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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

'Some' assembly required......

6:17 am - Tuesday - May 22nd - Southwest Harbor, ME - 55º F, 52% humidity, wind 4 mph out of the east......cloudy with a forecast high of 62º F.  Rain on the way Wednesday.....90% chance.

Monday was one of those days you compare all other days to for the rest of your life.  It was literally balmy, the skies were clear and blue, the temp was 68º F, and there was a slight breeze.  I stopped often to just breath in the fresh air and enjoy the moment.  The light breeze kept the bugs at bay, which by the way, have not been bothering me at all.  Usually I am the first one who gets bit, but so far zero bites.  

I reported for work at 8 am (my first 6 hour day) to find out that my work partner from Friday, Alex, had broken his arm Saturday while skate boarding, and will be out 6-8 weeks, so Tony and I worked together for the entire day.  Tony retired from correctional work New Jersey a few years ago and moved to Southwest Harbor for his retirement.  Like me, he can't be retired all the time and will be spending his third summer working here at Smuggler's Den Campground.  

We began our day by collecting some treated lumber out near the entrance to the park and transporting it to the 'garage' to be cut to length, and then used to repair half a dozen picnic tables in the campground.  Once Todd finished cutting all the wood, Tony and I took it in the company truck to each table requiring repair, which took the better part of two hours.   Of course, there were power tools involved as we had to drill holes in each board in order to attach them to the picnic tables with carriage bolts.  Then it was time to paint the raw wood BLUE.  Tony and I ended up not just painting the raw wood, but repainting the entire table in each case.

By 11 am (lunch time) we had painted a couple of tables.  We decided to do the final four after lunch.  I headed for the Newell, and Tony headed for his home to have lunch.  We reconvened at the site where we left off and continued painting the rest of the tables, which we finished in about an hour.

 Love this shade of blue!

Then it was time to assemble two of the 7 new BBQ's.  These BBQ's came in large boxes, completely unassembled, and there was no way were were going to put them together without using the instructions.  It took us an hour per BBQ to do the assembly, and that brought us to 3:15 pm, and time to clock out for the day.

Only four more to go

While were working on the picnic tables and BBQ assembly, Todd worked on installing some new pool equipment so he could get the pool running in preparation for Friday, which is our opening day.  Things are gradually coming together and it looks like we will be ready for Friday.  The nice thing is, I am not in charge of anything, so there is no pressure....I am loving it.....if we are ready by Friday, cool......if not, we are not.....I am enjoying being a 'worker bee' once again....I just do what I am told to the best of my ability, and spending no time looking at the calendar......😊

And, thus, another day in Southwest Harbor has come and gone......life is good!  Thanks for stopping by!

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Cadillac view......

6:18 am - Monday - May 21st - Southwest Harbor, ME - 52º F, 70% humidity, wind 4 mph out of the west....clear blue skies once again....forecast high for today is 69º F!  Promises to be a beautiful day here in Smuggler's Den!

Rain pitter pattered on our aluminum roof the rest of Saturday night, and into the early morning Sunday.  We awoke to intermittent showers, and heavy overcast, but it was not very cold.  Since we were not working Sunday we lazed around most of the morning not really doing much, but by 1 pm we decided we needed to get out and do some site seeing....even if it was still raining.

Our initial destination was Northeast Harbor on the other side of Somes Sound, which meant we had to travel up ME-102 to ME-3 to ME-198.  We are learning that the distances here are not as great as they appear on the map.  We arrived in Northeast Harbor by 1:30 pm in a moderately heavy rain......

.......there was this group of kayakers heading out on a paddle in the rain.....these Maine folk are made of better stuff than I......

Northeast Harbor

....from there we continued our drive around the east side of Mount Desert Island to Seal Harbor where the rain had begun to abate......

 Seal Harbor

......by the time we made it to Bar Harbor it was well after 2 pm and time for a bite.  We stopped off at the Thirsty Whale.....just down Cottage Street from Finback Ale House where we ate a few days prior......Yelp gives them 4 stars on 572 reviews, plus several people had recommended them to us, so we really had no choice, right?  We both ordered their Demon Stout by Black Bear Brewing.  To eat I ordered their Fried, Blackened Haddock Sandwich and a cup of their Clam Chowda while TLE ordered a bowl of their Clam Chowda for her entree......

