Category Archives: travel

Making plans for a Thanksgiving visit

Greetings, readers. The bus tickets have been purchased and I am going to be on my way. Dave and family invited me to New Jersey for Thanksgiving weekend and I gleefully accepted. After checking out Zipcar and Hertz I figured out that Megabus was the way to go. For a modest price, I will be able to enjoy a five-day mini-vacation.

I am able to go because of generous friends who offered to take my work shifts on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. Two people offered and I hope my manager doesn’t schedule them both because one will be angry at me. If either one of you is a regular reader, you have just saved my weekend and I owe you a favor.

I’m going to have to look at the Megabus website again to see if I can bring a suitcase and a carry-on. If it is one or the other, the computer will be staying home. In the late evenings at David’s, after our brotherly chats are over, I like to go upstairs to my guest room, crawl under the blankets, and check my email or listen to music. The one thing I am worried about is that my body is programmed to wake up at 4:00am; that will not be happening at David’s house. I will be sleeping in.

I can’t wait to get there and enjoy the family’s hospitality. The Thanksgiving meal itself will be in the dining hall at Geri’s church and it is big enough for the entire family. I will probably ask David if I can say Grace or make a speech, as I always tend to do. I’m looking forward not only to the feast but also to be with family once again. I shall treasure every moment.

What are the things I am thankful for this year? With my life looking up at the moment, here is my brief list: I am thankful for my kitty-cat Keekee, who is in good health, besides perhaps a slight eye issue; she’s doing great for being almost 13 years old. I am thankful for my family and friends and the possibility to travel and see them. I’m also grateful and thankful that my job has worked out and that most managers think I am doing an excellent job … and making a little extra scratch doesn’t hurt either. Lol. Last but not least, I am thankful for Rebecca and Darren for their years of not only friendship but of hard work to help me put these various writing projects together. As I told my friend this morning, I don’t care if Darren’s book doesn’t put me on the map, I’m hoping it will put him on the map. Kimberly was a cute play. Was it polished? Not by any means. Darren took a good solid skeleton with some meat on the bones and turned it into a literary breathing human being.

I wish to say Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and readers. Your support over the last year has meant so much to me and has kept us going. The recent upswing in view numbers is continuing and we like it.

I said yesterday that this entry would be a top ten list, but other work earlier this morning took time away from our working hours here at the office, so the promised top ten list will come as soon as I come back from vacation. My mistake.

Next week Rebecca will post two blog entries, most likely re-posts of her choosing, as I will be on the bus and in New Jersey, cramming myself with turkey and trimmings.

So until next time, have a wonderful holiday, take care, and happy reading.

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Bear Spring Camps 2017 was a smashing success

Greetings, readers. I am back from Bear Spring Camps and ready to begin work again. I am feeling energized with many ideas for blog entries and personal writing projects. I sat in my cabin every evening listening to the crickets and the loons while I was deep in thought reflecting on the year to come.

First of all let me tell you about my rental car. OMG! The 2017 Hyundai Tucson is that company’s small SUV. It had adequate space, more than enough power and every gadget and readout known to man. With cruise control on the interstates it averaged 31.5 miles per gallon. Not too shabby. Along with the GPS unit I purchased, I was easily able to go on my side trips. I stopped at Portland, Maine on the way up and on the way back, and even spent an hour at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire. I used my computer’s webcam to take a few snapshots. Only one turned out very well and I put it up on Facebook.

I used the computer’s webcam to take this photo. I think it really well.

As Rebecca said in her blog entry a couple of weeks ago, I got a late start the Thursday morning I left for camp and was only about 30 miles down the highway at lunchtime. I stopped at the Flying J truck stop for lunch, over ate, and then had to blare music and freeze myself with air conditioning just to stay awake. The Hyundai had Sirius XM radio, which I took advantage of quite a bit. Did I love that car? I put 1,455 miles on it. That should answer the question. I always tell myself I will drive back to Maine during the year but that never seems to happen, nor do I think it will this year. I will have to return to using Zipcars for my driving around town.

