We woke up early to a very foggy and windy morning accompanied by intermittent rain. For the first time since we bought the new flag last Wednesday, we didn’t raise it first thing in the morning.
After a breakfast of breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola, we decided to tackle the job of cleaning the keeper’s quarters…top to bottom. We vacuumed all the exposed rafters in the kitchen and the exposed second floor joists on the first floor. Lots of cobwebs and other goodies that collected over the winter. We also hit the brick walls throughout the house. After that, everything (pictures, lamps, furniture) got a good dusting and wiping down. The tub got a scrub and the windows all got a wash on the inside. Several rugs and runners were put out on the porch to be hung and beaten when the weather’s nicer.
By early afternoon, we were finished and felt good about the look and feel of the place. We had a quick lunch of leftovers and figured out what to do with the rest of the day. The weather got steadily better (although cooler) after lunch and we even got some sunshine and put up the flag around 2. A few times a thick fog blew in and blanketed us for a while but then it moved out again and the sun would be out. It was a strange day of weather – like a few days wrapped up in one.
We worked on a few things in the workshop including sanding the screen door and insert that Rick is going to work on for the gift shop on Wednesday and fixing a large print of a Kennebec and Sheepscot Rivers chart that fell down in the living room last week. Patty also got the date/time fixed on the weather station so that we will now get correct sunrise and sunset times. Between her fix and me fixing the rain gauge on it a few days ago, I think it’s totally functional now.
There was a Weber Q gas grill in the workshop that we moved up next to the kitchen to use for grilling outside. I think we’ll use charcoal when we have friends and family visit but day to day, we’ll use the gas grill.
While I was messing around with the grill and whatever else, Patty made granola which we were just about out of. She also did a little clothes wash in a Lowes bucket that we brought with us. It’s our manual camper wash method – a 5-gallon bucket with a hole cut in the lid and a plunger (never previously used for it’s intended purpose). Add some soap, hot water, and dirty clothes then put the plunger in and and snap the lid on. Now, make like you’re churning butter with the plunger and your clothes get washed. The rinse (same basic idea) and hang to dry. It works although everything we wash is going to end up some shade of orange because of the color of our water from the iron.
While we worked in the afternoon, in and out of the house, we caught bits of the Redsox vs. Orioles game that we had on the radio. We both enjoy having a game going on in the background even if we’ve never followed the Redsox before. I guess by the end of the summer, we’ll know everything about all the players.
By the time sunset rolled around a little after 8, we had a nice view of bright red clouds over the mainland with a bright white reflection on the shoreline across the water and a stream of red from the sun reaching towards us.
At the end of the day, we relaxed and felt good about what we accomplished. Tomorrow’s weather looks like it’ll be good so we can get back outside in the sun and fresh air.
It’s been a gray, windy, and wet day here on Seguin that started with us sleeping in a little and generally taking it easy all day long. We’ve been here just over a week and have been going pretty much non-stop since we arrived so we don’t feel too bad about getting just a few things done and otherwise taking the day to relax.
After breakfast, Patty whipped up some homemade pizza sauce for dinner later. We got the lettering on one of the donation boxes painted and ready to put back up – the rest of the box needs to be painted in place because we can’t back out the screws securing it to the kiosk. It was nice to have the door off though because it was easier to paint on a workbench than in place. Patty took everything out of the kitchen cabinets and drawers to thoroughly clean and organize them for our use.
In the late afternoon, we heard a Coast Guard alert (the first one we’ve heard) about a cabin cruiser taking on water at the mouth of the Sheepscot River. I went up in the tower to take a look and see if I could see anything with binoculars but I couldn’t. I think the visibility was good enough to see into the Sheepscot Bay but maybe not all the way up to the river or maybe it’s not even visible on a good day?
I also took care of getting our data plan updated since we used up all of our data accidentally in the first week. I also figured out how to set our connected in Windows to “metered” which supposedly will limit some of the background bandwidth usage like Windows updates. We’ll see… I hope so. After I got that squared away, I updated the FOSILS website with several blog posts to get it caught up.
For the rest of the afternoon, we listened to the Red Sox game, read, and just took it easy.
For dinner, Patty made a homemade pizza (except for the store bought crust) with sauce, mozzarella, cheddar, and Parmesan cheeses, and mushrooms. The day ended just as it began with gusting winds and generally damp conditions. We sat in the living room with the heater on and read until we called it an early night.
