Poughkeepsie and the World’s Longest Pedestrian Bridge

Isn’t Poughkeepsie one of the America’s strangest names? According to Wikipedia it means “the reed-covered lodge by the little-water place,” or at least it did in the original Wappinger language before we converted the spelling to something semi-phonetic. I think that’s adorable and quite descriptive.

I drove from Schenectady to Poughkeepsie mostly because it was close, the route took me through the Hudson river valley and there was a “world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge” at the end of the journey. Of course that begs the question, where’s the world’s longest non-elevated pedestrian bridge? When I get an answer to that question, you’ll see it here.

On my way I drove through Saugerties, which apparently has a historic lighthouse? I didn’t see it but I happened upon this little town during their “Shine On Saugerties” sidewalk lighthouse art exhibit.

Shine on Saugerties

Artists took the basic lighthouse construct and reconceptualized it. Is reconceptualized even a word? My spellcheck doesn’t think so.

Shine on Saugerties

Since I’ve been all about lighthouses lately, it’s fun to revisit some tiny artistic versions

Shine on Saugerties

I didn’t quite understand this vertical chess board

Shine On Saugerties

But this tiki bar is the bomb

Hudson River

The Poughkeepsie bridge or “Walkway over the Hudson” wasn’t as artistically fulfilling though the views over the Hudson are lovely. The bridge itself is a mile and a quarter long and quite wide, since it used to be a highway. It’s paved concrete and full of runners and walkers and baby strollers and dogs. It’s not so much scenic as practical and if I lived in Poughkeepsie, I’d be grateful for someplace to run that wasn’t in traffic.

So there you have it, bridges and more lighthouses. And for now, that’s the end of my northeast sojourn.

More tomorrow from the southwest. xo

Summer in Maine

I didn’t do many blog worthy things today so instead I’ll show you what Maine looked like last summer when I drove from Boston to Maine with my friend Hailei.

We stopped in Portsmouth NH for breakfast at Colby’s Breakfast and Lunch

Colby's Breakfast and Lunch

Very low key tiny place with handwritten blackboard menus and no real website but a hollandaise sauce to rave about.  Colby’s is the kind of small town joint that was localorganicfarmtotable long before that was a thing and they don’t need to advertise because they’re on a main road and everyone knows who they are and when they’re open. Breakfast and lunch. Obviously!  I had the corned beef hash benedict, two things that I’ve never seen combined before but that go together shockingly well. I think it was a daily special.

We got back on the road and drove slowly up Historic Route 1, the long 2 lane highway that runs from Florida to Canada. You can rarely drive faster than 40 miles an hour and you’ll hear GPS directions such as “stay on Main Street for the next 37 miles” as you drive through the interconnected main streets of 5 small towns.

It runs right along the coast

Coast of Maine

Past public beaches

Maine public beach

And gussied up houses because lots of people on the shore like to decorate with colorful old buoys

Buoy house in Maine

We drove up to Kittery and stopped at the Nubble Lighthouse I mentioned yesterday

Nubble Lighthouse

Very pretty but not open to the public, although there’s a big gift shop and several markers to tell you all about the history of the area.

We stopped for a sparkly beverage at Sun and Surf

Sun and Surf

Right on the water’s edge

hailei and her margarita

And then went to Fisherman’s Dock in York for a lobster roll

Lobster roll at Fisherman's Dock

As cold lobster rolls go it was a good one but I have discovered that I prefer hot lobster rolls, tossed in drawn butter. That’s where the money is! But if cold lobster rolls are your thing, Fisherman’s Dock has a wicked good menu with lobster by the pound, checkered tablecloths and outdoor seating and bottles of Moxie to wash it down. Super atmospheric and very Maine.

After our lobstah rolls, we rushed back to Boston to get to work. But if you don’t have to rush back, I’d recommend two different restaurants on your route back to Boston:

Lil’s Cafe in Kittery for lunch

Lil's Cafe

For  butternut squash bisque that’s like a bowl of creamy sunshine. They also have sandwiches, coffee, breakfast and a big spread of baked goodies. Lil’s is a right smack in the middle of town and connected to an art gallery so eat and browse and then do a little wandering around Kittery while you’re there.

For dinner, try the Portsmouth Brewery in New Hampshire

Portsmouth Brewery

I had the mussels, which were really fresh although I didn’t love the curry sauce. It was only ok. But the fries were spectacular as was the Chocolate Rye Stout I drank with it. Not quite the beer pairing a brewmaster would recommend, I’m sure, but I like mussels and I like stout so there you have it. This brewery is also taking a lot of steps to implement composting and recycling and reduce their carbon footprint so i respect them for that.

