Monday, August 27, 2018

Summer Road Trip

And we're off!

 Miss Ava, the navigator and I (the driver) are just back from a summer road trip. Our destination was Maine but we decided not to drive all the way there in one day. Instead we overnighted in Binghamton NY because it was a somewhat convenient  halfway point. Binghamton has an amazing collection of old carousels donated to the city from 1919 to 1934.The generosity of George F. Johnson, a shoe manufacturer and great benefactor, has allowed for everyone to enjoy free rides on these beautiful treasures since then.
 There are six scattered around the city and all are on the New York State Historic Register as well as the National Register of Historic Places. With only a brief overnight stopover we were lucky enough to go and ride on just this one at Recreation Park which still has the original Wurlitzer Band Organ. Being carefully housed in this delightful building keeps it safe from the harsh weather elements but does make it challenging to take good photographs of the horses and riders. It was a quiet afternoon when we were there and we got to ride alone.
The next morning we set out for our next stop in Freeport Maine where we were to spend four nights. While on the road the navigator did a grand job of reading out the instructions and consulting the map when necessary (no gps for us!) and kept Miss Ava pointed in the right direction. Everywhere we went in Maine there were boats moored in pretty bays...and narrow winding roads with lots of signs saying "private, no parking".
 We headed towards the Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park and saw scenes like this.
 And approaching rainstorms like this.
 Walking along the trails in the park I was delighted to come across this view of an osprey nest. In chatting with another visitor who was seated eating his lunch on a park bench specifically chosen so he could watch the nest, I heard that this nest has been there for many years. At home I am an avid watcher of a livecam of a nest in the Chesapeake Bay so I was thrilled to see this view.
 On Friday we headed over to the Skowhegan State Fair which was celebrating it's 200th year. The Fair claims to be the longest running State Fair in the USA. It had all the traditional attractions: animals and other facets of rural life along with the midway area of rides and food, a special antique auto display and some different events in the later afternoon (after we left the Fair) including a demolition derby, harness racing and truck pulls. It was the rural events we spent most time at along with a wander through the antique auto display.
 The poultry tent was full of cages stacked three high holding a wide variety of poultry. Some of the cage inhabitants are clearly used to this environment (and win ribbons too) while others are carefully watched over by their young owners and taken out now and then for some cuddle time.
 This part of the farm animals display clearly had the most entries.
 Leaving the poultry tent I was halted in my tracks by this sight. Two yoked large steers being taken out of their barn area and heading for the display area. Click on the photo to get a closer view of the blissful face of the steer getting a reassuring forehead rub. We spent a good half hour watching while these and similar other beasts competed in the driving competition. Prizes were awarded for how well the pair performed, how closely they matched in size, appearance, walking and obeying commands.
 Wandering into the pig barn we found this litter of piglets that had been born only two days previously.
Other buildings were where the home gardening, produce and handcrafts were to be found. This is one of the displays from a Grange group.
 The tent housing the antique auto display was a marvelous sight of carefully polished and pampered antiques. The white wall tires were a clean white and the paintwork was like a mirror.
I imagine it is quite a different buzz going on in the late afternoon and evening when most attendees are there for the carnival rides and food or to sit in the grandstand seating and watch the demolition derby, the harness racing and other entertainment. But we enjoyed our afternoon tour of the traditional rural aspects to be found in a small Maine town area but common to many other Fairs.