The sun was out and Cadillac Mountain was waiting for us. It was a great day for a hike and since we lost our reservation to drive up, we chose to walk to the top. The Cadillac South Ridge Trail was described as a moderately challenging 6.7 mile out and back trail. We felt we had a pretty good chance of summiting the 1,548 foot peak with enough energy left over to get back down again.
A sticky, muddy, puddle-strewn trail climbed steadily up, finally opening onto a mostly smooth, rock path. There were views in every direction and plenty of rock cairns and blue blazes marking the way. With the exception of several semi-intimidating rock scrambles (which required some booty-scooting on the trip down), we reached the summit right about noon. Perfect timing!
We had a Monday reservation at 9 a.m. to drive to the top of Acadia National Park’s Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard. We awoke to pouring rain and a forecast of much more to come. Needless to say, we nixed the mountain drive.
Armed with Google maps, we opted for a drive farther north along the coast, curious about what we might find. The quintessential rugged Maine Coast, gorgeous even in the rain, coaxed us out of the truck several times in an effort to capture photo memories.
As the noon hour rolled around I expanded my google search for a promising lunch spot. After passing several closed signs, and dismissing the chance for a slice of gas station pizza, I guided Reg to tiny Corea Harbor, an out-of-the-way spot marked by a Google Map knife and fork icon. Lunch On The Wharf it was called. Perfect…just what we were looking for. We took a chance.
We arrived to a nearly full parking lot adjacent to a somewhat ramshackle wharf. The place must have quite the reputation. Even on a rainy Monday it was hopping with friendly sightseers, bike riders braving the rain and a handful of locals. Reg ordered a lobster roll with coleslaw and I had a grilled cheese and lobster sandwich with potato salad. Although Reg didn’t believe me, I think they used Velveeta cheese…no matter, it was good, the coffee was hot and our day was a success!
We’ve reached the northernmost point of our trip and are comfortably settled in a spectacular log cabin overlooking the Mt. Desert Narrows body of water. We have plans to visit Maine’s Acadia National Park and hope to get together once more with friends Jeannie and Jeff…but other than that, we may just sit and enjoy the view from the deck.
Our host assured us there would be space for Minnie, and Reg backed her in like a pro. While he tended to all the details of parking her for the week, our host gave me a tour of our temporary waterside home. What a special place this is. Gorgeous inside and out…we may never leave!
After breakfast we took a short morning walk around the point, returning to enjoy a quiet Sunday watching the tide roll out…and then back in.
From our front porch we could see the finger of land across the water hiding Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park. Curious, we drove around and found a trail to explore, looping through the grounds and offering views of coastal tide pools, towering forests and an occasional wildflower.
Taking advantage of another beautiful day, we thought we had found the perfect outing. A short ferry ride from Portland, Maine took us across Casco Bay to Long Island where a 6-mile walk awaited. We packed our lunch and cashed in on the senior ticket rate, excited about our big, cheap adventure. Expecting a trail through the woods and along the shore, we were disappointed to find the walk followed a paved road through mostly residential neighborhoods. Even worse, there was not a public restroom to be found. Posted signs warned of poison ivy making a discreet duck behind a bush too risky for me. We called it quits and raced back to the dock to catch the next ferry back to the mainland, reminding us that you can’t win them all!
The weather took a turn for the worse, dumping buckets of rain. The perfect day to check out Freeport’s main shopping attraction.
With the return of the sun, we took a chance on another island walk. A 7-mile portion of the West Side Trail took us by foot from Fels-Groves Farm Preserve, across the bridge over Casco Bay and a circle around Cousins Island. We hoped for an expansive ocean view at trail’s end, but once again our expectations were dashed. However, we enjoyed the walk and appreciated the bench (where we ate our lunch) and the congratulatory signpost at the end.
We have one more week to enjoy the great state of Maine. This morning, Reg and I woke up to a new, gorgeous view through the trees and across the water to Mt. Desert Island that sits adjacent to Acadia National Park. We’re taking another lazy Sunday before joining the sightseeing crowds. More to come…
After 84 days living exclusively in our trailer, Minnie is in storage, having earned a much needed rest, while we enjoy some room to stretch.
We scheduled these next two weeks months ago when our (Reg’s) plan was to tent-camp across the entire length of U.S. Highway 20, the 3,365-mile road that stretches from Newport, Oregon on the Pacific Coast to Boston, Massachusetts on the Atlantic. Our friends, and our usually supportive kids, thought we were nuts. I’ll admit to humoring Reg for awhile and the thought celebrating the end (of what would almost certainly be a most uncomfortable journey) with two weeks of luxury in Airbnbs nearly sold me on the plan…nearly.
By the time I convinced Reg that camping in our trailer, rather than a tent, would allow us to leave earlier and take a longer (more comfortable) trip, it was too late to cancel our two cottage reservations. No regrets though…what’s not to love?
First stop in the state of Maine – a short, 2-night visit with friends and former California neighbors Jeannie and Jeff at their lovely coastal home. Although the weather wasn’t looking good Friday morning, we donned our raincoats (just in case) and set off on a path through the 295-acre Beech Hill Preserve, hoping to take in the 360° view of Penobscot Bay, Camden Hills and the St. George Peninsula. Our hopes were dashed upon reaching the summit of Beech Hill as the clouds closed in.
We were able to have a look at the 1913 restored sod-roofed hut and the remains of a stone circle. Jeannie captured our hiking memories with her photos.
