Maine and a portion of Cape Cod, Massachusetts
The weathermen were correct…a storm was predicted and came through for most of the night and the morning. The wind howled as the waves crashed against the shore until finally…pow…a transformer blew and the power was out! George has a gas stove though, so we still enjoyed blueberry pancakes, and I got the coffee made just in time!
After the storm quieted around late morning, George and I walked out to the rocky shore where only a few days ago the ocean was calm, the sky was sunny, and the visibility reached for miles. What a transformation, the waves pounded the rocks as ocean spray rocketed into the air. The sky was so foggy, I could hardly see the islands just across the way. It wasn’t like the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii, but I can imagine Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park was rumbling. I’m glad I had a travel day scheduled today, so I didn’t have to sightsee in this weather!
It took me about four hours to get to Sandwich, Massachusetts, the oldest settlement on Cape Cod and one of the Oldest in North America. Incorporated in 1639, “it later became the site of one of the largest glass factories in the nation”, according to Reader’s Digest. I visited the Sandwich Glass Museum which boasted a comprehensive display of cut, beveled, enameled, and blown glass. I focused most of my attention on three items: witch balls, a lighting display, and Josh Simpson’s glass galaxies.
The witch balls are of interest to me because my mom collects them. The Boston & Sandwich Glass Company began making witch balls in 1826. Because a hollow glass sphere is simple to make several glass companies throughout America and England produced them. Hung indoors, it was believed the balls beautiful colors attracted the witches who came inside, became confused and could not escape, thus the ball provided good energy to the household. Additionally, sometimes the balls were filled with herbs to ward off evil spirits.
I found the lighting display interesting as it included a three minute demonstration of lighting progression in America… from candles, to whale oil lamps, to two burner lamps, to camsene (?) lamps, to kerosene lamps, to gas lamps, to the electric light bulb. I guess I never really thought about how a lamp progressed over time or why they were shaped particular ways.
Finally, one room in the museum was devoted to glass works by Josh Simpson. They were truly amazing. I don’t think I could really describe the techniques he uses to create his galaxies, but his globes appear three-dimensional inside an outer layer of glass. The planet looks textured with oil paint, yet it is different colors of glass and metal. One piece, pictured here, is only one of four made. I believe it took 15 attempts and nine months to complete. Neither my picture nor my explanation does this work justice, though perhaps one of our family friends, Tad, can chime in. I have seen one of his glass blowing demonstrations.
My next stop in Sandwich was the Thornton W. Burgess Museum. Thornton Burgess, once a resident of the town, is the author of Peter Cottontail. The original manuscripts and illustrations are displayed in the museum, a restored house that was built in 1756. Unfortunately, the museum was closed for the season, but it was right by a small pond, so I took the dogs for a brief stroll.
Since it was 4:30 pm and I had hardly exercised the dogs, I continued on to Yarmouth Port as Reader’s Digest recommended a nature trail that crisscrossed through 50 acres of woodlands. It was a great place to let the dogs run around for 20 minutes or so. The trails were nearby a giant weeping willow and Captain Bangs Hallet House, “a Greek Revival structure crammed with treasures acquired by the good captain on his many voyages to the Far East.” It was closed and I needed to get to Brewster no later than 5:45 anyway because my friend Page hooked me up with a place to stay!!! Her friends Eric and Lise, who have never met me, kindly lent me a room for the night. They had a previous engagement scheduled at 6, so I needed to at least meet them before they gave me the run of their home.
Page knows Lise from a ski instructing clinic they completed together several years ago, and she introduced Lise to her now husband Eric. Lise teaches health and fitness at the local schoo,l and they were attending a function for the school’s Italy abroad program. Hopefully, I’ll get to talk to them a little longer in the morning. I tried to get to the house by 5:30 to leave a little time, but I took a small detour along the way so we made a brief introduction.
Magnificent Maine Coast
After another cozy evening at Walmart, I set out to try blueberry coffee. When I saw the option for the first time, I thought, GROSS, but after second thoughts, I’m in Maine, and I should at least try it. I didn’t find any at Rockland Café, but I did enjoy a bacon, egg, and toast breakfast at a local joint before dropping the geocoin in a cache near a JCPenney parking lot. I picked up another coin to drop elsewhere and then ventured to the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse.
The lighthouse station is on a 7/8 mile long breakwater that was built of granite in the late 1800s to protect the harbor. The Bodwell Granite Company used over 700,000 tons of granite at a cost of over $750,000. During the construction, a small beacon was moved each time the breakwater was extended. In 1902, a permanent lighthouse was built, and it was automated in 1965.
