With our friends Greg and Kathy Tawes, we visited the historic 1902 Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse in Rockland Maine. Reaching the lighthouse requires a mile-long stroll along cracked and crevassed stone and can be quite eerie in fog.
Through the low-anchored clouds of fog, you had no idea how far you’d gone nor how much further you had to go. Along the route, we saw several lobster fishermen pulling up traps. Greg and Kathy had a brief conservation with one fisherman as he measured his catches.
Kathy’s perfect timing allowed her to snap the fisherman throwing back a lobster that was either pregnant or too small and the reflection off the water was brilliant.
As we continued our journey, the lighthouse came faintly into view and became clearer the closer we walked.
The lighthouse is white on one side and brick on the other. It was originally designed to be operated by keepers but in the late 1940’s, it was automated.
As we made our way back, the fog continued to drift, crystalizing moored boats in the harbor and seagrass strewn rocks.
I imagined how it might look during a winter storm and found a revealing video on the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse Facebook page: https://fb.watch/fj9BKlPMLu/.
Mist by Henry David Thoreau
Low-anchored cloud, Newfoundland air, Fountain head and source of rivers, Dew-cloth, dream drapery, And napkin spread by fays; Drifting meadow of the air, Where bloom the dasied banks and violets, And in whose fenny labyrinth The bittern booms and heron wades; Spirit of the lake and seas and rivers, Bear only purfumes and the scent Of healing herbs to just men’s fields!
What a feast! Our friends were in town and we wanted them to experience Lobster in a quintessential way so Lynn found Cabbage Island Clambake. Sold out for weeks in advance, Lynn kept refreshing the website hoping for a cancellation. Eureka – just a few days before they arrived a cancellation appeared and we nabbed 4 tickets!
You embark the ship in Boothbay Harbor and cruise for about an hour, catching glimpses of light houses, remote islands and learning the history of this coastal area.
Once we arrived at Cabbage Island, we were seated at a table with nice views of the bay and treated to clam chowder as a starter. Then we made our way to the clambake area to pick up an overflowing plate of 2 lobsters, clams, corn, potato and onion.
I can’t believe you get 2 lobsters each — I thought there was no way we could eat it all. But we all did!
After loosening our belts and devouring the lobster, along came the tallest blueberry cake you’ve ever seen. Slightly comatose, we walked off the lunch by exploring Cabbage Island before heading back to Booth Bay.
Lucky Catch Lobster Tour
A few days later, the night before our friends were leaving, we boarded the Lucky Catch ship for a lobster tour around Portland Maine.
Unlike the Cabbage Island Clambake, this tour was designed to teach you more about lobstering, pulling up lobster traps in Casco Bay.
Each of us loaded smelly fish in the traps before launching them overboard.
Each time we pulled up another trap, the captain measured each lobster and threw back those that were too small or pregnant.
Pregnant lobsters are marked by slicing a piece of their tail so other fisherman will not keep them. Once a pregnant lobster is caught, it is unlawful to keep it in the future.
We would also pull up crab and some would zen out if you flipped them on their backs.
Before ending our tour, we caught an up close view of the Portland Head Light.
Once the tour was complete, we took 4 lobsters from our boat over to the Portland Lobster Company — they perfectly cooked the lobster and provided all the fixings. We really enjoyed our visit with Greg and Kathy Tawes.
Slightly over an hour from Portland Maine are 5 trolls hidden among towering trees on a sprawling 300 acre garden known as Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. The trek to each troll rewards you with croaking ponds, hiking trails, tidewater shoreline and over 3,000 species of tropical and subtropical plants.
The 20-foot-tall trolls were created by Danish artist Thomas Dambo and were built entirely from recycled materials. Sculpting the trolls took a whopping 500 hours each and have a life expectancy of 5 – 10 years. The trolls increased visitors to the garden and encourages them to see more, as the trolls are strategically located apart from each other and you must trek the trails to reach them.
Roskva is the first troll you will encounter in the garden and is the strongest of the trolls. If other trolls have a lapse of memory, Roskva will come to their aid as she counts the seasons and remembers all that happens in the gardens.
Lilja is still just a child and loves the colors and scents of the flowers. She watches intently as bees and butterflies playfully fly among the flowers and land upon branches.
Birk is a limber and omnipresent troll, listening to everything happening in the garden. He hides in the shadows and entertains other creatures of the forest with his tall tales.
Soren is an adventurous troll, constantly twisting and turning to discover higher places. He daydreams about blustery days floating on a cloud and celebrates life with a dance.
Gro is the most zen wanderer you’ll ever know. She leaves the forest in the fall and returns in the spring to feed all friends by catching sunbeams and raindrops.
