Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Reflections On Our Trip

2007 Summer Road Trip, 5176 miles 103 hrs 53 min (driving time)

Our trip this year stayed mostly on plan. It deviated only at the end by not going to Quebec and Montreal. Still the length was same. It was an enjoyable trip. I was able to visit places I have always wanted to see and revisit others. The weather was fine other than the few days of rain and even then we didn't get to wet.

We saw a lot. We saw places that were special not because of who did what or what was built there but because of the beauty of the place or the memories they provided. Some places I may never return
and wish I had taken a picture of, like rows of dancing bears cutout of steel plates, a giant lobster trap, two whale tails along the highway in Vermont, the amazing restaurants along Route 1 North out of Boston, and a huge wooden horse towed behind a pickup truck in New York. (Perhaps heading to Troy?).

Acadia National Park was definitely the favorite. It is a beautiful park with so much to do. We will return there again someday soon hopefully. I would like to go in the off season to avoid some of the crowds, perhaps even in winter. I have always liked Maine and each time I return I wish I could stay.

Other highlights of the trip were Cape Breton Island's Cabot Trail. A more scenic drive may be out there but I don't know of it. Driving up through the mountains with the ocean on one side even in the fog and rain was breathtaking.

Prince Edward Island is a gem. From Charlottetown to the beaches of PEI National Park it was a refreshing stay.

Joe is still talking about the Halifax Citadel and the Fortress of Louisbourg and Ned retells the stories of our hikes.

The people we met all through Maine and Canada were friendly and welcoming. Many going out of their way to help. There were also the accidental fellow travelers that gave a familiar face to the journey. There were a number of people on the ferry from St John, NB to Digby, NS that I kept seeing all along the way through Nova Scotia including an older gentleman on a bike that we passed going the opposite direction on the Cabot Trail. There was a couple from the Netherlands we met at lunch in the Fortress of Louisbourg and then later running into them in a grocery store in Prince Edward Island.

It was also great to see our relatives. The boys love visiting their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. And having Mary join us on Cape Cod made the visit all the better.

So now we are back and I have started thinking of next year, perhaps Route 66? But for now we are going on vacation to Cape Hatteras for a week on the beach.

By the numbers:
Days on the road: 31 days
Totals miles driven: 5176 miles
Time spent driving: 4 days 7 hrs 53 min
Gas used: 230.37 gallons at $765
Food: $860
Lodging: $423

Two Whales Lost in the Ocean of Farmland in Vermont

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Toronto And Home

The Ambasssdor Bridge, We are Almost Home!

Tuesday morning I awoke with only one thought, "to go home." We had been on the road four and half weeks and we were ready. Unfortunately this meant we would not be stopping in Montreal to meet up with a friend and eat a smoked meat sandwich or visiting the Insectarium de Montreal.

So we loaded up the car had breakfast and headed west. We crossed northern New York and over into Ontario, Canada. We hit traffic just east of Toronto and that would be the norm until we got to Woodstock west of Toronto. We did make a quick stop in downtown Toronto to go to Mountain Equipment Co-op. There was a bag that I saw in the Halifax, NS store that I wanted to buy.

It then started to rain and the traffic got worse. We averaged about 20 mph for the next 70 miles. Eventually it did break up and the rain stopped. Before we knew it we were crossing the Ambassador Bridge over the Detroit River and into the USA. We got through customs quickly and we were home hugging Mom by 9:30 pm.

Plattsburgh, NY to Ypsilanti, MI, 618 miles 12 hrs 2 min

Monday, August 6, 2007

Mt Washington and Ice Cream

Ned and Joe Pick Out the Perfect Camper

Since we slept in the car last night I was up early and headed out to look for a place to have breakfast. North Conway, NH is one of those outlet Mecca’s. Since New Hampshire has no sales tax they are popular but they don’t open until 9:00 am. So after breakfast we drove to the base of Mount Washington to take the Mount Washington Auto Road to summit of Mount Washington.

The Auto Road was opened in 1861 as a carriage route to the 6,288 ft summit. It is 8 miles to the top and some parts are not for the faint of heart. The weather on the summit looked clear from the base of the drive but by the time we reached the top it had changed. Clouds were swirling around us and the wind was picking up. The summit is home to a number of buildings including the Mount Washington Observatory. In 1934 the scientists at the observatory measured the world’s highest surface wind speed record of 231 miles per hour. Fortunately the wind wasn't quite near that for us. Clouds moving in blocked our view so we climbed back in the car for the drive down. As we descended it began to rain. After stopping at some of the outlets we started for Vermont.

