Monday, January 27, 2014

23 September 2013 Caching Quebec

Neither of us had visited Quebec since we started geocaching. This trip offered a long drive to Canada, but was the best chance we could see in the near future. We left New Hampshire and made our way through Vermont. We stopped for a few Vermont finds on the way including one a relocated covered bridge in Groveton. The cache was at one end of the bridge, but I was drawn to the other end of the covered bridge and a really well kept Alco 0-4-0 steam switcher. The switcher was last used by the now closed Groveton Paper Company.

We also tacked on a rare first to find with a traditional cache near the border which had been unfound in over a week. The cache was at April's Maple and had us stumped for a bit since the posted coordinates were in the parking lot. We looked for a bit then saw the husband half of the farm business He stopped to talk with us and was soon joined by his wife. Neither remembered the exact location of the cache, but were certain it was closer to the road. Armed with that bit of knowledge, Ali soon had a nice hide in hand. We marked better coordinates before heading into the business and everything maple. We talked for a bit and found some great maple products before making our way to the border.

Unlike our entry and return from Ontario last year, no one at either crossing seemed even slightly aware of geocaching. Our first stop was a small rural cemetery with a nicely camouflaged containter at the gate to the cemetery. Ali had solved a few puzzles and we soon found ourselves at a roadside cache across from a number of moogles. We enjoyed the rural scenery before marking our way to Baldwin Mills.

After a stop at the local store for some snacks and a drink, we made our way to Harold Baldwin Park. Besides nice woods for hiking the park had a climb through a rock trail to a very nice overlook. We spotted our first benchmark in Quebec (as if the blue triangle weren't a big signal) but were unable to come up with the cache at this nice rock formation.

We made a second park visit at the grounds of a fish hatchery. The trail ran along the stream including a very old log dam. Neither of us had seen a dam constructed like this It had been breeched some time ago, but the remaining construction was interesting.

We both liked the fishing rod and reel arches at the door of the hatchery.

It was a long drive for a short visit, but we enjoyed a very rural slice of Quebec and two super walks in the park,

Saturday, January 18, 2014

22 September 2013 6288

Our main plan for the day was to go to the summit of Mount Washington. We had a reservation window so we had to be on time. For once, I didn't hold us up so we were actually early. It gave us a chance to stop for a first cache at a fish hatchery. The hide was in a nice section of woods. After finding the cache, we stopped to feed the fish.

They are the picture of order until the food flies.

We still had time for other diversions before our Mount Washington visit so we stopped for a walk along a trail beside the Ammonoosuc River. The fall colors were wonderful as was the fast running river.

We left the River and made the drive over to the parking area for the ascent to the summit of Mount Washington. There are three ways to reach the summit at 6288 feet, hiking, driving, or riding the cog railroad. Driving was out of the question. We would either hike or take the railroad. It was a tough decision and I hope to make the hike on a future trip, but at a late September date, the railroad was the best decision. Really cold weather and snow is a very strong possibility this late in the year. Besides, a ride up a mountain in a specialized train first built in the late 1800's can't be found everywhere!

Our train was waiting on the tracks when we arrived.

The first ride each Sunday is made by an old steam engine. Our train waited the return of the steam engine. It made quite a sight returning from the top of the mountain.

The seats pivot as the elevation changes so the riders remain parallel to the ground. Each ride has a tour guide and riders are encouraged to move around and take photos during the ride. From standing at the open front of the train to dropping the side windows, the ride is a shutterbug's dream.

I think Ali is hoping I would sit down.

The returning train passes us on its way down.

During the ascent, the train passes the tree line leaving a rocky landscape for the view outside.

The cairn in the center of the picture is one of many that lines the trail so hikers don't get lost or disoriented in low visibility (like today).

There's not much to see with a bino today.

The lack of visibility is very disorienting. With the train ride, visitors are only permitted one hour at the summit. We hoped to find the caches and benchmarks, visit the waymarks, and just play tourists. We were able to find the location of the virtual and leave our painted rock, a couple benchmarks, and a few waymarks. We were able to visit the gift shop and spend a few minutes inside the visitor center, but an hour when your moving cautiously time passes very quickly.

Our return train arrived much too soon.

We were back at the base station and our amazing journey was over way too quickly. The cog railroad will always be an amazing memory. Back at the base station, we played tourists and explored the station before enjoying lunch.

We headed back along the water and woods to enjoy more caches, the fall colors, and some really fast water.

