Caratunk

 
We checked into the Sterling Inn, a hiker hostel and bed and breakfast hotel in Caratunk. No bunkhouse for us, since we are luxury hiking this trip, we opt for private rooms.
 
 
The Sterling Inn dates back to when the lumber companies floated logs down the Kennebeck River.
 
 
Our shuttle driver has dropped the four of us at Scott Road and we start out on this bog walkway.
 
 
I love bog bridges! I'm still hoping to see a moose but no luck here.
 
 
Not sure why this blaze deserves it's own little frame.
 
 
Just after lunch at Pierce Pond Lean-to, we have to cross the outlet of Pierce Pond on a very strange, old wooden dam. We were told at the hostel to take the blue blazed trail to avoid the damn. Sometimes on the Appalachian Trail, if something is particularly hazardous, especially in bad weather, there will be a trail “blue blazed” around it. Laura and I haven't blue blazed anything yet, and don't want to start now.
 
 
Different! But not at all scary, thankfully. I think it would be dangerous after a big rain or in high water.
 
 
The trail now descends along the river. Waterfall after waterfall, each one so beautiful, I am constantly stopping to take photos.
 
 
I'm pretty sure I saw a fisher, a mink-like critter, dart away from the bank here. I wish I could have gotten a photo!
 
 
Gary taking a photo of me crossing this unique bridge. You walk along the lower log, holding onto the two logs about waist high.
 
 
This amazing beaver dam was huge!
 
 
I think the beavers did a much better job here than humans did on the wooden dam we crossed earlier. There were two beaver lodges just below their dam.
 
 
Everyone waiting for me on the bank of the Kennebeck River. I have to take some ribbing for being last but I have been “awed out” today. It's been a magical hike with waterfalls, beaver dam, spotting a fisher and now, a very major milestone. Crossing the Kennebeck.
 
We are waiting for 2 o'clock when the ferry starts running. The Kennebeck is a huge river and the dam above releases water and causes the river to rise so fast you could never get across without being swept downstream by the current. So the state of Maine pays to have hikers paddled across in a canoe.
 
 
The canoe is the official route for the AT and even has a white blaze on the bottom.
 
 
What a great way to end a hike today.
 
 
I let Gary paddle in the front so I could admire the river and enjoy the ride.
 
AT miles hiked 8.2
 
Hiking trip total miles 39.6 Miles remaining to hike 817.0
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Day 5 Moxi Bald Mountain

 
Why do the signs only point South? We are hiking the opposite way, North from Moxi Pond Road to Bald Mountain Road. I've been a little nervous thinking about this hike. Mountains in Maine are big and the trails don't tend to be switch backed. Gary has dropped us off because he plans to spend the day fishing.
 
 
Just steps from the road we have to ford the inlet to Moxi Pond. “Ponds” in Maine would be called lakes anywhere else. This was supposed to be a rock hop but plenty of water flowing has forced us to ford. And it's pretty treacherous because you have to step down into the swift water, up past my thighs, make sure you're secure to take the next step and do it again until you get across. Those rocks don't make for a soft landing if you mis-step.
 
 
All safely across, we start hiking up the mountain immediately. It's a great trail up, steady and not too steep. Some cool rock formations to enjoy.
 
 
Tim is loving this and really wants to explore.
 
 
He wants to investigate this narrow slot but Laura vetoes the idea.
 
 
Think it will hold long enough to pass through?
 
 
Almost to the top. Love that blaze on the cairn.
 
I love this! Almost like a paved walkway! Just goes to remind me, you can look at the maps and mountain profile and worry about a hike and then be totally surprised at how lovely it is. And sometimes what looks like a stroll in the park on paper, makes my heart race and turns out to be adrenalin pumping, leg shaking scary. How many miles will I hike before I learn this lesson?
 
 
How is this for just plain spectacular!
 
 
It just keeps going. I'm so sad that Gary missed this hike.
 
 
It's all down hill from here.
 
 
Just to reinforce that “expectations” lesson, we face another unexpected water ford. This is the last straw for Laura! I think I would consider swimming, but fortunately it isn't that deep. As incredibly beautiful as it was, no way am I hiking back over that big mountain. I am very happy to see Gary waiting at the road crossing with the car.
AT miles hiked 10.8
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Day 4 Zero Day

 
A zero day is a day no miles are hiked. It's a day for resting and relaxing. The plan for today is to lounge on the dock, read a book and listen to the sound of loons calling to each other, a day to kayak around Lake Hebron.
 
 
I paddled around the point…
 
 
And spotted a bald eagle in a tree!
 
 
I parked my kayak in the still lake water and watched him for some time. A couple paddled by in a canoe and told me where to see his nest. I quickly located the huge nest– a big juvenile eagle was making quite a racket, waiting for mom to bring him a fish. Once fed, he quieted down and paced around the edge of the nest when his mother flew off to hunt again. How lucky I was to watch three eagles in their habitat.
 
 
Gary fished from the dock and could barely throw the line out before he caught a small blue gill or trout. Lots of catching, but no trophies.
 
 
Laura tried out a kayak for the first time and followed loons with babies riding on their mother's backs.
Sometimes the best days of the Appalachian Trail experience, not a mile is hiked, but the memories made are just as sweet as making progress toward Kahtadin.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Day 3 Fording Rivers

 

 
Today we are hiking from Bald Mountain Road to Lake Hebron and it is all about rivers. When we reach the West Branch of the Piscataquis River, we see all these little cairns hikers have stacked up at the waters edge. Heavy rains can make this river very dangerous. Hikers have drowned trying to ford the river in shoulder high water levels.
 
 
Gary is used to fording streams and walking in rivers to fly fish and he goes first. I am hot and sweaty and looking forward to cooling off.
 
 
This is the second river I have had to actually put on water shoes and ford. The current is swift and I'm very glad to have the cable to hold on to. I enjoyed the challenge and the cool water felt great!
 
 
All Gary can think about is why did he not bring the fly rod? All Laura can think about is, we have to ford the river a second time later…
 
 
The river tumbles and falls all along the trail today. I love it when the sound of the water is my companion. Watching every step and concentrating on staying on the trail. Too much gawking could get me in trouble.
 
 
When we reach the Each Branch of the Piscatauquis, Tim goes first and it's an easy crossing. When the river is high, hikers will tie their backpacks to the cable and pull them across. There is nothing worse than a soaked and sodden sleeping bag and water logged food. I am so happy that we have lucked out with perfect, dry weather. It's been a great day on the Appalachian Trail.
 
AT miles hiked 10.7
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Day 2 Little Wilson Falls

 

 
I love this photo of Laura contemplating Little Wilson Falls. I love waterfalls and Little Wilson is the highest waterfall on the Appalachian Trail. It was a hard slog getting up here. We are “slack packing” this section, meaning we are not carrying a loaded backpack with a tent, all our food and gear and sleeping on the trail. We are “day hiking” driving to where we can find a road that crosses the AT, or hiking a side trail to where it intersects the Appalachian Trail.
 
This morning we paid a driver to shuttle us to a forest road where we picked up a rugged trail that followed Little Wilson River, climbing straight up for about a mile and a half to reach the AT intersection.
 
 
This can be pretty difficult and confusing because many times the spur trails are not marked on the maps and sometimes, especially in Maine, even the dirt roads and logging roads are unmarked.
 
 
The top of the falls where you can walk to the edge. Laura doesn't walk to the edge of anything, especially waterfalls. But I want to make that extra mile and a half count.
 
 
Check and double check, where are those white blazes?
 
 
My eyes are constantly looking for moose in every likely pond and we pass several today. But no luck.
 
 
This beaver damn was very cool. Look how the water lever is as high as Laura's shoulders, held back by beaver engineering.
 
 
Impressive root snarls to negotiate. You call this a trail?
 
 
More like it! Laura and Gary taking a breather at the top. Follow the cairns instead of blazes now.
 
 
Our hike ends today at the parking lot before the start of the 100 Mile Wilderness. The sign says:
There are no places to obtain supplies or get help until Abol Bridge 100 miles north. Do not attempt this section unless you have a minimum of 10 days supplies. This is the longest wilderness section of the AT and it's difficulty should not be underestimated.
Sounds daunting! It is a very tough section. I know because I backpacked half of the 100 miles last summer. But tonight I will sleep in a real bed– right after a long, lovely shower. I love slack packing!
 
AT miles hiked 6.6 plus 1.5 spur trail
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Day 1 Warm Up

 
My brand new hiking boots don't look very new any more.
 
