2013 … A Dream Year

angel  004What a year!  We traveled a total of 9,448 miles in Island Girl, from Florida to Maine to Canada, then south and west reaching Arizona by the end of the year.  We visited 18 states and 4 Canadian provinces.  In October we reached a couple of milestones:  one year of fulltiming and one year of blogging.

Whew!  Here’s a month-by-month recap of our dream year:

January – visited with friends and family in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.

February – stepped back into nature at Everglades National Park.

March – a nice long stay in Funky Key West for ocean fun and an awesome air show.

April – a busy month: first north and west to the Gulf Coast of Florida for more family time, then back east to the John F. Kennedy Space Center and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, north to St. Augustine, and north again to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and the low country of South Carolina, and finally to Atlanta to see old friends.

May – visited the Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Washington, D.C., then ended the month in New York City and upstate New York where we visited more family and friends.

June – a quick stop in Boston and then on to beautiful Maine.

Here was our route for the first half of the year.

July – crossed the border into Canada on the 1st, and spent the month in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  Discovered absolutely astounding people and places.

August – visited idyllic Prince Edward Island, buggy Kouchibuguac National Park in New Brunswick, then over to Quebec to the gorgeous and oh so French Gaspé Peninsula.

September – visited the St. Lawrence River in Quebec where we saw an amazing number of whales and concluded our fantastic Canadian summer in charming Quebec City, then crossed the border back to the U.S. to enjoy the beautiful Vermont autumn.

October – continued leaf-peeping in Vermont, then began our westward journey with stops at Niagara Falls, then Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky,St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, visiting friends and family along the way.

November – a stop in Denver, where the journey began, to get annual checkups for all and check in with friends and family.  Then south to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

December – another busy month.  Traveled around New Mexico, south to Albuquerque, then further south to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and Las Cruces, then crossed the border to Arizona and ended our most unforgettable year in Tucson.

And here was our route for the second half

Some things we learned:

We ran a little hot this year, with an average stay of 8 nights at our 45 stops, not complaining, it was fabulous, but we’d like to slow it down a bit this year and try staying longer in each place.

We set a goal of no more than four hours driving time between stops and for the most part kept to it; averaging 185 miles per trip, but a couple of the trips were still way too long.

denver  038We stayed too far north too late into the year, and plan to head south earlier next year to avoid frigid cold and snow (although the falling snow was beautiful).

Crossing from the east coast to the west coast really took a toll on us, we were tired puppies by the time we reached Denver, and plan to stay in the West next year.

Our planning paid off in some fabulous campsites, on the other hand, we discovered that it’s best to have a balance of planned and unplanned stops.

Re-connecting with family and friends, and making new friends along the way has been one of the most important parts of our journey.

NYE2014  002And we learned to be grateful each and every day, we are so fortunate!

We wish you all a very Happy  and Healthy New Year in 2014!

~ Brenda, Hector and Angel

One Year Fulltiming!

 

Leaving Colorado 1

Leaving Colorado 2It’s true, we’ve now passed the one-year mark since we began our journey.  It has been a rich and full experience and yet time has passed very quickly.

Before I forget, I’ll answer a question that was asked just before we left:  What if we don’t like it?  Well, we love it.  Even though the first time I woke up in Island Girl knowing that I’d be living here for a while, my first thought was – What have I done? – I quickly came to love it and have never looked back.Isl Grl Redo  004

In fact, I was surprised at how easily I adjusted, particularly to the confined quarters. Hector and I decorated our new little 400 square foot home just as we had our other homes, and we really enjoy our interior space.

And we’re also really happy with our upgrades and our custom office space.   Hector is able to work on his Apple computer (the photographer gets the big computer) in our comfy chair by the desk, while I work on our laptop on our comfy couch simultaneously.halifax

Island Girl feels downright roomy with her 39’ length, and we have plenty of storage space.

And the journey has far exceeded our expectations. We’ve spent quality time with friends and family across the country, many of whom we’d not seen in waaay too long.  And other friends have come to visit.

Along the way we’ve also met lots of different people, learned new things, and just enjoyed spending quality time together.  We’ve visited a total of 14 states, including parts of the Midwest, South and Northeast.

