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Archive for June 24, 2010

Days 24 and 25: Covering some ground

June 24, 2010 12 comments
Location: Lubec, ME
Miles Driven: ~620 (since Tuesday)
Total Miles: 4,660

Greetings from Lubec, Maine – the easternmost town in the whole country.  I had heard about this place from my friend Frances, and though I didn’t have intentions of visiting, it was right along the coast and I figured it would be worth a visit.  And since I arrived after 9PM and over 300 miles of driving today, I decided to find some place to stay.  Thanks to 3G on the phone, I found the Peacock House Bed & Breakfast, and the kind owner Sue checked me in after normal hours.

Where to begin?  In my last post, I described the time I spent with Lynn and my other relatives.  The following morning (Tuesday) I accidentally slept in, but it turned out to be OK.  Lynn didn’t need to kick me out, and I didn’t necessarily have to be anywhere (story of this trip).  So I got caught up on my website posts, tallied the latest expenses, and took care of some laundry (thanks, Lynn).

Lynn has some nice plants in front of her house

Around 4PM or so, we headed to the Barrington, RI area to visit my great aunt Vivian (Viv was the wife of my great uncle Omer, one of the three brothers previously mentioned).  At 88 years old, she is the oldest remaining relative on this side, as far as I know, and still lives in a house that was owned by my great grandmother’s family (Pere’s).  If I met Aunt Viv before, it was when I was little, so I had no memory of it – but she treated me like someone she’s known forever.  We enjoyed some drinks and snacks outdoors, and I learned some more family history in the process.  Another great visit with a relative.  My only regret with this whole stay in Rhode Island is that I haven’t spent more time with these people in the past.

Great Aunt Vivian and me

I said my goodbyes to Lynn and Aunt Viv, and got in the car to start the journey north towards Maine.  I had debated stopping in Boston (never been before) and checking out some of the historic sites, but wasn’t drawn to it enough to fight traffic in a big city.

I continued north on I95

I had no major destination in mind for the day, but I just wanted to work my way towards northern Maine.  There’s a state park – Baxter – that marks the northern end of the Appalachin Trail (goes from Georgia to Maine) with the tallest mountain in Maine – Mount Katahdin.

Grabbed this shot with my phone

I was pretty thrilled to be in Maine.  As I texted some friends, here I was 4,000+ miles since starting the trip, in a state I’ve heard so much about but had never seen.In the visitor center parking lot, I saw a car propped up on a jack but nobody was around it.  Since it looked like my old Neon (just red instead of green), I gave it a look over. Someone apparently got a flat and got towed to the stop and hadn’t been back yet. I emphasized a little bit with the owner, knowing some of the issues you could get with that kind of car (though I had wonderful luck on my last roadtrip).Wonder if this car owner was on a roadtrip of their own?

tough break, little Neon

I drove my way to a rest stop not far from Millnocket, Maine.  It was too bad the sky was overcast.  I was thinking out in the Maine wilderness, with little city light interference, I bet the night viewing is spectacular.  Oh well.  Slept at the rest stop and got up around 5AM to start the trek to Baxter State Park.  Unfortunately, the sky was overcast still, and rain was coming down periodically.

Cool painting on the way to the park

By the time I made it to the park, the rain was pretty steady and my chances of hiking near Mount Katahdin looked dim.  I don’t mind a little rain, but it seemed by the time I would make it back to the car after a hike, I’d be soaked, and I have little room in the car for wet items.  But I still got to enjoy the park via the “Tote Road”, the unpaved main road that winds through the park.  On this road, the max speed limit at any point is 20 mph, and you have to watch for cars as the road is barely wide enough to fit two across.

Baxter State Park is pretty amazing, in both size and history.  Percival Baxter, a former governor of Maine, bought up large areas of land over a period of time, and then donated them to the state.  He was a big fan of the outdoors, and wanted the area to be enjoyed by residents and guests alike, but recreation would be a secondary consideration behind keeping the land protected from industry (like paper).  In the push to turn the land into a state park he once said:

Maine is famous for its twenty-five hundred miles of seacoast, with its countless islands; for its myriad lakes and ponds; and for its forests and rivers. But Mount Katahdin Park will be the state’s crowning glory, a worthy memorial to commemorate the end of the first and the beginning of the second century of Maine’s statehood. This park will prove a blessing to those who follow us, and they will see that we built for them more wisely than our forefathers did for us.

Indeed, all I had heard about Maine was it’s rich coastline.  But after getting a chance to drive 42 miles through Baxter State Park, I really gained an appreciation for what Governor Baxter had said about this land.  Here are some photos from my drive through:

Tote Road

Doubletop looms in the distance

Well I'd hope the fire danger is low here, Smoky. It's been raining all day

It took several hours to get through the park between driving at 20mph and stopping for naps/photos.  By the time I made it out, it was still raining and the car was quite a mess.

A little bit dirty, but managed the unpaved road well

I continued on some state highways, with some stops in some old towns, and made my way towards the eastern portion of Maine along Highway 1.  At one point I reached a junction where Highway 11 went North and South.  I pulled over, and texted my friend Kelly.  “Which way?” I asked.  She said “left”.  Left was South, and left I went.

A lake in Maine

View of St. Croix Island International Historic Site (along US/Canadian border). The island was a site of an early French settlement

Originally I had made plans to go visit Nova Scotia, but it would be quite a haul to get to Halifax, and it would limit my time at Acadia National Park, so I decided against it.

It certainly was chilly with the combination of driving near the water and the steady rain, and as I made my way towards Lubec I had to be careful as there was a little fog on the roads.  But even with the cold, damp weather, I would consider this an outstanding day.  I covered a lot of ground, saw some beautiful places in Maine, and wound up staying in a bed and breakfast that was once a home built before the start of the Civil War (built in 1860).

Sue says breakfast is at 8:30, and there she said I’ll learn more about some nearby attractions (and one in Canada).  She said they are must-sees.  Looking forward to it.

joe

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