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Lobsters, leaves and lighthouses: Roadtrip through Maine 🇺🇸 (Part 1)

Portland welcomed us with beautiful blue skies and a fresh sea breeze. We picked up our rental car and headed north on route 1. My heart quickened as we had the first glimpses of orange, red and golden leaves. Autumn was on it way! 🍁 

Well researched by Geoff was our first  stop in Wiscasset for a famed Maine Lobster roll🦞 at Spragues. “A whole lobster on a roll” turned out to be a lightly toasted bun, jam-packed with juicy chunks of red, pink and white lobster meat. “With salad?” turned out to be with mayonnaise 😂

We sat in the glorious sun watching the seagulls scrounging treats, munching our delicious roll and sharing a steaming mug of New England clam chowder. Yup. We were back in beautiful America!

Our road trip “plan” was loosely based on our pre-booked Air B&B accommodation. The idea was to head out of Portland and get perhaps a third of the way up the coast for the first night then get as far north as possible (close to the Canadian border), spend two nights and then double back with a sense of being able to proceed more leisurely at the next two spots.

One of Maine’s many nicknames is “The Lighthouse State” (there are 65 of them! 😮) and our first one was Pemaquid Point in Lincoln County, built in 1827. 

The reason for the having so many lighthouses seems to be the endless fingers of land that lead enticingly towards the Atlantic Ocean. Pemaquid Point below Bristol, is one of these peninsulas.

Although the wrong time of day for photography it was such an inspiring setting with dramatic, scoured rocks falling away into the icy Atlantic below the white and black lighthouse. Its neat red and white keeper’s house was surrounded by stunning gardens, a fishermen’s museum, art gallery and endless views.

We headed around the narrow peninsula via New Harbour and Round Pond to the relatively larger town of Waldoboro. After that it was a quick drive to Thomaston where we looped around a bit locating our charming Air B&B – Captain Jacobs

As we were determined to make a considerable dent on the list of lighthouses and sunset was threatening, we dashed off to see the Owl’s Head lighthouse, climbing the wooden steps to the top managing to catch the view just before it became dark.

 

Back in Thomaston, we struggled to find the perfect place for dinner and ended up taking away a pizza (as you do when in America).

We were up ahead of dawn and headed down the peninsula to Port Clyde. Approaching the Marshall Point lighthouse, we startled a moose who skipped away into the surrounding forest. 

The lighthouse was made famous by the Forrest Gump movie (where the Tom Hanks character runs down the walkway at the end of his journey). It stands on a rocky point at the end of the St. George peninsula reaching out towards the Muscongus Bay, and was built in 1858.

America in October is all about welcoming Fall and the celebration of Halloween 🎃.  It’s amazing to see the enormous pumpkins of all shapes and sizes being displayed along the roadsides as we headed north-east. Also they are used EVERYWHERE. Even graves are decorated…

We stopped for sinfully delicious blueberry and cream cheese flaky pastries at one of the farm stalls and although we had quite a drive ahead of us to reach Roques Bluff, we also made time for a quick stroll out to the Rockland breakwater light house accessible by a 1.5 km walkway made of enormous granite blocks reaching out into Penobscot Bay and built in the early 1900’s. One has to check that you don’t get caught by the high tide which smashes across the walkway, partly submerging it.

Interestingly the breakwater was built before the lighthouse to protect the harbour and waterfront buildings from the damaging North Easterly winds (most assume the breakwater was built to connect the lighthouse to the land)

As we made our way back from the lighthouse, it was clear that the tide had turned and waves were starting to smash across the walkway. It was a little startling to see a few people embarking on the walk. Tides approach with notorious swiftness and stealth in our experience!

From Rockland we headed on up to Rockport and spent some time in the charming streets of Camden.
We took a break to devour a delightful Mexican lunch
We had some fun taking in pictures of the lovely Penobscot Narrows Bridge at Verona which is a cable-stayed bridge over the Penobscot River.

We stopped off in Ellsworth to pick up groceries for our next two night stay. Always fun exploring American grocery stores which are HUGE and filled with so much variety.

Maine has so many beautiful scenic routes that we were spoiled for choice. The afternoon drive took us along the Schoodic national scenic byway. The route begins in Hancock and winds down the Schoodic peninsula,  breathtakingly gorgeous with the mountains reaching down to the sparkling seas and the delightful lobster fishing villages. From Prospect Harbor, we headed for Gouldsboro and then onwards on route 1 to Cherryfield . 

