Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Many Miles, Alligators, Great Blue Herons and A New Legal Residence -- Oh My!

It has been a very busy past few weeks.  We left Maine on October 7 for a 1200 mile drive to Jacksonville, FL to meet up with Steve and Kathy Burnett, to turn over ownership of Moose to this Florida couple.  We stayed in JAX for a few days to pack our possessions and then transfer them from Moose into a 17' U-Haul truck.  I purposely rented a bigger truck than we really needed because I did not want to stack stuff real high, and risk having boxes tumble going around a corner.  It was a smart choice and made the transfer of boxes very easy.  On Friday the 14th we left Jacksonville and drove about 150 miles to Inverness, unloaded the truck, returned the truck and then drove another couple hundred miles before turning in for the night.  Instead of sleeping in a motorhome we slept at a Country Inn and Suites.  Very nice.  We arrived in Illinois on Sunday, Oct. 16 and stayed with family.  We visited friends and then spent two nights in Chicago at my daughter's house to get to better know Luke, our 9 month old grandson.

Luke and his Dad, Brad share fun times  

The following Monday we left Chicago at about 5:30 a.m. to get a jump on rush hour and to begin the final 1200 mile leg of our travels.   Leaving early was another good decision, but driving in Chicago at any hour is a wild experience.  The speed limit on the Dan Ryan was 55 but we were being passed by projectiles moving at 75 to 80 mph.  By Wednesday noon we arrived at our rental home in Inverness and unpacked the car.  And by Friday evening we were 99% unpacked and kind of settled in.

O.K.  O.K.  What about alligators?

Our rental home is on a connected series of canals and we wondered if there were any gators.  Today we spotted a baby alligator about two feel long drifting in the water and looking for a meal.  I'll  get  photos next time.

But I did get a photo of the Great Blue Heron that hangs around the dock and back yard.  He and his mate are building a nest across the channel.  That should be interesting to watch. 

For the past few days we have been busy becoming official Florida residents.  We needed to get a Florida driver's license, but to do that you need to have an auto insurance policy with your Florida address.  So we got car insurance today with Progressive (Flo is happy) and learned that rates in Florida are higher than in Illinois.  Next we had to go to the County Tax Collector's office to get plates for the car and our driver's licenses.  

We should have known that dark clouds were on the horizon in having to go to a tax collector's office for plates and licenses.  We walked out $550 lighter.  Yikes!!!!!  But on the brighter side, there is no sales tax on food and the annual license plate renewal is about 45% lower than in Illinois. 

Here are a couple of photos of our home for the next six months.

Sometime early next year we will begin looking for a home to buy in Florida and a small travel trailer in which to begin anew our RV travels before high heat and humidity envelop Florida.  Florida will make a great place to winter while we plan our travels for each upcoming year. 

Meanwhile it feels really strange to have so much living space and to not worry about what is going to break next. 

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A fork in the road

It was a great summer up in Maine.  The work was a bit more strenuous than I had anticipated, but it helped me to lose 13 pounds -- not too shabby.  Or should I say, not to flabby.  

Anyway we are spending the next six months in Inverness, FL without our motorhome, having sold it today to a great couple from Jacksonville, FL.  The amazing part of this sale is that I met the buyer on an RV forum in 2008 and we kinda stayed in touch with each other.

While we are in Florida we will be looking at buying a small home, a travel trailer and a pick-up truck (yah hoo!) to pull the trailer.  Then we'll be back to travelling during those months when it doesn't snow.

It's been a great experience.

I might blog occasionally, so stay tuned. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer vacation

I'm taking a break from blogging.  See you again in the autumn.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A 50-Mile Walk in Maine

Earlier this week we met Cassandra Curley, who is well into her challenge to walk all 50 states in 50 weeks.  She stayed two nights here at Wild Duck as she did her 50 miles in Maine.  We spent a little bit of time with her on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Maine is her 29th state and she plans to complete the contiguous 48 and Alaska before the snow flies.

Cassie is a bundle of energy, walking 16 to 17 miles per day at a rate of 3 miles per hour.  To plot her daily route she uses (you guessed it) app for her iPhone.  Cassie has a web site at www.cassandracurley.com

It was fun to meet her and we wish her well.

A couple of weeks ago on our way to Cape Elizabeth we drove past this charming cottage clad in river rock.  On the way home we stopped and I got a few good photos.  The person who did the stone work was a real artisan.
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Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Whale watching off the coast of Boothbay Harbor , Maine

