Observations from a full-time stay-at-home Dad, part-time adventure seeker, and recent transplant to Down East Maine.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Elliott + Elliott

Yesterday was my first day at Elliott + Elliott Architecture

I will be working part-time (15-20 hours a week) for them. And mostly from home, so that I can continue to take care of the kids before and after school. I will occasionally have to visit the office in Blue Hill, to check in from time to time. But, it's only 14 easy-driving miles away.

I'm very excited to be back working on a team again. It feels like it's been forever. The people I've met so far have been very cool and the firm has done some pretty amazing work over the years.

They've even published a book!

So, it looks like my little mini-vacation is over...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Morgan Bay

On my way back from Blue Hill today I took a little side trip to the South Surry Peninsula and Morgan Bay. It was a very quiet and pretty spot, with great views across the bay to the mountains of Acadia. We'll definitely be back during the warmer months (when it's most likely a lot less quiet) to do some biking, hiking, and perhaps even visit the beach there.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sort of Spring

Today was the first full day of spring. So, of course, we had a snowstorm and school was cancelled. Oh well, at least it's pretty. 

Sort of.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sieur de Monts

On Sunday, I took full advantage of the lull before the snow storm and drove down to Sieur de Monts, on MDI, to do a little run/hiking in Acadia.

Acadia was first established as Sieur de Monts National Monument in July 1916  (we'll be celebrating it's centennial this year) by President Woodrow Wilson.  It was not until January 1929 that it became known as Acadia National Park. There is a spring at this particular location where, in 1909, George Dorr (the park's first superintendent) built a temple like structure and carved “The Sweet Waters of Acadia” on a nearby rock.

Today, the area around the Sieur de Monts spring includes the Wild Gardens of Acadia, the Abbe Museum and a Nature Center. As well as miles of well-maintained, and easily navigated walking trails. Definitely worth a visit if you're in town.

It was here that I started my adventure. 2 miles on the mostly flat Kane/Cannon Brook Trail,  4 miles up and over Cadillac Mountain on the South/North Ridge Trail, then 2 more miles of mostly flat Kebo/Stratheden Trail. Despite some annoying ice patches, I finished the 8 mile loop in a little over 2 hours (3.5 mph, my fastest hike yet in Acadia) and even had time to add on a couple miles up to Huguenots Head, and back.

All in all, a good "first day of spring" hike.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Birthday Party

Today was Ethan's 6th Birthday Party. We had it at Playland Adventures. An indoor bouncy house playground in Brewer, ME.  It was a lightly attended event (only one of his friends from school was able to come) but he didn't care. He had fun anyway.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Littlest Wade

Our not-so-little boy turns 6 today. We gave him the option of staying home from school, but he was determined to go. So he went.

Come to think of it, I would say that "determined" is probably the best word I could use to describe him these days. Other words COULD be used. Especially when I'm feeling tired, or annoyed. Words like fussy, stubborn, difficult, precise, relentless, demanding, and critical.

But, what it all boils down to is that he tries REALLY hard at whatever he does. Whether it's Karate, Legos, Hockey, Drawing, Running, Reading, Biking, or Menacing his sister.  He's all in! I guess, as the littlest Wade, he must feel like he needs to work twice as hard to measure up.

He's turning into such an awesome little dude. I'd tell him that he's well on his way to being just like his bigger brother and sisters, but he'd probably just shrug, turn around, and get right back to whatever important thing he was working on.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Ginni Burke

Today we said goodbye to a truly wonderful woman. 


To have been half as giving
To have been half as gracious
To have been half as kind
To have been half as selfless
To have been half as inspirational
And to have been half as loved as Virginia Arlene Burke 
Would mean that you led a very full life indeed.

Until we meet again, Aunt Ginni.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Meet at the Moo

The calendar might still say it's winter, but Ellsworth's finest ice cream shop, Mortons Moo, is officially open for the season. 

Like Haywards back in Nashua, the "Moo" has a huge selection of homemade ice cream flavors to choose from. And some I'd never even heard (or thought) of before. Like Ginger, Cherry Chip, Blueberry, and yes, even Guinness!