Driving down the lane to my cabin for the first time brought back all the wonderful memories of years gone by. I felt Mom with me in the car and in the cabin many times. I had a nice surprise; the tree in front of my front porch was trimmed back a bit, giving me a better view of the lake.

It rained a bit more than usual. When it was raining, I had to go inside and close the door. At night time I don’t mind that. During the day there is not much to do. I tried a couple of times on rainy afternoons to connect to the Dunkin’ Donuts internet in Waterville and I am sorry to say I didn’t have much success. I always got coffee and a doughnut. Not much changed in Waterville or Belgrade Lakes, but not much ever does.

I went early morning fishing just once and it was a truly magical experience. For a short time we were fog bound, then it lifted to be a gorgeous morning. The lake’s water level was higher than it has been in a number of years. That was good for people with pontoon boats like me. I’m already signed up for next year and am eagerly awaiting August 4th.

I had one disposable camera and I think that 25 out of the 27 shots will be good ones. On two occasions the camera was slipping out of my hand when I heard the click, so I will have a beautiful blurry shot of a boat seat and another of my foot. Better to do that then drop the camera and lose all my pictures.

When I came home Sunday afternoon, Keekee was beside herself. She meowed, jumped on me and nuzzled, wanted food and lots of loving. She is a happy kitty cat once again. I am sure her extra affectionate mood will calm down when she realizes that I will not be going anywhere else again soon.

How would I rate this trip? Family and friends: 10 out of 10; the weather: only 7 out of 10 [more rain than usual]; fishing: 8 out of 10 [usual for me, fantastic for others. Both Dave and his nephew Cole caught pickerel and pike.] Food; 10 out of 10 as usual. For an overall score of 8.75 out of 10.

There is a summary of this year’s Maine voyage. As much as I loved being there, it is good to be back so we can get to work. Until tomorrow, take care, have a wonderful day, and happy reading.

Last minute chores to do before leaving for Maine

Greetings, readers. Yes, it’s that time of year again. I can’t believe that another early August has rolled around. Time flies and I always find myself behind the eight ball completing my last-minute chores. The panic and rush-rush will all be worth it though in ten days, when I’ll be relaxing on my cabin’s porch.

The first thing I must do is fire up the old laptop and transfer the ‘take to camp’ list I made years ago. I update it every year, taking off items that aren’t used. It is really a big help to me, keeping me organized during this hectic week before I pull out.

It goes without saying that I also must do multiple loads of laundry. With only one washer and dryer on my floor of the apartment building, I try to choose a day and begin my washing chore when the room opens at 8:00 in the morning.

Lastly, I am drawn to follow my mom’s example to double-check my reservations for the motels and the rental car. I’m very glad I called the rental car agency this morning because there was a snafu. The gentleman I talked to on June 1st never put my car reservation in the computer system. That would have been loads of fun if I had walked over to get the car and there wasn’t one the day before I wanted to leave. This minor fiasco makes me want to double-check my motel reservations. It might sound easy and straight forward, but to me, I learned from my mom years ago to never leave any details of the preparations to chance.

Rebecca and I will be working tomorrow and then I’ll be done for two weeks. As Rebecca stated last week, she will take over in my absence and I have no doubt that she will give you something interesting to read while I’m gone. She always does.

So until tomorrow, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

My options for my side trip on the way to Maine

Greetings, readers. Over the past few years when I have driven myself to Bear Spring Camps, I’ve taken a half day for a side trip. One year I stopped in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire and spent a few hours at the seaside. The town looked nothing like how I remembered it from when I was a boy. With many more shops and hotels, it is certainly geared for the tourist trade.

