Our Week In Review
August 25, 2021
August 26, 2021
August 27, 2021
It's been very warm in Wellfleet the past few days. Today is not an exception. Melanie works in the van and I help Ann close down her home here for the season.
There are tables and chairs to be moved into storage. Cars are moved into the garage. Melanie and I travel to a nearby RV park to empty our gray and black tanks in anticipation we'll be off the grid a few more days after leaving Wellfleet.
I'm placing this here as a reminder of the insanity that is the Southern U.S. now:
A major hurricane is about to hit three states, including a major city, and there isn't an ICU bed to be had in any of those states.
Think about that. And then try to reconcile those facts with the goobers who are still - STILL - running around saying the virus is no big deal, we don't need masks, stop being afraid. And refusing to take the vaccine.
This period of time should forever be remembered as the most selfish and self-absorbed time in American history. People will literally believe anything if it reinforces what they want to hear and allows them to do whatever they want to do.
There isn't a state in America with a vaccine rate above 70% that has more than 30% of its icu beds filled with covid patients. Most of them, including two states with major cities and high population concentrations, have fewer than 10% of their beds devoted to covid patients.
But here we are in the South booing the vaccine and taking horse dewormer, screaming at teachers and doctors and nurses and anyone who dares tell you a truth you don't want to hear. As your friends and families - and now, your children, your BABIES - are dying from this plague. A plague for which there's a vaccine.
That's never happened in the history of the world that I can find. That a vaccine was developed for a plague but the people refused to take it and kept dying. That's how dumb this is. Congrats to you all.- Josh Moon
July 28, 2021
We're up at 5:30 a.m. and leave Wellfleet at 7:30. We're taking Ann to Logan airport in Boston so she can fly back to her home in Berkeley, CA. The trip to Logan is uneventful and we make good time, only encountering a bit of traffic as we near the city.
After dropping Ann off at the airport, we find breakfast in Medford, MA near where we will meet Reverend Bob Davidson at his home in Winchester, MA. Melanie will meet with parishioners at Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester on Sunday and Bob has graciously agreed to lend us a vehicle so we don't have to drive Miranda into the service.
We have breakfast at Paul Revere Restaurant. It's good and full of locals. We marvel at their strange and wonderful accents.
We have a bit of time on our hands after breakfast and find a spot near a nice park in Winchester. I need to make a minor repair to the privacy blinds that cover Miranda's front windows when we're parked. There's a hardware store within walking distance of us and we make our way there.
Melanie walks around a bit while I go in for washers I need. After repairs are successfully made, we make our way across the street for a few grocery items we need. Returning to the van, Melanie works while I catch up on looking at monthly expenses.
It's then time for us to pick up our loaner vehicle and visit with Reverend Davidson, his wife, Linda, and his grandsons, Bennett and Lenox (both sporting great stick-on tattoos) We have a nice time catching up and take our leave, Melanie following me in Miranda to our Boondockers Welcome location north of Winchester in Lowell, MA.
We're greeted by our host and settle in for a bit before Melanie finds dinner for us and we drive into downtown Lowell to eat at The Keep. Dinner is good and we're back in Miranda around 7:30 p.m.
We stream some and are asleep by 10:00 p.m.
August 29, 2021
August 30, 2021
We're up with coffee made by 7:00 a.m. still parked in the driveway of our Boondockers Welcome location in Lowell, MA. Today's a travel day and rain's predicted.
We leave our Lowell location before 9:00 a.m. headed north into New Hampshire, We'll travel approximately 140 miles to Twin Mountain, New Hampshire to the Twin Mountain/Mount Washington KOA for a few nights. We're looking for cooler temps and it looks as though we'll be getting them.
We stop to top off Miranda's diesel before getting on the interstate.
The phone rings and my friend, Trip, is on the other end of the line. We speak for a bit about our upcoming high school reunion and he verifies I'm still game to attend given the change of venue for the Saturday night dinner. I am and I assume he'll make his payment to hold his and Teresa's places.
We haven't spent any time together since sometime in 2019 so I'm looking forward to catching up with he and his wife, Teresa, and our friend, John, who's living in their cottage in the mountains, in October.
Rain begins to fall on us as we enter the White Mountains. Melanie finds lunch at Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa at The Harvest Tavern. The rain has ended as we arrive. I have clam chowder and a turkey club, she has a burger, both well prepared. And we have a nice view of the White Mountains too.
After lunch we travel the relative short distance to our campsite and quickly set up camp. Melanie continues her work day and after a while, we move inside as a line of showers is moving in. The rain comes and is brief.
I make cocktails and we nosh on smoked fish from a Wellfleet market purchased just before leaving there. It's the perfect dinner after having a late lunch.
We eventually move to the back of the van for evening streaming and sleep.
August 31, 2021
I awake early, but roll over and fall asleep. It's still in the 50's when I wake up at 8:00 a.m. to make coffee. Melanie is already typing away answering emails and putting finishing touches on her weekly newsletter.
After breakfast, it's nearly 11:00 before I get Red Ranger out for a ride on the nearby (5 miles away) Presidential Rail Trail.
The ride from the Twin Mountain/Mount Washington KOA is a scenic and relatively easy one along NH Highway 115. 115 has a nice wide shoulder for riding. I arrive at the trail terminus off Airport Road and begin riding the trail,
In summary, the Presidential Rail Trail is best ridden on a mountain bike. The first 4-5 miles are easy enough on a road bike loose gravel notwithstanding. But after that the trail is basically a single track trail that becomes increasingly more amenable to mountain biking.
I exit the trail and eat a snack standing by NH Highway 115 near NH Highway 115B. I've had enough of a jarring ride for the day. I take 115B back to 115A, then 115 and back home. It's a beautiful and pleasant ride back to camp. Nearly a 20 mile ride total.
Back at camp, Melanie continues her work day and I snack on chicken salad for lunch. I spend some time catching up on my journal entries and around 5:00 p.m. it's time for a cocktail on the veranda (see also, the area directly adjacent to the van).
We enjoy the nice northwestern breeze and intermittent sunshine and screaming children in the pool directly across from us.