Our last stop was Weeks State Park. There were a few caches to find in the park so we left the car near the park entrance and enjoyed one last hike. On our way to the peak, we stopped for an overlook of the Presidential Range.

The park was closed to everything but walk-in traffic and this unique fire tower appeared to be closed for the season as well. If not, I would have enjoyed climbing to the top for an even better view.

There was rain in the distance, but we were spared getting wet.

On our second trip to Maine, I really hoped we would see and photograph a moose. We got half that filled today. One our return journey we were passing the fish hatchery when a moose emerged from the woods. I hoped to get an image or two, but the vehicle behind us, pulled out and passed us nearly hitting the large animal. I guess it didn't realize we had slowed down because the animal was there. The near miss was enough to make the moose quickly retreat into the woods. A moose photo will have to wait.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

21 September 2013 Enjoying Portland

Our first stop of the day was filled with much anticipation. On our last visit we had stopped by the farmers market and had a great time. At that time the market was held during the week and was in downtown. Besides some wonderful looking farm produce, there was a lot of great prepared food and more than a few places selling amazing baked goods. The market had moved to a large city park and was now held on Saturdays. There was little in baked goods and prepared foods offerings, but the produce was sensational. Walking through a market like that makes me wish we had a means of cooking our meals. Everything looked great.

We finally settled on a couple jars of jam with the hope they would survive the flight home and Ali bought some apples for the week and got an early lunch which looked and smelled great. As happens so often, food was not my top priority in the late morning. My happy highlight of the trip was finding a stand that sold at least a dozen exotic varieties of garlic. I love garlic. I really love roasted garlic. I had no idea there were so many exotic varieties out there. I picked four to try out roasted once we returned home. The market had changed, but it was still a fun walk and is still the best farm market I have visited.

On our way to Sebago Lake, we stopped by Chaffin Pond Preserve for a couple finds. We enjoyed the trails and a nice fall walk in the woods.

On our last trip to Maine, we cached at Sebago Lake but didn't get to the state park. We enjoyed our time near the lake on that visit so Ali planned time at Sebago Lake State Park on this visit. It was a super place to spend an afternoon. We had fun on the trails, and I got to enjoy looking at the mica.

While on the trails we found a number of caches placed by longlakeloonies. At one point, we were searching for a cache and were ready to give up thinking it was missing. As we were picking up our cache bags, Ali spotted a saint bernard on the trail approaching from the other direction. We knew longlakeloonies had saint bernards and cached with them. Not that many people have saint bernards. A few seconds later the family appeared with a new cache container. All we could say was wow, Maine cachers know how to treat visitors. They were actually doing a maintenance walk on their caches and had spare containers. We spent some time talking caching before moving on.

I can't explain why I like finding old cars in the woods, but I do. Maybe its the ponderings of how do they get there or what history did they see before they came to this end. I always liked the early 50's Mercury so the one was a great sighting. I think the other is an early 50's Chevy with the post-war fenders. Both are slowly rusting into oblivion and being consumed by the mud of the wetlands.

The area was also home to a small bottle dump. From the gathered collection, I guess I am not the only person who likes to see what old bottles are lying around. The milk bottle was faded, but the Orange Crush brought back childhood memories. I never liked Crush, but one of my sisters did.

As we approached this log there were at least a dozen turtles hanging out. They have an amazing ability to sense potential danger. One-by-one they either flopped or quietly slid into the water as we arrived. By the time I took this image, only the few, hearty, brave remained.

If you carried your picnic basket the way we approached this area, you would need to be a hearty soul. Although we were not treated to many bird sightings during our visit, this looks like a great place to relax and wait for a few ducks.

We enjoyed the early color changes in the trees as we walked along the water.

We had never seen a hand operated swing bridge before. There's a crank in the floor of the bridge on the pivot point. When a boat approaches and needs to pass, a park employee goes onto the bridge, grabs the handle and walks counterclockwise cranking the bridge open. Once the boat passes, the employee reverses direction, grabs the handle, and walks clockwise to return the bridge to its original position. I can't believe there were ever many of these in existence, but now I've seen one. They should attract volunteers to do this as a workout program.

Starting to rotate...

Halfway there...

Waving the boat through...

Reversing the bridge...

Almost our turn...

We stopped in Casco, Maine for a cache and grange hall Waymarking. A multi in the town took us to Pleasant Lake which certainly lives up to its name.

We found a lightly visited puzzle based on Jim Croce before stopping at this quiet, old rest stop for a cache and a great view of the water.

This was road side near our last cache find. Just looking at the image, I can hear God Save The Queen playing...