And there it is, Maine in the summer. Very similar pictures but with about 200% less freezing cold reality. I’ve loved cold wintery Maine too but I think I’m ready for Spring to really arrive.

Maine Lighthouses

Turns out this is as close as I got to Maine Maple Sunday

1802 House pancakes

Blueberry pancakes with Maine syrup at my b&b . Pretty solid breakfast so I’m ok with not seeing more sugar shacks.

Crazy cold today. The thermometer said 28. And this is the second day of spring! So… what to do in March when it’s 28 degrees out? If it had been cloudy, I’d have felt completely justified staying in watching movies, reading books, napping… You know, vacationing. But it was sunny and beautiful and I just didn’t think I could be inside all day. Plus, I didn’t really believe the weather could be that cold because the sun looked so great from a warm vantage point in the house while eating pancakes and sausage.

Note to self: in the future, believe the weather forecast.

I decided to get out and see Maine lighthouses, figuring that the drive along the shore would be gorgeous and I’d be in the car for most of the trip. This was all true until I reached Portland Head Light and realized that lighthouses, by their very nature, are not easily accessible by car so I’d have to climb up to them, which means being outside. Outside where the 28 degrees enhanced by 26mph winds actually feels like 9 degrees.

In a word, freezing and very windy.

Portland Head Light

It is lovely, though. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a native of Portland, thought so too because he spent a lot of time here and even wrote his poem “The Lighthouse” about this particular light. This is Maine’s most photographed lighthouse. Now you don’t have to brave the 9 degree temps to see it. You’re welcome.

The advantage to freezing weather is I had no trouble parking but it didn’t make me want to stay long. So I wandered about until I couldn’t feel my fingers and then hopped in the car and headed off to the next lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth.

Lobster Shack lighthouse

This lighthouse is on private property but allegedly is visible from the public Two Lights Park. I didn’t find that to be true and instead stumbled upon it looking for The Lobster Shack. The Lobster Shack wasn’t open so I’m calling this the Lobster Shack Lighthouse. I don’t know what it’s really called.

The next lighthouse was the most brutal experience and all my pictures are crappy and out of focus because the wind was blowing so hard I couldn’t keep my phone steady.

Spring Point Ledge Light

Spring Point Ledge Light down a very cool granite rock way but this is as close as I got. I simply couldn’t stay warm or focus my camera so it seemed like a waste of time. In summer, this is probably amazing because that rock causeway is all giant pieces of granite with big spaces in between requiring a bit of good jumping judgement to get down there.

The final lighthouse of the day was the smallest cutest most petite lighthouse I’ve ever seen in my life.

Bug Light

And it’s called Bug Light! Adorable! I wanted to just scoop it up and put it in my pocket. The winds weren’t quite as fierce here, even though it’s just on the other side of the bay from Spring Point, so I walked up and around and stayed awhile with the bug. Seriously, so cute.

After a freezing lighthouse expedition, a beer and a dog sounded like heaven.

The Thirsty Pig

The Thirsty Pig in Portland specializes in local Shipyard brews and hot dogs of all flavors and compositions including a vegan dog, probably filled with flowers and berries. Mine was a hot Italian dog with Thai chili sauce to mix all my ethnicities and I washed it down with a porter. Warmed me right up. I highly recommend this place. Their bar is a tiny place full of copper and wood tables as well as bartenders that know their business.

If you happen to be in Maine looking for lighthouses in warmer weather, head down the coast to Kittery and see the Nubble Lighthouse

Nubble LighthouseYou can’t get close but the view is pretty, as is the drive down highway 1.

Let’s see if the third day of spring ends up any warmer, shall we?

Starting the New Year at Heceta Head Lighthouse

After 5 weeks of touring and a hectic week in 3 different cities with my family, I really wanted some quiet time for the beginning of the new year. I wanted ocean views, friendly people and no plans.

Enter, Heceta Head Lighthouse B&B in Yachats, Oregon.

The view from my room:

I came in late on the 31st and just caught the last sunset of 2011

I spent my last night of 2011 writing, thinking and reveling in all the silence and the ocean surf and I was in bed before midnight. I’ve spent quite a few of 2011’s nights on the other side of midnight so I figured it wouldn’t hurt me to get some sleep.

The first morning of 2012 started with a 7 course breakfast:

This was mango lassi, which came after the fish course  And while I’m the biggest fan of breakfast that the world has ever seen, I’ve never had a 7 course breakfast. I hope that bodes well for unexpected and extravagant meals in 2012!