We’ve experienced the lovely Arkansas autumn, Buffalo National River  024the fabulous gulf coast of Florida,Henderson Beach   080

the wild and subtle beauty of the Everglades,flower  024

and the wilder side of Florida in general. Ft Myers  056

We returned to the “black” waters of the Okefenokee Swamp,Swamp 011

and to the Great Smoky Mountains.Smokies  007

We visited the Outer Banks of North Carolina, OBX  055

and spent the beginning of our summer on the breathtaking coast of Maine.Penobscot  169

keys  021We traveled to extreme opposites; in Key West, Florida, we stood at the southernmost point of the U.S.sunset  027

And months later made it to the furthest northeast state of Maine.boothbay harbor  095

We spent just under 12 weeks in Canada, where we visited four provinces and learned a ton about our neighbor to the north.

There we saw the amazing tides of the Fundy Coast,New Brunswick117

the unique rock formations and the beautiful lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove,peggy 25

and the rugged beauty of Cape Breton Island.cape breton  030cape breton  011We traveled to the southern tip of Nova Scotia, brier 50along the gorgeous landscapes of Prince Edward Island,

PEI  161

and the spectacular Gaspé Peninsula,Perce  073

where we visited its Northern Gannet colony in Ile de Bonaventure.Perce  049

We saw the whales of the St. Lawrence River,st lawrence  115

and took many walks around beautiful Québec City.quebec city  046

And Angel visited rivers, lakes, rocky and sandy beaches, forests, went boating on various boats and ferries, and even went whale watching.River Dog  006

In total, Island Girl traveled 8,534 miles this first year.

And Hector and I have grown even closer during this journey.  Living together in such tight quarters can bring out the best or the worst in couples and sometimes both.  We’ve been married for a very long time and are very comfortable spending lots of of our time together while traveling.  Even after all of that we had a few grumpy patches along the road, but ultimately found our groove.

And, interestingly, some of the working aspects of RVing helped us to strengthen our partnership.  I named a previous post about leaving and arriving at our destinations “The Departure Dance”.  And I really do believe that there is a choreography that you both create and “perform” on a regular basis.  But it’s important that the choreography feels right for both of you.

That extends to the day-to-day chores and responsibilities as well.  Learning to support each other in a way that takes into account each of your likes, dislikes, talents and skills can make the journey much more enjoyable.

Rv Repair SedaliaAnd, not surprising to any RVers out there, we’ve discovered that things tend to go wrong in the most inconvenient of times.

The first time was on the first week we were on the road, when our water inlet broke.  Another time, our refrigerator broke down on a Sunday, the day before we planned to cross the border into Canada.

The first Hector fixed himself, the second, we found someone who was able to fix it.  But we learned that when things go wrong (not if, but when), we should:

  • Stay calm
  • Ask for advice and/or help, there is a very helpful community out there
  • Be flexible
  • Have or make a plan B

footAt the same time, it’s been difficult to be away from most of our friends and family in Denver, and we really miss them.  But we can always visit and plan to soon.

And there have been other challenges along the way; minor medical issues and having to figure out which doctor to go to in unfamiliar places.  The same for finding veterinarians.

And, less critical challenges like not having access to cell phones, internet or TV (sometimes a good thing) in some places.

But right now we wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for anything else.  And we are continually learning and growing.  For me this blog has been a huge learning experience.  I’m not the most tech savvy person, and when we began this blog, we knew nothing about blogging.  But I took on the task of figuring out how to get started, and spent several frustrating weeks using the process of elimination to figure out certain aspects of the blog.

Well, we just passed the 100 post mark on the blog.  And it’s is another example of working as a team.  Hector is in charge of the photography, I write the posts.  Then we combine the two.  From organizing how to divide the subjects to creating the final product, we support each other.   Sometimes we collaborate from the beginning, other times we work independently and get together at the end. The blog is another choreography.

departures  009

When I started writing this post, Hector wrote me a little note with some numbers and fun facts from the year.  He ended the note with “i love you still”.  And I feel the same way.

And the journey continues.

~ Brenda

The Towns of Mount Desert Island

MDI  001MDI  003MDI  114The best-known town on Mount Desert Island is Bar Harbor (pronounced Baa Ha Ba by the “Mainers”).  Bar Harbor has a number of shops, restaurants, bars etc.  The town also offers many boat tours, including a sail on the “Margaret Todd” a 151-foot schooner and the only four-masted schooner operating in this area in over fifty years.  We’d spotted this beautiful vessel while driving through, and kept seeing it from different vantage points but we never took the tour.  There were, of course, other beautiful boats in this harbor, but the Margaret Todd was a standout.

