Monday, October 24, 2016

The Main(e) Attraction

Portland Head Light in Maine
We don't travel much.  DH does his mountain climbing and I prefer to stay close to home, making an occasional trip to visit family and friends.  I often comment that my summer vacation is 4-H quilt camp.

A couple years ago my East coast cousins started a girl cousins' reunion on Columbus Day weekend.  I had not seen any of my cousins for 56 years including the other West coast transplant.  Only two of us live outside of New England and we just happened to be in the same state of the great PNW so it is an easy trip the others to get together.  When I mentioned the possibility of the first reunion becoming a yearly affair, my niece made me promise we would go sometime.  Last year was the worst possible timing but this year looked possible so I bought airline tickets and 4 of us went; myself, my husband, our daughter and our niece.  It was an epic trip and it took a huge amount of planing to plot our whirlwind tour of four New England states, making sure everyone had some stops of interest.

After landing in Boston, I had the driving notion we had to make it as far as Portland, ME.  After all, my memories of New England only went as far as Hampton Beach, NH, and it seemed that 4 people flying out of PDX just had to say they had crossed the nation from Portland to Portland.  Little did I know that my Uncle Sonny always brought me a bucket of sand from Maine when we were living in New Hampshire.  My dear Aunt Pearl gave me a picture of him collecting the sand.

We were pleased to have fantastic weather as we went up the coast out of Boston.  I wanted to spend more time on the beach but our schedule was tight.
Hampton Beach, NH

Of course no trip is complete without a few stops for memorabilia.  LL Bean in Freeport, ME, makes for great shopping and a few pictures, too.

On our way back into New Hampshire, a quilter and knitter just has to stop at Keepsake Quilting and Patterworks in Center Harbor, NH.  The location on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee is scenic and historic if the fabric and yarn doesn't do it for you.  Too bad our visit was on an overcast day.

As we made our our way across New England and back, all our accommodations were with Airbnb hosts.  This was a new experience but one worth repeating.  All of our overnight stays were great but some were memorable because the hosts had a special touch.  Rich and Ina's was one that has a beautiful and unique setting in a once goat barn in rural Vermont.

Note Ins's little sign to the left of the door.
Now did I say there was a main attraction, not just Maine?  Well, after our night in rural Vermont, we made it to Winchester, NH, where mom and dad intended to settle down and raise our family.  That didn't pan out but my fond and vivid memories of my aunts and uncles and their children start in the small towns of Ashuelot and Winchester, NH.  My cousin Marcia and her husband Jim still live next door to the house she grew up in on the hill just above our old house.  Marcia was our hostess for a memorable and wonderful reunion.

Tasha with Cousin Sheri
Me with Aunt Pearl (Sheri's mother)
Amy with Cousin Maralyn

The day of the reunion was rainy but the next morning was a perfect fall day in New England.  We had beautiful blue skies for our pictures in Winchester and Ashuelot.
The first home my parents owned in Ashuelot, NH
Grampa and Gramma's house on Broad Brook Rd.

Ashuelot's covered bridge

When I lived in Winchester, the Protestants had two buildings and we alternated between the brick church and the white church, depending on the season 

My love affair with turrets began with the one on Conant Library
Five Ryll brothers went off to WWII and all returned
Our house, a little less majestic without the wrap-around porch
The field once Dad's large garden
Our family doctor lived 3 houses down on Richmond, he delivered my brother, Tim (Amy's dad), at home
After our Monday morning photo session in Ashuelot and Winchester, we went on to Harrisville, once a thriving woolen mill community set among lakes and trees with more opportunities for great photos of historic landmarks in rural New Hampshire.
Lake from the Harrisville Cemetery
Harrisville General Store
Harrisville Mill #1
Tuesday took us to Amherst, MA, and tours of the Yiddish Book Center and the Eric Carle Museum and a great lunch at the Atkins Farms Country Market. 

The Yiddish Book Center resembles a shetl in pre-WWI Eastern Europe 

We finished up our week with a stop at the flagship Yankee Candle store then on to Boston to leave Tasha at the Hi Boston Hostel and a quick Thai lunch downtown.  After dodging in and out of city traffic we left our car in Chelsea and made back to Logan for another night flight across the country.  

Our epic trip came to an end all too soon.  

Twice as Nice and All Wrapped Up

Next weekend is the next to the last visit to our CSA farm for organic produce.  This is our second year supporting a CSA farm in the this area.  I wanted to do it in Walla Walla because one of my son's classmates and her husband started one but I wasn't sure we would be able to use all the produce.  Last spring, when I started the 30 Juice Challenge, I knew it would be worth our investment.  We joined as half-share members picking up produce every other week rather than every Saturday.  It's a nice Saturday morning outing to beautiful farmland, something I miss seeing as I looked down my street to the wheat fields on the rolling hills surrounding Walla Walla.

This year our farmer and her helper who checks us in are getting a little gift in appreciation for a great season and the beautiful Holy Basil plant I now have on my patio.  Two aprons are ready to be gifted on Saturday.  The perfect fabric just happened to be hiding in my stash.