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.

No comments: