The Mile High Club?

Joseph on Eliot Mountain

When two people engage in sexual activity in a plane traveling a mile above the earth, they become members of the mile high club. I’m wondering if that same moniker applies if the “mile high” is a mountain.

That’s what I was thinking about as Joseph and I were hiking up Eliot Mountain, the new trail I discovered while at the Thuya Gardens.

The path wasn’t as well-marked as those in the heart of Acadia National Park, but following the cairns, we found it easily enough. Since it was later in the afternoon, we elected to take the shorter of the paths (vs the one that would take us to the beautiful – but much longer and more strenuous – Little Long Pond).

Me on the Summit of Eliot Mountain

Eliot Mountain was quiet and peaceful and sort of deserted. We only saw one other person on the path, a man with his dog. I found myself wondering if the mile-high club include mountains?

You see, I’m never likely to have sex on an airplane. I’m not a good flyer – I almost never fly. But a mountain? I climb mountains at least once a year. I could do that…

Does it count?

#Maine Diaries, #Annmarie Kelly

Downeast Downies

Cottage View of Clarks Cove

Joseph and I call it “the Downeast Downies” – reading the paper, watching TV, taking a nap or two, and just having a lazy day.  It always reminds of that song from the musical Flower Drum Song (from one of my high school musicals – and now probably too politically incorrect for schools to do). It was called Sunday Sweet Sunday. 

Sunday, sweet Sunday,
With nothing to do,
Lazy and lovely,
My one day with you.

Hazy and happy,
We’ll drift through the day,
Dreaming the hours away.

That’s how today was. And, after 3 days of crazy getting ready to leave work for vacation, and two days on the road, it was definitely how I wanted it!

The highlight of the day was a visit from Ollie, who owns Windward Cottages. It’s always good to see him, but our first time of the season is especially happy. Joseph, Ollie and I sat at the table with some wine and cheese and caught up with what’s been going on in our lives over the past year.

Ollie’s spouse, Kelli, passed away in 2016. When she did, I wondered how Ollie would fare – especially since Mt. Desert changes when tourist season is over. I was happy to hear that Ollie was doing some traveling. In fact, quite a bit of traveling. He took a trip during each one of the out-of-season months. He traveled with the group called Road Scholar and found a traveling partner, Gayle. He also traveled – alone! – to Africa on safari – his “trip of a lifetime.”

When I told Ollie, who has been twice-widowed, how much I admired that he kept moving forward in spite of his grief over losing his spouse, he said something interesting. “When you’ve been through this a couple times, you realize that person isn’t coming back. Not in a couple weeks or a couple months. Not ever.”

Ollie’s words struck me. Of course it’s true. One spouse died but the surviving spouse is still here. And that spouse has a choice about how to live and how to honor the deceased spouse. I think living a full life is the greatest way to honor the relationship with a spouse that has passed.

Rainy Last Day

Rainy Clarks Cove
Rainy Clarks Cove

The weather people were finally right…they said it was going to rain and it’s pouring down in buckets!

We started getting some packing done and the cottage looks a mess. Time to go home…

Joseph likes to “ease back” from vacation and likes to break the 13 hour trip home into two days. I’m mixed about it. I like two shorter drives, but also I like making the most of the last Friday here. So we usually wait until the end to decide. Last night, after listening to the weather report, I made a reservation at a hotel in Amesbury MA for tonight.CafeThisWAy

Since this is turning out to be the last day, this morning we drove to Bar Harbor and had a pretty hearty breakfast as Café This Way. Joseph and I split a jalapeno omelet and a breakfast burrito and took our time, enjoying the ambiance of the place and trying to get our heads around vacation being over. For some reason, and this is unusual, we are both just not ready to leave. We bought a few souvenir things and then headed back to the cottage.

As we passed the cottages office, I saw Kelli. So we stopped in to say goodbye. We really enjoy talking to her and Ollie, who came by with the 2016 book so we could get our cottage reserved, so it was easy to stay with them longer than we expected. In fact, Joseph and I were there so long that, but the time we said good-bye and started walked back to the cottage, we realized were at least a half hour past schedule.

Once back inside the cottage, we raced to finish packing and loaded up the car. We left Mt. Desert Island around 3:30pm.