Two years ago I stopped in Portland, Maine and had an absolute blast. I drove to the Portland Sea Dogs baseball stadium, Hadlock Field, to see it they had a souvenir shop. I was extremely happy to find that they did. I bought way too much stuff; two baseball caps – both home and away, two sweatshirts, a baseball, a coffee mug, and a refrigerator magnet. After that I drove around Portland a bit and had a late lunch at a waterside seafood shop. They had a delicious lobster roll. After spending way too much time in Portland, I had to tear myself away to get to Waterville for my Friday evening hotel reservation.

What to do this year? Hmmm. I could revisit one of those two places, or choose something completely different. Now that I own a GPS unit, I might even venture into a bigger city, such as Boston or Hartford and do a little sightseeing. My Friday evening hotel reservation this year is in Augusta, roughly 20 miles from the Waterville exit, so I will be close enough to camp on Saturday morning so as not to feel rushed or think that my first day is getting away from me.

Obviously I did not see all of Portland when I was there before. If I venture back this year I can drive all around, not just down Commercial Street. As some of you might remember from a previous blog entry, that street is depicted in one of my train simulator routes and it was amazing how accurate the game was, right down to the corner convenience store. If I do go back to Portland, I will stop at that seafood shop for another lobster roll. I really enjoy them, as did my mom.  It was Mom’s favorite meal during the Maine trip, and I will have one in her memory.

Usually I don’t stop anywhere on the way home, but depending on traffic, I just might this year. Again, having my own GPS unit will come in handy. It opens up a lot of options for me. One of these days, if I sell enough books and become independently wealthy (LOL), I will use my Garmin and visit places in the country I always wanted to see. For now though, the Garmin is only for the Maine trip.

Next week I expect to have a two-day work week with Rebecca, even though Thursday is my birthday. I’m not a kid anymore and I don’t mind working on my birthday. We’ll have two more exciting blog entries for you. One of them just might be political. I’ve been biting my tongue ever since President Trump got elected. I don’t know how much longer I can do it. I might just have to speak out.

So we bid you a good weekend, please do take care, good wishes to any people in the Montana earthquake who might have been injured, and as always, happy reading.

Virtual Bear Spring Camps

Greetings, readers. A few years ago, when I had the proper video equipment, I took all of my Bear Spring Camps VHS tapes that I had recorded over the years, and made myself something special. I called it Bear Spring Camps: The Day. Some of the highlights are an early morning video of the lake, seeing people in the dining room at a meal, an afternoon boat ride, and even a full ride in the car down to Belgrade Lakes and back. Back in the days that I had less to do with my time, when I was back home, I would sometimes put on these videos at the appropriate time of day and it would really make me feel like I was at Bear Spring Camps.

I made these videos from 1984 through 1987. I brought my camcorder with me every summer and would record, record, record. This is the same period of time when I sat down with Cy Greco and recorded conversations with him; those of you who read my first book, Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camp Stories, might remember what I wrote about these fireside chats. Obviously not everything I filmed made it into Bear Spring Camps: The Day. But a good chunk of it did. My favorite part is one early evening inside the cabin when I rested the camcorder on the table next to my favorite chair. The radio was on in the background and I happened to record about 30 minutes of a country radio station. It completely recreated that after-supper-time-to-relax feeling and it did it very well. I’ve watched this part over and over again ever since and enjoyed all those songs. I found and added to my playlist for my last show “Do You Love Me (Just Say Yes)”, performed by Highway 101.

Could I mass produce these tapes and sell them? I think I have an idea here, if I had the right equipment or the money to get it. The virtual vacation. Sure there are videos on YouTube of sunsets, waterfalls, and rain on a canvas tent, but I’ve never seen a video that would take you through an entire day at camp. Maybe I could use GoFundMe.com to finance my idea. That will require some thought.

I know that this is the second Bear Spring Camps entry within two weeks, but I am still very excited about camp opening, the warmer weather in general, and my upcoming August trip. I will probably be making plans and reservations tomorrow, or next week at the latest. Drop me a note, here or on Facebook, if you think my idea of the virtual vacation is a good one. I might pursue it.

