This trip was all about the NHRA New England Nationals drag race in Epping NH combined with a desire to visit areas of Maine that none of us had ever visited; Bar Harbor, Acadia Park, Portland, etc. Since we have a number of family members in the New England area, plus we are huge seafood enthusiasts, making this trip was a very easy decision!
Trip Planning & Motivations
To maximize our time in New England, we decided to fly from Tampa to Boston, drive to Manchester and met with my brother-in-law Chris. All of us then drove north to Bar Harbor, and back again.
This trip started with a telephone conversation with Chris, who invited us up to watch the NHRA New England Nationals drag race. Chris is a NHRA fan (as I am), and as we continued to discuss the idea, we agreed to combine the Drag Races with a trip up into areas of Maine that none of us had ever visited.
To view the details of how we plan trips, click here.
Tampa International Airport
Obviously for us to get to New England, our trip will have to start with a flight out of the Tampa International Airport.
Our departure flight was scheduled for 6AM, so we decided to try a different approach to departure. Rather than driving to the Airport from Sarasota at 2AM, we drove up the afternoon before, and stayed for the night in the Marriott Hotel inside the airport. This allowed us to have a couple of drinks, have a nice dinner at P.F. Chang's, and then have a comfortable night's sleep and rise in time to catch the 6AM flight. It worked out very nicely !
We obtained a rental car from Hertz at Boston Logan, and drove up to Kennebunkport, ME to visit some friends of ours.
This is the home of some very good friends of ours, a gentleman who was the former CEO & Founder of a company that Celeste used to work for. We spent a great evening with them, had a seafood dinner, some good wine and some great conversation.
Kennebunkport Inlet as it wanders into the town of Kennebunkport, as you can imagine, seafood restaurants are everywhere here.
The town itself is easy to walk-about, many small shops, seafood restaurants, etc. For a complete list of restaurants & shopping in Kennebunkport, click here.
Looking out at the Atlantic Ocean with the Kennebunkport River Inlet jetty in the center area. The river continues into the village of Kennebunkport.
Suggested links for Kennebunkport, ME
- Google list of places to stay in Kennebunkport
- Kennebunkport Google Travel Guide
- Here is a pre-built Google Search for places to eat in Kennebunkport
- There are many other sites, try your own Google search.
Biddeford Pool, ME
After our Kennebunkport, ME visit concluded, we drove to Manchester, NH to stay with Celeste's brother Chris Malcolm, and to attend the drag races that Sunday.
The 2018 NHRA New England Nationals event took place at the drag strip in Epping, NH. I was supposed to go with them, but I had tweaked my back (once again) to the point where sitting in bleacher-style seats all day was not an option, so I stayed at Chris's house and watched the races on TV. This wasn't the way I had expected to view the races, but it allowed me to keep icing my back, to stretch and prepare for the car ride into Maine.
The picture above belongs to WWW.NHRA.COM, and we thank them for such a great image.
Wells Beach, ME
This part of the trip was for us to spend time with Dana Malcolm, another of Celeste's brothers and his partner.
The seagulls are out early in the morning in Wells Beach, enjoying the beautiful sunrise and looking for a snack. Nobody was up and about at this hour of the morning, so a beach walk was enjoyable.
Looking south along the beach, in the distance are a couple of restaurants. One of which we hiked down to for lunch the very next day.
All of us relaxing in the afternoon sun. From left to right are; Celeste's brother Chris, myself, Celeste's brother Dana and on the far right is Ron Cates.
On our drive north, Chris wanted to stop by the L.L. Bean Store in Freeport, ME to make a purchase. As you can see, they have a very large store here, with everything an outdoor person could ever need.
During the drive north from the Wells area, we decided to stop in Bath to drive by the Shipyard and to visit the Maritime Museum. In image #1, you can see a new Zumwalt class Destroyer being built for the U.S. Navy.
