New England – June 2015

New England, Acadia National Park, and Niagara Falls

We have talked about visiting New England since we were newlyweds. This summer, we decided it was time to go!

Our work schedule opened up so that we had a nice 10-day window of opportunity.

MONDAY – June 15

We left on a Monday morning and drove diagonally up through Pennsylvania on 2-lane roads. We like to avoid the interstates whenever possible.  The slower pace puts you more in touch with your surroundings, and we often find interesting places that you miss on the interstates (like Mom&Pop Diners – our favorite stops!)

We didn’t take many photos going up through Pennsylvania since it is much like West Virginia.

Our first night’s stop was at Tobyhanna Army Depot in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania.  We often stay at military base lodging since it is usually clean, safe, and a good bargain.  This was our room – one of just four in the building.
Walking in to the living room. There was also a full kitchen as well as the bedroom and large bathroom.
After settling in, we headed out to make a loop around the Delaware Water Gap
that runs along the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border.
Along the way, we stopped at Dingmans Falls Trail and hiked back to the falls.
Dingmans Falls.  How peaceful! 
We started our trip with a waterfall on the first day, and ended our trip a week later at another waterfall.


After a great night’s sleep, we were on the road early (as usual) heading northeast through the Poconos of Pennsylvania and the Catskills of New York.  We both agreed that neither of these areas has anything over West Virginia. When the leaves change colors this fall, we will be riding around West Virginia enjoying the beauty in our own home-state. 

One of many covered bridges in the Catskills.
View of the Catskills along the covered bridge.
As we approached the east end of the Catskills Park, we saw a sign for Woodstock. Yes, THE Woodstock!  We couldn’t resist this short detour. However, the famous concert was held over 40 miles away, so we didn’t get to relive that summer of 1969 (when we were both 11 years old).
The Woodstock Chamber of Commerce.
We found a great lunch at the Bread Alone café across the street – turkey sandwich with a tasty cranberry sauce.

Bing Maps “Streetside” car was in Woodstock.
  When it is published, you will see us walking down the street in Woodstock!
Groovy, man!
I let Beth drive for an hour, and look what happened!
Actually, welcome to the town of Florida, Massachusetts.
Shortly, we found our way back to Vermont for just a few miles.
That night, we stayed in Keene, New Hampshire.


After a great breakfast at the hotel (Best Western), we were on the road again.

 Destination today – Acadia National Park, Maine

We finally made it to Maine after talking about it for years.
Shortly after this, Beth started her serious lookout for moose.
We stopped in Gardiner, Maine for lunch.
 I actually missed a turn and ended up downtown in this interesting old town.
After looking around, we agreed on lunch at Lisa’s Legit Burritos.
Lisa’s Legit Burritos Website

Two double-wrapped (hard shell inside a hard shell) tacos. Yummy!
With many miles to go, we headed through Portland, Maine and up to State Rt 1 along the coast of Maine. We made it to our hotel (Hampton Inn in Ellsworth, just outside the entrance to Acadia National Park) by late afternoon.
We were hungry, so we headed to Betty’s Hilltop House in Ellsworth for some seafood.
We beat the supper crowd.
We split the Captain’s Platter.  Cod, scallops, clams, and shrimp. And French fries, of course!
Acadia National Park is located on the northern half of Mt. Desert Island. The southern half has a loop through several small towns and goes to a nice lighthouse on the far tip.  We will do this loop (about 25-30 miles) tonight so we can concentrate on the park tomorrow. By the way, our hotel was just off the top of the map above Trenton.
In early September 1604, French explorer Samuel de Champlain ran aground on a rock ledge believed to be just off Otter Cliffs, and when he came ashore to repair his boat he met local natives. Champlain named the island Isles des Monts Deserts, meaning “island of barren mountains”—now called Mount Desert Island, the largest in Maine. 
After dinner, we decided to do a loop of the “free” side of Desert Island. 
This is the harbor at Trenton.
Bass Harbor Light Station located on the far southern tip of the island.

THURSDAY – June 18

We awoke early and were at Acadia National Park to buy a pass ($25 for one week is the cheapest ticket).

Then we began our loop clockwise around the north part of Mt Desert Island.

