Acadia and Elsewhere

IMG_2988

On the first Sunday in October, we visited Acadia National Park on Maine’s Mount Desert Island. It’s the furthest East I’ve been.

IMG_7099

I found a temporary artifact left behind on the aptly-named Sand Beach.

IMG_7121

Sand Beach is one of the park’s most popular attractions, for obvious reasons.

IMG_2999

A cove along the park’s stunning coastline.

IMG_7144

Triumphant waterfowl as seen from the Ocean Trail.

IMG_7085

A typical stretch of Park Loop Road.

IMG_3008

The view from Otter Cove, facing South.

IMG_7168

Along Otter Cove, looking North.

IMG_7173

Cadillac Mountain, a trip up which we decided to save for our next visit.

IMG_7189

Pines along Jordan Pond.

IMG_3026

After leaving the park, we spent a few hours in nearby Bar Harbor, a port popular with tourists. Above, a juxtaposing of two very different types of ships that often frequent it.

IMG_3021

CJ’s Big Dipper on Main Street, across from the Village Green (I always thought the latter only existed in England.)

IMG_3017

Swatches of Bar Harbor remain gloriously un-gentrified, like this vintage stained-glass sign, complete with Rexall logo.

IMG_7198

Another blast from the past. What could this be?

IMG_7199

It’s the underside to this classic marquee, which predates the movie theater I work at by one year.

IMG_2969

We actually stayed near Boothbay Harbor that weekend, taking an easy day trip from there to Acadia. Above, a Boothbay Harbor business I always visit when in town.

IMG_2975

Spotted at another bookshop in nearby Damariscotta (sadly, it was too late in the day for browsing.)

IMG_2982

My husband and I have spent considerable time in Boothbay Harbor (even getting married near there), but not so much in Wiscasset, which once has to pass through in order to get there if coming from Portland or any point South. In Wiscasset, this combination of old lettering, filmsy white curtains and christmas lights (in October!) intrigued me to no end.

IMG_3030

Wiscasset is tiny but full of charming signage for businesses new and old.

IMG_3033

Perhaps Wiscasset’s most famous, iconic eating establishment (in summer, there’s usually a long line of people leading up to that window), and one I hope to try someday.

Pumpkin Season

IMG_7053

Upon returning to Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, we found it overrun with pumpkins.

IMG_6886

Piles and mounds of pumpkins all over the grounds, suffusing clear blue October skies with more than just a hint of orange.

IMG_6957

There was also a row of pumpkins.

IMG_6893

An endless procession of pumpkins, in fact.

IMG_6928

However, the gardens also had room for a variety of gourds, those less-loved pumpkin cousins.

IMG_7068

Some miniature gourds adorned window boxes…

IMG_6982

…while others hung from the rose arbor on strings.

IMG_6983

Swaying happily in the sunshine… or HANGING FROM THEIR DEATHS?

IMG_6924

Not a pumpkin, although wouldn’t it be great if they came in this exact color?

IMG_6959

Also not a pumpkin, but after seeing so many I couldn’t help but notice all the other pumpkin-shaped plants at the gardens.

IMG_7012

Also also not a pumpkin, but… (you get the idea).

IMG_7003

Again, not a pumpkin (though you can spot some in the background), but one of a few new steel sculptures currently on display.

IMG_7065

Those pumpkins do often seem to be lurking in the background.

IMG_7066

In addition to naturally orange pumpkins, there were a few painted pumpkins scattered throughout: some in bright colors…

IMG_6976

…others cloaked in silver or gold.

IMG_6906

Still, nothing beats the autumnal glow of an orange pumpkin patch.

The Old Port

IMG_4025

Portland, Maine is a great little big city for a weekend getaway. We tend to stay close to the airport (actually a Jetport) to save money, but recently we splurged on a room in the city’s historic “Old Port” section near Casco Bay.

IMG_2255

We stayed at The Portland Regency, built in 1895 as the Portland Armory, which accounts for its unusual shape.

IMG_2251

The Portland Regency’s fancy front entrance, complete with circular driveway and valet parking.

IMG_2259

Don’t be fooled by such welcoming blue skies. Early April in Maine (and this year, just about all of New England) still feels like winter.

IMG_2238

The hotel is a block away from Exchange Street, full of shops, restaurants and, when the weather permits, street performers (the occasional crazy drunk too, regardless of weather).

IMG_4015

This little Exchange Street cinema shuttered a few years ago, but no one seems to be in a hurry to take down its ’80s-era sign hanging in the back alley.

IMG_4021

Lots of cool signs around Exchange and Fore Streets, including corner mainstay Maxwell’s Pottery Outlet…

IMG_4026

…and The Purple Caterpillar, which I’ve never been in and have no idea what it sells; I’ll leave it up to you to Google it.

