Posted in Adventures, Fun Events, Girl Thoughts!, Road Trip

The Best Kind

So when a friend agrees to go on an extended weekend road trip…

What happens?

Giggles erupt

Calories forgotten

Bonds formed

Snores ignored

Flowers admired

Driver distracted

Navigator redirects

Coffee consumed

Trails walked

Dessert hunted

Stores browsed

Memories made

History explored

Headlines only

Knowledge gained

Friends lifted

God shines

Thank you, Sally, for being and staying so positive …..with love

Posted in Adventures, Fun Events, Maine, Road Trip

Oh, What a Beautiful Maine Day!

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From Brooksville to Isle Au Haut

What stood out the most on my trip to Maine?  To be honest that’s a very hard question to answer.  There were so many times I stopped along the way and simply stood in awe at the view before me.

One of my favorite days started on the second day I was staying at the Oakland House Cottages by the Sea.  They had cabins spread out and an old family hotel, but I stayed in the Acorn hostel.  I shared a kitchen, bathroom, and sitting room with several other people because there were six bedrooms in the two-story home.The mattress was pretty worn, but the price and the view more than made up for the uncomfortable bed.

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Acorn Hostel in Oakland by the Sea Cottages

It’s a beautiful place, a bit past its prime, but still charming.  Sitting on the water between Penobscot Bay and Deer Isle, it has a lovely view and the flower gardens were spectacular!

I started the morning watching a three-masted schooner pass by on an early morning walk.  That in itself thrilled me!

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My early morning ship!

 

I headed out to Stonington to catch the mail boat to the Isle au Haut.  In Stonington, I parked at a church and inquired in a nearby office how to find the mail boat.  She hurried me along because it was 10:15 and it was scheduled for 10:30.  Down the hill I flew, not wanting to miss the boat!  (Insert giggle)!

I found the ferry, however, they were only running one boat and it wouldn’t go out until 2:30.  I didn’t have a decent breakfast, so waiting wasn’t a problem.  I thought I’d find food and preferably blueberry pie.  I asked the ferry cashier about the town and she said, “We don’t have many shops.”  She did point me in the direction of a cafe.

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Ferry Tickets!

Stonington is on a hill.  A person is either walking up hill from the pier or walking down hill to it.  So off I started walking back up the hill and I had the most pleasant surprise.

Stonington is beautiful with the abundance of its colorful cottages and flowers.   They had plenty of shops to see and prowl through.  I guess the ferry cashier had lived there long enough to be immune to all the quaintness of her town.  There were cafes, a coffee shop, bookstores, and a few stores selling souvenir, art,  and boat items.  No, none were large stores, but all were interesting.

After stopping at a ‘junk’ store where I purchased an old cream pitcher from England for a dollar and visited with a man who was untangling more rope than I’ve ever seen, I stopped at a cafe.

Being a table of one while everyone else is sitting with other people can make a person feel conspicuous and when traveling alone that is a drawback.  If a counter is available, I usually always sit at the counter.  However, this cafe didn’t have one, so I sat at a table in front of the window with a nice view of the street.

I can’t even describe how wonderful Maine blueberry pie is to you, but once I discovered it, I always had it first.  I loved it warmed up with vanilla ice cream.  This cafe had it sitting in the ‘pie box’ near the counter and I ordered it instead of an entrée.  My phone battery was dying, so I plugged it in near a booth near me and chatted with the man I had to disturb to get it in the plug.  I watched out the window, listened to the conversations around me, and smiled at the three woman at a table close by while I waited for my pie.

It wasn’t long before that scrumptious blueberry pie arrived.  It brought some ‘oohs’ from the ladies and we started visiting across tables.  Two of the three were teachers and the three were vacationing together and had ferried across from Swan Island to sight-see.  One of them noticed a picture hanging on the wall next to me.  She took a picture of me and it.  We visited while eating, which made my ‘oneness’ so much nicer.

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Life & Art

The three hours on Stonington passed quickly while I explored taking pictures of the cottages, boats, and people.  I stopped for coffee and the lobster men coming in with their shorts on and rubber boots made me smile.  I visited the quaint stores and made idle conversation with the workers.  Overall, I loved that fishing village!  It was exactly what I thought Maine towns would look and feel like.  A wee bit touristy, but mostly it felt like it was a working town.

