Thursday, August 20, 2015

Maine: Family, Friends, Corn, Lobster, ...

We were off to an early start from Montreal and crossed the border into Maine around midday. An interesting discussion at the crossing involved explaining the US passports, Mexican licenses, South Dakota auto registration, and our travels through Canada. Throughout the whole process Pat was struck by the stern expression of the young border guard...noting that it seemed forced, as if he felt it was the appropriate stance for dealing with anyone and everyone. 

We stopped at the Stanley Steamer Museum in Kingfield and discovered that although the Stanley brothers (twins) are known for the automobile, they made more money from inventions in photography (Eastman actually bought their technology at a premium just so they could kill it and avoid the competition). The enthusiastic, well informed docent made this a really worthwhile stop.

Pat "driving "a Stanley Steamer...Can you believe they let, even encourage, you to get in the cars???
Enroute to Pat’s dairy framer brother’s home we hope to pick up some corn from  our veggie grower families but neither Bill's cousin Charlie or Pat’s brother Frank had any yet, Curse the late spring. Both were expecting and hoping the corn would be ready two days later…and indeed this was the case.

On Friday we went to Bangor to wash and vacuum the car, pickup some groceries, get Pat a lobster lunch, and have our hair cut…first time in 3 months! Pat gave the lobster a 9 out of 10. 
Pat's first lobster of the trip
Dinner was a New England tradition, baked beans. Thanks to Sandra for remembering that we both like, and miss, home cooed baked beans. (A couple days later she made the leftovers into "bean-burgers" by adding bacon & cheese. This was a first for us, but very tasty!)  After dinner we visited Pat’s niece Mary and her husband Peter. We made plans for a second visit in Bar Harbor.

We have been anticipating our 50th High School reunion since we started planning this trip. The Saturday afternoon event was well attended with more than half of our remaining classmates being there. Attendees included familiar and not so familiar faces including Tom, Dick and Dennis who married into the class of ’65 from the class of ’63 . Speaking of marriages, at least 4 couples there have been married for longer than us with our nearly 47 years.  Many thanks to the organizers for the opportunity to connect with our classmates again.

Sunday was family day with 3 generations joining us at the dairy farm.  In addition to the pool there were rides for the “kids” in the “bucket” of the fire engine/ladder truck that “the Farm” recently purchased!! Some great views over the farm from the top. Also on the entertainment menu were 4-wheeeler tours around the farm.  We had a ride with Peter and Mary that included a few dips in the trail filled with muddy water that made the ride fun but left us a little damp and dirty.
Mary and Pat with Nathan at the helm of the "bucket" of the farm's firetruck
More farm-toys, viewed from the "bucket". These are just a few of their John Deeres!
Ready to roll...
The fresh corn finally appeared with dinner, compliments of Pat's brother Jim who raided Pat's brother Frank's cornfield. Thanks Frank!

The next day we headed north to Greenville and Moosehead Lake to visit our friend and high school classmate, Carol. Just before we left, Jim arrived with more fresh corn to take with us!! These were more "officially" from Frank.  Later, at the camp these accompanied chicken pies and a nice Black Prince Cabernet Franc (from Prince Edward County, Canada). it was a nice feast.

Looking over Moosehead Lake
Our most successfully stop on our brief shopping trip of Greenville was the Indian Hill Trading Post where Bill nabbed some shorts and Pat some capris. For lunch Pat went with lobster #2, this time in the form of a salad.

Diinner was raclette and fresh corn from Newport (bought from a stand in Greenville). The weather had been a little unsettled with some sun mixed with clouds and occasional thunder showers for the two days. The sky cleared and we got to see the brilliant starry sky Tuesday night (before it clouded in again). 

Next morning we are off for a little more shopping in Greenville and to visit the Dexter History Museum run by Carol’s brother Rick. We talked for a while with Rick about what was new and old around the museum and town.

Dexter Museum...with rescued signs from the Old Days and
a display (left side) featuring the "historical class of  '65"
After a picnic overlooking Lake Wassookeag we paid a visit to Bill’s cousin Charlie and family.  They are doing well and his daughter is starting high school in the fall. After her 8th grade trip to DC, Phila, & NYC she is determined to travel and inquired about San Miguel and our other travels.

