Monday, August 31, 2009

Leaving Mo Behind

August 31, 2009

Today was very sad for me--I had to leave Mo in Rhode Island and come home in a rented car with Roxy. It felt like leaving a member of the family behind.

Good Sam fixed us up with a tow truck at maybe 8:30 this morning; the truck arrived a few hours later. The delay was actually good, though, because I used the time to carefully pack up pretty much everything that I needed to take home, in case I had to rent a car and leave Mo. And that's exactly what happened.

Mo is now at a Ford Truck Center in Warwick, RI. I don't know that they will help, though--they were taken aback by the fact that the engine has a carburetor--they said they don't work on such old trucks much anymore! However they will check the electrical system, then try to find someone who does understand old engines. We are hopeful but not holding our breath. If we are VERY VERY lucky, maybe they will figure out this darn problem once and for all! (It bears noting that no mechanic has ever had the opportunity to figure it out, because it always fixes itself, so when the mechanic sees it, nothing is wrong anymore. Maybe this is our chance.)

Meanwhile, Enterprise sent a car to pick me up, they gave me a "discount" (still too expensive) for a very small, very uncomfortable car. I drove it back to Mo, and loaded all the packed up stuff, and the refrigerated stuff (lucky we carry a collapsible cooler with us!), and Roxy, into the very small, very uncomfortable car, and at 3:10 I sadly left my much-loved motorhome to hopefully be repaired. After a VERY tiring 5 hour drive (did I mention the car is uncomfortable? And the traffic on I-95 is awful... if we DO get to bring Mo home, we need to find another route!), Roxy and I are home.

It all seems very surreal. I want my RV back!!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Not Good

August 30, 2009

Well, looks like the trip isn't over yet. The blog isn't over yet. I'm not home yet. Mo broke down again.

Symptoms, exactly like last Sunday. This time on I-95 at exit 2 in Rhode Island. Did you know you can sit at the side of the interstate in Rhode Island for almost FOUR HOURS and not ONE highway patrol car will come by???

Our Good Sam Highway Service found a tow truck an hour away, which came and towed us to a campground a mere 10 minutes away from where we broke down. And now we have to wait until tomorrow.

However, "we" now means just me and Roxy. Joe has gotten a lift to the train station in Westerly, RI, where an Amtrak train is supposed to arrive at 6:46 pm, and which will take him to Penn Station. From there, he'll take NJ Transit home. Meanwhile, Roxy and I are all alone here, and tomorrow morning (unless Mo suddenly decides to start up again like last monday) will deal with Good Sam, truck repair, and, possibly, depending on the prognosis, find a rental car and drive home. I just don't know.

This is NOT a good ending to our trip, I am NOT a happy person, and all in all, this sucks.

A Rainy Anniversary

August 29, 2009

Happy Anniversary to us! Today was our 38th wedding anniversary—doesn’t that sound like a lot of years? I have to admit I don’t always remember what we did to celebrate our anniversaries, but thanks to this blog, we’ll always be able to see what we did on our 38th.
For one thing, we had a very rainy anniversary. It was raining for most of the night, and as a result I didn’t sleep very well. I guess I kept worrying about the roof leaking. As it turned out, there was absolutely no leaking that I know of, and we woke up all snug and dry. It was, however, very cool (and still raining HARD) when it was finally time to get out of bed. Joey and Roxy had a very fast walk in the rain, and after a relatively quick breakfast, we packed up to leave. We stopped first at the campground office, however, to make use of their wifi connection—the main reason we bothered to pay for a campground last night, really. All we actually needed was a place to spend the night, because we were not planning to use the facilities (too cold to swim, too late in the evening to enjoy the views) and wanted to leave early and get back on the road.
Our first stop was an impulse—Joe said “Look!” as we passed a large office building with the DeLorme sign outside. The windows on the side were three stories high, and behind them I could see an ENORMOUS globe! Joe said that it was “famous” and that he’d known it was there. I made him take the next U-Turn so we could go back and I could photograph it through the windows, but to my pleasure I saw that they actually had a Map Store in the building which was open to the public, and of course, the lobby was filled with the globe.
It turns out that its name is Eartha, and it is, in fact, the largest globe in the world (the certification from the Guinness Book of Records was on the wall. As a “map person” (i.e. someone who just loves maps), I found both the store and the globe fascinating.

