Thursday, February 28, 2008

Snowmobiling in Northern Maine

Jack and I took a trip North to Millinocket, Maine last week to get in a few days of snowmobiling.
The road trip took 7 hours one way and as we approached our hotel, the full moon was eclipsing. It was so beautiful and the snowbanks were 10 feet high! In fact we could barely see out our first floor window!

The first day we rode north to Mt. Katahdin and Baxter State Park. In the 1920's a lumberman, Burton Howe of Patten, Maine led an expedition of politicians, including Senator Baxter, up Mt. Katahdin. Baxter later bought Mt. Katahdin and the surrounding land and donated it to the state for a park. It is vast and wild and breathtaking. Below is a train with logs headed to the mill. Millinocket has two large mills that many of the residents work or hope to work in one day. Presently there are about 200 employees due to retire and the waiting list to replace them is full.
About 20 minutes outside town the trail opened up, a roadway to Baxter State Park and the mountain heaved into view.
We came to this incredible boulder that has been painted and maintained by a group of people for years.

It was a perfect day...15-20 degrees, sunny and no one on the trails. We continued North and stopped at Lunksoos Camps .There are a number of these camps in the wilds; open for hunters and fishermen and in the winter many will be open for lunches and a warm-up. This was a pretty nice camp, well maintained and the owner, Lee Bertsch, very accommodating. We sat at his table in the main lodge and talked for a half hour or more about everything from hunting to the economy to politics! But we had a lot more riding to do and sights to see.

We rode further North to Patten, ME, got gas, ate our trail lunch and headed back to Millinocket. By 3PM it started to chill down and I could feel it. The wind picked up and at 10 degrees, with a wind speed temp of 45 below it was a bit nippy! We got back to town at 5PM, regrouped and then went out to dinner at a fabulous place, River Driver's Restaurant Definitely make it a destination if ever in that area, IF you like fine dining in a casual atmosphere.

Day 2

Next morning starts the real fun...we rode west from Millinocket to Pittston Farm for an overnight. These are the best rides as we pack just what we need in saddlebags for the time away and hit the trail. And as a loyal fiber gal, you can see I packed some knitting along with extra hand warmers and other essentials. This is one of 8 pouches that I filled to the gills!
We always stop along the trip and take a break and here I jumped off the trail to see how deep the snow was! It actually was way deeper than this, I didn't press my luck. We saw lots of deer and usually they yard up for the winter as the snow is just too deep. They and all wildlife use the trails as access trails to find food. The trails really are a benefit for the animals. We saw lots of moose tracks but no moose. We also saw snowshoe hares cross the trail, in their winter white camouflage fur.
We arrived at Pittson Farm around 4PM, about 125 mile trip from Millinocket. Pittston Farm has their own trail system and groomers and the riding is some of the finest around; smooth and easy. This is a view of the main house and one barn. There are multiple lodging options and the stay includes 3 square meals and hospitality plus. Pittston Farm was originally a logging base camp where the horses used for all the logging expeditions were boarded in the summer months. There is another barn we'll visit next which boarded 350 draft horses in it's day! And with that many horses to feed you can see why the fields were utilized completely!
This is a view from the porch of the main house which is a dining area, looking toward the horse barn and a part of the field area. It truly is a working marvel and for anyone who loves a farm it is quite a treat. The place is run completely on generator, there is no cell service except the main house phone which is a satellite phone, that doesn't always work, but they do have satellite TV in all the rooms. The weather can be quite intense there which makes it all the more exciting to come home to. The kitchen is always open, and it's a big kitchen, with coolers full of desserts and drinks and sandwich NEVER go hungry at Pittston Farm! The dining room is always buzzing with the owners Bob and Jen and their family along the help plus visitors such as us, just there to enjoy. You're apt to hear a good joke or a story any time you are in the dining room. While I ate dinner I watched the family bring in 50# bags of potatoes....I counted 20 bags! They told be they go through 350# of potaoes a week! And they are Maine potatoes, not Idaho, yea!
The living room in the main house is home to the owners collection of various wildlife mounts. This is a bobcat...looks real alright.

