Photo: Bar Harbor, Maine.
We left New Brunswick, crossing the US Border into the great state of Maine at the teensy little outpost of Vanceboro, not far from our campsite of the night before. Following the back roads through to Lincoln, we had lunch and then stopped for groceries at the Walmart on the way into Bangor.
We also picked up a different kind of American cell phone than we’d purchased in Montana- and then had to return in North Dakota because we couldn’t call Canada on it. We’re hoping that this phone, unlike the other one, will be hassle free.
At Bangor we set up camp at Pleasant Hill Campground & RV Park. What they neglected to tell us is that our RV Site is right below the flyway to the Bangor International Airport.
We unhooked and then drove into town where we were soon filled in about the goings-on by the bartender at The Sea Dog Brewery and Restaurant on the harborfront. The boutique beer was very good and the bartender was a well informed, outdoorsy guy. Like BC, the main industry around Bangor used to be forestry, until twenty-five-or-so years ago. The regional hospital, with the cancer unit, is now the major employer.
Back at the trailer Janice cooked the three dollar and ninety-five cent chicken that she’d purchased at Walmart, which, incidentally, is now the largest food retailer in the US. It was a large chicken too, and good, especially cooked by Janice. As we had cable at our site, Janice watched a little Food TV while I blogged.
We left Bangor in a slight drizzle, me a touch cranky, having slept fitfully, due, I believe, to a lack of Vitamin B-5, which I haven’t been able to find in the States so far.
After dropping the trailer just across the river at the Brewer Walmart, we drove to Bar Harbor, where it dawned on us that we’d now officially touched on the northern tip of the really wealthy area of the US Eastern Seaboard – where the smell of old money mingles seamlessly with the sea breeze.
Bar Harbor sits in a beautiful natural setting and is graced by some of the grandest homes we’re ever likely to see. It’s also the epitomé of the American tourist trap. By the time of year we got there the kids were back in school but still, it was completely overrun by tourists, many with bulging shopping bags.
The area accent is very noticeable here. Talking to my brother-in-law, BJ, that night, when I mentioned we were in Bar Harbor he said, “Yah, pahk yah cah in the yahd at Bah Hahbah.”
Photo: Dink’s Taxi, located in a side alley of the shopping district at Bar Harbor.
From Bar Harbor it was a short circle tour around Acadia National Park but, unless you’re prepared to devote a full day to taking some hikes, about all you’ll see from your vehicle are tree lined roads with the odd glimpse of a lake or, if you’re lucky, the ocean.
Back at Brewer, we walked some fast-paced loops of the immense Walmart parking lot. The Walmart Super Stores here are open from six a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Inside there’s enough space for four football fields, with complete grocery stores, liquor stores, take-out delis’ and lots of space dedicated to outdoor living products. Their parking lots cover forty or fifty acres where there are always a number of RV’s parked overnight, as well as a few transport trucks.
Janice discovered that these Super Walmarts have vending machines called Red Boxes that dispense current release DVD movies for $1. You swipe your credit card, choose your movie from the touch screen display, and the machine spits it out. If you keep the movie for more than twenty-four hours you’re charged $1 per day penalty, up to twenty-five days, at which time you own the movie. You can return the movie to any Red Box. This works out to be a great find for us because Janice (being Rhelda’s daughter) has saved the earphones from previous airline flights, so we just make sure the laptop is charged, which we can do on the road via the cigarette lighter charger and, voilà, we’re at the movies.
Janice made curried pork for dinner. Did I mention that we rarely eat hamburgers or hot dogs on this trip? Janice’s Road Recipes are a great find for RVers because I’m pretty positive that few other RVers eat as well, or as varied a menu as we do.
I had a good sleep, having found some Vitamin B5 in Brewster, and we woke to a sunny day.
We headed for the coast again, touring Amsden and then Belfast, where, if it had been located in a more southerly climate, we might have been sorely tempted to purchase a local architectural marvel. A coffee shop had formerly occupied one side, an art gallery the other. It was in a killer location, on the main street overlooking the bay. It’s a triangular brick and stone building, built in 1874, with fourteen foot stamped tin ceilings on the first floor, and ten or twelve foot ceilings on the second floor residence. One wall in the coffee shop was also stamped tin and all of the fascinating architectural detailing was fully intact. OK, just day-dreaming…
Later the same day we had lunch and took a walking tour of the very picturesque but again, tourist overrun, coastal town of Camden. We followed that with a brief stop at equally picturesque Rockland before heading inland to the state capital, Augusta.
Photo: Main Street, Camden.
Photo: Camden harbor.
What we couldn’t find around Maine’s capital was a campground, so we opted for Walmart once more, where we dropped the trailer. I found me some new Crocs — does anybody else find those things as comfortable and all ‘round useful as I do? Janice also bought a $6.54 toaster at, where else, Walmart.
