Friday, September 20, 2019

Friday Funnies

Perfect color for the season and the license plate is quite descriptive too.

This photo was taken on a recent walk in downtown Nashua, NH.

Enjoy Your weekend, Everyone

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Autumn is Outside Our Door

Autumn has arrived and that means changing the decorations outside our apartment entry. Since we don't decorate for the season inside the apartment, this grouping greets us (and others) daily. The tall scarecrows, which have been hanging out for several fall seasons, were joined by a couple of smaller versions this year.
This frog and penguin always hang out outside our door and also have some companions.
There's more scarecrows and pumpkins on the walls and our front door. 
This overall photo shows the entire seasonal scheme, which was really low-cost. All the scarecrows, pumpkins, fall leaves, and wall plaques were from a local dollar store. The penguin and frog statues and the garden flags traveled from VA with us. 
How about you — any fall decorations outside your doorway?

Monday, September 16, 2019

Oldest NH State Park

On a recent Sunday drive we visited Miller State Park, the oldest state park in NH, located on the 2,290-foot summit and flank of Pack Monadnock in Peterborough, NH. The park is named for James Miller, a native of Peterborough, who was a brigadier general in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812 and later the first Governor of Arkansas Territory.

Pack Monadnock Mountain in Southern NH is famous for its nature trails, and scenic views. It's the highest summit on the Wapack Trail, the first interstate trail system in the U.S. This 21-mile footpath that extends from Mt. Watatic in Ashburnham, MA to North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield. 

We enjoyed some great views for awhile, before the rainstorm arrived.

The unusual name is believed to originate from the Abenaki, Native American Indians who settled in the area. According to local tradition, the word pack is a Native American word for little and monadnock is used to describe an isolated mountain summit. Pack (or little) Monadnock refers to its relationship to the higher Mount Monadnock which is 3,165 feet and 11 miles to the West.

Pack Monadnock has a paved auto road This winding 1.3-mile road that leads to the scenic summit is open in summer and on spring and fall weekends. Admission is $3 for adults; $1 for children ages 6-11; children ages 5 and under. And in all NH State parks, NH residents age 65+ (like ourselves) are admitted free. No camping is allowed.

Three main hiking trails ascend Pack Monadnock to the summit. All three trails are similar in length (1.5 to 2.0 miles each way) and moderately difficult with some steep pitches. Any trail can be completed as a loop or an out-and-back. The auto-road can be walked or driven. We didn't hike during our visit. Grenville was on the mountain for a ham radio activation. I did a (very) brief exploration of nearby trails, but didn't venture far off the trails due to posted warnings about ticks and poison ivy.
I read that many years ago two hotels were located; however there was no historical evidence to show their locations. Today, a renovated fire tower at the summit provides a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside including Mount Monadnock.

Other peaks and hills of southern NH and adjacent MA can be viewed, Mount Monadnock, Mount Kearsarge, Mount Cardigan, Mount Watatic, Mount Watchusett, and the Boston skyline. On clear days, the views reach Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S., Boston skyscrapers, and hills in VT.

We're planning a return trip later this fall and hope to see migrating raptors at the park's Raptor Observatory hosted by NH Audubon. Audubon members staff the summit through the beginning of November to count raptors and discuss the project with visitors. 
A series of rainstorms were on the way, so we made a quick retreat down the mountain.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday Funnies

There are two months with a Friday the 13th in 2019, the first one is todayAnd, the second 13th follows in December.

Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of number 13, while Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13. It comes from the Greek, Paraskeví for Friday and dekatreís for thirteen. It's been estimated that less than 10% of people in the U.S. share this phobia. (Are you or anyone you know in this group?)

Hopefully, this colorful trio won't be stirring up much any unwanted trouble today.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

(The Witches’ Spell, William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act IV, Scene 1)

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone.
(Steer clear of any trio with a cauldron)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Blueberry Yogurt Cake

What's not healthful about yogurt and blueberries?
When both are combined in a loaf cake, it's even better and maybe healthy?

Most likely you've come across berry cake recipes in your recipe files, online, or have a family favorite. For me, this was a new one, to try and share with friends and bloggers. (Sorry no taste sample. Grenville did that cause he's nice that way.)

