Tag Archives: Portland Maine

Bear Spring Camps 2019 was a smashing success

Greeting, readers. I know it is before August 21st, but I just had to tell you about the wonderful experience I had this week. From Saturday the 3rd until early Thursday morning of my vacation, central Maine enjoyed what I would consider perfect weather. Hot days with lower humidity (warm enough for swimming) and evenings in the mid-50s. That’s what I call perfect weather. The family and I enjoyed bonfires and story swapping. Let’s get into some of the details of the trip.

My rental car was a Hyundai Santa Fe. It was a gorgeous buggy. As I say every year, I loved it so much I could have married it. Yes, the cost was a bit extravagant (I could have saved money with a mid-sized Sedan), but I made good use of all of the space in the way-back. My arthritic right shoulder made the trip a wee bit less comfortable than usual; thank goodness for Aleve, it certainly does the trick. On a side note, I’ll be having an arthroscopic procedure on that shoulder on September 4th which should alleviate most or all of the pain.

Driving into camp that first day is always a pleasurable experience. “I made it again, good for me,” I said to myself. 612 miles up and 612 miles back; quite a feat for someone who has probably driven 50 miles or less the whole rest of the year.

After unloading the car I found my digital camera bag and started taking pictures. I already had photos from Casco Bay near Portland on my camera, including one with the swing bridge. Here are a couple of them.

 

 

Bunch of boat in Casco Bay 2019

 

More coming in the next blog entry.

Lastly let me tell you about the fantastic fishing day we had. The Monday morning I was there, the family and I went out and happened to stop the pontoon boat over a gigantic school of white perch. I am not making this up, we caught 70 fish. We kept 12 in the basket and the rest of the morning was catch and release. It was the best day of fishing I have ever experienced. Nephew Cole even caught a pike.

 

More camp goings on in the blog entry next Wednesday. Until then, have a great week, take care of each other, and as always, happy reading.

All the ducks are in a row for Maine

Greetings, readers. I am extremely relieved today. Weeks ago I had procured all the hotel rooms for my trip up to Maine and back, and only needed to confirm the car rental. I also bought a baseball game ticket for the Friday evening game in Portland – Go Sea Dogs! Unless it rains, I will actually be inside Hadlock Field. I have seen it from the outside twice. This will be the first time that I hunker down Friday evening in Portland. Saturday morning, I’d better get an early start, or I will be stuck in a lot of traffic on I-95 on the way to camp. It is going to be an enjoyable vacation, I can feel it.

Until just a short time ago, I still had not nailed down the rental car. The agents and I were playing phone tag. Finally, this morning, I got a hold of the person I was trying to talk to all along, and he confirmed that there would not be a problem, and that I would definitely have a vehicle August 1st. Now all my i’s are dotted and my t’s are crossed and it should be a stress free vacation … and let’s face it, to be stress free is why you go on vacation in the first place.

On to the next topic, I’ve been getting into the X-Files lately. Boy is that a strange series, yet I’m drawn to it. All seasons will be On Demand until late September. I have no idea where they will be going after that. I don’t have enough money to cough up to buy all 11 seasons, so for now On Demand, Hulu and other such viewing choices will have to do. The first season wasn’t too bad. I’m currently watching the second season; it is much creepier. I am also as a writer learning how characters meet in episode one, and by the middle of the second season, Dana Scully, usually very strong and in control of herself at all times, lets her guard down enough to trust Fox Mulder in a vulnerable moment where she broke down in tears and needed a hug. I won’t be able to watch all the episodes before leaving on vacation, so I think I will skip around to different seasons so I can get an overview. It should be interesting.

Lastly, ouch – I whacked my small toe on a box. It’s not broken, but I think I did stove it pretty good. I have the feeling it is going to be tender for a few days. That will teach me not to clean my room.

As I sign off, I hope that those of you in any flooded areas are well. We had torrential rain here yesterday in State College, Pennsylvania. Today, so far, not so bad, though more storms are expected. Please keep your fingers crossed that I will not be sitting in the cabin in Maine during a week of rainy weather.

I’ve got a doctor’s appointment in the morning, but Rebecca will put up tomorrow’s blog entry and I am quite certain it will be a good one. Until next Wednesday for me, take care, enjoy, and happy reading.

I have decided to make gaming videos on YouTube

Greetings, readers. As we approach blog entry 700, I wondered if there was another way or medium I could use to be creative. The answer came to me a few days ago. I’ve watched many videos on YouTube of people playing various video games. Fishing Planet is a big one, as are the two truck simulators. I have most of those games downloaded on Steam and with a new app I got for free, I can now record videos. You can’t see my face, but that’s okay.