We knew beforehand that just ten minutes down the road from Augusta, in the town of Gardiner, was the A-1 Diner; of ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ fame. The A-1 Diner has been in continuous operation for sixty-seven years. Janice had a blue cheese burger while I had spicy noodles with shrimp, both of which were excellent. The restaurant itself is an old dining car that is suspended on the side of a bridge. We parked our truck on the bridge and, while we were eating, a semi went by, slightly shaking the bridge and the restaurant as well as activating our truck’s alarm. As I reached for my keys to de-activate the alarm, the woman across from us observed our truck blinking and honking, and said, “I guess it just felt threatened.”
Photo: The A-1 Diner in Gardiner, Maine.
Photo: Our meals at the A-1 Diner.
Photo: On the way back to our RV Site I snapped a picture of the State Capitol Building in Augusta from the highway because it’s in an odd location with nowhere to view the front of it but from the highway.
We could have gone to a jam session at a club in Augusta but there were already four drummers in attendance and the cajon would have been redundant, so we decided not to stay. We returned to the trailer and watched another $1 movie (Chloe) instead.
In the morning we woke up to a beeping noise that indicated dead batteries on the trailer. We ran the truck for fifteen minutes until the batteries were charged a little but, when I went to hook up the truck, I noticed that the trailer’s emergency brake cable had come undone when it got caught in the blocking used for the jack. I’d have to be more careful with that cable in the future when unhooking.
We hit the road west, with the idea of seeing some of New Hampshire and Vermont, and stopped at Bethel, Maine, near the border. Walking around town we saw some of the largest historic houses that we’ve seen yet, the homes of the original lumber barons. Are there any towns that aren’t important relics of the past around here?
Photos: A couple of the immense houses at Bethel, barns attached.
One standout of Bethel is the grouping of six or seven immense brick buildings that look like a university campus but turn out to be a high school, (Academy) where hundreds of rich high school kids are boarded out from their various wealthy families around the state.
Photo: The Academy at Bethel.
After setting up camp just up the road at Stonybrook, on the Sunday River, we hiked to the top of Will Mountain, one of the northern tips of the Appalachians. There we were afforded excellent views of the surrounding territory.
Photo: Janice hiking up Will Mountain.
Photo: A stump on Will Mountain that was sprouting itself a pair of kidneys.
As it was a Friday, we visited two local bars to swap stories with the locals. Is it just me or are just about all of the stories weighted to what the Americans have to say?
A few of the best things about travelling in the US are: fuel is at least thirty cents cheaper per liter than in Canada and, wine is never more than half the cost of what we’d pay at home for the same thing. We watched a funny Italian comedian on TV after a late dinner.
We awoke Saturday morning to bright blue cloudless skies and so decided on staying another day in Bethel. Because our site was previously reserved, we moved to another campsite closer to town where, due to the high water pressure, we blew two hoses. The owner lent us one for the day and sold us a regulator so that it wouldn’t happen again. We rode our bikes around the river trails, the town, and up the highway to where we’d seen a Pit BBQ. There we bought some pulled pork sandwiches but, disappointingly, they tasted a little like lighter fluid!
Later in the day Janice taught me to make ‘Tim’s World Famous Bean Dip’ which is one of my favourite new meals. It’s vegetarian. You’ll find it at the Road Recipes link in the side bar to the right..
After dinner we went to Sud’s Pub because of the live music there, but it turned out to be a solo guy who was good, but very unconventional and low-key. He was playing an amplified acoustic guitar with fingerpicks and it sounded like… a piano? I was thinking that I might be able to slip in with the cajon but it wasn’t suitable. When we got home we watched a really funny movie called ‘Heartbreakers’. Unlike Canada, almost all private American campgrounds have cable. It must be a pretty old movie because it starred Gene Hackman and Sigourney Weaver.
In the morning it was chilly and overcast as we ventured out, destination: New Hampshire.
After spending a few days in New Hampshire, (reported on in the New Hampshire blog) we ended up back in Maine.
We crossed the border from New Hampshire into Maine, where the first RV Park we stopped at wanted $85 for a waterfront RV Site. We drove up the road for ten miles instead and checked into Dixon’s Coastal Campground at York Harbor, where we paid $38, plus tax. OK, so it’d not waterfront, it’s across the road. We were lucky to get it as the park was due to close for the season the next day.
We were awoken early in the morning by squirrels dropping acorns onto the trailer roof.
You gotta’ love Google. At 8:30 in the morning we had no idea how we were going to approach Boston. Half an hour later we had a spot reserved and an address for Winter Island RV Park in Salem, Massachusetts, close to Boston.
Before we lit out for Salem, it being a beautiful sunny day, we decided that we wanted to see Kennebunkport, where George and Barbara Bush live. Many people we’ve met along the way have described the Bushs’ place there as one of the most impressive pieces of real estate on the east coast.
When we got there though, it being Sunday around noon, the streets were crowded with tourists, and the area was generally not RV friendly. We did get a drive-by peek at the monster property but, because we couldn’t find anywhere to park the rig, we decided instead to head inland to Kennebunk. We seldom eat in restaurants but we had a really good lunch there before hitting the interstate towards Boston.
We plugged our destination into the GPS and relaxed. In a little over an hour it had guided us along the interstate from Maine, through New Hampshire, to Massachusetts. We were required to pay two tolls along the way.