It’s been just a little over a year since I retired from my work and I am happy to report that all is going well – although not exactly as planned. I had envisioned plenty of time for photography while living the “Life of Riley” but that hasn’t quite materialized. More important activities such as bicycle rides, relaxing on the beach, afternoon naps and happy hour before dinner seem to have been granted a higher priority. I’m discovering that managing “doing nothing” is not as easy as it sounds.
That’s not to suggest that I haven’t used my camera. Indeed I have, but I’m also having too much fun enjoying my free time to just sit at the computer processing photographs. Consequently, my backlog of images is substantial. Therefore, this blog article serves as a “catching up” exercise in a attempt to bring Bicycle with a View up to date.
One thing my wife and I have done is embark on several road trips to visit friends and family in Chicago, Atlanta, Asheville NC and Montreal. We racked up several thousand miles on the car’s odometer and made some lasting memories along the way. In addition, we spent some good times here in Maine within a couple of hours from our Scarborough home.
We just returned from another enjoyable week at the Lazy Loon Lakehouse on Pitcher Pond in Lincolnville. Situated between Camden and Belfast, this rental property is where I kicked off my retirement last year. Once again, family and friends joined us for tranquil kayaking outings and mesmerizing campfires at this pristine site where eagles fly overhead and the nightly cry of the loons signifies the end of another day. This is truly a special place.
Prior to that we spent several days in Montreal, Canada. It’s there that my wife, Mindy’s mother was born and where Mindy and her siblings spent many summers vacationing during their childhood. There are a couple of relatives still living there and Mindy also has a very good friend who calls Montreal his home. They met during a chance encounter at a campground in Florida about 45 years ago and have remained friends ever since.
Montreal is a charming city offering a unique blend of French and English cultures. Its restaurants are second to none, its parks are unspoiled, but its traffic is miserable. The city has only two seasons: winter and construction and getting anywhere is no easy task. Fortunately, it’s all worth the aggravation as this island metropolis named after Mount Royal is both welcoming and entertaining.
In early August we took a boat excursion to Eagle Island off the coast of Harpswell to visit the site of the summer home of polar explorer, Admiral Robert Peary. The entire island is now a state park – having been donated to the State of Maine by the Peary family in 1967. The early 1900’s era home now serves as a museum and a small visitor center located just as you step off the pier offers a brief video of the life and times of Admiral Peary and his quest to conquer the North Pole. A series of short walking trails provide views of Casco Bay and there is an osprey nest visible from close proximity.
We opted for the shorter boat ride from Harpswell, but transportation to the island can also be arranged from Freeport and Portland. While on the water we saw seals and porpoises and got a first-hand look at lobstermen at work. All in all, it was a very pleasurable day trip.
In June, we traveled south to Georgia and North Carolina to visit several of Mindy’s cousins. It was a welcome relief from the cold and rainy start to summer here in Maine. Although temperatures were warm, the humidity was unusually low for that time of year and not nearly as oppressive as we had feared. In addition to simply chillin’ with family, we spent time hiking to some stunning waterfalls in both states and learning more about this region of our country.
Savannah, Georgia is a lovely city and a throwback to the days of old with its cobblestone streets, stately parks and historic architecture. Mindy and I absolutely cherished the two days we spent there and weren’t the least bit sorry that we chose Savannah over Charleston, SC as our getaway destination.
We had the
misfortune pleasure of staying in the city’s most haunted hotel, the 1790 Inn. Legend has it that a woman who committed suicide there during the 1800’s occasionally returns during the night to disturb some of the guests’ personal items. Missing a toothbrush? Blame the ghost.
Locals told us to visit the Bonaventure cemetery situated on the outskirts of the city and we obliged. This burial grounds was featured in the 1994 movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil starring Kevin Spacey and directed by Clint Eastwood. (The film was set in the Mercer House in Savannah which we also toured.) Here, we spotted headstones dating back to the late 1700’s still remarkably in good condition.
Also just outside of Savannah is the Wormsloe Plantation – famous for its picturesque 1.5 mile oak tree lined avenue. Here, visitors can take a guided tour of the grounds and learn about life in the 1700’s. Trails lead to a salt marsh with an impressive array of wildlife.
In May, my wife and I drove to Chicago to celebrate her mother’s 95th birthday which just happened to fall on Mothers’ Day this year. I brought a bicycle along for the trip but was disappointed to discover that the trail system that I had hoped to ride was flooded due to the Des Plains River over-flowing its banks. This forced me to execute Plan B: ride the Lakefront bike trail along Lake Michigan into downtown Chicago. It proved to be a very worthwhile alternative.
A 4:15 AM wake up call got me to the lakefront just prior to sunrise and as soon as my bike and I hopped on the trail I was totally blown away by the gorgeous light illuminating Lake Michigan and the city skyline. At that hour, I had expected to be one of the few people on the bike path but I forgot that 3 million people live in this city. By 5:00 AM there were hundreds of bikers, runners and walkers on the path – each taking full advantage of this exquisite spring morning.
As enjoyable as all these excursions were, they all pale in comparison to the year’s first road trip: traveling to South Bend, Indiana to attend the Winter Classic hockey game at Notre Dame Stadium on New Year’s Day which pitted two “Original Six” teams – The Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Photo of Notre Dame Winter Classic downloaded from the Bruins website. All oher photos by the author.
It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to watch hockey played the way it should be – outdoors. Mother Nature cooperated with overcast skies and temperatures hovering at the freezing mark and the Bruins aided by beating the Blackhawks, thereby giving me bragging rights over my Chicago family – at least for a little while.
Bruins forward, Patrice Bergeron, rips a blistering shot. Bergeron scored one of the Bruins four goals.
There were about a dozen pages of instructions detailing what was prohibited into Notre Dame Stadium. This included “professional” photography equipment and large telephoto lenses. Technically speaking, the lens I brought with me exceeded the maximum allowable length by a fraction of an inch. Lucky for me the security people didn’t have a tape measure.
Watching hockey with 76,000 other crazed fans is quite an experience and one I will never forget. A HUGE thank you to my brother-in-law, Larry, for getting the family tickets to this game!