wildlife wildflowers and waterfalls: Acadia National Park and New England States

wildlife wildflowers and waterfalls

because "...you can't invent more time." Lemony Snicket

Dan and Linda's Travel Journal

Saturday, September 30, 2006

 

Acadia National Park and New England States

NOTE: This is a slideshow of the trip. I recommend reading about it first.


New England States September 2006



Kansas to Maine
Saturday, September 16, 2006
The plan was to leave at 9:00 am, and we finally got the Roadtrek loaded and left at 11:00 am. Still, it was a good day through Missouri, Illinois and boondocked at a rest stop in Terra Haute, Indiana.

Sunday, September 17, 2006
On the road at a good time with cold cereal and fruit under the belt. Indiana, Ohio, a corner of Pennsylvania and up into western New York, staying at another rest stop overlooking Chautauqua Lake. It was a beautiful view with picnic tables overlooking the Lake and luckily a beautiful, clear sunset

Monday September 18, 2006
This was a grueling day. The drive across lower New York state went well. We wished we had time to slip north to the finger lake region. That would have to wait until another time as we had to get up through the congested eastern side of New York and Massachusetts. We arrived in the lower part of Maine by dinner time. Our friends were already there, but they only had to come from South Carolina. What did we have our first night in Maine? Lobster, of course.

Acadia National Park
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
This was our first day in Acadia National Park. First, Acadia is located midway on Maine’s coast. It is Mount Desert Island, pronounced de-zert. The first inhabitants were hunter/gathers; their artifacts dated 5,000 years ago. Samuel Champlain made the first European record of the island in 1604. Then for the next 150 years the dispute between the French and British made it unsafe. Then in 1761 permanent settlements were made on the island with their livelihood fishing, farming and quarrying granite. The tourist trade began in the 1800s. The location made it accessible by ship and later railroad. The wealthy from the large cities down the coast such as New York and Boston would come north to escape the summer heat and enjoy the natural beauty. Later these wealthy families banded to form a trust and 5,000 acres of land was donated to the United States for a National Park in 1919, the first east of the Mississippi.

The first stop on entering the island was the information building. We purchased a CD which was invaluable to our two day visit. A narration told us when to stop, start and informed us of the sites. One of the first was Sandy beach, the only beach on the island. It is comprised of small bits of shell, not sand. Of course, I had to take my shoes off and test the waters--wow, cold is an understatement. If was very beautiful to be able to get down on the waters edge, though. Most of the coast was too rugged to attempt that.

Thunder Hole was unbelievable. This is a very deep and narrow cavity along the water’s edge. Water is forced into the hole with the normal action of the ocean. When there is a very high wave along with an incoming tide, there is a thunder sound. We were lucky in that the sea was very active and we distinctively heard thunder.
A visit to Acadia would not be complete without two things: a trip to the top of Cadillac Mountain and popovers and tea at Jordan Pond. Cadillac mountain is the highest peak on the eastern shore at 1,530 feet. Even though, by Colorado standards, that is not high, when the view includes a cruise ship in Bar Harbor, it seems very high---and beautiful. The popovers and tea were delightful--is that how you properly describe something very yummy?

Today we also visited Somes Sound, a unique feature of the island. The sound is a fjord which is when two high mountains form a narrow inlet. Because of the depth of the inlet, the ocean comes into the area rather than the stream forcing the water outward. There were conflicting reports, one person saying it was the only one in the United States and another saying the Hudson River.

There were many other stops, but these were my favorite. We decided that tomorrow a carriage ride to see the interior would be in order. So, we reserved our spot and headed back to camp to enjoy a change of pace--steak and potatoes.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006
“It’s not about arriving B from A, but it is the journey.”
This is one of several quotes from our carriage driver today. We were up and at the horse stables by 9:15am. We had reserved a two hitch carriage ride on a small portion of the 45 miles of Carriage Roads. Ours was a bridge ride which enabled us to view interior bridges not seen by driving.

John D Rockefeller, Jr. was a skilled horseman and he wanted to ride around the park without the noise and smell of the motor car. His construction efforts from 1913 to 1940 are visible today because he donated most of his work to Acadia National Park.

