Sunday, August 18, 2013

Happy birthday to me

Spent a nice day with my sweetie doing a little sightseeing, checking another park off our State Park Passport and getting beat at putt putt golf (by just one stroke).  Now watching some Nascar and relaxing.  Hope you have a great August 18 also and enjoy the pictures.

Old Fort Halifax in Winslow

Bridge plate and look at the Sebasticook River as it meets the Kennebec River

Train tressel across the Sebasticook

Fort Halifax from the train tressel

Across the Kennebec to the old Hathaway shirt factory

Closer shot with the Waterville/Winslow bridge on the right.  Can also see the rapids and another train tressel

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bangor and Augusta

This is really just a place to share some photos but to also share a little love for the 3rd and 4th biggest (using that term loosely) cities in Maine.  So just a little background:  After coming back from our great weekend in Providence, Shel and I wanted to go out to a nice restaurant in Bangor and WE FOUND ONE, a New American Cuisine place on lower Hammond Street called Fiddleheads.  You may have seen my shares on FB and Foursquare, so I won't repeat it but the food was first rate, as good as found in a much bigger city; and the staff was wonderful.
Before our reservations we took a couple hours to walk Downtown Bangor, which I'm quite familiar with having worked there a lot but Shel had not really been.
Hannibal Hamlin statue

Public Enemy #1
I don't have any so-called skyline pictures but I did notice on Friday coming back home from Surry, driving up 1A and then 395, crossing the bridge on 395 between Brewer and Bangor that if you could get up there, you could get an awesome picture of the Penobscot River in front of the Bangor skyline.  There's got to be another place.  That would be a great panorama picture, which will be my segue to share yesterday's time in Downtown Augusta.
Yesterday we went to dinner at the Riverfront BBQ in Augusta, which has a great bar upstairs called the Gin Mill.  We ate upstairs, had a drink with the owner and enjoyed ourselves immensely.  Before we got to the restaurant I took a few pics of downtown, two of them with my new panorama app, which will explain the awkward nature of those pics.
Key Bank bldg. from one block above Water St

Kennebec River bridge from downtown

Old Federal building
There's a block of downtown behind this picture.  That's the Key Bank building again on the distant left and there's another half dozen blocks of downtown beyond.  The entrance to the restaurant is that glass area that goes all the way to the sidewalk in the left foreground.  A great spot for a skyline shot of Augusta would be from that bridge and that one, unlike 395, has a sidewalk.  Hmmmm.

PS  I actually took a picture yesterday from that 395 bridge over the Penobscot River between Bangor and Brewer looking toward the Bangor skyline but it didn't come out well.  Maybe because I was driving (shhhh), maybe because downtown is at least a half mile from this bridge and also due in part because of Todd's nose smudges on the passenger window.  I'll try again.  It would make a nice picture if it could be gotten.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Texas with the boys