I need a hair buzz and a shower so I get out the clippers and Melanie buzzes my head while I sit on our picnic table before I walk the short distance to the shower.
Since lunch was basically a snack, I get out short ribs I purchased while we were in residence in Wellfleet. I make rice to go with the short ribs and Melanie makes a nice salad to accompany.
Our son, Tate, texts us and says he's ready for our weekly FaceTime. After our call, we eat al fresco as the sun goes down.
After I clean up the dinner dishes, we adjourn to the back of the van hoping connectivity is better this evening than last. And Sleep.
August 18, 2021
As you may know, sleeping in isn't generally what we do, but this morning I'm not up until just after 8:00 a.m. I rolled over when I woke up at around 6:00 a.m. Oh, well.
Today is another travel day. We'll make our way onto "The Cape" for a visit with the The Reverend Ann Coburn in Wellfleet where she has a summer home.
Neither Melanie nor I have ever set foot on Cape Cod so we're excited to see what all the fuss is about. Over the past several weeks people to whom we've mentioned our intent to travel there have across the board been effusive about the place.
We leave our very nice Boondockers Welcome location and travel 6 or so miles to a local water treatment plant where they have a dump station for the price of $6.25. We receive a receipt that gives us access to the dump through the end of the year. With tanks empty, we're on our way to the cape.
Melanie finds lunch for us in Braintree, MA. Olympian Diner a relatively small diner and we get one of the last tables in the place which appears to us to be inhabited by mostly locals. We wonder if we aren't recognized as people who aren't from around there.
Lunch is good and, as we make our way back to the van, Melanie spots a Walgreens and says she'll get a pack of Scott's toilet paper we need. I go to the van, start the generator and van air conditioner. It's in the mid 80's and getting warm in the van.
I find a place to get diesel fuel and, after filling up our tank, We head again for Wellfleet. We've still got about 80 miles+ to go. The drive is nice and uneventful and we arrive a little past 3:00 Eastern.
Our host, Rev. Ann Coburn come out to greet us and we decide on a spot for Miranda in front of her garage. Ann is an EPF member and works with one of EPF's working groups, Palestinian Israeli Network (PIN). We sit outside on her deck and drink water and catch up a bit before we all decide an adult beverage is in order. Melanie and Ann have a glass of wine and I opt for a new double IPA I found in Portland, ME.
Ann and Melanie begin preparations for a nice dinner for us and we snack on some Brattleboro, VT cheese I purchased at the Saturday Brattleboro Farmers Market. I also retrieve Kimchi and pickled cucumbers purchased at the same Farmers Market to have with our dinner.
Melanie and Ann continue to catch up after dinner while I clear the table and clean up the dinner dishes. After I'm finished, Melanie and Ann come in and we part ways for the evening.
We make our way to the van, get ready for bed and stream a bit before sleep just after 10.
July 19, 2021
We up around 7:00 a.m. and I make coffee while Melanie checks emails and social media. We have breakfast in the van and Melanie, seeing Ann has emerged from her home, goes to check in with her.
After a while Melanie returns and goes to Ann's cottage and gets a shower. She tells me we're going out around 10:00 a.m. for a tour of Wellfleet and a visit to a house currently rented by her ex-sister-in-law that's within the National Sea Shore nearby.
Our tour and visit last for about 2 hours and once we're back, I get a saw from Ann's garage and prune some branches that overhang and are blocking Ann's driveway. Melanie makes our lunch salad and, as I finish pruning, she's ready for us to eat.
After lunch, rain begins to fall, I journal and Melanie checks email and works for a bit. Lying down in the back of the van seems like the thing to do. We'll run to a local market when it stops raining.
We drive into Wellfleet and park just across from the Hatch's Fish & Produce Market. It's dripping rain as we make our way past the produce outside and into the fish market that has a variety of seafood. Ann asks for help with mussels (part of our dinner tonight) and some smoked blue fish.
We in and out and back into a harder rain shower. Traveling back to Ann's house where Melanie and Ann prepare dinner. It stops raining, outside table and chairs are wiped down for left-over rain water and we enjoy a great dinner of mussels, fresh corn-on-the-cob and salad.
I'm up after we finish dinner and take dishes inside and proceed with the clean up. Melanie and Ann join me and Melanie assists in putting the finishing touches on cleaning up. We chat for a bit before retiring to the van.
Streaming and sleep ensue, but we're keeping an eye on Henri, a tropical storm threatening to become a hurricane as it makes its way towards us. First one to hit New England in 30 years they say.
July 20, 2021
I'm up around 6:00 a.m. making coffee. I check the weather and we're still under a hurricane watch. Not good, but we've got time to make a decision on whether we stay or try to move Miranda out of potential harms way.
Melanie begins her work day as we both sip coffee. Melanie goes for a shower in Ann's cottage and I continue to read and eat breakfast.
Ann comes out of her house and Melanie joins her. I clean up dishes and move outside to take the bikes out of storage and set them up. Batteries are plugged in to top off a full charge of a few days. I remove the rear caution light on my bike and plug it in too.
I also run hoses from Ann's house to Miranda and fill Miranda with fresh water. I leave the hoses connected so we can use that water instead of the water from our 30 gallon fresh water tank. I figure if we lose power and thus have no well water we'll at least have access to fresh water.
I join Ann and Melanie on the deck for more coffee and a brief discussion of the day about to unfold for us. Melanie and Ann will make a plan and I'm going out for a bike ride around Wellfleet.
I finish preparations for my ride and bid all farewell with the ring of my bike bell. I've decided to check out the Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT). I'll travel about 1.5 miles from Ann's home to the terminus in Wellfleet and ride from there.
Highway 6 is busy. Almost always busy. It takes me a few minutes to be able to cross it and make my way down the way to the trail. Patience.
The CCRT is an asphalt trail. It's mostly smooth going, but tree roots have begun to buck up the surface which has been gratefully marked with yellow paint so a rider can anticipate them. I ride out 14 miles through mostly tree covered trail. It's a warm day and there are many people out using the trail, waking and riding and skating.
Just after my odometer turns 15 miles, I turn around and head back. I make it back to the terminus at around 1:30 p.m. and decide to get something to eat. PB Boulangerie is close by the terminus of the trail and I ride over, park my bike, and go inside to order lunch.