They also have a wide variety of cakes, pies, cookies and candies to choose from. And, a large array of coffees, teas, hot chocolates, milk shakes and espressos to wash it all down with. 

I took the kids there last week for the first time. Ethan ordered Vanilla (as usual), Emily got Mocha Chip, and I went with a Maple Gelato in a Waffle cone. Mmm Mmm Moo.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Got Wood?

Driving around this part of Maine, it doesn't take long to figure out that forestry is big business in this state. How big? How about 8 billion dollars big. Forestry represents about 7% of the the state's gross domestic product, employs 5% of all workers in the state, and has a total payroll of about 2 billion dollars.

There are nearly 18 million acres of forestry land in Maine which comprises 89% of the state's total acreage, making Maine the most heavily forested state in the country. And, with more than 9 million acres of forestland having become certified as sustainably managed, it also has the largest percentage of certified forestry land in the country.

Certified foresting means that landowners must conform to sustainable forestry practices which are measured by an outside auditor who works to ensure they are meeting 20 control standards promoting the protection of wildlife, plants, soil, air and water quality.

So, not only does Maine do forestry big, it does it right. Or at least as right as anyone else in the US.

Monday, March 14, 2016

California Dreaming

Today my eldest daughter traveled to California to visit my eldest son. This makes me very happy. For many reasons...

I am happy that my son has made a great life for himself in San Francisco. I am happy that my daughter is well on her way to doing the same. And, I am happy that they are getting to spend some time together before before she graduates college and before he starts his new job

But most of all, I am happy that they both have a love of life, a desire to explore, and a work ethic to make it all possible. It means I did something right. Or at least got very, very lucky.  

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Campground Research

Since arriving in Ellsworth, we've been scouting out campgrounds to visit with (and perhaps seasonally keep) our Wade Family Camper. 

The problem (good thing?) is that there are so many seemingly great places to choose from. And all are really close by. Campgrounds near rivers, lakes, ponds, mountains, and the ocean are all possibilities. And all within a half-hour drive from our house.

I guess that the benefit of living where people traditionally go to vacation.

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Case of Acadia

The designation "Acadia" in North America is first credited to the Italian Explorer Verrazzano who, on his 16th century map, applied the ancient Greek name "Arcadia" to the entire east coast - north of  Virginia.  "Arcadia" derives from Greek classical antiquity and had extended meanings of "refuge", or "idyllic place". And, those definitions most certainly apply to nearby Acadia National Park.

However, the word "Acadia" itself is pervasive around these parts of Down East Maine and has been used to sell almost everything. Healthcare Companies, New Home Construction, Insurance, GMC Automobiles, Real Estate Agencies, Pharmaceutical Companies. You name it. Acadia has helped sell it.

Now, who knows? These may, in fact, be the most idyllic builders, drug makers, car manufacturers, and insurance salesmen in all the land. But, I highly doubt it. And, I also highly doubt that this version of Acadia is what dear, intrepid, Giovanni had in mind when he coined the term. 

Of course, I thought I'd seen it all. Until I came across this sign while driving around town ...


... well, I guess an urn could be considered a refuge, of sorts.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tinker Farm Sunset

I was sitting at the dinner table with the kids earlier this week when, all of a sudden, I stood up and bolted for the door. I opened it up and this is what I saw...

Now, perhaps it's because our town is near the coast where there tends to be a bit more cloud cover. Or, because our neighborhood sits high up on a hill. Or, because our house is in the middle of a large  open field. Whatever the reason, we seem to be getting a lot more spectacular sunsets here in Ellsworth than I remember seeing back in Nashua.

Maine. Maybe it truly is the way life should be.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Half-Pint Portraiture

This week, Ethan said, "Daddy I want to draw you. Show me a picture, so I can copy."

So, I gave him this:

And, he turned it into this:

Not bad for a 5-year old. Don't you think?

He even captured the ever-present smirk.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Further Proof


During my travels this week, I found further proof that Ellsworth is a lot more like Gravity Falls than many people would like you to think.

Above is a picture of an abandoned "mystery shack" on the outskirts of town. Other than the sign, do you notice any thing interesting and unusual about the building itself? Something that might connect Ellsworth to that other weird town in the upper Northwest, that I spoke of earlier? Take a closer look at shape of the roof eaves... and oddly placed window...

