Monday, July 17, 2017

Washington County Vacation

Earlier this year we decided to take the kids on a camping trip in the summer, we decided on Washington County eventually choosing Keenes Lake Family Campground for three nights.  We would prefer Cobscook Bay State Park, but with my sleep apnea I can't go that long with out electricity for my cpap machine.

We headed out the morning of Tuesday July 11th getting Vanna all packed up and was on the road by 8:30am.  Our first stop wasn't until we reached Belfast so Kate could grab a coffee at Bell the Cat.  Just after leaving Belfast Canaan asked if we wanted to play a game where we keep track of all the out of state license plates that we see.  This became quite the event over the duration of our trip and Canaan kept track in his new journal.  We had a lot of fun with this and I will have the totals at the end of this post.

We stopped in Columbia Falls at Wild Blueberry Land, a tourist trap where the building is shaped like a blueberry.  It was kind of neat and a place I've always wanted to stop.  Ultimately for me it was just okay.  I bought a blueberry muffin so we could all sample one of there blueberry creations, it was ok, Wesley liked it.

Next we drove down the road to Addison to get a picture of Addison with her town.  Unlike Canaan, Addison is a very small town, not as small as Wesley, and I snapped a couple pictures of Addison near the Welcome To signs, the post office and fire department.

Out next stop was in Machias at Helen's Family Restaurant. It was my first time visiting there since the fire burnt it down in 2014.  It has changed a lot!  The food is still good and the pies look amazing!  We sat a three sided booth that was perfect, Wesley likes to sit on the bench and not use a highchair or booster because he's such a big kid.

I had ordered a Maine Street Club which was listed as a double decker BLT with ham and I requested no ham. The waitress came back out and said they were all out of deli turkey and asked if I wanted a grilled chicken breast on it. I said sure, but was confused because no where in the description was turkey listed.  At the end of the day my sandwich was absolutely delicious!!

We arrived at Keene's Lake Family Campground just before 3pm and upon check in was told that the cabin that I had reserved back in February was rented out.  Seriously!  Long and the short they could us up in a camper, but Kate HATED the location it was currently in, in a field with no fire pit 10 feet from another camper.  She said her husband could move it but he was in Ellsworth and wouldn't be home until 6pm at the earliest.

Kate and the kids were able to get to their swimming gear and they headed for the lake, mine was at the bottom of the tetris pile and I couldn't get to mine.  Once he finally got back and the camper was set up it was pretty near 7pm.  It wasn't an ideal situation but we made the best of it.

They put the camper in a nice secluded lot in the trees.  Kate got a fire stoked up and the kids roasted hot dogs for dinner.

Inside the Camper Kate and I slept in the "master" bedroom, we put the table down to set up Wesley's pack and play, and the kids slept on the bunks in the back.  My mom and Irving had a similar camper when I was a kid, the layout was different better in my opinion.  But the camper worked, we had a place to sleep for three nights and we were able to use the air conditioner the first two nights which made sleeping better.

Wednesday morning Kate made pancakes and sausage for breakfast, fantastic!  We then went swimming for a couple hours down in the lake.  The shore was not nice and sandy but rocky and unpleasant.  Once you waded in a ways it wasn't as bad but my flat feet did not appreciate it.  The kids LOVED the lake and spent a couple hours in it each day.

They especially loved the float that they could climb on and jump off making up games each time.  The amount of other kids that were there varied from day to day.  I even  climbed aboard a couple times throwing the kids off, mostly Canaan, several times before they "threw" me off.

After swimming we had lunch, I made Kate and I a couple awesome Turkey sandwiches the kids opted for peanut butter.  Wesley went down for a nap and I took the kids in town to Calais on a quest for Covered Bridge Potato Chips.  At the end of the day several stores and supermarkets were visited and none of them carried the delicious chip produced in neighboring New Brunswick.  I even called Covered Bridge and they said they were not aware of any stores in Calais that were carrying them.

