Maine

Sunday Wanderings

Sundays are generally pretty quiet which makes them a good time to go wandering. Seldom do I have a destination in mind, I just get in the car and go.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was on some country road miles from Rockport when I saw this sign. I couldn’t imagine a winery in such an isolated area, and that was reason enough to find it.

Arriving there the sign indicated that it was not only a winery but a distillery as well. Did that mean moonshine or what? Now, my curiosity was really whetted.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFollowing the sign to the entrance, I was stopped in my tracks, first by a model train running through a field of lavender

IMG_8981and then by the panoramic view unfolding over fields and hills. Once again I was stuck by the beauty that defines Maine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInside, barrels were filled with wine waiting to be bottled.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAClose by was a bright copper vat that reminded me of something out of Alice in Wonderland but is used for making gin. Interestingly, Maine is one of the few, if not the only, state where spirits can be tasted, so I couldn’t resist sampling. The hubby and I do enjoy a good martini, and my thinking was this might be a new gin for us to try.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn addition to tasting, it was interesting to peruse the list of gins posted with their ingredients. While similar in some respects, juniper berries appear to be the only one they all have in common.

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All in all, this stop proved to be quite worthwhile, and I came home with several bottles of gin and a bottle of vermouth. I have to say it makes a pretty good martini, and we’ve substituted the cranberry gin for vodka in a cosmopolitan and it’s not bad.

What this all goes to show is that one should never miss a stop on a country road!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

Dishing It & Digging It

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Random, Travel

Days of Wonder

Some things you’ve thought about doing for a long time aren’t always what you’d hoped they’d be, but that isn’t what we found to be true of an Alaskan cruise. Our seven days on Admiralty Dream exceeded expectations and took us to places full of wonder.

Most Alaskan cruises focus on southeast Alaska, particularly the area between Sitka and Juneau. Ours began in Sitka where there is evidence of both Russian and Tlingit culture.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs with other places we would visit, much of Sitka’s economy depends on fishing for halibut, salmon and rockfish.

On our short stay here, we hiked a rain forest to become familiar with the growth common to the area and which is a food source for the wildlife.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe days of wonder began when Admiralty Dream left the dock at Sitka and headed to open water and sights startlingly beautiful.

As lovely as snow capped mountains were clouds hanging low splitting the mountains in half.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThough it doesn’t seem so, most of the mountains are higher than 5,000 feet which explains the snow. At that height, precipitation is snow and ice whereas at lower levels it becomes rain.

Because of those rocky surfaces rain cannot be absorbed so it is not unusual to see water cascading down the mountain creating some pretty impressive waterfalls. Should there be a few days without rain, rare I’m told, the waterfalls disappear.

 Along the coast we stopped in places where we were exposed  to new opportunity for discovery whether it be beachcombing

or learning about the Tlingit culture that has existed in southeast Alaska for hundreds of years.

p6027463Theirs is a complex, socially organized matrilineal society whose stories and tradition are communicated in many ways. Tlingit stories that have been passed down through generations enhance knowledge of the physical changes that have occurred in southeast Alaska over the years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is impossible to capture the experience of seven days in one post, so you will have to come back for more about the days of wonder.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Travel

Prague: A City of Contrasts

If you’ve heard of only one place else in Czechoslovakia it is likely to be Prague, a city of amazing contrasts.

Unlike many of the cities visited on our river cruise, Prague was not damaged during World War II meaning that the Old Town is intact.  Away from it, everything is newer, more modern indicating that Prague is a thriving 21st century city.

Though Prague is full of attractions, what I liked best was wandering the  streets paying attention to all that was going on whether it was men  restoring an aging facade,

meticulously relaying a cobbled street

or  working to attract a crowd and hoping to be rewarded with a few coins.

Markets were a great place to people watch,

 sample a few local goodies. 

and observe vendors, some of whom were busy demonstrating their skills, preparing food for jostling customers or passing the time until someone came along.

It was surprising to see a canal in Prague.  My first thought was how that resembled Venice.  The only thing missing was gondolas being managed by striped shirt gondoliers!

IMG_0946Walking miles every day means there had to be time for some refreshment, and I liked stopping in at some random place

IMG_0948and having Czech food and a Pilsner Urquell.  Talk about a pause that refreshes!

Yes, Prague has much to offer.  Architecturally, it is a jewel with its buildings representing many centuries.

IMG_0979Oh, and have I mentioned gingerbread and that Czechoslovakia is famous for it?  It comes in many forms, but when I tell you that foie gras served on thin slices of gingerbread is over the top, believe it!  I’d go back to Prague just to have it again.

So much for this journey of three plus weeks.  It’s time to go home.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

musings

Over and Done!

Christmas is over and done, and I have to confess to that being a relief.  In the days leading up to the holiday, I have to fight off being blue.

