An expensive day

Randy does regular maintenance and inspection on our RV and a couple of days ago he discovered one of the tires was flat. He was able to air it up but it still lost air, so it's time to get a new one. It's a good idea for all the tires on an RV to be the same age, and it's time to replace ours anyway, so Randy found a place to get some. Today we drove there and got the tires put on. 

Oh, and while they were doing that, they discovered one of the front wheels was bent. Got to replace that, too.

Oh, and while they were finishing the tires, they scratched the heck out of our RV.
Oh, and when we got home and hooked up again, the power would not come on. So Randy got to take apart the big outside plug and replace it with a new one.
What an expensive and trying day - hope we don't have many more like this!

Four years ago: Watching Salmon in Alaska


We are the area of Maine know as "Downeast". That's a description I didn't even know about until this spring when the History Channel launched "Downeast Bickering". I did not run into that particular culture during our trips through Maine on our way to and from Nova Scotia, so I thought maybe it was all made up. Not entirely...for example, there really is a weekly magazine called Uncle Henry's.
And it has got almost everything to buy or trade. Most of the ads are pretty usual but occasionally they have a different slant, like this lady's touching faith in the effectiveness of electric tape:
And the term "Downeast" is common around here. It's often used in business names.
What else is unique here? Well, Bangor has a great big statue of Paul Bunyon. Unfortunately when he is viewed from the side, he looks like he's flipping off the city.
In the older buildings it is apparent that they LOVED windows. I think it might be because the light helped during the long winters but I also wonder how much energy they lose. Well, I'm not going to be here during the winter so I guess it doesn't matter! This one might be the winner of "most windows", but it accurately represents how they liked to use windows here.
Speaking of buildings, Stephen King has a house in Bangor. I am sure he has other houses elsewhere but since so many of his stories take place in Maine, it's nice that he still has a presence here. I think. I haven't heard much about him from the locals so maybe they don't care one way or another. His house is nice, though. Pretty, well maintained, with nothing much to indicate that the king of horror stories lives here...
except that cool gate with the big spiders and tiny gargoyles!

And that Brown Bread that is baked in a can and served at Bean Suppers? You can actually buy it that way, in grocery stores!
Another food on some restaurant menus that indicates we are "Downeast" and close to Canada is Poutine. Poutine a Canadian specialty of French Fries covered with brown gravy and cheese curds. Good hearty food! Food like this leads to the local joke: "Did you know that we have more BMWs here than anywhere?" "Really?" "Sure - Big Maine Women!"

The OTHER Fort Knox, plus a beautiful bridge

One day in June we drove over to see the Penobscot Narrows Observatory. That is what they call the viewing platform on the beautiful bridge that crosses the Penobscot river. When the original 1931 bridge needed to be replaced, someone had the foresight to include an elevator and stairs inside one of the towers, leading up to a glass viewing area near the top with a 360 view. When you look out one side, you see the bridge stretch across the river to the second tower. 
Looking out either side gives a full view of the river. The water was moving fairly quickly and we were surprised to see several jellyfish in the water. I was so interested that I leaned over and lost my camera lens cap - bummer! If you look out (and down) the side near the road, you get a great bird's eye view of the cables. This is some smooth engineering!
Nearby is a cross-section of the bridge, looking like a comic-con Klingon warship.
The grounds around the bridge and the parking lot had some of the most beautiful Lupine flowers I've ever seen. I didn't know they could be any color other than dark purple, but here they grow in several colors.
This is a good area to visit because you get two interesting sites instead of just one. About a half mile away is Fort Knox. No, not the one with all the money - this is an entirely different fort, although both forts were named after the first Secretary of War, Major General Henry Knox. It was built around 1844. Troops were stationed during war (1863-1866 for Civil War and in 1898 for the Spanish American War) but none of the troops were in battle. Sounds like a good place to be stationed! Heck, for 57 years the fort was manned by just one soldier. Which is probably what prompted the Federal government close the fort in 1923, at which point Maine bought it and turned it into an Historical Site. 
In the gift shop they have a model of a "buoyant submarine torpedo". Twenty-one of these were put in the river during the Spanish American war. They would not explode on contact, so the denotation would have activated by someone. Fortunately their was never a need to detonate any of them.
The fort is constructed of stone and most of it's outside walls are standard flat walls, but one side is terraced like the Pyramid at Chichen Itza

At the top of the fort (accessible from inside) you get a good view of the entire stucture, at which point you see why terracing was necessary. The fort's doorway is at ground level but some of the fort backed against a hill; the transition between those two points is where they terraced the wall. 

