Week Twelve

The view from our bedroom window looks south out onto the Atlantic Ocean and always creates an opportunity for reflection.  This past Monday night was so pretty.  A waxing gibbous moon lighting up the water all the way to our shore.  The SE wind finally bringing a breeze into our room after several calm (stifling?) nights.  And the crickets being a bit louder than usual.  It was a perfect night for sleep, but I didn’t want to fall asleep – our days left on Seguin are counting down.  I don’t want to miss a minute of all that surrounds us here!

To say this has been a once in a lifetime experience almost sounds trite to us.  As most of you know, we travel full time in our 5th wheel RV, fondly known as Winslow.  We sold our house and carry all our “stuff” with us.  We have had amazing experiences the last 6 years as we travel around the US & Canada.  Throw in a couple side trips to Mexico and Europe.  And the people we have met along the way – so energizing!  We can’t imagine a more perfect way to spend our retirement.  But Seguin…

This place.  There is something magical about it.  Maybe because it’s an ocean island.  Or, maybe because there’s a working lighthouse here.  Maybe it’s all the exciting history that surrounds us.  Or all the adventurous boating folks that stop and spend time on Seguin and share their “once in a lifetime” stories with us.  (It can’t be the mosquitoes & black flies, can it?)  Or could it be Rick and I sharing an adventure not just with each other, but with all the many people that have walked on this island over generations of time.

So we will spend these last 3 weeks doing everything at least once more.  Each trail will need to be walked and groomed – and photographed, lol.  We must already have over a 1000 photos – plenty to clean out during this coming winter.   A visitor or 2 reserved for the guest quarters.  Rooms, gift shop, museum to clean.  Lantern room and lens shined up a bit.  Final blogs to write.  Hopefully a whale sighting again.  Dinners planned and prepared in this remarkable kitchen.  Plenty of grass always wanting to be mowed.  More jugs of water to carry up the hill.  Another couple trips to town, every time a fun ride with Cap’n Ethan!  We’ll start taking some of our supplies back each time, so the last load isn’t quite so huge – ha!  Long time friends are coming to stay with us two nights next week – another “welcome to Seguin” lobster dinner – yum!  A few more evenings playing cards.  And a wealth of sunsets still. 

Lily wants a few more swims in the cove, I’m sure.  She loves fetching the sticks from the waves!  She arrived in May as a leashed 20-month old labradoodle with absolutely no social skills around people.  Because of Covid, she was always at least 6 ft away from most.  Got to admit, we were a little apprehensive about how she would handle the number of visitors coming to the island.  As it turns out, this was the best training ground for her.  Although she still insists on greeting everyone with barking for a moment or two, she loves being able to play with her instant new friends.  Tempted to jump up, she has learned to stop as soon as someone asks (well, mostly).  And there have been on average 3 dogs every week to join her in chasing around the lawn – much to the joy of boaters wishing for a happily exercised dog back on their vessel.  In fact one family stopped on their way back south for a 2nd visit, to tire out their doodle for the ride home – lol!  Of course we love her getting all this exercise, too.  We’ve tried to make sure she spends some leash time everyday, but I’m afraid she is not going to understand the concept of returning to a more structured life at an rv resort!  A visitor posted a photo of her on Instagram, introducing her as the 2021 Caretaker for Seguin – that’s more her style now! 

Oh yes – I think at least one more storm ahead!  Fog has rolled in today (the fog horn is going) and we are happily surrounded, with any luck at all, into the night when fog intensifies the fresnel lens glow above us – hmmnn.  That definitely fits in with the magical factor.  And rumor has it that Hurricane Henri is headed up this way, due Sunday into Monday.  Would it be bad luck to say “bring it on!” ?  We’ve come a long ways since that first storm in May, chuckle.