I walked back to the ferry to buy my ticket about 2:00.  when I arrived the cashier apologized to me because although she could get me on the 2:30 boat to Isle au Haut, she couldn’t get me back until the last boat departed from there because the in-between mail boat would be full from passengers from Duck Island.

I couldn’t help but smile.  It was perfect!  I wouldn’t be rushed to hurry and explore that island and I could take my time.  She even gave me a discount for inconveniencing me.  I bought my ticket and waited to board the boat.

There were lots of packages that were loaded first and then the people.  I was at the end of the line, so the outside seats were full and the inside ones too.  I found a place to stand beside the packages inside, near the windshield, across from the ‘captain’ and his deck-hand.   It was perfect for asking questions about the island, lobstering, and simply listening to the banter.

After buying snacks, water, and a soda from the general store, I walked the road and then the path that led to the lighthouse on Isle au Haut which is called Robinson Point in Acadia National Park which is part of that island.

The lighthouse is automated and the lightkeeper’s home is now an Inn, but it’s one of the joys of the island to see.  I literally drew in a breath as I walked through the trees and the view opened up.

After checking out what I could see of the lighthouse, I wandered to the chairs that set around the lawn and enjoyed the view.

I had a diet coke and a snack from the island store, and so I sat soaking up the beauty before me.  The view was breathtaking!  I sat, watching the waves and the light glinting off the water.  Occasionally, I’d hear couples talking.  Someone was sitting in a chair reading a book, facing the ocean.  I thought how wonderful the weather was to experience it on this day, but I wondered what it was like when a storm blew in or winter covered the ground?  I bet it was still breathtaking in different ways.

Back toward the landing, an enterprising group of kids set up a table at the end of their driveway selling sea glass, shells, and homemade postcards.  I bought a few for a dollar and a half.  The small boy beamed when I picked out his painted postcard.  I visited the church and smiled at the postoffice.  The population of the island is less than a hundred people normally, so a tiny post office is all that’s needed.

While walking, I visited with a lobster man setting up his new lobster traps and a park ranger about the large whale bone that was on the porch of the ranger station.

Back on the boat, I visited with a park ranger and her dog coming off of her shift and a grad student who was creating a website about the various people who lived on the island.  I learned that the island school goes from K-8 grade and after that the students get to pick which high school they want to attend on the mainland.

What an idyllic life it seemed as the conversation flowed between the people as we ferried back on that small boat.

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The Mail boat at the landing of Isle au Haut

On the recommendation of the ranger and the captain, I stopped to eat at a Mexican restaurant called El Frijoles near where I was staying.  To be honest, the first time I passed it, I thought I’d made a mistake.  I wasn’t expecting to see a restaurant in back of a home.  I say the ‘first time’ because the traffic was so backed up, I had to turn around three times before I could find a place to park.

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Not like any Mexican Restaurant here at home

The restaurant was in a barn-like building behind a residential house.  They had lights strung in trees and picnic tables were sitting around the yard, so people could eat outside.  The building was full of people.  There was also a screened porch area with tables.  I arrived about an hour before closing time.

I made my way to the counter and placed my order for nachos with shredded chicken and then went outside and sat in a lawn chair waiting for my name to be called.  I watched kids and parents playing badminton and kids swinging on a swing set.  It had a park-like feel as people ate at picnic tables and kids played around the lawn.

As the traffic lightened, I made my way back inside and found a table near the door.  I listened as the workers called orders and chatted with one another and the people eating.  I was sitting alone when my name was called.  He said, “Becky from Texas, who has all the time in the world.”  That was funny because when he took my order and told me it might be awhile since they were packed, I had told him ‘No hurry, I’m on vacation from Texas and I have all the time in the world.’

I picked it up and smiled at him.  Soon, I was joined by a man who asked me.  “Where in Texas?”  I usually replied, ‘East Texas’ since practically no one knows where Longview is, or I’d say ‘Two hours east of Dallas and one hour west of Shreveport, Louisiana.’

