Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | August 26, 2014

An Ephemeral Net

Yesterday I woke around 7:00 a.m. to a dense fog hiding the bay. The fir trees along the edge of the cliff were spookily visible. The fog intensified during breakfast. But by my last cup of tea, the sun began sneaking through. The firs again began to appear, as did the bay waters and the far shoreline. Looking toward the sky, the blue deepened with every passing minute.

Scanning the scene created by the beginnings of a beautiful day on the west side of Little Kennebec Bay, I notice spider webs in and between the tops of the balsam firs that grow above the cottage’s shoreline. In the light southerly sea breeze, these nets were sparkling and glittering against the deep azure sky.

For a few minutes after the fog burned off, condensation coated these webs. The droplets of moisture rendered the beauty and intricacy of several orb spiders’ fantastic spiral nets.

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I wondered how an orb spider weaves such an artistic trap forty feet above the ground and sometimes one suspended between the tops of two trees four to six feet apart. And, if all conditions are proper, they can construct them in an hour or less and usually take them down the next day.

Web suspended between two trees. Primary cable visible on left, as is the left branch of  perpendicular Y-cable.

Web suspended between two trees. Primary cable visible on left, as is the left branch of perpendicular Y-cable.

All spiders have one to four pairs of spinnerets—the number depends on the species—projecting from the end of their abdomen. Spinnerets produce the threads or silk that forms the web. Each spinneret ejects a filament thinner than a hair that combines with others to form the silk of the individual cables of a web.

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To construct a web between the tops of trees, a breeze is required. Initially an orb spider climbs to a secure branch, a high point, and releases a long, sticky thread. Wind catches the thread and carries it across the open space to another branch where the thread sticks and becomes anchored. The spider then tightropes across this initial cable (the primary or horizontal cable) to the far end, emitting silk along the way strengthening the cable. Then the weaver returns to the middle and drops down to a third anchorage point directly below the primary cable. As it falls, it pulls a portion of the primary cable with it to a taut point, then releases more silk as it continues to fall to a third anchorage point. This forms a Y-shaped perpendicular support cable. From this point the spider climbs back to the original anchorage point and begins to produce the web’s radial cables. Once these are complete, the spider begins spinning the spiral cable between the radials. When it reaches the center point of the spiral, the orb weaver strengthens it and sits, then waits for its prey.

Amazing! Orb spiders make high-wire preforming a matter of routine.

ʃ ʃ ʃ ʃ

© Copyright by Richard Modlin August, 2014

Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | June 27, 2014

Margaretta Day in Machias, Maine 2014

“Huzza! In the face of Great Britain’s retribution, the people of Machias have voted to maintain their Liberty Pole that stands to commemorate the Patriots of Concord and Lexington.” This impassioned decision made 239 years ago led to the first naval battle of the American Revolution. On June 11 & 12, 1775 the Patriots in the vicinity of Machias, Maine attacked and captured the Sloop of War, HMS Margaretta, which was ready to bombard the village because the residents refused to remove the pole as ordered by the crown.

Artistic Interruption of First Naval Battle of American Revolution -- HMS Margaretta portside, Transport Unity starboard.

Artistic Interpretation of First Naval Battle of American Revolution — HMS Margaretta portside, Transport Unity starboard.

Margaretta Day commemorates the battle that took place between the colonial Patriots in and around the village of Machias, a logging village at the falls near the mouth of the Machias River, and a group of British sailors and marines aboard the HMS Margaretta. This heavily armed shallow draft vessel, crewed by a well-trained, disciplined crew, escorted two commercial transports to Machias. When the captain of the man of war spotted the Liberty Pole, he ordered the town fathers to remove it. “Immediately!” If they didn’t, he proclaimed that he would bombard the village and lay it to waste. In a series of quickly called town meetings the majority of residents voiced their decision—the Liberty Pole would stay erect. Additional secret meetings of the Machias Committee on Safety (the town “rebels” or militia) planned to defend the village by capturing the captain and the other officers of the Margaretta. Their plan didn’t work and the officers escaped to their vessel. With anything that would serve as a weapon (muskets, pitchforks, axes, pikes, clubs, etc.) the militia, composed of rapidly recruited men and women from Machias and the surrounding communities, attacked the fleeing vessel from shore and small boats. Under the direction of Captain Jeremiah O’Brien, a major leader in the Committee on Safety, militiamen commandeered the two commercial vessels and pursued the Margaretta. Through a series of sailing mistakes, the British warship went aground in Machias Bay. A sea battle ensued, the captain of the Margaretta was killed, and the vessel and her crew were captured by the American Patriots.

