Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Maine Solar System Model

"To infinity and beyond!" we exclaimed as we drove south on Rt 1 in Presque Isle. Winter is long up in Aroostook County so folks have time to come up with some interesting ideas. Vodka made from potatoes. The Phantom snowmobile. A scale model solar system.

The vodka we can find right here in Freeport at Cold River Distillery. The Phantom snowmobile is a great idea but it's not for me. But a scale model solar system? OK, I'll give it a try.

We decided not to stop at UMPI (University of Maine Presque Isle) to see the sun. Finding the Science Building would not be difficult but we still had a long drive ahead of us to get back to Freeport from Edmundston, NB. Then, oops, we drove right by Mercury, but quickly pulled in at the Budget Traveler Motor Inn to view Venus. (We found the distances on the website to be a little off, but most of the planets are easy to find anyway.)


Maine solar sytem model Venus
Venus

Next up was Earth - located at Percy's Auto Sales. Rock kept yelling out the car window at me to make sure I got the moon in the photos. Sorry, the moon is just too small and Rt 1 was just too busy for me to keep backing up to get the shot.


Maine solar system model Earth
Earth

You'll notice that all the planets are tilted properly as well as being sized appropriately in comparison with each other. The entire drive from UMPI to Houlton is 40 miles. It's fun to be on the lookout for the next planet and realize it's that GIANT ball at the side of the road!


Maine solar system model Jupiter
Jupiter

Driving along, this ditty popped into my head: Bend and stretch, reach for the stars. There goes Jupiter, there goes Mars. (OK, if you remember that, you are ancient like me! Romper Room. 50's TV show. They once called out my name for my birthday. I was in heaven. Thanks Mom.)

Along that line, we missed Mars. Drove right by it. We did, however, see the wind turbines at Mars Hill. Not quite the same thing but impressive nonetheless.


Maine solar system model Saturn
Saturn

Saturn was very nicely taken care of. Lovely garden, benches to sit on, gorgeous view all around. Again, getting the moon in the photo was out of the question. Every model has a place to pull off the road. Don't park in traffic.

Uranus was so sad I'm going to skip the photo. It's located outside the unused old town hall in Bridgewater. 

Next up, Neptune. Neptune was completely missing its sign. Still, it's hard to miss the planet by the side of the road.


Maine solar system model Neptune
Neptune

The final stop on our solar system trek was at the Houlton Information Center. (You need travel info about Aroostook County? These folks have it! They also have limited info for NB as well.)

Although certain people no longer recognize Pluto as a planet, the folks at the info center proudly display their model in the entryway. Go inside for a brochure that gives you mileage and signposts for where to find all the planets and the sun. It's a fun way to explore with your kids and some of the model locations are a great place for a picnic.


Maine solar system model Pluto
Pluto

Coming across the border from Canada, we asked the customs guy where to find the Four Corners Park in Madawaska, Maine. You can see it from the crossing, it's that close. If you do the Solar System Drive on a motorcycle, might as well keep going and stop at this park.


Four Corners Park Madawaska Maine


   And, of course, we stopped to take a picture of Rock in front of the place his family started out. If you've heard the story you know his family were Acadians who were pushed off their lands and forced to settle in New Brunswick or New Orleans. (That's what the colorful sign is about - the recognition of the Acadian families.)


   
White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Monte Cristo Breakfast Sandwich

Monte Cristo Breakfast Sandwich
Monte Cristo Breakfast Sandwich
We don't usually make breakfast that contains meat because so many of our guests are either vegetarians or don't eat pork products. We had a serendipitous day when there were no dietary restrictions so we threw everything together and made the Monte Cristo Breakfast Sandwich with Currant Jelly.

Ingredients:

Thin sliced ham (about 2 pieces per sandwich)
Thin sliced turkey (about 2 pieces per sandwich)
Thin sliced cheese, you want something with a kick that will melt nicely (2 pieces per sandwich)
Dijon mustard
Good toasting bread
2 large eggs per 2 sandwiches
Splash of heavy cream
Powdered sugar for garnish
Currant jelly (don't skip this, the jelly adds a nice tang)

Make the sandwiches:

Lay your bottom slice of bread on your clean work surface and spread on the mustard to taste. Add one slice of cheese, 2 slices of ham, 2 slices of turkey, another slice of cheese. Spread mustard on the top slice of bread and place that on top of your sandwich. Repeat until all the sandwiches are made.

Whisk your egg batter together.

Heat the griddle to about 325. Add butter to griddle. Dip just the top and bottom surface of the sandwiches in the egg batter, don't dredge! Place on hot griddle and cook until bread is browned on both sides and cheese is melted, about 4 minutes per side.

