JOEBAICH'S BLOG

The Inconsequential

Fascinating for the Wee Blogger & pals — anybody else, maybe not so much.

It’s my take or com­ment­ary on unsub­stan­tial mat­ters. It’s a learn­ing vehicle and test bed for web design tools and ideas. So the look and style of the site changes from time to time. Don’t expect any sex, reli­gion or polit­ics in the content.

The per­son­al blog con­tent helps me keep in touch with friends, col­leagues and fam­ily spread around three con­tin­ents too. So I kill two birds with one stone.

More Inform­a­tion here …

Most Recent Article

Tardy Greetings – Easter 2018

Published: 1 April 2018

Images, Mostly from Maine

Excuses!

It’s East­er, the Year is no longer new and show­ing signs of wear. We are very late get­ting this out. Still, des­pite our tardi­ness, we wish you a Happy East­er and hope that the bal­ance of the year treats you well. Here is short update on our 2017 highlights.

Hol­i­days

Avid read­ers of these columns may remem­ber that I com­plained about a lack of hol­i­days in 2016. So, it was good to get back to our Fall and Christ­mas hol­i­day routines in 2017. We man­aged to get two weeks in Maine in the Fall and two weeks more in the Low Coun­try over Christ­mas and New Year.

The Maine Event

For the Maine event, we drove up through Bal­timore, New York City and New Eng­land to get there. It was an enjoy­able 675 mile jour­ney, even the New York por­tion. We ren­ted a large well appoin­ted house on a bunch of rur­al acres in Waldo County. Large’, because one of my daugh­ters and her hus­band flew out from the UK and joined us there for part of the time and we needed the space. Well appoin­ted’ because the house’s own­ers made it that way, they have excel­lent taste and an eye for detail. Rur­al’ because we like the peace and quiet and acres’ because its good to be able to let the Viz­slas run around.

It was a short drive from the house into Bel­fast. Home to sev­en thou­sand people, it’s not a big place. We spent a day there on a pre­vi­ous trip and looked for­ward to get­ting to know the town bet­ter with a longer stay.

It’s on the estu­ary of the as it flows into the waters at the head of Pen­ob­scot Bay. It’s a big nat­ur­al har­bor. Pleas­ure craft, work­ing boats and fish­ing boats, are every­where on the water. We had expec­ted that but soon found out that there is more to Bel­fast. The people are resource­ful, hard­work­ing, friendly and enga­ging. There is a palp­able and per­vas­ive pur­suit of excel­lence and ori­gin­al­ity almost every­where. It seemed to me that many of the folks there were of Scotch Irish” her­it­age. There are hun­dreds of farms in the town’s imme­di­ate hin­ter­land and they con­trib­ute as much as all the sur­round­ing water to its char­ac­ter. It has the usu­al super­mar­kets, chain stores and fast food joints on its peri­phery but the town cen­ter is lively and full of life. If there is an empty store­front any­place, we didn’t see it. Farm to Table” is gos­pel in these parts. These three estab­lish­ments caught our ima­gin­a­tion dur­ing our stay;

Chase’s Daily
A fam­ily run café cum res­taur­ant cum flower and veget­able store with an integ­ral art gal­lery. The pro­duce comes from the fam­ily farm in Free­dom ME in the hin­ter­land. It was a James Beard Found­a­tion Out­stand­ing Res­taur­ant Semi Final­ist in 2017 and serves mainly veget­ari­an dishes using the pro­duce from their farm.
Video – Chase Farm and Chase’s Daily
Farm­ers’ Markets
The United Farm­ers Mar­ket of Maine oper­ate a big cus­tom built facil­ity that opened for busi­ness in 2017. Open mid morn­ing to mid after­noon every Sat­urday. Sev­enty stalls with an amaz­ing range of loc­ally pro­duced food­stuffs and artis­an­al items. We were blown away by the qual­ity of the pro­duce. We learned after­wards that there is anoth­er Farm­ers’ Mar­ket in the Town called The Bel­fast Farm­ers’ Mar­ket. It runs 0900 to 1300 every Fri­day and oper­ates from one of two loc­a­tions depend­ing on the sea­son. I ima­gine it is every bit as good as the Sat­urday affair. Doing things by half isn’t in their genes there.
Col­burn Shoe Store
Opened for busi­ness in 1832. It is the old­est shoe shop in the USA and is still going strong in the ori­gin­al site. It con­tin­ues to serve the loc­al com­munity selling a range of foot­wear that meets the needs of farm­ers, boat­men and fish­er­men as well as every­one else that endures the long bru­tal Maine win­ters every year.

After a few days pok­ing around look­ing for a good place to walk our dogs, we found ourselves at Sears Island. It is a nature reserve con­nec­ted to the main­land by short gated cause­way. It has miles of wooded paths and tracks and some tar­mac road­ways too. But the trust­ees ban cars bey­ond the cause­way gate. It was ideal for our pur­pose and made a huge dif­fer­ence to the hol­i­day. If the dogs are happy and get exer­cise, we are happy and get exer­cise too — so there are no losers.

Headed for Hilton Head

We spent Christ­mas and New Year on Hilton Head Island SC. It’s in the Low Coun­try close to Beaufort and Fripp Island where we have spent hol­i­days before. Posh­er than neigh­bor­ing towns and well organ­ized, it’s replete with smart gated com­munit­ies and golf courses. We hadn’t real­ized before that the beau­ti­ful Hilton Head beaches are so dog friendly. Out of the sum­mer sea­son, dogs are allowed at all hours and off leash provided they are under con­trol’. So we enjoyed all that. The beaches are well organ­ized and ten­ded daily.