One of the first overlooks.  Located between Hulls Cove and Bar Harbor. 
Sand Beach.  Located on the southeast corner of the island.
This is an interesting pattern in the sand left with the receding tide.
What appears to be a tidal basin that fills up at high tide then is left isolated at low tide.
Sand Beach is very visible just above Newport Cove in the upper middle of this photo.
Next, we continue our loop south around Otter Cove.
At our next stop, Beth noticed these picturesque pine cones.  Very New England!
There were lots of flowers growing on the rugged, windy shoreline.
Check out the one beginning to bloom in the lower right.
View from just south of Sand Beach.
Another view south of Sand Beach, near Thunder Hole.
Thunder Hole is a rock formation on the shore that channels incoming waves into a huge spout. However, the tides and winds were calm, so no show today.
The Loop Road circles around Otter Cove.
Our next stop was a hike up South Bubble. Located near the center of the island,
there is a unique feature worth the strenuous 1/2-mile climb to the summit.  (See next photo)
Just around the corner from the previous photo on the summit is this large boulder precariously balanced on the edge of this rock ledge. Apparently, this area was once covered in glaciers, and the ice carried this boulder along for thousands of years before depositing it on the top of this mountain. The boulder is about 20 feet high.
Our next stop just up the road from Bubble Rock is Cadillac Mountain, the tallest point on the island.
On the drive up the winding road, I commented how this looks so much like the peak of Spruce Knob in West Virginia.
Here is a panorama view from the summit of Cadillac Mountain looking northeast over the town of Bar Harbor.
Cadillac Mountain summit with the town of Bar Harbor in the background.
We’re heading down there for lunch next.
Walking along the streets of Bar Harbor. Lots of interesting shops.
After looking around, we decided on Fisherman’s Grill for lunch.
Lobster claws and lobster bisque soup.  Mmmmmm….
Enjoying lunch overlooking the harbor.
After lunch, we drove around the island loop (30 miles) one more time before heading back to the hotel.
Tomorrow, we will head up the coast of Maine to the eastern-most point in the continental USA.

FRIDAY – June 19

Heading up Rt 1 (Coastal Highway) of Maine, just north of Acadia National Park.
We noticed lots of lupine along the road. This was common in Alaska.
Here is a bud beginning to open up.
Another bud almost fully open.
And there were several pink lupine, which we had not seen before.
Wild Blueberry Land in Columbia Falls, Maine. Wow – You gotta see this! 
About 100 miles northeast of Acadia NP is the town of Lubec, Maine.
The Easternmost Town In The U.S.
We drove out the side road to this lighthouse on the easternmost tip of US soil.
A more scenic photo of the easternmost point. 
Here’s what the end of the road looks like on our GPS. 
That blue area up ahead is the Bay of Fundy and the Atlantic Ocean.
Just for curiosity, I wanted to see how far it is to Morgantown.  This is the most direct route, which we did not take.
I think we had gone about 1,200 miles at this point (not including sightseeing).
Just across the border from Lubec is a Canadian Island with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s summer home of Campobello.
We had our passports, so it was an easy side trip across the bridge.

Campobello has always relied heavily on fishing as the mainstay of the island economy; however, the Passamaquoddy Bay region’s potential for tourism was discovered during the 1880s. Campobello Island became home to a similar, although much smaller and more exclusive, development following the acquisition of some island properties by several private American investors. A luxurious resort hotel was built and the island became a popular summer colony for wealthy Canadians and Americans, many of whom built grand estates there.

Included in this group were Sara Delano and her husband James Roosevelt Sr.  Sara Delano had a number of Delano cousins living in Maine, and Campobello offered a beautiful summer retreat where their family members could easily visit. From 1883 onward, the Roosevelt family made Campobello Island their summer home. Their son, Franklin D. Roosevelt, would spend his summers on Campobello from the age of one until, as an adult, he acquired a larger property — a 34-room “cottage” — which he used as a summer retreat until 1939. It was at Campobello, in August 1921, that the future president fell ill with a paralytic illness, at the time thought to be polio, which resulted in his total and permanent paralysis from the waist down. Roosevelt did strive for seven years to regain use of his legs but never again walked unassisted.

subsequently donated the cottage to the U.S. and Canadian governments in 1963 as an international park. The Roosevelt Campobello International Park is the only one of its kind because it is run by both the Canadian and American governments, the park being located in Canadian territory. The park is now equally staffed by both Americans and Canadians.