After the Coast Guard announced they planned to destroy the structure, and the City of Rockland rebuked the property, the nearby Samoset Resort cared for the building until 1989. Thereafter, the City has preserved the lighthouse under the Maine Lights Program.
According to Kate and Lucy, who I met on the breakwater, Kenny Chesney was here yesterday filming, so watch for a movie or video with this lighthouse in the background! Kate is a full-time resident nearby and works at a recycling center. I watched a “How Do They Do That” show on television once on recycling, it is fascinating. Kate tells me the most sought after plastic container is the milk jug. Lucy is originally from Texas – San Antonio and also lived in Midland while she taught art. Now she spends five months in Maine and the rest of the year in Tucson. Hopefully I’ll run into her again when I’m visiting my Aunt Diane and Uncle Mike in Arizona. They both suggested I visit Port Clyde and the Marshall Point Lighthouse.
Port Clyde is where Andrew Wyeth, the American painter, spent many summers as a child. There is a “no-autos allowed” ferry from Port Clyde to Monhegan Island 12 miles offshore that is abound with nature trails. I imagine it would take the ferry an hour or two to travel 12 miles, so I’ll have to come back another time as that sounds like a good day trip. The Marshall Point Lighthouse was featured in Forrest Gump. It was the last place Tom Hanks ran to before turning around. Kate and Lucy told me when the lighthouse needed to be refurbished, a fundraiser was held and parts of the planks that Tom Hanks stood on were sold for $5 a piece!
After visiting Port Clyde, I stopped off in Waldoboro to try the famous pie at Moodys Diner. I wasn’t even hungry, but a handful of people mentioned the diner, so I couldn’t pass it up. The diner serves a nice, big slice! Also, a cache was hidden nearby, so I dropped the geocoin I found in Rockland at the “Feeling Moody” cache in Waldoboro. The ammo can included a handful of items, one being a Texas Challenge Geocoin that started out in Fredericksburg in 2009. It has made its journey northeast to Maine, so I think I’ll bring it down south a bit.
I noticed another cache called “A Popular Hangout Back in 1819” was located only 0.2 miles away. Given the title, I assumed it was some sort of historic site, so a quick detour brought me to the Town Pound that was the first permanent structure in Waldoboro to enclose stray horses, sheep and cattle. This is one of the reasons why I love geocaching. It takes me to places I would have never seen otherwise, and the “corral” was cool!
After stopping at the pound, I drove through Damariscotta where it appeared the local businesses have a pumpkin decorating contest…lady bugs, birds, cars, and other artistic pumpkins lined the main street. In addition, I saw a second Rexall Drug. I forgot to mention that I saw one the other day. I guess I was wrong when I blogged the first week that I thought they went out of business.
As I was entering Wiscasset, I spotted a historic site marker near Damariscotta for a fort. Fort Edgecomb was built in 1808 and housed 20-35 troops until 1816. During tensions with England, instead of declaring war, Thomas Jefferson ordered to enhance the nation’s defense by building coastal forts. Fort Edgecomb was one of nine fortifications. Waterfront earthwork batteries protected the canons. All was quiet after 1816 until the Civil War. Volunteers manned the fort while the Confederate cruiser Tallahassee was in Maine waters raiding the Union’s commercial fishing fleet.
I wasn’t expecting to see a wood fort. It was neat. No one was there, so the dogs got to frolic around the three acres while I looked for a micro geocache in the fence nearby. After the visit to the fort, I crossed the harbor bridge and stopped at Sprague’s Lobster…finally a lobster shack by the harbor that was open! I still wasn’t that hungry, but today was all about eating! I ordered clam fritters and met John and Tea who were admiring VANilla. John and Tea were from Baltimore and spending a few weeks camping in New England. They gave me several tips of places to camp in Arizona and Mississippi!
I stayed the evening with George again. He, Pharibe, and I had lamb chops and sweet potatoes and onions for dinner. It was great! I have to correct my blogging from the other day…Pharibe has a boy and two girls. Her son is a runner at Bates, one of her daughters is at Miss Porter’s and the other in at Proctor (?) in Andover, NH. She is moving to Virginia soon, so I hope to catch up with her there and George in Denver. ETB
Another lovely sunny, 62 degree day; it couldn’t get any better for a visit to Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park. Not only was the weather perfect, the crowds were manageable. I can’t imagine what this park would be like in the summertime or peak foliage time.
