Friday, October 11, 2013

EAST COAST FALL 2013: Maine to Philadelphia

Our route from Lincoln to Kittery. 
October 9, 2013
Lincoln, NH to Kittery, ME
Home of John Robinson
110 miles

         BRRRR!!  There is frost on the truck this morning, and our neighbor claims his water froze.  Not surprised!  It was forecast for 30-32 degrees!  Rick and I bundled up, left the heater running on low, and slept pretty warm – too warm at times!  (Except for my toes…couldn’t keep them warm enough!)  It was 49 in the trailer when I got up at 7am, so the heater did a pretty good job!  
Country roads along Lake Winnepeesaukee
   But….cold means clear and it is a BEAUTIFUL morning!!!  We slowly get moving, pack up and pull out of the campground just 4 minutes before check out time!  We only have a hundred plus miles to go today, and don’t want to arrive too soon.  Because of that, we have chosen the leisurely drive route along Lake Winnepesaukee – a 30 mile long lake in southeastern New Hampshire.  We pass some pretty high-end resorts and marinas, but also state parks (closed for the season) and small, quaint little towns. 
State picnic area at Lake Winnepesaukee
         We gas up in Meredith, NH, paying the lowest gas price of the trip to date: $3.28.  Later we saw another station for $3.26!  Near the gas station we found a book drop and donated a pile of about 6 books we had finished reading.  (Had to make room for the 7 books we bought at a used book store up in Littleton!)
         It is amazing how quickly we drop out of the ‘trees lost most of their leaves’ to ‘trees still mostly green’!  With a drop in latitude and elevation, the change comes rapidly! 
We made it! 
         After missing the street a couple times, we arrive at John’s house around 2pm, but it is nearly a half hour later when John comes out to greet us.  He was on a conference phone call for business when we first hit the door bell!  No problem, we grabbed a bite to eat from the truck while we waited! 
         John is a childhood Greenville friend of Rick's.  A neurologist, he is now working in managed care with insurance and Medicaid programs.  We visited John and his then wife Lis 15 years ago when we visited them living in Portsmouth, NH.  John lives just off Hwy 1 and a maze of outlet stores in a quiet little culdesac development.  A beautiful spot where he can see the water of a tidal river.  Recently divorced, he is in the house alone, so we have the privilege of a guest bedroom and a four poster bed! 
John Robinson's 'cottage' in Kittery. 
         While John completes another conference call from 3-4, Rick and I walk over to Kittery Trading Post, a huge Cabelas and Eddie Bauer all rolled into one.  Three levels of outdoor gear.  We did a little Christmas shopping, including a fourth pair of snowshoes for only $60.  (Also included another pair of trekking poles with both snow and hiking tips)  Now the family can go out at once without having to borrow! 

View from restaurant table of the port
         John takes us on a quick mini tour of possible sites to visit tomorrow, ending at Captain and Patty’s right on the waterfront for a quick dinner.  Then a fast spin through Portsmouth before home.  He has a ‘date’ tonight with his girlfriend at a community concert type event.  Since Rick wants to watch the Pirates game, it was easy to stay home!  I had John get me set up on the internet before he left, so we are both happy campers for the evening!  

Click HERE for today's pictures....

THURSDAY, October 10, 2013
Exploring Kittery - Portsmouth Area,
Harbor Cruise
Spruce River from John's deck morning

         Up around 7 to a quiet house and a chance to catch up!  John rises and prepares an omelet for my breakfast, and shows up how to use the Kerig coffee machine!  I haven’t drunk this strong of coffee for a long time!  One cup should do me!! 

