wander project Maine

Would you believe me if I told you of a desert in Maine? Yes, the state famous for Lighthouses, ocean views, and Acadia National Forest. The land in fact, of lumber, lobster, and rain. The desert of Maine is not what you think. This is not the great Sahara Desert that stretches across one end of Africa. Or Death Valley, a desert in California. Or for that matter the Gobi desert in China. This dessert isn’t a dessert but is called that. Deserts have a couple of rules. One of those rules is that rain has to be a rare event. As in, rain happens very infrequently, less in some deserts throughout the world, than 2 or 3 times a year. Less than a five-inch rainfall in a year.


Deserts are dry. Deserts are hot, and Deserts aren’t in Maine. But, there is a desert in Maine. Ten thousand years ago there was a huge plate of glaciers that covered the US. Well actually let us be fair. It covered Canada and spread down to the US. A glacier, a large block of ice moves slowly. As it moves it grinds rocks and other objects into small fine particles. Very much like the ocean grinding rocks into sand, the resulting ground rock from a glacier is called silt. It is not called sand it is called silt. Now, if you look at the silt and pick up a handful of silt it acts just like sand. Finely ground rock is sand. But, when a glacier does, it is called silt. The silt resulted from the grinding rocks.

As the great glaciers retreated they left the silt. Due to geology of the land of Maine, a lot of the silt gathered in a single valley. It created the desert of Maine. We, my wife and I, trekked the desert of Maine. We didn’t need a camel, but there was a camel at the opening of the desert. We did also leave some money (they part was closed for the season already). We walked from the starting point (a closed gift shop) to the end. There are a couple of pictures that show where the silt ends and the world returns to normal. It was 15 feet pretty much straight down. There is a creek that stopped the silt from moving at one end of the park. Buried under the sand, a spring house for the 1930s.

What if I told you there was a desert in Maine? Would you believe me?


wander project Maine Day 3, first!

For the next few days, the pictures from our three days in the state of Maine. Maine is as far north in the United States as you can go in the US unless you go to Alaska. The town of Portland ME is a great place to visit. Founded in the 1600s but destroyed during the revolutionary war. The town was rebuilt. The best part of going to Maine, for me has always been getting Lobster Rolls. I love Lobster rolls. We did get them! We also got a lot of other fun pictures, memories, and pictures. The pictures shared today are of our last day. In particular, because I wanted to share the one picture of my wife and me in Portland Maine. My wife is sitting in a Lobster Chair. It was a lobster Rocker, and she spotted it as we were walking.


Not, you have to rock a Lobster to sleep while sitting in the chair. Rather than the chair was made out of an old Lobster Cage. I didn’t sit in the chair, I truly didn’t think it looked that comfortable. The shop keeper came out and took the pictures for us. We had decided to talk a walking tour on our last day of the Old Harbor and the arts district. There are many buildings that were rebuilt after Portable ME was destroyed.  The Lobster chair was in a story that was facing the water. We parked our car in a lot and headed towards lunch. We were on our third stop, and I will talk about the other stoops over the next few days. But this was around lunchtime before the start of our long walk.

We were going to go to a raw bar for lunch. But sadly, between where we parked and the raw bar, there was a Lebanese restaurant. My wife loved Mediterranean food more than anything on earth. She, because we had decided to go to the raw bar, was walking past the Lebanese place, but I couldn’t let her do that. It is her all-time favorite food, so we had lunch there.  That restaurant was about a ½ block before we encountered the Lobster Trap chair. It was also about three blocks before we found a metal artisan and got two Labs. Well, we got two pewter labs to bring home. We also went into every single pet store on the walk. We were missing the dogs. We met a Chocolate Newfoundland on the walk. It may have been the prettiest dog I’ve ever seen.


wander project water

First off, and this may be good news or bad news, my apologies either way. Today is the last day I am blogging until Sunday. I am taking a 3-day recharge break from the world of MyLot and Virily. It is a recharge chance for me that I am happy to take. I need a break!


The pictures today are from the Family reunion at Wisconsin Dells at one of the state parks near the Wisconsin River. I spent a lot of time on the water in Wisconsin, although for the vast majority of my time on the water in Wisconsin it was near or on Lake Ripley. Lake Ripley, if you are looking on a map, is about 24 miles south of Madison and about 20 miles north of Janesville, Wisconsin. My mother’s parents moved to Cambridge, which is the town nestled on one end of the Lake when my mother was little. Starting long before my memories begin I was in Lake Ripley. I also spent time in Wisconsin Dells that I do not have many memories of, my father’s parents lived there until I was 8 or 9 years old.

