View of Centennial Mountains at Red Rock Lake NWR

View of Centennial Mountains at Red Rock Lake NWR
View of Centennial Mountains at Red Rock Lake NWR

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sunhaze Meadows Gets a Boardwalk

August 16, 2016

Three refuges are managed from Moosehorn NWR. The other two refuges are Sunkhaze NWR and Aroostook NWR. I was scheduled to go to Aroostock NWR several weeks ago, but had to cancel when I had to transfer over 2000 of my seedlings into their growing cells.

But I got to visit Sunkhaze NWR as part of a volunteer group that came to Sunkhaze to start building a boardwalk on the Carter Meadow Road Trail. Sunkhaze consists of peat domes, grassy wetland meadows and flood plain forests along Sunkhaze Stream and other tributaries that flow to the Penobscot River. So this area is often very wet and easily damaged by hikers. The boardwalk will keep hikers from building new trail loops as they detour around very muddy spots and will make the hike easier.

After our over two hour drive, we arrived and waited for more volunteers to show up. We started our work day by taking a short hike to visit one of the wetland meadows, located about midway along the loop trail. Then we came back and sort of self assigned ourselves to various jobs.


The woods look very different than do the ones at Moosehorn- think they are older


A view of the large wet meadow  - but no alligators here -
 maybe in another 100 years of global warming

We were using recycled materials to build the trail. However, we had to break down huge, platform-looking structures to get the boards. I got on the demolition work crew. Some of them took sledgehammers and broke down the platforms while others took out all the nails. The nails were both rusty and were the kind that are almost like screws, with rings around them, making them VERY difficult to remove. I know that VERY WELL because that was my job.


It took several people to get the top platform drug off the stack so it could be broken apart


We used the boards currently laying under the platform - these are the deconstructor guys


Hammering out the nails

Mike gets ready to attack another nail

I got my boards organized so I could partially hammer out several nails,
then switch to pulling them out with the crowbar


The other team had two crews, one that hauled the readied boards to the crew that was actually doing the building. The design was simple. Nail pair of boards to a 6” X 6” length of wood, that was a few inches longer than the width of the pair of boards. The boardwalk started about a tenth of a mile away and then grew further down the trail from there. 


Some materials have reached the place where the boardwalk will start

The tough guys carried 3- 4 boards at a time - at least for the first few hours

Different haulers used different techniques

Kirsten was one of the fastest haulers

I took a break and sneaked off to see how the construction was coming

The guys in orange shirts - all from one company and, I think,
 did most of the actual building


We didn't finish, but can probably finish with one more work day. I was back there twice more,  those times  to help staffer Mike spray for purple loosestrife. It occurs along the road that runs along the east side of the refuge. It will devastate the wetlands, if it gets into it, and will be impossible to control. Mike is the only staffer with training in spraying for invasives. He and Bridget had just started spraying when her time ended. The spraying is done from a tank on the back of a pickup. One person has to drive the vehicle, while the other walks along and sprays the clumps of purple loosestrife. This requires a lot of jumping in and out of the truck since the clumps are often widely scattered. Other times, the sprayer just walks along as the truck stops and starts because the plants are spaced only a few yards apart. I worked two days with Mike. I was the driver the first day and the sprayer the second day. I ended up working fourteen hours that day, but I was just sitting in a vehicle for the four plus hours we traveled. But I had to get up at 4:30 to put out three sets of bee traps. When we got back, I took a half hour off to eat and organize another round of planting. I planted another forty milkweeds, watered over a hundred newly planted milkweeds and worked to clear more of our planting site of weeds. Then I had to stop and gather my bees, then process them. Before I got them processed, it was dark.


A view of (most) of the work group I really look tall because I'm standing on the boardwalk while everyone else is on the ground - I'm in blue shirt. 

I'm writing this on the Saturday following this workday, and plan to work at least twelve hours today, then get started by five tomorrow to get everything prepared for our milkweed planting work day. I have to distribute tools and flats of plants along the planting sites. One site will require hand watering, so I also have to fill a water tank on my work truck and pack up several watering cans. Life is good.

