Friday, July 24, 2015

Return to Santa's Village

Just about a week late but it’s been busy for me this week.  This past weekend, July 18 & 19, we made the journey to Jefferson, NH for our annual trip to Santa’s Village.  Once again Mom & Irving came along, once again we stayed at the Roger’s Family Campground & Motel, but for the first time Wesley came with us.  After all it was his first opportunity to go and he wasn’t going to miss it for anything, that and he didn’t have a choice in the matter.

We went this same weekend last year, although unlike last year when we tented out, this year under threat of thundershowers we stayed in the motel.  The hotel was a bit old, but it was clean and featured two double beds.  In our room stayed Kate, Wesley, Canaan, and myself, Addison and Mom & Irving stayed in the other room.  Addison was pleased to have her own bed while Canaan slept on an air mattress on the floor.

I had worked the night before and got out at 7am and needed to sleep a bit first.  Unlike last year we would not have the room for all to fit in Vanna so Mom came and picked up the big kids for them to ride with them as they were leaving earlier than we were.  I awoke at 11am and we were on the road by 1220pm.  It was a wonder drive over and Wesley slept most of the way.  We stopped in Gorham, NH at the Circle K to feed the boy.  Gorham is quite a beautiful town sitting between the mountains like it does with Skiers and Appalachian Trail hikers frequenting the area.

The one thing about Gorham that I have found peculiar since going through last year is the closed Kentucky Fried Chicken.  I have only ever seen a closed Fast Food Restaurant in one other place and that was a McDonalds in Greenville.

By the time we arrived Mom had already checked us in and the kids were at the pool.  They came back shortly after our arrival but went right back with us.  Water was chilly but we had a great time.  For dinner we got pizza and Irving a sandwich at the Old Corner Store a few miles up the road.  They tout themselves as being known throughout New England as a “Favorite stop for Pizza.”  I must say it was very good pizza indeed! 

Ordering Irving’s sandwich was a bit comical.  He wanted a Bacon Italian and that’s what I tried to order, however not being in Maine they call their Italian sandwiches grinders, but on their menu they have sandwich called Italian which has pepperoni, ham, & salami.  It took some doing but we finally worked it out and he got what he called a delicious sandwich.

After dinner we hit the arcade, which featured fewer games and more crane machines than last year.  It had 5 crane games, 4 driving games and 2 shooting games.  We played pool with Canaan & Irving vs. Mom & I and we won 2 games to 1.  Canaan did quite well and Addison helped me shoot in the last game.  It rained on an off for a bit and produced varying degrees of rainbows, sadly none that were all that impressive. 

I slept rather restlessly that night, as did Kate, even sitting outside from 4 to 5am listening to a podcast before catching a nap for about an hour and a half.  We brought the toaster and toasted up English muffins for breakfast, mom had bought some cakes along the way as well. 

We got to Santa’s Village just after 9am to get inline as the park opened at 930.  The kids, all 3, got an elf university card to punch.  We tried to bring Wesley on the Carousel but the attendant wouldn’t let us, we weren’t going to put him on a horse but sit on the bench.   A bit before 10am the sky opened up and it started to rain, quite heavy at times for the next 30 minutes.  The park gives out free rain ponchos.  Mom, Irving, & the big kids went on the ride Humbug while we hid in the post office.  It sprinkled one more time after that and after lunch the sun came out giving us a beautiful and quite warm afternoon.

We went to the Skyway Sleigh and I asked the attendant if Wesley could ride explaining the issue on the carousel.  She said we could ride the sleigh and she felt we should have been able to ride the carousel with him, her cohort agreed.  Canaan rode with us and Addison with Mom & Irving, at the end of the ride they take your photo and I had said for us to make faces, but no one wanted to so we smiled and it came out very well.  So well in fact that we bought an ornament, it’s too bad that Addison wasn’t with us.

At the end of the ride the attendant told us that it bothered her that we were told we couldn’t ride on the carousel.  We saw her again twice later and the second time she said she checked with a manger who confirmed to her that Wesley should have been allowed and that they would make sure all staff knew. 

The kids spent the day riding on several rides having a grand time!  We ate lunch in the picnic area bringing in peanut butter and jelly chips, pickles, and maple cookies for desert. 

Wesley had fallen asleep by the time we got to the train, I volunteered to not go on and stay with Wesley.  At the train station is located Polar Expresso to which Canaan had said earlier that Kate would like that place.  I went in and asked the clerk how much and Ice Coffee was, she told me just as I was going to ask for one Kate stuck her head in with “I wouldn’t be upset at all if you got me an Ice Coffee.”  I turned “Ma’am what did I just ask you?”  It was quite funny actually.  Wesley awoke about then so I quickly put together the ice coffee and joined them on the train. 