 
Laura plunged into a mud hole and her boots look worse than mine! We are all up in Maine to hike another section of the Appalachian Trail. After a long drive from Massachusetts, Laura and I stretch our legs for 3.3 miles between Maine Rt. 15 and the Lake Hebron trailhead.
 
 
Gary and Laura's husband, Tim, check into this house we have rented on Lake Hebron. No tents or backpacks on this “glam” hiking trip.
 
 
After unloading our cars, it's a short drive into Monson for dinner. No freeze dried food on this trip either! The ribs cooking in this huge smoker are on the plate tonight.
 
 
A cold beer pairs perfectly with ribs, cole slaw and grilled corn bread. The Long Trail is actually in Vermont but a section of it follows the same trail as the Appalachian Trail.
 
 
There is enough light left when we get back for Gary to try his luck with his fly line on Lake Hebron. I'll watch from the shore this time, listening to the call of loons and allowing the tranquil evening to settle around me.
AT miles hiked 3.3
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Bayside Quilters

 
Thank you so much to the Bayside Quilters for inviting me to lecture and teach. I explored the lovely town of Easton and drove to St. Michael's where I took the picture above. It looks like I'm on the water but really hanging out from the dock, just wishing I was kayaking!
 
 
The area is steeped in history, Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas and there is a maritime museum and streets lined with lovely harbor homes dating from the 1700's. Great restaurants, ice cream shops and boutiques.
 
 
Someday I am going to return to the area so I can sail on a skipjack or long canoe– they have sails! Definitely to eat Maryland crab cakes and Chesapeake oysters.
 
 
This trip I am having a wonderful time with the Bayside Quilters. They even have a Summer Camp for quilters in this active guild. I'm wondering if they have s'mores…!
 
 
Everyone jumped right in to learn the Quilting in Layers technique. These ladies are skilled and talented quilters and I think their quilts are going to be beautiful.
 
 
Isn't this the perfect background for a sunflower.
 
 
Sue decided on a neutral color way so she has some options for tulip appliqué.

 
Nita has a coffee theme selected and plans to appliqué a steaming mug. I can't wait to see these quilts. Every time I teach this workshop, I learn something from the quilter's creativity. Thank you all for letting me spend a great day with the fun quilters of the Eastern Shore!
 
 
 

 

 

Lilies and Quilts

 
My quilt, Tiger Lilies, has traveled a long way from home. It is currently hanging in Kigali, Rwanda in the American Embassy. I was so honored to be selected to exhibit my work through the Art in Embassies Program. Ambassador Donald Koran and his wife Cynthia Goodson are admirers of American craft and wanted to showcase this type of artwork in the offices and residence in Kigali.
 
 
These colorful day lilies grow in profusion all along the roads and old stone walls in Chester County. They are not native plants and some people consider them “invasives.” But I think they are beautiful and I love to think about the people who carried them here and shared them long ago. Along the Delaware/Pennsylvania state line are so many roads with the name Mill– Barley Mill, Snuff Mill, Burnt Mill, Spring Mill, Burrows Mill and many more. I really think these millers planted the lilies along the banks of the mill streams.
 
 
It was lovely to receive an email from a visitor to the Rwandan Embassy who saw my quilt in Kigali. He and his wife love quilts and he asked me if I had a quilt similar to Tiger Lilies for sale. I did have a smaller version that my customer was pleased with.
 
 
So now Day Lilies bloom in Washington, D.C. As well as Africa and Chester County. Quilt “invasives” I guess. That’s a good thing!

 

 

 

 

 

Fabric Art at Mt. Cuba Center

 
I had a wonderful morning teaching at Mt. Cuba Center.
 
 
The gates at the entrance hint at the natural beauty inside the garden preserve.
 
 
Toad Shade trillium along with Lady Slipper orchids and many other native plants adorn these amazing gates.
 
 
The first step is choosing fabrics to coordinate the composition. Patricia making her selections.
 
 
And her finished postcard is lovely.
 
 
Karen chose a different color way for her pink trillium.
 
 
Maggie's card reflects her knowledge of trilliums– she works at Mt. Cuba! She was very artistic and free-cut her shapes from the fabric. She even had a very cool trillium water bottle.
 
 
I think the striped border really sets off Pat's card.
 