Michael made one final meal before they were set to depart at 11:30 this morning. Patty & I and Cyndy & Michael both brought a couple of pints of blueberries to the island last Saturday and there were still a lot left so he made blueberry pancakes with link sausage. After our big breakfast, Cyndy & Michael got to work packing up their things and cleaning the guest quarters to make it ready for future overnight guests. Patty and I headed down to the Whistle House to work on some jobs we started in the workshop.
I worked on a screen door that’s getting refurbished to be used in the gift shop while Patty finished the Lighthouse Trail sign. On Wednesday, Rick (a Wednesday Warrior) wants to modify the door to fit in the door frame but asked if we could do the preliminary work of removing the old screen (attached with half-round he wants to reuse) and sanding it. I got the first part of that finished and will sand later. We also fixed one of the “stay off” warning sign hanging by the top of the tram and just generally just puttered around.
Mid-morning, Cyndy and Michael were ready to head down to the Cove for their 11:30 rendezvous with Ethan. They loaded most of their things onto the tram car which was already parked at the top. Cyndy took Grady and kept him clear of the operation while Patty and Michael walked down to the Donkey Engine House to run the tram. I walked alongside the tram car as it moved down the track just watching it and ready to radio down if anything went awry. Luckily, all went well.
The four of us carried everything down to the cove to await Ethan’s arrival. We had an hour or so before he would arrive and Cyndy, Patty, and I spent the time just relaxing on the beach while Michael headed back up the hill to take some last photos. The tide was the lowest we’ve seen since we got here last Saturday revealing a pretty large sandy beach. Cyndy thought about taking a swim but the breeze kicked up and she opted for a jacket instead.
When Ethan arrived, Michael and Cyndy rowed out with a full load of stuff to transfer to the boat. Michael got off the dinghy and Cyndy rowed back for the final load of stuff and then returned one last time to get Grady. It took lots of (physical) coaxing but Grady finally got into the dinghy for the ride out to the boat. I rowed this time and Grady was happy to follow Cyndy out of the dinghy onto Ethan’s boat. With one last handshake with Michael and a hug from Cyndy, they headed towards Popham and I rowed back ashore. Patty and I pulled the dinghy up to the high tide mark and tied it up before we headed up the hill. Passing by the info kiosk just above the cove, Patty took the cover off the donation box and brought it with . It’s made of unpainted wood and doesn’t really stand out in a way that it catches your eye as you go past. She wants to paint red with white lettering to make it pop a little more.
The weather today was perfect while the forecasts for tomorrow and especially Monday are not so good so we thought we should take care of some outside tasks this afternoon.
Once we were back up top, I took out the push mower to cut the front lawn hill (I think this is the third or fourth cut already) and Patty hopped on the riding mower to get everything else again. The grass was really long when we got here and it’s also really thick. Patty is good at maneuvering the riding mower in such a way that most of the clippings get blown to the edges of the lawn but the push mower bogs down if I try to do that which means a little raking cleanup after cutting. I feel like we’re getting close to the point where the grass is cut to the point that we won’t need to rake afterwards. I finished off by weed whacking around the flag pole, bell, front porch, sidewalks, and everywhere else it was needed.
While I was just starting to weed whack, a couple came up the trail and I stopped to chat with them for ten or fifteen minutes. They were locals out for a boat ride and decided to stop for a hike. As they were starting to head to the North Trail (the only one we still haven’t weed whacked), two boys and their mom came up the trail. Patty had come up from the Whistle House and took them for a tour up to the lighthouse and walked down to the Whistle House with them to show the boys the fog horn. They were also locals out for a boat ride and while the three of them were checking out Seguin, we could see the dad fishing out in his boat off the east side side of the island.
Once they all left, Patty headed inside to give the fridge & freezer a good, thorough cleaning while I cleaned up outside. The last thing we did was to start the process of weeding and turning the garden. We got maybe a third of it finished and are hopeful that we’ll finish within the next few days so we can get some seeds in the ground.
When we finally came inside, Patty made a quiche/omelet sort of thing in our cast iron pan using eggs, leftover sausage from breakfast and some veggies for a late dinner. I acted goofy and “helped.” We ended the night by going up into the lighthouse to take a night time look at the view.
The four of us started off the day with a breakfast of oatmeal with blueberries and discussion of today’s plan. This is the last day that Cyndy and Michael will be here with us and they planned to just relax and enjoy the day. The weather wasn’t very good so Patty and I decided to focus on some indoor tasks.
Through the week, working on mostly sunny days, Cyndy was only able to clean the lighthouse lens for an hour or so at a time before it got too hot to be bearable. She’d take a break to cool off and do something else and then return to the job for another stretch until it got too hot again. By today, she had finished cleaning each of the individual pieces (258 in total) that she could reach. I was volunteered to finish the cleaning because I can reach the highest as the tallest one here. Still, even with a step stool, I could not reach the very top three rows of individual lenses. The ones at the top are almost vertical and become progressively more horizontal top to bottom. The ones at the top were not very dirty so that skipping them wasn’t really noticeable.
