We beat the heat with a great day trip

Can you guess where we were from the lobsters below?

LLBean 2019

Lobsters were everywhere but there were lots of whales, too.

LLBean 2019

Not every animal was man-made. We saw live fish as well.

L.L. Bean 2019

By now, you’ve probably guessed. We drove in air conditioned comfort to an air conditioned adventure destination… L.L. Bean in Freeport ME.

L.L. Bean 2019

With a heat advisory warning targeting New England this weekend, we decided the adventure of L.L. Bean would be the perfect getaway for us. It was cooler in Maine but we felt the heat from a firepit as we approached.

We were handed marshmallows on sticks to roast over firewood flames, then sandwiched the yummy gooeyness on Hershey chocolate between monogrammed grahams.  This was L.L.Bean’s big S’more out of Summer event that also took place in NYC and will pop up other places.

Our picture was taken with gigantic marshmallows and we were encouraged to add it to Instagram to win a tent, sleeping bags and more. We laughed at our pic but would NEVER add two old folks to their Instagram photos full of youngsters. Too weird.

 

It must have been a  Shop With Your Dog Day, too. They were everywhere, even in the small restaurant. Big dogs, little dogs, black and white dogs, dogs going up, dogs going down. Go Dog Go!

L.L.Bean 2019

The wing of the store that was once luggage, etc. now caters to exclusively to children. One parent seemed to be clothes and bookbag shopping and the other was engaged in interactive entertainment with children. Progress!

L.L.Bean 2019

L.L. Bean 2019

Lunch and shopping behind us, we headed for the parking lot, Ben & Jerry’s cones in hand, melting, dripping, sticky, delicious. On the way home we overwhelmed by the number of people for many, many miles on I-95 heading to Vacationland Maine… and, oh so very thankful we headed up early and beat those crowds.

I-95 North July 2019

As we drove south, we checked out folks along the way trying to keep their cool under the blazing sun. There were always lines at ice cream stores, the waterfront was full of people and boats in Wells Beach ME, and water parks were packed to the limit as you can see on the duel stairways here.

Splash Water Park 2019

But the most unusual sight we saw was on I-95 as we were going 70 MPH. Out of my passenger window a Harley whizzed past on our right and actually left us in the dust. The passenger, arms out, was obviously enjoying the high speed breeze they were creating. Yikes and more yikes!

Harley I-95 2019

Home safe and sound at days end with shadows of the setting sun hitting the house and cooling us a bit. Today we have another heat advisory warning but there are breezes and perhaps a thunder storm or two rolling in to water my gardens and cool us even more.

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: