Going home* from New England

After the disappointing weather in Acadia, it was great to finish on a high with a gloriously sunny day in Portland followed by similar weather for our journey back to Boston. AND our final B&B, Chadwick, was just as good as the rest.

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You can just see Scot, the owner, in the black in the daytime picture.

A day in Portland wasn’t really enough, but we made the most of it. Portland Museum of Art was very near where we stayed and we spent the morning there. We were very impressed. For the third time this trip, we came across the passion of one rich individual, in this case William S Paley, part of whose collection formed a special exhibition. Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, Degas – I could go on but find it difficult to imagine how one person could own all of these. The regular collections were excellent too, with American artists such as Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper and the Wyeths well represented, plus others whom I hadn’t heard of and whose names I meant to remember but, shamefully, haven’t. Linked to the museum at the back was the McLellan House of 1801 which has has been restored internally (but not furnished).

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We had lunch in the café before emerging into the sunshine for the rest of the day. The Old Port area and the Eastern Promenade are wonderful for whiling away the time and (ahem) the city’s large number of microbreweries provides suitable sustenance. The beer may have been one reason why the photographer (not me) was nearly run over getting this shot.

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Our flight on the final day wasn’t until late evening, so we had plenty of time to explore on the way. We didn’t leave the Portland area until early afternoon, visiting Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth and Prouts Neck where we had a lovely lunch in the Black Point Inn.

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We spent the afternoon in Portsmouth, just over the border into New Hampshire. Settled in 1623, this town was originally known as Strawbery Banke (sic) because of the abundance of wild strawberries along the Piscataqua River. Today, the name remains in an outdoor museum around the (filled in) Puddle Dock. Astonishingly, this area was lived in till the 1950s when it was cleared for redevelopment. Fortunately, some of the buildings were saved and provide an illuminating social history from Colonial times until (almost for me) living memory. This was a 1940s shop, yet many of the brands and labels are familiar.

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And that was it! A quick journey down the I95, hand back the Jeep and two flights home. Foreign travels over till next year then…..apart from the trip to Dublin in September to see – guess who?

*Going home
Without my sorrow
Going home
Sometime tomorrow
Going home
To where it’s better
Than before

Going home
Without my burden
Going home
Behind the curtain
Going home
Without the costume
That I wore

(Leonard Cohen)

Acadia National Park

A few days ago, we drove from the mountains to the sea through countryside which was unexceptional except in name. We passed through Paris, Poland, China, Palermo and Belfast! Eventually, we arrived at our target, Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island, our base for visiting Acadia National Park.

Acadia is mostly, but not exclusively, on Mount Desert and Mount Desert mostly, but not exclusively, consists of Acadia. Confused? Not to worry; I only point this out to excuse myself, because I’ve called this post Acadia National Park but not everything I write about is necessarily in it. Acadia was intended to be the highlight of our trip, but the weather didn’t play ball and two out of three days were very wet. Still, we’re from Glasgow, we know how to handle a bit of rain, don’t we? Hmm, just look at this!

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This was Day 1 when the rain was torrential without let-up. Day 2 dawned sunny and bright and that didn’t let up either. We had a wonderful time walking coastal trails and came back with about 90 pictures. Here are just a few.

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Day 3 dawned sunny and we decided on a mountain hike, but by the time we started it was drizzling and by the time we finished we were soaked again! Beech Mountain has four paths up and down and we had thought of doing a figure of eight using them all, which would have meant climbing the summit twice (it’s only 839 feet, I haven’t turned into Superwoman). However, the weather prompted us to find an easier route back to the car. Views from the top were limited, even from the old fire-tower.

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The rain slackened off in the afternoon and we spent time exploring the pretty villages of Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor. Bar Harbor itself is also pretty, with a definite feel of seaside-resort to one end. We’re back to Victoriana in the Primrose Inn, where everything has been thought of up to Kindles pre-loaded with the NY Times and sat-navs programmed to take you to local beauty spots.

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I was also delighted to discover that Bar Harbor has an entirely vegetarian, or rather vegan, restaurant, the first of our trip. It was an unusual pleasure for me to have the pick of the menu. Eden briefly moved into top place in my New England restaurant chart, but was surpassed tonight by Havana, an American restaurant with Latin American overtones. On the other hand, if I ate at Havana again I would need to have the same dish whereas it would take me 10 days or so to work my way through the menu at Eden. Tough choices….

Tomorrow, we turn south and head down the Maine coast towards Boston for our flight home on Wednesday. We have a couple of nights in Portland en route, but it really feels now as if we are going home.

Maine rains again

But not much. We woke to a beautiful day in Bethel, so set off for Grafton Notch again to do some of the hiking that we had deemed it too wet for the previous day. As we drove upwards, the clouds grew thicker and when we got out at the trailhead it was raining lightly. We had decided to climb 900 feet to Table Rock to start with – this hike has two choices, a steep route and a more moderate path, so you can make it a loop walk. We chose to go up the steep route (because I feel safer climbing than descending) which was described in the information leaflet we had as “boulder strewn”. It certainly was. What the leaflet didn’t mention was that you had to climb over many very large boulders and scramble between them. Rock climbing if you ask me – occasionally, I needed a helping hand to pull me up and, once, a firm shove from behind. I was particularly despondent when we met two young men coming down who told us that the route got more challenging ahead, and I almost decided to turn back. Fortunately we didn’t because they were wrong – we were over the worst and the views from the top were lovely, despite the low cloud. Here we are enjoying our triumph.

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Going down the easier route was fine, but I didn’t feel like any more stiff climbs so we left the park (with the sun reappearing as we drove) and stopped at Step Falls, just outside it. We climbed (gently) as far as you could go without trespassing on private land and sat for a while enjoying the view.

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Thus ended our stay in Bethel – just one last word about its restaurants though. For a very small town it has a wide selection and we ate our best meal of the holiday (so far) here in 22 Broad Street. Tomorrow, it’s on to the coast. The forecast is dry – until Friday. I wonder what there is to do in Bar Harbor in the rain?

In Maine it’s mainly raining…

At least over Bethel today. There’s not much to do indoors here, so off we went out into it – in the car. This was planned as a hiking section of the holiday, but the rain was so unrelenting we decided on a driving tour with lots of short stops. Coffee and lunch are always good! However, we did stretch our legs at a couple of points in Grafton Notch State Park. I have loads of pictures of pretty waterfalls from everywhere we’ve been so far, but haven’t posted them because they all look much the same. These ones are a little different, accessorised by zipped up fleece and umberella.

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Our B&B host, Carol, had recommended this route as a good one for seeing moose. As we have been everywhere else, we were disappointed. Perhaps this creature is the only one we will meet!

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We’ve struck it lucky with our B&B again – or, rather, my planning and research has been superb. Bethel Hill is a much more modern house -1970s – than the Victoriana we have slept in so far, and has been extensively remodelled by the current owners. We love it!

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As I type, it is almost time to go in search of dinner, and the sun has come out. Tomorrow is another day – if the weather holds, we’ll go back to Grafton Notch and do some proper hiking.