Posts Tagged ‘miscellaneous useless tag’

If you’re a person who loves gorgeous sandy beaches as far as the eye can see, you need to add “Outer Banks of North Carolina” to your Bucket List.

Beach 1R

ShellsR

Cape Hatteras 1R

We are here in the off season (April is “off”; May is “on”) which means that we virtually have the place to ourselves. Yep, 80 degrees and a zillion miles of glorious unspoiled beach. Life sometimes sucks, but now isn’t one of those times.

Sunrise 2R

After a few days of poking around, we began to notice little signs posted in certain areas saying things like “This area of the beach is closed!” Beneath this was a stick drawing of a bird sporting what appeared to be a silly hat, together with an explanation (paraphrased by yours truly): “The Fluffy-Headed Shrimp-Suckers are currently nesting in this area.” Then, in smaller print, a few words describing why this should concern us, followed by (something like) “Love and Kisses, The Audubon Society.

Being the fledgling birders we are, we thought it was darned swell of those Audubon folks to do such a thing. There are those, however, who would disagree.

Flip 2 R

In any given situation, there will always be an arsehole or two who can’t just live ‘n’ let live. They probably don’t bother to vote but they’ll be first in line braying like a bunch of jackasses the second they imagine that their rights have been violated.

Let’s just back up here for a second. Back to the part where I mentioned “a zillion miles of glorious unspoiled beach.” Back, too, to the “off season” bit. Okay, so we have oodles of beach with nobody on it, and we have a comparatively miniscule portion of said beach cordoned off for a few weeks so that love might flourish for the Fluffy-headed Shrimp-suckers (or whatever they actually are).

Yep, I can certainly see cause for alarm there.

Imagine having to exist in a world where some stupid bird can just up and hog the beach! Gawd’s teeth!!  Especially when it’s just a few acres of beach that nobody’s using anyway. That’s certainly worth going to the expense of having a special protest sign printed up and nailing it to your hand stenciled board (pardon me while I wipe away a wee tear). That’ll show ’em, boy!

The thing is that unless this is really just a clever ploy by the government to ferret out the local morons, the Audubon Society could probably have saved themselves some sign money and aggravation by just keeping mum and letting those Shrimp-suckers do their thing on that empty beach. Nobody’d be any the wiser. Least of all the local moron bird-flippers who’ve lost their precious freedom (insert melodramatic eye roll here).

We headed out to a spot called Honeymoon Island State Park today.  It’s such a beautiful spot we’d discovered a couple of years ago when we were here.  Great for hiking and bird sightings.  Load of ospreys and other amazing critters.

We had heard that there might be a Great Horned Owl with a little wheezer, so off we went to see what we could see.

I spotted the nest pretty quickly, but sadly it was empty.  So we just carried on down the trail to see what we could find.  About five minutes along, Bob starts bouncing up and down, trying not to squeak (I’ve had to teach him to be vewy vewy quiet when we’re huntin’ wabbits – he gets so excited), and pointing up in a tree.

Owlets 1R

TWO baby Great Horned Owlets!!!!

And two trees over was mom having a snooze while her two fluff-balls goofed around:

Great Horned Owl B2AR

Well, I tell ya, I was bouncing around at this point, trying not to squeak.  I still haven’t stopped grinning.

Great Horned Owlets (2)AR

What an awesome, awesome day!

I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that it finally stopped raining!  The bad news is that this has happened just in time for us to go home.  Happily, our last day in Maine was spectacular, both weather-wise and fun-wise.

I know I’ve been a little vague about The Great Puffin Quest.  My reasons for doing so may seem odd to you, but, like that California Condor business, “See puffins” has long been a Bucket List item for me.  I was loath to jinx it by saying “we’re gonna go see puffins!  Neener neener!” just in case the whole thing went to hell like the whale-watching plan did.  I think I can speak for us all when I say that nobody likes to end up looking like one of those dorks who brags about all the stuff they’re gonna do and then end up with nothing but a handful of lamo excuses.

Anyhoo, the thing about puffins is that the little wheezers only come ashore for a very brief time each year to…er…well, y’know…beget puffinlets upon each other and whatnot.  When they do this stuff, they don’t really want us to watch, understandably, so they hide.  Most of this hiding goes on way out in the ocean on little rock-pile island-ettes.  As you might surmise, this makes the whole “See puffins” thing a tad dodgy as Bucket List items go.

