Monday, November 9, 2015

Harpswell ME Jun 2-7 2015 And visiting my first best friend

On St Croix January 6 (Epiphany or Three King's Day in the Christian Church) is a holiday, the twelfth day of Christmas and when I was a child that was when the BIG parade took place.  It meant festival village where they had all sorts of wonderful foods- "fry chicken" (which my mother never made at home), johnny cakes (Crucian ones are best of course!) and coconut candy were my favorites- and the beat of steel pans and drums, which to this day speaks to my soul and feet, and crowds and crowds of people.  

In 1957, after the parade, my family went to the house of friends on the outskirts of town.  An old manor house, it had a beautiful yard and there were many people gathered, continuing the celebrations.  After a short while my mother took me over to introduce me to Jana.  "She's your age and they moved to Frederiksted last year." (St Croix has two towns named after the alternating Danish Kings from when the island was owned by Denmark-until 1917.  Frederiksted is on the western end of the island.) We immediately hit it off and the next year Jana's family moved to the eastern end of the island and we started first grade together.  Jana and I were inseparable then.  She loved horses (in fact was promised a horse by her parents when they moved to St Croix) and would give me my first horse.  She was/is an excellent rider and somewhat of a horse whisperer. I was not.  My dad played polo and could handle a pony with ease, my oldest brother was a natural on a horse but I was afraid.  Jana challenged me and helped me and I improved.  She was/is a phenomenal artist-turning out life-like animals in clay while in elementary school and now creates the most incredible quilt paintings out of bits of fabric and she is funny and smart, always seeing the irony in things and putting her wry sense of humor to work when she makes her observations.   

Just for fun, here is a page from Parent's Magazine in 1957 when they came to St Croix to do a "fashion spread"  Jana and I both modeled. I am at the top Jana on the bottom. And while you're at it-check out the prices for those shoes for "active kids"

We have remained friends through the years and I had visited Jana in a few years before in Harpswell and the following summer with Don and Richard. Since we were headed to Mt Desert I wanted to stop again and spend time with her.  

But first we had to get there.

We left the Cape early in the morning of June 2 and drove to Danvers MA where we stopped at Costco for gas and food.  While Don filled the tank, I went into the store.  He was parked by the time  finished and when I started to unload the groceries into the fridge I found I had no lights.  Well, he said, there was a high pitched beep about 3 minutes ago but nothing seemed to happen.  Happen?  We have NO electricity in the coach.  None. Zip. Nada.  Not just 110V, which I knew because we were not running the inverter, but 12V which comes off the batteries.  So typically I figured the worst and as we started northward to our appointment in Saco ME. I was sure we'd be stuck there for days and pay thousands of dollars for an entire electric overhaul.  I called ahead to warn them and we arrived just in time for our appointment.  In a stream of words that lasted 10 minutes I detailed for the guy what had happened.  The panic in my voice was evident.  We'd only been on the road for a month, we had no clue what we'd do without the coach (get a hotel that allows animals, duh)...the worst.  Yup, that's what I figured.  15 minutes later the technician came out and said "It was just that the switch for your coach batteries was off."  And the laughter started.  It appeared that Cadbury, who reallyreallyreally wants to get out at every stop was on the steps ready to pounce and must have backed up into the switch.  Crisis averted. The rest of the work was easy.  We took the pets for a walk while their solar guy ran a line to get our bathroom outlet working when we were on the inverter and we were set to go.  Onwards to Harpswell.

Now the funny thing is that the first time I'd visited Jana in Harpswell, 4 years ago,  I'd posted some pictures.  One of my cousins (second cousin-her dad and my mom are cousins) asked if I lived there.  Turns out she also does so we visited with her in 2013 and I would also be going to see her this time.   

This is the picture I posted on FB that prompted Elizabeth to ask if I lived in Harpswell.  It's on Bailey's Island which is on the peninsula that runs out next to Basin Point
As usual, when Jana and I get together we laugh and the first night was no different.  We had Jana join us for dinner in the MoHo and we all laughed ourselves silly.  Since she is not yet retired though, we'd be on our own the next day.  That was the day I decided to get serious about our plans to go to Canada from ME.