Day 3

The next morning before we left we went down to the big barn to meet the animals. Bob and Jen, the owners, have a rule that as long as they own Pittston Farm it has to be a farm. Their son and daughter-in-law have a couple boys in 4-H and they have an assortment of animals they work with. This picture doesn't do the barn justice. It is enormous. Down below to the left side is all open in the front area which then opens out into the large field. We went in the door to the right where the animals are this time of year.
This is Salt and Pepper, a pair of oxen. They don't have to work too hard anymore. They are getting on in years.

This is Luther Gray, a horseman, with his team of horses, Chief and Doc. Luther brought the horses up to give sleigh rides for a few weeks. They hope it will catch on and he will keep the horses there longer. His helper, Mark is on the backside brushing the coats down, getting them ready for the afternoon rides, complete with bells, a beautiful sleigh and blankets. I wished we could have stayed for a ride. Luther was interesting to talk with. And it's a small world in New England, as he knew of my brother, Jimmy Walker, who passed away in 2006. Horsemen.
There were a number of Boar goats in the barn, this is Cammy with her new kid, 20 below. The kid named 20 below because it was 23 below when she was born! She was so busy I never could get a picture of her standing still!
But we had to get going, we planned to ride 200 miles and be back to Millinocket by 5PM! We said our goodbyes at the barn and were on trail at 9AM.

More of Day 3

From Pittston Farm we rode 50 miles in less than two hours on some of the most magnificent trails; we cruised east around the top of Moosehead Lake to Northeast Carry and down to Kokadjo (phonetically Ko-Kay-Jo). Kokadjo has a great gathering place where you can gas up, eat and drink, buy some snacks, tourist stuff and the essentials for your snowmobile. We ate lunch there and it is so busy you will always eat with other people at your table. We met three young guys that gave us some good trail tips and a few laughs. They had gotten up at the crack of dawn, left Lincoln, ME and rode to Pittston Farm and were headed back to Lincoln by nightfall. They already had 175 miles on at 11AM! Oh to be young again. This is a barn at Kokadjo with the gas tank in the foreground. Signs of a farm long ago. The main building is a nice new building just to my right and all this sits on the shore of Roach Pond.
After we left Kokadjo, we headed south toward Greenville, ME and took a connector trail we'd been told about which would point us to the Northeast and eventually Millinocket. We were riding along and Jack and I got sandwiched between a group of 6 other riders and all of a sudden we arrived at what I thought was a horrific snowmobile accident. There were people everywhere and pieces of metal. But then we realized we were at the site of a B-52 crash in January of 1963. You can read the story below on the sign.
It was terribly sobering and sad. Pieces of plane everywhere, out here in the middle of nowhere. And imagine if the snow is 5-6 feet deep how really large this all is in the summer. What is most amazing is one wouldn't be likely to find this site unless by snowmobile or 4-wheeler.

We left that site and stopped on trail for lunch. It was bit cold but the sun felt good and the view was magnificent. I think this is Horseshoe Pond but not exactly sure as there are tons of lakes in this area.
We continued on our way not having a very good idea of the time involved in getting back to Millinocket. Oh sure we had good maps, and legends for mileage but it still doesn't add up when you ride it the first time in a new area. We came to an intersection where three hikers were talking with three snowmobilers. The hikers, 2 woman and a man, had gotten mixed up on their hike and were about 4 miles from the AMC hut where they were staying. The snowmobilers were going the opposite way and low on gas (little did we know we would be also). But Jack and I each took a woman and snowmobiled them back to their camp. They would then have the host return to pick up the man. It was 2PM and going to get cold. Of course the AMC camp didn't allow snowmobilers but weren't they happy for the ride! So good deed done we pressed on. We saw beautiful views, more deer, stopped to give synthetic oil to a group of snowmobilers who had run amuck. They recognized Jack's coat from Kokadjo. It's a coyote hunting coat for winter camouflage which Jack always wears on our trips. It's amazing the people we have connected with that remember it. Wouldn't you?!

