Succulent Blooms

Here in Maine, things outdoors are very frozen, white, and not blooming! But indoors, the succulents are flowering; they were an unidentified group won at an auction by my friend here, so she has no idea what they are, but they are cheerful and pretty in the midst of winter.

Across Three States to Portland, Maine

Sunday, January 22: After a delicious breakfast of sourdough waffles (Brother-in-law makes sourdough pancakes or waffles nearly every Sunday) I left Jericho, on the western side of Vermont, and headed over to Portland, on the eastern coast of Maine.

The roads were clear (glad I didn’t wait for today, and the dump of snow that has even the Maine State offices closed!), but the overcast skies did not make for great photo opportunities. Across Vermont the secondary highways often parallel streams and small rivers; the icy waters dodged around river rocks with mounds of snow on them, both there and in New Hampshire. With poor conditions for photography, and no easy place to pull off, I didn’t take photos. On into New Hampshire, much of the middle of which is

The White Mountains are living up to their name – there were a few snow showers, and the wind had blown a lot of the previous snow out of the trees, but there was plenty of white around! I drove past Loon Mountain Ski Area at about noon; day passes were sold out, and the parking lots were full – at least they had a sign out by the road, so you didn’t drive in and be disappointed! The road crews in the national forest have done a wonderful job clearing not only roads, but also many parking lots and viewpoints. And they were well used! There were many hikers and people snowshoeing, and lots of people like me, just stopping for photos of the views. Not that one could see the higher peaks – the low clouds meant that places like Mount Washington and the rest of the Presidentials were hidden.

Hancock overlook, looking toward Mt. Osceola behind those clouds

View looking north from Sugar Hill Scenic Vista

And on a car window in one parking lot:

Red

I had traveled up to northern Vermont to visit my sister – and attend her first orchestral concert! Having taken  up cello after retirement, I am in awe of someone willing to put those new skills out in public like that! She is now playing with the Me2/ orchestra, “Classical music for mental health.” This group is designed for acceptance of differences, especially supportive for people with mental health issues, and also allies. We all, of course, sometimes have “issues” – but to have a group where the support is there to acknowledge those issues, and the level of diversity that brings, is a breath of fresh air. Held in the auditorium of the Burlington City Hall, the program was “A Viennese New Year” with pieces by three of the Strauss family – energetic, upbeat, cheerful – and probably the concert I’ve enjoyed the most in recent memory. 

The above photo was taken as we walked to the car after the performance; I guess it makes the building stand out? I’m glad I don’t have those red lights glowing through my bedroom window!

My wonderful brother-in-law likes taking photos of the many birds that visit their feeders. This one was on the other side of the house, surrounded and sheltered by the snowy hydrangea bush.

Celebrating the New Year

Visiting my sister and  spouse in northern Vermont, the neighbors traditionally have a bonfire New Years Eve. It was quite warm, and the neighbors showed up from all around (but here, you can’t see any of their houses from any other!), and we watched it burn most of the way down before going in for food and drink. There was a killer chocolate cake – dense and rich enough that I had trouble falling asleep! Or maybe that was from the long nap I took in the afternoon…

One of our favorite Christmas decorations is this elf, perched on one of the braces on the framing:

Today was a busy day. After sourdough waffles for breakfast, we went into town to worship with the Quakers in Burlington, then went to lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant for banh mi sandwiches (excellent, and great value for money), went to a concert of Beethoven’s 9th, in which my brother-in-law was singing (he had to be there early, so I got quite a few rows of knitting done), and where we were joined by lots of friends, and then to the house of one of the friends for dinner, with intelligent conversation flying in all directions, drove another friend home, and finally returned to the house.

Mural outside the Vietnamese restaurant:

What I Did in 2022

I traveled, although not as much as previous years – no trip to Florida, New Mexico, Texas, Canada – but much through New England (the above photo Portland, Maine), and down the eastern seaboard to Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina. I usually travel with at least one kayak; I paddled in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont (of course; I live here!), Connecticut, New York State, Maryland, and South Carolina, usually twice a week or so through the season. The most open water was on a bay on the coast of Maine; most of the rest was rivers and lakes and ponds, and the northern reaches of the Chesapeake Bay. There were a few outings to pull invasive water chestnut in New Hampshire and Connecticut, and I helped out with the Great Northern Canoe Trail Peddle/Paddle event on the Missisquoi River.