MDI  004Bar Harbor was a cute town but we frankly thought it was a bit too touristy and only spent a half-day in the town.  Angel enjoyed the visit and got lots of pets while we ordered some tasty ice cream.MDI  116MDI  117

MDI  002MDI  005MDI  041We’d found out that this was the season for lobster boat racing.  The races take place on weekends from mid-June to August and the circuit includes various harbors along the coast.  The schedule included a race in Bass Harbor during the time we were in the area.  So we headed out to the lobster boat races.  Some of the lobstermen who participate soup up their boats for the races, going as far as swapping out the boat engine, rudder and propeller.  Alas, we arrived after the race had ended but instead found a festive scene with boats rafted together and a harbor full of boats.MDI  040MDI  036

MDI  037MDI  038But we did get to see the “blessing of the fleet” which happened here after the races.   The boats come around to the dock in single file and the local parish priest sprinkles holy water (from a bucket, with a little mop) on each boat as he wishes them health, safety and a bountiful season.

It was very touching because he obviously knew the lobstermen and made each blessing very personal.  Calling each boat out by name and often the skipper too.  He reserved an extra warm blessing for the harbormaster who was the last boat in the procession.  This was clearly a special day for this little fishing community, and for us.MDI  035MDI  039

MDI  029MDI  030Afterwards, Hector, Angel and I took a walk to the grounds of the Bass Harbor Light.  The lighthouse and the keeper’s house were built in 1858.  It’s a working lighthouse that originally had a fifth-order Fresnel lens but is now automated with a fourth-order Fresnel lens installed in 1902.  The lighthouse has an occulting red light every 4 seconds (three seconds red, one second darkness).  The keeper’s house is currently used for Coast Guard housing.  The original fog bell is on display on the grounds, which have a fabulous view of the surrounding islands.  There are also a couple of trails leading out to the cliffs around the lighthouse.MDI  032

MDI  028“After turning the high, rusty-red crag, called Bass Harbor Head, where a squat little lighthouse, in white cassock and black cap, sits demurely looking off to sea, we see before us…a large cluster of islands, covering the approaches to a deep indent of the sea, over which the mountains bend down as if to shut it out from all intrusion…”Samuel Adams Drake, The Pine Tree Coast, 1891MDI  031

MDI  008

MDI  042Our campsite was right on the water on East Bay which separates Mount Desert Island from the mainland.  We pulled Island Girl in so that the windshield faced the water (or mud flat at low tide).  A nice ocean view right out our picture window!MDI  044MDI  021MDI  043MDI  090MDI  092MDI  093MDI  089

MDI  012One day we kayaked right out of our campground into the East Bay.  We had to wait for high tide, and as we left our kayaks were surrounded by seals.  They apparently were just arriving to munch on shellfish and other critters brought in by the tide.

MDI  013MDI  016We paddled over to Thomas Island across the bay and around two islands called the Twinnies.  It was a nice paddle and we returned well before the low tide.MDI  018MDI  017MDI  015

MDI  099Bar Harbor is named after a natural gravel land bridge or “bar” that connects it to Bar Island.  This land bridge is only accessible by foot during low tide.  There are lots of warnings to only walk the bar 1 ½ hours before or after high tide, otherwise you might get stranded on the island until the next high tide (about 12 hours).MDI  098MDI  101

MDI  100MDI  110MDI  102As we took a walk out to Bar Island, we noticed that lots of people build stone cairns on the bar, which have a short life expectancy due to the tides.  And we found a big group of amazing ones.  And even added one of our own.MDI  107MDI  105MDI  104

MDI  112As we walked back, at right around 1 ½ hours past high tide, we got to see the water starting to cover parts of the land bridge.  People were able to walk across the still low water line in spots but it was clear that it would become impassable in a little while.  That is, unless you enjoy swimming in 55 degree water.MDI  113MDI  111

MDI  023MDI  084As we drove some more around Mount Desert Island we found more towns with beautiful harbors.  Two of the most memorable towns were named Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor.  There were incredible “mansions” in both of these towns, and I imagine that the mansions had matching yachts in the harbors.

