Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 15 - HOME!

Last night it felt like I’d been in Maine for a very long time, however today when I drove home in late rush hour traffic, it feels like I never left! :-/

One of the many great things about Maine is that it’s so close! It was basically a half day of travel! While I did have to fight traffic a bit, it was very nice to get home before dark, as opposed to the middle of the night when you travel out west!

This morning started earlier than I wanted it to. Rain. It started lightly enough, I woke up because I was getting wet – my phone was wet (I kept it in my bed right by my pillow where it wouldn’t fall out) and the pillow was wet! I reluctantly closed the window – there was a breeze and it was very nice! I did go back to sleep, only to wake up again at 4:30 when it started raining harder. Again though I was able to go back to sleep before I finally got up at 6:30. I’d wanted to be up by 7, so that was fine.

I had a lazy morning drinking coffee, eating pop tarts*, and reading a new book I’d gotten about the strange customs of Maine, it was a quick read and I finished it up!

Finally I got in the shower, packed up the final stuff, and washed the dishes and did the final RV clean up.

Then it was time to get the RV out. I put on all my rain gear! I had to dig my tevas out of my bag because I didn’t want to get my “good” sandals wet/muddy. I unplugged it and then started analyzing how to get out without hitting the obstacles I narrowly missed yesterday.

I’d originally thought I’d pull forward then back up a bit more to angle away from the posts, but now that we’d had a soaking rain for 4+ hours and the grassy site was barley dry enough for me to safely park on yesterday I didn’t want to do too much driving around – didn’t want to get stuck in the mud! I rolled around a few other ideas, turning right out of the site rather than left (I’m pretty sure it was one way but LOTS of people were going the wrong way!), back all the way across the empty site behind me, go beg for help, and other ideas…finally I decided to go with my original plan so I looked around to double check where everything was (my mirrors were rather useless covered with water!) and pulled forwarded – after a few feet I got out to see where everything was – I was safely beyond the water post and it looked like I’d be able to get past the electric post too if I just kept going, so I did, but very slowly. I got out to look after a few more feet, and sure enough I was past that too…hmmm…didn’t look like I’d have to back up, I could just pull directly out! Just had to make sure I could get past the site # sign which I couldn’t find the mirror (I’d wiped the mirror off with a paper towel, but it didn’t help much) so I got out yet again to look, and it was so far away there was no way I could hit it! I kept going forward – I wasn’t convinced I wasn’t going to hit the sign, so I think I got out to look 1 more time, then I gave it some gas and it almost got stuck in the mud, but confident that I wasn’t going hit anything I gunned it and the RV popped right out of the site on to the road and I was off! For once it was something easier done than said! 
It was a little before 9 and I was on my way. I stopped to top off the tank and pick up some snacks for the airport, then made my way through downtown Rockland and out to Leisure Maine.

I pulled in at 9:30 – a full hour before my deadline. I met up with Bruce again and told him all about my adventures! We talked a bit about the “hiccups” at the beginning of the trip and he allowed as to how he’d had reservations about the coach battery – as had I – when I checked it out. I now know that next time if there’s any question I’ll ask them to check it just to be sure! We did a final walk through and I mentioned a few other minor things that I’d noticed that might need attention and soon the RV was all checked back in.

Rene was headed out in the direction of the airport so he offered to give me a ride, if I was willing to wait about 45 mins – since my flight didn’t leave until 12:55 that wasn’t a problem at all. I sat on the couch and played iPhone games until about 11 when Rene was ready to head out. We got the airport around 11:30, so it was perfect!

When you fly Cape Air everything must be weighed – you even have to disclose your weight when you check in, and if you don’t know (and admit that rather than making something up) you get to step on the big luggage scale! There were 2 folks on my flight from Australia and they didn’t know their weight in pounds, only kilos, so they had to get on the scale! My bag was weighed – 63 pounds! Holy crap. It was no where near that heavy on the way there. Must have bought more stuff than I thought I did. Or maybe it’s all the wet clothes I was bringing home – clothes still wet from my swim in Richardson Lake, boots & socks still wet from fording the creek! (why in the world these synthetic clothes haven’t dried yet is beyond me!) I had to pay an extra baggage fee of $25 – cheaper than mailing the stuff home! I was worried that United would also charge me, but they didn’t (other than their normal checked baggage fee).

The weather was really bad in Boston and there were huge delays, our plane didn’t arrive from Boston until 1:30, so we were about an hour late getting out, but it was ok because I’d given myself a long layover, so now I was down to a short layover!

The Rockland Airport is very small. I think it’s in a trailer – it might be a double wide… There were only 8 of us on the flight. They had 3 TSA people and a Sheriff! The TSA people were quite through. Nearly everyone’s bag was x-rayed, hand checked, and then x-rayed again. I know with my computer bag the lady looked and took out my keys, then sent it back to the x-ray. She also swabbed the inside of my computer bag for chemicals! The big airports don’t do all that!

When it was time to board they took us out 1 at a time and directed us where to sit. When it was my turn the gal said “sit behind the pilot or in the co-pilot’s seat – I thought she meant the seat behind the co-pilot (which is where I wanted to sit so I’d have a good view) so I sat there. The next guy who got in sat in the actual co-pilot’s seat and I was bummed that I’d could have sat there had I understood what she meant!

We did manage to get up above the clouds where it was sunny! It was neat to watch the pilot, but a bit unnerving when he pulled out his blackberry (after telling us to turn off our cell phones) and put his headphones on! Well really just one, he still had his air traffic headset on! But I guess it’s like listening to music while you drive!

When we landed in Boston we were taxiing to the gate and on the runway next to us was a giant 747 Air France! It pulled out in front of us and we followed it! That was pretty cool!

We got in about 3:00 and I quickly got over to the United desk, checked in for my flight to Dulles and went back through security. There was an overpriced pre-packaged sandwich stand right next to my gate so I grabbed a sandwich and a cookie and got to the gate.

The flight to Dulles was on time. It too was a small plane – only 4 seats across, but it was a jet! We arrived right on time! I grabbed my bag and headed for the car – it was seriously heavy, but not so bad that I couldn’t do it!

After driving the RV my Saturn VUE felt like a compact sports car! It was hard to remember that I could just go without thinking about my every move quite as much! It made me twitch a few times that the mirrors were so small!

Traffic wasn’t so bad and I was home about 7:30! 

I opened my bag to discover that my pillow was very wet.  I’d packed it on top, and I guess my bag sat in the rain at some point and the zipper isn’t waterproof! I’d wanted to wash the sheets tonight anyway (I LOVE freshly washed sheets and after two weeks of sleeping under my sleeping bag, I’m looking forward to a real bed!) so it was no big deal. I did put the pillow in the dryer for a few minutes, it came out very fluffy, that might become a new routine!

Hopefully the sheets will be dry soon and I can get them on the bed and crawl in!

*Pop Tarts - I know Russell pointed out that it was a cherry frosted pop tart in the "Internet Cafe" pic - I'm not sure I have eaten pop tarts since Camp Mohawk in 1987, but when I was hiking up Penobscot Mt I saw some Pop Tart pieces that someone had dropped, and suddenly had a craving! I decided to splurge and buy some, more snacks/dessert, but it worked out great when I ran out of milk/cereal with not enough days to warrent buying more! They were quite tasty, but I probably won't be buying them again until the next big hiking/kayaking trip! :-)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 14 - Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

You know the phrase “darker than the inside of a wolf”? That applies to Recompense Shores campground! It was so stinkin dark out there last night! Being basically alone out there was a bit unnerving, but I had 3Gs on my phone so I could have “phoned a friend” if I had needed to! J

I woke up for good about 6:30, got up about 7. The office didn’t open until 8 – that was my coffee source for the morning since I was dry camping. I ate breakfast and read my book until about 8 when I got dressed and walked over for coffee and toothpaste! I was totally out of toothpaste, couldn’t even squeeze 4 more uses out of it! I was back at the RV by 8:30 and I wanted to finish my book so I sat and read until 9:30.

I really enjoyed The Maine Woods – it was fun reading about trekking into the Maine Wilderness back in the 1800’s and how they camped and traveled, especially when I was in the Maine Wilderness! Made me very thankful for my RV!

Finally I got myself going! My 1st task was to back out of the site. It was much easier than I thought it would be! I just went straight back and stopped to check every few feet and before I knew it was out and heading down the road!

I decided that I needed to stop at Hannaford to pick up a few things I had run out of but needed for the last night – I’m pretty impressed with how well the food worked out….I only threw out a few things that I’d over bought!

It was only 2 hours from Freeport to The Lobster Buoy and I had all day so I’d decided I would drive out to Pemaquid Point lighthouse and check that out. It was cloudy and dreary but I headed down the road anyway and I’m glad I did!

