Saturday, August 21, 2010

Prospecting Crawford Notch

Getting ready to head out once again for the jaunt back to Pennsylvania. With the weather pattern starting to deteriorate just in time for the two day trip, we did the majority of reorganizing a couple days early, then headed out to make a final exploration of the region by visiting the Crawford Notch State Park. We packed a picnic lunch so by golly we ate a picnic lunch but we had to do it at a picnic table lakeside in what seemed like the windstorm of the decade. In truth, the wind is often heavy blowing down through the notch, which is, incidentally, very near Mt. Washington; known for its brutal weather patterns and impromptu rapid changes, I suppose we should have been ready for the wind in proximity to the mountain, but it had been quite nice back at camp on the Saco, so we really had not thought that much about heavier clothing and so on. Next time.

It was first and foremost just a day in the sunshine and the fresh air and breathing in the mountains before leaving them behind for the time being. But we checked the GPAA Miner's Guide and realized there was a possibility of locating some fine placer gold in the Swift River that flows through the White Mountain National Park not too far from the notch. Not ones to pass up a crack at the gold, we made sure we had our pans (the only equipment allowed in the park) along with us. We tried off and on for an hour or two to find some "hot" gravel.....BUT, good thing we had our "first and foremost" priorities straight- because fresh air and dynamite scenery was all we were able to locate for this outing. Too bad! Because some of the crevices in the bedrock looked mighty promising. New Hampshire remains in the "loss" column for those states where we have tried and failed to locate gold. Our long term goal of finding gold in all 49 of the continental states will not get a "notch" on the old gold pan from Crawford Notch for now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rafting: Yes. White Water: No

We're back in New Hampshire. Call it R&R if you will. It won't be "enough" but it sure feels nice. The Saco River Camping Area campground that we are staying at is a family run business situated right on the banks of the Saco River. It is well run which we thoroughly appreciate, not to mention the size of the sites which are monumentally huge in comparison to many, especially in New England. Back in the days when we ran businesses in Maine, and when we could get away, we routinely drove over here for long weekends canoeing and camping on the sandbars of the Saco. It's a marvelous river for that sort of thing: there's a sand or gravel bar at nearly every bend in the river, perfect for camping, fishing, picnicking, swimming, or just stretching one's legs after paddling with the current for a while. There is the occasional "rip" but nothing that you would call a "rapid". Class one (or maybe zero) water- not Class Four, or worse, the un-navigable Class Five. In short, white water it ain't.

You will see canoes on the river. You will see kayaks. You will see rafts. You will see inner tubes, and air mattresses, and other home-made floating devices, some of which have an inflatable beer cooler in tow. Fun for one, fun for two, fun for the whole family. Party central, waterside.

A word to the wise if you come here to have a go at it. DO, by all means, do the life jacket thing with kids and non swimmers. Meandering rivers, no matter how tame and shallow and harmless looking, especially those ones that bend and wind their way along and have downed trees and branches here and there, harbor much more power and potential danger than you would assume, and for sure more than you can see by looking at the surface. We have paddled this river many times before, and in fact we paddled against the current upstream 2 1/2 miles just the other day. True, everyone told us we were paddling in the wrong direction- but it gave us a chance to "warm up" and it gave us a chance to scout some of the trickier spots without the force of the down stream current creating a problem. Good thing we did that, because when we did make a 6 hour paddle/float downstream yesterday, there were a number of inexperienced families in rented kayaks who got into way more trouble than they had bargained for, with one of the daughters tipping and getting sucked under a downed tree trunk in swift current. Between her dad, who had also capsized, and the two of us, we managed to get her out- but none too soon, as her paddle had been wedged up against her throat under water (only her head was above water-line) and she was not able to breath. She was rattled, but fine and was able to continue on no harm done, but lesson well learned. Life jackets are not for when you think you need them- they are for when you think you don't!

Plenty to see along the river and in the always crystal clear water. We saw literally hundreds of trout- many of them a really nice size. Ducks. Geese. The occasional otter. Train trestles. Mountains. Even a quick glimpse of one hole of a golf course that barely touches the bank at one quick bend in the river.

As for our two person flotilla, we had a blast. Veterans of the Saco that we are, we had our shore lunch ready to roast over an open fire on a sand bar at the halfway point. The smell of a small campfire with hot dogs slowly turning on the home styled rotisserie forks made all the passers by on the river call out if there was enough to go around. Yes. But please- no. And by the way, mind if I take your picture as you drift on by...............

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Still Chilling in Maine

Still laying a bit low and trying to recoup from things. Meanwhile we took a trip out Bar Harbor way and visited Acadia national park for about the "umpteenth" time in our lives. It's a beautiful spot at all times of the year and in all types of weather. This visit found us with plenty of sunshine and visibility although as it almost always does, a fog bank or two came rolling by.....

On another day we visited again with Dickie and Sarah who fired up the pizza oven that Dick built in his back yard just off the deck. We roasted the ingredients for the pizza first, then applied them to the top of the special dough for baking. Meanwhile we roasted some blue mussels in wine and garlic and "tasted on them." Talk about fast cooking time! With temps in the stove at over 750 degrees, everything cooks in mere minutes- literally. The time to prepare the meal is in the firing of the oven, not in the cooking of the ingredients themselves. Soooo good!