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.

 

 

 

Celebrating the Vernal Equinox

We fell asleep to winter and awoke early this morning–eager to celebrate the vernal equinox.

b-dark

It was dark and cold (15˚) with a brisk breeze when we joined others for a 6am hike up Bald Pate sponsored by Loon Echo Land Trust.

b-sun begins

While we waited at the summit and tried to stay warm, we were treated to hot cocoa and amaretto cake. YUM!

b-sunrise1

And then . . .

b-sunrise 3

the sun shone upon this first day of spring.

b-vernal pool

After church, I made a quick visit to the vernal pool where ice is still the name of the game.

b-wet road

And after lunch, we headed off on another adventure. At first we followed an old road, which was tricky business.

b-1st fdn

Though at least six foundations are located along this road where young men carved out a living prior to the Civil War, we allowed ourselves time only to stop at one. We were on a mission.

b-powerline1

We turned north at the power line and trudged up and down hills in search of a brook.

b-stream crossing

That direction didn’t feel quite right, so we followed our noses and turned into the woods.

b-posted 1

And then we stumbled upon a property line that was posted. We love the fact that in Maine one can walk upon any property that isn’t posted. This one was recently marked and so we respected the landowner’s wishes.

b-meandering stream

That is, until we got to a point where we decided to trespass after all. Our journey took us past meandering streams,

b-stream crossing 2

stepping across others,

b-wetland 1

slogging through boggy areas,

b-bushwhack

and tripping among the understory.

b-deer rub

We saw where a deer had rubbed its antlers,

b-deer scrape

another enjoyed fine dining, and

b-deer skull

a third said goodbye as it returned from whence it came.

b-polypody 2

We found common polypody fern (Polypodium vulgare) indicating that the temperature was higher than it had been earlier in the morning.

b-polypody 1

This was our view of polypody when the temperature was much lower on Bald Pate.

b-pork den

We passed a porcupine den.

b-porky tree

And then we came upon downed hemlock branches and

b-pork scat 1

fresh scat.

b-pork in tree 1

I looked up.

b-pork in tree

He looked down.

b-game trail beside brook

Finally, we found ourselves walking along a game trail beside a brook–feeling like we might just be on the right track.

b-mill pond

Where the brook widened into a pond, we knew we were in the right place.

b-on a rock

Just below the pond, my guy stood in the middle of the brook, excited about our find. We’d attempted to locate this spot a year ago and missed it by a long shot.

b-mill site1

According to the 1858 map of Oxford County, we were at the sight of R. Bennett’s sawmill. I’d first visited two years ago with my friends, Sue and Janet. It’s actually located on Sue’s land. We’d come in from her home on my first visit, but today we came via Old City.

b-b mill 3

b-b mill 2

 

b-bmill stones brook

A year ago, my guy and I snowshoed in search of this sight but never found it so we were gleeful about today’s success.

b-fdn near mill.jpg

Our intention had been to search for the mill until 3:30. We found it just after 4pm. And rather than try to follow the stream back, we decided to bushwhack in a more westerly direction. On a hill above the mill we found a foundation made of drilled stones that are neatly hidden by moss and ferns and assume it was part of the mill.

b-rock pile?

Our bushwhack continued until we finally emerged by a rock pile beside Old City Road. Its circular formation had me thinking water well.

b-double wall

Will we ever find it again? That’s always a question, but now we know to walk along the road until we reach the last double-wide wall and then turn at the well.

b-ghost

I liked the ghost-like effect of my guy walking back on the road–reminiscent of the men who once lived here and worked these woods. I followed my guy out and both of us occasionally felt the suction of mud. Occasionally one foot was drawn into the earth as if it intended to stay behind. We finally returned to our truck at 6pm (so much for our intention to be home by 4:30), our celebration of the vernal equinox complete.