Friday, July 31, 2009

Cap Chat-Gaspe Peninsula

Cap Chat was where we were the past few days. There was no WiFi in that campground hence the silence from this blog site. At Cap Chat we were within walking distance of the St.Lawrence River seashore. Well,it has now become the St.Lawrence Seaway. In the city of St.Anne-des-Monts we toured a wonderful aquarium which gave us a crash course on marine biology. There we could see various kinds of live crabs,lobsters,shrimp,cod,flounder and haddock. We also learned that there are at least two kinds of fish that need both fresh water and salt water for their life cycle,salmon being one of them. We were fortunate that the aquarium had most of their exhibit in English- we have had to pass up some museums because everything is only in French. We were fortunate to have an English speaking young man as our tour guide at a windmill farm, however. On the hills surrounding our campground about 100 windmills dot the landscape. A the windmill farm we were able to tour the first one Canada made,which is now not operable because it was too difficult to repair. On Tuesday we hiked in Gaspesie National Park. In this park the International Appalachian trail crosses through,after first starting at the tip of this peninsula at Forillon National Park. We tackled a "moderate" hike,climbing to the top of Mont Ernest-Laforce. We were fortunate to meet up with a ranger there who let us use her telescope to view a male moose. I never realized how big a creature like that could be! On our way down we were able to see a young female moose and an adult- each at different locations. I will post the younger one here. And excuse my fascination with Quebec homes- I want to post another one here. It is colored dark blue and has some fancy lattice work at the top. The homes here continue to fascinate me,and it does not seem to make a difference where we find them.We find unusual ones by the seashore,in the city,or out on rural roads. Size also does not make any difference. On a small house today we saw arched windows which made the cottage look like a church.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Whale Watching in Canada-July 27

The sun shone briefly today,but it soon became overcast and by the time we were in line to board our cruise boat it was raining steadily. John and I felt certain that this was another whale watching event that would be a bust. The captain kept reassuring us that when we would get further out on the St.Lawrence River it would be clear,and he was right. I don't think they have the strict Coast Guard rules as we have in the US. When we boarded the whale watching boat in Maine the captain gave us a long set of rules in case the boat went under or if a person should go over board. Today the captain,in very broken English, only said not to go into the water or it might not be too good and you may die.Perhaps he just could not come up with the right words in English! We cruised along at a pretty fast clip for about an hour,after which our boat slowed and then drifted for awhile. Initially we were disappointed because we just saw seals and porpoises. Then the naturalist on board shouted that he saw a mother whale and her six month old baby. Soon after that about 20 minke whales surrounded us diving and blowing. We were told there were also finback whale. One whale got very close to a raft of people which was floating near us, and nearly tipped them. I was a bit slow in getting that picture and snapped it when the whale had gotten a distance away. As we were returning into the harbor I stood on deck questioning the naturalist about the different kinds of whale which he usually sees. He said that the two we saw today were the only two usually seen on the river. He added that he use to see beluga feeding in the harbor. Casually he added: I am seeing one now, then he started shouting into his microphone about his finding and counting in French. He counted ten;I did not see that many. What few I saw was impressive enough for me! One other picture I have shown here is of a sculpture called "Solstice". We found it in the Parc Des Chutes. We had driven to this park today before our boat trip to see the falls and hydroelectric dam located there. The sculpture is made of cedar logs and steel cables. It is shaped like a lotus flower and motorized to have cycles of opening and closing. Quite unusual!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gaspe Peninsula Canada-July 26