As many of you know, a very good friend and his family moved from NH to TX a year ago.  This late winter he sent an email to four of us asking that since the Red Sox would be in Arlington the first weekend in May, how would we feel about coming down for that weekend.  All four of us immediately said we were in.
There's a fair bit to tell but I don't want to bore y'all, so I'll try to summarize the highlights as briefly as possible.  I need to start out by telling you that I personally had not flown since returning home from SoCal in 1988, partly due to my love of roadtrips and in equal measure since they banned smoking on airplanes but I wasn't going to miss this get-together and I couldn't roadtrip it with my limited time off in my "new" job.  It's not that you have to go without a smoke for a 5 hour trip; it's that you need to add in the time to get through security before boarding and add in the layover since the vast majority of airports these days don't have a smoking area.  So Ell and I get to Portland on time, get through security pretty smoothly (though he forgot he had a saline bottle in his bag LOL) and were off to wait to board the flight to Chicago.  Well, we noticed one big band of nasty weather in the Midwest and soon heard that our flight was delayed, followed shortly by the announcement that we wouldn't make our connecting flight in Chicago to Dallas (nice way to help the smoker deal with his addiction!)  So we got on the plane and were told they'd take our info and get us rerouted.  When we landed in Chicago (a nonsmoking airport), folks lined up to try to get info about our leg to Dallas but we noticed that the screens were saying that flight hadn't left yet and we had plenty of time to get on it.  So we made the decision to hustle way over to where that flight was board and made it in plenty of time.  Luckily for us they had never taken us off that flight.  End of airport and smoking stories...suffice to say I'm proud of how well I handled it.
We arrived in Dallas around the same time that TJS did and soon found AA and my brother who were there to pick us up.  We proceeded to Ranch AA, after a short stop at Tom Thumb for critical supplies, where we commenced to catch up, drink and eat lots of cow and pig.  AA grilled us some awesome burgers for a late lunch and we then awaited the brisket and pulled pork he'd been smoking all day.  Man, was it worth the wait.  Forgot to mention that we flew on Friday and the game was scheduled for Saturday night.
Saturday we had a relaxing morning and then struck out for Grapevine to eat some real Texas chili at a place AA was familiar with (hopefully the name will come to me as I write.)  Grapevine is a tourist town, for lack of a better description, a town that's maintained it's old Texas downtown look and is littered with little artist shops and restaurants.  Stevie Ray Vaughn played at the chili place when he was still a teen.  I can't begin to tell you how good that chili was.  "Real Texas chili" doesn't have any tomato base or beans, though beans are an option.  It's just meat and spices.  Good time to share a few pics I took in Grapevine.  Tolbert's!

TJS searching for espresso
The next leg of our journey was on to the ballgame, Red Sox at Rangers at the Ballpark in Arlington.  I've already written about that on BoSox Tavern.  So I won't bore you with that again.  If you haven't read that, you go do so through this link where you'll find a write-up and pictures.  What you won't see in that piece is that after watching the Bruins/Leafs game on the DVR and all the sissies had gone to bed, AA and I stayed up all night drinking, talking movies and watching "Django Unchained," which I enjoyed more than I thought I would.
Now on to Sunday, our last day there since we were all flying out Monday morning.  Our tee times at Champions Golf Club in Justin were for 9:00, which came really early for yours truly who got only a little over an hours sleep thanks to the above-mentioned night in AA's House of Pain.  I had been dreading the golf to some extent because I don't play nearly often enough to play well enough to enjoy it.  Well, I'm very glad I went.  The course was pretty forgiving and I played well enough to have a very good time.  Bro, myself and Ell played in a threesome and TJS and AA played with a couple of AA's new friends in a foursome right behind us.  I'd share my scorecard but I didn't play THAT well.  After an adult beverage at the 19th hole, we went back to AA's to relax for a bit before we struck out on the final leg of an awesome weekend.
We had reservations for 6:00 at the famous H3 Ranch Steakhouse in the old Stockyard area of Fort Worth but we left early enough to look around the stockyard area and have a drink at the historic White Elephant Saloon, where I took a picture and bought a cool-looking t-shirt.  I'll let you decide whether to click the links to learn more about these cool places.

But it's the first time I've smoked inside a public place in many years -- had to have one just for old time's sake -- and we learned about the history of the saloon and took in lots of eye candy.  Then it was on to H3, where we actually ended up eating in the saloon side called Booger Red's, where you'll see a much better picture of the place than the one I took.  At the link you can better see the critters on the wall.  I'll tell you, we ate lots and lots of cow at H3, yours truly and one other having rib-eye and the others porterhouse.  Throw on top of that a couple of awesome appetizers and goblets of grog and we left well satiated.

With full bellies and having run almost nonstop for 3 days, we were mostly too pooped to do much more than go back to AA's, get to bed and get up early to catch our flights out.  I can tell you that we'll have to do this again real soon...maybe Bruins at Stars this time? 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Providence, RI

We had been talking for awhile about doing a get-away weekend in Providence, a city I'd always heard about for its history and more lately its food but I'd never been (went to a ballgame in Pawtucket, which is very close).  So when I heard the NCAA hockey regionals were going to be played there (another bucket list item), it seemed the perfect time to go.