(From Wikipedia)

Entrance to the Campobello International Park Visitor Centre
(yes, that’s how they spell it in once-French Canada)
Roosevelt family photo 1920
The family “cottage”
We walked through the house, enjoying much of the actual furniture from FDR’s time.
Campobello dining room
Campobello living room with a nice view out to the harbor
Campobello kitchen

And, of course, the brand name of the stove was……. (look under the oven door)
There was a small propane stove used during the hot summers.
Campobello pantry and small dining table. 
It was past noon and time to head back to the good ol’ USA.
Driving back through Lubec, we stopped at a seafood restaurant we saw on the way up.
Uncle Kippy’s Fresh Seafood.  The parking lot was full of locals, so it must be good.
Even the local postmaster was there with her husband for lunch.
We love Mom&Pop diners. Much more interesting than chain restaurants.

Lunch is served:  Clam chowder (Left) and Cod & Fries (Right). Delicious!

With our tummies full, it was time to head west towards Bangor.
(pronounced Bang-gore, not Banger)
This gal was making her way west also, but at a slightly slower pace. She had been digging in the sand by the side of the road.  We stopped to direct any traffic around until she crossed, but only 1 car came by.  Less than an hour later we saw another large turtle crossing  the road. 
I think we took another wrong turn.
Welcome to the town of Mexico, Maine.
As we approached the western side of Maine near New Hampshire (and this was the only night we did not have hotel reservations), we discovered a large bicycle tour of Maine was in the area. All rooms were booked. We kept driving towards New Hampshire, but saw nothing. Finally, about 7pm, we took a wrong turn in Bethel, Maine and ended up in this historic downtown section. Beth said, “That looks interesting.”  We stopped and it turned out to be nice and clean, and half the price of chain hotels in the area.  And, it was on a quiet street a mile from the noisy highway. Yeah!
Older, but well-maintained and clean.  The air conditioner worked well, and the beds were comfy.
We took a walk since we had been sitting in the car all day (450+ miles).
It was an interesting old town with several traditional looking old churches.
The Bethel City Park had a nice gazebo and walking area.  Very peaceful.
The only 2 moose we saw in Maine. 

SATURDAY – June 20

We awoke and headed west into New Hampshire to see the Mt Washington area. There is a route up the mountain for driving,

but it was closed as hundreds of runners lined up for a foot race.  Oh well.

Just south of Mt. Washington at Conway, we turned west on the Kancamagus Highway.
The highway runs through the White Mountains along the Swift River, with many scenic points like this.
New Hampshire Route 112 (abbreviated NH 112) is a 56.387-mile-long (90.746 km) east–west state highway in northern New Hampshire. The highway winds across the state via the scenic and mountainous area of the White Mountain National Forest.   Part of this highway, which runs through the White Mountains, is known as the Kancamagus Highway. This highway is known for its views of autumn foliage and is a popular drive in September and October for so-called leaf peeping tourism.  (From Wikipedia)
Read more about the Kancamagus Highway on Wikipedia

At the edge of the river in the previous photo, Beth said, “I think that is a moose print.”  We had been hoping to see a moose for the past week, so I replied, “Yes, dear, it does absolutely look like a moose print.”  Everyone is happy now.
Continuing on the Kancamagus Highway.  View of the White Mountains ahead.
Farther along, the mountains get taller and more steep.
Another scenic river view at a bridge crossing.
Notice the foot bridge for a hiking trail in the distance.
We pulled over at this spot since there was a sign for the Appalachian Trail crossing the highway.
The Appalachian Trail runs about 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine.
Read more about the Appalachian Trail.

Where the Appalachian Trail crossed the Kancamagus Highway.
Another view of the area.
Swiftwater Covered Bridge, Bath NH

