14 July 2012

Postcard from Maine- 4

14 July 2012

Trenton, ME

We are really enjoying our stay here at the Timberland Acres RV Park. It's a nice park, we get our mail forwarded quickly (NetFlix again!), and the weather has been OK for us (we're wimps and start whining if the weather varies much from our "acceptable" norm!). Trenton has turned out to be a nice location for touring the area and, other than Eastport, is probably as good a homebase as an RVer could hope for.

Repairs to the weather station

Temporarily having a physical mailing address meant I could finally get our Davis weather station repaired. When we drove from Oklahoma to Branson, we went thru N Arkansas to get there. It was a gorgeous drive with new foliage overhanging the road. Normally there would be clearance between the tree limbs and the top of the coach. But we came thru early and the new growth hadn't yet been knocked back by passing delivery trucks. Apparently I was the trail blazer and ended up with no anemometer cups on the weather station (it's mounted on the ladder). Oops.

So I ordered a replacement anemometer wheel which we could receive here at the park. Only problem is it wouldn't fit on the now-bent-out-of-shape shaft on the anemometer!

So next I ordered a new sensor suite (Davis' ISS for our Vantage Vue). When that arrived I found nothing was working on the display. Apparently I received something that had been on the shelf too long as the battery was reporting it had low voltage and there was no wind speed displayed. So with our now-cloudy skies (I'm told this is the summertime norm for this area) I positioned the ISS under a light on the table for a few hours and Presto! We now have wind speed. I'd love to tell you I relied on my superior deductive skills, but the truth is I had seen wind speed suddenly come alive after a couple hours on the original ISS when that unit had been indoors for a couple days and needed to do some charging.

East Blue Hill

Not long after we arrived in Trenton we learned we have friends staying nearby. Connie & Ralph live in Texas but they have a summer cottage in nearby East Blue Hill Village. It would be a shame to be this close and not see them, so we hoped we'd be able to connect with them before we leave to return west to forest fires and dust bowl conditions in the west.

And connect we did. Initially hey had visitors when we first e-Mailed them, plus they had a pre-planned trip to Nova Scotia for a few days. But they were free after that, so we made plans for us to visit on the 14th. The drive from Trenton to E. Blue Hill should have been a straightforward thing to do: enter the address into the GPS and go. Unh-uh... not so fast. As far as Garmin is concerned, we're talking blazed trails here. The chance of having their address actually show up in the Garmin was somewhere between slim and none and none is what it w was.

Fortunately Connie sent detailed directions and off we went... 'over the river and thru the woods', directions in hand, with no clue where we were most of the time. But the directions were spot-on and we made it, only a few minutes late. With the dogs.

Interior of the 1920's-built cottage.
View from the deck

Connie & Ralph have an incredible location overlooking a large inlet off what I believe is Blue Hill Bay. The small main house was built in the 1920s and the tiny guest cottage a couple decades later.

Plus they have added a small barn where Ralph has a shop and can store their tractor with enough room left over for winter storage for their wooden dinghy. Lots of work to keeping a place like this... trees everywhere plus brush, paths and stairs to be maintained, a new sewage treatment system to be installed. The list went on and on!

Motion detectors at work on the deck. My God they're loud!
The house has a large deck which looks out over the water, so the dogs immediately made themselves at home and told anyone that could hear them they were in charge. Later I realized you could hear their bark miles away (I don't want to think about how many raised eye brows we caused!). They seemed oblivious and just plopped right down and made themselves comfy. Good things  they;ve been dog owners!
Connie & Ralph slaving away in the kitchen

Lunch was a Maine-visitor's dream come true: lobster rolls! Connie put together the lobster rolls and Ralph took care of the strawberry shortcake. Wow! What a meal. Thanks again guys!

Celia was right in there asking questions and taking her own photos, so maybe we have some in our future! Till that happens we'll have to be happy with this reminder  us of a wonderful meal with our guests!
The steering station and the spray dodger
When you have a place on the water as they do it's only natural to have a boat as well. Ralph has a wooden Hampton (the vintage style, not the builder). The boat has a strip planked hull, wooden decks and removable wooden floors. Very simple layout with a steering sttion and stowage fore & aft. It's powered by a 3-cylinder Yanmar diesel engine that moved us right along when we went out after lunch. Rock-solid steering! It was a dream to handle as it tracked like it was on rails. It's been several years since I was last on the water, so this was a very special treat for me. And I didn't have to row the tender...

Looks like what it's named for: a pea pod.
The Hampton seemed to be about a 1/2 mile out, so you have to have a way to get to the mooring. And that's where this 13' Pea Pod replica comes in. It serves as the tender and is also wooden. A tender is the 'taxi' that gets you between the shore (or wherever you happen to be) and the boat. Not sure who built his Hampton, but the Pea Pod was built by a local builder in Blue Hill. It's beautifully built and maintained and it came with a 1 person-power engine: two oars pulled by Ralph.

We really enjoyed visiting and greatly admired their house and property. They told us it was something of a disaster when they bought it in 1996 and that they've done a huge amount of work. But it paid off and now they have a show piece. Great job guys!

11 July 2012

Postcard from Maine- 3

11 July 2012

Catching up, so this is a long one!

Trenton, ME

We 4 desert rats have been struggling with the heat, humidity and bugs. There's no way to avoid mosquitoes during the summer, but I was sure we'd avoid the heat and humidity here in Maine. That was apparently an illusion as we got hammered with several days over 90° F that made it feel like my internal battery charger was broken... my virtual motor was kaput. We were so uncomfortable we were to the point of driving West to the Oregon coast which, in our recollection, is always cool & foggy from the chilly waters traveling down the coast (more illusion as the reality for 2012 is quite the opposite!).

Our daughter-in-law Stephanie told us we really needed to look at more of the northern part of Maine after having come all this way. And, more importantly, keeping near the ocean would be cooler. That turned out to be right on the money.

And that's how we have come to be in Trenton, Maine, just North of Mt. Desert Island, Acadia NP and Bar Harbor. I did careful and exhaustive research to find just the right park (I looked in Woodall's and picked the first one that had an available pull-thru) and ended up with a site at Timberland Acres RV Park . I started with a couple weeks to see how we liked it, then 2 days later I extended another week; after 7 days we made it a month. What we've found so far is that, as promised, it's a lot cooler.

And wetter. Guess you have to be careful what you wish for! :) What happened initially is H-Debbie (I try very hard to never use the H-word!) left Florida and came North where it parked itself between Maine and Nova Scotia. The pressure bands that circulate around the eye of a cyclonic weather system (even though it wasn't a tropical storm anymore, it still looks like one on Doppler radar) kept sweeping over the top of us. So it rained like we may soon need an ark, only to clear and dry out for a day or 2.

This is a great RV park with the biggest pull-thrus I've seen. Our 75' pull-thru appears to be about 90' long, and I see some that look to be over 150' long. Like the SKP Co-op in Benson, AZ, this park has events planned to entertain folks that don't want to do much driving: crafts, exercise, entertainment, and of course bingo (hey, it wouldn't be an RV park without bingo!). What's really nice, though, is the convenient location:
- Mt Desert I is just 7 miles away (the park offers a shuttle)
- Acadia NP is just 14 miles away
- Mt. Desert Island is home to a lot of wonderful stops like Bar Harbor, Jordan Pond House, Southeast Harbor, Seal Harbor, etc
- 2 miles north in Ellsworth are Hannaford's and Shaw's markets, a WalMart, and a Home Depot
- There are popular food stops nearby like Jordan's Snack Bar (lunch & dinner), Martha's Diner (breakfast & lunch (was Martha's Cafe till they got a new sign), and Ruth & Wimpy's
- Maine is home to consistently great ice cream!
- And there are more tourist per square inch than in Santa Fe... that's a lot of tourists!

Jordan's Snack Bar

Crab roll and onion rings. Skip the fries!

As soon as we arrived and met our neighbors Mark & June, they told us about Jordan's. And we both have an app for our iPhones called UrbanSpoon that contains a user-created listing for Jordan's with a bunch of raves about the place, so off we went for dinner. It was a pleasant surprise for something which is little more than a hot dog/ice cream stand. They have hot dogs, hamburgers, lobster/crab/meat rolls and are famous for their onion rings (good but not great). Oh... and ice cream.

Luxury dining when it's wet outside!
It was raining (surprise!), so we were able to check out one of their features: they have a dining room in an adjacent building. You order & pay, go to the dining room and wait till they call your number. Then take the receipt to the window, get your food and take it to the dining room. So we didn't have to eat in the truck nor take it back to the park.

We went past Jordan's on one occasion to find incredible crowds and no room to park. Turns out they have live music on Wednesday evening. So if you want music with your crabmeat roll, Jordan's is an option

Bar Harbor

Our 2nd day here we drove to Bar Harbor to look around and so that I could take a few photos for the blog. Yeah, right. That's not gonna happen any time soon. BH is a small old town with small old roads while our truck (crew cab, long bed, dualies) fits about like a full grown moose would fit in our back seat. Yikes! And the traffic was heavy. I was so glad to get out of there we celebrated the escape with ice cream at Udder Heaven just outside the town.

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There are 2 food places here (Udder Heaven and Mainely Meat), so a few days later we came back to have dinner and ice cream. Mainely Meat is a BBQ place and the food was OK, but the truth is you don't come to Maine for BBQ so I doubt we'll be back for BBQ. The ice cream, however, beckons!

And did you notice that lobster on the sign holding the ice cream cone? Not on the menu... he's just visiting.

More rain

The cloud show just before another T-storm.
The rain was persistent and annoying, but it didn't keep us home. In fact it was a delight to see some of the startling cloud formations. The clouds are a part of the landscape and do as much to to make this a beautiful location as the delicious greens. My only trouble was I couldn't drive and shoot photos at the same time!

