RVing in the Keystone State (September 16-30, 2019)

On Monday, September 16th, we drove 250 miles to Saylorsburg, PA where we spent a week at Silver Valley Campsites. Saylorsburg is in the Pocono Mountains, a popular vacation spot for residents of eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We had expected the drive to only be 216 miles but the RAM’s GPS had a different opinion. Since that GPS is configured to identify routes that are compatible with our rig’s dimensions, we generally follow it without always knowing why. Although we expected that most of the trip would be through New York, we were surprised when the GPS took us through New Jersey for about 40 miles. Then, when we arrived at the freeway exit Phil had expected to take, the GPS had him continue to the next exit and then instructed him to do a U-turn whenever possible, not easily done with a 39-foot fifth wheel in tow. We were quite relieved to finally make it to the campground and were much more exhausted than normal.

On Tuesday we drove to the Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center (JEEC) in Nazareth, PA. The history of Jacobsburg focuses on the Henry family and their small arms industry. The first of the Henry gun makers, William Henry I, opened his gun factory in Lancaster, PA in 1750. In 1792, William Henry II purchased land at Jacobsburg and built a gun manufactory. Henry II acquired the land from the heirs of Jacob Hubler, who in 1740 founded the community from which Jacobsburg draws its name. Three succeeding generations of Henrys produced small arms until the late 1800s. The Henry firearms were used in all of the nation’s major conflicts from the Revolutionary Way through the Civil War and became the prominent weapon of the western frontier.

The JEEC includes 1,168 acres of forests, fields, and creeks. We hiked the 3-mile Jacobsburg Red/Green Loop through the woods. There are 19 miles of trails that crisscross throughout the entire property, often making it difficult to stay on the route we intended.

On Wednesday we returned to the JEEC and hiked 4.2 miles on the Homestead Trail. The trail took us through meadows that were likely farmed in the past but are now teeming with wildflowers.

 

 

 

The Shires of Vermont (September 9 – 16, 2019)

On Monday, September 9th, we left Biddeford, ME and drove 218 miles to Pownal, VT where we spent a week at Pine Hollow Campground. Pownal is one of 17 quintessential Vermont towns and villages referred to as “The Shires.” Pownal is located in the SW corner of Vermont, a few miles north of the Massachusetts state line and a few miles east of the New York state line. Bennington, the closest big town, is six miles north of Pownal.

The campground was arranged around a small pond and was beautifully landscaped. Since only their back-in sites had full hookups, we had reluctantly reserved a back-in. Fortunately there was an empty site in front of ours, making it relatively easy to get lined up before backing up. We were also fortunate to get one of only three sites that were satellite-friendly. After our last three weeks in Maine without satellite, we were glad to have more options for our evening entertainment. With the start of the NFL season, Phil was especially glad to be able to watch Monday Night Football.

On Tuesday, we drove to Williamstown, MA and hiked the 3.8-mile out-and-back Pine Cobble Trail. The trail, rated as moderate, was quite a workout. The elevation rise to the summit was 1,200 feet and, given that the hikes we had done in recent weeks in southern Maine had been fairly flat, this trail left us quite tired. The views from the summit, in both direction, were very scenic.

We spent Wednesday exploring a number of Bennington attractions. Our first stop was at the Apple Barn and Country Bake Shop, a large red barn packed with Vermont products and souvenirs as well as delicious-smelling baked goods.

We then drove to Bennington’s downtown and strolled along Main Street, examining the many storefronts and visiting a few. We spent quite a while at Bennington Potters, one of the largest work craft potteries in America. Before entering the store, we took a self-guided tour of the pottery factory. Unlike volume-based pottery businesses, Bennington Potters is organized around individual stations where carefully orchestrated handwork is completed on less than 800 pieces each day.

We next drove through the campus of Bennington College and then visited three covered bridges built in the 1800s.

Our last stop for the day was at the Bennington Battle Monument. This monument, completed in 1891, was built to commemorate the Battle of Bennington. This Revolutionary War battle, which occurred on August 16, 1777, was a major victory for the Continental Army over the British and is considered to be a turning point in the war. The monument stands 306’ tall. We rode the elevator up 189’ to the observation deck where we could view scenic vistas of Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York.

The weather forecast for Thursday called for rain all day so we decided to visit a couple of museums in Massachusetts. Our first stop was at the Norman Rockwell Museum on an estate outside of Stockbridge, MA. We spent a couple of hours examining many of his works and learning about career. We also visited his studio that was moved from downtown Stockbridge to the museum campus in 1986, eight years after his death. We participated in two presentations in which the gallery guide told us about his life and pointed out many of the details in his works that we wouldn’t have noticed. We learned about the many steps and meticulous planning that went into each work before beginning to paint the final drawing, such as selecting the models, arranging the photographs, creating the layout, doing charcoal drafts, and selecting the colors.  Although he used professional models in his early years, he started using people he met around town in later years.

Norman Rockwell had a fascinating career. He knew he wanted to be an artist from an early age. We learned that, when Rockwell began his career, illustrators were revered like the rock stars of today, due to the large number of people who were limited in their ability to read. He enrolled in art classes at age 14 and dropped out of high school two years later to study art at The National Academy of Design. While still in his teens, he was hired as the art director of Boy’s Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America. At age 22, he painted his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post. Over the next 47 years, another 321 Rockwell works would appear on the cover of the Post. He was also very successful as an artist for magazine advertisements. In 1943, inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt’s address to Congress, Rockwell painted the Four Freedoms painting. These works toured the United States and, through the sale of war bonds, raised more than $130 million for the war effort.

After leaving the Norman Rockwell Museum, we drove to Dalton, MA and toured the Crane Museum of Papermaking. The Museum opened in 1930, making it one of the oldest corporate museums in the country. We arrived with less than an hour until closing time. Despite this, a retired long-time mill worker spent time helping us learn the history and processes involved in papermaking. Stephen Crane was the first in the Crane family to become a papermaker, in 1770, and the museum has a ledger showing the sale of currency-type paper to Paul Revere, who printed the American Colonies’ first paper money. In 1801, Crane Currency was co-founded by Zenas Crane. In 1806, Crane began printing currency on cotton paper for local and regional banks, before officially printing for the government. In 1844, Crane developed a method to embed parallel silk threads into banknote paper to denominate notes and deter counterfeiting. In 1879, Crane won a contract to produce U.S. currency paper. Today, Crane is the sole supplier of U.S. currency paper and this is 99% of their business, with the balance being used for other U.S. official documents, such as passports. Over the years, they have introduced many highly-secretive processes to deter counterfeiting, although our guide would not share the production process with us.

