Monday, July 30, 2012

Step Falls and the Pie Shack

"Our trip to Maine was amazing and very busy.  As I am settling back into our daily routine I have decided to weave in our Maine posts alongside our current posts until I catch up."

Clyde and I had planned on trying to visit a few scenic spots while we were in Maine.  One was a farm/ocean to fork restaurant in Kennebunkport called Earth and the other was a place called Step Falls.  I had read up on both and was looking forward to wonderful memories from each place.  Step Falls is a natural rock water slide in the back country of Maine.  The photos I had seen and reviews I had read persuaded me to make this trip happen.  However, it seemed our time was fleeting from the moment we stepped off the plane.  I always try to pack so much in every vacation and usually end up being completely over scheduled.  There are so many people we want to see when we go home and family always makes it to the top of the list.  I could have actually spent the entire week hold up in a cabin with all of them and it would not have been nearly enough time.  So we decided to cancel our trip to Step Falls to take an extra day to visit and relax.

I was a bit disappointed to be missing out on a trip to the falls, but we spent the day visiting family and friends, and the warm welcomes, big hugs and wonderful moments catching up with loved ones was just what we needed.  It was all good until that evening when I was chatting with my brother and I mentioned Step Falls.  He told me, he had just tried to find it last weekend but was unsuccessful in finding it's location.  He then went on to say he had heard it was a must see from his friends and with that brief conversation, Step Falls made it back on the list.  His last bit of advice was to make sure we bought a pie at the Pie Shack, like I need that much convincing buying a pie, right?

So on Friday we pushed a day trip to Kennebunkport off the plate and headed NW towards the New Hampshire border.

Step Falls is in nestled in the small picturesque town of Newry which is home to one of Maine's 9 covered bridges, Artist's Bridge, built in 1872.  The drive was beautiful along the country roads and with our Maine Atlas and Gazetteer in hand, we knew once we arrived in Bethel our destination was just up the road.  We found a artsy cafe in Bethel and stopped for a quick lunch.


Clyde checked out a selection of guide books in their small, but useful, library and we enjoyed every bite of our pizza..


The food was delicious and the service was wonderful.  DiCocoas's Bakery and Market is a must stop if you are in Bethel and their handcrafted pastries are delicious!  Clyde and I shared an amazing Coconut Key Lime bar with coffee before we left.

So, just a few minutes back on the road and we were in the town of Newry, population 344.


We soon arrived at Artist's Bridge, it was beautiful and the setting could not have been more picturesque.


The bridge has been closed off to vehicle traffic now, as they have built a steel and concrete bridge right along side to help preserve the 140 year old iconic landmark.  It was amazing to think of all the vehicles and passengers who have traveled beneath it's rustic and well worn beams.


Artist's Bridge is simple and stunning and so romantic.  It really is a must see and since I know you will all want to go to Step Falls after this post, you must take the small detour to this amazing piece of Maine/American history.

Back on  Highway 26, and just a few miles from the New Hampshire border there is a narrow dirt road/path off into the woods, that is the parking lot to Step Falls.  The turn is just before the sign marking Wight Creek.


There is no sign for Step Falls, until you are in their wooded parking lot, which makes it a bit hard to locate.  We drove past it on our way there but noticed a few cars in the woods and figured that must be it; luckily we were correct.


After a short 15-20 minute walk through the woods you will come upon the falls.  It is breathtaking when you step out of the dark cool forest to the hot sunlit granite slabs, crystal clear water pouring down so fast, curving this way and that way in such a determined fashion.

The landscape is hard to explain and it's hard to capture the scale in photos.  It is massive, and some of the pools are deep enough to cannon ball into; although we did not do that.  We were happy to wade in the shallow pools, slide into the deeper pools and stand in the cool swift current rushing past us.

Can you see the people halfway up? See I told you it was massive.

It was as if we had dropped in on some magical storybook.  


This place is captivating and the views are incredible.  The sound of the water rushing is surprisingly calming and the pools are a refreshing respite from the hazy, hot and humid Maine Summer heat.  I can not wait to return, next time with my family so we can all enjoy it together.


And least we forget the Pie Shack, or should I say pie shack.  We saw the sign on the way to Step Falls.  The sign announcing pies, cookies and whoopie pies and we saw the cute little shack that appeared to hold the famous baked goods, and we planned to stop on our way home.


What we had not planned on was that the pie shack stood alone along the side of the road and was seeming run by no one, there was not even a parking lot.  


We pulled off into the gravel along the roadside and walked up towards the pies.

The sign inside, as if it was standing guard over the fresh baked goods read, "Please put money in box on tree" and pointed to the right.


Bewildered at such a concept, I gazed at the handmade goodies.  There were Maple Cream Cookies, Strawberry Rhubarb Pies, Apple Pies, Blueberry Pies, Whoopie Pies and homemade dog biscuits.  I told Clyde to pick whatever he wanted because it all looked delicious to me.

And before I knew it he was placing his money, in the box, on the tree to the right.


We jumped back in the truck and headed back to Clyde's Mom's for dinner.  We did not want to be late for supper as the menu for the evening was homemade Lobster Stew and now included a homemade Blueberry Pie from the pie shack.  Ok, so we do know their true name is Puzzle Mountain Bakery and they actually have a Facebook page but we still like call it by the name the locals call it, "the pie shack". 


Dinner was so good and my Lobster Stew was gone before I thought to grab my camera, but I did have a chance to snap a photo of this wonderful Wild Maine Blueberry Pie, it was delicious. 


