Posts Tagged ‘Maine’

One of the things we loved about Maine is that they do things a little differently.  It’s a bit like our own dear Newfies whose time zone is a half-hour out of whack with the rest of the country.

On our way home, I asked Bob what his favourite thing was about Maine.  “The accent,” he said with a grin.  I should have known.  He’d been speaking with a Maine accent for days.  It was weird for him to do that – I’m usually the one who picks up accents and gets carried away with them.  I’ve honestly never known him to do it.  Here, to give you an idea, he was giggling his fool head off when he bought this:

It’s his most cherished souvenir of our trip.  Sigh.  Oh, and here’s the one he bought for me:

(It’s a lapel pin…)  (eyeroll)

I suppose I didn’t need to be asked why my favourite thing was.  PUFFINS!!!  I think the lighthouses came a close second, though.  There are so many of them and they’re all so interesting.  The thing about Maine that made me laugh, though, was the measurements of various things.  Everywhere I’ve ever been, you buy milk that’s either 1%, 2%, homogenized, or skim.  I thought it to be a universal truth.  Not in Maine:

The milk wasn’t the only thing.  I tried like mad to get a shot of one of the mileage signs for you, but, alas, they blew by too quickly and I couldn’t get one in focus.  You know the ones I mean – they say stuff like “Albuquerque 75 miles” (well, it probably wouldn’t say that in Maine, but you get the idea).   In Maine, the signs say things like “Portland 28 17/43 miles,” or worse, “Main Street 1/10 mile,” which doesn’t really even give your brain time to assimilate this information before you’ve gone past.  My question is this:  Would it not have been simpler, in the case of the Portland sign, for example, to just move the sign back a bit and plant it at, say, a nice round 29 miles?!  Just to keep idiots like me from saying, “huh?!” and then madly trying to convert it to kilometers in our heads?   Or, move that pesky Main Street sign back another 4/10 of a mile to give us an even half-mile warning?  Some of the fractions on these signs were just bizarre!  There must be someone with serious anal issues in charge of the sign-makers union in Maine.  Cripes!

And, since I can’t seem to end without throwing in some photogs…

(The rain in Maine…)

(Lobstah traps)

<—-Bob in the rain…

And, those of you who don’t already know about my bird thing, it’s about time you learned…

(Barn swallow glaring ferociously)

(Belted Kingfisher)

(I was pretty excited about the Kingfisher – I’d never seen one before.  Not nearly as excited as I was about the puffins…or the condors…but still…ha ha!)

I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that it finally stopped raining!  The bad news is that this has happened just in time for us to go home.  Happily, our last day in Maine was spectacular, both weather-wise and fun-wise.

I know I’ve been a little vague about The Great Puffin Quest.  My reasons for doing so may seem odd to you, but, like that California Condor business, “See puffins” has long been a Bucket List item for me.  I was loath to jinx it by saying “we’re gonna go see puffins!  Neener neener!” just in case the whole thing went to hell like the whale-watching plan did.  I think I can speak for us all when I say that nobody likes to end up looking like one of those dorks who brags about all the stuff they’re gonna do and then end up with nothing but a handful of lamo excuses.

Anyhoo, the thing about puffins is that the little wheezers only come ashore for a very brief time each year to…er…well, y’know…beget puffinlets upon each other and whatnot.  When they do this stuff, they don’t really want us to watch, understandably, so they hide.  Most of this hiding goes on way out in the ocean on little rock-pile island-ettes.  As you might surmise, this makes the whole “See puffins” thing a tad dodgy as Bucket List items go.

For some reason, I had been under the erroneous illusion that one could simply arrive in Maine and say, “Yo, Where’re the puffins at?” someone would point, and we’d all live happily ever after.  Sadly, this was not the case.

The first roadblock came when we arrived in Maine initially (early last week) only to learn that the puffin tours weren’t scheduled to begin until June 13th, and that there would be only one tour per week (!!) for the course of the puffin mating season.  I feel we adapted rather well to this news:  I pouted pathetically and Bob rearranged our entire trip…once his query of “Do we really need to see the stupid puffins?” was met with…let’s just call it “hostility” and leave it at that, shall we?

