Thursday, October 05, 2006

Getting Some Wheels

Let it be known for as long as humans have stood on shore dreaming of going to sea, once there, they can’t wait to set their feet on a new shore to explore. Thus, too, it has been that way for the crew of FLUKE on the 2006 Journey North.

We rented a car for the week of Sept. 11-17 with the intent to see the local scenes, drive to Acadia National Park, and do some nearby sight-seeing of some of the Maine coastal communities. We ended up putting 700 miles on the car, so we were kept busy.

I'll Be Good If You Let Me Go
I'll Be Good If You Let Me Go


The logistics of doing a land tour for us aren’t as simple as hopping in the car and just going and stopping whenever/wherever we feel like. Since FLUKE was on a mooring in The Eddy she needed to have her batteries charged regularly (we do it daily). Plus, remember, we are traveling with a dog, two cats, and a parrot. Ursa was eager to go with us. The boys and Echo were going to be better off staying on FLUKE. So, we planned our tours around using FLUKE as our home base for day trips. We always packed a picnic lunch so we could have the freedom to stop and enjoy any parks along the way. The trip up to Acadia was done by leaving very early one morning, staying overnight close to the park, and then coming back late the next day, giving us the greater parts of 2 days in the park. That is certainly not enough time to see everything Acadia has to offer, but it does allow for a good overview and to plant seeds of ideas for future trips, probably including taking FLUKE up there in the future to access the park at our leisure.

BOOTHBAY HARBOR
For most people Boothbay Harbor (next to Edgecomb where we are staying) is best known as a summer resort village with shops selling all you would expect to find in such a place: clothing boutiques, fudge, saltwater taffy, cheesy tourist gadgets, art and antique galleries, eateries of all kinds, ice cream, and boat tours to the outlying islands. It is very picturesque, having all the scenery one could hope to find in an old New England seaside community: a beautiful harbor, lots of different types of pleasure and working boats, and period homes in beautiful condition. One notable harbor feature is a footbridge that spans the entire inner harbor, making a walking tour all the more enjoyable.

From a mariner’s perspective, Boothbay Harbor has been popular as a harbor of refuge dating back to at least the 15th century. It is large and well-protected and easy to get in and out of. At the end of the last century it was one of the busiest commercial harbors along the coast with fish packing houses, ice factory, fertilizer plant, and a busy shipyard. Mariners still flock there today to enjoy summer sea and land events that are held throughout the busy tourist season.

Boothbay Harbor
Boothbay Harbor


DAMARISCOTTA
Damariscotta, and its twin village, Newcastle, lie on the upper reaches of the Damariscotta River, 13 miles from the ocean. While having many of the original picturesque homes of the 1800s, the tiny village has not made it as a popular tourist mecca like Boothbay Harbor. Because it is so far from the ocean with a river that is somewhat tricky to navigate, mariners don’t frequent the area either.

Enemy Breeding Site
Enemy Breeding Site

However, Native Americans found the area rich in game and shellfish and for 1000 years between 2200 and 1000 years ago created huge middens in the area right outside of town. The State of Maine designated the site as the Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site. Shell middens are garbage heaps created when the Native Americans piled up their shellfish catches in huge piles. They can be a good indicator of the foods that were eaten and of the tools the people used for hunting, game preparation, and cooking. As we have traveled up the ICW we have seen middens in FL, GA, and the Carolinas.

Today the Glidden Midden is 30’ high, 150’ long, and 75’ deep and affords a striking white contrast right along the river bank to the dark conifers on its backside. The Whaleback Midden, for which the site was originally named because it was shaped like the back of a whale, was even larger. In the 1880s a factory was built right on top of the Whaleback Midden to process the oyster shells into chicken feed. Fortunately the Peabodey Museum at Harvard purchased the rights to all prehistoric materials uncovered at the site. Many artifacts and bones (animal and human) were found, including oyster shells over a foot long!