Because of COVID-19 and it's variant, all food is for take-out or outside consumption. I order a Salmon BLT, get a drink and a cookie and sit outside under an umbrella and enjoy. Recommended.
Returning to the van, I catch up with Melanie and Ann, then rest in the van for a bit before going into the cottage for a shower in preparation for our planned dinner outing to Winslow's Tavern in Wellfleet.
We get to the Tavern a little past their opening at 5:30 p.m. The place on the patio out front we'd hope to get before the dinner crowd arrived is not available. The place is hoping.
We quickly decide an inside table is better than a 45 minute wait for outside and Melanie, Ann and I move inside to wait on The Very Reverend Tracey and Emily. Tracey is a former Dean of the Cathedral in Cleveland, Emily Ingalls is her wife. Melanie had reminded me of a 60 Minutes segment of a few years back featuring Tracey and her battle with a form of dementia.
From her website:
The Very Rev. Tracey Lind and her spouse Emily Ingalls are traveling across North America sharing the insights they’ve gained from a life complicated by dementia. A retired Episcopal minister and city planner, Tracey was diagnosed with the early stages of Frontotemporal Degeneration in 2016. Emily, who spent more than 20 years in commercial real estate and project management, now considers herself Chief Logistics Officer, responsible for managing a life and home turned upside down by this disease.
Tracey and Emily arrive, we're introduced and the evening and food are very, very nice. Tracey and Emily are interested in making Miranda's acquaintance so as we part ways for the evening, we make a plan for them to come by Ann's house for tour.
Since we're under a Hurricane Watch on the Cape, we volunteer to assist Tracey and Emily going around to some of the older parishioners homes to help them prepare.
We drive and meet Tracey and Emily at Wellfleet harbor for a walk around and potential ice cream stop. Many of the boats have already been pulled out of the water, but it's very calm this evening and we can't stand in one place long as the mosquitos are out in force. Tracey and I walk and talk photography. None of use apparently need, nor want ice cream.
Once we're back at Ann's, we part ways, a bit of streaming and sleep follow.
July 21, 2021
I'm composing this day on Monday, the 23rd. Much has happened since Saturday and I'm not sure when I woke up or got up, but I do know with certainty and so do you, if you've read my postings for the past few weeks, coffee was consumed.
We have breakfast and Melanie begins her work day eventually joining Ann on her deck.
I know I must get out either on my bike or by car to buy coffee beans as we've consumed the last of that purchased in Freeport, Maine.
Tracey and Emily show up early afternoon and I give them the tour of Miranda as promised. Afterwards it's time for a swim and all the women folk go to Duck Pond leaving me to run my coffee errand. I'm also charged with procuring dinner for Ann, Melanie and me.
I use Ann's car to travel over to PB Boulangerie and grab dinner and dessert for us. The entree is frozen so I leave it to in Ann's house to thaw. Moroccan Lamb Bolognese. Yum.
I find a local coffee roasters. They're open until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and they're located just off the Cape Cod Rail Trail about 6 miles and change from Ann's house.
I get to the roasters at just past 3:00 and find that I should have pre-ordered any coffee I wanted. Drat. Okay, now things are getting critical since many places in Wellfleet close around 4:00 p.m.
Riding at a faster pace, I make it to the CCRT terminus and park my bike in front of Blue Willow Fine Foods and Bakery. As I get off, a woman inside turns the "Open" sign around to read "Closed." Oh, no.
A man inside seeing my reaction opens the door of the Blue Willow and asks if I'd like to come in. I do and quickly find coffee. He graciously grinds it for me and I'm gone, thanking him profusely for allowing me in at the last minute.
I get home and shower. By this time Melanie and Ann are on the deck having an adult beverage. I put water on the boil for pasta that will be served with the Bolognese. I join them for drinks.
Dinner is, indeed, quite good and we talk a while before those blood-thirsty creatures begin to annoy us. Ann volunteers to clean up dishes. Melanie and I begin preparations for Henri's potential impact on us. At the moment, it appears we won't have much about which to worry, but we move the deck table and chairs away from the large windows, put away the umbrella, and close all the windows in Ann's cottage.
We say good night and all of us hope the storm won't be a factor for tomorrow's church services at St. James The Fisherman Episcopal Summer Chapel.
Melanie and I stream a bit and sleep.
July 22, 2021
l've set an alarm for 5:45 a.m. I'm up making coffee before the snooze can remind me. We have a bit of breakfast and just after 8:10 a.m. we're outside waiting for Ann to join us so we can travel together to St. James.
I drive so I can drop Melanie and Ann off since parking is limited around the church proper. It has stopped raining about an hour before we set out and looks like we'll only have a windy day with little or no rain in the forecast. Henri has mercifully tracked well to our west.
I park the car and join the few folks who have shown up to participate join Tracey and Melanie for a Conversation on the Patio before services. There's a nice turnout for such a potentially inclement day and a nice bit of back and forth goes on. Wind is all we get from Henri.
After church services, we travel a short distance to brunch at Van Rensselaer's. There are eight around a table and conversation is lively and great. Brunch is tasty too. Recommended.
After brunch, we travel back to Ann's and Melanie and I go to Wellfleet Market Place in Ann's car and purchase a few items we need and then it's back to the van. I take a big dog nap.
Waking at around 3:00 p.m., I decide to take a bike ride to wake up. I prepare our steaks in a marinade for the evening's dinner and get on my bike headed for the CCRT.
I'm stopped by a phone call from my friend, Trip Tomlinson, who wants to know how Henri treated us. We catch up for a few minutes and Melanie, who said she wasn't interested in a bike ride, shows up on her bike. She's going to the post office in my general direction.
We ride together until she reaches the post office which is only a few yards away from the trailhead of the CCRT.
Since it's getting later in the day, I decide as I ride on to the trail I'll ride out 10 miles at a good pace and then come back. It's windy, but no rain, and there are a good many people, mostly folks with children, out for rides and walks.
