The Amazing Race–Our Style, episode 3

We were a bit confused by the clue–something about an oven and ice and we felt like maybe we were headed to a kitchen. My guy doesn’t cook all that much and I avoid it as much as possible, so we knew this was going to be a tough leg of the race. Surely, we’d be there all night trying to concoct something and the sky would darken on our chance of winning.

To top it all off, it was an equalizer. That meant that though we were early to the starting point, all participants would begin at the same time. And so we had some time on our hands and a few dollars to spend on lunch and libations.

o1-clue

As we sipped, our clue was revealed. And we were ready to heed it, despite our anxiety over the cooking issue.

o2-footbridge

Following lunch, we still had more time to kill and decided to walk across the footbridge in Boothbay Harbor.

o3-ghost harbor

It was a bit of a ghost harbor on this day, but it won’t be long and people and boats and more people will fill this space.

o5-sign of snow

As we walked around town, we did some window shopping–of the best sort.

o4-clock

And then a view at a clock reminded us that we had a place to be by 1:15.

o6-crooked sign

Look for the crooked sign, the clue stated. We found it.

o8-trail conditions

Follow the trail. We did.

o10-mud below

Note the tide. It was obviously out.

o11-bridge

Locate the bridge that connects Oven Mouth Preserve West to Oven Mouth Preserve East. Bingo.

o13-ice house cove dam

But what was below us, we wondered. And that was our next challenge. We had to figure out the configuration of this land. It looked like an old bridge, but rather, it was a former dam that had been used to create an ice pond on the other side of the bridge upon which we stood. Aha–the icy portion of this leg of the race. Our task was to discover its history. Reading a brochure produced by the Boothbay Region Land Trust we learned the following: “In 1880, in response to a growing demand for ice, [the cove now known as Ice House Cove] was dammed to form a fresh-water pond and an ice house was built. The ice was shipped by schooner, mainly to Boston and New York.” Today, any blocks of ice would surely have melted as happened in our water bottles.

o7-garter snake

While we looped around the two peninsulas we had a several other challenges to complete. First, we needed to find three examples of critter sign–other than the ubiquitous red squirrel middens. We checked off number one with a garter snake that slithered past.

o7b-mammal tracks

Number two: mammal tracks in the mud below. We couldn’t get close enough to identify it, but noted the trotting pattern.

o7a-wasp nest

And number three, the remnants of a paper wasp nest.

Another challenge down. How many more to go?

o12-scavenger 2

It wasn’t long before the next presented itself as we wound our way around the property. First, we needed to find evidence of the land’s former use–as a sheep pasture in the 19th century.

o12-scavenger hunt 1

And then the letter D. We never did learn what the D stood for, but . . . we found it.

o15-sausage-shaped boudins

And finally, a sausage-shaped boudin among the folds, formed by the pinching and swelling from compression and shearing.

o13-Cross river

The tide slowly flowed in as we journeyed on.

o14-rip where Back and Cross River met

And at the point where the Cross River met the Back River, we noted a rip current visible in the swirls.

o14-ice house dam and today's bridge

At last we crossed back over the bridge from east to west and then peeked at the dam juxtaposed as it was in the shadow of the modern-day bridge.

o16-oven?

From the outermost point of the west side, we paused to look back toward the dam and bridge–did the early explorers really see this rounded cove as the inside of an oven, thus naming it Ovens Mouth? It was certainly unique. Fortunately, we could enjoy the view without turning up the heat. If they thought it was an oven, we agreed. If it meant we didn’t have to cook, we definitely agreed.

From the brochure, we did learn more history: “This area has always been inviting for maritime activities because of its deep-water access and protected location. Settled in the mid-1700s, one of the region’s earliest shipyards was located here and both British and American vessels hid in the coves during the Revolution. Soon after the Civil War, the property came into the hands of the Tibbets-Welsh family, who owned it for more than a hundred years.”

o17-kissing tree

We had one last challenge to complete before finding our way to the mat. Our final mission: to note three sights that represented our relationship.

Kissing trees–check.

o17-heart

A heart-shaped rock–check.

o17-pigeons

Whispering sweet nothings–check. (Note the heart-shaped white cere on their bills. And no, he is not picking her nits. Well, even if he is, isn’t that a loving move?)

Once again, we managed to stay ahead of other contestants, didn’t squabble too much, avoided our worst fears and completed the assigned tasks without much stress. In the third episode of our imaginary rendition of The Amazing Race–Our Style, we landed on the mat in first place once again. What’s next? Stay tuned.

 

 

 

On the Rocks at Pemaquid Point

Yesterday dawned cool, sunshiny and slightly breezy–the perfect day for a 2+ hour drive and an outdoor exploration. And so I had the extreme pleasure of joining a small group of naturalists for a geology lesson offered by one of our colleagues, Denise Bluhm, at Pemaquid Point in mid-coast Maine.

p1a-Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

The lighthouse is one of 57 still active along the Maine coast and it’s this very one that is featured on the state quarter. It was manned from 1927-1934, but has been on automatic ever since.

p2-Pemaquid Point on map

But that wasn’t our focal point. Instead, we’d gathered to learn about the rocky coast below. After reviewing the definition of mineral (naturally occurring solid, distinctive physical properties, e.g. cleavage, hardness, crystal form and color, and characteristic chemical formation) and rock (one or more minerals together, aka mineral soup), Denise pulled out a geologic map of Maine and pointed to our location.

p3-map :Brunswick formation direction

She then oriented us northeastward and helped us understand that we were standing on what is known as the Bucksport formation, a deposit of sandstone and mudstone metamorphosed into a flaky shist. And then she took us through geological history, providing a refresher on plate tectonics and the story of Maine’s creation–beginning 550 million years ago when our state was just a twinkle in the eyes of creation.

p4--do you see the fold?

Stepping below the lighthouse, Denise asked if we saw the fold. I thought I knew what she pointed to, but . . .

p5-layers in beds

it took more of her insight to fully form the picture for me. The metamorphic rock, it turns out, is on its side due to intense pressure in its long-term history and thus we could examine its layers, much like the rings on a tree. That doesn’t mean I could age it, but just understand that over time various pressures and results of heating and cooling events caused the variation in color and mineral size of the bands. Lighter gray=sand and silt (composed of sea sediments), Medium gray=quartz, feldspar and biotite mica (black). Darker gray=more biotite. Greenish-gray=limy sand and silt. Rust=iron. All of it equals a gneiss (nice) or layered formation with foliation.

p6-zigzag

I think one of my favorite learnings came from the sills and dikes that show their faces throughout the rock. Sills are parallel or perpendicular intrusions while dikes run off parallel. And this particular dike featured a zigzag created by a continental collision. The Z-fold, as she referred to it, was caused by a right lateral shear. Who knew?

p9-first fold understanding

My understanding of the first fold Denise had pointed to began to develop more fully when she pulled out a geological compass and measured the angle of the rock to the left and then we could see the same angle on the far right and suddenly in my mind’s eye was the arc that has since eroded. With that came the new knowledge that more moons ago than my brain can comprehend, mountains reached six miles above and natural forces had eroded their 12,000-foot structures.

p10-dike to lighthouse

We crossed the rock from feature to feature, occasionally looking back at the lighthouse to note characteristics, such as the igneous dike (lighter color) that cuts across the metamorphic rock and leads to the buildings. Being made of granite, it offers a solid foundation for the tower.

p11-Denise on fold

And then our great leader led us to her favorite feature–the greatest fold in Maine.

p11a-the fold

Though the rocks were originally horizontal in nature, intense pressure and heat at some point in their lifetime forced such folds.

p12-everyone on fold

It was worth a photo call for Denise, Sharon, Judy, Karen and Penny–all sharing a brain with me for the day.

p13-the big dike

From there, we had a great view of the large granite-topped sill that is harder and thus more resistant to erosion.

p14-sunburst lichen

As we made our way back across to it, we paused to look at quartz, feldspar and biotite mica–but lichens such as the sunburst also caught our attention.

p15-lichen disks

Don’t tell Denise. But do check out those fruiting bodies–the apothecia.

p16-fold looking toward lighthouse

Suddenly, our eyes and brains recognized the fold formation throughout.

p19-Karen at dike

At the huge sill, Karen posed to give a sense of height. (Ignore photo light)

p22-bucksport layers

And then we looked at its structure–metamorphic below and granite pegmatite with huge crystals above.

p23-swirls

We noted swirls and imagined silly putty (invented in a barn in my hometown of North Branford, Connecticut).

p24-under the sill

And stood in awe of life.

p25-large crystals

I mentioned the large crystals–evidenced here. Far larger than the 2.5 centimeters that defines a pegmatite.

p26-Denise again

Denise showed us some popcorn migmatite and how the schist and pegmatite formed together.

p29-igneous rock formation 2

One of our next stops was atop a jetty–so different in structure. This is an example of an igneous rock intrusion created deep underground.

p30-trough of a syncline

To its side we could see a trough–known geologically as a syncline.

p33--garnets

Through her eyes, we spotted red specks of garnet.

p33--buodoin--sausage 1

And began to understand the pinching and swelling from compression and shearing to the Northeast that formed sausage-shaped boudins.

p31a--pressure formation

Closer to the lighthouse, we noted the isoclinal folds Denise referred to as S-folds (compared to the Z-folds we’d seen earlier).

p35--view

Before the day began, this was a great example of the rocky coast of Maine.

p36--view from lighthouse

But when we climbed the lighthouse tower after our lesson, we looked below with brand new eyes and understandings (and still so much more to learn and wrap our brains around).

Thankful were we for our day spent in wonder on the rocks at Pemaquid Point with Denise.