In the Micmac North American Indian language gespeg means lands end. The Gaspe peninsula of Quebec juts out northward into the Gulf of St.Lawrence. It has also been called the "Cradle of Canada" because this area is where Jacques Cartier in the 16th century planted a cross in its soil for the King of France. The peninsula has 17 villages- between yesterday and today we toured through about half of them. This is a very scenic area with the Appalachian Mountains dominating the landscape. And between the St.Lawrence River and the Appalachians are little mountains call monadnocks scattered here and there(I have posted a picture here of one of those big hills). A lot of farmland in this island either have such a wooded hill in the middle of a field or the field may be butted up against the mound of stone. And speaking of fields,we saw many bright yellow fields(pictured here)which we later learned was canola- a plant in the mustard family closely related to bok choi and turnip. Some of the towns we toured today were fishing villages known for their smoked fish,which we enjoyed on bagels for our lunch today. Our road sometimes brought us close to the coastline where we could look out on sand flats of the river. Fog plagued us most of the day and may it difficult for us to see out onto the water. In the towns I again saw gabled houses with their bright colors and quirky additions of balconies and turrets. I will post a picture of one here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Riviere du Loop Campground-July 25

It has been a cool rainy day-actually the rain started last night at our campground outside of Quebec city. We are about 100 miles north of that place now and the temperature here is 53 degrees. This campground is filled with children and they all seem to be enjoying a ride around the area on a cart which has a Christmas tree,small fire blazing,and flashing lights with sirens. Appropriately they are singing Jingle Bells in French! I mentioned a few days back that we toured a recreated Huron Indian traditional village on the Wendake Reservation. Guess this is a good time as ever to explain what we saw there. I certainly learned a lot. We had a knowledgeable tour guide who seemed passionate about giving the straight facts regarding his heritage. He is one-quarter Huron. Immediately after introducing himself he explained that his beard should have been a clue to us that he was not pure-blooded Indian. The native Indian has no facial hair because of his origins many years ago. The native American Indian came from Mongolia and consequently has the physical features of copper-tone skin,high cheek bones and no facial hair. The guide had a lot to share with us concerning the Huron history,tales and legends. One of their beliefs is that the world is sitting on a turtle and when it moves we have earthquakes(see picture posted here). We saw several of their dances performed. In one dance a man had on half of a face mask(as shown in the picture). According to our guide it is only the Huron tribe that has this custom(apparently Hollywood gets this wrong in their movies). In the recreated village we were shown the tent of a medicine man,and were asked not to take pictures there. The Indians believe that in doing so we would take away the power of the items which were on display in the tent that belong to the shaman. Our guide commented that the shaman's popularity with the Native Indian is returning. One other interesting ritual we saw on the tour was the passing of the peace pipe. In this pipe is burned tobacco,sage and marsh grass. Makes for a nice sweet smell! And if your friend coughs or chokes when he smokes it after you,it proves that he is dishonest. Our guide wryly suggested that is how we should check out our politicians!

Friday, July 24, 2009

New France Road,Quebec-July 24

My brother Wayne and Mary Jo left this morning for western Canada. John and I felt that there were still some areas here in Quebec which we wanted to see. We started and ended our day with waterfalls. A few minutes from Quebec city is the Parc de la Chute Montmorency. We took a cable car to the top of this 83-meter-high waterfall. We were able then to walk on a suspension bridge over the falls and take a foot path back to the bottom. From there we started our drive on what is called the New France Route. This road links Old Quebec to the Beaupre Coast. It has the claim of being one of the oldest roads in North America. Again I was fascinated with the homes along this route. According to the tour book "the architecture of the heritage homes reflect the English and French culture and the Quebecker's spirit of innovation". Also along this road were old barns,procession chapels,(pictured here),crosses and half-buried vegetable cellars-all reminiscent of the coast's rural past. After driving through many small villages we were surprised to see a large Catholic church called the shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre. We knew that it is a world renown pilgrimage site but did not expect to see so many people milling around the church. The church has 240 Neo-Roman stained glass windows and a beautiful rose window. The central nave is covered with mosaic tiles. There were several small stations in the front were people were praying. At these prayer sites were cards written in many languages for the pilgrims to read while making their petitions to St Anne who is the healer of diseases(as believed by the Catholic church). Across the street from this church is the Way of the Cross which has life-size bronze statues cast in France. Pictured here is one of those stations where Christ is blessing the women of Jerusalem. The last picture I have here is of the falls of the Canyon Sainte-Anne. Henry Thoreau visited these falls in 185O and wrote that they were the most spectacular of North America,second only to Niagara Falls! I would agree with him.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lile d'Orleans Island-July23