So, already long story slightly less long, we headed over the border, as I mentioned in my last post, with the aim of being back in Boothbay Harbor (ha-bah) by Tuesday so that we’d be in plenty of time for the Wednesday morning puffin tour.

Unbelievably, it was STILL raining in Maine upon our return.  But, I was determined to see those pesky puffins so I checked and double-checked the weather.  No matter which website/TV channel I checked, the verdict was the same:

Precipitation:  Oh hell yeah!

Probability of it stopping:  In yer dreams, Skippy!

Boating conditions:  Sea – rough;  Waves – bring a barf bucket (it actually said that!) (I’m lying…again…)

Additional weatherisms:  FOG!  Visibility:  Nil to nada, with periods of zilch.

Perfect.

Now, I’ll have you know that I’m no weenie.  I’d have been willing to barf for the cause, but I sure as hell am NOT barfing if all I’m gonna see is fog.  My disappointment was complete.  Until…

I had begun to think that those puffins would just have to stay on the stupid Bucket List a while longer when Bob looked at me and said, “Well, there must be other puffin tours…”  You’re probably wondering why this had never crossed my mind.  I know I was…

La-la-long yadda-yadda-short, we found a tour going out last evening from a little harbor just up the road called, imaginatively enough, New Harbor.

You’ve been very patient (assuming you actually read your way to this point, and, if so, bless your heart!), so without further ado or inane babblage from yours truly, I give you….  PUFFINS!!

(Hiding among a pack of killer black guill…mumble-something-or-others)

My apologies for being off the grid for several days.  We sneaked back into Canada (New Brunswick, to be specific) to visit family.  We had a wonderful time but the blogging sort of fell by the wayside.  Here’s a shot of one of the furrier relatives we went to see:

Her name is Olive and I would have stolen her, but she wouldn’t fit in our trailer!  Probably just as well – I don’t think we could afford to feed her.  If you’ve ever seen a Newfoundland dog up closely, you’ll know that they’re not in the same league as those little punter purse puppies.

We’re back in Maine now, and guess what the weather is doing!  Yup…sigh…still raining.  Our puffin-watching tour got cancelled today so we’re gonna try again tomorrow.  In the meantime, we farted around hunting down lighthouses and trying to get semi-reasonable photogs of them without getting completely soaked.

The first one was shot while we were still in New Brunswick, but the rest are from today:

Pendlebury Lighthouse, St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, NB, Canada

Cuckold Lighthouse, Maine

Hendrick’s Head Lighthouse, Maine

A couple of other miscellaneous shots of Maine-in-the-Rain stuff:

If the gods are smiling, I should have some puffins photogs to show you tomorrow.  Cross yer fingers!  (Toes too…)

Pardon my mysterious absence (it was mysterious, wasn’t it?) but we’ve been holing up in campgrounds advertising internet connections, yet…  Well, here, lemme give you the gist:  One campsite swore up and down that they had an internet connection.  What they didn’t swear to was that it was available to campers.  Yep.  The office was all internetted up, but do you think those sinister trolls would share a bit o’ that?  For love or money??  Pffft!  I could hear them cackling as I shuffled off dejectedly.  “Har har har!  Happy camping there, Skippy!”  GAH!

Now, we’re set up for two nights in a spot just outside of Bar Harbor (I can’t tell you how badly I wanna shove an extra “u” into “harbour”…it’s a Canuck thing) where the internet just vapourizes without so much as a by-your-leave.  So, I’ll keep this short because if I make it really long and it vanishes, I can’t promise that I won’t just smash the living hell outta my laptop.

The campground here has something I’ve never seen before:  pay-as-you-go showers.  Um, what?!  Yup!  It’s twenty-five cents for five minutes of water.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I honestly don’t have a clue how long a shower takes.  I just get in there and sorta zone out.  Now I’m envisioning that water shutting off while I have shampoo gouging out my eyes or soap in a…er…delicate female area (ow!!)…and then scrambling to shove more quarters into the stupid machine.   Lemme think now…um….yeah….NO!  Instead, I decided to give our trailer shower another chance.  The procedure was greatly improved this time.  Why?  Well, I’ve finally figured out how to wash my (loads of) hair!  Dunno if you recall my describing how the shower head droops to the point of well, pointlessness.  It showers the wall it’s hanging on and a bit of your left foot.  Not great for hair-washing as you might imagine.  Well, this time the little light in my cranium went on!  I figured out that if I back up under the shower head and rest it on top of my head, it’ll send a fairly steady stream of hot and/or cold water over my head!  Are you as exciting about this as I am?