In images 2 & 3 there are several other ships were being built next to the destroyer, the ships are built in a modular fashion, and then assembled inside these "sheds".
Bar Harbor, ME
These images are of the harbor from Agamont Park, which is just at the end of Main Street and a block above the Harbor itself.
The schooner in these pictures provides a tour of the harbor for those so inclined. I am not exactly sure of this ship's name, but it belongs to the Downeast Windjammer Tours company.
We ate dinner at Stewman's Oceanfront Lobster Pound, which not only had lobster, but provides tables on a pier that sits out on the Harbor. Beautiful views !
Dinner here was very good; Celeste had a lobster roll, her brother had a clam roll and I had fish tacos. I had a locally brewed ale named "Thunder Hole Ale" which is one of the best ales I've had in a long time. The beer is made at the Atlantic Brewing Company (formerly known as "Bar Harbor Brewing") and they unfortunately do not ship this beer to Florida!
A better view of Celeste's Lobster roll dinner at Stewman's Restaurant. All fresh lobster, sweet potato fries and cole slaw!
The bus back to our motel departs from the Village Green area of Bar Harbor - a nice park in the middle of Bar Harbor. The Village Green is located in the heart of Bar Harbor just a 4-minute walk to the town's northern waterfront. The Village Green has free Wi-Fi and a helpful information center where you can learn about seasonal events and local festivities being held in the park and the town.
In the background of image #3, you can see the city buses queued up waiting for passengers. Buses are free to everyone! To put it more clearly, parking in Bar Harbor is not that good and taking the bus frees you from having to search for a parking spot!
This is Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium in downtown Bar Harbor. We can testify as to the great fudge to be had here!
Acadia State Park, ME
This is a view of Eagle Lake as our Acadia National Park tour bus made it's way up Cadillac Mountain.
This is a hole and small cave, carved out by the ocean waves. At certain tide levels, when the waves surge into the hole strongly, it makes a "booming noise" that acquired the name "Thunder Hole".
This is a view of the Thunder Hole cave from the ocean-side, and you can see how the waves fill the hole when they surge into this cleft in the rocks.
At low tides, the sandbridge in Bar Harbor is completely exposed and people can either walk or drive to Bar Island.
Penobscot Narrows Bridge & Fort Knox, ME
In Bucksport, ME you will find the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. It is 2,120 feet in length and the towers are 446 feet high with an observatory on top of the western-most tower.
This is a view of the Penobscot River, looking north from the Tower Observatory, with Bucksport in the distance. You can just see Fort Knox on the left, facing Bucksport, which is our next stop.
Not sure why a U-Haul truck is parked at the entrance to Fort Knox - it may have belonged to a group of people preparing an exhibit inside the Fort. In fact, there were exhibits being setup for public viewing once we got inside.
The heavy artillery inside the Fort were comprised of 15 inch guns, however these artillery pieces are obviously not 15 inch units. To put that size artillery into perspective, a 15 inch weapon is the same size as WW1 battleships used to have as their main armament.
Each artillery piece had their own portal (or "firing port"), to be able to fire upon anyone on the river. The firing ports provided only a limited traversal space, because the next artillery portal was expected to cover the additional areas.
The Fort had some very large spaces, probably originally utilized for storage of artillery shells, etc. And then each "firing port" and storage area, was connected by long protected walkways such that men could be rushed back & forth to resupply or to render aid as necessary.
My sister and her husband drove up from Cape Cod, and we had a fantastic dinner at the Limoncello Restaurant in Boston's North-end. It is not possible to describe how good the food was, everything was absolutely perfect and we highly recommend it to one and all.
If you ever are in the Boston area, do yourself a favor and go to this restaurant and enjoy a meal, you will be glad you did!
Back to Florida
This part of the trip was rather mundane, so I'm not going to show any pics or text about flying out of Logan to Newark, and then onwards to Tampa. We got our car out of economy parking and motored back to Sarasota.
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