As we get this post ready we’ve been on the coast of Maine for almost two weeks. This is my first time here. We have fallen in LOVE with the area. If it weren’t for their long, cold winters we might never leave. Our first day out exploring turned into one of those days where you go to bed with a big smile on your face thinking “it just can’t get any better”. Steve woke up the next morning and began to type a draft post. Be sure to put this area on your must see list. The above picture was Steve’s first attempt at taking a photo of a map then superimposing another picture on top. He saw something similar to it in a gallery and decided to try his hand at it. Ah, the magic of Photoshop. I know I’m biased but I think he did a great job.
Once again we want to say Thank You, Thank You to everyone who’s reading the blog. For the third month in a row we’ve had over 1,000 views. While we didn’t start out to set the Blogging World on fire, it has been fun to see the site grow. Our latest addition of Roadside Trivia seems to have found an audience. We’ll try to keep it going with more interesting tidbits. Now on to Coasting Along In Maine…
Yesterday, we left Vermont and headed for Camden, Maine. The day was overcast with off-and-on rain and the roads were mostly wet. The five and a half hour drive stretched into about six or six and a half but the scenery was lovely. It was a very relaxing drive. We arrived at Camden Hills State Park in late afternoon to a very nice site, even if it was a bit tricky backing the fifth-wheel into it. This is one of the few Maine State Parks that offers RV hookups. We’re surrounded by trees so no chance of setting up the Direct TV satellite antenna here. We’ve got plenty recorded on the DVR or it may turn out to be a chance to play some cribbage in the evenings. After setting up, we poured a glass of “ginger ale” and snacked on some cheese and crackers. Then we had dinner, watched a movie on TV and hit the sack. All in all a nice traveling day.
Today was a day that many would put down as an exceptional day. To us, it was a wonderful day in a life of exceptional days. We hope we never become jaded to the point that we don’t appreciate just how exceptional our lifestyle is. It started out with a few chores. Since things were wet when we packed up in Vermont and when we arrived here in Camden it was still drizzling, all I did was set up the essentials. So, this morning, I stretched out a clothesline and hung out the screen house to dry. It’s a folding frame with a fabric roof covering and screened sides that we can put up when bugs are a problem. We quickly discovered it was still black fly season here. They actually draw blood when they bite! The mosquitos are vicious too. Steve gets bitten and ten minutes later the welt is gone. I get bitten and the welts stay for two weeks!
Since we had the storage rack built on the back of the trailer, we’d been talking about having some covers made for some of the things we keep on it. Earlier this spring, we stopped at a place in Rhode Island that does canvas work. Since it was at the season when people are getting their boats ready to use for the summer they were too busy to get anything made for us in the short time we would be there. We decided that we’d wait until we got to the Maine coast. With all the boating, both commercial and pleasure, in this area, we figured that canvas shops would be abundant. We were right. I drove to Rockland and went in to a shop called Gemini Marine Canvas, and told “Bill” what I had in mind. One cover for the two bicycles we keep on the back rack and another to cover the section where we store our two generators and gasoline cans. This would keep them out of the weather and out of sight. The generators cost us about $2000 and while we do have a locked chain running through them it’s kind of foolish to leave them out in the open. Bill recommended that I go to Lowes or Home Depot and buy a cover made for an outdoor gas grill to cover the bicycles. Much cheaper than having a custom cover fabricated and just as good. Good idea, why didn’t I think of that? For the generator cover, he took my drawing and told me as soon as he had a chance he’d figure the time and materials and call with a price. We also have a pair of homemade folding footstools we use as hassocks when sitting outside. The foam cushions needed covers we could wipe clean and be waterproof. Yes, he could do that too. He wouldn’t use canvas but showed me a fabric they use for covering loads on the back of flatbed tractor-trailers. Very durable and weatherproof.
By the time I got back home, he had called Chari with a price. I called him back and told him to go ahead and do the job which will be ready to pick up sometime next week. Then we sat down to a delicious breakfast of sausage and pancakes with cinnamon apple cider syrup that we bought at The Vermont Cheese Corporation. We took out some pork chops from the freezer to thaw for grilling for supper.
