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Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Cadillac view......

6:12 am - Thursday - May 31st - Southwest Harbor, ME - 51º F, 90% humidity, wind 6 mph out of the south by southwest - mostly blue skies with wispy clouds.....forecast high for today is 67º F.....back to work!

After taking a slow day Tuesday we decided Wednesday would be a hiking day.  The last time we did any hiking that involved significant elevation gain and loss was back in SoCal when we hiked to the top of Mt. Rubidoux, otherwise it has been mostly flat walking.  The hikes we will pick over the next few weeks prior to the 4th of July will be the farthest away from Southwest Harbor.  Why?  Well, the traffic will get a lot worse after the 4th so let's do the driving now while it is not congested.  We'll save the hikes nearer to our home for later.

Of course, the hike everyone says you must take if you are in Acadia National Park is the one to the top of Cadillac Mountain.  This is the highest peak on Mount Desert Island, and I believe the highest peak in Maine at 1,529' above sea level.

There are two trails to the top: North Ridge and South Ridge.  The South Ridge Trail is over 6 miles round trip, and the North Ridge trail is about 4.8 miles round trip.  We chose the shorter, but steeper trail for our first hike of the summer.  We arrived at the trailhead around 11 am and quickly donned our Camelbak hydration packs and Leki hiking poles for the assault on Cadillac Mountain......



.....the first of many stone steps.  There is no 'courtship' on this trail.....you just start climbing, and you climb steadily for all 2.4 miles to the top......

 Our first view of the islands

 90% of the trail is over large rock formations....

 ....and the trail is not obvious, so they have painted blue stripes periodically to keep you on the trail

 More views of the islands

 TLE is smiling because we are 1/2 mile from the top

 Made it!

.......the hike was listed as 'moderate' in nature, but I would say it is closer to the 'strenuous' category.  In many places the gradient exceeds 14% for short distances.  It reminded me of the Grandview Trail at the Grand Canyon as far as steepness goes, but certainly not in its difficult, or dangerous aspects.  We made it to the top a little before 1 pm, where we found a nice flat rock to sit on while eating a snack and taking in the 360º view.....





The requisite 'usie' to memorialize our accomplishment!



The return hike, of course, was all downhill and we covered the 2.4 mile return trip in 1 hour and 20 minutes.  In total we covered 4.8 miles in two hours and 36 minutes of 'moving time', burned 874 caloric units, and gained 1,252' in elevation.  It was a great first hike of the season!


We were home by 3 pm taking showers and relaxing for a few hours before heading back to Thurston's Lobster Pound over in the village of Bernard for dinner.  I ordered their Lobster BLT, and TLE had their Lobster Stew and Crab Cakes.  Everything was delish!


I just love this view of Bass Harbor from the restaurant!

We were back home  a little after 7 pm and settling in for the night.  We had a great two days off work, but now it is time to get back to work!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Seawall, Bernard, Thurston's........

8:06 am - Wednesday - May 30th - Southwest Harbor, ME - 60º F, 52% humidity, wind 3 mph out of the southeast.......clear, blue skies with a forecast high of 64º F....a beautiful day for a hike!

Right up there with my other bucket list destinations has been the Maine Coast....for decades.  It always seemed out of reach way up there in the northeast corner of our country.  You know how sometimes your expectations of what a place like this will be like when you finally get there are not realized?  Well, our expectations have been realized here in Southwest Harbor and surrounding environs.  It is every bit as beautiful and pristine as I thought it would be.....and then some.

Since we arrived back on the 12th of May we have been mostly working, but we have managed to do a little exploring, and Tuesday was more of the same.  The last time we drove through 'Seawall' it was cold, and a little overcast, but Tuesday was a perfect day to park the car and walk along the rocky beach looking for sea shells and sea glass......





.....on this day we were in t-shirts, shorts and sandals (flip flops don't work too well on this kind of terrain).  In all we spent about 2 hours just walking along the ocean, and looking for cool periwinkle shells, and sea glass of which we found a little of each.........


.....we didn't find very big pieces of sea glass, but it is there, and it was fun to discover little pockets of it here and there as we walked along the rocky shoreline.....



.....after all that fresh air it was time to find an eatery on the water where we could get a couple of adult beverages and a snack, so we headed for Thurston's Lobster Pound located in the quaint little village of Bernard about 10 minutes away.

