Unexpected Bonus

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThanks to those gusting winds, we were late leaving Gloucester which meant there was no way we were going to make it to our scheduled Maine destination. That realization necessitated  an alternate plan.  Lucky for us Portsmouth, New Hampshire was about 3 hours away and the marina at Wentworth By the Sea  had one slip available.  We were more than happy to have it as judging from the number of boats there, the resort is a popular destination.  For us, it was an unexpected bonus!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were relieved to be in place, and before doing any exploring of this very attractive resort we brought out goodies for tini time.  It was great to just sit back, relax and forget about the challenge of getting here!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat made the location really special was its proximity to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, one of my favorite New England towns.  Luckily, the resort has loaner cars which made it possible to make a quick trip into town.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPortsmouth is a place where on sunny summer days, folks enjoy sitting at a sidewalk cafe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand musicians like this fella playing a unique Swedish instrument enjoy playing for passersby.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor a small town, Portsmouth is full of shops and restaurants.  In a short period of time, I made as many of the shops as possible and came away with some new duds and an addition to my birdhouse collection.  You’ll likely see it later, perhaps as part of a tablescape.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMost of the downtown area is on the Piscataqua River  which separates New Hampshire from Maine.  The state line is right in the middle of the river, and every time I cross the bridge separating the two states, I wonder how that boundary was determined.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThough this facility is called the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, it is actually in Kittery, Maine,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAas is this one time prison for recalcitrant naval and marine personnel.  According to Wikipedia, it was abandoned in the 1970’s and remains standing because it is too costly to tear down.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith its storied history and early New England architecture, Portsmouth is well worth a visit if you are ever up this way.  And, if you want to stay in a really super place, the Wentworth Resort is it.  You can bet we are planning on returning to the marina for a longer stay!

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Next Stop: Gloucester

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A short cruise from Newburyport is Gloucester (pronounced, I’m told, Gloster) on the Annisquam River.  As we went up the river, it struck me as a place where many people spend time in the summer.  The marsh grass shore was lined with what looked to be second homes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand along both sides of the river there was plenty of activity in and on the water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABirds were nonplussed by all the human goings on and found the rocks a good place to take them all in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArriving at the Cape Ann Marina, it didn’t take more than a glance to see that Gloucester is about fishing as we were surrounded by commercial boats.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve never seen so much paraphernalia nor reels so big.  I couldn’t wait to ask questions to learn what giant sized fish required such big gear.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe answer: tuna, and the guy who owned this boat shows off a trophy for having caught one weighing more than 500 pounds.  He said that gives him bragging rights for a year!

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Perhaps the most famous landmark in Gloucester is a sculpture commemorating men and women lost at sea.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a photo of the real thing, but it and Gloucester’s story is depicted in this mural.  Looking at this, I couldn’t help but think of the movie The Perfect Storm.

At every turn, one is reminded how important fishing is to the livelihood of this New England town.   It must be in the blood as many of the fishermen are descendants of  Portuguese and Italian immigrants who came  more than 100 years ago seeking work in a flourishing fishing industry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFollowing a peaceful night at the marina, our plan was to head back to Maine waters, however, the weather gods had other plans.  Small craft warnings were out so we stayed in place until mid afternoon the second day when the hubby deemed it time to move on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I’ve never been so uncomfortable on the water.  The Annisquam River is very shallow and in the face of gusting winds, our boat was tossed about as if it were a bathtub vessel.  I would gladly have given up my on board place to be on the commuter train passing overhead.  Getting out of the river into deeper water was more than a welcome relief to say the least.

There was an unexpected bonus to having been delayed by small craft warnings, and you’ll have to come back to learn more about that.

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Newburyport Impressions

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAViewed from the boat, Newburyport has the look of an old New England town.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThough prosperous today, I learned from one shopkeeper that by 1970 the central area had fallen into such disrepair that it came close to being demolished.  At the last minute, a decision was made to rebuild rather than tear down, and rehabilitation began in the early 1970’s.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThus it was that the historic architecture and heritage of the town was preserved. 

Now there is a diversity of shops, restaurants and businesses contributing to Newburyport having become a popular tourist destination.

What struck me was how much brick there was.  Even the sidewalks were brick, and it was interesting to note the varying patterns.

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Like in many New England towns, flowers brighten the sidewalks

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand provide opportunity for creative display.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne day may not have been long enough to experience all Newburyport has to offer, but that was time enough to be left with a sweet memory. In case you are wondering, this is a s’mores pizza.  If you ever have occasion to try one, I suggest having friends share it so you don’t get sugar overdose!

Pipe DreamsNow it’s back to the boat to ready for the next phase of this boating adventure.