View inside the covered bridge.
Soon, we crossed into Vermont and started smelling ice cream! Yes, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream headquarters is in Vermont, and we were going right by it!  How could we NOT stop?
Ready to tour the Ben&Jerry’s factory.
The grand entrance.
The gift shop, where you can buy these great fake spills. 
Trophy case of the top flavors.
After the tour, we each got a very generous free sample of today’s feature flavor – Half Baked. Yummy!
During the tour, a gentleman asked me about my WVU shirt. After we talked a bit, he said he was a professor at WVU. What a coincidence. I asked what he taught, and he replied, “Aerospace Engineering”. (Our son graduated last year with a double major – Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering).  I asked if he knew Spencer, and he said yes and remembered he graduated last year.  He had taught a few of Spencer’s classes. WHAT A COINCIDENCE!  Well, I couldn’t resist a joke on Spencer. I asked Dr. Nix to “photo-bomb” us so we could send a photo to Spencer and see if he noticed.  He happily obliged.  And, yes, Spencer noticed.
After we left Ben & Jerry’s, it was time to head northwest to the border of Vermont and New York at Lake Champlain.
Coming in from the lower right corner of the photo, we took Rt 2 up through the Grand Isle and North Hero, a long series of islands reaching to the Canadian border.   We crossed into New York within sight of Canada.
Historical Marker along the way.
Lake Champlain on both sides of the road. Beautiful drive!!
View of boats on Lake Champlain.
One of many bridges between the islands.
The final bridge – into New York.
Rouses Point, the first city as you enter New York from Lake Champlain.

After looking at the GPS, we realized we were behind schedule (although we didn’t really have a strict schedule). We were nearly 200 miles from Ft Drum, NY (our lodging reservations for that night) and it was already 4pm.  Most of the roads went through many 35MPH towns, so we were not making great time.

Although we had planned to spend the next day backtracking through the Adirondacks to sightsee, one trip through convinced us it was not even as scenic as West Virginia.  We decided that the next day, we would head straight to Niagara Falls to have more time there.  Turned out to be a great decision.

We passed through Lake Placid, NY, an Olympic training site and scene of the 1980 Winter Olympics.
This large building up ahead was one of the event centers (see the 5 rings above the center windows).
We stopped for pizza, walked around a little, and moved on.
We arrived at Fort Drum, NY at about 8:30pm. It had been a long day.  Base lodging was very good.

SUNDAY – June 21

We awoke after a great night’s sleep to a great breakfast at base lodging. Since we only had about 200 miles to go today, we took our time and looked around base in the morning. We stopped at the Commissary and stocked up on Lucky Charms cereal and other necessities.  At 10am, we headed out of the gate to follow the shoreline of the St Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.

Millens Bay, New York, looking out on the St. Lawrence River.
There were dozens of small bays like this along the shoreline.
Interestingly, many parts of the area away from the waterfront reminded me of Wisconsin.
Lots of dairy farms and Holsteins.
We stopped to stretch at Cape Vincent, where the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario meet.
A nice peaceful place to sit at Cape Vincent.  St. Lawrence River in background.
We watched a mother duck with her family.
We saw signs for Tibbetts Point Lighthouse, New York and followed a narrow road about 2 miles
 to a point where the St. Lawrence River actually meets Lake Ontario. 
The foghorn building (to the left) and the lighthouse.
Lighthouse and foghorn building.
Inside the foghorn building with the air compressors. 
For more information on the Tibbet’s Point Lighthouse:
After this, we continued down the shoreline of Lake Ontario.
We stopped for lunch at a nice family restaurant and split another seafood platter (yummy!). Just as we thought we were done, the waitress brought out a brownie with ice cream and chocolate. “Happy Father’s Day!”  Free dessert for Dads today.  How nice! 
We pulled into base lodging at the Air Force Reserve Base at Niagara Falls International Airport.  Wonderful new lodging building and the staff was very helpful with information on Niagara Falls.

MONDAY – June 22

Niagara Falls!

Following the advice of the lady at base lodging check-in, we drove down early (7am) to the Seneca-Niagara Casino and parked free in their parking garage (out of the hot sun), only 3 or 4 blocks to the falls. 

As we walked through the casino, we signed up for free Players Club cards, which were loaded with $10 to start us off at the slots.

Great – free parking and $10 each to play the slots! We’re off to a good start.

The weather was beautiful – sunny and 60s in the morning and low 80s by late afternoon.

