Hearty Irish Stew

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Ready for the oven . . . .

Great cold weather fare.  Enjoy!

Hearty Irish Stew

3 pounds of boneless beef short ribs, cut into one-inch cubes

3/4 cup flour

3 Tbsp. canola oil

3 Tbsp. tomato paste (I add 1 tsp. sugar)

3 Tbsp. whole grain Irish Stout Mustard

2 – 14.5 oz. cans beef broth

2 – 14.9 oz. cans Guinness draft beer

5 cloves garlic, coarsley chopped

3 Tbsp. dried, crumbled sage

1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

16 fingerling carrots (12 larger carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces)

2 medium onions, cut into quarters

3 stalks celery, sliced thin

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Heat large, heavy bottomed soup kettle or crock pot on stove top, add 3 Tbsp. canola oil.  Roll cubed beef in flour until all sides are coated, brown in batches in pot on medium heat.  Remove beef to a platter, set aside.  Add one can beef broth and  tomato paste, simmer 3 minutes stirring vigorously.  Remove brown bits from bottom of pan with spatula, continue stirring until well mixed.  Add whole grain mustard, stir; add second can of beef broth; add garlic.  Simmer three minutes.  Return beef to pot, sprinkle with cracked black pepper and 3 Tbsp. of sage; add one can of Guinness (stir until foam subsides); add carrots, onions, celery and stir to mix all ingredients.  Cover with lid and place in oven, bake for two hours.  Remove, add second can of Guinness, stir well, bake an additional hour.  Garnish with chopped parsley and celery leaves.

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Ready to eat! . . . .

My version of Irish Stew can almost be eaten with a fork–once the beef and vegetables have been consumed the thick brown broth can be scooped up with a crust of bread. Follow with a cold draft of Guinness, and give a toast to the Irish!

Resurrection

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Barn Again, Phase II. . . .

Our initial efforts to clean out this ancient shed entailed dropping an old electric light pole that used to have a barn yard light at the top; removing a heavy gate and post left from the corrals that once surrounded the shed;  trenching around the foundation; removing old rotted floor boards and joists; and planting four corner posts in concrete on the east end. We were then out of ideas.  The next phase of restoration was out of our range of capabilities.  There was no going back.  From the outset I knew my only options were to burn it down or rebuild.  And that is what we are doing. We took the project as far as we could, and then had to turn it over to someone who knew what they were doing!  With winter fast approaching we knew we were getting a late start, but what the heck.

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Burn or build? . . . .

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Gimme shelter . . . .

Replacing the old roof was the pits.  The carpenter had to cut it off piece by piece and it did not go without a struggle.  The other hard part was replacing and shoring up the foundation. We barely got started before the ground was frozen but still had to deal with snow and freezing temperatures.  We had to shovel snow out of the floor joists before laying the floor and some of the foundation stones will have to be dug in after spring thaw. But onward and upward, as Fitzgerald would say!  (Who the h— was Fitzgerald?)

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Shovel or rake?  . . . .

After ripping out the old floor boards, this is what I was faced with.  The rake head wouldn’t fit between the joists, so the idiot stick was my solution.  After shoveling out about six inches of dirt, the old floor joists could be pried out.  Old foundation stones were scattered at random.

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Bottoms up . . . .

Getting to the bottom of things, some of the old timbers were in pretty good shape, others not so.

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Progress . . . .

The new floor joists are going in.  Before we got the floor boards down we had a major snowstorm and I had to dig several wheelbarrow loads of snow out from between all the joists so we could go forward. Winter construction hazards!

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An old soul . . . .

I found some old window frames that I am restoring with new glass to place in the openings here and on the south side.  The newly restored tack room will have lots of light!

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East end . . . .

The section we had to tear off is being rebuilt and will become two horse stalls once again. Feed Lot has been doing daily inspections and I know he thinks this will be his new home. He invited Tilly over to see his new digs but she shied away, not certain what to think of all this excitement.

IMG_7956.JPGWe are trying to preserve the old shed’s character and many oddities and oldies will remain.  This old shelf continues to be useful and for the moment contains some rusty treasures I salvaged from the “big dig” under the floor.

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Where the cold creeps in . . . .

We will match the lumber on the north wall with old boards we salvaged from the end we pulled down.  Might have to do some replacements and will cut batten strips to replace those that have fallen away.

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Tin window . . . .

