Sunday, August 19, 2018

Maine - Orland


On July 19, 2018 we drove north on Highway 1 to Orland, ME. Passing through small towns and catching glimpses of the ocean and the many bays that make up the coast line. The large cranes (top right) are at a ship yard in Lincolnville, ME. Did you notice the extremely tall mast in the bottom left picture?
On the last stretch of road before the campground we crossed the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. The 2,120 foot long bridge opened in 2006. It is one of only three cradle system bridges in the U.S. Boston, MA and Toledo, OH are where you will find the other two. The one difference of this one is it has an observation tower. It is the first bridge in the U.S. to have one and the tallest public bridge observatory in the world. The tower reaches 420-feet. There is an elevator that takes you to the windowed observation room. It had been our plan to go, but the days we had open were rainy and foggy. You couldn't see the river from the bridge so there would have been no view from the top!

Balsam Cove Campground is on Toddy Pond. Even though the body of water is 10 miles long it is still called a pond. In Maine if a body of water does not have a river running in or out of it, it is called a pond and not a lake. The things we have learned on this adventure.
The majority of the campground is seasonal sites, they are all kept up very well. There is a beach and swimming area along with boat docks. There are plenty of activities, the weekend we were there was "Christmas in July" with the seasonal tenants decorating their sites for the Holiday! We were in Site 62, a gravel pull through that wasn't exactly level, basically the whole site is gravel with some grass struggling to grow. We had full hook ups. There is a picnic table and fire ring. The WiFi was okay and our Verizon signal was weak. Laundry room was clean. We paid $46.47 a night with our Good Sam discount. There was plenty of places to walk the dog, plus a fenced dog park.

We spent one whole day at the Celtic Festival in Belfast, ME. What a cute little town right on the water. There are two Roadside Oddities, a Large Pink Dinosaur and an Elephant on a building.  Being on the Penobscot Bay there were of course ships and beaches.

The festival was on the waterfront at the south end of town. What would an Irish gathering be if there wasn't music? It was the centerpiece of the celebration. Traditional Celtic music could be heard from most any where in the festival. Lots of men in kilts wandering around the tents filled with crafts, food and drinks. Yes, there was a beer tent and yes Guinness was on tap! It was fascinating watching the sheep herding demonstration and how well trained the dogs are. Mielikki watched but not sure she learned anything.
We met some great people and Nancy got a birthday present, a beautiful pen made from a 1938 sterling silver knife handle.

On the river next to the Penobscot Narrows Bridge is Fort Knox State Park in Prospect, ME. It was built between 1844 and 1869. It was the first fort in Maine built entirely of granite. It is also the entry site for the observation tower.

The headstone of  Colonel Johnathan Buck, the founder of Bucksport, ME has quite the legend surrounding it.
It is claimed that Buck, had a witch burned at the stake and she cursed him before she died. Her leg fell off and rolled out of the flames.
Jump ahead sixty years after he passed away in March 1795. His family erected this monument to him and a stain in the shape of a leg appeared on it. Numerous attempts to clean it failed. There is no record of any witch being burned in this area, but the legend lives on.

Nancy's first birthday dinner was at Glenn's Place in Bucksport. You know she celebrates for a week. We started with fried Cheese Curds and Nancy finally got her Lobster Roll. They had German Chocolate Cake, which is what her mom made every year for her birthday! No that is not a Bud Light in that glass. Perfect ending to a great day.

Bangor, ME was a bit of a surprise to us. We were expecting a much more thriving city. We did find a few Roadside Oddities.
The Smiley Face Rock sits along the Penboscot River. There is a 31-foot tall Paul Bunyon statue. Author, Stephen King is from here and we got to see his house, not nearly as scary as one might think it would be. Another church that is open and welcoming, we loved this rainbow "flag" made of doors.

The Chamberlain Freedom Park was really interesting. There is a statue of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. He was a college professor before joining the military. He accepted Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, ending the Civil War. He served four one-year terms as Governor of Maine. He also was President of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME, which is where he lived till he passed away in 1914. We visited there from our last stop in Freeport, ME.

