Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thursday, 18 September -- Getting caught up

Dear Readers: Please note herewith, an actual "Blog" entry. Shame on me for not writing sooner -- I'm SO pleased that SO many of you actually read the drivel I write!

Thursday, Sep 4 - Leaving for Gettysburg
We left Danville early in the morning, drove through central and eastern Kentucky, across West Virginia and almost the whole length of Maryland before turning north towards Gettysburg. Getting off I-81 at Chambersburg, we basically followed the route of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in June 1863, past the Cashtown Hotel (supposed to be VERY haunted), and on to Gettysburg.

After checking into the motel, which was just a few yards from the National Cemetery, we went out to eat. Pizza, but the thickest, most-topping-ist pizza I've ever had. It was great!

Friday, Sep 5 - In Gettysburg
We started at the new Visitor's Center, with an introductory film, "New Birth of Freedom", which basically explained the background to the battle. Then it was off on the "Auto Tour", a 16-stop car trip over about 18 miles, roughly chronological in order. We saw all the most famous sites, especially where the 20th Maine saved Western civilization as we know it. It seems about everyone we met in Gettysburg had heard of Joshua Chamberlain -- I wonder how many in Maine know of him! The kid in the souvenir shop even said that Chamberlain was his idol!

Saturday, Sep 6 - Leaving for Maine
Early morning rise, then off through the remnants of Hurricane Hanna, through Pennsylvania, upstate New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and finally into Maine. We arrived in Oakland about 9PM, and moved in, lock, stock and barrel, to a camp on McGrath Pond which we had rented for the week, just 4 doors down from Alison and Glenn.

Sunday, Sep 7 - Maureen visits, and a swim
Got to see my daughter (and soon-to-be-grandson) for the first time since I found out I was going to be a grand-daddy. A nice visit, too short of course, but good. Went for a swim later, the first time I've been swimming in a Maine lake since summer 2004 and only the second time in 22 years!

Monday, Sep 8 - Moxie and Ming Lee
I think it was Monday we went to Hannaford's and bought Moxie. We had checked at Wal-Mart, but they didn't stock it since Moxie has changed its UPC and the Wal-Mart computer doesn't recognize the new code. Luckily, we talked to the Coke distributor who told us that Hannaford and Shaws would both have Moxie. So off we went. A 12-pack of cans, and 12 2-litre bottles are going back to Kentucky with us! The nearest place to buy it here is about 200 miles north in Indiana.

That evening saw Alison, Eisa, Pushpa, Barry and me, eating the best Chinese food this side of Beijing (or maybe even there). Mei came over and asked if we were moving back to Maine. We asked her when she was opening up a branch restaurant in Danville!

Tuesday, Sep 9 - We visit Barry's family
Lobster, lobster, lobster. It was great to see Bruce and Shirley at Carol's house. Barry had his fill of lobster (well, maybe not, but he had to stop at some point), which was one of the main points of going to Maine. Yes, Shirley, I promise to keep the blog up more regularly!

Wednesday, Sep 10 - Lincolnville Beach
Nice drive down to Belfast, then down the coast to Lincolnville and the Lobster Pound. I had the baked scallops and Barry had the fried clams -- arguably the best on the coast! Two years ago, we planned to go down in early October, but we got there and found they had closed for the season. Bummer. This time, we called first.

Then off to Camden, where we played "tourist." We stopped for some great Gifford's ice cream, bought a post card and mailed it to Melissa, our realtor here in Danville, and walked up Main Street along with all the other "out-of-staters". I guess we could be considered "flatlanders" now. Maybe you can take the boys out of Maine, but you can't take Maine out of the boys though. Bought some blueberry jam, some balsam potpourri, and a Maine lighthouse calendar -- you know, all the things that tourists buy!

Thursday, Sep 11 - Margarita's, Eisa's new condo, college discussion and pizza
Barry got a coupon in the mail for $10 off at Margarita's during his birthday month. So of course, to save $10, we drove to Maine! Well, we were going to be here anyway, so we hopped down to Augusta for some good Mexican food. We have several good Mexican restaurants here that compare well with Margaritas, but it was still a nice treat.

Then in the afternoon, we drove over to Winslow to see Eisa's new condo (she should have moved in by now). We couldn't get in as she didn't have the key, but it really looks great. Eisa, hope you'll like it as much as you seem to!

