We had originally…well, not we specifically but Connie since she’s the DLETC ‘round here…anyways she had planned that we would have some Fun Stuff© scheduled for Wednesday and Friday…her thought being that we had hikes on both of the scheduled days and she figgered having an off day in between was…as the aged knight in gray said…choosing wisely.
That was afore the dad-gum weather guessers went and changed the forecast…and as it turned out Wednesday was going to be in the mid 90s and Thursday would only be in the mid 70s…the adults talked ‘bout that and it took them mere nanoseconds to decide that Thursday and Friday would be a much smarter idea…no sense hiking in weather that hot unless you had to ya know.
So Wednesday we didn’t do much…for once the guessers were right and it was just too hot to do much of anything…we stayed inside except for running down to the local pub…Sunday River Brewery. When we got there we tried all of their brews…mostly they have their own stuff on tap…at least we tried all the ones that didn’t say IPA in them. IPA stands for India Pale Ale and has a lot of the hops flowers in it…hops is what makes beer bitter. That ain’t the reason there is a lot of hops in an IPA though…the reason is that India thing in the name. Back in the day when India was still a British Colony they obviously needed beer in the colony…and having no barley and no hops they could not make their own so it had to be imported from London…which meant that each wooden keg of beer got loaded on a ship which then took 5 or 6 months to go from England all the way round the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa then up and across the Indian Ocean to India…and back in the days of wooden ships and iron men there was no such thing as refrigerated ships. This meant that the beer kept spoiling…so the breweries back in England took the standard pale ale…they shipped it instead of stout, porter, or brown ale as in a hot climate like India a lighter brew is the optimum drinking choice…anyways they took their standard pale ale recipe…added a metric buttload of hops to it…hops serving to preserve the beer as a side affect of adding flavor…although it made the ale awfully bitter or hoppy…and called it India Pale Ale…or IPA…so as to differentiate it from your regular old pale ale that might be served in pubs back in England and actually tastes pretty decent. IPAs survive today and are the favored drink of hipsters although the last year or so a different style called a Gose ale is starting to make inroads into the territory formerly staked out by IPAs…but Gose is really, really tart…like unsweetened lemonade tart. Anyways…we tried the porter and stout that Sunday River Brewery has…and like all the Maine brews we’ve had so far even those were a lot hop-ier than we prefer. Connie finally decided that their Strawberry Wheat Ale was acceptable…Neil thought it was (a) too hoppy and (b) it’s a wheat beer which he doesn’t like. He was going to move on and have a Guinness instead…but then he spotted a bottle of Goslings Navy Spiced Rum on the back of the bar…so he checked with the bartender to see if they had the other necessary ingredient for a Dark and Stormy…Ginger Beer…which is kinda like ginger ale but a lot spicer and less carbonated. She said yes…so he ordered a Dark and Stormy…it came in a pint beer glass and was about a double…it was made to perfection once he got her to bring him a lime garnish. After that…since we arrived at 1610 for brews and dinner…it was getting onto 1700 or thereabouts so we ordered a roasted garlic pizza…tomato sauce, roasted garlic, parmesan and ricotta cheeses, and spinach. We got them to add some sliced mushrooms to it…and it would have been better with just spinach leaves scattered across the top but instead it was cooked spinach that was squeezed dry of most of it’s water and clumped on top…it needed a little less spinach, a little more roasted garlic, and a bit more spicy to it but other than that was pretty darned good. Neil had another Dark and Stormy with the pizza, Connie a glass of Malbec…an Argentinian red wine…and we had 2 slices of our 14 inch pie left over that we brought home for lunch another day. After all of that…it was back to the house.
Thursday dawned as a nice day…cool with a bit of rain early but by 0900 or so it had cleared up and we headed out for our first Fun Stuff© day…our destination was Step Falls about 7 or 8 miles west of the campground where we had about a 0.6 mile uphill hike with 203 feet of elevation gain (according to our hike tracking app). Step Falls is a series of short drops as the stream it’s on comes down the mountainside…similar in character to Ledge Falls back in Baxter State Park a couple weeks back although Step’s drops are individually larger and it’s not really feasible to use it as a long water slide like you can with Ledge Falls. The drawback of this type of falls is that there’s not the single dramatic long distance drop that we all know and love. On the plus side…there’s not the single dramatic long distance drop that we all know and love…this means that there are a whole bunch of smaller drops each with different flow patterns and characteristics…so it’s really like visiting a half dozen waterfalls only you don’t have to hike more than once.
As is typical…since she has no depth perception with only one working eye…Connie stayed up on or close to the trail along the stream and got overview types of photos…while Neil crawled out on rocks, down embankments, and across rock piles to find places he could setup the tripod for the flowing water shots.