It took me all morning and about half of the afternoon to to finish cleaning the top four feet or so of lens but when I was finished, I could really tell the difference. Occasionally, the sun would peek through the clouds and the cleaned lens shined brilliant prisms on the inside of the glass tower windows and walls.
While I was up in the tower, Patty thoroughly cleaned the museum and at the suggestion of Bev, a former Seguin keeper, made a stanchion rope type thing out of rope and a salvaged buoy to keep folks from going behind the gift shop counter. Afterwards, she continued working on some of the trail signs that needed painting and repair. She re-stenciled the Lighthouse Trail sign and took care of some others with broken stakes. We also fixed the weather station (it was showing crazy rainfall rates) when we saw that the rain bucket attachment was not attached correctly. The kitchen screen door had a broken spring that we replaced and also added a couple of stop blocks to the door jamb to prevent it from closing too far and getting stuck which had been happening all week.
When our workday ended, I helped Patty make a dinner of fish tacos with a side of homemade coleslaw.
It was a foggy evening, just like it had been most of the day which meant no sunset but it also gave us the first view of the “umbrella” effect that the light creates when it reflects off the moisture of the fog.
I wrote this blog post in real-time but it will be a few days late showing up on the website because we ran out of data on our plan. We’re using an AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot for our Internet access and it didn’t occur to either of us that we’d need to make some changes to our laptop settings to avoid exactly what happened. Lesson learned! Between automatic Windows updates, an active OneDrive account, and all the other background activity using bandwidth plus lost of posting of pictures and videos to the blog and FaceBook, our monthly allotment was used up in less than a week. We’re going to increase our monthly data allotment but will also change a little about how we post. The daily blog posts will be our priority but we’ll probably also use a couple of thumb drives to pass pictures and videos off to Julie (the FOSILS person in charge of social media) to post when we see her each Wednesday.
Tomorrow we’ll see Cyndy and Michael off and be left on our own to run things. We’ve learned lots about the quirks of living here and feel confident that we’ll be fine and know that Cyndy’s just a phone call away if we need anything.
The weather today was perfect – sunny, warm, and a light breeze the entire day. I am not sure if the weather we’ve had is unusual for this time of year in coastal Maine but we’ve been pleasantly surprised with how nice the weather has been. We have only had one rainy day so far although, to be fair, yesterday while we enjoyed nice weather off-island, the fog never really lifted off of Seguin.
We set out shortly after 8am to take advantage of the good weather to get as much done outside as we could. Patty started with the riding mower (she says that it is more fun than an adult should be allowed to have!) on the top lawn which already needed a second cutting and Michael helped out with a push mower getting the hills and around obstacles where the riding mower couldn’t reach. Meanwhile, I went down to the South Trail which hadn’t been touched yet except for the first ten feet or so. Cyndy was the only one working inside but still got plenty of heat and sun up in the lighthouse tower where she continued her work on the task of cleaning (inside and outside) the 1st Order Fresnel lens consisting of 282 separate pieces of glass totalling nine feet tall and 6 feet in diameter.
The South Trail leads from the Lighthouse Trail (the main trail from the cove to the top of the island) to the southernmost point of the island on the eastern side. I think it’s the second longest trail (North Trail is longest) and was very overgrown with grass between knee and waist high most of the way. With my supplies of gas, water, extra string, and a rake, I spent the better part of the morning weed whacking the trail. During the hours I was working on it, I was mostly in the sun and with the trail situated about halfway between sea level and the top of the island, I didn’t get a lot of air movement. In other words, it was hot! I’d weed whack for a while and then stop to take a break while raking up the clippings. Cyndy came down to check on me at one point and I was grateful that she’d disposed of the piles of clippings I’d left along the way. She took my water bottle to refill it but along the way, handed it off to Patty, who had finished mowing, when she was coming down to help me finish the trail. So far, this is my favorite trail, especially the end of it that is a rocky point out into the water. Patty and I stood at the point for a long time enjoying the sun and breeze while we watched several lobster boats checking their pots.
Patty and I left the trail clearing supplies where the Lighthouse and South trails meet and headed up to the house for a snack of apples, carrots with hummus, a banana, and some cheese. We sat on the porch in the shade and looked out at the sea, taking it all in, and feeling fortunate to be here.
