Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hobnobbing Penobscot Bobblehead (Homesick Alaskan revisted )

(Actually the quaint log cabin is what did it for me)

Random twinges of homesickness come from the weirdest things. Even after self-indulgent and obsessive monitoring of Interior weathersites in attempts to make myself feel, if not better, than at least warmer.  I had been wondering about whether or not there can truly be "frost heaves" without the presence of permafrost (yes), or is it just plain old crappy roads (also yes). Still, posting a sign for the singular instance was amusing - both for us and the folks watching me take a picture of a sign. A truck with Alaska plates is cut some slack, that and payback after many years of puttering along in the wake of gawkers up north. Then there was the sobering revelation that there's just no way to convince the waiter that some white guy from Alaska knows what he's talking about after eating yet another disappointing meal at another depressingly lame Thai restaurant. File it away under "you just have to be from Fairbanks to understand." 
(More below the fold...)

"It's just raaht ovahhh theyah"

On a lark, and after consulting what turned out in retrospect to be a woefully under-detailed map, we embarked on yet another mini road trip. One of the things I like most about being in a completely different environment is the constant stimulation and excitement of discovery around every corner. In other words, we were lost; alternately thinking we knew right where we were, but were really not, and when we thought we were lost, we were in fact right where we were supposed to be - in short, the story of my life.

Holbrook Island Sanctuary State Park wound up being our eventual destination, one of many little sweet-spots scattered around the area, and often overshadowed by the National Park (reminiscent of all the attention lavished upon Denali National Park versus the State Park, which is in many ways a far more enjoyable experience). We've been taking advantage of the off-season opportunity to explore the nook s& crannies of the Atlantic coast: as opposed to "far from the madding crowd" now is the time the madding crowd is far from us, with Mount Desert Island especially being comparatively, ah, deserted.

Like the raft of Common Eiders pictured above, there's been lots of newly (re)discovered species for birdwatching, including a sudden flock of Snow Buntings, with requisite Bluejays, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Crossbills and Grosbeaks pillaging our feeder. Not to mention a herd of plump Gray squirrels which are comic relief after so many years of scrawny Interior Reds. On a recent quick jot down to the beach my dad and I watched an enormous Harbor seal haul itself out, followed by a Bobcat sighting in the Schoodic Peninsula (a pseudopod of Acadia National Park). 

It is in fact impossible to sneak up on somebody here.

The expression "walking on eggshells" describes mincing across a carpet of living mussels: occasionally one comes across clearly delineated zones where one particular species of mollusks wash up in large numbers. As to the exact, scientific reason why there is such a phenomenon I have no idea. 

Over six hours later we turned homeward, passing by the broadcast station for WERU (Community Radio FM 89.9) which had provided us with a thoroughly appropriate and enjoyable soundtrack to our outing. One of the highlights for me each week is the "Murphy's Pub" program, which turned me on to some great jigs by Niamh NĂ­ Charra (check out "Micho Russell's/Trip To Athlone/The Luck Penny") and some lively squeezebox, hornpiping and fiddle reels from Nova Scotia and Ireland.
Random notes: every road is peppered with pottery and antique shops (soon to be featured in some new cartoons); and there is a curious architectural habit we've observed in how many houses out in the country also have barns attached. Presumably this convenient feature would ease passage between structures in inclement weather, or facilitate inviting the livestock over for dinner? And after mastering many tongue-twister names up in Alaska, now it's time to learn a whole new slew of wonky ones, like for example the Passagassawakeag (aka "Passy-gassy-rum-keg") River.

Fortunately, there are plenty of sweet spots much closer to our new home, one right down the road from us in fact: about a mile through the woods to the shore of Western Bay is the the Maine Coast Heritage Trust's "Blue Horizon Preserve" trail (previously blogged about here). Ahhh...

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