A New Hampshire Covered Bridge

The Clouds Swirl Around Mount Washington

Hang On! Joe Summits Mount Washington

While Ned Shelters Behind Some Rocks

We took the Kancamagus Scenic Byway (Rt. 112) from Conway. It is a 28 mile road through the heart of the White Mountains that climbs to nearly 3000 ft. It is designated a National Forest Scenic Byway and may be the most scenic route in New Hampshire. The last time I was on this road was in June and it was snowing, this time it was raining so the scenery was muted. We eventually entered Vermont and drove to Waterbury, VT for our next stop.

Waterbury, VT is the location of the Ben & Jerry’s Factory. They have scheduled tours to view the making of their ice cream. The factory grounds is sort of like a small fair with games for the kids, a flavor graveyard and of course a scoop shop. You do get to sample some ice cream at the end of the tour but we had to wait one and half hours for our tour so what else are you going to do?

Is That an Ice Cream Factory?

Ned and Joe on Ice Cream

Ned Sampling the Wares While Thinking of His Next Flavor

After the tour we took off for Burlington, VT. By this time we were ready to get home so I made Plattsburgh, NY our goal. With it raining and the broken tent pole I decided to stay the night in a hotel. A quick ferry ride across Lake Champlain and we were in Plattsburgh and to bed.

The Ferry Across Lake Champlain to Plattsburgh, NY

Conway, NH to Plattsburgh, NY, 179 miles 7 hrs 17 min

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Biking Acadia And Off To New Hampshire

Joe and Ned at One of the Gate Houses Leading to the Carraige Trails

When we woke up Sunday morning we discovered that the storm the night before had broken one the tent poles that hold up the fly on the tent. Since we could not get a third night at the campground we were staying at I decided that we would spend the day in Acadia, do some laundry and then head for New Hampshire.

The weather was beautiful and after breaking camp we headed into Bar Harbor and rented bikes. So far we had done a lot of hiking in Acadia National Park but there is another activity that is possibly more popular, biking the carriage trails.

Between 1913 and 1940 John D. Rockeller, Jr. constructed forty-five miles of rustic carriage roads and gave them to the park. They flow around the mountains and valleys of the park. Rockefeller, a skilled horseman, wanted to travel on motor-free byways via horse and carriage into the heart of Mount Desert Island. His construction efforts resulted in roads with sweeping vistas and close-up views of the landscape and include 16 stone faced bridges and two gatehouses. They are gravel roads and crisscross the park. Perfect for biking.

We rented a bike and an add-a-bike for me and Ned and a bike for Joe. After taking the Island Explorer Bike Express to Eagle Lake we headed south to Jordan Pond. The way was easy at first then there is a long climb which we had to walk up some. After coasting the hill down Joe was getting tired. I suggested we go the Jordan Pond House for a popover snack and he hopped back on and pedaled off.

After our break we headed back north to Eagle Lake. The way back was hard on Joe. He kept stopping and walking his bike and one point sat down and decided he was done. He did get back on though and we made it back just in time to catch the Bike Express to town.

Eagle Lake

Colorful Waterplants

Ned Tries to Ride the Big Bike

Joe Taking a Water Break

Once we returned the bikes we made a stop at the laundromat did some laundry and then left for New Hampshire. We got to Conway New Hampshire around 9:00 pm. Since it was so late I thought we would stay at an hotel but they were either full or too expensive so we ended up sleeping in the car at National Forest campground near Conway.

Bar Harbor, ME to Conway, NH, 225 miles 4 hrs 44 min

Saturday, August 4, 2007

We Are Back In Acadia National Park

Joe and Ned are Ready to Hike

We are back in Acadia National Park? Yes indeed. When we left last time I said I would be back but I didn't know it would be this soon and unfortunately without Mary. Well we so close how could we resist.

After making camp Friday night a thunderstorm came through which had me worried that we would not be able to get onto the mountains. But come Saturday morning it was hazy but not raining. We made a stop in Southwest Harbor to visit the Little Notch Bakery for breakfast and a loaf of bread then the library to check email. Then to Bar Harbor to get a map since I mailed my maps home when we left two weeks ago and pick up some cheese. By this time it was dry so we headed to the trailhead.

The trail we picked was the Ladder Trail up Dorr Mountain. It only had to ladders to the boys dismay. To my dismay it is mostly granite stairs going straight up the mountain. Parts of it made me think of the passage in The Return of the King where Gollum leads Frodo and Sam into Mordor by way of the stairs to Cirith Ungol. Fortunately there was no giant spider just great views and many blueberries.

The Stairs of the Ladder Trail

A Tight Squeeze

The Summit of Dorr Mountain 1270 ft

I had a few ideas of the way to take back down once we were at the summit of Dorr Mountain. But as I looked at the map and over at Cadillac Mountain I thought, "we can do that." So we extended the hike to climb up Cadillac and then down to Bubble Pond where we would catch the Island Explorer Shuttle bus back to the car. Sounds easy.