This recipe was in Fresha free monthly magazine from Hannaford supermarket with recipes and healthy eating info. I used  wild blueberries we had picked near the mill apts. We has been invited to dinner and this was dessert — topped with vanilla ice cream. What's not healthy about that combo? (No need to answer that.)

Before starting a recipe, I read it through, assemble needed ingredients, and prepare as much as possible in advance — the term for this is Mise en place. (Grenville never does this claiming that it clutters his work space). Everyone has his/her own methods.

A French term, Mise en place (literally "set in place") applies to having all ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated before cooking starts. Pans are prepared and mixing bowls, tools and equipment set out. 

Brown-Butter Blueberry Yogurt Cake
Whole-milk Greek yogurt results in a super-moist cake, but low-fat will also work, if preferred. If you prefer raspberries vs. blueberries, swap them in and add 20-30 minutes to the baking time. You'll need 1 full stick of butter (8 TBSPs). Recipe serves 8.

Cake Mix
6 TBSP unsalted butter
1 Cup whole-milk (or low-fat) plain Greek Yogurt
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1-3/4 Cup all purpose flour
2 Cups fresh blueberries 

Streusel Topping
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1/3 Cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 Cup walnuts, chopped fine
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Cake Ingredients
Center a rack in oven; heat to 325℉ degrees. Press single large piece of parchment paper into 9x5 loaf pan and let sides overlap over long side of pan.

Melt butter in small skillet over medium-high heat, swirling until sputtering subsides. Continue to cook, scraping ottom of pan often until butter turns golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Quickly scrape butter and browned solids into heatproof bowl; cool 5 minutes.

Whisk yogurt, sugars, eggs, baking powder, vanilla and salt in large bowl until combined. Continue to whisk, slowly add browned butter and browned solids, until blended.

Using rubber spatula to gently fold in flour until barely combined. Don't over-mix batter which will be thick and lumpy. Gently fold in 1-1/4 cups of blueberries, then transfer to prepared pan and spread in even layer, pressing better into corners. Scatter remaining 3/4 cup of blueberries on top; gently press into batter.

Streusel Ingredients
Wipe out skillet, add butter and melt over medium heat. Remove from heat, add remaining streusel ingredients; stir to combine. Spoon mix over top of batter, gently press down.

Transfer to oven and bake 60-70 minutes until toothpick in center comes out mostly clean (few moist crumbs OK). If streusel starts to turn dark, loosely cover top of pan with foil.

Cool in pan 15 minutes, use parchment overhang to lift cake out. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour, 30 minutes (per recipe).

Per serving: 460 calories, 18g fat, 350mg sodium, 69g carb, 2g fiber, 40g sugar, 7g protein

It was delicious and yes, we did share with our friends — they had the ice cream !

Monday, September 9, 2019

Mom's Special Day

Today would have been my late mother's birthday. She always enjoyed a celebration with cake and candles and a cup of coffee too.

My mother's name was Clara; coincidentally she was born in the 9th month on the 9th day. She was a very attractive young woman and bride (but then I am prejudiced just a bit).
She celebrated her 80th and 90th decades in these photos. I hope that to age as well as she did. The photo on the right was taken at her 90th year celebration.
Happy 97th 🎂 Birthday, Mom — You are missed very much ❤️ Dorothy (aka Beatrice)

Comments are off for today.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Friday Funnies

Joseph is definitely a man of many talents — here's where someone could get a PC fixed and/or get a haircut. There was a job opening too.

This was spotted along a roadway someplace in Massachusetts (no, I wasn't driving).

Enjoy Your weekend, Everyone
It's definitely getting cooler in NH

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Home of the U.S. Coast Guard?

That's what Newburyport, MA, claims to be and continuing our anniversary road after traveling on the Mt. Washington Auto Road (Thanks for your comments), we decided on a first-time visit to this New England town, less than 90 minutes from Nashua, NH

Newburyport is a small, coastal city in Massachusetts, about 35 miles northeast of Boston. The city was first settled in 1635. Today, it has an active tourism industry with B&Bs, restaurants and shops and a historic seaport and is well-known for old-time charm. 

Years ago, the city boasted a large fishing fleet and was a center for privateering in the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. Starting in 1832, numerous ships were added to the whaling fleet, later clipper ships were built there. Newburyport continued to be known as a  shipbuilding town into the 19th century. 

Today, the city gives little hint of its former maritime importance. Ship docks which once extended into the channel of the Merrimack River are long gone. Formerly shipyards are now the site of the waterfront parking lot. Now, mooring, storage and maintenance of motor and sailboats contribute a large part to the city's finances. 

So, is Newburyport the birthplace of the U.S. Coast Guard?

The Custom House, a downtown Maritime Museum, proudly boasts so on its website: Newburyport is the birthplace of the U.S. Coast Guard and our museum is proud to honor the brave men and women serving our country and protecting our waters. Various Coast Guard events and demonstrations take place at the museum. Also, a Coast Guard station oversees boating activity, especially in the sometimes dangerous tidal currents of the Merrimack River.

Supporters have noted that the cutter, Massachusetts commissioned in Newburyport in 1791, was the first vessel to enter active service under the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, which later became the U.S. Coast Guard and that this makes Newburyport the official birthplace of the USCG. 

However, according to the Coast Guard's website, up to three other cutters may have been launched before the Massachusetts which was among seven cutters launched in in the same year. One day, we'll visit the U.S. Coast Guard Museum in new London, CT, on the grounds of the U. S. Coast Guard Academy for a more definitive answer.

Despite its former prosperity, downtown Newburyport fell into disrepair in the 1950s-60s as strip malls took away from local business and more cars were being driven on major highways to shopping in larger cities like Lawrence and Lowell, MA.

The historic downtown was in danger of being demolished with federal monies used for hotels and stores and less historical buildings. The city reconsidered the plan and signed a federal grant allowing it to keep most of the historic architecture. Renovations and restorations in the 1970s went on first on State Street and ended along Inn Street with the creation of a pedestrian mall. 
Preservationists cite the city as an example of how to maintain a city's architecture and heritage, while having it remain functional and livable.

Newburyport also includes part of Plum Island, an 11-mile long barrier island named for the wild beach plums that grow on its dunes. It’s a popular destination for beachgoers, walkers, and birders.

Plum Island is within the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and is well-known as a nesting area for piping plovers, an endangered species of shorebird. This has given the island an esteemed reputation among birders and conservationists. A group of bird watchers were leaving as we arrived and we saw a large group of swallows in the marshes.

While there's an admission fee, we got in at no cost thanks to our National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass (U.S. citizens or permanent residents 62 years or older are eligible). We each bought one in 2011 when we lived in VA for use at nearby Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge. Then, it was a bargain price of $10; in 2017, the cost soared to $80 (yikes!).

We watched numerous sanderlings along the shoreline as the tide rolled in and out. Their black legs were in constant motion as they ran back and forth on the beach, picking up and probing for tiny prey left in the wet sand left by receding waves. Aside from the sanderlings, and a few beachgoers, the rest of the beach was relatively empty, possibly due to a forecast of mid-afternoon thunderstorms. 

Leaving the refuge at lunchtime, we headed to Bob Lobster, a popular fish market and seafood shack on the turnpike connecting Plum Island to Newburyport. Had the weather been less threatening, we would've enjoyed the outside marsh views. But we sat indoors. and each had a Bob Lobster roll served with a light dressing of mayo and piled onto a top-split hot dog roll. The lobster roll is a favorite New England summer treat. Unlike another summer treat served on a hot dog bun, it's a lot more costly.

Lucky for us, the downpours, lightning, thunder and a tornado watch held off until we returned to our lodgings at the Compass Rose Inn, a lovely Newburyport B&B.
We enjoyed celebrating our anniversary with a couple of New England road trips this year. Thanks for tagging along.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Friday Funnies

We've seen many of these signs (or similar ones) on travels along New England roadways.
But, this was the only one we came across on our recent road trip in parts of NH and MA.
Grenville had a couple of up-close encounters with these friendly "critters."
It's the 3-day Labor Day weekend here in the U.S. and considered as the "last summer holiday weekend" with the actual holiday on Monday. As some school children have returned to classes or will be returning next week, please be cautious on the roadways. 