Birchbark Canoe Maker's  Camp

Birchbark Canoe Maker’s Camp — Photo by Marian Moore Lewis

 

 

Fine Construction Detail of Birchbark Canoe

Fine Construction Detail of Birchbark Canoe — Photo by Marian Moore Lewis

The Birchbark Canoe

The Birchbark Canoe — Photo by Marian Moore Lewis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blacksmiths Photo by Marian Moore Lewis

Blacksmiths
Photo by Marian Moore Lewis

 

 

Woodsman's camp Photo by Marian Moore Lewis

Woodsman’s camp
Photo by Marian Moore Lewis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion with Jeremiah O'Brien  Photo by Marian Moore Lewis

Discussion with Jeremiah O’Brien
Photo by Marian Moore Lewis

The Margaretta Day Festival brings together many from the Machias River Valley:  historians, re-enactors, craftsmen, artisans, food vendors, promoters of children’s activities, and even the US Postal Service, which set up a booth to cancel letters and postcards with a commemorative stamp. A morning parade began the festival. Throughout the day, crafters displayed their skills, historians made presentations, and I, dressed in a period shirt and wearing a tricorne, signed copies of my novel Newfound Freedom. Everyone, except the group of soaked re-enactors, who tried to sleep through a torrential downpour the night before, seemed to have a very enjoyable time, selling their wears, eating deer stew, meat pies, and other period foods, and topping everything off with dessert pies made from blueberries, rhubarb, or strawberries. The event ended with the expected rainstorms failing to attend. After, Marian and I joined our friends Pierre and Pat for an outstanding dinner at the Riverside Inn in East Machias.

 

 

 

An account of this battle colored with the colonial and nautical adventures and life of this time is an integral part of my historically accurate, exciting novel Newfound Freedom. For information about the book, please click above on My Books.

Chris Sprague, the Jeremiah O'Brien reenactor and me -- Photo by Marian Moore Lewis

Chris Sprague, the Jeremiah O’Brien reenactor and me — Photo by Marian Moore Lewis

ʃ ʃ ʃ ʃ

© Copyright text by Richard Modlin 2014

© Copyright photography by Marian Moore Lewis 2014

 

 

Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | June 7, 2014

Aboard an Historic Great Lakes Bulk Freighter

National Museum of the Great Lakes Entrance

National Museum of the Great Lakes Entrance

A long time ago—a very long time ago—I got to stroll the decks of a Great Lakes bulk freighters. When I was in elementary school, my father had connections with the crews aboard some of these vessels. If they happened to load or unload at the docks near the mouth of the Maumee River in Toledo, Ohio, he’d sometimes take me along when he went to see his friends. At other times when a newly christened lake freighter visited the port, there was a celebration and the freighter would be opened to the public. It was on one of these occasions that I toured the ill-fated Edmond Fitzgerald—now that was a long freighter, over 700 ft. in length. Surprisingly, I never went aboard a bulk freighter during my military career, though I was on active duty in the US Coast Guard and stationed on the Great Lakes. Instead I spent my enlistment Inspecting cargoes carried aboard sea going vessels, pulling drunken yachtsmen out of the lake, maintaining generators and electrical systems aboard the USGC Cutter Mackinaw, and setting buoys and fueling remote light stations from various black & tan USCG buoy tenders.

Recently I visited Toledo and the new National Museum of the Great Lakes—a fabulous, ultramodern museum full of information and interactive exhibits. But the exposition spéciale is the Great Lakes bulk freighter Col. James M. Schoonmaker.

