A Travellerspoint blog

October 2007

Day 45 (10.16.07) - Acadia National Park

This is the second most visited National Park. We spent all day here, then got back to where we started from yesterday, Ellsworth Maine.

sunny 55 °F
View (Re) Discovering America on jl98584's travel map.

Miles Driven: 69 (in a circle, of course)
Weather: Very Sunny, Very Windy, Cool (55 F, not including wind chill)

(OK - Today I'm mixing up full size and thumbnail size photo's. To expand a thumbnail, click on it)

Acadia National Park is the second most visited National Park. It was also the first NP established in the Eastern United States. However, it is not a "Wow" destination. The video at the Visitors Center even proclaims that this is park for quite and solitude, not so much for exclaimations.

The Wabanaki inhabited the island when it was first explored by europeans. In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazano from Florence explored the coast of Maine and the Canadian Maritimes and named the area L'Acadia or Acadia. Some historians believe this to be a Wabanaki word, others say it is related to Arcadia, a scenic region of ancient Greece. In any event, the area is now called the Acadia region. Then in 1604, the French explorer Samuel Champlain named the island l'Isles des Monts-deserts, or Island of the Bald Mountains - which we now call Mount Desert Island.


The mountains on this island are far from deserts, but they are steep granite and there are a lot of 'bald' spots where there just isn't enough soil to support much more than scrub tree's and brush, so the name is somewhat fitting. The National Park covers only a portion of the island, so there are several towns and privately owned property along the coastal drives. After we left Blackwood campground, we stopped at this beach and met a man collecting beach glass his daughter used to make crafts. We also met people doing this on Lake Erie, so I guess it's a popular hobby.


We drove along some very pretty coast (it looked a lot like western Washington State however) and some very expensive homes (also like WA coastlines!) and finally got to the visitors center. After helping Mom get her walker up all 52 steps, we learned there was another road for handicapped entrance and an elevator! Mom took that route out (after I moved the RV of course), but the ranger was very impressed that Mom had made it all the way up. We picked up our park pass and an assortment of postcards, magnets, etc. and headed out.

There is a very nice road that goes all the way to the top of Mount Cadillac. The summit is 1,530 feet above sea level and is not only the highest point in Acadia NP, but the highest point in the eastern United States. On a clear day such as today, you can see most of Maine from the summit as well as most of the NP. It was very clear and beautiful at the summit, but also a very cold wind, so we decided to eat lunch inside the RV. We did get out to enjoy the view first and take some pictures of course.


After lunch, I asked Mom to sit across the road from the RV so I could take a picture showing the rocks and also scrub brush at the top (including wild blueberries). It was a little protected from the wind in this spot, but she didn't stay outside any longer then she had to.


After driving back down from the summit, we went to Jordan Pond. The rounded hills at the far end are called the north and south bubbles. It was quite lovely, but I probably should have used a filter of some sort to get the fall colors better - they really were quite a bit bighter than the picture shows. Various versions of this view are on a lot of the postcards in the gift shops.


There were many turnouts and vista's on the Park Loop Road, at one point I was able to get a picture of the Egg Rocks Lighthouse. It isn't as sharp as I'd like (it was very far out, this is at my full 12x zoom and cropped to boot), but it is a lighthouse for those who like to collect such things.


At another point during the Park Loop Rd drive we saw a totally different vista of the Atlantic Coast. Depending on the elevation and position of the sun, this is fairly common in Acadia NP.


Mom had pretty much had it with the cold wind by this point, but I headed off to the Sand Beach instead of Florida. It is the only sandy beach in the NP (other sandy type beaches are outside the park boundaries), but the sand is composed mostly of crushed shells, not ground granite like many other New England beaches. The cove here is quite protected and Mom was able to enjoy the warm sunshine and soft sand a little more than she'd expected I think. We both tried out the water, which was quite cold. I don't think this is always true - but there were hardly any waves while we were here.


A short drive from the Sand Beach was the "Thunder Hole". This is a hole in the rocky coast caused by erosion. In certain tidal and wave conditions, it can 'roar' like thunder and be quite spectacular. Since there weren't any waves to speak of (and we got there at high tide - not very optimal), it was only making 'gurgling' noises. I have a video if you want me to upload it, but it seems hardly worth the bother. So it was interesting and I gave it a look, but what caught my eye were the ducks. We have a lot of cool ducks right in front of my house in Shelton, WA - but I hadn't seen any like this.


After we got settled in tonight, I did a little research and believe this to be a common eider. There were five or six of these outside of the Thunder Hole and they were all a little different. Apparantly this is normal for common eiders, especially for young males. They are a common duck on the NE coast and other areas and one of the largest species of ducks.