My memories of Lake Ripley are stronger, and I spent a lot more time there. I remember the nautical themed living room my grandfather had. I also remember the house next door. My grandfather and his father build two houses on the property by the lake. On top of the hill was where my great-grandfather lived. That was a house my grandparents rented out after my great grandfather passed away. But the basement of that house, stone, and musty was my grandfather’s magic storage area. I remember seeing all the tools, the engine parts and years of living on the lake — fishing poles and lures, things that held magic for a small child. I remember going in with grandpa.

Across the road from that basement was the garage. It was less a garage and more a second storage building by the time I was old enough to remember. The cars, later the 5th wheel were always parked in front of the garage. But cars were never in the one car garage. On the hill overlooking the garage, there were the three cabins that my grandparents rented. Those were weekly rentals or monthly rentals in the summer. The house that had been my great-grandfathers was rented yearly to a WWII veteran. He, the renter, was a nice man but kept to himself. My grandfather and I painted the cabins one summer, but the garage was another magical place — full of tools just like the old basement.

Those are memories I will not lose!


wander project in search of cheese

My wife was finishing up her Master’s Degree, and my family was having a reunion (for ½ the family) in Wisconsin Dells Wisconsin. So I took the kids, my daughter had just gotten her driver’s license so she drove part of 9 hours from Indianapolis Indiana to Wisconsin Dells Wisconsin. The pictures are from that event. The kids loved the Olympus camera. First, because they could take it into the water, and it took pictures above and below the water. There were also some settings on the camera that we played on this trip. The first picture is actually of my father, but it is in line with the art form. That came directly from the camera, and no editing was done to the image.


The second picture is a panorama of the entire family. That one turned out well. We played with panoramas. The one shared is easily the best, but there are a couple of others that are also not bad. The event was two-part, the first part was all of us enjoying the Dells. I first went to the Dells before I could remember, but I have pictures of the Dells from before, and after I was born. Wisconsin Dells Wisconsin was where my father was born. The town was very small when I was little, but it has grown tremendously since the last time I had been. I went with my mother’s parents in 1981 or 1982 when I was up in Cambridge. My grandparents took me to see where my father’s father was buried.

Now, the last pictures are of a cow in front of a cheese store. On the way home from the Dells, the last thing the kids wanted to do was to visit a cheese store. Every time we took the kids to Wisconsin we always stopped at a cheese store. This particular store had a giant cow in front of the store. We went in, to the cheese shop and my daughter, the twins, and I picked cheese to take home.  It was an amazing store, and we ended up getting a lot of things we probably didn’t need. Some of the cheese didn’t even make it out of Wisconsin. More of the cheese didn’t make it out of Illinois. We did take some especially for my wife, who wasn’t with us for the trip. Less cheese arrived in Indiana than was purchased in Wisconsin by a lot.


wander project a walk

Robert Frost talked of the trail less taken that in choosing the un-walked trail it was harder at first, but in the end, he was better for it. That the journey itself was a part of the rebirth, then birth again of who he would become. Each of us makes those journeys in life. Often we choose between the natural world and the comforts of humanity. Humans have spent thousands of years perfecting indoors. We have machines that condition the very air and prevent fluctuations in temperature. We keep indoors at a comfortable temperature at all times. Outdoors changes frequently, the temperature rising to levels that are uncomfortable and then just as quickly comfortable again.


The reality is of the connection as well. I wonder if a group of people, 10,000 years ago, looking for food and perhaps a warm cave to sleep in, cared how many steps they took. Did it matter to them that for their health they needed 7500 to 10,000 steps a day? Or were they more worried about living until tomorrow, getting food, and staying dry in a cave? Oh yea, and with luck upon finding that cave, perhaps not already owned by a landlord that resembled a roaring cave bear — fleeing into the night to hide in trees uncomfortably. Did they care that being chased by a cave bear gave them an extra 2000 steps that day> Or that lifting their body weight into the air had a great aerobic impact?

I find myself sometimes walking in nature and realizing my connection. How important that connection is. I know when I was 12, 13 years old, I decided my father as he tried to build that connection for me, with me, He was right, as fathers often are. Right at the moment, but not realized until later that the reality of the world is we need to be connected with the nature around us. That trees have much to share with us as they reach ever for the glass ceiling. I know it takes me more time now to separate from humanity and return to nature. I have to leave my cell phone behind. I have to turn off notifications on my watch and instead ask it to be a dumb smartwatch for a time.