020

A little further down Fore Street, you have Hub Furniture, in business since 1913.

010

More cool stores sit a block away along Commercial Street. Check out this pet shop’s terrific sign.

002

A few of these photos are actually from past visits to Portland; this one goes all the way back to 2009. Sadly, this wonderfully quirky hardware store closed a year after this was taken (fortunately, they have another location in nearby Falmouth).

017

As with just about every New England city, Portland has a lot of neat old buildings, like The Thompson Block, built in 1868.

013

Or the Oxford Building, which is located… somewhere near The Thompson Block, I think. It doesn’t matter–the intricate detail near the roof is what caught my attention.

IMG_4030

A much different type of “classic” architecture in Portland, on Portland Pier near Commercial Street.

IMG_2253

This somewhat nondescript building was across from the Portland Regency; I like this particular color palette against the sky.

IMG_2245

On this last trip, my favorite new place, oddly enough, might have been the men’s room at Taco Escobarr. I’d find the time to watch “El Vampiro y El Sexo”.

IMG_2248

I wonder if this one could ever possibly live up to its poster (or the promise of the fabulously named Tony Bravo).

IMG_1891

My inner ten-year-old approves of this defacing, and hopes it will remain unpainted over on his next visit.

Mid-Coast Maine In Autumn

IMG_4811

Maine in Autumn can be heavenly. Last year, Steve and I got married near Boothbay Harbor the third weekend in September; this year, we returned Columbus Day Weekend and stayed about an hour further up the coast in Rockport. What follows is a Mid-Coastal Maine travelogue from north to south (sans Rockland, which I’ve already covered.)

IMG_4817

These first two pix are from Pitcher Pond, a remote, somewhat hard-to-find spot in Lincolnville. Despite making a few wrong turns to get there, it was worth it–a refuge of serenity and great fall color.

IMG_4802

About a half hour drive away, Camden Hills State Park is home to Mt. Battie, an 800-foot summit overlooking Penobscot Bay and the town of Camden.

IMG_4771

Exactly what I was hoping to see in Maine this weekend.

IMG_4780

Let’s zoom in on that vibrant foliage…

IMG_4766

…and shift our view Southeast a bit towards Camden.

IMG_4680

Camden itself is charming and colorful, but a little too cute and contrived (compared to ten-miles-south Rockland, anyway.)

IMG_4612

A comparatively grittier but still serene side of Camden.

IMG_4638

Initially I was hoping these pigeons were actually part of this statue, spotted in a Camden park. After I took this, another photographer shooed the birds away, shattering the illusion.

IMG_4623

A nice little monument next door to the Camden Public Library. The sunburst of orange leaves definitely enhances it…

IMG_4665

…but these orange-red beauties are even better.

IMG_4631

I could fill a book with tree-branch photos I’ve taken from this angle.

IMG_4861

A mile south of Camden, Merryspring Nature Park is an oasis of parks, gardens and walking trails (and, unlike Camden Hills State Park, admission is free).

IMG_4834

At the edge of one of Merryspring’s gardens.

IMG_4840

A prickly highlight.

IMG_4851

Merryspring’s Ross Center building, nestled into the woods.

IMG_4692

Owls Head is a small town south of Rockland along Penobscot Bay. Although mostly a resort and fishing community, it has two sizable attractions: a transportation museum, and a lighthouse.

IMG_1893

Owls Head Light isn’t one of the larger or more dramatic lighthouses I’ve seen, but it’s rather adorable and accessible by foot to boot.

IMG_1895

A breathtaking view of the Camden Hills from Owls Head Light.

IMG_4708

Looking down the steps from the lighthouse. That’s Steve over there to the right with his camera and tripod.

IMG_4711

Lovely Owls Head color, and the beginning of the Atlantic Ocean.

IMG_4922

On the way home, we made a detour into Reid State Park on Georgetown Island, south of Bath. Despite dreary skies that day, it was not devoid of rich seasonal color.

IMG_4949

Actually, Reid State Park has plenty of color throughout the year via its rocky coast.

IMG_4960

I leave you with the beach at Reid State Park on a languorous Tuesday afternoon.

Rockland

IMG_4741

Rockland is a town in Mid-Coast Maine with a population just under 7,500. Its Main Street, pictured above, is one of the more charming I’ve visited in the entire state.

IMG_4876

Lined with old-school brick buildings, Rockland feels like a real town rather than just a coastal resort destination. Here’s how it appeared this past Columbus Day.

IMG_4873

On the corner of Main Street and Tillson Avenue: an “olde fashioned” candy shoppe as cute as can be.

IMG_4885

Lobsters are everywhere in Rockland.

IMG_4744

I mean, everywhere.

IMG_4886

So many lobsters that you can get them to-go (but not on holidays, apparently).

IMG_4895

This nifty sign somewhat distracts from the idea that this is otherwise a junk store.

