October 31, 2011


Aroostook County is the northern most county in Maine and remains relatively untouched by man. Potato fields and farms houses are divided by aces of wild forests. In fall it’s common to spot groups of 10 or 15 bull moose grazing on stems of frozen broccoli in the fields. The only real tourism attractions are hunting excursions and out-of-state snowmobilers looking for a week of fresh powder. Surprising to most, the quiet towns, full of honest folks, still leave home without locking their doors. This is home.

I left home for college in 2003. I can’t recall how many potential employers have looked me in the eye and said, “You’re from ‘The County’? Hell, you must be a good worker then.” The conversations typically end with asking if I know “so and so”. In Maine, everyone seems to know everyone. There is a certain quality that we’re perceived to possess – so far it’s worked out well for me.  
Freshly percolated coffee, every morning.
A little dash of sugar will go a long way.

After an over abbundace of rain, many potatoes were not harvested, but left on the top soil or plowed under.

Bookshelves of Hemingway will cure any afternoon boredom.

A walk in the fields show that a lot of farmers have lost money this year.

Men's chamois shirts look great on ladies first thing on a chilly morning.

This is Maine.

An evening game with family around the dining room table.

Other Links:
Canoe Trip
Picasa Albums

October 27, 2011

First Maine Snow

While watching Donald Trump's CNN interview on political candidates tonight my TV signal weakened and eventually disappeared. As an “Acquiring Signal” box populated the screen, my first thoughts weren't targeted towards missing Trump’s subjective conclusions, but if the potential snow shower had begun. I raced outside and found the first covering of “white stuff” for 2011. Bring on winter, flannel shirts, wool jackets and break out the snowshoes – winter is coming!

An L.L. Bean Signature jacket warms my upper half while the temperatures fall.

Casco is excited by the snowfall.  I catch him in between leaps in the air eating the flakes.

October 25, 2011

Plump Pumpkin from the Farm

I’ve always found the instruction to “just sit still” difficult. The concept of silence and immobility are impossible. A childhood recollection returned this weekend as I trekked six hours north to visit family. After lunch and basic conversation,  I scuffed into the family room. A heavy sigh unwittingly escaped as I plunked down onto the couch. With the reaction time of a spooked white tail in the woods, my mom said, “You aren’t bored already are you?”

My family can safely be characterized as “homebodies”. Although I too enjoy the comforts and safety of home, wherever that may be, I’m an adventurer. Without a second thought I tend to jump in the car and just drive. As of late, this involves cranking the thermostat into red territory. Today, my mother will enjoy the heated cab with me.

We set off with no particular destination in mind. Thirty minutes down the road I asked her, “Have you ever baked pumpkin seeds?” It was inconceivable that she had never tried my fall favorite.  My eyes became fixated on a pumpkin farm in the distance. Here are some photos:

The Chevy farm truck has seen many miles.

Twenty pound orange monster

Ms. Backwoods Plaid searches for recipes as Mother BWP carves out a masterpiece

                Garlic and Spices                                                                Worcester Sauce and Spice

Unattended attractions

Maine made maple syrup on the farm

Red on wood

Wood for all buildings are made on campus

Other Links:
Picasa Albums
Damariscotta Pumpkin Festival and Regata
Backwoods Plaid on Twitter

October 24, 2011

Casting is a Release

For me, fly fishing is a release; a release from the everyday. It’s an opportunity to forget about bills, relationships, and career paths.  I load fly boxes, reels and a trusty travel rod into my pack, cinch the drawstring top and head down the front steps, where I leave everything stress-related.

Although an amateur, I’ve found that fishing is an educator. The process teaches patience. More often than not I’m reminded successes won’t come easily.  It's a tough lesson to take, peeling off your waders and tying on street shoes, with hands unscented of fish.

With each false cast and release, I target ripples in the river. A fast current is quick to return my Streamers and Gray Wulff dry flies back to me. I’m unsure if the trout have ample opportunity to take my fly under these conditions, but I receive two strikes.