We stopped at two separate locations for photos…at the first one all of these photos were taken handheld as there was absolutely no place to set the tripod legs up…so he had to use a bit higher shutter speed than optimum, hence no really nice flowing water textures…and aligning the separate images for HDR is a bit more difficult but the software handles the image alignment for him.
Meanwhile…Connie got a couple through the trees with branches framing the falls…Neil really likes the second one here.
After the shots above we continued up to our second stop…it was only about 1/3 as far as we had already hiked but was much harder as the ridge got much steeper and there were a series of stone steps to climb up…and as usual for hiking trails in Maine this was an R&R (rocks and roots) trail. At our second stop the falls drops were individually higher…again Neil did the whole crawling out on rocks thing while Connie stayed safe on the bank.
We headed downhill and stopped about halfway down on a nice stone bench the caretakers of this preserve had built for a snack…then climbed on down to Li’l Red and headed home. We were hot and sweaty even though it was a cooler day…thank goodness we delayed this hike a day as it was pretty strenuous even though it was short…so we had a shower then went down to Sunday River for Happy Hour…after that we came home and Neil cooked dinner. Pork tenderloins with a sauce he made out of leftover grilled mushrooms and onions with the good balsamic vinegar on them, a little flour to make a roux for it then added roasted garlic, red wine, chicken stock, and cream along with a couple drops of hot sauce…he also made some roasted garlic mashed taters to go along with it. The sauce was superb…going great with both the pork and the taters…he was afraid the mix of cream and red wine would make it too pinkish and not an attractive sauce color but it turned out fine. We cooked some frozen corn for him and some cauliflower and broccoli for Connie…both were seasoned with leftover lime/cilantro/hot sauce butter from our grilled corn on the cob the other night. The only thing we had leftover was a bit of potatoes and sauce and some of the veggies…both of those were by design…the veggies to go along with halibut on Friday night and the potatoes and sauce will make a great breakfast with some over easy eggs on top.
Friday morning it was a bit foggy when we first got up but by about 0700 it had mostly burned off…here’s a shot Neil took out our door of it still laying over the river. This will also serve as the Before shot for a Before and After series…this one is before the Labor Day Weekend rush pulls into the campground later on today.
We stopped by the campground office/general store for breakfast…Green Mountain coffee which is pretty tasty and a couple of breakfast sandwiches…English muffins with eggs and cheese along with sausage patty for Neil and bacon for Connie…both the sandwiches and the accompanying hash browns were excellent. The hash browns were obviously frozen and deep fried…similar to what McDonalds has…although they were spiced nicely and tasted way better than those you get from the Golden Arches…the sandwiches were obviously fresh made and were delicious…the eggs were cooked hard but not quite all the way so that the yolks were sort of jelly consistency rather than hard boiled consistency…they leaked out a bit and made some extra sauce on the sandwich. We devoured our breakfast on the way to our first stop of the day…a covered bridge we spotted a sign for along US-2.
This bridge is no longer in service for vehicles but is still open for pedestrian access…quite a nice little bridge actually.
As you can see from the red leaves on the tree in the right foreground and the yellows in the background just right of the bridge…fall is coming on here in Maine…and we should get some beautiful fall leaf colors shots by the time we head south. It looks like we’ll be a week or perhaps 2 early for the peak season…but even the non peak season colors up here are pretty spectacular. We can see touches of color starting to show up on the mountains and ridges at the hither elevations as well…and with another 4 or 5 weeks before we head south I think we’re in for some pretty nice photos.
Next up we stopped at Screw Auger Falls which is one of the most popular falls in Grafton State Park…our route for the day was up the Grafton River Scenic Drive which runs up the Bear River Valley…then entering NH and turning right at Errol to head up to the Lake Umbagog NWR to hike the Magalloway River Trail to the backwaters of the river…there’s an observation blind there and we figgered we might see some wildlife…at least the NWR propaganda claimed we would. Anyways…the Screw Auger Falls was our first stop on the scenic drive of the day…and I gotta agree it’s pretty popular. We got there about 0845 and were the only ones in the parking lot so we had the falls to our selves for maybe 10 minutes before the hordes started pouring in…by the time we left there were over a dozen cars in the lot and 2 dozen folks wandering around the various cascades in the falls. Again…this is one of those step type falls with numerous cascades in varying heights.
It’s really hard to believe that all of these are the same set of falls…so many different characters in here.
Connie got a nice shot with the sun just out of frame at top left…we like the way it cast that early morning glow over the falls.
Nice reflection shot here…strange for it to be this calm with a waterfall dropping into the pool 15 feet to the right and another fall to a lower pool 8 feet to the left…but almost dead calm on the surface in between them.
Gadzooks…an actual wildlife sighting…and a rare bird to boot. This is a Wilson’s Phalarope…which is normally a upper midwest to northwest US species…but according to Peterson it’s a rare but regular migrant in the east. We immediately picked it out as a shore bird…and Peterson’s lets you sort by physical location and date as well as type (we picked small wader) but most of the typical shorebirds we see are either brown rather than gray and more speckled on the back along with a little speckling on the breast. With this one being almost pure gray topside and pure white underneath along with a touch of yellowish in the legs we finally picked through all of the shorebirds and eventually matched this one by appearance…then we looked at the range and wondered if we were right…but this is the time of year for bird migration and it is a rare but regular migrant in Maine according to the map…so we’re sticking with that identification.
While Neil got those couple…Connie took a rest and got this nice shot up through the trees with the sun peeking through…very nice.
This is the tallest cascade in this set of falls…about 25 or 30 feet I reckon…Neil had to crawl…again…out on the rock to get a decent photo. Connie was worried that he was on the edge and it was a pretty long drop down into the gorge…but he played it safe and was actually probably 4 feet away from falling off…and was careful in all his movements.
We continued on westward on the scenic drive and stopped to get this shot of the view…Neil had to run out in the middle of the road and wait until cars were clear to get it…didn’t get quite centered on the stripe on the road though.
Next stop was at Mother Walker Falls…which is a mother something I guess but neither we nor the other couple that were there were able to find any falls there. Neil did spot one that might be labeled a fall…but it was only about 15 inches high and 5 feet wide and the only view was straight down from about 40 feet above it on the rim of the gorge…both we and the other couple eventually gave up looking for it.
We also stopped at Moose Cave…Connie stayed in the car while Neil went to take a look at it…and it turned out to be pretty much a fail like Mother Walker. The only cool part about it is that the stream both it and Mother Walker Falls are on runs through what is basically a slot canyon upstream from the falls. The slot canyon is about 45 feet deep according to the signage and at the rim it’s narrow enough that you can literally put your hand out onto the opposite wall. It’s actually 45 feet deep from the side you walk up to but the other side is a cliff extending up another 40 or 50 feet. Moose Cave is actually a large…like 400 feet long, 6 or 7 feet thick, and 50 feet tall…chunk of rock that split off from the main structure of the mountain and there’s a second slot canyon behind the split off piece…the secondary canyon is what’s named Moose Cave as it is sort of cave like. You can’t see the stream at all from the rim…you can hear it but that’s about it…and it wasn’t worth the half mile walk and 50 feet down and back up to look at it. It wasn’t on the DLETCs original list anyway…but we saw it and after reading the signage Neil decided it was worth a look…but it weren’t.
Once we crossed the border into NH…we stopped at Lake Umbagog and Neil got both a nice reflection shot as well as a pano of the lake itself.
We got to our destination at the Magalloway River Trail and hiked the half mile out to the observation blind…where we saw…precisely nothing, bupkus, nada. No water fowl, no boreal birds, no nuttin. We did get a couple photos from the blind though.
With that our day was mostly done…except for a return trip back to the campground…although we did stop to get a couple of shots along the way as we returned.
We continued on down to Bethel and made a quick grocery stop…we needed some fresh produce as well as some tortilla chips to make Nachos for the ‘Bama game Saturday night against Louisville…then headed back to the campground. We’ll have some halibut with wasabi/dill sauce along with our leftover veggies and a pineapple…or maybe pear depending on what Connie pulls out of the fridge…salad.
Interesting things found on the net…just a couple since this is already a long post.
First up…thought this one illustrated the state of our current media…Frosted Mini Wheats. The Washington Post actually paid for one of their reporters to investigate whether or not Kellogg’s Original Frosted Mini Wheats have less frosting than their generic counterparts. This reporter…who claims that Frosted Mini Wheats are the ultimate breakfast item…seem less frosted than he remembers from his childhood. Kellogg denies they are of course…but since this guy thinks they’re the bee’s knees he took pictures of both Kellogg’s and the generic, did some Photoshop and Illustrator work and then counted the number of pixels that were the base color of the Mini Wheat and those that were icing colored. After careful counting, calculations, Excel graphing and assorted semi-scientific mumbo jumbo he determined that Kellogg’s have 48% of their surface area frosted, Great Value (Walmart’s house brand) are 71%, and Malt-O-Meal are 59%…so his worst fears were confirmed. Despite the variation in frosting percentage…all 3 brands have the same sugar content per serving…which the reporter ignored and said that Kellogg’s taste less sweet.
And this is what we pay our reporters to do these days. Crikey.
Do we have to rename *everything*?
One of our Elks friends sent us this…we’ve all gotten the emails about some Nigerian guy wanting to send us millions of bucks, right? Turns out it’s true.
Remember…somebody is *always* having a worse day than you are.
Bad Ass of the Week…haven’t had an entry for this one in awhile.