He was a staunch supporter of freedom for the slaves and it is said that he helped many though the Underground Railroad.
The park is on a hillside with the statue of Chamberlain at the top. He is surrounded by large boulders with plaques bearing quotes from him or about him.  At the base of the hill is a statue of a man coming up from underground. It is a stunning visual memorial to the Under Ground Railroad.

Arcadia National Park is what brought us to this area. The park was first set aside in 1916 as Sieur de Monts National Monument, in 1919 it became Lafayette National Park and in 1929 was named Arcadia National Park. From the start in 1916 through today it has grown to 38,000 acres that include 33 miles of roadway, 158 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads with 16 stone bridges. The landscape rises from sea level to 1,530-feet and there are eight mountains that are above 1,000-feet.

We spent three days exploring it and could have spent another week at least.
It is a perfect place to celebrate a birthday. Our first day out, July 23rd, we headed to Bar Harbor, ME, which is where the Maine Peter "Wolf" Toth Indian carving is. Glooscap is 30-feet tall and was carved from an Elm tree in 1982.
He is the 46th carving on the "Trail of The Whispering Giants." He sits at the entrance to the Bar Harbor Campground. He was placed here in 2004 after the owner of the campground had him restored.

From there we drove the Park Loop Road which runs along the coast, stopping at beaches and overlooks along the way.
Schooner Head was the first stop. Stunning shore line and the fog swirling around us only made it better.

 One would think that it couldn't get any prettier than this, but it does. Otter Cove was next, with water on both sides of the road. No, we did not see any otters.

Walking along the beach you have to be careful where you step so you don't crush the zillion snails that are crawling around.
Purple seashells, beautiful rocks, tide pools and a green crab were just some of our discoveries. The big smiley face someone left sums it all up pretty well.

The seaweed is like nothing we have seen before. The long draping strands look like a wild hairdo on a crazy monster.

Jordan's Pond House is a large restaurant and gift shop. Wandering behind the buildings takes you to a picture perfect spot.

Seal Harbor was filed with boats not seals. There were a number of people fishing with nets and others looking for crabs and seashells.

We ended this day at the Airline Brewing Co in Ellsworth, ME for Nancy's official birthday dinner. A Pasty this time, along with delicious beer and great service. A birthday to remember!

On our drive from the campground we came across a few oddities that are not listed on Roadside. In front of a house is a toilet with an Upside Down Person sticking out of it - no idea why. Across the street they have a Tiny Rocking Horse. The Carved Fisherman is in Ellsworth.

Our second day out we drove Highway 102 through what the locals call the "quiet side". There were a lot less people on this side then the Bar Harbor side. We ran into very few people at most of our stops.

First up was Seawall where we clamored across boulders and seaweed, once again being careful we didn't crush the snails. Mielikki loved it all.

The seaweed was just as crazy and the tide pools were teeming with life.

Our favorite stop of all three days was Ships Harbor. The 1.3-mile figure 8 loop trail takes you through the forest and along the waters edge. The pictures show some of the rougher parts of the trail, but the first portion of the trail that takes you to the harbor is well maintained and handicap accessible.

We were there while the tide was going out. It was so interesting watching the waves roll in and the "river" run out.

The trail leads you out onto the large rocks along the edge of the water where the views are amazing.

Once the tide is out the "harbor" turns into Mud flats. One side of the harbor is a large rocky beach with the other side a large mud flat that is full of life.

As always the trail offered up some interesting tree roots and flowers. There were fallen trees and twisted trunks. Our favorite was the small roots growing over the large one. Reminded us of Gulliver's Travels. Upon Googling Gulliver's Travels to confirm it was written by Johnathan Swift, (memory just isn't what it used to be) we discovered there is a free eBook copy. Sadly, all words with no pictures 😉.