 No, TLE is not really 'two fisting' the stouts.....😋

......we were grateful once again that we were able to visit Bar Harbor on a Sunday before the summer crowds descend enmasse.  We were able to find parking easily, and walk right into the Thirsty Whale and get a table.....the second to last table, but a table nonetheless.

Next up was our first visit to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.......we stopped a couple of times to snap a couple of pictures on the way......

.....we eventually reached the summit which was totally socked in with clouds.....I manged to get a couple of pictures, but not that for which I was hoping, so we descended back down the road to a turn out and were rewarded......

 Too many clouds on top of Cadillac Mountain this day

......the view was spectacular.  Eventually we will take the hike to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, as well as the many other peaks on Mount Desert Island!

.....our last stop for the day before heading home was Jordan Pond House and, of course, Jordan Pond......

Jordan Pond with and without people

 ......we arrived home just before 5 pm to clearing skies and the promise of a beautiful day on Monday!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

'Snap' it up!

8:02 am - Sunday - May 20th - Southwest Harbor, ME - 50º F, 100% humidity, wind 14 mph out of the southwest......heavy cloud cover......rained most of the night, and is supposed to rain more this morning.  Forecast high for Sunday is 67º F!

I mentioned in my prior post that I would be helping TLE and Sam deep clean cabins Saturday morning.  They were able to get 4 of the 8 Deluxe cabins (kitchen, bathroom, heater, sleeps 5) deep cleaned Friday in about 5 hours.  Management wanted them finished by Saturday, so I was assigned to help them get the last four done.

Sam, who lives in Bar Harbor and commutes to Southwest Harbor to work here, met us at the garage (looks more like a barn to me, but we call it 'the garage') at 9 am to help us pick up the cleaning supplies, we then walked down to the office together to pick up a one of the Club Cars, and then drove over to our first cabin.   In all it took us a little less than 3 hours to clean the four remaining Deluxe Cabins.....makes a big difference with one extra person.  All that remains now is the cleaning of the four 'Rustic Cabins' (heater, small dorm size fridge.....no kitchen, or bathroom.....just bunks).

We clocked out about 12:07 pm and headed for the barn.  When we began our workday it was sunny, and almost balmy if you can call 52º F balmy....it's really all a matter of perspective.  By the end of our 3 hour shift it was getting windy and quite cold....you could tell the weather was changing, and that rain was in the offing. 

I had thought about going for a bike ride in the afternoon, but had no desire to fight the wind and/or rain so I opted to stay home with TLE.  On our door step when we arrived home was a package I had ordered from Amazon just a few days earlier......a case of Snap-E-Tom Tomato Cocktail 6 oz. cans...... 

A case of Snap-E-Tom.....one 6 pack is already in the fridge cooling

......I have been consuming Snap-E-Tom since I was a little kid......my Dad loved it, too.  It never occurred to me that Del Monte would ever discontinue this item.....after all it had been available for my entire life.  We ran out of Snap-E-Tom sometime during our 1 month journey to Maine and hoped to either find a local supermarket which did carry it, or order some from Amazon as I had done several times in the past.  After none of the local supermarkets had it in stock I decided to go online to buy some to replenish my supply.  I was shocked to find out that it was no longer in production, and that the last case of 6 oz. cans was on Amazon......no one else anywhere had it in stock.  That last case of twenty-four 6 oz. cans cost me almost $50......ouch!  I will keep searching to find another case out there, but in the interim I will cherish every single can I have left.

So, I guess the Snap-E-Tom era has come to an end.  Don't get me wrong, I do like Spicey V-8, and will probably begin buying it again, but Snap-E-Tom reminded me of my Dad every time I took a sip, and I will dearly miss that.

We spent the afternoon staying warm.....around 3 pm one of my favorite Spaghetti Westerns came on AMC.....The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.....this movie, uncut, and without commercials is 3 hours and 7 minutes long......a very long movie for 1966.  Well, I watched the entire movie....haven't done that in a long time!  One of my favorite movie lines comes from this movie......"There are those who have loaded guns, and those who dig..."  (Clint Eastwood aka: Blondie to Eli Wallach aka: Tuco).

After the movie I lit the Sea-B-Que and grilled up some more carne asada for some more street tacos.......life is good!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Sticks, leaves, BBQ's and refrigerators.....

6:57 am - Saturday - May 19th - Southwest Harbor, ME - 41º F, 84% humidity, wind 1 mph out of the east by northeast......clear, blue skies with a forecast high to day of 55º F.....40% chance of rain in the late afternoon, continuing into Sunday with a 70% chance of rain.

The extended weather forecast

I reported for work at 8 am Friday.  For my four hour shift I did a little of everything.  Each of the 14 cabins here has its own gas BBQ.  After a couple of seasons they begin to wear out, and must be replaced.  Along with Todd, Alex and I helped inspect each one, checking to see if it had a full propane tank, and if it would light.  About half of the BBQ's failed the test and were loaded in the back of Todd's truck and taken to the barn where we will, in the future, remove some of the common parts saving them to repair the remaining ones, if and when they need repairing.  In the mean time we will be taking delivery on 7 new BBQ's later in the week.

Once that was done Alex and I headed for the group area to finish the cleanup which had been started a few days earlier.....picking up big sticks, and then using leaf blowers to  corral the leaves into large piles so they can be transferred to the large leaf compost pile in the back of the property.

We loaded all the sticks and stick debris into the 'dumper' at the rear of the electric 'Club Car'.  In all we hauled two cart loads of sticks and debris to the stick pile.  In between the first and the second load Alex and I helped Todd move a few refrigerators around before returning to the group area clean up to haul the second load of sticks.

Once the sticks were removed we each donned a leaf blower and began to 'herd' the leaves into large piles.  By this time it was 11:20 am and I had just 40 minutes left on my 4 hour shift.  The last 40 minutes flew by quickly and I left Alex to finish creating the leaf piles which will be moved Saturday, or Sunday.  We have just one week left until the official opening of Smuggler's Den for the summer season.

Speaking of 'summer'.....the weather right now is anything but 'summery'.....while we are getting our fair share of sunny days the temperatures have only climbed out of the 50's one day since we have been here, and over the next 14 days it looks like there may be another 4, or 5 days which may creep into the low 60's, but there are at least 7 days with rain forecast.  Personally, I'm enjoying the cool weather.  I know it will get warmer soon enough, and there will even be days later this summer when I will long for these cool, bug free days of May.  

TLE worked until 2:30 pm Friday cleaning cabins with Sam, and that is where we (TLE and I) will be working on Saturday.  They managed to deep clean 4 of the 14 cabins with just two people....we'll have four people, hopefully, on Saturday so we should get a lot further along in the process by the end of of the day.

When we were in Ellsworth on Tuesday we bought a couple of filet mignons to grill later in the week, and 'later in the week' had arrived.   It was a very nice evening with no wind so while I heated up the Sea-B-Que I also laid wood for a fire.  While the steaks grilled we sat by the fire sipping some Pinot Noir.  About the time I flipped the filets two of our neighbors for the summer, Linda and Terry, came over to introduce themselves.  They keep their 5th wheel here at Smuggler's Den during the summer and come most weekends, and on occasion will stay a week at a time.  They are very nice people and we will enjoy interacting with them throughout the summer!

The steaks came out wonderfully.....a perfect medium rare.  TLE added a side mashed potatoes.  We sat by the fire eating our dinner......our first meal outside.....enjoying the early evening air.  A nice way to end our first week in Southwest Harbor!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Workaday man......

6:15 am - Friday - May 18th - Southwest Harbor, ME - 46º F, 53% humidity, wind 11 mph out of the north.....clear, blue skies with a forecast high for today of 58º F.

Work day 2 began at 8 am for me Thursday, while TLE began her day at 9 am.  Day 2 was a much better day for me physically.  My ribs hardly bothered me for my four hour shift.  My job was to spend the morning cleaning all the chaise lounges (10) and chairs (14) in the pool area.  They had been kept inside the restroom during the winter, but there is still cleaning which needs to be done.

In order to mold proof them for the summer Todd had me use an air pump sprayer to apply white vinegar to each chaise lounge and chair.  None of the chairs had any mold on them, but the white vinegar apparently not only will remove mold, but when applied will prevent mold from growing.  When you live in a cool, humid environment mold is an inevitability, so preventative action is important.

Once the white vinegar was applied I took one of those 'Magic Erasers' to clean all the surfaces (vinyl and metal).  The vinyl was pretty clean, but the metal (coated in white rubber) had stains, and paint scuffs which the magic eraser removes so easily.  It's obvious these chairs have been taken care of over the years (they are 5 years old) as they still look almost new.  Apparently at the end of each season in October they take time to clean all the suntan lotion off the vinyl before they are put into storage for the winter.  If I hadn't been told so, I would have thought they had been purchased within the past few months.

After cleaning all the surfaces I then rinsed each chair with water so they would not smell like white vinegar.  In all it took me almost exactly 4 hours to finish the job.....Alex, and Tony came over about 11:30 am to help me finish the chairs, otherwise there would have been 5, or 6 of the 14 chairs left to clean.   We knocked out the final 8 chairs in about 15 minutes.

I was off just after 12 pm and on my way walking back to the Newell feeling much better than the day prior.  Hopefully after 2, or 3 more four hour days I will be ready to move up to 8 hour days by the time the park opens in a week.  

According to Todd and Rain (our employers) we will be busy over Memorial Day, but then things will quiet down until the 4th of July weekend when things will get very busy, and it will stay very busy until after Labor Day.  A very similar pattern to Tahoe Valley Campground where we spent 3+ years working.

I needed to buy some rubber boots for when we are power washing the bathrooms, and other situations, such as cleaning the pool chairs, where regular shoes would get soaking wet.  I had been told there was a West Marine in town, and that they had rubber boots, so TLE and I headed over there about 1 pm.  As it turned out they had several brands ranging in cost from the high $40's to over $100.  The ones I chose were the West Marine brand which happened to be on sale (40% off) for $47....they don't have to last forever.....just 5 months, and I think these will last well beyond that........

.....TLE and I owned a Columbia 26' sloop rigged sailboat from 1992 to 2004 which we kept in a marina in Long Beach, CA during that time so I very familiar with West Marine, as most boaters are.  While in town we noticed a lot of businesses are now beginning to open, or have signs up advising they will be open sometime this week, so the summer is beginning to get underway here in Southwest Harbor.

For dinner TLE had me grill up some pollo asado for tacos (yay for me!) around 5:30 pm.  I believe we've used the Sea-B-Que at least 4 times since we arrived here at Smuggler's Den.  I think the last time we filled up our 5 gallon propane bottle was back in May of 2017 while at Tahoe Valley Campground.  I am amazed we are still using that same propane almost one year later.  We have a propane company coming to fill up our 60 gallon tank on Friday, so I think it would be a good idea to fill that 5 gallon bottle, too!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Getting physical.....

6:13 am - Thursday - May 17th - Southwest Harbor, ME - 47º F, 100% humidity (very, very foggy), wind 9 mph out of the south by southwest....forecast for today is partly cloudy with a high of 68º F.

Wednesday was our first day of work in two months.  I really enjoyed the two months off work, but I am ready to hit the deck running again.  I will be working outside this summer, which is what  missed about our time in Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon.  I reported for work at 9 am as I was instructed.  The skies were clear, and there was no wind....a perfect first day outside!  Everyone else began their work day at 8 am, and that will be my starting time beginning Thursday.  The first week I will work 4 hours a day giving me time to get used to the physical work once again, which I really appreciate.  I do try to stay in shape, but there is really no way to prepare for the physicality of actual campground work other than actually doing it.

Wednesday was kind of an orientation day for me.  I met Todd down at the office to learn how to use their time card system, and then Todd took time to explain the daily routine.  Including Todd and moi, there are five outdoor guys (Steven, Tony and Alex are the other three).  Prior to the beginning of the summer season a week from this Friday we will all be assigned different tasks each day, but once the summer begins we will all be taking care of site cleanup after customers leave, cleaning the one restroom/laundry, taking care of the swimming pool, mowing the grass, and general repair of things that need repairing each day.

On this day I was assigned the task of uncovering the pools (adult and kiddie) and cleaning them.  I'm attaching a file picture from the Smuggler's Den Campground website for perspective as I failed to take any pictures......

Kiddie pool

.....the pool has a shallow end which is 3' deep graduating one foot deeper at a time to the deep end which is 6' deep....the kiddie pool is 1' deep from one end to the other.  There is a slide, but no diving board.  As one might expect, the entire pool area is fenced with a self locking gate.  I spent my entire 4 hours using the long handled net to pull out vegetable matter from both pools, then the long handled brush to brush the sides and bottom of each pool.  Finally, on my hands and knees, I hand scrubbed the faux tile around the top edge of both pools.   On Thursday we will turn on the pool equipment to further filter and clean the water in each pool.  By the time I was done I was ready for a nap......lol!  One thing I was reminded of while cleaning the pool is that my rib cage is still a little tender from my bicycle accident a little over one month ago....frankly, I had forgotten about it.  TLE spent her four hours with Rain (wife of Todd) learning their campground software, office systems, and walking around the park.  She got home a little before me.  

So, our first day of work is in the books.....I loved working outside again, and am looking forward to a lot of time spent outdoors this summer.  Thanks for stopping by!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018


6:22 am - Wednesday - May 16th - Southwest Harbor, ME - 41º F, 73% humidity, wind 10 mph out of the north by northeast.......clear, blue sunny skies today with a forecast high of 52º F.

After two days of site seeing we decided to just take it easy Tuesday.  We did need to do a big shopping before we settle into our work routine, and for a big shopping we decided to drive north to Ellsworth to shop at the Walmart Supercenter and the local grocery chain, Hannaford Supermarket.  It is only about 18 miles up to Ellsworth, but the speed limits vary between a low of 15 mph up to 50 mph, so it takes about 30 minutes each way.

The weather guessers had indicated there was a 90% chance of rain by 1 pm, so we left for Ellsworth around 10 am so we could be home before it let loose.....as it turned out the guessers guessed wrong, but I get ahead of myself!

We had just come through Ellsworth on our way to Southwest Harbor on Saturday, so we were just retracing our steps, although it was nicer to be driving those narrow roads in a much smaller vehicle.  In the Newell it seemed much longer than 18 miles to me.

We arrived at the Hannaford Supermarket before 11 am where TLE did 95% of her shopping this day.  This is a large supermarket, and they have a very good selection of the most of the products for which we have a preference.  We also bought a couple of deck chairs for our deck which also match our Newell color scheme......

....they kind of have that 'Adirondack' look, don't they?  We don't like to leave our really nice camp chairs and loungers out in inclement weather, so these plastic ones are perfect to be left outside the entire time we are here.....we'll bring out the good ones when the weather improves.

We stopped off at Walmart on our way out of town to pick up the three things we didn't find at Hannaford.....the yogurt TLE likes, some mixed nuts, and something else that escapes my memory for now.  We were back home a little after 1 pm unloading our spoils and putting them away.

I spent some more time deploying our patio awning, raking up the winter detritus from our lawn, and moving a few things around in the trailer before heading back inside when it looked like it was going to begin raining.

Eventually the rain did come.....at 5:13 pm....it rained steadily for about 3 hours and then stopped.........

Rain on the windshield

.......so we have finished our third full day in Southwest Harbor and begin our summer of work on Wednesday.  There's a lot to do in the next two weeks before Smuggler's Den Campground opens for the summer season.  Fortunately, this park as it sits appears to be in very good condition, even after a pretty long winter, which is a tribute to the owners who don't take the winter off like they do at another park at which we previously worked.....enough said on that subject.

Time to get ready for work......thanks for stopping by!

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