Goodbye Summer 2018


One of the projects that I worked on this past summer was this deck in the front of the cottage that we all home – at least for the summer… We have actually had a number of  mosquito-less mornings and evenings to enjoy on the deck..   but just last week we began the move from this cottage to the one where we will be spending the winter.. our second in Georgetown.

During the past few weeks we have enjoyed the opportunity to get on our road bikes  Our first ride was to Reid state park.  it is just 6 miles away, the the distance suited us just fine for the time of day that we left.   I did not have my phone on the ride, so no pics to share.  But we did get to explore the Todd’s point beach for the first time.. it is about a mile beyond the beach that is closer to the park entrance.

Our second ride was the park loop road at Acadia.. we took a day trip up to Mt Desert to visit our friends at the Mt Desert Campground.   It was a beautiful day and so enjoyable to visit for former colleagues there.   The ride around the loop is about 22 miles… It was crowded – and traffic was heavy till we got beyond Thunder Hole.. but after that the roadway was pretty easy to negotiate… These are some pics from that ride…



we had a packed lunch along with us, and stopped at this turnout to eat…




We have so many fond memories of the 3 seasons that we spent working at Mt Desert Campground…   a beautiful spot to live and to play!

Our most recent cycling trip was on Westport Island..  the tip of the island is only a mile or so away from where we live..  but it is about a 45 minute drive to get there by car.   We decided to park at Norm’s used car sales and to ride from there..   that made it about a 22 mile drive.    Westport Island is off of rt 1 near Wiscasset.. you really will only end up there if you are intending to go there..  it is a quite town with very few businesses, so the traffic was fairly light compared with the road down to Georgetown.   It was a great afternoon.. beautiful weather..  nice road surface..  a perfect ride.    We met some folks along the way – talked about life on Westport Island..  and even made plans to return the following Monday evening for  pizza at the  Squire TarBox Inn!    I have just a couple of pics from the ride..

a beautiful example of New England architecture..

fp3and a place to buy our next pie…


Some of the other pics that I took did not turn out so well…   the  pizza on Monday night was delicious..  there was a band playing some blues music , and a nice crowd of locals who obviously appreciate the opportunity to have a place to socialize on what is otherwise a very quiet island..

Another trip that we took recently was to Monhegan Island.. this was not a trip for bikes, but rather, an opportunity to do some great hiking..   A few years ago I posted about a trip to Monhegan with some students…  this was Janet’s first visit.   The weather report called for a foggy morning  which would clear with sunny skies by afternoon..  that never happened, but it was perfectly ok.. we enjoyed  the mystique that began with a 10 mile boat ride through the fog.. to land on this small island, known for its appeal to artists..    it is certainly an experience!

fp9this is a shot looking down on the landing.. there is a great little cafe there  where we got a sandwich and soup while waiting for the boat on our return…

we headed out on what I suspect is the typical hiking pattern of a counter clockwise direction around the island.. fp12

the hiking is great.. lots of cliffs on the east side of the island..  it can be pretty dramatic..


we made it a good way around the island and then headed back to the village via the Cathedral Woods trail..   we picked this one because it is known for its fairy houses..



it is so neat to see the creativity that folks put into their creations…

On the way back, the boat captain took us close to some shoals where seals like to  rest on the rocks..   we saw a bunch of them… and then we filled out a customer satisfaction survey on the boat, lured by the prospect of winning a free trip.. which we never win..  except, wait.. Janet Thatcher.. yup.. she won.. looks like we will be heading back next year!


I just took this photo yesterday..  the light of summer is gone… fall is definitely in the air, even though we still have a number of beautiful days ahead of us… we know what is coming, and it is time to prepare..  maybe a little more wood for the stove ( there are still some standing dead oaks around)   putting the summer clothes in bins and getting the warmer ones out… finishing up some painting projects while we still have some warm air…  all in all,  Life is good in Maine!      comments or questions?     email me at

60 Hour Canoe

60 hour canoe

Well, in fact, the title of the book is   Building the 6 hour canoe , but why would we spend only six hours having fun when we could stretch it into 60 ( give or take a few)!    Two summers ago I was talking with the son of the owner of the campground  where we were working, and I floated the idea of building a boat.  He seemed interested, so I lent him the book which described the project in great detail, and I figured that if he read it over the winter and got inspired, he would say something when we returned the following spring.