The Bass Harbor Lighthouse was the exception to the quiet side - it was packed with people.
The lighthouse was built in 1858 and automated in 1974. The red light flashes every four seconds. The original fifth order Fresnel lens was replaced in 1902 with a larger fourth order lens.
The lighthouse and quarters are not open to the public as a U.S. Coast Guard family lives here. Can't imagine what it must be like to have people surrounding your house all day long.

We saved Cadillac Mountain for the last day and that was probably a mistake as it was rainy and insanely foggy.
You couldn't see anything on the drive up or from the top. On a clear day you can get a real sense of being on an island as you get a panoramic view of the Gulf of Maine and the many off shore islands.
Several of the islands are home to fishing communities and all serve as nesting sites for sea birds and stop overs for migratory birds.
Sadly not today!

Once we were back down to sea level it was all clear again.

We'll leave you with these two last pics - Nancy's Birthday flowers, she loves wildflowers best of all and this is what Mielikki looked like every night when we got home! We wore her out.

Up next is Bethel, ME on the north side of the White Mountains.

Till we meet again....

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Outdoor carpet
In our travels we have stayed in over 200 campgrounds and our sites have been a variety of shapes, sizes and ground types. Our outdoor carpet has come in very handy for the sites that are gravel, dirt that turns into mud when it rains, cement or asphalt and grass that is really mostly weeds with pickers (like the one we are in at this stop). None of those are very comfortable to walk on and the rug helps to keep dirt out of the RV.
Like campsites the rugs also come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. They range from small door mats to full size approximately 8' x 20'.
When looking for a rug it is important to get a Breathable Woven mat. It is better for grass as it allows air, water and sunlight to pass through. Even with these if you are in one spot more than a week it is advisable to move the rug to help the grass. They range in price based on size from $30 to $100 or more.
The rugs come with small stakes to hold it down, but we found that not all ground is accepting of stakes so we collected rocks along the way to use as weights when we can't use the stakes.
You always want to check the rules of the campground to make sure they allow rugs.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Maine - Freeport


Cedar Haven Family Campground was our new home for a few days starting on July 16, 2018. 
It is just east of downtown Freeport, ME, which is home to L.L. Bean
The campground has over 70 sites, plus tent sites. There is a pond with a sandy beach, large playground area and a basketball court. They have a dog washing station which is always nice. We were in Site 2, a level gravel pull-thru with full hook-ups. There is a narrow patch of grass and a picnic table. The campground is well maintained and quiet. WiFi was good and our Verizon signal was strong. We paid $53.46 a night with our Good Sam Discount. 

We had two days to explore here and we jam packed them with things to see and do. First day we headed south to Portland, ME. We found a few roadsides on our way. 

In Freeport, outside of the L.L. Bean store is a Giant Hiking Boot. Each of the parking lots are named for an animal. The one we were in was the Bear Lot, and there was a carving to help you remember. Just outside of downtown is a Giant Indian that stands outside of a Trading Post Store on Hwy 1. 

In Yarmouth, ME we went to the DeLorme Building to see Eartha, a Giant Rotating Globe. It is the largest rotating globe in the World. DeLorme created one of the first computer mapping systems. Today they are owned by Garmin. 
We weren't sure what the globe was going to be like, but it was well worth the stop. The Globe is 3-stories tall in the lobby of the building which houses the offices for Garmin. There is an open balcony on all three floors to view the globe from different heights. We "traveled" the whole world while we were here!

In Portland, ME while dodging raindrops we found a piece of the Berlin Wall. On the same dock was a Painted Lighthouse and a freestanding fence with a ton of Love Locks on it.
On the edge of one of the traffic circles in downtown is a bronze statue of Director John Ford. Probably best known for his movie "Grapes of Wrath", he was born here in Portland. In the Bug Light Park there is a Memorial to the Liberty Ships that were built here. 

The Eastern Promenade is a beautiful park that overlooks the Casco Bay. The Promenade was started in 1836 and now covers 68-acres. We so enjoyed our walk and while it was foggy and overcast, the rain held off for us. 

Bug Light Park is where you will find the Portland Breakwater Lighthouse, " Bug Light". The first lighthouse, a wooden structure, was built in 1855. In 1875 the breakwater was extended and the current iron lighthouse was built. Wooden sheds and a six-room house for the keeper were added over the next few years. 