Cut, plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with currant jelly on the side. Would make interesting hors d'oeuvres as well. Cut off crusts after cooking, cut into 4 squares, skewer some dried cranberries on a toothpick and push thru layers.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Thursday, July 31, 2014

We Be Jammin'!

White Cedar Inn strawberry jam
Ripe strawberries fresh from the field
One truly wonderful sign of summer is fresh fruit! Everywhere you look you see juicy strawberries, sweet raspberries, and oh so tasty blueberries.

We can't always eat all of that bounty at once, try tho we might, so today we be jammin'. As in making jam. From scratch. Yup, me.

Not only making jam but picking the berries, too. Drove out to the farm in the morning and scored 13 lbs of berries in about 20 minutes with help from some kids who were having a lot of fun but who filled up their moms' baskets way too fast.

Before you even get the berries, tho, get your supplies in order! Jars (these are pint size), lids and rings, jar gripper, funnel, ladle, spoon, bowl, tongs, clean dish towel and your canning pot. You can reuse jars but make sure there are NO chips or cracks in them. Buy new lids and rings. The first time you try to pry one of these open you'll understand why.



Equipment

Next you're going to want some time. This is not something you squeeze in between soccer and band practice.

Ingredients:

2 quarts (8 cups) crushed strawberries (crush, then measure)
5-6 c sugar depending on how ripe the strawberries are. Back off on the sugar if the strawberries are really ripe.
You can add a tbsp of lemon juice to cut the sugar, if you want.

Do NOT double up the recipe. You'll come to grief.

Directions: You'll want to do this as soon as possible after picking. Local berries are built for taste, not longevity.

Prep the strawberries. Wash berries and take the tops off. Discard any beat up berries; you only want the best for your jam. (Eat the ugly ones.) Crush the berries with a potato masher. Repeat until you have 8 cups.



Start your water boiling in your water bath. You'll end up turning this off but it won't take that long to heat up later on when you need it right away. If you have a pot like the one I used, fill to the line closest to the top. The water has to cover the tops of the jars.

Set your berry pan on the stove and pour in the berries and the sugar.



 Turn the heat up to medium and start cooking! Within the first 10 minutes the mixture may boil over if the heat is too high. Once you've stirred it down a few times you can raise the heat to get a good rolling boil.



You will need to skim off the foam that forms. I'd use this on vanilla ice cream later on! The more foam you skim the fewer air bubbles you'll have in the finished product.

While this is cooking away (about 40 minutes) use the time to sterilize the jars, lids and funnel by putting them in the boiling water in your water bath. (Use the tongs!) Remove the jars and lids and place upright on a clean towel. DO NOT TOUCH THE INSIDES OF THE JARS OR LIDS. Keep those germs away!

First time you do this you will wonder how you know the strawberries have cooked enough. This is where old movies come in handy. Really old movies. Your boiling jam will start to sound like the noises from old swamp thing movies. Bloop, bloop, bloop. The next thing that happens is a bubble will burst and splatter jam all over the stove. You be jammin'! (OK, you want more scientific than old swamp thing movies? You can put a small plate in the freezer. When you think the jam is done, take the plate out. Pour a little jam on the plate. Turn the plate so the jam runs off. If it doesn't run, the jam is done. I like the bloop, bloop, bloop better, but that's me.)

Bubbles start to look like this right before it's ready to can.
Turn off heat, quickly skim the rest of the foam and get your funnel ready.

Using the jar gripper, move a hot jar close to the pan. (Remember: hot foods into hot jars.) Pop in the funnel and ladle in the jam until it is about 1/4" below the rim of the jar. Remove funnel and move to the next jar, working quickly. Your water bath should be boiling at this point.

When your jars are full (8 cups filled 4 pint jars), make sure the top edges of the jars are clean before you put the caps on (wipe with a damp paper towel if there are jammy bits)then screw on the rings (not tightly). Pick the jars up with the jar grippers and place in the basket in the water bath. (Alternate sides when putting the jars in. If you load up on one side, the whole thing tips into the water bath. No, I did not actually do that myself, but I came close!)


When all the jars are in the basket, lower gently into the bath, cover and boil for 15 minutes. With grippers, remove jars immediately and place on towel. Listen for popping noises. That's the sound of the vacuum forming and sealing the jars. You can tighten the rings after that happens. If you can push down on the lid and it flexes, you did not get a good seal. This jam cannot be stored for later use.


Cool and then label the jars and store in a cool location. They don't have to be refrigerated until opened.

Want to make more? The best book out there is the Ball Blue Book. Try to get the old one. The newer ones use 'products' instead of just fresh produce, spices and sugar.

(Do I have to say: Caution, contents are hot? I hope not. You're a smart cookie!)

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Day Trip Cape Porpoise



Palace Diner Biddeford Maine
Palace Diner Biddeford (yes, they were inviting to the ladies!)