We tidied ourselves up and went out for dinner at Archer’s, a terrific seafood restaurant with a harbor view, where our evening began with drinks and Oysters Rockefeller. Thank you so much Jeannie and Jeff. It was sad to say goodbye, but you gave us wonderful memories and a perfect introduction to the state of Maine.
New Hampshire was not a new state for either of us, but for Reg it was a bit of a homecoming. As a 7-year old, Reg attended second grade in a K-12 school in Bethlehem, a small community not far from our campground. The school still stands although it now serves only elementary school students.
With six days to fill we worried that we might not be able to fill our time once we visited Mt. Washington, but Franconia State Park saved the day. Hiking trails galore! Here are a few photos of our favorite spots.
Our first stop took us on a walk to see New Hampshire’s iconic Old Man of the Mountain, a series of rock cliffs stacked on a peak that together depict a man’s profile. Little did we know that the Old Man had crumbled and fallen away back in 2003, leaving just a smidgen of rock at the top. The state has done its best to honor their fallen hero, creating a rather extravagant memorial plaza where visitors can squint to see what was once a great ”man.”
The walk up Franconia Notch State Park’s Flume Gorge was pretty spectacular. Tickets are required for the roughly 2-mile Flume Path that leads up a series of wooden stairs and along raised walkways to the top of the gorge. It must get pretty crazy in the summer months, but we were able to easily enjoy the views.
We weren’t the only hikers trekking up the trail to Lonesome Lake, but once we arrived it was just us and one lone fisherman hanging out lakeside. The 1.25 mile trail was uphill all the way. If the weather had been a little nicer we might have opted for the extra mile or so around the lake, but fearing drizzle and wet rocks on the downhill trip, we simply ate lunch and headed back.
We caught the trailhead for 2.8-mile Liebskind’s Loop at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. Normally we start our hiking in the morning, but this was an afternoon walk for us and the bugs were out in full force. Just as we began to wonder why in the heck we were climbing yet another mountain, we came upon an impressive sheer wall of rock that led us to Brad’s Bluff, a spectacular viewpoint. Thinking we were taking a shortcut back we scrambled steeply down George’s Gorge, a rock-filled chute that abruptly ended at a pretty little waterfall. GPS couldn’t help us so we had no choice but to turn back, (adding another half mile to the hike) and take the well-marked route back to the car.
Upon leaving Vermont the only thing stopping us from reaching our goal was the state of New Hampshire. A relatively short drive across the border took us into New Hampshire and our riverside site just outside the small town of Littleton.
New Hampshire is home to the White Mountains, including the highest peak in the Northeastern United States, 6,288 ft. Mt. Washington. Mt. Washington is well know for it’s weather extremes…some claim it has the worst weather in the world.
There are several ways to summit Mt. Washington. Mountaineering purists may want to hike to the top, a 4-5 mile journey that will take the most experienced hikers about that many hours of walking…each way. The Cog Railway offers a 3-mile ride up and down the mountain although we found the tickets to be as steep as the climb. Our choice was to drive the Mt. Washington Auto Road at a cost of $53.00, roughly 25% of the cost of two tickets for the Cog Railway.
It was a hair-raising drive on a sometimes narrow road with steep drop-offs. But we made it and I’m pretty sure all the other drivers did too. We had an extremely nice day; we were told we’d enjoy a 360° view with a visibility of 100 miles. We posed for our photo, enjoyed the view, bought lunch – a chili dog for Reg and clam chowder for me and chatted with a young man hiking the Appalachian Trail. By then it was starting to get cold and it was time to head back down the mountain.
No trip through Vermont would be complete without a visit to Ben and Jerry’s place to sample a scoop or two of their world famous ice cream.
We were on our way to explore Vermont’s winter ski capital of Stowe and might have missed our chance were it not for a google map reference to Ben and Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard. Curious, we pulled in and found a clever display of tombstones paying tribute to retired flavors; some old favorites and others, well…just old.
Unfortunately, there are no tours at the Waterbury factory at this time but there is outdoor window service where a full menu of flavors and toppings are available for purchase in cup or cone.
From the Wilmington/North Pole KOA Campground that is. Love this oversized campsite about 10 miles northeast of Lake Placid in New York State.
Less than 2 miles down the road a collection of hiking trails known as the Flume Trails branch off above a narrow channel where the Ausable River roars through. We chose the Flume Knob trail, a 3.1 out and back trail with nearly 1,200 feet of elevation gain leading to a 180° view. How hard could it be?
It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to quit a trail as badly as I wanted to give up on this one. Impatient with the heat, humidity and swarming bugs, I struggled uphill behind Reg who kept calling back to me, “We’re almost there!” And then, finally we were. The view was every bit as good as promised. I snapped the photo of Reg as he carefully made his way back down off the knob. Fortunately, it wasn’t as scary as it looks.
The following day we debated the pros and cons and finally decided to drive up the Whiteface Mountain Highway. We thought it strange that visitors must pay a hefty fee to drive the scenic highway. It’s a short 5-mile drive that snakes up 2300 feet and offers ”grand vistas of Adirondack Park” and “panoramic views that stretch from Canada to New Hampshire.” Watching the sky, we were skeptical that the weather would allow us such expansive vistas.
From the parking lot at the top, guests can opt for an elevator ride to the summit. We chose to walk by way of what was named the Alpine Nature Trail, an odd name for the walk across a rocky mountain spine. While we were able to enjoy misty views (the bottom left photo shows a bit of Lake Placid, home to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics) the stretch from Canada to New Hampshire was a no-show. Click here to learn more about the drive up Whiteface Mountain.