Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Karma Tour to Maine, Part II


Karma going full bore!  Eric, (my son), and lovely wife Fawn!  Notice any resemblance?


Just to give a small backdrop on why did we go to Maine besides its beauty and attractiveness.  In a nutshell I have a son and brother that live there, attended Brunswick High School and University of Maine in Augusta.  I still have friends from High School and College.  Maine reflects some of the most intense times in my life, being the place I went after Vietnam.  Winters there seem to bond people closer than out here in the West.  Our visit to Maine was about a month and a half, arriving on the 20th of August and leaving in early October.  Norse folks did their Viking thing in Maine and left an 11th Century coin discovered in a Native dig site in 1954.  That got the archeologists talking!  Thereafter Natives, French, English and Americans fought for the rights to Maine.  Portland was the first Capital but it was moved to Augusta to be more central.  The Maine Supreme Judicial Court still remains in Portland.  

My first real job after the war was working at the Augusta State Hospital, later labeled AMHI.  I had never seen a crazy person besides my mother so it was an adventure.  The State Hospital was built in 1840 and offered state of the art treatments for free as well as housing afflicted individuals.  It really was a service to Mainers who needed help with seniors who were senile, youngsters suffering their first break of schizophrenia and others left outside the hospital walls who would perish.  I left for New Mexico before the hospital closed its great doors.  Maine was one of the best mental health systems in the Country that could be approached without being left destitute.  In concert with the ACLU, Insurance Companies and others who made a profit the old hospital shut down.  I drove  by there, the main building covered with wire, windows broken out and other things.  The State Hospital stands across from the legislature reminding  elected officials not to forget mental  health.  ACLU aside I am here to tell you we made a big mistake.   Now such service does not exist.  Just a  footnote.  I did have to wear white pants and shirt, keys on the belt and a black bow tie that went with my black shoes and belt.  One Flew Over the CucKoo's Nest comes to mind but ours was much more benign.  Memories of the work, the people and the energy were all in this abandoned but still noble granite building.

The second must see place I needed to see was the University of Maine at Augusta.  When I first started there it was a small school located on Western Ave.  It moved to a new building further away from central Augusta and was one big brick building with a big parking lot.  My brother took us to the University and it has become a large campus with numerous buildings.  

The final must see place was a family and good friends home near the YMCA.  The YMCA had been torn down and relocated.  The house was condemned which really hurt to see.  I knew the owner had probably passed and left it to her three sons. The family had been very close to me and key to a major crossroads in my life.  I called one of the sons and he explained his younger brother had passed and he was in a legal battle with the other brother over the property.  We caught up over a sad note.

John introduced us to Lisa's Legit Tacos in Gardiner, Maine.  We also discovered Two Gramps Brewing near Lisa's and they do have a Trivia Night on Tuesdays.  Gardiner is an old town with red brick, multi-story buildings lining the road to the river.
This is the Library from across the street.  Harry Potter would have loved it!

The entrance to the still in use Library from 1881
Not certain who this author is but definitely embraced.  I believe she was a poet.

My brother and wife Dori suggested we take the boat ride up the Kennebec River from Boothbay Harbor.  John and I worked out in Boothbay during the summer of 1969 at a place called Newagen Inn.  The tour includes leaving Boothbay Harbor and going up the Kennebec River to Bath, Maine.  It takes you along the back side of the Bath Iron Works, John's old employer.
What an exciting tour.  

Little Stink Pot getting ready to go fishing

Looking at Boothbay Harbor as we pull out.

The Maine coast is dotted with these small rock islands.  When I worked in Boothbay as a young man a couple friends and I took a rowboat out into the bay where we were staying.  Tides and currents being what they are we ended up being sucked out to sea.  We rowed mightily and just overcame the lure of Neptune's spear.

We did not go on the Lighthouse Tour but if you ever visit Maine, which we will again, the tour is really awesome.  I am not certain of the name of this Lighthouse but the Cuckholds Lighthouse and Inn would be a nice visit. You can reserve a Suite or the entire island depending on your needs.  I suspect it is above my paygrade.  

Fort Popham is one of my Little Kid best places to visit in Maine.  I will be doing a close up later.  It was built near the Popham Colony of 1607.  The Colony failed but the Fort is here to explore and both Carol and I put on our Little Kid faces and went in on another day.  The Fort was built in 1857 and guarded the Kennebec River access.  Wait till you see what it is guarding.  Popham Colony was founded in 1607.  This Colony built the first ship ever in the New World and it was used to sail back to England.  Those early colonists were hearty folk for sure.

You have been treated with a blast from the past with Fort Popham.  Prepare for the future!

Backdoor of the Bath Iron Works

Not your run of the mill canoe!  If you look at the other ships in dry dock they have a much higher profile compared to this Man of War.