         Around 9 Rick and I take off for the day so John can go into his office and go to work!  (He works from home!)  First is to explore a little of Kittery.  Both Kittery and Portsmouth were founded just 3 years after Plymouth, MA, in 1623.  Kittery is the oldest town in Maine.  A series of forts, on both the Maine and NH shores, guard the entrance to the Piscataqua River harbor.  Major ships can travel up to 4-5 miles inland, so it is a major harbor of the NE.  We visit Fort Foster first (say that three times fast!) and walk out to the point.  Very reminiscent of Fort Stevens, OR, on a smaller scale.  Marvelous views back in of the harbor, including the chance to pick out the restaurant where we ate last night!  We can see 3 different lighthouses, one right out in the middle.  We learn later it is called Whaleback Light.  As the fort appears to now be used for a community park, a really cute playground has been constructed.  There is a small building that was literally built in and around a couple of trees, a bench of skis, boats sunk into the sand, bridges, and piers.  Pretty well done. 
Rick scans the skies as I look through
the guard tower slots. Whaleback Lighthouse
in distance. 
         The difference between Oregon and NE coastlines appears to be in the rocks.  Oregon has sea stacks – big chunks deposited on the sands, etc.  The NE has shoals – large flatter expansive rocks that appear much more during the low tides.  It was interesting to see Fort Foster and the harbor at low tide in the morning, and then take the cruise during high tide and see the difference!   A long pier juts out into the water from Fort Foster, and we see a large, abandoned building on an island shoal.  We learn later it is the Wood Island Life Saving Station. 
One of many country churches
         Along the narrow road winding in and around huge, old colonial style houses, and thick green undergrowth, small country churches can be seen with their tall spire steeples.  Some are in better shape than others, but no where did I see a ‘modern’ style church.  The sumac is changing colors here, and an occasional branch of oak or maple.  Even in the two days we have been here, I think I see more color now. 
Fort McLary
         We then stop at Fort McLary, having to park outside the entrance because of an upcoming wedding later in the day.  But we are able to walk in and explore the paths and buildings.  This fort has much more interpretive material to read.  It has provided protection by a civil citizen force as early as prior to the French and Indian War and as late as WW2.  In between times, the government took over and built it up.  Considerable building took place around Civil War times, but then suddenly stopped.  A granite wall was being built, and the large chunks of granite look like a set of building blocks just tumbled in the grass.  The wall was never completed.  A VERY rich loyalist to England owned ALL the land in the area, but it was taken by force for the fort prior to the Revolution.  We learned a lot of interesting history during the harbor cruise later in the day, which stopped at many of these places as well.   Rick and I took time to explore the large white octagonal blockhouse high on the hill, the canyon mounts, and battlements nearer the shore. 
Lunch time!
         Time to head over the newly finished Memorial bridge, past the Naval shipyard island, and into the heart of downtown Portsmouth.  Narrow streets and brick buildings everywhere!  We find a parking garage – first hour free and only .75/hour after that!  We can handle it!  We are armed with our cartoon ‘map’ of the downtown, but it shows a Ten Thousand Villages shop right near where we park.  We find it and explore the magic there for awhile.  Rick finds a new nativity with a ‘bare butt Jesus’.  I can’t resist.  It is sooooo filled with expression and down-to-earthedness.  (Is that a word?) 
Downtown decor
         More wandering and we stumble upon a little health food store with a lunch counter in the back.  Time for a bowl of soup to tide us over until dinner.  Rick tries a chipotle squash bisque which he says is excellent! 
         We find some of the downtown churches and other major buildings, loving the stone sidewalks, cobblestone in places, brick in others.  The downtown is decorated for fall with pumpkin headed mannequins stretched out on the lightpoles throughout.  Fun.  Similar to Baker City’s scare crows on Main Street.  
         We have a little time to kill, so we drive past all the bridges and to a shopping area to pick up some bread and wine for dinner, then back to a free parking area we found at a church just east of the I-95 bridge.  “Only a 15 minute walk to downtown.” It advertised.  Works for us!  We had the time for a walk! 
On the harbor cruise
         Glad we picked up our tickets for the cruise last night online, as it ended up quite full – probably 35 or so on board.  It isn’t that big of a boat.  While Rick and I got seats in the front, we stood up the whole time!  I was VERY glad Rick suggested I get out my warmer coat.  It was very cool on the water!  The day had gradually become more and more overcast, and the clouds were leaving the sun just a glow in the sky. 
Cruise route
      The cruise was fun….Because of high tide we couldn’t go under two small bridges around Newcastle Island, but we could go out more on the shoals around Wood Island.  I will try to include a map here of the trip.  Lots of fascinating history of the area.  We visited the Naval shipyard, primarily a submarine repair base now (or decommissioning).  Over 100 subs have been built here, most during WW2.  We could see one sub waiting to be move to Washington state to be scrapped. 
Naval prison, The Castle
         Also on the shipyard island was the Naval military prison, The Castle.  What a formidable looking building!  The main section truly did look like a castle with guard turrets on all four corners.  No prisoner ever escaped, because the rule was the guard had to serve the remaining term of any prisoner who did escape.  That gives the guards a little incentive to be ever watchful!  The building grounds are in disarray. 
         We then visit Fort Constitution, another of the four forts guarding the mouth, and its Portsmouth lighthouse.  Near this fort stands the oldest private residence in the area: built in 1660’s, a hundred years BEFORE the revolution.  It looked like it had just had a fresh paint job!  Definitely did NOT look 350+ years old! 
         We went around Newcastle Island and into Little Bay, port for hundreds of private sailing ships.  We were told that it is a 20 year wait to secure mooring for your boat in this harbor as it is very popular due to its nearness to the open ocean, but protection.  Just past the actual marina, we see a HUGE building that was the Wentworth Hotel.  What we saw was only a third of what was once on the site. 
Wood Island Life Saving Station
         Our to Whaleback Lighthouse and the Wood Island Life Saving Station, located right in the middle of the harbor entrance.  During WW2 a net was draw across the harbor to prevent submarines from entering undetected.  Evidently many German subs were off shore, but none ever entered.  Large foundations for the net are still visible near the Fort Foster pier. 
         Past Fort McClary for a view there from the harbor side, and back to dock.  We were able to see the drawbridges raise for some sailing ships to go in and out.  Near the dock is a HUGE pile of road salt, imported from South America (mostly Chile), and trucked all over the NE during the winter months. 
Dinner Party 
         Quick walk back up to the truck, hopped on to I-95, and back to John’s in no time.  His girlfriend MaryEllen  (ME) is coming over for dinner.  John whips up a penne pasta base with sausage, spinach, grape tomatoes, and pesto sauce.  Excellent!  With the bread and salad, a delicious meal.  (Oh, don’t forget the wine!)  ME is easy to talk with and we had some great conversations. 