The sun was out, the sky was blue and it was about 65 degrees on January 1, 2012 so I walked up to the lighthouse.

And got to see what the inside of the light in a lighthouse looks like:

Isn’t that cool? The bullseyes magnify and project the light so only one 1000 watt bulb can be seen for miles.

The views from the lighthouse hill are also extraordinary

I love the double reflection.

And after all that exertion I spent the rest of the day on the porch with some of the other B&B guests, sharing stories, reading books and hanging out. It couldn’t have been better.

Here’s to a brand new year!

The So Cal Kid and Highway 1

Definitely started getting sick yesterday and woke up to a cold today. I got started late and decided to hit the the Holy Roast coffee shop (I’d question the name but I don’t have the energy) in Santa Rosa before I left town. The kid behind the register looked like a Southern California version of a guy I worked with on Wizard of Oz. He had long braids, wide open brown eyes, a sweet manner, no ability to do his job and no awareness of a problem.

So Cal Kid: Good morning! Can I help you?

Me: Can I get an Americano and a yogurt parfait? And change for the meter?

SCK: Of course! Oh, wait. We don’t have much change. I may not be able to give you change.

Silent face off while I look at him working in a coffee shop surrounded only by metered parking with no change at 9AM and no options. He looks at me quietly. Sweetly. Silently. Probably just waiting for me to speak. So I did:

Me: can we make change out of your tip jar?

SCK: oooh, I don’t know. (He looks at his compatriot coffee maker. She must do all the heavy lifting in the thinking department. She nods.) Oh, OK!

He digs out change.

SCK: thanks so much! Have a great day!

Me: yogurt?

SCK: Oh right!

He gets yogurt out of the case. Sets it down. Walks away. I pick it up and it’s sticky all down the side. I go to the coffee station and they are out of napkins.  I go back to the front.

SCK: (sweetly) Good morning! Can I help you?

Me: Do you have napkins? I’m sorry. There aren’t any in the coffee station and it’s all sticky…

SCK: Oh goodness! Let me clean that off.

He does and returns it to me with napkins.

I pick it up and go back to the coffee station for a spoon. They are out of spoons. I go back to the front counter.

SCK: (sweetly) Can I help you?

(He seems to have a reset button wherein he neither remembers me nor gets annoyed nor has any ability to forsee my questions)

Me: I’m so sorry. Can I get a spoon?

SCK: Of course!

He brings me a spoon. By this point I have to feed the meter again because this process has taken 15 minutes and I only planned to be there for 30. I run out, leaving all my stuff in the shop, shove change into the meter and come back in with a flood of people. I sit down at my table and realize I never got my coffee.

!@)($(*@Y%B!!!!!

The very LAST thing I want is to see this kid again. Ever. But he’s plugged into a brain wipe and doesn’t remember that I exist or that I ordered coffee so I have to go back up and remind him.

He sees me come back up to the counter and get in line behind the flood of people but only attends to the kids in front of me. In every case, he rings people up, hands them change and cheerily tells them to have a good day while they stand there awkwardly and wait for him to remember that they ordered things. Then they remind him. Then he acts surprised, like “Oh, is that what we do here!?” and scrambles to get their food. But he’s so sweet natured about it that people laugh instead of getting annoyed. Is this a super power? I have to think so.

When I get up to the counter (now my 4th time in 20 minutes) he has that look that says he recognizes me but can’t figure out from where. Then he smiles:

SCK: can I help you??

Me: I ordered coffee.

SCK: Oh! Riiiiight.

Me: I didn’t get it.

SCK: Oh! Ok. Um. What was it?

I suppress a strong temptation to say “a pound of your most expensive coffee and a large Americano with 5 shots” knowing that he won’t remember and will just give it to me and wish me a great day (again). But his coffee compatriot sweeps him aside at this point and says, “Americano, right?”

Then she makes it.

Then she gives it to me.

And it takes about a minute.

Well, 26 minutes, actually. But about a minute of actual work on someone else’s part.

I fed the meter again, had breakfast and left.

Santa Rosa, I don’t know what you’re putting in your water but you might want to stop.

The rest of the day was long but beautiful. Here’s Highway 1 through northern California:

This little nondenominational meditation chapel sits outside Sea Ranch, CA. I don’t know what it’s supposed to resemble, but someone called it the “conquistador helmet church” and I like that.

Beautifully built by a local artist, both inside and out.

And then back to the ocean…

And the mountains:

Don’t you wish you’d been there?

Tomorrow: Redwoods

See you then.