We drove west to Bangor and then onto I95. We stopped at Trader Joe’s in Portland so Joseph could get a stash of the two locally brewed beers he liked so much. “Mo” and “Rising Tide” must be sooooo local that they aren’t sold outside of Portland. We couldn’t find them even as close as Mt. Desert!

Then it was on to Kittery and When Pigs Fly. I called ahead and asked them to reserve a few loaves of their low-carb bread. That’s because it’s so good and so popular that it goes fast. When I went last year they were out by the time I got there. I didn’t want that happening again. It’s way too expensive to ship and, most importantly, the quality is impacted during shipping. We also picked up a couple jars of dipping spices (Dip-Me-Daddio) and their special “hot honey” that we like on a lot of things…but they say to try it on pizza. PIZZA???

By the time we left there, it was 7:30 and dark. Extraordinaire was closed, so I couldn’t get any of the ceramic “bathing beauties” I love so much. BIG disappointment!!

Joseph and I didn’t even try to stop at Robert’s house…guess I’ll have to wait until next year to see the rest of the property.

Last Hike of 2015

Finishing the Hadlock pond Carriage Trail
Finishing the Upper Hadlock Pond Carriage Trail

Upper Hadlock Carriage Trail

This is probably our last full day. I feel so sad that this vacation went so fast.

We took the Hadlock Pond carriage trail today. It’s about 4 miles. The challenge of the trail is the beginning. It’s uphill and is very steep. I had to stop a few times, just for a few seconds each time, just to catch my breath. Also, it’s mostly through forest, so there’s nothing much to see on the way up. It’s better at the top because it passes two interesting bridges and there are some views. I’m always amazed by how stunningly beautiful the trees look from the top down.

Joseph and I talked about our favorite parts of vacation and going home. Also, because we worked on our joint vision board while we were here, we talked about some of our plans for the next year.

Early fall foliage
Early fall foliage

But the best part is, between being here later than usual and an early fall foliage, I been seeing a little of what Acadia looks like in the fall. I’m amazed at how brilliant the reds are and the oranges are so vibrant. I’ve seen pictures and thought they were “enhanced” but the photographer. But now I can believe that’s how it is.

Peak season here is around Columbus Day, which isn’t much past our anniversary.  Joseph and I decided that we’ll have to plan a trip up here…maybe next year.

We had dinner at Rogue in Southwest Harbor. Joseph and I both had the special, a something-something-fall-off-the-bone pork shank. I couldn’t decide on it or scallops, but I didn’t make a mistake. And the chocolate ginger cake with caramel topping was amazing. Joseph and I split it. Joseph didn’t think he’d like it, but it was so good that we could almost have fought over it. f I hadn’t already had two dark&stormys and was pretty full, I would have ordered a second piece. I should have, and taken it home. It would have made a “last day” treat.

Photo doesn’t do justice to the brilliant red of the leaves

Then it was on to Sand Beach in Acadia for the first night of the Acadia Night Sky Festival. I’m usually never here this late, so I miss it. But because Labor Day was so late, I get to see the first night of it. And the photos from previous years: Acadia Stars

Unfortunately, the sky is cloudy and there isn’t a star in the sky. But, still, there were about twenty-five people sitting on the beach in the dark. The park rangers did a great job telling us what we could see the stars were out, using a laser to show us where. They were funny and kept saying, “work with me…you know, you came here.”

Even though I couldn’t see the stars, being on Sand Beach at night was spectacular. Once my eyes adjusted to the night, I could see the ocean, the lighthouse on the coast, the path that we hike each year, Schooner Head…all well-known to me, except at night, each took on a different look and feel…safe and soft, like being wrapped in a blanket. It was even a little romantic…;-)

Once finished, Joseph and I got back on the one-way Park Loop Road. Somehow we missed the closest exit and had to drive about five miles to get to the road. I don’t know where all the other cars went (probably passed us while I was telling Joseph to slow down…) but all of a sudden, we were all alone in Acadia National Park. At 10:30 at night, it was a little scary.

