Maine Eats

It’s strange that John never eats lobster EXCEPT when in Maine, and as soon as he hits the state line, he starts looking for a place to eat the state’s best known crustacean. Since we crossed the state line well after dark and past the closing time of most restaurants in York, his lobster obsession had to wait another day, but that turned out to be a good thing because we just so happened to be at one of Maine’s most famous lobster shacks at lunchtime. We got in line in Wiscasset at Red’s Eats around 11:30 and waited for about 45 minutes for a lobster roll and the first taste of Maine.

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A lobster roll, fries, onion rings, slaw and fried haddock (I don’t eat lobster) and we were officially welcomed to the state of Maine.

Once in Acadia National Park, a meal at the Jordan Pond House was required to make the visit complete. The traditional food at Jordan Pond House: popovers. Maine Seafood Chowder served with popovers and strawberry jam…yum.

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And we had to indulge in Maine’s most famous dessert. How could we pass on blueberry crisp topped with ice cream?

There was only one more meal needed to make the trip complete. Lobster at a traditional lobster pound. A place to sit on the dock, overlooking the lobster boats and a tank of the live creatures waiting to be served to diners. After a day at Schoodic Peninsula, what we found was not quite a lobster pound, no whole lobsters plucked from the tank and dropped into boiling water, (although there was a tank). No whole lobster, but a lobster roll (and a grilled cheese sandwich) eaten on a dock…the perfect setting.

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Lobster obsession satisfied until the next time we cross the state line.

Looking for a Comfort Station

Not long after my mother-in-law retired and moved to Marion County she told me she knew where to find every Publix grocery store in Ocala. While she shopped at Publix, the reason she mapped the locations was because she wanted to be able to quickly find a clean restroom if nature called while she was twenty minutes or more away from home. This advice is something we’ve used on many occasions as we’ve travelled around the state, but it doesn’t work everywhere.

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On road trips outside of Florida, I keep my eyes open for Cracker Barrel. A great comfort station for so many reasons.

They’re so predictable:

rocking chairs, checkers and holiday displays

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apparel from the local universities

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a large selection of candy which I can’t resist

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and of course, clean easy to find restrooms. Love Publix and Cracker Barrel.

A Very Different Beach

Going to the beach is a summer ritual for as long as I can remember. This year I’ve spent days on beaches in Amelia Island, St. Augustine, Ponce Inlet, Jupiter, Miami and Anclote Key, but the day Lisa and I spent on the beaches in Oregon was truly an amazing experience.

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We started the day with an early morning drive to Ecola State Park in attempt to escape the 100° temperatures in Portland. We were rewarded with a much cooler day, perfect for long sleeves and jackets.

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Apparently our first stop is where photographers take the money shot. As we were leaving the overlook to walk down to the beach, a van full of photogs with cameras, lenses and tripods invaded the space in an effort to get the perfect picture. (I don’t think mine look too bad for an iPhone with no special lenses or equipment.)

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Only surfers clad in wetsuits dared enter the icy Pacific waters. We stuck to a walk on the hard packed sand.

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Farther down the coast at Cannon Beach we walked out the the famous Haystack Rock.

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A great place to observe the sea life in the tidal pools.

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We even saw puffins nesting on the rock thanks to the volunteers and their spotting scope.

There’s really nothing like a day at the beach.

99 Ways to Celebrate the NPS

Yesterday the National Park Service celebrated the 99th birthday of the park system and posted a list of 99 ways to #FindYourPark. The list includes ways everyone can enjoy the parks. Suggestions are as diverse as writing poetry, rock climbing or taking a selfie in one of our National Parks. They also suggest you post pictures or videos on social media using the hashtag #FindYourPark.

Click here to find the complete list of all 99 ideas.

Here’s some examples of ways to celebrate:

Enjoy the spectacular views at Golden Gate Bridge National Recreation Area.

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Spot wildlife at sunrise at Canaveral National Seashore.