Connecting with nature is so magical, but sometimes so hard now to do.


wander project still walking after all these years

Is it romantic to do things many years after you meet someone the same way? My wife and I began dating in October 1990. I had shared my “When Harry met Sally story a few times in various blogs, and of course in my podcast https://docandersen.podbean.com/e/our-harry-met-sally-story/  ). We used to when we were first dating take long walks. 7 or 8 miles walking between our two houses and talking. Some of the best conversations we’ve had were while we were out on a walk. Now, we had a few years where we didn’t walk. Or, if we were walking it was with the kids. When we lived in Mt. Airy there was a sidewalk from our house to the video store.


We would walk as a family from our house to the video rental place. But for the most part, when the twins were little we stopped walking. Now, we tend to head to the boat on the weekends. But when we put the boat away from the year 9now), we either ride the tandem bike or, like yesterday, we go on a walk. Yesterday we wandered to the Seneca Creek state park. It was a crisp fall day when we started. We drove the 3 miles to the state park, and then once in the park we had to drive for a bit. The trail we wanted to take was closer to the backside of the park. There are two entrances to the park, and one is hard to get to, the other is easy to get to, but far from where we wanted to start.

Mink Hollow, lakeside were two of the trails we were going to walk on. We didn’t take the dogs, which upset them, but they will get over it. Without a twin going with us, my wife isn’t strong enough to restrain a bounding Labrador. We encountered a few folks who had the same idea as we did, out in the woods on a crisp fall day. It was also fun to meet the four dogs that were also out and about.  We had a great conversation just like we used to do 29 years ago. There are many things that are different now than were in place then. My wife and I met in Bloomington Indiana. (see the podcast for the Harry met Sally’s tory). We started dating there. We got married in Kirksville Indiana (where my parents mini-farm was). Then we went back to Cincinnati Ohio.

Memories are precious! Share yours today!


wander project a trip to Mars

A journey today that has nothing to do with the picture! Well it is a journey to Mars but not using the rocket shown in the first picture. Plus, there isn’t snow on mars, other than the two polar caps. Not a lot of free water.  Rather today is the contemplation of an activity I used to do with my students when I was a teacher. I love NASA. I love the idea of traveling across our solar system to stand on Mars. But I also love the thought experiment what would you take with you to Mars. It has long been something I thought about, considered, and something I have done with adults, children and well my children. I can tell you that with gentle prodding you can get some really interesting answers.


First, traveling to Mars you have to worry about three things, and there are three types of travelers to consider. The types are explorers, terraforms, and tourists. Each of them has a different view of what they are doing and how they are traveling. Explorers don’t need as many creature comforts as tourists would. But explorers will also need more physically available activities so they can continue to be in shape. Additionally, regardless of the types of travelers, you will need a medical team. It is likely to take 30 days or more to travel from Earth to Mars. (the math mapping Mars to earth including angle of launch, gravitational waves and so on is simply amazing ).

The other thing to consider is the weight, and that means each person has a limited amount of stuff they can take. So what would you take>? The reason for the picture of snow, Mars is cold. Most likely you won’t take books or anything like that. Some of the most interesting conversations I have ever had with children were around what they would take to Mars. As a future parent, and then as a parent, I was always impressed with the kids that were honest. Most of them, if they were going to Mars would want to call their parents, but not take their parents. Some of the things kids wanted to take to Mars over the years made me smile. Dogs, Cats and other pets were always at the top of the list.

So let’s end today with what would you take to Mars?


wander project memories

Today’s pictures are from a moment in time. The sad reality of pictures is that they often share things that are no more. The birthday cake candles burning for a birthday now long past. The homemade cake a moment of sharing, of family and bad singing. A couple of the singers off-key. But the song is one we all know, so the off-key voice doesn’t matter. We celebrate the moment. That moment when a child arrives. In the words of the song by Harry Chapin “Cats in the cradle” the child arrives in the usual way. Each birthday is then celebrated with more and more candles. Then suddenly we stop. It is not that the day no longer holds the value it is that we no longer need to share that day.

jan bday2 007

Corky was my sister’s dog. He was down visiting my parents for the event that day. We didn’t often bring Fran, and we seldom brought Gwen. Gwen did not get along, nor did Fran with any of the other dogs. At the time of these pictures, mom and dad had West Highland Terriers. The two Fred and Jess ruled the house. Corky was there because he was still young, and didn’t have the where to go to the bathroom rules down yet (house training).  Corky was a Bischound; both of my sisters had one. I don’t remember much about corky, I saw him many times, but he wasn’t a dog that I interacted with. I am not as good with small dogs, and I don’t like the yapping and barking.