What surprised me was this whispered question,  “What is the derogatory name for people from Louisiana?”  Now, I was stumped.  I told him the only one I knew and he said, “Nope, there’s another.”  I couldn’t think of one worse, so I smiled and shrugged my shoulders and he sat and joined me.

I had the pleasure of eating dinner with Bill, the Merchant Marine, who had never been married and had returned to Brooksville to take care of his mom.  He kept the conversation lively and fun.  I had no idea what a Merchant Marine was before visiting with him.  Before I knew it the owner who had called my name, came over and gave me a box for my left overs.  He said, “I’m not saying you have to go home, but you have to go from here.”  which totally cracked me up.  I packed my leftovers, we said goodbye and headed to our cars.

Back at my hostel, I chatted with the people in the sitting room; two woman from Cape Cod and the couple from New York City, before heading to my bed.  From beginning to end, my day felt like an adventure.  I crawled on top of that uncomfortable mattress, preparing myself for sleep, feeling so very wonderful about my day!

Acorn Hostel room
My Room
Posted in Adventures, Road Trip, Walking

Chebeague Island

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Chebeague Island near Portland, Maine

Chebeague Island, pronounced Shuh-beeg, has not one single touristy thing to do on the island.  There’s not bumper to bumper traffic.  In fact the cars that go down the road are few and when they pass, everyone waves.  Not a side to side wave, but a simple lift of the arm and back down.  Mary told me when she picked me up from the ferry, “You wave at everyone, whether you know them or not.  It’s how you can tell if the people are local or visitors.”  I waved at everyone.  Even the people passing from behind  wave as they pass.  It’s one of the sweet things I love about this island life and I had the privilege of spending three days here.

Coming over, I parked at the satellite parking in Cumberland and rode the bus to catch the ferry.  It surprised me the amount of items that were being carried onto the boat.  People carried groceries, lawn chairs, and plants from the bus onto the float for the ferry.  There were carts that they could use to transport their supplies.  Two dogs also, rode the bus and ferry with their owners.  I watched and listened to the islanders talk with one another while waiting for the ride over.  It seemed easy to pick out the visitors because we sat apart from the others on the ferry, smiling politely or reading a book.

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Good sandwiches here!

There was one lady and her daughter that seemed to have an awful amount of food, so I asked her if they were bringing food over for a restaurant.  She laughed, nodded at her daughter, and said, “I have three growing teenagers.”  Later in the week, I met her again with the daughter and a son at the small general store.  Height definitely runs in the family.  She was concerned that my stay might have been hampered by the rainy weather.

The hosts of my Airbnb was Mary and John.  Mary is a special education teacher, and has her hat in many volunteer activities from snatches of conversation I heard.  Her love of the island is so evident.  Their home has been in John’s family for generations and was beautifully taken care of and decorated.

She endeared herself to me.  She is a gracious hostess who has a quiet, dry quick wit.  She’s from Connecticut, so she doesn’t have the Maine accent where the ‘r’ sound like ‘ah.’ It’s so interesting hearing their accent that I could truly listen to Mainers speak for hours.

While touring the island in the car, she broke out her Maine accent and entertained me with tidbits about living on island.  I think she sounds a bit like Katherine Hepburn when she speaks ‘Mainah’ (Mainer).  Totally stole my heart!  The homes on the island are lovely and historic.

In her home, I felt like a friend rather than a paying guest.  When escorting me around town, she introduced me as ‘Becky, who is staying with us.’  I felt special in such a nice way.

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Mary & Me

On Saturday, I came across and Arts & Craft fair.  I watched a weaver working on a place mat that was so beautifully done. (I did pick up her card).  There were wooden bowls exquisitely made by David, a well-spoken Englishman who later I had the privilege of watching a soccer game with him and his lovely wife, Melanie. I listened as he visited with Mary about a birthday surprise gift.  From him, I bought a simple wooden ring.  Leaving on Monday, I ran into him again on the ferry and chatted with him on the bus.  He’s a retired professor and quite the gentleman.  He speaks German and French also.

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John’s small screen!