1st of all Pemaquid Point is one of, if not the only, lighthouse that you can go up in! It was very cool to see the view from up there and check out the lens and see how the lighthouse works! 2nd – Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is what they put on the Maine State Quarter (which they had for sale there…for $5.00!).

While I was there the sun came out and it turned out to be a very nice afternoon! There were rocks in front of the lighthouse that you could walk out onto and get great views of the ocean, the rocky coast, and the lighthouse!

Next door to the park was a kitschy gift shop/restaurant/ice cream stand! It was def “tourist trap” material – they had 2 large fiberglass Indian statues in the front, an extra large fiberglass “lobster-zilla” and a fiberglass Pirate…what an odd combo! The gift shop was the ultimate junk store…you could hardly walk for all the tourist souvenir crap! I did partake of the ice cream stand portion – it was Gifford’s again! I got cookie dough this time and aside from a big chunk of ice I found, it was very good!

I spent about 2 hours out there and now it was time to head into the Lobster Buoy! It wasn’t far and I even took the scenic route! I pulled into the campground about 4:00 and attempted to get parked in my site. I had a different site from before – that site was too wet! This one was a bit harder to get into! I pulled up alongside it but not far enough so when I backed in I narrowly missed 2 campsite signs, a car, the electric plug for my site and the picnic table! I made it in though!

The very frustrating part was that three folks who are staying here all stopped what they were doing to watch me. They saw me back up 2 ft and jump out and look, then re-adjust and look again – I jumped out of the RV about 10 (or more) times to look at where I was going and decide what to do next and not one of them offered assistance! I would have asked, but I figured that if they had wanted to help they would have, since they had watched the whole thing!

Hopefully I can get it out in the morning! It’s supposed to be raining then so that will add to the fun! J

Once I got the slide out and the electric plugged in I started packing and cleaning, I picked up the trash and vacuumed, the other cleaning stuff will have to wait till morning. I got everything except what I needed for tonight packed up.

Feels like I have been on this trip a lot longer than just two weeks! It feels like a lifetime ago when I was here before! This had been a great trip! It was a bit nerve-wracking before I left – going RVing solo for 2 weeks! There’s so much that could happen! But thankfully, everything went smoothly, after the little hiccups the 1st few days. I had never taken a long trip by myself before and that was kinda scary to think that I’d be on my own for so long – well thanks to my iPhone and having decent coverage most everywhere, I was able to stay connected to my friends through Facebook and Twitter as much as I do when I’m at home! (even South Arm had decent coverage, I just had to drive 6 miles to get it, I knew I could drive out there if I really needed to!)

Even the RV was scary at 1st – I’d done the RV thing in Alaska, but I was with my parents who do this all the time! It’s hard to drive at times – it’s so big and I was worried I’d get myself in a jam that I couldn’t get out of, but so far that hasn’t happened (I’ll let you know when I get out of this site!), oh I did get into that right spot at South Arm, but it wasn’t a huge big deal! It’s strange sleeping in a new place every night! I really liked the RV thing during the day – I liked being in the campground and having all the comforts of home right there! It was at night that I’d get a little freaked out, especially when the wind was blowing or it was raining – but after a few nights I got more comfortable.

A lot of people I met said I was brave for heading out alone in an RV. Yeah, there were some times that I felt like I was being very brave, but it was more a situation of me wanting to go places and see stuff and I wasn’t waiting my life around until there was someone to go with me. I wanted to go see Acadia and Grafton Notch and I did!

I didn’t really get too lonely, South Arm was hard, I really liked being there and enjoying the lake and the trails and such but I was definitely an outsider. At Acadia folks seemed more willing to make friends and talk with pretty much anyone. But at South Arm I had my TiVo and books and it was all good!

I think another part of why the trip worked was because I spent such a big portion of it at Acadia. Acadia worked because of the bus. I could go everywhere without having to drive the RV – when I went up the mountains having just the RV for transportation was a bit of a problem because I didn’t feel comfortable getting it in and out of the campground more than necessary and I couldn’t just “run out” for an afternoon.

All in all though it was “A-Maine-sing” – I know, bad bad joke! These are things I think of when I’m climbing (or crawling) up a mountain! I’m ready to go home, but I definitely want to the RV thing again! I am considering buying one, but there are so many extra costs that go along with it!

Maine - Day 14 Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 13 - LL Bean

It rained most of the night. I woke up about 1:30 and it had stopped, I think the silence woke me up. They gotta come up with a way to make RV roofs quieter when it’s raining! It was a gentle rain, but LOUD! Not only that but the rain makes a symphony of sounds – rain on the regular roof makes one sound, rain on the vent makes another, rain on the AC casing makes a different sound, there’s a fan vent in the “bedroom” that makes a different sound, there’s a plastic covering over the shower that makes a still different sound. Then there’s something on the outside that must channel the rain so it runs off because occasionally you’ll hear that drip and think there’s a leak and make yourself crazy looking for it. So even you are exhausted from kayaking 6+ miles and swimming you still won’t sleep.

I’d hoped to sleep in, but that didn’t happen. I woke up at 6 and decided to move the phone to it’s plug that was right beside the bed so it could charge when the electric came on at 6:30. I plugged it in and shoved it under the pillow, the sound machine still going, and went back to sleep. At 6:30 when the power came back on the phone bleeped and vibrated – which vibrated the pillow and my head and that was pretty much it for sleep. I got up and got moving a little before 7.

Most campgrounds have the sites around a loop which is one way. This campground was no exception. My campsite was the 1st site as you went around the loop. There was about 50 feet of “one way” between my site and the main road. Since I’d put the RV in “the wrong way” she was pointing in the direction of the wrong way on the one way road. In order to get out the proper way I’d have to turn her around – which would involved at least a 5 point turn, maybe more because backing up is difficult. On Monday when I went out I debating going the wrong way and just popping myself out out, but decided to follow the rules and turn the RV around and go the correct way. Well, that was a mistake because 4 sites down from me a guy had his big pick-up truck parked in the road a bit so he could hook up his ginormous 5th wheel (how he got it in there in the 1st place is a mystery to me!)! I didn’t see him there until it was too late to go back! Luckily with some careful guidance from the truck owner and going very very slow I got through, but it was not fun. I decided then that I’d just go the wrong way next time I went out! Even remembering that I debating turning around and going the correct way this morning, but in the end broke the rules and went out the wrong way!

My first stop was the scenic overlook where I had coverage for my phone. Since I was still eating my pop-tart for breakfast I decided it was kinda like an internet café! I spent about an hour checking e-mail & facebook. It wasn’t the best connection and I couldn’t make it post anything, but it was good enough.

It was 9 when I started making my way south to Freeport.

On Monday when I was walking I’d seen a large orange metal coil on the end of a metal stick marking what looked like a waterfall. At the time I couldn’t figure out why there was a metal coil to mark it. This morning I saw a few more of the same metal coils and it hit me – the metal coil was a spring and it was likely marking a spring where you could get water! Hysterical play on words! I wanted to get a picture but there weren’t anymore after I figured it out!

Amazing how I could be so far out in the wilds of Maine and have to get even deeper in the wilds of Maine to get out! Oddly enough Andover was the last time I had cell coverage today until I got to Lewiston. Most of the roads were very small 2 lane windy country roads. I think there are more frost heaves in Maine than in Alaska! My phone has a “shake to shuffle feature – if you are listening to it and you don’t want to hear a particular song you can shake it and it will go to the next song. This feature is VERY annoying when driving in Maine. See the phone is rather sensitive and when I’d go over a big bump, the song would change! Luckily the feature doesn’t work when the phone is locked!

I’d written down all the routes I needed to take on a sticky and stuck it to the dash, I had in my head that I needed to go to Lewiston to pick up 136, but in reality it was Auburn! Auburn is a large city and was very busy – I totally missed the turn so ended up going through Lisbon (Maine named all their towns after foreign places: Paris, Naples, Mexico, Peru…) and got on 295. Now for all you road geeks out there…umm…Russell….I have now driven on a portion of every Interstate highway in Maine! I395 outside of Bangor, I95 near Bangor and now I295 which goes up the coast from Portland to almost Augsta.

I arrived in Freeport about 11:45 and was thrilled at how easy it was to navigate in the RV. The RV parking area was well signed and easy to find! I was able to get around the main congestion of the town and found a great spot.*(see rant at the end) I quickly headed out to get my bearings and see what was here. It’s pretty much just LL Bean. There are some factory stores, but not much. Bar Harbor was definitely the spot for browsing in shops! Two of the shops here even are also in Bar Harbor! One of the other shops has a sister shop in Jackson WY that I visited there so there wasn’t much that was “new”.