For some reason, I had been under the erroneous illusion that one could simply arrive in Maine and say, “Yo, Where’re the puffins at?” someone would point, and we’d all live happily ever after.  Sadly, this was not the case.

The first roadblock came when we arrived in Maine initially (early last week) only to learn that the puffin tours weren’t scheduled to begin until June 13th, and that there would be only one tour per week (!!) for the course of the puffin mating season.  I feel we adapted rather well to this news:  I pouted pathetically and Bob rearranged our entire trip…once his query of “Do we really need to see the stupid puffins?” was met with…let’s just call it “hostility” and leave it at that, shall we?

So, already long story slightly less long, we headed over the border, as I mentioned in my last post, with the aim of being back in Boothbay Harbor (ha-bah) by Tuesday so that we’d be in plenty of time for the Wednesday morning puffin tour.

Unbelievably, it was STILL raining in Maine upon our return.  But, I was determined to see those pesky puffins so I checked and double-checked the weather.  No matter which website/TV channel I checked, the verdict was the same:

Precipitation:  Oh hell yeah!

Probability of it stopping:  In yer dreams, Skippy!

Boating conditions:  Sea – rough;  Waves – bring a barf bucket (it actually said that!) (I’m lying…again…)

Additional weatherisms:  FOG!  Visibility:  Nil to nada, with periods of zilch.

Perfect.

Now, I’ll have you know that I’m no weenie.  I’d have been willing to barf for the cause, but I sure as hell am NOT barfing if all I’m gonna see is fog.  My disappointment was complete.  Until…

I had begun to think that those puffins would just have to stay on the stupid Bucket List a while longer when Bob looked at me and said, “Well, there must be other puffin tours…”  You’re probably wondering why this had never crossed my mind.  I know I was…

La-la-long yadda-yadda-short, we found a tour going out last evening from a little harbor just up the road called, imaginatively enough, New Harbor.

You’ve been very patient (assuming you actually read your way to this point, and, if so, bless your heart!), so without further ado or inane babblage from yours truly, I give you….  PUFFINS!!

(Hiding among a pack of killer black guill…mumble-something-or-others)

We’re still camped out in Freeport, Maine.  Touch wood, I think it’s finally stopped raining but we’re still under flood warnings.  Here’s a shot from yesterday of the Androscoggin River to show you why:

We figured we could either hole up and wait out the weather or damn the umbrellies and get out there and see what we came all this way to see.  The biggest challenge was keeping the cameras dry.  When I wasn’t holding the umbrella in my teeth to shoot, Bob was holding it for me and muttering colourful expletives.  I love that man.

These were shot out on Bailey Island, which is just a gorgeous spot that you can drive to along a seriously scenic causeway.  It was really cold and wet, but so so beautiful.

Around noon or so, we went to a wonderful restaurant for lunch called Cook’s Lobster House to sample the local wares (but mostly to get warm.)  The food was amazing!  When we first arrived, I told Bob I was gonna photog our food like I’ve seen other travel bloggers do.  I thought it would be awesome to have shots of us grinning at our fish and scallops and whatnot to remember the meal and the day.  I got as far as the (“award-winning!!”) coleslaw.   When the actual food arrived, we pounced on it like a pack of piranha and completely forgot about the camera.

(Best coleslaw I’ve ever eaten.  Seriously.)

Speaking of lunch, Bob said I shouldn’t post this shot cuz it would gross you out, but I told him that it was my vision of the turbulent nature of life (eyeroll) and that you guys would get that:

That’s the biggest fargin’ gull I’ve ever seen in my life!  I looked it up and it’s called a Great Black-backed Gull.  They weigh in at just under FOUR pounds!!  That’s twice the size of most hawks and about three times the size of a Herring Gull (the one’s most often seen at the coasts)!  I swear I thought it looked as big as a bald eagle in flight.  In fact, at first glance, I thought it was a bald eagle.  I purposely chose a shot that doesn’t quite show you what he’s eating (close your eyes for a sec if you don’t wanna know….it’s a baby eider duck)  Please don’t tell Bob I showed you that shot.