MDI  085MDI  024MDI  022MDI  081MDI  045MDI  047We went out to dinner on a couple of evenings.  At some point, we’d both developed a craving for Mexican food.   Two Mexican restaurants in Bar Harbor didn’t pass muster and we consulted our handy guidebook “Moon Maine” as well as Yelp for more ideas.MDI  046

MDI  048And we found out about an authentic Mexican restaurant called XYZ, located in the Southwest Harbor area.  XYZ stands for Xalapa, Yucatan and Zacatecas, areas in Mexico known for their cuisine.  So, we drove over after our bike ride (after confirming there was no dress code) and once arriving in town, drove down a dirt road to this interesting sounding restaurant, which by the way, requires reservations and is somewhat pricey.  But it’s totally worth the money, as we confirmed that it was a truly authentic Mexican restaurant, just like many of the classy restaurants we experienced when Hector lived in Mexico City.  And it’s owned by Americans who spend many of their winters in Mexico.MDI  118

MDI  120On our last night we decided to have one last Maine lobster and went to the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound.   An incredible operation, where you order your lobster, they pick them and weigh them, put them in a mesh bag with a number, then give you a paper with that number on a clipboard to check off your additional food order. MDI  121

MDI  123The lobsters are boiled in salt water with seaweed in their numbered bag, and when they and your food are ready they call your number.  Totally old school but it works.  While dining we met a couple from Massachusetts, Pamela and Wayne, and had a nice chat with them.MDI  122MDI  124MDI  125MDI  126

So, what did we like best about Maine?

The striking ocean viewsPenobscot  064

Tidal poolsMDI  109

Lovely harbors and cool boatsboothbay harbor  095

Acadia National Park – another fabulous parkacadia  008

The food, especially lobster

MDI  128And, the Mainers – such nice people!

On to Canada!

~ Brenda

Fog on the Water

MDI  055MDI  080We took a scenic nature cruise on the Sea Princess, a boat run by Acadia National Park.   The tour goes past some small islands and stops briefly in Little Cranberry Island.  It’s narrated by a National Park Ranger, who provides information on the history of various islands, the different animal species etc.MDI  079

MDI  050MDI  058MDI  068MDI  065The Town of Cranberry Isles consists of five islands with a year-round population of 130 and many additional summer residents.  Little Cranberry Island, also known as Isleford, is the  “capital” of the Cranberry Isles.  It has a seasonal store, a post office, a school, a library, churches, shops, small museums, a dockside restaurant and art and pottery galleries as well as a Historical Museum.MDI  064MDI  061

MDI  052MDI  078MDI  053Hector had wished for foggy weather and his wish came through.  The day of the cruise was very foggy, and the fog created interesting swirly patterns over the water and in front of the various islands.

We cruised past the Bear Island Lighthouse, saw harbor seals and went by a bell buoy, a navigational marker used during foggy weather.  It rings with the movement of the water so vessels can hear it through the fog.  MDI  051MDI  060

The trip included just a twenty minute stop at Isleford, so we just got to peek in at a couple of small galleries.  A remote little outpost with a tiny village.

MDI  062MDI  073MDI  069MDI  071MDI  070MDI  074MDI  067MDI  063MDI  072MDI  049MDI  077MDI  076On the way back we cruised through Somes Sound, which is often described as a fjord.  Because it lacks a few characteristics of Norwegian fjords, and is not as vertical, it’s now called a fjard by officials – “a smaller drowned glacial embayment.”  Nonetheless, the cliffs are beautiful.  We spotted a Peregrine Falcon, these falcons nest on the cliffs.

As we continued on our way home, the weather changed once again and got pretty cold and the water changed from glassy to choppy.  Hector and I are now used to carrying layers and rain jackets, so we were fine, but the boat provided thick blankets as well.  MDI  075

MDI  059MDI  054Even though the chop was relatively mild it was a reminder of the power of the ocean and how complicated navigating these northern waters can be.  Along the way we spotted more harbor seals and some harbor porpoises.

Another great day on the waters of Maine.

~ BrendaMDI  057

Acadia National Park

acadia  059acadia  001acadia  054

Acadia National Park is located on an island called Mount Desert (pronounced “dessert”) Island.   It’s thought that Native Americans were here, hunting, digging shellfish and fishing for at least 6,000 years.