There’s a café at LL Bean now! That’s where I had lunch! I got a great “veggie loaf” wrap and blueberry pop. Quite a unique lunch and very tasty! I gotta see if I can find the blueberry pop elsewhere. While I was eating I saw a car go by with a boat on top and thought about how most cars up here had boats on them but how I hadn’t seen many folks using the boats – this then made me think of the episode of the British comedy “Keeping Up Appearances when Hyacinth buys Richard skis for his birthday just so they can drive around town with them on the car giving the appearance that they are “ski people” which of course made me laugh – after that every time I saw a car with a boat on it I was laughing to myself at my own private joke!

In 1986, when I was 11, my mom, my grandma Jack, my grandpa Dr. Ben and I drove up to Freeport from North Tarrytown NY so Dr. Ben could go to LL Bean. Dr. Ben was quite possibly LL Bean’s biggest fan. I think everything he owned came from there. Coming to “the store” was a religious experience for him! He was so excited to be visiting the store that when we arrived in Freeport late at night he had to go put his feet in the store because it was open 24 hours. We did, then went back to out hotel to spend the night. Back in ’86 not much was open 24 hours so LL Bean was a novelty in that respect. The next day we went and spent the whole day. I remember it being a sprawling campus of stores, but none of the buildings really matched each other, it was dark and dingy in places, and the floor was uneven, it was definitely rustic. Not so anymore. They have renovated every inch of the place and there seems to be more space than merchandise. Not only that but everything in the store is available on-line and in the catalog. The store was very similar to the LL Bean store at Tyson’s Corner, although getting to Maine might be easier than getting to Tyson’s Corner! ;-)

When we were at LL Bean in ’86 we purchased my sleeping bag, the same sleeping bag that I’m using right now! It’s as good as it was the day we bought it, well almost. When we were in Alaska the zipper broke (so now it’s more of a comforter than a sleeping bag!). One awesome thing about LL Bean is that if your stuff breaks they will fix it and return it - few years ago they fixed the zipper on my backpack, they no longer make the model that I had and I didn’t want a new one, it’s the same with the sleeping bag! I went to customer service to ask about getting it fixed and I told the gal that I’d bought the sleeping bag 20+ years ago when I came here and she was unimpressed.

It didn’t take me long at LL Bean and then I headed out to get some Gifford’s Ice Cream – Moose Tracks this time – and then go to the LL Bean Outlet and check out the other stores. By 3:30 I was pretty much done with Freeport. I stopped at Amatos’s – a little deli, pizza joint to get a sandwich to take back for dinner and then headed to the campground.

I think I can really pick ‘em! There are 2 campgrounds in Freeport – The KOA and Recompence Shores. I’m at Recompence Shores. It’s about 10 mins out of Freeport – it’s right on the Casco Bay! It’s in the middle of Wolf’s Neck Farm and close to Wolf’s Neck State park. It’s very quiet and strangely empty. There are close to 200 sites here and maybe 20 other folks here – all spread out. I pretty much have my area to myself. A few of the sites are occupied, there’s camping stuff but no cars and no people.

I think my site is supposed to be a back in, but I pulled in straight opting to back out. The site has 2 trees – one on each side of the RV that I was worried about being able to get right between, and going out there’s a weird angle if I was going forward. There’s a lot space to back out and turn so it shouldn’t be too hard – I almost practiced but decided not to. Not sure why I got the site I did, the one next to me is huge and I could have pulled in and “parallel parked”. There’s also a open field with sites around it – generally I wouldn’t be a fan of that but in a field there’s nothing to hit when backing up!

The campground does have wifi, but I have to go back up to the store and sit in the chairs – hopefully the battery on the computer will last! If not I can finish the job in the morning – there’s a large parking area up there so I could park and get the network!

*Rant of the day (and Public Service Announcement): Is there part of “RV’s ONLY” that is confusing? In Freeport they have tons of free parking. There is a small lot, maybe 40 standard parking spaces, that is labeled RV parking and “RV’s ONLY”. When I got there the parking lot had 3 RVs already in it and about 10 cars. There was just barely room for me and then just as I parked – going across 4 spots (parallel parked) some lady pulled in to the spot in front of me meaning that I couldn’t get out until she left. Late when I came back the other RVs were gone and more cars had filled in. Seriously people – read the sign. If you are driving a car, even if it’s a big “Suburban Subdivison” or a “Denali National Park” you can park it places that I in my RV cannot park. Not only that but you can back your car up easily if you have to, I cannot. You can also turn around, that is difficult for RVs, especially folks with trailers. Car drivers can also park in the free parking garage just ½ a block away, I cannot. So please DON’T park where it says RV parking unless you are driving an RV!!!!!

Maine - Day 13 Freeport & LL Bean

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 12 - Kayaking at South Arm Part 2

My plan for today was to hang out at the campground, kayak, blog, read and relax. When I checked the weather yesterday afternoon it was calling for a 20% chance of rain this afternoon so I wanted to outside stuff early.

I had a lazy morning – didn’t get out of bed until 8:30! Then I had leisurely coffee and cereal with an episode of The Office. Finally about 9:30 I made my way over to the office/store to rent my kayak and head out.

I got to chatting with the lady who works there and this guy who was there. The guy said that there was a view point at the top of Moody Mt – darn! He also said that if you took the AT north from the road crossing it gets really steep really quick – they have ladders and ropes and stuff so you can climb up! Glad I didn’t go that way! The lady had the weather report she’d just printed – it didn’t look good! 60% chance of rain this afternoon – after 2, rain tomorrow, rain the rest of the week. Ugh. Glad I’m heading out! LL Bean in the rain will be just fine!

It was 10:00 before I got my kayak and headed out. It was cloudy, but very nice. I paddled around the point of the campground and into the cove behind my site and then up the eastern side of the lake – Sunday I had done the western side. The eastern side has houses and docks and stuff and the western side is all wild.

I’d been paddling about an hour and a half when I decided I needed a potty stop so I beached the canoe among some rocks! The potty stop quickly turned into a swimming stop! I swam around in the rocks for a few minutes – the water was very nice and the air outside was warm! I finally got back into the kayak and continued paddling.

I’d spotted an island that I thought I’d paddle to – it was pretty far out, but I was finding such interesting stuff in the coves and all that I didn’t notice! I finally reached the island at Noon – 2 hours to get there! I discovered that some people were camped on it! Turns out the island was part of South Arm – they have a whole bunch of remote sites that you have to boat to – and it was three miles from the campground! WOW! I paddled 6 miles!

I wanted to go back along the shore because it’s more interesting so I paddled across the lake – it was very wide here and the wind was kicking up a bit so it was choppy. I eventually made it to the other shore and was enjoying checking out all the waterfalls and such, when I thought I heard thunder. It came from the western side of the lake, where there are no people. Uh-oh. The last place I want to be during a thunder storm is the middle of a lake in a kayak. I started paddling faster to get back. I bypassed a few coves that I wanted to explore and skipped beaching that kayak at the swimming beach I’d found on Sunday. I thought my arms were going to fall off. I hadn’t heard any more thunder sounds and it didn’t look like it was going storm, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I finally made it back to the campground. My arms were so tired I knew I’d never be able to haul the kayak back to the rack so I decided to go swimming – the swimming beach at the campground is right by the boat launch. I wasn’t wearing my bathing suit, but I had on nylon shorts, a synthetic hiking shirt and synthetic underwear so it was as good as a bathing suit. The water was so nice I didn’t want to get out! Finally I did, and hauled my kayak back to the rack and took the paddle and life jacket back.

I decided that I wanted to go swimming for real so I went back to the RV and changed into my bathing suit and got a towel. I was the only one swimming for almost an hour when a man and his two kids came down. They’d been coming her for more than10 years! The water was great – clod in places, but mostly warm and the air outside was warm too. They have a dock out in the middle of the swimming area – it was perfect to jump off of! After about an hour I was getting pruny so I decided to get out. It had started raining a little while I was swimming – just some sprinkles.

Not sure if it’s the rain, or if I just hadn’t heard them before but the loons are very talkative today! While I was kayaking I heard the loons, I heard them again while I was swimming, and I’m hearing them now as I’m typing!

As I made my way back to the RV the sprinkles got a bit more aggressive. I gathered my shower stuff and headed over there.

One of the first things I did when I got here on Saturday was take a shower. I have a shower in the RV but it’s kind of a pain to use. It’s very small and you have to be very careful of how much water you use – I have a finite amount of water and if I use too much then I have to go dump the tanks and get more water! My plan had been to shower in the campground when possible, at Blackwoods though they didn’t have showers! So Saturday when I got here I was itching for a real shower. I had checked it out before I went down there and there were coin takers by both showers. So I gathered up my quarters and headed over. I put my quarter in and turned the knob, then turned the water on. It felt so good that I just stood there for a very long time – I was amazed at how long of a shower a quarter bought you! Every day since I have showered and put my quarter in the quarter taker. Last night I was there when another lady came in to shower, I heard her just turn on the water, I didn’t hear the quarter taker. Could it be that the showers aren’t coin operated? Hmmm…. Today I decided to try it, I just turned the water on without putting in a quarter and guess what? It worked! No quarter needed! HA! Wonder how many people they sucker with that?