         Early bedtime shortly after 10.  Another day of travel tomorrow, but only down to Cape Cod!! 

Click HERE for today's pictures

Click HERE for Portsmouth Harbor Audio Tour  (and ALL the fun facts accurately given!)

FRIDAY, October 11, 2013
Kittery, ME to Mashpee, MA
Home of Jim and Denise Schneider
Kittery to Mashpee
127 miles

         Another beautiful morning in Kittery.  I sneak outside to try and shoot part of the sunrise, but it is very damp outside!  A low water fog is drifting on the river, which is again at low tide.  I get caught up on this blog and post.  Then to breakfast, shower, pack up, and be ready to roll by 9:15am. 

         John has advised us that if we leave between 9 and 10, we should miss the thick traffic in Boston and be able to drive straight through the city on I-93.  This route takes us into ‘The Big Dig’, the tunnel which goes under Boston Harbor and out the other side.  You don’t see much of the city!  A quick look at Bunker Hill Monument , then a pass over a new modern design bridge, and then down into the dark depths!  Everywhere else the freeway seems to be rimmed in such thick understory of trees, you can’t see much at all!  I did capture a cool mural on the side of a building, and a tower in the distance that looked like a castle. 
Entering the Big Dig Tunnel of Boston

         We veer to Hwy 3 to Cape Cod, and shortly after, near the town of Hanover, exit to find the Weight Watcher store front in a strip mall.  A successful weigh-in, happy to be unchanged since today I am wearing my heavier jeans and a turtleneck!  Only one more weigh to record in the next 10 days!  I have been looking for store fronts because you can go into them anytime and weigh….easier than coordinating to a meeting! 

         We grab a quick snack and some gas while we are off the freeway, and then head on south, past Plymouth Rock and the plantation, over the Sagamore bridge and the Cape Cod Canal, and into the town of Mashpee, located at the heel of the Cape Cod ‘boot’.  Jim and Denise, our pastor Katy’s parents, live in a classic Cape Cod cottage on a cul-de-sac, surrounded by trees! 

The beech grove along the trail.

A stop at Wakeby Pond
         Quick get settled, and then we are off on a hike on trails that wind around the two ponds we passed on the way down.  Mind you, these ponds have waves breaking on the shoreline so they are much bigger than what I imagine PONDS to be.  In my definition, these are LAKES!!!  (Clarification….I couldn’t wait, had to go to google!  In terminology, the words have been used interchangeably.  Ecologically, a pond tends to be shallower, where light can penetrate to the bottom and support plant growth.  Lakes tend to be deeper and light cannot penetrate.  Surface size makes NO DIFFERENCE!  And names have been used frequently without regard to ecology!  Science lesson for the day!)
         Trail is through dense mixed forest of white pine (the New England kind with delicate feathery needles), beech (leaves like corduroy!), and oaks.  The light is filtering through.  We pass through a section from the movie BIRDS – the trees are covered with black grackles, the noise is a ruckus of sound.  Denise points out some poison ivy to avoid.  She had a BAD case this past summer!  Lots of varieties of holly have been planted by a man named Lowell in the area, hence it is known as the Lowell-Holly reserve.  Plenty of oaks and acorns, but I maintain self-control and only pick up some baby fresh-water clam shells!  It feels good to get out and hike around a bit and stretch the legs. 
Some trees are starting to change here. 
         Back to the house to discuss tomorrow, enjoy cheese, crackers, and wine while hearing about the Rhine River cruise Denise and Jim just got back from, and then yummy dinner of Cajun Chicken chili and biscuits!  Dessert was Colonial Innkeeper’s pie, which was superb.  It is a kind of cake with a layer of chocolate in a pie shell.  I must get the recipe. 

         Rick and Jim eventually went to watch a little of the Dodger-Cardinal game while Denise and I investigated her nature collections and then played a game of cribbage!  Our cribbage game exchanged leads as often as the baseball game! 
         Another day in another friend’s paradise!  

Click HERE for today's pictures

Saturday, October 12, 2013
Shining Sea Bike Trail
Falmouth, MA to Wood’s Hole, MA
We got on the path around #7 in Falmouth.
Down to Wood's Hole (#1) and back. 

         A beautiful morning in Mashpee!!!  We arise on a lazy schedule, finally breakfast around 8:30, and by 9:30 we are on our way south to Falmouth, MA for a ride on the Shining Sea Bikepath.  We unload the back seat of the truck and load Jim and Denise’s bikes on top of ours for the day.  It works, although we have a tower of bikes in back!! 
Shining Sea Rail Trail
    The actual Shining Sea Rail Trail runs for 10 miles from North Falmouth.  Our entry point only leaves us the final 3.5 miles of the route down to Woods Hole, MA, site of the National Oceanic Organization and NOAA.  It is also a terminus for ferries running out to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.  A tiny town with a great deal of activity!! 
Oyster Pond swans
Horseshoe Crab Skeleton
         The ride is wonderful, tree lined at first, but then a mile long section of open trail right along the water’s edge.  We stopped a couple times for Denise to show me some horseshoe crab shells – they molt up to 20 times in their lifetimes and can grow to about 8-10” in diameter.  They have a long, sting-ray like ‘tail’.  I wish I could have brought home the big shell we found. Instead, the pictures will have to do.  We see some swans out on Oytster Pond.  The Trunk River connects the pond to the ocean.  It must be about 50 feet long.  Makes the Depoe Bay river look big! 
Playing with the lobster in Wood's Hole
         We walk around Wood’s Hole, but due to government shut down OR late season, the aquarium is closed, as is the Oceanic visitor center.  L  Stop at a little shop for a pin and some postcards and end up buying sweatshirts as well.  Good thing Denise has baskets on her bike to carry our bounty back! 
         The wind is brutal on the return trip.  The sunshine is leaving us and it is getting colder.  A bit slower trip on the return! 
Jim wouldn't pose with the
         Once back in Falmouth we are ready for some lunch!!!  Schneiders recommend the Quarterdeck, built to resemble the underbelly of a sailing ship.  Good food.  Rick had some fish chowder with huge pieces of haddock.  We didn’t get the lobster….:(  Tonight will be a casual soup meal because we ate well for lunch!!  Our treat. 
         We walk a little lunch off around Falmouth.  Some fabulous old buildings and churches here, many which date to the late 1700’s.  This is also Rachel Carson area (Silent Spring conservationist) and Kathryn Bates hometown, writer of America the Beautiful. 
Nobska lighthouse at so.
end of Cape
   Then a drive out to the Nobska  Lighthouse.  The air is quite cool now and it is very windy out at the point!  We can see big boats laboring to go out against the wind.  Good views of the whole Wood’s Hole area. 
         Back to the house for a little R&R.  Rick and I clean up the truck a little, open the trailer to put some things away, and I help Denise by picking all the tomatoes in the garden, both red and green.  They are leaving early next week so are starting to prepare to close up the house.   

         Evening of watching the Dodgers lose (L), soup, salad, and yummy bread, and an early bedtime!  All that fresh air was exhausting today!  
Rick kicks back along the trail during a rest stop. 

Cruising down the ocean side path.  

SUNDAY, October 13, 2013
Mashpee, MA to Wilbraham, MA
Home of Karen & Tom Wadzinski
Route for today
136 Miles

         A bit overcast and windy day as we leave the Cape Cod island around 9am.  Jim had prepared us some veggie omelets (he just kept saying we had to do our part in using up the food in the house before they leave on Tuesday!) and we wanted to get ‘out of their hair’ so they could finish departure preparations! 
         Amazed by how much the color has come to the trees in just a few days!  Far more of the freeway corridor is a splash of orange and gold now than just a couple days ago when we arrived!  We head back over the Sagamore bridge and up I495 toward Worchester, MA.  There on to the Massachusetts Turnpike for a few miles (and 1.45 worth of toll) and the rest of the way into Wilbraham along Route 20.  Went through a couple of towns that are MAJOR antique auction centers.  Perfect place – everything back here is OLD!  If a building was built after 1900 it is considered NEW construction!! 
Our 'camping' spot
         Wilbraham is a small village, anchored now by a private prep academy that is 200 years old, that winds through the tree covered hills east of Springfield, MA.  After our arrival around 12:30 to some excited boys, we later took a walk through the ‘centre’ and checked things out.  Very laid back little community.  Greta has driven over from Grafton to join us for the visit – one stop visitation for us!!  Grafton is near Worchester and we probably passed within a couple miles of her place on our way over. 
A few Walker women
         Karen and Tom have a perfect wide spot in their driveway for our trailer, and after the walk we get it set up because little 4 year old James really wants to visit OUR house (he had given us a tour of HIS house earlier!)  He is another red-head thunderbolt of energy!  Karen and Tom have three boys, 7th grade, 4th grade, and James at 4. 
Martin, Rick, and James....Luke has
made an exit! 
         Hors d’oerves of cheese and crackers.  Tom likes exotic cheeses so I was brave and tried a number of different ones, including gorgonzola (I think it had blue mold) and a truffle cheese which was quite firm and good!  They cracked open a bottle of red wine which Rick enjoyed. 
         Dinner of tacos – fat ones!  Karen apologized, “I wanted to prepare a good New England style dinner, but….this is what I know how to cook!”  We laughed!  Rick took James out to the trailer for a book read, while the rest of us played a game of Apples to Apples Junior!  Fun time. 
         Out to the trailer shortly before 10 to finish up directions for tomorrow (Tom had connected me to his internet) and call my Mom on the west coast!! 

Today's route!

