Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Out and About

Today’s been a beautiful day to get out and see more of Maine’s spectacular scenery.  We started off by having breakfast burritos at home before we loaded cameras, DeeDee and the dogs into the car and took off for Fort Popham State Historical Site.  This was a Civil War era fort that the state of Maine purchased from the federal government in 1924 and has been trying to restore since then.

Inside the fort:

After we explored the fort, we watched a group of kayakers launch their kayaks, took some pictures 

I'm guessing, but I think this is the Pond Island Lighthouse we could see from Fort Popham.  This picture was taken by Jim with his 300mm lens.

After our fort visit we turned our sights on Popham Beach State Park.

There we spent some time taking a walk on the beach, more pictures, walking the dogs and just enjoying the fresh air and pretty day before getting back on the road towards Boothbay Harbor. 

People were having a great time with "big" waves today:

We stopped at a roadside stand along the way and bought some fresh Maine blueberries, yum.

Boothbay Harbor was a busy place today!  

But we found a parking spot on the street.  The first order of business was giving the dogs their lunch, then we got them on their leashes and started walking around town.  

We found a little cafĂ© with outside tables so we could take the dogs with us.  

One of the many nice things about Maine is that it’s very dog friendly.  We’ve not had any problem taking the dogs most anyplace we wanted to,  with the exception of Popham Beach which only allows them on the beach in the fall and winter months.

Our lunch consisted of Lobster rolls for both Jim and me, just water for the dogs.  Jazz thought it was pretty fun to drink out of my cup when I was finished with my drink!

We took turns stopping into stores and holding the dogs as we walked about the village after lunch.  I think there was a stop in a little candy store along the way for a piece of chocolate each.

Finally we decided we should start finding our way back to the fairgrounds.  In Wiscasset, there’s a well-known lobster roll stand, Red’s Eats.  It was too early for lunch when went through on the way to Boothbay Harbor, and we’d already eaten when on the return trip.  We would have been in for a long wait, anyway!

Where’d all this traffic come from??? 

We still made it home in time for Happy Hour.  More adventure  planned for tomorrow.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Settling In and Making Plans

We were up way too early this morning.  Jim woke up thinking about the site we picked here at Topsham Fairgrounds, and I was having trouble staying asleep.  Anyway, we were up before 5:30.

Jim was concerned that if this “park” fills up this week, we might have a challenge getting out of the spot we first picked.  There was a steep slope just at the front of our site where we would need to pull out to the road.  If we had rigs on both sides of us, it might be tricky pulling out.  We had another spot picked out, and I think he wanted to move over there as soon as we got up.  There aren’t site numbers or assigned spaces here, just pick one and go. 

We were all set up in the new space before 8. I went looking for someone in the office to pay for our stay here since there wasn't anyone around yesterday when we got here.  There was a volunteer working in the garden, and she was happy to take our check.  She had a key to the office, and wrote out a receipt for me, so I guess we’re good.  They seem to be pretty casual about such things here.

We made a stop at Dunkin Donuts for breakfast sandwiches on the way to Walmart for supplies.  That chore out of the way, we spent a bit of time making plans for the week here.  There are quite a few things to see and do in this area, which we’ll get started with tomorrow, but we took today off to read and watch the Olympics.

It wasn’t a busy, exciting day,  but we enjoy our relaxing days too!

Pictures today are from our recent day trips around Maine.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Nice Sunday Drive

Travel day today, we moved a whole 98 miles from Bangor to Topsham Fairgrounds.  We went from a beautifully manicured and well-run RV Park with neat sites and gravel roads to a sandy, grassy field across from a horse ring!  No matter, though, this will suit us just fine for the next six days while we continue to explore Maine.  We have a 30 amp electric site with water and sewer too.  Right now, we are the only people here, although there are a couple of trailers nearby, no one staying there from all appearances.  The fair actually starts a couple of days after we’re scheduled to leave, so we expect we’ll start to see more activity as the week gets started tomorrow.

This was our view out the windshield as we started this morning’s journey, yes, those are raindrops.