I'm hoping that with help, I'll only have a dozen to twenty more flats of forty each plants to plant by myself in the next two weeks. I will help Mike every work day until the end of August and will have to do my other jobs around that. I will then have to wait until at least next May to find out how many of the milkweeds actually survived.

And as this goes to press, I'm still planting milkweed - but I got a volunteer that has come back three times to help me. And she will probably come back a few more times before we get the last fifteen flats planted. The milkweed will completely circle the hill below headquarters and will also be the main plants growing on the sides of a ditch along the entrance road where the original planting failed. 


Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Visit to the Most Beautiful Small Town in Canada

Explore Lunenburg – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, National Historic District, winner of the Communities in Bloom most beautiful small town in Canada, Prettiest Painted Places in Canada, Port City of the Year and Society of American Travel Writers’ awards. Picturesque Lunenburg lies nestled along the scenic shores of southern Nova Scotia one hour from Halifax and the international airport.

After reading the above description and knowing that this is also a famous town for sailors - the Bluenose I and II Schooners were built there, we all wanted to go.  Kris made a reservation for a highly recommended restaurant but when we got there, the restaurant was closed. I think she had done this through Yelp so be warned that reservations through that entity are not always going to work. 

So we did a little exploration while looking for an interesting place to eat and ended up with good sandwiches and salads before spending more time exploring and shopping.  

This was indeed the most beautiful and vivacious town I've seen.  Since it is built on the bluff raising up from the harbor, one can see layers of beautifully painted houses.  I even found some being painted.  And while there were some white houses, the town was amazing for all the colors of the buildings, both for houses and shops.  

Different species of fish were street markers

Another interesting church

Two women enjoy coffee in front of a huge building mural 

Totally gorgeous architecture and painting

And then along came a tour in a horse drawn carriage - the driver was also giving details about the town

Some of the window glass was beautifully etched

A sailmaking company


Had their door open - so I snooped


Lovely home and garden

Many houses had details like this

The Ironworks- this building used to house a marine blacksmith - now it houses an artesian distillary

Oh those colors and styles



View of the stores across from the harbor



And a look uphill from the harbor



It seemed that you could have any color house you wanted


We went to the harbor to look for the Bluenose II but she was off sailing - you can take tours on her. This is a picture from their site. 


The Bluenose II


There were lots of sailing ships in the harbor



As well as many other kinds of boats



Loved the color of this pair


A cruise ship was letting its passengers tour the town


This was a really pretty and interesting town and I would have loved to explore it more. 

I just stopped on the way to Ellsworth, Maine to check this and post if for tomorrow.  I've had an exciting day that started about 5:00A when I started washing my clothes and then went out to set out three sets of bee traps before making a fabulous omelet using the fresh beet greens I got yesterday.  Then I visited a new friend and went to a little country fair.  Now I'm hunting down a resale shop that sales new LL Bean clothes. I need to hurry so I can get back to the refuge in time to plant more milkweed before the blackflies get too bad. And I need to collect and process my bees.  Have a great Sunday. Hope you have great adventures. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Visit to Peggy's Cove and Lighthouse, Nova Scotia

For our second full day in Halifax, we wandered the area south of the city.  The girls didn't like to get started early so we got to Peggy's Cove about 10:AM.  We found it almost impossible to find a parking spot and the place covered with tourists. All of us are very uncomfortable in crowds, so we didn't stay long. We had been driving under a cloudy sky, but before we left the area we started to see clearing skies.  But the good news, is I didn't have many pictures.

Peggy's Point Lighthouse is one of the most iconic of the Canadian lighthouses and the entire town is a historic site.  In years past, there was a little post office in the lower floor of it but it was closed in 2009 as the building is considered to dangerous to be inside of it. I also enjoyed the bagpipe player who was playing for tips just at the start of the path to the lighthouse.


Peggy's Point Lighthouse - also known as Peggy's Cove Lighthouse



The bagpipe player

Another beautiful building well worth visiting was St. John's Anglican Church. I would have like to have spent more time inside.  It is Carpenter Gothic Style and was stunning outside and inside. There were painted panels and some of the windows were of leaded glass.


