02.06.2010 - 04.06.2010 74 °F
Room 313, Bar Harbor Inn, Bar Harbor, Maine: 5.21pm, Friday, 4/6/10
Something went wrong with uploading the last main Blog page and I think some of you may have missed this really important one as it had our own bear-picture. In case you missed it, here it is:- To Cody and Back - More Bear!
Here in New England, if you don't like lobster... there's plenty of other stuff! Such as Donuts?
We were up at 3.30am on Wednesday and found the airport (Jackson Hole) in the dark and, of course, were far too early though we did check straight in. Then had to wait for security to open.
Just a 40 minute hop to Salt Lake then a 4 hour 19 minutes flight to Boston. It's only 6 hours to get back from Boston to London, so quite a long flight. No upgrades this time. There was an old guy sitting next to Bob. He changed his seat to be next to his wife in the opposite row. Unfortunately we saw him later at BOS having taken a tumble. His face was streaming with blood. Very upsetting for all concerned.
Luggage arrived on the carousel mixed in with four other flights and we found the Hertz courtesy bus right outside without a problem. First indication that we were "somewhere different" was that the policemen were wearing Mountie-style hats. Quite fetching on some of them! Then there were the traffic jams. Arriving at 5.30pm and setting out into the suburbs of Boston at that time was not the best thing we could have done. It was like driving through North London on the A10.
Eventually the roads cleared and we found our "Inn" in Rockport on Cape Ann. Somewhere recommended by Ann & Walt who knew the area well. A good call as, although it was grey and cool, as reported earlier, it was like something out of a "Murder She Wrote" programme, with plenty of Jessica whatshernames (what's her name?) round-abouts, (oh and lots of roundabouts, or "rotaries" in Massachusetts by the way). In a small cafe overlooking the little harbour, dinner of fish n' chips, New England style, followed by Strawberries & Ice-cream and Mint Cheesecake.
Next morning, after a breakfast in the dining room of the hotel overlooking a foggy sea, served by a nervous young waiter, who later fixed a problem with the Internet, we packed the car and drove down to the harbour. By which time the skies and sea had cleared to reveal a working fishing harbour and virtually no tourists. I can remember when St Ives used to be like that. Like St Ives, the town also has an artist community. Lots of posh shops too. We imagine that in the Summer, like much of New England, it would ne overrun, though.
On our drive North we emerged from picture book to "real" New England, with strip malls, gas stations, Dunkin Donuts and Walmarts. On through the "White Trash Paradise" (according to Lonely Planet) of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, a cross between Weymouth, Southend and Hastings. Then on & into Maine, and to extremely posh and wealthy Kennebunkport - where the Bushes have a Summer home. However, by this time, the skies had opened with a tumultuous thunderstorm and we saw little of the Bushes' or anybody elses' homes through our steamed-up windscreen. We eventually found a layby to stop, overlooking, we assume, the sea to eat a Roast Beef and Domestic Cheese sandwich we bought earlier
We got onto Highway 1 which follows the coast North and eventually into New Brunswick, Canada. As we got further North the traffic eased and the woods go thicker. We kept thinking we were in England and only the style of houses (all wooden clap-board, even the McDonalds!) reminded us where we really were. Many of the town centres could have been located somewhere in UK. But no "Boots", "Currys" or Tescos" signs!
We ended up in a Comfort Inn for the night, on the highway near Belfast, having travelled through Essex, Biddeford, Ipswich, Bath, Portsmouth, Wakefield, York, Salisbury, Yarmouth etc, on a crazy sort of tour through GB!
Clam chowder followed by ENORMOUS helpings of pork chop (Bob) and fried shrimp (John) of which we both had to leave at least half, left us struggling to waddle back to our lovely room, with balcony, overlooking the Belfast Bay.
This morning saw blues skies and a little mist on the sea. A standard motel "continental breakfast" saw us on our way by about 8.30. Americans are such earlybirds that we were amongst the last to get on the road.
A wonderful drive along fairly quiet Highway 1 with a stop to climb (in a lift) one of the supporting piers of a suspension bridge near Bucksport, to a glass sided and vertigo-inducing viewing gallery. Once you get out of the lift, supervised by a nice young man who is studying nursing (appropriately) you had to climb stairs next to the glass to get to the top floor where the gallery is. He told us that firemen and pilots have had difficulty with this "situation". Bob was OK. John less so. But great views over the wonderfully gentle Maine coast with many inlets and thousands of islands, all thickly wooded.
Then a diversion to the coast to see Blue Hill, another smart town with galleries and posh shops. All done, though, in the "best possible taste".
Acadia National Park preserves much of Mount Desert Island and associated smaller islands. Most of the accommodation and other services are set in a town, also on the island and just out of the Park, called Bar Harbor.
On the way out to the island, things began to get really tacky with malls, stores, Dunkin' Donuts, Christmas Shoppes, the lot! Traffic was heavy too so we began to think we may had made a mistake coming here, much as we love malls, Dunkin' Donuts etc. These were soon left behind, however, and we began to realise the attraction of this area.
We had no accommodation booked but had a list to look at. Our first port of call was a an ageing Best Western 3 miles before town. This looked OK and we would keep this in reserve. The next was the Bar Harbor Inn. Right by the harbour and overlooking the bay. John went in and got a room "with a view". We could park the car right in front (yes, the room was available at 11am) and unloaded the bags. We opened the room and the terrace overlooked a lawn and then the Ocean wherein lay anchored a cruise ship, Maasdam, which, later in the afternoon, we took great pleasure in watching weigh anchor and sail off to Boston.
We then took a drive into Acadia NP. This is the most visited National Park in the US but we had no problems with crowds and much of the loop road we followed we had to ourselves. Whilst well worth the visit and interesting, much of the UK coast is more dramatic. We also took a drive up the side road to Mount Cadillac from where the views were spectacular.
The restaurant at the hotel looks wonderful. Very old-English-hotel with views over the Ocean. There is a special offer with the room (Dinner or Dinner are breakfast) and we could not resist having dinner here tonight and have a table booked for 8pm. May even try the lobster!
There have some sort of elections going on across the US since we arrived. All different dates. We think they are primaries, but the US electoral system is impenetrable to us. To keep you up to speed, here are some of the candidates:- Sandra Fish for state representative. Gay Leach for something else. Jim Schatz for Governor (Stan has had to stop Arthur reading these out as he has been mis-pronouncing some of them). And they all pay for long TV ads slagging each other off. All great stuff. But not very democratic. He with the most funds wins.
First its Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, then Dinner. Great!
PS Further notes on New England:- the roads are AWFUL. Lots of garden centers, not seen before anywhere else in the US. No one has remarked on our accent (may think we are Canadian)?. Did I mention roundabouts, and LOBSTER! Oh and there are one or two trees. And a couple of elephants, Vivienne! At last.