The bridges are beautiful and there are no two alike. When I get home I will post pictures. The carriage roads also provide a wonderful place to ride bicycles. All the hiking trails in Acadia are interconnected with the carriage roads. We joined them for a mile hike into the Waterfall Bridge. Beautiful.

After the carriage ride, we finished our audio tour and then explored the south side of the island. It was interesting to see the working bays with their lobster boats. This evening we dined at one of the restaurants on the pier. Of course, we all had fish and once again, delicious. Tomorrow we bid farewell to Acadia.

Maine to New Hampshire
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Sadly, we bade goodbye to Acadia and headed down the coast to Freeport. Does that city sound familiar? If it does, it’s because you are a LL Bean customer. LL Bean is a huge presence not only in Freeport, but Acadia. The store sponsored shuttle buses into the park to save the environment and congestion.

Downtown Freeport is of historical significance in that many of the original buildings have been renovated. In the middle of the downtown, however, are three huge somewhat out of place modern Bean retail stores. We headed to the catalogue outlet on the side street where I found a pair of jeans. Thankfully, we are limited in space in our little Trekker so that was the extent of my purchases--except for four little fishing vests for the Grandkids. (more about that later) We ate lunch and headed out for our campground--a story in itself

Friday, September 22, 2006
It was raining this morning, but that didn’t keep us from visiting the Desert of Maine. Yes, Maine does have a desert. We happened upon this phenomenon by accident. We were looking for a campground and picked this one because of their claim to having wi-fi, which turned out false. Whether a campground is internet ready has become a big advertisement feature just as air conditioning and color television used to be in motels. Anyway, back to the desert in Maine.

In the mid 1800s a farmer moved to the area to begin his operation. He was prosperous at first, but did not use good farming practices. Little did he know that millions of years ago, a glacier ground off rocky mountaintops and deposited a thousand feet of what appeared to be sand but was actually ground mica in the region. Over the years, dirt built up over the deposit and actually made very futile growing conditions. With the abuse, however, the top soil blew away. Now, the forty acres owned by the campsite is the ecosystem of a typical desert. Where a few trees grow, there is a little oasis and the open space reaches up to 120 degrees in the Maine summer. The “sand” continues to shift and only stays in the area to the north because of a small stream.

After our desert tour, Dwight & Cheryl took off for their home in South Carolina in their snazzy motor coach and we headed for the Freeport Post Office. I wanted to send our grandkids their fishing vests by Priority Mail. The post office was quite small. I would have liked to ask how much of their revenue is from LL Bean. Probably not much as the Big Boys down south in Portland probably count it as theirs. Dan and I then stopped by a grocery store to regroup.

While Dan was waiting for me to mail packages at the post office in Freeport, he spotted a Thomas Moser outlet store. Moser has been featured in Fine Woodworking magazine for his original custom furniture, made almost exclusively from cherry wood. The pieces on display were beautiful and Dan was interested to see, in person, furniture he had only read about. We felt fortunate to happen upon this store.

Before leaving, we visited a bit with one of the salesmen about the direction we were headed and he recommended the Crawford Notch and Mount Washington area in New Hampshire. We were ready to exit the coastal area but decided one more fresh fish meal was in order. Dan had haddock and I a lobster roll.

The trip to New Hampshire went quickly. The fall colors still have not materialized. I think we are too early. The beginnings are showing and it is still very beautiful. It was dark when we reached the Crawford Notch State Park camp ground.

It was late when we settled in our spot at Crawford Notch so we decided hot dogs over the campfire and a bottle of wine for our fruit would be sufficient. (Have I mentioned I have gained a few pounds?) As a side note, the notch campground was nearly empty. We had an entire area to ourselves. it was dark, quiet and being at the bottom of that notch, a flatlander like me felt a bit closed in. I slept like a log however,


Saturday, September 23, 2006
Crawford Notch State Park is located at the base of Mount Washington in the White Mountains. I asked the State Park Ranger why it was called a notch. When settlers first came to the area, they built log homes and as we all know, the logs fit together by cutting notches. The deep areas between the mountains reminded the settlers of those log notches. There is an interesting history at Crawford Notch. In the 1800s a settler named Willey came to the area, built a home and moved his family. It was during that time a heavy rainfall continued in the area and created a huge landslide. The family ran from their home, hoping to escape death. As it turned out, a very large rock behind their home divided the slide and had they stayed right there, they would have escaped death.