The office building had balconies on the 2nd and 3rd floors so guests could go upstairs to view the northern hemisphere of the globe. The entire thing was rotating on its axis as well as revolving, so it was possible to see the entire thing from any angle if you were patient and let it turn toward you at the 3 different heights. After taking several photos, I realized that it was really necessary to include some people on the ground floor next to it to give a sense of its size—it’s not really enough to say it was 3 stories tall!
I thought it was great.
The store was lots of fun too. It was not just a showcase (and retail outlet) for all of the DeLorme mapping products. It also had maps of pretty much everywhere in the world, as well as tour guides, language phrase books, atlases, globes, posters, and all kinds of toys and travel items. It was very heavy in the Maine department, with books etc. about the state, but there were books of all kinds relating to travel and finding your way around, plus novelty books. We had a good time browsing through, but didn’t buy anything. Just being there, though, reminded me that I had planned for us to try geochaching during this vacation—but not having an internet connection (and thus not being able to find where any local caches might be hidden) made that impossible. I guess next time I should plan ahead better and print out the directions or something…. But that would require knowing where we were going in advance!
We got back on the road (still U.S.1) and our next stop was at a chocolate store named Len Libby’s. The specific reason to stop was to see Lenny, the world’s only life-size Chocolate Moose. Sure enough, Lenny is made with 1,700 pounds of chocolate, and he now has some brown (chocolate) bears, a mama (another 300 pounds) plus two cubs to keep him company. The bears don’t look life-size to me, though. We weren’t there too long, only enough to meet Lenny and purchase a few small samples of the extensive chocolate inventory (we skipped the chocolate covered blueberries, but I did buy the chocolate nachos, which were pieces of sugar-cone-like stuff with chocolate drizzled on them. I haven’t tried them yet .)
By then it was around noon, and we decided to make some more definite plans, since we needed to make some greater progress today. We decided to get onto I-95 and head down to Salem, Massachusetts, and stop there. Our basic problem was that we wanted to do something else touristy today, but it was still pouring rain, which let out anything to do with boat rides, walking in cute villages, botanical gardens, picturesque wharfs, or anything outside. Neither of us was interested in touring a Victorian mansion, either. So since I’d never been to Salem, I thought we could stop there.
We stopped just over the border in Massachusetts (it was teeming sheets of rain) and I ran into the visitor’s center to ask about routes through/around Boston. It’s been ages since we’ve been up there, and never with the RV. The guy told me that today was Ted Kennedy’s funeral (which, being out of touch, I hadn’t known) and that it wouldn’t be a great day to drive through the city, but then when he realized we were talking well after 5 pm, decided that perhaps it would work. Meanwhile he gave me the Salem tourist book.
So we drove to Salem first, and after looking at all the available museums, decided to go to the Witch History Museum, which sounded the least hokey of the available museums (the one “real” museum, the Peabody Museum, was just too much to deal with by 3:30 in the afternoon.) As it turned out, the Witch History Museum was plenty hokey, but oh well, it was something to do in the afternoon.
After we left there, we went to the Boston Hot Dog Company for a snack. This was a small shop with a huge variety of every kind of hot dog. We got their signature ¼ Lb Black Angus Beef hot dog, and chatted with the owner, a native of Malden, while we ate. He said it was too bad we were leaving so soon, we could go to Boston and eat pizza at Regina’s. Joe said we used to swear by the pizza at the European, at which point he brightened up and said, “Even better!” But the European is gone, and we couldn’t stay anyway. We chatted some more before heading out into the rain (which was slightly easing up by this time—almost 6 pm!) Btw, one of the coolest things about being in the RV was that even though it was so rainy, we were unfazed—we had two plastic slickers tucked away in our drawers and we just threw them on and walked through the deluge. We always have whatever we need!
After we left Salem, we got back onto the interstates and took I-93 straight down through Boston, via the Big Dig underground route. The traffic was light and it couldn’t have been faster or simpler. It seemed kind of odd, though, to be zooming past a city like Boston without even a pause to drive down our old street (which would have been nuts to try in Mo, of course.) One local note was that all the electronic message boards, which are designed to give traffic updates, were all instead programmed to read “Thank You, Ted, From the People of Massachusetts.” We stayed on I-93 until it rejoined I-95, and took it into Rhode Island so we could collect yet another state for our sticker map (Massachusetts was a new one today, too.) By this time it was after 7 pm and was pretty dark, although the rain was finally reduced to mostly an active sort of mist. We decided to skip the campground routine for tonight (there are really very few to choose from around here, it seems!) and just overnight at one of our RV-friendly roadside options, a Cracker Barrel. This one is only about 20 miles from the Connecticut border, so we are spending the night in the smallest state out of 50, and will get our final New England state sticker for our map tomorrow. The plan is to wake up early and take I-95 the rest of the way home. With luck, we will find a wifi at one of these local businesses before we leave, so I can upload this blog.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Cruising" Down the Coast of Maine

August 28, 2009

We left Bar Harbor this morning and, after a stop to buy some Maine blueberries from a roadside stand, we followed U.S. 1 down the coast of Maine. It’s so odd to think that if we followed it all the way, it will take us home! (I suggested we go right through New Jersey and follow it to Key West, but I guess we don’t have time this weekend.)

