maine · Travel · usa

USA Sept 2013: The “Maine” Event – starting our New England road trip!

Our bodies are slowly starting to adjust to US time, and 6:30am is practically a lie-in. We test the feet…hmmm, still blistered but at least we’re able to put our weight on them.  Which means we’re ready to walk the five blocks to Penn station.  Bye bye NYC, it’s been a blast…and so much we didn’t do!

At Penn station, we utilise the Red Cap Service.  Yes it means we have to sit in the ‘Special Assistance’ area til boarding, but we get priority boarding and an old age pensioner in a red cap to carry our luggage for us (Disclaimer: they do have trollies…).  All for a $20 tip…well worth the dollars.

You can find out more about the Amtrak Red Cap Service here

The 4 hour Amtrak service from NYC to Boston takes us through Connecticut and Rhode Island before we arrive in Massachusetts.  What a relaxing way to traverse the country (apart from the musty toilet smell that put me in mind of the final morning at V festival…).  Soon we are pulling into Back Bay station for a (very) fleeting visit to Boston.  Don’t worry Boston, we will be back soon!

Revising hard for my upcoming exam on the train!
Revising hard for my upcoming exam on the train!

We walk the 10 minutes from Back Bay station to Hertz at Park Plaza, and there we meet our newest travel companion for the next 10 days.  The Fletchemobile 2013 (henceforth known as the FM2013) – a gleaming white Chevrolet Cruse.  And a gadget which will become our travel nemesis…the Hertz “NeverLost “GPS.  Henceforth known as Nellie Neverlost.  Tiff the Teflon Tom Tom which accompanied us on our last US sojourn has been usurped by a newer, younger model.  Who then fails to calculate our route successfully out of Boston and leaves us to make our own detour onto the correct road.  Come back Teflon Tiff, all is forgiven…

Presenting...the Fletchemobile 2013!
Presenting…the Fletchemobile 2013!

As in Vegas, Mr Fletche is comfortable driving the FM2013 within minutes.  I however hold my breath until we have safely exited Boston and are on the interstate.  Maybe being driver rather than passenger makes it easier to adjust to driving on the right (wrong?) side of the road.  We’ve paid the extra dollars for me to be the additional driver, and I politely nod and offer my assent whenever Mr Fletche offers me useful driving tips.  Fat chance Buster.  Driving in a strange car, on the right (wrong) side of the road, in a strange country?  Not on your nelly.  I’m there for emergency purposes only.  I decide that if I drink beer for breakfast everyday then I will be unable to drive.  Good plan.

I-95 takes us from Massachusetts into New Hampshire (briefly) and on into Maine.  This is the sixth state we’ve been in in 8 hours!  Eventually our destination for tonight is reached…the Kings Port Inn in Kennebunkport.  Our room has a strange chemical smell which suggests that the carpets have been cleaned very recently.  Whilst we still have a little daylight left, we dump our suitcases in our room and drive down to the beach.  There is a moment’s anxiety when Mr Fletche forgets we are in the US and drives on the wrong (left) side of the road.  No harm done, but the oncoming cyclist looked a little alarmed…We take a stroll down the windswept promenade, watching dogs frolic playfully on the sand, before returning to the town.

Our home for one night only
Our home for one night only
The beach at Kennebunkport
The beach at Kennebunkport

Quick freshen-up and we’re back out; this time on foot heading over the bridge to Dock Square.  This town is SOOOO pretty; gorgeous little pastel building, shops filled with curios – there is even a shop called “The Whimsy Store” selling curios that you never knew you needed, but now cannot live without – and restaurants all advertising “the best seafood/lobster/shrimp/clams in Maine”.  We can’t try them all, but opt for the bustling Alissons Restaurant.  We’ve eaten nothing since a ‘hot dog’ made of an indeterminable substance on the train so our fried clam/shrimp dishes is most welcome.  As is the glass of Sauvignon Blanc (for me) and pint of ‘Pumpkinhead’ ale (for Mr Pumpkinhead Fletche).

Kennebunkport by night
Kennebunkport by night

We decide to contribute to the upkeep of our hotel and have a nightcap there; however our plans are thwarted as the bar has “closed early”.  It is 8:30pm.  Therefore, we decide to contribute to the coffers of the deli/general store over the road instead and purchase 6 bottles of Bud Light.  And a souvenir Maine “bear claw” bottle opener on a keyring.  We like souvenirs that are multi-purpose.

