Thursday, July 29, 2010

St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada


The view of Passamaquoddy Bay outside our back window at St. Andrews, New Brunswick

We crossed the border at Calais, Maine a few days after the 4th of July and went to St. Andrews, New Brunswick.


Line up to cross the border into New Brunswick, Canada

IMG_6668 First sign of Canada while crossing the St.Croix River bridge from Calais, Maine

St. Andrews is a very small town it has one gas station, one grocery store and only one campground. The campground is in a great spot at the end of the peninsula and surrounded on three sides by Passamaquoddy Bay. One of the many bays that branch off from the world famous Bay of Fundy.


Low Tide out the back window in St. Andrews, NB


High Tide out the back window in St. Andrews, NB


As the above pictures show we were very close to the water. The Campground was only about 3/4 of mile from town, so we walked in to town one day to visit the Farmers Market, one day we walked in to get groceries and on a third day to catch the whale watching boat cruise. St. Andrews was founded in 1783 by Loyalist fleeing from the American Revolution and has many old homes and buildings.


Minke Whale, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick


A Fin Whale coming up for a breath of air, that's just the front half!

For our 39th anniversary, instead of going out to a fancy restaurant for dinner, Kathy voted that we go on a whale watch cruise tour right out of St. Andrews. We saw Minke Whales, Fin Whales,  Harbor Porpoises  and Harbor Seals. For our bird list: Northern Gannets dive bombing into the sea after fish, Black Guilemots, Great Cormorants and Double Crested Cormorants, Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls. It was a gorgeous sunny day, no sweat shirts required, (unheard of when whale watching out of our favorite location Monterey Bay, California!).  Best of all, it continuing our streak of seeing whales on every trip in 40 years of whale watching!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Maine – Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island


View from the top of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is the oldest National Park east of the Mississippi River, established in 1919.  Cadillac Mountain shown above is the highest point on the Island and has great views in all directions.


View of Bar Harbor Village from the top of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park


A shoreline "Cottage" on Mount Desert Island

About 1/2 of Mount Desert Island is inside the National Park.

There are miles of scenic Maine coastline in Arcadia National Park





Herring Gull and crab parts


Sand Beach,  Acadia National Park

Other parts of Mount Desert Island include the Bass Harbor Lighthouse



In all of our many Lighthouse visits this is the first time that the Lighthouse Keepers house was still in use.



Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse’s Red light


Lobster fisherman on the way to work

Another part of Mount Desert Island is the harbor and village of Bar Harbor. Bar Harbor is a true “tourist town”; a lot of Motels, B&Bs, place to eat and T-shirt shops.


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During our second week at Bar Harbor the Island Shuttle system started its Summer Service. It is an absolutely free amazing service that cover the entire island. The bus came right into our RV Park to pick us up. Although the buses have many regular stops; outside of the actual village of Bar Harbor shuttle bus will also drop you off and pick you anywhere that you request. Since parking both in Bar Harbor and at the various scenic points and trail heads is at a premium it was great to have this service available for everything from getting groceries, going to church and going on hikes.  The buses also have bike racks and they have a special  “bikers bus” that pulls a trailer that carries bikes to the bike and carriage only roads. As we found out in Zion National Park last fall bus shuttle service make for great point to point hiking.


This brand new perfectly straight boardwalk continued on for 1/2 mile on one  of our hikes.

Scenes from our hike on the boardwalk:




Our site at the RV Park during Mid-week:


Birding notes:

We spent 4 weeks in Maine and it is now our favorite state east of Rockies. Maine has an amazing amount of water, they have miles of huge rives and lakes. Near where we stayed in Augusta there is Long Pond. This “pond” is 2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide. Shockingly what we didn’t see were any fresh water birds at all! Not even Mallards, Canada Geese or even American Coots. We did see a couple of Bald Eagles and one Great Blue Heron. Maine has 3,000 miles of shoreline but, we didn’t see any shorebirds at all. I can understand that the Maine shoreline is very rocky and may not be the best place for shorebirds. However, I would have thought it ideal for Turnstones and Oyster Catchers. We did see a few of the following birds: Common Eiders, Great Black-backed, Bonaparte’s Gull,  Herring Gulls, Great and Double-crested Cormorants, on the ocean and bays. However, considering the amount of ocean and the number of bays and coves we really didn’t see many birds.

The bird that seemed to be everywhere and singing while we were on Mount Desert Island was the American Redstart.

photo courtesy of

More pictures on the slideshow

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Maine – Pemaquid Lighthouse

P1040506 Pemaquid Lighthouse

Maine has 3,300 miles of sea shore because of all of the coves it has, so it has 61 lighthouses! A Docent told us that only 12 can be reached by road. There are so many little islands that it’s hard to tell whether the land is a peninsula or an island! And there aren’t too many sandy beaches to be found. The rocky coast is made up of huge granite slabs extending out into the sea and then dropping off! In some places they have fjords that drop off from the rock shelf it is so deep! It reminded us of the shores of Nova Scotia, just about 100+ miles across the bay from Maine’s coast line.