After my shower I took a quick walk around the campground – very interesting to see everyone’s camping set up! Lots of pop-ups and pull behinds. Many folks are set up for a long stay it looks like! Most folks here have a big diesel pick-up or Suburban type car and almost every car has a boat (canoe or kayak) on top! What’s interesting though is that I don’t see people doing much – everyone has a kayak or canoe, yet I haven’t seen many folks out on the lake. Seems like the activity of choice is to sit at the campsite, and walk your dog, and take the trash to the dumpster! The kids all have bikes that they ride around, and around, and around. I have only seen three other folks swimming! A lot of folks have a dart board stuck to a tree. Most of the folks are friendly, but not too friendly, everyone here seems to be with a group and they aren’t too interested in anyone else! There are a lot of families with kids though and I think that’s great! I think it’s so great that they are bringing their kids here away from TV, x-box, wii, Facebook, etc… I know it’s hard – heck I’m here in my RV typing on my computer and in a minute I’m going to watch TV and I’m listening to music on my iPhone and I def miss checking in with my friends on Facebook, but I think part of that for me is because I’m by myself, if I was here with my parents or friends or whatever, I wouldn’t be holed up with my technology. I wish I could get the kids I teach out of their houses and into the woods for the summer!

After my shower and walk it began raining for real so I retreated to the RV to blog and read and watch TiVo, although so far all I have gotten done is the blogging. At 7:00 they have “Junk Food Bingo” where you bring some junk food as your “admission” – I’m assuming that who ever wins wins the food – I’m going to walk over – it sounds like a great way to get rid of my extra box of granola bars, but I’d better not win anything.

One of the interesting things here is the weather, or rather the temperature. This afternoon I was swimming and I was not cold. It was standing in the middle of the lake on the dock, with a breeze and I was not cold. A little while later I took a shower and put on fleece pants and a long sleeve t-shirt and I’m still comfortable! I’m not hot. It seems that no matter what one wears it’s always just right! Crazy! It was the same in Bar Harbor – if I wore shorts I was mostly comfortable (it did get a little chilly a few evenings), if I wore pants I was comfortable! When I walked over to Junk Food bingo I observed that I could see my breath, yet I’m not cold. Strange, yet pretty cool!

I just got back from Junk Food Bingo. Apparently you bring 1 or maybe 2 candy bars and then you get that many boards. They were a little shocked with my whole box of granola bars! They accepted them though and gave me as many boards as I wanted! I only took 4 because I really didn’t want to win, I just wanted to get out of my RV for a little while! It was mostly kids – a whole group of them that seemed to know each other, they might have been cousins. It appeared that they come here every year and stay a week or so because one of the girls was leaving tomorrow and they were getting on her about leaving “early”. There were a few adults but they were all there with their kids. I sat at a table with some teenage girls who all knew each other so I didn’t really socialize, although the kids were very nice!

Maine - Day 12 Kayaking at South Arm 2

Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 11 - Grafton Notch State Park

A few weeks before I left I was looking for books about Maine – fiction, for pleasure reading – and I came across Thoreau’s “The Maine Woods”, it’s his travel journals recounting three trips he made into the Maine Wilderness back in the 1800’s! I decided I needed to read it while I was here so went to check it out of the library. I found it, interestingly enough, in the travel section! Right next to Fodor’s and other modern day travel books about Maine. That’s how I came across a book about things “Off the beaten path” in Maine, which I checked out also, and that book lead me to discover Grafton Notch State Park.

Grafton Notch is a huge park with big mountains (this is just barely outside of the White Mountains, part of White Mountain National Forest is just south) right on the border between Maine and New Hampshire. When I googled the park to find out more about it I learned that the AT passes right through it! I was sold! I knew I wanted to see this park and I hadn’t planned out my second week of my trip yet! This is how I came to discover South Arm as it’s close to Grafton Notch. After this discovery the whole rest of my trip fell together!

Today was the day to check out Grafton Notch. I got an early start because I figured it might take me up to two hours to get there and two to get back and I needed to be back before dark. I wasn’t sure how long I’d hike.

It was bright and sunny with few clouds as I headed out! My first stop was the Andover ball field parking lot where I checked e-mail and facebook for the first time since Sat afternoon!

In Andover I had a choice, I could take Route 5 down to Route 2 and then up 26 into the park, this would keep me on main highways that were bold on my map or I could take the road with no number that was not as bold (but still paved!) that would be more scenic and possibly rough…. I was for sure returning by the “big roads” because I was planning to pick up dinner in Bethel, so as you can probably guess I took the riskier road! It was just fine, and it sure was scenic! The AT crossed this road too!

The drive through the park was awesome! The main highway goes right through the park and the mountains were pretty cool! The park wasn’t as “civilized” as I was expecting. I expected there’d be a visitor center or something where I could get a map or something, but the whole park is just land and a series of turnouts on the main highway! The first one I came to was an “informational turn out”. It was a great view and 4 signs. One of the signs had a top map of the parks hiking trails – there are really only 3! The AT, the Table Rock trail and the Eyebrow trail. If you go south you can go to Old Speck Mt and take the Eyebrow trail. If you go north you can go to Baldpate Mt and take the Table Rock Trail. Each side trail made a loop with the AT and each loop was short, each less than 3 miles. Although to get to the summits of either mountain you had to go about 3 miles from the parking area.
I knew I’d wanted to hike to Table Rock – I’d read someone else’s trip report on the internet and it looked cool. I studied the topo map and learned that the Table Rock trail was much steeper than the AT so decided to go up via that trail and down on the AT. I should have taken a picture of the map, since this is the ONLY one that was available! There was a map of sorts at the trail head, but it was simply the trails carved into a piece of wood and painted to match their blaze color. Not to be used for navigational purposes!

When I got the trail parking area I got myself together and headed off down the Table Rock trail. A sign at the beginning stated that it was 1 mile to Table Rock. Just a mile, how hard can it be? It started off pretty good, lots of stone steps that someone had spent a lot of time and energy building. Soon though I came to some huge boulders that I had to climb over and around, it still wasn’t so bad though, there was dirt between the rocks and it wasn’t that hard. Then the trail went up. Directly up. There were stone steps again, how they built them I’ll never know because they were vertical, I can to crawl on my hands and feet like going up a ladder. Then I came to an actual ladder. It was made of wood, and was very easy to climb, I didn’t think to take a picture before I climbed it.

It was about here that the herd of kids caught up with me. I’d heard them coming and once I saw them I found a wide spot in the trail (there weren’t many) to let them get in front of me). Turned out there were about 40 kids (probably 4th-8th graders) from a summer camp hiking this trail behind me! I stood there waiting for them to pass and behind them were an older couple hiking. They had been up this trail before and said we were almost there. Yeah!

As soon as we started hiking again we got stopped though because the kids had taken a break and there was no room to pass! After a few more obstacles – an iron rung ladder, a “lemon squeezer” through some rocks (none of which I got pics of because I was chatting with the older couple) we made it to the top! The view was outstanding! The older couple offered to take my picture and then they moved on to the summit of Baldpate Mt. I sat and had a cliff bar and checked my email! I had full coverage at the top of the mountain!

I overheard the leaders (college aged) of the kids discussing the return options. They had a GPS device but it wasn’t telling them what they needed to know – they were looking for another option down. It sounded like none of the adults had ever been up there before! As I was heading out I saw an adult adult with the group – I think she was someone’s mom and I started chatting with her. I told her that I’d checked the map at the overlook and the AT looked easier. I’d also asked the guy who’d been up here before and he said that the AT was much much easier.

I started down on the blue blazed trail – we’d come up the orange and there was no way I was heading down that and since there was no sign I assumed that the blue blaze lead to the AT since that’s the way it works in Shenandoah NP. I was immediately greeted with an iron rung ladder to descend. I knew this one was there because I’d seen it in the pictures from the trail report I read online. Next I cam to a spot where I had to get on my butt to crawl down, I was not happy. I was hoping to actually walk, something that hiking in Maine doesn’t seem to include much of! Luckily this was the only spot like that, the whole rest of the way down was smooth sailing. The trail was wide and gentle. Amazing considering how steeply the other trail went up! I opted not to go on to the summit of Baldpate Mt – it was another 2+ miles which would have given me a 6 mile hike and I was worried about it being steep again and about getting back to the campsite, if I’d had a car I might have gone for it.

The group of kids passed me about ½ way down! Glad their leaders decided to take them that way rather than the other trail!

After the hike it was only 12:15. I’d left the parking lot at 9:30 and it took me an hour and half to do the 1 mile to Table Rock. That’s how hard it was, I wasn’t even going 1 mph! Of course getting back was super easy! I considered going south on the AT and seeing what was that way, but I knew my legs couldn’t take any more rock scrambling and I was scared there’d be more. I passed 3 thru-hikers on the way down, I should have asked them what the other side was like, but I didn’t think of it.