I have no recollection of what might have happened to this window–in the century that has passed since this structure was built anything could have occurred.  I have located old replacement frames and will rebuild these windows for light in what will once again become the tack room. Waiting on the steel and better weather to get the roof finished and detail work finalized.  December and January have been colder and snowier than any recent winter we have experienced.  Murphy’s Law–if it can happen it will!  So far the carpenter hasn’t suffered frostbite, chilblains or any serious condition from exposure to beastly weather–or at least he has not complained.

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Underpinnings . . . .

We used 6 x 6 treated timbers and old foundation stones to shore up the west end.  It had to be jacked up to get everything in place.  Should be good for another 100 years or so.

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One of the few nice days . . . .

The old doors will go back across the front of the west end and middle section once they have been rebuilt and reinforced.  The east end section will have to have new doors or gates–decision still up in the air.  We are making this up as we go along!  Stay tuned.

STEER CRAZY

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“Got hay?” . . . .

Abraham, our favorite steer (he is the only) has a distinct personality, and he’s pretty bull-headed even though (ahem) he is no longer a bull.  When he did not show up for his evening hay, we wondered where he could be.  He always beats Tilly to the barn at feeding time and his absence was noted.  We finally spied him standing somewhat forlornly under the boxelder tree, one of his hangouts.  What could be holding him up?  On closer inspection, we could see he was on the wrong side of the fence that runs adjacent to the tree.  Neither one of us wanted to wade through the snow drifts to inspect the fence line to see how he could have gotten into the neighbor’s pasture.  After a long silence, I volunteered.  Turns out, the fence was fine and it did not appear he had jumped over it. Feed Lot (his pet name) was stubbornly waiting by the fence hoping for a miracle that would make the fence disappear.

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Pals . . . .

We walked about half a mile back to the road and up the lane to the neighbor’s horse pasture.  The gate was undisturbed, but stock panels that were wired to a post had been forcibly bent until a large opening was evident.  Only one critter around this place could have done that much damage.  A couple days earlier the horses had pushed a panel down from the inside and escaped, but Feed Lot had to bend two panels inward against the post to make his way into the pasture–you guessed it–at feeding time!

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The horns of a dilemma . . . .

We had two problems at hand.  One was the herd of horses in the pasture where Feed Lot had broken through the fence.  We didn’t dare release them but we had to get Feed Lot through the gate.  I tossed a basket of hay in the far corner of the pasture to distract the horses while Michael worked on steering the mule-headed steer who refused to take any suggestions.  When Michael tried coaxing him toward the gate Feed Lot ran the opposite direction.  We wearied of the chase as the steer grew more belligerent and darkness was falling.  We decided he was smart enough to break in, surely he could break out!  If he broke through the fence again we would have to risk having runaway horses, but temporarily it would solve our problem with the steer.

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Mother and sons . . . .

Feed Lot’s mother, Panda lives adjacent to the pasture where he was trapped.  Next day  we attempted to round up the lost boy, thinking he would be hungry and ready to listen to reason.  Instead he ignored us and stood in the middle of the pasture bellowing for his mom who responded to his cries of woe by hovering along her side of the fence.  We cut an opening in another section of fence leading to our property in the hopes he would see an escape route and come with us.  I gathered up a bushel basket of hay to coax him but he ignored me.  He ran instead in the opposite direction to the fence-line separating him from his mother and paced back and forth trying to find an opening.  What a mama’s boy!

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Baby picture . . . .

How did this adorable creature become a 2,000 pound tyrant determined to have his way? After a considerable amount of time tromping through layers of snow drifts and ice to capture a steer who didn’t seem to believe we had his best interests at heart, we were exhausted.  Then, when it seemed we had lost the battle, Feed Lot took off following the fence in an apparent effort to sort out how he had gotten into so much trouble.  When he came nearer to the opening we cut in the fence, I coaxed him through with the basket of hay.  He didn’t linger long to eat but headed to the barn at a dead run, positioning himself over his uneaten dinner from the night before.  We repaired the fence and walked back to the house to collapse. We know he will try once again to barge through the fence into the neighbor’s horse pasture to mooch a little hay, now that he knows he can breech the stock panels so easily. And we will start all over again. Anybody want a pet steer?

 

GONE GIRL

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“I can see clearly” . . . .

