Our stop in Portland, Maine has been interesting to say the least. While waiting out the arrival of Hurricane Irene we found it interesting in finding our way around Portland. Now Portland isn’t the largest city we’ve ever been in but it wasn’t all that easy to find your way around in either. If you were using the names of the streets in the city, the street names were very evident as you approached them but the street you were traveling on only showed up at the start and the very end. If you were to take a slight angle or 90 degree curve while staying with traffic, it would change names on you. Finally after the first day of confusion and distress we were able to get around by recognizing the buildings of the days before while negotiating the city. In the “Arts” district of Portland we found the home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
You could almost feel his presence here in Portland with all the tales of his life and art that made up so much of Portland’s past. He was even highly evident when we visited the Portland Head Lighthouse. One of the markers at the lighthouse told the story of “H.W. L.” walking down and visiting with his friends (the master of the lighthouse) and writing some of his best works of poetry. The Portland Head Lighthouse also has another historical name attached to it.
This lighthouse was dedicated by President George Washington… Now we’re really getting into our countries history. All while of getting around the city and seeing some of the sights and sounds of Portland, we were patiently waiting for the arrival of Hurricane Irene.
We were aware of the possibility of Irene coming all the way up the coast while we were in Rockland and then when we arrived here in Portland it became evident we were right in the path. Then as we watched Irene coming across New York and the surrounding states we became more anxious. Fortunately for us and the people of Maine, what was left of Irene went west of us. We did get some of the winds and rain, but far from the damaging types that hit all around us. During this week we have stayed busy traveling up and down the coast visiting and exploring. In the 30 miles north of us we visited the cities of Bath, Yarmouth, and Freeport. Bath, Maine is well known for ship building and its magnificent waterfront.
Bath has been building the large sailing ships dating back to the early 1800’s and has found that it can still build the large ships of today. We could only see a couple of the semi-finished navy vessels sitting at their docks while we were crossing the bridge as the buildings and fences keep all the curious eyes denied. Freeport is the home of L.L. Bean and a beautiful little community sitting along the shores of the Atlantic.
I say on the shores of the Atlantic but it’s really the beaches of the many inlets that separate Freeport beachfront from the vast expanse of the ocean. As we walked one of the many parks of the area we looked out to see one island after another making a huge buffer from the crashing waves. Yarmouth is like most of the small towns of Maine…beautiful, old, quaint homes and businesses all sitting along narrow tree-lined streets and a waterfall flowing from the Royal River.
We have found the feeling of warmth isn’t only because of the weather here in Maine. Yarmouth has another reason for the tourist to come and visit…The DeLorme Headquarters for the famous map company and EARTHA.
Eartha is the world’s largest rotating and revolving globe and sits in the front window of their showroom while dwarfing everything else around it. Now before we leave town, we've decided we just have to take a drive to the shore and find dinner...LOBSTER AGAIN ???
_One thing we really like about the Maine coast is just how rugged and truly warm it is. By that I mean the buildings are beautifully designed and always giving out a warm “welcome” feel even as you walk in or drive by. Then as you drive down to the wharf to search out a great restaurant or find the boat bringing in their catch of lobster, you find the “rugged” fisherman’s digs.
_Today was going to be our last here in this area and we still hadn’t been clear down to the end of this long peninsula to visit Port Clyde.
_As most of the other peninsulas and bays we’ve visited, the kayakers are out enjoying the beautiful waters and checking out the water views of the many lighthouses along the long coastline.
_Well once again we go back “home” with so many memories AND something we can fill our hunger with…
_we’ll enjoy 3 tonight and save the other 3 for another night in the near future.
_We’re back…(at the Elks in Rockland that is ).
_All settled in and off we go…. It’s been a while since we took the kayak out so we decided today was it, we’re going out into the bay and do some exploring by water. Rockland Harbor is protected from the ocean by a granite jetty that extends out from the shore just under a mile. The base of this mammoth jetty is 145’ across and the top is 40’ of huge granite blocks put together like a jig-saw puzzle.
_Walking a quick pace took us a little better than 25 minutes to walk out to the end and another 25+ minutes to walk back. So having walked out there we decided we should paddle out as well. Besides, it was a great day for a paddle. Sun was shining, the temperature was in the high 70’s, and we just want to enjoy the water up close and personal. By the way, the ocean temperature up here in Maine is 60+ degrees, Washington are you listening? It was amazing to be right out there with the lobster boats
_as they were collecting their catch and making sure that once they were ready to head for the next pot we were out of their way. They don’t waste any time in between one pot and the next. We also enjoyed being out there with the large sailing vessels. In full sail they float by without a sound while all those aboard give a wave as they pass, it’s something about the water I guess.
_For a couple of reasons we left the Elks at Rockland (but we’ll go back soon) and moved to a campground at Waterman (just 10 miles down the coast). The reasons for the move, we would be right next door to a beach restaurant that won a James Beard Culinary Award AND with the campground being right on the shores of the Atlantic,
_it has ALL the hook-ups…can you believe we need to empty the tanks again? One thing we liked about Miller’s Lobster House is its VERY informal atmosphere, using plastic table clothes on old picnic tables and plastic forks….how good is that ??? Well it was good enough that we decided that Miller’s Lobster House was the place where we would celebrate our 51st wedding anniversary.
_We’ve enjoyed a lot of lobster already so we decided to order 4 pounds of steamed clams followed by some yummy homemade pie. Millers offers soft drinks but advertises for all to BYOB if you want something else, so we brought a bottle of white wine to compliment our clams.
_We also had a great opportunity to explore further down the coast from here and guess what we found? Boats everywhere…all unloading their catch of lobster at one of the many co-ops.