Gorham Mountain

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Gorham Mountaintop

The weather says that we’re going to have rain on and off for the next few days. I don’t like to hike over wet boulders, so we decided to take a hike up Gorham Mountain. It’s a good upward climb, but one that we haven’t done since our earlier days here. It’s considered moderately challenging. After doing Connors Nubble yesterday, we felt like this would be a piece of cake! OK, more or less…

We started in mid-afternoon. I was dilly dallying all morning and, as we started the hike, was in a fairly unpleasant mood. I’m not sure why, but it’s likely because it was hot – 85°. It’s Maine, it’s September…we should have 60° hiking weather.2015-09-08 001 2015-09-08 002

We were barely on the trail for twenty minutes when I noticed I was sweating into my Tilley hat and the sweat was trickling down my face. In addition, the park people have been changing the names of the paths (back to the original names) and they don’t match the book we have (A Walk in the Park @2000). So, because we were following the book, we took a wrong path. When we ended up on Park Loop Road, we had to turn around, go back and start over. It added to my annoyance!

When we go on the actual path, I plugged in earbuds so I could listen to my success playlist. I didn’t want to interfere with the nature sounds, but I also needed a boost, so I tucked the buds into my hat and turned up the volume. I was able to hear the music as soft upbeat background, which put me in a better mood and I felt more energetic.

Joseph on Gorham
Joseph on Gorham

About half-way up the mountain, I started seeing ocean views and there was a breeze. The elevation got my heart pumping. I don’t know if there is anything as good as exercise to dispel a foul mood…mine gradually dissipated through each set of boulders I climbed.

Sand Beach from Gorham Mountain
Sand Beach from Gorham Mountain
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Can you see the “tiny houses” visible in the background?

Then Joseph and I got to the top. The views at the top were worth the climb. I was looking down at treetops on one side and the ocean on the other. The hillside houses looked like they were part of a model train display. In fact, from that elevation, everything looked like it could have been part of a toy display at Christmas.

We stayed on the mountain long enough to get our fill of the aesthetic as well as eat a couple cheese sticks and drink some water. The hike down wasn’t too bad and I’m glad I had my hiking stick with me.

Connors Nubble Challenge

At the top of the mountain!
At the top of the mountain!

My Favorite Acadia Hike

Joseph and I do this hike, Connors Nubble, almost every year. We didn’t last year because I hurt my shoulder on the first day of vacation and I didn’t want to put any stress on my arm. That was a good thought, because when I got home, I discovered that it was a torn rotator cuff. So, after not doing this pretty strenuous hike for two years, we weren’t sure we still could. You know how it is, when you miss something, you aren’t sure you can do it again. We wondered…and took the baby aspirin with us! EagleLake.ConnorsNubbleTrail

We started out around 12:30. From the base of the trail, Connors Nubble is a 3.3 mile hike around Eagle Lake and up the mountain. 3.3miles doesn’t sound too bad. Except it’s not a straight walk. The beginning is easy enough. It follows the lake (with great views) for about ¾ miles of forest. If it wasn’t for the beautiful scenery of Eagle Lake, it could almost be boring.

That easy trail is followed by ¾ miles of hiking over big boulders. There are parts of the boulder section that really challenge both of us (that section always does!). It’s a bit testier for me since I wear hiking shorts and don’t want to scratch my legs or knees. Yes, I know I could wear jeans, but they tend to get hot…and my hiking shorts have lots of pockets to put my phone, camera, food, etc.

Eagle Lake
Eagle Lake

The boulder section ends with another short forest walk. If hikers get this far and decide they’ve had enough, there’s a trail that enables hikers to turn away from the lake and head for the carriage road. It’s always a little tempting…except I know what’s at the top. I keep going.

Joseph taking a boulder break
Joseph taking a boulder break

Once the trail turns, I figure that it’s about a ½ mile up the mountain to 588′ the summit, a combination of forest path and boulders.  It was during the ascent to the summit that we felt seriously challenged. The higher we went, the steeper the trail got, and the stronger the winds. The latter felt good…we’d been walking long enough to work up a pretty good sweat. But it was dicier the higher we went.

As we got closer to the summit, and for the first time, I had a little height issue. That happens to me sometimes, especially on tall bridges, but I haven’t actually experienced it on a climb…until today. As soon as I realized it, my strategy was to stay focused on the path beneath my feet…and not on how high I was or the drop below (remember, the summit is almost 600 feet high).