Visiting Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Located in Boothbay, you can reach the botanical gardens in a 1.5 hour drive from Portland Maine. Purchase tickets online from their website at MainGardens.gov before you go. Once you’ve enjoyed the gardens, you can head over to Boothbay for spectacular water views, grub and beverages of your choosing.
A short 1 hour and 15 minute drive from our place in Arundel Maine is a sleepy fishing village called Bailey Island. It’s a dog friendly spot that’s perfect for a day-trip.
With a population of 400, this small island is located in Casco Bay, a part of the town of Harpswell, Maine. Legend has it that in 1742, Timothy Bailey purchased this island for a pound of tobacco and a gallon of rum from William Black who moved to an adjoining town, Orr’s Island.
Bailey Island is home to the only known cribstone bridge in the world made up of rocks, sand and gravel. The unique design allows tides to flow freely through it and boats to easily navigate its narrow passage.
As you enter Bailey Island, you see “Morse Lobster”. A stone’s throw away from it is “The Nubble”, a bait shack used by Lobster fishermen.
Our aim was to view “The Giant’s Steps”, a rock formation on the edge of the island that looks like a large flight of stairs. On our way there, we stopped at Mackerel Cove, a quaint cove filled with boats, fishermen, and small shops.
A short drive later we reached “The Giant’s Stairs”. Our dog Ziggi enjoyed the short hike to the ocean’s edge.
Our final stop was “Land’s End”, a rocky beach at the tip of the island. From there you can faintly see a lighthouse in the distance.
It was early March and we were narrowing down our international travel plans for 2020. China and Tibet seem interesting. We were visualizing the Great Wall and visits to Tibet monasteries. Then the pandemic hit. China and Tibet will have to wait.
Fast forward 4 months and we are living in a new normal. Never thought we would wear masks, avoid hugging friends, stop eating in restaurants, or generally avoid others.
After things calmed down (before the flare up in July), we decided to travel domestically to see more of the Northeast. We started in Maine where our oldest son lives. We traveled responsibly — vigilant in wearing our masks, keeping our distance from others and ordering take out. Here’s what we saw…
Maine is a beautiful state with awesome foliage, mountains, lakes, streams and access to the Atlantic Ocean. Beautiful light houses protect its rocky shores.
Our son and daughter-in-law have an amazing farm on 11 acres, complete with a barn, horse, goat, barn cat, and lots of flowering plants.
We had plenty of time to work on projects together. One of our fun projects was building a table together — very rewarding.
I also got a chance to work on my handicap with some nice golf courses around this area. They allow you to ride a single cart, golfers don’t shake or high five and we kept our distance. The new normal I guess.
Upstate New York
We’ve spent lots of time in New York City but never Upstate New York. Looking at the map, we spotted 11 elongated lakes resembling fingers — appropriately named the Finger Lakes. We had never heard much about them and was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful this area of the country is.
Many of the Finger Lakes are lined with a scenic drive along its shores with lots of wineries (great Rieslings) and craft breweries.
Astonishingly, this area has a large Amish population and you will invariably see them in horse and buggy along the roads.
The Hamptons (Long Island)
This was our first time visiting the Hamptons — New York City’s playground for the rich and famous. It was a bit different than I had visualized. It is densely populated with trees and the few roads in and out don’t provide a view of the beautiful beaches. It does not feel like a tropical area but has lots of shopping and upscale restaurants.
Once you get to the beaches, they are wonderful. Being from Inlet Beach, we are used to sugar sand beaches — these have a similar consistency with a yellow hue.
But this area has a lot of charm and I can see why it’s a relaxation spot for New Yorkers.
Apparently, it’s also legal to be chauffeured around by your 4 legged friends.
New York City
Our final stop was our beloved New York City. Things have really changed since our last visit. There are almost no tourists, so there are no crowded streets, few sirens blaring and almost no horns honking. Imagine that. No museums are open, restaurants are order out or outside seating only and Broadway shows are closed. Everyone wears masks and are diligent about social distancing. Andrew Como did a great job managing the pandemic and we feel as comfortable here as we do back home.
With everything closed, we’ve spent a lot of time walking every inch of Central Park.
Black Lives Matter. They always have.
I am often asked what type of camera I use to capture my photos. I mostly use my iPhone XR and a Nikon D500 if I need a long distance lens (but I rarely use it anymore). I’ve learned a lot about photography and it is more about your approach than what camera you choose to use. Once you learn the basics of composition and post-processing techniques, you can create stunning pictures that tell a story.
A year or so ago, I learned about an online photography class offered by Emil Pakarklis and it took my photography to the next level. If you want to hone your camera skills, it’s invaluable. Check it out here: https://iphonephotographyschool.com/author/emil/.
All of the pictures in this blog post were taken with my iPhone XR.
After a hot Florida summer, we headed north for a month to enjoy the change of seasons: Fall in New England is spectacular. We spent most of our time in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.