Tutu, our beloved female cat, was gone.  No trace of her anywhere.  We searched all the sheds, enclosures, vehicles and places we thought she might be.  She and her buddy Oscar follow us all day long as we do chores and work on projects outdoors.  She loves to explore, and sneaks into places she shouldn’t be if we are not watchful.  She also has an independent streak that speaks loudly about her intentions–“I’ll go where I please!”

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“Where are the birds who perch here?” . . . .

More than the other cats, she likes to find a high-level perch.  That may be because she is the only female among a gang of guys–Oscar, Bleu and Mr. Mouse–who are not always friendly towards her.  Even Oscar, her roommate and playmate since they were tiny kittens, can be rough and rowdy with her and she has to spit and howl and fight back, which she does very well.  Nobody is going to work the herd on her!

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“I can get to the top of this post!” . . . .

We searched the entire area for her, calling her name and hoping to see her mysterious green eyes and exoitc face come bounding out of her hiding place.  I fed Oscar and laid her can of food aside, awaiting her return.  It grew dark and we gave up the search for the day.  At 4:00 a.m. this morning we were awake and wondering.  What had we missed?  When had we last seen her?  Michael remembered he had set the live trap out by the old garage, and decided he had better check.  There would be no sleeping with that thought lodged in his brain, so he pulled on warm clothes and tromped outside to check the trap.  Nothing.

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“Where is she?” . . . .

When I opened the door to the garden shed this morning (their living quarters), Oscar seemed a little bewildered at first, and then overly friendly.  I could tell he missed Tutu and was seeking some reassurance.  I needed some too.  This little cat has a hold on our hearts and we simply did not want to believe something awful had happened to her.  Did a fox take her?  A bobcat or coyote?  There were so many possibilities and none seemed hopeful.

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High-flyer . . . .

Our morning trip to the barn had a sense of urgency–did we overlook someplace where she may have holed up?  Did she decide a warm haystack and Tilly’s barn were more fun than sharing the garden shed with Oscar?  Would we find her there?  Suddenly Michael remembered he had opened the granary to store some things for me–we had not thought to look there.  Neither of us could recall seeing her nearby when he opened the door and he did not recall her going inside while he was there.  He suggested that I walk over and check the granary.  I tromped through snowdrifts, sagebrush and ice and as I approached the granary, I heard a cat crying out.  I sobbed and pounded on the door, so happy to hear what I knew were  her cries for help.  Michael ran to the barn for a hammer, as the granary door is impossible to open without one.  It seemed like an eternity to me, but finally the door sprung open and out she came, none the worse for wear.

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“What is all the fuss about?” . . . .

It was hard to shake the “what ifs” as we tried to imagine the outcome if Michael had not thought of the granary.  We rarely open it and it is far enough off the road and our daily walking path that we could not have heard her cries.  We decided Tutu had used up one of her nine lives.  It will be interesting to see what she does with her remaining eight.

Wyoming’s Historic LX Bar Ranch

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Gateway to LX Bar . . . .

Cattle rancher and politician John B. Kendrick began construction in 1910 on a set of stone buildings on the west bank of the Powder River on land he purchased from A. J. Collins in 1902.  His goal was to consolidate his other ranch holdings–the K and the OW, which stretched across the Wyoming state line into Montana, encompassing a vast empire of 210,000 acres.  It was a full day’s ride from the OW in Montana to the LX Bar.

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The cornerstone of the LX Bar . . . .

The LX Bar brand was originally owned by the Stanton-Howard Livestock Company that ran cattle along the Powder River as early as 1878.  The brand passed on to Collins, and then to Kendrick, who set up a spectacular ranch headquarters that stand today as a testament to his ambition.

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West side entry to ranch house . . . .

The Powder River can be seen in the background and carves out a wide river bed that ebbs and flows, changing course with the seasons.  A long porch extends along the entire east side of the house, facing the morning sun and the river.   Master stonemason Oscar Husman was hired to build the five- bedroom house, bunkhouse, main barn, processing barn, solar-heated poultry barn, and a service building used for laundry, cooking, ice storage and coal storage.  All were built with eighteen-inch-thick sandstone walls and two-foot-wide foundations.

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Cook house and service building . . . .

The sandstone outcroppings that rim the hill sides in the area above the river became quarries for the stone cutters, who also included the Byland brothers, the Hedeen brothers, and Richard Salstrom.  During construction, Husman and his family lived at the site.