Inside you get almost full access to the various areas. The interior wooden stairs are constructed without nails, using pegs and tenon-and-mortise. And  the stones and bricks are cut amazingly precise. Inside rooms are identified as Officer Quarters, Troop Quarters, Powder room, kitchen, etc. When anyone entered the Powder room he had to take off his gun, sword and shoes - anything that might possibly cause a spark! The kitchen has a couple of items that show how much food was prepared - a huge dough box and a big, sturdy kneading table. Behind the table are several ovens, which are surprisingly small and deep. 
This fort has some of those big 10" Rodman cannon that I first discovered in Fort Sumter. Here at Fort Knox I learned how complicated it was to fire those things. It took 8 soldiers to fire each one - a detachment chief, a gunner and six "cannoneers". They have a plaque that outlines the all the steps needed. 
I especially like #5, where there is just one poor guy left all by himself to pull the firing lanyard, cringing away and praying it works!
It is advised to bring a flashlight for walking around, and that is a very good suggestion. A few of the dark interior rooms have a deep step down - at least a couple of feet - which, without a flashlight, could make for a heck of a fall. The exterior halls get enough outdoor light to make them safer. 

This is a beautiful old building. The pattern of arches is repeated everywhere, inside and out. You see it in the cannon bays, the halls, even the interior rooms.

Day Off

Took the day off today. Just Pinterest and I-tunes. And it's been a pretty good day!

Mainely Meat and the Kenduskeag Trail

Yesterday we drove to Bar Harbor meet up with Pennye, who Randy met in February when he went to Las Vegas to learn about RVillage. She and her husband are Workamping in Bar Harbor for a few more days before they take off, so we couldn't miss this opportunity. We joined them and another couple for drinks, then we all went for dinner at Mainely Meat Barbecue. We have been looking for a place to buy good ribs for months; back on Hilton Head Island we could always count on One Hot Mama's, but since then if we want good ribs, Randy has to make them. Mainely Meat's ribs are not quite as good as OHM, but they are definitely worth having!
And today we walked off some of that good food. We drove to a spot a little north of Bangor and walked over 3 miles on the Kenduskeag trail. The trail runs beside the Kenduskeag "stream" - that's what the locals call it. I would not have called it a stream because it's fairly big, really fast, and includes a couple of areas that qualify as rapids.
The weather cooperated - not too hot - so it was a good walk, followed by a nice picnic lunch.

The Cole Land Transportation Museum - worth visiting! June 18

Back on June 18th we spent a day at the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor. This is one of several museums in the area, and I think we may have started at the top. I learned that the Cole family have a long history in the Bangor area. Allie Cole started the Cole Express Delivery Company in 1917 and his trucking runs between Bangor and Houlton, Canada, were famous because the roads and weather were so bad that almost nobody else could make it through regularly. There was even a country song, "Winter of '31", about him making the run during one of the worst winters on record. The road he traveled was called the Hainesville road and it's danger level in winter was legendary. In 1965 another country song, "A Tombstone Every Mile", was written about that specific road. Allie's son Galen took over the business in 1955, and he is the one who created the museum to preserve some of the old machines he knew so well.