MONDAY, October 14, 2013
Wilbraham, MA to New Milford, CT
Scott & Trish McLean Family
98 miles

     Up around 7:15 to come inside the house and find Tom busy making scones for breakfast!  Plain ones and then some apple-cinnamon scones which were marvelous!  What fun!  The boys were all very excited.  We leisurely eat, visit, and admire the beautiful sunshine and crisp air outside! 
Church in some
small MA town! 
         By 10:15, Rick and I are all packed up and ready to roll from Wilbraham.  Tom has helped us pick the most sensible route through Springfield to get us on the interstate freeways heading south.  We successfully maneuver our way into town via Route 20, stopping for a quick coffee enroute!  Then south to Connecticut! 
         Trees are changing everywhere!  We spy the Basketball Hall of Fame alongside the freeway.  It is hard to miss with its spire and orange ball on top, plus the huge round shaped main building!  The Basketball HOF as we remember was one of the most ‘interactive’ ones with plenty of things for the boys to DO! 
New Milford Art Center
         We are quickly into Connecticut, as Springfield is relatively close to the border.  Through the mass of Hartford and on to I-84 heading west toward New Milford, which is very close to the NY border.  At exit 15 we leave the freeway. Quick stop at MacDonalds for drinks and potty, lunch on trailer top, and then off on Route 67 to weave our way up and down the country roads to New Milford.  It is a beautiful 18 mile stretch: creeks, changing colors, small farms, etc.  We miss the turn once, but find the road to Trish & Scott’s on the second try, arriving at 22 Dean Road around 1pm. 
Posh parking sites!  Works great! 
    Park out alongside the road, set up and plug in the trailer.  Scott comes home from work relatively soon after we arrive.  Around 3 we head downtown to check out one of western Connecticuts best town ‘greens’ and buildings.  THREE classic churches right in the downtown area.  Fun just walking around, poking into bookstores and toy stores.  Ashley and Spencer (grades 4 and 7 respectively) are delightful youngsters.  Spencer in particular has grown up so much since we met them 2 ½ years ago at the ship christening.  Loving kids, polite and affectionate.  Just a fun time checking out the old buildings, etc.  The ‘strip’ of mall type stores is all south of town and the downtown area has maintained its feel.  Ashley wanted us to see the Art Center where she goes for classes once a week after school.  Great place!  I liked the paper mache giraffe and the decopauged floor of art prints! 
I LOVE classic little
country churches! 
Ashley and I read a book in
the bookstore! 
  We couldn’t decide on a restaurant, so the ‘girls’ car went to the store and picked up the necessary wine, bread, and ground beef to make meatballs!  A good dinner!  Later Trish made an apple crisp for dessert.  Ashley and Spencer made us bracelets from rubber bands.  They also got a chance to talk with Luke for awhile on the phone, which made both their day AND Luke’s!  Luke certainly made an impression with these young cousins during that short christening weekend.  Ashley showed me EVERY postcard he has ever sent to her! 
Spencer patiently waits for a
dinner decision! 
         A little baseball and football on the TV while we visited.  Kids up way too late for a school night!  We said goodbyes to Spencer and Scott, as they will probably leave before we get up.  Talked with Strider and will make connections with him in the morning over at Vassar.  Left a message with Rick Ufford Chase, so we will arrive at Stony Point rather ‘cold’, but sure it will be OK.  This is short and sweet because it is LATE!!!  G’night! 
Ashley and Spencer designing bracelets.

TUESDAY, October 15, 2013
New Milford, CT to Stony Point, NY
Today's route
via Poughkeepsie and Vassar College
101 miles

         Ah….another busy, but rewarding day!!  Up early to the disconcerting sound of a car coming straight through my head….until I remembered we were parked right along the edge of the road!  Heard Scott and Spencer leave for work and school, then had a few moments with Trish and Ashley before we packed up the trailer and left.  We have a breakfast date to make!! 
Vassar colors
         The drive over to Poughkeepsie is only about 36 miles, but they are convoluted paths on windy and hilly country roads!  It takes a good hour to make the drive (we crossed the Appalachian Trail twice enroute!)  Make a wrong turn getting into Vassar and have to call Strider to tell him to come find us at the tennis courts!  Successful rendezvous! 
The castle library at Vassar
         Strider gives us a little tour around this 1861 college – the buildings are quite old, mostly brick and stone.  The chapel has an incredible pipe organ rimmed in ornate wood holders.  The wood sculpting is most amazing.  Library looks like a giant castle, and the student center is a historic building of massive proportions!  Strider is especially enjoying FALL for the first time in all its beauty.  Bandon does not get these kind of colors. 
Strider checks out the chapel
with us
   We were going to take Strider out to breakfast, but he argues that he has x number of guest meals on his pre-paid plan that he will never use up because no one comes to visit!!  So we enjoy having a custom made omelet and other treats! 
         From Vassar we head south and find a Weight Watcher’s store front – weigh-in #10, so I can renew my card now!  I had gained a little, but then again, I JUST ate a big breakfast! 
West Point Visitor Cntr
         We arrived at Stony Point at around 2pm, having stopped at West Point briefly.  Much of the visitor center was closed due to the government shut-down.  The concessionaires were operating however!  We took a quick look and moved on down the road!
        When we arrived at Stony Point,  Rick U-C, the director, left a meeting to come meet us and tell us where to get settled.  We are parked next to one of the empty ‘dorms’ – with our plug going in through a window.  The rooms haven’t been cleaned yet, but we can use the bathroom and shower!  Hurray! 
Stony Point pigs!
         We have some dead time until dinner.  Relaxation time!!!  Rick takes a short nap, I talk with Luke on the phone (finally!) and take a short walk around the place – finding the labyrinth and the pigs! 
         Since the dining hall is partly closed, dinner is a community affair up at the U-C house.  About 12-15 people amble in and out to grab a meal.  I made some hummus mix and grabbed a jar of salsa and the pita chips and pretzels.  A contribution anyway! 
Our 'campsite' along the Walnut Housing unit.