Lemme just shove a couple of photogs in here.  I’m running low on graceful segues at the moment so I’ll just slam ’em in here.  I’m not normally a flower girl (meaning that I leave the gorgeous flowery shots to those better equipped to do them (same goes for people shots)) (wow…did I just do a bracket in a bracket?  That’s awkward!) (Where was I?)….oh yeah…flowers:

(I have no idea what this thing is and I apologize for the focussy messness of it – don’t say I didn’t warn ya about the flower shots!)  If anyone has any thoughts on what this plant might be, I’d be interested to hear.

(This one is a Ladyslipper – I just thought it was complete cool.)

Bar Harbor (pronounced Ba-ha-ba by the locals – the Maine accent is beyond delightful!) is a gorgeous little spot.  My only regret is that we’d discovered it before all the tourists did.  I guess it’s the same with most really cool places.  The hoards of lookie-loos just mess it up.  Anyhoo, loads of cool souvenir shops and tours we could take if we were so inclined.  I accosted some poor woman who was just getting off of a whale-watching tour boat and asked her what she saw.  She said, “we saw jack!”  (I didn’t ask who Jack was, cuz I know him well.)  Apparently there have been (get this) NO whale sightings so far this year.  Bummer.  I guess we’ll try again next week when we’re back in this area.

We finally saw a lighthouse!!  See?

And here are a couple of other shots of miscellaneous whatevers from the past two days:

(Addition to wishlist:  I want a door like this opening onto the ocean!!)

(I’ve never been good at those swooshy water shots so you get only crispy critters from me.)

(I have no idea why I think seaweed is so cool, but I do!)

(I read somewhere that you can’t go to Maine and not take at least one dorky boat shot.)

(I totally just made that up.)

We’re still camped out in Freeport, Maine.  Touch wood, I think it’s finally stopped raining but we’re still under flood warnings.  Here’s a shot from yesterday of the Androscoggin River to show you why:

We figured we could either hole up and wait out the weather or damn the umbrellies and get out there and see what we came all this way to see.  The biggest challenge was keeping the cameras dry.  When I wasn’t holding the umbrella in my teeth to shoot, Bob was holding it for me and muttering colourful expletives.  I love that man.

These were shot out on Bailey Island, which is just a gorgeous spot that you can drive to along a seriously scenic causeway.  It was really cold and wet, but so so beautiful.

Around noon or so, we went to a wonderful restaurant for lunch called Cook’s Lobster House to sample the local wares (but mostly to get warm.)  The food was amazing!  When we first arrived, I told Bob I was gonna photog our food like I’ve seen other travel bloggers do.  I thought it would be awesome to have shots of us grinning at our fish and scallops and whatnot to remember the meal and the day.  I got as far as the (“award-winning!!”) coleslaw.   When the actual food arrived, we pounced on it like a pack of piranha and completely forgot about the camera.

(Best coleslaw I’ve ever eaten.  Seriously.)

Speaking of lunch, Bob said I shouldn’t post this shot cuz it would gross you out, but I told him that it was my vision of the turbulent nature of life (eyeroll) and that you guys would get that:

That’s the biggest fargin’ gull I’ve ever seen in my life!  I looked it up and it’s called a Great Black-backed Gull.  They weigh in at just under FOUR pounds!!  That’s twice the size of most hawks and about three times the size of a Herring Gull (the one’s most often seen at the coasts)!  I swear I thought it looked as big as a bald eagle in flight.  In fact, at first glance, I thought it was a bald eagle.  I purposely chose a shot that doesn’t quite show you what he’s eating (close your eyes for a sec if you don’t wanna know….it’s a baby eider duck)  Please don’t tell Bob I showed you that shot.