PEMAQUID AREA
The Pemaquid Area, considered the heart of coastal Maine, is composed of several small towns that are located on a neck (peninsular land jutting out into a body of water) bordered by Johns Bay and Muscongus Bay. Unlike Boothbay Harbor, you will not find the bustle and congestion associated with the typical New England tourist trade. This area is for people wanting to have peace and quiet. Each town has some lovely period homes and charm and beauty of more natural habitats with sounds of surf, wind, birds, and humming of working lobster boats offshore.

Pemaquid Harbor Scene
Pemaquid Harbor Scene


Fort William Henry
Fort William Henry


The most noteworthy man-made site is Fort William Henry. The fort was originally built in the early 17th century and over subsequent years was used to try to protect the inner harbor from the British, Indians, pirates, and French. Today it is still an archeological dig site. Standing on one of its original walls we were able to witness a modern day battle taking place: sailboat vs. lobster buoy. The sailboat had buoy lines caught up in its running gear and could not make headway. Two lobster boats came to the rescue and worked for quite a long time to finally free the sailboat. Since we could hear the suggestions for untanglement coming from the lobsterman we might have picked up some useful tips if the unfortunate event ever happens to us. PLEASE NOT!

BATH
Bath is a small town located on the Kennebec River whose long heritage as being a center for shipbuilding still remains today at both the Maine Maritime Museum and Bath Iron Works (BIW).

FLUKE's Crew Dining Out
FLUKE's Crew Dines Out


We didn’t have time to visit the museum, but we couldn’t help but be fascinated by BIW. Long before you actually enter the town your eyes are riveted toward "Number Eleven", the tallest crane in the western hemisphere, looming over the production facility. Number 11, with its 200 ton capacity has enabled BIW to build private yachts, container ships, passenger steamers, fishing vessels, destroyers, guided missile frigates, and cruisers. A new destroyer was being launched and we got to see it being tended by several tugs in its enormous floating dry dock out in the river and then docked.

FREEPORT
Freeport lies farther west of Bath and is probably best known for being the home of LL Bean. LLB was originally started to cater to hunters, being open 24/7. Today the tradition continues, but with an ever greater showplace of a store, appealing to all types of outdoor activities. Today, Freeport is a shopping mecca of outdoor wear outlets and other specialty stores, tastefully built and displayed to blend in better with the original architecture of the 1800s.

LLB was having a hunters appreciation week or something to that affect when we were there and had numerous seminars, displays, and experts present to answer any questions about hunting and fishing. One extremely fascinating display was brought in from New Hampshire. It was a taxidermied mount of 2 bull moose that had locked their horns in a rutting battle and had been unable to free themselves apart, dying as a result. A hunter had happened upon the carcasses and the beaten down trees and vegetation around the site, and realizing the rare event he was witnessing, contacted the game warden. Subsequently photos were taken, bones collected, and mounts were made depicting the two moose as they actually lived and locked together before they died.

Eddie Gets His Prey
Eddie Gets His Prey


Well, we of FLUKE, confess to be hunters, but of a different sort. We like to hunt for things washed up by the sea, living and man-made. So, rather than shopping, we headed off to nearby Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park. We had a picnic lunch and then went for a hike on a bluff area overlooking Casco Bay. Far down below, we spotted our prey - a lobster buoy. Eddie managed to scramble down the bank to the rocky beach below, accessible since it was low tide. Since the beast had beached itself, it was an easy catch for Eddie to snare and add to his growing collection.

CAMDEN
Camden is a picturesque jewel off of Penobscot Bay. The busy harbor and waterfront garners everyone’s attention with all of its activities. Even if you aren’t a boating enthusiast you can’t help but marvel over the beauty of the schooners which are available for weekly coastal cruises, taking you back a couple of hundred years with their majestic and graceful beauty. There are numerous specialty shops for those needing that kind of fix. A stream from nearby Camden Hills runs down to the waterfront, right under some of the shops! The homes, spire churches, and municipal buildings are impeccably maintained to their original architectural detail, set amid tree-lined, side-walked streets, making a walking tour very enjoyable.