Of course, no travel day would be complete without the orange cone zones:

And there were several rivers to cross as well.  Along the way, the rain stopped and we were able to finish the trip without getting wet.

Once we arrived at Topsham, the first order of business was figuring out exactly where to park.  There is no office open on Sunday, and we didn’t even know where to find the “campground”.  I finally found someone who knew were the sites were, so we just picked one and got set up.  After that we found a local brew pub, the Sea Dog, and had a nice lunch.  By this time the rain started up again, so we opted to relax and read and watch the Olympics for the rest of the day.

Thanks for the encouraging comments on my transition to the Mac.  Everything is going well, no major stumbling blocks so far.  It was a little disconcerting when we first took off this morning, though; I’ve used Streets and Trips with the GPS device most of the time we’ve been traveling.  Today it was DeeDee and MapQuest on the job.  

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mac Day

After yesterday afternoon and evening, I was wondering about my sanity - I even woke up sometime in the middle of the night thinking I was doomed, shouldn't have bought this Mac Book Pro.  But the morning came, and along with it, a bit of calm sanity prevailed.

Today is our last day here at the Pumpkin Patch, tomorrow we have a travel day all the way to Topsham, Maine, about 95 miles or so.  Jim had decided earlier in the week that he would do laundry this morning.  The dogs decided this morning that they would help out by waking up extra early, a little before 6.

Once coffee was on board and we were awake enough to function, Jim packed up the laundry and left for the local laundromat.  I put clean sheets on the bed, washed the dishes, dusted a little bit and called it good on the housecleaning.  Then I sat down with the new Mac and started learning.  I am not one to take little bites when it comes to learning something new - I prefer the immersion method - I want to know and understand it all - NOW.  I get frustrated when I can't find answers or accomplish some task. I don't necessarily go in a nice, orderly progression, either - I often jump around from one topic to another (Adult ADD?).  But whatever, I started working on figuring out the new system.

I'm feeling more comfortable with a lot of it by now, and figuring out some work-arounds for a few things that just aren't going to be the same going forward. For example,  Microsoft Live Writer is pretty much out of my picture, so until I find a decent replacement, I'll either write my blogs in Word and copy/paste them into Blogger or just write directly in Blogger.

Microsoft Streets and Trips is in the same trash basket as Live Writer.  But we have DeeDee, Android's Navigator, Google Earth, Mapquest, and - oh yes - paper maps!  I think we can find our way around the country without Streets and Trips.

Today's pictures are a hodgepodge of the past 7 months, from Louisiana to Texas to Colorado to Maine!  I've spent several hours with iPhoto, learning how to do some editing and export them to a folder in a compressed format to upload to Blogger.

Jim and me at Suire's Grocery near Abbeville, LA in January 2012

A Lazy Alligator Sunning at Avery Island,  January 2012

I have managed to tear myself away from the computer long enough to go next door for lunch with Jim, walk the dogs several times, put away laundry and call Verizon.  With the new "share" plans available, we're trying to figure out what's going to the best solution for us.  We have 2 smartphones, 2 laptops, a wireless printer, and the iPad.  Our past usage trends suggests that the share plan that includes 6 gigs of data shared on all our devices "might" be enough, but the 8 gig plan might be better.  The price for that plan is very close to what we've been paying, and it would give us unlimited text and talk in addition to the 8 gigs of data on our devices.  

Experimenting with iPhoto Effects with a Swamp Tour Picture - Abbeville, LA, January 2012

Bird seen on the LA Swamp Tour, January 2012
All of that got me to thinking about the priority of that data in our lives today.  I remember when the internet didn't exist at all, then in education we started using it a little bit for research.  E-mail was totally unheard of.  Now, if we didn't have these digital tools, we'd really be up the creek!  We rarely get a paper billing statement for anything, just an occasional medical bill.  Even then, I typically go to a website to enter an online payment.  What would I do if all of a sudden there was no internet?  No email?  Everything would sure be slowed down!  Internet and email are no longer luxury items in the budget, for sure.