By the way – did you know crickets can tell you about the weather?  Here’s your new word – stridulation.  This is a process where special body parts are rubbed together to make a noise. (Cue kids – much giggling now).  On the top of a male cricket’s wing there is a scraper.  They can raise their wings to a 45-degree angle and draw the scraper of one wing across wrinkles (called a file) on the underside of the other wing.  Think of running your finger along the teeth of a comb.  As the outside temperature gets higher, it becomes physically easier to do and the cricket’s chirp becomes more rapid.  Remember all those hot summer nights when the crickets are singing?  You can actually tell the temperature by counting the number of chirps.  It should be surprisingly accurate.  One little trick is to count the number of chirps in 15 seconds and add 37.  Or, you can now use crickets instead of sheep to help you fall asleep… 

Have a good night ~ see you under the light. 

Monday night…
Occasional sunrise 😉
Day has begun
Love the trails
Evening, too
An amazing task
The views…
“Don’t want to come in”
Will miss this kitchen
the sunsets…
Shadow fun
Who needs tv?
Another day at the cove
always new friends
“All this from me?”
Time to play
Famous caretaker
Living the dream…
Just one more…
the fog ~~~

Week Eleven

Back in Week Six, I questioned the term “blog”.  We’ve all heard about ship’s logs and more relative to Seguin, a lightkeeper’s log book.  From the very start, this has always been one of the duties of a keeper.  They were required to keep track & note all activity at the station, including maintenance, repairs, visitors, comprehensive weather details, and certainly any rescue or other mariner events nearby.  In keeping with the tradition, caretakers at Seguin have always been asked to keep a log book during their stay.  In our museum there are binders full of these logs – its interesting to observe how they change over the years. Some are very official and factual, some quite personal.  

Very recently, in 1997, the term “web-log” came about, describing the process of keeping a log on the web.  As it gained popularity as a sort of public journaling or giving voice to opinions, the term was shortened to ”blog” in 1999 by a programmer.  At that time it was estimated there were 23 blogs on the internet.  In 2004, Merriam-Webster declared it the new “word of the year”.  By 2006, there were 50 million blogs out there!

And now here we are, writing our own blog.  Would never have guessed it just a few years ago!

The museum here on Seguin has been a continual resource for information.  We still have not read all the photo boards that have recently created a new look for this historical gem.   Congratulations go to Chris Hall, a FOSILS board member.  Bringing a background in Library Science and a 17-year career at Maine Maritime Museum (MMM), including time as Curator of Exhibits, Chris took on the project of upgrading our museum.  Two years were spent researching and designing the new graphic panels.  All photography and information from the original 1990s museum was scanned, allowing the various framed prints to be archived in Bath, away from the unforgiving winter weather on island.  Additional material from MMM, Coast Guard families, and digitized lighthouse correspondence available from the National Archives has created a historical wonderland.  It is a must visit when you come to Seguin.

One of our most important artifacts does not quite fit inside.  In 1858, just a year after Seguin tower was completed, the 1,200-pound cast steel Sheffield fog bell arrived on the island accompanied by its own striking system.  Unfortunately the striker kept breaking and the bell had to be rung for hours, even days on end by hand.  Remember, Seguin is one of the foggiest places in North America!  By 1870 an elaborate plan was devised to instead haul coal to the top of the island to run a steam engine powering a whistle.  This led to another whistle installed in 1876, requiring the construction of a fog signal house and a tram car, forever changing the characteristics of Seguin Island. The upkeep and improvements to the tram has been a continuous challenge over the years to keep it safe. Unfortunately the current goal of returning the tram to full operation will not happen soon enough to carry our weekly supplies, sigh…

Anyway, back to the bell.  When the USCG decommissioned Seguin Light Station in 1985, the bell was removed from the island.  A year later, FOSILS was formed and leased the 64 acre island until 1995 when they reached a purchase agreement.  Their task is to preserve the history of this still operating lighthouse.  The existence of a bell was known, but several attempts to find it failed.  The return of the bell in 2015, nearly 30 years from the time it was removed, was the culmination of a 3 year effort to first find and then prove ownership.  It created quite a sight when it was airlifted by helicopter from Boothbay Harbor USCG Way Station and set down on its current perch near the house and museum, where it originally sat.  Quite an accomplishment, FOSILS!