While in Augusta, Maine we went exploring the sea shore and found the Pemaquid Lighthouse, which was commissioned in 1827 when John Quincy Adams was president. The contractor mixed the mortar we sea water and the tower had to be replaced in 1835. Pemaquid Lighthouse, is only 38 feet tall. That makes it one of the easiest lighthouse to but the steps are very narrow and steep.


Pemaquid Lighthouse, is only 38 feet tall and 10 feet wide at the top. That makes it one of the easiest lighthouse to climb but the steps are very narrow and steep.

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The Fourth-order Fresnel lens at the top of the lighthouse.


The view from  the top of the lighthouse.


The tower Bastion of Fort William Henry, rebuilt in 1908.

Very near Pemaquid Lighthouse is a Maine  State Park and the site of Fort William Henry. This area along the Maine coast has a fascinating history of a repeating cycle of settlement, Indian trouble, pirate attacks, political problems, abandonment and then settlement again. I had no idea that pirates raided this far north. Depending on who controlled the area it could be French or English pirates. The local Indians may act on their own or again, depending on who controlled the area could be allied with either the French or the English. Political problems because Maine wasn’t thought of as a separate colony, but as a part of Massachusetts. In an effort to hold the area the Massachusetts Governor spent two-thirds of the colony's budget to construct a stone fort. The fort built here was extraordinary for its time. The workers used 2,000 cartloads of stone, build walls 10 to 22 feet high and a bastion 29 feet high. The fort housed 20 cannon and a garrison of 60 soldiers. Yet only 4 years later local Indians upset of their treatment by the English allied with the French and easily defeated it.

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Views from the top of the Bastion.


I took this picture of a Lobster fishermen loading  his traps as we had lunch on outside deck in the harbor. Along the Maine coast there are so many lobster traps that you could almost walk to Canada on them.


The backside of Fort Popham at the mouth of the Kennebec River.

In 1861 construction began on a granite block fort at the mouth of the Kennebec River to protect the Bath Ship Works and the Maine capitol at August from any attempted attacks by Confederate Raiders. The fort had 30 foot high walls, was 500 feet in circumference and contained 36 cannons.  In 1869 worked stopped on the never completed fort.


Two tiers of vaulted casements for the cannons.


Inside the casements.


The vaulted brick ceiling is still holding up pretty well.

More pictures of our daytrip in Maine:

Sunday, July 4, 2010

From Washington DC to Augusta, Maine


Meeting Chelle in Bedford, PA

Kathy here to be your tour guide! Leaving Washington, DC we headed for Pennsylvania for a visit with Grant’s mother, who lives in Johnstown, for two weeks. The closest RV park we could find was in Somerset, PA about 30 miles away, at Pioneer Park Campground. We had found that there aren’t too many campgrounds in Pennsylvania and this was a very popular one! During the week we practically had the place to ourselves, but come Friday it was brimming with weekend campers! Families have been coming here for years. There were three fishing ponds, a great big swimming pool, campfires and an arcade for the teenagers! We could see why this would be perfect for families.

One day I took a ride over to Bedford to meet up with my friend Chelle Moreau, who is one of my several Chatty Cyber Chicks online! She was visiting friends there before heading back home to New Jersey and we met at the Jean Bonnet Tavern for lunch.


It is a very historic place, dating back to 1779. The inn upstairs is very charming and is suppose to be haunted. Chelle has stayed a couple of times in the inn but never saw any ghosts.

The tavern is downstairs, with beautiful handmade quilts lining the old rock walls like tapestries. They have an extensive menu and delicious food. Since we were both driving we didn’t get to taste their local beer. After lunch Chelle took me on a tour of the inn, with all of its comfy rooms and beds! I wouldn’t mind staying here to see if there really were any ghosts. There are several murals on the walls of the halls, one being of the cat that haunts the place at night!


The hours flew by too fast as we sat gabbing! Chelle had to get back to New Jersey and I needed to get back to Johnstown, but it was so much fun getting to finally meet her in person after nearly a year and a half!

We stayed in Somerset through Memorial Day Weekend. That was a relief! The park had a cancellation and told us we could stay after all. With so few places to stay in Pennsylvania, we were very appreciative!

June 1st we headed north and stayed one night just west of Allentown, PA. Our course was going to bring us through Hartford, CT and it just so happens I have one more cyber friend to meet who lives near there! So we planned to meet in a few days to give us time to get up there.