...Yup, you guessed it...


...Bill's been here.

*Stay tuned, more mysterious (and silly) stuff to come*

Monday, March 7, 2016

Borrowed Time

When I was 17 years old I had a life-changing experience. And, if it wasn’t for a fair bit of dumb luck, or perhaps some divine intervention, it very well could have been a life-ending experience. Since then, and for the last 29 years, I’ve always felt a little like I’m living on borrowed time.

This story begins, as many do, with a journey. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Family Reunion

We drove down to Portland on Saturday to meet our oldest son and daughter who drove up from Boston and Durham respectively. We stayed overnight at a hotel. Which the little ones loves. We ate, drank, shopped, and swam. It was a great weekend. And now, Ellsworth has never felt so far away.


Friday, March 4, 2016


One of the many differences between Maine and New Hampshire is that Maine is one of the few (10) states in the nation with a Returnable Beverage Container Program, or "Bottle Bill". This State Legislation (which includes glass, metal, and plastic beverage containers) is designed to reduce litter, conserve resources, and save energy.

The way it works is that consumers pay 5 cents extra for each container they purchase. That 5 cents goes to the retailer, who gives it to the manufacturer, who gives it to the redemption center, who gives it back to the consumer when the bottle is returned. It's like the leave a penny take a penny deal. That 5 cents just keeps going round and round, and no one actually makes any money from it.

EXCEPT, for the redemption centers which receive a 4 cent "handling fee" from the manufacturers - which helps cover the cost of sorting the containers, I suppose.

The other side benefit to the bottle bill (besides the whole helping the environment thing) is that every time I go to the grocery store and see people stuffing garbage bags full of used beverage containers into the redemption receptacles, I get to enjoy the funky/sweet smell of old beer and soda fermenting together in the pores of the machine.

Which is nice.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Common Beauty

This corner of Maine is filled with such natural beauty that I wonder, to a certain extent, if it becomes commonplace to the people who have lived here for a while.

Thankfully, I'm not one of those people just yet, so every trip to someplace new is a unique opportunity for me to experience something randomly beautiful. 

Take for example my visit to Blue Hill today. I had some time to kill between appointments so I took off down a road I'd never driven before. And, lo and behold, I see this out my driver side window.

Just a random island on the edge of Blue Hill Bay. Probably doesn't even have a name. Locals most likely refer to it as island #1,375,601 - if they even refer to it at all. But, to me, it was so strikingly beautiful that I just had to stop and snap a picture of it.

Here's to hoping we never get so comfortable here as to find this view to be anything less than extraordinary. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Creative Cardboarding

Recently, Ethan said, "Daddy, I want to make a Jeep out of cardboard." And so that's just what we did! We took one of the MANY moving boxes out of our garage and cut, glued, and colored it to look like a Jeep Wrangler.

At first he used it to sit in, and pretend to drive. Then we cut a hole in the bottom for him to really "drive" it around the house. It was a fun, cheap, rainy-day project. He was very proud of it. And, I really enjoyed working on it with him.

Next time he wants to build a motorcycle.

Yup, I'm in trouble.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Leap Day Loop

I took full advantage of the unseasonably warm weather  yesterday (not to mention the extra February day) and went for a hike in Acadia. I started at the Asticou Map House and went in a clockwise direction (around Jordan Pond) hitting 4 new (for me) mountain peaks - Cedar Swamp, Sargent, Penobscot, and Pemetic.

New summits meant lots of new trails. My favorite was the easy flowing, and beautifully maintained Asticou / Jordan Pond Path at the end of my trip. Note the photos below and you'll see what I mean

I ended up doing around 12 miles total, in a little more than 4 hours, which I thought was pretty good. And only saw one other person in that entire time. It was quite windy near the summits, and there was just a little ice in some of the shadier spots, but otherwise it was a pretty easy go of it.

All in all, it was a wonderful day on the trails. And, I feel very fortunate to have had the time to explore Acadia at my leisure during the week, while the kids are in school.  I know this will soon change because I really need to find a part-time job, but it's been fun while it's lasted.

And, Acadia will still be there on the weekends, I suppose.