Bulk Lake Freighter Col. James M. Schoomaker

Bulk Lake Freighter Col. James M. Schoomaker

The J.M. Schoonmaker is 617 ft. in length, with a 64 ft. beam, 33 ft. one inch from the main deck to the keel, weighing 8,600 tons empty (23,600 tons loaded) and launched over 100 yrs. ago on July 1, 1911. Powered by a pair of steam turbines, she plied the lakes for over 65 years.  At the time of her launch, she was considered the “Queen of the Lakes,” the largest bulk freighter in the world.

Strolling Aft

Strolling Aft

 

 

For a self-guided tour of the Schoonmaker, we boarded her in a light rain forward of amidships. With the threat of a stronger storm approaching, we gingerly made along the slick deck to the cover of the vessel’s stern-house. This rear structure houses the ship’s galley, crews’ mess, officers’ dining room, and cooks’, crews’, stewards’ and engineers’ cabins. Two decks below is the engine room, a space extending from under the main deck to the floor covering the bilges. A mezzanine-styled deck midway down divides the engine room. This deck houses the generators and electrical distribution panels.

Crews' Galley

Crews’ Galley

 

While touring the engine room, we knew when the strong storm hit. The hawsers, holding the freighter against the dock, creaked and groaned as they strained against the wind.

Engine Room

Engine Room. Photo by Marian L. Lewis

 

 

 

 

 

High Pressure Turbine Statistics

High Pressure Turbine Statistics

 

 

Back outside on the main deck after the storm had passed, we carefully walked the length of about two football fields to the bow. Along the way are the battened cargo holds, a cargo hatch crane, several deck winches, and the landing boom (a sling that lowers a seaman to the dock or pier to secure the ship’s hawsers when the vessel ties to shore). Our destination was the three-storied superstructure that rises above the main deck and contains the passenger hall, lounge, grill room, owner’s cabin (main deck), captain’s cabin and office (second deck), flying side decks, and the pilot house (bridge).

Looking Forward (toward the bow) from Amidships

Looking Forward (toward the bow) from Amidships

After a very wet and windy climb up the ladders we found that the bridge hatches were closed. I threw up my arms in disappointment, but then I spotted a docent inside, a rugged looking fellow. He waved a greeting and motioned us to a leeside hatch, which he opened. “Had to close the doors to avoid the hurricane force winds that storm produced,” he said.

Looking Aft from Bridge Deck

Looking Aft from Bridge Deck

Stepping into the pilot house, I found an uncluttered space and, as suspected, a lack of modern navigational equipment. Aboard the research vessels I had previously worked on, the pilot houses contained a helmsman’s chair behind a single wheel and a hodgepodge of computer screens, buzzing boxes, blinking colored light, and bunch of other hi-tech gadgets. This was not so on the Schoonmaker. Forward of the center, but on the midline, stood an old-fashioned binnacle, which contained the magnetic compass. In front and to its right was a gyro compass repeater. On each side of the binnacle was a large ship’s wheel. This vessel had two wheels.

Pilot House or Bridge and the various pieces of Steering and Navigation Equipment

Pilot House or Bridge and the various pieces of Steering and Navigation Equipment

“Always good to have backups, especially compasses and steering systems,” the docent said. “There are three other wheels aboard. A big one on the fantail for backing down and docking, and two in the engine room.  In case the gyro goes, the fallback is the old magnetic compass. It always works.”

We saw the two wheels in the engine room. They were about a quarter of the size of these on the bridge. “You’d need some lookouts stationed on deck if the helmsman were steering in the engine room,” I said.

“For sure.” The docent nodded and pointed to the ship’s telegraph (bridge to engine room communication to control the action of the turbines) and the shipboard telephone.

A LORAN (LOng RAnge Navigation) system (my first duty as a Coasty was to man the LORAN transmitter at a USCG light station on Lake Erie), a radio direction finder, radar, spotlights, and the cord to blow the ship’s horn were efficiently placed forward of the wheels. Guess what? There were no computers on the bridge. Yet the Col. James M. Schoonmaker had, thought dated, all the instruments that were necessary to ply the Great Lakes.

ʃ ʃ ʃ ʃ

© Copyright 2014 by Richard Modlin

For a tale of a nautical adventure taking place at the beginning of the American Revolution please read my latest novel, Newfound Freedom. For information click above on “My Books.”