IMG_4881

Not really a corner, this bookstore nonetheless offers plenty of reading.

IMG_4882

A womens’ clothing boutique, 412’s logo is pure ’60s chic…

IMG_4884

…which is preferable to the ghastly ’70s/’80s font I spotted on this storefront.

IMG_4870

Hands down, this is the most creative sign in Rockland; too bad it’s hidden in back of a Main Street building.

IMG_4751

You cannot get a haircut in Rockland on a holiday, either.

IMG_4750

Rockland also gets points for its cultural institutions, like the Farnsworth Museum, whose main building is topped with this piece of pop art.

IMG_4892

Part of the Farnsworth is also housed in this exceptionally tall, old former Protestant church.

IMG_4752

Used attendance stickers to the Farnsworth cover nearby trash receptacles and light posts.

IMG_4747

The town’s other major cultural institution is the Strand movie theater with its glorious neon sign.

IMG_4761

I have yet to see a film at the Strand, but I hope to someday. I’ve would’ve even seen MY OLD LADY, but it played but once per day, and the timing didn’t work out.

IMG_4759

Across from the Strand, a new-ish bar/cafe.

IMG_4756

We dined at Cafe Miranda, which is tucked back along a side street.

IMG_4754

Their food was delicious, and if a Cold River Vodka martini sounds good to you, I highly recommend it. I also appreciate businesses with good graphic design on their materials.

IMG_4738

Rockland has plenty of maritime-related industry (though perhaps not as much as Bath).

IMG_4898

Here’s a wide-angle view of the Rockland Harbor Breakwater Light, which is more house than light from this angle.

IMG_4902

It was a little chilly to walk out on the breakwater, but that didn’t deter everyone from doing so.

IMG_4908

I believe that’s Owl’s Head in the background. We’ll get to their (far superior) lighthouse in my next photo essay.

Mackworth Island

IMG_4013

Richmond was not the only isle we visited on our last trip to Maine; one morning, we explored Mackworth Island, which is off the coast of Falmouth, just north of Portland.

IMG_3985

In addition to housing the Governor Baxter School For The Deaf, Mackworth Island has a 1.25 mile hiking trail which offers scenic views of Casco Bay and surrounding towns.

IMG_3975

A bench along the coastal trail.

IMG_3971

Not far from the bench, a lookout pier.

IMG_4007

One of the more lush views from the trail.

IMG_3983

The mid-morning sun reflects upon the shore.

IMG_4004

One of the island’s more distinctive features is its fairy house village.

IMG_4001

One of the village’s more elaborate fairy homes, close up.

IMG_3972

A near-mansion of a fairy home, found away from the village, along the trail.

IMG_1636

Away from the coastal perimeter, Mackworth Island has its share of very tall pines.

IMG_3992

There’s also a pet cemetery, of all things. The island was donated to the state by former governor Percival Baxter–this grave commemorates his many, many irish setters.

IMG_1642

Past the cemetery and fairy homes and through the pines, one comes to this beautiful clearing.

IMG_4011

The road back to Falmouth and the mainland. That’s US Route 1 in the rear to the left.

IMG_4012

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such a polite road sign before–not surprised I found it in Maine.

Richmond Island

IMG_3959

Friends of ours in Maine recently took us to Richmond Island, a 226 acre estate off the coast of Cape Elizabeth. We travelled by speedboat from Pine Point in order to reach it.

IMG_1630

By the time we set foot on the island, dark clouds began to permeate the sunny skies. It rained gently for about twenty-odd minutes, but we made the right decision to stick it out, for the storm blew off into the Atlantic Ocean, and clear blue skies returned in full force.

IMG_3921

We spent most of the afternoon picnicking on one of the island’s four beaches.

IMG_3895

The spot attracts campers, and although the island’s privately owned, a limited number of overnight permits are available.

IMG_3964

Not exactly the white sands and aquamarine waters of the Caribbean, but for salty, often chilly New England, it’ll do.

IMG_3946

We saw plenty of piping plovers, but very few of them would stop scampering about for a few seconds to be photographed.

IMG_3957

The beach had an excess of sand dollars, although I didn’t take any photos of them; however, I did get this shot of a lone sand crab.

IMG_3918

Richmond Island is not limited to beach and shore; as you can see in the background, it contains some forest as well.

IMG_3932

In fact, there’s a grassy path one can hike along in the island’s center.

IMG_3936

From this shot alone,  you’d probably not guess you were on an island in the Atlantic Ocean.

IMG_3947

I believe this weathered structure is an office of sorts for the island’s caretaker.

IMG_3899

Next to the structure, an old-fashioned pier. As we took the boat back to the mainland, we saw a few sheep (and possibly some rams) around the bend.