After the ride I quickly dashed to Santa Claus’ house for the one thing that I wanted was a picture of Wesley with Santa Claus.  Just prior to entering into the room Santa was in Wesley became fussy, Kate found it hilarious.  It was our turn and Addison was quite excited and nervous but went right in and sat on his lap.  As Wesley was being fussy I wasn’t going to have one of those Santa holding a crying baby.  However, Santa insisted and as soon as Wesley was in his hands he stopped crying and was excellent the entire time.

I got a good picture with Addison and Wesley with Santa but mine with Canaan didn’t come out at all.  However, they took a group photo of them that was fantastic!  So for the second time ever, and on the same day no less, I bought a photo from the park, time a magnet with mom also got.  When it was time to retrieve Wesley from Santa somehow he made it so that Kate got him and was forced to interact with him.  Like he could tell how she felt about the jolly old elf it was quite funny.

The kids rode a few more rides and then we headed home.  We stopped at the Crossroads Diner in Bethel for dinner on the way home.  We had eaten their last year as well and my burger was delicious!  This year though it wasn’t as good, it was good, just not as good. 

It rained on and off on the ride home, which was a bit rough with no air conditioning, but not unbearable. 

We all had a wonderful time and most likely will be planning to return next summer.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Great American 4th of July!

Greetings and salutations loyal readers!

I hope you all had a good 4th of July weekend, the Labbe family had a very successful one that was full of good times and happy memories, especially for one Canaan Joseph Labbe.

On Friday the 3rd around noonish I brought Canaan and Addison to Krista’s as they were going to spend the night with their cousins for a rockin’ good time. This started out earlier in the week with Kate offering to swap kids with Krista and ended with Krista taking them both. YAY!

Krista pretty amazing, took the kids to Baileys Island for some ocean time where Addison made new friends in deceased Jelly Fish that she carried around and made a bed for?  Later the boys stayed for some slip and slide action while the girls went to the movies, then came home for some slip and sliding of their own, no bathing suits needed. 

Saturday the 4th they took the kids to a hitting clinic with former Red Sox Bernie Carbo, he played 12 years in MLB and with the Red Sox for only a couple but they were is best years in Baseball and he was part of the 1975 team that went to the World Series.  He was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004.  The kids had a good time and they got my baseball signed that I already had signed by Jerry Remy, Oil Can Boyd, and Luis Tiant. 

We brought Addison to her mother while Canaan went with them to Aunt Carolyn’s for our 4th of July family celebration.  As usually tons of fun was had by all with numerous activities taking place.

Ice Cream Making









Ping Ponging – Canaan and Seth battled it out but I have not photographic evidence of this.

And of course eating

We even got a lesson in fish anatomy when Mrs. Mom cleaned the fish Caleb caught and showed those interested such neat things as the fishes still beating heart!

Canaan participated in all of the activities playing hard the entire time and having a blast.  What he wanted to do the most was go kayaking, it was the reason he wanted to stay with us for the afternoon.  When we dropped him with his mother they had a giant slip and slide set up, it was actually quite impressive, and within a minute of him exiting the van he was on the tube riding down the hill.

As with all the Neighoff/Mueller family gatherings there was a large group of us of 20 with Seth, Erin, & Will arriving later in the day bring the count to 23 attendees.  From my vantage point everyone had a great time just relaxing and enjoying the day.  It would have been nice to have some sun though.

Aunt Carolyn took Canaan, Landen, & Caiden out in the Kayaks going out and around the big island the whole trip taking close to an hour.  I pretty sure she had just has much fun as the boys did!

Caleb caught the biggest and only fish of the day with his 17 inch long 1 ¾ pound bass that Linda cooked and ate commenting later that it was delicious. 

The ice cream was extra tasty this day, not sure why maybe it was the fresh strawberries.

I look forward to next gathering!

Later Readers!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Day Tripping in North West Maine

Sunday June 7th Kate and I headed out for a day trip this time exploring the North West part of Maine.  We got on the road early and started out way towards Rumford to check out a waterfall. We arrived where the directions direct us which was next to the River Valley Chamber of Congress which is next to Pennacook Falls and a Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox Statues.  The Paul Bunyan statue in Bangor is more well-known, but this is the only Babe the Blue Ox statue in Maine.