On and on for miles and miles we rode. At 5:45PM we crossed the Abol River just before the gas pumps closed at the Abol store; Jack was on empty, close! A nice couple ran the store, neat place, a game check station plus supplies and tourist stuff. Behind the store was a herd of deer all feeding at a station they had set up for them.
We rode into Millinocket at 6:45PM, ready for a warm meal and reeelaxin'! It was a great trip and thanks for coming along!

That felted entrelac bag!

It's done!!!! almost anyway. Once upon a time a couple of years ago, it feels like now, I knit this wonderful entrelac bag. But when I felted it, one of the yarns I used disintegrated in the process and I was left with a very holy, not religious, bag. So, I started over, almost immediately, but somehow the love affair was gone and I have struggled for more than a year to finish the bag. Below is the bag before the felting.

We went on vacation last week and had a 7 hour drive one way so I put my nose into the project and had it finished by the time we returned home. It promptly went in the washer and felted beautifully!

It is still drying and then I will sew the straps on and put it to use. Hooray! It really is a great project if you haven't tried it. It will hold another knitting project, use it as a shopping bag at the next fiber event or take it to the casino to collect winnings!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Delays, delays....

Sorry for the delay in posting! We took a vacation last week and got back to a snowstorm, have lost the power repeatedly so I can barely get caught up before it goes out again!
I have lots to share...hopefully later on today I can begin storytelling! Check back please!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Orchid repotting 101

Saturday my friend Lee, above, offered to help repot orchids belonging to me and another friend, Maryann. Lee has a fabulous greenhouse attached to her house where we all met in the morning. It was 20 degrees outside when I arrived at her house at 10am. Inside between the wood heat and the solar energy in the greenhouse it was like a trip to Florida! I was in bare feet, rolled up jeans and a tee shirt within minutes! What follows is a loose but hopefully helpful, graphic account of the repotting process.
Lee recommends potting orchids in sphagnum moss. It holds moisture nicely but also is very light and airy. With most of the common orchids repotting should take place every year and no more than two. I was guilty of a three year stretch with my three orchids and it showed. Keeping orchids in fresh potting material is essential to their health. Below is a bag of the sphagnum moss
and some soaking before it is used for repotting.
The first orchid we repotted is a cymbidium shown below, ready to remove from the pot. It had just bloomed but the blooms fell off rather quickly and although there is good new growth, it needs repotting. The potting material was heavy and dense.
Have a jar of bleach and water nearby with some sticks to use for the cleaning process. For each orchid to be repotted, dip the stick in the bleach/water to sterilize before using.
Lay the orchid on a work surface and with the sterilized stick carefully pick away all the planting medium from the roots of the plant. Do this until all the medium is removed. Throw the old medium away; do not reuse it.
Once the roots are free and clear you can then check the bulbs. If they are hard they are still healthy. Quite often you will see new growth. The roots which dangle below should be firm. Any that are soft and brown should be cut off. Any that are broken should be cut above the break.
Here you can see healthy new growth.

Lee found this wonderful pair of gardening scissors in Home Depot, perfect for this type of intricate work.
After the orchid has been cleaned and the roots clipped as needed, soak the roots in a sink or pan of water for a few minutes.
Clean your pot completely before repotting the orchid. Make sure to use a pot less than 2" larger than the last one. Using a pot too large for the root structure will result in the potting medium to hold excess moisture which will cause the root's health to suffer. Fill the pot half way with the moistened moss. Then add the orchid to the pot and hold it upright as you add the moss around the plant, using the stick to work it in and around. Do not pack the moss tightly, just enough to support the roots and plant. This picture shows the pot being filled but it needs moss to come up about an inch below the top of the pot.
Below is an example of scale on an orchid. They are little brown bumps. Take the plant over the trash can and scrape off these scales, being careful to get each one. After they are removed wipe all the leaves with rubbing alcohol which inhibits the scales to come back. Be sure to get at all the affected areas. Once a week, retreat with alcohol until the signs of scale are gone. At the first sight, this is the best method of treatment.
Here are my three orchids, back home after the journey. Left to right are a Phalaenopsis; Paphiopedilum or Lady Slipper Orchid; Cattleya. They are in a south facing window which only gets 2-4 hours of sun per day (when it's sunny!). After repotting don't feed or re-water for a month. The orchids have gone through a bit of a shock and need to readjust. Once you see new growth emerging comence with feeding and watering. Feed orchid specific food at the rate of "weakly/weekly". It is better to give a weaker feed solution weekly. Also mark your plant label stick with the repotting date so you won't forget when it is time to repot next year. For more information on orchids click here