We're going to a community theater production and a backyard get-together on Saturday and avoiding road trips on holiday weekends. How about you? 

Enjoy Your weekend, Everyone. 
Safe travels if on the road.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Driving In the Clouds

Yes, that's exactly what we did as part of our week-long anniversary celebration and 
Grenville drove to the summit of Mt. Washington. At 6,288 feet, it's the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S. and the most prominent mountain east of the Mississippi River and it's here in NH. 

Mt. Washington is in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains and the White Mountain National Forest. Over 60 acres surrounding and including the summit are occupied by Mount Washington State Park. 

The best view is always at the top and that's where we headed on the Mt. Washington Auto Road. Vehicles average 30 minutes to travel the nearly 8 mile ascent and from 30 to 45 minutes to descend depending on traffic, weather conditions. The downward trip is in the lowest gear. It's recommended that motorists stop to cool car brakes, as necessary. 

Update to answer questions in a couple of comments: The Auto Road is regularly patrolled to check for any breakdowns. Grenville descended in the lowest gear on his Jeep and also stopped a couple of times to ensure that the car brakes didn't overheat and all was OK.

The Auto Road is a steep, narrow mountain road without guardrails. The average grade is 12%. A sign at the base of the road reads: If you have a fear of heights, you may not appreciate this driving experience. When it starts out, the road follows the tree line.

But within a few miles, the clouds roll in. In many spots it's like driving through thick fog and this was on a good weather day.

Driving up can be anxiety-producing and I was a passenger. Did I mention there are no guardrails? Also, the road is not paved the entire way, but is partial gravel for the last couple of miles. Grenville is a cautious and safe driver, so no worries there.

Forgot to mention, there's more than a few curves along the route, but what spectacular views, each one better than the one before. Advantages to driving your car include being able to stop on numerous turn-outs for the views with no time limit on the summit. 

A bit of history: The Auto Road bills itself as "America's oldest man-made attraction." The road was started in the 1850s when a group of businessmen figured that a toll road to take people to the summit could be profitable. Construction was no small undertaking as this was before dynamite and road-building equipment; supplies were brought in by horse, oxen or man-power. Holes were hand-drilled in the rocks, then packed with gun powder to clear a route. Workers labored 10-12 hours a day living in shanties or tents. The cost of road building was figured at $8,000/mile. In 1856, halfway to the top, the business group ran out of money. Work stopped when they couldn't interest investors to fund continuing the project.

In 1859, a new group of investors formed the Mount Washington Summit Road Company (which still owns the road) and resumed work. The completed road opened on Aug. 8, 1861. Special wagons carried tourists up the mountain, each pulled by 6 horses with up to 12 passengers. The trip took four hours and cost $2.50 ($60 in today’s money). Horses rested overnight in a huge barn chained to the ground to keep it from blowing away. Winds were often high enough to make travel a concern. The passengers and driver would collect rocks to put on the floor of the stage adding ballast against possible overturns.

The Auto Road’s usage has grown since those early years. In 1935, over 3,000 private cars went up. In 1961, the Auto Road’s 100th anniversary year, there were 12,800. We learned that an estimated 130,000 to 140,000 people travel the Auto Road annually, either self-driving or by guided van tours. Officials are specific about vehicles that can travel the road. The regulations are detailed on the Auto Road’s website

Because of vehicle traffic on the narrow Auto Road, riding bicycles is not allowed (no shoulders and no guardrails). The only time bikes can use the road is during an August fund raiser, the same weekend of our drive. (Luckily, the race was a day before our drive; our weather was better for us too.) The road closes for bad weather (high winds, wet conditions) or unsafe road conditions. In winter, it closes to all private vehicles, except the Snow Coach tour that runs December to March. No winter hiking of any type is allowed. 
Once we reached the end of the auto road at the parking area, we were immediately immersed in the clouds and the surrounding 750,000-acre White Mountain National Forest. We read that on a clear day, views extend up to 130 miles to Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New York, Quebec, sometimes even the Atlantic Ocean.

