I am hoping to move back to New England in the new year, to be closer to family, and to paint with my new-found friends in the plein air groups in New Hampshire and Maine.
My extensive RV traveling days are greatly curtailed now that I am more-or-less permanently settled, and am painting from a fixed location. Trips up and down the east coast will be replaced by monthly sojourns and overnight trips to paint the changing landscapes of New England and my favorite marine locations.
I first came to Florida in 1960. From 1976 onward, I have spent the winter months here with few exceptions. I love Florida for many reasons. There are reasons to despise it, as well. But let’s not get to politics at this time. Having established a studio in Orlando, painting daily without the hassle of packing up and moving my RV continually has been a real change. I am not fully adjusted nor resigned to it yet. I long for the open road continually. But sacrifices must be made as considerations of time and space intrude.
I am committed to the change of scene and to the opportunities that lie ahead in a new, but familiar clime. I’ll be writing more, and developing this blog so as to share experiences with all my new friends.
Happy New Year!
I’ve been visiting my daughter in the ‘Port City’ of New Hampshire these last days of Summer. She has returned after living away from the seacoast for a couple of decades and is catching up on the history and culture of this vibrant city on the Piscataqua River.The river was named by the Abenaki tribe with their word for rapid waters. They weren’t kidding. The tidal currents are very powerful in from the Atlantic and the Gulf of Maine. The tide actually rises over 9 feet at Portsmouth and into Great Bay, where there is a confluence of five river systems; the fresh water meeting the salt.
A gundalow is a flat-bottomed barge- type of cargo vessel constructed and operated in and around this estuary, and was designed to carry timber and wares to settlers making their homes in this colony. With a draft of just 15 inches, it could be operated in shallow water and in close to shore. The Great Bay is rimmed with salt marsh and mud flats. Wares were loaded high onto the flat decks since there was no cargo hold. The forward mast was about 20 feet tall, and the long tapering spar, which bore the triangular ‘lateen’ sail, was lashed to the mast so it could be lowered to the perpendicular for passage under the river bridges, then raised again into the wind.
The non-profit Gundalow Company has re-created a gundalow, the “Piscataqua”, and conducts sailing tours for 4 miles up-river to the mouth and the Gulf of Maine. Andrea has been volunteering as a deck hand. As the boat moves away from the dock and into the river’s current, the volunteers encourage the passengers to help pull the ropes raising the sail on the spar. Moving past the historic Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, there are views of lighthouses and defensive emplacements along the shores. The pleasant crew is very helpful in making it an enjoyable voyage back in time. Coming-about and beginning the return journey, one can feel the relentless power of the surging waters. A volunteer recounts the impossible attempts of those who tried a swimming escape from the shore-side prison still seen at Kittery, Maine.
Should you be lucky enough to find yourself in Portsmouth, whether climbing aboard the nuclear submarine “Albacore”, sipping espresso at a sidewalk table in Market Square, visiting Strawberry Banke , the nearby John Paul Jones house or strolling the gardens at Prescott Park, plan to spend a few leisurely hours on the brine with the knowledgeable crew of the “Piscataqua”. The whole family will have a nautical blast!
Next week I will be ‘On The Road’ to see my daughter and the rest of my extended family in New England. Andrea lives on the river at Portsmouth,NH. The others are scattered from Long Island Sound at CT’s shore, north through CT to Boston, MA, and onward to some NH sites.
I’m not certain which vehicle to travel in. My big van is comfortable for extended trips (this will comprise about 3500 miles) but loves to visit the gas stations enroute. My Saturn is aged, but running well enough. It shuns gas stations, endearing me to its valiant efforts, but it is not as forgiving of those long 600 mile days on the road to and fro. Decisions decisions.
Either way, I will be driving on the Coastal Highway, US Route 17, for much of the trip. I leave Orlando on US 17 and follow it up the east side of the St.John’s River to Jacksonville ( Int.4 to Int.95 if I’m in a rush), to a gas-up in Kingsland, GA. Next stop is a top-off in Savannah, after-which I take Interstate 95 until US17 leaves the highway for North Charleston, SC. I always fuel-up before leaving South Carolina. Maybe at Myrtle Beach (or Dillon on I95), since the petrol is the least expensive there!
