Sunday, July 24, 2011

Folklore legend update. . .Paul Bunyan number three

I wouldn’t have an interest in folklore legend Paul Bunyan had I not grown up visiting him and Babe every summer when my family drove from North Dakota to Minnesota to visit my Finnish grandparents Charlie and Lempi.  The trip wasn’t complete until we had stopped in Bemidji to see this giant and his blue ox.  He and Babe don’t seem quite as large as they did when I was a little girl!  At eighteen feet tall he was built to a three to one scale of the six foot tall man he was modeled on.HPIM3181-Paul Bunyan Bemidji, MNA few years ago I was surprised to see ANOTHER Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe while driving north on California Highway 101 in Mystic Trees near the Klamath River. This Paul Bunyan is tall at 49’; I think Babe is quite a nice looking Blue Ox!DSC07662_JPG CA Paul Bunyan and BabeSo that was number two - and now I’ve seen a third Paul Bunyan in Bangor, Maine, but no Babe in sight!  At 31’ this Paul Bunyan claims to be the largest in the world (a discrepancy since California Paul is 49’ tall!) He was placed to overlook the Penobscot River but now looks straight at the casino which was built across the street.DSCN5629

Maine and Minnesota both claim to be the birthplace of Bunyan and Babe.  Whichever is true it is told that it took FIVE storks to deliver him!  And both Minnesota and Wisconsin lay claim to having him buried in their state. Popular guy isn’t he?

I know there are more Bunyan’s and Babe’s out there. . .will update you if/when I happen onto more!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I’m technology boondocking. . .

So, here we are, settled in our Camp Host site at Lamoine State Park in Down East Maine.  The Maine woods and Frenchmen’s Bay at our doorstep are beautiful---I even have hummingbirds at my feeder! DSCN5618About the second day of wonderfulness, the reality of not having internet hit me.  I really can’t sit down at my laptop and log on to Blogger, Facebook, Goodreads, E-Bay, Amazon, Google, on-line banking or E mail!  This is not an adventure but a challenge (I won’t go so far as to call it a problem but I am a bit stressed!) 

Of course, as with almost every challenge, there are always options.  One option is to drive about five miles for wi-fi access in the parking lot of the tiny Lamoine Town Hall but presently this is not doable since my laptop battery lasts about 10 minutes. (I have a new battery and auto-charger for the truck ordered from so this may become my go-to place.)DSCN5537For now we are driving twelve miles to the historic 1897 Ellsworth Library where they have excellent wi-fi and electricity.  We found a nice secluded corner table in the second-floor genealogy section and I quite happily settle in.   However Gary is ready to go after a few minutes and then sits “patiently” staring at me to see if I’m about done.  OK, let’s go.DSCN5535This current situation reminds me of the progress that’s been made in the seventeen years since we started full-time RVing.  Back then there was no Internet (well, it was out there but hadn’t been widely commercialized.)  I’ve had a personal computer since 1984 (two floppy disk drives) and bought a little Compaq notebook when we went on the road.  Of course it didn’t hook to anything but I enjoyed using it for word processing, budgeting, my journal and making greeting cards.  

Then, in 1999 our friend Dean introduced me to E mail!  He gave me a floppy disk for Juno,  I loaded it and was on my way--I had E-mail!

Do you remember floppy disks?DSCN5631I quickly learned that modem access on a road could a real challenge.  RV parks were advertising “modem hook-ups” and “modem friendly”  which often meant balancing the laptop on a stack of boxes and almost standing on my head to reach the hook-up, normally behind the fax machine in a far corner of the office.  But I had E-mail and Internet access!  I was thrilled!

Soon most RV parks had comfortable dedicated modem locations, maybe in the office or rec hall but there were surprises.  In 2002 when we checked into the beautiful Tom Sawyer RV Park on the Mississippi River in West Memphis my sister-in-law Lee and I asked if they had modem access.  Oh yes, of course, it’s at site #12.  Wow, we thought, they have a building, so we grabbed our laptops and walked to site #12.  It was the utility post with a telephone connector!   (Note: when we stayed at Tom Sawyer RV Park again last Fall they had really good wi-fi.)

