Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vintage Photos

When my father-in-law, Jack Rupert, passed away back in April, he left behind all of his worldly belongings. He proved that you don't take it with you. Earlier in the month, my wife, her sisters, and brother went over to her mother's house to help sort through and reassign all of his stuff.

While some of the crew worked on sorting through his vast collection of tools, my wife spent hours and hours going through his photograph archive. He was a photographer by trade. He was trained in the armed forces and was shipped to Germany during the Korean Conflict. During that period, he was a driver for officers and VIP's, but he was also an official military photographer. One of his most unfortunate duties was to photograph dead soldiers for identification purposes.

While my father-in-law was busy in Germany, his older brother was busy flying planes for the Navy. In the hoards of photos my wife uncovered, she came across several of her Uncle Paul Rupert (Known later in his career as Captain Paul Rupert). Paul began flying F-4U planes just after WWII and continued flying into the middle of the Vietnam War. I know that at least the two photos of Paul next to his jet aircraft were taken by his brother. I'm not sure who took the others. Paul passed away some time ago now, but these photos live on.

Paul and his F-4U

Paul in his A-1 Skyraider



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Acadia and Maine in Pictures

This photo album contains many photographs that I took on my recent family trip to Maine. I've included all pictures from two of the three days we spent in Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. Also included are shots from our drive down the coast of Maine to Portland.

I've never used Picassa in this way before, so we'll see how it works.

Acadia, Bar Harbor, Maine Coast

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lobsters in Portland

Lobsters were found in Portland Harbor. It's true. I hope you enjoy this slide show recounting our trip aboard The Lucky Catch. I especially enjoy the photo of the lobsters on the cage.

Photographs aren't photographs anymore. Today's cameras have all kinds of options on them. Sometimes, quite by accident, you can have your digital photo camera set to video. What happens is you capture video of a lot of feet.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Aunt Steph's Ryder Family Information

My Aunt Stephanie Danowski spent time digging and gathering information on the Ryder family. Her search involved much looking through official records as well as a trip back to Poland. The following is her narrative transcribed word for word. The original typed manuscript contained several errors that Aunt Steph corrected in pen. I’ve made those changes on this document. Last year I posted a piece written by my cousin, Mike, for his daughter honoring our grandmother, Kamila. Much of the information Mike used in his piece can be found in this raw work by Aunt Steph.

[Click on Picture to Enlarge Image]

Regarding Kamila Kuczynski

Village of Rutka, Town of Suwalki, Parish of Jeleniewo

State of Bialystok with Filipowa its capital

North eastern part of Poland

After the marriage of Jozefa and Jan Kuczynski, they farmed a small piece of land in Rutka. They were the parents of three children, Frank (Kutz), Joseph (Kutz), and Kamila (Rasciszewski-Ryder), when Jan decided to seek his fortune in America. He worked for the railroad, setting railroad ties for the tracks, while his wife and family worked the farm in Poland by hand (Too poor to have a horse). In the course of his work, Jan had an accident resulting in the loss of some fingers, for which he received a settlement of $200. And with the money, he returned to Poland, but being a non-farmer, he soon went into debt and again left for America leaving Jozefa and her three children to take care of themselves. This time he worked in the coal mines of Pennsylvania where he developed lung fever and had to return to Poland-this time in poor health. He lived just two years longer, during which time Stephanie (aunt of the author) was born in April 1900 (16 years after Kamila). When Frank was old enough, he left Poland to work in the steel mills of Massillon [Ohio], sending for his brother to join him in a few years.

This brings us to the story of Kamila. She was born in Rutka on July 21, 1884 and was baptized in the church in Jeleniewo, according to her baptismal certificate obtained by her sister, Stephanie, in 1959. The villages of Rutka and Jeleniewo were destroyed in World War II, but the records were somehow saved.

According to her story, she left Rutka for America in 1904 on the Hamburg-American line, stopping at Liverpool (She did not remember the ship’s name). She was bound for Sag Harbor, since her aunt, Eva (Musnicki) had advanced her $27 for the passage. Among her most prized possessions was the featherbed she had made. This was to serve as her bed on board ship (Steerage Class) and later as a blanket wherever she went.