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Swim with the manatee at Crystal River National Wildlife Refugee.

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Follow the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail from the Missouri River

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to the Pacific Coast.

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Hug a tree at Kings Canyon or Sequoia National Parks. (Or just relax on the stump of one of the trees.)

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Take a late night walk through the National Mall and Memorial Parks.

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Take a selfie at Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

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How will you #FindYourPark?

Thanks to Meghan, Jonathan, and John for allowing me to post their pictures.

Preparing for a New School Year

For the first time since 1963 I did not spend the week before the beginning of the school year busily preparing for learning or teaching. I’ve either been a student, the parent of a student, a teacher or some combination of these roles for the past 50 plus years. This has traditionally been a week of shopping, organizing, and planning for a successful school year.

While I’m not preparing for school, I realized that I participated in many activities that were similar to those that would have occupied the pre-school week of the past.

Monday: The first day of the pre-school routine was intentionally very different from years past. As a celebration of the break in tradition, we packed a lunch and enjoyed a picnic from the middle of the lake. Instead of sleep being interrupted by a mind filled with lists of things to do, sleep was interrupted by the uncomfortable feeling of sunburn.

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Tuesday: Day 2 of pre-school started very different as John brought the catch of the day in to be cleaned before breakfast, but the afternoon was spent shopping, an activity not unusual for this week. However, instead of pens, pencils, notebooks and clothes for the upcoming school year, bathing suits and fishing lures filled our bags on this day.

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Wednesday: This day’s events actually were very similar to the way I spent time opening up a new school year. The day began at the library, but instead of loading up on books to accompany curriculum, I filled the reading list for an upcoming trip. Then off to Gainesville to the Repurpose Store looking for treasures from others’ trash. I guess some things will never change. And finally, a stop at Satchel’s Pizza where I investigated the “new technology” and toured a bus.

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Thursday: Alarm set for 5:30, the usual time for a day of work. Donuts from Tas-T-O, usually a requirement by the fourth day of pre-school. Then six hours of sitting around, but instead of sitting in boring meetings, I sat in various waiting rooms at Munroe Regional with my Mom and Dad while my Mom underwent a medical procedure. All went well with the procedure so we all left in good spirits, not always the case after attending a day of educational inservice training.

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Friday: Instead of meeting students and their parents, I met bloodsucking mosquitoes and other insects while riding my bike on the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Then the afternoon was spent researching and making plans…not for lessons to be taught, but for more adventures in the coming months.

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I can honestly say I didn’t miss any of the usual back to school activities, but it’s nice to know they prepared me well for this new adventure called retirement.

 

 

As Bare As You Dare

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If you think you’re going to an orgy, you’re going to be very disappointed. Instead, expect good, goofy fun! 

That’s how Portland’s version of the World Naked Bike Ride is described on their website. The organizers’ mantra is “Good, Safe, Fun,” a major reason no alcohol is permitted and riders are warned of the dangers of drunk riding.

Guess who was in Portland for this year’s ride? So how could Lisa and I pass up the opportunity to witness this unique event? It would like being in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and not watching the parades.

We saw some pretty unique bikes at the event:

 

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As well as some unusual bike helmets:

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And a variety of seat covers for the comfort of the riders:

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But most of all, we saw people of all ages having fun:

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And yes, thousands of them were naked:

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But have no fear, the slogan “As Bare as You Dare” applied to all…and Lisa and I didn’t dare to bare.

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Washington Lighthouses: Round 2

After spending a day at Mt. Baker upon our return to the U.S. from Canada, we spent our final two days in Seattle and the surrounding area where we visited three more lighthouses.

The first, Mukilteo, was the only lighthouse we were able to enter. We arrived on Sunday afternoon and found the lighthouse and grounds open and took the opportunity to climb to the top where we were able to watch the ferry depart for Clinton.

