Down East to Down South

After our whirlwind summer, we decided to head Downeast in early October for a little oceanside relaxation–Maine style. We found a fantastic dog-friendly rental in Jonesport, a fishing and lobstering town about a two-and-a-half hour drive down the coast that feels somewhat like a drive back in time.

Jonesport is a no-frills working town, unspoiled by heavy tourism. Beautiful old houses dot the edges of the small downtown, many built in the early 1900s, when Jonesport was living high off of sardines. One of the busiest towns in the area then, it had several sardine canning plants. When the sardines played out, Jonesport moved to other types of commercial fishing, including lobstering.

Long working hours on the lobster boats

Since Maine’s lobster industry is now under assault, it looks like Jonesport will have to continue to adapt.

We were there in early October, still tourist season in Maine, but seemed to be the only tourist-types around. As we drove in, we stopped at one a local grocery store to pick up a few things. The parking lot was swarming with young local hunters, talking and laughing as they headed out for waterfowl. In a town where everyone knows each other, we must have stood out like sore thumbs, but people were invariably friendly and went out of their way to be helpful. We really liked it there.

Our rental was right on the beach with panoramic views east, south, and west.

In the early mornings, we watched a parade of lobster boats heading into the sunrise. Come afternoon, we watched the same boats return.

The fog rolled in once, fast smothering the boats across the way at Beals Island.

Just as quickly, it rolled out again.

Evenings brought fiery sunsets over the Jonesport docks

and a full moon rising.

Mostly we relaxed watching the boat, water, and sky entertainment, but I also spent hours walking the beach.

Sandy, walkable beaches are a rarity in Maine and this one was deserted.

Just me, birds,

boats, crabs,

rocks,

shells,

seaweed,

and the unexpected sweet fragrance of the October-blooming beachside roses.

The dogs were, of course, in heaven.

Especially Alice, for whom ocean retrieving is the height of joy.

Aside from a quick trip to Machias for our favorite very-last-of-the-season (we actually got the last order) fried clams at Riverside Takeout, we did not go anywhere or do anything.

Our kind of vacation.

We returned home to end-of-the season chores in anticipation of cold weather. I harvested and hung my cotton plants

and processed some of this season’s flax,

including some Stormont Gossamer, a fine heirloom variety from Ireland that is a dream to spin.

The Stormont Gossamer is on the top right

George processed our small peanut crop, completed the deck, got the trails ready for winter, and stabilized our side porch.

The weather all month was almost disturbingly warm. Monarchs lingered into late October.

While the vivid fall leaves should have signaled colder weather,

the warm-weather peppers, tomatoes, okra and artichokes continued to produce. It was hard to put the garden to bed with so much food still growing, but I eventually pulled most of the warm-weather crops to get it done before we headed to Georgia at the end of the month.

Amazingly, we were finally going to take our twice-postponed trip to visit our children and grandchildren. It was originally planned for March 2020, right when the initial covid outbreak shut everything down. Our second attempt was scuttled by a prolonged bout of serious dog gastrointestinal issues after we changed dog foods. We half suspected that another bizarre calamity would hit in the week before this planned trip. But, no. Armed with recent flu shots and covid boosters, we left home, taking the old-person route through Pennsylvania rather than battling the horrors of driving near New York City or Washington DC. Even so, the roads were too congested for me.

Amazingly, we saw miles of humongous new hub warehouses going in along Pennsylvania interstates, eating up the flat former farmland. How all the trucks delivering out of those warehouses are going to fit on the already almost-overwhelmed interstates is a mystery to me. As it is, the slightest hiccup from road construction or even a small accident brings traffic to a grinding halt, backing up the interstate for miles.

Naturally, the dogs came with us. They are excellent travelers and we found great dog-friendly hotels. Alice had a raucous afternoon at my brother’s house in Connecticut, where we stayed our first night. Although she had not been to the farm in years, she seemed to remember it and took off into the woods with my brother’s dog, racing around like a much younger dog, oblivious to our calls. Very un-Alice-like. We later realized that something there likely reminded her of the hunting training she had in her early years before she came to us.

We arrived at our daughter’s house on Halloween–a holiday that has exploded into a major extravaganza in her neighborhood, with elaborate decorations, haunted houses, and buzzing golf carts ferrying hundreds of trick-or-treaters through candy land.