We had a fabulous but way too short weekend there, which really amounted to about 24 hours.  We walked around the city, which is small enough to easily walk around in three spurts over a 24 hour period.  Like some other cities, Providence has some painted lines on the sidewalks that related to different trails of interest throughout the city.  We walked a good bit of the Green Line, which gets you around to see many of the historical sites in the city.

The one thing we missed was being able to take a gondola ride (how romantic!) down the canal.  It doesn't start running each year until the end of April, first of May.  The weather was good enough Saturday (in the 50s) to have been comfortable on a gondola ride.

But the food (AWWW THE FOOD!) was the big story:  The first place we stopped at was a place called Luxe Burger, where you can build you own.  I was tempted to try to beat their challenge and earn a T-shirt (look at the picture below) but we had a nice dinner planned for the evening and I wouldn't be able to enjoy it.  Around 4:00 we decided to go downstairs in the Biltmore (we stayed at the famous old Biltmore) where there was a nice seafood restaurant with a bar to have a cocktail.  We ended up have Happy Hour appetizers -- I had mussels.  Then we had a 7:00 reservation at a "new American" restaurant called Local 121, an upscale modern restaurant that uses all local ingredients.  I would love to describe my meal but my entrĂ©e was a special that is not on the online menu and I can't remember the ingredients...suffice to say it had a few I'd never heard of.  It was a porkchop (seems ridiculous to call it a porkchop) and it was devine, as was my bacon wrapped scallop appetizer.  Shelly hopefully will describe her meal in the comments but I will include the restaurant links.
Finally, still being full in the morning, we didn't eat until brunchtime and we decided to go to a chain finally, one I'd never been to, The Cheesecake Factory.  I was very impressed with my meal, an appetizer of Vietnamese tacos and a Navajo sandwich.  Bought two slices of cheesecake as we left;  one for more darling daughter, Kim, who dogwatched Todd while we were gone.  She told me hers was yummy, a vanilla bean slice and mine is still sitting in the frig.

Then there was the NCAA Northeast Regional game last night.  You can read about that at BoSox Tavern.  Enjoy the pics below:
Out our hotel window at the neat old roof of City Hall

My darling, then the canal and then the Capitol

County Courthouse

The very first Baptist Church in the US

Across yet another canal at a neat building but I forgot what it is

City Hall with the Biltmore behind

Thought this was a neat shot down the canal of that bridge with windmills

From Luxe Burger...maybe next time but my Kobe beef bacon cheeseburger was excellent

State Capitol building


Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Turkey Chaser strikes again!

I finally had the opportunity and presence of mind to get my phone ready to videotape Todd chase turkeys.  I was about to go outside and put away some firewood when I saw two of them at the back of the garden and another half-dozen in the back left corner of the backyard.

I apologize ahead of time for the fact that you can't really see the turkeys fly away.  If there's a zoom on this thing, I didn't know where it was when I needed it.  As the camera pans to the left, you can see one of them start to take flight but there's at least 6 more ahead of him flying towards the trees on the left.  The dark background of the trees is why you can't see them, but some are a good 20 feet off the ground flying all the way to the trees at the back of the field.

He loves to chase them, as long as he knows it's okay and he'll stop when you tell him to if necessary.  But as you can see in this clip, he doesn't have to see them to chase them.  He takes off around the right side of the garden when the turkeys are elsewhere.  And he wasn't as aggressive in his pursuit this time as usual, and you'll see why at the end of the clip.  Hope you enjoy this nonetheless.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Zebster-1 Brambles-0

After I'd hacked down 1/4
I've had this "mission" in mind for a couple of years, hacking down my mother's raspberry and blackberry patch.  The raspberries have not been doing well lately and the blackberry bushes are getting so tall they fall out into the yard and grab my ass when I'm mowing.  Seriously, some are as tall as 12-15 feet.  And to complicate things more, the whole patch is "overrun" with a kudzu type vine that's intertwined amongst these very prickly stalks, especially the blackberries.  Some of the thorns are 1/4 inch long.