I began the day after another night at a “Supercenter” Walmart complete with an indoor living center, an outdoor living center, a market and a pharmacy; taking the Park Loop Road to Sand Beach, the start of our three mile, morning hike. Some brave souls chose to take a dip and sunbathe here, but I assure you I was not one of them, not to mention dogs aren’t allowed on the beach, so I just used the parking area as access to the Ocean Path Trail.
The Ocean Path Trail, fairly manicured, led tourists along the rocky ledges awash with tide pools, aside the road, and through a few patches of forest areas for spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding islands. A few notable stops along the way included Thunder Hole and Otter Cliffs.
Thunder Hole is a small channel naturally carved out of granite rock from years of waves crashing on the shores. Beneath the channel lays a small cavern of air, water, and rocks. When a wave crashes on the surface, the air and water are forced out of the pocket creating a thunderous boom and sometimes 40 foot sprays depending on the condition of the seas. I imagine if I were visiting last week during the hurricane-type weather, it would have been an active, noisy site. Today, I happily accepted calm seas and, in turn, a loud belch.
Otter Cliffs is where I met Linda and Mike from Oregon, both dog lovers. They were visiting New England to see the fall foliage for approximately ten days. They rented a camper and were traveling wherever their hearts desired each day. They had the same experience I did on Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire, most the leaves had blown away!
The Park Loop Road definitely catered to the tourist. I continued on partial one way roads and roads closed to RV’s to more distant areas on the island, including Echo Lake, Bass Harbor Lighthouse, and Pretty Marsh. Echo Lake and Pretty Marsh were both forested tranquil places good for a picnic.
The Bass Harbor Lighthouse turned out to be a virtual cache, so I added another Maine cache to my list. The Bass Harbor Lighthouse, built in 1858, stands on the southernmost tip of Mount Desert Island and guides vessels past several once populated islands nearby. At the time, nearly one in five Maine residents was a mariner. The lighthouse still operates today, though automated, and is currently occupied by a member of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Before ending the day in the Walmart parking lot in Rockland again, I strolled through the town of Bar Harbor. Quaint restaurants and shops lined Main Street while whale watching boats and cruise ships filled the harbor. A lobster dinner for $17-$18 was offered as the early bird special between 4 and 6 at almost every restaurant on the block. Carmen Verandah’s chalk board special, a lobster roll for $9.99 and a potential drink special (order a drink, pull a tab, and get the drink for 50 cents, half price, or full price depending on luck) lured me into the bar. My local draught beer was full price, but Randy got his for 50 cents.
Randy, who didn’t want his picture taken, has a PhD in physiology and works at a lab on the island compiling genetic research data. The not-for-profit lab receives information from different clinical trials, normalizes the information, and provides it to anyone for free so that unnecessary research, studies, and testing is not repeated. Uniquely, one of the groups specialized in genetics testing pertaining to ear related matters, which I found interesting as my dad lost his inner-ear balance due to a gene mutation.
I met a variety of other folks throughout the day, including Bonnie, the greeter at Walmart. She likes Texas and thought it might be a bit cold for me up here…at night, she’s right. I’m getting ready to bundle up for bedtime! ETB
Coast of Maine
I survived my stay at Walmart last night. I don’t recall ever spending the night in a parking lot, thus I was slightly nervous. Despite a few other campers being around and security cameras everywhere, I didn’t pop the top to VANilla last night just in case I needed to drive away quickly. The dogs and I fit snuggly and warmly together downstairs! I think VANilla may stay 10 degrees warmer with the top down which is nice when it is 39 degrees outside.
We left Rockport (not Rockland as reported in yesterday’s blog) and made Camden our first stop. We walked around downtown, through a park, and by the harbor. We tried for a cache by the harbor, but there were too many muggles. It was a magnetic, micro cache which meant it was small and probably attached below a bench seat that someone was warming up. I’m certain I would have gotten a few stares if I crouched down and looked underneath them, so maybe I’ll get it on my way back down the coast. Camden was a great town of little shops and restaurants right on the harbor and Camden Hills State Park could be found only a few miles away.
Camden Hills State Park is home to Mt. Battie where I met Betty. Betty just celebrated her granddaughter’s wedding in Kennebunk, Maine, and was spending the next week with her college roommate traveling Maine and Quebec. They are in Bar Harbor tonight, not far from the Walmart parking lot I’m camping in, though I’m certain they are enjoying a bed and breakfast! Betty lives in Scottsdale and offered me a bed and shower when I pass through next February. Mt. Battie offers a fabulous view of Camden Harbor and trails abound through the park. My mutts dragged me over the boulders, past the ferns and through the fall foliage for an hour before we returned to VANilla to find our next destination, Castine.