All in all, it was a pretty quiet day. We did get excited by the new suspension bridge over the Penobscot River near Bucksport. We saw the tops of the suspension towers over the trees as we approached, but when it comes into sight, it is right next to Fort Knox, a pre-Revolutionary War fort which guarded the river going up to Bangor, Maine. We crossed the new bridge, which is right beside the old rusted steel bridge, and stopped to take a few photos. I read the historical marker which explained that this was the site of a defeat of the Americans by the British who manned Fort Knox in 1779. The Americans, despite outnumbering the British, were unable to take the fort and lost a lot of boats as they retreated back up the river to Bangor. By the way, you can see there is an observatory at the top of one of the towers--they use it to observe the moon, we saw on a sign as we passed.

We continued down the road, with lots of glimpses of Penobscot Bay through the trees, until we got hungry. We stopped at a small park on Rockport Bay in the town of Rockport, maneuvering ourselves down a steepish road into the only parking space we could fit in (we were lucky to find room!) It was an absolutely charming little park with a boat ramp and many sailboats tied up in the harbor.
We ate sandwiches, then walked Roxy for a little while and noted the small locomotive (which looked exactly like the locomotives on the Railroad properties in a Monopoly game) and the odd brick structures (we couldn’t figure out what they are) in the park before backing out of our space and returning to our journey.

Our next destination was Freeport. I wasn’t sure we really needed to stop at L.L.Bean’s original flagship store (open 24 hours/day, 7 days/week), but Joe said, “There’s always SOMETHING you need at L.L.Bean.” However, the town of Freeport really seems to be more like a large outlet center than anything else. The streets are lined with familiar national brand outlets, including an LL Bean outlet. The main LL Bean “campus” is also right in the midst of all this retail activity, with several different stores concentrating on various sports, plus the main store with all the clothes, luggage, camping, etc. They are in the process of building a new “home store” also for all the furniture, rugs, etc. that they sell.

We were not favorably disposed to any of it, because of the difficulty we had finding a place to park our RV. For a town which grew up around a company which specialized in outdoor sports and camping, it was astonishing to us that the LL Bean lot had “No RV Parking” signs, and the other large lots in the area were equally inhospitable. We finally found what seemed to be the only RV lot, and it was horrible—it was set up in a way which would accommodate at most 10 vehicles, and the arrangement was such that if the lot were full, several of the RVs would literally not be able to get out of the lot because they would be blocked in by other vehicles. In addition, the exit was onto a very narrow one-way street, making two more spots very iffy in terms of egress. We were fortunate in that there were only a few other RVs there when we arrived, and we chose a space which would have allowed us to back out if necessary. But we were extremely annoyed by the situation, and we filled out a “comments card” inside the LL Bean store to let them know that this was completely unacceptable. If we were driving a larger vehicle or had a tow vehicle, we would have given up and passed right through the town.

We wandered through LL Bean for a bit, but the truth is that after living a relatively simple lifestyle for two weeks in Mo, all those extra clothes and what-not seem so unnecessary. In the end, we spent $4.95—we bought an eyeglass repair kit (I’d been looking for one for about a month) and a new eyeglass strap for Joe’s sunglasses. The only other store we patronized was the Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop, where I treated myself to some chocolate therapy.

We went back to Mo, and had a conversation with another RVer who was just parking his truck and trailer next to us. He pointed out a new group of stores which seemed to be not quite finished, and commented, “Ever since they built that, they seem to have lost their minds.” I asked about the connection, and he said that the new stores were built where the old RV lot was, and that it had been both large and very well planned out and accessible. He agreed that the only thing we could do was complain to LL Bean, which he and his wife have also done. In the meantime, one of the RVs ahead of us pulled out while we were talking, allowing us to weave between two other campers and get out without too much problem.

By this time, it was about 5:45, and we figured that on a Friday night in the summer, we had better call a campground and make sure we could find a spot tonight. It turned out that a nice-sounding campground right in Freeport, on the water, had some room. So we went to the grocery store (we were out of some basics like milk, and eggs—all our eggs froze! It figures that most people have issues where their refrigerators aren’t cold enough, whereas ours is too cold!) And then we set our GPS and followed it to the campground here in Freeport. Unfortunately, although it has a LOT of shorefront sites, none of them have electric hookups. So we opted to be in the “woods”, although our particular area is not very woodsy, either. In fact, this is the most expensive and least attractive campground we’ve had in 2 weeks. It is, however, fine for the night, which is all we need, and we did walk down a path through the woods behind us for a glimpse of Casco Bay through the trees. We are hoping to hit the road earlier tomorrow. I would like to spend the night about 3 hours from home, so we can finish up on Sunday morning and have a little more vacation before we have to unload and get back to reality.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Thursday, August 27, 2009

We had a lot of fun today, AND we are TOTALLY exhausted!