The ship took 17 days to cross the ocean and upon arriving in New York, she took the wrong train. A stranger finally directed her to the right train, and she was met at Sag Harbor by her uncle, Walter Danielowicz (Daniels) who took her to Aunt Eva’s. When she refused to give up her featherbed, there was an argument, and she went to stay with her Aunt Ludwika Andruskiewicz (Anderson). She found work in the Fahys Watch case Factory at $3 per week, but since she had to pay her aunt $3 for room and board, she looked for new lodging. This she found at Zielinskis’ where she stayed until she was accused of stealing crackers. Fellow workers, Alex Sawicki and Alfons Rasciszewski found her crying in despair, so they took her to the home of the brothers of Alfons; Kazmierz (Charles) and Vincent, where she lived until her marriage to Alfons on December 30, 1906. This took place in St. Casimir’ Polish Church on Greene Avenue in Brooklyn with Rev. Nawrocki performing the ceremony. Vincent and Anthony Wychunas (brother-in-law of Alfons) were witnesses. A reception was held at the home of Julia (Rasciszewski) and Anthony Wychu after which the young couple left for Sag Harbor, where they received a cool greeting. Ursula, Kazmierz ‘s [spelled Cazimir in the original document] wife, would not let Kamila use her stove for cooking-the newly weds ate sandwiches and moved out on their own the next day.

A son, was stillborn and was buried in a newly bought plot in St. Andrew’s Cemetery (Sag Harbor). During the next summer, while the Fahy’s Watch Case Factory was closed for resetting machines, Kamila and Alfons went to Poland (1908) to visit Rutka and Olita. Alfons returned to Sag Harbor to work, but Kamila remained in Poland to help settle the Rasciszewski property and to help her mother and sister prepare to return to America. Their daughter, Helen, was born in Poland and was almost two years old before they started the trip home. Kamila and Helen were bound for Sag Harbor, and Jozefa and Stephanie for Massillon where they were to stay with the families of Frank and Joseph Kutz. At Hamburg, Jozefa was found to have an eye infection and was detained for six weeks, while Kamila and Helen went on. During the ocean trip a measles epidemic broke out among the children and the ship was rerouted to Philadelphia. Helen along with other children were placed in the hospital in isolation. Two weeks later, Kamila was told she could have her child, but when the baby was brought in, it turned out to be a boy, whose mother had left for Chicago the week before, having been told that her baby had already died. Kamila had a hard time convincing the authorities that hers was a little girl, almost two years old. Finally she was told of the error and that her little girl had died and had been buried. She was offered the baby boy, but she refused and went back to Sag Harbor, broken hearted.

Kamila and Alfons lived in several houses in Sag Harbor during the ensuing years; first on Roger Street where Stephanie was born, then on The corner of Atlantic Avenue and Jermain Avenue where Anthony was born, next on the corner of Jermain Avenue and Madison Street (above Korsak’s meat market-It was Soah’s store at the time). Nellie was born there. Finally a home was bought for $1,000 on Atlantic Avenue (Goat Alley). This was paid for in cash saved from taking boarders and cooking meals for factory workers. While living on Atlantic Avenue, Alfons became very sick, first with double pneumonia and then with rheumatism. Kamila went to work as a laundress for the nuns at the Sacred Heart Academy who ran a boarding school for girls. The work was very difficult. The white goods had to be bleached by boiling them in huge vats in the cellar in a lye solution. Then parts of nuns’ habits had to be heavily starched and ironed stiff as boards. In addition to this work, ducks and chickens were raised in the basement level and backyard of the their house. The eggs were exchanged for groceries at Vaughn’s store.

When the school nurse reported that the children were not getting enough milk, Kamila began to look around for a place where she could have a cow and so the North Haven property was bought for $1,500 (cash again) in approximately 1922. The Atlantic Avenue house was sold for $2,000, so there was money for improvements and a cow. Joseph was born on North Haven. Regina and Stanley were born on Atlantic Avenue. When the cow had a calf in the spring, it was raised and kept to provide milk while the older cow was sold at a profit. This procedure was carried out many times with the cows always named Bessie or Baby (in rotation).

The poultry business began in earnest with an incubator in the cellar and a brooder stove in the hen house. During the height of the business, there were two incubators in the cellar with a capacity of 1,200 eggs each. At least two hatches per spring were made, so that upwards of 4,000 chicks were hatched. Frank Krupiniski built the first hen house. Kamila helped him build the second one, and the rest she built with the help of here husband and children. She ran a very profitable business, supplying local stores and families with eggs and chickens. During the spring as many as 600 eggs were picked, cleaned, and packed in crates to ship to market. She had a brisk broiler business in the summer supplying hotels with broilers (her best customer was Mr. McMahon who owned a big hotel in Southampton and ordered up to 100 broilers per Saturday through the summer. The broilers would be caught Friday night and placed in crates. Early Saturday morning, Kamila would start her butchering. She had a little shed with nails banged in at arms length all around the inside. From these nails, she would hang her chickens; then proceed to a slit under the tongue and pierce a nerve near the eye. She would pluck the feathers of each one. The chickens would still be flapping their wings without having a feather on them. She would singe the remaining hair with flaming alcohol and go to split and eviscerate the chickens. Alfons did not like this part of the farming so he continued working at the factory until his eyesight forced him to retire. The poultry business provided money for the education of Stephanie, Anthony, and Nellie. The rest were helped by other means. When Alfons died in 1942, she stepped aside from managing the business, having first Joseph and then Stanley do it, but that did not stop her from doing the work she always liked to do.

Regarding Alfons Rasciszewski

Alfons Rasciszewski was born in July, 1875 in Olita (Alytus), a village on the Nieman River which often served as a boundary between countries. During the Russian-Prussian Alliance, it became a part of Russia. After World War I, it was given to Lithuania. After World War II, it returned to Russia. When Alfons was born, his home was on the Russian side of the river. He was the youngest son of Telka Mikulewicz and Jan Rasciszewski. His older brothers, Vincent and Kazmierz, left for America to avoid serving in the Russian Imperial Army. But Alfons, being the last son, had to remain to serve. He enjoyed army life. For a time, he served as part of the Imperial Guard at Czar Nicholas’ palace. Before that, he was serving with a group crossing Siberia to fight the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War, but the war ended before the group reached there. When Alfons returned to Olita, no one was left of his family. His sister, Tekla, had died and Julia had gone to live in Brooklyn. So his brother, Vincent, sent for him (approx 1900) and got him a job with Fahys Watch Case Factory where he worked for over 35 years.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Speak For The Trees...

Not really.

"Yes, I am the Lorax who speaks for the trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please. But I'm also in charge of the brown Bar-ba-loots, who played in the shade in their Bar-ba-loot suits and happily lived eating truffula fruits. Now, thanks to your hacking my trees to the ground, there's not enough truffula fruit to go 'round!"
~The Lorax

"Now, you listen to me, Pop, while I blow my top! Trees? Ha! You speak for the trees? Well I speak for men, and human opportunities! For your information, you Lorax, I'm figgering on biggering and biggering, and biggering, and BIGGERING, turning MORE truffula trees into thneeds! Which everyone, everyone, EVERYONE NEEDS!"
~The Once-ler

Yes, I'm afraid it happened. The tree, the neighborhood tree, was axed today. I feel bad in a way. It was a good tree, a giving tree.

It's so sad to see her go. She was the queen of cul-de-sac, a tired emperoress. Her branches shaded me and were the umbrella of a small world below. I've known for some time that she needed to go. Her boughs were reaching too far. Her roots had already destroyed our water line once. She had begun shedding limbs. She began dropping leaves.

Now that she's gone, I should be happy, but I'm not. I will take her body and warm my house. I will take the chips from her limbs and line my gardens, but I'm not happy. I can't imagine she is either. Maybe I should speak out for the trees.

Coming Down

Every fall, we've always enjoyed watching the leaves turn on the massive maple tree just outside our house. However, the tree has continued to become even more massive and parts of it are beginning to show distinct signs of disease and age.

So sometime today or tomorrow, it will come down.

Maine Revisited Part III

Maine Revisited Part III

Sunday July 13, 2008

We left Belfast for a slow journey down the Coastal highway

to Portland.

· Stopped to shop in Lincolnville

For a couple of years now, I’ve wanted to return to Lincolnville. There’s no reason the masses would blink more than twice at this sleepy seaside village. The town consists of a seafood restaurant beside the sea, a ferry, a volunteer fire house hidden behind two craft stores, and a post office. In addition, the town has a small parking lot beside the road with a couple of nice benches overlooking the ferry and the community beach.

I slip into another place when I sit on the bench overlooking the beach. My mind wanders into the water and to Islesboro Island beyond. I imagine what it would be like to live on that island like my wife did when she watched a couple’s kids for a summer when she was in high school.

On this day, the wind was way up and the water was blown into frothy white-caps. Traveling to Islesboro would have been a bumpy proposition. My one regret from this trip was that we didn’t have the time to visit that island.

  • No Moody’s

While at the Comfort Inn, a Maine couple pointed us to blueberry pies at Moody’s Diner on our way to Freeport. So we looked forward to that the whole way. We found Moody’s and pulled in to the almost empty parking lot. This struck us as odd, since the couple told us that this place is extremely popular.

It turns out that the high winds had knocked out the power and the restaurant had been forced to close. Alas, no blueberry pie made by local ladies for us. I was deeply saddened.

· Stopped to shop in FreeportLL Bean, etc

Freeport is a amazing construction. It’s an old-fashioned Maine town that has been taken over by outlet stores and L.L. Bean. We parked out car and wandered around.

I quickly discovered that there really weren’t any great, great deals. Polo shirts at Ralph Lauren were about $35. Dress slacks were in the $75 range. Soon, I tired of the shopping experience. I began to get that same feeling I get when I get trapped in “Lowe’s/Home Depot Hell.” That’s a sense of feeling trapped in a dizzy building with no hope of escape.

So before I got completely cornered in Banana republic, I bolted outside and sat on a rock wall. As my senses returned, I noticed that I wasn’t alone. As far as I could see up and down the street, lone middle-aged men sat in front of store after store. All of us were sitting quietly with dazed looks on our faces talking to no one, doing nothing.

· Lunch/Dinner at Corsican Restaurant

We discovered that finding a meal in the retail world of Freeport, Maine is a difficult assignment. After wandering the length of the town, we found only three restaurants and two ice cream parlors. Luckily one of the restaurants was The Corsican. With dinner in Portland still to come and the hour growing late, we ate light but our food was excellent! My son and I had a delicious meatball subs while my wife and daughter had humus-wrappy things. Without a doubt, this restaurant was a lifesaver.

· Arrived at our friends’ home in Scarborough, Maine at about 5:00

We made it! Our friends had moved to their home two summers ago and we had helped them pack and make the trip. We really looked forward to seeing them again and getting to know their two very young children again.

Monday July 14, 2008

Early in the morning, the guys and my friend’s youngest daughter went on an exploration of the new Scarborough Cabela’s outdoorsman store. We spent a great deal of time looking at guns and fishing gear. They have a “gun museum” where they sell really old rifles for really high prices. But the highlight of the trip was the big game display. Actively posed on a huge crafted mountain in the middle of the store were a flock of wild North American mammals: moose, deer, badgers, and the young lady’s favorite-skunk. There was even a very out of place polar bear. In addition to that was an exhibit in another section of the massive store. In that scene, African big game are posed in snarling reality.

Nothing is quite like a big chocolate moose. Our friends took us to visit this unique, massive creature. He occupies a large portion of the candy showroom at Len Libby, business home of the famous Maine confectioners. Keeping the 13 year old chocolate moose company are two chocolate bears. While we were at the candy shoppe, I gorged myself on free samples of Maine taffy. It tastes like those Kraft caramels I used to crave when I was a kid except these were dipped in powdered sugar.

We decided to take a tour of the Portland area. Apparently, this is the regular tour that our friends take their visitors on. We drove to the southern edge of Portland and toured the Portland Head Light area. These days the lighthouse is a tourist draw, but the old World War I and II earthworks and pill boxes draw all sorts of people who do all sorts of things that shouldn’t be reported in respectable places.

At one pill box, we walked into an extremely narrow corridor that ran underneath and inside the box from one side to the back and out the other side. This corridor was about two feet wide and pitch black. Panic was welling up inside me when we finally broke out on the other side.

From the top of the pill box, I watched a guy catch a five pound striper on the rocks below. Then inexplicably, he began bashing its head with his booted shoe.

The lighthouse, itself, is a stunning relic. It rests on land that juts bravely out into the beginning of Portland’s harbor. This lighthouse is a picture on the earth.

Rumor has it that Steven and Liv Tyler frequent Flatbread Co harbor-side in Portland. We decided to go there for an early dinner in the hopes of catching a glimpse. The restaurant has a delightful 70’s flower power atmosphere. A huge stone oven lords over the dining area tended by a man with wild hair and a tye-dyed shirt. Very relaxed young waiters serve their guests with casual confidence. All of us tried variations of flatbread pizzas. I surprised everyone by trying the vegan pizza. It had no meat or cheese, just tomato sauce, mushrooms, and olives. I enjoyed. My wife and her friend had a spinach based flatbread pizza. The kids stuck to plain cheese and chicken flatbreads.

After we ate, we spent a couple of hours just strolling the downtown, doing some shopping in the clever specialty stores. My home city of Roanoke could learn a few lessons on how to properly stage a successful downtown marketplace. We never did catch a glimpse of Steven or Liv.

Tuesday July 15, 2008

· Went on The Lucky Catch lobster boat in Portland Harbor

Continuing to step out of the box, we decided to take our friends’ advice and go for a ride on The Lucky Catch. This is a functioning lobster boat that is geared for tourists. We joined in with a couple of other small groups and voyaged out to the harbor with the owner/operator and his trusty assistant to tend his traps. We ended up pulling eight traps, collected keeper lobsters, and baited the traps before plopping them back in to the harbor.

It was a crystal clear day and the whole Portland skyline formed a delicious backdrop to the action. I enjoyed watching the young kids take charge of the traps and bravely touch the foreign looking crustaceans. In the end we gather about ten keeper lobsters or so. In fact our friend purchased two of them on her way off the boat.

We also spent some time admiring the harbor seals as they played around seal rock in the middle of the harbor.

· Left Scarborough at about 4:30 pm

Regrettably, we left Scarborough for the first leg of our journey home that that afternoon before having the opportunity to feast on our captured lobsters.

· Arrived in Danbury, CT at about 9:30pm

· Ethan Allen Hotel

A unique hotel is what we found in Danbury. The Ethan Allen Hotel is located at the corporate headquarters of the Ethan Allen Furniture Company. According to the front desk clerk, the hotel had been used exclusively for their corporate executives when the came to town for meetings. Then a few years ago, the hotel was opened to the general public as a hotel and conference center. So for an incredibly small amount of money considering where we were in the United States, we stayed in a beautiful suite with real furniture. I wish we could have stayed longer to explore, but we were on a mission to get our son back to Charlottesville in time for a swim meet.

Wednesday July 16, 2008

  • Left Ethan Allen Hotel at 7:00am

Hauled and stopped infrequently.

  • Dropped off son
  • Arrived home in Roanoke at about 5:30pm

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Maine Revisited Part II

Here is Part II of our trip to Maine.

Maine Revisited Part II

Friday July 11, 2008

The town is pristine. A couple of years ago, we visited for the first time. Back then, Bar Harbor was not impressive. It was a tourist traffic jam. However, this year, L.L. Bean teamed up with the local chamber of commerce and Acadia National Park to run a free bus shuttle service. The service utilizes small propane-fueled buses that operate frequently along well-publicized routes. They even have a bike van that will cart your bikes to nearby Acadia National Park. All of these services are free and very popular. The net result was notably fewer cars.

  • Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain at 4:50 am

Sunrise sure does come early. We dragged ourselves out of bed and put on warm clothes to watch the sun come up over the Atlantic. It was windy and chilly and so very early. I didn’t feel right to be standing in daylight at 5am. Without a doubt, this was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.

We were breakfast hounds on our trip, and Jeannie’s looked like just the place. We were able to get a table just before the place filled up. My wife had blueberry pancakes while my daughter had walnut pancakes. My son and I went for the eggs, bacon, toast meal. While the food was excellent, the restaurant was very expensive.

We picked up our bikes and got fitted for helmets. My daughter was nervous about riding since she hadn’t much experience on a bike, but she was game to try. We headed to the town center to catch our bike transport van to Acadia.

Acadia National Park was the playground of John D. Rockefeller. He established miles and miles of horse carriage roads all through what is now the park. The roads have been maintained as cinder roads since then.

We rode around Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond which ended up being about 15 miles. My son ended up taking a side trip apart from us and met us back in town after he rode back.

Our busy day continued with a most extraordinary hike. Beehive is an accessible hike that stretches the vertical plane. The trail winds its way up a sheer rock wall about 1,300 ft. At times, you have to hoist yourself up from rock to rock using metal hand rails. Other times, you have to carefully walk on ledges with a five hundred foot fall staring you in the face if you miscalculate a step. It was an exhilarating hike.

This road is a unique byway. We’ve travelled much of America by Interstate and backroads, and this 27 mile loop road ranks right up there as one of the most scenic in the country. It has the same beautiful and daring views as the California coastal highway. The green beauty rivals Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

My family appreciated this place more than I did. We were extremely hungry by the time we got back to Bar Harbor for dinner. A mass of people were crowded into Rosalie’s, and there wasn’t a table to be had downstairs. We quickly learned that seating in this informal restaurant is a free-for-all. Within a few minutes of our arrival, a mob of awaiting diners made a rush for the upstairs area. I squeezed in with them and rushed to the top level of the small restaurant. At exactly the same time that the mob ascended the stairs, a table group on the main floor left. My wife and kids were waiting nearest to that table and quickly sat down, claiming our turf.

I joined after I squeezed my way back down and we spent several minutes diagnosing the menu and observing the local ordering language. Once we were ready, we ordered. The kids shared a chicken pizza, and my wife and I each got calzones. My wife and daughter also got tiny $3.50 salads. My calzone, when it arrived was starved for size, but quite delicious. The pizzas looked and tasted like pizza with chicken on it.

As we were sitting there, I enjoyed watching the people. At one point a family at a nearby table began squeezing their way out of the restaurant. Large dad got up and walked out followed by large mom and the screaming pizza-faced baby in her arms. Left behind was a clueless three year old boy with blaze-red hair and moon glasses. The kid, seemingly unconcerned that his family had departed, began slowly weaving his way among the tables in the general direction of the exit. As he wandered, he was leaving a liquid trail from his precariously held pop cup. Meanwhile the equally oblivious and large parents were stationed outside smoking cigarettes. Thanks to some kind ladies at several nearby tables, the clueless boy was successfully navigated to the smoggy large parents and screaming baby.

Altogether, I thought that Rosalie’s was a fine place to grab a quick nondescript bite to eat, but it wasn’t worth all the hassle we went through securing a table, ordering our food, and enduring torturous people.

Saturday July 12, 2008

Checked out of Bar Harbor Inn

One of the goals of our trip was to step out of our travel box. On family vacations past, we would bust our butts driving to a new location. Rest. Then bust our butts driving to the next location. So this time we decided to stay in one place long enough to try new things. Kayaking in Bar Harbor can be classified as a new thing for us.

We went through the same company that rented bikes. For a reasonable fee, we joined their 9:00am harbor tour. Our guide was a University of Maryland student named Karen. Sometimes, based on information you gather from observation, you make snap judgments about people. We all had Karen pegged as a college science major. It turned out she is an English major.

I joined my wife in one kayak whileour two kids went in another. There were three other kayak couples plus Karen in our group. We started in Bar Harbor by the sand bar. And travelled around the west side of Bar Island and then around Sheep Porcupine Island. Along the way, we sampled kelp, watched an eagle nest, saw some cormorants, quietly paddled by a doe and her twins as they nibbled tender grasses by the shore, and stopped by a lobsterman’s platform to learn some interesting facts on the business.

Our 2.5 hour journey was fabulous fun and excellent exercise.

On the way out of the area, we decided to take an extended sight-seeing trip on the loop road again. This time, we stopped frequently along the shore. We would park the car in the right travel lane (as is custom in Acadia). Each time we’d clambor down onto the rock ledges overlooking the ocean and just sit and catch breezes and views. Each time, climbing back into the van was a reluctant move, especially having the thought in the back of our minds that we had precious few hours left in Acadia.

We had set up a reservation for an afternoon tea at Jordan House Restaurant in the heart of Acadia National Park. We timed our arrival perfectly as we glided along the loop road.

We were ushered right to our seats on the patio overlooking the tea sipper on the lawn beside the pond. Next to us were some very loud European people. But our focus was on the star of the tea, the popover.

Popovers are rich, puffy rolls that are mostly hollow inside. They have a gooey interior that has a buttery-eggy-custard flavor. The kids got their popovers stuffed with blueberry ice cream, while my wife and I decided on two popovers and refreshing iced tea.

Eventually the Europeans left and the peace of the pond overcame all of us. We watched the waiters bustle from table to table in front of the glacial pond on a crystal clear summer day.

This was a little surprise we stumbled on to. We decided to visit the western portion of Acadia on our way out. This was just a cursory visit, since we didn’t really have time to explore. So we set our sights on the town of Bass Harbor with only a brochure picture to go by.

It turns out that Bass Harbor is guarded by one of the most photogenic lighthouses in the world. We took many pictures and had two very unusual encounters. First, we bumped into a couple from Virginia who were driving their Virginia Tech emblazoned SUV. We had a brief pleasant chat and then let them go on their way.

A few minutes later, we were standing on some rocks beside the shore looking up at the lighthouse when a bald eagle made a soaring low approach just above our heads. Watching an eagle in flight at such close range was a truly special moment.

Belfast is located along the coast of Maine south of Bar Harbor and north of Portland.

We stayed a dog of a hotel in Belfast. Actually, it is a hotel placed on a stunningly beautiful lot right beside the shore. Every room had a balcony view of the harbor and ocean beyond.

I did manage to try out the community hot tub and the swimming pool. The pool seemed very strange. It was filled with salty, sweaty water, as if the pool had been played in all day by a large group of hot, sweaty people. After our stay, I did comment on the pool condition on an electronic survey that was sent to me. Almost immediately, the owner sent me an email. Below you’ll find his email and my reply.

Dear Mr. Ryder,

Thank you for taking the time to comment on your recent stay at the Comfort Inn Ocean's Edge. When we switched over to a mineral pool, we apparently did a poor job of informing guests. The salinity that you may have tasted is intentional. A saline solution is gentler on the skin then fresh water. The concentration is
similar to the salinity in the human eye. Chlorine levels are maintained by splitting the sodium
chloride molecule and releasing the chlorine into the water. Chlorine levels are maintained by computer,
checked manually and logged twice daily.

You make a good point about making sure people know.

Thank You,

Barry Asalone
General Manager
Comfort Inn Ocean's Edge

Thanks for the information.

Knowing that, I wish I had spent more time in the pool!

We did enjoy our stay at your hotel. The breakfast was perfect for us and the view is unparalleled. We even enjoy watching the 1,000,000 dogs run around, chasing each other in the green space between the hotel and bay.

You are very fortunate to live in such a beautiful place.

Thom Ryder

Thank you.

I feel fortunate to work in such a beautiful atmosphere. I live inland. I do appreciate your input.
Based on it, I'm writing a little informational posting about the mineral content.

Hope to have you back.


We spent very little time there, however. I did manage to sit out on the balcony and write a little piece.

Breeze is blowing off Penobscot Bay across my face. Directly in front of me are two hundred yards of grass leading down to the water's edge. A small wood-shaked cottage rests beside the water to my right. The wind is kicking up little white caps across the bay to Islesboro Island. A buoy, positioned off in the water not too far out from me tolls a lonely bell warning seabirds of impending land. A distant small sailboat bobs like a cork with its naked mast knifing into the wind. The morning mist and foggy sea-mist clouds are giving way to the day grudgingly. The world is very old here. It's sitting with me; resting and watching.

Yet, there are a bunch of little dogs running around in the grass below me. It's like this is a dog hotel and they are allowing me to visit. Lots of poodles, Jack Russels, terriers, and stuffy dogs all strutting around and barking at each other. Very strange. A dog show in town? The owner's all look like Harley bikers.

By the time we made it to the Comfort Inn on the north side of Belfast, it was about 7pm, and we were very hungry. So we immediately ventured in to the city of Belfast in search of a restaurant. Belfast is a more industrial town than most towns on the shore. Less touristy, but full of surprises. They were in the middle of a community art festival. Unusual sculptures dotted the main street. My son hopped on a bicycle fish sculpture and pedaled until his metallic fish tail swished back and forth.

We eventually decided on a family restaurant overlooking the harbor. The service was friendly and the food was generous. I settled for a basic burger and fries, and it was outstanding.

I learned somewhere along the way that Belfast used to be one of America’s greatest shipbuilding cities back in the 1700 and 1800’s. One day, I’d like to go back to Belfast and find out more about this curious town by the sea.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Revisiting Maine

This is the first of several installments chronicling my family's journey back to Maine. I plan to present the written account in several installments so as not to overwhelm the print sensitive reader followed in a few days with stationary and motion pictures with pleasing musical accompaniment.

Revisiting Maine

Summer 2008

Wednesday July 9, 2008

  • Left at 7:45 and picked up son in Fishersville, VA; then traveled I-81/94/290/495 to Lowell, Mass. Arrived in Lowell Mass at about 8:30 pm.

The trip went well; however, we were chased by rain all through Pennsylvania. The highlight of the trip for my wife and daughter was our pass through Scranton, the TV home of Dunder-Mifflin.

The hotel was a bit run down, but there seemed to be some effort to remodel. While I was walking to the lobby, I happened to ride the elevator with this guy who turned to me and asked me if I was with the movie crew. I told him that I wasn’t. He said, he was with the set building crew. A little research uncovered the movie, This Side of Truth as being filmed in Lowell.

  • Historic Site of Industrial Revolution
  • Lowell, Massachusetts is a community that appears to be celebrating a revolution. We stayed at a Doubletree Hotel located right on the old canal in the center of town. From our hotel fourth floor hall window, we could see the nineteenth century canal locks. You can see the paths where animal power would tow boats from lock to lock.

Thursday July 10, 2008

Left Lowell Mass at about 9:00am. Arrived in Bar Harbor, Maine at about 3pm.

· Bar Harbor Motel

This is an old-fashioned 1950’s style motel. It’s meticulously cared for with clean outdoor units. We stayed in a suite with two rooms and a bathroom clustered with three other room units. Parking was right in front of our mini-unit. The complex had a laundry, pool and gift shop. At about $180 a night, this place was quite a bargain in Bar Harbor. One thing I liked about staying here was that the staff were extremely nice and helpful.

· Dinner at Poor Boy’s Gourmet Restaurant

We were famished by the time we got to this restaurant on the main drag in Bar Harbor. We had no reservation, but were assured of a table in a half hour. So we walked around some more. 50 minutes later, we got a cramped table for four. The food came relatively quickly, and we ate until we were stuffed. I had some kind of pasta dish. We were too stuffed to get their desserts.

· Acadia National Park Pass

The visitor’s center at Acadia is small but houses a realistic relief model of the entire park.

· Sunset on Cadillac Mountain

Nothing can fully describe this place. The mountain is only about 1500ft high, but it towers over anything around it. The views from the wide, granite knob are 360 degrees. You can see out into the Atlantic Ocean and west to the Mt Katahdin at the termination of the Appalachian chain. We watched the sun disappear on a crystal-clear evening. It slipped below the distant horizon at 8:09pm

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Morning From the Hotel Balcony North of Belfast, Maine

Breeze is blowing off Penobscot Bay across my face. Directly in front of me are two hundred yards of grass leading down to the water's edge. A small wood-shaked cottage rests beside the water to my right. The wind is kicking up little white caps across the bay to Islesboro Island. A buoy, positioned off in the water not too far out from me tolls a lonely bell warning seabirds of impending land. A distant small sailboat bobs like a cork with its naked mast knifing into the wind. The morning mist and foggy sea-mist clouds are giving way to the day grudgingly. The world is very old here. It's sitting with me; resting and watching.

Yet, there are a bunch of little dogs running around in the grass below me. It's like this is a dog hotel and they are allowing me to visit. Lots of poodles, Jack Russels, terriers, and stuffy dogs all strutting around and barking at each other. Very strange. A dog show in town? The owner's all look like Harley bikers.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain

We trekked back up Cadillac Mountain to catch the sunrise this morning. The sun rises over the Atlantic at about 4:50 am. So we had to leave our hotel at 4:30 am. It was wild driving in daylight that early in the morning. The sunrise over Cadillac is the earliest sunrise over the USA.

By the way, we are staying at a very nice affordable, friendly motel called Bar Harbor Motel

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sunset on Cadillac Mountain Video

My family and I had the great fortune to observe a beautiful sunset on July 10, 2008 from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine. It wasn't to be missed. Music is from my good friend, Tim Summer's band-Beggars' Circus, from their third CD, Stolen Heart (Available at CD Baby)

Strolling Through Bar Harbor

My family and I arrived in Bar Harbor Maine today and we went for a stroll through town. This little collection is a sample of what we saw.

Compressed Cadillac Sunset

Cadillac Sunset

This, hopefully is a compressed image.
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Sunset on Cadillac Mountain 2

Sunset on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine on July 10, 2008.

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Family on Cadillac Mountain

Family on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park Maine at sunset on July 10, 2008.

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Penobscott River Bridge

The new Penobscott River bridge near Bucksport, Maine. The young lady in the first picture seemed to be in love with an orange haired guy from New York. We always seemed to be in her way.

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Bar Harbor Waterfront

Bar Harbor, Maine waterfront on July 10, 2008 in the late afternoon. A fresh breeze was blowing from the west raking across Frenchman's Harbor.

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Sunset on Cadillac Mountain

Sunset on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine on July 10, 2008.

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