I believe this is the USS Monsoon and is one of three, the Zumwalt and the LBJ are the others.

I imagine Popeye would have approved of this can of spinach.

It is cool to look at my younger brother and know he had a hand in building the Zumwalt while he worked at the Bath Iron Works.  This new class of Destroyer is fascinating and am curious how it will do in battle.


Earned with blood, sweat, tears and pain.  What a brave person this wife!

Carol Earned her Rabies Tag at the KOA

You may ask for whatever would Carol have a rabies tag for?  On the night of August 25, 2018 we were sitting in our rig and we decided to step outside hearing some commotion.  Our neighbors, Canadian Physicians, called out there was a problem with the cat.  We went over to their site, which was just next door, and two cats were stuck together.  Carol leashes her cat and a feral cat had attacked our cat and as they rolled in battle the leash bound them.  We poked the cats and the attacker yelled out its warning with a bone chilling screech.  The situation was perplexing as no sane person wanted to touch the dueling felines.  Carol figured if she freed her cat they would part.  The feral cat sprang on her swiftly as she reached for the leash and with a ferocity that surprised us all.  Carol was bitten and scratched by the yellow sicko tabby leaving her bleeding and in significant pain as it scrambled away.  A decision was made to seek Emergency Room Treatment and we did call my brother as we headed out to the ER in Augusta.  The Physicians next door did some immediate first aid and we were off, connecting with Emergency Crews as we approached the Hospital.  We actually were treated as an ambulance since they were about to send a unit for her but since we were so close they guided us in.  Carol was treated immediately and within a couple hours we were discharged and returned to the campground.  We contacted the management the next day, explained our situation and three suspected cats were identified.  Two were domestic and one was feral, but which one?  As we moved along a followup visit with the ER revealed there was no rabies protocol in Maine Law to report this animal bite.  We contacted the local police who took the report and was to be followed up within 10 days.  The follow up ER visit revealed Carol was looking at rabies shots since we were not sure which cat.  The first series were administered at the Augusta Hospital and was the most painful treatment I have witnessed.  Worse than gunshot wound treatment!  They injected three quarters of the rabies serum in her arms and then the last quarter directly into the wounds.  Not pretty :(!  We went to Waterville for subsequent injections and they were done in the arms.  On September 11, 2018 Carol completed her series and I awarded her the rabies tag from Pet Smart.  I no longer feared being bit by her!  The Police Officer returned prior to our leaving the campground and advised the cats had been removed from the eccentric owner and the feral cat was captured.  They were not rabid.


As noted previously I had a birthday and required a physical to update my Life Insurance Policy.  We started the process in New Mexico and completed the physical part in Maine.  This nice lady came to our rig and inspected, injected and detected all things private and not so private.  She sent it to the insurance company and a few weeks later, prior to our leaving Augusta area, I was told I had been refused the policy.  I called figuring I needed to make funeral arrangements.  Turns out it was a miscommunication and they did recognize I am a well used 20 something!  We finally finished everything when we returned to New Mexico, go figure!


This is perhaps the most impacting thing for my life and forced my Karma to intersect with other folks Karma.  I had signed up for before we left New Mexico.  While in Augusta the results began arriving.  The first thing was that my son is actually my son.  There was not a question of this but since 1970 a lot has happened and he has gone through his own Karma building trail.  The second part and perhaps the most awesome part is discovery.  I am adopted, knew little of my paternal side.  I was contacted by two first cousins and invited to a family reunion Memorial Day 2019 in Wisconsin.  I guess the reunion is annual, they go to the plot where the original settlers came before the Civil War, clean the stones and plant things as a way of remembering.  They then go over to a relatives house and have a reunion the next day. I see another RV trip in the making during Memorial Day, 2019.

My bio-dad and mother about 1950

                                            A CLOSER LOOK AT FORT POPHAM

I believe there were rails so that small rail cars could quickly disperse


Each room had a specific purpose and powder and fuses were well insulated from the batteries in the event of detonation.

The design of this Fort was around a musket armed mentality which the Civil War stripped away rendering this Fort obsolete before its completion.  Still you look down this hallway and you can see soldiers moving about doing their tasks as they have done in all wars.

What a trip it was up to this point and beyond!  Fort Popham, the Popham Colony and the Phippsburg area are some of the coolest places to visit.  They do get their volume of tourists but nothing like the Bar Harbor area.  If you go to Maine go to this area for a visit and if you have an RV there are several parks.

Fair Time In in Litchfield, Maine!