I must say, we are not really the “get going early” crowd when we are on vacation. I didn’t wake up until 8:15 today. I rolled out of bed (sleeping in our cabover bed, this can be taken somewhat literally!) and started the day by walking the dog. This is usually Joe’s morning “job” when we are RVing, but I was in the mood to go out, as was Roxy, and Joe was still abed. So for the first time, I took a walk down the road adjacent to our campground, and discovered the beach only about ¼ mile down the road from us! It was a gorgeous, crisp morning with a bright blue sky, and the ocean was beckoning me in the distance almost from the minute I began walking. We were virtually alone on the road (there are perhaps 4-5 houses down this road, but it’s pretty isolated) so I was surprised to find a guy with a border collie already on the beach when we got down there. Roxy and I basically ignored them, concentrating instead on the gorgeous blue water (me) and the smells along the beach (Roxy). We did see a bunch of dead crabs, big ones, near the edge of the sand. I guess that was the high water mark; it was hard to tell.

The walk back was all uphill, but I felt I was earning my not-yet-eaten breakfast. Joe was awake when I got back, and he went off to shower while I ate breakfast and transferred yesterday’s photos. Then he came back and I went up to the laundry to upload my blog. Beth called and we caught up with her. All in all, once again we weren’t ready to catch the shuttle until the 11:25 bus came through.

We went directly to the scooter rental place, and after about a 30-minute check in and instruction process, we were on our way. Part of the process included chatting with the lady who rented us the scoots. She and her husband are “retired”, so they spend the summers in vacation places (last year she says they spent in Yellowstone) work-camping. This year they are camped through October at a campground on Mount Desert Island, and working at the bike/kayak/scooter rental place. They split the job with another couple (this is quite common in the work-camping world) which means they basically work half-time all summer, and get to visit different parts of the country for an extended period. She says she can’t go “full time” like this (many do) because she gets claustrophobic in her RV after a while, so they go home in the winter to Arkansas. Both the lady and her husband were very nice and seemed to be enjoying their jobs. I would have liked to chat longer and find out what their jobs were at Yellowstone, but we wanted to get going with our scooters.

After perusing our maps, we decided our first destination would be to the top of Cadillac Mountain, which we missed out on yesterday. This turned out to be a fantastic choice! We scootered up the road into the park, and started our ascent up the mountain. There was very little traffic, so we felt quite comfortable, and we stopped as we passed the scenic turnouts.
The higher we went, the more stunning the vistas became. Eagle Lake

^ Looking down on Bar Harbor (this gull was very friendly!)

It was actually quite cool with the wind blowing past us—I was glad I had worn jeans and a long-sleeved shirt over my sleeveless shell; Joe had on a sweatshirt (I would have liked that, too, but wasn’t too cold with just the long sleeves.) It was so much fun going up!

We got to the top and found a lot of people up there. We ended up buying some granola bars and nuts at the Visitor’s Center, because it was already after 1:30 and Joe needed to eat something. (I had suggested packing a picnic lunch, and we decided instead to get “a nice lunch”—but THAT didn’t happen, due to our stupid timing.) After eating, we wandered around the summit of Cadillac Mountain. You can look out in every direction, looking east down on Bar Harbor and surrounding islands, or south-east out toward the ocean, or west toward the center of Mount Desert Island and Eagle Lake. The top of the mountain is basically all rock, and people were climbing out way past the paved walkways. There is a trail which leads 2 miles back down to Bar Harbor, and people were heading that way, or coming back up. It was a great view everywhere we looked, despite the fact that our blue sky definitely had a haze in the distance. This is, unfortunately, pollution being blown up from Boston and New York toward Maine. It wasn’t severe today, but I’m sure that 100 years ago, the air was much clearer. Nevertheless, we had a basically perfect day today, and nothing to complain about.

Looking west toward Eagle Lake --^
Looking Southeast out to sea--^
Looking east down toward Bar Harbor/Porcupine Islands --^

Zoom in on Bar Harbor from top of Cadillac Mountain--^

We headed back down the mountain finally, and the descent was a real “wow moment” for me. They tell you that the “only” way to “really” appreciate the park is walking or biking, but scooters give the same effect and are easier on the legs! We swept around the road’s curves, being treated to wonderfully scenery around each corner spreading out below us. I felt positively jubilant—it was so exhilarating and absolutely gorgeous to see the foliage close up, smell the wind, and see the blue and green stretching below us. I was sorry when we got to the bottom (and in retrospect, I’m thinking we should have simply driven back up so we could come back down again, LOL!)