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The main barn . . . .

The LX Bar is located in the northern Powder River Basin of northeast Wyoming, just east of the Campbell-Sheridan county line and just south of the Montana border.  Kendrick believed the county road was going to be put in along the west side of the Powder River. The road does begin on the west side and travels by the K Ranch (today’s PeeGee Ranch) and Kendrick Canal before crossing over to the east side of the river near the junction of the river and Clear Creek.  Unfortunately, the rural electric lines were put in along the road and the LX  Bar was never converted to electricity.

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Processing barn . . . .

Cattle from Texas trail drives were brought through a corral, dipping station and holding pens before being turned loose on the range.

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Dipping station . . . .

A long concrete chute steps down about 10 feet at the deepest point to immerse the cattle in a potion concocted to kill ticks and other pests.  Cowboys would dunk the cattle’s heads as they came through to be sure they were completely submerged.

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Exterior of dipping station . . . .

This bovine swimming pool extended about 100 feet in length and it must have been quite a feat and a spectacle to immerse several hundred cattle in this manner.  Where was Temple Grandin when you needed her?

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Sentinels of the past . . . .

Cedar posts were cut from the nearby pine ridge and are still standing strong in this corral at the processing barn 106 years later.

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Solar heated poultry barn . . . .

I found this structure to be particularly interesting.  Built into the hillside, it is protected from the Wyoming winds and snow during winter, and remains cool in summer.  The windows face east for maximum sunlight and solar gain.  They are currently boarded up as part of the stabilization effort underway by the Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources Department.

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Chicken roosts . . . .

The interior of the poultry barn was dark and difficult to photograph, but these birds lived in relative splendor compared with most early day chicken houses.

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Poultry barn . . . .

Funding is not available at this time for a complete restoration of the LX Bar, however since the ranch buildings and 50 acres were acquired this past summer, recent work on the ranch has included mortar replacement, chimney and wall stabilization, roof maintenance, manure removal and the “buttoning up” of various openings.

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Main barn and corral . . . .

The main barn is immense and encompasses two distinct wings–one running east and west and one running north and south, joined in the center by the horse barn.  The blacksmith shop is in the east end.

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Horse barn . . . .

Horses were penned in the corral at the main barn or kept in the stable.  These timbers and wood planks seem as rugged and sturdy as the day they were constructed.

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Sandstone detailing . . . .

The rounded edges in the horse barn took some effort and precision.  The stonemasons did a fine job of it.  Makes for a nice perch for the birds.

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Blacksmith shop . . . .

Some of the new roofing materials seem at odds with the natural surroundings of stone and wood.  All of the buildings had tin roofing which had begun to loosen and blow away. Some replacements pieces had to be added, as well as tightening down all the existing tin roofing to prevent water damage.

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Tack room . . . .

Saddles, bridles, harnesses and a variety of leather appurtenances were stored in two large rooms.

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Bunkhouse . . . .

Cowboys had their own quarters.  One old timer recalls that in winter, the frost would be built up on the stone walls inside and they would be forced to move their bunks in to the center of the room around the stove.  Wyoming winters used to be more severe!

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Cowboy dipping station . . . .

The wash room in the bunkhouse still contains this old ceramic bathtub.  It appears somebody borrowed the plumbing, but since they didn’t have running water, it doesn’t matter.  Water had to be heated on the stove for a Saturday night bath, and likely more than one cowboy made it through one tub of clean water.

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Bunkhouse facing east . . . .

The handsome stone columns and porches  on the living quarters made for a very refined structure on the prairie.  The design of these structures must be attributed to the master stonemason Oscar Husman.

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The cook stove . . . .

The primary kitchen that served the ranch was in the multi-purpose building that comprised the laundry and coal and ice storage.  This old stove could tell some stories about the cooks and meals that were created on its burners.  I doubt they had to resort to cooking shoe leather, however, and could not help but wonder how the shoe was placed on the stove??

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Main ranch house, different perspective . . . .

In 1910, the same year this ranch headquarters was constructed,  John Kendrick was elected to the Wyoming State Senate.  Four years later, he would become governor of Wyoming.  He was re-elected in 1922 and 1928.  He and his wife Eula built their dream home in Sheridan– Trail End– which was donated by the Sheridan County Historical Society to the State of Wyoming for use as a historic house museum.  Nearly 20,000 visitors annually tour the Trail End.

