The Eerie Fog of Maine’s Rockland Lighthouse

With our friends Greg and Kathy Tawes, we visited the historic 1902 Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse in Rockland Maine. Reaching the lighthouse requires a mile-long stroll along cracked and crevassed stone and can be quite eerie in fog.

Through the low-anchored clouds of fog, you had no idea how far you’d gone nor how much further you had to go. Along the route, we saw several lobster fishermen pulling up traps. Greg and Kathy had a brief conservation with one fisherman as he measured his catches.

Kathy’s perfect timing allowed her to snap the fisherman throwing back a lobster that was either pregnant or too small and the reflection off the water was brilliant.

As we continued our journey, the lighthouse came faintly into view and became clearer the closer we walked.

The lighthouse is white on one side and brick on the other. It was originally designed to be operated by keepers but in the late 1940’s, it was automated.

As we made our way back, the fog continued to drift, crystalizing moored boats in the harbor and seagrass strewn rocks.

I imagined how it might look during a winter storm and found a revealing video on the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse Facebook page: https://fb.watch/fj9BKlPMLu/.

Mist by Henry David Thoreau

Low-anchored cloud,
Newfoundland air,
Fountain head and source of rivers,
Dew-cloth, dream drapery,
And napkin spread by fays;
Drifting meadow of the air,
Where bloom the dasied banks and violets,
And in whose fenny labyrinth
The bittern booms and heron wades;
Spirit of the lake and seas and rivers,
Bear only purfumes and the scent
Of healing herbs to just men’s fields!

Source: https://pickmeuppoetry.org/mist-by-henry-david-thoreau/

We enjoyed our time with Greg and Kathy and were happy they included a visit with us in their month long journey.

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Eating our Weight in Maine Lobster

Cabbage Island Clambake

What a feast! Our friends were in town and we wanted them to experience Lobster in a quintessential way so Lynn found Cabbage Island Clambake. Sold out for weeks in advance, Lynn kept refreshing the website hoping for a cancellation. Eureka – just a few days before they arrived a cancellation appeared and we nabbed 4 tickets!

You embark the ship in Boothbay Harbor and cruise for about an hour, catching glimpses of light houses, remote islands and learning the history of this coastal area.

Once we arrived at Cabbage Island, we were seated at a table with nice views of the bay and treated to clam chowder as a starter. Then we made our way to the clambake area to pick up an overflowing plate of 2 lobsters, clams, corn, potato and onion.

I can’t believe you get 2 lobsters each — I thought there was no way we could eat it all. But we all did!

After loosening our belts and devouring the lobster, along came the tallest blueberry cake you’ve ever seen. Slightly comatose, we walked off the lunch by exploring Cabbage Island before heading back to Booth Bay.

Lucky Catch Lobster Tour

A few days later, the night before our friends were leaving, we boarded the Lucky Catch ship for a lobster tour around Portland Maine.

Unlike the Cabbage Island Clambake, this tour was designed to teach you more about lobstering, pulling up lobster traps in Casco Bay.

Each of us loaded smelly fish in the traps before launching them overboard.

Each time we pulled up another trap, the captain measured each lobster and threw back those that were too small or pregnant.

Pregnant lobsters are marked by slicing a piece of their tail so other fisherman will not keep them. Once a pregnant lobster is caught, it is unlawful to keep it in the future.

We would also pull up crab and some would zen out if you flipped them on their backs.

Before ending our tour, we caught an up close view of the Portland Head Light.

Once the tour was complete, we took 4 lobsters from our boat over to the Portland Lobster Company — they perfectly cooked the lobster and provided all the fixings. We really enjoyed our visit with Greg and Kathy Tawes.

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Cycling through Portsmouth New Hampshire

Portsmouth is one of the oldest cities in America, incorporated in 1653. This area is the cradle of the American Revolution. We’ve all heard the story of Paul Revere riding into town shouting “The British are coming” or “The Red Coats are coming” — to warn the Revolutionists that the British were on their way to attack. Portsmouth is where this took place in 1774.

Portsmouth is a coastal city and was an important trade route for the early Europeans and a fishing mecca.

Portsmouth shoreline

Our good friends from Florida (Greg and Kathy Tawes) were visiting so we decided to take a cycling tour around Portsmouth — it’s a great way to see the city and get a little exercise.

Starting in Portsmouth, the tour follows the Piscataqua River (a tributary to the Atlantic Ocean) to New Castle, New Hampshire.

Along the way we stopped at Four Tree and Pierce Island.

After cycling, we headed into Portsmouth for a popover. A popover is a light roll made from egg batter, baked in a special pan that shares its name, which has deep wells with straight-walled sides. Their origin is English-inspired. Settlers from Maine who founded Portland Americanized the pudding from Yorkshire. If you visit this area, you must have one.