That evening there was a Jazz band playing at the church, so I attended that with Mary.  She shared a story of how the free concerts started.  A gentleman wanted to give his wife a present, so he organized a concert for her and from there it grew.  She pointed them out to me and I spoke to them during intermission.

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Jazz concert at the church Saturday night

So, what did I do on my days playing islander?  I walked and waved.  Exploring the small seashore that could be walked, admiring homes, taking pictures of lovely flowers, and picking up sea glass and shells.  Mostly, however, I simply took in my surroundings and soaked up the personalities that make up the small community.  You’ll have to ask me about my ‘author’ encounter that left me shaking my head because it’s humorous.

A group of Methodists were using Mary and John’s home also.  Breakfast time was one of conversation pinging around the kitchen.  Imagine nine people making breakfast and standing in a small kitchen as eggs, bacon, toast , and coffee come together.  Being befriended is so sweet.

There was laughter, a slight awkwardness, and conversation as we learned to navigate.  Mary didn’t claim the kitchen, but simply joined us, letting control of the kitchen be in the hand of her ‘guests,’ giving slight instructions about the stove or in my case, how to work the coffee carafe.  Sweet camaraderie.  I happen to walk in as they were having lunch one day and they invited me to eat with them.  Of course I did!

My room was absolutely gorgeous!  I had booked the small twin bed that was attached to the back stairs in the kitchen, but when Mary picked me up from the ferry, she said they ‘upgraded’ me.  I had a full size bed, a sitting room, and a balcony.  So much roomier than the one I booked.  It allowed the church people to be in connecting rooms, and I came out feeling pretty special.

Michelle, from Texas, arrived late one night and spent one day with us.  On that rainy Sunday, we explored Small Chebeague because when the tide is low, people can walk the sandbar from Great Chebeague to Little Chebeague.  No one lives there anymore, but before WWII, there were small cottages.  In its heyday, the ferries brought visitors to the Inns on that small island.  Mary fitted us in ‘wellies’ and we donned rain coats, and off we went.  It was so much fun to explore with someone.  We took turns taking silly pictures while fighting off misquotes in the rain.

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Off at low tide

After all the other guests left and I was alone with the family, friends came over.  We watched the soccer match, drank wine, and had chicken stew.  That night Mary gave me a couple of books to read, one about a ghost and the other about the neighbor, who gardens and does sculpture.  After reading the ghost story, I slept with the lights on because it was about a ghost in their house.

No, there wasn’t anything special to do on that small island, but because of the sweet personalities of the people, it is one of the fondest memories I have of my Maine trip.  Relationships are the ties that bind and make life special.

Posted in Adventures, Fun Events, Road Trip

My Next Road Trip…Maine

& Some Advice for Planning a Road Trip

I’ve started planning my road trip for the summer!  Excitement is in the anticipation of where I’m going and what I’ll do along the way.  Planning this trip is requiring more work than I’ve done on my previous trips.

This year, I’m driving up the coastline of Maine as far as ‘Downeast’ as I can go in the USA.  ‘Downeast’ is what the people in Maine call the eastward coast because ships would have to sail downwind in an easterly direction.  Pretty cool trivia!  I’ve been pouring over travel books and looking at websites trying not to miss something I should do or go see.

For the first time I’m using a website and app to help me plan my route.  In my past trips, I just relied on Google maps, road signs or Trip Advisor to point me to places to go.  Sometimes getting lost is the best way to find things to see.

I do Google to find state websites that have information about visiting different areas that I’ll be driving through.  One of my favorite sites to visit is Roadside America because it has offbeat tourist attractions.  This site has so many oddities to visit that it really should be checked out!  Think old Route 66 sites.

 

This year I’m using Roadtrippers to help plan my route.  In the past, I’ve used Googlemaps, but I like this site to plan my route.  It allows me to put sixty places I want to see along the way and puts them in a guide.