After learning about the history and process of currency papermaking, we were passed to another retired mill worker who gave us a hands-on demonstration of how cotton-based paper was made in the 1800s. U.S. currency paper is made from 90% cotton and 10% flax.  We learned that, until recently, U.S. currency paper was made from old rags, largely sourced from the garment industry. They now use off-grade cotton fibers from cotton gins, rather than rags, since there is so much spandex in the rags these days and spandex would cause the paper to be rubbery. We also learned the process for paper marbling, in which patterns similar to smooth marble can be transferred to paper. We got to make our own marbling artwork.

Due to our late arrival, we didn’t have time to view the various exhibits but very much enjoyed our time at this museum.

On Friday we hiked the 5-mile Hopkins Memorial Forest Trail in Williamstown, MA. The forest contains of over 2,600 acres that originally consisted of small farms that were consolidated between 1887 and 1910 by Col. Lawrence Hopkins, for whom the forest is named. His Buxton Farms were considered the agricultural showplace of Williamstown. In 1934, his widow gave the land to Williams College which today uses the property as their Center for Environmental Studies. The hike consisted of a figure-eight loop on a wide path through the forest. Although the trail was rated as moderate and was over a mile longer than Tuesday’s hike, it was much easier than the previous hike.

On Saturday, Sept. 14th, we visited a variety of venues. Our first stop was at the Farmers’ Market in Bennington where we picked us veggies and soup bones. We then continued north to the small town of Arlington, VT. We first visited the Arlington Green Covered Bridge, just down the road from where Norman Rockwell had his studio from 1939-1953. Later in the day we visited the Chiselville Covered Bridge.

While in Arlington we stopped at the Sugar Shack and Norman Rockwell Exhibition. The Sugar Shack sells a variety of VT food products. All of their pure VT maple syrup is produced in the onsite sugar house. The Norman Rockwell Exhibition, in a wing of the Sugar Shack, focuses on Rockwell’s work during the years he lived in Arlington. His use of over 200 local people as models for his work is a centerpiece of the attraction. There are remembrances of many of the people he used along with the pictures they were in.

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Outside of the Sugar Shack
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Some of the remembrances of locals used by Rockwell in his paintings
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Some of the Rockwell covers for Boy’s Life
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The 1948 Christmas Homecoming cover, including family and friends as models
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One of Rockwell’s April 1st covers for The Saturday Evening Post

Another stop was at The Chocolatorium & The Village Peddler in East Arlington, VT. We watched a 15-minute video dealing with the history of chocolate and the process for making it. We also watched a video showing how chocolates are made in their small-batch shop. In addition to several exhibits, they had numerous large chocolate animals and a chocolate village. One of the owners spent time chatting with us about their business. Of course we had to purchase some chocolates and fudge before leaving.

On Sunday we drove to North Adams, MA and hiked the 3-mile out-and-back Cascades Trail. This was an easy hike until we reached the end of the trail where the trail turned sharply uphill next to a waterfall. After climbing up and down this steep hill, we spent time climbing on the rocks at the base of the waterfall. The rest of the day was spent getting ready to get back on the road on Monday.

 

Maine – Part 5 (August 19 – September 9, 2019)

On Monday, August 19th, we drove 73 miles to Biddeford, ME where we spent three weeks at Homestead by the River Family Campground. The campground’s website had cautioned not to follow our GPS so Phil had written down their suggested directions. He missed one of the turns but managed to find our way to the campground without too much excitement. Upon checking in, the campground owner told Phil that the GPS would have taken us through the town of Saco, a route that she said would have been “horrendous.” Our site was in a large grassy field, under several very large trees. The trees made it unlikely that our satellite would get a signal but we tried moving the rig a couple of times before giving up on satellite. We had a clear view of the Saco River from our living room window. The owners operate a small farm with livestock including horses, sheep, goat, llama, chickens, turkeys and even a pig.

The high temperature on Monday was 85 degrees and Tuesday was almost as hot. We decided to head to the shore on Tuesday to beat the heat. We arrived in Old Orchard Beach, known by locals as ‘OOB,’ at noon and headed down to the beach. The beach was quite busy and became even more congested as the high tide approached, shrinking the amount of available sand. The beach, pier and nearby attractions reminded Phil of his childhood visits to the Jersey shore.

Wednesday brought heavy rainfall so we headed to the movies in the afternoon. We saw “Blinded by the Light,” the true life story of a Pakistani teenager living in Luton, England in 1987 who writes poetry as a way to escape the racial and economic struggles of his town and the traditionalist views of his father. He discovers power in the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen and this gives him the strength to follow his own dreams. The movie was quite enjoyable and provided a good way for us to escape the rain.

The forecast for Thursday called for highs in the mid-80s so we took refuge in the air conditioning of the stores in Freeport, ME. The town was first settled in 1700 and had a history as a center for shipbuilding, lumber, fishing and canning. Its current status as a major tourist attraction is attributable to L.L. Bean. In 1912, Leon Leonwood Bean opened a store in the basement of his brother’s apparel shop, selling the “Bean Boot.” The store became so popular that in 1951 it started staying open 24 hours a day. Its retail and mail order catalog facilities expanded into Freeport’s principal business. The L.L. Bean flagship store is now the anchor to a retail mecca of 140 stores, as well as many restaurants, drawing about 3.5 million visitors a year. In addition to visiting many of the retail outlets, we ate whoopie pies at Wicked Whoopies and had lunch at Linda Bean’s Maine Kitchen (established by the granddaughter of L.L. Bean).

On Saturday, August 24th, we hiked the 2.2-mile Saco Heath Preserve Trail. The preserve was only a couple of miles from our campground. The first .75 mile was through the heath, most of which was on a multi-colored boardwalk. At the end of the boardwalk, we did a short loop through the forest before returning to the trailhead on the boardwalk. Much of the boardwalk was lined by blueberry bushes. We managed to harvest a snack of blueberries but most of the bushes within arms-length of the boardwalk had been picked over already.