After filling our bellies, we visited our son and daughter-in-law’s farm then headed to York Maine to see the Nubble Light house. There were a few guys fishing off the banks, pulling up squid.

We really enjoyed the visit with Greg and Kathy and you’ll see more blogs in the coming weeks covering our escapades.

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Stowe Vermont’s Beauty Rivals Breckenridge Colorado

After living in Colorado for almost 15 years, I considered Breckenridge one of the most beautiful mountain towns. We recently visited Stowe Vermont, nicknamed “The Ski Capital of the East” and it is surprisingly beautiful.

Situated in the scenic Green Mountains of Northern Vermont, Stowe feels like a Colorado town. It has more hiking trails than anywhere I’ve seen, tons of bike paths, rivers and streams, covered bridges, and well groomed walking trails in town leading to parks and an assortment of restaurants.

We stayed in Sterling Ridge Resort just outside of Stowe. As you drive through Stowe on VT 108 towards Jeffersonville, it runs through Mount Mansfield State Forest — and it is stunning. The road narrows so that 2 cars can barely fit and you are suddenly surrounded by hiking trails, climb-friendly rock formations, rich green forage and expansive mountain vistas. It has plentiful parking pull offs for a quick hike.

Sterling Ridge Resort has about 20 cabins for rent, from studio cabins to plush cabins with huge fireplaces and decks that surround the home overlooking a large pond. We visited with Cameron, Kara and Hadley, so we chose a pet friendly 2 bedroom cabin near a smaller pond.

The resort has 2 ponds, hiking trails, fishing, heated pool, game room and outdoor activities including corn hole and horse shoes.

They supply a fire pit for a relaxing end of the day.

Just a short drive from Sterling Ridge Resorts is Mount Mansfield where you can take a gondola to the top for amazing views and hiking trails. For those of you into electric vehicles (EVs), I spotted a Rivian truck at the base of the mountain.

It was a cloudy day so even though it limited our views at the mountain top, it made for temperate hiking.

Ziggi surprised me at how nimble she was as she climbed the rocks.

Just a short gondola ride is a little village that reminded us of Keystone or Telluride Colorado.

On our last day in Stowe, we walked around the town and enjoyed the parks via the paved walking/biking trails.

If you are ever in New England, I highly recommend a visit to Stowe and if you get a chance to get there by driving through northern New Hampshire, you’ll also be rewarded with stunning views of the White Mountains.

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The Trolls of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Slightly over an hour from Portland Maine are 5 trolls hidden among towering trees on a sprawling 300 acre garden known as Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. The trek to each troll rewards you with croaking ponds, hiking trails, tidewater shoreline and over 3,000 species of tropical and subtropical plants.

The 20-foot-tall trolls were created by Danish artist Thomas Dambo and were built entirely from recycled materials. Sculpting the trolls took a whopping 500 hours each and have a life expectancy of 5 – 10 years. The trolls increased visitors to the garden and encourages them to see more, as the trolls are strategically located apart from each other and you must trek the trails to reach them.

Roskva

Roskva is the first troll you will encounter in the garden and is the strongest of the trolls. If other trolls have a lapse of memory, Roskva will come to their aid as she counts the seasons and remembers all that happens in the gardens.

Lilja

Lilja is still just a child and loves the colors and scents of the flowers. She watches intently as bees and butterflies playfully fly among the flowers and land upon branches.

Birk

Birk is a limber and omnipresent troll, listening to everything happening in the garden. He hides in the shadows and entertains other creatures of the forest with his tall tales.

Soren

Soren is an adventurous troll, constantly twisting and turning to discover higher places. He daydreams about blustery days floating on a cloud and celebrates life with a dance.

Gro

Gro is the most zen wanderer you’ll ever know. She leaves the forest in the fall and returns in the spring to feed all friends by catching sunbeams and raindrops.

Visiting Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Located in Boothbay, you can reach the botanical gardens in a 1.5 hour drive from Portland Maine. Purchase tickets online from their website at MainGardens.gov before you go. Once you’ve enjoyed the gardens, you can head over to Boothbay for spectacular water views, grub and beverages of your choosing.

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Go Fishing When You Can

After retiring (for the 2nd and last time) in December 2021, I’ve been able to spend a lot more time with my Dad. One of his and my favorite past times is to go fishing. He has 2 boats (a smaller creek boat and a larger lake boat).

He lives in South Georgia and is only 5 minutes from Spring Creek. We either fish off the bank or float down the creek in the creek boat. Sometimes we go to Lake Seminole for lake fishing.

I love the outdoors, nature and spending time with my Dad. My favorite part of any fishing trip is when we get into the boat and start moseying down the creek or lake — my Dad at the helm and me taking in the views.