Portsmouth New Hampshire
Portsmouth is one of the oldest cities in America, incorporated in 1653. This area is the cradle of the American Revolution. We’ve all heard the story of Paul Revere riding into town shouting “The British are coming” or “The Red Coats are coming” — to warn the Revolutionists that the British were on their way to attack. Portsmouth is where this took place in 1774.
Portsmouth is a coastal city and was an important trade route for the early Europeans and a fishing mecca.
There are lots to do in Portsmouth. Portsmouth is a funky city with small cafes, coffee shops, and breweries but its much more. Portsmouth has done a great job of preserving its rich history by restoring and renovating its pre-revolutionary homes and the visitors center is a great place to sign up for walking and biking tours. Portsmouth’s oldest house (Jackson House) dates back to 1664 and is currently being restored.
We toured several houses as well as the iconic Strawbery Banke – a separate neighborhood of Portsmouth featuring over a dozen restored historic homes in Colonial, Georgian and Federal styles of architecture.
One of the best ways to soak in the history of Portsmouth is on a bicycle tour. In about 3 hours and 13 miles, you take in the best of Portsmouth.
If you are a leaf peeper, a 1-hour trip north to the White Mountains rewards you with beautiful fall foliage.
If you travel north of New Hampshire into Maine, you will find the towns of Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, where the Bush family spends a lot of vacation time. On the way to Kennebunk is a home that’s referred to as the “wedding cake house”. Can you tell why?
Kennebunk and Kennebunkport sport some of the nicest beaches in New England.
Kennebunk is a short drive from Old Orchard Beach, a quaint beach town where a lot of New Englanders spend their weekends and summers. Friends of ours (Derek and Susan Langone) own a place here and we were able to have dinner with them in their Danvers home during our stay.
Since we were so close to Boston, we spent a couple of weekends in Boston. A fun way to explore Boston is through a Duck tour. This is an amphibious vehicle that first takes you through a tour of Boston on land then pops into the bay to show you Boston from the water.
I also took some time to golf in New England. The courses here are a bit easier than ours in Florida but offer incredible views of the fall foliage.
Our final stop was in Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National park. It was off season and a bit sleepy but offered beautiful scenery.
I hope you enjoyed this post on our trip to New England. If you are not subscribed to our blog and would like to subscribe so that new posts come directly to your email, scroll up to the right top section of this page and type in your email address.
I’ll leave you with a picture of Thunder Hole, a coastal area of Arcadia National Park that thunders loudly as waves come in from the sea.
Note: If you wish to see a slide show of pictures we took in Bar Harbor Maine,click here.
Bob and Robin Charlton
New Early Retiree Friends
After meeting another early retiree couple (Bob and Robin Charlton) online a year or so ago, it just happened that we were going to be in Bar Harbor Maine at the same time. We took that opportunity to meet up with them, have some wine, compare notes about how we retired, how we plan to spend our time, and of course, talk about our common love of travel. They also took us to a restaurant that offered fresh lobster for about $10 per pound. We quickly hit it off and found we had so much in common. We really admire them — they retired at 43 years old the old fashion way — by saving every penny to make it happen.To learn more about their story — see their website at http://www.wherewebe.com.
Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park
Bar Harbor is a really beautiful place, if you get the chance to see it, you should do it. Bar Harbor itself is just the beginning of the beauty — it is flanked by Acadia National Park, which is just breath-taking. We first visited Bar Harbor, then we entered the Acadia National Park, following the Park Loop Road around the park. Our first stop was at Sand Beach, it is a light brown sand beach nestled in a small cove.
No lifeguard to be found!
After Sand Beach, we made our way to Thunder Hole. This is a huge rock where the Maine seas thrash themselves against to make incredible splashes and sounds of thunder. When we visited it was pretty tame, with small incoming waves, but we have heard that it can get pretty rough and loud. While there, we met another retired couple that were visiting from Vermont, they told us to be sure to visit Prince Edwards Island because it is beautiful — we will take them up on that suggestion!
Then we made it to Cadillac Mountain. This is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard and is the first place to view sunrise in the United States from October 7 through March 6. The views from the top of Cadillac Mountain is awe-inspiring:
We finished this incredible day at the Jordan Pond House, a cool eatery at the end of the park loop road. We had Lobster stew and pop overs. If you’ve never had pop overs, they are a light, hollow roll made from an egg batter similar to that of Yorkshire pudding, typically baked in muffin tins. We had ours with strawberry jam.
From our table, we had an outstanding view of the bay.
Our view from Jordan Pond House
We are now traveling through New Brunswick, Prince Edwards Island and Nova Scotia. We will be blogging about those adventures in the coming days. Note: If you wish to see a slide show of pictures we took in Bar Harbor Maine, click here.