Although she/we had a great time in Acadia, for us it may not have been quite as special as for some visitors since we've been spoiled by the lovely coastlines and islands we have in Washington State. I think Mount Desert Island is larger than the San Juan Islands and more heavily tree'd, but they are otherwise somewhat similar. Both are lovely, so being able to live in western WA, if we weren't already traveling I don't think I'd go to Maine just to see Acadia. I also had to agree with Mom at this point, I was also tired and felt we'd seen enough Acadia NP for our purposes. We finally left, driving back through Bar Harbor (as quickly as we could and without stopping, not even for one Lobster dinner) and back across the bridge to the mainland. In Ellsworth, I pulled over at Wal-mart since we both had shopping needs and Mom really needs to get some prescriptions filled. We do have an internet signal here (not wi-fi, but at least on the data card) and also an AT&T phone signal for a change! It's getting down into the 30's (F) at night now, so I'll need to make sure I keep the propane tank filled (we're OK for tonight anyway). Tomorrow we'll start heading south again - and while Acadia NP is nice, take a minute and appreciate how beautiful Washington State is also!

Posted by jl98584 18:16 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (4)

Day 44 (10.15.07) - Prospecting in Prospect Harbor

Short Blog Today, we didn't go very far

sunny 55 °F
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Miles Driven: 62
Weather: Mostly sunny, but cold (especially the wind)

We woke up this morning to a beautiful looking day - it was clear blue and sunny. Then we stepped outside. When the wind blows in Maine in October, it is a very cold wind indeed! Fortunately, we didn't need to go outside much - I had some business to take care of on the laptop, so we just stayed warm and cozy in the heated RV and enjoyed the sunshine through the windows.

Having spent half the day working on the laptop, we finally headed out about noon. Today the target was a town named Prospect Harbor. Actually, I think the town name is Gouldsboro and the harbor is Prospect Harbor, I'm not sure. We found this place without incident, a lovely little Maine fishing village with the ubiquitous lighthouse.


After asking around town, we also found the Stinson Cannery, which is now owned by Bumblee Bee (the tuna company). They are still canning Herring here - but after they are canned, they are called Sardines. The sign outside still calls it the "Stinson" Cannery however.


Across the street from the cannery was a large, white house with a lot of windows that Cal Stinson had built. Cal and his wife Morrain had six kids, and some of them lived on the upper floors with their wifes later on. This is no longer owned by Cal Stinson and has been substantially rebuilt, but one wall is supposedly original.


We also picked up three can's of Beech Cliff Sardines that were canned at the Stinson Cannery - we'll have to have a tasting dinner after we get back from our trip (I wonder how the Vermont Maple Syrup and Cabot Cheese will taste with Stinson Sardines?)

We also got a lead on the Town Historian, so went out to her house. Bea was very nice and was able to tell us more about Cal Stinson's family, his father was John Stinson (1864 - 1940) and was a lobster dealer. She also told us that Cal Stinson had bought up many of the Cannery's in Maine and consolidated many the operations in Prospect Harbor over the years. But she didn't know much more about the Stinsons other than those at Prospect Harbor.

So what was all the effort for? We don't know - Mom's grandfather was a Stinson, he may or may not be related to the branch of Stinson's that got into the Cannery business here in Prospect Harbor. It was kind of fun trying to track down information however, whether it pans out or not.

So having run out of information we could track down at Prospect Harbor, we headed south again to visit Arcadia National Park. We made it to the island (called Mount Desert Island) and drove through Bar Harbor. This is a real tourist mecca if you're into those sorts of things. There was a hugh cruise ship in the harbor, wall to wall people, inn's, restaraunts and gift shops. We did have a phone signal (for a change), so pulled over by some soccer fields to make/return calls, check email, etc. Other than that, we saw no point to say in Bar Harbor any longer than necessary, so headed on to Blackwood campground (part of the National Park).

In mid October in Maine, the campground was almost full. Fortunately the handicapped camping spot was still open, so Mom got out her handicapped parking permit and we stopped for the night. There was no internet or phone signal at the campground (it was several miles from Bar Harbor), so we played Rummycubes and enjoyed a good dinner and long nights sleep.

Posted by jl98584 16:46 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Day 43 (10.14.07) - Eastport to Addison, Maine

We've Turned the Corner! Now it's South To Key West (eventually)

View (Re) Discovering America on jl98584's travel map.

Miles Driven: 133 (distance traveled about 70)
Weather: Partly sunny/overcast, cold wind at times, 55 F

We left Eastport fairly early and drove on to the town of Lubec. This is where the bridge is to Campobelo Island, but we didn't take this since the Roosevelt cottage was closed. Lubec and Eastport are roughly the same amount East, but Eastport (population about 2,000) is a "City" whereas Lubec is a "Town", so the both have their claims to being the easternmost something.