Cowboy listening to music at  Luckenbach, TX, Spring 2012

And remember when TV was free?  Seems like a long time ago.  When we toured the LBJ ranch house in Stonewall, Texas this past Spring, there were 3 TV's in several rooms.  Back then, there were 3 options for TV - ABC, CBS and NBC.  No satellite, DVR, Cable or even Public TV!  And certainly no remote controls!  So, President Johnson could tune in to the 3 networks at the same time in certain rooms of the ranch house.  And that was high tech!  Ah, the good old days!

Bee and Bluebonnet - Texas Hill Country Spring 2012
Tomorrow, we're expecting showers, so we may have a rainy travel day, but that's OK.

Pikes Peak from Highway 24, June 2012

This evening, I'll be keeping one eye on the Olympics and the other on the computer, still reading all the help files I can get to!

Hydro Electric Generation Plant in Old Town, Maine, July 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sightseeing and Shopping

The sightseeing part of today was pretty easy – we drove into Bangor and visited the Thomas Hill Standpipe, which is basically a big water tower, really big:

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If you look closely at the bottom of the tower a little to the right of center, you can see a woman walking a dog, that should give you a sense of the size of this tower.

It’s actually two structures, the tank inside the shell holds 1,750,000 gallons of water.  It was built in 1897 and is still in use today.  The outer shell is 85 feet in diameter and 110 feet tall.  It used to open to the public, but now is only open to the top observation deck 4 days a year.

After our visit to the standpipe, we drove out to a small town, Old Town, just to look around. There wasn’t much of interest there, so we headed back towards the mall.

We’ve been discussing the replacement of my Toshiba laptop for some time now, and today decided to just do it.  So we stopped in at Best Buy and purchased a Mac Book Pro for me.  A little over 3 hours later, we got home with the new computer.  Oh, my.  Back in the dark ages of personal computers, my first computer was an Apple IIe.  I went from there to a MacIntosh.  But after that I learned to use a PC and have been using those since the 1980’s.  Now, to switch back to Mac is going to be like moving to a different planet!

I thought I’d have things under control enough to use it to write the blog tonight, but it isn’t happening!  I’ve used Windows Live Writer for a few years now, and will have to find a substitute for the Mac. I don’t even know how to save pictures on it yet!  Yikes, talk about a learning curve, what did I get myself into???

Good thing the ol’ Toshiba is still kicking, I’d really be in a mess without it while I learn the Mac.

Now I’m trying to write this, move files to the Mac, and watch the opening ceremony for the Olympics.  Guess I’d better get back to – whatever!  Wish me luck.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Catching Up At Home

Today has been a day of a little of this, little of that (“little” being the operative word).  We had a slow start and it never got much faster. We talked about plans but never really made any.  Jim went to the office to get a wash permit to wash the Castle and came back with permission to wash the front end instead of the permit, saving $10 for the whole rig permit.  While he did that, I did a little straightening and cleaning.

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Then I took the dogs out for a nice long walk around the neighborhood while Jim put his cleaning stuff away and took the car to a car wash.  The neighborhood around Pumpkin Patch is starting to get built up, there are several places under construction, several new houses, and quite a few lots that appear to be ready for construction.  But right now, there is not a lot of traffic and activity, so it’s a nice area for walking.  Plus, at the back of the park, there are some woods with a short trail that the dogs love to explore.

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We decided to go to the next door restaurant, Hermon Family Restaurant, for lunch.  It’s very handy, reasonably priced, and the food is homemade and quite good.  When we got home, we relaxed.  Jim studied the inside of his eyelids for a little while and I read.


I bought 6 books on Amazon this morning, of those, 5 were free.  I keep a close eye on Amazon’s list of 100 best selling free books and choose those as much as possible.  I put the more expensive books that I might want on my wish list and wait for the price to drop.  Recently a friend mentioned a book that had been free, but by the time I saw it, the price was $9.99.  I waited until the price dropped to $3.99 and got it then.  The book is called The Dog That Talked to God, by Jim Kraus.  The dog in the book is a Mini Schnauzer, so of course, I just had to read it.  It was pretty good, but too short!