Near the front of the museum is a beautiful old steam firetruck, the 1907 Portland Steamer #836. It was pulled by two horses until 1924, at which point a 1917 ladder truck front end was added. This really appeals to my love of steampunk.
Next to it is a 1923 Augusta Ladder truck, and what I liked about it was the "Life Net" - that big trampoline-like thing that firemen used to use. I've never seen one before!  
Standing up behind it is a true Bangor Ladder with the patented "tormentor poles" that allowed 7 firemen to quickly position the 300 pound ladder. Later models were made of metal, and one of those is displayed with the tormentor poles in position.

Something else important in Bangor history is snow plows. They have almost a whole row of those things. This 1935 Linn Snowplow has a blade taller than Randy. 
In fact, a lot of their transportation items have something to do with snow. They have "Pungs", which are one-horse box sleighs, and graceful Swan Cutters for gliding across the snow. Several hand sleds are displayed, as well as Ice Cutters, which horses would pull across the ice to score it before guys with hand-saws finished the job. The 1926 "Snowmobile" is a Model TT truck fitted with a kit that adds snow skids.
The weather influences everything in Maine; this 1895 horse-drawn hearse, built at the State Prison, has sleigh runners between its carriage wheels.
Apparently potatoes were also important in this area because they have a whole row of Potato Diggers. 
They also have bicycles of all makes and models, going back to the wooden "Bone Shaker", which surely lived up to it's name. Dating back to the 1840s, it's supposed to be the oldest bike in New England.
I thought of "American Pickers" at one point because they have some great old motorcycles, like a 1915 Excelsior Electric, a 1943 Indian Scout, and a 1954 BMW. The have a lot of showy cars including a 1941 Streamliner Torpedo Pontiac, a '60 powder-blue Ford Fairlane (costing $2,369 new), and a car identified as a 1922 1/2 Packard Coupe. They also have a predecessor to the RV - a 1925 camper that sits on Model T tires. But if I could have driven one out, it would be the gorgeous 1931 REO Royale Coupe.
They have a short but complete train with a diesel-electric engine on display, and a complete train station. The Enfield train station was used from 1890 through the 1960s, after which it was used for storage until Galen Cole asked for it. In 1989 he loaded it on a flatbed truck and put it in his museum.

And they have a real Prairie Schooner! This is one of the coolest things to see and if you were headed West, you would be very glad to have it. But it sure would have uncomfortable after a short period of time.
They even have a World War I saddle, which reminded me of the importance of horses in WWI. If fact, they have several displays related to the American role in wars. There is a small section about the Civil War, including the stamp-sized photos of General Grant that were issued to Union soldiers so they could recognize him. Hanging over the World War II display is a 48-star battleship flag, which is believed to have flown at Omaha Beach during D-Day. An unusual item in the display case is a stuffed doll labeled as a "Hari Kari" doll. I never heard of this before and cannot find any more information about it.
On the grounds outside the museum are a couple of more modern war transportation items - a helicopter and a tank. 

This is a great museum, and I recommend that any who comes to the Bangor area should come visit.

Hurricane Arthur skipped us

Blessedly, Arthur skimmed past us without much impact. We had brought the awnings in to keep them safe, and that was was a good idea because it did get windy, but the main effect the hurricane had on us was to drop rain for over 24 hours straight. Just what we need, more rain! Still, it's surprising how dry the ground usually is, even with all the rain we've had. The plants here need watering ever single day, or they wilt. I think it's because the wind blows so much; it seems to dry the moisture right off the ground. 

Hurricane Arthur

Interesting...we spent a full year on the coast of South Carolina and never had a single hurricane stop by. We've been in Maine for a couple of months and Hurricane Arthur is cruising up the coastline to say hello. We are only supposed to get some rain and wind but it's not sure how much wind.


Summer is here, for sure. Although the temp is supposed to be in the mid 80s, it feels like the mid 90s, and the humidity is about 95%, too. We have been having trouble with one awning. The awning over the slide on the driver's side started ripping, what with all the high winds we had in May and June. Randy set a couple of flat rocks on it to keep it from tearing completely apart, while we looked for a solution. 
Eventually he found someone to do a good job at a reasonable price, so now we can extend the awning. Good thing, in this heat we can use all the shade we can generate.