We arrived there about 2:15 pm, found a table on the water and placed our drink orders.....a Cadillac Margarita for TLE and an Atlantic Brewing Summer Ale for moi.......


Waiting for our Crab Cakes appetizer....they were amazing!





.....as we sat sipping our drinks I couldn't help but comment to TLE that this is exactly how I pictured Maine, and what a perfect day to do what we were doing....



......we sat there quietly talking about our time in Maine so far, and how we were slowly getting acquainted with this small corner of  the 23rd State admitted to the Union.  We feel so at home, and most welcome.  Everywhere we go we meet the nicest, most helpful people.  There are NO street signals anywhere, and just a very few stop signs, which is precisely what one might expect in this very rural corner America.

From Thurston's to our home at SDC* it is just a little over a 10 minute drive.  We stopped off at Southwest Foodmart to pick up a few things including a bottle of Jose Cuervo Golden (Cadillac) Margaritas.....TLE had a hankering for another Cadillac!

We were home about 4:30 unloading our Foodmart plunder after which time I took a long nap....I mean a long nap....I awoke around 6:30!  After a sufficient amount of time regaining consciousness I went outside to light our second campfire of the season, and TLE followed a few minutes later with a couple of Cadillac Margaritas......


.....our hearts are full and happy....we have found a wonderful place to spend the summer!

Thanks for stopping by!

*SDC = Smuggler's Den Camground

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The big vacuum.......

8:35 am - Tuesday - May 29th - Southwest Harbor, ME - 56º F, 95% humidity, wind 5 mph out of the west.....clear blue skies with a forecast high of 78º F......we are off work today and tomorrow!

Monday was, as I like to call it, 'vacuum day' at SDC*....it is one of the things I love about working in campgrounds/RV parks.....it's very busy for 2, or 3 days and then everyone goes back to their workaday life and you have 4-5 days of quiet before it begins all over again.  By 12 noon there were only 7, or 8 RV sites still occupied, and maybe 4 tent sites.  The other side of the 'vacuum' coin is that all those emptied sites must be cleaned.  On this day Tony and I had 59 sites to check, clean and ready for their next occupants......

59 sites to clean.....and they are done!

.....and the other thing you must deal with is all the effluent left behind by the weekenders.  Since Monday was Memorial Day and the local transfer station would only be open for one hour from 11 am to 12 pm, we began our day picking up all the trash from our 62 trashcans  scattered throughout our facility.  We finished loading the company pickup about 9:30 am so having 90 minutes before the transfer station opened we began cleaning sites, and managed to clean about 25 by 10:50 am.  We were in and out of the transfer station in less than 10 minutes and back at SDC* at 11:10 am, at which time we both headed for our slightly abbreviated lunch hour before we commenced cleaning the men's and women's restrooms at 12 pm.  

Since it was 'vacuum day' the restrooms had not had heavy use that morning so we whizzed through them  both in a little over an hour.   Then it was time to finish cleaning the final 34 sites.  Tony only works til 3 pm on Monday's and we managed to finish cleaning the final site just before 3 pm.  I bid adieu to Tony and then breathed a sigh of relief.....just one more hour until my day shift ended.  

I spent a few minutes relaxing in the office and talking with TLE who had the Noon to 8 pm shift.  About 3:30 pm I drove the golf cart up to the 'garage' and gave it a good washing....it was pretty dirty from a day of cleaning sites.  I was back at the office to clock out just before 4 pm and then headed for home where I got out a Guiness Stout to slowly sip while I relaxed in my recliner, letting the tension slowly ooze from my pleasantly tired body.......


......there was a long, hot shower, and a long nap to follow before I headed back to the office around 7:30 pm to close the pool, and keep TLE company until she finished closing up for the night.  We were back home by 8:20 with big smiles on our collective faces....time for a couple of days of exploring and relaxing!

Thanks for stopping by!

*SDC = Smuggler's Den Campground

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Monday, May 28, 2018

Easy peasy day....

6:23 am - Monday - May 28th - Southwest Harbor, ME - 48º F, 86% humidity, wind 6 mph out of the east......cloudy with a forecast high today of 54º F.  Today is 'vacuum day' here at Smuggler's Den.  In about 4 hours the campground will be virtually empty and it will be time to clean all the sites.