This is a picture of Joseph doing something I would never do…stand on a precipice. He had no fear, but it was so windy that I got nervous for him. Still, I couldn’t resist taking this picture because it looked like Joseph on top of the world…and I loved that!

While Joseph stood on the top surveying all that was below, I sat on the bottom rocks of the cairn (with the summit-height sign). To my left was Cadillac Mountain. At first I wasn’t sure that was it, but then I could see looked like tiny shiny bugs inching along in a procession of purpose. They all had one goal: make it to the top and see the spectacular views.I’ve hike and driven up Cadillac. I like the drive because it’s faster and way-easier.  The hike up is no picnic, but the walk down, if it’s on the road and around the mountain, gives spectacular views of everything…the mountain, Bar Harbor, Frenchman’s Bay, the Porcupine Islands and more. It doesn’t cheat the hiker out of anything!

Eagle Lake atop Connors Nubble
Eagle Lake atop Connors Nubble

I’ve heard that Connors Nubble has views as good as Cadillac but without the people. The latter is definitely true. Unlike Cadillac, the only way to the Connors Nubble summit is on foot. But, as fabulous as the views are from Connors Nubble, Cadillac still offers a few more.

Viewing Cadillac Mountain from Connors Nubble
Viewing Cadillac Mountain from Connors Nubble

We stayed on the summit long enough to drink a bottle of water and eat a couple cheese sticks. Then we decided to start down, which is the scariest part of this hike.

Starting down at the summit means looking down at a 500 feet+ drops where all I can see are the treetops and drop-offs below me. The path down is steep and skinny. No stopping for pictures here! I don’t remember how I got down in the past, but this time I know I slithered down the first few legs of the downhill on my butt. I didn’t much care if I wore out my short…they’re designed for hiking, so I figured they’d be fine. It was a little dicey but I kept reminding myself that I’ve done this same hike at least a half-dozen times…and I could do it again. And I did!

Once that first downward trail was over, the rest of the descent was fairly easy. And it dumps onto a carry road, which is mostly a bicycle path. Joseph and I walked back to the car on that easy road.

The fitbit said it was over 12,000 steps and 50+ “stairs” and it took 3.5 hours to complete, including the 15 minutes we stayed at the summit.

Eagle Lake from the forest
Eagle Lake from the forest

Once on the carry road, Joseph and I  were so excited that we did it! So, once we left the park, we headed for a local pub to celebrate with a couple drinks and appetizers. Before heading back to the cottage, we stopped at the Hannaford in Bar Harbor to pick up a couple food things. While we were there, Joseph checked red box and found a movie I’ve been wanting to see for months: Big Eyes.

One last stop at Mt. Desert Ice Cream. Joseph got a maple something. I got a combo of 7 layer and salted caramel – the latter is a favorite but not as much as their ginger ice cream (which wasn’t on the menu). The ginger ice cream here is the best and most flavorful I’ve ever had anywhere!

Back to the cottage for a light dinner of leftovers, Mt. Desert Ice Cream and BIG EYES!

My Barr Treat!

On the Barr
On the Barr

I waited years. Even tried to grow one….thought it wouldn’t happen. But, finally! I saw one!!

Joseph and I were in Bar Harbor at 8am so we could get to Barr Island. It’s a small island across from the village of Bar Harbor, only accessible by foot twice a day. At low tide the water recedes to unveil a wide walking path across Frenchman’s Bay allowing hikers to explore the island’s charms. It’s one of those things that has to be timed pretty tightly. Once the tide starts rolling in, it quickly covers the path and the only way back is by boat or kayak…or waiting until the next low tide. There are stories of people being marooned on the island and Mainers joke about them.

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Bar Harbor from the Barr

Joseph and I didn’t want to be one of those and we thought we’d go with a ranger. But when we got to the town slip…no ranger. So, after checking low tide charts, we decided we had plenty of time walk over and back.

It was a decent stretch of the legs and I was glad for the early morning cardio. Joseph and I walked the bar and hiked to the summit where I took some pictures of the coastal village. It was OK, but nothing to write home about, until, on the way back…there is was…

The Last Lupine
The Last Lupine

Until today, I’ve only seen pictures of them and have yearned to see their beauty up close. They bloom in late spring and are long gone by the time I get to Maine. I’ve tried to grow them at home, but it’s just not the right weather.