Friday, February 15, 2008

He's in charge of who's in charge

Webster that is. Here is Webster, hanging out comfortably in Sidney's bed, Shelly in her usual place at the door, ready to go out anytime the door opens and Sidney, not interested in arguing with Webster. Good boy, Sid.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Enough Love
"There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;
No disease that enough love will not heal;
No door that enough love will not open;
No gulf that enough love will not bridge;
No wall that enough love will not throw down;
No sin that enough love will not redeem. . . It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble, how hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle, how great the mistake — a sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all. . . if only you could love enough, you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world."
—Emmet Fox
Love is not just a romantic feeling to be celebrated with hearts and flowers one day a year. It is a dynamic power to be used 365 days out of every year, used without ceasing. The power of unconditional love enables us to live joyfully, abundantly and in peace, healing every disease, correcting every malfunction. May this day of love serve as a reminder to all humanity that when we are willing to love without limits of any kind only then will we be able to live without limits, as well.

May you always be willing to love without limit.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Road Trip

Jack and I took a drive over to Antrim to check out a store named A Place In The Woods It is under new ownership since last July, John and Diane Kendall, and I had met Diane a number of times at various sheep festivals around New England. Diane is known for her wonderful teeshirts that espouse various knitting and dyeing lines on them with fun artwork. They are for sale in the shop. I bought one yesterday, simple white with green lettering "Knit Free or Dye". We also bought some new gloves, fleece with thermal linings for $10...good enough! It's a nice store with something for everyone. A couple can go there and both be entertained from the hunting and fishing to the clothing, boots and canoes, and much more.
It started to snow just after we got there, very lightly. Antrim is northeast from us and with the storm coming in from the west, by the time we left to come back the roads were snow-covered. But we love driving in the snow so it was great fun. Of course we like ANYTHING to do with snow! This morning on the news we heard the roads were at their worst from 4-6PM, exactly the times we were on them. It has been snowing since yesterday with at least 6 new inches of snow!

At the farm

Here are a few shots this morning. See how the sheep line up at the snow bar for a lick. They have plenty of good clean water and they still love fresh snow! Wetherby was on a mission to come see me for a chin scratch!
It is still snowing. There is a cold front moving in with a burst of snow ahead of it and then wind and cold temperatures. Yippee!

Sunday's fun to follow later on.....

Chili dogs

This afternoon we snomobiled the trails from the farm to Keene to have a bite to eat at Chili's and then come home, about 50 miles round trip. We knew the riding wouldn't be the best, despite all the snow we just got, but it was a fun ride anyway. The ride started out warm, in the 30's, some sun. We snomobiled over hill and dale, crossing multiple and difficult water bars with some great spurts of open fields and railroad beds. Actually half the trip to Keene is on former railroad beds and as we neared the city there were more and more people using the trails; walking, cross country skiing, even running. We rode by a young fellow walking with a rifle slung over his shoulder headed up a hill. Perhaps rabbit hunting or maybe going to target shoot. We rode by these ice climbers on the rail bed.

We had a bite to eat and drink at Chili's and then headed home about 4PM. The cold front pushed in and wow did the snow fly! It was wild. We stopping in town in the field overlooking the CT River as we had on the way to Keene. The moon was rising,the snow whipped across the field, the wind was howling. Loved every minute of it. We arrived back at the farm at 6ish. All in all a great afternoon!