At the bottom of the mountain, we stopped so we could look at the map, and we decided to try to ride to the other side of Mount Desert Island to see what the towns there were like. This turned out to be not such a great idea, however. First of all, I underestimated the length of the roads across the island, and it was a longer trip than I expected. Second, our scooters (or at least mine) went about 40 mph downhill, no more than 30 uphill, and a steady 35 on a flat road—but the speed limits were anywhere from 35 MPH to, in one place, 50 mph! The traffic was not terribly heavy at that time of day, but we pulled over quite often (sometimes on the shoulder, sometimes on pullouts, and sometimes on the bike paths) to let cars pass us, and it made me feel unsafe (I was the lead rider, with Joe following me.)

After riding for maybe 20 minutes, and realizing we still had quite a long way to go, I was not too happy about my choice. Joe said, “Let’s just go back to Bar Harbor and drive around there.” So that is what we did. We drove down a bunch of streets which we hadn’t walked, and which the shuttle hadn’t taken. We finally found the RV parking—not too close to the center of town, that’s for sure!—as well as exploring some of the historic roads with large old houses on them. Finally, we drove back down Main Street and stopped for our daily ice cream fix, before returning the scooters to the rental shop down the street.

All in all, we had a wonderful time with the scoots. I would have liked to get an earlier start, and to have packed lunch. There was storage under the scooter seats, which was great—we had the backpack under one seat and water bottles under the other, but we had room for lunch! That also allowed us to be free of appendages as we buzzed along the roads. They were very cute bikes, but I would have been happier with more power!

After we returned the scooters, we noticed a hardware store right next door. Our muffler needed a little attention (I don’t remember if I wrote about this before—one of the supports seems to have rusted, and Joe rigged a temporary substitute, but this time he got what he needed to actually fix it.) And then we walked to the shuttle and caught a ride back to Mo by 5:30. We realized we were VERY tired—I guess all the fresh air, and the energy of riding the scooters really wore us out!

So now we are planning the rest of the trip. At this point, I think we will be heading down the coast of Maine tomorrow on Route 1 (if we follow it all the way, it leads us home!) with a stop at L.L. Bean, of course, and we’ll see where else we end up. I am going to route us through Rhode Island to be sure not to miss a complete sweep of New England state stickers (plus New York!) for this trip. Some people say you have to spend the night in the state before you can put up the sticker. But we figure that given Mo’s history, we should be thrilled to make it THROUGH any state—and we deserve the sticker for survival! I have no idea where we’ll be able to stay the next two nights—it is once again a weekend, after all. But we’ll worry about that when we get ready to stop for the night, and meanwhile, we are still….Deb and Joe, on the road!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Acadia National Park

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We had another nice day in Maine today. Once again, we took the free shuttle, this time to the Visitor's Center of Acadia National Park. This shuttle service is really terrific, I have to say. It comes to our campground every 30 minutes (as part of the "Campground Loop", which goes to most of the campgrounds on this side of the island, plus will stop at request for any inns, cottages, restaurants, etc. along the route.) There are a number of other loops--today we took the Park Loop Road, with stops at most major sights. Every shuttle stop has an electronic board with the current time, and the next expected shuttle times. It is really convenient--and not only do they carry bikes on racks (up to six), but today we found out they even allow dogs!

In fact, a digression--this is about the dog-friendliest place I've ever seen. (Too bad we don't have an equally friendly dog, sigh.) There are two dog-centric stores on Main Street in Bar Harbor, and today at the Jordan Pond House, there were tons of dogs, even on the grass in the restaurant area next to their families' tables. This is also a huge place for people on bicycles--there were dozens and dozens of them at the Jordan Pond House, as well as pretty much everyplace in the park.

Anyway, we got to the visitor's center and i realized we'd left "home" without water, and I was already feeling kind of dehydrated. So I asked where we could find water (there was absolutely nothing at the Visitor's Center.) The first stop on the loop with drinks was Thunder Hole. So we got on the shuttle, went past a couple of stops, and got off at Thunder Hole. There we found a small concession stand inside what was originally a ranger station. We bought water and I also bought a hat (forgot that too!). There is a trail which leads between Sand Beach and Thunder Hole. We'd passed the former, so after looking at Thunder Hole, we walked back from the direction we'd come to Sand Beach, enjoying the coastal vistas on the way.