On Sunday we drove to Scarborough, ME and hiked the Fuller Farms Trails. Fuller Farms consists of 180 acres of fields and woodlands protected by the Scarborough Land Conservation Trust. We combined several of the trails into a figure-eight hike that totaled 3.1 miles.

On Monday we spent the day in Portland, ME. Despite only having a population of 66,000, Portland is the largest city in Maine and was much bigger than any town we’d visited this summer. The Greater Portland area has a population of 270,000, which represents one-fifth of Maine’s total population. We spent most of the day exploring Old Port, a quaint historic district near the waterfront with cobblestone streets and brick buildings housing boutiques, gourmet food stores, and souvenir shops. The biggest challenge we had was in deciding where to eat. Bon Appetit magazine named Portland the 2018 Restaurant City of the Year. We ended up having potato donuts, a Maine specialty, at The Holy Donut and lobster rolls at DiMillo’s on the Water. There was much too much to do in Portland for a single day so we plan to return.

On Wednesday we visited “The Kennebunks,” the side-by-side villages of Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. The region was first settled in the 1600s and flourished after the American Revolution, when ship captains, boat builders and prosperous merchants built large homes. After a brief stop at the Kennebunk Chamber of Commerce office, we drove by many of these beautifully-maintained manors. One of the more notable was the Wedding Cake House, which locals claim was built by a guilt-ridden ship captain who left for sea before his bride could enjoy a proper wedding cake.

We next visited Gooch’s Beach and Middle Beach, two of the three expansive, sandy beaches in Kennebunk. Parking at the beaches requires a $25 permit for the day but we were able to find a free parking spot on a side street.

Our next stop was at St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery. We spent a long time exploring the walking trails along the Kennebunk River.

We then continued on to Dock Square, Kennebunkport’s shopping district, where we visited a number of shops and ate a late lunch at Alisson’s Restaurant.

We next drove along Ocean Avenue where we admired the multi-million dollar oceanfront homes, including Walker’s Point, the summer home of George H. W. and Barbara Bush which is still used by the Bush children. Jan was prepared to make offers on many of these homes but, with rain being forecast for later in the afternoon, we didn’t have time to stop.

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Summer home of George H. W. and Barbara Bush at Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport

Our final stop was the fishing village of Cape Porpoise where we viewed lobster boats in the harbor and the lighthouse on Goat Island. For a time during the George H. W. Bush presidency, secret service agents lived on Goat Island, which provides a good vantage point of Bush’s estate at Walker’s Point.

We began Friday, August 30th, with a visit to Cape Elizabeth, ME. Our first stop was at the Cape Elizabeth Light. The lighthouse itself is now on private property so it was not accessible. However, we were able to view it from the rocks across the cove. We had arrived at the peak of high tide and the highlight of this stop was watching the waves crash onto the rocky coast.

Next we visited Two Lights State Park. This was the site of one of the many gun batteries that were built along the coast during World War II to defend the Portland Harbor and Casco Bay. A fire control tower, built nearby, was used to aim the guns at approaching enemy ships. We hiked a mile-long trail around the park that took us along the coast and through the forest. The views of the waves on the rocks were spectacular.

We then drove to see the Portland Head Light and Fort Williams. The Portland Head Light, first lit in1791, is the oldest, and most photographed, lighthouse in Maine. Fort Williams, begun in 1873, served as headquarters for harbor defense and contained gun batteries that were manned during World War I and the early years of World War II. We ate lunch at a picnic table overlooking Casco Bay.

After lunch, we drove to Portland. Our first stop was a tour of the Victoria Mansion. The mansion was built in 1858-1860 as a summer home for New Orleans hotelier Ruggles Morse and his wife Olive, both Maine natives. The house was built with the latest technology and featured gas lights, hot and cold running water, flush toilets, central heat, wall-to-wall carpets, and a servant call system. Ruggles and Olive lived in the house until 1893 when Ruggles passed away and Olive sold it, fully furnished, to the Libby family. The last of the Libby family moved out in 1929 and the house sat vacant during the Depression. It was saved from demolition in 1940 and has been open as a museum since 1941. Because of this history, it still has 90% of its original interiors. We did a self-guided tour but there were docents in each room to tell us about the furnishings and to answer our questions.

We then drove by the boyhood home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the famed 19th-century poet and educator.

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Boyhood home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Our final stop of the day was at the Portland Museum of Art, where they have free admission on Fridays from 4-8 p.m. We strolled through the exhibits on all four floors.

On Saturday we hiked the 1.5-mile out-and-back East Point Audubon Sanctuary trail in Biddeford Pool, a large tidal pool off of Saco Bay, approximately six miles southeast of downtown Biddeford. It was a mostly sunny day and most of the trail was along the ocean front. The Wood Island Lighthouse was visible across the bay. After our hike, we relaxed on the rocks above the shore.  On our drive home, we passed several oceanfront properties that would made been nice summer homes. That evening, Phil researched some of them and discovered one was a 1,100 square foot, 3 bedroom, 1 bath home that was listed for $2.4 million. The house next door was 1,800 square foot and listed for $4 million. We will keep looking!

On Sunday we returned to the Biddeford Pool area and hiked the 1.5-mile out-and-back Timber Point trail. The trail took us through woods and meadows, with the Little River on one side and a cattail marsh on the other. A short distance past the tip of Timber Point is Timber Island, a 13-acre landmass accessible by land bridge at low tide. Unfortunately we were there at 2 pm and low tide was at 7:30 pm. Timber Point was purchased in 1929 by Louise Ewing. Her husband, Charles, was a master architect who had studied in Paris in the late 1880s. The Ewing house, which is still intact, was his last major architectural project. Louise Ewing had a love of nature and wild things and it was largely due to her influence that Timber Point has remained relatively unchanged. Timber Point is now part of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and is used as a resting spot by migratory birds in the spring and fall.

After a rainy Labor Day, the weather on Tuesday was ideal. We started the day with a 2-mile loop hike at Wonder Brook Preserve, part of the Kennebunk Land Trust. We then drove to the Franciscan Monastery and ate a picnic lunch. On our way out, we stopped to see a sculpture that had adorned the façade of the Vatican Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York City (1964-65).