Busy Camden Harbor
Busy Camden Harbor


Seeing Camden From Mt. Battie
Seeing Camden From Mt. Battie


Our picnic destination for the afternoon adventure was Camden Hills State Park, located just north of downtown Camden. Noteworthy, from the park’s name, is the auto road to Mount Battie (780’) which affords a breathtaking view of the harbor, town, and Penobscot Bay and Mount Megunticook (1385’), the highest mainland mountain on the Atlantic coast. The park has a 30 mile system of trails used for hiking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and skiing. Our legs were challenged to make the 2.3 mile hike to 800’ Maiden Cliff, but it was worth it when we got to the top and walked along the ridge to have a panoramic view of the land below. Ursa, the sea dog, has also proven to be very adept at scrabbling over the rocky terrain, never lagging or complaining.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
Our highlight of the week was the time spent at Acadia. It wouldn’t have been difficult to spend the entire month in the area as there is so much to see, especially if you can use a boat as your home base.

Something For Everyone
Something For Everyone

Shorely Maine
Shorely Maine


Southwest Harbor
Southwest Harbor

Happy Hikers
Happy Hikers

The first 6000 acres of land for ANP was donated in 1916. Subsequent years of private land donations added more acreage. Today ANP has preserved land on Mount Desert Island (where Bar Harbor is located), Isle Au Haut, tiny Baker Island, and the Schoodic Peninsula. Parts of the park can be accessed by automobile, private boats, and passenger ferries. Mount Desert Island has a 20 mile loop road for automobiles that lets you have an overview of everything the park has to offer: breathtaking mountaintop views, rocky seaside cliffs, sandy beaches, fascinating tidal pools, serene ponds and lakes, working and tourist villages, trailheads, and carriage roads with their uniquely beautiful stone worked bridges.

Tidal Pool
Tidal Pool

Quiet Inlet
Quiet Inlet

There are over 121 miles of hiking trails, including the one that is everyone’s favorite on top of Cadillac Mountain. That path is easily accessed from a parking area, is naturally paved for easy walking, and serves to make you want to venture forth on the other, more peaceful trails, as you stand on a rocky precipice at its 1530’ summit. From there you can see the outlying islands, the ponds and lakes far below, perhaps a gigantic cruise ship having just crossed the Atlantic Ocean entering Bar Harbor area, souring birds of prey gliding on the air thermals at eye’s level, working lobster boats that look like tiny water bugs scooting along the water’s surface far below, quartz and pink granite studded glistening boulders on other mountain tops, and the myriad of colors of the beautiful vegetation jutting out of the rock formations in the landscapes around and below.

The Girls on Cadillac Mountain
The Girls on Cadillac Mountain

Lichen Covered Pink Granite
Lichen Covered Pink Granite

Effective in 2006 ANP implemented the use of a free shuttle bus (sponsored by LLBean!) service to reduce traffic pressures within the park. The buses have stops at towns, trailheads, ferry ports, and can just be hailed down from the roadside should you get tired of walking. This service enables hikers to more easily use the one-way trails and get back to their point of origination or another site. They are even pet-friendly, a real plus in Ursa’s book!

Which Way
Which Way

One Way Only
One Way Only

If hiking isn’t your favorite activity, the park maintains carriage trails for horseback riding, biking, and cross country skiing. You can stable your own horse, rent one, or arrange for a carriage ride.

Our late season visit and Mother Nature’s gift of 2 days of perfect weather let us have a too short, but memorable time in Maine’s grandest land.

On the Rocks
On the Rocks

Endless Movement
Endless Movement

1 comment:

  1. Wally9:49 PM

    We sure have been enjoying the blog. I usually glance at it at the office so, I don't post. Belated happy birthday Brother.

    ReplyDelete