         Evening spent in trailer reading, writing, checking maps, and updating such things as this blog!!!  Cool now and the sleeping bag is inviting me inward!!  G’night! 

WEDNESDAY, October 16, 2013
Stony Point Center Volunteer Day
Nothing like starting off the day
with a little Cafe Justo! 

         Ah….I just took a Vitamin I (Ibuprofen!) pill with a little glass of wine.  That should fix my back and muscles from the morning’s endeavors!  It was a good morning of labor we did….and no Care-a-Vanner mid-morning break either!! 
         We are up this morning and ready to roll down to the dining hall for breakfast at 8am.  Pleased to see that Café Justo is now being served here at Stony Point also!!  They had a nice display on the wall of the Cooperative Participants.  I keep forgetting to ask at church if the coffee experiment is going well or not! 
    At 8:30 we head over to the small chapel (glass on one side which reminds us of Westminster Woods chapel) for morning devotions.  On Wednesdays they sing, and today we were going through some of the new songs from the new purple hymnal.  It was nice to be able to see and handle the new book.  It is nice – over 800 hymns but not thick or heavy.  We sounded great on some and struggled on others.  Just five of us there. 
Rick shovels up another load of dirt. 
Bringing the wheelbarrow down
the narrow aisles. 
         Promptly at 9 we are to meet Matthew out by the greenhouse (a mere 50’ from our trailer!)  A new greenhouse is being built – framing all up, and raised beds built, but they had settled considerably and needed more dirt added.  More dirt to the tune of at least two wheelbarrel loads into each one.  There were a total of 26 new raised beds to fill.  It took us all morning, but we finished by lunch.  Matt got us started and then went up to other garden plots to erect the structures to be ready for frost protection over the lettuce crops.  Eventually Rick and I got a process going working together to fill the middle 16 beds.  He did the shovel and wheelbarrow work while I did the raking and smoothing and working the soil to the corners.  Who was it that said volunteer travel is all glamour work!?  This was GRUNT work and we were happy to help out! 
Ginger spreads dirt. 
         Before lunch, Matthew took us on a short tour of some of the rest of his garden projects.  He is experimenting with some different techniques, some of which have worked, others not so successful!  The center raises MUCH of the produce they need in the kitchen.  They are overrun at the moment with tomatoes and peppers.  I picked some peppers and strung them to bring home.  They are now hanging from the door handle in the back seat of the truck!  We look very ‘southwesty’! 
         Earlier this summer the center had nearly 200 lbs of eggplant and the kitchen said they couldn’t use any more!!  So they cut a ‘deal’ with a local CSA and swapped eggplant for winter squash.  A win-win for both groups as the CSA hadn’t had a good eggplant year!   
         Lunch was fabulous vegetarian pizza, and little vegan and spinach rolls, whole wheat bread (excellent!), fruits, squash soup, etc.  The kitchen really does have a challenge when you have so many of different cultures and faiths, with various food restrictions, dining together.  There are always vegan and vegetarian options at every meal.  Tonight for dinner orders were being taken for Greek style food from a local restaurant.  Rick decided to eat a couple more pieces of pizza and go lean on dinner! 
The friendly pigs of Stony Point
         After lunch I went into the fair trade store, eventually buying a book on ‘coloring your prayers’ (I can’t wait to get started….a new form of doodling!  Plus I think it would be a fun activity to introduce to WSG or the Youth Group).  By 1 we were ready to get back to work. 
         Matthew was done for the day, and our job was finished, so we went to ask “Turtle” (Yes, that’s her name!) at the front desk about some other job she had mentioned.  I said something about all the trash on the grounds from the previous group, and she said it would be wonderful if we could look into that.  So, Rick and I grabbed a couple of grocery bags and picked up a bagful each of balloons, candy pieces, ribbons, more candy wrappers, etc.  I think they must have had several piñatas in different places. 
Multi-religions artwork at entrance to SP
         Then a call from Rick U-C who had another job for us….loading some paintings into the center van to return to the artist.  We had to get the van, take it to one of the garages and unload two seats, then down to another building to pick up the artwork.  There were 13 pieces we wrapped in wool blankets (these said Red Cross, but they were just like the CWS blankets!) and anchored to each side of the van, leaning them up vertically along the sides.   We couldn’t find any rope, so I grabbed a couple of bungees from the trailer and we strapped the paintings so they couldn’t tip over using the seat belts.  Now 3:30 and we figure….we are done for the day!  Showers, phone calls, and a few pictures in the dining hall round out my afternoon. 
Such a dichotomy of trees: one bare, the other glorious! 
         Dinner tonight was the Greek meal and a movie, Freedom Summer, down in the same building we got the paintings from.  It also has a room with a large screen TV set up for viewing!  The movie is about the Freedom Project in the summer of 1964 centered in Mississippi.  That year a number of white college students went south to help in the civil rights movement, especially to register black citizens to vote.  Three youth were murdered.  I was not aware of some of these pieces of history, so from my standpoint, the movie was educational, even if it was a movie of a stage play, and not all the acting was all that good.  We discussed some of the reactions afterward, but I think most noteworthy to me what that Maryanne, the PPF secretary, LIVED in Mississippi during this time, and the husband of her church’s secretary was one of the men indicted in the case.  She said it was a rather major event for her during her college/young adult years. 
         Talked with Mike Braymen right before dinner and then Don Bovais as we got back to the trailer.  Making the plans for the next stage of the trip! 
         BTW, I had cheese and spinach spanakopita, some sort of zucchini fried, greentomatoes and onions, etc. for dinner.  Plus some soft pita bread.  Pretty good stuff! 