After a half hour or so, we headed down to get our gear and went to work on the Lighthouse Trail. It had been quickly cleared over the weekend but it needed to be trimmed a little more thoroughly with the clippings raked away. We worked our way from top to bottom with me trimming and Patty raking until we reached the bottom. We were on a roll so we decided to keep going and give the area around the Donkey Engine House a second cutting. Patty got a a push mower out of the Donkey Engine House and I kept going with the weed whacker getting all the areas around the tram, information kiosk, outhouse, and Donkey Engine House where the push mower couldn’t reach.
While we were down there, I heard a boat coming into the cove and went up on the tram to take a peek and saw it was Jackson, “the” lobsterman, dropping off our lobster in a keeper box that is tied to a mooring bouy. The box floats and the lobster stay alive in it until we’re ready to get and cook them. We’re planning to take advantage of this perk of the job often.
Both of us were sweaty and covered with grass clipping when we we finished cutting and trimming down around the Donkey Engine House so we headed up the hill to change and cool off. After changing and a short break, we went to the Whistle House (workshop) to make some new stakes for island signage. Around the island, there are signs for the different trails, directional arrows, warnings for poison ivy and the like. So far we’ve noticed two signs with rotted stakes that we want to replace and figured we’d make five in order to have some extras. We cut and painted them along with the main Lighthouse Trail sign which was looking a little the worse for wear. We’ll go back and re-stencil that one after it has a couple of new coats of the base green paint.
Finally, before calling the work day completed, we went down to the Donkey Engine House and got two of the water jugs we had stored there and carried them up to the house. We’re not going to have use of the tram much this summer because of its’ condition and will have to carry the water up as needed. We’re still working out the best way to handle that since the jugs are big and heavy.
When we got back up to the house, Michael asked us if we would go get the lobster from the keeper box so we headed back down the hill with Cyndy’s cooler. I had a chance to row the dinghy on Wednesday (and the skiff on Saturday) but Patty hasn’t had a go yet so she took the oars for our lobster run. We dragged the dinghy down from where we tie it up well above the high tide line and headed out towards the box. Patty rowed us out and maneuved so that I could grab the box at the stern of the dinghy and then pull it up onto the boat. Jackson rubber bands the claws so getting the lobster into our cooler was not a tough job although a couple of the lobsters still tried to put up a good fight.
We resecured the dinghy and then headed back up once again, this time with Cyndy’s cooler full of the twelve lobsters we retrieved from the pot. The cooler was a pull behind with wheels making the job fairly easy. We had to carry it over some rocky places on the trail but mostly we could roll it. We turned the cooler over to Cyndy by the kitchen where she was getting the pot boiling. Meanwhile, Michael had showered, I went next, and then Patty showered.
We sat down for our first lobster meal here on Seguin. Cyndy cooked eight lobsters first so that we each had two along with a spinach salad. Patty and I needed a refresher course from Cyndy on how to get the meat out of the tail. One of my lobsters was really big – so big that I could barely get the shell cracker around the claw. I was close to getting a hammer to give it a whack when it finally gave in. After wrestling with and eating the lobster, we decided that next time we will shower AFTER dinner ;-).
After we finished eating, we went outside to watch another beautiful sunset after which Michael and Cyndy lowered and folded the flag. We went back inside as it started to get chilly and each took one of the remaining four lobsters and cleaned them for tomorrow’s lobster salad lunch. Besides those remaining four, Patty and I hadn’t finished our second lobster so we had that to throw into tomorrow’s container.
Tomorrow’s weather looks a little iffy so I’m glad we got a lot done outside today. We have plenty of things to do inside or out so whatever the weather brings, we’ll be busy.
Today was our first day off even though we’ve only been here a few days. Weather permitting, each Wednesday, we’ll get a ride with Ethan back to Popham Beach where our truck is parked. When he picks us up, he also drops off a group of volunteers from F.O.S.I.L.S. (nick named the Wednesday Warriors) to take our place and to work on projects that we are not able to do either because they require more man power than the two of us, special expertise, or some other reason. So, our first week before our day off was short but we had a list of things we needed for ourselves and also for Seguin.
At 7am sharp, we were at the cove with three empty water jugs (6-8 gallons each), our camping backpacks (one full of dirty clothes, one empty), some bins and some miscellaneous stuff we needed to carry over for F.O.S.I.L.S. The tide was rising towards a midafternoon high tide, so Ethan (and his dog Pepper) pulled in as far as the mooring buoys which are maybe a hundred feet from the cove beach. Michael and Cyndy had walked down with us and Michael helped us to load the dinghy and get me pushed off with a full load of stuff but no passengers. I rowed to Ethan’s boat and unloaded our gear and then climbed aboard. Rick, one of the volunteers, took my place in the dingy and rowed back and forth two or three times to ferry in their materials (including a door among other things) and the other volunteers and bringing Patty and the rest of our stuff out to the boat.