After the T-storm. You can't see the 2" deep water
at the front of the site
There was one issue, though. The dogs have to go out to pee or poop. And they really don't care about the weather. Sunshine? OK! Wind? OK! Snow and sleet? Even better! So we're out walking no matter the weather... about 4 times a day plus once more before lights-out. We keep a couple towels near the door and towel their feet and coat, but it really has taken a toll on the rugs. So we'll be candidates for a carpet shampoo this winter after we get back to Benson. And for the record, the only occasion that one had an 'accident; was when Annie had Predisone for a hot spot and had to pee every 30 minutes... couldn't make it through the night.

So the rain kept coming and the weather was cool. I guess we're busy making lemonade. Cool lemonade!

Ellsworth Harbor

Ellsworth's small harbor
We took a ride out on MDI... the local's shorthand for Mt. Desert Island. Except for one small problem: I turned too soon and we ended up driving around to the west side of Ellsworth, the neighboring town north of the park. But it worked out really well as we ended up coming into town past the small harbor... which is where Scoops Ice Cream stand is. I bet you can see a pattern here!

Scoops in Ellsworth is not related to Scoop's in Branson, MO. It's a local place that sells their own home made ice cream which is to die for. The Admiral had chocolate (what else?!) and I had apricot-peach which was incredible. I believe it was peach ice cream with lots of apricot bits added and I've never had anything as good. Wow!

And they have hot dogs, crab meat and lobster rolls. So we drove back a couple days later and had "lunch"... a shallow attempt to legitamize having more ice cream!

Bass Harbor Head light

The pond opposite Seawall
 I missed the turn for the USCG station for Bass Harbor Head light and couldn't find a place to turn around till we got to a stretch of beach called Seawall. The name is a mystery at the moment and I want to understand how it was derived. But it was an interesting stretch of large-rock coast line with this small pond nearly unnoticed on the opposite side of the road. And of course more clouds!

And this stop gave me a chance to turn around and head back to Bass Harbor Head light. It's an interesting light with an easy walk to the shoreline where a continuous stream of people crawled around pretending to be ants. All ages, many non-English conversations, young and old, some not happy about having to climb the 60 or so steps, all with cameras in hand. An interesting experience and the light was barely discernable from down below! I needed to be a mountain goat to manage what it would take to get the shot, so y'all need to like this one instead!

Annie again

So far this has been a journey of doggie health care. Poor ol' Annie had yet another bout with hot spots. Unfortunately it was a place she could reach to chew and lick. And it was Sunday. The Admiral called our vet in Santa Fe and, thru the miracle of modern telecommunication, a prescription was gotten into the hands of the local WalMart for Cephalexin. $4, same price they would charge for the same script for a human. And it was exactly what Annie needed... she's once again doing great.

A drive to Bangor and Old Town

We wanted to just drive through Bangor. Or at least I did. The first house I bought was on Bangor St in San Jose so I wanted to see the namesake. It's an interesting city and we'll probably go back to take a closer look.

Old Town, ME is the town that Old Town Canoe Company takes its name from. Somewhere here is a museum, but I failed to find either the manufacturing site or the museum. So we'll have to go back before we get a proper check mark.

I did manage to stumble upon the old train station. It's a recycling center today, but it appears the tracks are still tied to a main line somehow... off to the right are many rail cars.

The Great Timberland Acres NASCAR Race

The Aflac car
I was amazed some of these people actually fit inside the car!
There were some grim faces out there!
RV parks seem to worry about keeping people entertained. Timberland Acres had an easy solution drop into their hands when the local Shrine organization staged a NASCAR day with the generous donation of use of cars donated by the local car dealer, Darling Auto Mall. They brought a bunch of miniature cars for people to drive. Pretty cool stuff with the nearly-touching-the-ground profile and unmuffled exhaust! We didn't get involved, but there was no way of ignoring the events as cars roared around the access roads and drawings were announced with all the necessary hoopla. No hay bales, no safety marshals. But no one seemed to miss either. They even had a miniature tow truck.

Penobscot Narrows bridge and Ft. Knox

Not sure how this works, but there was a Ft Knox in Maine in 1893. Surely Ft. Knox in Tennessee was in operation at the same time! It was rushed to completion because we were convinced the Spanish were going to attack from the north during the Spanish-American War. That never happened, but somehow we've managed to have 2 Army forts with the same name. Possibly named for 2 different Knoxes?

The state has built a park that surrounds the fort as well as the tower of the very modern bridge that crosses the Penobscot Narrows. For the price of admission you can roam the old fort as well as take an elevator to the top of one of the bridges towers... the 'Observatory'. It was a grand day and we had incredible visibility. And the girls had a great time sniffing everything hoping for some P-mail. Sadly there was nothing for them, but they did read everyone elses mail!

I'll leave it with these shots from our afternoon at the park. We're really enjoying the area and the weather!

The nearby town of Bucksport, ME

The centerline of the new bridge
from 42 stories up!
Old and new side by side