Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bathing in History at Bath, Maine

     I'm totally smitten with Bath, Maine. Every time I learn a bit more about this town, I fall more in love.  The town was a busy wharf and ship-building town in the 1800s for ocean-going commercial ships because of the Kennebec River's tides that reversed the river's current. Boats would time arrivals and departures with the tides; no currents to fight. Today, however, it's a pleasure boat mecca and arts-craft-farmer's market during summer months.

There's a 5-mile hiking trail here; known as the Whiskeag Trail.

Saw these unusual "flower" mushrooms on the trail.

The library's original building was built in 1889, and additions have kept the same architectural style.

Historic homes are plentiful in this town. And kids ride their bikes here without adult supervision.

This home converted to The Cosmopolitan Club is across the street from the library.

There are several old churches; this one's the Winter Street Parish restored for special events. Down the street is another beautiful old church known as the Chocolate Church.

The town rebuilt its 19th Century bandstand in the park near the library. Twice a week in the summer, their local band plays here.

     Folks walk here with their lawn chairs to hear two hours of good music and talk with their neighbors.

     I shared a park bench with a couple from town and we talked about many things. They spend on average $7,000 annually to heat their large home! Plus extra for wood for their fireplaces. They were equally shocked to know my heating bill in Texas is about $300 for the entire winter.
     Every half hour during the band concert, the Trolley passed by and rang its bell.

The next night, folks visited the Riverside Park to hear folk singers.

     In contrast to Texas' crowds which hoot, holler and howl loudly with approval, this New England crowd politely clapped quietly.

     And, the town's local YMCA has a Jacuzzi and a great indoor pool! Besides a heating bill in the winter, what's not to love about this town, eh?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Old England Names in New England

     I'm subconsciously acquiring a British accent. Almost every town in New Hampshire and Maine has a sister town in England. Driving through Sandwich, New Hampshire, I came upon this unique miles long granite wall.

     A lady driver stopped to tell me about this wall when I was taking the photo. The Great Wall of Sandwich has an interesting story behind it; due to an eccentric person of course!

     I passed a lot of ponds and lakes in New Hampshire, expecting to see a moose. There were plenty of "Moose Crossing" signs on the roads. But no moose sighting :(  Got my ski out of La Lair and paddled a lake close to the shoreline, expecting to see a moose. But still no moose.

     As you've probably guessed by now, I avoid crowds. Biking the "Back Cove" was as close as I wanted to get to Portland, Maine. Cities are peaceful from afar.

My travel style is a trail in a rural area, preferably in an old forest. This is the Mayor Baxter Woods Park near Portland, Maine. This knobby old tree is over 200 years old.

This is the Mackworth Island Trail.  The trail surrounds the island which sits high on the Presumpscot Bay.

     Tidal waters rise about eight feet each day around the island. I saw lots of little grounded boats during low tide. These kayakers found a pretty cove.

     Tremendously enjoyed this heavily forested 1.25 mile island trail; there was an aura of good fairies living secretly in the woods! I suspect other folks enjoy the island for the same reason I did. It's far far away from the maddening crowds.

Lots of sailboats everywhere in every direction.

A good view of Fort Gorges from the island, too.

Here's a close-up shot of this derelict fort.

     On the island trail I met a couple who advised me to visit Pine Point Beach for its unique white sandy beach, which I did the next day. But when I saw crowds of families and kiddies walking toward the beach with chairs and coolers and surf boards, I immediately left! Aye Mates, not me style! What I found instead that is my style is Bath. Saving Bath for my next post.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Verd Mont

     Vermont was named "Verd Mont" by a French explorer in 1647, meaning Green Mountain. Vermont has lots of well-cared-for green fields too.

     I stayed one night in the driveway of Boondockers Dave and Lori who live south of Barre, Vermont. Her beautiful flower garden is typical of most flower gardens I've seen in Vermont.

I visited the Rock of Ages quarry near Barre, and learned there's enough granite there to last another thousand years or so. It will be another two or three years just to work their way down one wedge length at a time.

I snorkeled all of 15 minutes in this nearby cold quarry! The only other brave swimmer was a Labrador dog.

     Visited Lake Groton and its sister Ricker Pond near Groton, Vermont, to bike a trail. That morning when I unloaded my bike, there were winter clouds in the sky! I had slept with two blankets, too.

It was so cold, I made soup for breakfast.

     I biked about five miles out and back on the Cross Vermont Trail section that parallels Lake Groton. It was rocky with too many stones; my eyes were glued to the bad trail and couldn't enjoy the views. Most unique were these boulders covered with an unusual plant or fungi.

     After the bike ride, I walked back to Ricker Pond and snorkeled. Saw lots of underwater weeds similar to miniature kelp, no fish and one little turtle. Its no wonder fishermen are always snagging a tangled mess of weeds! Fortunately, the water was warmer than the quarry water.

Back in La Lair, I took a scenic route to New Hampshire which also has a lot of granite quarries. 

And a lot of "verd monts".

      On a bridge over Baker River at Wentworth, New Hampshire, I looked over and saw these folks. Made a U-turn and went back to that waterfalls because I was curious.

     I asked a very pregnant swimmer (due last week!) if this was a natural falls, because it was the most beautiful swimming hole I've seen in awhile. She told me that Mr. Page, a local citizen now deceased, had donated equipment and concrete to move and reshape the falls for swimming. What a great gift, and absolutely no maintenance!

The world needs more civic-minded folks like Mr. Page.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Vermont is Oh So Very Very Chic

     There's something very chic about Vermont . . . I think everyone in Vermont copies Martha Stewart's style. Everything looks too picture perfect.

 Cottage industries are big here, as well as local food and "fine dining" in old historic homes, and quilt, pottery and art sold in (of course!) restored barns or restored old homes. This roadside cottage industry sells "tiny homes, she shacks and man caves".

Just too chic!

This silo is strapped very securely. It wouldn't be chic if it was straightened.

I didn't know Calvin Coolidge was born in Vermont. This is his childhood home.

I sat on the rocking chair on the porch and this was my view. Calvin's step-mother planted a flower garden.

This recreated barn displays some of Coolidge's childhood buggies and a sled.

Coolidge's childhood church, very small and simple.

     I like this photo of Coolidge riding a horse with spirit (check out his eyes, and the horse has a loose mouth, which means Coolidge isn't using the bit). See the loose reigns, the English saddle and his sitting posture? All very correct! He looks confident.

     Stopped at Echo Lake for an hour's swim. Swam to the beach in far distance, and back again. Water was about 72 degrees, perfect on a hot day! Lots of fish looked up at me with curiosity.

Biked a portion of a fern-infused West River Trail north of Bennington, Vermont.

Mostly shady forested bike ride along the babbling West River.

Bike riding on pine needles was real nice!

Rocky babbling brooks everywhere!

Took more seasonal roads in the mountains.

But this one looked suspiciously less traveled than the others.

Uh oh, time to turn around.

I really like Vermont! Might stay longer than intended.