The 14.4 mile trail head to the peak of Mt. Washington was several miles from the Crawford campground. Hiking it was not an option for us, but we did explore the footbridge across the stream at the beginning. We learned there had been a group of experienced hikers the previous week who were caught near the top in an early storm and one member was still hospitalized with hypothermia and near death. The summit is known for its changing weather and unusually high wind.

When we warmed up our left over hot dog in a skillet, threw in a few eggs and enjoyed with bakery bread., we thought it would hold us until an early dinner. We didn't anticipate a stop by the farmer's market in Littleton, New Hampshire.

The market stop was actually by accident when we made a wrong turn on the road we were traveling. It was another one of those lucky mistakes. The town of Littleton is situated along the shallow, meandering Ammonoosuc River. The river flowed over several low waterfalls as it passed through the little town on the side of a mountain. A sign pointed the way to the farmers market across a long (at least 200 foot) covered walking bridge. It was a fun, informative stop as the local farmers and artisans were happy to talk about their operations and crafts. We purchased real maple syrup from a young man who told us how, when, and where the syrup was "harvested." The trees are tapped each spring at a time when the weather is such that the sap is moving up and down the trees because of changing temperatures. Each tree is connected by tubing to a central location. His operation was now automated so that there is a slight sucking or pulling on the hose to encourage sap flows.

Dan purchased a Shaker Box from an older gentleman who had a large sign proclaiming his Internet site as "ain't got no email address.com." We thought it was interesting, though, that he then went into detail telling Dan how he purchased his veneer off of Ebay. I wondered over to a farmer's booth and bought a beautiful onion, fresh lettuce and picked-that-morning sweet corn for our dinner. Since it was rainy, we didn't mind the delay in our unplanned route.

Vermont, Upstate New York and Pennsylvania
From Littleton, we proceeded into Vermont. I spotted a potential winery destination. The two lane backroad we were traveling had been a mixture of trees and wide expanses of farm land, cattle, and dairies. We almost missed the cutoff to the winery as it was an obscure road, very narrow. Undaunted, we turned and started up the mountain. We wondered if it was a wrong turn because the map didn't indicate it was too far off the road. Shortly, we came jupon a beautiful little chalet that was the Grandview Winery. The hostess gave us a short tour and round of tasting. We purchased three bottles, one of which was the Foch grape, typical to Vermont. It is very good, but unfortunately it did not make it home. As a matter of fact it was excellent with our evening meal of vegetables from the farmers market.

Sunday , September 24, 2006
This was a lazy day with slow driving through Vermont and north.

After tasting the wine yesterday, we proceeded on in our quest to see the often spoke of Vermont fall colors. In doing so, we ended up at Burlington. We didn’t stop, but decided to proceed north along Lake Champlain and ended up on the Lake Champlain Islands.

It was there we found a State Park overlooking the lake and so we decided to cook our fresh dinner. After a delicious meal of only vegetables, we walked down to the lake with our tea and watched the sun set across the water at the Grand Isle State Park. There wasn't a lot of color, but it was a peaceful respite.

Monday, September 25, 2006
Today, we are slowing making our way up through the islands. It is a beautiful area. The Champlain islands have escaped the glitzy tourist trap look. There are small cottages along the lake and Mom and Pop businesses all along the main route through the islands.

We diverted off the road to check out another part of the North Hero island and found a maple farm. The trees were strung with the tubing with the taps ready to be inserted at the proper time. We were glad to see how it is set up first hand.

On every trip there are disappointments about missing an interesting place that you feel certain you will not have an opportunity to see again. This was the case on Isle LaMotte. We missed the oldest reef, St. Anne’s Shrine and site of the oldest European settlement in Vermont founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1609, and a lighthouse. Part of the reason was the map reader (me) flat missed them, but also it seemed the island could have marked the locations better. At any rate, we exited the island without even having an opportunity to visit the closed cabinet shop that was of interest to Dan.