I get back from my ride, take out and set up our griddle, get a quick shower and join Melanie and Ann for cocktails and a nosh. Melanie prepares potatoes, Ann a nice salad and when the time is right, I griddle the steaks.
We remain outside talking after dinner until, you know, mosquitos. Melanie cleans up the dishes, then I grab the griddle and clean it up too.
We talk inside for a bit before Melanie and I retire to the van for streaming and sleep.
August 23-24, 2021
Our routine hasn't changed any over the past couple of days. No alarms. We've been able to wake up when we do.
We continue to enjoy our time with our host, the Reverend Ann Coburn. We share a nosh in the evenings and our wide ranging discussions. Melanie and I are most grateful for Ann's hospitality in allowing us and Miranda a very nice spot for our extended stay with her.
The weather has been most cooperative with highs in the low 80's and low's in the 70's. We're happy to have dodged Henri's wrath such as it was.
I've enjoyed a few more rides on the Cape Cod Rail Trail. I've ridden most every day and even explored the Nickerson State Park which has easy access off the trail.
On Monday evening I had dinner with the Very Reverend Tracey and her wife, Emily, at their rental home in Wellfleet. It was great evening of talking photography, among other things.
The lazy days of summer never looked so good. Jus' sayin'.
Our Week In Review
August 11, 2021
We're up around 7:00 a.m. It's Melanie's Saturday, that is, the first of her two days off during the week. It's a travel day. We're not traveling too far to our next campsite, but we have to gather and store in the van a few things we've used at Bob's house. I'll check the tire pressure before we depart.
We eat our breakfast and have coffee, pull everything together and say our good byes to Bob. A day off for Melanie today means we'll first travel to Freeport, ME, home to L.L. Bean for a look around.
It's a short 40 miles, but all of it rural backroads. We take our time and Melanie finds a nice spot for lunch on Casco Bay. Lobster Rolls dancing in our heads.
The lunch spot is busy and we have to wait for our rolls for about 20 minutes, but we have a nice spot overlooking the Freeport Marina and the ambient temp is nice.
After lunch we check out downtown Freeport. On the way back to the van, we come across two young lads who've set up a kiosk selling various things they've made. Melanie purchases a sheet of purple colored paper made into a paper airplane for $3.00 from them.
We drive back near Main Street and L.L. Bean and other touristy shops and find great street parking. We look in various shops and Melanie purchases a few clothing items she wants, I make a coffee purchase we need.
We travel to our KOA campsite and quickly set up and sit for a while before deciding to take a dip in the pool which is located close by to where we're parked. It's warm this afternoon so the water feels great and reduces our core temps nicely. The bonus is there's no one at the pool for a while and we enjoy an adult beverage and time alone in the cool water.
When the sun finally goes behind some clouds on the horizon, we walk back to the van and Melanie prepares dinner for us. I clean up afterwards while Melanie enjoys the cooling evening air. We're both surprised there are no mosquitoes out since we'd just come from Waterford, ME nearby where they gave us some grief.
We retire to the back of the van for a bit of streaming and sleep.
August 12, 2021
We're up around 7:00 a.m. After coffee and breakfast time are finished, I catch up on journaling and Melanie is champing at the bit to get ready to go on a bike ride I'd mentioned. It is, after all, one of her days off.
I finish up and we ready the van for take off. The Kennebec River Trail runs along the river between Gardiner, Maine and Augusta, Maine. It's a 6.5 miles long rail trail that is pretty easy riding.
Before leaving our KOA, I crank up the generator and start the air conditioner. It's going to ultimately be in the low 90's today and it's warm in the van already.
We park a the Hannaford Supermarket parking lot in Gardiner and I get the bikes out. It's really warm, but as we leave the van and begin our ride the breeze is welcome and makes the riding pleasant. We ride into Augusta and stop just past the Memorial Bridge to figure out our lunch spot.
Melanie finds the Cushnoc Brewing Company on Water Street. They have salads and pizzas and good beer and mixed drinks too. We have all the things. Melanie's new favorite cocktail is a blue berry lemonade. I have Cushnoc's double IPA.
Melanie runs a quick bank errand while I settle up. It's now hot, but we ride over the the Statehouse and then back to the rail trail and ride back to the van. It's hot on the asphalt. Too hot to be out on a bike and I load them in our KOMO Carrier as quickly as I can.
We decide, since we're running on reserve fuel and our generator won't run for the air conditoner, to make the trip into Augusta where the price of diesel is more than $.35 cheaper per gallon. After filling Miranda we make our way back to our campsite.
We quickly set up and head over the the campground pool which feels more than great in the afternoon heat. The heat makes more than bearable what would ordinarily be just another cold northern water experience. We have an adult beverage and languish around the pool for a while lowering our core temps.
After 6:00 p.m. we head back to the van, gather our shower stuff and we both get cleaned up. Melanie makes our dinner, I clean up the dishes, take the trash out, and we move to the back of the van for evening streaming and sleep just after 10:00 p.m.
August 13, 2021
I'm awake at just after 6:00 a.m., but I lie in bed or a while until I'm awake enough to move to the front of the van and begin coffee preparations. We left the air conditioner on last night as it was not going to be cool enough for the ceiling fans to run until well after midnight. We still have a few more days of above average heat before ambient temps become more seasonable.
Today's a travel day. We're not going too far from our current location, but we're meeting Jane and Bruce Freeman for lunch in Brunswick, Maine before we travel to the place we'll park Miranda for a few days in Georgetown, Maine along the coast.
After a bit of coffee and breakfast, I pack up chairs and mat and fill Miranda's fresh water tank. We pull out of our campsite and I empty the grey and black tanks before we head to Brunswick. We arrive in Brunswick with plenty of time to grocery shop at the Hannaford.
Jane arrives in the parking lot and gives us brief instruction to follow her to George J. Mitchel Park near where she and Bruce have rented a home for the past two weeks in Harpswell, Maine. It's about 12 miles away according to Google Maps. The trip is uneventful, but scenic as we head out towards Harpswell.
The Freemans have found an ideal place to park Miranda in the park and after a brief period to close shades and turn on fans to circulate air in her, I lock the doors and get in the car with Jane and Melanie for the short drive.