The first documented visitor to the Island was Samuel de Champlain in 1604. He called the island “Isle de Mont-Deserts” or island of barren mountains after noting that it was “very high and cleft into seven or eight mountains, all in a line”.acadia  002

Hector and I are huge fans of the National Parks and very much looked forward to visiting this furthest northeast park.  Another interesting fact about this Park is that it’s the first national park whose land was donated entirely by private citizens.

acadia  003

 

The first permanent settlement on the Island was established in present day Somesville in 1761.  Today, its main tourist town is Bar Harbor, which was  incorporated in 1796 and was a destination for “rusticators”, folks who wanted a getaway and prominent families built lavish “cottages” there.

There was a ban on motor vehicles, backed by the wealthy summer “Cottagers” who wished to escape the “infernal combustion engine”.  The first bridge to the island, built in 1837, was for walkers, riders and horse-drawn wagons only until 1913, when the ban was lifted.

MDI  096

View out our window

MDI  097The rain continued to follow us and forced us to plan our activities according to the weather forecast.  Apparently, this level of rain is unusual here for the month of June, just another freaky weather pattern.

Our campsite faced the water, but, on the day we arrived, we were looking at a large expanse of rocks and mud.  Hours later, there was a body of water.  The change in sea level in this area between low and high tides is about 10-12 feet.  Much more than we’re accustomed to.  acadia  051

We began our exploration of the National Park by driving the scenic 27-mile loop park road.  The drive goes through evergreen forests, meadowlands, marshes and stunning granite cliffs diving into the sea.acadia  037acadia  031acadia  010acadia  007

acadia  008acadia  004The tallest mountain on the island, at 1,530 feet, is Cadillac Mountain.  It’s also the tallest mountain on the Atlantic Coast north of Brazil.  Its summit is the first place in the United States to see the dawn.    

acadia  013Cadillac Mountain was named after Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac, one of the owners of the Island during a period during which it changed hands many times between the French and the English.  Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac later became the founder of the city of Detroit and of course the namesake for a car company.

acadia  006There is a paved road to the top of Cadillac Mountain where there are stunning vistas of the many islands and bays.  We drove up to scope it out since the moon was going to be full in the next few days and it was supposed to be a “Super Moon”, the closest this year. So our plan was to go up Cadillac Mountain to see (and photograph) the “Super Moon”.  Great plan, huh?MDI  006

MDI  007Well, the full moon plan from the mountaintop was a bust.  On full moon night, we drove up to the top of the Cadillac Mountain once again.  It was very cloudy and Hector was very skeptical.  And he was right.  The moon was never visible.  The next night we drove up again, knowing it would still be a pretty big moon.  No moon again, but as we reached the campground, she made a brief appearance higher in the sky and we wound up with a nice view after all.acadia  014

acadia  015We were more successful finding a place to kayak in the Park.  There are several fairly large ponds, and we kayaked on Long Pond, nearly four miles long and the largest of the ponds.  Amazingly, the deepest part of this pond is 113 feet!  

acadia  011Another interesting thing about Acadia National Park is that part of Mount Desert Island is still privately owned. 

So Acadia National Park shares the island with various communities.  As we kayaked on Long Pond, we saw private homes all along much of the shore.  A pretty cool place to live.  In fact, we kayaked by some ladies who’d just braved the water for the first time this year for a swim  (Brrr!) and a gentleman along the shore gave us directions to an eagle’s nest nearby.

acadia  026We never found the eagle, and the eight-mile paddle turned out to be quite tough when the wind shifted and we had to paddle back into the wind.  A good work out.

acadia  027acadia  022The next nice weather day, we went bicycling on one of the Carriage Roads in the Park.  Forty-five mile of Carriage Roads were gifted to the National Park by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his family.    Rockefeller Jr., one of the original “Cottagers” on the island, was the Park’s most prominent and generous donor, donating more than a third of its acreage.   He built the roads from 1913 to 1940 as a refuge from the “horseless carriage” for hikers, horseback riders and horse-drawn carriages.  They were made with broken stone and aligned to follow the contours of the land and take advantage of scenic views.