Cherryfield was named for the wild cherries that once peppered the banks of the Narraguagus river. Our appetites were whet by the proclamation that Cherryfield is the “Blueberry Capital of the World”. However, there was neither a cherry, nor a blueberry to be found!
We enjoyed a stroll after a lengthy stretch of driving and came across a beautiful grand old house. What was striking and tragic was that is seemed that it had unnecessarily succumbed to a state of derelict abandon and would soon become unsalvageable. Curtains billowed in the prevailing breeze and the rain that came down off and on would soon devastate remaining furnishings.

The broken windows revealed sitting rooms that seemed to have all but recently been used and the curtains blew in the wind recalling a happier time. It seemed a perfect setting for a horror movie.

Some locals explained that it was a deceased estate and that the children of the old lady hadn’t bothered to come out to their inherited property. It seemed such a sad waste!

From Cherryfield we headed to Columbia Falls and finally stumbled across the elusive blueberries. In fact, we discovered Wild Blueberry Land, billed as “the largest blueberry in the world”. The dome housed endless products from blueberry jams to vinegars and sauces and blueberry plush toys and even blueberry socks! Best of all, they had hot fresh blueberry pie straight from the oven. Perfect timing and paired with a cup of coffee.

We took the 187 to Jonesport and then headed down the peninsula to Rogue Bluffs.

We were tired by the time we reached the delightful village of Roque Bluffs overlooking Englishman Bay, featuring both a freshwater and a saltwater beach. We completely fell in love with our charming cottage in the most exquisite setting. One always takes a chance booking remotely via Air B&B and this one exceeded our expectations. Tiny and super modern, with everything you need to be eternally happy 😁.

We took a walk to the beach to check out our neighborhood. Extreme tides left the beach exposed and we were able to walk along the shore for quite a distance, enjoying the approaching sunset coating everything in a golden light.

Ensconced in our cosy home we had a delicious supper of pork steaks and caprese salad with real bufala, washed down with a delightful red. Dessert was obviously Reese’s peanut butter chocolates (coated in dark chocolate).

Early alarm and a 5am departure. We are heading for Lubec which is a 50 minute drive to the Canadian border and the most Eastern point of the USA. The aim is to catch the West Quoddy Head lighthouse at sunrise.

The lighthouse was built in 1808. It has a picturesque keeper’s cottage and it’s red and white candy stripes ensure that it is an iconic landmark. Quite a number of photographers had gathered to catch the first light of day to touch the East coast of America. We explored the rocky area below, discovering some exquisite polished stones in reds and greens and shiny black. It was low tide and the area below was astoundingly vast.

Tidal ranges can vary greatly along the Maine coast, with 9-11 foot ranges in the Southern Maine area all the way up to 19-foot ranges in far north near Canada. The Bay of Fundy, which is where we were, is located on the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine, and known for having the highest tidal range in the world – up to 50 feet!

Once we had a million pictures each of the same lighthouse from various angles, we took a stroll along the hiking trail that curves along the cliff edge with astounding views every step of the way. Gosh our dogs would have loved this so much!

We wandered around the small Harbour in Lubec and admired the bridge to Canada. We had heard that it was possible to cross the border to have “Tea with Eleanor” (Mrs Roosevelt). We saw the sign pointing to Campobello Island in New Brunswick. We suspected that it was unlikely to apply to SA passport holders, but thought there would be sign or we would be stopped if it was a problem…. We left the USA with no issues at all and whizzed over the bridge to the Canadian border, admiring the beautiful lighthouse Mulholland Point.

The border officials were so friendly that for a while we actually thought they were letting us through. Eventually we worked out that we were being deported. I would have been okay with my British passport, but Geoff was definitely persona non grata with his “shithole” green mamba document. Despite the warm and friendly Canadian smiles, it dawned on us eventually that this was not actually an insignificant occurrence. It took some time, computers were accessed, forms were issued for signing, documents were scrutinized, but eventually we were waved back across the bridge in the direction of America, with a “please do come again when you have a Visa”.

At the US border we received a less than warm reception.There was no acknowledgement of the fact that we had passed in the opposite direction less than an hour ago. They regarded our story with incredulity, despite the fact that this must happen on a regular basis. They were definitely not keen on letting us re-enter the country. After some tense moments that related to the fact that we had no papers for the car other than the Avis brochure, they grudgingly allowed us through with huge suspicion. Sheepishly we slunk out of town, wondering if we could now claim to have ‘been to’ Canada 🇨🇦

We took the scenic route back to Roque Bluffs via the charming fishing village of Cutler where we wandered around taking even more pictures. Moving on to part 2 of this trip

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