Dur­ing our second week there, we shared record low tem­per­at­ures and the first snow­fall in the Low Coun­try in 29 years with the hor­ri­fied loc­als. Shops, schools, super­mar­kets and everything else closed on the day of the storm’. There were only about 2 inches of snow. But, as every­one under the age of 45 (16 + 29) had nev­er driv­en in snowy or icy con­di­tions we were OK with that and glad that most of them elec­ted to stay off the roads.

Winterization of the heat pump
Win­ter­iz­a­tion of the heat pump

The cold spell las­ted for most of the last week and so the Viz­slas and us had the beach to ourselves. We were fine except that the heat­ing arrange­ments for the house we ren­ted stopped work­ing one night. Kar­en dis­covered that the melt from the snow and ice on the roof was fall­ing into the HVAC (heat pump) unit out­side and re-freez­ing into icicles which pre­ven­ted its fan from turn­ing. We broke the icicles off and placed a large beach umbrella over the unit to divert the roof melt away from it. All was well and warmth flowed back into the chilly house.

Leamington Rear Light Lighthouse
Leam­ing­ton Rear Light Lighthouse

The down­side of HH, for me at any rate, was the lack of pho­to­graph­ic oppor­tun­ity imposed by all the gated com­munit­ies. Get­ting access to almost any­place is tedi­ous. For instance, the his­tor­ic Leam­ing­ton Rear Range Light­house is inter­est­ing and the last remain­ing of its type in SC. Range light­houses had a for­ward and a rear light some dis­tance apart. Ship­ping approach­ing the nearby Port Roy­al Sound took a course to align one light behind the oth­er and thus be on the right head­ing. The for­ward light was on the beach but is long gone. Sadly, mem­bers of the pub­lic can only reach the remain­ing rear light by trans­it­ing through one gated com­munity to the adja­cent gated com­munity where its tower stands on a golf course. I would need mul­tiple vis­its to work out how to get a good image, have a good sky behind it and so on.

Harbour Lightouse
Fairy tale Har­bour Lightouse

Har­bor Town Light­house is bet­ter known than the Leam­ing­ton Light but was built in 1969 as a tour­ist attrac­tion in the mar­ina. Even so, there is a manned gate to nego­ti­ate to get to that. I couldn’t be bothered. It was nev­er a real light­house and would be more at home in Disneyland.

Bluffton

In the event, I was drawn more to Bluffton. It’s a small town full of char­ac­ter close-by to HH. It’s on the main­land on the bank of the inter-coastal May River. Its lively char­ac­ter and eclect­ic mix of build­ings and store fronts makes it more our kind of place. I made sev­er­al trips to the Church of the Cross in the town. Both the build­ing and its loc­a­tion are remark­able. Con­sec­rated in 1857, it is con­struc­ted almost entirely with heart pine (Cypress). The wood is unfin­ished on the exter­i­or and fin­ished in the interi­or where it has a beau­ti­ful pat­ina. The church stands on a bluff by a wide point of the May River. The grounds are replete with Live Oaks and Pal­met­tos but afford unhindered views over the river. The sun­sets out over the water are glor­i­ous and attract a large num­ber of vis­it­ors to the church grounds to enjoy them.

The Bluffton Oyster Com­pany lies just a little up the May River from the Church of the Cross. It may look ram­shackle from the out­side but serves up and sells qual­ity Oysters, Shrimp and oth­er sea­food har­ves­ted in loc­al waters. This short film about the res­taur­ant and sea­food store is inter­est­ing and has good views of the river and inter-coastal system.

Bluffton Oyster Com­pany Film

I wanted to pho­to­graph the shrimp boat docked out­side the res­taur­ant. I rose before dawn and drove up there. I inten­ded to get some images just before the sun came up and with a full moon over the river. Sadly, I hadn’t taken account of the large incan­des­cent orange flood­light they used to light the exter­i­or of the dock and premises dur­ing dark hours. So I hung about in the fri­gid tem­per­at­ures on an adja­cent dock until the sun appeared on the hori­zon and the orange flood­light turned itself off. The full moon had fled the scene by then. I did even­tu­ally get some images but I was chilled to the bone and shiv­er­ing. I hadn’t brought along warm cloth­ing, it was South Car­o­lina after all.

How­ever, it didn’t end badly. I had a most wel­come break­fast in the Corner Perks Café in the town after that. Big mug of cof­fee, an egg, cheese and saus­age banjo and a bowl of cheese grits. Some­times, simple pleas­ures are the best.

Other Recent Articles

Christmas Message 2016

Published: 15 December 2016

We will spend our first Christmas and New Year at home in over a decade. We enjoy our trips away over these holidays but have to stay put this time. Here's why: ...

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Happy New Year 2016

Published: 27 January 2016

We spent Christmas and New Year in Isle of Palms in South Carolina. It's a city on the barrier island of the same name that flanks Charleston Bay. Warmer winter days and evenings caused a thick mist to hang around the coast much of the time but it was great place for the Vizslas.

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Christmas Update - 2015

Published: 16 December 2015

It’s forecast to be a pleasant 70ºF/20ºC here most of this and next week. So, our usual rationale of ‘escaping the NOVA damp and cold’ doesn’t wash this time. Nevertheless we are off down to Isle of Palms.

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