 

Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | May 23, 2014

Lake Erie’s Great Birding Weekend

Red-winged Blackbird and Cowbird on a feeder.

Red-winged Blackbird and Cowbird on a feeder.

Recently I visited near Toledo, Ohio. Although my visit was for a different purpose, it was the Great Birding Weekend along the southwestern shore of Lake Erie provided the greater attraction. Though parts of the weekend were a bit cloudy, misty and rainy, an abundance of migrating birds waded puddles, swam on ponds, ate at feeders, flew between trees, and soared across the gray sky. As a bird watcher, I could not pass up an opportunity to enjoy my favorite pastime.

 

Lesser Yellow-leg

Lesser Yellow-leg

Lesser Yellow-leg

Lesser Yellow-leg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before heavy rains inundated the area on Friday, my wife, brother, sister-in-law (all ardent and dedicated birders), and I took the chance of driving the dikes and back roads of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (N.W.R.). (On special occasions this refuge is opened to vehicular traffic. About seven miles of normally closed access roads and dikes are opened to automobiles.) This gives visiting bird watchers an opportunity to view some of the refuge’s remote marshes, ponds, streams and forests.

Dunlin

Dunlin

 

 

Pair of Dunlin

Pair of Dunlin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Except for three other cars, we had the refuge almost to ourselves. Resident and migrating birds were everywhere. (Ottawa N.W.R., being one of the largest freshwater marsh environments on the Great Lakes, supports a great population of red-winged blackbirds.) Red-wings, along with the resident house wrens, entertained us along the entire drive. Common yellow throats, yellow warblers, yellow-rumps, black-throated blues, eastern kingbirds, red- and golden-crowned kinglets, rose-breasted nuthatches, swamp sparrows, redstarts, and tree swallows were the most common migrants. Though we wanted to photograph a pair of great horned owl chicks, which others had seen in a nest atop a dead tree next to an iron bridge, our major goal was to photograph the shorebirds. We found the bridge and the tree, but not the owls, so we turned our telephotos toward the water.

Canada Goose on nest.

Canada Goose on nest.

Adult Trumpeter Swans

Adult Trumpeter Swans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before we could properly set up our cameras, a flock of sandhill cranes flew over. Nearby, in an expanse of shallow open water, lesser yellow legs and a large flock of dunlins waded. Around islands of last year’s cattails swam mallards, coots, shovelers, and blue-winged teals.  Small flocks of trumpeter swans and Canada geese glided on the surface of deeper ponds, while difficult to identify plovers and sandpipers dabbled on muddy shoals. A mature and juvenile bald eagle flew overhead as we exited the refuge.

Baltimore Oriole eating grape jam.

Baltimore Oriole eating grape jam.

 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interestingly, some of the other inhabitants in the Ottawa N.W.R. gave us an opportunity to watch them. While on the bridge where the owl chicks were to be, a weasel ran past next to us. Now this is a rarely seen animal. It crossed too fast for anyone to photograph it. Muskrats swam in pools nearby, while painted turtles lay on logs basking, soaking up warmth.  And, a large number of individuals from Lake Erie’s carp population were roiling the waters below the bridge. They appeared to find the pond a perfect place to cavort, mate and spawn. There were hundreds splashing, swirling, plowing, cruising and chasing. It’s no wonder the pool below the bridge looked like a vat of butterscotch.

Painted Turtle

Painted Turtle

Dorsal fins of Spawning Carp

Dorsal fins of Spawning Carp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My brother’s back deck provided the venue for the remaining weekend of bird watching.  With all his feeders, suet cages, and specialized foods (grape jam), rose-breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore orioles, chipping sparrows, a great-crested flycatcher, cowbirds, mourning doves, and red-winged black birds entertained us.

∫ ∫ ∫ ∫ ∫

For information on Ottawa N.W.F and other southwester Lake Erie birding locations, please check out my book, Chasing Wings. For information about the book, please click on My Books above.