Oh, the minor set-back:  Apparently the wiring for the hot water heater has zorched itself.  We’re going to have to back-track to a place called Lebanon, Maine which has the closest Airstream dealership.  Bummer, eh?  We were supposed to hit Bar Harbour this morning.  Bogus.  I’m just glad that the wires burnt themselves up but left the rest of the trailer alone.

A few other rainy day shots before we hit the road:

Later, taters!

I’m sure this will astonish you to hear, but….I’m not a happy camper.  We’ve arrived in Freeport, Maine and, rather than describe what it’s like here, I’ll just show you.  This is our campground:

(Pretty sure those’re horseshoe pits in that puddle)

(How’s that for irony?  That’s not actually a beached boat but a kids’ sandbox gizmo!)

Rather than subject you to more of my whining, I’ll simply say that the bright spot of our very soggy day was going to the LL Bean mother ship and spending an obscene pile of money on bedding (and life jackets – ha ha!).  On the way back, we had to dodge “road flooded” signs and several washed out bits of pavement.  The news is telling us that it might be time to start rounding up pairs of animals.  I wish I was joking.  Bob has affixed pontoons to the trailer.

We’ve finally got all of the red rock dust and splatted bugs hosed off of the trailer, so we’re packing up for Round 2.  This time, we’re headed east through New York State, Vermont, New Hampshire, and into Maine.  And this time, so I’ve been promised, we’re actually going to stop in Maine and see stuff.  I can’t help wondering if it’s to shut me up from grousing about our last pass through this beautiful area.

Sometimes, I look at my wonderful husband and say things like, “Wouldn’t it be fun to go through Maine and see lighthouses and lobsters and stuff?”  He’ll smile benevolently and reply, “Why, yes it would, my Precious Turnip!  Why don’t we do just that!”  (I claim Creative License on the dialogue.)  I get all excited and begin to plan all of the things I’m gonna see, photogs I’ll take, trinkets I’ll buy to bring home for everyone.  It’s not until we’re actually blazing through the area “at Mach II with our hair on fire” (if I might borrow a line from Top Gun) that I realize where I went wrong in that conversation.  I said, “Wouldn’t it be fun to go through Maine…” and he glazed over after those words were spoken.

I call these Drive-by Vacations, and we’ve had our share, believe me.   In fact, our last trip through Maine, was accomplished in what felt like about half an hour.  We took the coast highway, which doesn’t run anywhere near the coast,  while he gestured vaguely saying things like, “I think there’s a lighthouse over there…”  Whoosh!  “Where?”  Sigh…somewhere in the rearview mirror…  Oh it was fun, all right.

So, I’m pretty sure that this is the Shut-Up-and-Get-Over-It Tour.  Did I mention he’s a very smart man?  No?  Well, he is.  (Insert smug grin here.)

We’re going to spend actual days in pretty places like Bar Harbor and Boothbay, AND!!!  We’re gonna go whale watching!!!  I LOVE whale watching!!!  This’ll be our third time doing it so I suppose you could call us keeners.  I’ve been busying myself hunting for a good whale watching tour out of either of those places.  I’m such a savvy internet-user (Remember me?  I’m the one who can’t even figure out how to put a simple link in a stupid blog post!), that instead of going off half-cocked and just jumping on a boat when we get there, I’m doing research.  Y’know, checking out user reviews and stuff like that.  Which brings me to a little irksome matter I’d like to raise…

If you are a moron, you should do whatever it takes to refrain from writing consumer reviews.  Seriously.  I’ve just read a review from someone who said, “What is the point of going whale watching if all you see is a fin sticking up?”  I was gobsmacked!  Hellooooo!  It’s a whale, you embecile!  A whale is a giant mammal that lives in the water and is not normally known for spotting tourists in boats and responding by leaping into the air and turning cartwheels or singing show tunes!  I can’t help wondering what someone who would say such a moronic thing was expecting to see.  It boggles the mind.

Here, this is a picture of a “fin sticking up” from our last whale watching trip in Alaska:

If you’ve never had the opportunity to see something like this, up close and personally, you won’t understand the raw thrill that comes of such things.  I think if someone on my tour boat so much as mumbles a “what’s the point,” I’m gonna shove them overboard.  Just sayin’…