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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Maine Day 4: Paddling in Circles 

Considering the untimely demise of Celeste's WubbaNub, last night went reasonably well. She had a few sleep cries, but nothing she couldn't get herself back to sleep from until she woke up for good around 5:15 a.m. Despite asking her to be quiet, Celeste managed to wake Quinn by 5:30 a.m. or so, and Evelin had to join us by a little past 6:00 a.m.

chicken of the woods or sulphur shelf fungus (Laetiporous sulphureous), I thinkSince we were all up early, we decided to give another hike a try. The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer is not the best trail guide, at least as far as helping locate a trailhead and/or describing which hikes are what. We were aiming for Steep Falls, but never located an access point, so we turned and headed up to the Hiram Nature Study Area (missing Hiram Falls along the way). It proved a nice little hike up a small rise and then down to the Saco River. There were tons of mushrooms.

Afterwards, we headed home, Evelin and Celeste made some banana-blueberry nut bread, and I hauled the rowboat up onto the dock to dump the accumulated rainwater out of it. Of course, I managed to step off the dock into the water, but didn't fall all the way in — only one boot and my jeans up to mid-calf. I brought extra pants, but shoes ... the boots are sitting by the stove right now.

Across the pond seems to be the favorite hunting ground for an osprey (Pandion haliaetus). Evelin noticed it first on Monday, and I saw it yesterday for the first time; the distance is tricky to gauge and I thought it was too small to be an osprey, but the behavior and colors look right. He has a regular pattern of fishing in the reedy area across the way each morning, and then revisiting in the late afternoon. We can see him swoop down, and occasionally hovering before diving down again. It's very cool.

A couple of ducks are sitting on the rocks right in front of the camp. At first I thought they were mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), but looking at them more closely it looks like they're black ducks (Anas rubripes). I've definitely seen mallards on the pond, but these guys have whitish bills and don't quite look like female mallards. Thinking of birds, I've seen a hairy woodpecker (Picoides villosus) visiting the bird feeder, as well as Squirrel Nutkin himself, a little red squirrel with only a nub of a tail. Also, this morning we saw a fair number of turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) crossing the road on our way to and from our hike.

Celeste wasn't napping this afternoon, so while Quinn was out and Evelin rested, I took Celeste for a ride in the T.R.U.C.K.. The plan was to go to a playground I noticed on our way back from the morning hike, but Celeste was asleep before we hit the main road, so I figured I'd drive around and see what I could see. We made it up to Hemlock Bridge, an old (1857) covered bridge over the Saco. Celeste was still asleep, so we turned back around and headed toward Bridgton to take the long way back to the camp.

After we got back, I tried to entice Celeste into a ride in the rowboat. She wouldn't have any of it. Evelin suggested taking Quinn (putting her carseat into the boat or something, but that just didn't seem safe either, so I went out by myself for a little spin. I wouldn't pretend to say that I was a graceful sight, but I managed to steer myself out around the little island opposite our camp and over by the osprey's fishing grounds. I then headed over to the little channel between Sand Pond/Walden Pond and Hancock Pond, where I beached the boat and walked around a little bit. Then it was back into the boat where I spied a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) in a little cove and some other sort of heron on someone's swimming dock (I couldn't get close enough to identify it). Once I docked the boat and got back inside, I tried to convince Celeste (who'd watched at least some of the rowing from the window) to go out with me for a ride, but she was even more opposed to the idea.

Celeste wanted to go "out din-din," so we loaded up the car and headed in to Bridgton. I flipped through the phonebook, old copies of the Bridgton newspaper, and our AAA TourBook for Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, but nothing really gave us a good idea of our options for a meal. We ended up at The Black Horse Tavern, which was really child-friendly and decent for a quick evening out; I had the Sunday River Alt, which was nice and slightly hoppy. There was a four-month-old baby at a table catty-corner across the room from us; Quinn started the meal asleep, but once she woke and shifted from her carseat to my lap, she was staring intently at the other baby. It was really pretty funny.
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