We went ashore without a plan but knew what we needed to get done and had a list of what we needed to buy. Once we got to the truck, we decided the first stop should be the laundromat where we could get our wash going. I think each Wednesday will be a variation on the schedule we kept today as follows:
7:00 Ethan Arrives
7:15 Leave for Popham
7:45 Arrive Popham
8:00 Arrive at Cyndy’s House (get water, mail, and drop off some supplies from Seguin, and change into dry clothes)
8:15 Leave Cyndy’s
8:30 Wash started at laundromat, leave to go to hardware store for island supplies
9:20 Back at laundromat, dryer started. Leave to go to bank and natural foods store downtown
9:55 Dropped Patty and Shaw’s grocery store
10:00 I am back at laundromat, moved clothes to dryer. Patty has started grocery shopping.
10:25 I am back at Shaw’s and meet Patty (who is past of the produce section!)
11:00 Arrive at Plant’s seafood for to get fresh fish.
11:30 At Starlight Café in downtown Bath for lunch.
12:15 Stop at Winnegance General Store on the way from Bath to Phippsburg. Just wanted to check it out for future Wednesday’s.
12:30 Stop at North Creek Farm Stand/Store to check it out. Patty got some Chipotle pepper sauce.
1:00 Back at Percy’s store/restaurant next door to where we park our truck and a couple of hundred yards from the dock. Bought three cold beers!
1:15 Grocery’s, clean clothes, and our other stuff is down at the dock where Ethan will meet us, beers are cold and good!
2:00 Back at Seguin
3:15 Everything (except the water jugs) are up at the house, unpacked, and put away.
While we were off-island, the Wednesday Warrior crew put up all of the outdoor markers and signs that had still been in storage and started work on a new (to us) screen door for the gift shop. They also finished getting the museum setup (we are really looking forward to taking some time to read and look at all of the displays), put up the gift shop sign and left several more bins of merchandise for the gift shop so Patty and I worked on getting the new stock organized and displayed. While we were doing that, Michael raised the new American Flag that we got at the hardware store. There’s a flag pole right in front of the house and one of our responsibilities is to raise and lower the flag each day. Michael was a caretaker here at one time and he would invite visitors to participate in lowering and folding the flag each day at sunset. Patty and I think that’s a really neat idea and we think we’re going to copycat him and do the same thing.
When we wrapped up the work day, we sat down for a dinner and then went outside to watch sunset. Following sunset, Patty and I lowered and folded the flag for the first time here. I probably hadn’t folded a flag since my (brief) boy scout days way back when however I think the two of us did a respectable job of it.
The forecast for today promised rain, wind, and fog and it did not disappoint. We started the day with limited visibility, gusting winds, and intermittently heavy rain. After a breakfast of yogurt, fresh fruit, sprinkled with granola, Patty and I got started setting up the gift shop.
The Keeper’s Quarters building is divided into two halves. Facing the front of the house (back to the east, looking west), there is a vestibule in the center of the house with two doors behind it, side by side. The door on the left door leads into “our” side of the house – the first floor consists of a living room, dining room, kitchen and small storage nook at the top of the stairs to the basement. Upstairs there are two bedrooms and a bathroom with a composting toilet, sink, and tub/shower. The right door leading into the house opens to the Seguin Island Light Station Museum designed and curated by the Friends of Seguin Island Light Station (F.O.S.I.L.S.). The museum has two rooms with photos, old newspaper articles, a sample bulb from the light tower, and lots more. The displays do a really nice job of explaining the history of the light station from the commissioning in 1795 to the present. In the back of the first floor, accessible from the museum and an exterior door, is the gift shop where we will offer t-shirts, hats, postcards, and other merchandise that helps to fund the F.O.S.I.L.S. mission. There are guest quarters on the second floor on the right side of the house that members of FOSILS can pay to stay in during the summer season. Similar to our side of the house, there are two bedrooms and a full bathroom.
So, getting back to what we worked on, we had a half dozen or so bins of merchandise that were brought over on Saturday that we needed to unpack and organize at our discretion. So, we first cleaned the gift shop room and then started unpacking the merchandise and figuring out what we had and how we might want to display it all. Patty took the lead and I pretty much just handed her things and did whatever I could to help her once she got on a roll. By early afternoon, we had everything pretty well setup. We’ll get more merchandise either tomorrow or next Wednesday but we’re ready now with what we have to open the gift shop if we get visitors over Memorial Day Weekend.