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Closed for now . . . .

The Kendrick Cattle Company was in existence until 1988 when family members discontinued operation of the ranch holdings.  In 1992 the ranch became the property of music producer James Guercio, who recently donated the ranch headquarters and some land to the State of Wyoming to be part of the state parks system.  It is the only historical ranch in Wyoming that is now owned by the public.  All the buildings are being stabilized, but the ranch is closed to public access awaiting major renovations and a pedestrian bridge across Powder River. That should be some bridge to stretch across the meandering Powder — a mile wide and an inch deep–too thin to plow, too thick to drink!!

Autumn Glory of Maine

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Somewhere in Yarmouth . . . .

Mid Coast

An autumn visit to Maine is replete with amazing fall foliage, quaint villages, colonial and Victorian architecture, lighthouses, the Atlantic ocean and seafaring culture.  Reads just like a travel brochure, right?  And let us not forget lobster rolls, lobster steamed, lobster grilled, lobster salad, lobster chowder – did I miss any variations?

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Lands end . . . .

Our only rainy weather came on our first day driving from Portland to Bailey Island.  Hurricane Matthew pushed the rain up the east coast, but thankfully, cooler air from Canada brought us clear skies, and delightful crisp autumn days going forward.

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For the sea faring men . . . .

A small park on the point of Bailey Island features this memorial to “all Maine fishermen who have devoted their lives to the sea.”

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Looking for lunch . . . .

A wide variety of shore birds made for interesting bird watching.  I regretted not having a block of time to spend quietly taking in the scene. Ah well, down the road we go.

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The Wyoming – the essence . . . .

A rainy day seemed like the perfect time to visit the Maine Maritime Museum complex that extends along the Kennebec River in Bath. The 20-acre historic Percy and Small shipyard became the home of the museum in the 1970’s.    An extensive collection of maritime history is housed in a modern building dedicated in 1989, and the original workshops  and outbuildings for shipbuilding dating back to 1607 are well preserved. More than 5,000 ships have been built in the area, including the Wyoming, the last and largest six-masted schooner built.  As the 100th anniversary of the Wyoming’s launching drew near, the museum dedicated a sculpture on the site where the Wyoming was built in 1909.

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Calling all landlubbers . . . .

Next, backtracking to Harpswell for a bowl of fish chowder at seaside as the sun went down over Casco Bay.  Spending the night at Cundy’s Harbor in”The Captain’s Watch,” an 1862 landmark home built during the Civil War as the “Union Hotel.”  Recognized by the National Register of Historic Places and the Harpswell Heritage Trust, the eight room original section survives as Maine’s “oldest known coastal hotel structure.”  This bed and breakfast did not disappoint, and the breakfast conversation with the other guests, none of whom were from Maine, was great fun.

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Come sail away . . . .

DownEast and Acadia

Rockland is home to the Farnsworth Museum and the Wyeth Center, which features paintings by all three generations of the Wyeths.  The artists spent summers in Maine not too far from Rockland, and many of their great works feature the coastline, local residents and wildlife.  We toured the sculpture garden and all the galleries.  It would be one of our last quiet interludes.  The Columbus Day holiday was reputed to be one of the busiest weekends of the year and Freeport, home of L. L. Bean, was so full of people we drove through and headed north to Bar Harbor.

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The “cottage” district . . . .

We walked the Shorepath, a scenic waterfront trail that follows the edge of Bar Harbor’s cottage district where wealthy “rusticators” kept vacation homes and escaped the summer heat of northeastern cities.  We walked the length and breadth of Bar Harbor, taking in the history, sampling the restaurants and enjoying sumptuous accommodations at the Bass Cottage Inn.

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Room for the grandkids  . . . .

One lovely cottage after another!

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And all the relatives . . . .

Bar Harbor is a relatively small community that is filled to the brim when cruise ships pull in to allow everyone on shore to shop or tour Acadia National Park nearby.

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The view from Cadillac Mountain . . . .

Acadia is 47,000 acres of mountain, forest and rock-bound shore that became a summer retreat in the 1800’s for the wealthiest Americans including the Rockefellers, Morgans, Fords, Vanderbilts, Carnegies and Astors.  Around 1900 early summer residents joined forces to create a preserve called Sieur de Monts National Monument; it then became Lafayette National Park and in 1929 it was named Acadia National Park.  Much of the funding for the land purchases came from philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr.