So...I went to get out my passport and after multiple (futile) attempts to open the safe I finally succeeded and found...oh passport expired the month before.  And to top it off I opened an email that informed me that despite having registered our car and RV in FL in Jan, our registration would expire on our birthdays in July.  Oh no problem, I can just go to the website and ...what the H do they mean they have no proof of our insurance?  We had to prove we had it for at least the following year to register and that was only 6 months before.  Needless to say, I was not a happy person to be around but I have always been good in crises and within 2 days I had been photographed, applied for an expedited passport, sent the necessary paperwork in, arranged to have Jana forward it to me and made sure my mom knew about our registration letters.  She had just sent one and the other one came in her mail that day so we would be OK.  But then we realized that if the registrations took longer than 2 weeks to process-we had to snail mail the paperwork-and were not with us in time and we ventured into Canada we would have to be back out by the end of July or risk problems at the border.  I was also not entirely confident that the "two weeks" for an expedited passport was really going to be only 14 days.  So, we started to consider other plans but left things in the air since we still had 2 weeks on Mt Desert. In the meantime we took walks with both pets and hiked around the preserve every day.

I have taken pictures of this house every time I have visited Jana.  No matter what the lighting is it always reminds me of something out of an Andrew Wyeth painting

Cadbury was NOT a fan of the beach.  He pussyfooted over the rocks shaking his paws if he detected the slightest bit of moisture and then decided that he would hug the edge of the "safe place" and extended his leash to the max.

The preserve

Virtually every picture I have of Don when we are out walking or hiking he is attached to Phoenix.  Phoenix has a very different attitude to shorelines from Cadbury.  SHE regards them as special places where she can find even the smallest remnant of dead sea life and chew fast until one of us notices and grabs it from her crocodile like jaws!

We stayed 5 days with Jana and had all sorts of fun.  She lives in an old farm house/complex that  has been converted to apartments and adjoins a preserve.  The lilacs, lupines, poppies and Solomon's Seal were in full bloom and, along with the sunsets over the bay at the preserve, gave us a visual delight every day. 

I love poppies!

and lupines

and little Solomon's Seal flowers!

Sunsets are never the same

and I always love the afterglow

Our 20th wedding anniversary was June 3 so Don and I went out to the tip of Basin Point to the Dolphin Restaurant for lobster (which I love even if it isn't better than the Caribbean spiny lobster of my youth!) and spent a lovely evening watching the sunset over Casco Bay.

I spent a wonderful afternoon the next day with my second cousin, Elizabeth, who is a doppelgänger for our mutual great grandmother and, along with her daughter,  raises ducks and sells the eggs.  I had a great time "meeting" all of them and spending hours sharing family lore with Elizabeth. 

Dolphin Marina is next to the restaurant

The trees were putting on their spring colors

It was June, in ME so the sun set late and this was around 8:30pm and it was low in the sky
 Elizabeth's Ducks

Can you figure out why this one is named Oreo?

This being the early days of our voyage, Don actually came with me to do the laundry one day but I think the sitting and waiting cured him of the desire to participate in this chore and that was the last time I remember him accompanying me.

On our last day, a Saturday, we'd all taken a walk at Brunswick Town Commons  and found that the not-common lady's slipper was pretty common there.  We also sampled bearberries  (they taste like wintergreen) which were growing in some profusion alongside the trails.  

Brunswick, being a college town (Bowdoin College) has a diverse variety of stores and food that I knew we weren't likely to see for awhile so we stocked up on my favorite Seven Farms yogurt and some good whole grain breads to freeze and some jars of fermented vegetables and set out to drive Rte 1 up the coast for Bass Harbor ME.