© Copyright by Richard Modlin, May 2014

 

Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | April 19, 2014

Newfound Freedom: Finalist for 2013 BOTYA

Newfound Freedom has been selected as a Finalist for the 2013 ForeWord Review’s Book of the Year Award in General Fiction. This recent novel of 18th Century colonial and nautical adventure and life is available. in electronic format from Amazon Kindle and hard and soft cover book format from Amazon.com.  Learn of the real and fictional characters with whom Jack and Ian Hollister meet and interact during their perilous Atlantic crossing and, join them in their experiences during the beginnings of the American Revolution.  Both get caught up with American Patriots and Downeast Maine, coastal pirates, then are separated by the impending vagaries of the war.  Jack finds residence in the logging town of Machias, Maine, and becomes involved in the Battle of Machias, the first naval battle of the Revolution.  Ian suffers the turmoil of being impressed into the Royal Navy.  Eventually the brothers are reunited, but how?

For those of you living in or near Machias, Washington County, Maine, I’ll be visiting and signing copies of Newfound Freedom at the Margaretta Day event, Saturday, June 14, 2014, on the campus of the University of Maine at Machias.  Please stop by, visit for a while and enjoy all the happenings at the event.

Finalist BOTYA Logo

Finalist BOTYA Logo

Testimonials for Newfound Freedom:

two English brothers…a perilous Atlantic crossing…beginning of the American Revolution…a magnificent story of adventure.”  —Closeup Talk Radio.

“A cleverly crafted epic of American colonial and nautical adventure.  A rollicking tale, complete with sea battles, love affairs, familial infighting and brief appearances by George Washington, Nathan Hale, and other patriots.”—Kirkus Review.

 

Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | February 4, 2014

Birding St. Mark’s NWR, St. Mark’s County, FL

About eight miles east of The Inn at Wildwood on Hwy 98 in Crawfordville, Florida where we stayed, a bridge crosses the St. Mark’s River. Roughly 100 yards beyond the bridge, Lighthouse Road angles off to the south. Several miles down, this road enters the 68,000-acre St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge. Lighthouse Road continues through the refuge and ends at the historic St. Marks Lighthouse.

Visitors Center Pond

Visitors Center Pond

St. Mark's Lighthouse.

St. Mark’s Lighthouse.

Saltmarsh

Salt Marsh

Lighthouse Pool

Lighthouse Pool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To and from the visitors’ center, Lighthouse Road is completely asphalted.  It winds for about seven miles toward the Gulf of Mexico, past a variety of coastal habitats where many species of migratory upland and coastal birds over winter.  Immediately upon turning off Hwy 98, Lighthouse Road enters a pine-palmetto forest. This continues to the visitors’ center. A half-mile beyond the center, the road circles around the east side of East River Pond. Once it crosses over the connection between East River Pond and Stony Bayou Pool 1, the road runs adjacent to watery habitats—pools, ditches, swamps, palm-covered hummocks, salt marshes, and dry stretches that support Spanish moss covered oaks.  All along, next to road, viewing points—some with platforms, towers, and other overlooks—are easily accessible.  Several trailheads that allow deeper intrusion along dikes begin at the road. One short trail that encircles the lighthouse pool begins at the parking lot at the end of the road. This is the southern most pool before entering the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Red-breasted merganser

Red-breasted merganser

Brown Pelicans

Brown Pelicans

Redhead

Redhead

Female Bufflehead

Female Bufflehead

Pied-billed grebe

Pied-billed grebe

Dunlins

Dunlins

Song Sparrow in Parking Lot

Song Sparrow in Parking Lot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marian and I visited the lighthouse pool and the adjacent coastline on Saturday the 25th of January 2014 with other members of the Alabama Ornithological Society. A variety of ducks, anhinga, grebes, moorhens, gallinules, herons, egrets, brown and white pelicans, three species of terns, and hundreds of coots were swimming or wading about. Everyone whipped out their binoculars, spotting scopes, and telephoto lenses and focuses on the flocks of shorebirds.

 

Great egret

Great egret

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American avocet feeding

American avocet feeding

American avocet

American avocet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I almost never used a tripod to photograph with my 500 mm telephoto—though most times my photos looked okay, they did show minuscule vibration flaws—the pool provided a great opportunity to try out my newest purchase, a lightweight tripod. Marian convinced me to buy one. So I broke down and did a week before we came on this trip. Wow! What an improvement. Let me know if you enjoy the photos I’ve posted.