The downtown area isn't much to look at, this is the more attractive side of "Water Street" (I think Calais, Eastport, and Lubec all had a "Water Street"):


Just across the road was a small, average looking house. However the sign outside said "Monica's Chocolates" so we decided to check it out. Sure enough it was a small chocolate 'factory. Monica Elliott is from Peru, she didn't care for the cold Maine weather, but hated Peru more so there she was. She said she had five employee's and kept pretty busy. The "New Yorker" magazine had done an article and featured her chocolates, so business was really doing well. Her prices were a little steep for our taste, but after having wandered in and eaten free samples, we tried to find something we could afford. The chocolates are good, maybe mass production is a little easier on the wallet however?


We wandered around the back roads of Lubec a bit (they all seemed a little like back roads) and found a beach. Mom objected to the cold wind, but after I brought back a rose hip that was about two inches across, she decided to brave the wind and get a picture of it. What I don't understand is how wild roses can still have blooms in Maine in mid-October!


Just across the Campobello Narrows, we could also see the Canadian Lighthouse called Mulholland Light. This seems to show up in quite a few of the Maine postcards and booklets paired with the US Quoddy Lighthose below (they are fairly close together).


So finally, after 42 days on the road, 6,115 miles and a lifetime's worth of memories - we reached the Easternmost Point in the United States, not the city or town, but the Point. It is at Quoddy Head State Park about 4.5 miles east of Lubec.


<<Insert Cheers, applause, balloons, noisemakers, etc. here>>

In the summer, this is a well known spot for whale watching - but today there were only a few birds and some cold tourists braving the fall breezes just to say we'd been there. It looks a lot like the Washington coast though.

So for the next two months or so, we'll be heading South (when we're not going in circles of course).

After leaving Quoddy Head, we tried taking the coast route (on the map it looked more scenic). We did pass a typical Maine Lobster village, but most of the time couldn't see the coast at all - so we'll probably stay on the main highway more in the future. This is the town of Cutler, but it looked like others we saw today also.


The coast road rejoined the main highway at a town called Machias (pronounced Mach-EYE-us of course). This is derived from an Indian word meaning 'bad little falls' from the river that runs through the town. The falls aren't that little and are quite nice, again root beer colored from the tree tannin, although this shot doesn't show the color very well.


We took a side road to look for the Stinson Cannery, but found out it was in a different city than we'd thought. Just as we rejoined the main highway we saw this unusual gift shop - and finally learned that those lovely 'ground covers' we'd been seeing were wild blueberry plants! Out here, they are very low to the ground unlike the waist high bushes we have back in WA.


After spending a little more money on blueberry scones, truffles, butter (yes, blueberry 'butter') and canned blueberries - I pulled over at the Pleasant River RV park where they do (finally) have wi-fi internet access. The signal isn't the best (I've had some problems tonight), but I'm finally able to get the blog caught up. Now if I could say the same for my sleep, some of the business I needed to take care of, and some RV housekeeping - we'd be sitting pretty.

Posted by jl98584 20:53 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Day 42 (10.13.07) - Calais to Eastport, Maine

Talk about not going anywhere, but we sure do have fun in the process!

overcast 55 °F

Miles Driven: 34
Weather: Overcast, cold wind (mid 50's F)

When we got to Calais last night, we couldn't find an RV park, so we stayed at the local Wal-mart. I am starting to feel real kindly towards those folks (but I wish their parking lots were flatter!) It was kind of funny, because as I turned up the hill we'd been told to go, Mom was sure we were lost and should turn around. Just as she said this, there was Wal-mart. Also on the corner we turned was an SDA church. Mom hadn't been able to go to church the previous week, and as today was Saturday and we knew exactly where the church was, this morning I drove her the whole half mile back down the hill to the church.

The church was built in 1832. It had an interesting wooden fan pattern over the windows. Mom said the pews were also arranged in a semi-circle pattern, which is a little unusual.


After the service was over, we meandered downtown to locate the Downeaster Museum - which was closed, but the visitors center was in the same building and it was open (it also had wi-fi, so I put up the short placeholder blog for yesterday and checked email before leaving). By the way, I tried to find out why the area is called "Down" East - but the official answer is that nobody is sure, it may have something to do with the prevailing winds, or may not. Either way, we again picked up plenty of brochures at the visitors center, enough to fill 8 months worth of Maine sightseeing that we won't have time for (just like every other state we've been in). We also found out that unfortunately, the Roosevelt Cottage on Campobello Island was closed. We decided not to cross the border just to stroll the grounds, we were interested in the cottage (and associated history) , so we crossed it off the list...