Until tomorrow, take care, have a wonderful day, and as always happy reading.

Bear Spring Camps opening day 2017

Greetings, readers. Although Bear Spring Camps has a relatively short season of only four and a half months, I do get excited on opening day. I’ve been going to this camp, located in central Maine, since I was five years old, and have truly loved every moment of it. As I get older though, and as my monetary situation changes, it is becoming obvious that my years at camp are numbered. I might only be able to go another three to five years. I have learned through inspirational videos to treasure every moment of life, which is how I am looking at the camp experience.

I saw on the Facebook page for Bear Spring Camps that Peg and Ron are beginning their 34th year of them running the business. The camp opened in 1910. Peg’s grandfather started it, and at some point her father and mother took over the day-to-day running of the camp. At the beginning, it was truly a fishing camp, with quite rudimentary cabins. Now they are quite plush and filled with modern conveniences like small refrigerators, and new wood stoves in some of the cabins. Last year my cabin got an upgrade with new wall insulation and a larger living room area. I really like it. I’m going to keep that cabin as long as I’m able to.

When I was younger, I would buy a calendar at a souvenir shop in Belgrade Lakes and number the days until I would be back at camp again. I was that obsessed with it. I don’t do that any more, but I do keep track of things like the camp’s opening day, closing day, and I still do get very excited about two weeks before I am to arrive for my week at camp in August.

I wanted to take Traci with me this year, and still might if I can talk her into it, as it will feel strange being engaged and not with her for 10 days. We will miss each other of course, and talk to each other every morning and evening on the phone. That is what we did last year and it worked very well.

As a long time Bear Spring Camper, I wish Ron and Peg Churchill and family a successful 2017 camp season, and I can’t wait until August when I will get there for my week at camp. I will fish, swim, go on pontoon rides, visit with family and friends, and have my annual happy hour. As many of you know, I am a man of tradition.

Next week I am expecting a two blog work week. One of them hopefully will be a top ten list. Until then, I bid you a great weekend, take care, enjoy the warmth, and as always, happy reading.

Enjoying virtual flight on YouTube

Greetings, readers. A number of people on YouTube put up videos of themselves being on an airplane, with their little camera facing out on to the wing. I have used some of these videos for ambient background noise to help with sleeping, and sometimes just to enjoy them. My question is: How do they do it?

I’ve Googled the equipment that is used as stated in their description and obviously it is electronic. Please, readers, correct me if I am wrong, but I thought all electronic gadgets had to be turned off for taxi, take-off, and landing. No matter. It really does add to the experience. The camera that is used can fit into the palm of your hand and can be clamped down to the window of the aircraft. I believe, but I’m not certain, that it plugs into a computer’s USB port and you can record directly into the computer.

One of my favorite videos is a flight on American Airlines from Las Vegas, Nevada to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. I really enjoy the few moments after take-off when big mountains come into view followed by the pretty clouds, and before I know it we are at cruising altitude with lovely blue skies. It was a daytime flight and everything was as bright and clear as could be.

There is more than one person on YouTube that does this. My favorite is someone who posts as inflight Video. He has videos from all over the world and my guess is that when he travels anywhere for business he records the flight. Why does this fascinate me so much? Here’s the answer.

As friends of mine and my steady readers know, I love aircraft and flying. Early in life I had thoughts about being a commercial pilot. Health issues closed that door. I do not have the time nor the money to hop onto an airplane anytime I want, turn right around and come home again. I’m silly, not stupid, and taking a several hundred-dollar joy ride for the day is out of the question. My Aunt Marilyn lives out west so I could have an opportunity to fly cross-country, I just have to find the time and funds to do it.

For now though, the flight videos on YouTube will have to do. I hope to visit my Aunt sometime in the coming year. We’ll see if that transpires.

