Sunday, July 20, 2014

Break from the summer grind

Photo: A very pregnant lady on vacation in Maine

After much prelude in the way of building (essentially a whole year for me to build the extension to ensure we would have adequate bedrooms), and buckets of besoming (Aimee mercilessly beating our old house into a suitable state of cleanliness), our first baby-related house guests, (and indeed, our first-ever house guests) have arrived, Aimee's mom Judy and her aunt Donna.

As befits a grannie and great-aunt to-be they came laden with baby gifts, including mounds of baby clothes, the fruit of Judy's garage sale expeditions, as well as heirlooms from Aimee's own baby days.

Aimee, more under the influence of nerves than for any other reason, and not yet completely exhausted from all her besoming, has planned a series of staycation days, in which we are all to explore some of Maine's beauty spots and summer events. 

(This all would be a staycation for us, but vacation for Donna and Judy. Enjoy the precise terminology. Hard to find, anymore. You're welcome.)

My suspicion is that Donna and Judy would be just as happy to hang around the farmhouse, sit on the deck or in the living room, and chat and knit -- Donna has bought her knitting and is keeping up a steady output of baby booties and other tiny swag -- take little walks, visit with the chooks and sheep and so on, but when my wife has a plan, we must all stick to said plan.

No deviation. No shirking. Or you'll be shot at dawn for refusing to go "over the top."

Our first expedition was to Unity College itself, where Donna and Judy toured the school and met those of our colleagues that happened to be at work. This was clearly just a warm-up.

The second day we had a much more prolonged exercise, a drive up to Moosehead Lake for a lake tour and picnic on the good ship Katahdin.

I was of course on this boat, so lacked the ability to take a good picture of the boat in the water, but here is one stolen from the Internet.

It's a fun outing, and recommended. The atmosphere is relaxed and down-home, a family business hosting families, and the boat was full of kids and old people and so on. They have card games and a snack bar they call The Galley. Children get invited to the wheelhouse and allowed to hold the wheel. I was given a great tour of the engine room, where two massive, ancient General Motors diesels thrust the boat forward at a stately ten knots, which pleased me greatly. The sunshine lasted most of the day, and the lake was very scenic. 
It was a nice day out.

Here's the wheelhouse, with the boat "Captain."

Here we all are under the shade on the afterdeck, with our giant picnic cooler. Aimee and I went exploring, but Judy and Donna, obviously not experienced mariners, parked themselves firmly in this one spot and stayed put, more or less, for the duration.

This is not one engine, but two, linked in the center with a special transfer case.

The main shaft and hull seal. The mechanic explained that they need to see a slight drip, to be sure the seal and bearing doesn't dry out. That's what the bucket is for. The keel was laid by Bath Iron Works right here in Maine.

Here's the instrument panel in the engine room.

On a clear day you'd see Katahdin in this image, but the humidity has crept back up again.

Here's Kineo. This was a close as we got before turning around. This was the scene of a major SAR call-out for us a few years ago.

I enjoyed being on the boat on the lake in the sun all afternoon, with soothing engine noise and vibration and glinting water all around. 

Moosehead Lake has a fair amount of British history too, and even some RAF history. Just across the border in Quebec was a Bomber Command training base for pilots and navigators. They flew Avro Ansons, and a couple of them crashed in the local mountains. The lake itself was also a wartime training area for US Navy seaplane aviation, and hosts considerable floatplane and seaplane activity even today, including the Maine Warden's Service floatplane base.

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Welcome to our Farm Blog.
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