Onward through Wilmington, NC and continuing all the way to Chesapeake, VA. I fill the tank there at Sam’s Club, and head toward the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel and the VA peninsula. This voyage has been on good four-lane divided highway for the most part. And the route to Wilmington,DE is relatively easy until you join US Rte.13, where the traffic gets thick. I either head for NJ over the Delaware Memorial Bridge (free going north) or into PA and Philadelphia via I495 and I95, continuing to Princeton’s US Rte.1. That’s my choice all the way to my last fuel before New England. Edison,NJ is the best choice for price…I stop at Sam’s Club.
The route in NJ is Int.295 which parallels the NJ Turnpike, without the excessive toll burden. I leave it at Burlington and use 13 till it joins US Rte.1, and on to Edison.
This one will have to wait for my October trip!
YOU HAVEN’T MISSED ANYTHING…I’VE BEEN PREOCCUPIED WITH OTHER STUFF
Took a road trip from central Florida last October for final observations on my wrist alterations.
First, as readers of this blog might remember, I had a wrist-replacement procedure at NE Baptist Hospital in Boston. Unfortunately it didn’t work out very well, and several months later I had to have all that hardware removed and a temporary fix put in place. Then I returned after the second surgery healed for the final, and originally unwanted, solution…I had my hand/wrist/arm locus permanently fused. The Carpal bones were joined and two Stanley Pins were inserted at my knuckle area, and extended through the Ulna to about mid-arm. I cannot bend my wrist to wave ‘goodbye’ anymore, so don’t leave. But I can still rotate my wrist to open new doors!
All this has affected the gestures I’ve used in executing my paintings; my right hand has been dominant, but I am adapting. Most of my work has been on more detailed scenics; landscapes and seascapes from my travels in the various RVs in decades past.
I have now sold my Class C Dodge motorhome, and shifted to a smaller shuttle-bus vehicle. The plan is to utilize this vehicle in moving to show locations, and to do more in-studio painting. I can take advantage of a more permanent set-up of easels and an array of works-in-progress….I like to work on many things at the same time. RV living with a rear studio set-up has always had a drawback (pun intended) ; working ‘on the road’ was the main reason I’ve worked in acrylics on hardboard. Space and drying time have been paramount.
Although I still employ that media and base for my paintings, I can go to larger pieces and broader brushwork as a way of living with the new physical restrictions.
Many years ago I worked with a gentleman who was a beekeeper, doing all sorts of interesting things, when not converting buses to motorhomes. We often made van runs from near Boston, Massachusetts, to Amherst, New Hampshire. We roved through the discarded metals and fabrications that had been abandoned in a scrap yard there.
On the way, we always pulled in to the seafood purveyor at Dover Point, just over the bridge (the old one,then) from Newington going west, and from Pease Airport in Portsmouth.
At about this time, my daughter went to work there, while attending the University of New Hampshire in Durham. She was a terrific waitress, and you were lucky if your table was at her station. The name of this place is NEWICK’S. Try to find fresher fare from the briny deep….I dare you. My favorite is, and was the Fisherman’s Platter (called a COMBO, with several offerings). In a huge barn-of-a place, the restaurant sports checkered vinyl tablecloths. There is real silverware, but the glasses and cups are of plastic and paper. There is a kind of outdoor picnic atmosphere….the huge windows around the entire seating area give proof to that openness. The shore…in this case, the shore of the Piscataqua River, leading to the Great Bay, and to Portsmouth harbor is just outside these windows. The catch comes ashore at the dock within view. Fried whole clams, haddock, scallops, onion rings, smelts, on a bed of french fries. Take your pick. Lightly breaded, and deep-fried to a honey-colored perfection (Jack, you can send my check to the address in your file).
Jack Newick is the proprietor still. The customers vary from tourists from all over, bankers, tradesmen, fishermen, students and foodlovers who know no bounds. On a recent trip from Concord to Portsmouth with my daughter to a “Fishtival” at Prescott Park, near Strawberry Banke, Andrea and I had appetizers there, but couldn’t drive past Newick’s without satisfying our palates, while watching the hunting skills of a blue heron out on the rocks.
Try it…you’ll find your way back, too.