Driving lesson report

“I backed up!

“I backed up a long way!”

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What would you eat in Kittery Foreside?

The square where it’s happenin’.

Kittery, Maine, is a few miles downstream from where I live. It’s also across the Piscataqua River from Portsmouth, which is loaded with eateries – maybe as many per capita as Manhattan.

For much of its existence, Kittery has been pretty blue-collar. It’s home to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard – the U.S. Navy’s oldest continuously operating yard – and now tasked with the upkeep of nuclear submarines. It’s also home to a lot of lobstermen.

When I first came to New Hampshire, the Kittery Grange Hall was the scene of a monthly contradance – both the grange and the event now ancient history.

Oh, yes, and its strip of discount outlet stores along U.S. 1 is a major tourist attraction. Seriously. As is the adjacent sprawling Kittery Trading Post.

But with Portsmouth booming and the cost of its retail space skyrocketing, Kittery has been undergoing a transformation. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Wallingford Square, which used to be a gritty cluster of bars around one of the shipyard’s two gates. Today it’s been rechristened Kittery Foreside and is the center of some enterprising fine dining and food sellers.

Here’s what you’ll find.

The keystone restaurant.
  1. Anneke Jans. Upscale trendy dining with a devoted following. It’s the culinary anchor.
  2. Rudders Public House. Specialty: Kittery Fried Chicken.
  3. Lil’ s Café. Crulers, anyone?
  4. AJ Wood Grill Pizza. Get the picture?
  5. Anju Noodle Bar. For that Asian touch.
  6. Wallingford Dram. Artisan cocktails in “that walk-in closet, timeless gem of a bar,” as one critic describes it.
  7. The Black Perch. Duck-gravy laden pontine.
  8. Festina Lente. Rustic Italian.
  9. Authentic India. As it says.
  10. Tributary Brewing Company.

~*~

Nearby is the Beach Pea bakery, the best baguettes around, and Loco Coco’s Tacos, with its wonderful fine Mexican cuisine.

Naval shipyard viewed from the square.

 

You need to visit this ‘Bootcamp’

My newest novel takes place in a Yoga Bootcamp. It’s run by an unorthodox American swami who’s also known as Elvis or Big Pumpkin, for good reasons. His followers think he’s divine, and they’re out to spread the word as yoga itself is first becoming popular across the nation.

Each of them has moved to his farm to intensify their practice. What they find has as much to do with cleaning toilets or weeding the garden as does standing on their heads in exercise class. Even a single day can embrace eternity as well as a cosmic sense of humor.

Mysticism? It’s largely quite down-to-earth, as you’ll see.

The novel is being published and released today at Smashwords.com. And that certainly has me levitating.

Be among the first to read it!

Did I jinx the Camry?

Not long ago, or so it seems, I posted a Tendril on 10 cars I’ve had in my life. (I was going to say “owned,” but one was a company car.)

Guess I’ll have to make that 11 now.

My 2002 Toyota Camry fell victim to rust damage, which would have kept it from passing state inspection. It also needed new tires and an oil pan or some such. Besides, the key worked only on the driver side – not the trunk or passenger door – and the costly air conditioning coolant disappeared after a month or so of summer and, oh yes, the ignition did freeze up several times in recent winters. I know I’m overlooking other defects.

Still, it was paid for and I was hoping to hit 300,000 miles.

Alas, I bit the bullet and agreed to let go now at 283,000 miles. Gee, 17,000 short – I wanted just one more year.

In its place is a 2016 Chevy Sonic. I’m downsizing, for sure, but I no longer have a long daily commute or kids and their gear at home, and my wife’s Prius is what we’ll use when there’s more than one passenger.

I’ll spare you the calculations and experiences of used-car shopping, but will say that maybe if I’m lucky, this will be my last car purchase. Who knows?

Or by then we may just be into the revolutionary era of self-driving vehicles.

In the meantime, I still have a long way to go in catching up with all the new technology on the dashboard.