We then drove to Dock Square in Kennebunk and rented a tandem kayak for three hours. We were told that we had arrived at the perfect time. Since it was an hour before high tide, we could paddle up the Kennebunk River with the current’s assistance. Then, when the tide started going out, our return trip would also be assisted. Departing the marina required paddling under a bridge with only a couple of inches clearance. However, when we returned, the water level was even higher and we had to lie back in our kayak and push our way along under the bridge.

With rain in the forecast for Wednesday afternoon, we limited our outdoor activities to a 2.5-mile hike at Horton Woods in the morning. This 100-acre wildlife preserve in Saco, ME includes diverse ecological habitats, including forests, marshes, streams, bogs and fields. It was one of the few moderate-rated trails in this area and we could feel the difference in the effort required to climb the hills.

That evening Phil observed the neighborhood cat tormenting a baby chipmunk again. Phil had intervened Tuesday afternoon and the baby chipmunk had managed to find refuge in one of our tire covers. On Wednesday night, Phil managed to get between the cat and the chipmunk. As he bent over to pet the cat, he felt the chipmunk run up his pant leg and onto the back of his shirt. When Phil called Jan to get the chipmunk off his back, her first instinct was to grab her camera. However, by the time Jan looked outside, the chipmunk was gone and Phil was left having to try to convince her that it had really happened.

On Thursday we headed north to Brunswick, ME. Brunswick’s main attraction, Bowdoin College, was founded in 1794 and has an impressive list of alumni, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, President Franklin Pierce and arctic explorer Robert E. Peary. Our first stop was at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum. Admiral Peary (class of 1897) led the first expedition to reach the North Pole in 1909. Donald MacMillan (class of 1898) also was an accomplished arctic explorer. When they returned from their respective polar travels, they donated many items they collected to their alma mater, including many mounted animals. After the museum, we strolled the campus green and peaked inside the chapel.

Our next stop was at Cabot Mills Antiques, located in a restored textile mill. In the 16,000 square-foot showroom, more than 160 dealers display a wide variety of furniture, books, art, china and porcelains. We explored the entire showroom but left empty-handed.

We had received a promotional email from KOA for 20%-off at L.L. Bean so we returned to Freeport on our drive south. When Jan used the discount to purchase a shirt, we received an additional $10-off coupon so Phil had to buy some socks.

Finally, we drove farther south to Portland and did a 4-mile harborside stroll along the Eastern Promenade Trail. It was a beautiful day and there were lots of sailboats out on Casco Bay.

On Friday we drove to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. For the past 3 centuries, Plymouth has been the hub of the coastal Maine/New Hampshire region’s maritime trade. The west bank of the harbor was settled by English colonists in 1630 and named Strawberry Banke. It was renamed Portsmouth when the town was incorporated in 1653. Portsmouth grew to be one of the nation’s busiest ports and shipbuilding cities. The town expressed its wealth in fine architecture with many fine examples of Colonial, Georgian and Federal style houses, many of which are still lived in today and some are now museums. We walked by many of these houses, including the following:

  • John Paul Jones House, built in 1758. John Paul Jones, American Revolutionary War Naval hero was a resident in 1781-82 when it was operated as a boarding house.
  • Tobias Lear House – Built c. 1750 by Tobias Lear, a merchant and ship’s captain.
  • Wentworth-Gardner House – Built in 1760 by one of New Hampshire’s wealthiest merchants and landowners as a wedding gift for his son.
  • Warner House – Built in 1716-18 by a sea captain, it is one of the oldest, urban brick houses in northern New England and served as the governor’s mansion for 20 years.
  • Governor John Langdon House – Built in 1784 by John Langdon, a merchant, shipbuilder, American Revolutionary general and 3-term governor of New Hampshire.

We also visited Prescott Park, a beautiful public park along the Piscataqua River and across from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (established in 1800).

After lunch, we drove past the many factory outlet malls in Kittery, ME and continued on to Fort Foster at Kittery Point. During World War II, approximately 100 men were stationed at Fort Foster (built in 1897) to protect the coastline and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, where submarines were built for the war effort. The fort’s primary role was to protect the harbor’s intricate underwater minefield from sabotage and enemy minesweepers and torpedo boats. The Wood Island Life Saving Station, visible from the Fort Foster pier, was used as a strategic observation post to watch for German U-boats. Fort Foster was closed after World War II and was turned over to the Town of Kittery in 1961 for public use.

Our drive home took us through a series of beautiful beach communities, including York Harbor, Ogunquit, Wells Beach, Kennebunkport and Cape Porpoise.

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Shoreline at York Harbor

On Saturday we drove to Wells, ME and attended the 32nd annual Laudholm Nature Crafts Festival. This prestigious event brings 120 of New England’s finest craftspeople and artisans, selected by jury, to exhibit their wares. We strolled through the grounds, visiting all of the booths and making several purchases. The temperature was in the upper 50s when we arrived but did warm up somewhat in the afternoon.

The festival was held at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. This site had been farmed for over 300 years before being turned over for public use in 1986. The Wells Reserve uses this historical site as a platform for education, conservation, and research, maintaining more than a dozen historic structures. The property has many trails, including one leading to Laudholm Beach. We hiked to the beach and enjoyed strolling up and down the shore. The weather forecasters had issued a High Surf Advisory and the wave action was quite strong.

Sunday was spent preparing to travel again. It was difficult to say goodbye to the Maine coast after a wonderful three months.

Maine – Part 4 (August 14 – 19, 2019)

On Wednesday, August 14th, we returned to the USA from St. Andrews, NB. We drove 233 miles to Boothbay, ME where we spent five nights at Shore Hills Campground. When we went through Customs to re-enter the U.S., the Border Guard asked Phil if he had any fruits or vegetables on board. When Phil replied that we only had some that we’d brought into Canada with us, the Border Guard asked to inspect the inside of the fifth wheel. Once inside, he only looked inside the refrigerator and confiscated two lemons that we had bought in the US. Apparently citrus fruits can’t be brought into the US from Canada, even if they originated in the US. The rest of the drive was uneventful but was quite slow, taking over five hours. We passed through a number of small towns including Camden, ME, where the traffic was bumper-to-bumper for quite a while. Our campsite in Boothbay was quite long and we had a lot more space between us and our neighbors than we had had at our last two campgrounds. For dinner, we got takeout seafood from Karen’s Hideaway.