Initially we planned on have a day in Canada but we discovered crossing the border with the kids would not be simple needing notarized documentation from their mother saying it was okay and more.  Kate and I decided to not do it, however regretted not bringing at least my passport card so I could hop over on my own and grab us some kettle cooked goodness.

Canaan wanted a loonie, at one store I stopped at all they had was a toonie so I got him that.  At a couple other stores he was told they could not sell him one.  Finally at an Irving I asked a gentleman with Nova Scotia plates if he had one I could buy off him, he did, but stated he technically owned by about 15-20 cents for the dollar I gave him.  Canaan was very appreciative and excited.

Before heading back to the campground we stopped at Whitlocks Mills Light, the northern most lighthouse in Maine.  The land is privately owned but you can see it from a scenic turnout off route 1.  You can actually see it better then it looks in the pictures.

Back at the campground Kate had managed to read about 100 pages of her book in the two hours we were gone.  We woke up Wesley and went to the St. Croix International Historic site.

The US side has a self guided walking trail complete was some very nice statues that tell the story of the colonist party that landed on St Croix Island in 1604.  It was pretty nice, at the end we went down to Red Beach which is not much of a beach as much as it's a collection of rocks.

Once again back at the campground Kate took Wesley to the playground and I took the kids back to the lake for an hour.  We were supposed to have access to a charcoal grill at the cabin and had brought burgers to cook on it and now we didn't have one. 

Earlier in the day at Marden's I bought this mini charcoal grill for $7, Kate cooked the burgers on it, but it was more of a hassle than it was worth.  The burgers were good.

Much like Tuesday and Thursday we finished the evening Wednesday around the campfire making smores and enjoying the fire.  This night Addison cooked me an amazing near perfect smore.

Thursday morning was met with rain.  Kate cooked up some french toast and bacon, once again breakfast was fantastic.  After cleaning up we headed out to explore starting in Lubec.

We went downtown where on the waterfront you can see Mulholland Point Lighthouse on Campobello Island, Canada.

Then checked out the small main street where the kid's mother's boyfriend's sister Shana has a pottery gallery, Cobscook Pottery.  It was closed but hours stated it would open at noon.

We went to West Quoddy Headlight which is the Eastern most point in the United States.  It is not lost on me that the Eastern Most Point has a lighthouse with West in the name of it.  The big kids and I explored the keepers house museum where Canaan signed the guest book for us.  We stopped at Lubec Channel Light on the way back to downtown.

We went back to downtown Lubec after to wait for Shana's shop to open.  When she arrived the kids were very excited to see her and she greeted them with big hugs.  We visited for a while, she gave us all a small pottery piece that she had made.  We got a vase that will go on the kitchen sink window sill for the flowers that Addison picks Kate.

We had lunch at a place Shana recommended Uncle Kippy's Korner.  The food was good and reasonably priced for the location, Kate had a meatball sub and the kids and I split a pizza.

We drove to Eastport and by the time we got there the sky had cleared and the sun came out.  Once in Eastport we grab a tasty treat at the Moose Island Bakery.  The eclairs were just as amazing as we remember and I let the kids get these huge cupcakes!

We walked around exploring the downtown shops and the sea walk.  While in Lubec I was showing Canaan a map that showed how close Lubec and Eastport were by water and an hour by land.  While on a dock in Eastport I pointed out to Canaan how you could see the Lubec water tower, church, and international bridge from Lubec into Campobello Island.

The fisherman's statue was still there and there was a new mermaid statue on the waterfront.  Canaan posed hilariously with it, however, Addison was disgusted that her boobs were bare and she didn't have seashells covering them.

On the way back to the camp we stopped in Perry at the 45th Parallel Gift Shop where the kids and Kate explored, Wesley and I stayed in the van.  Then we stopped at the actual 45th Parallel marker that Canaan found quite interesting.