The Roads were rehabilitated between 1992 and 1995 in a partnership between the government and Friends of Acadia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the Park.  Then, between 2001 and 2005, using federal funds and a portion of Park user fees, they were re-pointed and cleaned and the road bridges were water-proofed.

acadia  020acadia  021All of that work translated to a totally smooth 13-mile ride for us while crossing a number of handsome bridges built with local granite and cobblestones, overlooking beautiful vistas and with no morotized vehicles disturbing us (carriage roads only allow hikers, joggers, cyclists, cross-country skiers, carriage riders and horseback riders).  Thank you, Mr. Rockefeller.  

After biking, the only way to get around some areas of the park is via the one way loop road, so we again got an eyeful of amazing coastal scenes.

acadia  025acadia  024acadia  019acadia  023acadia  018acadia  016

acadia  046acadia  033Tough to follow that, but we found a way, hiking the Great Head Trail, a cliff walk loop which has views of Frenchman’s Bay, Sand Beach and Gorham Mountain.  We took side trips out to the cliffs overlooking the ocean, and each view was better than the last one. 

acadia  029acadia  057acadia  032acadia  068acadia  069acadia  067acadia  065acadia  066acadia  028acadia  030acadia  048acadia  045acadia  043acadia  035acadia  053acadia  064acadia  041acadia  055acadia  044acadia  047acadia  050acadia  056acadia  058Then, towards the end of the hike, there was a stairway down to Sand Beach, which is the Park’s only sand beach on the ocean.  The beach had beautiful clear water, very inviting.  But, at 55 degrees, we stayed out.  The hike was incredibly diverse, including rock climbing, the sand beach, forest and some mud.  One of the best hikes ever.acadia  061

acadia  062acadia  060acadia  063When we arrived here at Acadia, our annual National Park pass had expired.  Since we planned to be in Canada for the next two months, it didn’t make sense to buy another annual pass yet.  We lucked out arriving just before peak period and paid only $10 for one week of access ($20 in the summer).

Where else but in a National Park can you experience all this beauty for ten dollars?

~ Brendaacadia  017

Monhegan Island

Penobscot  059Penobscot  060Penobscot  061Penobscot  062We took the early morning mail boat out of Port Clyde to visit Monhegan Island, a small (about one square mile) rocky island which is only accessible by boat.  The island has a small village with year round and summer residents, a population of less than 65.  It has a church, a library and a school.  There are no cars or paved roads on the island.

It’s a very remote place with no pharmacies nor medical facilities, limited fire equipment, and only one public restroom facility.

The mailboat, the WWII era Laura B, has been serving Monhegan Island with cargo and passenger service for over 50 years.  With the fore deck piled high with assorted goods and a mix of tourists and locals aboard we made the 70 minute crossing.Penobscot  063Penobscot  069

Penobscot  068Penobscot  056Penobscot  067Penobscot  057Monhegan Island also has 12 miles of trails, some of which lead to the highest ocean cliffs on the Maine coastline.  But camping is not permitted.

Monhegan Island’s wildness and beauty make it a haven for artists and there is an artists’ colony on the island.

Penobscot  066Penobscot  081Penobscot  083We found out just why the artists come here as we hiked out to Whitehead Cliffs.  Because we had a limited time, we selected this “easy” hike.  It turned out to be a little tricky, as it was a narrow path with many slippery rocks, and tons of poison ivy all over the trail.   Hector and I had never seen so much poison ivy in our life, although I must say we’d had fair warning.  At times, the choice was to step on a slippery boulder, poison ivy or deep mud.

But the destination was well worth the effort as there were spectacular cliffs surrounding us.   Even Hector, who wore shorts,  successfully avoided the poison ivy!Penobscot  079Penobscot  080Penobscot  078

Penobscot  077Penobscot  074Penobscot  075We also visited the Monhegan Island Lighthouse, established in 1824.  The present lighthouse was completed in 1850 and originally had a second-order Fresnel lens.  It’s currently an active automated lighthouse.