         G’night!  Tomorrow we bypass NYC and Philadelphia!!!  

THURSDAY, October 17, 2013
Stony Point, NY to Phoenixville, PA
170  Miles

         Warm night!  The clouds came in and held all the heat in – it was 64 degrees in the trailer this morning, just down 2 degrees from last night!  Wow.  Both of us slept too warm!  Rick woke up during the night and was on his Kindle figuring the tolls for the turnpikes.  He really doesn’t want to go that way, regardless of the expense. 
         Up around 6:45 to begin packing things up and trying to organize and think through the next week, in which we will be staying ‘inside’ with friends.  What clothes will we need?  We know two days of Habitat work is included….where are those clothes?  Think through it all, because once we get to Bovais, the trailer is going over to a church until Sunday! 
         During breakfast we are joined by Spencer, one of the local residents who approached us yesterday and apologized profusely for missing the dinner at Rick’s house the night before and the chance to welcome us then.  He remembered Luke well when we told him our thin connection with Stony Point!  It was a short, but brief conversation, as we left to join the morning devotion group up at the chapel.  I was hoping Rick would be there so I could say goodbye and thanks.  At first it was just Turtle, but then Rick joined us.  A song, a reading of Psalm 148, reflection and prayer.  I gave Rick a copy of Make a Joyful Scribble Unto the Lord along with a donation check to cover our expenses and meals. 
Fall is moving southward! 
         Final packup of the trailer and we pull around front to get a cup of coffee for the road and to say goodbye to Maryann at the front desk.  Then we are on our way!!!  Time is just a few minutes before 10am. 
Our route today!
         So….chuck all the directions we got the night before.  We are taking free roads, country roads.  It will probably add an additional hour to the trip, but oh well!  We head down country lane 202, through some beautiful woods in the morning light, I-287 south to I-78 west.  Enter Pennsylvania at Easton, which is where Crayola Crayons are made.  I’ve heard that is a pretty good tour, but not this trip!  I drove from midway on I-287 until we left I-78, about 80 miles. Last stretch was another country road, Route 100, south from Allentown.  Through Phoenixville itself, and we came into Don’s directions from the opposite side, but we found their house easily.  Arrived at 1:30pm. 
Don and Sally's house in Phoenixville
    So good to see such good friends, such long-term friends!  We visit over a late lunch (they had gone ahead and eaten which I hoped they would!), and then we are off to take the trailer to the church, and to leave the truck at Don’s local car man to have the oil changed and the tires rotated.  Time to give the Honda a little TLC!  The church is NOT that close as we wind up and around, over hill and dale, and across one lane bridges to Trinity Presbyterian Church in Berwyn, PA.  We park in a corner of the parking lot and tell the trailer to ‘be good’!  They off to the car repair site, and then home again. 
Another pristine rural farm scene! 
         Evening of good conversation, reminiscing, checking out my Scribble books and their scrapbooks from a recent trip to France.  Sally made an excellent chicken dish for dinner along with a tasty salad.  Pumpkin roll for dessert.  After three days of fine eating at Stony Point, it is a good thing I won’t be weighing in for a few more days!! 
         We make up our lunches for tomorrow’s 7:30 am departure!  Early!  Early to bed!! 

FRIDAY, October 18, 2013
Chester Co. Habitat for Humanity
Team Bovais!