Camden calls itself the town where the hills meet the sea. Here in the park is a hill called Mount Battie which has an elevation of almost 800 feet. There are hiking trails to the top or you can drive to the top. After breakfast, Opal jumped into the truck, and off we drove to check out the view. In the parking lot at the summit, we both took out our cameras, put Opal on the leash, and walked over to see what there is to see. Probably one of the prettiest sights we’ve seen or ever will see on the east coast. Penobscot Bay with it’s dozens of islands stretching to the horizon lay below. We could see Mount Desert Island at Acadia National Park in the distance. At the foot of Mount Battie was the village of Camden, a beautiful New England town. And all around us,were huge rock outcroppings with wild flowers and thick moss. “Let’s not take any pictures now, while we have to take turns holding Opal’s leash. We’re here for two weeks, we’ll give Opal some time, then put her back in the trailer and come back up and play with the cameras.” “OK, sounds good to me!” Note: They didn’t ask me!
We walked around at the summit for a bit and talked with a lady who was there from Chicago with her son and daughter-in-law. Seeing the Maine coast had been on her bucket-list for years and she was enjoying every minute of her visit. Driving back down the mountain, I mentioned to Chari that being mid-day it was getting kind of hazy. Rather than putting Opal back in the trailer, why not take Opal for a drive and enjoy some of the coastal countryside. We could come back up another time. Hey, I like that idea! We headed up US 1.
Of course there had to be a history lesson too. We stopped at an overlook near the Penobscot River and learned about the Penobscot Expedition of 1779, the most disastrous naval engagement of the Revolutionary War. This is where the Colonial Navy with 2,000 men and 40 ships failed to capture Fort George in Castine. Fort George was manned by 750 British troops and 7 ships. After two weeks in a stand off situation the Colonial Navy initiated battle but were repelled. Finding themselves trapped upriver by British reinforcements the colonists took radical steps. To prevent their ships from being captured the colonists burned, beached or sank their ships then struggled to return to home via land. Paul Revere was part of this expedition and was censured for his action.
Another overlook had a monument to the four primary industries of the area: lobster fishing, granite quarrying, ice harvesting and timber. The Maine Lake Ice Company shipped over 120,000 tons to Baltimore, Washington DC, the Caribbean and even South America. The area is also known for ship building and seamanship. In 1895 and 1899 the Defender won the Americas Cup manned by sailors from Stonington and Deer Isle.
A few hours later, after stopping several times to take pictures of the beautiful area (seascapes, wild flowers, scenic buildings) and a couple times to let Opal run around on the beach, we found ourselves in Stonington on Deer Isle. You know, it’s going to take us a couple of hours to get back, and I won’t really feel like firing up the grill. What do you say we save the pork chops for tomorrow, and find ourselves a nice lobster dinner right here? “Chari held out her wrist to me… Twist my arm!
We stopped at a local restaurant called The Fisherman’s Friend. The waitress brought us to her favorite table in a corner overlooking the harbor. The lobster boats were tied up at their moorings. You can’t get lobster any fresher than this. We started out with a beer and some delicious cornbread. Then came a plate of steamers (half clams and half mussels) with a cups of broth and melted butter. Chari had never eaten steamers. You’re gonna like this, I told her. Once again, I was right! Where have these been (the mussels) all my life? Boy, I’ve missed out on some great stuff. Then came the main dish. We both chose the “Lazy Man’s Lobster”, shelled lobster pieces, sautéed in butter, covered with a crab stuffing and baked. Absolutely decadent! The servings were plentiful. We were too full to even think about dessert although a local specialty called Grape-Nuts pudding sounded scrumptious.
Before leaving, we checked out the ferry terminal there at Stonington where sometime in the next two weeks we would take a boat out to Isle Au Haut. Halfway home we stopped to give Opal another run on a beach.
A little TV and then to bed. A very simple day. Exciting? No. Fantastic? You betcha!
Cameras: More than we can afford.
Dinner with a view: About a hundred bucks!
The day: Priceless!