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Mount Desert Island . . . .

At 1,532 feet, Cadillac Mountain is the highest point within 50 miles of the sea from Maine to Rio de Janeiro.  Standing atop the mountain at dawn you can be the first U.S. citizen to see a new day.  The first visitors  arrived about 6,000 years ago and the Wabanaki Indians named this place “Pemetic” or “sloping land.”  We made a visit to the Abbe Museum which is dedicated to the Wabanaki history, culture and archeology in the area.

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What a bridge!

After two days of touring Acadia, and dodging lots of people in the process, we were ready for the road.  Heading south once more, we traveled the backroads and byways.

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Lovely day for a walk! . . . .

The jetty near Rockland looked like a nice walk.  It doesn’t look too far to reach the lighthouse and we decided it would be refreshing to get out of the car for awhile.

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Step in a crack and . . . .

Huge blocks of granite piled up in the sea create a fairly level walking surface.  Or so it seemed.  Just a few feet short of a mile, the jetty was a vigorous workout and took longer than we expected.  We made it all the way to the lighthouse and back and it felt good to be back in the car!

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“What, no snacks?” . . . .

This character seemed very disappointed that we had no treats to share with him and gave us an indignant stare as we walked by

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Coastal Maine Botanic Gardens . . . .

The Mid Coast

Yet another side trip to Boothbay Harbor to visit the Maine Botanic Gardens turned out to be a bonus.  We had no reservation for the night and were somewhat apprehensive that we could face a “sold out” situation wherever we headed.  But we resolved to visit the gardens and take our chances.  We were so glad we did.

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Just grass . . . .

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Just water . . . .

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Just a pinecone . . . .

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Just a waterfall . . . .

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Just this and that . . . .

 

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Just an evergreen arch . . . .

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Just a butterfly . . . .

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Just a milkweed . . . .

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Just a scarecrow . . . .

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Just a lot of pumpkins . . . .

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Just a fountain . . . .

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Just for fun . . . .

Boothbay turned out to be yet another lovely surprise.  We did not expect to find much of a town and were somewhat anxious as we had no reservation for the night and expected we would have to push on further south at the end of the day.  But lo – yet another wonderful harbor and colonial village waiting to be explored!  We drove around trying to sort out what our next step would be and after negotiating a dizzying array of one-way streets up and down hills, pulled up in front of my kind of place.

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A swing in a tree . . . .

Home for the night in the most charming bed and breakfast.  I didn’t try out the swing but I wanted to.  The innkeeper recommendation for an Italian restaurant sounded great–perhaps it was time for a break from eating lobster!  We ended up with cioppino, or fish stew which contained shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, squid and I don’t know whatever else.  It was a great meal.

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Oh look, another lighthouse! . . . .

Another innkeeper suggestion was taking a short island drive around Ocean Point before returning to our route south.  It was a great idea.  We next made our way back to Free Port and this time, had to stop in at L. L. Bean for a little shopping.  The success of this Maine retailer has spread throughout town and we noted outlet stores for about every major brand name.  We left our money with L. L. Bean.

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Ghost of a residential mansion . . . .

South Portland

Fort Williams Park on Cape Elizabeth was just what we needed for an ocean view.  This former mansion was converted to officers’ quarters as the military developed a fort along the coast. There are many ruins worth exploring, but the ocean was what we came to see.

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Pounding surf . . . .

The tide was out, but the waves crashed into the rocky coast, sending spray and foam up into the air.  We sat on a bench and just listened to the waves.  We don’t hear such things in Wyoming.

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No place for a swim . . . .

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The fort has an interesting history . . . .

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No, another lighthouse! . . . .

One of the best known lighthouses in Maine and America–the Portland Head Light.  We stopped at the visitor center to try to pick up a brochure on the history of the area but they were totally out.  The elderly gentleman who worked the center said they had record crowds over the weekend and ran out of all their printed material.

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Resort for the summer people . . . .

We left Cape Elizabeth and headed south to Kennebunk Port, summer retreat of the rich and famous.  The shore is lined with stately homes and a long stretch of very nice beach which people were enjoying for a walk but the temperatures were a bit cool for bathing.

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Nice rollers for surfing . . . .

We watched the surfers try their luck at riding the waves.  They wore body suits to keep warm, but it was a crisp day with a stiff breeze.  Brrrr!  Nice way to spend the summer, though.