Though it was an overcast day, St. Mark’s was worth the trip. Besides the ducks and shorebirds, the dry areas had a treasure trove of sparrows, warblers, wrens, and raptors, including bald eagles. We spent about four hours exploring and photographing in this refuge.

 ∫ ∫ ∫ ∫

 © Copyright, Richard Modlin 2014

For other interesting bird watching area in the USA, Caribbean, Europe and Africa, please click on “My Books” above and check out my book Chasing Wings—Available from Amazon.com.

Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | December 12, 2013

PreChristmas Book Signing Events

“…a rollicking tale, complete with sea battles, budding love affairs, familial infighting and even brief appearances by patriots George Washington and Nathan Hale.” A Kirkus Review excerpt of my novel “Newfound Freedom.”

Stop by Jim Reed’s Bookstore (2021 3rd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203) on Tuesday the 17th and pick up a copy. I’ll be signing copies from 11:30 to 1:30. An Autographed book is a great gift for Christmas.  Information, visit www.richardmodlin.com

If you missed the book signing of Newfound Freedom at the Interior Market Place (Huntsville, AL, on Hwy 431 South, just over Monte Sano on the right) on December 7, I have another scheduled for Thursday December 19 from 11:30 – 2:00.  Don’t forget, an autographed book is a great gift to give for Christmas.  Hope to see you there.  By the way, The Market Place Cafe has a great luncheon menu.  It will be open during the book signing event.

Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | November 21, 2013

Chasing Wings — Big Discount

Thank you all to those who took advantage of the sale noted below. Hope you enjoy Chasing Wings. Be on the lookout for a sale on the Kindle edition of my latest novel Newfound Freedom. The discount, countdown sale will occur in December. 

CHASING WINGS is being promoted from November 21 to 27, 2013 on Amazon Kindle’s count-down discount program. Consequently the Kindle version of my global birding adventures and observations has been discounted 75%. DON’T MISS OUT ON THIS SAVINGS! Download a copy for only $1.99. Visit http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Wings-Birding-Exploits-Encounters-ebook/dp/B001K7IF7C/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1385056088

 Cover Image

 ABOUT BOOK 

Finalist, 2008 ForeWord Magazine Book of The Year Award in nature.

Chasing Wings is an account of the author’s passion.  In twenty-four chapters, follow Richard Modlin as he vividly relates his humorous encounters with birds and describes his travels to exotic and routine birding locations.  The book begins with his account as a child of picking up a baby blue jay, then being aggressively confronted by its parents.  A few years later the author attempts to make a pet of a juvenile American kestrel, only to learn that raptors like freedom.  Modlin writes of other novel avian interactions he has had in his life.  For instance, on an island in Belize, a magnificent frigatebird visits to collect handouts and relaxes on arms and shoulder of visiting researchers.  In Connecticut, an adult mute swam get its revenge against a pugnacious conservation warder.  Then there is the account of a trio of starlings that invaded the author’s attic apartment and learning, years later that excited starling were easier to handle than the three wild turkeys trying to raid his sunroom. 

Travel with the author to view widowbirds, ostriches, sunbirds, parrots, toucans, blue pigeons, paradise flycatchers, hummingbirds and other exotic birds as he describes his visits to Kenya, Seychelle Islands, Grand Cayman Island and the rain forests of Belize; to France where he visited a raptor aviary and to Sweden in search of black woodpeckers.  Follow him on his birding ventures to southeastern Arizona, the coast of Maine, swamps and marshes of Florida and Ohio, and the beach communities on the Gulf Coast of Alabama.  Not only are lists of birds sighted included with the travelogues, but also easy to follow details on the sites he visited. 

© Richard Modlin 2013

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Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | October 16, 2013

GOLDEN ROAD

Baxter Park mountain range from rise on the Golden Road.

Baxter Park mountain range from rise on the Golden Road.

