Friday, September 30, 2011

Such a hoot

It’s been a wet month. We’ve had 3 times as much rain this September, compared to the average. Thankfully it did stay dry long enough for me to do most of the lawn seeding that I had planned. It’s doing nicely despite my worries that the earth works might get washed out.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA Lynne has used the poor weather as an opportunity to put in some serious quilting and general sewing. She has been working away to finish off a lovely full sized quilt on her long-arm machine. The photo shows her proudly displaying the completed work at the Quilter Guild meeting. As if she needs any more strings to her bow, she has successfully taken on some training duties at her favourite quilt shop. There are more details of this on her crafty blog.

I was lucky to have my camera to hand early the other morning. As I sat eating my breakfast cereal and watching the morning news, I noticed that we had a very rare visitor. Not that they are rare to our garden but that they are rarely seen during daylight. They often wake us up at night! It was a very overcast early morning so it was staying up late hoping to catch a snack. This fine Barred Owl is about 20” tip to tail and stayed around just long enough for me to snap a few shots.

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We still have some colour in the garden and the bees are working hard to collect the last of nature’s goodness.

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Autun is here Somebody turned the summer switch to the off position this month. It is decidedly autumnal. But if we should be in any doubt, the trees are telling us that we are on the downhill slope to winter.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wet and windy end to summer

We have often thought that we just don’t get into NYC very often. Given that we are only 80 miles from one of the great cities of the World, we should do it every now and then.

So off we went. Just to make the trip a little adventure we took a different train route to the one that takes us down the Hudson river. We took the “Port Jervis” line, over the Moodner Viaduct, through New Jersey and under the Hudson River into Penn Station. It’s a slow line but a very pleasant journey.

First stop was the B&H camera superstore. I could spend hours there just looking. Lynne was interested in a bag for her new Sony but the check out line just seemed too long so she gently guided me to the exit.

A new section of the High Line Park has recently opened so, as it was a lovely day, we went off to explore. The park has been constructed along a disused section of elevated rail line. Starting at 30th street and going on down to 14th, you get such a unique view of the city . We highly recommend it.

Trains ran this way Note the water towers on top of the appartments

Cross town view Art is a key feature

After a well deserved lunch we went off to explore the garment district and find Mood Fabrics of Project Runway fame. Given that I have no interest in the series it’s odd that it was me that spotted Mondo, runner up from last year, waiting at the counter, fabric in hand. The place is an Aladdin's Cave for anyone with a creative stitching bent ……. I dutifully followed along at a distance.

The main plaza at Seacaucus Junction We strolled across town and gradually made our way back to Penn Station for the trip back to the sticks. We were quickly away on the first leg to Secaucus Junction where we discovered that we had over an hour to wait for the next train to Middletown (NY). Still, the modern waiting plaza was cool and had seats. The time seemed to pass quickly …. maybe it was the company? It was a fine day out in the big city and we will do it again. Not via that line for a while as hurricane Irene has washed out the tracks in several places.

And that brings me neatly on to the wet and windy end to the summer. Hurricane season is always well reported here but doesn’t often make as big an impression as Irene. The signs were there and people were being warned to make preparations well in advance. Low lying areas of New Jersey and New York were evacuated for the predicted storm surge and flooding. As it turned out, the main destruction came from the very heavy inland rainfall and subsequent flooding as water took any route down to overflowing rivers. Some towns had 4ft of water running down the main street. There are some crazy scenes on You Tube.

Come on Irene The weather radar pictures looked ominous and it was raining hard as we went to bed that night. Everything had been put away or tied down. We knew it would be windy but the worst was expected on the coast, 80 miles away.

We woke up at around 3am and it was raining hard but blowing harder. All the trees were trashing around, the electricity was already out and all we could do was wait for the sun to come up and the wind to calm down. When it did, we were pleased to see that there were no major trees down and apart for some very minor water in the basement, we were unscathed. I got the small generator running and we had the fridge, freezer and some lights going. Our main issue was the lack of 220v for the well pump so there was no running water although we had filled up the bath and stocked up on bottled water. We had radio but no telephone, internet or cable tv. By lunchtime we were beginning to understand how lucky we were.

Truck RV covered in debris

We took a trip out to see how the local area had been affected and to see if we could gauge how long the power was likely to be out. We soon started to see trees down and roads flooded. The river through town was raging but runs significantly lower in the valley so was not an issue there. We travelled to a number of other bridges and road crossings to see the scale of the run off. There was a lot of water!

Walkill river rages The weir is almost smoothed out

The fun started on the homeward loop. Every way we turned there was a flooded road, a tree down or power cable across the street. We were all over the place before we reached home. We eventually got power back by Wednesday.

Route home seriously underwater That should be pasture

Typical tree taking down power situation This one kept us out for more than three days

On a much lighter note. We had a great evening out this last Saturday. We went out with friends to Brian’s Back Yard BBQ for a meal and blues music. So good!

Cute critters in the collection have mainly been deer, hummingbirds and the odd snake. I also saw a skunk scurry through the trees.