After that, Barry's granddaughter came down, and I interviewed her regarding her preferences on college -- where she would like to go to school, large city, small town, etc., so we can help her choose the right college. She's taking a monster class load at Messalonskee this year, and with the grades she gets, she should be very competitive when it comes time to apply.

We then went to Barry's daughter's house to see the whole family, and we all pigged out on Korner Store pizza. It's sometimes greasy, but this time it was great! Plus we got to see the family too.

Friday, Sep 12 - Kayaking, visiting school, digging plants
Glenn took us kayaking this morning. Barry took the canoe, and I used Alison's "sit-on" kayak. GREAT! I want one! I need one! I have to find water on which to use one!

I went to school later, and saw loads of people -- I won't try to name you all, but especially important was thanking Blair personally for all the help he was last summer. You are all such good people and I miss you all!

Brenda, I didn't get a chance to talk one-on-one with you, so please continue to email me.

In the afternoon, we went to Waterville to my house, and dug up some plants which we were unable to bring down last summer. It may seem ridiculous to some, but some of these plants have personal or sentimental value, and we wanted them down here with us. For example, my mother's Bridal Wreath, which grew in Westbrook in 1953, came to Oakland about 1987, then to Waterville in 2005. Part of it is now down here. Hope it makes it, but if not, there's more back in Waterville.

Saturday, Sep 13 - Leaving Maine
We left Maine early in the morning, going by way of Ithaca, NY. I wanted Barry to see where Maureen went to college, so we took I-90 along the Mass Pike and the NY Thruway, through Albany, Utica, and Syracuse, then down I-81 past Syracuse University, where Maureen applied and was accepted. Overland to Ithaca to see Cornell and Ithaca College, then a stop at Wegman's -- the largest grocery store in the world, or at least the largest I've ever been in! Back on the road to Binghamton, and south through rain to Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Maureen, there's a huge new Park building near the Park School of Communications -- I have no real idea what it's for -- and another under construction right at the rotary near the main campus entrance. Rowland Hall is still there, as is the Towers dining hall though.

Sunday, Sep 14 - Home
What a ride! The remnants of Hurricane Ike were passing to the west and north, but nonetheless, we got a dose of his wind. Going through central and western Pennsylvania was no problem. Stopping at McDonald's in Hermitage, PA WAS. The laziest staff, the worst service, the worst food, we've ever had at a McDonald's. SO bad, we called the "How are we doing" number on the cup and filed a complaint!

Once we got into Ohio, Youngstown and Akron were no problem. But as we approached Columbus, the wind began to come up. Before we reached Cincinnati, we saw (1) a metal roof being peeled off a barn; (2) plywood blown down onto the road from an under-construction overpass; (3) corn leaves flying through the air like in the Wizard of Oz; (4) dust obscuring visibility -- we thought it was rain; (5) power out at 2 rest areas (and too dangerous to "go" in the woods), and the wind blowing branches off trees; (6) many large trees broken and shredded; and (7) at times my truck being unable to go any faster than 40 mph in 3rd gear on a flat surface into the wind.

We didn't really notice the worst though. Driving through Cincinnati at dusk was weird because the city was dark. In fact, the power was out from about 70 miles north to about 30 miles south of Cincy. We heard that 500,000 customers were out, and another 300,000 out in Louisville (it's now Thursday and many are still out). We stopped for gas in northern Kentucky, but without power, pumps weren't working; so we continued south until we saw a station that DID have electricity. They were MOBBED! The traffic signals throughout Cincy and northern Kentucky were out, and drivers were told to treat every intersection as a 4-way stop. Surprisingly, they did as far as we could see.

When we got home, we hadn't lost the power at all! No digital clocks were blinking 00:00. The lemon trees on the back deck were tipped over, and we had a few twigs on the ground. Not bad though, considering that parts of Kentucky had 80 mph gusts, and we apparently had one close to 70 here.

It'll take us awhile to finish unpacking and to get the plants in the ground. The good news is that they still have at least another month to grow, and their root systems can continue to take hold all winter -- the ground freezes maybe 2 inches for a couple of days at a time, so people down here often plant trees in the fall.

Well, that's our trip to Maine in a nutshell. Now I need to write about what has happened here since early July -- VERY busy which is what I'll use as an excuse for not writing more often!

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