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Dogs like it here too . . . .

Back to Portland to explore the Old Port district.  Cobblestone streets, revitalized warehouses with exposed brick and beams, and more restaurants and shops than you can sample on one short visit.  And of course, breakfast the next day would find us at Holy Donuts, famed for their potato donuts (my grandmother called them spudnuts and hers were famous too!).

Upon returning home, the first thing I shopped for was a doughnut cutter.  I had made my grandmother’s recipe for spudnuts before but had to use a biscuit cutter which left them smaller than a traditional donut.  So now, I’m ready to bake a batch and see if I can match the Holy Donuts of Maine.  All I have to do is go to “Wecipes.”

Barn Again

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Strike a match? . . . .

This 100+ year-old barn has been hanging on even though it obviously has not received any tender loving care in a very long time.  About a dozen years ago I removed the old doors from the front and stored them for safe keeping, making myself a promise I would be back to restore the barn of my childhood memories.  Two years ago, we pulled up a trailer and emptied out all the “trash and treasures” that had been dumped inside for the last thirty years.  It was a daunting task and we didn’t get it all, but enough to make a significant dent.  I spent a summer when I was about 13 years old painting the barns, and this north wall still bears faded red paint.  And today we pulled off the sagging end that we will rebuild.  Ahem.

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oops . . . .

We tossed a rope and chain over the end in an attempt to remove the east end which had been pirated for lumber and left hanging in the wind.  We thought the 1 x 6 boards on the roof would snap like twigs, but what a mistake that was.  Everything BUT the roof boards snapped.  Ah well, no harm done, really.  We decided to move the end wall that came down over to a new foundation and start over rebuilding to meet the existing section.

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The work begins . . . .

With a crow bar, I began prying off the boards from the wreckage to be used again.  The condition of the lumber is surprisingly good and I love the aged patina.  We will use all that we can in rebuilding the structure.

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Preservation lumber pile . . . .

By the end of the day I had deconstructed every board, including rafters, support posts and wall boards.  I stacked it all in the order that I removed it.  And headed for a hot soak in the old bathtub–I ached in every place in my body.  Meanwhile, Michael has been all day digging post holes and pounding posts for a paddock we are building for Tillie.  Move over to make room in the tub!

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“Hey, an historic find! . . . .

I had previously stacked a pile of foundation stones near the barn that I dug up from the foundation of an old log cabin that was eventually moved to the Gatchell Museum in Buffalo.  I figured I would need a few good stones to shore up the foundation when and if I ever got started on a restoration, and as I dug out the rotted floor boards and began removing old floor joists my shovel struck something very hard.  A few of the stones originally placed under the barn were still there, sunk down in the dirt and out of view.

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Volunteers needed! . . . .

We knew we would need to add structural support and strengthen the walls.  Working on the structure was making us a little nervous.  Half of the old building seemed sound and stood as sturdy as could be expected, but the end we pulled off was left hanging a bit precariously.  The decision was made to scrounge for structural supports in an ancient pile of leftover lumber nearby.  We found a telephone pole in good condition, cut off two 10′ lengths and began drilling holes for corner posts which we would fill with concrete.  We unearthed one more pole and are searching for a fourth to complete the corner posts of the new/old structure.  An antique oak walking beam Dad purchased in a load of oil field surplus many years ago still seems pretty sound and is long enough for a header front and back.  We will purchase new pressure treated 2 x 6 boards to lay across the foundation stones and build up from there.

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Never too late . . . .

This photo will serve as a reminder of what we started with.  Restoration will take some time, but I cannot wait until we can do the “after” photo.  As I look at this, I am reminded of what was.  And I am reminded of what a wreck our old chicken house was when we began to restore it.  The room on the west end (left) of the barn was the tack room where saddles, bridles and horse paraphernalia were kept.  The double doors in the middle opened to the barrels of rolled oats and animal feed.  The right hand section, sagging precariously, contained two horse stalls with built-in feed bunks. Lumber removed here many years ago left things in pretty bad shape.  A large corral and loading chute, long since removed, was attached on the right.

Why save an ancient wreck of a barn, with all the challenges, grit and grime?  Because it holds so many memories.  Because it is a good deal cheaper to salvage than build new. Because it speaks to the past and is part of our family heritage in this place for nearly 70 years. And because in the end it is worth it.