         Here we go on another Habitat experience!!  Up around 6:15 to do a little writing and catching up on computer in the loft area.  Both of us are downstairs by 7 to enjoy a bite of breakfast and cup of coffee.  Sally has put a spread out of options for our breakfast pleasure! 
Team Bovais! 
         On our way west to Coatsville by 7:30am.  It is a bit of a drive to get to the Habitat site.  The Chester Co. affiliate obviously covers a fairly large range!  We find our spot on a terraced hill overlooking the city of Coatsville and the abandoned steel mill.  We passed near a beautiful OLD railroad stone bridge as we came into town, and it is easily seen from the Habitat complex.
         The houses are being built on land that once housed a HUD subsidized housing project which fell into abuse and drug use in the 70’s and 80’s.  It got quite a reputation among local authorities….the post office wouldn’t deliver, the cops wouldn’t come unless 5 or more cars.  It was BAD!  So HUD decided to raize the building, removed all the tenants and start over.  Eventually there will be nearly 50 houses on the hill. 
View of steel plant and RR bridge from
top floor of house - Coatsville, PA
   The houses are all three levels, 4 bedrooms, 2 bath, with a single car garage.  They are nice places and very energy efficient.  We are working on the second floor of a unit, which is a new experience for Rick and I.  When everyone finally arrives, Anthony our supervisor says a quick prayer and we get started. 
Moving the wall into place. 
         Our job is to sheath, line, and insulate with thin foamboard the outer part of one of the upstairs walls.  We get it all ready to go, and with a great deal of teamwork, slide the wall into place, anchoring with a few braces.  The wind is blowing INWARD which makes it easier than if the other way!  But it is blowing!  Right as we finally get it set right, Anthony stops, ponders the plans, and says, “You guys are going to kill me.”  We had the wall on the wrong side of the house.  We now had the bathroom window in the bedroom, and a bedroom size window all ready for the bathroom.  Time to stop…reaccess….brain storm options. 
         Net result?  We leave the wall in place, saws-all part of the bracing in the second wall, rebuild a framework smaller for the bathroom window, and get the wall sheathed as much as we can….we ran out of sheathing!  By then…LUNCH TIME!!! 
Finished Habitat homes further down
the street. 
         Following lunch, Anthony got word that more sheathing wouldn’t arrive until 2pm at the earliest, so we anchored the set wall into place better and went down the street to work on a punch list for two places that are almost completed.  Cleaned out electric and plumbing messes, sanded walls that had been patched, and worked on the door panel for the attic egress.  We were done at 2pm! 
Don and Sally at
Iron Hill Brewery
         Back toward Phoenixville, but with a stop at the car repair to pick up the Honda….all cleaned up, tired up, and oiled up.  At around $75 not the cheapest place, but it is done and done well!! 
         We come home to visit, shower, and prepare to hit Iron Hill Brewery for dinner….our treat!  Downtown Phoenixville on a Friday night is hopping!!  Lots of people and traffic.  We all order sandwich/burger type menus, Rick a pulled pork sandwich and I a portebello mushroom cheese sandwich.  It was delicious!!! 
         Back to the house around 7 to visit, dessert, pack our lunches for tomorrow, play Yatzee (Sally and I) and into bed by 10!!!  Whew! 

SATURDAY, October 19, 2013

Chester Co. Habitat Work – Team Bovais Returns!

         Smooth machine this morning, although Sally has pulled no stops and has some cinnamon French toast on the grill for our morning fuel!  Wow!  So spoiled we are! 
Our houses on the hill. 
         We arrive in Coatsville a little early (no traffic on Sat mornings!), so we drive into the first row of Habitat houses to see what they look like.  All similar design, but the road is narrow and filled with cars.  A little hard to turn around.  And then, in exploration, we find two rows of the old projects homes.  Such disarray and poverty can be seen, along with nice cars and Dish TV receivers.  Priorities can be a challenge at this stage.  No one was up and around to wonder why we were cruising down their street! 
         Later in the day we drive to the top of the hill and see the park and playground that has been built for all the kids on the Habi-Hill town.  Nice.  I was glad to know there was a place for the children to play because some of the homes have NO yard! 
Sam and I lay down some insulation board.
Rick helps push the wall
 into place. 
    I have some fellow female workers today!  That is nice.  Betsy is about my age and works OFTEN with the Chester Co. affiliate.  Sam was a young gal who works with a wine company and will soon be moving to Connecticut.  She was a lot of fun.  A couple of young men, and Jerry, a supervisor sub, was on hand for the day.  Two of the homeowners came also, Ring and Ismael.  They didn’t talk much (both African-American, but I got the impression that Ismael didn’t speak a lot of English yet.) Three other homeowners were working on finishing touches of other homes (all women).
Checking that all the
plates have been nailed down!
Don hard at work
         Basically today we got the other three walls of the top floor finished and installed on the house.  We had to scrounge around at the end to find enough materials to complete the task, as we ran out of Tyvek.  Perfect day to do the walls as the wind was very calm, it was cloudy, but no rain.  A good day of work!  Lots of light hearted banter among the workers.  We Oregonians were accepted and questioned.  Some had ties to the state which was fun to compare ‘notes’.   We were back in the car and ready to roll for home at 2:20pm.  I like these Care-a-Vanner hours! 
         Showers, football, and a lazy afternoon and evening.  I got ahold of Mike Braymen and Wyatt to confirm some plans for Sunday and later in the week.  Got caught up on some emails, and posted all the pictures from the Chester Co. Habitat times. 
         Sally made a wonderful tortellini pasta dish and salad for dinner and we ate in the dining room just to make things fancy.  A very nice time with a little soothing background music.  Don said it was a CD called ‘Dinner Music’!!  I have more information somewhere else, but it was really good. 
         Sally and I played another three rounds of Yatzee before we went to bed.  I had another great round with 2 Yatzees in it.  J
         Visiting with Don and Sally is like 30 years have never gone past.  I guess that’s what happens with good friends who are comfortable with one another.  I love it.  We may get to have lunch with Chris while in DC.  I hope so!  He is doing work very similar to what Uncle Bill did in the 50’s!  He is Head Engineer for the Naval Lab Research Institute.  Great ‘kid’!
The girls team for today

No comments:

Post a Comment