IMG_3911

Even though we came in from Pine Point, the island is much closer to a remote part of Cape Elizabeth, which you can see in the back to the left.

IMG_3961

When the tide’s out, one can even walk across the sandbar/rock peninsula over to Cape Elizabeth. Still, I think it was a lot more fun taking the boat.

Summer Highlights

IMG_9849

Although I only posted two photo essays on the blog this summer, I took a decent assortment of pix throughout the season. To begin, let’s go back to Memorial Day at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA. This is from the top of Tower Hill, overlooking the Wachusett Reservoir.

IMG_9829 copy

Also at Tower Hill: a sunny ledge dotted with cacti.

IMG_0366

I returned to Tower Hill later in the season when much more was in bloom, including a throng of black-eyed susans next to the greenhouse above, and some other vibrantly colored plants below:

IMG_0340

IMG_0405

IMG_0080

Just when I fear I’ve run out of things to photograph in Provincetown, the beach comes through again.

IMG_0003

Also in P-Town: a lone piece of old Cape Cod stands apart from the usual shiny, new, tourist-baiting signage.

IMG_0234

After an afternoon at Pemaquid Point in Maine, Steve and I swung by East Boothbay on our way back to Boothbay Harbor. An hour before sunset, we found this beautiful rocky shoreline.

IMG_0249

I could have spent hours here if it wasn’t so late in the day (and if the mosquitos weren’t so rampant, either).

IMG_0272

A sunset view of Boothbay Harbor taken from the deck off our hotel room.

IMG_0299

Drove down to Hull on the South Shore one evening. I may post a whole essay on it at some point; for now, this may give you an idea of what one can find there.

IMG_0317

On the way back from Hull, an impressionistic sunset over Hingham Bay.

IMG_0632

I also want to post a photo essay on Boston’s Seaport District, a neighborhood currently in flux and home to one of the city’s more striking, unusual landscapes. I’m still not sure what this building is (probably some sort of city property), but you can’t say that it doesn’t stand out.

IMG_0660

Closer to home in Boston: Millennium Park in West Roxbury on a Sunday afternoon. The sky, looking South towards Blue Hills Reservation, looks about to crack wide open.

IMG_0663

At Millennium Park, looking Northeast towards Downtown Boston: the faint rainbow is but a smidgen of the color on display here.

IMG_0519

In mid-August, we took a day trip to Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich. This man-made waterfall proved a fun subject to photograph.

IMG_0503

Also at the Heritage: I love how the colors on this vertical, narrow wooden structure pop against the soothing green background.

IMG_0478

Summer in my mind could not look more inviting and lush than this unadorned space at the Heritage.

IMG_0591

The Sandwich coast, rough-hewn in a way that epitomizes Cape Cod Bay.

IMG_0682

The season ended with an overnight trip to Portsmouth, NH, one of my favorite New England small towns. It was too hot and sticky to take many photos, but I couldn’t resist this street art: Seagull Under Glass (or in this case, Perched Upon It)?

Pemaquid Point

IMG_0164

At the very tip of Bristol, Maine is Pemaquid Point. Although it looks fairly close to Boothbay Harbor on a map, it’s an hourlong drive because you must go all the way up to U.S. Route 1, then back down again to arrive there by car (mid-coast Maine has its share of peninsulas that drift south from the mainland). This little park on the coast has the historic Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, along with a museum that appears not to have changed one whit in decades.

IMG_0168

Unlike most lighthouses I’ve been near, you can actually walk up a perilously narrow spiral staircase to the lookout tower on this one during the day; at night, the light is still active, flashing white every six seconds.

IMG_0124

As close to a lighthouse light bulb as I’ll ever get.

IMG_0125

Obviously, the lighthouse lookout tower offers spectacular views; I was most taken with this tower of a neighboring structure (the original lightkeeper’s house, I believe), complete with seagull on top.

IMG_0149

A frontal view of the lightkeeper’s house, with the mighty Atlantic behind it.

IMG_0136

Inside the house: lots of artifacts, drawings, maps, crumbling brick walls and great ocean views.

IMG_0134

One of those ocean views.

IMG_0138

At the house’s rear, a now-defunct fog bell.

IMG_0174

Behind these structures, a massive hill of granite.

IMG_0175

The granite’s solid enough to allow one to easily walk down it towards the point.

IMG_0205

This is about as far out as one can safely walk without fear of being carried away by the tide.

IMG_0209

Did I mention how massive this block of granite is?

IMG_0207

I took this photo of Steve while standing a considerable distance away.

IMG_0228

At some point, a far more modern home was built for the lighthouse keeper. This gives you a good idea of where it sits in relation to the other buildings, along with the surrounding park.

IMG_0233

A lone bench with a beautiful view. Note the small, faint outline of Monhegan Island in the background. We originally wanted to check that out too, but missed the daily ferry from Boothbay Harbor.