We crossed over to the State of New York at the top of the Isle of Alburgh and in doing so came within one mile of Canada. We stopped at the small town grocery store and proceeded to Plattsburgh where we spent several hours making a decision about the computer. We finally decided to “spring” for a Gateway because each technician we talked to said the same thing—mine was not going to wake up and I might as well pull the plug.

Tuesday, September 26, 2oo6
Today we spent the day in New York Adirondack Mountains, a beautiful area. It was hard to look at the map and decide which route to take. So, we stopped at an information center to get guidance.

The helpful lady suggested a route that would take us through Lake Placid and surrounding area. We were able to see the site of the Olympics. Seeing the buildings with the classic Olympic symbols was memorable. From there we meandered through the area and finally settled on spending the night at a beautiful State Park. We watched the sun set over the lake. The evening was crisp and we wished we had purchased wood for a campfire. Instead we crawled under the covers for much needed sleep.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006
We passed near the Finger lake Region on our way out and decided to take in this beautiful grape growing region on the way home. We always enjoy our stops at wineries and New York wines are considered excellent by many. Cayuga lake is the eastern most finger lake. The first winery was beautiful with its pond with resident swan and unique animals. I enjoyed the wine but the prices reflected its quality. We did purchase one bottle to cover our tasting. The second winery seemed built for tourist trade. We did not stay long, but I did get a picture of their grapes.

The reason I chose this the Cayuga Lake was because of the Taughannock waterfall at the south end. This was a most enjoyable stop because it included a wine (purchased that morning) and cheese lunch at the top of the falls and then a hike into the base of the falls afterward. Beautiful and Dan would say it shut me up about finding a waterfall!

From there we drove down into Pennsylvania along the beautiful Route 6 and arrived at the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania at dusk. I wanted to get a picture of the sun setting over this huge canyon. When we arrived it was dropping below the horizon and in the process of running to the edge of the viewing area, I did a face plant, turning my ankle! I got the picture, though.

We spent the night boondocking in the parking lot after eating spaghetti by lantern. Very deserted and quiet--almost spooky.

Thursday, September 28, 2006
After finished breakfast, we walked over to the viewing area to see the Canyon in the daylight only to discover the entire bottom covered in fog. We drove to the bottom to check out the Rails to Trail along the river that runs through the bottom of the canyon. If we had more time, we would have walked the five to six mile round trip to see the view from the bottom up.

Our time table was starting to get short so we headed southwest through Pennsylvania. We had hoped to spend time seeking areas of our ancestors, but decided that would be another trip. Instead we took a back road along the Kettle Creek, a beautiful twisty road with true fall colors on the trees. We passed through quaint villages that I would have enjoyed exploring. We were now on a schedule and needed to push on.
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a familiar name to all, was a fun and interesting city along the route. There were groundhogs all over the place--who could blame them.

We skirted as far south of Pittsburg as possible but still ran into lots of traffic. We ended up boondocking the night at a truck stop. I had put our dinner in our little slow cooker, so we spread a tablecloth and had hamburgers & vegetables in tinfoil and broke open another bottle of wine. The truck stop turned out to be a good place to be as their showers were clean and spacious the next morning.

Indiana and Home
Friday, September 29, 2006
Today was a driving day. We needed to be in Huntingburg, Indiana, by nightfall in order to be ready for Dan's aunt's surprise 80th birthday party the next morning. We cranked the Trekker up to 75 plus mph and pretty much ruined our gas mileage average for the trip. However, we arrived in time to meet up with cousins and friends for a evening get together.

Saturday, September 30, 2006
The surprise party was a complete success. We visited with family and friends as well as completely surprising the birthday girl.

Huntingburg turned out to be in a beautiful area. The party was actually on Saturday afternoon, so we visited area Monastery with beautiful architecture. Also, Extreme Makeover Home Addition was building a home about twelve miles away. Now, there is something to behold. Those guys are fast!! It was fun to see it all happen and we were only watching about a total of an hour.

Sunday, October 1, 2006
HOME! A grueling drive but we made it in time to see a beautiful sunset from home. It's good to be here, but had a wonderful time.

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