We started our day trip at the Palace Diner in Biddeford. Quite possibly the smallest diner we've ever been to! Their menu is not standard diner fare but diner fare with a twist. PBLT, anyone? That's a Pork Belly Lettuce and Tomato sandwich!

After the Palace we headed to Biddeford Pool to see if the snowy owl was still hanging around. It was a bit too windy and rainy to spend too much time there but we did see where the Audubon Trail parking is and it looks like an easy hike in better weather.

We took a lot of little side roads that I think would be hard to get around in the summer. But it would be a pretty fall drive!

After Biddeford Pool we headed to Fortunes Rocks Beach. Still windy and cold but we hopped out to take some photos.

Fortunes Rock Beach
Everyday in Maine in a day in Paradise
Brrr! It may be Paradise but it's dang cold!
Continuing our coasterly trek we next came to Goose Rocks Beach which was an interesting warren of small streets with No Parking signs everywhere. I guess you have to live there.

Back out to Rt 9 we drove south to Cape Porpoise. Just had to see a place with that name! 


Cape Porpoise Maine
Buoys on the wall at The Ramp
All the directions you need!

Goat Island Light


Safe harbor
Up next is the Kennebunks. Both my grandson and my daughter have since told me the best lobster roll ever is at The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport on the bridge. Sounds like a challenge to me...

Getting ready to head home we stopped at the Kennebunk Beach. There were a few hardy souls out surfing and stand up paddle boarding. And, of course, the ubiquitous herring gull stopped right by the car waiting for us to throw some food out. Don't do that.

Going down...

Just feed me already!
Other places to go that we missed that day are Walker Point where the Bush compound is and walking around in Kennebunkport or antiquing in Arundel.


White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Friday, June 27, 2014

Sleepless in Seattle


Magnolia

The end of the trip this year was Seattle. Spring was in bloom everywhere we went, such a change from here!

There is so much to see and do we barely scratched the surface. But, most important, was seeing my daughter and her family!


We had a great time visiting!

Some of the things we saw along the way...

Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls
On a dampish day we headed over to the falls while the boys went to Boeing for the tour.

Another day we went to the locks to watch the ships go through. The birds are along the river.

Waiting for the water to rise


juvenile bald eagle
Juvenile bald eagle

Great Blue Heron nesting site along the locks
Great Blue Heron nesting site along the locks

Great Blue Heron on nest
Great Blue Heron on nest
Cheery blossoms


Of course we went to Pike Place Market to see the famous fish flinging guys!

Pike Place fish market


Space Needle
Another vacation comes to an end! Time to start planning for next year...

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

W is for Whale Watching

 
fin back whale boothbay harbor maine
Fin back whale calf


Glorious day for a whale watch! Temps in the high 60's and a brilliant blue sky. I have never been whale watching before. The only other chance I had to see whales was on the old Scotia Prince between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Portland, Maine. I slept through it. Turns out I'm not such a good sailor after all.

So, here I was now, packing sugared ginger and crackers just in case. Figured if I took Dramamine I'd fall asleep! (NOT an old wives' tale - ginger really does settle your stomach.)

Where to go for whale watching:

Odyssey Whale Watch out of Portland on Long Wharf. (20 minutes from here)
Cap'n Fish's out of Boothbay Harbor (45 minutes from here)
Bar Harbor Whale Watch out of Bar Harbor (not a day trip from here!)

Below are some photos I took from the Odyssey boat. My suggestion? Whale watch in June, July & August along the southern coast. Mid Coast and Down East from June thru September, possibly later. Of course, they are wild animals and they are not fed or coerced by humans to stay in a particular location. They go where the food goes so seeing whales is not guaranteed no matter when you go out.

islands off the coast of Maine
Far off islands off the coast of Maine

Spring Point Ledge Light
Spring Point Ledge Light

windjammer and ft scammell
Windjammer with Ft Scammell in the background.

Bug Light South Portland
Bug Light in South Portland
Make sure you are dressed for the boat! It can get rough so you need decent shoes with good traction. I will say that the couples and families who boarded in shorts and tank tops spent most of the trip inside shivering. Bring a jacket! Sunscreen is a must! Yes, I sound like my mother!


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Here is the second whale watch I went on - Cap'n Fish's boat the Pink Lady II -

Burnt Island Light Boothbay Harbor
Burnt Island Light Boothbay Harbor

Cuckolds Light Boothbay Harbor
Cuckolds Light Boothbay Harbor

Fin back whale
Fin back whale

Sailing in Boothbay Harbor
Sailing in Boothbay Harbor
 

And here's a photo from last year's puffin watch where I saw a pod of Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins.

Atlantic white sided dolphons Muscongus Bay
Dolphin pod in Muscongus Bay


White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Day Trip - Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens Tulips
Spring tulips at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
On a gorgeous Spring day I took  ride to Boothbay to drop off brochures and check out some of my favorite places to go for a drive. Of course, I had to have a lobster roll. Apparently I am now being challenged to try lobster rolls all over the area! (I've been to the Lobster Dock. Very good! Now, I've been to the Trevett Country Store. Also very good! Next up is the East Boothbay General Store. I'm guessing also very good! Oh, and Red's, along the way!)

So, driving around I thought, this is a great day trip from the inn. Now there's a package put together for a 'Day in Boothbay'. You can book the package with the admission tickets or just follow along doing the things you like on your own.

Some of what you can see and do (highlighted items are in the package):

Driving from White Cedar Inn (your home away from home, wink) stay on Rt 1 north to Rt 27 east. (About 29 miles to the turn off on Rt 27.) The first stop is On Board Fabrics. Absolutely gorgeous nautical fabrics here. (You can find the fabrics for the lobster pillow and the sailboat pillow here.)

Next up is Edgecomb Potters Factory Store. Stop in here for a look around at some wonderful salt glaze pottery. There is a $25 gift card for shopping in the package.

The Boothbay Playhouse is on the right and Dolphin Mini Golf is on the left. Check out the Playhouse on the way back to the inn. Summer theater is excellent in Maine!


Boothbay Railway Village


Boothbay Railway Village is on the left. There are 2 admission tickets in the package. Take a ride on the train around the village, stop into the general store for a look around, head over to the car barn for old timey cars and don't miss the model train set up, it is amazing! Here's our day at the Village last year. The train station you see when you pull in was originally here in Freeport. It was moved to Boothbay 50 years ago! (Wish we had it back now that we have a train again.)

Lobster roll


After visiting the Village, you'll be in need of some lunch. Head over to the Trevett Country Store on Barter's Island Rd for a lobster roll on the deck. Enjoy the cool breezes off the Back River looking back to Hodgdon Island. You can stop to see the lobster pound on your way back to the Gardens. Don't forget your whoopie pie! (To get the Gardens and the general store from the Railway Village, continue east on Rt 27, turn right at the green, turn right again on Barter's Island Rd.)

Knickercane Trail
Knickercane Trail


After your al fresco lunch, turn back toward the Gardens and you will see a small park on the right hand side of the road. This is the Knickercane Trail. The odd-looking 'pond' you see to the right is a lobster pound where lobsters are brought in off the boats and held fresh while awaiting delivery to stores and restaurants around the country.

Wendy Klemperer rebar sculpture CMBG


Now on to the Gardens! The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are worth the drive no matter the season. In winter you can snowshoe or x-c ski the trails. Once the Gardens are officially open for the season, there is something new around every corner. The tulip photo (above) was taken in May. The photos in this blog post were taken in April. In the fall you have the glorious autumn colors. You can see the lobster pound along the river near the fairy gardens. You'll have two admission tickets for the Gardens as well.

Cuckolds Light
Cuckolds Light


We're still not done in Boothbay but you might be a little tired of walking so the rest of the trip is mostly scenic driving. Head back out to Rt 27 and drive toward Boothbay Harbor. Once there, stay on Rt 27 to Southport Island. As part of the package we'll give you a lighthouse guide that will come in handy right about now! Rt 27 goes all the way around Southport Island and back out again. Lighthouses you can see along the way (follow the guide book): Hendricks Head, Cuckolds Light and Burnt Island Light. (Off the coast where you can see Cuckolds Light, there is a house on the island in front of you. That's where Margaret Hamilton, aka the Wicked Witch/Elvira Gulch, spent her summers. Also on the island was where Rachel Carson was living when she helped found the Nature Conservancy.)

Sea snail
Huge sea snail


If you have any energy left, the Maine State Aquarium is in Boothbay Harbor. Get an up close look at what lies beneath the waves!

Ocean Point Maine
Ocean Point Sunset


Another stunning coastal drive is along Ocean Point. Heading out of Boothbay Harbor on Rt 27, turn right at the light at Hannaford's on Rt 96. Take this all the way out to Ocean Point where you can drive right on the coast. Perfect spot to see a sunset over the ocean. Along the way, if you didn't have your lobster roll yet, stop at the East Boothbay General Store.

Fort Edgecomb
Fort Edgecomb


Need more to do in Boothbay/Boothbay Harbor? How about a whale watch with Cap'n Fish? Or a stroll through the downtown area with a stop at Gleason Fine Art for an eclectic selection of Maine art? Walk across the bridge and up the road to the Lobster Dock for great views and food. Stop at Fort Edgecomb for a picnic on the rocks.

Boothbay/Boothbay Harbor make for an excellent day trip from here. Smell the salty air, stretch your legs in the Gardens and pick up some Maine transportation history, too!

For the 'Day in Boothbay' package check here on our website.


White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032