We took a leisurely drive north on U.S. Highway 1 to Boothbay Harbor yesterday morning and noted a few places along the way that we will want to go back and see.  Included were a great place for breakfast six miles away from the campground, the headquarters of L L Bean and the main store for DeLorme Maps. I’ll report on those in the upcoming weeks.
Maine is a really beautiful state.  The license plates carry the slogan:  A National Treasure.  Agreed.  Our drive certainly lived up to the slogan.
We got to Boothbay Harbor with about 90 minutes to spare and decided to poke around a little bit before having lunch.   Before I knew it, I spotted a whale.
Just east of this whale is a local eatery called McSeagulls.   Expensive, but I had the absolute best fish and chips of my life.  The fish of choice up here for fish ‘n chips is haddock.   Very light tasting with a nice texture.
This was our table and our view.
Boothbay Harbor has lots of neat Victorian-era homes and B and Bs and plenty of places to drop a few bucks if you are so inclined.  The greater municipal area is made up of five communities with a combined population of 30,000.  In the winter the head count drops to around 3,000.
We boarded our ship (no photo, just a typical sight-seeing boat) at 1:30 and got some good views of the harbor and surrounding islands.  When we win Mega or Power Ball, it would be tempting to buy one of these homes on the water.
This is an area where a lot of lobster fishing takes place as evidenced by the many floating platforms containing lobster traps.
This is Burnt Harbor Light.
The tour boat cruised at about 20 knots for close to 75 minutes and we heard a lot about whales from the on-board tour guide, but we were beginning to think we might have to invoke the “rain check” guarantee if no whales where sighted.
The ocean had a slight chop to it which made spotting the water spout of a whale that much more difficult.  But finally, someone spotted a whale.  In the picture below I have identified a water spout from a finback whale. Look just to the left of the wording.
The next two photos will show more of the giant finback whale as he or she performed for us.
The fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), also called the finback whale,razorback, or common rorqual, is a marine mammal belonging to the suborder of baleen whales. It is the second longest whale and the sixth largest living animal after the blue whale, bowhead whale, and right whales,[3]growing to nearly 27 meters (88 ft) long.[3] The American naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews called the fin whale "the greyhound of the sea" because of its great speed when chased and slender build.[4]
On the way home we stopped in Wicasset at Red’s Eats, a famous little shack of a place known for its lobster rolls.  Sandy had a “lobsta” roll for lunch so we opted to split a shrimp basket.  It was not worth the bother.
But all in all we had a great day and saw four whales.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A great place to take a walk and a surprise visit

Leading the life of a retired RVer seems to enhance one’s ability to put on weight.  So whenever we can we try to find a good place to walk.  The surrounding neighborhood is very pleasant with some friendly dogs we get to pet, but the sidewalks and streets are hard surfaces and not kind to feet, knees or hips. 

We much prefer hiking/walking trails that are maintained as these are often built from sand, dirt or crushed stone.  There is a segment here of the Eastern Trail Alliance.

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One segment of the trail is just over 1.5 miles in length and gives me and Sandy a perfect one hour walk.  We get there often.

Tonight as I was grilling our dinner I took a walk around the coach. I do this frequently and look for anything that is out of the ordinary.  While I didn't find anything, which is good, I met a blog reader. Or more accurately, I met the husband of a blog reader.

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Bob and Trish Goodstein are at Wild Duck until Friday.  Sim, their Golden Retriever and Augie, the rescue dog with Yorkie and ??? parents are alongside their new Scamp travel trailer.  They are thinking about going full-time in four years -- so I told them about rv-dreams.com.  This is  a website that helped Sandy and me find answers to a lot of questions back in 2006 through 2009.

Friday we are thinking about a day trip on Amtrak to Boston.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Saying goodbye to Trixie

As pet owners know, there comes the day when it is time to say goodbye.  Our oldest PBGV (Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen) Trixie was declining rapidly the past week or so and we always said we would not let her suffer.  So this morning we had to say goodbye.

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Here she is at Christmas in 2007

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With her nemesis, Norton

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And here are Norton (left) and Trixie ready for another adventure on the road.

Both will be loved and missed and not forgotten.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Old Port Portland, Eating with the Locals and RVing 101

July1 - From Scarborough, Maine
A couple of tent campers here at Wild Duck Campground mentioned that the “Old Port” section of Portland was really neat.  We decided to go take a look today.
Portland is less than 10 miles from Wild Duck so it was an easy trip.  It’s an old city having its first permanent settlers in 1633 and many old buildings dating to the 1700 and 1800s.  Some neat looking places, lots of cobblestone streets , pretty much something for everyone.  And it is considered a foodies paradise.
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Going up and down the hills gave us an appetite.  We spotted a place with a line out the door named Portland Lobster Company and thought about going there.  However, having done a LOT of business traveling, I‘ve had some great luck with stopping people on the street and asking where they like to dine.  I saw two lades taking a shortcut between buildings and asked  if they were residents and where they like to have lunch?
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As luck would have it we just happened to be in front of J’s Oyster.  It’s where locals go and the ladies told us the the lobster rolls were outstanding. They were right and the clam chowder was also superb.portland 012
The restaurant is situated at the end of a channel.  The boat in back of me on the left is called Barrister.  And the owners law firm is on the dock’s edge.  Not bad.

