Hugging Maine’s Coastline

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We’ve been lingering in Maine a little longer than planned, and the primary reason – Lobstah!  Of course it is Maine’s main crustacean, scientifically known as Homarus Americanus, or American Lobster.  They come in several colors, but not red – except when they are cooked – then they are all red like the one pictured below.  It takes an American lobster 6-7 years to get to an edible size.  They are long-lived animals, thought to be capable of living over 100 years.

Lobster

Lobstah!

Lobstermen with their traps and lobsters seem to be the unique and distinctive tradition here in Maine.

Lobsterman at work

Just one of the thousands of lobsterman seen at work along the coast.

Prospect Harbor

Lobsterman

In addition to the lobstermen, there are picturesque harbors, wharves and small coastal towns dotted with lobster boats, traps and buoys.

Lobster boats and traps

Lobster boats and traps at Prospect Harbor

Lobsters are caught using baited, one-way traps with color-coded marker buoys that uniquely mark each one.  These buoys decorate the surface of the ocean along many miles of the coastline.

Buying live lobsters direct from a lobsterman is the best option and you get to see their yard littered with traps, ropes and buoys – tools of the trade.

Lobsterman's Yard

A lobsterman’s Yard

Being seafood lovers, we had a lobster feast almost every day while in Maine.  And here is a fun fact – long before they became such a delicacy, lobsters were fed to prisoners and servants.  It was considered “poor man’s food” during the colonial times.  Well, we were able to buy it for as little as $3.99 per pound while staying near Bar Harbor – we didn’t want to leave!

Here’s the best part – lobster is highly nutritious.  Despite its rich, buttery taste, it is a low-calorie, low-fat source of protein: 3.5 ounces of meat has only about 96 calories and less than 2 grams of fat.  Succulent and a healthy food to boot!  We ate them with gusto every day and not worry about gaining extra pounds.

Lobster wit

Steve’s new favorite refrigerator magnet.

Enough said about the favorite crustacean, how about Maine’s coastline?   Get this, Maine’s convoluted coastline is 51 miles longer than California’s, at 3,478 miles – that’s if you count all the bays and tidal inlets.  So, off we went to journey along the mid-coast area, driving to Penobscot Bay.  It was being billed as the most scenic body of water on the eastern seaboard, with the “must see” towns of Rockland, Rockport and Camden.  This area also includes many historic lighthouses and museums, plus lots of shopping and excellent restaurants.

Penobscot Bay

View of Penobscot Bay with Camden Harbor just to the right of center.

Our first stop was in Rockland, where we walked across the mile-long granite Rockland Breakwater which was built in 1880.  The breakwater is now on the National Register of Historic Places and at the end of the granite pier sits The Rockland Breakwater Light.

At Marine Park in Rockport we enjoyed the small but busy sheltered harbor.  Here too are historic lime kilns used more than a century ago.

Marine Park, Rockport

Marine Park, Rockport, just half of the so picture perfect view

After paying an entrance fee to get into Camden Hills State Park, we hiked the overlapping Tablelands, Megunticook and Mt. Battie trails.  It was a fairly strenuous 4-mile round trip with steep pitches, as it climbed steadily to the ocean lookout.  At the top we were rewarded with a bird’s eye view of Camden Harbor, and the panorama of Penobscot Bay and its islands.

Camden Harbor

A closer look at a living postcard, Camden Harbor viewed from Tablelands Trail

Penobscot Bay

Penobscot Bay and its many islands, with Mount Desert Island  in the background

The southern coast of Maine is known for its beaches, dozens of lighthouses and endless boutiques, antique stores and museums.  We stopped at Wells, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Ogunquit.

Walkers Point

At Walker’s Point, the George HW Bush summer home in Kennebunkport.

At Perkins Cove, we followed a scenic cliff walk named Marginal Way for over a mile.  It meanders along the ocean and connects Perkins Cove to the town of Qgunquit.  It is a very popular trail and was crowded, even on a weekday.

Marginal Way

The Marginal Way Trail – very pretty walk but too crowded for us.

Ogunquit Beach

Ogunquit Beach

For the lighthouse lovers out there, Maine has 68 lighthouses.  We walked to and viewed a few of them.   Each is unique with its own heroic rescues and romantic stories, and it seems we never get tired of checking them out.  Most are automated now and some have been preserved as museums.

And with that, our Maine sojourn comes to an end.  This was our first time staying in Maine, but it won’t be the last – we really enjoyed the atmosphere and already know we must come back.  During our latest excursions here, our base camps were at Saltwater Farm Campground in Cushing, and at Moody Beach RV park in Wells.  If interested in Steve’s campground reviews, click here.

