Driving Down the New England Coast

Life at home has sidelined contributions to this blog despite tantalizing fodder from my trip through New England.  Today Linda and I are finishing preparations for the next ramble.  I won’t return to Arlington for two months and will have traversed more than 19 states in the intervening weeks – crossing several multiple times.  You can access the maps for these travels through links on the sidebar of the blog.  Please keep sending your tips and advice.  I can’t tell you how invaluable it has been.

It will be a striking contrast to return to vast open prairies and arid and mountainous panoramas after the past months traversing New England and Mid-Atlantic states with their dense populations and lush green landscapes.  The most breathtaking vistas over these past weeks were from the dramatic coastline of cliffs, beaches, inlets, dunes, and rock strewn seashores found on the journey from Jasper Beach in Maine through Acadia National Park, Belfast, Camden, Deer Isle to Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

Maine alone has 3,478 miles of coastline – more than California (3,427) – and over 5,000 miles of coast if you include all of the state’s 3,166 islands.  My journey in Maine started in Jasper beach just south of Machiasport, Maine and far north of the crowds and wealth that pours into the Maine coast each summer.  I would never have heard of Jasper beach were it not for a tip from Alexis Schuler.  It was one of those hidden off-the-map spots that I treasure.

When I pulled up there was no one on the beach.  What makes it stand out are the millions of stones that have been polished by the waves.  When wet, they shimmer with a kaleidoscope of colors from crimson red to brown to bluish grey to green to black  to speckled white.   The magic however is the interaction of the rocks and the waves.  As each wave recedes, the beach sings to you as the stones follow it toward the ocean offering a mix of sounds from tinkling to rumbles to hisses.  The truth is I don’t know what word best describes it but you can sit here for hours mesmerized.

The next stop was Acadia National Park.  I broke out my camping gear for the first time and spent two nights in the park campground so that I could maximize my time hiking.  From the ocean path to the “bubbles” (stones perched precariously at the top of a mountain) to sunrise on Cadillac Mountain to a stroll along Jordan Lake, I kept myself busy.

 

By the end I was ready for an overnight in a lovely AirBnB on Deer Isle.  Every house on Deer Isle seemed to have scores and scores of lobster traps piled in front reflecting the predominant “industry” that has been passed down through generations.  What was wonderful was that at every place I stopped from a pop-up wine bar that only opened once a week to an historical homestead kept up to promote the teachings of “the grand parents of the back-to-the-land movement” to the Stonington Opera House everyone was a local (with one exception – me).  I had some of the best conversations (and also a wonderful long hot shower at my AirBnB).

As I left Deer Isle and headed south, I realized that my timing was fortuitous and I would make it through Southern Maine and Cape Cod before tourists descended.  It made my hikes along beaches and up the cliffs so much more pleasant.  But, as you would expect, I did fit in some more raucous experiences including a packed biker bar, Bentley’s Saloon, in Arundel Maine resplendent with bras and motorcycles hanging from the ceilings and two hard rock bands.

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And an evening at the MaineStreet Bar in Ogunquit Maine with the Dueling Drag Divas followed by a piano bar sing-along at The Front Porch ending my evening, of course, with a rousing version of The Piano Man by Billy Joel.

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I left the coast after Cape Code where I had spent a week at a homey cottage thanks to the generosity of a friend from my days at the Proteus Fund, Kimberly Longey.  Long walks on the beach as the tide rolled in and out were followed by visits to Provincetown.  The highpoint was unexpected.  The PTown Film Festival was in full swing so I could sate my love of movies watching back-to-back premieres.  One in particular you should look for is Time for Ilhan, an inspiring documentary on “a young hijab-wearing mother-of-three named Ilhan Omar who made history, becoming the first Somali Muslim woman to be elected to state office in America.”

I’ll leave you with some peaceful scenes from the Cape to scroll through and enjoy.

 

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