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Jan’s view following Phil through Camden, ME in bumper-to-bumper traffic

Thursday was spent addressing a number of domestic needs. We drove to Augusta, Maine’s state capital, to get some routine maintenance on the Mazda. We took advantage of being in a big town by stocking up on groceries at Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart and Shaw’s. On our return trip, we drove to Bath, ME to pick up a prescription at Walgreens.

We spent Friday in Camden, ME, an hour’s drive from Boothbay. Camden is an affluent coastal village on Penobscot Bay, in Maine’s MidCoast region. We had intended to begin the day with a hike in the Camden Hills State Park but, since it was raining, we spent the first couple of hours exploring downtown Camden instead. We parked at the Visitors’ Center by the picturesque harbor, visited a number of stores along Main Street, and then walked along the High Street Historic District where there are many 19th-century homes that have been beautifully maintained. At noon, we began our hike on the Mt. Megunticook Trail. The hike was a 5-mile out-and-back trek to Zeke’s Overlook. It was of moderate difficulty and included an elevation rise of over 1,000’. It was a good workout but was somewhat disappointing in the limited number of scenic viewpoints. By the completion of our hike, our legs were exhausted. We returned to Karen’s Hideaway for takeout seafood again, as we were too tired to cook dinner.

On Saturday we visited two nearby seaport towns, Bath and Wiscasset. Both have long histories, dating back to their exploration by Samuel de Champlain in 1605. Both towns have been long-time centers for shipbuilding and lumber. Tourists are attracted to these towns by their large collections of 19th-century architecture. We visited Bath first and strolled along the historic shopping district on Front Street, just a block from the Kennebec River. We had a late lunch at Bruno’s Pizza. Then, while Jan did some shopping, Phil visited the Linwood E. Temple Waterfront Park. As we left Bath, we passed a giant lobster on the roof of the Taste of Maine restaurant. We next did a quick visit to Wiscasset, which proclaims itself as the “Prettiest Village in Maine.” We drove by a large number of beautifully-restored homes from the 1800s.

On Sunday we visited Boothbay Harbor, at the end of the peninsula. Boothbay Harbor was just another fishing village until it was discovered by wealthy city folks who built imposing seaside homes there. Since then, it has emerged as a premiere tourist destination. A popular attraction is the long, narrow footbridge across the harbor, built in 1901. We wandered around on the piers, stopped for ice cream, and visited a few of the many souvenir shops.

St. Andrews, NB (August 5 – 14, 2019)

On Monday, August 5th, we left Lubec, ME and drove 70 miles to St. Andrews, NB (a.k.a. St. Andrews By-the-Sea). The village of St. Andrews traces its roots to the days of the Loyalists. After the American Revolution, New Englanders who had supported the British were made to feel unwelcome and moved a short sail away to the peninsula of St. Andrews.

Crossing the border into Canada took us about 30 minutes and Phil was asked a lot of questions by Canadian Border Services. Jan was in the car right behind Phil so she got less questions. Monday was New Brunswick Day so, when Phil’s GPS directed him to drive down the street one block away from downtown St. Andrews, he encountered cars parked on both sides of the narrow street. Fortunately, the few cars that had been trying to drive in his direction pulled over to the curb and allowed Phil to get by.

We will spend nine nights at Kiwanis Oceanfront Camping. The campground is at Indian Point, the easternmost part of St. Andrews, on the edge of Passamaquoddy Bay which connects to the Atlantic Ocean. We had reserved an oceanview pull-through site. However, these pull-through sites were different from the usual ones. Rather than leave the truck parked in front of the fifth wheel, we were required, after disconnecting, to move the truck to behind the trailer. The sites were quite narrow and, after disconnecting the trailer the first time, we discovered that there was not enough room to open our off-door living room slide. We had to reconnect and move the trailer a few inches forward. The next challenge was to squeeze the truck and car in behind the trailer. We managed to get them both parked, with the Mazda slightly intruding on the neighbor’s site. However, due to the tight fit, we had to walk sideways to get between the vehicles.

After getting set up, we enjoyed sitting outside with a strong breeze coming off the bay. That evening, we went for a walk across the road to the beach access.

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Panorama of Passamaquoddy Bay at low tide

On Tuesday morning we walked downtown along Water Street and visited many of the shops. We also strolled out on the wharf where the whale watching and sport fishing cruises depart. We then ate lunch on the patio at Water Street Diner and enjoyed people watching while we waited for our food.

We returned to the beach after dinner and experienced it at high tide for a change.

On Wednesday, the weather had turned quite a bit cooler. We went for a 4.4-mile hike along the Van Horne Trail which was an easy path that took us from Water Street, near the campground, to Katy’s Cove. At the beginning of the hike, we spotted a nearly all-white fawn along with a group of does. We detoured along the way for a hike through Pagan Point Nature Preserve to the beach.

That evening we went for a long walk along the coast and up Prince of Wales Road. There were lots of deer grazing in the fields and neighborhood yards. The deer obviously felt quite safe as they allowed us to walk very close to them. We visited the Kingbrae Garden, a 24-acre public garden on the grounds of a long-gone estate. Although the gardens were closed, the café was still open so we were able to explore the plants and sculptures in the parking lot.

On Thursday morning we went downtown to the St. Andrews Farmers’ Market. We strolled past the many stands and purchased some produce and snacks.

That afternoon we strolled the beach at low tide and walked out on the point nearly to the end. We only stopped when the footing became too slippery. This long stretch of land is completely submerged at high tide.

On Friday we drove 30 minutes to the neighboring town of St. Stephen. Our first stop was at the weekly Community Market where we only bought some snacks. We strolled along the downtown district and stopped at the Chocolate Museum. St. Stephen hails itself as “Canada’s Chocolate Town.” We had intended to take a tour of the museum but the next tour was going to be in French. We visited the gift shop and admired a sculpture that had been carved out of a 500-pound of chocolate. Ultimately, we decided not to wait for the next tour in English and opted, instead, to visit the local covered bridge. The Maxwell Crossing covered bridge, built in 1910, was not as interesting as the ones we had seen in Iowa last fall. That evening we walked around St. Andrews again. We visited the Pendlebury Lighthouse that was built in 1833 and operated until 1933.