Oh, the minor set-back:  Apparently the wiring for the hot water heater has zorched itself.  We’re going to have to back-track to a place called Lebanon, Maine which has the closest Airstream dealership.  Bummer, eh?  We were supposed to hit Bar Harbour this morning.  Bogus.  I’m just glad that the wires burnt themselves up but left the rest of the trailer alone.

A few other rainy day shots before we hit the road:

Later, taters!

I’m sure this will astonish you to hear, but….I’m not a happy camper.  We’ve arrived in Freeport, Maine and, rather than describe what it’s like here, I’ll just show you.  This is our campground:

(Pretty sure those’re horseshoe pits in that puddle)

(How’s that for irony?  That’s not actually a beached boat but a kids’ sandbox gizmo!)

Rather than subject you to more of my whining, I’ll simply say that the bright spot of our very soggy day was going to the LL Bean mother ship and spending an obscene pile of money on bedding (and life jackets – ha ha!).  On the way back, we had to dodge “road flooded” signs and several washed out bits of pavement.  The news is telling us that it might be time to start rounding up pairs of animals.  I wish I was joking.  Bob has affixed pontoons to the trailer.

We’ve finally got all of the red rock dust and splatted bugs hosed off of the trailer, so we’re packing up for Round 2.  This time, we’re headed east through New York State, Vermont, New Hampshire, and into Maine.  And this time, so I’ve been promised, we’re actually going to stop in Maine and see stuff.  I can’t help wondering if it’s to shut me up from grousing about our last pass through this beautiful area.

Sometimes, I look at my wonderful husband and say things like, “Wouldn’t it be fun to go through Maine and see lighthouses and lobsters and stuff?”  He’ll smile benevolently and reply, “Why, yes it would, my Precious Turnip!  Why don’t we do just that!”  (I claim Creative License on the dialogue.)  I get all excited and begin to plan all of the things I’m gonna see, photogs I’ll take, trinkets I’ll buy to bring home for everyone.  It’s not until we’re actually blazing through the area “at Mach II with our hair on fire” (if I might borrow a line from Top Gun) that I realize where I went wrong in that conversation.  I said, “Wouldn’t it be fun to go through Maine…” and he glazed over after those words were spoken.

I call these Drive-by Vacations, and we’ve had our share, believe me.   In fact, our last trip through Maine, was accomplished in what felt like about half an hour.  We took the coast highway, which doesn’t run anywhere near the coast,  while he gestured vaguely saying things like, “I think there’s a lighthouse over there…”  Whoosh!  “Where?”  Sigh…somewhere in the rearview mirror…  Oh it was fun, all right.

So, I’m pretty sure that this is the Shut-Up-and-Get-Over-It Tour.  Did I mention he’s a very smart man?  No?  Well, he is.  (Insert smug grin here.)

We’re going to spend actual days in pretty places like Bar Harbor and Boothbay, AND!!!  We’re gonna go whale watching!!!  I LOVE whale watching!!!  This’ll be our third time doing it so I suppose you could call us keeners.  I’ve been busying myself hunting for a good whale watching tour out of either of those places.  I’m such a savvy internet-user (Remember me?  I’m the one who can’t even figure out how to put a simple link in a stupid blog post!), that instead of going off half-cocked and just jumping on a boat when we get there, I’m doing research.  Y’know, checking out user reviews and stuff like that.  Which brings me to a little irksome matter I’d like to raise…

If you are a moron, you should do whatever it takes to refrain from writing consumer reviews.  Seriously.  I’ve just read a review from someone who said, “What is the point of going whale watching if all you see is a fin sticking up?”  I was gobsmacked!  Hellooooo!  It’s a whale, you embecile!  A whale is a giant mammal that lives in the water and is not normally known for spotting tourists in boats and responding by leaping into the air and turning cartwheels or singing show tunes!  I can’t help wondering what someone who would say such a moronic thing was expecting to see.  It boggles the mind.

Here, this is a picture of a “fin sticking up” from our last whale watching trip in Alaska:

If you’ve never had the opportunity to see something like this, up close and personally, you won’t understand the raw thrill that comes of such things.  I think if someone on my tour boat so much as mumbles a “what’s the point,” I’m gonna shove them overboard.  Just sayin’…