Our final stop in the Maritimes – St. Andrews-by-the-Sea

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St Andrews by the seaFor those of you just joining us on our Canadian Maritime adventure, we are actually back in the USA now – sitting on the coast of Maine at the moment.  This post is a catch-up to cover our final stop and end of our Canadian travels.  We were having such a great time and seeing so many things that sitting in front of a computer had to take a back seat.  Besides, not having internet connectivity at times made it impossible to keep up.

Anyway, we arrived at St Andrews-by-the-Sea excited, as this was our last stop before crossing the border again. The moment we felt the sea breeze brushing our cheeks as we settled into our campsite, we immediately liked the place.  Who wouldn’t?  We had another “big screen” view, this time of Passamaquody bay.  We stayed at Kiwanis Oceanfront Camping – click here if interested in Steve’s review of this great campground.

Passamaquoddy Bay

Passamaquoddy Bay at low tide

Kiwanis Ocean Camping,St Andrews by the Sea

Betsy-by-the-Sea

We explored the beautiful little town of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea on foot, as all attractions were walkable from our campground.  Having been in the rain for the past few days, we welcomed the sunshine and started early on our sightseeing.  This town was designated as a National Historic District, one of the oldest and loveliest in the Maritimes.  We agree.  It is loaded with neat shops and excellent restaurants.  We could definitely spend more time here!

St Andrews by the sea

Water Street early in the morning

St Andrews-by-the-sea

Market Wharf

Strolling around this little seaside town, we observed many of the well-preserved original buildings.

St Andrews by the sea

The local folks we talked to were the friendliest we have met while in Canada.  From the lady at the coffee shop to the lady at Olive and Spreads, to the lady at the Irish pub – they were all very helpful!

Our wanderings also led us to a blockhouse, which is a building modestly fortified to defend an area.  This one was built during the War of 1812 between the U.S. and Great Britain, and it is the last one standing in the Maritimes.  The St. Andrews Blockhouse and Battery has been preserved as a national historic site since 1962.

St Andrews Blockhouse

That’s Maine over there across the water where the cannons are pointing!

Since Passamaquoddy Bay was only a few steps from Betsy, I went down and explored the tidal floor and checked out the shore birds while the tide was low.

A few interesting marine plants and shells on the ocean floor:

We joined yet another tour, this time aboard the Jolly Breeze.  We didn’t go so much to see the whales and other sea creatures (we’ve seen many in Alaska), but more for the experience of cruising aboard a classic tall ship.  We saw this ship go by the campground and thought it would be fun to hop aboard.  That’s the Jolly Breeze cruising by in our new blog header.

Jolly Breeze

Aboard Jolly Breeze

St Andrews by the sea

St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, viewed from the Jolly Breeze

A was to be expected, we saw a Minke Whale, Harbor Seals, Grey Seals and a couple of Bald Eagles.

Each morning I got up early to catch the sunrise.  With the open space and the bay before us, the photo ops were right there for the clicking.  I have taken so many pictures that picking one is like picking your favorite sister – too difficult!

St Andrews by the sea

St. Andrews-by-the-Sea was a great final stop on our Maritime adventure. We liked the look and feel of the town, enjoying every minute of our stay.  A rainbow even appeared, as if to confirm Steve’s comment that this was one of his favorite harbor towns of all. St Andrews by the sea

Our Canadian Maritime adventure stats:

Number of days in Canada = 29 (8/11-9/9)
Miles driven = 1,332
Amount of diesel burned = 177 gallons
Average price for diesel = $5.10/gallon

What was originally planned as a two-week trip mushroomed into a whole month of driving around the Maritime provinces, made up of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.  Despite spotty internet in the RV parks, high prices, a lot of rain and some bad roads – the trip was well worth it.  The people were friendly and seemed happy to see visitors in their towns.

Which province is my favorite?  It would have to be Prince Edward Island – the whole island is just too picturesque, pastoral with wide open spaces.

Canada Maritimes

Map of where we had been in Canada’s Maritimes

Our blogger friends were like walking visitor centers – many thanks to Pam of Oh the Places they go, (especially the Scone alert!), Gay of Good Times Rolling (we stayed at the RV parks they were in) Brenda of Island Girl (the French River was the best!) and Judith of Red Road Diaries – they had been here before and provided us with excellent inside information and tips about the Maritimes.

And finally, finally..the morning we left for the USA was no exception, as I captured this very serene and calm morning with brushstroke clouds that made it look like a painting. The beautiful sunrise was a great start for our journey back to the good ‘ol USA.

Sunrise at St Andrews by the sea

Next up:

The fabulous Acadia National Park!

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Lighthouses, lobsters and a desert? – Freeport, ME

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Portland Lighthead

When you think of Maine, lobsters probably come to mind along with ocean breezes – maybe even the sight of lobster boats trawling on the ocean.  It may be difficult to imagine that among the rolling hills and just a few miles from the coast is a desert.  We were not looking for this desert, but it just happened to be next door to our RV Park – Desert of Maine RV Park (reviewed here).  We were so intrigued that as soon as we settled in we immediately caught a tour to see for ourselves what they are bragging about.  And sure enough, there it was!

Desert of Maine

This post shows how the moving sand dune has covered a water spring and drinking station that lie below.