At the summit, dressing warmly is always a must. (We took a trip on the Cog Railway 2 years ago, so we knew this.) When we drove up this year, the temperature at the base was in the 80s, and it was in the mid-60s at the summit, we definitely needed our jackets. The Mt. Washington summit reaches nearly 6,300 feet into the clouds, so we experienced one of the weather extremes which it's well known for — wind. 

While part of our anniversary road trip, reaching the summit was so that Grenville could meet several other Nashua, NH, ham radio members to conduct mountain-top activations, called "summits on the air." Ham operators set up equipment and try to contact other operators worldwide. Grenville made contacts in San Francisco, CA and Missouri. Those very large towers seen in the background below are communications towers on the summit not part of his set-up (but he wishes). 

There's other ways to get to the summit besides driving. You can hike the entire way up or just explore some of the summit trails. One of Grenville's ham radio group hiked up with his son and dog, then hitched a ride down because he said the dog was exhausted.

There's other ways to reach the top — by motorcycle or by a guided tour in an auto road van. The cost of these alternatives are listed here. (Auto Road shuttles are still called stages. Before cars (and vans) drove up the summit, visitors to the Carriage Road, the Auto Road’s former name, traveled in horse drawn stages and a summit trip took hours.)

In 1869, the Cog Railway was completed and travelers soon preferred this shorter trip in enclosed cars vs. all-day travel in open mountain wagons. Today, the Cog Railway is the most popular Mt. Washington attraction. It's a 3-hour narrated trip to the summit and back. The train ascends the western slope of Mt. Washington; the Auto Road climbs to the summit from the East. 

For years the Cog Railway carried many more passengers than the Auto Road. The first motorized ascent was in 1899 by F. O. Stanley, of Stanley Steamer fame, and his wife. More steam-powered ascents followed and in 1902, the first two gas-powered cars reached the summit. 
Travelers ride in several colorful biodiesel locomotives that run several times a day or the popular steam engine, which only runs twice daily. No matter which one is selected, it's not an inexpensive ride as shown here. (Our 2017 ride was $10 less.) 

No matter how you get to the summit, once there, it's time to explore. An observation deck provides panoramic views. 

In more than 150 years that the Auto Road has been traveled, there’s only been three fatalities. In 1880, a stage overturned on a curve and a passenger was killed (it's believe that the driver was drunk). In 1984, a vehicle experienced brake failure about a mile up the road, it crashed and a woman died. In 2009, a motorcyclist went over the edge.
Now, we can show that Grenville's 2004 Jeep is among the countless autos that have safety been up and back. The bumper sticker is included in the Auto Road fee. 

While Grenville was busy with ham radio activations, I explored the summit. Even up so high, there's the usual gift shops associated with tourist attractions. One small gift shop at the Summit Stage Office is in a building that's been chained down to the ground. This sign on the building side explains it's where the highest measured world record wind speed of 231 mph was recorded on April 12, 1934. 
There's also the Tip-Top House, a historic former hotel. It was built in 1853 for $7,000 by Samuel F. Spaulding to compete with the Summit House, another hotel that opened in 1852. 

The Tip-Top House is considered the oldest mountain-top hostelry in the world, even though it no longer functions as one. The rectangular structure is 1-1/2 stories high with walls of rough-cut granite blasted from the mountain. Years ago, a telescope was placed on its flat roof to create an observatory on clear days. 

From 1877-1884, the building was a printing office for Among the Clouds, the mountain's newspaper and housed the paper's entire operation, including typesetting desks, editing tables and a hand-turned press. When the newspaper relocated off the mountain, the Tip-Top House was abandoned and fell into disrepair. It was completely restored in 1987, and the interior was recreated to show how it looked as a lodging facility. Now open from early May to early October, it was well worth a visit.

We enjoyed our road trip to the Mt. Washington summit. It's quite a unique experience. 

Cheers — we celebrate all year🍷

This was a (very) long narrative to describe our Mt. Washington drive in one post. I will catch up on your recent posts this week. Also, many thanks from both Grenville and myself on your Happy Anniversary wishes — all were much appreciated ! 
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