We took a break for a late lunch of leftover pasta with calamari after which we moved on to a couple of things down at the Whistle House which houses our workshop and the coast guard mechanical systems for the light and fog horn. In the past, the fog horn automatically started sounding whenever there was fog and would continue sounding regularly until the fog lifted. Recently, an on-demand system has been implemented whereby boaters can signal via VHF radio to activate the “horn.” Since it was a foggy day, we decided to test the horn – it did go off but Cyndy said it wasn’t as loud as it should be. I called the Coast Guard to let them know and they asked us to check a couple of things. There are two separate structures, each with multiple “horns”. One stack is the primary and the other stack is secondary that only activates when the primary fails. We put in ear plugs and checked to see which were sounding which was pretty cool – they’re close together and pretty loud so feeling the horn was a better way to tell which was working and which wasn’t. With that info, I called the Coast Guard again. Tentatively, they said they’ll be out within the next two weeks to do a regular inspection of the systems and will bring spare parts to fix (we hope) the fog horn so that the sound will carry as far as it should. We really hope we’re here on-island when the Coast Guard comes and not on our day off because they come by helicopter and we’d love to see that and have pictures and video for the blog.
We also spent time with Cyndy inside the Whistle House going over all the tools and where everything is supposed to be stored. The workshop is super well equipped with a table saw, chop saw, compressor, circular saw, sanders, painting supplies, gardening/trail grooming tools, etc. etc. Pretty much everything we should need to handle any day-to-day maintenance this summer. Maybe even a few fun side projects that we have in mind.
We all enjoyed a dinner of chicken and potatoes prepared by Michael and a salad Patty made followed by heated up strawberry rhubarb desert left over from last night. I texted with Ethan earlier in the day to find out what time he plans to pick us up in the cove tomorrow morning for our day off-island. 7am.
Patty and I did our best to finalize our shopping list consisting of things we need (food and supplies) and things we need for the island. We’re not super great at planning, or at least following a plan, but we feel pretty much ready to be down at the cove in the morning to do our thing on the mainland.
Our second full day on Seguin started with early morning coffee, a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast and then planning for the tasks of the day.
We started with the North Trail which our first visitors hiked on Sunday and reported back that it was in pretty decent condition. The four of us hiked it slowly, clipping overgrowth and clearing a little brush that was across the trail here and there. Near the end of the trail, we saw a geological marker and also found a bird’s nest with eggs in it. There didn’t seem to be any birds minding the nest but we made sure to leave it undisturbed. One of our guests on Sunday (a bird researcher) also saw the nest and said he thought it was an Eider nest The views from the North end of Seguin were probably the best I’ve seen so far – we could see Fort Popham and the beach, waves crashing below on the rocks, the lighthouse peeking above the ridge line behind us, and the Boat House and Donkey Engine House across the Cove.
After hiking back up to the top of the island, Patty and I took a few minutes to sneak into the kitchen to prepare pollo asado marinade and get some chicken thighs soaking up the goodness. Afterwards, we helped to finish raking the grass clippings and then all took a break for a lunch of salad of fresh greens with leftover Haddock and olive bread. It was a nice “light” lunch after our big breakfast.
In the afternoon, we checked out a problem with the oar lock of the dinghy that we thought we’d need to get parts for on our day off but we were able to fix it instead. That’s good news for us since it means one less stop we need to make on the mainland on our first day ashore. The logistics of our day off are something we need to learn and perfect, so the fewer stops the better on our first run to town. After taking care of the dinghy, we stayed at the bottom of the island to finish weed whacking around the base of the tram, the outhouse, Donkey Engine House, Cobblestone & Cove Trails. We also got a tutorial on how to maintain and clean the outhouse composting toilet. It is a really impressive structure that a young man built as his Eagle Scout project several years back. Besides the Keeper’s Quarters and Guest Quarters, it is the only bathroom facility on the island and the only one for day trippers.
As the afternoon ended, we all showered up and set about preparing dinner. Similar to experiences caretaking in Mexico and elsewhere, we’re finding that planning and preparing meals is a big focus of our attention. Patty and I brought several “planned” dinners as did Michael & Cyndy so we’re taking turns cooking and working out which ingredients to use each meal. Patty and Michael are both very good cooks so we’re eating well. We’re also working it off with lots of physical work. Tonight we grilled the pollo asado on the charcoal grill that Michael and I set up earlier in the day along with steamed asparagus with almonds that Cyndy prepared, and corn tortillas that Patty and I picked up at a little bodega in Portland. We finished it off with a strawberry rhubarb desert that Michael put together.