Desert of Maine

A pose at the desert of Maine

It is not really a true desert by weather standards, but is otherwise considered a desert.  This tract of land is now covered with a sandy substance known as glacial silt (called “mica”), which has developed into dunes 80 ft deep.  Centuries before, topsoil formed a cap concealing the desert, enabling a forest to grow.  In 1797 Mr. Tuttle farmed this land, but poor crop rotation techniques and over-grazing resulted in soil erosion, and one day a patch of sand became exposed.

It continued growing until the sand claimed the farm, swallowing buildings and pastures.  Because he could not contain it, Mr. Tuttle sold the 300 acres of land for $300.  Mr Goldrup bought the farm and saw a potential, and in 1925 opened the area as a tourist attraction.  So that is how the Tuttle Farm of 1783 to 1919 became a Desert of Maine since 1925.

Lobster Roll, Derosier's

Our first lobster roll, the best in Freeport!

After that excitement we ventured out and began the search for a good lobster roll, live fresh lobsters, lighthouses, boats and ships and oh, maybe some shopping too.  A trip to Freeport would be incomplete without a stop at the mothership of shopaholics, L.L. Bean, which has had its headquarters here since 1917.  We indulged in some needed clothing, and since lunchtime was approaching we searched for Derosier’s Cafe, recommended by the cashier at LLBean.  We were told they serve the best lobster roll in the area for only $9.95, and it certainly was delicious!  A great hole-in-the-wall restaurant among many fancy places.

We drove to Cape Elizabeth Light – also known as Two Lights – where two light towers, about 300 yards apart, are located.  Built in 1828 and rebuilt in 1874, were sold several times and now sit on private property.  Only the eastern tower of the two that made up the light station until 1924 is active.  The western tower is deactivated, but it is still standing and is privately owned.  We were disappointed that we couldn’t get all the way up to the structures and would not recommend driving too far our of your way to see them.

This area along the ocean coast is also known for its rocky outcroppings that jut out to the ocean.

Two Lights

Cape Elizabeth Two Lights

One of the most popular landmarks along the shores of Maine is the Portland Head Light.  It is the state’s oldest lighthouse built in 1791 and sits in Fort Williams Park, on a head of land at the entrance to the primary shipping channel into Portland Harbor.  It is located within Casco Bay in the Gulf of Maine.  An active lighthouse, it is now automated and the tower, beacon, and foghorn are maintained by the United States Coast Guard.

Portland Head Light

Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park

We followed a trail which gave us various views of the lighthouse as we explored the rocky shores.

Portland Head Light

Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park viewed from the west

Bath, Maine is known as the “City of Ships” for its shipbuilding history dating back 400 years.  It is home to Bath Iron Works (BIW) where we joined a one-hour trolley tour that took us behind the gates of “The Works” to see how modern U.S. Navy destroyers are built.  We learned why the phrase “Bath Built is Best Built” rings true at this ultra-modern facility.  Photography is prohibited on the tour, so we sat in rapt attention as the guide narrated the various stages of shipbuilding which he likened to assembling lego blocks.  The size and scope of work performed at this facility is staggering.  They are just now building two of the Navy’s newest destroyers – the DDG 1000 Zumwalt, and the next Arleigh Burke class ships.  Pulling alongside an 800+ ft. long destroyer in drydock is enough to take anyone’s breath away.  Don’t miss this one!

Dry Dock

The Big Blue dry dock, 750 ft long, 144 ft wide between walls, 52 ft high and can lift 28,000 long tons – made in China!

The huge blue box in the picture is a floating dry dock, used for launching the ships after their hulls are complete. When ready for launch, a completed ship is moved into the dry dock by means of a hydraulic trolley system. There the vessel rests on temporary cradles and blocking until it can float away. The dry dock sinks by pumping river water into its tanks, and floats again by pumping water out.

Since admission to the Maine Maritime Museum next door is included in the ticket price ($35 per person), plan to spend several hours here if you can.  The area’s nautical history is chronicled in detail, and there are several impressive displays.  On the center of the  grounds is the largest sculpture in New England, a life-size representation of the Wyoming.  It was the largest wooden sailing ship ever built, at 426 feet from tip of bowsprit to stern rail.  It had six masts, each 177 feet tall!  My photo below can not convey the size of this sculpture, but believe me it is impressive.

Wyoming sculpture

Life size sculpture of “Wyoming”, the flagpoles represent the mast locations

The sculpture stands on the same spot where the schooner was built in 1909 and is of the same size as shown on the picture below.
Wyoming 1904

Although we aren’t boat fanatics, we found the displays about boat building on this 20-acre campus to be quite interesting.  The self-guided tour includes the history of the lobster industry and how it became a staple and symbol of Maine.

Maine Marine Museum

Campus waterfront viewed from the Paint and Treenail House

Carving house

After touring and sightseeing, its time to go to the market and get some seafood…lobsters, that is!

Desert of Maine Campground

Our nice, spacious site at the Desert of Maine RV Park

After admiring lighthouses and the coastline (not to mention satisfying our lobster cravings), we moved to Bangor, Maine and stayed at Pumpkin Patch RV resort.  We spent a couple of days trip planning and preparing Betsy for our border crossing into Canada.

We are now dependent on the internet offered at RV parks in Canada, which is really spotty.  Hence my story telling may be somewhat delayed during the next few weeks.  Oh the tribulations of international travel!

Up next:  Betsy’s “ferry” tale! – St John, NB

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