Maine 2018

Maine.  What’s the appeal? Maine’s rocky shorelines dotted with sandy beaches draw thousands of vacationers to Maine. And then there are folks like us who are drawn to the dozens of fresh water lakes where rustic camps dot the shoreline. Bliss for me is watching a thick fog roll in over a lake waterfront while sipping a morning cuppa joe.

Thompson Lake 2018

Coffee could be followed by a morning paddle through the fog, the only sounds being the paddle dipping in the water and the not-so-distant call of the loons. In this tranquil setting, this could be the most exciting thing you do all day!

Fog burning off Thompson Lake 2018

Our summer stay was on Thompson Lake, a seven-square mile lake surrounded by beautiful mountains. The lake is in the top 5% of the cleanest lakes in Maine. On our boating expeditions around the lake, we could see the bottom at about 30-feet deep before we headed out into areas where the depths were close to 120-feet deep.

Both in deep waters and around the parameter of islands were prime spots for the grands to try their hand at first-time real (or reel 😄) fishing. A lake fished for bass, salmon and trout, all our small fishermen caught were little sunfish that were all released to see another day.

fishing 2018

It was not uncommon to spot a bald eagle on one of the many islands or hear the echo of loons any time of the day. With a reported 20 pairs of loons breeding on the lake, we felt fortunate to have a pair with their tiny offspring foraging in a cove near our camp daily. What a sight to see!

loons 2018

Days were spent doing whatever we pleased. That could mean doing nothing at all or it could mean a venture inland. Unlike the summers of my youth on the salty shores of our grandparents’ rural cabin in Virginia where siblings and cousins played cards or Monopoly to pass an afternoon, this generation has modern options for afternoon lounging. All good….

Thompson Lake 2018

Evenings were spent enjoying all the traditional summer activities….sitting on the dock, listening to the loons, watching sunsets, and toasting marshmallows over an open fire.

Thompson Lake sunset 2018

I think I’m sold on these rural lake camps of New England where nature abounds. It seems each summer we are on a different lake but it’s all so similar…. quiet, tranquil where nature rules and we are allowed to enter and absorb it all for a short time.

Thompson Lake 2018

 

 

 

Happy Bridge Day!

Visible from the bridge, the sign, “Happy Bridge Day!” sums up the party atmosphere at the opening of the new $81.4 million Memorial Bridge linking Portsmouth NH with Kittery ME. Sister cities in two states were reunited yesterday and it felt good.

It was a time for the two communities to celebrate the teamwork it took to secure the federal grant for the nineteen-month bridge building project.  Following dignitary speeches and the ribbon cutting by 95-year old  Eileen Foley who cut the 1923 Memorial Bridge ribbon when she was just 5-years old, hundreds of pedestrians and bicyclers from each state passed each other as they made the trek across the bridge over the Piscataqua River.

The WalkMassive chains and concrete counterweights balance the weight of 64 cables that lift the center span of the bridge. As the span is raised the counterweights descend.

Designed by Ted Zoli, structural engineer with HNTB Corportation, is very well-known in the world of bridges for combining structural integrity with bold and elegant designs. The Memorial Bridge is the first non-gusset truss bridge in the world, the first to incorporate cold bending of steel and the first to have the machine rooms beneath the bridge. In designing the bridge, he honored the past by reflecting the look of the original 1923 bridge designed by John Alexander Low Waddell.

Steve DelGrosso, project manager of Archer Western Contractors, his crew, subcontractors, and DOT workers were big a part of the celebration, many of whom worked 140-hours a week for the past month to complete the project by the August 8 Bridge Opening Ceremony.

News crews were on display….

… along with numerous dogs, some vocal,

… perhaps just singing to the nearby brass band.

Brass BandSome of the strongest advocates for the connection to Maine were the cyclists, plenty of whom were on hand to show their appreciation and to entertain the crowds.

IMG_5523

Maine and New Hampshire residents were temporarily divided again during a bridge opening for…

… the lobster boat, Amy Michele, that traveled beneath the bridge on her way to the Atlantic. The lift went off without a hitch to hearty applause from onlookers.

IMG_5491After visiting Maine, we turned and walked the short distance back to the historic city of Portsmouth. What a day!

From Kittery ME to Portsmouth NH

In love with a bridge…

When a bridge is being repaired or replaced in Virginia, it’s been my experience that locals are unhappy, not over the loss or worry about the bridge, but over the blasted inconvenience. Not so for the 89-year old Memorial Bridge that spanned the Piscataqua River between Portsmouth NH and Kittery Maine. Built between 1920 and 1923, the bridge was dedicated to Americans who served our country during WWI. It supported traffic on foot, bike or vehicle without a toll. Folks around here were very attached to this bridge that served them faithfully for so many years and when it was closed to vehicle traffic in July of 2011 and pedestrians and cyclists in January of this year, it was emotional.

Portsmouth Memorial Bridge via Wikipedia

In October, locals staged a farewell party in a park at the foot of the bridge. Music, food, facepainting, games and more attracted a large crowd of young and old, including the mayor and governor, to say goodbye to a trusted old friend. On January 8, there was a walk, the final walk across the Memorial Bridge. Then the bridge closed.

Last week, crowds gathered on both shores to watch the 2-million pound center lift span disconnected, lifted and lowered onto a barge and floated out to sea, bound for a scrap yard somewhere.  Artists, camera buffs, television stations marked the occasion by jockeying for position for the best shot. The rest of the old bridge will be removed in the coming months with the replacement bridge to be completed by July of 2013.

My daughter was among those who witnessed the first stage of removal and sent the two photos below:

Section being lowered onto a barge

Tugboat

Meanwhile, when the dust and rust had settled, The Portsmouth Herald’s online publication, Seacoast Online, had a little fun with a photo of the gap in the bridge. They ran a great contest for the best “something” to fill the space with a $50 prize going to the winner.

Here are a few of the entries that are sure to break the somber mood locally and bring a smile: