The Dinosaur goes to Maine
The flight out to Maine went off with barely a hitch. We think JetBlue pays their pilots more or something because the landing in New York actually drew applause. However, once we got to Portland, there was a hang-up.
I called the hotel and asked for the shuttle. We stayed at a Holiday Inn and we waited for their driver. Meanwhile, there was a shuttle driver from the Marriot and the driver and I gave each other the fish eye. It looked like he was expecting someone, but since we weren’t at the Marriot, it wasn’t us. Since whoever he was expecting didn’t show up, he left. So, after a while, I called the hotel again and was told that the shuttle had been dispatched. Meanwhile, people were leaving the airport, all except for us. Before long, we were the only people standing outside, us and a lonely airport security guy that passed us once or twice.
After a forty minute wait, plus several phone calls to the hotel, culminating in a threat to speak to the manager, a shuttle shows up for us – the Marriot shuttle. It was the same driver we saw earlier, so I asked him why he didn’t say anything. He told us they are not allowed to do that, which I thought was strange, but we’re in a different place, and we have to go along with whatever the local practice. Once we got to the hotel, things were back to being good.
Larry and Carolyn, our hosts, picked us up and we went to their house to drop off our bags, then we were off to Portland Head Light. This is a very pretty searchlight, and I will be sending pictures later on. The day was a pleasant fifty-something, with a slight breeze. The leaves are still turning up here and we saw brilliant color mixed in with the green everywhere we looked.
Along our travels, we stopped in at a town named Damariscotta for lunch. There were large carved pumpkins along the street and one huge vegetable in a frame and on display. This monster looks like a small townhouse.
We learned there was a Pumpkin Festival and Regatta going on. I tried to get a picture of the regatta, since what it looks like is they made boats out of these giant pumpkins and they raced them. The pumpkin sailors had
small outboard motors to power their veggie vessels, but no sails. A forklift took the things down to the starting point and they were timed as they ran a course. The people out on the dock were rooting loudly for their favorite veggie sailor. By the time I realize what is going on, the crowd was in my way and I couldn’t get a good picture of the race.
Lunch was a chicken quesadilla, sort of. Remember this is Maine.
The ‘tortilla’ wasn’t a tortilla as we know it. Instead, it was a crispy affair, much like phyllo or some kind of flat bread, and it had herbs in the crust. The quesadilla was fried in an oil, and the cheese stayed slightly runny. The beer I had was called a “Shipyard
Ale.” It was a medium body, amber ale without much of a head. It was an easy drinking ale, but not very complex.
Patsy and I had some jet lag, so this wasn’t a very ambitious day. We ended up back at the house in the early evening for some quiet talk and Bowl O’ Soup noodle things.
The sun came up much later here than in Las Vegas, since we are further north. There was enough light to take pictures by seven, and the view from the house was lovely, so I got some nice shots across the Piscataquis River, near the house. We had a quick breakfast and then headed off for Mt. Desert Island and Acadia Park. First, though, we drove along the Penobscot River, crossing over a bridge so we could see where the Piscataquis joined it.
Unfortunately, there was road work going on and it took us over an hour to go a couple of miles. Before we found out what the hold-up was, we asked one of the locals who wanted to merge with traffic, what was causing the delay. He said it was Entropy, so after we had our laugh, Larry let him merge in front of us. We saw a small lighthouse at Bass Harbor and kicked around the rocks there.
One of the highlights of the day was a visit to Jordan Pond, where we had golden split pea soup and really great popovers. I had a Thunder Hole Ale along with my soup and popovers, a nice clean tasting drink, slightly coffee/chocolate-y flavor. The ale had a slight head that went away quickly.
After lunch, we headed off to Mt. Cadillac and some spectacular views, much like looking down at a very large relief map. Of course, since Maine is kind of flat, we saw those spectacular views from about 1,500 feet above sea level. We returned home by passing through Bar Harbor.
On our way to Bar Harbor, we looked at a lot of mini-mansions and some that were not so mini. This used to be the playground of the rich Victorians. In fact, the road we traveled on, used to be a Victorian carriage road.
By the time we were headed back home, the traffic jams were more or less gone because the maintenance crews were also gone. The return trip was much faster.
Now all this may sound dull, but remember, we were traveling through this colorful scenery, with trees that were either blazing red, bright orange, or flashing yellow, scattered between darker pine trees. The color is supposed to get even more vivid by next week, but we won’t be here to see that. So far, however, it has been amazing. Rain, and maybe some snow, was predicted for the next day. If it happens, we’ll have a quiet day around the house, talking and loafing. When we got home, however, the sky seemed pretty clear.
The rain had set in when we woke up, it looked like we would have a quiet day. However, Larry and Carolyn had some plans and we ended up going to Bangor and the Lippencott bookstore. We had lunch at a Bagel Factory across the street from the bookstore.
Lunch was a hot pastrami and Swiss cheese on buckwheat bread, a really fine sandwich. The desserts were something also: Patsy and Carolyn had cannolis and I had a small tart stuffed with apples and almonds. Larry settled for a chocolate chip cookie. There was a woman standing in line behind us when I got the desserts; she asked if she could come to our table and join us.
The Lippencott bookstore is one of those places that smells like a bookstore. They had the requisite cat dozing on a club chair, making it officially a bookstore. The place only sells used books, some of them very old. It was humbling to be surrounded by so many books I should have read years ago. Oh well.
We end our time away from home by visiting an apple store. This was in an old building that looked like an Andrew Wyeth sort of place and the man selling us apples had a classic ‘ayup’ Maine accent. The smell was a mixture of several types of apples and pears. Across the street from the store was a blazing Maple tree. I had to borrow Carolyn’s camera to get a picture of it, since I forgot mine back at the house.
The morning started out clear and brisk, but it would cloud up as the day went along. We headed out for Mt. Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine. There are several lakes, both large and small, near the base of the mountain and we stopped to take pictures at one of them. There are no roads up to the top of Katahdin, but you can hike there, since it’s only about 5,000 ft. or so above sea level. Of course, the foliage is stunning, as usual.
After kicking around there for a while, we headed off for Moosehead Lake. Today would be a marathon driving day for Larry, since we had to double back almost to the house in order to get to Moosehead Lake.
Moosehead Lake is the largest lake east of the Mississippi, or so I understand. On the way, we stopped at the Appalachian Trail Cafe for lunch. The café theme is the trail, and meal selections have trail references. For instance, one hamburger that featured onions and green peppers was called ‘Stinky Boot.’ Patsy and I had the ‘Black and Bleu’ hamburger, dressed with bleu cheese. Afterwards, we had Oatmeal Pie, apparently a Maine specialty. It’s like a coconut cream pie with an oatmeal topping: very
tasty and very heavy on the waist.
We made it to Moosehead Lake late in the afternoon, in time for coffee at the Black Frog Inn. The name came from a large wooden sculpture of a frog that sat outside the café. It was the only thing that survived a fire they had. Originally, the inn was called the Green Frog and the sculpture was painted green, but it’s, well, black now, so they changed the name of the place. We had our coffee and something called French Nacheauxs, advertised at the best nachos 3,000 miles north of Tijuana. They were pretty good, too. Something odd happened here. The picture I took of the frog (I swear I took
a picture of the frog) just disappeared. Magic!
There was an old steamer boat near the inn. This thing has been on the lake at least since the early twentieth century, and maybe even earlier. Why this is important to mention is that the Black Frog menu had ten answers to FAQs; of course they didn’t list the questions. Anyway, the tenth answer was something like, ‘No, it’s not sinking, it just leaks. It’s old; you’d leak too if you were that old. That’s why God created Zoloft.’
By the time we got back to the house, it was still early, but felt late. We watched some CSI on television, then went off to bed.
Today would be our last ’adventure’ day, since we have to go back to Portland on Friday so we can fly out early on Saturday. With a bag of Maine apples in the back seat, we got on the road. We went to Eastport, once the busiest port on the East coast, but now the town is much reduced and is turning into an artsy kind of place. Many of the large houses were built by sea captains in the 1800s, and are kept in good shape.
We had lunch at a place called ‘The Happy Crab,’ an oxymoron on the face of it. I had a seafood salad roll that redeemed the stupid soggy McLobster roll we had up in Canada. The ‘Crab’ took a little extra time to toast their hot dog roll, so how hard would that be for McDonald’s to do the same thing?
Anyway, the roll was accompanied by a delicious chowder made with enough cream to cause at least one capillary to harden. Today’s beer was a Dogffish Stout, an amber brew with a thin head and a nice aroma, accompanied by a slight vanilla taste and a good hoppiness. Dessert for me was a ‘Mile High Boston Cream Pie.’ There were five layers of cake and custard, topped with a thick chocolate layer. I believe I felt another capillary hardened. On the way to Eastport, I got a picture of an interesting Maine phenomenon: a long structure with a main living house connected to a smaller place where the grandparents live. These two are connected to a smaller house and a barn. They call this ’Big house, middle house, back house, barn.’ The backhouse is the smallest of the four structures and apparently is used to house machinery and new born animals in cold weather. Carolyn gave us a CD that has a song that uses ‘Big House, Middle
House, Back House Barn’ as a refrain. Big house, middle house, back house, barn
Our last stop for the day was at Quaddy Head lighthouse. This
is the eastern most lighthouse in the United States. The lighthouse is a red and white striped brick affair. We got there too late to go through the museum but I got some good pictures of it anyway.
Along the way to Quaddy Head, we passed a monument noting the 45th parallel. Larry called it a shrine to the parallel. Well, we all worship one thing or another, so why not a place on the earth?
This was our travel day and we headed back to Portland. There was a pottery shop along the way and we stopped to look around. Carolyn bought a really nice copper Raku lamp. It was a beauty.
We stopped at a great big mall to do some shopping. We ended up at the Barnes and Nobel store, about as far away from the Lippencott as you can get. After that, we went to lunch at the Sea Dog Brewery Pub. I had an Oktoberfest Ale, which was nice, but Patsy had their Hazelnut Porter, which was even nicer.
By this time, it was getting late and Larry and Carolyn would have about a two and a half hour drive back home, so we had them drop us off at the hotel. Patsy gathered some red leaves to take back home with us, but the adventure was pretty much over. Our flight the next morning was uneventful, especially waiting around in the airport. Again, the JetBlue pilots made really nice landings, but no applause this time. I think it was a more blasé crowd.
Thanks for going along with us on our trip to Maine. As usual, I tried to stick with the highlights so as not to get bogged down in minutia, but there was so much more that happened, such as meeting people, seeing places that were beautiful but nameless, and so on. Particularly, I wish I could transmit the smells of the woods, the apple barn and the Lippencott book store, but I don’t have the magic to do that. So, I hope you enjoyed the ramblings. Until the next time, thanks for coming along with us.
Tony and Patsy