The last two little tidbits. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the ill-fated Air Florida Flight 90 disaster, which occurred in 1982. My blog entry on this event still gets a few views during the year and I expect more around the anniversary. This post, as well as my very popular top ten list from the show Air Crash Investigation, made me think, what if I did another top ten list of favorite episodes from ACI? There are so many to choose from. I don’t think I’ve seen them all, but the ones I have seen I remember quite well. I think for next week I shall take notes and try to come up with another ten episodes for a second list. Am I expecting the same high numbers as the first top ten list? It certainly would be nice but I am grateful for any reads I get on any blog entry. I’ll get to work on that one this weekend.

Before I sign off, prayers going out to all who need it in areas of the country experiencing droughts, floods, or blizzards. The weather has been kind of freaky this winter.

Until next week, take care, have a wonderful weekend, and, as always, happy reading.

Bear Spring Camps 2016 was one of the best ever

Greetings, readers. I can’t believe I’ve been home almost a week. Time is flying already. In the early morning hours I’ve had time to reflect on this past vacation. I have so many fond memories. Were some things different? Yes, and even though I don’t love change, I must admit, I enjoyed the changes.

For the first time since I’ve been going without Mother to Bear Spring Camps, I traveled up with Dave Trost and family in their minivan. I was still able to take most of the things I always took, and seeing the sights as a passenger again was welcomed. We did leave for Maine, and leave from Maine, early in the morning. So the first few hours were in the dark. We had to pick up David’s daughter Emily’s friend in New York City; that was most interesting. We drove right by Newark International Airport. As some of my regular readers know, I am a flight simulator hobbyist, and have “flown” out of that airport many times. Everything looked so familiar.

As we approached New Hampshire in the daylight, I anticipated seeing the Piscataqua River Bridge and my favorite state of Maine. The Trosts take a different route than I do when I am driving the route to camp, and shoot off from I-95 to I-295. Somehow the Lord must have awakened me at the proper time, for just as I opened my eyes, we were passing Portland and I got to see the baseball stadium, the East Deering Swing Bridge, and the B&M Baked Bean factory. It was like someone plucked me from the vehicle and put me back in my train simulator. What a thrill!

We arrived at camp in time for dinner, the noon meal, and right away I noticed a major change. The wooden dining table chairs, which I had seen since childhood, were replaced with brand new metal chairs. Oh, my. After the shock of “I hate new things” wore off, I accepted Dave’s logic that they will be much easier to clean. Before the vacation was over, I must admit, I actually liked them better.

The first few days were quite routine, picking right off where we left off, visiting friends, taking the boat out, and doing all the things we did 52 weeks before. As I mentioned in my first camp book, it truly feels like you never left. We pushed the play button and continue the movie. An odd but wonderful sensation.

Mid-week brought the heat wave and Thursday’s happy hour. Tallie, a Mosher family relative, came for her annual visit and boat ride. It was a gorgeous day. Tallie and I took many pictures with various views of the lake.

The rain came on Friday. That was fine with me, for we got our morning fishing in before it really came down, and then the afternoon was for packing anyway. I must say, I was grateful for the rain; it was way too dry in New England. Leaves were already turning.

Before departure evening, allow me to share what I consider the highlight of the trip. Dave’s nephew Cole had the fishing day of fishing days. He caught a couple of white perch, several bass, and his prize, a 24 inch pike. He had that for supper, before he ate his lobster, and enjoyed every bite. Cole was using top water lures for the most part and got extremely excited when a good fish was on his line. He’ll even agree that he sounded like a little kid, whooping and cheering, and yes, shaking. After the pike was reeled in, he needed help to get the fish unhooked, not only because the fish was biting the net, but Cole couldn’t control his shaking hands. So yay, Cole, on the best fishing day I have seen in quite a while.

Finally, the last night was bittersweet. Packing preparations were made with the checks and double checks to make sure nothing was left behind. Then it was time to wait. Dave and family leave early in the morning, so I slept from 9:30 until about 2am. I sat patiently until they arrived in a driving rain to pick me up at 3:30. I went back to New Jersey with them, for what they call lobster fest. It was delicious. I then took a bus from Harrisburg back home.