The first pictures, but the last in the text is of a spider. The spider was on my parent’s back porch. You can, in the first picture see that it had strung its web between two plants. I enjoyed taking pictures of the beautiful creature. With its web strung it was going to remove many flying pests form the environment, dad, and mom’s back porch. If you look at the web you can see the shock cord. That is the wound section of the web that connects to a plant or tree, and when the insect lands, its struggles don’t destroy the web because the shock cord carries that moved away from the web itself. You don’t see any insects on the web at the time of the picture, the next time we came, it had quite a few insects, but I didn’t have my camera.


wander project sunset in Seattle

The song says “it never rains in Southern California.” The adage that is used for Seattle is “Children in Seattle don’t age, they rust.” It often rains but not much in Seattle. By often there are many days in the year when measurable rainfalls. But the total amount of rain that falls is much less than in other places in the US. I have however been in Seattle with days like you’ll see in one of the pictures. With the sun setting over the harbor and a beautiful blue sky. I have, for many years said, when it is sunny in Seattle it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The city is friendly, and the harbor is beautiful. Plus, if you are in downtown Seattle you can visit the space needle and the Jimi Hendrix Experience.


My favorite author, Tom Robbins, lived in Seattle for many years. Starbucks was founded in Seattle. Right across the street from the Pike Street Fish Market. The Pike Street fish market has been featured in many movies. My favorite was the movie, Free Willy. Why? Because I have seen that scene 200 times because my daughter watched that movie all the time. The market is famous for the thrown fish. You order snapper, and instead of getting snapped you get the fish thrown. Not to or at you, but your fish goes form the back area of the market to the front via air. It is fun to watch, and I have gone many times to watch the flying fish. One year I went and got smoked salmon for my parents.

I also often brought smoked salmon home for my wife and me to enjoy. I think wandering Pike Street over the years, and I stopped many times. I would also walk down Pike Street to the harbor. The Harbor is on both sides of the City Center area. There is a wharf in the city center where the ferries dock. Those who live on either side of the Puget Sounds arrive at downtown Seattle for work. They don’t drive. The city also has harbor cruises that leave from the wharves in the center. The commercial harbor is on both sides, but far away from the center. I used to walk both ways along the shore when I was in Seattle. It was relaxing. Now, if I was at work, I wasn’t often downtown. But that is a different story!


wander project dads garden

Yesterday I talked a little about the many gardens of my father. When we lived in town (not by the way that Bloomington is a huge or big town, it literally shrinks for 20% in the summer when the students leave town!) From 1969 to 1975 we lived in a subdivision called Sherwood Oaks (with time out when we moved to Bangkok 1971, 1972) dad built his very first home garden. It started along the back fence line of the house. We had added a fence around the back yard for the dogs. Dad took over one corner of the yard. The garden in Sherwood Oaks had two phases. The first phase was pre-Bangkok. For the most part, we grew lettuce, tomatoes, Squash, and Onions.


I hate squash. I got in trouble a few times for using large Zucchini as baseball bats. When we left for Bangkok we didn’t have a garden. We had a few plants on the patio/porch/veranda in Bangkok but not a full garden.  When we came back from Bangkok dad decided to begin adding to the garden, and his overall vision changed. He began growing hot peppers and Apple Trees. The vision would continue to evolve. When we moved from Sherwood Oaks (far south side of Bloomington) to Sycamore Knolls (near South Side of Bloomington), dad suddenly had more room to work with. Fruit trees went in, as well as an inner fence.

The inner fence lasted about a year, but we added a chain-link fence around the entire back yard. Award Apple trees were the first ones, and dad built a garden. By that time we had a Newfoundland (phoebe) and a Great Pyrenees (Frosty), and they both at times sampled what was in the garden. That forced dad to add fencing inside the fence to prevent dogs from nibbling. After about three years of building his garden, dad realized that he needed more space. He and mom decided to buy five acres in a small town outside of Bloomington called Kirksville, Indiana. That is the story of the mini-farm and is for another day!