This island is on the other side of Quebec city from where we are here at the campground. It can be reached either by a bridge(which was built in 1935)or by ferry. There are about 6 villages on this island with three of them having populations a little over 1,000. One main road runs right through the island so it was easy to go into all the villages with no turns to be made. Our plan was to make it a short day with the goal of just getting some fresh produce. We saw many strawberry fields. It seemed to be the peak of the season as there were many produce stands where we could purchase the fruit. Other local produce we found was lettuce,and red raspberries. Outside the village of Sainte Famille we saw many vineyards,apple and pear tree orchards stretching from the road down to the St.Lawrence river. We did stop at one winery and purchased some wine after sampling several. One unusual liquor we liked was made with a combination of black-currant and maple hard cider. Quite delicious! Many navigators and ship pilots live on the island,so I did want to post here a harbor scene. Off from the parking lot of Saint Laurent church we found a wharf that had an unusual sea wall of stones which protected the boats tied up there. We toured that church and found that it had a double balcony,and also a tree branch in the front with baby booties hanging from it. Those booties symbolized the babies baptized in 2009. I have a picture of that here. Also in the town of St.Laurent we found a handcrafts shop and art gallery. This is something else which the island is noted for. In this particular shop fifty-six local artists sell their wares. Here we viewed paintings in many different mediums,also pottery,tapestry,ceramics,ect. It was very tempting to buy something but our life style now demands that we live simply. I want to mention one other village where it was necessary for us to get out and walk around. The Village of Sainte Famille (I did mention this town earlier)has a Parc Ancetres where a memorial to the founding families can be found. It is the oldest parish on the island,founded in 1661. It also has the most concentration of stone dwellings to be found,dating back to the French Regime. Near the memorial park is located one of the first homes built in this area,dating from the 18th century. I took a picture of the side of this building so you can get see the original stone wall. One other thing I would like to add is that I am constantly amazed by the beautiful houses,not only on this island but in Quebec itself. Each one is so different from its neighbors with such unique features as turrets,balconies and green houses. Some are of wood,others of stone or brick. Many are brightly colored or just the roof may have a bright color as red. The mansard roof is popular and on many of the homes. And every home is dressed up with either hanging flower baskets or flower gardens resplendent with the blooms of summer. Well,you may say that this did not seem to be a short brief trip and you would be correct in thinking that! We got back to the campground much later than planned.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Historic Quebec-July 21

Today we started on a driving tour to understand the history of Quebec,again following a guide book. We went into the older part and saw the parliamentary buildings. In one area part of the old city wall forms an arch over the street and near this site there are the busts of our president FDR and England's prime ministerWinston Churchill. They met here in Quebec in 1943 and 1944. I have a picture of that here. We next visited the St.Augustine Hospital,founded in 1693. During the seven year war between France and England(1754-1761)many wounded men were cared for by the nuns of St.Augustine at this hospital. Over time the cemetery next to it became the burying ground for the military. About 1058 soldiers were buried here-French,Canadians,Americans and British. I have posted here a monument that stands in this cemetery. It seems to be that of two soldiers reaching out to each other over a cracked wall. From here we went to the historic district of Trait Carre. It is an area that use to be a rural village(dating from 1665),but after 1937 it became an urban area of Quebec city. It still has the original mill(now museum),church and convent,and one farm. The family of the original owner still owns the farm. The lots in the district were laid out in the form of a star,converging in a central point,where the early colonists lived.The landowners were Jesuit priests who designed the lay out as a means of defending the colony. We did a walking tour of only a small part of this area as it was quite sunny and warm. Many of the original homes have been restored and well maintained. It was interesting to see the different French and Quebec architecture representative of the rural areas from the 17th to the 19th centuries.I have posted a picture of one of these houses here. An added bonus in walking around this area was seeing the beautiful lush green grass and flowering gardens found in the lawns and parks! After having our picnic lunch here we went on to the Huron cultural center. I may discuss that on another posting. It ended up being a long day for us,but we were still determined to see the national park of Jacques Cartier located north of Quebec. Our day seemed complete to us after that because at that park we saw moose drinking at the edge of a river! Unfortunately it was getting dark at the time so the picture I took did not turn out well at all.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quebec Canada- July 20