Beech Mountain....there is a fire watch station up there

Since I was the only worker on duty Sunday I offered to begin my workday at 9 am instead of 10 am.  Todd came in at 7 am to uncover the pool, and be sure it was ready for use later in the morning.  He would stay on until I arrived at 9 am then go home (Sunday is normally his off day).  It was a beautiful day, but very, very frigid.  I was back to wearing my Levi's and a long sleeved shirt.

We had only 3 sites opening up Sunday, but they had until 11 am to checkout so I busied myself with replenishing the wood box with firewood from the 'back 40'.  In all I brought up 16 bundles which is essentially two car golf cart loads.

From there I made a couple of minor repairs Todd had requested I handle, checked all the various trash receptacles to be sure they were not overflowing, then I got to weeding the flower beds along the fence around the pool where I had a clear view of site 118.  This was the only site which we had to turn over Sunday (one party leaving and one party arriving), so I wanted to be sure to be able to clean it as soon as it became available.  The people leaving vacated the site at exactly 11 am, and the party who would be moving into that site had just arrived about 30 minutes before.....our check in time is 3 pm, but if a site is available we will let then check in early.

Within 15 minutes the site was cleaned and I notified the new tenant he could move his trailer into the site.  I went back to weeding until 12 pm when it was time to clean the restrooms.  Todd came back to the campground to help me clean the restrooms and by 1:45 pm they were both clean and ready again for use....I headed for home to eat lunch and take a nap.  Needless to say after working 11 of the last 12 days I am tired and really looking forward to being off work on Tuesday and Wednesday, but I get ahead of myself.

I came back at 3 pm knowing I had two more hours until I could take a 3 hour break before closing the pool.  The campground was very quiet as most folks were out site seeing, hiking, kayaking, etc. so there was not much to do except just enjoy the late afternoon sun.  I did bring up 20 more bundles of wood near the end of my shift.....we do sell a lot of firewood.  The bundles cost $5 each, but offer a lot more wood than other places we have worked in the past, plus it is all hard wood, so it takes longer to burn.

TLE did not go to work until noon time, and went home about 4 pm as there were two of them working the office and it was very quiet. I joined her at 5 pm, and we both returned to the office just before 8 pm to close.  The pool was empty (it was about 47º F) so I pulled over the tarp we use to cover it at night keep the heat from escaping, and locked the gate.  TLE was done with helping Sam close the office by 8:15 and we headed for home once again.  It was an 'easy peasy' kind of day.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

It was a good day......

7:13 am - Sunday - May 27th - Southwest Harbor, ME - 51º F, 73% humidity, wind 10 mph out of the east......clear blue skies with a forecast high of 55º F.....quite a bit lower than yesterday's 72º!

Saturday......wow.....it was 'hot' (72º F....I've told you before.....'hot' is relative), humid (90%) and very little breeze.  I reported for work at 10 am and went right to weeding the front planter.  There were a lot of dandelions and those buggers are tough to get out without breaking off the main root, and if you do that it will most certainly grow back in a few days.  I utilized a small hand trowel to get the entire root out.....if you've ever pulled dandelions you now what I'm talking about.....not my favorite thing, but it's got to be done.  By the time I was done I have a garbage bag full of dying dandelions, and about half a dozen black fly bites.  Black flies.....hmmmm....they draw blood, and leave a big welt.  I will not forget to put on my insect repellent again.

By the way, I forgot to mention I received my SDC staff shirts Friday......


.......I like blue, and these are blue.....you can see I've already got sweat leaking through my shirt.....a lot of humidity related sweating occurred Saturday.

By the time I finished weeding it was time to do the daily bathroom cleaning.  I joined Steve in this endeavor at 12 noon beginning with the women's restroom.  One hour is allotted to clean each restroom, and I'm sure as we get busier it will take that long, but on Saturday it took about 40 minutes per bathroom.  By the time we finished, and put away our equipment it was 2 pm and time for lunch.  When I went into the office to punch the clock for my lunch break I was pleasantly surprised to find a crab salad sandwich waiting for me made by Rain....she had made sandwiches for all the employees.  Oh, and it was delicious!

After finishing my sandwich I headed up to the Newell to take my traditional post lunch nap, and I needed it.  Since we began working May 16th we have had just one day off work, and after my second 8 hour work day my body is beginning to feel its age.  I napped for 45 minutes, and needed every minute of it.  