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Off We Go

Pipe Dreams is fueled, packed up and ready for a multi day excursion to Cape Ann, Massachusetts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the blink of an eye we are beyond Penobscot Bay into the Atlantic Ocean which, thankfully, is quite calm  this early morn.  The only other vessels we see are lobster boats

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand fishing boats likely looking for tuna.  I would love to be close enough to this one to learn the reason for flying a confederate flag, not something you see in New England.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs we draw close to New Hampshire,  I spy Smuttynose, part of the Isles of Shoals, off in the distance.  Quite a history this little island has.  I’ll spare you all of it, but know that pirates such as Captain Kidd and Quench are thought to have visited there.  Blackbeard came in 1720 with his 15th wife.  He left the island when the British fleet  arrived, promising to return for his wife.  She waited in vain until her death some 15 years later.  It is said her ghost still roams the island optimistically thinking Blackbeard will return.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALater in the morning we were very surprised to see in the distance a tall ship with all sails unfurled.  It is always a thrill to see one of these beauties on the water.  If my eyes were correct, I think this one hails from Newport, Rhode Island.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome 5 hours after leaving Rockport, we near our first destination, Newburyport, where a huge stone breakwater reaches far out into the sea. Both birds

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand humans were nestled on the rocks enjoying the sun

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand looking out to sea, perhaps dreaming their own adventures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust in time for lunch we arrived at our first destination, Newburyport.  From a distance, it appears an interesting place to explore.  First things first, however, as we have to do all things boat before heading into town.  What we see there will have to wait until another day so stay tuned.

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A Can’t Miss Favorite

 “Lulu, are we having chowder tonight?”

When the kids come to visit, that’s the first question asked, and I’m happy to respond positively.  Not only is it a family favorite, it is one of those easy to fix failsafe dishes.  Another plus is it’s gluten free which is becoming important to more and more people.

OK, no more wasting time talking about it, here’s how you make it.

Lulu’s Fish Chowder

1 lb. haddock, cod or salmon*

2-3 Yukon gold or red potatoes, sliced

1 onion, sliced

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1 bottle clam juice, heated to boiling

2 c. milk or half and half, warmed

1 t. dill

2 T. butter

salt and pepper to taste

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn a large baking dish, layer the onions and potatoes.  Sprinkle with garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALay the fish filet on top and dot with butter.  Add the clam juice and dill.  If you are using fresh dill, increase the amount to at least 2 teaspoons.

IMG_4358 (1)Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour at 350.  The fish should be flaky and the potatoes and onion soft.

IMG_4362 (1)Remove from the oven and add the heated milk.  Stir gently to break up all the ingredients.  Spoon into heated bowls and serve with oyster crackers. A simple green salad is all that is needed to complete the meal.

Make the chowder once, and I’m betting it’ll become one of your family favorites.  This recipe is about 4 generous servings, but, as you might guess, it is easily doubled.

*If using a salmon filet, bake with skin side up and remove the skin when the dish comes out of the oven.

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Destination: Wiscassett

As one friend says, Maine has the cutest little towns, and one of my favorites is Wiscassett about 40 minutes down the coast from Rockport.

Like in other small Maine towns, most of the shops are situated along the main street .While this makes it convenient to stop, traffic is often backed up for blocks during peak traffic hours thanks to pedestrians crossing the street at either end of the shopping area.

IMG_7107The big attraction in Wiscassett is Red’s Eats, probably the most written about lobster shack in Maine.  

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From mid-April until mid-October there is always a line no matter the weather.  That goes to show the result of publicity!

Maine 2009 35I have to confess I’m not much for long lines so I go  across the street where the food is as tasty and the service much faster.  One thing you learn when you spend a lot of time in Maine is to avoid the tourist stops during the summer months.

IMG_7109One of my favorite shops anywhere is in Wiscassett.  Rock Paper Scissors has an incredible selection of paper goods as well as great items for children, adults and home.  For sure, I allow plenty of time for browsing here.

New on the scene this year are two home accessory shops, Birch and Moulinette, both of which I found to have well chosen and irresistible merchandise some of which found its way into my shopping bag.

IMG_7114 Birch features many accessories perfect for Maine decor and furniture that would work in a variety of styles.

IMG_7105As it card says, Moulinette is full of joyful things, and I found that to be very true.

No visit to Wiscassett is complete without a stop at Treats and that’s just what you will find there.  This day my favorite ginger cookie was missing, but there were plenty of other tasty edibles.

IMG_7115 (1)In addition to the shops right on the main street, there are a number of antique shops, but that requires another visit as it’s getting late in the day.  Until then, thanks for coming as the departing sign at Birch reads.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Make It Pretty Monday