It was all I could do to keep from broaching the subject early in the season last year, but I resolved that if he was really interested, he would initiate the conversation…   My patience was rewarded when ,  soon after finishing school, he said that he thought he would like to build the boat!   At that point, I wasted no time and  started to collect materials.   I was thrilled to tackle another boat project, to  putting the shop on the property to good use, and to be working with my new boat building partner !

But, he had a busy summer planned, and we had to work around camp, and entertaining friends, and all sorts of other summer distractions..    In the ideal world, with all of the parts cut out and ready to go,  we probably could fabricate the boat in six hours..    That is the design purpose..  the plans were designed so that young students, with the help of mentors, could put a boat together  and be on the water in a weekend….   a minimum of materials and expense rewarded with a great deal of immediate fun and satisfaction    and, perhaps most important,  an experience which plants the seeds of interest in wood working, boat building and boating that will only grow over a lifetime!

The time table that I had in my mind did not quite work out.. but that is nothing new for me 🙂    The picture at the top of this article is from last weekend when we returned to the camp ground with the specific purpose of putting the final touches on the construction phase.   My young boat building partner was joined by two friends as we fit the keel and  gunwales and then declared the boat finished, save for some final sanding and painting.

6hr6this is from last summer when we first started laying out and cutting the pieces of the boat.


things take shape pretty quickly when constructing a boat out of  just two sheets of plywood – but we added the steps of covering the boat with fiberglass..  not only an introduction to woodworking but to working with fiberglass and epoxy as well…

6hr4no, this is not an advertisement for West..     always good to have a bottom on the boat.. This is about how far we made it last fall…

fast forward to last weekend !


when I first walked into the shop three years ago, and saw all of those clamps.. I thought, what a great place to build a boat..  and it is!

that is my wife surveying the progress… I think that she was beginning to feel like the project was going to get stuck in boat limbo..  like some of my other projects  🙂    Of course, I will get around to finishing all of them one day…


and there it is..     So why is a boat such a great project for kids..   well, we found that we could break the job up into a bunch of  little pieces and spend no more than an hour at a time..  given the demands  and the distractions in the world of young teens these days,  that is about as much concentration as we can get at one time.    But it also teaches the understanding that the way to tackle a big project that seems insurmountable,  is to split it up into manageable pieces..

I would like to think that completing this boat will contribute to building a level of confidence that will  inspire my young friend to dream and to tackle similar and even more complex projects on this own..  time will tell.

Season Finale

It is pretty quiet at Mount Desert Campground  tonight.  I am the only one left, and tomorrow I will finish packing and head to Georgetown, ME,  three hours down route 1 where my wife and I will settle into our new jobs as farm care takers..   We are excited about the opportunity to live and work on a beautiful piece of land and to remain in Maine full time, but we are also a bit sad to see this, our final season at the campground come to an end.   Five days ago, every site was occupied for the Columbus Day Weekend holiday.. How quickly things change!   The squirrels have already begun to take over until May of 2018 when workampers return, energized, and ready to prepare the campground for another season.

I thought I would share some photos from the past few days …

a pointI paused to take this photo as we were cleaning sites on the “A” point at the beginning of the week.. the tide is out and there is some color showing near the tree that holds an active eagle’s nest which we observed throughout the season.

albino deer I caught this albino deer venturing across the road leading down into the campground… she has been a constant resident since we arrived for our first season, but we don’t see much of her once the campers arrive.

six hour canoethe boat project that the campground owner’s son and I have been working on… I put what i hope is the final coat of epoxy on  this week..  I will return later in the fall to help fit the gunnels, and then it will be time to test it out!

sunny under covers

Sunny, our cat, waiting under the covers till i got home for lunch… my wife left early, and I am now the  cat caretaker…  he tolerates me just fine as long as a refresh his food and water and clean his litter box…


Site B7, just across the road from us… how nice when it happens to be vacant… the view is wonderful!  But we do enjoy the company of the campers, and it is a bit lonely to drive down there now with out a single neighbor..


