Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New England trip part 2

After NH we headed to Maine, our primary destination. The weather was still being uncooperative as we arrived. Our first night there we camped in Acadia National Park and it was raining when we got there, and while we put up the tent, and then put up a tarp over the tent. After much struggling to accomplish this and becoming very wet and covered in pine needles and dirt and mildly aggravated with each other’s tarp-hanging strategies in the process, it finally stopped raining.

After a late lunch of hot dogs and veggie sausages we decided to go for a drive, during which we passed a boat launch on one of Maine’s countless beautiful lakes. It was about 6:00 pm and after consulting the map, we determined that the lake from end to end was approximately 2 miles, easy to paddle across before it got dark. So we put my kayak in the water and off I went. Bill drove to meet me on the other end. Well, apparently we read the map wrong because the distance turned out to be more like 4 miles and it got very windy and the sun went down, and I got a little panicky. So did Bill, who called 911 and alerted the park rangers. We later celebrated my safe arrival at a local bar called Moose Nuts, or something like that, and this time I kicked Bill’s ass at pinball.

Our first morning in Acadia we went to Bar Harbor for breakfast, got stuck in traffic, looked around at the crowds and madness, and realized that this was NOT why we had left New York. So we left Acadia, stopping to camp about an hour away at a nice little campground run by a very friendly old man who I’m pretty sure was an alien living among us, and who had a basket of free cucumbers on his porch. This campground was located on another lake so I put my kayak in the water and Bill took a canoe out and we paddled around for a while, and Bill determined that he does not care for canoeing.

That afternoon we visited Fort Knox (not the one with all the gold) and also this tower that was part of a bridge spanning the Penobscot River.

This is what we saw from the top:

The next day we drove north, to Baxter State Park, where we planned to check out some more lakes, and hike up Mt. Katahdin, a little over 5,000 feet. We camped in the park and the next morning we got an early start because the rangers had told us that it was an 8-10 hour hike, and we figured we were more likely to take 10 hours than 8. This suspicion was confirmed as we began hiking, and families with small children and extremely old people overtook us. It was very beautiful. Here are some pictures.

We hiked to the end of the first trail and stopped at Chimney Pond, about 3,000 feet up. There we enjoyed some peanut butter sandwiches and Bill took the Christmas portrait for a family of 12 that included a baby, several very young children, and grandparents. While posing for their photo, the mother kept saying “Honey, smile! You love hiking!!” to the kids, who didn’t look sure that they loved hiking. But that must have been one sweet family portrait because this was the background:

After lunch and the photo session we continued up a new trail, this one much more steep, rocky, and actually somewhat dangerous. Bill’s funky knee had already been put to the test that day, and this new trail required leaping from pointy wet boulder to pointy wet boulder with deep gaps in between. We agreed it would be unwise to continue, so we walked down the way we came.

Later we drove to the campsite in the north end of the park. It was only about 35 miles but it took us 2 hours to get there because the speed limit was 20 miles an hour, and also we had to keep slowing down to look for moose. This was a really lovely campground, Bill thought it might be his favorite ever, and we were now far away from anything. According to the map there were no towns north of the park. The campground was on yet another gorgeous body of water, Lower South Branch Pond, known for its clarity due to lack of vegetation, and we paddled around—this time Bill got himself a kayak.

The next day we started the trip back to New York, via Boston. We checked into a hotel near Salem on a street that had a lot of very seedy looking businesses, and then went out to get dinner and to see Tropic Thunder. Bill may have a few things to say about the movie but in a nutshell it was awesome and you should see it, if you haven’t already. We had dinner beforehand at this Mexican restaurant that was roughly the size of a football stadium, and packed. A little surreal, coming so soon after the peaceful remoteness of Baxter.

The next morning we headed home, driving first through parts of Boston to have a look at my former neighborhood. When we got home we were pretty tired so we caught Pineapple Express and then called it a night.


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