Quite a contrast to our rural Maine Halloween, where we are lucky to get one set of trick-or-treaters at our house.

After my daughter and her husband moved into their house, they had thinned out some of the tall pines growing in the back.

While we were there, a sawyer brought his portable sawmill and turned the downed logs into gorgeous lumber. George was a sawyer many years ago and it was a pleasure to watch this portable operation. And the whole yard smelled of delightful freshly sawn resinous pine.

We had lunch in Senoia and saw where much of The Walking Dead was filmed.

After a few days, we headed to our son’s house on the other side of Atlanta, driving through the neighborhoods where we lived more than twenty years ago. It was a bit disorienting. Trees have grown huge, neighborhoods have changed, and what had been small, declining town centers in Duluth and Suwanee have developed into unrecognizable bustling hives of modern shops and restaurants. So many people–far more than when we lived there.

We had a relaxing time at our son’s house in Gainesville, well removed from the Atlanta craziness and traffic, eating, talking, watching UGA football, and visiting wineries.

Their lovely dogs put up with ours,

including their handsome young hound, Tucker, who endured a just-in-case muzzle based on his history of brotherly fighting. He was a good boy.

It was wonderful to spend time with our family in their own homes. The only downside was that two of our grandkids were sick–bad timing. The flu was rampant down there and I was paranoid about catching it and getting stuck in Georgia–coughing, feverish, and longing for home. Fortunately, we survived unscathed and set out at about 4:30 on a dark Sunday morning, almost hitting a big buck deer that jumped right in front of the car a few miles into our trip home. Speaking of deer, we must have seen a hundred dead ones, from newly-killed to a pile of bone and fur, on the interstates on this trip. Depressing.

Between the dead deer, the army of 18-wheelers, and general congestion, road trips are not what they used to be. We used to love long road trips, driving all over the country and Canada. But, at least on the east coast, the stress of heavy traffic sucks the pleasure right out of driving for me. At least gas was cheap in Georgia.

Camellia season in Georgia

It was so sweet to get home. In our absence, my cotton boles had popped

and my experimental saffron crocuses had bloomed in the greenhouse.

Best of all, we had a new dog waiting to join our pack. A lovely year-old girl who needed a new home. Meet Scout.

She fit right in, as if she has always lived here.

Alice and Capp are adjusting to having an energetic teenager in the house, but doing well.

Alice and Scout

It remains freakily warm, with no real winter weather in sight. The male bluebirds are squabbling over a birdbox, something they don’t usually do until spring.

We are putting up Christmas lights and looking forward to snow. Enjoy the holidays.

20 thoughts on “Down East to Down South

  1. Your beach getaway in Maine sounds wonderful! I feel your pain on the traffic. We avoid interstates these days and take our time taking back roads. For us getting out is Savannah is really stressful with all the trucks coming and going from the Georgia Ports. So glad to hear you were able to enjoy some family time in Georgia. I enjoyed all your photos and loved seeing Alice, Capp and Scout.

    • I wish we could spend more time in Georgia, but getting there by road or air is painful these days! The stretch of I-85 coming into Georgia from the east is also sprouting hub warehouses, so it will only get worse traffic-wise. So good to hear from you, Beth. Have a wonderful Christmas.

      • Those hub warehouses are being built along I-16 outside of Savannah and even along some of the highways. We avoid frogs anywhere near Atlanta unless we absolutely have to. Merry Christmas!

  2. Nice to see your post, Brenda. Jonesport looks like a beautiful spot, one has to go pretty far north to avoid the crowds these days. And brave you, driving to GA! I’ve heard the interstates are a nightmare. Used to rural living, I can imagine it was stressful.
    Welcome to your newest family member, another pretty gal to join the gang. How old are Alice and Capp now? Time sure flies.
    I imagine you are looking forward to the quiet days of winter to practice your weaving and spinning. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

    • Thanks Eliza. We have come to love spending time Downeast because it is still relatively quiet and uncrowded. Plus, it’s gorgeous there.

      You heard right about the interstates. It amazes me that there do not seem to be any large-scale, long-range plans to deal with transportation infrastructure in this country. It’s going to get a lot worse–fast.