I decided to head out and drive down to Screw Auger Falls – one of the big attractions in the park. I passed another turnout to the Mother Walker Falls so I pulled off there to check that out. When I got to Screw Auger Falls though there was no place for me to park! There was 1 area suitable for an RV but it already had a Chinook pulling a boat in it. So I kept going.

I drove into Bethel, my plan was to find dinner there, even though it was only 1:00 I needed to find something to bring back. Bethel is a large city by Maine standards, however there was very little there! A few gas stations with convenience stores, some little diner type places and that was it. I didn’t even see a grocery store! I saw one of the other campground options in the area and while they have wi-fi, that’s about the only thing that’s good about them. So glad I’m at South Arm! I found a gas station that had a Subwy in it so went there, I was able to get dinner and gas (without any drama this time!) and was soon on my way back to South Arm.

I again stopped at the ball field parking lot to do internet stuff before heading in – I wasn’t coming out until Wed morning. It was still only 2:30 though. I really didn’t want to head back to the campground. The AT crosses South Arm road about 5 miles from the campground and there are a few wide spots in the road close to the trail crossing where I can park my RV and lucky for me one (actually both!) of those spots was open! I parked the RV and headed out again. My plan was to hike south, I had no real reason for picking south, it just seemed like the way to go, for an hour then hike back. I had no idea what was up there so I didn’t want to go too far.

The 1st wide spot in the road to park in was about a ¼ mile from the trail head, as I was walking down the shoulder of the road I saw what looked like moose prints in the sand! I wish I’d been there to see the moose just walking down the street like in Northern Exposure! Of course it could have been a deer print too….

Just off the road was a wide stream. There were rocks but they were too far apart and I ended up just wading across, which meant that I got my feet wet – the water was up to my mid-calf! The trail was fairly steep, but there were no rocks, it was just straight up walking which was very nice! There were no views, but the forest was cool – lots of moss and big rocks. I hiked up and up and up…the trail started to level off a bit and I’d hiked for 40 mins when I decided to turn back. I knew that getting down was going to be slow going. It took me a little over an hour to get down! At the bottom, just before the river crossing, I saw a sign – it said “Moody Mt 1.4 miles” – if only I’d known that at the beginning! I was probably almost to the top and a view if there was one! Oh well. There was another sign that had more detailed information about this section – it said that the climb up Moody Mt was “gentle” – hmmm…well maybe comparatively speaking.

I got back to the RV about 5:00 and changed out of my wet boots and pants. I was 1 mile from the “scenic turnout” that has cell phone coverage. I was thinking about driving back there, but then decided I’d just walk, figuring I wouldn’t have to go the full mile to get coverage. I ended up having to go about ¾ of a mile! There was nothing in my email that worth walking that far for.

After that little walk I headed back to the campground. I got a shower and enjoyed my Subway while watching some Family Guy (I downloaded it from my TiVo before I left!) before crawling into bed!

Maine - Day 11 Grafton Notch State Park & AT

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day 8, 9, & 10 - Last Day in Acadia - South Arm

I kinda fell off the blogging wagon! Most nights I type up a blog in the evening before bed, but for two nights I skipped it!

Friday morning, my last day in Bar Harbor, I woke to dense fog. There was even a “dense fog warning” from the National Weather Service. Ugh. I’d planned to hike from the park loop road up and over Champlain Mountain and then down to do the Great Head walk and then back up the Beehive the easy way and then continue to Gorham Mountain and catch the bus. The beauty of this walk was the views – it would mostly be ridgline, a few hundred feet above the Ocean Path where I’d walked on Sunday. It would not be very good in the fog. In fact, it would be kinda pointless.

I decided to drive in and park at the visitor center, so I could charge my batteries a little and still use the bus. I decided to go to the Opera House and post pics and blogs and stuff and then see what the weather was doing.

It took almost two hours to upload all my pics! When I was done with that, I took the computer back to the RV – I was working a plan to go see the new Harry Potter movie at the “Reel Pizza” place – I’d heard it was really cool – you order pizza and sit on couches. There was a line around the block the day before for Harry Potter! With the thought that I’d be late getting back to the campground I decided to take the RV back then. I also decided that I would drive back via the Park Loop Road and check the conditions.

It was like a wall of fog. You couldn’t see a thing. On the road I could see to drive just fine, but when I looked out, it was just white. I asked the ranger at the entrance station if it was going to clear up and his answer was “how long ya staying?” - it wasn’t looking likely that it was going to clear up today!

I got back to the campground and was debating what to do. I’d also found a “Paint your own pottery” place in Bar Harbor so I was thinking of maybe doing that then going to the movie. In the end though I decided to go ahead and walk the Great Head Loop – it was an easy 2 mile or so walk to a point 145 feet above the ocean. It was a nice walk, wooded in many places so still nice in the fog. At the view points I couldn’t see a thing, but I got some cool pictures of the rocks in the fog.

I’d kinda hoped I could get back to Bar Harbor in time to see Harry Potter, but when I got back to Sand Beach it was 4:30 (the time that I needed to be in line for the movie) and the next bus didn’t come until 4:55. It was almost 6 by the time I got back to the Village Green. I did have a nice chat with the bus driver – she, like many of the Island Explorer drivers, is a school bus driver during the year, and lives about an hour away deep in the wilderness.

I decided that for dinner I was going to try this Mexican restaurant I‘d passed many times – turned out to be fabulous! I had a sautéed veggie and cheese burrito! The salsa was very chunky and full of garlic, not very spicy, but had a lot of flavor! Yummy!
After dinner I did my usual “wander Bar Harbor and browse the shops, then get ice cream” as I waited for the bus. I was going to get the 7:45 bus, however just as I was making my way to the Village Green, ice cream in hand, I discovered Kathdin Photography – the shots in the window were great, but I had to finish my ice cream first! I knew if I went in I’d miss the bus and have to take the 8:30 bus! Oh well! The photographer himself was there and his work was awesome! I enjoyed looking at every print in the shop! He had a calendar that showcased a lot of his work so I bought one.

Saturday I woke to rain on the roof of the RV. I actually woke several times before it was time to get up because of the rain. It was loud. I finally got up for good about 6:30 and started getting ready to head out. There was not much to do because I hadn’t put the slide out or gotten out the table. I pretty much got dressed (which I didn’t even truly “have” to do), donned my Gore-tex, and started the engine. My 1st stop was the dump station. Dumping the RV in the pouring rain, what a great way to start the day! Luckily it’s a quick procedure and by 7:30 I was on my way to Ellsworth.

I’d decided that I didn’t want to drag out the coffee pot, run the generator, etc so I’d treat myself to breakfast at McDonald’s in Ellsworth. I got a large coffee, forgetting that McDonald’s supersizes everything! It was a bucket of coffee! I ended up calling Mom and Dad so we could chat while I finished it so I could continue to be productive while I drank it!

My next stop was Hannaford’s – I had to pick up just a few things, didn’t want to get too much because anything I don’t eat by Friday I’ll have to get rid of somehow. After Hannaford’s was the LL Bean outlet, then I headed out to South Arm.

I’d meant to get gas in Ellsworth but I was waiting for a gas station on the right hand side of the road and didn’t see one! I was almost to Bangor before I found one. I pulled in and was aiming for a middle pump – the gas is on the driver’s side. As soon as the car in front of me pulled away I saw that there was an old attendant station in the middle – it wasn’t under the overhang of the pumps, but out some, creating a very narrow passageway to get out from the pump. At this point it was too late to abort the mission, I had to go forward. I pulled in and was very close to the pump. I almost couldn’t get out! The pump though wouldn’t reach the gas tank so I had to pull up. When I got out to pump I noticed that I was only inches from the concrete post that supports the overhang! Aghhh!!! I didn’t have much room to maneuver on the other side because of the old attendance station. I went ahead and pumped my gas thinking I’d deal with getting out after. Of course the thing takes 20 gallons (and it wasn’t even empty, down to a ¼) and the whole time I’m standing there worrying about how I’d get out. Right after I started pumping a guy in a big diesel truck towing a big pull-behind, came up behind me, if I got really stuck my plan was to ask him for help. As it was I just pulled forward slowly, and by some miracle the RV cleared both obstacles!

The drive was uneventful. It was a nice drive on windy, yet good, highways. The rain stopped and by the time I made it to Farmington the sun was coming out. I stopped at Gifford’s Ice Cream stand in Farmington – I’d gotten a twitter about great ice cream stands (not sure who I’m following that twittered that, but it was interesting and useful!) and Gifford’s was one of about 10 listed! It was good! I’d got “Deer Tracks” which was coffee ice cream, hot fudge swirl and toffee chips. Yum!