Bunchberry bloom

A pink lady's slipper turns her face to the sun

Spring was full on and reflecting in every pool

Although we saw more lady's slippers than we thought we would this was one of the only white ones

 When we'd arrived Jana had told us she thought there was a juvenile fox living under the barn closest to our MoHo (there are two barns, one at each end of the farm.) Sure enough, the next evening we saw him and so, too, did Cadbury who was tethered outside at the time.  And the fox saw Cadbury and that was the last we saw of him during our visit.  Jana was also caring for the 2 horses that belong to a neighbor so each morning and evening she'd go over to feed them and I got a kick out of watching their different personalities.  There was also a cat in the barn who'd given birth to a litter and Jana was feeding them each day. So, in some ways it was like old times, hanging out with Jana and playing with animals.  It was special because there is just something great about spending time with someone you've known for 60 years. And then, on our last night, Jana and I watched with joy as American Pharaoh raced the third leg of the Triple Crown and won the Belmont Stakes ending the 37 year stretch with no winner.  (Just last month American Pharaoh won the Breeder's Cup and is now retired-at age 3) Both Don and I had had such a great time that we were sad to say goodbye. 

Cadbury found that lying in wait in the grass gave him much better cover than his previously preferred sprawl on the driveway

Parsley was kept penned and was brought into the barn after Ladyslipper.  He would protest by running and snorting until Jana came to let him out and then he would race to the barn as if he'd been waiting for food for a week!

Ladyslipper is wearing her muzzle-something I have considered since finding that I am WAY too close to the food when I am in the MoHo!

Parsley bounds across the field and then takes the corner at breakneck speed and enters the barn

Oh yeah, and the plans to go to Canada? Well, I had been looking online at what to do about our phones and avoiding roaming charges and had neglected to check my passport.  So the day I finally went to the safe...I couldn't open it.  For the LIFE of me I could not remember the combination and after 3 tries the alarm sounded and it refused to allow me to try again...for half an hour.  In that time I tore apart every possible area that I could have put the note with the combination because OF COURSE I had not put it with all the others.  I tried again half an hour later, I was really convinced I knew what it was and still no go.  So, I adopted a more "Zen" approach and forgot about it.  I went on and did other things and figured it would come to me soon.  And it did-I had been holding the safe upside down and as soon as I held it the right way BINGO, I was in and...the passport had expired in May.  Oh yea!  AND to compound matters I got an email from FL DMV telling me my car registration would expire on my birthday, in July, when we were in Canada.  Oh, no problem, I can go online.  Well, no I can't because the insurance I had to GUARANTEE was good for at least a year after I registered in DECEMBER was not "on record" according to the online site. And then it occurred to me that the RV is registered in Don's name and his birthday is 2 weeks before mine but we had not heard anything about it.  MOM!!! I called my mom to ask if she had seen anything from DMV in the mail she'd just sent but she could not recall, having been swamped with all sorts of junk.  OK  
After calls and online visits I found that I could get an expedited passport within 2 weeks.  We drove to town, I had my picture taken, made my application, wrote the check and mailed it.  In theory it would be there within 2 weeks and Jana had agreed to receive it and then send it along Express Mail to our campground in Bass Harbor.  Good to go on that front. 
The next day the mail from Mom arrived and there was the registration renewal for Don and as we suspected, the insurance we had also proven we had was not "on record" and we would have to send that form in as well.  So, forms complete, copies of insurance made, we enclosed each in its own envelope and sent them off.  We had NO idea how long that would take ... we had to use our mailing address at Mom's ... she would be leaving for Colorado ... hopefully after the registrations arrived. It was at that point that we decided that it was just too much of a risk.  First of all, Nova Scotia, home to an old friend of mine, was our destination and Ben had said that the weather in June/July was not the best.  We assumed the passport would be there before the end of June but had no clue about the registration and did not want to entertain the idea of arriving back in the US with TWO vehicles with expired registration.  So, we decided that, for now at least, we'd plan to head west from Mt Desert and into the Adirondacks and maybe from there drive up to Canada and over to Nova Scotia.  That was the plan...

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