_Well here we go again. With one of our insulated bags in hand, we walk down the gang-plank with cash in hand and negotiate the price of 6 1 1/4lb really fresh lobsters. Ok, $24…we’ll take them off your hands
Louise is amazing…thank God I’ve got her to be my tourist guide. For the last EIGHT YEARS she’s been doing an outstanding job and all I have to do is FOLLOW HER INSTRUCTIONS !!!! Well today is no different. She wanted to stop at The Penobscot (love that name…) Narrows and see the amazing bridge by the same name. The Penobscot Narrows Bridge and observatory is supposed to be the “Crown Jewel” of coastal Maine with its spectacular views, stunning design and unique and historic Fort Knox.
_We enjoyed the ride up to the observation deck this morning. It didn’t take but a few seconds and we were at the 420 foot level or 42 stories above the river.
_This turns out to be the “tallest OCCUPIED” structure in Maine. “As soon as the elevator stopped and opened the doors at the 42nd story, you had a full length window directly in front of you. It was a great stop for the morning and one that we highly recommend to all that head this way. Prior to getting to the bridge we stopped to explore the boardwalk
_and village of Bucksport ( now I’m not saying this is a strange name but…). Bucksport is a really small community with a HUGE view to enchant you every time you come into town.
_That view reminds you of the history of Fort Knox and Waldo-Hancock Bridge. Now talking about history, let’s explore a short version of the history of Fort Knox. First off, it never found it’s self-involved in a war or skirmish but was commissioned in 1825, just 13 years after the British seized control of the river.
_Two years later the US government then recognized the importance of the Penobscot River and built this fort to secure and maintain the severance of this river and Bangor’s ship building industry. Fortunately there never was another run up the river by the British and the only shots that the fort made from their huge cannons
_were shot in practice only. It’s design was “perfect” for such a place on the river so maybe that’s the reason the Brits decided to stay away. Now, it’s the perfect backdrop for the tallest observatory in the world and one of the most beautiful bridges we’ve ever had a chance to see and drive across. Fortunately we arrived when the fog was totally engulfing the river and the bridges.
_I say “fortunately” because of the picture possibilities before me…I just hope that I did a decent job of capturing it. Sitting beside the “new” Penobscot Narrows Bridge we found a ghost… The Waldo-Hancock Bridge
_was built in 1931 and one day found that it wasn’t doing what the populous needed. The total height of the Waldo was 135 feet and cost $850,000 at that time. Now the question is; what are they going to do with it??? When you see the two bridges side by side, either in the fog or in the sun, they present a great picture of now and then...
Driving into Maine gave us a “Finally” moment… This journey took us across the top of the “Good-Ole” USA and over 4,400 miles when we drove into our furthest eastern stop, Arcadia National Park. I’ve got to admit, it’s been a great adventure and a wonderful opportunity to see and visit family and friends along the way.
We’d been carrying close to full tanks (black and gray) gaining in volume from Longport, NY to finally finding a “dump” location just outside of Bangor, Maine. When we pulled into Maine and stopped by one of the entry Information Centers we found that a large truck stop a mile up the road had all the facilities we needed and “if” we re-fueled the facilities would even be FREE. We had stopped by a campground once on the way and they wanted to charge us $20. Hell, the last place that we used only charged us $5 when we weren’t parked there for the night. Feeling much lighter and without that “worry” heavy on our back’s we continued east to Ellsworth and another Elks. When we pulled into the driveway of the Elks we found 12 more RV’s enjoying the hospitality offered by this club. I guess all the excitement bringing in the many travelers to this area is three fold; Acadia National Park (second most visited National Park), the state of Maine and all its natural beauty, and of course the LOBSTER…
Yes LOBSTER… We (I) have been looking forward to the Maine LOBSTER for a long time and now that we’re (I’m) here we’re going to ENJOY the heck out of each and every (most of) meals we’ll have here (and we’re planning to be here for A LONG TIME !!!). We’re also here to see and enjoy the people of Maine and the wonderful sights of all this pure nature area. The day after setting up at the Elks, we headed the 5 miles further east into the Acadia NP for a full day of exploration. There is a 27 mile loop road through the park that we decided to take for our first outing. The park is located on a large island that is attached by a short bridge to the mainland. The island, Mt. Desert Island, is shaped like a large Lobster claw with several lakes and hundreds of inlets along the shoreline. One thing we’ve learned about the Maine shoreline, there will be hundreds of inlets, some short and some very long, and hundreds of islands to explore or view from afar. On our first drive around the park we stopped to explore the huge granite rock formations making up most of the shoreline.
_You can only imagine them when the Atlantic Ocean heavily crashes during those winter storms as they push onto the coast. High up (1,500 feet) we reach the summit or the highest point on the eastern sea coast, Cadillac Mountain. We really enjoyed our look out over the Atlantic and the many islands below.
_Other ways of exploring Acadia NP besides riding in your own car, is by horse drawn carriage or the “free bus” that you can hop off and on at will. One of the few buildings in the park is this old carriage house.
_As beautiful as it is, it’s not being used anymore. By the time we finished our first drive around the park we were ready for something to eat, and to find that place we had to drive out to Bar Harbor.
_Bar Harbor is located just outside of the park entrance so getting there was easy enough but finding a parking place for the car was much harder. Fortunately we arrived at a location to park just as someone was leaving. The time and place just weren’t right for our first “Lobster” so we opted for a bowl of “chawda” and lobster bisque…it’s got to be good if it’s called “chawda” doesn’t it???
_Oh by the way, they have two of the most amazing “Goofy Golf” courses I’ve ever seen here on the island. That’s one of the holes pictured at the top…