Sand Beach is "the" beach in Acadia, and it was very crowded today. They have changing rooms and rest rooms (but no water or anything else to buy? Go figure!) We found a fallen tree trunk in the shade, and sat for a while watching the surf and all the people. The water was obviously freezing, since only very little kids seemed able to tolerate it. The day was gorgeous, though, with blue sky and hot sun.
After we sat there for a while, we realized it was after 12:30 and we'd need to eat something soon. The only place I knew of in the park for food was Jordan Pond House. So we caught the shuttle and rode up the road, again passing a few sights, to get to Jordan Pond. It wasn't quite what I expected--for some reason I expected an old elegant building from the early years of the park. What we found was a largish, quite modern building. The restaurant is apparently famous for its popovers. There was, however, a 30 minutes wait for a real sit-down lunch (and the prices weren't exactly low, either.) We opted instead for "fuel" rather than "food", as Joe calls it, and bought pre-made sandwiches in the large gift shop (sign at door: "Dogs Are Welcome In Gift Shop.") We found a place to sit on the lawn with a view of Jordan Pond. The place was swarming with visitors (two legged and four legged, as I mentioned). There were bike tour groups, families galore, and like I said, it was very busy.

We finished our sandwiches and I got myself a "Harbor Bar" (which I suppose is pronounced "Hah-bah Bah" up here--vanilla ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies, covered in chocolate. While I ate that, we wandered down the path to the "pond", really a lake, and quite beautiful. We walked along the trail by the lake for a while.

From there, we decided to finish the loop by going up to the top of Cadillac Mountain and then maybe go back to the campground. Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the east coast, and supposedly has a 360-degree view which is a "must see". However, we were quite surprised when the shuttle went right by the road leading up there, and took us back to the Visitor's Center. I asked the driver, and he said the shuttle doesn't go there, despite the way it looked on the Shuttle Route Map. So we are planning to go there tomorrow on scooters, since we still want to rent them and drive around the island. We saw a number of scooters today and it definitely looks like fun!

Since it was only 3:30, we decided to go into town so Joey could catch up to me in the ice cream department. We went to our new favorite place, Ben & Bill's Chocolate Emporium, and Joe tried another of their sugar-free flavors. I was actually too full from my Harbor Bar to even WANT any, but Joe suggested I buy some chocolate to bring home, so I did that. I mean, he TOLD me to, so I felt I should listen!
Like many resort towns, the signs on the local businesses are often very cute! Here are a couple that we liked (I figure the one above is a store named after me, with a Maine accent! Since they drop the R in Bah Hahbah, why not in Debbah?)

This lobster sits in front of Ben & Bill's. Even lobsters love ice cream.

We wandered around a bit, window shopped and people watched some more, and then we caught a shuttle back to our campground. I am now in the laundry room doing some laundry as I type this, while Joe, who has fixed one of our lights (burned out blinker) is now making dinner. We are both trying to mellow out--at least I am. I haven't mentioned much about our mishaps on this trip (other than Mo's) but we've had a few. First of all, Joe turned out to have "a little bit of bronchitis" when we left home, and was coughing a lot (he seems all better now.) Then on the 2nd day of the trip, he broke his little toe in a freak mayonnaise accident. He opened the refrigerator door, and a large, full jar of mayonnaise fell on his foot. His toe has been hurting since then, and he's been eating as much of my Aleve daily as I have.

Then tonight, I had my turn. We'd just gotten off our shuttle at the campground, and were walking back to our site, when another shuttle came around the corner in a narrow place right by the showers. There was a curb there (we were in the road), and as I stepped sideways toward the curb to avoid the bus, I tripped on the curb and fell over sideways, badly bruising both knees and skinning the palms of my hands. I think I'm going to be pretty black and blue tomorrow, and right now the knee which is skinned the worst is stinging. However, onward we go, ignoring these mild difficulties, and focusing on another day of sun (high around only 70 degrees) and fun. I must say, the weather has been pretty scrumptious (except the freezing whale boat), and the nights are wonderfully cool (the weather report says tonight is a low of 52-degrees, which makes it so yummy for sleeping!)

PS added Thursday morning--Yum! The weather is SCRUMPTIOUS today! Cool, blue skies, just perfect. Hooray for no humidity!!! We have renewed our campsite for one more night, and are off to rent scooters today.

A Whale of a Story

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We started our day by moving Mo to a new campsite which seemed a bit more secluded than last night’s, so that Roxy would not feel compelled to bark at everyone who walked past our site on the main road. Also, now we don’t have a great view of the bathroom, ha ha! The new site is also even shadier than the one we had last night, so we felt that if we left Roxy alone all day, the RV would not heat up very much.

Then we hopped on the shuttle which took us to Bar Harbor. This shuttle idea to get people around the island is actually very good for RVers, as I think I wrote last night—it takes away a lot of the worry of driving into a crowded town and finding parking. And boy, is Bar Harbor crowded, AND I would NOT have wanted to drive there, that’s for sure. I kept seeing signs pointing to RV parking, but never actually SAW any RVs parked anyplace—maybe they send them a mile away! But the shuttle got us into town in only about 15 minutes. We got off at the Village Green and walked down VERY crowded streets past all kinds of adorable touristy shops, heading toward the waterfront.