I have five videos up so far and have my very first subscriber. My channel, The JMK Gaming Channel, is up and running. I have three videos up of me playing the game Fishing Planet and two of Train Simulator 17. I’m impressed on how remarkably smooth my narration is; I’ve only stuttered a couple of times. Well what do you know, I have another forum on multimedia to show off my talents.

When I play Fishing Planet, I can actually imagine myself in Maine holding that rod. The ambiance of birds, insects, and a slight breeze makes the game incredibly realistic. You’re not in a speed boat, you are just standing on the bank or bridge, depending on your location on the map. I’ve always loved Train Simulator and the Portland, Maine run is my favorite scenario. My favorite game is Out of the Park Baseball 18 … and I’ve already pre-ordered OotP 19. I am in control of the completely fictitious Canadian Baseball League. I am the general manager of the Winnipeg Bluebirds. I raced through season one just to get a little history in the league and this second season so far I played every game. My team was one game away from winning it all last season. This season, with all of our injuries, I doubt we will make the playoffs. Within a week or so, I’ll be starting a series on the gaming channel for Out of the Park Baseball. Viewers will have to excuse me if I am 8/10ths of the way through the season; we will just pick it up from there. And season three will be a blast.

Other games I am going to play on my channel will be Fernbus Simulator with a coach bus driving anywhere in Germany, and Plague Inc. where I literally get to destroy the planet’s population. That one is a kind of a weird game, folks. A few months ago I also bought for cheap a game called House Party. The sole objective is to find the woman who you want to do it with and do it. It has one feature that will have Rebecca either laughing hysterically or rolling her eyes – this game, if you push the right button, you will hear the guy’s zipper unzip and you will see him pleasuring himself. That is when I stopped playing the game. I’m old school and things like that should be kept private. One cool thing about that game, however, is behind the young lady’s house is a big back yard with a fire pit which is very beautiful to look at.

With this blog entry being posted on my Facebook page and my Twitter page, some might say this is an advertisement for my gaming channel. I don’t think so, but I am going to link to the Bear Spring Camps page to let my friends there know that Fishing Planet, a remarkably realistic simulator, will be featured often.

Next Wednesday will be the 700th blog post. That is unbelievable to me. I want to thank everyone who has read us over the years and invite you all to stick around for the next 100.

Until tomorrow, have a great day, take care, 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.

I’m back from Bear Spring Camps and feeling renewed

Greetings, readers. As always, I had a wonderful time at Bear Spring Camps this year. I saw family and friends, partook of all the delicious food, had gallons of coffee, and fished until my heart was content. My biggest fish was a 13 inch bass, but it sure did give me a good fight.

The weather, except for one day, was beautiful. I will admit it was not as warm as it usually is when I’m here. Low to mid 70s was the high all week. I chose to not go into the lake to swim this year. At night it was mid to upper 50s.

During one of the evening suppers, I stood up and made a toast to the family who adopted me all those years ago. It seemed to go over extremely well. Although I hadn’t practiced it per se, I was quite happy that I didn’t stutter or fumble over words. One of the points I made, and I will admit it choked me up a bit, was when I said, “I always go back to Pennsylvania, but when I go to Maine, I come home.”

This Bear Spring Camps season was a wee bit unusual in a good way. Best friend, Dave, had all his family with him, including his nephew Cole, and they chose to come up to breakfast around 8:00. Only I was up at the dining room right at 7:30. It felt a bit odd to sit at that big table all alone until one of the nephews joined me. That was usually Nick Carroll. Starting my breakfast first, meant that I was finished first. Sometimes I would have a third cup of coffee and talk to Dave about morning plans, but more times than not I would excuse myself and go down to the cabin.

On Wednesday, I did get a pontoon boat for three days. I made full use of it, including an early morning fishing trip on Friday. That is something I haven’t done in over 20 years. The scenery was amazingly beautiful. The way the fog and the mist lifted off the lake gave the shoreline, with its trees and houses, an almost otherworldly quality. Next year, if David wishes to go early morning fishing, I might just go with him every time. We’ll see.

After supper was my time. I sat in my cabin, did a lot of thinking about the upcoming year, and hosted story time for all the little nieces and nephews that enjoy that so much. This year I actually sang songs for them. I think they were impressed. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. I must admit the kids threw me a curve ball when they did not want to hear camp stories, but instead asked for ghost stories. It took me a while to get into it, but towards the end of the evening, I had Ava and Kennedy on edge. When the propane heater kicked on, everyone jumped. That’s when I knew my stories were effective.