I can choose attractions, points of interest, restaurants, shopping, entertainment and a whole list of other categories.  It allows me to find scenic routes and I can change the route simply by dragging the blue line where I want it to go.  It’ll tell me hours of driving, give me a gas estimate based on my vehicle, and the number of miles of my trip.  Pretty awesome!  It’s free and if you’re interested, please check out the website and they have a mobile app too! It is Roadtrippers and of course they have a Facebook page.  I’ve made several route options and I’m still trying to decide which route to take, but I almost have it ironed out.

The next step of planning is to decide how many miles I want to drive in one day.  About seven hours is the maximum I want to spend driving.  After that my ‘bum’ is tired of sitting.  I often stop more than I expect and my time schedule gets off.

I have expectations on where I plan on stopping for the night, but on the way, so far I haven’t made any reservations for sleeping.  I’m not above asking people if they have relatives or friends along the way to spend the night at their house.  If you have anyone along my routes let me know.

Once I get to Maine, I do have reservations.  I’ve been using airbnb for accommodations instead of hotels.  One, they are much more reasonably priced.  Two, it’s with local families, so they can tell you much better about the area.  Three, it’s nice to have someone to visit with.  Four, they are usually cleaner than hotels.

It’s simple to find rooms, suites, or even entire houses.  Just create an account, put in where and when to be there and hit search and the rooms or houses in the area will pop up.  Click on a price and the description will pop out and if interested click and the host information will be shown.

 

Now you may think it would be scary to stay with strangers, but I haven’t had any negative experience.  Before booking a room look at the pictures, there are reviews of the host, so it’s easy to see if compatibility is an issue.

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A host review

They don’t instantly book because there’s a place to put why you’re wanting to visit that area.  After staying at an Airbnb room, the host also reviews the guest, so the potential hosts can see if the guest’s previous review and can accept them or not.  Here are two of my reviews from previous hosts.

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A few of my reviews as a guest

Payment is made on the website when booking, so there isn’t any money exchanged with the host family.  You’re simply welcomed into the house.  Some houses have keys while others have a box that a code is entered to get inside.  Both work fine.

I actually planned my stopping points around the cheapest (nice) places that I found on Airbnb.  I’m trying to keep my budget in mind, so I didn’t go for the tourist towns where rooming is more expensive.

Kennebunkport is the first place that I’ll explore in Maine and then Old Orchard Beach. I’m staying my first night in Hollis, Maine. It is a small rural home called Runaway Acres.

My splurge was to stay on a Chebeague Island (Close to Portland, ME) where nothing is happening.  Nothing, but downtime and relaxation.

Three days of bliss!  I’m ferrying over, so I’ll be on foot or bicycle if I can remember how to balance.  It is an actual B&B, so there will be other guests.

My next stop driving the coast is in Belfast and I’m only spending one night here.  It’s about a twenty-five minute drive from Camden.  I’m sure I didn’t give myself enough time to explore the area, but I won’t waste a minute.

Days six through eight is in Brooksville.  I picked this spot because the room was so reasonable.  It’s in a beautiful area and within driving range of Bar Harbor and Arcadia National Park.

The next journey across the coast of Maine is as far east as I can go without heading into Canada.  Originally, I was going to stop at Bar Harbor, but most likely, I won’t do this trip again.  So I thought add two days!  I’ll end at Eastport, Maine.  This is where I hope to do my whale watching trip.  This is the only home where a picture is not featured, so I’m going to have to be surprised.  They do however have four dogs, so I’ll get my petting fix in.  I’ll be exploring two days here.

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As far East as I’ll go

Then it’s time to turn around and drive back.  I’m planning on doing it in one day, so not too much stopping along the way…if I can control myself.  Thankfully, it is a small state.

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Driving backward along the coast

I’ll spend two days in Portland, Maine.  I’ll spend one day exploring the city and then I’m thinking about taking a day trip into Boston on the train.  The train rates are reasonable, about an two hour ride, and I’m sure that I’m never going to drive to Boston.

 

From here, I’ll drive to visit Cam in Brooklyn for about four days before heading home.  I’m looking forward to hugging my son!

Things still left to consider;  I’m still looking for someone to watch my pets while I’m gone.  I’ll be praying for safety on my trip and if you’ll say prayers for me, I’d appreciate it.

I’m super excited and can’t wait to write about my days!