Next up:  The Freedom Trail, Boston MA

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Top of the World – Yukon, Canada

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We are playing catch up, we did not have internet connectivity for almost a week as we traveled back through Yukon Territory, Canada. So here’s our next little tale to be told: From Kenny Lake we headed back to Tok, the community that we first  visited  when we arrived in Alaska.

On our way back to Tok

On our way back to Tok

On this second stop in Tok, we decided to take a (long) day trip to the very cool town of Chicken and drive the Top of the World Highway.   Some people  take the Klondike Highway through Dawson City, Top of the World and Chicken on their way into Alaska.  We decided not to subject our Betsy  to almost 100 miles of gravel roads in bad condition, especially  in June before many highway repairs had been completed.  Instead, we drove our car from Tok to Chicken and then on across the Top of the World Highway.  Since it is 185 miles one-way from Tok to Dawson City, we had planned to spend the night there and then come back the next morning. However,  it was not to be, as all hotels were filled due to the Discovery Days celebration that was underway.  So, off we went at 7:00am to see how far we could get in one day and on a tank of gas.

Top of the world highway, Yukon Territory, Canada

Early Fall colors adorned the mountains, residents told us that around August 15th is considered the unofficial beginning of Fall.

The trip from Tok to Chicken on the Taylor highway took about an hour and 45 minutes, with the road varying from good to fair (had to slow to 25 mph in some gravel sections).  Chicken is a very cool funky little town, if you can call it. It is a living museum of gold-rush and Alaskan frontier history. As the story goes, the miners wanted to name the town Ptarmigan after the bird that is common in the area.  But folks had too much trouble spelling the unusual name so they settled on Chicken and the name stuck.  The town has a permanent  population of around 35 people.

The downtown is a series of small buildings shoved together with a walkway through all of them so one person can run the cafe, liquor store, saloon and gift shop.  Susan Wiren the proprietress and owner  of downtown Chicken runs this operation.  She is also a fantastic baker and made some of the best blueberry muffins and pies we have every tasted.  The gift store had some really cool unique “Chicken” gifts too, not the cheap corny stuff you see most of the time.  It’s worth the drive from Tok just to check this place out.  The other businesses here also offer their own unique attraction and as you can imagine this town is the place to find all manner of trinkets with a Chicken theme.

Moving on, we immediately hit the all-gravel road which varied from fair to poor condition.  There were many tight bends and steep hills along the way.  It was reported that several motorhomes had fallen off the edge of the road while pulling over to let people pass.  You see, the edge of the road is really nothing more than uncompressed gravel that was pushed there by a grader.  We hate it when our RV rolls down a mountainside, so really glad we took the car. Taylor Highway, Alaska wpid25702-2012-08-17-NC-1050511.jpg We climbed to the top of the Top of the World highway, which is about where you encounter the U.S. – Canada border.  After entering Canada we stopped for lunch at a beautiful overlook.  The vistas along this 50-mile section of the road were immense – mountain ranges and massive valleys as far as the eye can see – WOW! USA-Canada Border wpid25692-2012-08-17-NC-1120369.jpg wpid25694-2012-08-17-NC-1120375.jpg Top of the World Highway, Alaska

Top of the Workd Highway, Yukon Territory, Canada

How would you like to drive on this scenic highway, unpaved and gravel and all!

Top of the world highway, Yukon Canada

Driving on Top of the world was awesome

Although we did not complete the drive into Dawson City, we accomplished our goal of seeing and driving the Top of the World Highway and finally turned around for the long drive back home.  It was a 12-hour drive that allowed us to view some fantastic parts of the US. and Canada that few see.  And hey, it was kind of cool to drive out and have lunch in Canada! Poker Creek, Alaska We turned around and headed back to Alaska, crossing back into the U.S.  Since I had forgotten to eat my orange that I bought in Alaska and brought with me into Canada, I had to turn it in to the U.S. Customs folks.  No fruits or vegetables can be brought in across this border 😦 Welcome sign, AlaskaOn our way home we spotted only two wild animals.  Steve was excited to spot a badger along the road, and  several ptarmigans.

Back at our campground in Tok, we spent 4 nights this time through, so we could prepare our vehicles for the drive back down the tortuous roads of the Yukon.  We’re hoping some road repairs have occurred since our trip through in June.  We were very glad  to have another sunny day so we could take a long bike ride and sit outside to do our blogging. We met Jerry, who built the Tok RV Village park that we stayed in.  He talked about life in Alaska and how challenging it was to create a business here.  It is definitely the best RV park in town – check it out when you come through!

Next up:  Getting Ready to head back down the Alaska Highway