Fishing is more difficult to document on my blog than I anticipated. Most times I travel alone and enjoy what the river and lakes have to offer.  When the chance presents itself, I will surely share the photographs.

October 21, 2011

The Lantern

The best outings begin before daybreak.  Showering quickly and tossing on a flannel shirt, I head outdoors. The wheel in my left hand and steaming black coffee in the right; I pick up a good friend to take in the tranquility of a bright orange sunrise above the fields. Fall foliage approaches peak levels today and there’s no better way to enjoy it than with company. We drive slowly and take in each parcel of land, gathering an idea of every man’s American dream.  Exploring from sunup to sundown is always a true adventure and time well spent.

Water flow is controlled here for the entire lake region. I love the shape of the antique wheel.
I love cabins that have no electrical wires attached. Solitude.
Fresh pavement on a scenic road in rural Maine is not a necessity for adventure, but I'm grateful none the less.

I would love for the winding drive, behind this lantern, to lead to my future cabin, situated atop a scenic overlook.

We pull over on the trip home to snap a few photos of the sunset over a picturesque lake. Life is good. 

Other Links:

October 18, 2011

Hay Barns & Tombstones

The yellow hulled sailboat is tossed by strong autumn winds.

Its colors slowly blend into a backdrop of color variation.

The dock appears warped by the power of the rising waves heading towards the shoreline.

Miles down the road you can capture the last of summer's green grass and trees changing colors.

Small cemetery plots dot the New England countryside. They tell a tale of the first settlers. This particular plot tells a sad story. The 1800's were a time of tribulation and strife. Although representative of our history and genealogy – a majority of these family burial ground are all but forgotten. 

Online research shows that Africa Smith migrated here and became a blacksmith to provide a life for his family. Six of his children passed on during the early 1850's due to diphtheria. He followed soon after at age 48. More unmarked graves are found nearby.

This old hay barn blends with the overgrown landscape.

Farm equipment sits in the shadows. Sunlight begins to highlight the changing colors of the mountains.

This barn could tell stories you may not believe.

Surrounded by farm land, as far as the eye can see, this barn has weathered many a storm.

Surprisingly, the hay seems dry and is surely enjoyed by the lively cattle opposite the road.

Big News

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to new readers directed from The Bangor Daily News. BackwoodsPlaid.com is the medium in which I share my personal photography and writing. I will carry you along on adventures ranging from sailing into the swells of Penobscot Bay and exploring coastal communities to hiking New England’s glorious landscape and photographing the New England lifestyle.
Clicking “Older Posts” at the bottom of each webpage will bring you to previous posts. I hope you enjoy my interests and passions. Make a link to BackwoodsPlaid.com and visit often. Feel free to contact me any time with comments, suggestions, or ideas at rhonbell @ gmail.com.
A big thanks to the folks at BDN for offering to expose my blog to new readers throughout our great state and beyond.

October 16, 2011

Angel Falls

“How many stories tall is the waterfall?”, she asked, as we cleared the tree line, exposing a full view to the top. This was my first time on Mt. Washington, too. I muttered back “Ten.”, snagging sips from my Camelback between breaths.

The hike isn’t terribly strenuous, but a continuous incline coupled with my dislike of cardiovascular exercise puts me at a disadvantage. I constantly remind myself to enjoy the journey, and I do. The views – that is why I’m here. 

The pace slows slightly and a line forms as we maneuver between the large boulders; a drop off is on both sides.

A fellow hiker offers to take our photo after witnessing me struggle with an outstretched arm to capture ourselves and the waterfall.

The falls are impressive in the fact that they aren't one single drop. I should have guessed more than ten stories.

Crystal clear waterfalls choose separate paths as they find their way down the mountain side.

Opening my pack, I unzip the pouch containing my water purifier. Solidly the best $70 I've spent at L.L. Bean. Fresh water doesn't come from a plastic bottle. No bottle deposit necessary.

Casco looks on as I retrieve a band aid and ibuprofen for a cut. Luckily, this trip doesn't require other survival supplies in my pack.