Portsmouth. We were foraging. It was the dinner hour and there are lots of restaurants. But nothing was appealing. One more craft store later and I was headed down the block. It wasn’t much of a storefront.
Basically it was a bar pub kind of joint. There was a calendar and list of music scheduled to appear.
Live music every night was the promise. So we took a chance. Sit wherever you like for the price of a drink and dinner. We had a solid meal. And the band was good. It was a quartet that became a quintet that got singers. It was karaoke night it seems.
And then the drummer got up to get a drink. Some drunk patron sat in. he was wearing a tourist camera around his neck. He adjusted the drum set. And the owner, the drummer and a bouncer converged….except the drummer was really good. He fit right in and carried the beat. Everyone was tense. But after a single song, the drunk went into a soliloquy and left. Yes it was a very memorable spontaneous evening and a delightful find.
There are classic hot dog stands in Maine. Bob Draper and Kevin Frary introduced me to Wasse’s in Rockland. They have a couple more stores now. And the market carries hot dogs in a brilliant unnaturally red casing that you know is bad for you. Here is a lesser know institution in Boothbay. The name is self-evident. It looks like a one-man operation. Lots of folks come around. Even on this cold chill September day, there were folks braving a cool breeze and threatening rain. Business is enough to support a souvenir shop next door. Or is it the souvenir shop that brings people by? There is a menu with lots of other stuff. But why would you not order a dog?
This is a classic shot. It is all in the reflection. The whole point of this bridge is for the picture. They should charge a dollar for admission. I can’t say how many people find this spot or know that it exists. It is not a well-traveled road. Or maybe? I have been here in all seasons, even winter. This time around I met a guy with consulate license plates at the entrance to Acadia, Mount Desert Island and told him to come here. I doubt he did. I’ve been here often. Why keep coming back? It’s far away. Just like the other times, each time you come it is a little different. And that quintessential shot just might be there this time. You know the one you imagine.
Back in 2011 I made my way downtown to the spot where the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade turns on 34th Street. There you get a view of the balloons. These helium filled giants are the stars of the parade. And it was still very crowded as lots of other people had the same idea. I was jostled but held my ground and got some very nice shots. Yes this is a special New York style Thanksgiving.
Bass Harbor Light
Another day another lighthouse, there are so many. You pick. This is a very picturesque light. They didn’t build them for photo-ops for me. So some lights are very difficult to get a good view. Some lighthouses are on the map and can’t be seen from land. I personally think that’s cheap. But, hey! Well there is a reflection.
See, I told you. But there are also some people in the picture. Still, she’s a redhead. I have a soft spot for redheads. Her boyfriend was taking forever to set this shot up. And I wanted the reflection. The breeze was a little too strong and the reflection was shimmering. And then he asked me to take a shot of them both. I mean I’ve been doing selfies all trip long. Really! Well I ended up taking this shot and used it. It’s a good story. And I had given up the hope that they would clear before my travel buddy would cajole me to get moving. Say it ain’t so Colleen.
Acadia and Cadillac Mountain
We had dawdled, seriously meandered our way up the coast. So the plan to bike or hike the park trails was a bust. I refer to the carriage paths that the Rockefeller family bequeathed to the park. The trails are fabulous and definitely ride them if you can. I have. And maybe some day we will again. Meanwhile the view from the top of Cadillac Mountain is worth the ride too. The lake and the Maine coast are shadowed below. No HDR for me. Sorry. It was the sky that was the star.
Any other clear blue sky day and the coast and the lake would be the stars of the image. But the clouds and sunset were image. So I took it. Moments later I fell uphill. Yes you can be clumsy anywhere. I sustained a laceration deep enough to require stitches but was not willing to waste time in an ER. I’d have sewn myself up if I had the materials. Instead the local Rite Aid had the bandaids to pull the cut together and all was well.