The church as we saw it from the road



The view of the church from the entrance area


I think this was the only stained glass window

We walked a short trail to enjoy the incoming tide

I found the tide pools interesting


This was a view in the cove - the town still supports a little fishing industry


Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Surprising Encounter with Kingsbrae Gardens

August 1, 2016

This is another adventure from my vacation with two of my girls.  And do get your coffee first. I DID edit my pictures a LOT but there are still too many. 

I was advised by several people to be sure and visit St. Andrews, New Brunswick, on our drive to Halifax. It has lots of history, several walking tours, a lovely harbor and, as we found out after we got there, a wonderful garden. Kris and I visited the harbor and the downtown area and then found where to get information on the town. I knew there were walking tours but wanted the paper copy. So we walked about a half mile to the information center and there found the advertisement for the Kingsbrae Garden. Kris immediately picked that to go visit.

We were also advised by the lady giving us information that the garden had a great restaurant and their lobster bisque was wonderful. So we planned to go pay our entrance fee, and then get lunch before visiting the garden. But the restaurant was closed for a wedding.  But the park was so wonderful, we were happy to wait a few more hours for lunch.

We were in awe of the brilliant entrance, then the fabulous textures of the white garden and the peak into the formal garden, all before we got to the Visitor Center to pay the entrance fee. 

This garden has lots to see, from formal gardens to a maze. to a vegetable garden, a garden of evergreens, a garden of succulents, a garden for pollinators, and even several kinds of farm animals. There were also fruit trees and other themed gardens, as well as a wild trail through a wooded area.   Kris is a knitter and she bought a skein of wool from the gift shop that was taken from one of the alpacas we visited.

But the most important garden was the one where garden sculptures by Canadian artists were featured. This is definitely a garden to visit if you can.

Our first view - from the parking lot

Then we found the white garden on our left and a tall  hedge on our right

One view of the white garden

I loved the closeup view of these flowers.


I had to climb on a bench to peek into the formal garden behind the hedge

The white garden crossed the path just before we arrived at the Visitor Center where color burst out


A view from inside the formal garden - there were four beds like this one as well as hedges 

I love texture and this garden had it in spades 

Another view of a walkway 

Everything was thickly planted and growing lushly

I loved the juxtaposition of these flowers with the purple, shaded background

The evergreen garden was also very textured and set off the smooth statue

The density of the evergreen plantings was amazing

Pollinators were enjoying the pollinator garden and I enjoyed studying them


I love goats so enjoyed meeting these guys


One of the recently sheared alpacas


There were several of these kind of figures

I found this mysterious guy in the evergreen maze

This just may have been my favorite sculpture


Apples were getting color

This was a beautiful sculpture - but I didn't notice the hand until I looked at the picture

I particularly enjoyed this sculpture/bench

Several of the sculptures were made for streams or ponds

I loved the statement this sculpture made -
but it was way too big for a personal garden

A butterfly sculpture

This one won my personal whimsy award

I got a chuckle out of this beaver trio

This building held the restaurant which we didn't get to visit -
 but the building and landscaping was gorgeous 


These giant chairs were everywhere on the Outer Banks,
 but this was the best displayed one I've seen

We needed to continue our trip so we fially dragged ourselves from this garden and went back back to trying to find a place to eat lunch. The restaurant we were advised to go to had just closed when we arrived, so we ended up at a fish and chips place. I never bothered to find out its name, but the fish and chips were prepared perfectly. They ended up being the best food we had in Canada, even though the girls hunted for the best restaurants. Nova Scotia seems to not believe in garlic or much spice except salt and pepper, so the food was way too bland for our Texan taste. Kris and I held out to 3:00 PM in order to eat more fish and chips at the restaurant in St. Andrews on the return trip. 

If you love history, cute towns, gardens, whale watching or even kayaking, St. Andrews has something for you. You could easily spend several days there and not get bored.

For more information on this award winning garden, click here.