Before I talk about our day today I wish to first mention the fact that Sat. evening we were in Jackman, Maine. (I had called the town Jack). That was a very scenic rugged area- in the Longfellow Mountains. We had a babbling brook right outside our door. I kept thinking that I had left a faucet on! Today, Monday, we took a ferry from the town of Levis into old Quebec. I have here a picture of the harbor of the St. Lawrence river, in which the hotel Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac pretty much dominates the skyline. I can't even imagine staying in a hotel that large! Once we got off the ferry we first wandered in the shopping district. It sure felt like we were in a foreign land as there are no signs in English, as there is in other Canadian cities. Many of the townspeople speak only in French. We have sure picked up a few words and phrases fast! I have posted here a picture of the shopping district we were in. We ate lunch in this area and, after eating, I wandered down the street and saw the Neptune Inn which had a mural on its outside wall. It showed the building in various stages of construction-a most unusual painting. What looked like bricks on the wall have actually been painted on. Maybe you can see what I am referring to in the picture I have posted here. From this point on we did what we should have done earlier and followed a guide book to see other historical buildings and churches. We did not see everything and our tour ended at the Citadelle. This is the old fort from which the city wall forms a 4.6 kilometre-long defensive belt around the old city. Part of it is the official residence of the governor general and the entrance to that area is guarded by Canadian soldiers. I have a picture of that here. They have a changing of the guard every hour which we did not see. As I said before, we did not cover everything in old Quebec, but our feet told us that we had done enough for the day. My brother Wayne had been hankering for some crepes so we stopped for a snack of crepes, fruit and ice cream before heading for the ferry.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Whale Watching,July 18

I had just bragged about the nice sunny warm days we have been having and yesterday,Friday,we happened to get an overcast day with rain in the evening. We decided to keep our plans for taking a whale watching cruise. We left early in the morning with high hopes that the weather would clear. Even the captain of the boat felt fairly confident the the cloudiness would lift when we got further out to sea. Unfortunately he was wrong,the visibility never improved. According to the crew when a whale spouts(which is his exhalation as he come up to the top)it is about twenty feet high and that is one way to spot where they are located. That is not possible to see when there is poor visibility. One minke whale was seen- which I missed. A couple of the crew mates were naturalists and did point out to us laughing gulls,terns,stormy petrols and other ocean birds. We did also see harbor seals and porpoises. The captain sure tried hard to find the whales;he went to all their feeding shelves,covering one hundred of miles in the process. The captain kept telling us to keep looking out over the ocean 360 degrees. I did get tired of that,especially when I kept getting fooled by "wake whales"(a series of wakes from the ship would produce such fake sightings). The water was also a bit rough-the crew said that a fairly strong wind last night produced the high waves today. Still,they claimed that the roughness of the ride was pretty average! Despite everything,however,we still found it an interesting trip out on the ocean. Today,Saturday,was the last day of the reunion. After saying our good-byes to everyone John and I, also my brother Wayne and his wife, headed northwest to Jack Maine. From their we plan to enter Canada.