But today…today

OK, I’ll admit it. It was only one lupine in a field of dead ones. And it wasn’t even fully bloomed. But it’s a purple one, and it stood out like a fabulous testament to persistence and resilience! I couldn’t have been more excited. I’ve waited years for this day!!

Joseph thought I was a little over-the-top, and yes, maybe I was. But this one little lupine made the frenzied early-morning scramble and the empty-stomach, no-water hike worth it. Now I’m even more excited than ever about being here some day and seeing a whole field of bloomin’ lupines!

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Cairn Field

As we walked off Barr Island and back to the mainland, I saw two fields of cairns. On the trails, they are purposeful as they provide direction. But here they were just for fun. I loved the!

Joseph and I topped the morning off with a trip to the Mexican latte lounge for a cup of spicy hot chocolate. A nice ending to our early morning excursion! And I think I’m going to start adding cocoa and cayenne to my morning cup of tea…

Still moonin’ over my first little lupine…

Schoodic Saturday

Walking a path on Schoodic
Walking a path on Schoodic

Ellsworth was today’s first stop, for breakfast at the Riverside Cafe, on our way to the Schoodic Peninsula. Schoodic was once privately owned land that was donated to the county. The main towns are Winter Harbor and Gouldsboro and there are several small harbors including Birch and Prospect Harbors and Corea. Joseph and I rented a cottage in Prospect Harbor for a few years. It was right on the ocean with amazing scenery. We could watch the lobster boats on the horizon, just going out for the day. They would pass in front of the rising sun which came up on one side of the backyard. We could even watch it though the front picture window, though we seldom did. It was much more exciting (and romantic1) to watch the day begin while sitting on the rocks at the end of the backyard. At night Joseph would fire up the pot belly stove and open the doors so we could hear the waves crash against those rocks. The peacefulness of it was spectacular.

Wonsqueak housing
Wonsqueak housing

Until a few years ago, the US Navy had a base there. There was even base housing. The small white clapboard singles sat in a horseshoe on a small hill near the town of Winter Harbor. Their location lent itself to great ocean views. When the Navy moved, the little houses were going to go up for sale at a price Joseph and I could afford. We thought about buying one.

Flowers blooming amid the coastal rocks...amazing!
Flowers blooming amid the coastal rocks…amazing!

Then Mr. Dixon (former owner of the 76ers and a longtime summer resident of Winter Harbor) bought all the houses. With a great philanthropic gesture, he turned the houses over to the town so they could sell them. When they finally went up for sale, the price nearly doubled; Joseph and I changed our minds.

Actually, I’m glad we didn’t buy one. The main town consists of about 6 buildings that are either restaurants or art places…and one tiny 5&10. The whole Schoodic area is incredibly beautiful but is also very secluded. The hikes are in mostly wild sequestered places. Probably because I read and watch so many mysteries, I often didn’t feel safe in the woods. But the trade-off to those feelings was the beauty that was everywhere – raw and bold.

Joseph at the causeway near the new campgrounds
Joseph at the causeway near the new campgrounds

The main attraction for visitors is the Schoodic portion of Acadia National Park. There is a six-mile road that loops around the prettiest parts of the peninsula. It includes a few hiking trails (you can find a thrill on Blueberry Hill!), Frazer Point (a picnic area), and Schoodic Point, a great expanse of rock and very popular for it’s beauty and also because it’s one of the few places where you can get cell service. One year we even witnessed a wedding on one of the side sections.

Schoodic Point
Schoodic Point

This year we found out that the park service has expanded! Now there is a campground within walking distance to Frazer Point and some new trails and a causeway.

Watching sailboats on Frazer Point
Watching sailboats on Frazer Point

Joseph and I walked around there and then went to Frazer Point and watched sailboats. Then we drove to the point. From there we walked a few miles down past Blueberry Hill and back. Then we sat on the rocks and read books.

Sunset on Schoodic
Sunset on Schoodic

As it started to get cold, and with over an hour until sunset, we drove to Birch Harbor where Joseph and I each had a drink and we split an appetizer. Then we drove back to the point and watch the sunset over Cadillac. The beauty of it, and the stillness, brought on a peacefulness that was almost prayerful.

