Winter is officially here in western Maine. The temperature dropped down to the 4 degrees the last two nights. Yesterday the wind was gusting over 50 mph and the wind chill was down around -15. Kinda chilly to be teaching beginners how to ski!
Be careful what you ask for!
It’s all good.
We are all settled in for the winter with a “mud room” built under the 8×20 awning and insulation everywhere I can add it inside and out. A couple of extra space heaters, a jury-rigged awning “garage” for the truck and we are snug a bear!
While I am out on the mountain teaching (Sunday River Ski Resort), Shelly is home training and doing what she does (blogging, taking training classes, helping other nonprofits).
We just wanted to put out an update and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and hope that your holidays bring joy and happiness!
They say behind every cloud is a silver lining. Our silver lining is For The Love of Goose – For The Love of People dedicated to Training Their Own Service Dogs…
He was an amazing dog who raised awareness and money for people with all types of disabilities.
Did you know a highly trained dog can:
* turn on the lights and wake someone from a nightmare? *detect low blood sugar levels? *assist someone during a seizure, laying across them to keep them safe and going to get help if needed? *interrupt bad behavior? *and so much more…
We did not know! Not until Goose taught us.
During our time with him we learned the power of dogs and the tremendous power of service dogs. We want to keep this going!
Shelly has trained hard to get certified as a national trainer/facilitator with Atlas Assistance Dogs.
Currently, we have an 18 month old chocolate lab (Daisy) in training and will soon be getting an 8 month old Golden Retriever.
Another crucial fact we have learned along the way is that training a service dog is not a sprint – it’s a marathon and costs a lot of money.
In honor of Goose and all he stood for and accomplished – we decided to start For The Love of Goose Foundation. Our mission is to train dogs to be placed where needed as best we can. Many who need this help cannot afford it. You can help offset training expenses so we can place dogs with people who so desperately need them in their lives.
We really like this area a lot! Bethel, Maine to our surprise was just named one of the top ten ski towns in all the USA! Who knew?
People are super friendly and welcoming and very laid back. The area is absolutely stunning with the Androscoggin River running through the valleys and mountains headed to the Maine Coast only 90 miles away.
The RV is all settled in with a new mudroom, insulated skirt, additional 100 pound propane tank, as well as extra little heaters and light bulbs in vital areas to help prevent freezing of pipes and tanks. Good thing as the weather forecast is calling for 18 degrees in the next ten days!
We left you in early October heading for Gettysburg on our way to Sunday River Ski Area and our ‘winter quarters’. So let’s catch up! We ended up traveling 2800 miles from Sunday River back to Sunday river in about a month! Whew!
Gettysburg was awesome. Even Shelly who has seen enough forts, battlefields and historical sites to last her a lifetime was suitably impressed. You have to imagine a 3 day battle neither army wanted where the Union army brought 125,000 men and left 24,000 on the field dead and wounded and the Army of Northern Va brought 75,000 and also left 24,000 dead and wounded on the field.
And they left those men there in the rain on July 3, 1863 for a town of 2400 people to care for. You can feel it as you walk around. Staggering.
If you are a history person at all, you have probably seen the image of the Confederate sniper in the rocks that was staged three days after the battle. It was awesome to stand in that same spot!
We were able to camp in a park right across the street from Little Round Top. Daisy and I ran through much of the park each morning we were there by ourselves before it opened. I do not have the words to convey that experience.
From there, just up the road is Hershey PA so of course we had to visit. It was a bit anticlimactic after Gettysburg but worth a quick visit.
With trouble brewing in the slideouts we decided to punch on up to Bethel and get some work done and settle in before the advent of weather – which has been beautiful until now.
Apparently we brought with us the most beautiful fall colors seen in these parts in years! So now we are spoiled and will never be able to appreciate the Maine/New Hampshire/Vermont colors again!
See for yourself in the video.
At the end of the month we make the 2000 mile round trip to Marion NC for family Thanksgiving, then back for the start of ski season December 6. Hard to imagine really since it has not snowed yet! We are hoping the boys come visit after Christmas if possible.
And Shelly is going to pick up another Golden Retriever puppy to start training for hearing alert for a friend who lost their dog lately.
The Goose video is done and will be out very soon. That continues to be a hard thing for us but crazy Daisy helps take the sting out somewhat. Your thoughts, emails, texts and prayers on the loss of Goose have been extremely touching and we are very appreciative.
Here we are another month and another 1500 miles under the wheels with lots of memories and a huge loss.
And we finally made it to Maine! Definitely the best part of this trip – although it’s all wonderful.
We loved Maine. Booth Bay, Bar Harbor (Acadia National Park), Calais, Camden, Rockport – all of it. We could live there.
So we shall. Not on the coast though. This winter the plan is to head to Hanover, Maine (and Sunday River Ski Mountain) to teach some skiing. Why not?
But for the next two weeks, we continue westward through Pennsylvania towards Gettysburg. I can’t wait to see that historic site! Later this week we pick up our next service dog in training. I can’t believe we are adding another puppy to the household! “It’ll be fun” she says!