Touring a salt marsh-July 16

I have not written much on this blog site because of the family reunion. We have had lots of family to hang out with and to catch up with on their latest news. We all get together for a meal each evening(we are fortunate that this campground has a big rec hall which they have been willing to let us use). After the supper meal we gather around a campfire for devotions and fellowship. During the day each family decides for themselves what activity they choose to do;sometime joining other cousins,aunts or uncles. On Wednesday,yesterday,a portion of us took a guided canoe ride through the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center. Our guide informed us that salt marshes are among our most valuable ecosystems,producing tons of organic matter with nutrients that are foundations of food chains extending out to the sea. They are also important buffer zones between the land and the sea. As we paddled along the meandering river of the marsh the guide pointed out snowy egrets and the wilet sandpiper. There were also tree swallows diving in and out of the muddy bluffs. We started this trip around noon time, maybe if we had taken an earlier tour we would have seen more birds. It was also low tide. Looking at the muddy-wet looking banks of the river we could get an idea as to how high the water could get in the marsh once the tide came in. The guide commented that quite often the parking of the center got flooded when the tide came in. While we were out in the marsh he picked us some orach to sample. This is an edible marsh grass,which I liked very much. Today,Thursday, John and I with my oldest brother Wayne drove into the Portland harbor to take a ferry to Peak's Island. A lot of the family members had gone over earlier,but John and I had spent the morning taking our son Mike to Manchester New Hampshire to catch a plane to St.Louis. It was an enjoyable walk around Peak's Island. We took the path around the outer perimeter of the island,getting some very scenic views of the ocean and also of the picturesque summer cottages of the island. Most of the houses were quite large,several stories high. Actually,we did come to find out that quite a few of the island people are there year around. At one point in our walk around the island a woman sitting on a bench near the shore line called us over to point out a whale she had been watching for awhile. It had just gone under when we stopped to look,but as we started to return to our walk he suddenly arched up and dove back down. All total we walked about three and a half miles,which was about the total perimeter of the island. We are finally being able to enjoy some sunny warm days and this was one of them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Saco Maine- July 14

Have not written on this site for a few days now because we are now at the Lohrmann family reunion here at the Silver Springs Campground in Saco. We arrived Sat. afternoon and immediately I had to work with my sister-in-law Mary Jo in preparing a supper for about 40 people. We had all the details planned out in advance so it was not hard to do. Sunday most of us were able to get to church services. About twenty-five of us made it to Holy Cross in Kennebunk. I think it was a bit of a shock for that church to suddenly see the attendance double-and it did not help that some of us arrived late due to having some difficulty in finding the place. In spite of the little stir we cause with our grand entrance,the church was very welcoming and friendly to us. I found out that we missed their blueberry festival which was last week-end. That would have been fun to attend,and even participate in. They had teams of blueberry pickers for the festival,and people also were involved in making baked goods and craft items. Proceeds went to a shelter for abused women. Sunday afternoon we went to the beach and boardwalk. The public beach in Saco is the only usable beach for swimming along the coastline of Maine. Yesterday,Monday,we went to an afternoon game of the Portland Sea Dogs baseball team. We baked in the sun until about the sixth inning,after which we started feeling a cool breeze. John and I are starting to finally feel the heat of summer here. However we are still getting some very cool nights. Back to the subject of the game;it was a good game-the Sea Dogs won nine to four. They even thrilled us with a home run! Well,it was not quite like the Cardinal games we have seen,and the attendance was like about 14,000. After the game we went to the harbor where the Shipwreck Brewery is located. It was built on what use to be the site of Henry W.Longfellow's home. The tour was not like the tour of the Busch Brewery in St.Louis(this is a much smaller brewery). After the tour they were quite generous in letting us sample their brews- all total there were about six different beers which we tried.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Loon Center- July 10

Finally we had a warm dry and sunny day. Driving to the Loon Center I saw a sign which said:"Holy Frappe,a sunny day!". I think there were a lot of people besides us a bit disgruntled with the weather. Anyway, we learned all about loons today. The Loon Center is located on the northern edge of Lake Winnispesaukee. Not far from this lake is Lake Squam,where "On Golden Pond" was filmed. At the Loon Center we saw a movie on loons and discovered that they are not ducks and are also unique in many ways from all other birds. They live for eight months of the year on the Atlantic Ocean. They come to our northern lakes when the lakes have thawed. Here they mate and raise their young,this occurs during the months of June and July. The center has a loon nesting hike,which we did follow along the lake. It was a very wet and somewhat rocky walk with many insects,mainly mosquitoes, dive bombing us. We saw the area on the lake,just off the shoreline, which the center had roped off for the nesting birds. Not too far off from this spot we saw a rather large fishing boat. We did learn that the loons have learned to live with the intrusion of humans,but still their numbers are going down. One big problem for them are leaded fishing lures which they accidentally swallow when diving for food. And,as a general rule,for every two eggs which are hatched(the usual number of baby loons at a time),only one makes it to maturity. We did not see any nesting on our walk but did see a couple of them off in the distance on the lake. We did hear some of their haunting calls.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Newfound New Hampshire- July 9