 
I took the samples I showed in class home and added some stitching. We had a fun time and I think these creative ladies enjoyed learning to make fabric postcards. I'm betting they will be fusing fabric to explore more designs on their own.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Meadow

 

 
I used to own the meadow walk at Longwood Gardens…well, not really. But it seemed that way because I rarely ever saw any guests venture that far from the pavement and conservatory. I had a lovely relationship with a red fox. He would dart into the trail and watch me walk toward him, warily making eye contact, then trot up a few paces and wait for me to catch up. It seems I wasn't the only one because Longwood has just reopened the expanded meadow, and this beautiful sculpture is positioned near one of the learning stations, just where I would encounter the fox.
 
 
The “new” meadow is stunningly gorgeous. I should have known Longwood could be trusted to showcase the natural world in a beautiful way. Gone are the old bridges, replaced with these curvaceous walkways. Some walkways are elevated to the level of the tree branches, making for a very special entrance to the meadow.
 
 
I am looking forward to enjoying this tree in all seasons, walking up to the top of the hill.
 
 
This house was believed to have been built by William Webb, a Quaker farmer, in 1730. Longwood selectively restored the farmhouse and it is now open for visitors to view galleries that explore the history and natural beauty of the meadow garden.
 
 
The exhibits showcase the work of many artists and artisans.
 
 
Birds of the meadow habitat are described using these amazing paper sculptures.
 
 
There are over three miles of trails in the meadow and along the way are benches for resting, observation stations and learning centers.
 
 
I think it will take me quite a long time to explore all the new additions. I didn't want “my” meadow to be messed with. It was just fine in a totally natural state and I loved the solitude in all seasons. Now the paths are populated with parents pushing strollers and toddlers running around, birders peering through binoculars, and I hear the sound of different languages spoken by foreign visitors. What a transformation and how incredibly wonderful it is!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Trillium Postcards

On July 1st I'm teaching a class at Mt Cuba Center on making fabric post cards. Located in Hockessin, Delaware, Mt Cuba Center is a botanical garden dedicated to inspiring appreciation for the beauty and value of native plants and protecting and creating habitats to sustain them. The center offers education credits and certifications, research, conservation, horticultural programs and events. “Gardening on a higher level!”
 
 
Mt. Cuba Center is known for its extraordinary collection of trilliums. I have visited the gardens in late April for the Wild Flower Celebration and been just delirious, enjoying the incredible trilliums and diverse wild flowers, taking millions of photographs. OK, just a slight exaggeration on the millions.
 
 
We won't be sewing the postcards because we aren't bringing sewing machines, just fusing fabric to create the designs. I am providing a pattern and all the materials to make the cards that can actually be sent through the mail. They make nice thank you gifts. I like to send them to Program Chairpersons of Quilt Guilds that have booked my lectures and workshops.
 
 
The postcards can also be framed as a small piece of artwork.
 
All these trilliums are bringing back fond memories of making this quilt, Save Me From the Trilliums, and my hike coming down into Nantahayla Gorge on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina.
 
 
I think we're going to have a fun day at Mt. Cuba Center. If you live in the area, join us! There are still a few spots left in the class. You can sign up here.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Downton Abby

 
I’m a huge fan of the BBC television series, Downton Abby. Andra suggested our Sometimes We Do quilt bee should go see the exhibit. Winterthur is the only venue in the U.S. to display the costumes and over a thousand people a day have viewed the exhibit. Lucky for us, Andra has has worked at Winterthur and arranged for a special tour of the museum before we saw the Downton costumes. I wish I could show some of Andra’s amazing needle work on the historic furnishings, but they don’t allow photography. If you live anywhere near Wilmington, Delaware it is a fascinating museum and a wonderful place to spend the day.
 
 
The costums were displayed along with props and furnishings from the show. The exhibit was arranged beginning with morning wear and progressing through the day, ending with the evening attire.
 
 
In the background there were scenes of the actors and explanations and details about the costums worn.
 
 
The stripped material on Lady Mary’s dress on the right, was sewn using the wrong side of the fabric for a softer look. The costume on the left was the only real vintage dress. The mannequins were actually carved to resemble the bodies of the actors so that the clothing fit correctly. You can see the difference in the shoulders.
 
Both “upstairs” and “downstairs” costums were shown.
 
