New Brunswick – Late Summer 2016 Road Trip – Day 8

Another early start, on the road by 6 a.m., and we were off to the northeast. After entering our first destination into the GPS I found that it had me turn off U.S. 1, which turned out to not only be the quickest route (bypassing one of the numerous wanderings of U.S. 1 along the coast), but it took us up and down some fairly large hills, across bogs, and through a couple of small towns resulting in a really fun 30 mile segment, not to mention really waking you up as I was really pushing the Audi on the smooth curvy road.

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After stopping in Machias, Maine for a quick McDonalds breakfast (have you ever noticed that in the morning every McDonalds in the world has what seems to be the same 4 or 5 old men in them solving all of the world’s problems – a great reality TV show would be to go around and pull them from really random places and have them argue it out on live TV – but I digress).

Another hour down the road and we arrived at West Quoddy Park, the easternmost point in the USA not counting the Aleutian Islands that cross the International Date Line. As we drove into West Quoddy Park the Travelling Wilburys sang “At the End of the Line” It was perfectly timed as we rolled into the drive of the park and reached the end of the road.

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The park has a lighthouse and cottage set at the bottom of a hill; below the lighthouse cliff were boulders exposed because of low tide. The water shimmered from the sun as a fishing boat chugged through the large isles of rock with only a small fence separated the hill where we stood and the craggy shore but we could see stretches of land across the water.

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After heading north a bit we reached the edge of Calais, Maine, where we were to cross into New Brunswick. After a brief stop at the border crossing where we were asked a few questions and had to show our passports, we were on our way onto a recently built freeway. Just ahead we rolled into the visitor center to get a map, where the very helpful visitor center workers recommended we make a brief stop to view the waterfalls in the town of St George, only 20 miles ahead (or as they said about 30 kilometers).

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Continuing on we arrived in St. John, New Brunswick, to see the Mortello Towers, small defensive fort that was built as a coastal fort. The tower stands up to 40 feet high with two floors and typically had a garrison of one officer. Their round structure and thick walls of solid masonry made them resistant to cannon fire, while their height made them an ideal platform for a single heavy artillery piece, mounted on the flat roof to fire in a complete 360° circle. The Mortello Tower, was used in the War of 1812. We were not able to enter the tower because of renovation but stood at the base of the tower looking out to the sea.

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St John is the largest city in New Brunswick with a metro population of a little over 100,000 people, as a result they have a decent downtown where we found the City Market, the oldest continuous farmer’s market in Canada, for our lunch. We ordered a shrimp platter and fish and chips from an open shop vendor. While eating our lunch, we noticed that all the signs were in English and French. Even my can of root beer was labeled in both languages, root beer on one side and racinette on the other side of the can. There were bilingual signs for street posts, and car license plates too; New/Noveau Brunswick.

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All of the southern New Brunswick borders the Bay of Fundy, on the places that was very high on my list to visit. As we left St John we found the Fundy Trail, a park featuring a road hugging the coast with stunning views in every direction that includes over 20 spectacular lookouts, a waterfall, and 600 million-year-old rock formations. We stopped at one of the vistas looking out into the New Brunswick coastline, sparkling water and a view of Nova Scotia in the distance.

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We followed the Fundy Trail as far as the Salmon River where we walked across the suspension bridge. The bridge had a ten person limit and bounced a lot as we walked on it but the bridge is only 25 feet off the ground so it was not a fearless act. Our journey took us pass the Sea Caves at St. Martins, New Brunswick but it was high tide and the caves were only accessible by kayak now and not accessible to walk to the caves.

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Leaving the Fundy Trail as the road across the coast is not completed, we traveled from St. Martins along Route 111 to Route 114 down through Fundy National Park where the coastal road continued until we reached Hopewell Rocks in Chignecto Bay, an extension of the Bay of Fundy. This area is noted as the highest tide in the world at an average of 39 feet high.

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The narrow bay funnels water out and the ocean floor is exposed three hours before and after low tide. We took the trail to an overlook and saw the towers of clay rocks covered with seaweed. Once we made our way down to the ocean floor we walked over seaweed, mud and rocks to see the sun shine down and through hallowed towers and crevices. In addition you could see bull eyes targets on the rocks thirty feet up or so, assuming those were probably placed there by kayakers at high tide. The park closed at 7 p.m. Atlantic Time so we left to climb the multilevel stairs and take the trail back to the car. We changed our muddy shoes and headed to Moncton, New Brunswick for the night.

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After our check-in at the Chateau Moncton, we walked to Woody’s BBQ North of the Mason-Dixon Line. Woody’s is a chain restaurant that started in Florida with a few restaurants in Canada. Our meals were meh, not good.