Today was my final sail aboard the Margarett Todd… it was a beautiful day, but the wind let us down.   I did the last two trips of the day..  It was a lot of fun to get back on the schooner these past few weeks.. it has been a neat opportunity to sail aboard a 4 masted schooner… surely the fulfillment of a boyhood dream of mine…


Tomorrow, I will winterize our trailer, pack the remaining bags in my truck and say good bye to Mount Desert Island.  We have been blessed in so many ways these past three seasons.. enjoying working with great people,  exploring Acadia National Park, living in a beautiful setting, meeting interesting people…  but as this chapter draws to an end, we are also eager to begin a new one in an equally stunning part of Maine, taking on new responsibilities,  learning new skills, making new friends…  stay tuned!


August Light

august light 1There are all sorts of clues which remind us that the summer season is quickly drawing to a close…  Last night the temperature dipped into the 40’s, and we felt compelled to turn on the heater in our RV for a while this morning.   Kids are talking about the upcoming school year, and a family who was camping next to us had to leave earlier than planned because the father had to attend an event at the school where he works.   The swarms of mosquitoes ( ever present in Maine)  seem a little smaller, and the bees have made their presence known.. perhaps a bit more than in years past…

But one of the most striking signs is the light..  of course, there is less of it…  the sun vanished well before 8 pm last night, but we have enjoyed that special glow that is a hallmark of August Sunsets… and last night was particularly special.   The picture above is looking from our site across the road to B7 and to the sound beyond…

I took this as we were leaving for a walk around the campground.   We took a detour down to the docks and spent way more time there than we imagined… doing what we so love.. talking with campers, in this case, with a family who had just arrived for their first stay at Mount Desert Campground..    They could not have arrived on a nicer day.

august light 4

low tide on Somes Sound…

august light 3sailboats hidden from view behind  “The Lamb”  , a large rock next to our floats which barely break the surface at high tide…

august light 2

We will never get tired of this scene….


Camping in Maine – August


What does a picture of my grandson have to do with camping in Maine?   not a whole lot, really, but then, we aren’t actually camping either!   For anyone who has followed this blog, it comes as no surprise that our job as workampers enables us to live and work and play at Mount Desert Campground the entire season… I often comment to my wife that  “we live in a campground, but we don’t go camping any more”!   We  are in the midst of our third season, and we are appreciating every moment of our time here as it will be out last summer here… we are preparing to move on to the next chapter of our lives which will present new and interesting opportunities including making Maine our permanent home.. but more on that later.

A recent trip to NH to attend a delayed wedding reception for my son and his  still new bride was also a chance to visit my grandson and friends..  it was a wonderful weekend.   Maris is  showing so much growth each time we see him, and I treasure the opportunity to watch him interact with his parents…

bath band concert

We are spending two days each week in Georgetown as we prepare to make that our new home.  It is a lot of fun to explore around the area as time permits… two weeks ago, we celebrated our anniversary with dinner in Bath, followed by a band concert in the park… I was struck by the idea that, as we sat and listened to the music,  the same scenario was probably playing out in towns all across the US… folks bringing their lawn chairs to parks to listen to community bands play old favorites which never seem to lose their appeal.   When she was quite young and just learning to play the flute, my daughter and I played in just such a band.. the Cate Park Band in Wolfeboro NH…  what fond memories!

bar island

This summer has been more hectic than the past two, but we are still carving time out to get out in our kayaks… this is from a recent paddle on Somes Sound…  a typical Maine scene of  the forest meeting a rocky shore line… this is Bar Island  in the sound ( not the more famous Bar Island in Bar Harbor)


The nature of the campground will be changing soon as schools open for the 2017-18 academic year, but for now, kids of all ages abound!  It is amazing to watch the role of bikes in the development of independence for them… even in a short week, we watch as young ones make huge strides in their cycling skills…   this is a picture of the float parking area in the evening.. and what are all of these kids doing?

evening at the docks

hanging out on the docks.. catching crabs,  interacting with one another…  this is the place to be!

blueberry pie

the blueberries have been great this year.. how fortunate we are to be able to walk out in the meadow and pick fresh berries, bring them home and bake a pie…

peach shortcakes

chances are that these peaches were not grown in Maine, but we enjoyed them nevertheless!  We made these in preparation for yet another staff gathering here at the campground.. and our colleagues shared many of their special dishes as well…  we are looking ahead to new opportunities with anticipation, but there will surely be a lot that we will miss about the campground at the conclusion of this season…  especially the relationships that we have formed here!


speaking of relationships.. this is my buddy, Chip.   I have a short movie of him trying to figure out how many sunflower seeds he can stuff into his cheeks, but I could not figure out how to attach it to this blog… so we will have to settle for this still picture…  everyone has a story, and this is true for Chip as well..  he only has half a tail…  I sure wish he could tell me about that!   I guess I just have to settle for watching him come over, stand up on his hind legs and look at me,  and asking with his eyes if there happen to be any more sunflower seeds around!