After a relaxed morning we headed for the Garland store to get some supplies and to see Barbara Crispall, the younger sister of Pat’s childhood best friend Elaine. Then we were off to Bangor to stock up on wine and a get together with our niece Alyce. We had a little spare time before our evening get together and head off to the U of Maine for a look at the campus and a visit to the Alumni Office. There are still many recognizable buildings but they are almost lost among the new ones.   
Bill with Bananas the Bear, the U Maine mascot
We took a short drive into Old town and then headed to Veazie for dinner with Alyce and her husband Bill along with their son Cameron (and wife Erica), son Riley (and girlfriend Sarah), and daughter Angelyn along with Bill M’s mother Louise, his cousin Monica, and some friends.

On Friday we visited the Honda dealer in Bangor for routine maintenance after our 10,000 miles of travels since leaving Mexico. After lunch with sister-in-law Elaine Thomas in East Corinth we returned to Garland to visit Pat's childhood friend Elaine and her husband Peter Devine. We enjoyed tea with then at their totally off-the-grid home. ...But wait there is more, dinner with our niece Ginna and her fiancé Peter, her brother Paul and family (wife Jennifer & daughter Taylar) along with parents Frank (Pat's brother) and wife Anita.

Next day we were off for our week stay in Bar Harbor, home of Acadia National Park. Along the way we enjoyed lunch in Trenton...another Lobster (#3) for Pat and Scallops for Bill. The weather was fantastic (sunny, warm but not too hot) so we headed for the Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park for some photos at Sand Beach, Thunder Hole (very quiet) and Mt. Cadillac.
Lobster ...ready to eat
Visitors wondering where the surf and the thunder are at Thunder Hole .
Pat & Bill wondering if they took a wrong turn and are at a lake...
Honestly such flat water is totally unheard of at Acadia NP.
View over Frenchman's Bay and the Porcupine Islands from top of Mt Cadillac
We met Pat’s college roommate Terry and husband Jim for Sunday morning hike around Little Long Pond. The the trail went through examples of most of the vegetation on Mt Desert Island and also featured views of the lake and harbor. This trail is adjacent to the Rockefeller estate and we walked over, around and under his first carriage-road bridge, unique because it was made of cobblestones, not cut granite.
Water lilies in Little Long Pond
Blueberries along the trail
Loons in the bay at Seal Harbor
Lunch was at Colonel’s in North East Harbor. After lunch we checked out the shops there. We returned to Bar Harbor for a look at the Fine Arts/Craft Market and a few more shops.  
Another morning, another hike with Terry and Jim. This time we started at the Thuya Gardens parking lot on route 3 and hiked up to the gardens. Along  the way up we stopped for a few views and photos of the harbor. After a few more photos of the flowers in the garden we continued our trek. The trail had many variations, roads, well groomed trails and a few rustic areas of roots and rocks. Lunch at Jordan Pond consisted of clam chowder, potato chips and root beer.
View of lobster traps stored on a float in Northeast Harbor...first stop along our trail
Thuya Garden: Flowers with a shaft of sunlight
Thuya Garden: A dahlia captured by Pat in a Georgia O'Keeffe moment
Steps along the trail to Jordan Pond
Jordan Pond
After lunch we drove to Southwest Harbor for a stroll around town and to check out the shops. In “the old days” the west side of the island was ignored by most tourists. It may still be, but now it is marketed as “the quiet side” and gets plenty of visitors. It was amazing to see numerous cars stopped at each trailhead, trailheads that were deserted when Pat worked here 50 years ago. 

After two lovely days, the threat of rain hovered over us. We went out for a little shopping and lunch. We discovered Blaze, a restaurant that specializes in wood-fired cooking. We had a pizza with Foxglove Zin for Pat and Tobin James Notorious Cabernet for Bill. Nice. And we noted that they do a wood-fired grilled lobster. Hmm.