Our original plan was to come to town and maybe rent scooters to explore. We were dressed for scooters, including carrying some snacks. However, it was already noon, and when we passed a VERY attractive ice cream and chocolate shop, I couldn’t help but go in—just to see if they had any sugar free ice cream for Joe; I certainly wasn’t thinking of MYSELF, of course! They had FIVE interesting sugar free flavors, including blueberry—so that’s what Joe got. I couldn’t let him have ice cream alone, so I got two flavors of chocolate—and MAN was that ice cream good!! Joe was super-impressed with his, also; he said it was wonderful. So it’s good to be grown up and have ice cream before lunch, right?

Then we walked to a grassy hill overlooking the harbor. It was simply beautiful! Blue water, white boats, green mountains in the not-so-far distance, and even the people everywhere couldn’t mar the vista. There was a good reason for all the people—the Caribbean Princess cruise ship was sitting in the harbor. I suspect there was an additional few thousand people in town just because of that. But we didn’t really care—we sat on the hill eating our ice cream, and admiring the view and the warm sun, blue sky, and exquisite day. It was simply perfect.

Then we went to check out the whale-watching cruises, because the building was right below our seat on the hill. They were sold out of their 1 pm cruise, but they had tickets for 4:30 for the “sunset cruise”. So we decided to go on that, and bought ticket. It boarded at 4 p.m.

This meant we had 3-1/2 hours to spend, but we decided NOT to get scooters this time around. Instead we wandered along the waterfront by the Bar Harbor Inn, and then window-shopped. Around 2 pm,we were hot and needed to eat some real food, so we found a nice restaurant for lunch (not a lobster pound, but Joe did have a lobster roll, a sandwich which is available everywhere here, and he said it was very good). Then we wandered again for about 45 minutes, before going down to get in line for the whale watching cruise.

The cruise got off to an inauspicious start. For one thing, it was 4:30 and we were still standing in line waiting for the previous whale cruise to come back. We didn’t get onto the boat until around 5. They apologized for the delay, explaining that the 1 p.m. cruise had not seen any whales, and they’d been sailing quite a long way in search of them, which was why they came back late. Then they told us that they were going to take us to a different place from the 1 pm cruise, but it was farther out in the water, and would be choppier. They gave us the option to get off and get a refund or a new reservation, but Joey and I stayed on, despite my growing apprehension that we were not dressed right for this experience. We were both wearing shorts, and although I’d brought a long-sleeved shirt for myself, Joey didn’t have one (he insisted he didn’t need it.) I recalled that it got cool at the campground last night, and realized that on the deck of a boat out in the ocean, we were going to be COLD. But, we stayed anyway in our seats on the top deck at the very front.

So the boat got under way, and almost immediately I was cold. All the other people apparently knew what to expect—I saw people pull out everything from cotton hoodies to heavy jackets! If I’d had any idea we’d be out on the water today, I’m sure I would have packed differently too. I managed to stay on deck for an hour, but just around the time we got to the area where they thought the whales might be, I went down to the 2nd deck so I could stay inside if we didn’t see whales.

Almost immediately, however, we found a huge group of pilot whales. The guide was very excited—he said it was the first time he’d seen pilot whales this season. They are not among the “large whales”, as he called them, but they ARE whales and they are cute. All in all, we may have seen 50-75 pilot whales, and they were on both sides of the boat, very close to us. In the photo with the 5 pilot whales here, you can see the blow-holes on two of them, which should give you an idea—they were so close below us (and since I was one level down, I was even closer than I would have been up on top.)
I forgot about being cold, and started snapping pictures and oohing and aahhhing with everyone else, running back and forth depending on which side of the boat the whales were on (finally, they were all around us!)

But then the guide said he saw white puffs of water coming up a little bit further away, and we got a close-up view of 3 or 4 finback whales. Finback whales are among the very largest whales, and this group was chasing fish and moving very fast! However, the boat was able to stay fairly close to them, and we saw them again and again, first to one side and then to the other. They were intent on feeding and didn’t come too close to us, but they were coming up out of the water as they swam, making large waves, and exhaling in great puffs. I got several really good photos, as you can see!

All in all, we spent about an hour with the whales. The pilot whales came back near us as we were finishing up, and the sunset gave us some lovely light with whales—both finback and pilot-- silhouetted against it.
The guide said it was the best cruise of the day; the photographers (who were working for the local whale study program) were very excited, and of course we were happy also, knowing that the previous cruise hadn’t managed to see ANY whales (they think that the waters had been stirred up by the recent hurricane, so that they had moved from their previous location and were proving to be more elusive.) BTW, supposedly you can see the “official” photos on a flickr site at I don’t know if it works, though (I hope I remember the address right.)