The Chateau Moncton hotel sits along the Petitcodiac River that connects to the Bay of Fundy which draws out water at low tide and then rushes in so forcefully at high tide (called the tidal bore) that surfers ride the waves on the river. We had hopes of seeing high tide roar into the city but high tide is set near midnight and it is too dark to see the river.

Acadia National Park, Maine – Late Summer 2016 Road Trip – Day 7

Our Friday morning started with us leaving the Longwood Inn by 6 a.m. to avoid the morning rush hour and anyone leaving the city for a long Labor Day weekend, finally stopping a rest area in Maine for breakfast at Burger King and Starbucks.

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The common dining area was the dirtiest rest area I had ever seen. Every table, chair, and floor was covered in crumbs and dirt. A large painted statue of a moose stood outside at the front of the building letting us know that we were in moose territory and I thought that if the moose were in the building at least the crumbs would have been licked up.

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We had a short stop in Portland, Maine along the Eastern Promenade for a view of the harbor with the sun shimmering on the water dotted with boats. As we made our way out of town we found U.S. Highway 1, a road that goes from far northern Maine to Key West, Florida. This would be our route throughout most of Maine, passing through numerous small towns, around bays, and across rivers. While not fast, it was scenic.

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Finally we arrived in Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. After circling the island on the west side we drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain within the park, the highest elevation on the U.S. east coast at 1539 feet.   Cadillac Mountain offered us a view of the city of Bar Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean.  From this vantage point you could see islands in the ocean and a large anchored cruise ship in the harbor, with tenders shuttling people to Bar Harbor.

Further climbing across the rocky surface of the mountain top provided views of northern and southern exposures.

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Acadia National Park stems from a name given by explorer Giovanni Verrazano in 1524. The shoreline reminded him of a part of Greece named Acadia.

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Completing our hike, we headed into the town of Bar Harbor, checking into the Bar Harbor Grand Hotel, where we were given a complimentary upgrade to a private suite with reserved parking. Our hotel room was a suite with a living room, full kitchen, bath, and king size bed, and it’s own entrance from the parking lot.

Once the bags were dropped we walked down the street for lunch at a restaurant called Blaze, where we had a crab cake and duck breast arugula salad that was very good, as well as a duck and pork belly burger topped with a fried egg. A very interesting lunch to say the least.

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After walking through town to check out the small touristy shops along the way, we headed down to the waterfront. For an hour and a half before until and hour and a half after low tide it is possible to walk across the rocky sandbar of the ocean floor to Bar Island. We arrived just as the water had cleared way, so we headed across.

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Once on the island we hiked the mule trail up the mountain to a vista to look back at Bar Harbor. You can view Cadillac Mountain from this spot, providing an interesting contrast since we were on the mountain at high tide when this island was only accessible by boat.

As we hiked back down and rested on a log at the rocky bottom, finding a fossil in stone that I kept as a souvenir.

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After crossing back over to town, we continued our tour of the local shops. Many shops were open for the Art Walk serving wine and cheese or snacks to visitors. We stopped for dinner at Café This Way hidden in an alley. We had a whole lobster that I had to crack open to eat, as well as lamb with mint pesto sauce and mashed potatoes, which as delicious.

Later we continued the Art Walk, as well as a stop at the Atlantic Brewing Company microbrewery. After a bit of refreshment, we continued on to the Eclipse Gallery, a glass shop with really interesting vases and glasscapes (scenes made completely of different types of glass). One scene resembled Acadia National Park with layers of trees and rock made of colorful glass.  Another glasscape of mountains was made of glass mounted into wooden slots and of trees in a technique called frit (tiny bubbles of glass fused together).

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Finally the temptation of 100 T shirt shops got the best of use, so we stopped in one with giant lobster claws hanging from the store front with lanterns and a lit moose form mounted on the store’s rooftop for our obligatory souvenir. The town was bustling with people drinking wine, eating ice cream, and strolling the streets as we returned to the hotel for the evening.

Bar Harbor, ME – May 2011 -The Sun Returns

We left Quebec City to head back to the US via a remote road that arrives at the far northern border of Maine. I have had enough border crossing to know the little used ones tend to have immigration people who seem to enjoy the opportunity the query in great depth.

We had picked up a rental car in Boston with Virginia plates. As I arrived at the crossing I handed the immigration agent our passports and the rental contract. As he looks at us for 3 or 4 minutes and the car, he eventually says ‘is this a rental?’ Wanting to just continue on I said ‘why yes it is’ 🙂 And with that we continued on.

Reaching Bar Harbor the sun had come out and it was a beautiful day.

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As with our 2016 trip we immediately continued up Cadillac Mountain.

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After spending a couple of hours on the mountain we went down to the town of Bar Harbor.

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