Peter and Mary arrived around 6pm and the rain began. We hung out a bit as our reservations at Red Sky Restaurant in Southwest Harbor were for 8:30pm. Driving over we had some heavy rain and were happy that Peter managed to park in front of Red Sky. Three of us had the lobster with risotto. Bill had the sole with roast cabbage. The sole was as good as expected. The cabbage was fabulous. Huh? Cabbage? Fabulous?  Yep. Wine-wise, we started with a Cremant (sparkling French wine) followed by a Viognier. 
Sole & Cabbage
Lobster and Risotto
Next day the rain abated and we are off to explore the Island with a stops at Schooner Head (the location of Anemone of the attractions Pat used to direct folks to when she worked for the National Park...but one that is no longer marketed in order to protect the sea anemones there), Thunder Hole and Hunter Beach.

In the vicinity of Thunder Hole
We left the park near the stables and headed to Northeast Harbor to visit Thuya Gardens. Yes, we had been there on Monday but they are so beautiful we wanted to share them with Peter and Mary. 
From the garden we went back to Southwest Harbor for lunch at Sips, two different risottos for Peter and Bill, a BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato) for Mary and mussels for Pat. 

The final stop was Bass Harbor Light and  a walk on the rocks. The sun came out briefly and brought out many other visitors. Fortunately we were seconds ahead of them and got the last space. We first took the walk to the SW of the lighthouse. It had nice sun but it is not the best view. Then we went around to the NE side of the lighthouse. By then the fog had returned. The foggy views aren't what we were after, but they aren't bad.
Bass Harbor Light, lost in fog
Peter & Mary
Time was running out for Peter and Mary’s mini-vacation and we headed back to Bar Harbor to drop-off Pat and /Bill and head back to Garland. 

Mid-morning on Thursday we headed for the Abbe Museum (focused on native American history). There is a in-town facility and one that neighbors on the native wild-flower garden and the original monument from when Acadia was know as "Sieur-de-Monts National Monument). After viewing the exhibits about the British and French encounter with the local indians Pat discovered two books that could help us expand our knowledge of the pre-Columbian Americas. We'll order them later.

Heading back into Bar Harbor for lunch we stopped half-mile walk to Cromwell Harbor. One summer Pat lived near this but had never visited. It is a lovely harbor with views over Frenchman’s Bay. And it still has minimal visitors!  

For lunch we returned to Blaze.  Bill wanted the "Bacon-wrapped Buffalo Meatloaf". And Pat wanted to try the Wood-fired Grilled Lobster. The Meatloaf was excellent and Pat rated the Lobster the "best-ever"! It was a soft-shelled lobster that was a succulent as the best steamed lobster but enhanced with the smokie-ness of the grill. 

After lunch we took the "Shore Path" back to the harbor and then went on to Bar Island (accessible by a sand bar at low tide only). Again, in the old days NOBODY went to Bar Island. Today...we had lots of company.

View from the Bar Harbor Shore Path
View from Bar Island
A few of the MANY Cairns on Bar Island...building cairns seems to be the current fad.
On Friday we had one last hike with Jim & Terry. This time we started at the Abbe Museum.  We first hiked out to the water body formely called "The Tarn", but apparently it is not really a "tarn"...whatever that is. We returned back to the Abbe and on a lovely birch trail to an old cemetery, then to Kebo golf course and finally returned by way of a boardwalk. 
The waterbody formerly known as 'The Tarn"
Pat & Terry on a lovely birch lined trail
After our hike we headed to the "quiet side" for a picnic at the Charlotte Rhodes Butterfly Garden. 

Pat's niece Ginna and fiancé Peter drove down to join us for dinner.  It was great having more time with them. We went to the Side Street Cafe where we had mac and cheese (Bill had one with Jalapeños for a Mexican twist and, surprise, surprise...Pat had one with lobster). Ginna introduced us to a hard to fine ale..."Not your Father's Root Beer" , a spiced ale from Small Town Brewery in Wauconda, Ill....which is very hard to find in Maine.  Too bad we didn't know about it while we were in Wisconsin...

Tomorrow we start our trip down the Maine Coast.

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