And that is what life has been about in recent weeks…  of course, we have the daily chores of building picnic tables,  filling potholes in the road after rainstorms,  plunging clogged toilets,  cleaning the boats, cleaning sites, and cleaning the bathrooms and greeting old friends and making new ones each passing week…   It is remarkable to hear from so many people how they wish that they could adopt the same lifestyle..   we are truly blessed to have had the opportunity to be here!

A stroll around the neighborhood?

kayak 1

( a shot that I took yesterday morning while we were cleaning campsites… )

Well not exactly, but kind of…   I was thinking about an evening stroll around the neighborhood many years ago.  We had just moved into a new development, and it was quite small, but it still merited a short walk after dinner.  We looked at the houses ( all of which looked the same)  and stopped to say hello to neighbors who happened to be sitting on the front stoop of their homes…  last night we did the water version of this same experience.   We walked down to the floats, got in our kayaks and took off!  This time we headed for Abels Marina.   But along the way, we stopped to chat with folks who happened to be on their moored boats, enjoying dinner and the sunset.

boat 1After stopping by to say hello to the couple who own this vintage Egg Harbor yacht ( built in NJ 50 years ago) we continued on our way towards Bar Island..

somes sound 2

The tides in Somes Sound range from 10 – 12 feet..  on the right is Bar Island ( not the more popular island in Bar Harbor that goes by the same name). At high tide, we can sneak through the cut that you see to the left…

We stopped along the way  to say hi to these guys….


but we got a little to close  😦

seals 2

sorry guys!!!

There are a number of vintage boats at the marina.. unlike my neighborhood where all of the houses were cookie cutter townhouses with the only distinction being the color of the brick and whether they had two or three bedrooms,  these boats have wonderful and unique character.

boat 4boat 8boat 9boat 10boat 5boat 7

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the time we spent talking with the couple who lives aboard this boat, along with their dog and two cats!boat 3_193951boat 2

Like us, they are working on the island this summer.. but their living arrangement is just a tad cooler than ours!

Life at Mound Desert Campground has been great this summer…  this past week we had a staff potluck with a Mexican theme…  so much good food!

food 1this is just one of two tables filled with food…

food 2not only does Barbara have talent with constructing salad,  but she also has a wonderful green thumb..  I could not pass up taking a photo of the color in her garden on this, yet another beautiful moring in Maine!


Back in Maine!

mdc 17 first pic

We have returned to Mount Desert Campground for our third season.  So far, we have probably seen more rain than we did in an entire month last year, but it is beautiful just the same.   This pic was taken the evening that we arrived at our campsite.

mdc 17 mossy stump

First order of the day is to rake the campground.. actually that has been the first order the last three and a half days, and it will continue to be a priority for the next week or two..  I took a quick break to take a photograph of this mossy stump…

mdc 17 campfire

We had a beautiful day yesterday, and we celebrated with our first campfire.. inviting our fellow workers to join us for the first smores of the season…    Janet made lentil soup in the morning while I whipped up a batch of molasses cookies…   life does not get much better than this!    If you happen to be camping at Mount Desert Campground this summer, be sure to stop by B 18 to say hello!

Heading back to PA


The scramble is on to get prepared for our trip back home.   So I will put the synopsis of the summer of 2016 on hold  while we winterize our trailer, pack our vehicles and lend a hand with a few final projects around the campground…  Amidst the flurry of activity, I took time to snap this pic on the road leading down into the campground.   We are already beginning to miss this place, and we have not even headed south yet!