On Saturday we returned to the Van Horne Trail. This time we hiked from Water Street to the eastern side of Katy’s Cove, then returned via the shoreline until we reached the Pagan Point Nature Preserve.

For dinner, we walked downtown and ate at The Gables Restaurant. This clapboard structure was named for the three-gabled roof line and built as a private residence in 1870. Since then, it has been a rooming house in the 40s, a guest house in the 50s & 60s, a rock and roll burger joint in the 70s & 80s, and as The Gables Restaurant since 1989. We sat outside on the patio overlooking the bay. It started to drizzle as we were finishing our meal but, fortunately, the rain didn’t last long.

On Sunday we visited Ministers Island. We drove across the bar and hiked five miles around the perimeter of the island and a loop near the mansion, Covenhoven.  The island is only accessible during a 5-hour window centered on low tide. During this time, cars can be driven to the island across a rocky bar that is underwater at other times.

Reverend Samuel Andrews bought the island for £250 pounds sterling in 1790, thus the name “Ministers Island.” The island remained in the Andrews family until 1891, when a large parcel was sold to Sir William Van Horne, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Van Horne built a 50-room mansion (Covenhoven), a circular bathhouse that led to a natural saltwater pool (when the tide was up), the largest heated greenhouses in Canada, and a 3-story state-of-the-art barn.

On Monday, Jan toured the Kingbrae Garden. This 27-acre public garden opened in 1998, using the former grounds of a long-gone estate that had a history of fine gardens. The Garden features a cedar maze, two ponds, streams, a wide array of birds, butterflies and insects, a woodland trail through an Acadian forest, animals, sculptures, and more. For lunch, we returned to the Water Street Diner and sat on the patio to people watch.

We spent much of Tuesday preparing for our return to the U.S. on Wednesday. In the afternoon, we visited the St. Andrews blockhouse and gun battery. This is the only remaining blockhouse in Canada from the War of 1812. When the war broke out, the citizens of St. Andrews had little fear of an invasion by their neighbors across the bay in Maine. The main threat was of privateering. In wartime, governments licensed private businesses and ships to seize enemy vessels and cargoes, as well as to loot homes and businesses. The battery consisted of three “18-pounder” guns (named after the weight of their shot) that overlooked the entrance to the harbor. These guns could fire as far as Navy Island, across the harbor. The blockhouse was constructed soon after. From inside, soldiers armed with muskets and a small cannon could defend the battery. The defense worked. Although privateers captured many ships at sea, they never attacked St. Andrews. After touring the blockhouse, we went down on the beach and watched lots of people digging for clams in the low tide.

It was with regret that we had to leave the Kiwanis Oceanfront Camping campground. Although it was an adjustment to our body clocks being in the Atlantic time zone (one hour later than Eastern time), we certainly enjoyed being able to sit outside every afternoon and enjoy the cool breezes coming off the Passamaquoddy Bay without having to deal with mosquitoes. Jan went outside early on Wednesday morning to capture a picture of the sun rising over the bay.

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Maine- Part 3 (July 28 – August 5, 2019)

On Sunday, July 28th, we drove 46 miles to the Sunset Point RV Park in Lubec, ME. Our pull-through site was significantly smaller than the one in Harrington. There was only slightly more than enough room between our neighbors to allow us to extend our awnings. We had to park the car in front, right next to the truck. Our picnic table and fire ring were across the road, near the water. Despite the tight quarters, we had very nice scenery around us. Johnson Bay was directly across the road from us, as well as to our right. We also had a small pond behind us. After getting set up, we sat outside and enjoyed the nice breeze.

On Monday, we drove across the FDR Memorial Bridge to Campobello Island. Although it was a very short bridge, Campobello Island is in New Brunswick, Canada and, thus, required us to clear Canadian Border Control.

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View of FDR Memorial Bridge connecting Lubec, ME and Campobello Island, NB

Our first stop was at the Roosevelt Campobello International Park. The park is the only one of its kind in the world – jointly administered, staffed and funded by Canada and the U.S. The focal point of the park is the Franklin D. Roosevelt summer home. FDR spent every summer on Campobello Island from the time he was a 1-year-old until he was stricken by polio at age 39. His parents, John and Sara Roosevelt, built a cottage on the island in 1885. When Franklin and Eleanor were married, Sara purchased the neighboring cottage for them in 2007 as a belated wedding gift. After watching a video at the Visitor’s Center, we took a guided tour of the 34-room Roosevelt Cottage. All but four of the furnishings in the cottage are originals. Following the Roosevelt Cottage, we walked through the first floor of the neighboring Hubbard Cottage. Both cottages have fabulous views looking out of Friar’s Bay.

We next drove to the observation deck at Liberty Point but, unfortunately, the fog kept us from seeing very much. We hiked a 1.2-mile out-and-back trail to the SunSweep Sculpture. SunSweep is an international art project consisting of carved granite sculptures in three locations across North America. Each location (New Brunswick, Minnesota and Washington state) require the viewer to pass through both Canada and the U.S. to reach them.

After a brief stop at the Friar’s Head observation deck, we visited the Mulholland Point Lighthouse which was erected in 1885.

We then drove to the other end of the island and visited the Head Harbour Lightstation. This lighthouse is on an island that is only accessible by foot during a period of 1.5 hours of either side of low tide. Reaching the island required climbing up and down long ladders and crossing a wide expanse of slippery rocks. The fog began to roll in as we got to the lighthouse. This activated the foghorn that was nearly deafening from up close.

Our final stop on Campobello Island was a return to Friar’s Head which gets its name from the stone pillar on the beach directly below the observation deck. Native American Passamaquoddy legend referred to this rock as the Stone Maiden. The legend speaks of a young brave leaving on a long journey, telling his lover to sit and wait for his return. The brave was gone for many months and the maiden grew very upset as she sat on the beach below the head. When the brave finally returned, he found his maiden turned to stone, forever to wait and watch. Tucked under the crest of the headland, the Friar is only visible from the shore and is only accessible at low tide. We hiked down a trail to the beach and then had to work our way down to the Friar over seaweed and algae-covered rocks that were very slippery. Phil got close enough to take a picture but turned back when the rest of the trek would have been entirely over wet seaweed.

After dinner, we sat outside and watched the sun set over Johnson Bay.