The highway curved along the coast, passed through inlets one foot above sea level and crossed many bridges along the way. One bridge is known as the Penobscot Narrows Bridge where a pullout aside the road is accesible to photo the scene. A small cache is also located at this overlook and despite all the tourists, I was able to grab it from the guard rail without being noticed as everyone was staring in awe at the bridge. In addition, the waterway here marks a historical event. In 1779, the largest combined infantry-naval operation undertaken by the American colonists met with disaster. Two thousand colonials failed to capture Fort George at Castine, and the Americans burned or sank over 40 of their own vessels before they fled the site.
Reader’s Digest describes Castine as a place to “spend time sitting on the benches that overlook the town’s peaceful dock”. I thought this town would be just the right place to find a bowl of clam chowder or a lobster roll at a seafood shack on the harbor…maybe on the weekends or in the summer as most places were closed up. I don’t even think I took a picture!
We pressed on to Holbrook Island Sanctuary…wow, was it remote. I felt like I was at the Indian Conservation Area in Missouri again except I did find a picnic area and pit toilet. This may sound morbid, but anytime I arrive at a place like this I think of how easily a pshyco could dispose of my body or just simply trip, fall, and never be found. Maine probably doesn’t want such a description used in a travel blog, but when traveling alone, I can’t help but contend with “caution alerts” once in awhile. I can imagine with a group of friends it would be a wonderful place to enjoy nature’s tranquility without many tourists or for that matter without many locals. I bet half the home owners in Maine don’t know Holbrook Island Sanctuary exists…Gina my GPS doesn’t! At least the dogs got to enjoy a few minutes running around off leash.
Before reaching our final resting place, the Walmart in Ellsworth, we took a long
drive to another harbor town called Stonington. In the late 1800’s, Stonington was a bustling mining town where pink granite was extracted from the quarries and used in several structures along the East Coast. Currently, Stonington is geared toward the sea as evidenced by the fishing boats, lobster traps, and canneries lining the harbor, as well as, the fish smell wafting through the brisk air. I’m certain I could have found a fresh fish dinner here. Tomorrow I’m spending the day at Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park. ETB
Yesterday’s post…Coast of Maine
beach, and on a boardwalk through a bird sanctuary. The rocks we passed inspired Winslow Homer who owned a home and studio nearby in the late 1800’s to paint The Canon. It is said that during high tide, the water sprays from the rocks like a canon, thus the name.
My first stop on the scenic tour was Bailey Island. I crossed the Cribstone Bridge, supported by large granite blocks stacked in a checker board pattern so that the water may flow through the open spaces, to see the Pearl House, once the summer home of Harriett Beecher Stowe. I never found the Stowe house, but did see some stunning harbors and inlets.
I returned from Bailey Island to Bath. I thought I would pick up a few geocaches there since I had good cell service. One turned out to be an end to a challenge of finding several others and the other appeared to be down a steep embankment covered in trash near the railroad tracks, so I resolved to wait for a better time to add Maine to my list of geocache states. While I wasn’t successful in geocaching, I enjoyed walking around Bath’s historic district and attempting to get a look at Bath Iron Works, a defense contractor that continues to build ships.
I traveled on to Fort Popham, a pleasantly surprising historical site that lay on a peninsula jutting out to sea. The Fort of the civil war era was built but never completed in 1861 to protect the ship building interests of Bath upriver. It sat next to a short walking trail, fishing pier, and picnic site. I really enjoyed the short time I spent there.
I continued on Highway 1 to the next turnout to Reid State Park…most of the stops are an out and back trip on a side road to the coast. Trails wound by rocky shores, beaches, and marshes while rosehip grew abundantly nearby.
As I’ve mentioned several times, no state park campsites are open in Maine, thus I needed to find a Walmart parking lot to rest for the night. Along the coast of Maine, there are only two. One near Rockland and the other near Ellsworth, over 150 and 300 miles away from my starting point, respectively. At 5 pm, I determined I was a little over an hour away from my night’s “campsite”, so I made two more quick stops: one at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Wiscasset and the other at the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.
As expected, the courthouse was closed, but it was right on the highway, so I just strolled around it, and I picked up the pace to try to get to the lighthouse around sunset. The sunset filled the sky with brilliant oranges, and the photo opportunities of the famous lighthouse were outstanding. This lighthouse has functioned since 1827. It was cool to see the light fade off and then illuminate.
I skipped a few stops on the way to Rockland, but have to head south in a few days, so I plan to see them later. In the meantime, I’m headed northeast. ETB