Summer 2016 (where did it go?) part 1 – Mount Desert Campground


Once again, Janet and I had the opportunity to live, work and play on Mount Desert Island (Acadia National Park)  as members of the staff at Mount Desert Campground.   How did we get to the end of the season so fast?    Perhaps it has to do with age… so many folks have advised that life slips past at an ever increasing rate, especially after 50…  This certainly may play a role, particularly in my case as I quickly approach my 57th birthday.   But I suspect that it has more to do with the fact that, since our arrival at the end of April, our lives have been filled with spectacular visual stimulation, laughter and fellowship with friends and colleagues,  and opportunities to meet new people with interesting stories…  it has been a busy summer, and I have certainly ignored this blog, but, over the next few weeks, I plan on catching up.  This first segment had to do with the campground itself  –  a stunning piece of property on the shores of Somes Sound.   It is a privilege to be able to spend the entire season in Maine, and especially, to work and live here.   I encourage anyone thinking of planning a camping trip to Maine in 2017 to look us up..   and if you happen to stay here next year, stop by for a visit and a cup of tea at site B18!


a view looking across the road at site B7 with the sound just beyond..  this was taken just after I arrived at the end of April ( Janet joined me a couple of weeks later)

2-mdc-maya view of the sound and Sheep island from one of our waterfront sites… early May3-mdc-may

sites along our waterfront…  DownEast Magazine printed a special publication touting  100 best things about Mount Desert Island  ( part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Acadia National Park)     Our campground was recognized as having the 7 best campsites on the island…  that was pretty special!

4-mdc-mayanother view of our waterfront, taken from a campsite…5-mdc-july

another look at  sites B7 and B8.. Janet’s garden is well-established at this point.   Evening in the campground is such a special time…


one of our jobs is the check on the boats twice each week… usually early in the morning… the view from the docks is constantly changing…  this is looking out towards Somesville Harbor


taken the same morning… looking between our waterfront on the right and Sheep Island on the left with a glimpse of  The Lamb  ( a small rock ledge close by the docks)


Low tide in the evening..  The Lamb is pretty prominent at low tide!    the tidal range here is around 10 feet, give or take – even more dramatic around the full moon…


can’t quite get enough of the scene taken from the docks!   Sunsets here are often dramatic.

10-mdc-septView of the floats taken from site C25 ..   the dory has not been in the water for a number of years.  My son and I built is when he was a freshman in high school..  he is now 27 and about to be married…   I did some quick rehab on it and launched it with the plan of doing some more work on it next spring so that it will be in great shape for the 2017 season.    The Lamb takes a prominent spot in this photo..  approaching low tide.. near the end of the season  as we have already reduced the rental fleet of canoes and kayaks..


taken just this morning..   some of the trees are beginning to turn… pretty chilly morning at 32 degrees, but the sun warmed us up rather quickly, and we had a wonderful day working in the campground..  built two picnic tables,  cleaned sites,  built the framework for a new tent platform, cleaned up flower gardens,  removed tree debris after cutting down a tree..   all in a days work!

It was a great summer …  we plan on returning next year.  Unfortunately, some of our colleagues will be doing other things and will not be rejoining us… but we look forward to keeping out friendships alive..   and, we look forward to greeting our campground friends as they return during the 2017 season!    jt

new job!

schooners in the morning

The one down side of spending half the year in Maine is that we have not yet figured out a way to bring our sailboat along with us.  So, I decided to become creative and see if I could land a part time job as crew on the local schooner… and it worked!   (somewhat to my surprise)   I happen to have spent at least 3 more decades on this earth compared with the rest of the crew – but so far, despite me looking dumbfounded on more than one occasion,  my crew mates have been gracious and forgiving!

One of the challenges is that I am only spending one day a week aboard  the Margaret Todd –  and even though we generally make three trips a day,  I could stand a little more repetition 🙂    … there is a lot to learn.. but it is a real pleasure to be on the water again.

boarding for a sunset sail

Here we are, boarding for a sunset cruise .. until last evening,   I needed at least 3 layers to be comfortable.. this particular night, I had 4 layers on, and I felt bad for the guy who was only wearing a t shirt!

foggy evening

Ran into a little fog on this particular cruise..   another chilly one, but it was beautiful despite the lack of a sunset ….    so now, in addition to living and working at the most beautiful campground ( mt desert campground)  ever,   I also get to sail on the only working 4 masted schooner in New England..  life is pretty good  🙂      jt