Bruce greets us as we arrive at the Auburn Colony and shortly afterwards Melanie and I are visiting with him and sipping lemon aid while Jane puts finishing touches on lunch. We enjoy a very nice lunch of Haddock, hash brown potatoes, green beans, and salad.
We spend some time afterwards catching up, but our time is too short and we have to get back to Miranda to travel towards our next stop in Georgetown, Maine and our friends there, Diane and Jim.
Our trip is only 33 miles, but it will take us nearly an hour to arrive in Georgetown. We park Miranda near the cottage at our friends home and they are not far behind coming over to greet us. We forego setting up Miranda for sitting on our friends back porch with them to have a drink.
Diane prepares us a very nice dinner and dessert and we enjoy each other's company until it's time to return to Miranda to set her up. We retire to the back of the van for streaming and we're sleep before 10:00 p,m.
August 14, 2021
I'm awake around 6:00 a.m., but manage to turn over and before I know it, it's nearly 8:00 a.m. Melanie begins her work day as I make coffee. After a bit of breakfast, Melanie moves inside and I do some journaling and processing of photographs.
About 10:00 a..m. or so, Diane and Jim come down to give us car keys to their second car in case we need to go out and to let us know they are off to take Diane to meet her daughter and grand daughter for a continuation of Diane's birthday. They will go to the movies.
Miranda hasn't had a bath since the middle of May when we were in Iowa. I also waxed her once we got to Barrington, Illinois a few days later. She dirty now, but she's worn dirty well. Today she'll get the hand wash.
But first, since our refrigerator need defrosting, I take all our food from the refrigerator and freezer in Miranda to the refrigerator and freezer in our friend's cottage. I remove all the shelving from the fridge and place towels in fridge and freezer compartments and keep both doors open to allow them to thaw.
I wash all the fridge shelves in the cottage and leave them to dry then I'm outside to hand wash Miranda. I finish giving her the wash at around lunchtime. But not before noticing the large crack in the windshield. Thank goodness for a zero deductible for glass replacement with our insurance carrier. The crack is over the sensors for front end collision assistance. Stuff happens.
After lunch I finish up cleaning Miranda and then move on to finishing the fridge and freezer. There's now just a bit of ice remaining to be easily removed by hand. I clean the fridge, place the clean shelves back in, turn the fridge back on. I'll wait for about an hour before transferring all our food stuffs back into the cooling fridge.
I return to journaling and it's not long before Melanie comes out and tells me Diane thinks it's a good idea to walk down to Five Islands Lobster for dinner hopefully before any line forms. I shower and we're walking towards dinner a little before 5.
We get there and, surprise, there's no line at all. Our friends wonder aloud where everybody is on a beautiful Saturday evening. All the outside tables except one overlooking Five Islands along the Sheepscot River. It's a really pleasant evening especially after the past few days of 90 degree heat.
Dinner is good and Jim and Diane take us for a cruise around Mink Island and over towards Crow Island before we return to the harbor. It's a great way to end the evening.
After returning to Jim and Diane's, we part ways. We retire to the back of the van and stream and then are asleep around 10:00 p.m.
August 15, 2021
I've got an alarm set for 6:00 a.m., but I'm awake before it goes off. Melanie's had a bit of a tough night and I know she's not feeling well, but when I stir, she's up and goes inside to get a shower. I make coffee.
Melanie comes in and gets some coffee, but she tells me she's still a bit tenuous. I check social media and read a bit before Diane and Jim come by for the refreshments that are stored in the cottage that are to be served at Grace Episcopal Church after services there this morning.
Melanie, Diane and Glenis, along with Grace's priest will talk about EPF during services this morning. We'll leave here at around 8:00 a.m. so we have a few moments before services for Melanie to meet the Priest-in-charge, The Reverend Pamela Mott.
We leave around 8:00 a.m. as planned and get to church with lots of time before services. I'm able to make a few photos for Melanie before we sit towards the front of the church. I'll make a few more photos of the discussion about EPF during the service.
After services we go to coffee hour, refreshments are good and we meet some nice parishioners.
We part ways with Diane and go to lunch at Taste of Maine not too far away. We'd eaten at Taste of Maine the last time we visited Bath in September of 2019. My recollection is of a Lobster and Crab roll they serve there. My recollection is fond.
I'm in luck. We arrive just as they are opening and we get a great table overlooking Nequasset Brook. The tide is out and there's a vast tidal plain in view with lots of sea birds in evidence. And. And that Lobster and Crab Roll is one of the specials for the day. And it's just as I recall, 7ounces of wonderfulness on a brioche roll.
We return to Miranda and take both take big dog naps.
I'm up after an hour or so, Melanie stays in bed a bit longer. The temp to day is reaching the mid 70's and, with our overhead fans running it's very pleasant inside Miranda.
I journal for a bit, Melanie moves inside for more work. We'll have dinner with our hosts this evening.
Diane and Jim prepare a very scrumptious salad served with fresh corn on the cob and a baguette for our dinner. We sit and talk about, among other things, the day's event at Grace Church. Desert is vanilla ice cream with Maine Mud, a delicious dark chocolate sauce.
Melanie and I retire to the van and stream a bit before sleep.
July 16, 2021
I'm awake just around 6:30 a.m., but don't get up to make coffee until around 7. It's 58 degrees outside this morning so snuggling in for a bit feels great.
After a round of coffee, Melanie moves inside to begin work. I laze around for a bit reading. I have MUSH oatmeal for breakfast, something my friend, Adam, tuned me on to while I was visiting him in Maine. I'm not a huge oatmeal fan, but this brand is tasty and I find it stays with me until lunchtime.
Tomorrow is a travel day and I'll use today for another task in Miranda, cleaning her window and overhead fans screens and the van windows inside and out. This takes me a couple of hours to finish. Melanie suggests we walk down to Five Islands Seafood for lunch.
It's very pleasant out today, high temps will be in the mid 70's. There's a bit of crowd as we arrive, nothing like what she saw on Saturday, Melanie tells me. We wait on line for maybe 15 minutes to order and Melanie finds us a spot on one of the picnic tables while I wait across from the pickup window for our lunch.
