Thursday, October 3, 2013

Leaving Acadia and New Hampshire Bike Ride

Tuesday morning was very emotional for a number of reasons.  We had already planned to leave Acadia on this day, but it was hard to leave, since we had so much fun here.  But even sadder, was the fact that, due to the inability of a small group of politicians to accept that a law is a law, despite the law having been passed by the House and Senate, sustained a challenge in the Supreme Court, and further despite the fact that a whole campaign was waged on the premise of repealing this law but that campaign lost--and thus the park was suddenly forced to close.  We were glad we had the chance to visit the park and enjoy all it has to offer, but sad that others won't have this chance, despite having made long-standing plans to do so.  Even though there are cries that it's only the "government" that's being affected, the whole economy of this area of the country depends heavily on a strong tourist presence during September and October, when most folks come to the park to enjoy the fall foliage.  The head of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce talked about the devastation this shutdown will cause to the local business community, and later on Tuesday morning I witnessed a concrete, graphic example of just how true this is.  As I was at the counter paying for propane for the RV, a tour bus driver was at the counter, talking with the proprietor of the station.  The station owner asked him if he were heading into Bar Harbor to take some of the 3000 cruise boat passengers on tour.  The driver said, sadly shaking his head "No, all the tours have been cancelled because Acadia National Park is closed.  26 of us drivers were scheduled to take tours into the park today, but now all 26 of us will not get paid."  This is where the rubber meets the road, for someone who needs to work and get paid for it every day.  He's not part of "the government," yet his livelihood is being directly affected, and this is only at one national park.  We talked to the owner of a local restaurant where we ate breakfast and she was worried about how this disruption in what is one of the busiest times will affect all the local businesses.   Anyway, hope this can come to an end quickly.

We left the campground early, since we knew that this was likely to happen, and wanted to be ahead of the rush when they started making everyone leave.  So we stopped in town and had a wonderful vegan breakfast at a place called The Great Maine Breakfast.  They have a full menu of typical breakfast fare, but also a good selection of vegan items as well.  Trisha had oatmeal walnut pancakes and I had the  island tofu scramble with oatmeal toast and boy were these dishes just scrumptious!  The staff was very nice as well, so if you're ever in Bar Harbor, we highly recommend this place!

So, we reluctantly said goodbye to Acadia and Bar Harbor and headed back down the Maine coast toward New Hampshire.  First stop was in Bucksport, at the Penobscot Bridge and Observatory.  We had seen this unique bridge on the way up, and at that time were not aware that it has an observatory in one of the towers supporting the suspension cables.  But a friend had emailed us about this when she saw my earlier post about being surprised by this bridge on our way north, and told us about the observatory.  So we stopped to take the elevator to the top and there were some fantastic views, as this was another gorgeous day.  The bridge connects Verona Island with the little town of Prospect, and employed several innovative engineering features when it was built.  The observation tower is 420 ft. high, making it the tallest bridge observation tower in the world.

Then we stopped in Camden for lunch at an outdoor restaurant overlooking the harbor, Waterfront Restaurant, which was wonderful!  We stepped off the vegan express for some fried clam bellies, which we remembered fondly from our first visit to Camden 30 years ago.  We split a plate, which was enough to satisfy our hankering for these little devils, and had a lovely pear/raspberry salad to go along with it.

Off to Freeport for another stop at LL Bean where we found some bright yellow biking jackets which should make us about as visible as can be when we're riding!  Also found a new backpack so that was a good stop.  Found a wonderful campground, Blueberry Pond, tucked back up in the woods just outside Freeport for the night.

This morning we came back across the bridge where the Maine/New Hampshire border is smack in the middle, and found our way to Newfields, a little village not far from Portsmouth.  We had done a little research on where we could find rails to trails bike paths and found this one on the map that runs between Manchester and Newfields.  Since we were closer to the Newfields end of the trail that's where we started.  It was after lunch by the time we got there, but the weather was just absolutely perfect--it was full of sunshine and was between 75 and 80 degrees.  The trail is of course along the old railroad bed, so it's pretty much a level grade, which is very nice!  The surface is gravel in places, packed dirt in others, but there are a lot of places with lots of fair sized rocks embedded in the dirt so you had to watch out for those, and some places where horses had hacked it up into some really rough places--would have been ideal for the shock absorbers on mountain bikes, but since our road bikes have  tires a bit wider than racing road bikes, we were okay.  We rode for 20 miles and it was just absolutely gorgeous!  The colors that have been getting prettier by the day certainly showed themselves in places along the trail and we were treated to some views of canals and streams and ponds along the way as well.  We had a super ride, and it was warm enough just to wear shorts and tshirts, but not so hot to be uncomfortable.  So glad we've gotten back into hiking and biking, especially.  Just so much fun!  This trail is quite popular, so we were glad we got started on our ride before the normal workday was done, as we had it pretty much to ourselves for most of the ride.  By the time we got back to where we parked the RV there were a number of other cars with bikes filling up the lot.

Found another campground, Exeter Elms, deep up into the woods just outside Exeter tonight, so we came on here from the bike ride and have just been relaxing for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  Tomorrow we may go into Manchester and ride from the other end of this same trail, or we may find a place to do some hiking.  Then it will be off to Boston for the weekend with my younger brother and family, including our 97 year old uncle.  That will be fun and after that weekend we plan to come back up to New Hampshire and/or Vermont to see some more leaves, as folks here are saying that the colors will really be at their peak in another 10 days or two weeks.  Anyway, just loving this beautiful fall weather here in New England!

Passing the flowers n these little traffic islands at the edge of Bar Harbor's downtown for the last time on this trip
Looking out over the harbor as we leave

Trisha took this picture of me as I was walking back to the RV from the grocery store
Coming up on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge near Bucksport--a really interesting style, with just the single row of suspension cables, rather than the more usual two
This is Ft. Knox, at the base of the bridge
Some shots of the bridge as we drove across it going south

The bay front at Verona Island, another of the beautiful Maine sights
Looking up at the observatory in the top of one of the towers

Looking up into the tower as we wait for the elevator
Some views from the top--here over the Penobscot River

Thought this view of the bridge's shadow down on the ground was neat
Ft. Knox

The compass in the floor tiles

Looking down on the sunlight reflecting off the water below
This is Cadillac Mountain, where we had hiked and then watched the sunrise
To the left is one of the supports of the first Waldo-Hancock bridge that was torn down when the new bridge opened in 2007
Looking down on the RV parked below

There were some kids in the observatory while we were there and they pointed out this bug on the outside of one of the windows

Camden, Maine, along the waterfront where we had lunch

As we were sitting at the restaurant, I noticed this morning glory blossom that matched Trisha's top!

One of the boats taking out sailing charters, just unfurling its sails as it clears the harbor

Near Freeport

The lovely wooded campsite near Freeport

Along the highway heading toward New Hampshire

Now into New Hampshire

Riding the Rockingham Recreational Trail
Water on both sides of the trail, with lots of lilypads floating

The colors are coming, the leaves are falling!

Old stone wall

Saw this big turtle along the trail; made us think of all the times when our son, Todd, was a little boy and how he loved to find turtles along the road and want to bring them all home!

A selfie along the trail
Hard to make these out, but the next two shots are of leaves floating on the water along the side of the trail


  1. Gorgeous, gorgeous pictures. New England in the fall is so beautiful. You two look fantastic, too. Enjoy. Kit

  2. Thanks, Kit! We feel wonderful too.