The half mile to the top of Cadillac is one hardest half miles I have hiked. The stairs up Dorr Mtn had really done me in, more than I realized. But, we made it and I lived to tell about it. We stopped at the top of Caddilac Mountain to admire the view and then started down the western side to Bubble Pond. It was a hard mile and a half mostly down large slabs of granite. We made it just in time to catch the shuttle bus and soon we were back at the car.

We had dinner in Southwest Harbor and that night we had a campfire. We were so tired that we didn't watch it long and went to bed.

Cadillac Mountain from the Top of Dorr Mountain

Joe and Ned Look Out Over Mount Desert Island

The Summit of Cadillac Mountain 1530 ft

The Way Down to Bubble Pond

Bubble Pond

The Hike from the Tarn to Bubble Pond

Joe Reflects Over the Day at the Campfire

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Day Of Superlatives And The Return To Acadia

Joe, Ned and Lobsterman With the World's Largest Lobster

Friday morning we were up early and on our way. In the planning phase of the trip I was going to go to Quebec City from Prince Edward Island. It was the one part of the trip that I didn’t like. Not Quebec, but the drive there. 12 hours plus from PEI through a lot of backwoods. So when we left PEI it was with the idea of going back through New Brunswick, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and then up to Montreal.

We took the Confederation Bridge to get off of the island. The 14 km long Confederation Bridge was built in 1997 as an alternative way to get to PEI from the Canadian mainland. When we crossed it was very hazy so that you couldn’t see far across the bridge.

PEI in the Rearview Mirror and New Brunswick in the Distance

The Confederation Bridge the Longest Bridge to Span Ice Covered Waters

Once in New Brunswick we took a side trip to Shediac, NB to see the World’s Largest Lobster. The Shediac lobster is 35 ft long and sits at the entrance to the east side of town. From Shediac and the Lobster we stopped a Hartland, NB to see the Longest Covered Bridge in the World. The first of many covered bridges we would see in the next few days but certainly the longest.

Joe Having Lobster Problems

The Sign Says It All

From Hartland, NB it is a quick drive to the border of Maine and the USA though it took about 30 minutes to cross. While we were waiting a thunderstorm blew in and knocked the power out but after answering the border agent’s questions and having him search the back of the car we were back in the USA. At this point I wasn’t sure where we going. I thought of going to Baxter State Park but with the storm blowing through I passed on it. As I looked at the map I realized we were going to be close to Acadia again. When I mentioned this out loud the boys both asked if we could go back. After a quick stop in Bangor we did.

The problem with visiting Acadia National Park on the spur of the moment, in August, late in the day is that we had a hard time finding a place to stay. We ended up on the Western part of Mount Desert Island at a private campground. They found a site for us and we set up camp in the dark.

Cavendish, PEI to Acadia National Park, ME, 504 miles 12 hrs 7 min

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Three Days On Prince Edward Island

Joe and Ned Visiting Anne's House

On July 31 we were up early because we slept in the car the night before. We found a spot to have breakfast and then went to the Cavendish campground for PEI National Park. We got on the waiting list for a campsite and then went to visit the sites.

The main attraction in Cavnedish is the Green Gables Heritage Site. It is the house that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery's vision of the home where Anne Shirley lives in Anne of Green Gables. Since we were so early we were the only ones there and we were able to explore the home and grounds without having to jostle or wait our turn. On the site is a trail through the Haunted Woods and Lovers' Lane both from the story.

Anne's Bedroom

Ned Tries Milking

Down Lovers' Lane

The Red Earth of Prince Edward Island

After visiting Green Gables we went down the road and stopped at the Lucy Maud Montgomery homestead site. The building is gone and only the cellar remains of the home in which she was raised by her grandparents. There are paths that lead from there to the cemetary where she is buried.

We had listened to Anne of Green Gables while we drove through Nova Scotia and the visit made it very real.

We then went into Charlottetown to visit the library and do some shopping. When we got back to the PEI National Park we did get a campsite.

The next two days were laid back ones. We went to the beach which was about 150 yards from the campsite. The beach is lovely wide and long and mostly empty of people. The water seemed cold at first but once in was nice. We spent most of the beach time making large river systems in the sand.

Joe and Ned are Ready for the Beach

One of the Rivers

Prince Edward Island National Park

Walking Back to Camp

We also stopped for ice cream at Cows a PEI ice cream chain that is very good. One night we played mini-golf at a golf course with a giant lobster.

It was very relaxing and the weather was great. We were only going to be there two days but it was so nice we stayed an extra day.

Relaxing at the Campsite

Ned Swings by the Potatoes

The Lobster Trap