      Alice is 8 and Capp 6 now. They seem like old codgers compared to Scout. Capp and Scout have been doing lots of playing, while Alice oversees them, like the empress she is.

      My head is whirling with spinning and weaving plans for the winter. I expect that the cozy months will fly by, though, and I won’t get half of them done.

      Have a great Christmas and winter yourself!

    • You are always so kind! I had some lichen photos from the beach rocks and thought of you when taking them. They didn’t quite make the cut, though! Happy belated birthday to Mrs. T.

    • We are looking forward to taking Scout to the beach. Fortunately, she is very well-behaved and so eager to please. But, yes, three dogs will keep us busy. Are you doing any traveling these days?

  3. Lovely post Brenda … reading your blog posts gives me a picture of your life and also the geography and history of your place in the world. I completely understand your feelings for the heavy traffic… after two quiet years during Covid I think the amount of traffic and especially trucks …is hard to take. However, as with your travelling, we do it because it is lovely to see family again.
    Your flax looks lovely ( and the heirloom variety from Ireland.)
    AND I am very impressed with your harvest of peanuts…I’ve only ever seen them grown in Africa…such a different climate!
    Best wishes to you and George for Christmas and some wonderful winter weaving!
    PS the dogs look happy and healthy..😁

    • Thank you Gerrie. I feel the same way about your blog-it pulls me right into a different place and season. We have to grow a short season variety of peanuts but they have been doing quite well here, especially since these last few years have been so warm. Hope you have a wonderful summer!

  4. Wonderful post as always, cousin. That town reminds me of one of our favorite places on the coast here, called Fort Bragg. Thank you for sharing all your beautiful photos and experiences and stay safe. We just had a huge super spreader of Covid in our choir, so it is definitely not over. ♥️♥️

    • No, it’s not over and the flu was running rampant in Georgia when we were there. I don’t mind so much getting sick when I’m home, but the thought of being sick on the road is a bit nightmarish to me. Happy winter solstice cuz!

  5. What a rental! That is amazing. I hope you get it again if you want it. Traveling interstate is truly no fun for ‘mature’ drivers. When we go to SC, we go via PA and even at that the number of large trucks is so overwhelming it’s hard to describe unless you’ve driven through it. Your family visits sound great, and that is some Halloween celebration. I feel your grandkids pain with the flu because I’ve got Flu Type A right now. I guess the flu shot doesn’t cover Type A. Besides all the symptoms, I’m trying not to share with my husband so I’ve been wearing a mask 24 hours a day for four days so far. Boy, do I want to get rid of this mask. 🙂 Your end of season activities are always so interesting. Nothing boring at your house! Welcome to your new guy and hope you all have a wonderful December as we head for the holiday.

    • The rental was truly amazing and we’ve already booked it for next year. Pure tranquility on that trip vs. pure road stress on the next! Because, yes, it is hard to describe spending hours and hours surrounded by enormous 18-wheelers going 75 miles an hour, and more. Not to forget the potential of deer bounding across the road. We won’t be doing that again any time soon. I’m so sorry to hear you have the flu. Hope it’s mild. I sympathize on the at-home mask wearing. I went through that with covid. Fortunately, George didn’t get sick, so it was worth it. Happy Solstice and Christmas Judy!

  6. Always good to catch up on your news! That is certainly my kind of holiday too, how restful. I’m glad you got to see family, shame about the traffic, I can’t stand busy roads anymore either. How sad about the deer. YAY, a new pup, how very wonderful!!!xxx

    • Even though we are retired, our summers especially are packed with activity. Enforced relaxation by the ocean gives a wonderful reset. Yes, it was distressing to see all the deer run down on the road. Populations must be up but you’d think something could be done to address so many killed by traffic. The new pup fit in as if she’s always lived here. Such a delight. Happy holidays to you and your crew!

  7. Washington County is my favorite part of Maine. I used to dream of retiring there, but as I got older, I gave proximity to health care and to my social support network a higher priority. I once spent a delightful weekend in Jonesport with two friends.

    • It’s amazing that once you get past Ellsworth and the Acadia tourist glut, a whole different Maine opens up. We had expected to travel in the Canadian Maritimes after we settled in Maine. But, with covid, explored Downeast instead. We may not ever want to cross the border!

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