She has a burger and chips, I have a Haddock sandwich topped with a crab cake and fries. We're both happy with our lunch.
After lunch, Melanie suggests we walk over to Ledgemere Nature Preserve. It's on the way back to Diane and Jim's home. We make our way down the paved path to another natural path leading to the rocky shoreline. The tide is out and more of the rugged coastal rocks are exposed. We sit and take it all in. Portugal is just across the pond from us.
We end our diversion by going to another place nearby in the preserve which contains a bit of a sand beach and offers us a good view of the the docks where we'd just had lunch.
There's a load of laundry to be done so we make our way back to the van. I start a load of laundry and do some journaling, Melanie goes back to work.
I'm told we'll travel to Bath for our last dinner with Diane and Jim this evening. We've had another great visit with them these past few days. They are both very generous and delightful people and we enjoy their company. Melanie and I are very fortunate that EPF brought us together.
We decide on Kennebec Tavern, a restaurant at which Melanie and I had lunch the last time we spent time with Diane and Jim. It's very pleasant out and a light sweater is helpful since we're outside eating. The dinner makes a nice punctuation for our visit.
We part ways once we're back in Georgetown, but not before Diane and Jim gift us with a jar of Maine Mud, the aforementioned dark chocolate sauce, and a Classic Wicked Whoopie. The Classic Wicked Whoopie looks a Moon Pie on steroids. Yes!
Melanie and I are asleep around 10:00 p.m.
August 17, 2021
I've got an alarm set for 6:00 a.m., but I'm awake at around 5:45. I'm up to make coffee shortly after. It's a travel day for us. We'll travel south about 125 miles to coincidentally, Georgetown, MA.
We'll be at a Boondockers Welcome (BW) location in Georgetown for the night before traveling on the Wellfleet, MA for another EPF event. We'll be staying with our friend, The Reverend Ann Coburn at her home in Wellfleet until the 28th of August.
We drink coffee for a bit and Melanie goes into the cottage for a shower and I begin to get the van ready for travel. When Melanie gets back from the cottage, she pitches in getting us ready for the road and I move outside and clean the (cracked) windshield and unplug us from our electric hookup to the cottage.
After we've gotten the van ready for travel, we walk over the Diane and Jim's home and to say our goodbyes. We spend a few minutes together and we're off to Portland, ME for Whole Foods and to find Melanie a bathing suit.
We get in and out of Whole Foods and travel to the Maine Mall to Macy's and Melanie finds a good deal on a bathing suit. She has a Zoom call scheduled and we stay put in the parking lot for that call which takes roughly an hour.
It's past lunchtime, but we decide to travel towards our BW hosts and Melanie finds us a lunch spot in Portsmouth, NH. We get to the spot hungry and find there's a longer wait time to get a table than we want. Luckily Portsmouth Gas Light Company is a short walk away. There's a wait there too, but much shorter.
Lunch is good and we are back in the van and on our way around 3:30 p.m. with a short 30 miles left to get to our BW host location.
We arrive before 5:00 p.m. and after I show our hosts Miranda, Melanie puts finishing touches on her weekly newsletter, I read it and check links for her and she then gets on a work Zoom call.
We'll FaceTime with our son, Tate, after she's off the call.
Late lunch equals no dinner tonight.
We FaceTime with Tate and he gives us the tour of he and Zoe's new apartment in Nashville and a recap of their brief visits to Portland and Seattle.
Afterwards, we stream a bit and then we're asleep around 10:00.
Our Week in Review
August 4, 2021
I've got an alarm set for 5:45 a.m. so I can get up and be on the road early. I awake at 4:50 a.m. and lie in bed for a few minutes before getting up to make coffee. We're on the road without breakfast at about 6:15 a.m.
It's a travel day and we have about 250 miles to cover before we rest at a friend's home in Shaftsbury, Vermont.
It's slow going in the beginning because of a thick fog. Speed limit is 55 mph, but I'm doing about 45 mph. There are several places looking east into the Catskills where we rise above the fog and get spectacular views.
We travel for a while going in and out of fog and then conditions begin to improve. It's about 8:00 a.m. when, traveling about 50 mph, a doe darts out in front of the van about a 100 yards or so up the road. Melanie immediately reminds me to slow down as there may be other deer nearby.
I take my take my foot off the gas just as her fawn leaps out in front of the van. I brake, but the fawn is too slow and we hit it doing about 20 miles an hour. While the fawn manages to get out of the road and out from in front of the van, I can tell it's badly hurt.
Melanie's crying, I'm a bit in shock at seeing the distress on it's small face. I drive a bit farther and find a spot to pull over to check for damage to the van. I can't see any, but I'm truly upset at hitting the animal and get back in the van and take some deep breaths.
I really don't have the heart to see go back and check to see what I've done to the fawn and we move on.
We drive in silence for miles. I know I've, in effect, killed the fawn and it sits heavy with me. This is the first time in my 51 years of driving I've hit a deer. The incident also gives me a preview of just how much time it takes to stop a 10,000 lb. vehicle moving at 50 miles an hour. As I type this, I am still troubled by the incident. I know there was nothing I could have done to prevent it, but it's troubling all the same.
We move on through the Catskill Mountains and eventually the beauty of it all overcomes our grief and are in awe at the landscape before us. We make note and speculate about how grand the colors must be in the Fall Leaf Peeping Season.
We arrive in Kingston, NY to do some banking. There are very few branches in the Northeast of the bank we've been using for years, but there happens to be a branch in Kingston and Kingston is sorta on the way to Shaftsbury, Vermont where we're headed.
A woman who walks past the van as we're preparing to get out asks about our Florida tag. She lives in Atlanta and, well, Florida = Southerners to her. We tell her we're domiciled in Florida, but we travel full-time. One thing then another and it turns out we know some of the same people as she has relatives who live in Columbus, Georgia where I grew up. Small world thing.
After our banking chore is finished, Melanie finds a local diner and we have a late breakfast. Then we're on our way to Whole Foods in Albany, NY to buy a few items we can't readily get elsewhere.