Yesterday we left Enfield and went a short distance to the Lake Region of New Hampshire. This region has 273 lakes and ponds of all sizes. We are still surrounded by mountains- Ragged Mountain is the one nearest to us. We have been anxious to see some wildlife,the only one we saw was a red fox who greeted us on the road as we left Mt.Washington two days ago. Lots of "Moose Crossing" signs,but no sightings of those critters. Our niece has seen bear in her backyard at Enfield-but we saw none when we were there. We are now in a quiet campground with few people camping,but last night I did hear quite a few strange noises which I could not identify. The owner of the place stopped me today and showed me bear paw prints on the ground on one side of our home and said that he had picked up bear droppings on the other side this morning. Apparently a mother bear and her cubs live in a cave up the hill behind the campground. A few days ago the bear tossed a dumpster upside down. Not sure if I like bears that close! Today we drove into some small towns near here. Saw Daniel Webster's birthplace. He is in the Senate Hall of Fame;first time that I have heard of that particular hall of fame. In the town of Franklin we saw what was left of an upside-down covered bridge. It was named the Sulphite Bridge because of the sulpher used in the paper mills located in this area during the late 1800s.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Kancamagus Scenic Byway- June 7

Before I start,I want to mention that on this blog I will post a picture of mountain lupine which we saw on the train trip we took yesterday. Yesterday we drove the Kancamangus highway first. It goes through the heart of the White Mountains and is filled with many natural attractions. Yet when we stopped at the lower falls and gorge,John and I looked at each other and I said:"this is not so great,we have seen this before". You might say we were sated with such scenic attractions. Something caught my eye,however. One of the signs explaining the gorge had the words "basalt dike" and my curiosity was fired up. I started paying attention to other signs and listening to John's explanations as to how gorges and rivers are formed. Please bear with me on this,maybe you will find this as interesting as I did. Millions of years ago rock formations happened from lava or magma flow. A couple of these rocks are granite and basalt and they formed mountain ranges. Move up to about one hundred thousand years ago and we are talking the glacier meltdown which reformed the mountains. Faults(cracks in the rocks)happened and rivers changed their courses. Cracks will always happen in the less porous rock as basalt- I have posted a picture here of a basalt dike which we saw on the floor of the gorge. The dike is the darker streak of rock in the picture,the rest is granite. Mass wearing,or erosion, is always going on what with such natural elements as snow,ice,tree roots,ect. So our natural world is always changing and reshaping itself. Which brings me to the rest of our day when we toured the Franconia Notch State Park. Franconian Notch was the home of the famous Old Man,known as the "Great Stone Face". He hovered majestically over Profile Lake. The Old Man was made of five separate granite ledges arranged horizontally to form a man's profile. The elements wore on him and on May 3,2003 he collapsed during the night hours. Gone was a structure whose beginnings started about 200 million years ago. Most of this day was a wash for us. It was rainy and overcast. When we reached great mountain heights we could hardly see in front of us because of the fog, consequently we could not see any panoramic mountain vistas. We returned to Enfield.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mount Washington- July 6