Originally I was born in Brooklyn, NY, when I was 18 months old we moved out to Long Island until I was 7. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t be visiting Long Island. Grant wanted to avoid driving through New York City with the rig. So we headed north and west of New York City and stayed in Gardiner, New York at the Yogi Bear Jellystone RV Park. A very nice park, very well planned out with great big open areas in between the sections and not all cramped together. We would have liked to have stayed a few days, however the weekend nights were $65 a night! That was $20 more a night than weekdays!

Searching the internet for a nice place to stay between NY and CT became impossible! However, just an hour’s drive north of Hartford in western Massachusetts, we found a park away from the highway where we could stay several days inexpensively.

We met Bette and her husband Dave for lunch at Chili’s in Southington, CT. We parked the rig in the big shopping center next door ! The new grocery store wasn’t opened yet so we had all kinds of choices of where to park the Montana. Raider was very confused when we got him out of the truck and had to bribe him into the trailer! I had the Fantastic Fan going in the bedroom as well as the 12 volt fan on the dresser to keep him cool while we had lunch.


It was great to finally meet Bette! With all of our daily emails back and forth for the last year and a half, it was as though we knew each other already! However, it was so nice to place a face with a name! Dave is an antique dealer and is always busy with traveling through New England for antiques, so they gave us some pointers on what to see in Maine. I wished we had more than an hour and a half to gab, but the temps outside were rising due to an unseasonable heat wave! And there was our Raider buddy to be concerned about, so we all returned to the rig. He was more than happy to see us and yes it was quite comfortable inside for him. I thought his blog fans would like to know!

I gave them a demonstration of how the 4 slides open out on both sides and make it into a very comfortable “mini-condo on wheels”. With hugs and warnings about getting through Hartford, we said good bye and were off to Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has a lot of “Hamptons” and our KOA was in West Hampton, well off the beaten path, down scenic country roads and gorgeous estates, I really was waiting for Martha Stewart to pop out at any time from one of those very fashionable homes!

It was an older campground recently switched over to KOA and the owner was in the process of modernizing the park. Our escort had us wind through the seasonal section of the park, where people can leave their RV’s and come back on the weekends. The gravel road could use some work this summer! Soon we came out into a meadow and found we had the entire meadow to ourselves! Only problem was that Grant had asked for full hookups, which means water, electric and sewer. We’re looking all around and asked, “So where is the sewer hookup?” He told us, “Oh you won’t find any in the pull through sites, only in some of the back in sites. However, right over there next to the road you came up is the dump station. So you can pull through there to empty the tanks.”

Well, none of the back in sites were long enough for our trailer, they were mainly for short travel trailers, plus there were trees to contend with back there! We decided to just stay put, we could easily stay a week without worrying about the tanks.

IMG_6607-1 Mountain Laurel

Heavily wooded in the surrounding area, you would think you were in a national forest. Mountain Laurel trees were blooming everywhere with their bell shaped flowers. The park was pretty long, so we had great walks with Raider checking out the area. Cardinals and Blue Jays serenaded us through out the forest.

IMG_6602 Luna Moth

I spotted a Luna Moth on the screen door to the laundry room. From the wings to tail tip it was about 4 inches long. Nocturnal, he was snoozing away there during the day and off to find a mate at night. Sadly, we read they only live a week!

While here, a series of severe thunderstorms rolled through. We had several days in a row where the weather alert radio was blaring Tornado Watches! In Massachusetts?! The alert went as far north as Vermont! We had some thunder storms and wind, but nothing to worry about. Very freaky weather!

After zooming through 5 states in a couple of days, we stayed here 8 days. It was very quiet and relaxing. Because of all of the trees we gave the satellite TV the week off, got more reading and beading done instead. However, we could use the “bat wing” antenna on top of the rig for local TV stations, especially to keep track of the weather!

Our next destination was Maine and at least we could surf the internet to plan our trip. We found another KOA in Richmond, Maine, just south of Augusta to stay a week and explore the area. One thing we’ve found out about Maine, it is all about steep hills, there are so few flat areas! The RV park is a couple miles off of 95, so there was no road noise, but then it was situated on the side of a steep hill. All of the sites were terraced into the hill and very level. But walking to the office or the laundry room was a steep walk down hill and then back up! Just walking Raider was a workout each day!

They call small lakes “ponds” up here in Maine. If you continued down the road from the KOA, you came to Pleasant Pond. I’ve seen smaller lakes in other places! This was a huge “pond”, about 2 miles long and half a mile wide! There were several beautiful houses along the shore with boat docks. They must make beautiful summer homes!

While in the Augusta area we were able to get our cholesterol blood tests done and faxed back to our doctors in California. Plus, Raider needed his Bordatella vaccination updated, so we found a vet that could do that, too.