Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Whaling Ship and a Sailing Ship

Sometimes not having satellite TV access can be a good thing, because it forced us to raise our roof antenna to watch whatever local channels we could get out here in the tall trees. Watching the news on Thursday night I saw a news story that the New Bedford Whaling Museum was having a free entrance day on Friday, which was a savings of $26 for Denny and I--$14 for me and $12 for the old guy. That story was followed by a news story that the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle was coming into port at New Bedford on Friday morning, so voila', my plans for the day were set.

Denny and I just missed the actual docking of the cutter but it was still maneuvering itself into place as we arrived at the State Pier. All of the hands were on deck (who knew I'd ever get to see that phrase come to life?) and there was a large crowd of people on hand to witness the Eagle's arrival. The Eagle was originally built by the Germans but was taken by America as war reparations and has been used for training recently. She's a lovely huge ship and I swear I could see Captain Jack Sparrow up there grinning in the rigging. For the few days the Eagle is in port, the public will be allowed to tour the ship, but since that wasn't to begin until 1PM, Denny and I walked the two blocks over to the Whaling Museum.

Upon your entrance the first thing you see are the skeletons of two whales overhead. The museum is a fascinating warren of rooms with information on the history of whaling, the people who whaled, some history on the town of New Bedford, local artifacts and a couple of large scale model whaling ships for adults and children to explore.

A sperm whale skeleton. Docents were on hand to give talks and explain about the displays.

A gamming chair, used to transport people from one ship to another by rope and pulley.

The view from the deck of the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Walking uptown in New Bedford. Note the stone paved street--and they are very narrow. New Bedford was a hugely important whaling center in the 1800s and today is still the number one fishing port in the country.

Tourist shot.
Further into the center of town we discovered the Whaler's Monument.

I kept tripping on the sidewalk because I was walking with my head tilted back to see the wonderful architectural details of the historic buildings in downtown New Bedford.
While downtown we discovered Moby Dick high in a building.

The hydrangeas in Massachusetts are fabulous, varying in color from medium to cobalt blue and on into a purple so deep it is almost a grape color.I had packed a lunch so Denny and I went looking for a place to eat that was away from town, since there were a lot of cars and people there due to the Eagle arriving and the free museum day. As we were heading for the state park we saw this wonderful Gothic church belonging to the Unitarian Society of Fairhaven. I love the baroque detailing all around it and was awed by the fact that the church and its outbuilding took up an entire city block.

Lunch was eaten on a park bench at the Fort Phoenix State Park overlooking Buzzards Bay and distant New Bedford.

After lunch while I was taking photographs of sailboats in the bay, Denny climbed down the boulders to the rocky beach to search for Massachusetts beach glass for me. And he found some!Another great day of exploring!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bay Pointe Country Club in Buzzard Bay

Many of the reasonably priced golf courses in the area of Rochester, Massachusetts are nine hole courses or very short courses. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with a nine hole golf course, Denny and I prefer to play golf where we get to play a different hole for the entire eighteen holes of golf. Thus our decision to drive to Buzzard Bay, Massachusetts to play the Bay Pointe Country Club course.

On this day, Denny decided to play the men's white tees rather than the "professional" blue tees. I was surprised to find that the red women's tees were on the same tee box tier throughout most of the golf course. Bay Pointe is not a long course, with the blue tee yardage at 6201 with a rating/slope of 70.3/118. The white tees measure out at 5720 yards with a rating/slope of 67.6/113. The red tees yardage is at 5380 with a rating/slope of 71.3/125.

Situated near and in a housing development, the residences really aren't too much of a problem. As I've noted in the past, if there are homes nearby Denny's golf ball normally makes a bee line right to them. The homes really don't come into play that much. Playing the white and/or red tees water comes into play only on the seventh hole which is an extremely short par 3 hitting to an island green.
This particular golf course seems to get a lot of play as we had to wait on every hole for the golfers in front of us. Of course, the two men in front of us started off taking 4 shots each to go 200 yards so it wasn't an auspicious beginning for them. The first hole is an interesting one going uphill to a 90 degree dogleg left to the green. Fortunately our scorecard had a map of the course layout on the back so we could figure out how each hole played because there were a lot of blind areas due to the hilliness of the layout.

Strangely enough we had to dodge sprinklers on a few holes--I'm not quite sure why the maintenance staff was watering the fairways in the middle of a very hot, steamy day. The fairways themselves were mowed but there was a large amount of crabgrass throughout the course. We did see signs that the groundskeepers were applying chemicals today so perhaps they are working on the problem. The greens were in pretty good condition. There are plenty of sand traps but we managed to stay out of all but one.

Denny and I were able to use our Golf Card discount to pay a total of $49 for the two of us to play eighteen holes with a riding cart. Online their prices show as $34 to play during the week if you use a riding cart. The course is hilly but walkable.

The pro shop has no golf shoes or supplies; I don't know if they were doing inventory or if they no longer bother. The two men golfing ahead of us followed us to a local restaurant for a drink after trying to get a drink at the clubhouse only to find there was no one there staffing the bar. Denny and I were able to get a hot dog on the turn so I don't know if the wait staff just stepped out or what.

Would we play it again? I think so.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Lighthouse and a Fort

Sunday was our final day in Maine so after breakfast at the Cupboard Cafe (huge sticky buns and cinnamon rolls that had people standing in line for a half hour) Denny and I explored a little bit of the area around Bristol, Maine. Our first stop was the Pemaquid Point lighthouse. Because yes, we like lighthouses.Originally built in 1827, something went wrong with the structure so it had to be rebuilt in 1835. The lightkeeper's house had the same problem but today both look as they did in the early 1800s. The Pemaquid lighthouse's lantern stands 48 feet above ground and 79 feet above sea level and has a range of 14 nautical miles. Because there is a lot of fog over the ocean, a bell tower was built in 1897 to house a hand operated fog bell. The fog bell was replaced the following year with a steam engine operated fog bell which also only lasted one year before being replaced with a Stevens striking machine which used lead weights to operate the bell, thus the need for the tall tower to house the weights. On foggy days, the lightkeeper would crank the weights to the top of the bell tower and the bell would toll at regular intervals for a period of six to eight hours while the weights slowly sank down, rather like the weights of a cuckoo clock.You will note that Denny does not like to have his picture taken.
But since I wanted to show the size of the magma flow in the granite rocks I took his picture more than once.
There is a tiny museum inside the lightkeepers house, as well as a small visitor center and an art gallery on the grounds. There is a $2 per person parking fee but there is no fee to enter the lighthouse, museum or visitor center although donations are accepted.

A mounted 28 pound lobster on display in the Fishermen's museum at the lighthouse.The lighthouse, the bell tower and bell tower building (and bell).
The Atlantic Ocean was very calm this Sunday morning.After enjoying the views and the fresh sea air Denny and I decided to stop at the Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site in Bristol. The site was settled in the late 17th century and the Fort William Henry that has been partially reconstructed was the second fort built on the grounds. What you see today are part of the foundation of the fort plus the rebuilt bastion which now houses some interpretive displays and allows a nice view of John's Bay from the roof. The Fort House has a gift shop, some interpretive displays and a parlor furnished with periods pieces. Further down there is an early cemetery and the visitor center and museum. The cost for us to wander the grounds as non-Maine residents was $1/senior and $3/adult.Pemaquid was settled somewhere around 1625 and thus was one of the earliest of the English settlements. The people living here prospered due to the abundant fishing, the fur trade, timber and agriculture. However, the settlement had to be abandoned twice due to Colonial wars since there were no adequate defenses in place, which is why a fort was eventually built. The first fort, Fort Charles, was thought to be strong enough to defend against the French and any invading troops, but the Native Americans soon proved them wrong. Pemaquid was abandoned for the next three years. Fort William Henry was built in 1692 and was extraordinary in the sense that Massachusetts Governor Sir William Phips spent two thirds of the colony's budget to build it. Stone walls ten to twenty two feet high were constructed and the bastion was built to a height of twenty-nine feet. Thought to be impervious to attack by the Native American tribes, the engineers were wrong, because a poor quality mortar was used and the fort was destroyed in 1696 when Native Americans once more attacked the soldiers housed within. A third fort was built in 1729 but was decommissioned in 1759 and in 1775 the local residents voted to destroy the fort to keep it from being occupied by the British troops during the American Revolution.

When Denny and I were up on the roof of the bastion, we noticed this huge building across the bay and asked one of the rangers if it was a hotel. It turns out this is the summer cottage of a wealthy family who she declined to name. I have nothing to show the scale of this mansion, but suffice to say, it's huge.

This was a wonderful way to spend our final day in Maine.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

A Sad Day

A few weeks ago I placed a call to our friends Tim and Penny. Tim answered the phone and I told him that we were going to be in Maine eating lobster in July and Tim said he'd love some lobster but they were busy with their store and couldn't get away, blah, blah, blah. So I said something to the effect of "oh, you're a grown up now" and without realizing it I touched a button. Tim put Penny on the phone and she asked about where we'd be and when and we chatted and hung up. A week or so later I got a phone call from Penny and she said "we're going to be in Boothbay on July 19--see you there!" It seems Tim thought being called a responsible, grown-up type person was a bad thing/kind of an insult, so he and Penny decided to return to their impetuous ways and join us for a few days in Maine.

Now you have to understand. Tim and Penny live in northern Alabama, a mere 1,500 miles from Boothbay, Maine. But come they did and they arrived on Tuesday, surprising us by arriving early and knocking on our door. Cool! Thus followed days of laughing and eating and sightseeing and eating and talking and eating. Even more fun was the fact that Tim and Penny's "virtual" friends from Faceb**k and P*go, Linda and Brian, decided to drive down from their home in New Brunswick and join us all.

Today Denny and I are once again on our own--Tim and Penny were headed for the M*hegan Sun casino in Connecticut before returning to Alabama and Linda and Brian are going back to New Brunswick (a province we thoroughly enjoyed exploring many years ago.) It's going to be pretty darned quiet around here for the remaining three days of our stay. I'm sure folks around town are glad to see us all part because we get loud and boisterous and talk over one another and laugh and laugh and laugh.

Denny and I will be going to Alabama after our Myrtle Beach trip; Tim and Penny own a furniture store and we'll replace the two heavy leather recliners we gave away with something smaller and lighter from their store. And we'll talk and laugh and eat and get loud and maybe by the time we leave T & P will have made the decision to get another RV (they were full timers for years before Penny lost the use of her legs) and we can arrange to meet up down the road and annoy our fellow campers. The thought makes me smile.

Happy trails you two. You've been gone three hours and I miss you already.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

In Love With Lighthouses

Sometimes the weather gods gift you with the most absolutely perfect day and that's what Denny and I experienced yesterday when we made a drive up the coast to visit the Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

But first I made Denny stop at the Len Libby Chocolatier in Scarborough, Maine to see "the world's only life-size chocolate moose." Created from 1700 pounds of milk chocolate, Lenny the moose is on display with an 800 pound milk chocolate black bear and her two 360 pound each chocolate cubs. Even I could not eat that much chocolate! And of course the store was lined with candy cases filled with all sorts of goodies and a few made their way into our truck with us. Because we needed a bit of dessert to go with our picnic lunch, right?

Fort Williams Park is open from dawn until dusk and is free to the public. There is a museum at the lighthouse with a $2 charge for adults, but you can freely wander the grounds and take pictures of the lighthouse without having to pay any fees. There are picnic tables located throughout the park and a small hot dog vendor near the lighthouse was doing a booming business. There are large fields for the kids to run around and several people were flying (or attempting to fly) kites.
But of course, Denny and I came for the lighthouse. And a most photogenic one it is! I'm planning on making some calendars up this year and you can bet this photo or a similar one will be on it!

I had climbed down onto the boulders to get a better shot of the lighthouse and the granite ledge it sits upon and neglected to pay attention to the surf. I almost had a salt water bath as the waves came smashing up against the rocks!
Our picnic lunch was eaten under the shade of large trees while we watched crazy kids play in the cold waters of the inlet.A couple sat down at a picnic table nearby and soon had a repast for the gods set out; boiled lobsters, corn on the cob, beer and wine. Now that's how you have a picnic! The scenery was breathtaking and the air was fragrant with the scent of the wild roses growing all around.Lunch over and packed away, Denny and I wandered up the hill to the ruins of the Goddard mansion and over to an abandoned building that teenagers were crawling all over. The Goddard mansion is simply a ruin of itself, but you can see some of its original beauty in the walls still standing. Next to the park you can see the town of Cape Elizabeth in the distance and admire the view of the waterfront homes. On the way back, Denny and I saw our future house--the one we'll buy when we win the lottery. It's right next to the one being offered for sale by Sotheby's, so I'm assuming the price is a little bit beyond our current budget. But who wouldn't want to live in a house where you could toss a lobster trap out your back door to catch dinner?
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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sanford Country Club in Maine

The Sanford Country Club in Sanford, Maine is about a 20 minute drive from the Moody Beach Outdoor World Resort in Wells, ME. While the golf course is a semi-private country club, it is open to the public and Wednesday is Seniors' Day with a reduced rate of $35 for eighteen holes with a riding cart. You have to go online and get the coupon on their website to get that price and you'll also find coupons for Men's days and Ladies' days.

Although Denny and I were second in line to tee off after our arrival, we were in for a long day because this very nice golf course gets a lot of play. After sitting and waiting for the foursome ahead of us to move up a bit, we invited the couple playing behind us to join us in play. Dick and Sue live in the area and play Sanford a lot so they were able to tell Denny and me the best place to play our balls for good angles to the green. Most of the time when Denny and I are out on a golf course it is totally new to us and there are times when we have no clue where the green is if the course is hilly or the hole is a dogleg, so it's nice to have the input from someone who plays the course a lot.
There are four sets of tees on the course and distances and slope/ratings on the seniors and women's tees are given for men and women both on each tee (I hope that makes sense). The yardage from the black tees for the course is 6703 with a rating/slope of 72.8/128. For the blue tees the yardage is 6151 with a rating slope of 66.9/125 . The white tee yardage is 5297 and 66.3/110 and the green tees yardage is 4901 and 70.4/122. The greens are some of the fastest we've played in months with very tricky reads. The course is in really good shape for the amount of play that it receives and it appears that most golfers here fix their divots and their ball marks on the greens. There isn't a lot of water on the course, but the twelfth hole is kind of fun with its double pond/island fairway thing going (the picture above.)
The fairway on the sixteenth hole reminded Denny and me of the golf course we played in Bethlehem, New Hampshire years ago where we came upon a huge granite boulder smack in the middle of a fairway. Here there were three sizable granite boulders in the fairway. Sanford CC is a scenic golf course with views of distant hills and valleys and it is very quiet. While Denny and I were very frustrated by the speed of the greens which caused us to make a lot of three putts, we thoroughly enjoyed the golf course and the company of Dick and Sue.
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