We left our home,and the cat in it, in the driveway of our niece Karen and her husband Paul's home in Enfield. Our plan was to take a two day trip through the White Mountain National Forest. The first day we took the Mount Washington Cog Railway to the summit of that mountain, which is the highest mountain in the Northeast. When we arrived there and went to purchase our tickets we found that we had a two hour wait. So we thought we could kill some time taking a trail up the mountain. We soon discovered that we were walking on the same type of trail that we seem to be doing a lot of lately- steep, wet and rocky (note picture here). We did not last long on that hike and after about an hour returned to the train station. Back in 1866 a Mr.Marsh decided that everyone should be able to get to the top of Mount Washington in safety. He had once almost perished on the mountain because of a fierce storm. Incidentally, this mountain has the worse weather in the world. The highest wind velocity was recorded in 1934- 231 M.P.H. The building of the railroad began in 1866 and was completed in 1869. They have used coal powered steam engines to go on the cog railway (note the picture here of the train with the nasty black smoke billowing up). They have several biodiesel engines that they are using now and hope to eventually phase out the coal powered engine. It takes a thousand gallons of water and one ton of coal to get up the mountain. Part of the Appalachian foot trail crosses this mountain and at the summit we could see this trail marked by pyramidal piles of stones known as cairns. It was a slow bumpy ride to the top- it took one and a half hours- but the scenery was awesome and watching our car, as well as the others passing us, chug over the trestles up the steep incline was entertaining to me. John called it "hair raising". As an engineer he knew too much of the details of the mechanics of it all, for me ignorance is bliss. I just knew that the railway had a good safety record. The day we went up it was overcast and rainy in brief spurts. At the summit the sun was shining and we had a clear view for miles around. We had a good view of several mountain ranges around us- about nine peaks of the range closest to us have been given names of some of our United States' presidents- as Adams, Roosevelt, Jefferson, Clinton, Monroe, Franklin and Eisenhower. Intrigues me why those presidents were chosen. Anyway, it was an interesting train ride. Will complete the story of the rest of the trip through New Hampshire tomorrow.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Crystal and Mascoma Lakes- July 5

The Fourth of July was quite literally a wash-out. Karen and I did make it to a farmer's market in Norwich Vt. in the morning. Wish I had access to this kind of market every time I need produce. And almost all of it at the market came from organic farms. Also we were able to hear some mountain music at the market. Spring produce is still being sold here like strawberries,lettuce and rhubarb. I could not resist and did buy more rhubarb since Karen and Paul were not sure they like rhubarb pie. I made the pie and Paul says that for the record he did try it and liked it- ditto for Karen. The afternoon of the fourth,between rain showers, we all hiked down to Crystal Lake. The heavy rain during the day made the waterfalls there quite spectacular- talk about a torrent of water which made for a heavy flow down the falls! It looked like a small version of Niagara Falls. It must have hailed just before we started out on our hike as we found small pebbles of hail along our path. And just as we completed the first half of our hike we were caught in a light downpour of rain( we started out with the sun shinning and thought that the rain had stopped). Today,while Karen and Paul took a 54 mile bike ride, John and I took Kian and Baden(their two young sons)on a hike on the Rail Trail to Lake Mascoma. Baden,who is three,did not do as well on this trail as the others. It was a clear open trail with no big rocks to climb or streams to cross- but on this path he had to stop constantly to take rocks out of his shoes and he fell several times skinning his knee on the gravel. Falling down always produced a dramatic reaction of tears from him. John's comment was:"no grand kids for us". We have enjoyed the boys very much and I have appreciated using my mothering and nursing skills again.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Enfield, New Hampshire -July 4

We arrived here on July 2, at the home of our niece Karen and her husband Paul. We are parked in their driveway. They live in a beautiful wooded lot,it does feel great not to have to draw our curtains at night. We had a very scenic drive coming here. We drove along route 9n. As we were entering the town of Westport, New York we could see Lake Champlain; on our left was the Adirondacks and on our right was the Green Mountains of Vermont. It was quite spectacular to see. In fact, all day we were in and out of mountains. We saw lots of rolling hills with the roadsides dotted with daylily,chicory,daisys,and wood sorrel,to name a few that I could identify. What amazes me is that even with the cool damp weather, summer is starting to shine with all of its flowering glory. We hiked Mount Tom in Vermont yesterday with Karen and her two boys. That is Baden enjoying a rock to crawl under. Fortunately that rock was not in our path and we all did not need to follow him! They have had lots of rain here- our path up the mountain was quite muddy and we had many little streams to cross over. It was a bit rough getting up there, but the scenery at the top was worth it. We could see the town of Woodstock from there. The other two pictures I have posted here were taken at the top of the mountain.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage and Museum

