Maine Spring

IMG_0254When we set out on our trip, almost a year ago, I had visions of avoiding winter by following warm weather around the country.  I brought lots of hot weather clothes and flip flops, with a smattering of layers for occasional encounters with cold or rain.  I pictured continuously lounging in warm evening sunlight, drink in hand, tanned and relaxed.

We had a little of that.

Last June at Devil's Tower in Wyoming.

Last June at Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.

But not enough.  We enjoyed some sweet, sunny New England summer weather, but soon after we arrived in Georgia in November—the cold descended.  And it never really let up.  We stayed in Georgia for George’s shoulder surgery, but even if we had moved West as planned, we would have been dogged by unseasonably cold, wet weather.  And we were more susceptible than usual because we were living in a small travel trailer and a poorly insulated beach cottage.  To add insult to injury, while we were cold, shivering, and cold some more, Alaska had record high winter temperatures and little snow fall.  We had traveled to the wrong and ugly end of the polar express.

It did not take me long to break down and buy a variety of pants, long sleeved shirts and coats, while giving the stink eye to my summer clothes taunting me from the little trailer closet.  I needed all of those warm clothes when we left the South in early March and headed to Maine.  We had snow and temperatures in the twenties on our trip north.  Yuck.

It was still pretty cold when we arrived in Maine and we even had snow one night.

Harbor boats in their winter shrink wrap

Harbor boats in their winter shrink wrap

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Seals and gulls--they all look cold.

Seals and gulls–they all look cold.

Then spring—tentatively but surely—started to make its presence known.

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Skunk cabbage.

Skunk cabbage.

Clumps of frog eggs.

Clumps of frog eggs in a swamp.

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IMG_0018We are back in Massachusetts now for a week and it’s still quite cold, even though it’s late April.

I’m looking forward to summer warmth.  I hope it arrives.  One year it didn’t.  In 1816, after a large volcanic eruption in Indonesia, New England had the “Year Without a Summer,” with killing frosts and snow in June and July.  Summer took a vacation and left old man winter to house sit.  With our crazy current weather, who knows what summer will bring.IMG_9507IMG_0184IMG_0142IMG_9518IMG_0216

 

Two hikes or sweating with small stuff

Enjoying blueberries

Enjoying blueberries

The hills behind Camden are filled with hiking trails.  We have done little hiking on this trip because it has been too hot for Zoe.  Although our Alaskan girl is slowly getting used to the heat and enjoys her walks, rigorous hiking would be tough on her.  She is, after all, an old dog now.  But we hate to leave her behind.  So, George and I have been taking advantage of the safe, easily accessible trails in Camden for a bit of solo hiking.

At the beginning of my first hike, up Mount Megunticook, I became intensely homesick for Alaska.  Even the lowliest Alaskan hikes are magnificent, with expansive views, big mountains, and huge skies.  East Coast hiking consists mostly of a green tunnel under the trees.  I know it all too well because I grew up on it–lots of roots and rocks, green leaves, and mud.  Not much variety.

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Rocks, roots, and a stream

After mentally grumbling for a bit, I got into the physical rhythm of the hike and started to enjoy myself.  And, unlike many New England hikes, this trail emerged from the tree tunnel to several beautiful overlooks of Penobscot Bay.  I felt better.

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A bit of rock scrambling near the top

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The bay

Megunticook overlook, the hill below is Mount Battie

Megunticook overlook, the hill with the road to the right is Mount Battie

It was nice to be able to hike alone and not have to worry about bears all of time.  And, on the way down, I decided to start noticing and appreciating the small stuff.  Especially the mushrooms, which were everywhere.  There is a woman at the Camden Farmer’s Market who sells Chicken in the Woods, Black Trumpets, Lobster, and Chanterelle mushrooms–all locally foraged–along with the more common varieties.   This is fungi heaven, apparently.