 Oh it was a lovely day in Maine.

Would you stop and buy a pie on the side of the road?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Seattle Great Wheel Birthday Adventure

Tuesday was my Sweeties birthday.  I surprised him with a trip into the city after work.  The plan was a fun, whimsical evening and just as she always does, Seattle delivered exactly what I had in mind.

The Seattle Great Wheel opened June 29th and at 175ft tall, it boasts it's the tallest Ferris Wheel on the west coast.  For those of you who need it,  each car is has a panic button that will get you back on the ground in case of an emergency.


This was such a fun night, the weather was perfect, one of the employees asked if anyone was celebrating a special event and then he coordinated, about 80 strangers to sing, "Happy Birthday" while we waited in line.

After a beautiful ride we enjoyed a lovely dinner, al fresco, at Elliott's Oyster House and then Clyde found a Skee-Ball game. I swear the boy can sniff them out within a 25 mile radius.  He loves to play and the arcade on Pier 57 had the one that spits out tickets!  I thought the boy was gonna burst he was so happy!

We ended the night late, with a set of plastic dice, 1 scary temporary tattoo and a gold tone metal ring. which Clyde happily presented to me in front of the 19ish year old "PRIZE" employee; who gleefully shared in his exuberance.

It was a great Tuesday Birthday!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Parents Surprise 50th Anniversary ~ part 3

 To have and to hold from this day forward, July 7th, 1962.


Their wedding was 50 years ago and the celebration continues to this day........

I know I can speak for my sister, brother and our parents and say, "Thank you", to everybody who shared in this wonderful day; as well as those who could not attend but sent wonderful cards and were with us in spirit.  You all made this day a beautiful celebration of love, life and friendship, xoxo.

Parents Surprise 50th Anniversary ~ part 2

Fifty years of anything requires a grand party, but 50 years of marriage and all that that brings with it, is exceptional.  We wanted to celebrate this commitment they made to each other, as well as our family, surrounded by love and friendship. 

This was BIG.

We were excited to create a space that was festive, whimsical, and filled with celebration.  Within the past year we orchestrated obtaining original wedding photos from their beloved and highly guarded album, we devised a plan to get a hold of and copy Mom's address book, A-Z, and we phoned her work to ensure that she would have the day and following week off.  We had lists and checked items off as we went along, guest list, restaurant, menu, cake, favors, decorations and so on; check, check, and check.
July 7th, 1962

Friday we worked on decorations.  We were running around town picking up a few final items when my brother called to inform us there was an issue with the helium tank we had scheduled for him to pick up, apparently there is a helium shortage; who knew?  After a few calls and a bit of concern, the gas company did allow us enough helium required for the number of balloons we had purchased, "Thank you", MaineOxy.

We spent the rest of the afternoon prepping at my sisters home.


It was fun looking over old photographs, and we joked about the possibility of Mom stopping by unannounced, just then my phone rang and displayed my parents phone number, I was entirely caught off guard so I did what I thought was right and I let the call go to voice mail, yikes!


That evening my sister, brother and I, along with our mates, met with dear friends for dinner.  The Sedgley Place is a stately Federal home built in 1876 that has been turned into a true Country Inn Dining experience.


The Sedgley Place serves a lovely five course meal family style, which was exactly what we needed.

We have known these friends since we were "littles" and it was fabulous to recall fond memories, catch up on current times and hear them recant stories of our parents back in the day.  There was a lot of laughter and love that night and we chatted long after dinner in the parking lot, until the mosquitoes chased us back to our vehicles.


Saturday morning all hands were busy.  The excitement of our small group of family and friends who offered to help, filled this old textile mill turned Italian restaurant with fun and merriment. 


Everything came together beautifully.

Up went the cupcake tower,


...up went the banner,


...and up went the balloons.


Such beautiful girls.

We were done ahead of schedule and the room was perfectly festive in gold and white.  Apothecary jars held 1960's era candy,  we had their wedding photos enlarged and scattered about the room, and a chalk board easel displayed trivia which reminded us how the times have changed since 1962.


A little post prepping sibling chat.


The scene was set, the guests started arriving right on time and the happy couple were en route.

Parents Surprise 50th Anniversary ~ part 1

For over the past year my sister, brother and I have been planning a very special surprise.  Our parents 50th Anniversary celebration. Now obviously their 50th Anniversary was not a surprise, but the plan they were told was there would be a small family lunch at a local restaurant and unfortunately Clyde and myself were not attending.  I made up every excuse in the book, work schedule, air fare hikes, and any other reason I could think of to throw them off track.  It was hard to keep these secrets and there were many times I thought they knew, somehow they knew.   

July 7th 1962

The last month was super busy with final preparations and organizing my work files as I would be out of town for the next 12 days, and before I knew it we were heading to the airport.

Well good morning Mount Rainier.

I never sleep before a flight, I think I am both nervous and excited and there is always a big sigh once we are off.   If we left anything it's too late and my phone is off for the next 7-8 hours, so I just sit back and breathe.

The weather was perfect which helped distract my thoughts and the view out the window of seat 30A was breathtaking.

That would be Mount Adams to the left and majestic Mount Rainier front and center. 
......and here is the triple play with Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, and Mount St. Helens.
Just when we were expected to see the Rocky Mountains, the clouds set in and my view remained this way for the remainder of the trip.

This is how I travel, always have, always will.  Animal crackers, in the box.

After a layover in Baltimore, it was just a short flight to Portland, Maine.

This was just the beginning of an amazing vacation.

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