The afternoons for me are settling into moving about the campground talking with customers, answering questions, monitoring the pool usage, and just sitting a enjoying the outdoor air.  I decided to take a few pictures during my 'leisure' time......

 The campground is getting quite full

 The cabins

TLE and I both went home at 6 pm to return at 8 pm for the final hour of our day.  TLE wanted to learn how to close from Sam, and I went about my normal routine letting folks in the pool know that the pool would close at 8:30, and then taking a couple of loops around the park to be sure there were no noise 'pockets' I would have to deal with later.....all was quiet.

 Sand and TLE  'closing'


 This lobster tank will be full of live lobsters in a couple of weeks



TLE and I were on our way home just after 9 pm.....it was a good day at Smuggler's Den....thanks for stopping by!

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Feeling more 'flexible' now........

7:26 am - Saturday - May 26th - Southwest Harbor, ME - 65º F (Wait, what?  That is higher than the high yesterday by 11º!), 78% humidity, wind 5 mph out of the west by southwest......cloudy with rain coming around 12 pm today.  Forecast high for today is 72º F.


The sign is up, and we are ready for business!

I must say, it was quite nice 'waking up to the sun' once again.  That's what I call it, but here in northeastern Maine sunrise each day is at 4:56 am.  With sunset at 8:05 pm that means the sun is only down less than 9 hours every 24 hours, and we are not to the summer equinox yet when the night time will be even shorter.  It wasn't too long ago in the Grand Canyon when the sun didn't come up until 7:45 am.....crazy!  Anyway, what I mean by 'waking up to the sun' now is sleeping past 7 am, and I slept 'til 7:30....wonderful!

Friday would be my first 8 hour work day since arriving here at SDC*.  My work schedule will be like this: 10 am to 2 pm - work; 2 pm to 3 pm - lunch; 3 pm to 6 pm -  work; take two hours off and return at 8 pm to close pool, and cruise around the campground checking for noise, answering questions, and assisting where needed - off at 9 pm.  I like it a lot.

One thing about working in a campground where there are literally acres of grass is that the grass cutting and trimming is never done......it's like owning a wooden sailboat....the bright work is never done....about the time you finish a circuit of the boat it's time to start over again.  I began my day (oh, by the way, I wore shorts to work for the first time since we arrived) with the string trimmer again putting the final touches on the campground.  That took about an hour at which time I joined forces with Todd at the cabins (Rustic and Deluxe) hanging curtains, which had just been retrieved from the dry cleaners up in Ellsworth.  That pretty much took me to 2 pm and lunchtime.

After spending 9 of the last 12 months working as a cashier at Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon my physical flexibility had diminished somewhat......well, way more than I would have expected.  When I worked outside at TVC** I was doing something physical every single day. By physical I mean bending over and picking something off the ground, lifting, pushing, twisting, kneeling on the ground and then getting back to my feet all day long.  I was digging post holes, building fences, working on electrical pedestals, building dog parks....and on it goes.  When I first began working my 4 hours days here at SDC* I had great difficulty kneeling on the ground and then standing up again without holding on to something, or just bending over to pick up something on the ground.  It was very disconcerting to say the least.  Once I got to my 6 hour work days it was getting easier, and now I don't even think about it anymore.  I go to bed each night feeling a little sore and achy, but it's a 'good' sore and achy, if there is such a thing.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the cashier jobs, but I really, really missed being outside doing physical work.  I love stopping and just drawing fresh, sweet smelling air into my lungs, and I love the variety of things I do each day.  Being a cashier is, by its nature, very redundant and repetitive.....not my ideal.

After lunch I kind of settled into what will be my job most of the time now that summer has begun....patrolling the campground, being available to answer questions, help people get into sites, picking up trash as I come across it, etc.  No doubt there will be time every day when I am running the John Deere zero turn riding lawnmower (looking forward to that), and doing other physical stuff, operating a blower or string trimmer, digging a ditch, or a post hole....the great thing is I will be doing all of those things outside.

Our customers began arriving as early as 10 am Friday.....many getting a jump start on the long Memorial Day weekend.  By the time I came back from lunch the full hookup sites were about 80% full, and tents were popping up everywhere.