The days are flying by faster every week.  The boat ride into Popham this week was quite a bit calmer than our ride to the island last Thursday, lol.  It was a tough morning for us, saying farewell to our kids.  We had some time in Bath for a leisurely breakfast at Mae’s Cafe & Bakery.  Mmmnn – wonderful omelets and benedicts, accompanied by tasty Bellini’s to celebrate an unforgettable visit.  Bummer – Mae’s is closed on Wednesday’s – we got lucky coming in on a Tuesday.  Almost worth trading our days off island!  ; )) 

We had perfect weather for their visit – they got a sample of rain, winds, fog, clouds and plenty of sunshine. They hiked every trail, tried a little fishing and managed to swim most every day.  We watched a very young seal come up on the rocks in the cove, rest overnight and head out in the morning.  We weren’t sure if it was in distress, so called Maine Marine Animal and sent photos.  They had us keep an eye out, but were fairly certain it was just tired.  We had help overnight from a couple moored in the cove.  The young pups often head out on their own early in life and wear themselves out!  And that was indeed the case.  Thank goodness!  

Sunday was pretty hectic with close to 30 morning visitors, so they decided to prepare and serve us a delicious brunch.  What a treat to be pampered on a busy day!  And of course every evening finished off with a game or two of cards and a stroll outside under the light.  We even tried to stay up for the August Perseid showers, but our pillows called to us while the mosquitoes chased us inside.  We’re so happy that we had the chance to share this island adventure with Jamie & Michael.  

I just wish their return flights were as much fun!  After a smooth trip from Portland to Chicago, they ran into storms there and ended up having to stay overnight in Chicago (after being in that horrible airport game – a short delay, just a bit longer, well, maybe an hour. Let’s board! Oh, we’ll just sit out here and head out quickly, an hour later, sorry flight has been cancelled)  And then after seeing more flights cancelled the next day, finally got a flight to Denver, then connected to Seattle on standby.  Arrive home at midnight after 2 days!  We’ve all had this experience, I know – it’s horrible!  I’m exhausted just telling the story! 

But we’re still thrilled they came and will remember this special visit a long time.

Catch ya next week! 

Welcome to the museum
Bringing electricity to Seguin
Safety! Always important
3018 mi to Spain!
1975 fog signal control panel
More complete story…
Every museum has a gift shop!
Caps, hoodies,t-shirts
Home again 🙂
If it could tell stories…
Family on Seguin – pure joy
Cove overlook trail
I’m exhausted!!
Sunday brunch
Another Cove visitor
The family dinghy – wow!
Smoother voyage 😉
Farewell Seguin…
Best photo yet!! Goodnight.

Week Ten

Writer’s Block?  Possibly.  It is described as “a condition in which an author is unable to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown…is not a result of commitment problems or the lack of writing skills.”  Whew!  I think it’s also caused by a flood of activity and/or adventure if you’re a caretaker on Seguin Island, complicated by an uncooperative streaming signal – Ha!

So today, Saturday Aug 7, is Nat’l Lighthouse Day.  It was on this day in 1789 that Congress passed an act securing the protection under federal support of all lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers.  There have been several attempts over the years to make this an “official” holiday, but for now most lighthouses recognize it as a day to be open and sometimes hold special events.  Chances are you are reading this on a day other than Aug 7, so we hope you had your own personal “enlightening” day on Saturday  ;)) .  As mentioned last week I will also include photos this week from Hank Lipian, our “76 Coastie.