In Bar Harbor the final throes of sunset gave the sky an impossibly beautiful orange color. So I managed two nice sunsets in the same day. We were foraging for dinner. So this second shot was a real bonus. I will parenthetically add that we were also carrying a pair of lobster socks that said “bite me.” The lucky winner of said pair will know this was the place we bought them.
I think this is becoming a specialty for me. So many of the lighthouses in Maine have water in puddles or pools among the rocks. If the wind cooperates then there is often a perfect reflection. And then I sit and watch. I even saw serious photographers wandering the rocks. I know you are serious if you are lugging your camera attached to an oversized tripod. (Really? I mean really?) But I estimate 99% never notice the reflection. So I wait and pick out some nice person, Colleen couldn’t believe how gracious I was being. But just to make someone’s trip a little more special… I would share the picture at their feet. Not everyone is receptive. Some guys are just there on a mission. I don’t bother them. But for some earnest tourist, it’s a pleasure to share something special. Maybe they will look at the world a little bit differently from now on too.
I have been to this spot several times. The first was on a bike trip with Lisa. She shot this picture. We had started off in sunny weather. As we rode into the point, the fog and weather were impressively picturesque. Lisa shot this as I am the subject in yellow. Misty, foggy, windy, and chilly all come to mind. It was a classic mood shot. More recently Colleen and I were there. It was a crisp chill clear autumn day. Same spot different day, you could never imagine how it changed. Things are like that. When you travel, you never know what you will come across. And you are not there long enough to wait for changes to be favorable. The sunset you see is where you are. I’d like to be just camped in a spot waiting for a picture. But that is simply not I. So I will take what there is when I am there. And there will always be a different good shot somewhere.
Well, at least that’s what I call it. It is a field in full fall color. The road is just up there in the corner. I tried this shot a few years ago and it is a favorite of mine. I tried again and it is not nearly as nice. It’s a different time and different place. Midday not evening, the mood is entirely different. But I like the color. And it reminds me that things I have seen and beauty I recorded are sometimes unique and in the moment never to be repeated. It has made me appreciate life and to slow down sometimes to savor a moment that will not be repeated.
It could just as well be sunrise. I hate power cables. They always ruin a potentially good shot, except when they are the shot. Well it is dusk and we are headed west. Do ya think? Ha, I like that phrase two days in a row. And the sunset is catching the power lines. And the glow is wonderful. We’re in Maine and headed down the coast to make it to a dinner reservation.
The technical – we are in the car. There is glare off the windshield. I need to zoom the lens up a bit to avoid the glass, glare, and the car mirror. And…I am the driver. Relax. I did not peer through the viewfinder to compose. I treated the shot like a point and shoot opportunity. And yes, my companion was not a happy camper as I clicked off a few shots. No, we did not stop, we did not pause, we just kept on going, and we got to that restaurant on time just as it was dark.
If you will look at my ‘About’ page this is the same fence from a different direction and in a different year. I have been up and down this road many times. The fence is in much need of repair and paint now. And the question always arises, if you go to the trouble of building a very long fence like this, why not build it right and proper? There is still no answer either.
For me the appeal remains. The autumn color reigns. And I still wonder where the road is taking me. I have a better idea some years later. But the road always curves. It beckons with a promise and some mystery. Yup.
My travel companion came across a book in an antique store describing the connected barns in Maine. It seems that it’s cold in the winter. Do ya think? And it’s very nice to get out of bed and go to the barn for chores without stepping outside. So there are enough of these to illustrate an entire book. Getting an image is a trick. There are lots of things that obscure the picture. This image isn’t the best example. But then again… well there was some fall color thrown in and well… it is connected.
This spot was a favorite for me when I lived in Maine. There were a couple places where you could pull up a seat on a rock and read for hours. On this side fall was in full color. It was interesting. I had been here a week before and the color was just average. A week later the color was intense but already many trees had lost most of their leaves.
