God is with us and will never give us more than we can handle.  I am forever grateful for the wonderful and the challenging times.

Blessings to you who is reading this!

One thought on “Summer/Fall of 2015

  1. My goodness, Sharalyn, you haven’t been letting any grass grow under *your* feet–wow!! Such wonderful adventures and so many beautiful photos to chronicle your trips.

    Jack is *absolutely* adorable–would squeeze the stuffin’ out of him if he were mine. 🙂

    So glad that you saw George Sherwood’s works–aren’t they beautiful?! I recently wrote about him for ‘Design New England.’
    http://www.writerloriferguson.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/DNE-George-Sherwood.pdf

    Thanks for sharing your adventures and my best to you and David….

    Lori

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