As I got closer and closer to Andover I was getting more and more out in the wilderness! I’d checked the phone at a town called Dixiefield and had no service, so I figured that was it, I wouldn’t have any again until Wed. So, you can imagine my surprise when, about 2 miles from the turnoff to the campground, my phone blurrrppeed at me that I had a text! I had full coverage! WOW! I stopped in Andover in a large parking lot and checked e-mails and such one last time.

The road into the campground was a narrow 2 lane road – paved though and in good condition. There was a “scenic turnout” and when I pulled over there was a pickup truck in the turnout – I was worried about blocking their view until I noticed that the woman was talking on a cell phone. I checked my phone – sure enough, full coverage! The turnout is about 6 miles out the road though, and it’s the only place with cell coverage.

South Arm campground is very nice. If they had some sort of public internet connection it would be perfect. They have internet, and I saw the router box so the have a network of some kind, but they don’t make it public.  Even just a computer where you could pay for use would be great! I like being out in the wilds but I also like to be connected!

Otherwise, it’s quiet, they have a swimming beach on a really cold lake, big sites, electricity, and showers!

Sunday I had a lazy day. I slept in till 8:30! Then went to do my laundry, I had to wait for the washers so I sat in the sun and read my book. I’m reading Thoreau’s The Maine Woods in honor of being in the wilderness of Maine. I had debated driving the six miles down the road to check emails etc, especially since I had to level up the motorhome, but in the end decided not to – I was going out Monday morning to go to Grafton Notch State Park so I could go 24+ hours without checking email. Right? It was hard, but I did it.

After my laundry got done and I ate lunch, I rented a kayak for the rest of the afternoon. It was fun paddling wherever I wanted to on the lake and I’ll prob rent another one on Tuesday!

After kayaking I got a shower, had dinner at the picnic table and read until the bugs drove me in.

Tomorrow I’m headed out to Grafton Notch State park to hike on the AT. As with all things RV it takes a lot of planning. I need to get out of here early because it’s going to take probably 2 hours to get there (at most), and I need to finish early because I need to be back here by 8:00. I really wish I had a small car with me that I could drive, then I wouldn’t have to worry about timing. I don’t want to have to park this thing in the dark! Although it will be nice to have a change of clothes and shoes when I’m done hiking, not to mention snacks!

Maine - Day 8 Great Head

Maine Day 9 - Bar Harbor to South Arm

Maine - Day 10 Kayaking at South Arm

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 7 - Penobscot and Sargent

This morning I headed out to Jordan Pond for an amazing hike! I took the early bus into the Village Green and got my coffee at the Alternative Market – a whole foods, organic store that is right on the Village Green. I only had about 30 mins before I caught the bus out to Jordan Pond. The coffee I had was called “The Nutty Fisherman! It was quite tasty!

At the bus stop at the campground I was chatting with some retired folks – they were traveling together and mentioned that I was hiking Penobscot & Sargent and the a nice young man who standing there too said that he’d hiked that yesterday – did the same loop I was planning and it was magnificent! He told me a bit about the trail that I had I known earlier I might have changed my plans – the trail is very steep in places, and by steep I mean like vertical, sit on your butt and scoot steep. But it was only in 2 places, the rest of the trail was easy.

I arrived at Jordan Pond at 10:15 and headed down the trail. The guy was right. It was very steep, almost like rock climbing! But there were plenty of hand helds and iron rungs in some places (to hold on to…when I’d first heard iron rungs, I was thinking ladders to climb and I didn’t think I liked that!). The climb up was only about ½ mile, maybe less and then it leveled out and was wide open!

The rest of the trail up, about a mile was exposed ridgeline! It looked very alpine with rocks and low growing bushes and views on all sides. Pretty awesome and well worth the tough climb up. The walk from there was very easy and I kept stopping to take pictures. It was a cloudy day, but at the time I was hiking the clouds were high and didn’t obstruct the views! The clouds were a good thing I think, it would be brutally hot up there on a sunny day!

After the summit of Penobscot I headed down a bit into a pine forest and came quickly to Sargent Pond and then the trail went back up again, more gently this time, before opening up again to go up Sargent. Again it was a lovely hike with views on all sides! You could Pencobscot, and then once you got high enough you could see the ocean beyond the peak! Sargent Mountain is the 2nd highest in the park, only 200 ft shorter than Cadillac and you could see almost the entire park from up there! It was very windy but I got out the map anyway to try and identify peaks. Attempting to refold the map was the bigger challenge. I ended up taking some video so I could id everything at the bottom! I accidentally uploaded the video to the album so you can look at it!

After a little while on the summit it was time to head down! I headed down a different way than I’d come up and on the way down I had great views of Eagle Lake, Cadillac Mt, Pemetic Mt, and Frenchman’s Bay. The terrain reminded of Glacier NP – which makes sense because Acadia was created by Glaciers!

Soon though I came to the steep part of the descent. WOW. It was steep! This way down was a bit less steep than the way up, but it was longer. The rocks were smaller and there was a lot of loose stone. I actually think this was the harder way down because you really had to concentrate and go slow. It took me over an hour to hike .8 mile! When I finally got to the trail marker I was very happy. Until I discovered that I was not at the Jordan Pond trail yet. I still had to go down. Then I got to the Carriage Road – again I thought I was done, but I still had more down. Finally I reached the flat Jordan Pond trail. I was at the far northern point – exactly ½ way around. I elected to take the eastern side so I could look at where I’d been.

I’m glad I did the loop in the direction that I did because it was nice having the flat Jordan Pond trail at the end. I was tired though and it was slow going. It also started to rain – aggressively sprinkle really, when I got to Jordan Pond and as I walked I watch the clouds roll in and suck the mountain into the fog. I had great timing! Had I been any later getting up there I wouldn’t have gotten the views!

I finally reached the Jordan Pond House. I’d been thinking I would get a hot fudge sundae but by the time I got there the fog was rolling in and it was chilly so I elected to have popovers and lemonade. Popovers are a signature Jordan Pond thing and they are quite odd – kinda like eggy bread. Very strange. You put butter and jam on them. They were warm and tasted good, but I’m not sure I need to have them again! As I snacked I watched the clouds eat up the Bubbles – 2 domed mountains at the north end of the pond.

After my snack and a trip through the gift shop I headed to the bus and back to the Village Green. The weather was turning really nasty. I did a little shopping in Bar Harbor, got dinner at a little café and then headed back to the bus. By this time it was raining and thundering! I got back to the RV a bit early but it was dark and rainy and nasty. I turned on the hot water heater and took a quick shower, uploaded my pics and headed to bed!

Maine - Day 7 Penobsoct & Sargent

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Maine Day 6 - Bar Island, Acadia Mountain, Echo Lake

I’d wanted to give myself an easier day, since I was getting worn out from all the go go go, not sure I succeeded in “easy” but it was a great day!

I started at the Opera House drinking coffee and enjoying caramel twirls – like cinnamon rolls only with caramel inside!

Around 10:00 I headed out to walk to Bar Island. There is a sand bar that during hide tide is under water, but during low tide you can walk, even drive, right across! It’s right there in a Bar Harbor so I thought I’d check it out. I found it very easily, it’s a very popular place! The walk across the sand bar was nice, there were a few little tide pools, but I didn’t have on waterproof shoes so I didn’t get out into the seaweed and stuff. It was about a mile to hike from the street to the top of the island. It was a nice quick walk, took a few pictures at the top. Hopefully these will be come out better, I noticed on many of my pictures from the boat ride were horribly crooked!

I got back to Bar Harbor about 11:30 and walked over to a little deli that I’d found, it has a snarky sign in the window that makes me laugh: “Best Sandwiches on this corner!”  They had lobster rolls and since I’m in Maine I need to eat lobster at least once and I can’t do the steamed lobster thing because I can just picture the little guy alive on the ocean floor! Unfortunately, they didn’t have lobster rolls so I had to settle for a ham & swiss! It was a super sandwich, I’ll def go back there!

The plan was to head out to Echo Lake and hike a short little trail there and then go for a swim in the lake, but I really wanted to hike up Acadia Mt, only I wasn’t sure the bus would pick me up, so I decided to ask in the mini-visitor center on the Village Green. Apparently Acadia Mt trailhead is very popular and lots of hikers get on and off the bus there. It’s too dangerous for the bus headed to Village Green to stop but the bus headed to Southwest Harbor will pick you up if you flag it down. That’s worked perfectly because after I hiked I wanted to go to Echo Lake and that was in the same direction as Southwest Harbor!

A number of folks got off the bus with me at Acadia Mt and the parking area was full! It was a 2.5 mile loop so I wasn’t expecting it to be to rough. I wasn’t even wearing my hiking boots because I hadn’t figured on going on a “real” hike today!