Finally about 3 PM we started out of Calais. At the visitors center, Mom had inquired about the note on the map that said the city was founded in 1604. It turned out it wasn't actually Calais (pronounced Cal-uss) but St. Croix Island. The French built a settlement on this Island in 1604. They thought an island would be more defensible than the mainland (but it also had inadequate food and water supplies, which they learned that winter).


It was quite well populated and provisioned for the time, but lost about half it's people over the winter to scurvy so the French took down their buildings and relocated to Port Royal in 1605 where they built a much more successful colony. There is now an International Heritage Park on the mainland overlooking St. Croix Island with many interpretive signs and a model of the French settlement:


Just to the side of the park was a small waterfalls. I'm not sure how well this shows up, but it was definitely root beer colored (unlike the one we saw in Wisconsin that had been advertised as such). Tannin in the woods causes the water color.


Another thing we had learned at the Calais Library was that there had been a lot of Stinson's in Eastport, so when I saw the Eastport turnoff, we took it. Like Hull, in Massachusetts, Eastport is off a long spit (about 7 miles out) - although technically it is on an island (Moose Island), it is connected to the mainland by a causeway. The town sign proclaims it to be the easternmost city in the US (although Lubec is the easternmost 'town' in the US - they aren't very far apart).


We didn't find any Stinson's in Eastport, there may be some but we were there on a weekend and all the knowledgeable people were gone. We did find out that Eastport (population slightly under 2,000) had once been a major hub of sardine canning. We learned that there was a "Chowder House" down the road, that Saturday night (tonight) was it's last night open for the season, it might have been the location of the old Stinson wharf and cannery and it had a bunch of old photo's inside. So with all those 'might be's in mind, we headed off to the "Chowder House". I probably wore out my welcome asking people questions, but we had a great dinner and met some really nice people.


Nobody was quite sure if that was where the Stinson Cannery had been at one time. the menu says it had been the Martin Cannery and that a Jack and Betty Stinson ran a restaraunt at the location for about 10 years beginning in 1968. We did find a couple of interesting photo's - one stating the cannery in the photo was the largest one in the world at that time:


Also, Mom noticed this photo outside the restrooms and swears the man on the right looks just like a picture she saw once of her grandfather (Charles Kingsbury Stinson). This wouldn't be CKS of course, as he lived in Boston, but could certainly be related (I'm sorry the quality isn't better, it was quite dark and I had to use a flash - not the best conditions).


Anyway, I wandered around the place and thought the rocky shoreline and small, offshore islands looked a lot like Puget Sound, WA:


Bob, the owner of the "Chowder House" is also in the Lobster business (as are many in Eastern Maine in various fashions). There were two lobster boats coming in that night and he invited a couple of us to watch them weigh the lobsters that came in. What they do is sort the lobsters, big ones are worth more per pound, then weigh the catch. Bob buys the lobsters from the boat then either uses them in his restaraunt or sells them. He also provides fuel and bait (herring) to the fishing boats.

Here some of the fishermen are weighing their catch:


These are the smaller lobsters they brought in. They said that 2007 so far has been very bad, that last year they would have had many more and much larger lobsters by this time during the season.


Finally, here is a load of herring ready to be loaded onto the boat to go back out to sea as bait.


I learned a few more things about the lobster industry in Maine from Bill and his wife Jane, who sold bait to Bob. They also told me about another Stinson Cannery that was still in operation (but now by Bumblebee, as in the Tuna company), so we may try to track that down.

Bob said we could park the RV there for the night and use his wi-fi. When I tried to access the wi-fi from the parking lot, I couldn't get a signal (e.g., no blog update tonight either), but it was pretty late so we decided to just park for the night anyway.

Hopefully you haven't lost complete interest with all these late blog updates - but it just isn't worth paying international roaming rates to do this!

Posted by jl98584 19:54 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Day 41 (10.12.07) - Across Maine to Calais (Photo's Added)

Calais is close to the coast

overcast 55 °F
View (Re) Discovering America on jl98584's travel map.

Miles Driven: 152
Weather: Heavy Rain, Cold

<<We made it to Calais in Eastern Maine last night, but when I tried to log onto the Internet, my data card gave me a warning that it would be using international roaming rates! I unplugged it real quick and decided the blog could wait.>>

<<Note: I'm going to try inserting the regular photo's directly in the blog entry and include more text with them. It will make the entries somewhat longer, but eliminate the need to click on thumbnails to enlarge them and read the descriptions. Some people prefer the latter, but other blog's I've read that used the former seem a little easier to use I think. If you strongly prefer either approach, add a comment - I'll go with the majority.>>

It was pouring down rain when we got up this morning at the Twin Rivers RV Campground. There were puddles all around the RV, so I wore my rain boots and got rig ready to travel. I expected we'd make pretty good time because of the rain - not much temptation to stop as often!

