American Morning, Our Gateway

Reaching the South end of Maine

A tired old apple tree bravely tries to bloom and bear fruit.

A tired old apple tree bravely tries to bloom and bear fruit.

PORTSMOUTH – It is spring in New Hampshire. We are just 100 miles from where we started in Maine back in the fall of 2014. 
Our first round of travel is almost over. The temperature tonight, as I write, is in the 40s. The prediction is the low will be 41. The apple trees are blooming and appear to be huge puffy snowballs perched on dark stems.

It is hard to believe the tales we have heard about the winter of 2015. Boston, just 55 miles south of the southern New Hampshire border, had record snows with a total depth of something like 11 feet. 

Our son said the snow was five feet deep in your back yard in Maine. Not just in drifts, but “on the flat” in the driveway as well as everywhere in the yard. The most I saw in my prior 40 Maine winters was three feet of snow, which is now considered a reasonable amount. Five feet, to put it mildly, is ridiculous.mainehome

Skid off the road into the ditch and one couldn’t even begin to open the car door. It reminded me of the stories I read as a child – stories by Laura Ingalls Wilder about growing up on the Prairie.

Those were difficult days. A relative of mine (I don’t remember her first name) traveled with her parents and sister from Pennsylvania to the eastern edge of the Mississippi River. Winter hit before they could cross into Iowa, so they dug a cave in the river bank. My relative’s sister and her father died in the dugout, but my relative and her mother survived. She ended up, at the age of 15 marrying my great grandfather, after my great grandmother died during childbirth on the day my grandmother was born.

That 15-year-old also died during childbirth. My great grandfather then hung himself in his barn, deeply depressed because his “lust” had killed two wives. His12 children suddenly became orphans. One of the older girls took charge and successfully ran the farm for several years, long enough to put my grandmother and many of the other children through college. 

My grandmother’s older sister, affectionately known in my family as “Gram,” raised my grandmother from infancy to adulthood. 

My grandmother, who graduated from the University of Iowa, married a doctor. Tragically he died while treating patients in South Dakota during the Great Pandemic of 1918. My mother was three at the time. 

When my grandfather died my grandmother became a widow with three children. She lived with us into old age. My mother, born a century ago, lived until 1993. My father, who survived the Battle of Iwo Jima, returned home after the war and lived until he was 49. When he passed on my mother sold the house my father had built for her and enrolled at Indiana University. 

To help out I raised Mark, one of my younger brothers while my mother graduated and became a first grade teacher. 

Now I am out on the road blogging. In February and March I worked in the warmer Southern states, interviewing people and visiting small towns, missing the worst Northern weather of my lifetime.

I’m tempted to comment on “global warming.” Nature has a way of creating challenges. It is enough to know the citrus trees in my yard in Southwest Florida are gone, victims of “citrus  greening,” another natural phenomenon.

My current goal is to get the bugs out of the 16-year-old motorhome I purchased so I can head across the Midwest and drive on to the Pacific Coast this summer. 


As those who have been following our travels know, my smaller motorhome was destroyed by the driver of a logging truck, going 80 mph. He claims he “didn’t see me,” although my rig was 8 feet wide, 11 or 12 feet tall and 27 feet long. What I do know is why he didn’t begin braking until he sideswiped me with the rear end of his trailer. 

Thanks to the Lord, I escaped without a scratch, a bump or a bruise. But the crash did spook me enough to make me uncomfortable whenever a trucker swerves around me at high speeds on an interstate highway or a back road. 

I have an appointment with a veteran motorhome repairman in a few days. I hope he can do the things required to make driving our replacement rig easier.  

See you down the road.


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