 
The designers had to plan for action in Lady Edith’s wedding gown since she had to run from the church and up a long flight of stairs when she was left at the alter.
 
 
The level of detail in the garments was amazing. And they only had six weeks to design, sew and fit all the costumes for the cast for the season.
 
 
Absolutely my favorite costume was Lady Sybil’s harem pants.
 
 
The bodice was constructed of fragil vintage fabric that split during filming and had to be repaired. The mended and frayed edges didn’t show on television.

 
I think this was the favorite gown of many. The “spider web” overlay was entirely beaded.
 
 
Often there were video clips playing in the background. In this proposal scene, the snow softly falling made us feel as if we were actually at Downton.
 
 
We all agreed we want to watch the show again and really appreciate the amazing art of the costume designers. Thanks for “herding cats” Andra and organizing a wonderful day out with best friends.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Trip

 
These are cool garden sculptures made by my sister Denise.
 
I'm in Illinois for a quick trip to visit my amazing mother and family. Yes, we really read the fine print in the color coordination memo!
 
 
This is my favorite quilt shop–anywhere! Peace and Appliqué in Rochester, Illinois.
 
 
There are three big rooms of fabric and everything else a quilter might need in this lovely, historic old building.
 
 
Aren't cell phones cameras and texting wonderful? My friend Jane needed me to shop for her, too. She wanted the fabric on the left. I should have detailed my mom and brother (I've always wanted “staff!) with the task of “cyber shopping.” I got too involved with my own selections and missed one of Jane's fabrics.
 
 
This fabric is coming home with me.
 
 
I found this pattern by Jaybird Quilts and I think it will show off some of my fancy long arm machine quilting. Thank goodness for the wonderful ladies in the shop who can do math fabric requirements. I never seem to want to follow the pattern plan and they were so helpful and knowledgable. You can't get that kind of expertise with on-line shopping.
 
 
Now this is the way to recover your strength after power shopping for fabric! A trip to Springfield wouldn't be complete without lunch at Steak n' Shake. So sad you're missing this, Gary!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Gone But Not Forgotten

 
This sign used to say Roundabout Quilt Shop. Ahh, such fond memories of the lovely quilt shop owned by my good friend, Andra.
 
 
Recognize this room? Those shelves used to be filled with bolts of fabric. Now diners chat over coffee and ice cream where the cutting table used to be.
 
 
The little shop is all decked out in a Hunt Country theme, very appropriate for the area.
 
 
You might see a fox and hounds chased by horses, ridden by red coated riders blowing horns, while sitting on the verandah.
I haven’t tried the ice cream or coffee yet. I know you don’t believe that! but I just stopped to get a look inside and a bottle of water. So now my closest quilt fabric shop is The Quilt Ledger, about 20 miles away in Christiana, Pennsylvania.

 
It is a lovely shop with enticing fabric. The owner also has a Victorian house across the street to hold quilting retreats. There are several ladies having a great time shopping, carrying pizza and cake from from cars into the house. I’m jealous. I love “going on a sewing bender!”
 
 
How far is your local quilt shop? JoAnns and Walmart type stores don’t count because the experience just isn’t the same– to say nothing of the fabric quality. Why couldn’t Andra just have added the coffee and ice cream in with the collections of Moda, threads, books and patterns? Now there’s a winning combination. Or a mess… Or a quilting retreat!
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home

Somewhere along the Appalachian Trail? No, this is a favorite trail in the Laurels Nature Preserve just a few miles from home.
 
 
We usually hike along Doe Run and Buck Run and cross the creeks on two old covered bridges. Both bridges are Queenpost Truss, single-spans, constructed in 1881. The Brandywine Conservancy is restoring the bridges so they're under construction and closed to all walkers.
 
 
No problem. Well just take another trail today.
 
 
Still a few jack-in-the-pulpits blooming.
 
 
And these lovely white flowers that I don't know the name of.
 
 
A perfect day for a hike and a country drive in the little sports car.
 
 
Looks like Napa Valley but it's beautiful Chester County, not even a quarter mile from my house.
 
 
The Galer Vineyard and Winery is a great place to relax with a glass of wine.
 
 
And sit on the deck and listen to live music. Sometimes you don't have to travel very far and the best of days can be experienced pretty close to home.