Overall, I consider this one of my finest Maine vacations. It was relaxing, stress-free, I walked a lot, and eat like a horse. I give this vacation a 9 and a half out of 10. Had there been more Yahtzee, it would have been perfect.

Until next week, have a good weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Last minute things to do before camp 2016

Greetings, readers. It is less than a day until I leave for Bear Spring Camps. How these last three weeks have flown. I always think I have tons of time to prepare and pack but before I know it is the eve of the trip. Yikes!

I was able to do all my laundry yesterday and the suitcase has been cleaned out. I am going with my friend David and family this year, instead of renting a vehicle to drive myself, so I will have to be inventive while packing. I won’t be able to take quite as much stuff. No problem. My radio is put aside, as are the fishing rod and bait box, not to mention Mom’s binoculars. I think if I concentrate, I can get all my errands done and get packed before the evening gets too late. I want to get a good night’s sleep, so I am well rested for the trip. Maine, here we come. 🙂

On a sadder note, today is my friend Terry’s funeral. With work hours and last-minute packing, I will not be able to attend to pay my final respects. Although this troubles me, there is not much I can do about it. I’ll say a prayer and my good-byes from here at the apartment. I’m sure his family will understand.

As usual, Rebecca will take over for the next week and a half, putting up at least three blog entries, perhaps more. I am always appreciative when Rebecca takes over the blog and keeps it going. We never seem to skip a beat. Whoo-hoot to Rebecca.

After work hours today, I’ll make a bank run, a drug store run, visit Traci, come home and I’ll be here the rest of the day. I’ll finish my packing, and last but not least – maybe even tomorrow morning – I will do the cat litter box. That is not my favorite chore but it must be done.

Until Rebecca picks it up next time, enjoy, take care, and I’ll see you in about twelve days. And, oh yes, as always, happy reading.

I leave for Bear Spring Camps a week from tomorrow

Greetings, readers. A week from tomorrow I shall be on my way to Maine. How this year flew. In my mind I already have the list of things to take, which is going to include the Yahtzee game and other small items such a the binoculars and a camera. Obviously I can’t take everything in my apartment, the rental car’s trunk is only so big.

I’ll be taking my computer and music, as always, as well as headphones. It seems that no matter where I go, I need to have my tunes with me. It has been a hot humid summer in Maine, as well as here in Pennsylvania, so I’ll be sure to pack my swim trunks; it looks very much like I am going to be literally jumping in the lake. It is very refreshing when it is 85 or 90 degrees. Now that I am older, it has to be that hot for me to go into the water. I remember David and I as teenagers would be out there frolicking in the water trying to clobber each other with rafts in temperatures in the upper 60s. We were young, wet and having fun. We didn’t care about feeling cold.

I’m definitely going to miss Traci while I’m gone, and she is going to miss me. She has already informed me that she wants to go next year. I’ll have to try to get us a different cabin with a ramp for smoother entry in to the front door.

I expect to catch big fish this year, as well net many for David. We have a pontoon boat for the week, so it will be easier for me to get on and off, and will have plenty of places to sit. The older I get the more I can’t handle the small fishing boats. Another added bonus is that the 50 horse-power engine can get us where we are going twice as fast.

Camp evenings are blocked off for three very important things. My alone time for taking notes for possible new book stories, or just meditating. Yahtzee nights with friends and family. And there will be at least one evening with singing and storytelling with the younger kids.

As for the rest of this week and next, I’ll be filling out a job application on-line tomorrow, we will have a blog post on Friday, and as for next Wednesday I will probably be packing. We will see if I can squeeze one more blog entry in from me before I leave. Fear not though, for while I am gone Rebecca will put new material up every few days. Oh, yes, another year of blogging is not only upcoming but highly anticipated.

Until Friday, I bid you a good couple of days, watch yourselves in this heat wave, take care, and happy reading.