Just Like Ike

Our backyard – not supposed
to have a pond

Well, Hurricane Ike is barreling through Texas, and up here in Chicago we are getting the remnants of that Category 2 storm.

We set some sort of record for rainfall yesterday at more than six inches, and more is on the way.

The picture shows how the rain has pooled at the end of our (and neighbors’) yard; it’s a couple of inches deep.

It rained like hell all yesterday; still raining today but not as bad, and the flood waters are receding.

Still, it would have been nice to come back from vacation and be able to barbecue or just wander around the yard. Not going to happen this weekend…

Notes From the East Coast

Well, we just returned from a week in Maine.

We pretty much stayed on the coast, from Portland up north to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. We did go inland a bit – up to Bangor and through Augusta – but that was just on the interstate to get back down to Portland from Bar Harbor.

I’m in the process of building out the gallery for this trip, but – as I process images – some first impressions of the state while it’s still fresh in my mind:

  • I could live in Maine, at least in Portland. It’s a beautiful and sensible (see examples below) state.
  • Very beautiful coastline, and the lighthouses are, of course, classic. Very different coastline than the US’ Pacific coastline, both in looks (Maine more weathered rock; Pacific more sand beaches) and character – Maine fishing and so on; Pacific a lot of housing.
  • Once we veered from the coast, the heavy forests heavy with pine and birch reminded me of upper Wisconsin or Michigan. With the hills (not so much in WI or MI), it reminded me a lot of upstate New York, the Finger Lake region.
  • Maine, like Montana, has a state rule that says if an individual is standing in a crosswalk, vehicles must stop and let the pedestrians cross. We’re talking in the middle of block in downtown Portland at rush hour. Amazing. I wonder how many tourists from Maine or Montana never fully make it across their first street in Chicago, for example?
  • A very clean state. Sure, less populous than Illinois and all that, but I saw virtually no garbage on highway sides, in state parks, on beaches and so on.
  • Tying in with the preceding point: Overall, Maine seems to respect nature more than many states I’ve been to. Lots of garden centers; many well-landscaped homes (even the small, poorer homes). Little trash. Canisters with pooper-scooper bags to help clean up after dogs. Speaking of the same, dogs everywhere. In stores and so on. No big deal. Things like these.
  • Friendly folks. Shopkeepers, people on the street, the highway department: It’s not construction for the next 3 miles, it’s construction for the next 3.01 miles. Honest. Saw lots of signs like that.
  • I love seafood (no sure why; never had any beyond perch fry growing up), and I certainly ate my fill this week…and I still want more…
  • I grew up and still live in the Midwest, so the whole concept of border security doesn’t resonate with me in a local manner. But along the Maine coast, I was amazed to see all the harbor fortifications up and down the coast. Makes total sense, but again, I’m from the Midwest. The only invasion – for example – of Green Bay, WI, will be Packer fans… So I learned stuff!

Possibly more to come, but Bottom Line: I could live there, and I’d certainly go back there again as a tourist.

Maine rocks!