During WWII the breakwater was slowly taken over by landfill as the New England Shipbuilding Corp, built two shipyards next to the lighthouse. These yards produced Liberty Ships for the war. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1942. It was fully restored in 1989 and was reactivated in 2002. 
From the park you can see the skyline of Portland as well as the islands in the bay. The bay was filled with boats of all sizes while we were there. 

In 1897 the nearby Spring Point Ledge Light was erected and the houses at Bug Light were torn down as the keepers who lived at Spring Point maintained both lighthouses. 
The lighthouse was built after seven steamship companies complained that their vessels ran aground on Spring Point Ledge. The original budget of $20,000 fell short of the actual cost of $45,000 due to storm damage and poor quality cement. The lighthouse was outfitted with a fog bell that rang twice every 12 seconds. Improvements were made throughout the 20th century, it was electrified in 1934. In 1951, a 900-foot breakwater made from 50,000 tons of granite was constructed to connect the lighthouse to the mainland. 

We couldn't hold off the rain any longer but luckily there was a large tent set up on the grounds of the lighthouse, which made taking pictures a little less wet.

The final lighthouse of the day was the Portland Head Lighthouse. Built in 1791, it is the oldest lighthouse in the state of Maine.
Construction began in 1787, ordered by George Washington and was completed on January 10, 1791. It was paid for from a fund of $1,500 created by Washington. It was originally illuminated by whale oil lamps. In 1855 a fourth-order Fresnel Lens was installed, it was replaced with a second-order lens in the early 1900's.
The keepers house is still intact and is used as the museum. The surrounding shore line gives you an idea as to why a lighthouse was needed here. Painted on one of the boulders is a tribute to the Annie C. Maguire Shipwreck that happened on Christmas Eve 1886. (Upper right picture) The ship was wedged on the rocks at the lighthouse. The Keeper and volunteers rigged a ladder as a gangplank between the shore and the ship. All on board were safely removed.

Nancy got a little wet while getting the pictures of the last lighthouse and shoreline, but luckily the really hard rain, along with thunder and lightening didn't come until she was back in the car and we were heading home. There was a little bit of flooding in Portland.

On our second day out we headed east.
In Brunswick, ME we walked across a Swinging Bridge. Yes, even Nancy walked across it.
The first swinging bridge at this spot was built in 1892, to help Cabot Mill workers cross the river from their homes to the mill. The firm that designed the Brooklyn Bridge designed this one. Over time steel replaced the original timber-framed towers. A flood in 1936 partially destroyed the bridge, repairs were part of the Works Progress program. The latest renovation was completed in 2006. You have a pretty view of the Androscoggin River from the center of the bridge and on one side of the river is a little park. An artist was busy with a painting while we were there.

We took a wrong turn, nothing unusal about that and came across this spill way and falls. Such a pretty sight which is the usual outcome of our wrong turns!

Brunswick is also were Harriet Beecher Stowe lived when she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin. Her husband was a professor at Bowdoin College. They lived in this house from 1850 to 1852. It was here that Stowe harbored fugitive slave John Andrew Jackson in late 1850. When we were in Connecticut  we saw the home she lived in the last 23 years of her life.
While attending a service at the 1st Parish Church, United Church of Christ, she had a vision of sorts as to how Uncle Tom would die. The pew that she sat in was owned by a friend, in those days you bought your pews, and there is a marker where she sat. While Nancy was wandering around the church trying to find a way in, two ladies came out and when she asked them if this was the church Harriet attended one of them was nice enough to reopen the church and take her in. She had her own personal tour guide!
While taking pictures the lady showed Nancy the family pew of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. The church likes to say that the Civil War started and ended here just a few feet apart from each other. President Lincoln stated more than once that Harriet's book, Uncle Tom's Cabin was one of the catalysts for the Civil War and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain accepted Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. We visited there in June 2017. It is interesting that the two pews are in the same row! Harriett's is the pink arrow, Joshua's is the yellow arrow.