And then there was a group from LL Bean in Freeport who were in the water practicing canoe skills. I was a Boy Scout and got the merit badge. We had to tip over and right a canoe. We had to clamber back into it. But it was mid September and the water can’t be warm. These folks were falling out and getting back in. I’ve paddled a canoe. It ain’t that hard. And I will be happy to know the theory about getting in and out without doing it in cold water. Thank you.
Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village Near New Gloucester, Maine. Here is a place I completely discounted. I was about photo op and images. The village itself was small and relatively uninteresting to me. I had passed the area many times when I lived in Maine. This time around I was there to see the cultural history. There is another Shaker village in New Hampshire. The last three Shakers currently reside in Maine. On our tour we were told that Sunday service is open to the public. You need to show up on time. They lock the doors promptly. A fair crowd showed up. I was completely surprised. There is plenty of accapella singing of hymns and then there I a series people of giving testimony, sharing in which members and attendees may say what is on their mind. If you are familiar with the song Simple Gifts, they sang it twice. The second time occurred because one of the sisters thought it appropriate to the speaker. The song’s origin was told to have come about when one of the brother’s was disappointed that two young men left to make their way in the world instead of becoming Shaker members. The song is of course well known in popular music as in Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring.
Currently there are two sisters and a brother who reside and are the last Shakers. The rich culture and craftsmanship are well known but may soon not be practiced only copied. It was a high privilege to attend the service. Hearing the song Simple Gifts in this context was a very moving experience. It was magical. I had thought of the song and the Shakers spontaneously began their accapella singing. I idly wished that the song would be sung again. And when they sang it again, I nearly cried. Yes, that was a special day.
Return to the Scene
I had a picture of this very pond about six years ago. It was almost foggy overcast that day. We arrived on a bright sunny day to photograph the same scene. It’s not quite the same. This happened several times on my recent trip. It’s still a good photo but most things in nature do not repeat performance. Location? Does it matter? Near Runaround Pond in Maine.
Well it was September well after Labor Day. The evenings are chilly. The days are not so warm either. The ocean is surely chilly or more to cold. The beach is right along the main road. You park your car, if there’s a lucky spot you find, and then step out the car door to put your feet right onto the beach. It’s not a wide beach and it’s definitely not picturesque. But it draws a crowd. I love this shot. The compression of the telephoto lens make this beach claustrophobic.
I would laugh but this was seriously demented on my part. If you ask my kids they would chuckle and nod in agreement. That aside, the parties involved in the story know who they are so no names are necessary. I got my rescue diver qualification this summer. Since then I have rescued myself. And now I got to put skill to the test once more. I have been supportive and encouraging a friend to dive. He hasn’t been diving for some time. He’s cautious. He called upon an instructor to give him a refresher course. Me, I don’t listen. I should have seen the warnings. The poor guy is not so comfortable in the water and my encouragement does not trump his nervousness. We came to the dive venue together and after a long wait, we found the instructor was ill and would not be attending.
I am one specialty skill away from being a master diver, the top rank before you advance to become an instructor. Diving and teaching are two different things entirely. The instructor told me to go ahead and dive. My friend was already open water qualified. No problem. He agreed. I did all the usual. We rented gear on the spot and I double-checked him on set up. When he geared up I double-checked. Yes, his air tank was on.
From there everything went downhill. His body shape is such that his weight belt slipped down over his belly and on his hips and his BCD rose above his shoulders around his ears. He did not pack enough weight on his weight belt. We made a couple trips back to shore to correct things. The calamity was not over. With extra weight he sank like a stone. So I had to keep him from hurting his ears.
For the purpose of a good dive tale, I exaggerate freely.
But buoyancy was a definite issue. At one point I had to grab hold to reassure my friend he was safe and okay. Yup, two guys hugging in the coral having a special moment together. I was hoping none of my instructor acquaintances were watching, or anyone else either. Well, after fits and starts, I actually was able to get my friend to decent buoyancy balance as seen in the pictures. Of course getting to this point required considerable skill and patience. There was a lot of hyperventilating by all parties. And I did use my rescue skills. There was new meaning to ‘never come directly face to face with the other diver’ where he may grab onto you. As well as we knew each other it is not good when he embraces you in the water. Does the term death grip come to mind? Laugh. It wasn’t so bad. But the thought cross my mind as I was swinging around to grab his regulator to control his erratic movement. Remember what happens in the water stays in the water. So if you ask me, it never happened. Besides look how good he is floating above the platform.
