Exploring the Maine Coastline
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!
The secondary concept of wrapping the trip around a stay with one of Celeste's brothers before beginning our Maine exploration, was icing on the cake!
- Maine is the only state that shares its borders with only one other US state.
- Since 2005, Maine’s annual lobster yield has weighed in at more than 60 million pounds, with nearly 124 million pounds caught in 2014. (That’s almost 90 percent of the United States’ lobster supply.)
- Maine is the single largest producer of blueberries in the United States.
- Maine is the country's third coldest state in spring (coldest is Alaska).
- The origin of the state's name is unclear.
- Acadia National Park’s Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the East Coast. Named for explorer Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, sieur de Cadillac — for whom the car company is also named — Cadillac Mountain is 1530 feet tall, and, from October through March, is the first place to experience the sunrise in the United States.
- Portland, Oregon is named after Portland, Maine. The Oregon city was founded by two New Englanders, one from Massachusetts, and the other from Maine. After a coin flip, Francis Pettygrove of Maine got to choose the city’s name. He picked Portland to honor his hometown.
- Maine used to be part of Massachusetts. The former Massachusetts province spent decades after the American Revolution campaigning for independence, and finally gained official statehood in 1820.
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.
This is a scenic & interesting place to visit, plus we had a fantastic dinner with some old friends of ours.
Biddeford Pool, ME
This is an example of the tidal variation in Maine, the tide is at it's lowest level when this picture was taken. That is "Stage Island" on the right, and "Basket Island" on the left, both can be easily walked to when the tide is this low.
Click here to view a Google Images set for Biddeford Pool.
NHRA New England Nationals
After our Kennebunkport, ME visit concluded, we drove to Manchester, NH to stay with Celeste's brother Chris, 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.
This part of the trip was for us to spend time with Dana Malcolm, another of Celeste's brothers and his partner. This area of Maine has a beautiful coastline and is far enough off the beaten path to where you only see people who live here, or a few who own vacation property here.
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. See how wide this beach is? This is low tide, but it gives you an idea of how large it is. This is a popular beach during the summer, and it does get crowded.
The sun rises very early in Maine, but it certainly is beautiful. The first place in the United States to see each day's sunrise is in Maine click here to read a New England Today article about where the sun is first seen in Maine each 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.
Image # 2 (right side) is a better view of the large boot at the front of the store, looks like Paul Bunyan size doesn't it?
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".
The Bath Iron Works is still the sole shipyard in Bath, and continues to build destroyers for the US Navy. It is now the largest public employer in Maine.
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. Because the park is on a hill, there are no bad views of the harbor as you can see in these images.
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!
Image # 1 (left side) is a better view of Celeste's Lobster roll dinner at Stewman's Restaurant. All fresh lobster, sweet potato fries and cole slaw!
Image # 2 (right side): The view from Stewman's Restaurant pier was very good, which made our seafood taste just that much better. To wash down good food with the "Thunder Hole Ale" was a treat!
There are a number of restaurants in Bar Harbor that have "Lobster tanks", where you can purchase one to take home, or in some cases, select the one that you want to eat for dinner there. Here is a pic of a lobster, waiting for a customer to select it.
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!
Image # 1 (left side) is Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium in downtown Bar Harbor. We can testify as to the great fudge to be had here!
Image # 2 (right side) is a nice view of the harbor as we walked down Main Street, past Ben & Bills Chocolate Emporium.
Acadia National Park, ME
This is a scenic & interesting park to visit, beautiful views, nice hikes and amazing geography.
This is a gorgeous little beach nestled between mountains and rocky shores on the east side of Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park. Access is provided via the Park Loop Road just south of the entrance fee station in Bar Harbor, Maine. The beach is largely comprised of unique sand of shell fragments created by the pounding surf. The waterline can vary quite a bit because of the difference between high and low tide.
NOTE: Parking is limited here and what there is gets used quickly on nice days. If you plan to go here, you should go early or all the parking will be utilized. The Park Service does not allow parking except for designated parking lots and specific road side areas, other areas are blocked by large stones.
As you can see on the map, Schoodic Peninsula is only 4 miles east of Bar Harbor by boat or bird, but it is 48 miles by road. We had decided to explore that side of the Acadia National Park, because we felt that it would not be as crowded as Bar Harbor and because there were some interesting hikes and a beautiful point.
Schoodic Peninsula comprises 5% of the Acadia National Park, and it is similar in that it is heavily forested with a lot of rocky geography. As can be seen in some of the images below, the black color granite was caused by later volcanic activity - that black granite is called diabase or black igneous rock. Those black rock areas are over 200 million years old !
In Bucksport, ME on US1/SR-3 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. It connects Verona Island to Prospect.
This is a view of the Penobscot River, looking down from the Tower Observatory. The highway in the right side of this image, is the road we will be traveling upon, to continue our journey back to Manchester, NH.
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 was 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.
Boston, MA Limoncello Restaurant
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.
Click here to go to their website.
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!
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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