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View of sunset from our campsite

On Tuesday we drove to West Quoddy Head State Park. We hiked a 4.5-mile loop that consisted of the Coastal, Thompson, Bog, and Inland Trails. The Coastal Trail ran along high cliffs above the Bay of Fundy. Unfortunately, the fog was so thick that it was difficult to see very far.

At the end of the hike, we visited the lighthouse at West Quoddy Head, the most easternmost spot in the U.S. The present lighthouse was erected in 1858.

On Wednesday we drove to the Bog Brook Cove Preserve in Cutler, ME and hiked the 3.5-mile Norse Pond Trail. First, the loop trail led us to Bog Brook Cove where we enjoyed exploring the beach. Our return took us to the banks of Norse Pond.

On Thursday we drove to the Boot Cove Preserve in Lubec, ME and hiked the 2.4-mile Boot Head Trail. This loop trail first took us to the beach at Boot Cove, then followed the rocky coastline to a platform above Brook Cove. Although there was still some fog on the water, it was clearer than it had been on previous days.

On Friday we drove to the Cutler Coastal Public Land and hiked 4.8 miles on the Bold Coast Trail. When we reached the shore, we continued up the coastline and enjoyed many views of the Bay of Fundy from the rocky crags. This was our clearest day of the week and we were able to see Grand Manan Island, NB off in the distance. When we stopped for a snack, we spotted several porpoises swimming below us.

On Saturday, August 3rd, we drove to Eastport, ME, the easternmost city in the United States. The drive took nearly an hour, despite the fact that Eastport is only three miles away from Lubec by boat. Eastport, settled in 1780, is the home to the deepest natural seaport in the continental U. S. Eastport, currently with a population of only around 1,300, was once a busy coastal trading center, second only to New York City as the busiest port in the U.S. It was once the Sardine Capital of the World, home to 18 sardine factories as well as the largest sardine cannery in the world. We walked around the historic district on Water Street, where many of the buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. Most of these buildings were built in a hectic year after an 1886 fire destroyed the previous downtown. We wandered through the adjoining neighborhoods where many of the houses date back to the 1800s. Many of these old houses are in rough shape but some are being renovated.

We chose to visit Eastport on August 3rd because it was National Mustard Day. Eastport is home to Raye’s Mustard Mill, one of the last stone mills in America, where the family has been cold-grinding mustard seeds and bottling various mustard concoctions since 1903. Other than receiving a 10% discount on purchases at the Raye’s Mustard gift shop, we found no other evidence of any National Mustard Day festivities.

For dinner, we visited Becky’s Seafood, a food truck in our Lubec neighborhood, and had a delicious order of fried scallops.

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Becky’s Seafood

On Sunday we returned to the Bog Brook Cove Preserve and hiked the 3-mile Ridge Trail. Access to the trailhead required driving a mile on a narrow and very rough gravel road. Fortunately, no one was coming the other direction. The trail took us along the coast of Moose Cove. We didn’t see any moose but did find evidence on the trail that moose had come that way. The trail included a panoramic vista from a high ridge above the cove, as well as a walk on the stony beach at low tide. We spent the afternoon preparing for Monday’s move to St. Andrews, NB.

Maine – Part 2 (July 14 – 28, 2019)

On Sunday, July 14th, we left Trenton, ME and drove 44 miles to Sunset Point Campground in Harrington, ME where we will stay for two weeks. Although we moved northeast, in Maine this is referred to as Downeast Maine. The term Downeast comes from the days when ships were powered by sail. East Coast ships heading northeast along the coastline had strong prevailing winds at their backs, making it an easy “downhill” run to the farthest eastern ports. Sunset Point Campground is located on tidal shores in a rural environment near many small fishing villages. The largest nearby town, Machias, is 24 miles away and has a population of only 2,400. The 20 sites at the campground are fairly private and have covered picnic tables. The campground sits on the edge of a bay that leads out to the Atlantic Ocean. After getting set up, we strolled down the trail to the bay. We returned that evening to see the sunset.

On Monday we drove to South Addison, ME where we hiked the 3.8-mile Ingersoll Point Preserve Loop. The first 1.5 miles were an enjoyable hike through mossy forests and along coastal shores. However, after we reached Ingersoll Point, the trail became largely overgrown and was actually impassible in places due to the muck. We ended up blazing our own trail through the thick forest to bypass the swampy areas before reconnecting with the trail.

On Tuesday we drove to Beals, ME where we hiked the 5.8-mile loop at Great Wass Island Preserve. We had originally only planned to hike the 4-mile out-and-back Little Cape Point Trail but, when we reached Cape Cove, we decided to hike the entire loop. After hiking two miles on the Little Cape Point Trail, we reached the shore and then had over a 2-mile walk up the shoreline to the Mud Hole Trail. The walk on the shoreline was the hardest part of the hike. It required climbing over many large rocks and walking on beaches with many smaller rocks, with no protection from the sun. We were very happy when we returned to the forest for the 1.5-mile Mud Hole Trail. The entire loop took us a little more than 4 hours and gave us a great sense of accomplishment when we finished it.

On our return home, we stopped at Bayview Takeout, a highly recommended seafood stand. We ordered a small basket of fried clams, sweet potato fries and coleslaw. Everything was tasty but the fried clams were the best we’d ever had.

With sore muscles from Tuesday’s hike and a forecast for rain, we chose to visit the town of Machias on Wednesday, rather than do another hike.

Our first stop was at the Burnham Tavern, built in 1770 and deemed by the Department of the Interior as one of 21 homes having the most significance to the American Revolution. In early June 1775, the residents of the small settlement of Machias found themselves with a dilemma. Following the battles at Lexington and Concord, the settlers were informed by the British that their lumber was to be shipped to Boston to build barracks for the British soldiers. If they refused, they faced hunger and the wrath of Lieutenant Moore, commander of the armed British vessel Margaretta which sat in the harbor with its guns leveled at their homes. If they complied, they would have betrayed the American cause. A group of townsfolk gathered at Burnham Tavern and debated their options. Ultimately, a plan was adopted to capture Lt. Moore as he attended church the following day. However, Lt. Moore saw the men arriving with pitchforks and scythes and managed to escape back to the Margaretta. As soon as the commander was aboard, the Margaretta began to move down river toward open water. Forty settlers, armed largely with farm implements and a few muskets, followed in two merchant vessels, the Falmouth Packet and the Unity. In the ensuing battle Lt. Moore was shot and the Margaretta captured. Burnham Tavern then became a hospital to treat the injured from both sides. This “Battle of Machias” was the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War. Today, the Burnham Tavern is a museum and contains many furnishings circa 1780.