And of course, there is knitting, always – scarf and shawl:

Sweaters for cousins, and one dog:

Fingerless mitts and mittens:

Hats – one for me, the rest gifts or donations; three adult, two for children:

A couple of pairs of socks, these for me:

Two sets of Christmas stockings:

And a couple of toys:

I have requests to start off my knitting for this new year – there are a couple of outstanding Christmas gifts to granddaughters (a pair of socks, and a large bee to go with the little one), another monster for an infant to be born in March (and baby booties and socks, but they are so small they hardly count!), another cousin sweater – and then maybe I’ll get to one of the three sweaters for me for which I have yarn set aside. 

It’s less than an hour until the new year turns over here. Wishing you all safe, healthy, rewarding and productive lives in 2023!

Roadtrek Roadtrip, Return Home

Tuesday and Wednesday, November 1 and 2: The above is the last Maryland photo this trip, as I departed Elk Neck State Park.

Pennsylvania:

New Jersey:

New York State:

Vermont, after a night in the Green Mountain National Forest:

Then to Wednesday morning knit group, and home. Twenty-one days, 2044 miles. I had a great time with friends, and family, and solo. I’d thought the paddle in Maryland would be my last for the season – but looking at the unseasonably warm weather this week in Vermont, maybe not!

Roadtrek Roadtrip: Kayaking on the Elk River

Saturday, October 29, Elk Neck State Park: The day was gloriously sunny, and the above red tree glowed over our campsite. The first event was a program on bats at the nature center of the park.

Most of those present were a flock of Cub Scouts, with their adults; they had coloring pages and bats to cut out, and sat mesmerized as the ranger read a charming book to them about a bat raised by birds (eating caterpillars!! Yuck!!) and then reunited with Momma bat.

Then I had to take advantage of the best weather, and take the kayak down to the boat launch that’s part of the state park. As I was ready to load the kayak, I could see clear racoon prints:

The approach to the boat ramps and sand launch,

As I started out on the water, the waves weren’t bad,  unless a power boat had been by – even on the other side of this very wide river, where the main channel is, they sent large swells across.

I paddled into this cove, where it was more protected – this was definitely a day to not be further from shore than I was willing to swim!

Then out to the point, where white caps were starting to pick up; combined with wakes from distant powercraft, it made for a good workout! But this is not the boat for that.

Above, looking back at the cove. Then I paddled back to and past the launch, thinking I’d head down toward the lighthouse, but the wind and waves were picking up and I decided discretion was called for, and went back to haul out. On going to load the kayak in the camper, I decided I didn’t need to invite this hitchhiker –

Good night, moon!

Roadtrek Roadtrip: Out to the Lighthouse

Thursday, October 27: It dawned – and the sun was shining! After four days of gloom and wet, we were set for an adventure! There’s a lighthouse at the end of the road, and from the parking lot, it claims to be 1.5 miles (2.4 k) to the lighthouse. My phone tracked less; Julie’s tracked more; it’s probably about right. And it is more than my aging joints are happy hiking, but the lighthouse is worth it. I’ve been out there before, and the view down the Bay is wonderful.

The walk out and back gave us more foliage, hundreds of vultures, what were probably harrier hawks, a large flock of bluebirds!! and views over the Susquehanna River. It was a perfect day – sunny and pleasantly cool.

On the side of a Jeep in the parking lot:

In the campsite, our tablecloth on the picnic table had, appropriately, leaves falling on it.

Adirondack Balloon Festival, Sunday Morning

Sunday morning, September 25: I missed an excellent photo of the sunrise, because I thought getting dressed before stepping out of the camper would be a good thing… but I was down at the viewing area as the first balloons were lifting off. This time there were three setting up on top, by all the campers. The one with the bears is the one that had done that every launch; it was joined by two more.

Then I turned my attention to the airfield, where the majority of the balloons launched. The wind was light and variable – I watched as craft lifted off, drifted south, drifted east, drifted north, and west again, basically making a large loop! And “Here comes the sun” played in my head as I saw a new shape inflated. And this time the panda went up, not just tethered in place.

At one point, I saw a chase vehicle come up the hill, with balloon and basket, but lost track of them until I heard the whoosh of propane. It had launched from up above all the campers, and came down over them.

I did a little more visiting, getting a tour of an RV the size of mine but new, and four wheel drive, and with large battery storage so it’s running on electricity, not propane, for stove and refrigerator. Nice folks, doing my preferred kind of camping (boondocking), and with a very cute small dog. Then I ate breakfast, stowed everything, and headed out at about 9:30. Most activity down at the airport was over, although I saw several chase vehicles returning with their balloons and baskets in the next several miles.

I feel very ambivalent about this sport. It is beautiful, and it’s a great group of people – but the amount of propane expended for a recreational activity is mind-boggling – to say nothing of the fuel used by all us spectators to get there! I think I’ll stick with kayaking.