Around 5 pm Todd took me on a tour of the campground infrastructure....the water, sewer, and electrical system, which is what any campground is all about.  People come to a campground with their RV's and want water pressure, steady reliable electrical, and a sewer system which does not overfow, right?  Since I will be on call at night he wanted me to know where all the water shutoff valves are located, so if we have a problem requiring the water be shut off I will know which valve he wants me to close.

By the time we were finished it was 6 pm and time for me to punch the clock once again.  TLE was on at 10:30 am and worked until almost 7 pm before she came home.  Friday was also our first payday, so while I waited for TLE arrive home from work I deposited our checks online.  Our pay period runs from Thursday to Wednesday and we get a paper check each Friday morning....sometimes Thursday afternoon.  All of our recent jobs have offered direct deposit, so I haven't had to deal with scanning and 'depositing' checks online for a some time.

I was back at the office by 8 pm doing my final rounds for the day, and giving the 30 minute notice for shutting the pool for the evening.  The pool is open from 10 am until 'dusk' each night.....'dusk', a very subjective term, and will change over the course of the summer as we come up to the equinox, and then slip past it into Fall.....



.....I took this picture of the 'garage' about 8:15 pm......see, it does look like a barn, right?


Thanks for stopping by!

*SDC = Smuggler's Den Campground
**TVC = Tahoe Valley Campground


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Friday, May 25, 2018

Time to begin the summer!

8:02 am - Friday - May 25th - Southwest Harbor, ME - 54º F, 86% humidity, wind 12 mph out of the southwest.....clear blue skies with a forecast high of 75º F......a 20+ degree change from yesterday!

Ahhhh....my last day starting work at 8 am.....beginning Friday my start time will be 10 am.  I really prefer a later start time, and I don't mind working into the early evening.  There were a dozen small things needing completion on Thursday.  For starters there were a couple of deck boards in the pool area needing replacement, a picnic table which need to have the loose paint scraped, and then repainted, trimming around the full hookup sites, the playground,  the cabins, the office, and pool area with string trimmers, cleaning the winter debris off each concrete pad with the blower, and finally raking all the wood chips in the playground.......

 New deck boards being installed

.....Tony and I got busy removing the old phillips head screws, and then the rotted boards.  Next we fitted in the new pressure treated boards and began screwing them down with brand new torque screws.

From there we moved to scraping the picnic table which took just a few minutes.  Once that was done we needed to let the sun dry the exposed raw wood before we could paint it so we headed up to the garage to pick up two string trimmers and then began moving through the full hookup sites, which begin right next to the garage.  By the time 11 am came around I had about 4 hookup sites left to do, and Tony had finished the cabins, so we went to lunch.

I quickly finished the last 4 full hookup sites after lunch, and while Tony put a coat of paint on the picnic table I got the blower and cleaned all the concrete pads of which there are about 12....the rest are gravel pads.  By the time Tony had finished putting the first coat of paint on the table I was done with the blower operation so we retrieved the string trimmers and began trimming around the pool, the picnic area, the group area and the office.  Then it was time to get the rock rakes and smooth out the wood chips in the playground.

3 o'clock comes around pretty quickly when you are busy.  By the time we finished raking the playground it was 2:45 pm so we took the golf cart up to the garage to clean it and top off the battery water.  They have this cool filling system where you just attach one end of this device to a hose, and the other to a quick connect under the golf cart seat and then turn on the water.  No need to touch the batteries at all.  That took just a few minutes and it was time to punch the clock to end another work day.

TLE decided to work a little longer so I headed back to the Newell solo, change clothes and drove into town to get a haircut at 'Harbor Barber' (next door to the post office).  Tanya has been living and working in Southwest Harbor for about 7 years now, and if you are a guy who needs a haircut, she is the one to see......


....there was one person ahead of me so I spent a few minutes reading a magazine before my name was called.  Frankly, this was one of the best haircuts I have had since Gardiner, MT!  Thank you Tanya!

Friday our first customers of the season will begin to arrive, and things will get a little busier as we settle into our summer routine.

Thanks for stopping by!

When you shop Amazon, please use our link (below) to access their website.......we will appreciate every purchase you make using our Amazon Affiliate link, and  remember, using our link will not add one penny to your purchase, plus we will receive a small commission which helps defer the costs of producing this blog each day.