Our regular family visitors Ribbon Snake

* All photos by Lynne with her new Sony SLR (except the last two)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Maine coast – New Hampshire mountains

With a break in contracts for Lynne, we were able to get away and explore some more of this great country. After the crazy heat of last summer we thought it would be good to go northeast and towards the cooler coast of Maine. With no other plan than to enjoy ourselves, it was a bonus that we were able to add on some time in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In total we covered 2025 miles.

Maine Trip

I had spent a few days checking over the RV and loading up ready to go as soon as Lynne had delivered her final project. The dogs had an early session with the groomer and we were hitched up and rolling by lunch time. 290 miles on a mid-week afternoon got us into the Kennebunk camp site before dark. That’s important to me as I like to see the space I have to back the RV into.

While I unhitched, connected the services and walked the dogs, Lynne sorted out the interior, pushed out the slide-outs and organised the food. The great thing with having a bunch of solar panels and batteries is being able to have the slow cooker do it’s job while we are driving. Mexican chilli chicken …. yum.

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Cagney and Lacey are great travellers are are quite at home in the RV. Of course they also enjoy hiking with us. For the first week we were on the coast so there were lots of opportunities to get wet in the Atlantic. Generally, the beaches have to be clear of dogs by 9am. This meant an early start each day to make sure we were on the beach by about 7am. It was well worth the effort. It was great to stroll along the shoreline in the early morning sun and watch the girls run amok with all the other dogs.

DSC00394 It’s funny who you bump into whilst walking dogs! As we came to one end of the Kennebunkport beach the girls ran off to play with a group of people coming towards us. They were roundly seem off by the two small yappy dogs and we stopped for a brief doggy discussion. It was only as we walked away that I recalled why the white haired old lady looked familiar. It was the former First Lady, Barbara Bush. As we looked back holiday makers were walking up to her and shaking her hand. She seemed to have time for everyone.

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The village of Kennebunkport was more “arts and crafts” than “kiss me quick” but ready to take the tourist $ none the less.

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The local seafood industry was all around and I’m not sure it would have been possible to get a steak. I’m pleased that we went early in the morning as traffic was heavy later in the day.

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Lynne planed a road trip north to see some other parts of the coast. Funnily enough, it seemed to take in a quilt shop! On route we got to see a truly huge globe at the HQ of Delorme and a giant boot at the flagship LLBean store.

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The main point of the trip was to take in the rocky coastline around Plymouth and to see the first lighthouse in Maine.


A real bonus was this Osprey family that had built their home in one of the marinas. Apparently dad was out fishing …… typical!

DSC00557 Time came to move on to after another early morning beach run we hitched up and travelled 146 miles up to a site just north of Bangor. The main attraction for us was the Acadia National Park. It was an hour away but we were able to get a much less commercial (quiet)campsite. The hiking in the park was harder work than strolling on the beach but the views were worth every drop of sweat.

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It was hot and painful work at times. We carried lots of water for the girls and they found shade whenever possible. We found blueberries.

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One of our first hikes took us along the coastal path and across this gorgeous beach. Sadly no dogs were allowed so we couldn’t stop.


The park is best appreciated from the top and we took the long hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain. It was a hot 7 mile round trip rewarded by great views. The only problem is that we were joined by the coach parties and others that had driven to the top.

For our next hike, Lynne managed to find a recommended route up the adjacent mountains of Sargent and Penobscot. That was much quieter and gave equally magnificent views. It ended up being about 10 miles around (we  took an alternate turn on the way down). We all slept very well that night.







Sea food was everywhere and delicious. There was clearly a curry house somewhere but we never saw it.







We could have stayed in Maine much longer but we had to begin the trek homeward. We didn’t have a plan but had figured that some time near the Appalachian Trail might be fun. We ended up in a camp site in near the Town of Gorham, New Hampshire. This is right in the White Mountains area.

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Hiking here was a physically tougher but the trees did give us more shade. We did a couple of hikes that took us to the edge of the tree line and the views before retreating back into the cool.

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We took a “day on, day off” approach to hiking. Days off were spent sewing (Lynne), lounging (me and the girls) and general sightseeing. The camp had provided a very interesting map of scenic routes to follow. There were waterfalls and covered bridges to be seen.

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The highest peak in the area is Mount Washington. There are several hiking routes to the top. We wimped out and took the easy way up. Easy, that is, if you are ok with very steep narrow gravel roads with steep drops and no barriers. At the top, we were literally in and out of the clouds as they blew by. As we watched the cog rail train climbing up to the summit, I was reminded of Snowdon.


Lynne wanted to see a moose ………. I told her she was already living with one but that didn’t cut it. We were directed to a lonely back road called Thirteen Mile Wood, just before dark, as the best place to see them. All told it was a 50 or so mile round trip. We passed many “brake for moose” signs but did we see a moose? Lynne’s convinced that they are a myth made up by the tourist people. It was a lovely drive into wild country though.

And so our road trip came to a close. We packed our gear, hitched up the RV and drove south through Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and back into New York. We saw lots of places we’d like to go back for next time. It was great to get away and see another small part of this BIG country.