Highlands Highlights

More Highlands highlights. I’m sure the photo, as amazing as it is, doesn’t do the real thing justice. Still, that I know someone who was there and actually stood there to take the photo makes it that much more real.


A Close Shave

Compared to other parts of the Northeast, especially New York and New Jersey, we got through “Superstorm” Sandy with relatively little problem. At the height of the storm and its immediate aftermath about half the town was without power and a number of roads were closed due to downed trees and wires. Two days later and there are no outages reported in our community. I really have to credit Central Maine Power and emergency crews for responding as quickly and effectively as they have.

CMP crews "battle" to get power back on

As part of our local emergency management team I also have to give CMP kudos for their new outage mapping tool. This made keeping track of the effects of the storm, at least with respect to power outages, and making other decisions like opening shelters, incredibly easy. And with the state emergency management WebEOC we had the best and most up-to-date information we have ever had in a widespread emergency. Used to be we had to rope one of the line crew supervisors into coming to our morning status meetings, offering them promises of food and hot coffee and/or relying on third hand, often inaccurate, and always old, information. Those line crew supervisors are still welcome to the food and hot coffee, but we’re okay with them staying focused on getting the lights back on instead of sitting in our meetings, too.

Mission Accomplished

Three months later…

After setting the goal of riding the entire length of Route 11 for myself last year, I can now say, “mission accomplished.” No, really.

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Battening Down

So all up and down the East Coast people are preparing for or, by now, feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy. By the time the storm reaches northern New England it will be a tropical (or post-tropical) depression, but I expect it to cause plenty of headaches anyway. In our area we are expecting rainfall of 2-3 inches with locally higher amounts and winds of 40 mph with gusts to 60. Local weather forecasters have said we may see gusts as high as 70 mph, not hurricane force, but strong enough to cause trees to lose limbs or fall altogether.

Even though it’s late October in southern Maine, a lot of trees still have their leaves, which may result in more downed trees and limbs and more power outages. Power outages, along with some localized flooding, are our primary concern. We’ve already gotten our local emergency response team up and going, and tomorrow morning we’ll assess conditions and decide whether to activate our local emergency shelter.

It’s tempting to pooh-pooh a lot of the hype. Goodness knows there’s plenty of it, but there’s no sense in ignoring the weather forecasts and taking sensible precautions. So part of our day has been taking things down outside, putting porch furniture away, and finally putting the storm windows down (oh, the joys of an old house). Oil lamps are full, we have water and non-perishables should we need them, and are otherwise just expecting a couple of really wet and windy days.

Stay safe, everyone.


Strangers in a Not So Strange Land

After riding through the rain and mist, and escaping whatever ghosts there were (or weren’t) in the Haynesville Woods, crossing into New Brunswick and rewarding ourselves with a very nice German-style dinner, Don and I made our way up the eastern side of the St. John River. Our destination was Eagle Lake, Maine, home of legendary (in Maine, anyway) legislator John Martin.

We rode about 350 miles on the first day of our trip. Rolling out of bed the next morning I was reminded how much more physical riding a motorcycle is than driving a car. That I was probably a little more tense because of the rain most likely added to the muscle strain, but a little Tylenol and a little more Motrin took care of that. Some coffee and a hearty German-style breakfast (no beer, thanks), along with clearing skies got us ready for the day’s excursion tracing the northeast border of Maine and the St. John Valley.

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Change of Season

Summer is over. You didn’t get the memo?

Leaves are changing color in our part of Maine, agricultural fairs will be held over the next few weeks, and there is a decided shift in the local produce at the grocery store – more pumpkins and apples, less corn and zucchini.

I had hoped to take an early fall motorcycle ride with my friend Mark today, but the weather wasn’t very cooperative. It turned out to be a beautiful day by early/mid-afternoon, but a fun ride in the mist, drizzle, or rain is just not my idea of, well, fun. So I got my grocery shopping done earlier than I thought I would and marked the change of season with a change in the dining room candle. So long Hydrangea, hello Mulled Cider.


Shifting Gears


I’ve read a few blog and Facebook posts recently about the discernible shift in life’s patterns and nature’s patterns that come with the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Kids and teachers go back to school, it’s dark earlier in the evening and later in the morning, the days and nights get cooler, all that stuff. From what I’ve seen it seems to infect people with a sense of melancholy about the passage of time that spring and summer don’t.

In our own lives we’ve seen this same kind of seasonal shift, though it seemed to happen in some form of slow motion, a kind of gradual partial re-emptying of the nest, if you will. Our eldest flew back to Washington and her senior year on the 24th of August and our middle daughter left for a fall semester at the University of Glasgow on the 31st. Our youngest daughter and my wife, a teacher, both returned to school at about the same time. All of this combined to radically change the structure, pace, and feel of home life, though my work schedule really doesn’t change that much from one season to the next (except for budget season).

Getting back to the shift metaphor, it seems like we’ve come to the end of an extended leisurely cruise in sixth gear with the top down. Now it’s time to put the hard top on, put it in four-wheel drive, downshift, and power through until next spring. It’s not like there can’t be things to look forward to and enjoy, but it seems the coming seasons are much more of a long, hard slog than the rest of the year.