As you cruise the lakes and creeks, you get glimpses of nature at its best — like this eagles nest.

But nothing is more fun than reeling them in and cheering each other on.

My Dad and I started following this expert fisherman on Youtube — his name is Richard Gene the Fishing Machine and he is incredible. He ends every video the same — with these words of wisdom:

Go fishing when you can — cause it’s good fer ya!

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The Tragic Loss of an Inlet Beach Icon

Just over a mile from our home is Camp Helen State Park where in the early 1950’s a fishing pier (referred to as the Inlet Beach Pier) was constructed. Families gathered to fish, swim, collect shells and find shade from the brutal Florida sun.

In 1975, the pier took a hit from Hurricane Eloise, a CAT 4 storm that punished it with 120 mph winds. Most of the pier was lost but what remained became an icon for the Inlet Beach area.

Locals and tourists staying in Inlet Beach, Rosemary Beach, Seacrest, Alys Beach, and towns further down Scenic 30a made it a habit to walk to the pier along the crystal emerald shores. The pier was a great turnaround point where people could hang out, swim, or just rest before returning home.

When heading west from Panama City Beach, each time I crossed the Lake Powell bridge of Phillips Inlet, I would look south to spot the decaying pier. It was visible just in the distance and it became a habit to glance that way. A few weeks ago I glanced over and no longer saw the pier. I thought my eyes were deceiving me but later learned that it had been taken down.

Sadly, here is how it looks today. Other than a few pilings barely visible under the water, it’s completely gone.

In 2014, a sailboat washed ashore adjacent to the pier. It was loaded with all kinds of goodies (a kid’s bike, solar panels, sonar and more). We figured the owner would have it towed soon.

The sailboat sat there for 5 months until the county removed it. By the time they did, it had been swept from the original location to the back of the pier and was submerged in the sand.

Here are a few more pictures I’ve taken over the years. RIP Inlet Beach Pier!

If you want to learn more about Inlet Beach and the Inlet Beach Pier, MarineMax put together a phenomenal video:

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A Day Trip to Bailey Island Maine

A short 1 hour and 15 minute drive from our place in Arundel Maine is a sleepy fishing village called Bailey Island. It’s a dog friendly spot that’s perfect for a day-trip.

With a population of 400, this small island is located in Casco Bay, a part of the town of Harpswell, Maine. Legend has it that in 1742, Timothy Bailey purchased this island for a pound of tobacco and a gallon of rum from William Black who moved to an adjoining town, Orr’s Island.

Bailey Island is home to the only known cribstone bridge in the world made up of rocks, sand and gravel. The unique design allows tides to flow freely through it and boats to easily navigate its narrow passage.

As you enter Bailey Island, you see “Morse Lobster”. A stone’s throw away from it is “The Nubble”, a bait shack used by Lobster fishermen.

Our aim was to view “The Giant’s Steps”, a rock formation on the edge of the island that looks like a large flight of stairs. On our way there, we stopped at Mackerel Cove, a quaint cove filled with boats, fishermen, and small shops.

A short drive later we reached “The Giant’s Stairs”. Our dog Ziggi enjoyed the short hike to the ocean’s edge.

Our final stop was “Land’s End”, a rocky beach at the tip of the island. From there you can faintly see a lighthouse in the distance.

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New York City: The Year that Wasn’t

We had big plans. Rent a NYC apartment in the Upper West Side and enjoy all that NYC has to offer – Broadway, museums, incredible dining and entertainment, Central Park, Macy’s Day Parade, Christmas and New Years in the Big Apple. Learn what’s it’s like to live in a really big city that’s always buzzing.

It started off well. We committed to a year lease in an apartment in the Upper West Side at the corner of Central Park and mid-town. It was Fall, the leaves were turning bright orange.

We saw Bruce Springsteen and several others on Broadway. We visited all the major museums and enjoyed the Macy’s Day Parade by stepping just outside our apartment.

As Peloton enthusiasts, we even worked out at the Peloton studio with one of our favorite instructors (Ally Love).

Christmas came quickly and we were beginning to feel like a local — finding our favorite restaurants and finding nooks and crannies of Central Park that tourists probably won’t see.

We brought in the New Year and watched the fireworks over Central Park.

A New Day

The end of year came and we headed back to warmer weather in Florida. We excitingly started making plans for Spring and Summer 2020 in NYC. We bought tickets to lots of Broadway shows – Westside Story, The Music Man, and more. We bought tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld and to a Kenny Chesney concert towards the end of summer.

It was March 2020 and we traveled back to NYC to see Jerry Seinfeld. Just days before our travel, we heard about this new virus called Corona Virus and the possibility of it spreading to America. Broadway was still open and Jerry Seinfeld had not be been cancelled — surely things are OK, we’ll keep our plans.