We're thereafter in Shaftsbury about and hour and a half before our hosts say they will be home and available for us to arrive. I find a convenient place to park, Melanie works and takes mail to the local post office. I'm feeling a bit tired after our drive and being awake before 5 a.m. and take about an hour nap.
We arrive at Laura and Kevin's around 3:30ish. Kevin is a very talented documentary photographer and author of 12 books of photos who I met when I was practicing law and part owner of an art gallery in Birmingham some 15 years ago. We've not spent any time together since, after having an opening and show of his photographs at the gallery, we traveled together to document the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans and attend the first Jazz Festival after Katrina.
We later had a two-person show at the gallery (he could not attend the opening) of photos we made over the three days we were in New Orleans. It was, by all accounts, the most popular show we had at the gallery while it was open. The gallery closed in 2007 just before the economic crash of 2008.
I give Laura and Kevin a tour of the van and we get a tour of their home and we all move out to their back yard near their garden for drinks and conversation before they serve us a nice dinner. The evening is truly wonderful and we really enjoy our evening together.
Kevin promises pancakes in the morning and we retire to the van in our spot near their garden in the backyard. We're asleep by 10:00 p.m.
August 5, 2021
Melanie is awake before I am and she works and checks social for a while before she suggests I might want to get up and make coffee. It's approaching 7:30 and Kevin says he's making us breakfast after 8:00 a.m. I'm up.
We see Kevin as I put finishing touches on the coffee and we make our way into their home, We sip on coffee in the kitchen. We sit around a kitchen table as Kevin makes pancakes and we sip our coffees. The pancakes are some of the best we've had in ages served, of course, with Vermont Maple Syrup.
After breakfast we got ready and drove over to The Mile Around Woods in nearby North Bennington, VT for a nice morning walk. We covered around 2 miles as we sauntered through and around fields of corn and pasture land and nice forested areas. It was a truly pleasant walk.
We return to our hosts house and I quickly shower and we're on our way. We look forward to visiting with Laura and Kevin again next year.
Since we'd glimpsed a collection of sculptures in North Bennington on the way to walk at The Mile Around Woods, we go back directly to North Bennington for a closer look at them. The exhibit stretches about a quarter mile along a portion of Buckley Road and includes the historic train depot.
It takes us about 30 minutes and we're off to Bennington, VT for lunch. I'm up for a craft beer of some sort and Melanie finds lunch and that beer at Madison Brewing Company.
We both enjoyed our lunch. Melanie had a burger and salad and I had the best pastrami sandwich recently. I had the FBomb, an Imperial Double IPA, my favorite. Recommended.
Afterwards I quickly duck into a local chocolate shop for a few take-away treats.
We're then on to our campsite at Molly Stark State Park where we will be in residence for two days before traveling eastward to Brattleboro for a night. We were at Molly Stark just shy of two years ago in September 2019. It's one of our favorite state parks.
We quickly set up and Melanie walks around camp and takes our trash, then goes for a shower at the campground shower house very nearby. I journal some while she's gone.
She makes us an adult beverage and we go to the back of the van for FaceTime with friends.
Later lunch means we again skip dinner and retire to the back of the van for a bit of streaming before retiring around 10:00 p.m.
August 6, 2021
We're up around 7:00 a.m. I make coffee and we have breakfast in the back of the van. Melanie begins her work day and around 10:00 a.m. she mentions taking a hike in Molly Stark.
She says we should take the trail leading up the fire tower on Mount Olga. I'm game, so after we clean up breakfast dishes and straighten the van out a bit, we leave the van and hike up through the campground to the trailhead.
The trail is a bit muddy. It has been raining quite a bit in Vermont and various wet weather springs are in evidence. We arrive at the fire tower and have various conversations with other hikers from California and Massachusetts.
Melanie declines to go up in the tower because she'd been up the last time we were here and I ascend to the top and make a few photos. It's quite smokey today, I guessing from wild fires out west. Certainly not close by as Vermont has had an extremely wet summer so far.
When I'm back down we finish our hike and make it a complete loop going out in counter-clock wise fashion. The trail finishes very near where we're camped.
Melanie calls her father and checks in with him. I read and check social media and, once Melanie is off her call, she makes us our lunch salad.
Melanie continues her work day while I clean up lunch dishes and journal for a time.
She has a Zoom Meeting at 3:00 p.m.
I get out our zero-gravity chairs and we enjoy an adult beverage, then walk around camp. Another beverage, skipping dinner, we retire for streaming and sleep.
August 7, 2021
We're up at near 7:00 a.m., Melanie begins her work day as I make coffee.
We're decided to leave Molly Stark State Park relatively early so we can catch the Farmers Market in Brattleboro, a short distance away. Melanie goes for a shower and I continue to sip coffee and read.
After she's back, we begin to ready the van for travel. Since we've planned to be boondocking for at least 2 days, we stop at the dump station and empty our grey and black tanks. I also fill our fresh water tank with fresh water.
We're less than 20 miles from where we'll be tonight in Brattleboro, VT on the border with New Hampshire. The Farmers Market is about 15 miles away from us.
We make one quick stop to replenish our tonic supply at an 802 Liquor Store. While Melanie is in shopping, a woman walks up and asks about our van. She's interested in renting out her nearby farm and thinks living in a van will give her maximum flexibility. But. It's cold in Vermont in winter and she'll need a 4 season van. Nope. That's not us, I tell her.
The Farmers Market is only about a mile from that stop and we arrive to find it quite busy. As luck would have it, we are able to park along the road and make our way the short distance to all the farmers' and other merchants' kiosks.
We buy some tomatoes and some soaps to give away as gifts for our up coming hosts. I stop at North Wind Farm and purchase, from Nate and Thalla, kimchi and pickled cucumbers that look delicious. They have farm-raised tacos for sale and the farmer lets me sample the pork he's prepared. It's amazing, but it's too early for tacos and we move along and into town.
Melanie has mail so we park in a lot nearby and then begin looking around downtown. It's now nearing lunchtime, but the place we want to go isn't open for lunch. We decide to go back to Whetstone Brewing overlooking the Connecticut River. It's closed until noon.
We walk back into town and I sit on a park bench while Melanie goes into the local Co-op for a few more grocery items we need. Now it's lunchtime.