Joseph and I would have stayed longer but the cold out on the rocks got to us. We left, drove around Winter Harbor (which takes about 3 minutes!) and headed back to Mt. Desert and our Town Hill cottage.

I Confess…

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Sailing at Schoodic

It’s My Dirty Little Secret

OK, we all have one. I’m confessing mine. It’s television shows. And not just any television shows. Mindless ones. It’s an addiction…no, it’s my tranquilizer. Some people drink, others smoke or take drugs, some gamble. I watch TV.

When I was in my early twenties I had my tonsils out.  As I sat in the hospital room waiting to be wheeled down to surgery, the woman in the next bed was moaning like crazy. I was so jumpy that the nurses wanted to give me something. I told them ‘no’ but to get me a TV and earbuds. That was all I needed. I don’t know what I watched – and it was before cable so it wasn’t like I had tons of choices. Mindless…

The most difficult part of being in the cottage on Clarks Cove has been falling asleep without the TV. In past years I’d watch TV in the living room until I couldn’t keep my eyes open and then I’d go to bed. But, in just the few steps between the chair and the bed, I’d wake up. I tried everything…a DVD in my laptop (the light bothered Joseph), a music CD (music wakes me up)…I even took to praying the rosary as a form of meditation. That eventually worked, usually in the 4th or 5th decade – and I felt plenty holy but not rested!.

This year, the iPad, Joseph and amazon solved the problem! I was able to get in bed and watch old shows online, like Blue Bloods, Ghost Whisperer and my favorite, Medium. With that device in place, every night I was asleep in minutes. I don’t think I ever even got to the end of the first segment on any of them. In fact, I got interested one particular episode of Medium and had to run it five times until I got to the end. And if I woke up during the night, it was a “rinse and repeat” deal…and I was out like a light!

I know. I know. Falling asleep with TV is supposed to be bad for the body and the psyche. I think about that and I hope I’m not undoing all my vision board work. However, I don’t think I am…I’ve been doing this TV thing my entire adult life. And I’ve been doing vision boards almost as long…and I know they worked then and still work.

But now YOU KNOW my dirty little secret!!

Do you do the same thing? If not, what’s your “dirty little secret?” Do you have any “ticks” that you are willing to finally share? C’mon…come clean! The truth will set you free. OK, maybe not, but I’ll bet you aren’t the only one doing it!

Tilley Tuesday

What do you think of my new Tilley hat?

I finally bought a Tilley Hat. I’ve resisted getting one for years, even though I’ve liked how Joseph looks in his. Until now, it just wasn’t for me. A baseball cap was all I wanted while hiking.

Testing out my new Tilley hat
Testing out my new Tilley hat

OK, I’ll admit it. I think it looks like something old folks wear. The baseball cap and my lovely straw hat are so much cuter.

What changed? A greater focus on skin care. OK, on aging and wrinkles! The baseball cap doesn’t protect my skin enough and the hemp hat isn’t for hiking. The Tilley offers the best protection from the sun and lasts a lifetime (which is supposed to justify the price tag). I haven’t exactly figured out why it has snaps on the side…and I think it’s a little goofy looking that way.

So, as we hike our first really long hike this year, I’m trying out different “looks” in my new hat. I mostly don’t like any of them.

I’m hoping that once I wear it a few times it will loosen up and fit my head better….OK, fit my face better and make me look cute even while climbing mountains!

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Taking a break on the Ocean Path
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Ocean Path

This first hike is Joseph’s favorite. It’s called the Ocean Path. It starts at Sand Beach and is an slightly challenging, two-mile walk to the Otter Cliffs. We like doing this late in the day because, since it’s such a popular trail and accessible with the park bus, it gets really crowded with people from the cruise ships and couples with little kids and strollers.

Starting after 3:30 or so, we see very few people and can enjoy the beauty of the trail and the water. Also, at the end at Otter Cliffs, we can watch the sunset. We don’t usually stay until the actual sunset because it’s a 2 mile hike back and too dark for safety. But the part we see is always neat!

Late afternoon on the ocean path
Late afternoon on the ocean path