So with the help of my trusty implement of destruction, I started after it at about 9:00 this morning.   After about two and a half hours, I was pretty much done but the patch was only 90% cleared.  So with the help of another friend, see pic below, I managed to bull through to finish it.  One end of the patch was about 12-15 feet wide and the other end was 25 feet wide, and it was probably 50 feet long.  I should probably say that we'll check the final score of this battle in the morning, just in case it took a toll on my back.  Stiff right now but should be fine.

implement of destruction


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Deer-1 PT Cruiser-0

This is a misnomer since the poor deer did get the worst of it but this is how I was feeling about the following incident yesterday as I posted it to Facebook.  What follows is my explanation of what happened after I got home last night, followed by a few pictures that I just took this morning.

The deer hit me instead of me hitting it, 5 seconds after I'd avoided her boyfriend who'd run across in front of me. She glanced off the middle passenger's side, then hit the rear part of the rear wheel well and bumper pretty hard. She laid in the road for 5 minutes trying to get up while I was directing traffic and calling the police. Then she completely laid down, thought she was dead; but when I got to her, she walked back onto the lawn she came from and stood there for 5 minutes, looking like she was going to give up at times, then she laid down and after a few minutes put her head down.. So I finally had a chance to walk back and quickly look at my car. I looked at it for 60 seconds, looked back and she was gone. I went to the tree line and couldn't see her. The officer came, and he and I and another guy spent 15 minutes combing the woods for her, to no avail. So I have a dented car and no deer meat. Hopefully she's in better shape than she looked. I'm thinking her hooves hit the side of the car, which caused her to fall towards the rear wheel well. Instead of a broken neck, maybe a concussion and shoulder injury. (probably wishful thinking)
 You can see my squatting reflection taking this pic better than you can see the scratches from her hooves but they're there.
From the last 3 pictures you can see the back part of the wheel well is folded over, the bumper is knocked back and out towards the picture, and there's a hole in the inside wheel well.  So the combination of those things is going to make that hole and back bumper act like a sail going down the road.  There's also a piece missing out of the hub cap.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Popham Beach to Reid State Park

Despite a weather forecast that predicted, at best, overcast and windy weather and likely rain in the afternoon, we (being yours truly and his two best friends) struck out to do some sightseeing at parks on the coast of Maine, specifically at the mouth of the Kennebec River.  As it turns out, the weather was much better than predicted.  It only got windy and a little cold at our last stop, which served to make the ocean waves more dramatic crashing on the rocky coast.
As I've done before, you can see all of the pictures I took yesterday at the link, and I'll share a representative shot of each place we went.  Mixed in between we found a neat hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in Downtown Bath for lunch (hole in the wall in the sense that the place was maybe 12 feet wide with a counter against one wall that sat four people and a two-person table in the corner) and finished our day with Blizzards from DQ on the way back through Bath.

Popham Beach State Park above at low tide.  This shot is taken along the beach but I took others looking out toward the ocean but I've never been anywhere where the beach, meaning the sand, was so wide, upwards of a 1/4 mile at low tide.

Fort Baldwin, with three batteries and a tall observation tower.  I took a couple of shots standing atop these batteries looking toward the ocean but the trees are now in the way.  Back in the day you would've been able to see for miles.  If the trees hadn't been in the way, I would've been able to take pictures of Fort Popham, which replaced Baldwin, that lies between this fort and the coast.
Standing on the site of the Popham Colony looking eastward over the bay.  The first ship built in what is now the United States was built here, called The Virginia.  The entrance to Fort Baldwin is behind me by a couple hundred feet.