This private road built for the use of logging trucks and passes a few miles south of Baxter State Park, crosses roughly a 50-mile swath of central Maine from Millinocket to Greenville, and passes through the most spectacular wildness of forest and meadow in the state. It’s wide, a partially asphalted gravel, almost freeway-like, highway that parallels the west branch of the Penobscot River to the Ripogenus Dam. Here it crosses the dam and continues on to Greenville. The stretch from the dam is less developed than the first 37 miles. From just beyond the dam the trip is a slow 15-mile experience of gravel, rocks, and potholes.

Roadside Autumn Leaves.

Roadside Autumn Leaves.

Pallette of Autumn Colors

Pallette of Autumn Colors

As I mention above, this is a private road used by logging trucks—they have COMPLETE RIGHT-OF-WAY. Mile markers are located along the road and the few signs traffic warn of sharp turns and obstacles. There are no speed limit signs. Though accessible to private vehicles, these must pull to the shoulder when a several tandem, dust blowing, log-loaded, behemoth is sited barreling up from behind or toward them. But loggers also relax over the weekend. So, if taken on a Saturday or Sunday, the trip is fantastic and usually unhindered by logging trucks.

Known primarily by fishermen, hunters, snowmobilers, hikers (the Appalachian Trail encounters and crosses the Golden Road at Abol Bridge), nature photographers, and local adventurers, few others are aware of the Golden Road or of its attributes. 

Mountain and Autumn View.

Mountain and Autumn View.

Marsh off Golden Road

Marsh off Golden Road

  

When a Wooly Bear Crosses the Road, Winter is Coming.

When a Wooly Bear Crosses the Road, Winter is Coming.

 

Pond with Autumn Reflections

Pond with Autumn Reflections

In autumn the view from the road is indeed golden, and red, green, blue, yellow, white, brown, beige and all the other colors that occur when summer progresses to winter. There are many fantastic vistas of Mt. Katahdin and the other mountains that comprise Baxter State Park. Views of falls and white water can be seen from the pull offs and campsites located all along the Penobscot River. Bald eagles, golden eagles, hawks and owls, arrays of migratory birds and ducks, white-tailed deer, porcupines, fox, and an occasional black bear may be sighted from the road. Since many small ponds, bogs, streams and marshes are along the road or a very short distance from it, a trip along this private artery after sunrise and/or before sunset is a perfect time to see moose. They abound in this region of Maine.

 

Un-named Stream

Un-named Stream

Mt. Katahdin from Abol Campsite.

Mt. Katahdin from Abol Campsite.

Abol Bridge with Thru-AT Hiker Taking in the View

Abol Bridge with Thru-AT Hiker Taking in the View

Recently Marian and I took a Saturday drive along the Golden Road. We accessed it from a short gravel road across Hwy 157 from the boulder on the right that advertises features of Baxter State Park. The park’s entrance is a couple of miles ahead. We drove about 15 miles up the road, lunched at Abol Bridge Campground, talked with a couple of thru-AT hikers, and took many photographs. On our return we exited closer to where we were staying—Twin Pines Camp—at the causeway between Ambejejus Lake and Lake Millinocket.    

∫ ∫ ∫ ∫

© Richard Modlin, 2013

Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | September 4, 2013

Newfound Freedom, Live

My novel, Newfound Freedom, is now available as a trade paperback and hardback from Amazon.com. The Electronic version is available from Kindle. Click on my books for direct ordering links.  A brief review follows below. Be the first to get a copy. 

 
Cover Image 3 intf

Newfound Freedom is Richard Modlin’s well-crafted, historically accurate, narrative epic that will thrill readers interested in American colonial life and nautical adventure. It’s a flowing, coming-of-age, plot-driven novel of camaraderie comparable to the early books written by Patrick O’Brien.

Modlin’s inspiration for the novel found its genesis in the author’s love of history and his stays along the down-east coast of Maine, where he learned of the Battle of Machias, the first naval battle of the American Revolution.

Modlin’s superb writing skills and knowledge of history keeps the reader intimately engaged with the history of the time. The dialogue uses only words and expressions that were common lexis in the New England, Great Britain, and on the high seas in the eighteenth century. Descriptions of the landmarks, events, and terrain are true to the time. Moreover, the fictional characters interact with actual historical figures such as George Washington, Jeremiah O’Brien, Nathan Hale, and many others.

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