Back at camp the kids went swimming for the last time and I let them stay in the water late about 7pm.  I made Kate and I turkey sandwiches and the kids roasted themselves hot dogs over the fire.  They really like doing that.  Canaan put a roasted marshmallow between two cowboy cookies and called it a smookie.  Kate had made a couple dozen peanut butter and cowboy cookies that we brought with us.

Thursday evening was much cooler and it kept the mosquitoes away.  We stayed up later as Kate burned through the rest of the wood, except what she set aside for Friday morning.  In total we bought 8 bundles from the campground, about a bundle was left behind from a previous camper, and we all gathered about 4 or 5 more in the woods around camp.  We enjoyed fires each morning and evening and anytime we were at camp.

Friday morning we ate breakfast and were packed up and ready to go by 9:30am, which was great timing.  We stopped off at the St. Croix International Historic Site visitors center, the kids had picked up booklets they had to fill out to become Junior Park Rangers Wednesday and we were dropping them off.  The kids had to take the oath and be sworn in where they received a sticker, temporary tattoo, and Junior Ranger patch.  The patch is really nice.

The drive home on Route 9 was quite boring.  The only plus is the majority you can drive really fast!  Our plan was to stop in Wesley to snag a photo of Wesley in Wesley, but he was sleeping and we didn't want to wake him.

We hit construction a few miles out side Bangor that added quite a bit of time to our travels, it was annoying because we were all getting hungry.  We had lunch at Chic-Fil-A, no surprise there, which the kids love as do we.

The drive from Bangor went well and we got home about 2:30pm.  It was nice to be home, even nicer to take a shower and get cleaned up.  Kate went back to Bangor with Jesse for the Cyndi Lauper & Rod Stewart concert at the waterfront, she had a great time.

You could say Saturday morning concluded the vacation as we went to the laundry mat because our washer is still broken.

All in all it was a fantastic vacation and everyone had a great time.

Later Readers!

License Plate Game

We saw thirty four, technically 35 states including Maine and seven Canadian Provinces.  One car with a Maine registration on the rear featured an English plate on the front, not sure if it was an actual plate or decorative but it was neat.  There were several non-Maine plates that we saw that we couldn't tell what they were.

United States
Massachusetts 98
New York 71
New Hampshire 59
Connecticut 36
Virginia 22
Vermont 17
New Jersey 15
Maryland 14
Ohio 10
Florida 9
Colorado 8
Rhode Island 8
Michigan 6
Indiana 4
California 3
Illinois 3
Oregon 3
South Carolina 3
Alaska 2
Delaware 2
North Carolina 2
Pennsylvania 2
South Dakota 2
Tennessee 2
New Mexico
Washington State


New Brunswick 161
Ontario 12
Nova Scotia 8
Quebec 4
Prince Edward Island 3
New Foundland

Government 5
England 1

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Scenic Drive on Route 113

Monday June 26th was the final day of my mini four day vacation, which had been a lot of fun so far. Kate took the day off so we took the opportunity to have a day trip adventure.

We hit the road a little after eight in the morning after I dropped the kids off at the Boy's and Girl's Club where they would be spending their days this summer.  Along the way to our first top in Fryeburg we hit construction on route 302 and were stopped on next to Moose Pond over looking Shawnee Peak.

We arrived at Weston's Farm & Market, located on route 113, which has been in operation as a farm on this land since 1799.

The market has a selection of local books and area specific souvenirs. The market has a few locally grown vegetables, meats, soda's, cheese, cookies, pies, pastries, and more.  Off course during the harvest season they have even more.  I bought a two molasses cookies that are made at the Mountain Side Bakery in Brownfield, we all loved them.

I also bought some cheddar aged 4 - 5 years made by the Yankee Cheeseman, it is fantastic!  Their website is extremely basic only listing fairs he will be at where you can buy the cheese.  It also says they will ship it, but the types of cheese and prices are not listed.  The clerk said her brother or brother-in-law makes the cheese nearby in New Hampshire.