Top of the falls by the Chamber of Commerce
Pennacook Falls is a series of drops that extends down the Androscoggin river through two dams totaling 176 feet.  The section by the Chamber is from a dam and is quite lovely, but down the river is a gorgeous natural falls that we discovered by chance when we went to look at the old downtown section and it is a sight to be seen.
Down the River a bit
Leading to the mill
I like Tourist information booths and Chambers and any places you can find the area information cards to guide books so you can try to find anything in the area that you might want to check out someday. 

Leaving Rumford we traveled north on 17 towards Coos Canyon, but along the way we stopped at the Black Bridge Bakery in Mexico.  When we walked into the entrance way it smelled like my Memere & Pepere’s house.  This is an out of the home bakery that specializes in baked goods as well as various meat pies and you never know what you’ll find.  I selected a Molasses cookie and a Pumpkin Whoopie Pie with cream cheese filling, Kate a standard Chocolate one with peanut butter filling.

The cookie was great and it left a molasses flavor that stayed with you in a good way.  Later in the day we ate our Whoopie Pies, Kate said the cake was dry but peanut butter filling was good.  Mine was extremely delicious!  The cake was moist and the filling was very flavorful!  If in the area again I would stop and get another without hesitation!

The town of Roxbury features a series of large wind mills or turbines that you can see along route 17.  Kate and I are weird as we like them and things like this.  We came across a spot where you could see them all really well and the power lines didn’t obstruct the view so of course I grabbed a few photos.
Zoom in to see the turbines
Coos Canyon in Byron is right off route 17 in a parking area across the street from the Coos Canyon Rock and Gift shop.  An extremely short walk later around a fence you and walk down on the rocks of this remarkable natural wonder.  The pictures don’t quite do it justice but they are several small cascading waterfalls and unique rock formations. 

The picture above this one was taken from the ledge on the righ
 Much like Little Bad Falls in Machias you could drive right by this and never know it was there if you were unfamiliar with the area.  You would be missing out if you did.

At this point of Route 17 you enter the Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway, one of several National Scenic Byways in Maine Kate and I have explored.  Off to the left you will come across a turnout called Height of Land that has an amazing view of Mooselokkmeguntic Lake, the surrounding mountains and Valley.  The turnout was built in 2011 and the Appalachian Trail crosses just prior to it.  Kate was hoping we’d come across some hikers looking for a ride into town so we could pick them up.  Sadly we didn’t.

Mooselokkmeguntic Lake
A few miles down the road is the Noyes Overlook on the opposite side of the road with views of Rangeley Lake and the surrounding area.  This scenic view is older and like many Scenic turnoffs in Maine that are 20 plus years old the tree growth has obstructed the view.  Which is why most people probably don’t stop at them anymore, however Kate and I can’t help ourselves and stop of most scenic views and historical sites.

The next stop on our journey was to the Bennett Bean Covered Bridge in Lincoln Plantation.  Built in 1898 this Paddleford truss bridge spans 92 feet over the Magalloway River and is no longer open to traffic however, it makes a wonderful spot for a picnic!  It was gorgeous out with clear skies and a breeze to spread out a blanket, have a bologna and cheese sandwich, and let the boy kicks his feet a while.

Because we were only 4 miles from the New Hampshire border we drove there as well, just to go to New Hampshire.

Our day was not over as we next stopped at Smalls Falls in Township E.  Of all the places we visited today this one boasted the most people.  Smalls Falls has a parking area, bathrooms, and many picnic tables with this coal powered BBQ grills.  Smalls Falls features a slightly difficult hike up an area of forest that has been left in its natural state.  From top to bottom the total drop is 54 feet with 4 separate drops separated by pools that people have been known to dive and swim in. 

Natures stairwell

The lost stop of the day was in Phillips at the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railway for a ride on their narrow gauge train.  The ride itself round trip is very short totaling maybe 10 minutes, however the whole experience usually lasts about 50 minutes.  Unless of course you are on the last ride of the day and there are talkers in the group then it can be more like 100 minutes, which it was.

The train takes out to their roundhouse where they do repairs on the trains.  This is also when they talk about the car you rode in to get there.  We rode in one of two cars that were built in 1884 by the Laconia Car Foundry in New Hampshire.  The floor and seats had been replaced, however, the brass fixtures that held the kerosene lanterns and the hat and coat rack at each seat were the originals ones installed 131 years ago. 

We headed home finishing the day driving a total of 244 miles.  It was such a fun day, I can’t wait for the next!

Later Readers!