Unfortunately, the Lighthouse and Museum are not open until the end of June but we did meet a volunteer that was cleaning the lighthouse windows.  Hector asked her how often the windows get cleaned and she said “once a year whether they need it or not”.  Definitely a laid back place.  Strangely cool that we were there on annual window cleaning day.Penobscot  076Penobscot  084

Penobscot  093Penobscot  091We had a little extra time left so we continued on to Lobster Cove, on the rocky south coast of Monhegan Island, to see the wreck of the D.T. Sheridan, an old tugboat.  It seems that shipwrecks continue to be a theme around here and it was cool to see one so close up.Penobscot  085Penobscot  090

Penobscot  087Penobscot  089Penobscot  098Penobscot  086The village is tiny with a few artist studios, some inns, a couple of restaurants, and some beautiful gardens.  Very charming.Penobscot  094

Penobscot  096Penobscot  100Penobscot  099Penobscot  102Penobscot  072Penobscot  097Penobscot  104Penobscot  088Penobscot  092Penobscot  070Penobscot  073Penobscot  071Penobscot  058Penobscot  105Penobscot  103Although we had a choice of a later boat for our return, we returned on a mid-day one to get back to Angel, so we got some New England chowder right by the dock and headed home.  This fascinating place would definitely be worth another visit.

Penobscot  106Penobscot  107Penobscot  108Penobscot  095On the boat ride back, we spotted harbor porpoises, considered the smallest of the whales, an extra bonus after a great day.

~ BrendaPenobscot  109

(A few of the) Lighthouses of Penobscot Bay

Penobscot  110Maine has over 60 lighthouses, and more than 20 are located in the Penobscot Bay area.  Some are accessible by land, others are best seen by boat.  There’s even a boat trip that visits 15 lighthouses in a day.  Crazy!

Hector and I visited a modest total of four lighthouses in the Penobscot Bay area  – too many other things to do around here!

Penobscot  210Penobscot  214Penobscot  213Penobscot  216Penobscot  223One of the most interesting lighthouses, not only because of the structure itself, but how you access the lighthouse was the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse.  The Lighthouse was built in 1902 and is still in use today.   It originally had a fourth-order Fresnel lens that has been replaced by another optic with a flashing white light.  It also has a fog signal.

The really amazing aspect of the Lighthouse is the Rockland Breakwater.  Construction began in 1881, and – here come the amazing numbers – they used over 700,000 tons of granite, and the cost (remember this is the late 1800s) was $750,000.  The Breakwater was completed 19 years later in 1899.  It was built to protect the commercial and working harbor after several big storms caused extreme damage to the inner parts of this Harbor.

Although the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is best viewed by boat, we, like many others chose to walk the Breakwater.  The Breakwater is just under a mile long, and you are walking out to the middle of the bay.  The temperature and weather even changes as you approach the Lighthouse.  You basically walk on gigantic granite blocks (some with significant gaps in between them) that were placed end-to-end in water up to 70 feet deep.  Some folks fish from the Breakwater.  It’s an incredible feat.

Penobscot  222Penobscot  219We chose a sunny day because in bad weather the chilly waves crash over the breakwater and make the granite very slick.  It really was a unique experience.  We didn’t get to enter the Lighthouse as it was late afternoon – but we had a great view of the town, the harbor and the Owl’s Head Lighthouse at the opposite side of Rockland Harbor.Penobscot  218

Penobscot  212Penobscot  187Owl’s Head Lighthouse was established in 1825, and the present structure was built in 1852.  We climbed all 30 feet of this lighthouse which has a great 360 degree view of the Harbor and surrounding area.  The Lighthouse has a working fourth-order Fresnel lens with a fixed white light.  A fog signal has replaced the original bell.  There is also a Lighthouse Keeper’s house used by the Coast Guard.  The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse and Owl’s Head Lighthouse mark the entrance to Rockland Harbor.

Penobscot  185Penobscot  186Penobscot  182Penobscot  183Penobscot  181Penobscot  206Penobscot  203Penobscot  207The Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde was established in 1832, and the present structure was built in 1857.  This lighthouse is an active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation with a fifth-order Fresnel lens.  This Lighthouse also has a fog signal, and the original bell tower is on display.  This was the lighthouse that Tom Hanks ran towards at the end of his cross-country run in the movie Forrest Gump.

The Lighthouse Keeper’s house, originally built in 1832 and rebuilt in 1895 after a fire destroyed the original is now a nice museum highlighting the history of Port Clyde; quarrying, lobstering and lighthouses.Penobscot  205Penobscot  204

What’s fun about these lighthouses (for those keeping count, I’ll write about the fourth one in next post) is that each has its own “life”, some are said to be haunted, many have been destroyed and re-built, some multiple times.  Each one has its own stories to tell.  And there are wonderful people working to keep those stories alive.

~ BrendaPenobscot  215