My denim jacket is over my head to block glare from the bright sunlight!MVC-071SNow, of course dial-up is pretty much outmoded and wi-fi is the thing.  In 2006 I wrote in my Christmas newsletter that I feel terribly inconvenienced if I don’t have wi-fi in my fifth wheel!   RV parks sometimes neglect tell you that doesn’t reach your site.  When making reservations I ask three questions:  “Do you have w-fi?  Does it work?  Will it reach my site?” 

In Galveston last December this was the “computer room,” complete with that very uncomfortable metal chair in the lower right corner and a very annoying gurgling water sound, where the wi-fi signal came in clearly!  photoAll in all I am more than happy with computer access technology on the road and plan to check further into tethering or an air card, more fairly recent technology. . .it’s hard to keep up!  Unfortunately I will be roughing it for awhile but beautiful Lamoine State Park and Frenchman’s Bay more than makes up for the inconvenience.  

For now it’s a trek to the Lamoine Town Hall parking lot or the Ellsworth Library so I won’t be posting to my blog very frequently or checking your blogs as often as I’d like!  Don’t give up on me, I’ll be popping in and out and will be back with you on a regular basis. . .in a few months!

I’m technology boondocking!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

OH, what a day!

It starts out to be a great day.  We are on the road early, eager to get to Lamoine State Park where we have been accepted to be volunteer Campground Hosts.  The drive through the woods of Maine from Houlton to Lamoine is beautiful even though we are on an interstate highway.  Our goal is to take secondary “blue highways” (often drawn on maps in blue) as William Least Heat Moon calls  them in his Blue Highways book but today we take the fast route. DSCN5481 We arrive at Lamoine State Park about 12:30PM and are greeted by friendly rangers and volunteers.  So far so good!  Let’s get our fifth wheel set up!   Here’s where the day goes, as the saying goes “to hell in a hand basket!”

UH-OH-the entrance to our site isn’t very wide and there are rain runoff ditches on either side.  AND. . .trees, lots of trees, and brush on either side of the road making maneuvering very touchy.  Gary, who loves a challenge, gives backing into the site a try  --- nope, the wheels of the fifth wheel start falling into the ditch and the nose of the truck is deep into brush and trees across the road.

On to plan B-back in from the other direction.  Hey, it’s working until. . .the fifth wheel starts shifting and leaning into what turns out to be soft earth!  Oh no! The rather large tree and our home are becoming perilously close - 6 inches or less!!DSCN5463In my mind I envision the side being bashed in and with it the refrigerator which, inside, is exactly beside the tree.DSCN5476Gary jockeys the truck back and forth trying to get out of the rut but the rut only gets deeper.  This rig is going nowhere-not forward, not backward without it sliding toward the tree!  He and Bob  slip boards under the tires by jacking the whole rig up with bottle jacks.  Inch  by inch it is moved forward but THEN there is no more room for the truck to go forward because of the trees.  Can’t go forward, can’t go back!DSCN5461Let’s see now, if we could only swing it around to the left just a bit.  Gary unhooks our GMC and very carefully, almost inch by inch, ranger Bob’s VERY HUGE Mack truck pivots the fifth wheel just a few feet.  DSCN5472Gary hooks up the GMC again and eases the fifth wheel over the boards, the boulders, a granite slab the Ranger has dropped into the ditch but, oh-oh, the 17,500 lb. fifth wheel is sinking again!  Keep it moving Gary!  He does and, five hours after this odyssey began, we are safely out.  WHEW, WHEW and double WHEW!DSCN5464Now what?  Will we be staying at Lamoine State Park or will we have to leave?  For tonight we make NO decisions.  We boondock in the parking lot for the night (for you non-RVers, boondocking is parking with no water, electric or sewer hookups.)  With the electric coffee and tea maker out of commission, I dig out the good old percolator and tea kettle for my morning Earl Grey and Gary’s Maxwell House.DSCN5467 The not-so-scenic view of the parking lot from our window.DSCN5465A new day dawns with a decision to be made.  Is it back on the road or ??  Dulee and I go for our morning walk and see that they have moved the granite block to the other side and filled in dirt over the ditch to make the entrance about four feet wider.  Gary says “piece of cake!" and we’re soon in position for day two’s maneuvers.   The fifth wheel moves pretty smoothly over the makeshift arrangement with just a little sinking into the dirt and the boards crack as it passes over but we are soon set up in our Camp Host site. DSCN5470Much better clearance with the tree!

DSCN5471We’re home for the next couple of months!DSCN5482