If you have never attended a Fair in Maine you have not lived.  My first Fair in Maine was at the Topsham Fair when I was 15 years old.  My friend Danny and I hired on to put up a carnival tent.  Two teenaged boys had the luck of the draw, it was the strippers tent!  Towards the end of the Fair we approached the carney we had put up the tent for and asked to attend one of the shows.  He consented and we went in, stood up front and awaited the show.  The woman doing the show took special interest in her young patrons and Danny and I had an eye full.  These shows are no longer allowed at Fairs according to my brother.  Our fair in Albuquerque is much bigger embracing the entire State and when it comes we spend time with the horses and look at the 4H exhibits etc..
If you have never thought of 4-H I would encourage you to do so.  The kids work so hard at their projects and have classes in Citizenship and other very realistic things.  Take the stroll and see what those dedicated teachers and students are doing.

Carol's BFF arrives and immediately starts cribbing!


These guys put the B in Belgium

That look when you find something to die for!

That horse still remembers her!

There is Carol lined up with the other kids!

Those teams were pulling over 10,000 pounds when it was all said and done.

You can see my brother John with that big Fair Food grin and Carol mowing through her hotdog.  Dori is hard to capture in the lens and has done a good job of it.  I was going through my pictures and found very few of her.  She is a super sweet person with good looks, she needs to be captured.

A-1 Diner, Gardiner Maine

The A-1 Diner is a 1940's trolley car that was built specifically for food service.  I guess they were popular around the Nation and I do remember this place from when I lived in Maine.  We went in and ordered up.  The food is called comfort food by the locals and indeed  I get comfortable from eating it.  It is a tiny place that is just a hoot to eat in.  Finally got a good picture of Dori!

I know we are at the counter in the above picture but we were able to migrate to the end booth in the picture underneath on the right.  This place actually has more room than it appears to have.  Stuff is old but it is clean!

You can look at this picture and see the detail in workmanship, the warmth of the dining experience and the simplicity of it all.


Where do I start with this icon of Maine.  Everyone who knows Maine knows about LL Beans and they smile when they speak of it.  When my folks and I visited in the 1960's it was small and a cool little store.  In the 1970's we would motorcycle down to 24/7 LL Beans for something to do in the middle of the night.  It was smaller in those days but fun.  A major change took place between the 70's and 2018 which I had not witnessed since 1978.  They have some of the best outdoors stuff you can buy and the staff are helpful.  The campus is huge with busloads of tourists being brought to the front door and dropped off.

Brooks Brothers, for those who know, is a very high end shoe store.  I believe Louis Vuitton bags and accessories are there as well.  Makes for a fun shopping spree if you have the blessing of money.This is what it has grown up to and I can't say as I like it but then again I have memories from a time before, an entire lifetime.  I have enough Wyatt Earp philosophy to appreciate a lucrative table when I see one  Near these stores LL Beans has an outlet for returned items and sell them at a discount as compared to the main store.  We went in and I did not think it was all that much cheaper.  I looked at some running shoes that were priced at what you would pay in a regular store after they had been marked down.  That said you might find the deal of a lifetime but doubtful.

We wandered about, I did pick up a sleeping bag, sorry REI, and a jacket.  Carol got some stuff and even the pups got official LL Bean chew toys.  Reny's is a department store that does not ship and is not outside of Maine.  Good deals can be had there as they get leftover stock of high end clothes and such and then market it at a fraction of the price.  Carol fell in love with Renys and I also got a few shirts and such.


The class of 1966 from Brunswick High School meets on a regular basis and there are some savvy folks that organize it.  Brunswick is where I started High School and began the growth from boy to man although the Topsham Fair hurried that along.  In this karma journey members of the class sat down to lunch in Topsham and visited.  There is a real interest for each other and it is remarkable they have all grown up with each other, know their families and have a kinship I have not had in my life due to being a military brat.

My only surprise was how we have grown older but then again I look in the mirror with the same surprise each day.  John, my brother, graduated from Morse High School in Bath and it is the arch rival to Brunswick.  When he announced his pedigree they chided him and he gave it back.  Just really nice, good loving people who I will visit again.  We all turned 70 this year and they even had a getaway for that though sadly I did not attend.  Living in Topsham back in the day we had to attend Brunswick High School but current students attend their own in Topsham.  John took me over to Topsham Air Force Base, now closed, and we explored where we lived for a year or two.  We also looked for the old granite quarry that we swam in.  There is a housing development out there and base housing remains with civilian residents.  John was fortunate that he was able to start and finish his high school years in one place.  The folks left him alone in High School, letting him live by himself,  so that he could attend school.  I think my parents moved six or seven times while he was in school and twice while I was in high school.  Should be a law!

                                                A FAMILY REUNION OF SORTS.  