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I doubt that this little fungus beauty is edible, but it sure would look nice in an omelet

Indian pipes

Indian pipes

Root patterns

Root patterns

Today I hiked up Mount Battie (we previously drove to the top).  The trail was busy with hikers and I realized that all the years of Alaskan hiking have paid off.  It was an easy little hike by Alaskan standards and I was feeling pretty cocky breezing right by everyone on the trail.

WWI memorial tower on Mount Battie

WWI memorial tower on Mount Battie

Then I came to a group of eight expensively clad and coiffed hikers in their forties.  They looked like country club types, which was confirmed when I got stuck behind them and heard them complain about the pool at their country club.

The women at the back of their group were walking two-abreast and I was trying to decide how best to pass them when one woman said, “Would you like to get by?”  “Yes, please.”  As they gave me room to pass, another woman laughed and said, “Oh great, we’re falling behind the geriatric tour.”

I badly wished that I had an “Alaska Girls Kick Ass” bumper sticker on my pack for them to view as I left those cows far behind.  Ha, eat my dust.  Better an old dog than a rude bitch. Maine-28

Partially chilling in Maine

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We are relaxing in Maine.  We intended to head farther north to the Canadian Maritimes, but changed plans after our refrigerator’s death.  It had been ailing for months.  When we tried to get it fixed in Bend, Oregon, the truly unhelpful folks there dismissed its struggle to keep a healthy temperature as just the nature of RV refrigerators.  Their solution was to sell us a little plastic fan for its interior.  Thanks.  Soon after, the refrigerator died altogether.

Our efforts to get the fridge fixed in Massachusetts did not run smoothly, but it looks like we are making progress.  Once they finally looked at it, the service people agreed that the fridge is dead and we now are waiting for parts.  In the meantime, we are enjoying a few weeks of down time in Maine. After our frenetic month of visiting and traveling in July, we needed to slow down.

And slow down we have.  We have been doing lots of cooking and eating.  Everywhere you turn here there are organic farms, farmers’ markets, and aging back-to-the-land baby boomers.  We fit right in.

The seafood is spectacular.  We had fresh lobster, steamers, and mussels at Miller’s Lobster in Spruce Head for George’s birthday.  It is lobster molting season, which means that those with new, or soft, shells are available.  They have less meat but are supposed to be tastier.  Ours was exquisitely delicious. The view was not bad either.

Miller's is right at the dock.

Miller’s is right at the dock.

We watched the lobstermen unload their catches as we ate.

We watched the lobstermen unload their catches as we ate.

We have been staying near Camden and exploring the Penobscot Bay area.  Camden is a picture-perfect old seaport town, full of money, tourists, and quaint shops and restaurants.  It is backed by rocky bluffs—Mounts Battie and Megunticook—and faces the low islands of the Bay.

View of Mount Battie from town.

View of Mount Battie from town.

View of Camden Harbor from Mt. Battie

View of town from Mt. Battie–it was hot and hazy

Another view from Battie

Another view from Battie–not much privacy in that yard

There are meticulously-kept houses of all architectural styles, mostly from the 1800s, many with huge perennial gardens.

One of the many old inns in town

One of the many old inns in town

I loved this stone wall, with huge perfectly egg-shaped rocks lining the top

I loved this stone wall, with huge perfectly egg-shaped rocks lining the top

It's a good climate for perennials

It’s a good climate for perennials

It is molting season for the ducks and geese, as well as the lobsters.  They were gathered in the harbor, flapping their wings in the water and preening, producing clumps of down that drifted along the water.

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The harbor was full of sailboats and a mega yacht named “Grumpy.”

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View from the library lawn

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A beauty

Grumpy

Grumpy

A lovely old library sits above the harbor, with Edna St. Vincent Millay’s statue on the lawn behind. One of my favorite poets–she lived her early years here and in neighboring Rockland.

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We are buttoning down for a thunderstorm and may have to change our grilling plans for dinner.  It is a tough life.

As long as I can roll with my stick, I'm happy

As long as I can roll with my stick, I’m happy