That's mine - what about Mr Fletche?
That’s mine – what about Mr Fletche?

Our stay in Kennebunkport will be all too short.  Tomorrow morning we head up the coast to Bar Harbor.  We have had wall-to-wall sunshine so far; however the forecast tomorrow predicts rain, rain and more rain.  Let’s hope Mr Fletche can figure out where the windscreen wipers are on the FM2013…

Off to Bar Harbor… Puddles, Pork Chops and Parachutes

We wake up, shocked that we have managed to sleep til 7am.  How have we managed to sleep so late and miss the best of the morning sunshine?  We open the curtain – we have indeed missed the morning sunshine.  In fact, it is grey, drizzly and pouring with rain.  Just like home.  We begrudgingly pack away our short-sleeves and sunglasses and unpack the rain macs and woolly hats.

Flowers in the rain
Flowers in the rain

After a quick stop for travel beverages from the deli/general store we are back on the road in the FM2013.  Being a wonderfully kind and thoughtful wife, I open the aforementioned travel beverage for Mr Fletche.  I then manage to pour aforementioned travel beverage into lap.  Luckily aforementioned travel beverage is water, and not coffee.  I am now sitting in a pool of cold water.  This incident leads to some very strange looks when we stop at the next available rest area.  I look like I have no control over my bladder.

We continue our journey, heated seats ramped up to full to help dry my wet seat and my wet bottom.  I am now sitting in a pool of luke-warm water instead.  Still, by the time we take a detour down to Boothbay Harbor, I have dried out considerably.

We have a welcome hot drink in the Red Cup Coffee House – no unfortunate spillages this time around – and an early lunch in D’Ellies Sandwich Shop.  It is still grey and drizzly, and shows no sign of stopping.

Love Coffee? Photo taken by CPF Photography at Red Cup Coffee House
Love Coffee? Photo taken by CPF Photography at Red Cup Coffee House

However, by the time we pull into the parking lot at Owls Head Lighthouse, the sun is just starting to peek through the clouds.  Maybe we were premature in packing away the suntan lotion?  At our next stop, Camden, it is positively scorching.  Mr Fletche has promised me an ice cream, and we sit on the harborfront with our Black Raspberry Choc Chip cones watching the world and their boats go by.

Owls Head Lighthouse
Owls Head Lighthouse
Camden
Camden
Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory
Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory

The journey north from here on in is nothing short of spectacular, with sea, mountains and the fall foliage just starting to turn from green to wonderful crimsons and oranges.  Today is officially the first day of Fall!  The sun is setting as we pull into the driveway of Aysgarth Station, our ‘home from home’ for the next three nights.  In fact, it is very much decorated in the style of a traditional English B&B.  Possibly down to our hostess Jayne being an ex-pat from Yorkshire.  Our room ‘Treefalls’ is on the third floor.  I hide in the bathroom whilst Mr Fletche and host Steve lug two suitcases and various pieces of luggage up three flights of stairs…

Aysgarth Station, Bar Harbor, Maine
Aysgarth Station, Bar Harbor, Maine

Quick freshen up and we’re out on the town.  Steve has recommended a restaurant; however they are fully booked tonight so we take a gamble on Rupuninis Bar & Grill.  Mr Fletche enjoys his smoked pork chops; my elk burger is so-so.  The Samuel Adams however goes down well.  We familiarise ourselves with the town centre before heading back to homebase.  In the communal lounge, we get talking to a lovely American couple who decide to take us under their wing.  This is their 19th visit to Bar Harbor so we bow to their greater knowledge and gladly take tips on the best places to visit over the next couple of days.  Our gratefulness of having our very own tourist information guide on site is balanced by our weariness after our full day’s drive.  We bid our goodbyes and start the trek up those three flights of stairs.

This was taken from my diary that evening: I write this blog from atop the highest bed in Maine. Possibly the highest in New England.  In fact, possibly the highest in the USA.  If I roll over in the night, I am likely to do some serious damage should I fall the full height from bed to floor.  I may attach a sheet around me, parachute-style, just in case…

Super comfy bed at Aysgarth Station
Super comfy bed at Aysgarth Station
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