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Our final day took us to Alki Lighthouse in West Seattle, directly west of downtown on the point. Blocked from public access behind locked gates in the middle of a neighborhood proved only a slight deterrent as we located an access point to the beach and then walked around the point and climbed the rocks to get an up close look and take the obligatory selfie.

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imageDiscovery Park, the site of Fort Lawton and the West Point Lighthouse was where we hiked to lighthouse number ten in the Pacific Northwest. Due to poorly marked trails, we took a lengthy route through shaded trails down to the beach where we got the first glimpse of the lighthouse. We finally managed to find a path which provided access to our destination.

Pictures and then a walk on the beach before heading back to the car and concluding our nearly five mile walk to satisfy our curiosity about West Point Lighthouse…a good way to end our trip.

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As we said good-bye to Washington, it’s time to start visiting Lighthouses closer to home.

 

Hiking the PCT

When we decided to go to Oregon, Lisa and I decided that hiking a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail should be on our agenda since both of us had either seen the movie or read the book Wild, which chronicled the hiking experience of Cheryl Strayed on the PCT. Our plans only included hiking a short portion of the trail. No heavy backpacks. No overnight stays. Just a couple of hours on the trail.

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Not only am I not in shape for an extended hike, on the day we arrived in Portland, I broke out in hives and was not feeling anywhere close to 100%, so hiking on the PCT seemed unlikely. However, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the portion of the trail in the Mt. Hood National Forest crosses only a half mile from Timberline Lodge and connects to the Mountaineer Trail to provide a two mile trek on a trail identified as easy.

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Of course, we also had the misfortune of planning our trip during a time of record breaking temperatures in Portland and the surrounding area. Temperatures in excess of 100º were expected in Portland and even on the ski slopes (which are open for summer skiing) on Mt. Hood, the temperature was in the mid-eighties, so after getting a map and water bottles we left the lodge for a trek on the Pacific Crest Trail.

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Mission accomplished. And then it was time to partake in the spectacular buffet in the Cascade Dining Room in Timberline Lodge.

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Beautiful scenery. Hiking. Lunch with three desserts. A great way to start the day.

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Waterfall Walks

Have you ever noticed water makes everything more beautiful? These are the words of hiker on Chain of Lakes Trail in British Columbia. Guess that explains why many days in the Pacific Northwest included hikes to waterfalls.

First with Lisa in the Columbia Gorge at Wahkeena Falls.

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Then Multanoah Falls.

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And finally, Latourell Falls.

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A return trip with John to Bridal Veil Falls.

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In British Columbia, a waterfall on the Chain of Lakes Trail where I overheard the hiker make the comment about water.

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Still finding waterfalls in Washington as we headed back to Seattle at the end of the trip.

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I agree. Water does make everything more beautiful.

8 Down; 7 To Go

July 1st, with passports in hand, we crossed the border to enter British Columbia and start adventure number eight on our 15 in 15 list.

We quickly realized that some special event was occurring in Vancouver as large crowds swarmed the harbor and vendors lined the street in a carnival type atmosphere. What we assumed was hoopla surrounding the Women’s World Cup taking place in the city and throughout Canada was actually the celebration of Canada Day with a parade and fireworks scheduled for later in the day. What a welcome!

 

On our second day, we rented bikes and pedaled the perimeter road through Stanley Park checking out the totem poles, lighthouses and enjoying a wild place in the middle of the city. After lunch at the Fish House, we were off to Lighthouse Park overlooking Vancouver for a hike in the woods.

On the morning of day three, we started at Granville Island feasting on fruits and baked goods at the farmer’s market and checking out the shops. Buying was not an option since our luggage was already stuffed beyond capacity.

Our last stop before leaving Vancouver was at Goorin Brothers, a haberdashery, to select hats, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts from Emily and Brian. I know, no room in the luggage…we wore the hats on the plane.

The final stop in British Columbia, a hike in Golden Ear.

Then back to the U.S. in time to celebrate the 4th of July and looking forward to more 15 in 15 fun.