Well, Acadia kinda kicked my butt. It was VERY rocky and by rocky I mean climb over boulders, crawl on all fours, etc… But the effort was totally worth it when I saw the views at the top! Unfortunately, my camera got spray on the lens on the boat yesterday which left some marks on the pictures! I have since cleaned it off, but I didn’t realize it was there until I saw my pics! Somes Sound is the only fjord on the east coast! It’s pretty cool! 

If I thought the trip up was hard, the trip down was even harder! I’m glad I went up the way I did! It was very very steep and there were rocks that were vertical, yet the trail went right down them. It was a little less than a mile and it took me over an hour! It was very slow going! Many times I was down on my butt scooting! But the whole way down I had awesome views of the sound! At the bottom I joined up with a fire road and it was wide and flat and lead right back to the parking lot! The fire road was a mile long and I hiked it in about 20 mins!

I got back to the parking lot and checked out the bus schedule to see when I should be on the lookout for the bus. I’d seen a bus going the opposite direction as I was coming in so I knew my bus would be soon. It came less than 5 mins after I got to the parking area! Perfect timing! I flagged it down and got on. It was a short ride over to Echo Lake.

Echo Lake has a swimming beach and it’s warmer than the ocean, still chilly, but a lot warmer! I’d brought my bathing suit and towel so I got changed and went for a swim! The cold water felt so good! Swimming in a lake is so much better than a pool! I swam for about 20-30 mins before I started pruning up! It was chilly in the water, but it was actually colder when you got out! The air temp was in the high 60s/70s with a breeze! I changed back into my clothes and went to wait for the bus.

The bus took a very long time to come, but I met a nice family from Ottawa and they told me where they have hiked, they had some good suggestions! Eventually the bus came I was on my way back to the Village Green.

Ever since I started planning this trip Mom has been telling me about a resteraunt call Maggie’s, here in Bar Harbor. It’s a great little place, Maggie the owner and chef, grows all her own food and creates new menu items weekly! It was not a cheap dinner and I wasn’t sure it was really an “eat by yourself” place, but I went to check it out. I figured I needed to go today because I was a bit “cleaner” coming into Bar Harbor at the end of the day because I’d gone swimming and I wasn’t wearing my grubby hiking clothes (although my 1 pair of denim shorts are past needing to be washed!). I had the lobster crepes and the were AWESOME! Big chunks of lobster swimming a rich, bisque-like sauce. Very rich, but very good.

On my way back to catch the bus I stopped for some blueberry soft-serve to cap off the day!
Tomorrow I’m headed out to Jordan Pond, got a loop hiked planed to see all the cool stuff there! Supposed to be cloudy and there’s a 40% chance of rain – hopefully it will be passing showers here and there.

Maine DAy 6 - Bar Island, Acadia Mt, Echo Lake

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Maine Day 5 - Baker Island

This morning I went on a Ranger led boat trip to Baker Island. Baker Island is an uninhabited island a little ways off Mt. Desert Island. The day was to be a boat ride out to the island then a “moderate 2 mile hike” on the island.

I’d made my reservations before I left home and asked at the Visitor Center about where to meet. I was surprised when I got there that I needed a ticket. The gal on the phone never told me what to do after I’d made my reservation. Luckily I could just run up to the reservation desk and get a ticket. The NPS has contracted with the boat company to use their boat and their driver for this trip, so there was no sign or anything for it and in the NPS park newspaper it never mentioned which of the many boat companies it was, and when I asked in the park where to go there was no mention of go to get your ticket here 1st. grrr….

There were about 20 of us on the boat so it was a nice small group. The Ranger was pretty good, he was a bit disorganized and he kinda reminded me of Steve Carell or rather Michael Scott on the Office – he kept trying to make jokes that were just plain dumb and not funny.

On the boat ride out we saw all kinds of wildlife – including a Bald Eagle! We also saw cormorants, black guillemots, eider, harbor porpoise, harbor seals and a whale! I only saw the spray of the whale, the driver saw the whole thing!

Once we got to the island we walked a little bit, it definitely wasn’t 2 miles! And it was in no way “moderate” – it was mostly flat and level! The Ranger did a lot of talking and he wasn’t entirely organized or knowledgeable about the island so he was almost annoying. We saw the lighthouse and then walked out to the ocean to a place call Dancing Rocks – apparently they held dances there in the 1800s! It was still low tide so there were lots of tide pools to explore and the rocks were flat enough that you could get right down there and see. I didn’t see much though.

After about a 20 minute break on the rocks we walked back to the boat and came back to Bar Harbor.

One super cool thing was that I got to meet one of Acadia’s 4 teacher-rangers! The NPS has a program where they bring teachers in to select parks for the summer and the teachers do all kinds of NPS work from interpretive jobs to research assisting to campground campfire programs. The teacher rangers also help with curriculum development that schools can use. I think it’s a way to get cheap labor, but also a neat experience for teachers! I have been considering applying for the program so it was fun to meet a real teacher ranger! She seemed to be enjoying her time, but she wasn’t the most social and outgoing gal so it was hard to get her to talk. It was fun to meet her though!

After the boat ride I rode the bus out to the visitor center because they had the pin I wanted for my hat – slim pickins on hat pins around here. Then I stopped by the place with blueberry soft serve for a snack! Then I walked out to get my computer – since I had to drive the RV in because I needed to be at the boat earlier than the bus would get me here, I thought today would be a good day for computing tasks.

I took the computer to the Village Green, having discovered the free wi-fi there I was going to use it! Also it was a lovely afternoon and perfect for sitting outside! Unfortunately the free wi-fi wouldn’t cut it for uploading all my pics, that and the computer battery has not been charging up properly (I guess it caught the “battery flu” from the RV battery), so I ended up going to the Opera House and using their plug and their wi-fi.

On my way back to the RV I stopped and got a salad for dinner which I took back with me. I got back to the campground early, going to try to get to bed early, every afternoon
I almost fall asleep! I suspect however that it’s more due to grass pollen that is still in the air here rather then real exhaustion.

Can’t decide what to do tomorrow – there are too many things to do and not enough time to do them in! I think I’m going to hike the Beach trail – a trail the connects Bar Harbor to Bar Island during low tide, then after that I’m going to ride out to Echo Lake and take a short hike there then swim in the lake. I wanted to hike up Acadia Mt and check out Sommes Sound from the top – which is a fjord, but the bus doesn’t stop at the trail head, I don’t think…

Maine Day 5 - Baker Island

Monday, July 13, 2009

Maine Day 4 - Kayaking

I got a great nights sleep last night despite yippy dogs and snoring men in pop-ups! (More on the yippy dogs in a minute…) thank you sound machine app and working RV batteries! J

I was heading into Bar Harbor to be at the kayak place by 10:00 that meant I had to catch the 1st bus out of Blackwoods at 8:50 and I was going to have some time to kill before the trip. So of course I headed to my new favorite place in Bar Harbor, The Opera House! I just got coffee and sweet roll – an orange spiral, it was like a biscuit with orange marmalade rolled up like a cinnamon roll! I’m finding that it’s much easier to go get coffee in town rather than make it in the RV. Since I’m dry camping I’d have to start the generator or plug the coffee pot into the inverter which is by the driver’s seat. Not only that but there’s NO counter space, none whatsoever, so making coffee is a bit of a hassle, esp if I’m trying to get out the door quickly.

Also the Opera House was just 2 doors down from the Kayak place and I could use one of their plugs to finish charging my phone (using it for a sound machine means the battery runs down over night!).

At 10:00 I walked over to the kayak place. I’d been hoping there would be an odd number of people so I could have my own kayak, but no, there were 12 of us. There was a group of 3 so I got their “odd man out” with me. After getting suited up with spray skirts, dry bags, water shoes etc, we piled into the van and headed out to the Western side of Mt. Desert Island. It was about a 15 min ride and the guide told us all about the island.

I don’t remember much of what he said but one thing I remember is that the guy who came here first – Mr. Cadillac (I don’t remember his first name, I could look it up but I don’t have google right now, if you are reading this you do have google so that’s your homework assignment) “discovered” Mt. Desert Island and named the highest peak on it after himself. He then decided that living here was way to difficult so he moved to Detroit, where he got into the car business and named a car after himself. The story has a lot of holes in it, I’ll google it when I get to a connection and get back to you!

We put the kayaks in at Seal Cove and then rode the incoming tide and the winds back up to Bartlett Cove – about 6 miles of paddling. It was easy paddling though because the current and the winds were helping us a lot. To see on a map where I was click here to pull up the Acadia Map on the NPS website – we were all the way on the western side (left) Seal Cove is just above and to the left of where it says “Blue Hill Bay”. We paddled past Moose Island and then over to Hardwood Island, we took a break in the cove area right by where it says “Hardwood Island”. We then went up between Folly Island and Bartlett Island and took out where the road ends in the water.