When the rain stopped, we continued on to visit Jasper Beach in Machiasport. Jasper Beach is a very unusual beach as it’s made up of billions of smooth rocks of varying colors. When the waves roll in and out of Howard Cove, the ocean makes a singing sound as the waves tumble the rocks. Getting to and from the water was quite challenging, as the dunes of small rocks were quite unstable and difficult to climb.

We next stopped at Fort O’Brien. Following the capture of the Margaretta, the Machias townspeople built this fort to protect the town from British attacks. Although the fort was not involved in any action during the Revolutionary War, it was overrun and burned down by the British in the War of 1812. The fort was rebuilt and manned in 1863 to protect the town from Confederate raids but saw no action during the Civil War.

Our next stop was at the Nathan Gates House, built in 1810. It is one of the few remaining seafaring houses left on the Machias River.  The adjacent Cooper House was constructed in 1850. Today these homes are maintained by the Machiasport Historical Society. The Gates House contains an incredible collection of old photographs, period furniture, housewares and much more memorabilia. The Marine Room has models of vessels, artifacts and a fine marine library.  There is also a large genealogical library on the second floor. The Cooper House houses recreations of an earlier Machiasport post office and one-room schoolhouse. There is an extensive collection of antique tools used in woodworking and local industries.  For such a small town, this museum was truly impressive.

Our final stop was at Bad Little Falls Park in Machias. Apparently “Machias” is a native American word that means “bad little falls.” The small park is in the middle of town and contains a bridge and overlook above the churning Machias River.

On Thursday we drove to the Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge in Steuben, ME and hiked the 2.5-mile Hollingsworth Trail. This loop trail starts with a hike through upland forest and cedar swamp before reaching the shore of Pigeon Hill Bay. We were able to see the Petit Manan Light in the distance. After relaxing in the chairs set up at the shoreline, we continued on the trail back through the forest to the parking lot. The recent rains had resulted in standing water in many places along the trail and these posed a challenge for us to get around. Despite that, it was an enjoyable and fairly easy hike.

On Friday, July 19th, we returned to the Schoodic Peninsula portion of Acadia National Park. Since there were no long hikes in that area that we hadn’t done previously, we decided to do two shorter hikes. We started with a 1.9-mile out-and-back hike of the Sundew Trail on the grounds of the Schoodic Institute. The trail included several outshoots to benches overlooking rocky cliffs above Frenchman Bay.

Our second hike was the Acadia East Trail, a 1.2-mile out-and-back hike that took us to the summit of Schoodic Head. We had hiked a different trail to this summit on June 17th when Jason was visiting. Although the East Trail was shorter, it was steep. The trail rose 374’ in the first half mile and had many switchbacks.

On Saturday we had intended to attend the Bold Coast Sea and Sky Festival in Machias. However, with temperatures that reached 92 degrees, we decided instead to stay indoors and enjoy the air conditioning. After dinner we did drive to Machias to listen to the live music. We watched a brother duo, Pitch Black Ribbons, perform for a couple of hours. We were surprised that the crowd was so small (less than 100).

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Sunday was a very rainy day but the rain helped to lower the temperature somewhat. When the rain stopped around 4 pm, we decided to do a quick hike at a nature preserve five miles from our campground. The easy 2.8-mile loop was lovely and took us through a mossy forest and out to Alaska Cove. However, despite the temperature having dropped to 78 degrees, it was extremely humid and we sweated profusely throughout the hike.

On Monday we decided to do a more challenging hike. We drove to Cherryfield, ME and hiked the 4.8-mile Tunk Mountain Ridge Trail. The out-and-back hike took us past two lovely ponds and up to the mountain top where there were impressive vistas. The ascent of 889’ was the most we’d done this summer and our legs felt quite heavy by the end.

For dinner we ordered a couple of whole lobsters from the campground owner. They were delicious!

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Lobstah!

Tuesday was a rainy day so we took a break from hiking. We took the truck to a local tire dealer to get them to look at one of our dually tires that has had a slow leak for several months. They discovered a short screw in the tread, as well as a loose valve. They resolved both issues for $15. In the afternoon we visited Wild Blueberry Land in Columbia Falls. This store, shaped like a blueberry, sells everything imaginable made from Maine wild blueberries. Phil ordered a slice of blueberry pie. Jan got a needham, a Maine classic candy that combines coconut, sugar, chocolate and potato. We learned that Maine once harvested more potatoes than any other state.

On Wednesday we drove to Sullivan, ME and hiked 4.4 miles in the Long Ledges & Baker Hills Preserves. These preserves have numerous short trails but we managed to link them together to make a long loop. Although it was about three weeks prior to peak wild blueberry season in Maine, there were enough ripe blueberries on the bushes along the trail for us to have an enjoyable snack as we hiked.

On Thursday we visited Roque Bluffs State Park and hiked a 2.2-mile loop. After a picnic lunch, we relaxed on the sandy beach (a rarity in Maine) and enjoyed wading in the cold water.

On Friday we hiked the 3.2-mile Black Mountain East Peak loop near Franklin, ME. Initially, we had a very difficult time finding the trailhead. Our GPS first took us up a road that turned out to be a private drive. After other unsuccessful attempts to find our way, we ultimately ended up driving up an unpaved, single-lane road for two miles. Once we finally found the trailhead, we headed up the trail which rose 869’ in elevation, most of it in the first half mile. We faced some challenging rock climbing in places but managed to make our way to the summit. There were many beautiful vistas along the way.

Saturday was our final full day based in Harrington. We spent the morning in Machias. Our first stop was at the Machias Valley Farmers’ Market. The name was a misnomer as there were no farmers there. In reality, it was just a flea market where people had tables full of their old junk. We quickly walked past all the tables and then left. Our next stop was at the Machias River Preserve where we did a 3-mile out-and-back hike along the Machias River. It was an easy hike with only a few hills. The afternoon was spent preparing for our move to Lubec, ME on Sunday. We had whole lobsters for our last dinner in Harrington.