Yea right. We need a bigger RV!
It has been a very relaxing and enjoyable month since we left Lake Placid. We’ve put some miles under us for sure!
From Lake Placid, little, skinny, windy, hilly roads took us through Vermont, New Hampshire to Mt Washington and on into Maine,looking for a ski mountain we liked with an RV park nearby open all winter. Not in Lake Placid, nor Sugarbush but in the little town of Hanover, Maine we found an RV park we liked just a few miles from a mountain we also liked called Sunday River. Kinda cool that it is named liked Red River in New Mexico!
Here comes the hard part and one of the reasons I have not written in a while. While we were in this RV park, on our 34th anniversary, having almost decided to come back for the winter – we lost our beloved Goose. God took Goose for some reason at 8 years old at 2am. He went from perfectly healthy to not in one evening. We miss him more than tears can say. When I can, I will make an awesome video for and about him. This is going to make Shelly cry again but I have to put it in.
But life goes on and we must also.
We headed east for a lobster roll. Our long time friends Sue & Mark told us to visit BoothBay and see their buddies Tim and Liz Brown so we found a brewery that let us stay and headed that way. We spent two days and had a great time. We love the Maine coast! Both days we went to a little bitty country store next to an old drawbridge and splurged.
Lobster rolls (you would not believe how good these things are!), crab rolls, and clam chowder. We had to leave as the $60 lunches were killing us! We found the Staley’s friends and had a good time talking memories.
One night we went into town on the waterfront for cocktails and appetizers, stumbled into an open mic night, and got to play a few songs with the band. Fun!
From there we headed north along the coast through Rockport, Camden and Searsport where we stopped to check out the history museum. This area was the home of the sailing fleets of old and Searsport had more captains at sea than any other town in America.
All along the old highway 1 are the most amazing homes, barn and rock walls. We loved just driving the roads. In another example of how things seem to (almost) always work out perfect is that we originally were going to be here in mid July when we got the job at the Indiana State Fair. That pushed our timeline to arriving the day after Labor day.
We had no idea how touristy this whole area is and were super pleased to have missed July and August! Traffic was bad enough in September! The other interesting thing we found was how close everything is once you get to the coast. From Boston to Calais, Maine at the Canadian border just is not that far! But the tolls are awful. Prices are ridiculous. Produce is amazing. People are nice.
Mount Desert Island holds both Bar Harbor and Acadia National Area. If you have never been – put it on your bucket list. Especially if you like to hike. There are some absolutely stunning hikes and paths throughout Acadia.
On up to Calais after a stop at a very old state park we barely fit into, with almost no one else around and lots of hiking. The tides are starting to get closer to 25 feet so the difference between low and high is hard to imagine.
Calais, Maine is a very small town right at the tip of downeast Maine on the Canadian border and sits on the St Croix River. In the 1800s, this area boomed with river traffic and the remains of the log and mud docks are fascinating. No river traffic now though!
From Calais we turned back south towards Camden again. In 1978 I was an engineer on a 120’ private yacht from Acapulco to Southampton, England. The crew were mostly from a town in Maine and for some reason I thought it was Camden. Although I had not spoken to any of these guys since 1979, I thought it worth a try to see if they were to be found. It took me 30 minutes and two people to find Alden Cole who was the first mate. We talked about old times and old friends and headed on down the road. Pretty cool.
Our next planned stop was west of Philadelphia at our friend David’s house. We were going to crash his yard for a week, get some work done (the truck is STILL overheating on steep hills!) and Shelly has a full weekend to complete her service dog Team Facilitator certification with Atlas Service Dogs.
But first we (I) wanted to see Boston. How could we be so close and not go see where it all started? We found a place to park the RV at a really old State Park (expensive!) and drove the truck in that afternoon for a quick looksee.
First – do not take a dually truck into Boston. Just saying. There is not enough room. We could not even fit in any of the garages! We drove around Boston Commons (right by the “Cheers” bar) 7 or 8 times and finally found a parking space just big enough to squeeze in just because the guy behind us moved back! My rear wheels were on the sidewalk just to stay out of the road!
We paid for a tour and although interesting I recommend if you go, just take a map and follow the clearly laid out brick walk for the 2.5 mile real tour on your own.
Still – to be able to see the graves of the men who started it all – to see the long wharf where the shots were fired – the churches etc. It was awesome. If I had the money I would get a hotel downtown, and stay for two or three days. We stayed three hours and fought our way out of the 4pm traffic. Awful!
On the way through southern Maine, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania we stayed at several farms. These were really cool farms that reminded of us High Country Stables on a grand scale. 4th and 5th generation families who had hundreds of acres planted in all kinds of fruits (mostly apples, peaches, blueberries, raspberries etc) and facilities to sell direct to the public by making it fun. Hay wagons, bands, u-pick, country stores with fresh bakery and bbq and much more. We had a great time! Even got to play some more music.
Today we are headed for Gettysburg, then circling around back up to Maine to get set up for winter and skiing! The leaves are falling like crazy, and we seem to have missed the fall colors somewhat. Maybe in the next two weeks as the weather changes..