This has been our busiest week so far – we welcomed over 250 guests to the island, with most heading up the tower. So many great stories and adventures of their own!  We had 6 volunteers from Maine Island Trail Assoc (MITA) for a day helping to groom the ground cover under the tramway among other areas. Thank you, thank you!  Three gentlemen representing FOSILS spent 3 days kicking off a 5 year project to rebuild the tramway.  Fortunately the weather held.  They grilled their dinners and slept in the Oil House.  If they weren’t working so hard, I’d say they had a pretty good time. And Rick has been busy – the lawns and trails have never looked better!

From a personal standpoint, the highlight of this week is a 5 night visit from our daughter and her husband!  And in true Seguin fashion, it started with weather.  Switching our “go to shore Wednesday” to Thursday so we could pick them up at Portland’s Jetport, we were discouraged to hear storms were expected for that day.

Will spare you the details, but instead Cap’n Ethan collected us (including Lily) Wed eve at 7:00.  We spent the night near Freeport so we could be at the airport in the morning.  We must confess, taking a shower w/iron-free water, having a toilet that flushed, and watching a bit of tv felt kind of luxurious!  Their overnight flight from Seattle arrived on time hassle free.  However the prospect of returning to Seguin with family did not look promising as the rain poured and the winds gusted at 15-20 knots on Thursday.  Making sure we had all our groceries/errands complete, we let Ethan know we were ready if he unexpectedly saw a weather window of opportunity for travel to Seguin.  Could be another hotel night…  

Then we got the call and had 45 minutes to get to Popham.  Wearing rain gear and bagging up our mountain of supplies, we headed out on the water before 2pm in his power boat Guppy.  We would never have done this trip with anyone other than him.  With skill and patience he navigated the waters to get us home.  To really appreciate our journey, please imagine a roller coaster ride at your favorite amusement park.  Those 3-5 ft swells (and felt like 6-8 to us) were the equivalent of climbing the rise, pausing at the top, and pitching down the tracks.  Lily was bravely up front with Jamie & I while we screamed and laughed in the rain, wondering why we hadn’t worn our life jackets.  Keep in mind, the previous day a great white shark was seen nibbling on a Minke whale carcass floating in the area.  Not a good time to go overboard – not that anytime is a good time.  And how come the women are up front while the guys are in the back with the captain?  And what better Seguin welcome to our gal who loves the ocean?  These are the thoughts that go thru your mind at times like these, lol…

We did arrive safely and two dinghy trips later traipsed up the hill to the house.  We received confirmation that Cap’n Ethan made it back to Popham.  Got some dry clothes on, unpacked, and sat down to a grilled salmon dinner.  So happy to share this paradise with our kids.  And Lily was happy to cuddle on her favorite futon.  We even managed a card game of Golf, and a foggy evening tour of the light.  

Friday turned out to be a gorgeous hot sunny day.  One of the neat things about Seguin is the availability of guest quarters on the museum side of the house which can be reserved with a donation to FOSILS.  A group of 5 arrived around noon and had a great time enjoying all aspects of the island.  They even managed to get outside around 2 am to watch the August Perseid shower happening this week.  So many shooting stars!  It was a pleasure to learn one of the visitors has been following our blog since she made these plans.  She thanked us for volunteering by making 2 wristbands for us with an imprint of “Seguin Island” and its gps coordinates.  Amazing!   

And even with guests and tours, we still had time to spend with the kids in the cove and of course, enjoy a true Maine lobster dinner.  We’ll cherish every moment of this special visit – and it’s just started :)) 

Inspiration for writer’s block
Happy Lighthouse Day!
Henry & Barb Visit Seguin – Coast Guard 1976
Boat house in Cove 1976
Winter on Seguin
No thank you!!
Start of a 5 year project
Lookin good, Rick!
Going up!
Raining & swells!
Getting closer!
Whose idea was this??
A night tour!
Enjoying the island
And they’re not even Mainers!
Our Seguin tradition
Thank you, Janine!!
Chocolate & Vanilla
Our sweetie Jamie & awesome son-in-law Michael
Just another Seguin sunset – sigh…

Thank you for your support!

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