More In Your Yard
This is an English telephone booth. It is not operational and was randomly sitting by a driveway somewhere near Damarascotta, Maine. Well, imagine that. Unusual to say the least. Except I saw another one in a parking lot in Portsmouth, New Hampshire a few days later. But the juxtaposition makes you pause.
In Your Yard
Flamingos, pink flamingos, were at one time popular yard ornaments. When I sold encyclopedias we were told to always knock on the door to a house with pink flamingos. The folks at home would buy. When I traveled Maine recently there were several places I saw plastic flamingos. I don’t sell encyclopedias any longer.
Yes I am. The card came to me and I am official. It feels no different than a day ago. We passed the test months ago. Farid took the course with me. Then we promptly rescued ourselves. This is the PADI course. Within the hierarchy the next step is to become an instructor. So far I have four specialty designations too. One more ‘merit badge’ and I can call myself a master diver. Wow! When I started a couple years back I never imagined I would be so advanced. As I say, it doesn’t feel any different today than yesterday. Passing the practical exam is not the same as an actual rescue. Saving a panicked diver is much different. I understand the theory. I hope I am up to the task if another diver is in trouble. Meanwhile all my dive buddies are happy and safe. I keep an eye on the novice divers and lend a hand or suggestion.
Why? I smile and ask myself why. After months and months, the traffic circle has the world’s tallest flag pole. This is added to the world’s tallest fountain which is only minutes away. Yup, the internet proclaims King Fahd fountain as the tallest. Now I suppose this is the world’s tallest flag pole. There is access hatch at the base and guards are present 24/7 to be sure no one climbs to the top and jumps to set some other sort of record. I wondered about the flag too. It needs to be light enough so the breeze will catch it, in case anyone would make crude remarks about how limply it hung. And on the day the flag was raised, Saudi National Day, I was absent from the country. A friend told me that it produced a record traffic jam as people simply stopped their cars to see it. This traffic circle is in the middle of some major crossing highways. Even on a good day traffic slows around it. You can be sure this traffic circle will not be changed ever again to allow for better traffic flow. Yes, it all works. Every time I pass it now, I wonder.
Someone has told me the pole is 271 meters tall and the flag is 500kg and half the size of a football field in area. Yup. Big deal.
Of all the things I have seen this was a spooky scene. I have seen sea cucumbers in the daytime. They are nondescript and uninteresting. My camera points away from the dull uninteresting color. Anywhere else but there is preferable. But Farid turned this one over and it was like a monster zombie flick. Tentacles! They wove and waved in a surreal pattern as though vomiting from a hole on the underside of the cucumber. We were fascinated. I don’t know what it was that caused Farid to turn it over. I had given him a dive stick after my kids left in January. He has made it a well used gift in what we have discovered.
Our night dive was going slowly. Then Farid stopped and pointed at a common urchin on the seabed. But his pointer led me to two boxer shrimp lying in the shadow of the urchin. I guess they use the urchin as sort of a symbiotic protector.
Having been stung by an urchin I am most certainly careful not to ever go near an urchin. Not one but two shrimp were there! And they were lazy. I swam in close and used my flash and they hardly budged. The antennae stick out a long way. The bodies are small and hardly make a bite. I was just so happy to catch them in the open.After so many dives you live for these rare special moments. They don’t come often.
Everyone knows a certain someone who loves books and who loves to hangout in bookstores. And if you look closely: mystery, true crime, love and sex, thriller. I mean really! And between true crime and love and sex – well this is too delicious to pass up. I chose love and sex but what do I know? The image itself lacks a little clarity and focus. But does it?