Dinner cleanup ended just before eight o’clock when we all went outside with mugs of hot tea to a west facing bench to watch our first full sunset since our arrival. Last night’s was good but clouds at the horizon obscured the final minutes while tonight’s was absolutely perfect. Mist on the shore of the mainland added a mysterious aura to the dramatic setting sun. We lingered outside until the chill caused us to head in.
Finishing off the night, we played a game of Scrabble. I should mention that I am not a game player – it’s just a quirk of my personality I guess. But, I wanted to be a good sport and immediately offered that I’d like to play when Cyndy asked. I wasn’t very good at it and Michael seems to be a semi-professional Scrabble player who plays on-line daily against his brother. Cyndy was pretty good too, Patty was good for not having played in a long time, and I pulled up the rear with the low score. I don’t think I’ll be invited to play again but I hope they will and I’ll have fun just watching and offering a running commentary.
Tomorrow’s forecast is for rainy weather which will let us take care of some indoor tasks. We have a little bit of a moth issue on our side of the house which we hope to take care of and then we need to tackle the museum/gift shop setup to be ready for our first official day on Saturday (Memorial Day weekend). We’re also hoping to get in a tour of the Whistle House (workshop) to learn where everything is kept and what materials are ours to use as needed. Finally, and probably the most exciting and fun, we are looking forward to testing the fog signal in tomorrow’s fog. It will be our first time hearing it!
The sun rises early here. Like really early. Like 5am! At the foot of our bed, across the room, is a window that faces south/southwest which is perfect for the early light. We have a crystal clear view (on this warm, clear morning) but no sun shining directly in. I think we’ll take on camping-like hours and rise early and go to bed early to take advantage of the long summer daylight.
Michael got up earlier than the rest of us and made fresh blueberry muffins that we all enjoyed with coffee while we figured out a game plan for the day. The forecast called for some rain but, as it turned out, we had a beautiful sunny and warm weather all day.
The main thing we all worked on from around 9 to 5-ish was grass cutting and trimming back the trails. Patty and I started at the bottom of the island, cutting the grass all around the base of the tram and the Donkey House (I’ll get into all of the structures and layout of the island in an upcoming blog post soon). While I cut the grass with a push mower, Patty worked on trimming the winter growth back from the Cove and Cobblestone Beach trails.
In the first couple of hours, Patty went up and down the trail several times to get different supplies – she’s going to feel it tomorrow – like doing squats at CrossFit! We had a mishap when Cyndy and I accidentally added 2-stroke (mix) oil to the lawn mower which gave me the chance to do an impromptu oil change. All seems to have ended well as the mower ran fine for several hours afterwards. By early afternoon, Patty and I had finished all we could do at the bottom of Seguin without the weed whacker which Cyndy had going full throttle up top.
While we worked below, Michael and Cyndy worked on completing the grass cutting up top and weed whacking the main trail from the cove to the top. They also finished some other odd jobs like getting the Coast Guard radio antennae re-affixed so we can monitor any alerts they transmit like “watch for kayakers reported missing. ”
Lunch was a mix of leftovers from last night for Cyndy and steel cut oats for the rest of us. The oatmeal was ready to be heated this morning, but lost out to the blueberry muffins J
As I was moving up to the top of Seguin to help Cyndy & Michael and Patty who had already gone up, our first visitors arrived by sailboat. I was just putting the mower away in the Donkey House and was able to greet them at the bottom. The three of them had all visited Seguin before and were familiar with the island. They hiked the North Trail (maybe I should say blazed since we hadn’t trimmed it yet) and Patty took them up the lighthouse and into the Museum for her first tour. Patty even made sure to get their picture and have them sign the guestbook. Later, when they were sailing away, we got a nice picture of their sailboat heading away from the top of Seguin. The mentioned to Patty that this is not their first year being the first visitors of the season!
All four of us worked on the grass for the rest of the afternoon. Since it was fairly highly when it was cut, we needed to rake up the clippings and carry the cuttings into the brush. That will be a onetime task as long as we keep the grass trimmed regularly. By the end of the day, we felt pretty good about the progress we’d made. We need to finish raking tomorrow but it’s definitely doable in a day.
Patty and I prepared a dinner of a fresh calamari scampi with cauliflower steaks (brushed in oil with Sriracha) and Rosemary Olive bread. We had forgotten to bring Parmesan cheese but Michael came through with a wedge directly from Italy that a friend had given to him recently.