It was a beautiful day for a kayak trip! Sunny and warm! The water was frigid! I couldn’t take many pictures, but the ones that I did take pretty much sum up the trip, it wasn’t spectacular scenery, but it was pretty and it was a great place to kayak! We saw a few birds – a bunch of cormorants and 2 osprey. Apparently there are Eagles here, but we didn’t see any.

There was another odd number group on our trip, so I got paired up with their extra person, she was a nice gal although I didn’t really talk to her much. This wasn’t an especially social group of folks, unlike the hike yesterday where we all got to know each other. She had never gone kayaking or canoeing before so she knew nothing about how do it! I went in the back of the boat, which was good because I could navigate – although I did get confused a bit. In a kayak you have foot pedals that control the rudder and it’s very simple – push the left foot pedal and you go left, push the right foot pedal and you go right. Well, I guess my brain was in a canoe land or something because kept consciously pushing the opposite one that I wanted! Luckily it’s easy to correct! Since my partner had never done this before she had little technique for paddling and I couldn’t get in synch with her at all – I think I ended up doing most of the powering for the boat as well as the steering. I’m probably going to feel it in the morning! It was lots fun and I liked basically having the boat to myself! I’m looking forward to renting a kayak at the campground in Andover and exploring the lake!

When we got back I took the bus out to Sand Beach! I had to go by there anyway to get back to the campground so I got off and went down to the beach! Sand Beach is an anomaly here – most of the coast is rocks. Big huge boulders. The wave crash in and it’s not safe for swimming! I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but it has to do with Old Soaker – an off-shore rock island (go back to the map I liked above, Sand Beach is on the right hand side of he map) you can see Old Soaker. It looks and feels like a regular beach! It’s not very big, but it’s big enough! The water however, is frigid. I think the temp today was 54. That’s right 54 degrees. Brrrr…. It was even cold for me! I jumped in Glacial lakes and swam around in Glacier, but this was way too cold. I stood in the surf for a little while (less than 5 mins) but my legs were going numb so I got out and hosed my feet off and came back to the RV. I’m going back out there on Fri I think to hike around Great Head.

When I got back to the RV it was shower time! I got cleaned up and headed back into Bar Harbor for dinner. I was heading to Rosalie’s – the kayak guide said it was one of the best pizza joints in town. The best one was “Reel Pizza” which is a pizza/movie theater and I didn’t want to do that. Rosalie’s was ok, if that’s the best I’m glad I didn’t try the others, but it wasn’t bad. After dinner I wandered a bit before getting ice cream and heading back to the bus stop.

The past 2 days I got ice cream at The Black Moose because the sign on their window says that a portion of the proceeds from their sales goes to help preserve moose habitats. There are so many ice cream joints in town it’s hard to know which is the best so I picked it for a none-ice cream reason! I’m pretty sure it’s Gifford’s Ice Cream (voted best by some big ice cream survey people) because I recognize the flavor names. Tonight I realized that there isn’t a line of people at The Black Moose, so I was wondering about other places. On my way back to the bus I saw a place that was advertising Real Maine Blueberry Soft Serve – mmmmm….that sound good…that’s on the plan for tomorrow!

When I got back to the RV it was only 8:00 and it wasn’t dark yet so I decided to walk out the little path to the ocean and check the view here. It was a pretty cool view, limited area though, the rocks get steep quick, it’s not like back along the Ocean Trail. It does have an amazing view of a huge expanse of the ocean – on a clear night it would be an awesome place to watch the stars! I’m hoping maybe tomorrow night will be just as clear as tonight and I’ll walk out after dark.

When I got back to the RV I was settling in to blog and upload my pictures when I heard a Ranger talking to the people in the pop-up next door. They were telling him about the trailer that had the yippy dogs. I stepped out, of course I’m wearing my purple penguin pajamas, and told them that I’d been here at 4:00 and they were barking and no one was there and then again at 8:00 no one was there. The folks in the pop-up said the dogs never quieted down last night, I guess I didn’t hear because of my sound machine! J The Ranger said that he might be back to ask some more questions.

A little while later there was a knock at the door and Arthur, the Ranger, asked me to fill out some paper work about what I’d seen/heard etc. Apparently someone else in the campground had left a note on the picnic table at 3:30 telling the folks about their dogs barking – so they were figuring it was going on at least 10 hours that the dogs had been in the trailer alone. I sat down to fill out the paper and realized that it was the same official “witness report” folks fill out for all kinds of crimes/incidents! Pretty cool! When I stepped back out to give it to him and noticed that his Ranger Cruiser was parked right in my campsite right up next to my RV! I didn’t even know he was there! I really wanted to take pictures but decided not to!

Meanwhile the dogs had stopped barking. I’m not sure what they did – if they broke into the trailer, shot a tranquilizer dart through the screen or what. When I brought the paper to the Ranger I heard someone say “one of the dogs is mine, one of them is my mother’s” so presumably the owners came back. I heard them out there a minute ago and all has been quiet for over an hour now.

Off to bed…the wind is kicking up, there’s a chance of rain overnight. I’m falling asleep as I type!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Maine Day 3 - The Ocean Path

I finished up at the café around 10:30 and the sun was just beginning to come out as I got on the bus to come back to the campground. This time of day the bus goes around park of the park loop road to get to the campground. I was excited to see the coast and the ocean and the rocks! As a result it takes longer! It’s about a ½ hour on the bus into Bar Harbor, but the scenic route took almost an hour. It was noon when I got to the RV.

I’d decided I was going on the 2:30 Ranger led walk to Otter Point. I’d hoped to stop at Thunder Hole on my way because the tide was coming in and that’s when the waves crash into Thunder Hole and it’s the coolest. I got myself all ready, packed my backpack, put on my hiking boots, grabbed my lunch and was walking to the bus stop when Rene pulled in. It was good timing because I could help him get the battery in and make sure it was working. That took about a ½ hour and then I was on my way to the bus stop, as I was walking up there I saw the bus so I started running to flag it down, but the driver didn’t see me! So I had to wait 30 minutes until the next one!

By the time I finally got on the bus it was close to 1:30, the walk started at 2:30! No time for Thunder Hole! I made it to the hike location by 2:00 though, thanks to a tip from the bus driver! Since I was early I wandered out on to the rocks where I could see the ocean. It was pretty awesome! Be sure to check the pictures! When I got there most of the coast was covered with fog! That made it look even cooler! When I’d passed through just a few hours earlier though, it had been clear!

I met up with the group for the ranger walk. It was a large group, but everyone was very nice! There were a whole bunch of teachers and retired teachers! The ranger who lead the hike was in fact a retired teacher! She’d taught high school science and math and is now a seasonal interpretive ranger here and winters in Florida! The walk was nice, but it was only a mile and we kept stopping to talk about stuff! I guess that’s what happens when you have a former teacher for a leader! J It was very interesting though!

When we got to the final destination – Otter Point, which the ranger claimed was the southernmost point on Mt. Desert Island (spelled like Desert, pronounced like Dessert), I’m not 100% sure of that from looking at the map – the fog broke up and suddenly the whole coast was clear and sunny!

The ranger left us at that point to find our own way back, so I started walking back toward Thunder Hole and Sand Beach – it was 2 miles to Sand Beach and it was basically flat! As I walked I took many pictures at the same place where I’d taken a picture before, only now it was a whole different shot because the fog was gone!

Thunder Hole was not that interesting to me. Basically it’s a hole in the rocks and when the tide comes in it crashes and booms and sprays. The tide was going out so maybe I need to go back when it’s high tide, or when the tide is coming in. We’ll see.

I made it to Sand Beach – which is a swimming beach, even though the ocean is only 55 degrees there – and waited for the bus. I’d thought maybe I’d go for a swim, but I didn’t really feel like it then, despite the fact that I was hot and sweaty. I’m going to plan for a swim at Sand Beach tomorrow after kayaking when I’ll already be in “get wet gear”, then I’ll come back to the RV and get all showered.

When I got on the bus and we drove back down the same areas I’d just walked, the fog was once again present! Amazing how it comes and goes so fast! This time it was even thicker than before! This evening the fog was even creeping into the treetops at the campground!

I rode the bus all the way into Bar Harbor so I could get ice cream, since all my ice cream sandwiches melted in the battery failure and check email/computer stuff. I got some great blueberry ice cream, which has basically been my dinner, even though I’m snacking on carrots and hummus as I write – it’s ok I’m on vacation and my mom isn’t with me (even if she was she’s all for ice cream for dinner and carrots for dessert!)

I arrived back at the campsite at about 8:15. The 1st thing I did was check the battery…it’s fully charged. I’m not running much this evening – 1 light at a time, the water pump, charging the phone, might have to plug the computer in, but I won’t leave it to charge and that’s it. Hopefully the issue is solved. We’ll have to see in the morning how things are!

I’ll be heading to bed soon, very tired after not sleeping much last night.

Maine Day 3 - Ocean Trail