We would like to think that Harriett is smiling down on the church she attended as they proudly welcome ALL to their church. The words on the Rainbow banner say "God is Still Speaking".

From Brunswick we headed to Woolwich, ME and found a Comical and Giant Lobster at the Taste of Maine Restaurant. They also have an Osprey nest and a webcam that you can watch from the lobby.

In Bath, ME, which we would love to come back to and explore more we found Wilson's Drug Store!
We didn't stop and explore because we had more to see and we were excited to hike at the Giant Stairs.
In order to get there we had to cross the Cribstone Bridge. It connects Orr's Island and Bailey Island.

The bridge was constructed in 1927 and 1928 after many years of requests for a bridge from the residents of Bailey Island. Building the bridge was a engineering marvel. Taking the tide and storms in the area into consideration it was decided that a "cobwork" bridge was the best solution. The 1,150-foot bridge was built using granite slabs as cribstones. The slabs, longer than they are wide were laid horizontally, first lengthwise, and then crosswise, in several layers. No mortar or cement was used. The granite was considered heavy enough to withstand wind and waves. The open cribbing allows the tide to ebb and flow freely without increasing tidal current to any great degree.
Around 10,000 tons of granite was used in the project and then a concrete road was built on top of the cribstones. A sidewalk was added in 1951 and guard rails in 1961. It is reported to be the only Cribstone Bridge in the world.
The beach is a mix of sand and large rock formations. There were a number of kayaks just waiting for an adventure. The rocks are filled with quartz. As you know Nancy sees images in just about everything and this time she found another Michigan shape and what looks like a playful cat to her. What do you think it looks like?

Following Route 24 across the bridge we ended up at the Lands End Gift Shop. Appropriately named as it is at the end of the land.

The statue is titled Fisherman. There is a little beach where Nancy played with seaweed and put her feet in the Casco Bay. We were across the bay from the lighthouses we had visited the day before.

Another tourist kindly took our picture for us.

Then we finally made it to the Giant StairsThe trail is only a half mile long but the limited parking made the hike twice as long! Plus, we went from end to end and then back again. Most of the rock here is schist, a light gray and flaky metamorphic rock. They are filled with minerals such as mica, garnet and quartz. The black and blocky staircases are igneous basalt rock formed when magma rose to the surface through cracks in the schist. The magma cooled and eroded over the years to form the "staircases"
What a beautiful spot. You can sit on the rocks and watch the waves and boats of all sizes go by. Or there are plenty of places to climb and clamber across the rocks. We kept finding ourselves on opposite levels, which does make for an interesting selfie!

Mielikki found a few places to hide out in the shade. It was a little hot while we were there. Can you spot her in the bottom left picture? 
This was one of the highlights of our time here. 

Next up is Orland, ME and Arcadia National Park. 

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You! 

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Watch out for that bridge!
The RV is tall - 13-feet and a couple of inches tall! Due to this we have to be careful when traveling back roads. Many times the bridges are 12' or shorter and it doesn't take a math genius to figure out that is a problem. As we have mentioned before we cannot back up the RV while the tow-dolly and car are attached. If we came across a short bridge it would be a nightmare if there was no place to turn around.
There are some ways around this. There are websites, GPS and Apps that will navigate you away from the low bridges. 
Obviously truckers have the same issues and a number of Apps have been created for them. Here are a couple:
Instant Truck Routes - around $60 a year for an iPhone
Low - around $45 a year
There are RV specific apps as well:
CoPilot RV USA - around $40 a year
RV GPS Navigation Systems - Garmin's are from $100 - $400

Free Apps:
Trucker Path - like Instant Truck Routes this also finds Gas Stations, Rest Areas etc
RV Parky - you can also find RV Parks, Camping World, Cracker Barrel, Walmart, Truck Stops, Rest Areas and more.

There is also a PDF, Low Clearance Bridge Information, supplied by Member.Coach-net, a roadside assistance group. Cost to join is $180 to $250 a year. The PDF file is free.