We left Bangor in a slight drizzle. Dropping the trailer just across the river at the Brewer Wal-Mart, we drove to Bar Harbor, where it dawned on us that we’d touched on the tip of the iceberg of the really wealthy area of the US Eastern Seaboard - where the smell of old money mingles seamlessly with the sea breeze. Bar Harbor sits in a beautiful natural setting, graced by some of the most grand homes we’re ever likely to see. It’s also the epitome of the American tourist trap. By the time we got there the kids were already back in school but still, it was completely overrun by tourists with bulging shopping bags.
Pictured below are a view of Bar Harbor and Dink’s Taxi, located in a side alley of the shopping district at Bar Harbor.
From Bar Harbor it was a short circle tour around Acadia National Park but, unless you’re prepared to take a full day and take some hikes, about all you’ll see are tree lined roads with the odd glimpse of a lake or, if you’re lucky, the ocean.
Back at Brewer we walked some fast paced loops of the immense Wal-Mart parking lot. The Wal-Mart Super Stores here are open from six a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Inside there’s space for four football fields, with complete grocery stores where you can buy a whole chicken for $3.99, liquor stores, take-out deli’s and lots of space dedicated to outdoor living products. Their parking lots cover forty or fifty acres where there are always a number of RV’s parked overnight as well a few transport trucks.
Janice discovered that these Super Wal-Marts have vending machines called Red Boxes that dispense current release DVD movies for $1. You swipe your credit card, choose your movie from the touch screen display, and the machine spits it out. If you keep the movie for more than twenty-four hours you’re charged $1 per day penalty, up to twenty-five days, at which time you own the movie. You can return the movie to any Red Box. This works out to be a great find for us because, Janice being Rhelda’s daughter, she has saved the earphones from previous airline flights, so we just make sure the laptop is charged, which we can do on the road via the cigarette lighter charger and,voila, we’re at the movies. Oh, and curried pork for dinner. Did I mention that we rarely eat hamburgers or hot dogs on this trip? If we ever decide to publish anything about these travels it would have to include Janice’s Road Recipes because I’m pretty positive that no other RVers eat as well or as varied a menu as we do.
The next day we headed for the coast again, touring Amsden and then Belfast, where, if it had been located in Canada we might have been sorely tempted to purchase an architectural marvel that had already been a coffee shop on one side with an art gallery on the other, in a killer location, on the main street overlooking the bay. It’s a triangular brick and stone building built in 1874 with fourteen foot stamped tin ceilings on the first floor and ten or twelve foot ceilings on the second floor, which is a residence. One wall in the coffee shop was also stamped tin and all of the fascinating architectural detailing was fully intact. Oops, just daydreaming…
Later the same day we had lunch and took a walking tour of the very picturesque but again, overrun, coastal town of Camden and then made brief stops at equally picturesque Rockland before heading inland to the state capital, Augusta.
Pictured are a view of Camden Harbor and another of Main Street Camden.
We knew that just down the road from Augusta in the town of Gardiner was the A-1 Diner, of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives fame. What we couldn’t find around Maine’s capital was a campground, so we opted for Wal-Mart once more where we dropped the trailer, found me some new Crocs (does anybody else find those things as comfortable and all-round useful as I do?) before taking the ten-minute drive to Gardiner. We could have gone to a jam at a club in Augusta but there were already four drummers in attendance and the Cajon would have been redundant, so we decided not to stay. Watched another $1 movie instead.
Pictured below is the A-1 Diner which has been in continuous operation for sixty-seven years, and our meals there. Janice had a blue cheese burger while I had spicy noodles with shrimp - really good. On the way back I snapped a picture of the State Capital Building from the highway because it’s in an odd location with nowhere to view the front of it but the highway.
The next day, heading west, with the idea of seeing some of New Hampshire and Vermont, we stopped at Bethel, Maine. Are there any towns that aren’t important relics of the past around here? This one has some of the largest historic houses that we’ve seen yet. Those of distant past lumber barons. One standout of Bethel is the grouping of six or seven immense brick buildings that look like a university campus but turn out to be a high school (Acadamy)where hundreds of high school kids are boarded out from their various rich families around the state. After setting up camp at Stonybrook on the Sunday River, we hiked to the top of Will Mountain, one of the northern tips of the Appalachians, where we were afforded excellent views of the surrounding territory. It being Friday, we visited two local bars to swap stories with the locals. Is it just me or are the stories pretty well weighted to what the Americans have to say?
Pictured is Janice hiking up Will Mountain, and a stump I found there that was sprouting itself a pair of kidneys.
Some of the best things about traveling in the US are: Gas is thirty cents, or more, cheaper per liter than in Canada while wine is never more than half the cost of what we’d pay at home for the same thing.