The ride home was about an hour long, but they showed us a nice movie of undersea life. One interesting thing was that at 5:15 when we left the dock, it was getting overcast and dim; but the visibility out on the ocean where we saw the whales was much clearer. As we came back to harbor, it was totally foggy again, and the decks of the boat were slick with moisture. But the town of Bar Harbor itself was considerably warmer than the ocean had been, and less foggy too. I do wish I’d had long pants and a heavy jacket on this trip, but I managed to survive, and we were thrilled by the whole thing. We caught a 9:30 shuttle back to the campground, and luckily Joe has a flashlight on his keys, because the ride here was foggy and the campground is VERY dark! But we are back, and warmed up, and my blog is done. I’m not sure if I want to go up and post it now—it’s after 11 pm. It’s been a very long day, but a very good one. I am SO glad we decided to come here to end our vacation—the area is beautiful, there is a lot to see and do, and we are looking forward to the next few days.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Maine Thing Is, We're Here

Monday, August 24, 2009

I woke up at 6 a.m. and just after that, it started to rain. This was very depressing. I couldn’t go back to sleep.

I pulled out touristy materials covering St. Johnsbury, and made myself feel better by finding the names of three local motels. One even advertised “pet-friendly rooms.” My expectation for the day was that we would call around to some local mechanics (Joe’s GPS system had the names of several for us to try, including Roland), get towed to a repair place, and then Roxy and I would have to find some place to wait. With the rain and all, I was ready to find a motel room for the day—and hopefully, not for the next day too! (I should add that the rain had stopped by the time Joe got up, and although we drove through a few showers, we had no serious wetness.)

Joe got up at 7, and after getting dressed, tuned on the generator (to beef up the battery), and took Roxy for a walk. Then he sighed, sat down in the driver’s seat, and turned the key in the ignition. You can guess the rest. Mo’s engine turned right over instantly with a happy little purr, as if to say, “What, did you think I wasn’t going to start?”

So we ran the engine a little bit, then turned it on and off several times, while we had some breakfast. And we figured there was no point in going to a mechanic. As Joe said, we can’t even diagnose it when it’s NOT working—how can they diagnose it when nothing is wrong?? So we got back on the road and drove through New Hampshire (new state sticker) and into Maine (another new state sticker) and I am typing this blog at a campground in Bar Harbor, Maine. (The photos, the only ones I took in the past two days, are of the waterfall at Rumford, Maine, the home of Edmund Muskie. The waterfall is the largest falls east of Niagara, the sign told us.)

Isn't the metal Native American diorama at the edge of the lake cute?

I am not 100% sure we will stay here tomorrow, but we probably will. There is wifi, but not at our site—I will be taking this up to the office to upload these blogs. The pool and shower are also not really near us. OTOH, we are in a shaded spot, and this is pretty important for tomorrow. There is a free shuttle which runs around Mt. Desert Island (where Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park are located) and there seems to be, if I understand the maps correctly, very few places which look like they have much room to park an RV. The shuttle will pick us up at our campground (it runs every 30 minutes) and will take us to Bar Harbor’s Village Green. There we can get a whale-watching tour boat, walk around the town, and eat at a lobster shack. The shuttle also stops at the visitor’s center for Acadia, where we can get another free shuttle which loops around the park and stops at various points of interest. My understanding from is that there is relatively little parking at these stops, especially for oversized vehicles. There are other shuttle routes from the Village Green to other parts of the Island, too.

So it seems to me that it would be good to keep this shady spot, rather than trying to find a new campground elsewhere with a more wifi-friendly site, and Roxy can stay here in the shade while we sight-see. And we won’t have to find parking spaces in Bar Harbor and Acadia, which can get very stressful. More stressful than it is to carry my laptop up to the campground office to upload this stuff! So as I said, I am thinking more and more that we will stay here, and if Mo refuses to start up when we are ready to leave (maybe Friday?), we will take the shuttle into town and find jobs for the rest of the tourist season.

We just had a wonderful dinner—[hint to those in the know: potatoes, onions and fresh Vermont cheddar!] and it is quite cool here tonight, which is great! And I found an ad for a scooter-rental place in Bar Harbor—so I think we will indulge and scoot ourselves around the island one of these days instead of only relying on the shuttle. I’m wondering about tomorrow’s weather before making definite plans, but meanwhile, thank goodness, things are pretty nice here and we are certainly happy to be here!

PS: Balancing the computer on my leg while sitting sideways on a bench outside the laundry is NOT very comfortable. Just in case you wondered.