However, as we were driving through Bangor, I saw a building that said "Cole Transportation Museum". It was behind fences and I couldn't see any way in, so we kept going. About 1/2 mile farther, we saw a brown (informational) sign saying to turn right to get to the museums. We hadn't done any real sightseeing for a couple of days, so I decided to follow the signs.

The "Cole Transportation Museum" was started by a single man. Galen Cole was 19 when he lost his entire squad to a German tank gun in World War II. He made a promise that day:

"If I survive this war, I will do my best to leave my community and fellow man better than I found them."

It took nearly 50 years, but as his family ran a trucking company, he was able to save enough money to build the museum in 1989. However, he didn't have enough money to also acquire vehicles for it. So before the building was completed, friends, customers and other people in Maine who read news accounts of the museum donated many, many vehicles and other transportation related items. We were impressed with the wide variety of exhibits. We were allowed to take pictures in the museum, but couldn't use flash. These are pretty dark, but hopefully you can enjoy some of these old vehicles as much as we did.

Most were behind ropes to protect them of course, but this car was set up for people to sit in. I believe it is a Ford Model T. Mom remembers driving one!


We also saw a snow roller that was used in Maine in the early 1900's. It was towed by horses, the deeper the snow - the more horses they had to use (between 2 and 8). After a road was rolled, then frozen, it could be driven on.


Since this museum focused on transportation in Maine, it featured quite a few snowplows, sleighs, and such. This was a Model T that had been converted to a snowmobile. Sears actually sold kits for this, the car's wheels could be put back on for regular driving in about an hour.


The museum had so many exhibits, I had to try to select just a few really special ones to include here (or I'd put you all to sleep - it isn't quite as much fun looking at pictures as it is the real thing). This is a 1913 Stanley Steamer built in Massachusetts. The Stanley brothers who designed and built it were from Maine however and built their first steam engine in Maine. The car was difficult to get started and took a long time to get up to speed, but once it got going could really go. This car was only 10 horsepower and was used as a bread delivery truck.


The museum also had several Firetrucks on exhibit. This one was a horse drawn firetruck. Water was pumped by people pumping up and down on the long handle at the side of it (a Hand Pumper).


Next time you complain about a pot hole, think about this next picture. When primative roads got wet, they could be just about unpassable. Small trees were cut and laid over the road so vehicles wouldn't get stuck in the mud. These corduroy roads must have been very uncomfortable, but were at least passable.


There was also a full size locomotive, freight car and caboose inside the museum! Wayne, one of the volunteer guides that worked at the museum, actually was an engineer on this locomotive for many years!


A small train station had been relocated and built into the corner as part of the museum. Bill, another volunteer, was kind enough to unlock it and show me the Post Office and train ticket counter inside.


(I hope the above segment wasn't too long - at least it's only a small fraction of the pictures I took!)

After we left the museum, I decided we'd better sample some of the local fare. Of course, we have these establishments in Washington State, but only few and far between. After we got to New England, we started seeing these quite frequently - so I suspect they are some sort of local thing? Anyway, when it's cold and rainy I need to do something to help Mom keep her morale up.


So now, having done some touristing (the museum) and being well provisioned (Dunkin Donuts), we headed out on Hwy 9 to the Coast. The rain started to let up a bit and I pulled over at a rest area called "Crawford". The creek was nicely framed by some fall tree's, so of course I pulled out the camera:


I think we have begun seeing more red fall foliage in Maine. Supposedly Vermont and New Hampshire have a lot of red also, but it might have been messed up by the warm fall. Maine also has lovely foliage, but it is mixed in with more Evergreen's than VT or NH had, more like our home state (WA).


We also began passing more open fields with some sort of lovely, red ground cover. We stopped to take pictures of it just because it was so pretty. However, we have since learned that these are wild blueberry fields - a big business in Maine! The bushes only grow a few inches off the ground, quite different then the wild blueberries back home.


Please forgive me, I know I swore not to upload any more pictures of (common?) animals - but these wild turkeys were right by the side of the highway, much closer than my earlier shots...


I've got two more days to catch up on after not having had any internet access. When you get a minute, please vote on which version of the blog you prefer (thumbnails as before, or this one with the full text & pictures in the blog).

Take care everyone...

Posted by jl98584 10:08 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (3)

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