FamilyIt makes me sad that our small family,  which now includes sons-in-law and grandchildren, is rarely all together during the holiday season.

9780740784323_p0_v1_s192x300I miss reading The Night Before Christmas to kids

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand leaving cookies and milk for Santa.

I experience sadness remembering the people who are part of Christmases past and wish that I weren’t the only member of my original family still here.

But enough of that.   Today is a new day and with it the blues disappear.

HoustonI will enjoy time in Houston while awaiting the return to Maine

Roque Island, Mainewhere there is boating, exploring islands and spending time with family and friends.

lobsterWithout question I will eat more lobster!

Most of all, I plan to live each day to the fullest, to be grateful for what good health allows me to do, and to give lots of hugs!  That should get me through the months until next Christmas when I’ll probably again feel a little blue.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Texas, Travel

Traveling the Back Roads of Texas

Hill CountryTo track down the wildflowers, heading west from Houston on I-10 is a good place to start.  Now there’s not a whole lot to see between Houston and San Antonio unless you get off the freeway and explore those back roads that give you a glimpse of what most of Texas really is.

small town TexasMuch of small town Texas has fewer than 5,000 folks, and some of those towns, especially what used to be the business area, have seen their better days.  

small Texas townNo matter how shabby a place appears, there always seems to be a sweet church rising to meet the blue Texas sky.

small town TexasIMG_4306IMG_4305
IMG_4299Here and there are some surprisingly cute places like this one serving a delicious lunch

IMG_4307and having a garden shop and nursery chock full of tempting things.

pickups/bar b queBar-B-Que is a favorite food in these small towns and if that’s what you have a hankering for, you’ll be in luck.  Don’t worry if you don’t have a pickup, you’re still welcome

Texas country facesTexas country facesTexas country facesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand can have a bite of lunch with the good ole boys!

bluebonnetsThere was a time when all the wide open spaces were cattle ranches,

Texasbut these days there’s no telling what kind of four legged critter is being raised.

Hill CountryYessir, I like exploring these back roads and sometimes Pa and I find us a porch and just sit and rock and take it all in!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Maine

Island Hopping

We may never get around to exploring all 3500 islands off the coast of Maine, but  every time out on the boat there’s the possibility of seeing a new one.   For sure, there will be some feature that makes it different from any other island.

islandSome islands are little more than rock formations likely created by volcanic activity thousands of years ago.  If there is surface where a tree can root, it’s not surprising to see a few.

islands
Isle au Haute

 There are lovely tree covered islands with paths leading through the woods to who knows where which makes exploring a real adventure.  

Roque Island
Roque Island

Occasionally there is an island with an expanse of white sand beach,

island
Butter Island

but most have rocky shores that can be craggy

Brimstone
Brimstone

or worn smooth and covered with lichen.  Since access to most islands is by dinghy, you can guess which shoreline is preferable!

islandSpeaking of rocks, in summer it is wonderful to find an island with sun warmed stones that are perfect for relaxing or maybe napping.

Calderwood Island
Calderwood Island

Some islands are preserves and if you time the visit just right, you may find them lush with blueberries and raspberries.  Your may also find that you share the island with wild sheep or deer who compete with you for the berries

islandor there may be items on the shore indicating you are sharing the island with other people.

Matinicus Rock
Matinicus Rock

Far out to sea are a few scattered islands that are nesting places for puffins in the spring.  Catching sight of these perky little birds is quite exciting.

St. Helena
St. Helena

Here and there are surprises like the remains of a quarry

Sep Cruise_080907_1541
Squirrel Island

or fairy houses left behind.

islandNo matter the shape or size  or topography of an island, its rugged beauty always has distinguishing features.  Some are so inaccessible it is possible to think no human foot has ever touched there.  No matter how many islands I visit or see from afar, each holds a special mystery waiting to be discovered.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

 

Maine

More Maine Back Roads

LibertyWhen you are traveling the back roads of Maine, you’ll find that it’s full of small towns, some appearing to be barely more than a wide space in the road.  Liberty, about halfway between Camden and Augusta on 173, is one of those places, and you don’t want to go through too fast.

Liberty ToolIf you do you’ll miss Liberty Tool, one of my very favorite places to browse.

LibertySome folks come looking for and find an old tool

Liberty Toolbut there’s plenty else to catch the eye.

Liberty ToolThere’s so much stuff here it’s beyond me how it will ever be gotten rid of or how anyone could know what’s there.  Look hard enough though, and I promise you will find a special treasure!

LibertyIf Liberty Tool is overwhelming, walk right down the street into a smaller shop

Libertyor cross the street to Liberty Graphics.

LibertyHere you will find a huge selection of tee shirts printed right there as well as an excellent selection of Maine related publications and products.

LibertyYes, Maine is a great place for exploring small towns and somehow outdated vehicles are just right for places that seem to be from another time.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind