On my kayak paddle today (September 22, 2016) - the first day of autumn - I noticed the swallows that usually nest under the Hallowell-Litchfield Road bridge had already left for warmer climes. However, I did see a few, though very sparse, population of red-winged black birds in the northern marsh. Most, I suspect have also headed south.
|What I call the cormorant tree on Cobbosseecontee Stream in West Gardiner|
The cormorants are still around and seem to be using the old cormorant tree again this year. Heard some loons last night.
I have to say that I'm extremely grateful that the family that owns the rooster lives far enough away so that I can only barely hear him crow from 4 to 7 am. If I hadn't been awake reading my book, I wouldn't have heard him. My closest neighbor upstream used to have chickens but thankfully they never had a rooster.
My first 10 months of retirement have been everything I expected and wanted. I still wake up in the morning with a sense of wonder that the day is mine, to do with as I wish. If I want to spend the whole day reading a book, I can do that. If I feel like spending time in my pottery studio, that's what I do. I have started a routine of going to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so on those days that obligation is in place which is often not welcome. But I feel stronger and have much more stamina and getting in and out of my kayak is much easier than it has been in years so the work is paying off. I've lost 15 pounds as well so I'm happy about that.
We spent a couple of weeks on the West Coast in July. We started off with a week with Jason, Adri, and Hugh in Claremont, CA, spending lots of time in their pool and playing with Hugh. He just recently turned two and he's clearly got a mind of his own but is almost always happy, engaged, and delightful.
|"Again!" yells Hugh, until Jason's arms are like jelly. :-)|
|Rick, Hugh, and Jason walking to the park|
However, after a week of that we were ready for some adult time and rented a car and drove up to Big Sur. We stayed a couple of nights at the Big Sur River Inn, hiked down to the Pacific Ocean at Andrew Molera State Park, had dinner at Nepenthe, and just admired the amazing views the area has to offer. Two days after we left the area experienced some significant wildfires so I feel so fortunate that we were able to explore before that happened.
|Walking down to the beach at Molera State Park|
|Dipping my toes into the Pacific Ocean - it was cold and windy as heck!|
|Having drinks at Nepenthe|
|Our room at the Big Sur River Inn|
We left Big Sur and drove up Route 1 to San Francisco to meet Jerry Nicosia for lunch. Spent a couple hours with him at a nice little coffee shop in Mill Valley and then headed north again, on our way to visit Annie and Woody Woods just outside of Portland, OR. We went inland to save time and stopped to visit some redwood forests along the way in the Avenue of the Giants.
|A magnificent redwood tree|
We had decided to wing it in finding a room for the night and ended up in Eureka, CA at a sweet little hotel overlooking the rather industrial bay area.
|Our rather industrial view in Eureka, CA|
We talked to a gentleman at the Applebee's we ate at and asked about recommendations if we had just an hour or two to see the sights and he recommended an absolutely magical beach on our way about a half hour north called Houda Point in Trinadad CA and Luffenholtz Point. Wow! It was foggy and drizzly which really seemed to add to the magic of the place.
|Luffenholtz Point - the old man in the sea?|
|Houda Point, Trinadad, CA|
I could have spent days there but we were scheduled to reach Tualatin by 5 that night so we tore ourselves away and drove north, taking the James River road that took us from CA to OR. Such beautiful, hilly, rugged country! I really hope to come back in a camper and spend time in northern California - both the wine/ranch country north of San Francisco and the more rugged areas around Eureka.
We arrive in Tualatin and had a wonderful visit with Annie and Woody Woods.
|Rick, Annie, Woody, and myself. I may have had a little of that herb that's legal in Oregon.|
|At McMenamins on the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington with our great friends Annie Courchesne Woods and Woody Woods.|
|The Columbia River Gorge - Oregon on the right and Washington on the left|
|At the Portland Saturday Market - great people watching|
|Our last night in Oregon|