After buying an Explorer Pass ($38 each gets us a ride on the Maid of the Mist, passes to Cave of the Winds, the Aquarium, the 40-minute I-Max movie about the falls, and unlimited trolley rides around the area), we walked out to the observation area to take the elevator down to the Maid of the Mist.
Map of the area. We are currently at #1 on the map. Later, we will walk over to Goat Island at spot #2 and take the elevator down to the Cave of the Winds.  At the end of the day, we will walk across the Rainbow Bridge (far upper right corner of the photo) to Canada.
It’s nice being early birds!  We were 4th and 5th in line for the first trip of the Maid of the Mist that morning. Here she is coming up to the dock. 
Maid of the Mist Website
Dressed in our official Maid of the Mist ponchos. We needed them!!
On our way past the American Falls to the Canadian horseshoe falls.
Getting soaked by the Canadian Falls.  The noise was incredible!!
To give you an idea of how close we were, look closely at this photo. There are 2 ships.
We were at the spot under the falls where the 2nd one is, in the upper left corner of the photo.
After the Maid of the Mist, we hiked up the walkway to the base of the American Falls.
After taking the elevator back up to the Visitor Center, we enjoyed this panoramic view of both falls.
Nice rainbow from the mist.
There was a trolley leaving for Goat Island, so we hopped aboard.
Next stop – Cave of the Winds, at the base of Bridal Veil Falls.
This time, we were given yellow ponchos and sandals.
We packed our dry shoes and socks in plastic bags.
Hundreds of seagulls call these rocks home.
Between the American Falls and Canadian Falls is this lesser-known Bridal Veil Falls. It is separated from the American Falls by Luna Island (visible above with the people on the viewing platform).
Another soaking at the base of Bridal Veil Falls.
 It’s as noisy as 100 freight trains speeding by.
Now I know why they give you souvenir sandals to wear.
That’s Beth heading up the stairs. Isn’t she brave!!
Lucky, it was warm enough that the cold water felt good on our feet.
Another portrait at the falls.
Back up on the upper level,  this is the view of Luna Island.  
You can’t see the water passing between here and there that goes over Bridal Veil Falls.
If you were in the water, this is the last thing you would see before you went over the Bridal Veil Falls.
Above the Bridal Veil Falls, this is the peaceful setting.
I wonder how many early travelers got this far on their canoes and said, “uh-oh!”.
The pedestrian bridge between Luna Island and Goat Island.
This is the water that will be going over Bridal Veil Falls in just a few seconds.
Luna Island viewing platform, we looked down to where we were just getting soaked a few minutes earlier.
The mist makes for almost constant rainbows around the falls.
View of the American Falls opposite the Visitor Center. 
You can see the observation platform and elevator down to the Maid of the Mist.
It was lunchtime and we headed back to the casino.
One thing we have discovered in our travels – Casinos usually have great buffets!
One of several large game rooms at the casino.

We found the buffet to be outstanding, with areas serving food from different areas of the world – Mediterranean, Asian, American, and more.  We also found that one of our passes includes “Buy One Get One Free”, so we both ate for $17.00.  

(But wait – there’s more to that story later)

After a great lunch, it was time to hit the slots. 
Being a big Wheel Of Fortune fan, Beth had to try out that game first.
Look at that concentration!
I headed to the penny slots where you gamble from 1 to 5 cents each play.  On my second or third game, I won $10.40!  Over the next hour, we collected several cashout tickets from the machines.
At the end of the free money loaded on our cards, we had $16.67 in winnings.
Woo-hoo!  Big winners.  $16.67
This means we parked free, and the 2 lunch buffets cost us 33 cents.
Not a bad day!
Basking in the glow of our newfound wealth, we headed to the Rainbow Bridge to walk over to Canada.
On our way across the Rainbow Bridge to Canada.

At the midway point of the bridge is the border – USA to the left and Canada to the right.
Great view of both falls and the gorge from the bridge.
Another view of both falls.
A self portrait in Canada. Since we have been to Canada several times before, we decided not to go through customs, and just walked around the area at the end of the bridge. 
Back in the USA, we headed to the Aquarium to use our Explorer Pass ticket.
There was a show starting  with a trained seal.  Lots of fun.
Here, the seal jumps about 15 feet out of the water to “kiss” a hanging ball.
After that, we walked back to the car, sitting nice and cool in the shade of the parking garage.

Our next stop was supper with friends that we knew in Alaska 20+ years ago. Pete and Cathy Dauphin were neighbors (and Pete was in the Air Force Band with Mike), and they had several kids both older and younger than Spencer.  We haven’t seen them since 1992.  They live about 30 miles away in Middleport and offered to drive down and meet us for supper at Longhorn Steak House.

Wonderful dinner with Pete and Cathy Dauphin. 
It was great catching up on over 20 years of news and how the kids are all doing.

The end of a wonderful day and a wonderful week!!

Hope you enjoyed following us on our 2015 Vacation to New England!