We had cheese, summer sausage, fresh veggies and crackers for dinner, completing our day of doing things the easy way.  I didn’t take any pictures today, so even those are recycled!

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  Just a nice day in Maine!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Moosehead Lake–And A Moose!

We’ve been trying to decide what our priorities are for seeing everything we can while we’re in Maine, given time and budget constraints.  I really wanted to go to Eastport, which is the eastern-most point in the US.  But, it would not really be practical for us to drive that far on a day trip, so we decided we’d go to Moosehead Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Maine, located almost in the middle of the state.  Besides, ever since we started seeing signs like this in New England:
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Jim has wanted to see a moose standing by the side of the road.  Moosehead Lake boasts that there are more moose than people in the area, yeahrightsure.
So this morning we packed up a picnic lunch, loaded the dogs and the lunch in the car and took off, seeing some very beautiful scenery along the way:
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In a couple of hours we started seeing the signs again, and Jim was ready with both our cameras in his lap.
We went right through the little town of Greenville at the south end of Moosehead Lake and drove along the eastern shore until we got to Lily Bay State Park.
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We stopped at the gate, paid our $4.50 each and drove on in to the park.
OMG!  There she was, standing by the side of the road, just like Jim said she would be, a cow moose!  We saw her!  But, she saw us too, and before Jim could focus a camera to get her picture, she was already back in the trees.  But we did see her!  A real, live, honest to God MOOSE!
No, she didn’t look like this, but this is the only moose picture Jim took:
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We kept going at a crawl, hoping to see another moose, but it was not to be.  But, the lake, oh my, what a beauty:
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Blue, blue water,  islands covered with trees, mountains in the distance, it doesn’t get much better:
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There were lots of picnic tables nestled along the shore and in the surrounding woods:
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We did get to see some wildlife:
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We enjoyed the beautiful day, a nice picnic lunch and a little walking along the trails and the lake shore .
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Then we decided to start back towards Greenville, where we’d seen a few shops, oh, and lots of traffic!
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We walked around town, which is located right on the south shore of the lake:
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And enjoyed the pretty flowers.
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For Janna, here are the dogs’ new haircuts, they don’t look much different, just neater!
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We had a fabulous day and got home hungry, not wanting to cook, so I went and picked up a to go pizza, now we’re ready for a quiet and restful evening.  Tomorrow – well, who knows what we might get into!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Semi-Rainy Day

I typically do my own dog grooming, but a few times a year I like to take them to a groomer, and today was the day we had an appointment with a groomer nearby.  I took them both in this morning and dropped them off, with intermittent rain showers coming down.

Back home, I intended to be ready to go out for some exploring.  But first, I needed to run a computer back-up. My laptop’s USB ports are falling apart, and I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to be able to keep patching them together.  So I am making frequent back-ups, just in case.

Back-up completed, we started off to find Mount Hope Cemetery.  The rain had let up, but the skies were still dark, with rain expected to continue off and on most of the day.

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Mount Hope is the second oldest garden cemetery in the nation, it was established the same year as Bangor, 1834.  It’s on the National Register of Historic Places.  It was the inspiration for Stephen King’s book, Pet Sematary, and the movie was partially filmed there.  Quite a few dignitaries are buried there, including the 15th US Vice-President, Hannibal Hamlin (served with Abraham Lincoln), 2 US Senators, 11 US Congressmen,  8 Civil War Generals and quite a few others.

We’re not sure if this structure is some kind of storage facility or a tomb, there wasn’t any kind of inscription on it, just a locked door:

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Some of the graves in the older section:

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With rain threatening and not a lot of time left before we needed to pick up the dogs, we opted to return to the casino for lunch a few slots.  As usual, we had a good lunch, and broke even on the play.

When we came out of the casino, the rain was back.  It was time to go get Jazz and BoJangles anyway, so we did that and came home.  They were two very happy dogs when we picked them up, all trimmed and cleaned up.

We hope we have a sunny day for tomorrow’s planned adventure.