There's a line forming outside, but it's not too long before we're inside and snag a riverside table for two. Lunch is good bar food. I have a double IPA, she has a lemonade with blueberry vodka.
After lunch we check out an outfitters and I purchase a pair of shorts. Then we're back at the van cranking up the generator as it approaches 80 degrees outside.
We make a quick stop at a grocery store for a 9 volt battery to replace the dead one in our smoke detector in the van.
Our Harvest Hosts, Saxtons Distillery, is less than a 1/4 mile away. Melanie works while I lie down for a while and then get up to work on journaling and processing photos from my Nikon camera.
We've located Miranda around the back of the distillery and after Melanie is finished with work, we walk around to the front and get drinks and a bottle of gin for the road.
I've made dinner reservations for us at Peter Havens Restaurant. We had a very nice dinner a few weeks back.
We arrive at Peter Havens at around 7:15 and are told we should wait outside since our table is not ready (it's not available, we later learn). At around 7:45 we are invited in. It's obvious almost from the beginning that staff and kitchen are behind the curve of the onslaught of patrons who've arrived close together.
Our server is also the host and floor manager. She's doing her best to keep it all together with some success, but we must wait an inordinate amount of time to order drinks, then wait an inordinate amount of time to get them. Once our drinks are finally served, we order dinner thinking we're going to be waiting a while for that too.
I start with the soup du jour, a tomato and eggplant. It comes out in reasonable fashion and is over-the-top delicious. Our entrees in turn come out and we are also served second glasses of wine on time.
Our host/waitress tells us the wine is on the house. She appreciates our understanding about the prolonged waits for drinks, ordering etc. I ask if they are short-handed. They are as, among others, a top server had an emergency and would be out for a week.
Both of us enjoyed our entrees and we'll be back when we visit Brattleboro again.
Making our way back to the van, we drive to our Harvest Hosts location and after a quick set up, we're soon asleep, noting that a place that serves alcohol closes on a Saturday evening at 9:00 p.m.
August 8, 2021
An alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m., I reach over and luckily hit the snooze button on my phone. I quickly check to see how lucky I am and, yes, it's counting down the minutes before it will alarm me again. I doze briefly only to wake up before the alarm goes off again.
It's Sunday, a travel day for us and Melanie has made a plan to be in Keene, New Hampshire for church services there at 9:00 a.m.
We both need a shower so Melanie finds a Planet Fitness in Keene and at around 6:45, we are moving in that direction. We're only 16 miles away and the trip this time of morning is a breeze. Not much traffic this time of day.
I contemplate how getting up early to travel to another location in a van to have access to a shower in a gym would be a deal-breaker for many people. I remember the many times, while out backpacking in some remote wilderness, my friends and I would clean up via a "SunShower" set up and how our trips to Planet Fitness was basically the van life version of my backpacking experience.
The shower is a great one with water pressure that was strong and hot water on which I didn't have to wait. We're are in and out within 15 minutes. We quickly dress in the van, Melanie for church services to be held by St. James Episcopal Church, today in Fuller Park nearby.
We arrive at Fuller Park with enough time for us both to eat breakfast and sip coffee for bit before Melanie gathers her portable folding chair from the pass-through storage in the van and makes her way to services about 50 yards away. There looks to be about 25 or so parishioners in attendance.
After services, we'll make our way north and east to Waterford, ME for a visit overnight with a long-time friend I've not seen for years. He has a summer home there. Waterford is where he attended summer camp as a child and where his children went to summer camp.
While I've been to Waterford many years back, I have no real recollection of the area. When I was there, I traveled over to Interval, NH to be fitted for my custom-made Limmer Boots. The boots were a 40th birthday gift from close (backpacking) friends. They were a very hot ticket then and, as I recall, it took me almost 3 years to receive them once I was fitted. Yes, I still have the boots, but they're currently in storage in Birmingham.
We leave Keene and head east towards Waterford. The day begins to warm up and we crank up the generator and turn on the van AC. We stop for lunch in Henniker, New Hampshire just off of Highway 202 (becomes I-89) at The Country Spirit restaurant. Lunch is good and we're back on the road in less than an hour.
We begin to experience heavy traffic as we approach the intersection of Interstate 89 and Interstate 93 and are delayed by stop and go traffic and a missed exit on my part. We move south on I-93 for 6 miles before we can get off and turn around to travel back north towards Concord, NH. The traffic is very heavy heading south towards Boston. It's the first time in a long while we've seen as many cars on the road.
We make our way north and east going through Meredith and Conway. There's road construction and intermittent showers along the way. We reach our destination just after 4:00 p.m. It's now cooler because of the afternoon showers.
My friend has a nice home on Bear Pond. We spend the evening catching up and are asleep just after 10:00 p.m.
August 9-10, 2021
We intended to spend only one night on Bear Pond with my, now our, friend, Bob Schiffman, but decide, after immediate plans are cancelled for Melanie, to spend another few days with him.
Bob and I haven't laid eyes on each other since he generously agreed to allow Tate and I to attend the Masters back when Tate was maybe four years old. Over 20 years ago. It's hard to believe it's been that long since we saw each other.
A bonus of staying is getting to spend time with Bob's eldest son, Adam, and to enjoy Adam's great preparation of dinners for us on two evenings.
The other delight was getting to go on a hike with Adam and his aunt, Mary Beth, Bob's sister and my high school classmate I'd not seen in a very long time. Maybe we were in brief contact when Adam had his Bar Mitzvah in Columbus, Georgia at age 13?
We hiked a loop trail on Sabattus Mountain and Mary Beth treated us to lunch at a local grocery store afterwards. It was great to spend time with them.
I got out on my bike on Monday to get some exercise, check out the surroundings of a place I'd not been to in many years and deliver mail for Melanie. The last time I was in Waterford was to visit Bob one summer. He had rented Bear Mountain Inn for a month or so and I met he and other friends there for a nice week's retreat.
I rode over to Harrison, ME on Long Lake and back to Bob's and was able to see much of the immediate area, including where Bob and all his children went to summer camp at Camp Wigwam.
We travel again on Wednesday.
Steven and Melanie