Fort Popham, where I also took some pictures looking out toward the ocean.  I think these old forts are kinda neat.
Reid State Park, where I took several pictures of the coast.  They came out pretty good, I think, particularly of the little old bridge near the entrance.  At the end of the pictures you'll see three taken at a place near Reid State Park called Todd's Landing, named after our furry, four-legged friend -- well, not really but it's a pretty place.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A trip around Franklin County, Maine

I may have mentioned this in a previous post but Shel and I picked up a "passport" at one of the State parks when we were out sightseeing -- you find the lock box at State park, the combo is in the book, unlock the box and stamp your passport.  So this past Saturday we struck out to collect three of these in the northwestern part of the state, with a few little detours along the way.  Of course we brought our four-legged furry friend with us.
I shared these on FB but not all of my friends are on there and since this blog isn't used nearly often enough by yours truly, I thought this a good excuse to use the blog and share the pics.  I'm getting better at taking pics with my new smartphone, which I love by the way and would highly recommend, especially to anyone getting one for the first time and already accustomed to Microsoft products.  Mine is an HTC Windows phone.  You can see all the pics at this link (let me know if you can't) and I'll share a couple samples below as well.

Small's Falls, near Madrid, ME.
Mooselookmeguntic Lake (yes, that's a place)
Weld General Store, about to get her first Moxie!

My two best friends, at Mt Blue State Park in Weld, ME.


Sunday, August 05, 2012

Gentlemen of the Road

Several months ago my daughter had turned me on to Mumford & Sons and it's no surprise I like this band given how much I like folk music, rock music and harmonies.  Well, several weeks ago I just happened to get an email from a ticket service hinting that there was going to be a rare show coming to Portland around the same time I heard mention of a rumor that Mumford was going to be coming to the States.  I mentioned this to my daughter, who was excited; and I told if she could get tickets when they went on sale, I'd pay for them.
Well, the rumors were true and the tour was rare, not only in makeup but in number of stops -- only four in the US.  Click on this Gentlemen of the Road link to learn more about the tour.  The tickets themselves are unique because they're like passports, with multiple pages describing the show and places to get stamps of each of the bands playing, and a beautiful plastic, almost holographic ticket inside.  Best of all, when the tour is over, you have a code for a free download of an "album" created from the live performances of this tour.  Oh, then to add more anticipation, just a couple of weeks before the show it was announced that the Dropkick Murphys would also be on this stop as well as headlining an aftershow concert at the State Theater.  This tour selected unique cities and venues to do these shows; and the shows are like festivals -- outdoors with multiple bands on two stages playing all day and early evening, followed by multiple shows that evening at intimate indoor this case in the quaint and historic Old Port area of Portland.  (We never intended to go to these but in my younger days, maybe)
On to the show:  Shel and I get to Portland to meet up with my daughter and her boyfriend who arrived earlier in the day.  The whole Eastern Promenade area of Portland was closed off.  So we chose to park at a garage near the Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum, which was offering free rides on the line that runs up the bay to the Eastern Promenade and the show.  As it turns out, immediately after turning onto Fore Street to get the parking garage there was a parking lot advertising $6 parking all day.  Woo hoo!  So we had a couple of blocks more to walk to the bigs, it was a perfect Maine August day.
At the museum we learned about the narrow gauge railroad history in Maine, looked around the museum and got onto a couple of cars...not a bad way to kill an hour waiting for my daughter to arrive, only 3 bucks apiece.  Then at 1:00 we hopped onto one of the renovated old cars being pulled by these little engines and rode up along the beautiful harbor to the show.  (there will be pictures!)
We arrive at the venue and what a gorgeous place for a concert...high on a hill that overlooks the bay.  We had a great time listening to the bands and enjoying each others' company.  My daughter is now 21 and these moments don't get to happen that often, which was really the whole point for me in going.  The show itself was mostly secondary.  Good thing because it wasn't managed well by whomever.  The lines to everything were insufferably long.  There weren't nearly enough vendors and the layout was not conducive to freedom of movement.  So you had a situation where there's hours-long lines to everything with people having to walk through those lines to get anywhere.  I don't know what they (whoever they were) were thinking when they laid it out the way they did.  But the music was excellent and the company even better.


the conductor