When trying to figure out where to go on a day trip I was looking at the map, we love the White Mountains, and route 113 winds back and forth between Maine and New Hampshire right through the White Mountain National Forest and as we hadn't driven it before it seemed like something we would like, and we did!

During my research I learned that a large section of the road is closed in the winter I couldn't find as to why but thought it can't be that bad.  We've taken Vanna on some questionable roads in the past but this was a State Route so how bad could it be?  When Kate saw the signs about road being closed in the winter she immediately questioned it.  I summarized it couldn't be any worse than the Hemlock Bridge road that is dirt and closed in the winter.

We determined the reason the road is closed is because of the steep elevation climb when you are going North on it, and of course steep decline South.  That as no one lives on that stretch it's not worth plowing it.  Incidentally the road it paved enough for two car widths with little to no shoulder at times and its a beautiful drive.

There are several hiking trails along the road and it features the best Welcome to Maine sign I have ever seen!

We reached the top of Evan's Notch which has an elevation of 1,458 feet.  Apparently water from there flows south to the Saco River and north to the Androscoggin River.  There is also a grave marker or a memorial for Errold O Donohue who was a World War 1 veteran who died in 1963.

I can't find anything online as to why this marker is here, I do find it odd though being a National Forest that it is there.

Leaving the notch we continued north towards Gilead.  Along the way Kate spied a footbridge that we turn around and visited.  Spanning the Wild River from what I can find there was a previous suspension bridge located at this site.

Wesley took great joy running back and forth on it while Kate and I kept bringing him rocks that he could throw into the water below, something he takes great joy in.

Once we hit Route 2 in Gilead he headed into New Hampshire for lunch at Mountain Fire Pizza in Gorham.  Kate had found this place on a list naming it the best pizza in New Hampshire and while it was delicious I couldn't rank it the best, that would be La Festa Pizza in Dover.

As I said though, lunch was quite good.  We each got a small pizza, my standard pepperoni and she a Margherita. We also split an appetizer with french fries and scratch made mozzarella bites, they were excellent and the marinara sauce that came with them was also fantastic.

After lunch we headed back to Maine taking route 35 south once we hit Bethel.  We stopped briefly in Lynchville to take a picture of the famous Maine sign naming towns with names of foreign countries and their distance from there.  This sign has been on postcards for years.  There is another on like it in China and another about twelve miles down the road in Norway.

Whoever owns the land next to the sign has decorated their yard with all kinds lawn ornaments and carvings, including a six foot tall Sasquatch!

Driving on route 118 to Norway we came upon Lake Pennesseewassee Park where we stopped as they sign showed swimming was available.  I'm glad we stopped because they had a really nice little sand beach and the water beautiful.  Wesley spent a good 35 minutes in the water, Kate and I waded in up to our calves.

Had the beach not been kid friendly they did have a two large areas withe playground equipment he could have used.  He certainly appreciated being able to get out of the van and run around.

As I wrote earlier there was a sign similar to the one in Lynchville in Norway in the parking lot of The Lake Store.  I went inside to grab a soda and I'm sure glad I did!  The store is decorated all over with old signs, thermometers, tin cans, serving trays, and more.  It's amazing!  I snagged a lot of pictures. So glad I stopped in!

I attempted to find a bakery, Kate and I like to get a sweet treat on these trips and Wesley always likes a cookie!  The two in the Norway area that I found were both closed, as a matter of fact a lot of stores were closed on Monday once we started looking.

I did find her a bakery but not until we got to Lewiston and Grants Bakery.  I didn't know until after we left that she had never been there before.  She got a chocolate and peanut butter roll slice, Wesley an M&M cookie, and I got myself the Whoopie Pie of the month, Lemon cake with lemon filling!

This was one of our shorter drives at just over 225 miles, but it was a wicked fun day!  Not sure what's next for a day trip for us, however we are going camping in a couple weeks up in Calais for three nights with the kids!  We can't wait!

Later Readers!