A day after we arrived, things were starting to get real. Seinfeld was cancelled and so was all the Broadway shows. We quickly hopped on a plane back to Florida to wait it out. It took a while until we could return. Governor Cuomo did an amazing job of keeping things locked down until the viral surge was under control.

We returned mid July but NYC was not the same. The streets were empty, you rarely saw a taxi, no horns were blaring and the city was no longer buzzing. Restaurants were outside dining only or take out. Even Time Square was eerily empty.

We decided to make the best of it. We ate in and took long walks in Central Park. We saw pretty much every square inch of the park and it is beautiful.

Closing out our New York City Adventure

During all this craziness, we learned that our son Cameron and Kara were pregnant so we would become first time grandparents. They live in Maine and we want to be close to them so we decided to give up our NYC apartment and get a place in Kennebunk Maine (more on that later).

In September, we returned to NYC for one last visit before leaving for Maine. We spent about a month in NYC and it had changed since July. More people were out and about but people were socially distancing and wearing masks. Broadway was still closed but restaurants were beginning to allow a smaller crowd to enter (still mostly outside seating). But the streets were starting to buzz again, taxis were back and the familiar horn blowing and city noise was returning. We ventured out to take in some sights that we missed earlier in the year.

Summing it Up

Although the universe had a different plan for us than envisioned for our year in New York City, we still thoroughly enjoyed it. New York City is such a great city and we are happy we had this experience. I will leave you with a couple of final images.

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Discovering the Northeast USA during the Pandemic

It was early March and we were narrowing down our international travel plans for 2020. China and Tibet seem interesting. We were visualizing the Great Wall and visits to Tibet monasteries. Then the pandemic hit. China and Tibet will have to wait.

Fast forward 4 months and we are living in a new normal. Never thought we would wear masks, avoid hugging friends, stop eating in restaurants, or generally avoid others.

After things calmed down (before the flare up in July), we decided to travel domestically to see more of the Northeast. We started in Maine where our oldest son lives. We traveled responsibly — vigilant in wearing our masks, keeping our distance from others and ordering take out. Here’s what we saw…

Maine

Maine is a beautiful state with awesome foliage, mountains, lakes, streams and access to the Atlantic Ocean. Beautiful light houses protect its rocky shores.

Our son and daughter-in-law have an amazing farm on 11 acres, complete with a barn, horse, goat, barn cat, and lots of flowering plants.

We had plenty of time to work on projects together. One of our fun projects was building a table together — very rewarding.

I also got a chance to work on my handicap with some nice golf courses around this area. They allow you to ride a single cart, golfers don’t shake or high five and we kept our distance. The new normal I guess.

Upstate New York

We’ve spent lots of time in New York City but never Upstate New York. Looking at the map, we spotted 11 elongated lakes resembling fingers — appropriately named the Finger Lakes. We had never heard much about them and was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful this area of the country is.

Many of the Finger Lakes are lined with a scenic drive along its shores with lots of wineries (great Rieslings) and craft breweries.

Astonishingly, this area has a large Amish population and you will invariably see them in horse and buggy along the roads.

The Hamptons (Long Island)

This was our first time visiting the Hamptons — New York City’s playground for the rich and famous. It was a bit different than I had visualized. It is densely populated with trees and the few roads in and out don’t provide a view of the beautiful beaches. It does not feel like a tropical area but has lots of shopping and upscale restaurants.

Once you get to the beaches, they are wonderful. Being from Inlet Beach, we are used to sugar sand beaches — these have a similar consistency with a yellow hue.

But this area has a lot of charm and I can see why it’s a relaxation spot for New Yorkers.

Apparently, it’s also legal to be chauffeured around by your 4 legged friends.

New York City

Our final stop was our beloved New York City. Things have really changed since our last visit. There are almost no tourists, so there are no crowded streets, few sirens blaring and almost no horns honking. Imagine that. No museums are open, restaurants are order out or outside seating only and Broadway shows are closed. Everyone wears masks and are diligent about social distancing. Andrew Como did a great job managing the pandemic and we feel as comfortable here as we do back home.

With everything closed, we’ve spent a lot of time walking every inch of Central Park.

Black Lives Matter. They always have.

My Photography

I am often asked what type of camera I use to capture my photos. I mostly use my iPhone XR and a Nikon D500 if I need a long distance lens (but I rarely use it anymore). I’ve learned a lot about photography and it is more about your approach than what camera you choose to use. Once you learn the basics of composition and post-processing techniques, you can create stunning pictures that tell a story.

A year or so ago, I learned about an online photography class offered by Emil Pakarklis and it took my photography to the next level. If you want to hone your camera skills, it’s invaluable. Check it out here: https://iphonephotographyschool.com/author/emil/.

All of the pictures in this blog post were taken with my iPhone XR.

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