My side trips to Portland, Maine were wonderful. I wanted to drive on Commercial Street in the Casco Bay area of Portland. The reason might sound silly, but there’s a Train Simulator run that goes right down that street. It was a surreal experience passing all of the businesses portrayed in that simulation. Everything was exact. Farther down the road, and purely by chance, I found Benny’s Famous Fried Clams, a seafood shack-type eatery with a delicious lobster roll and tasty clam chowder. It’s going to be my new stop for when I go to Maine. I have to give Rebecca’s father’s GPS back, so I’ve written down all the addresses for next year.

I feel completely recharged with new ideas for writing, which is exactly what I hoped to have accomplished, and there is a slight chance that I will be able to go to camp for two weeks next year. Time will tell.

This blog entry will be linked to my Facebook page and to the Bear Spring Camp page as well. I have decided to make it a policy that only blog entries that deal directly with Bear Spring will be linked there.

Lastly, special thanks go to Rebecca for taking good care of Keekee and to Rebecca’s father for loaning me the all important GPS.

Until Friday, take care, have a great couple of days, and happy reading.

My favorite Train Simulator 2014 run

Greetings, readers. I have been enjoying this program ever since I purchased it on Steam a number of weeks back. I truly find it fascinating. As some of you might know, I go to Maine every August, so when I saw for sale the route package from Portland, Maine, I just had to have it. It cost around $30. There is enough content in it to make that money well spent.

Along with the different scenarios, my favorite run in that package is one of the standard ones. I can take a train, start at East Deering, slowly make my way down to a rotating bridge that goes over the water, continue on to the other side, and end up at either Rigby or, if I go further, Union Station. In real life, Union Station was a grand train station in or near Portland, Maine. I see from the website Maine Memory Network, that it was closed, and torn down in 1961.

Towards the end of the run, I come into a town where the railway track is literally next to the road. I have to slow my train down to a mere ten miles an hour. But on a clear sunny day, with the sound effects of the seashore, people walking about, cars going by, and quaint patio furniture scattered around the sidewalks, it makes a nice place to stop my train, reverse, and head back to the rotating bridge.

With my new daily schedule now set in concrete, I’m heading to Panera Bread by 7:15 to have my morning coffee, and that is when I train sim. After my performance next Friday, I plan to use part of the morning for writing. Right now, you might say, I am on a train simulator binge. I am exploring and seeing what all the game has to offer.

I had the option of selecting in free mode the time of day, time of year, and weather conditions. This route is fascinating early in the morning on a foggy day. That is what I ran this morning. I used an old English diesel train that was compatible with the Portland route pack. Later I switched to a steam locomotive. Most enjoyable on both counts.

Actually, I am amazed, for as a child I was never really a train buff. I always loved airplanes and buses. Perhaps the old adage is true that all little boys love trains.

Until next time, take care, enjoy the last heat wave of summer, and happy reading.

Train simulator replaces flight simulator as my favorite

Greetings, readers. I never thought I’d say it but it is true. Train Simulator 2014 is my new favorite simulation program for the computer. Flight Simulator X is wonderful and it helped me immensely during my depression. Looking at the clear blue sky and the white puffy clouds did make me feel better. However, with Train Simulator you are on the ground and can see all the fantastic scenery.

When I first purchased this game from the Steam website, I was a little leery. My anti-virus constantly fought with it for the first two weeks, which made matters worse. Once I learned that anti-virus systems include an exceptions list to blocked sites, I put Steam on this list. Finally Train Simulation 14 worked wonderfully. With my older laptop, with a not-so-great graphics card, I do have to have everything on the lowest settings. That is okay with me; it runs. So far I have run trains in England, Germany and the United States.

Now for the downside of Train Simulator 14. Unlike Flight Simulator X and its primary uploading website, Simviation, trains are not free to download. You must purchase everything. For a person like me on a budget, that can get mucho expensive quickly. So I’ve purchased everything I am going to purchase for a while. I’m done.

Let me briefly tell you about the trains that I have. I have three very fast Amtrak trains, three old-style steam locomotives, various trains powered by electricity, and a couple of old-style diesel trains complete with authentic sounds. Five stars on those.

Am I going to pump hundreds of dollars into this hobby? No, I can’t afford to do that. I have probably spent too much on this already. But it is extremely relaxing to hop on a train, choose your run, and set out. I have runs ranging from twelve miles in the Portland Maine scenario, to the northeast corridor route which is roughly ninety miles long.

To summarize, I would dearly love to see this game with its fullest graphics settings to get the sheer beauty of it. With the five-year-old laptop, I am grateful it runs at all. When it comes time for the next laptop I will make sure it has a good graphics card for my simulations.

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