Man did we have a Karma exclusive.  What a  totally cool thing.  Across from me is Fawn,  a wonderful mother, wife and genuinely caring person to my son Eric.  My son is so lucky to have her!  Then Eric, the guy with the goatee.  Donna, my ex-wife is sitting next to me.  What a woman, she has raised a kid and had some hard knocks along the way but she has always gotten up and done what she had to do.  Eric should be proud.  Mark is Erics Step Father and has been a good man over the years.  It was good meeting him.  I felt about as nervous and confused as you get but the operative word was happy.  Thank all of you for coming and having this convoluted family reunion.  John, Dori and Carol are down at the other end.

                                                     TEMPLE, MAINE

The Old Farmhouse

Carol and I traveled to Temple to see what I have been talking about over the years.  My parents bought this property with 188 acres, no plumbing and heated by wood.  My Dad and I roofed it, he did most of,  it but I did help.  To the left of the house used to be a shed and attached to that was a barn.  The shed contained farming implements from a century before.  A raspberry colored glass cane was found in the attic under walking boards.  A well is located to the left of the house and I believe my dad found an old musket cocking mechanism up there as we were digging a water line.  All of that is gone.  The outhouse was in the shed.  I left Temple and went back to Albuquerque with my sister and indoor plumbing.  My mother was attempting to finish her degree for teaching at the Teachers College in Farmington.  She held my younger brother hostage there and I believe they moved into town as winter progressed.  There is a road that goes beyond the house and it is a little better than when I lived up there so we drove out for several miles.  There are some cabins up there and people may live up there.  The stream, where we got water and swam, still runs there and looks like younger folks like to drink beer next to it nowadays.  It is pretty.  Ted Enslin, a renown poet, bought the house from my parents when we, not surprisingly, moved.  Ted had been a neighbor who lived up the unimproved road.  Ted was part of the Beat Generation, lived in New York City and had owned some cranberry bogs down in the Cape. He did not drive, walking everywhere he went and never declining a ride.  Growing up as a military brat I had never met anyone like him and it added a whole dimension  to my perspective. Temples claim to fame is that it is only one of two Maine towns located at the end of a State Highway.  The town has about 530 hearty folks.  The town was settled in 1796 becoming incorporated in 1803.  It was a vibrant town with timbering and sawmills being the economic engine and still has an active timbering industry.  Temple became a sanctuary for writers, poets and people of the arts.  Some impressive residents came to Temple like George Dennison, Denise Levertov, Mitch Goodman and Ted Enslin to name a few.  Sort of a neat place to meet people.  I do believe the farmhouse reflected a past my Mother from Wisconsin and Father from New Hampshire had grown up with during the Depression and sought to return to.  Karma rules do not allow for returning to the past but you can bask or suffer in the energy of the past.
The road beside the house.

Our visit to Temple, Farmington and Wilton was complete when we had dinner with Rodney and Lucille.  Rodney was a college roommate in 1969.  I never paid my share of the rent as I was always broke but Rodney let me stay.  We have been friends since meeting over motorcycles, Rodney having an X-6 Suzuki Hustler 250 and me with a CB350 Honda.  It was a good meeting, a good ride and friendship over the decades.  We lost contact until a few years ago when I found him online Blacksmithing.  He is brilliant and anyone who meets him is the better for it.  He currently has become a vegetarian and has developed a running program.  I am impressed with his accomplishments.  Lucille married Rodney back in our college days and they divorced as the years passed but have remained friends.  When I left Maine in 1974 they were married and that is the vision I am left with.  Rodney introduced me to looking at things a bit differently and helped me realize I will never be a pacifist.  Sounds almost humorous today but in 1969 it was a young man grappling with returning from Vietnam.  Lucille was also found online and we talk of life's intersections.  She knew some very important people to me and that has drawn the two of us closer.  I have to comment about her house.  It is underground with a southern exposure where you enter.  It is a very cool house that I am not surprised she lives in.

I lived in Wilton for a brief time and was forever getting flat tires due to nails.  Never have forgotten that.  The town was originally named Harrytown due to a very dangerous Native.  It was renamed Tyngstown by grateful residents after Captain Tyng killed the bad ass Native.  A settler from New Hampshire paid to have the town incorporated in 1803 and the name Wilton  was designated and named after Wilton, New Hampshire.  The naming does not seem real creative but as you travel around Maine towns with names like Madrid, Peru, Rome and so on are creatively named.  Bass Shoes really puts Wilton on the map in 1876 and made shoes there until 1998 when it sold out moved overseas.  In the bones of the old factory is a great Restaurant in which we had dinner with them.  Throughout Maine there are closed factories, relics from a time before and perhaps victims of NAFTA and Global Economics.  They are being repurposed and hopefully we will not lose them.  Stay tuned for Karma Tour to Maine Part III.