After dinner, Michael and Cyndy did kitchen cleanup duty while Patty and I sat outside in a west facing bench along a bluff over the water to watch sunset. They sky was clear above us but a low level band of clouds at the horizon blocked the sun which created a beautiful light effect across the entire sky. Patty went up in the lighthouse to take some pictures with our fancy camera while I stayed below to get pictures and enjoy the view.
After sunset, the four of us sat and chatted around the dining room, enjoying some chocolate Cyndy brought from Bath Sweet Shop. We talked about our game plan for tomorrow. Once again we called it an early night (although not as early as yesterday when we call got up by 5am at the latest) and headed to bed.
As I write this on Tuesday morning, I’m sitting at the dining room desk facing east watching the sun reflect on the ocean waves crashing beneath us. A good friend from Brevard sent us a message on Facebook yesterday that simply said “High Five!” Well said!
We arrived at the dock in Popham beach at 7am sharp on Saturday morning and the truck & camper exploded their contents at the top of the gangway. With the help of some of the volunteers that were going to Seguin with us to get everything up and running, we loaded up Ethan’s boat and set off about forty-five minutes later.
The waters were super calm on the ride over and the weather was warm enough for just a light jacket. We arrived at mid-tide so the sandy beach of the cove was partially visible and provided an easy landing spot for the dinghy and wooden rowboat that Ethan’s had towed over behind his boat. I was volunteered to row the wooden boat on several runs to the beach with people and supplies while someone else did the same in the dinghy. The wooden boat will end up as a display piece in the boathouse (I think) and we’ll be using the dinghy for our needs this summer. We were really fortunate to have such good weather while we figured out the process of transitioning from Ethan’s boat to the smaller boat, and finally onto the shore. We’re told (and believe it) that it will rarely be as easy as it was today.
Once on shore, we and the other volunteers took turns carrying everything from the cove up to the top of the island. I think it’s about a 300-yard trail with a 130-foot elevation rise. It doesn’t sound like much but with heavy gear and a trail overgrown from the offseason, it was tough. There is also a tram that runs along a trestle-like structure from just above the cove to the top of the island but it’s in precarious condition and needed lots of attention to safely run it up and down a few times. Luckily, it did work well enough to carry the majority of the heaviest items like our potable water containers, gas cans, etc. I’m not sure we get to use the tram much this summer but it sure was nice having it on our first day.
Bob, DD, Kim, Jim & Cyndy
Tram tracks look towards Donkey Engine House and the Cove
Tram tracks look towards Donkey Engine House and the Cove
By mid-afternoon, the volunteers, except for Cyndy & Michael, headed back to the mainland. In the time they were here however, not only did they help us get supplies to the top of the island, they also cut a good part of the grass that needed it, removed shutters, cleaned, got the mechanical systems running, and generally gave us a leg up on our preparedness for the season. I had hoped to get a picture of everyone that came to help but only caught the half of the group that left on the second boat. We wanted the pictures to include on the blog but also (secretly) to help us remember names. So, in a little notepad I’m carrying, I have a note that says: Kim (glasses/green jacket), Michelle (pink jacket), DD (London hoodie), etc. I suggest to a few folks that they should wear the same thing all summer to help us out!
Seriously though, we really appreciated all the help we received from Bob, Cyndy, Deb, DD, Ethan, Evan, Greg, Jim, Julie, Ken, Kim, Michael, Michelle, Rick and Big Grady. I sure hope I didn’t forget anyone…
Cyndy took us up to see the inside of lighthouse and the view from the catwalk on the outside. The 360-degree view on this clear, sunny, and warm day was really breathtaking. The lens of the light (9 feet tall, 6 feet in diameter) was amazing as well. Ken (from F.O.S.I.L.S.) also spent some time giving us an orientation of the history of the island that we could share with visitors. It wasn’t a super formal thing but I surprised him afterwards when I told him I secretly recorded everything he told us with the hopes that we can write it up and refer to it later.
The lighthouse Tower
Up close and personal with the lens
Patty and I spent most of the rest of the afternoon cleaning and putting away clothes, food, and everything else we brought with us to the island. We even needed to start a (short) list of things we either forgot or hadn’t thought of beforehand. Meanwhile, Cyndy & Michael mostly continued with mowing and other outside chores.
When we finally called the workday complete, Michael made a delicious appetizer of scallops and entree of haddock steaks with fiddleheads. Neither of us have had fiddleheads before and felt lucky to try them since their season is only something like two weeks. It had been a long day for all of us and we decided to call it an early night shortly after cleaning up from dinner.
Patty and I did make sure to go outside one last time before we turned in to get our first look and some pictures of the light at night.