I walked into this museum knowing little of Rober Louis Stevenson,other that he had written TREASURE ISLAND and A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES,and I came out knowing him rather up close and personal. This museum even has a lock of his baby hair as well as his childhood photographs. Not to even mention the small round tub which he bathed in while living in this house! Some of his possessions there even gave me a glimpse of the kind of man he was. His life had apparently changed dramatically when he married Frances Vandegrift Osbourne,a woman born in Indianapolis. She had two children and because of his stepson RLS let his imagination fly with the fantasy characters he wrote about. In this museum are the wooden printing blocks on which he carved various scenes and characters. Then collaborating with his stepson he would write stories about each block. Also in this museum are original letters and hundreds of articles of Stevenson lore. Once this museum started, memorabilia was sent from around the world;like his smoking jacket which a member of the RLS Society of America sent from Scotland. He spent the last years of his life in the South Seas, and articles from his life there are also in the museum. The prosperity which came to him while living in Saranac Lake,New York gave him the means to finally go to the South Seas(while at Saranac Lake he wrote "THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE"THE WRONG BOX and 12 essays published as the Charles Scribner series). He lived at Saranac Lake less than a year. He came because of lung problems and had heard of a Dr.Trudeau who was doing research there on treatments for tuberculosis. Dr. Trudeau became one of his best friends(by the way,Trudeau is a great grandfather of the cartoonist). His health did improve while at Saranc Lake despite his penchant for cigarette smoking. There are cigarette burns on the fireplace mantel of this house,something that aggravated his landlady Mrs. Baker to no end! Something else I learned about RLS was that to warm up his fingers from the numbing cold he would do a fierce attack of Beethoven with a bunch of rusty keys on the piano, and follow that up with a Jacobite air on the penny whistle,after which he would resume with the pen(this is noted in the Stephen Chalmer's book THE PENNY PIPER OF SARANAC). In the museum is his penny whistle and sheet music on which he had composed songs for the whistle. He was a very talented man besides a genius of a writer! If you have enjoyed any of Stevenson's works, I am sure you would find this museum and cottage quite fascinating.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

John Brown Farm- July 1

Today we visited the John Brown State Historic Site. This place,as well as the Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage and Museum are located at Saranac Lake,New York. There is so much to write on both these locations that I will only write on the John Brown historic site tonight. Posted here is a picture of his farm,as well as a statue of him located on the grounds. He arrived in Saranac Lake in 1849 with his family. Initially he came to this area to help freed black slaves from the state of New York to settle and develop farms in the Adirondack wilderness. This settlement,known as Timbuctoo, did not survive,however. In the meantime,he had sons who had settled in Kansas and were encouraging him to come there to help with the anti-slavery campaign. This was one of many times he left his wife and children to take care of the farm while he was away. He did not spend much time on the farm- but did visit over the years and with two wives(the first died in 1832)manage to sire 20 children. In Kansas he was instrumental in helping it become a free state. From there he went to Virginia. With his followers and two of his sons he assaulted the US Arsenal at Harper's Ferry. His intention was to capture arms and use them to conduct an extensive campaign for the liberation of slaves in the South. He failed and in December of 1859 was hung. The followers and his two sons who were killed in the battle were eventually all brought back to the farm and buried with John Brown. Sorry if this is a history lesson you already know, for myself I knew very little of him other than what happened at Harper's Ferry. After learning more about him today my admiration for what he stood for went up a few notches. After learning how totally he gave of his life for abolition of slavery, I wondered what was his motivation? I came to find out that as a youth he saw a black friend badly beaten. I want to wind this up with a prophesy of his before he died: "I,John Brown,am quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had,as now I think,vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done." This prophesy was realized in the Civil War.