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On the map that we see lots of tourists reading I spotted a place called Gorgeous Gelato.  We’ll we just had to go there. 
It was delicious.
When we got back home I had to do a few routine tasks that included changing the under-the-sink Everpure water filter that gives us great water for drinking and making coffee.  I also put in a new whole “house” water filter that traps any sediment and a variety of things you don’t want in your water.
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Then there was the successful conclusion to having the Honda tested to meet the Illinois EPA standards without driving the CR-V more than a thousand miles to get the testing done.  Lucky for us, Illinois and Maine have reciprocity for automobile emissions testing.  Several weeks ago I took our car to the Honda dealer in Portland where for $24.95 I was given a two page print out that we faxed to Illinois and viola! we could then complete the renewal process.  That and $99 got us the little yellow sticker for the corner of our plates.  The sticker arrived today.  We were only one day late in getting it applied.  Whew!
Also from the campground is this picture of momma duck and her nine babies.  They make me smile every time I see them.
Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father’s Day on the Coast of Maine

Today is one of those days that used to occur about three times a year when we lived in Chicago and, invariably, two of those days we were at work.  It is sunny and about 75F with light winds from the east.  A perfect day to take a drive in the country. We headed south toward Cape Elizabeth and the famous Portland Head Lighthouse.
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I copied this information about the lighthouse from the web:
The city of Portland took its name from the headland where the lighthouse now stands, but Portland Head is now actually within the present boundaries of the town of Cape Elizabeth. Portland, which was known as Falmouth until 1786, was America’s sixth busiest port by the 1790s. There were no lighthouses on the coast of Maine when 74 merchants petitioned the Massachusetts government (Maine was part of Massachusetts at the time) in 1784 for a light at Portland Head, on the northeast coast of Cape Elizabeth, to mark the entrance to Portland Harbor. The deaths of two people in a 1787 shipwreck at Bangs (now Cushing) Island, near Portland Head, led to the appropriation of $750 for a lighthouse, and construction began.
The project was delayed by insufficient funds, and construction didn't progress until 1790 when Congress appropriated an additional $1,500, after the nation's lighthouses had been ceded to the federal government.
The stone lighthouse was built by local masons Jonathan Bryant and John Nichols. The original plan was for a 58-foot tower, but when it was realized that the light would be blocked from the south it was decided to make the tower 72 feet in height instead. Bryant resigned over the change, and Nichols finished the lighthouse in January 1791.
President George Washington approved the appointment of Capt. Joseph Greenleaf, a veteran of the American Revolution, as first keeper. The light went into service on January 10, 1791, with whale oil lamps showing a fixed white light. At first, Greenleaf received no salary as keeper; his payment was the right to fish and farm and to live in the keeper’s house. As early as November 1791, Greenleaf wrote that he couldn’t afford to remain keeper without financial compensation. In a June 1792 letter, he complained of many hardships. During the previous winter, he wrote, the ice on the lantern glass was often so thick that he had to melt it off. In 1793, Greenleaf was granted an annual salary of $160.
(Thank you http://www.lighthouse.cc/portlandhead/history.html)
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (remember him from high school English) was fond of the lighthouse as you can see in the above photo.

But even with the lighthouse there were still shipwrecks.
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Here is another view of the lighthouse for which it is claimed to be the most photographed lighthouse in the world.

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The famous rock-ribbed coast of Maine.
After our trip to Cape Elizabeth we decided to visit The Lobster Shack, which was highly recommended to us.  We even found a parking place less than a block from the ocean front eatery, but a line out the door of about 50 people made us decide to come back on a week day.
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Were gonna end the day with a visit to a local ice cream emporium for something special.
Stay tuned.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Wild Duck Campground in Scarborough, Maine

We made the last leg of our journey from Florida to Maine yesterday.  We pulled out of Croton Point Park in Westchester County, NY around 7:30 and some six hours and four states later we were in Scarborough, Maine.  We only traveled about 315 miles yet we were in five states:  New York>Connecticut>Massachusetts>New Hampshire>Maine.
Surprisingly the roads were not too crowded for being in the northeast/New England corner of the country.  Below is our new home for the next four months.  In exchange for a free site and electricity, we will be work camping here until October 10.  Each of us will work  four days a week for three or four hours.  Sandy will work in the office and I will help with maintenance.  Then we are off for the same three days.
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Wild Duck Campground is Located in the middle of the Maine Audubon’s Scarborough Marsh.  Wildlife includes waterfowls, egrets, herons, ibises, raptors, muskrat, mink, otter, deer and moose. The marsh is the state's largest salt water marsh and can be explored by foot, kayak or canoe.
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The campground is adults only and, as you might expect very tranquil.  There are only 70 sites which includes an area for tent camping.
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The grounds are immaculate and well tended. And when the wind blows in the tall pines the sound reminds me of ocean waves rolling onto the beach.
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Flowers add color.
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This view of the marsh is what we see out of our front window.
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And because “wild duck” is part of the camp’s name, it is good to see that Mother Nature is seeing that there is a new supply of duck to swim in the pond.
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Stay tuned.