Friday, November 9, 2012

October in Maine

      New England, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in October conjures images of brilliant red, orange, yellow foliage against the dark green of conifers, small fishing boats hauling up lobster pots, rocky, narrow coves following the the north, north-east pattern of past glaciers, rocky headlands, small towns with old houses and simple white church steeples, and farms with rock fences enclosing pastures. 
Remember, you can click on photos to see them enlarged
       And so, off we headed to Northern New England and to two of the Maritime Provinces.    Chris, his father and I hopped a plane for Portland, Maine where we spent a couple of nights before heading to Bailey Island, where we stayed in a lovely cottage.   Bailey Island, part of the Harpswell Peninsula, not far from the town of Brunswick, and north of Portland, is a quiet fishing community with a number of summer homes.  One of them belongs to friends of one of the people Chris and his dad had met on a previous photo cruise.   We were able to stay at this great spot and use it for some exploring along the coast before our cruise.

Here is the delightful "cottage" where we stayed.  
     The original plan was a bit more complicated, with a flight to NYC, a visit with an "adopted" relative on Long Island.    But since he came down with a nasty case of shingles, we changed flights and went directly to Maine, for-going the train ride from Connecticut to Maine.    We missed the socializing,which was a disappointment to Theron and Chris.  Actually to me too, as I have heard much about John Kuo.   It will have to wait.
     The second half of the trip was a cruise from Boston to Halifax. The reason for this particular cruise was a photo workshop led by Arthur Bleich. Chris has taken previous photo tours in Tahiti\Marquesas and the Caribbean with Arthur. More on the cruise portion in the blog entry below. This one will deal with Maine, mostly through photographs.

This view was a walk of 50 steps from the house where we stayed.

One of the harbors on Bailey's Island

Access to Bailey Island is over this causeway, a crib stone bridge, the only one known in the world.   Large blocks of granite have been laid in a crib pattern, allowing the tides of the north coast to flow through the bridge support.   A small opening allows fishing boats, like the one shown, to enter the harbor.


One of our side trips was to Bath, Maine.  The Bath shipyards are famous for their ships over the years.   The current project is the new Stealth Destroyer.    Near the shipyards is the Maritime Museum.   These two scenes were taken on the grounds.  The small white building overlooking the deep channel which makes Bath such a great place for major shipbuilding, is the old  caulking shed.
Since Chris and I both love maps, a visit to the Delorme Map headquarters in Yarmouth, Maine was a must.   Inside is the world's largest rotating globe.   It was a grey, drizzly day which made the foliage outside beautiful, but we realized the most dramatic shots of the globe are taken outside the building at night when the inside lighting is focuses on the globe.  Oh well, it was still a worthwhile side trip.  The globe is three stories high and balconies allow you to view the globe from the Arctic to Antarctica.  Since it is topographical all the faults and land shifts are visible.  Chris loves geology.

At the end of our delightful stay in Maine, we caught Amtrak for the trip to Boston.   It was an inexpensive and easy way to make the trip. One of the train stops was Durham, NH where I worked and went to grad school.  

Here is the Old State House in Boston, now surrounded by high rise office buildings.  It was here that the Declaration of Independence was read to the public for the first time.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The North Atlantic

  In Boston we had an evening and morning to explore.  We did some of the typical historic sites, all close to our hotel.   These included the Old State House and the cemetery where Paul Revere,  members of the Boston Massacre, including former slave, Crispus Attucks, John Hancock and other famous names from our history classes are buried.  We walked to the Boston Commons, Fanueil Hall, and had  lunch at the Beanery where we ate brown bread and baked bean.  In late afternoon we  boarded the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas for a seven day cruise and photo workshop.
I am shooting at sunrise, from our balcony towards the Queen Mary 2 which shared our berth one night and day.  I thought our ship was huge.  The QM2 is far larger.

The elevators which rose 13 floors through a central atrium were glass.  We could see out hug "portholes" in one direction and had etched  designs of ancient maps on the other.

The ship's central atrium.  They had dancing and singing every night.   But evenings were when we were in our critique sessions with Arthur Bleich and our fellow photographers.

This was my first real cruise.  I've been on small tour ships for a week long photo workshop in Alaska years ago, and the small ship that took us through the Galapagos Island when I visited AnaMaria and Ted in Ecuador in 2010.  But this was a huge cruise ship with all the amenities of large sea cruising vacations.   I am glad I did it, but decided that that kind of traveling is not my style.  Since I don't gamble, and nightlife isn't quite my thing, and most of the time you see water off your room rather than interesting land sites, I would rather travel by motorhome, car, rail, or small boats that travel through canals or narrower waterways.  
    We visited some great places: Halifax, Nova Scotia; St. Johns, New Brunswick; Bar Harbor and Portland, Maine.   But there was hardly enough time to see the sites, and certainly not at the kind of leisurely pace that 20 years of full-time RVing have accustomed me to.   Still, all the stops were worthwhile and we managed some fun photography and that was the purpose.   And Chris got a chance to relax, something that is hard for him to do with job demands.  Even then, there was one crisis to handle via phone calls and emails.   But once that was done, he did relax and unwind.   I need to get him to more of my out-of-the-way boondocking spots where none of the outside world crowds in.
Our cruise ship from the top of the mountain in Acadia National Park

    Halifax is a grand city, but we opted to rent a car and drive to Peggy's Cove and along the coastal area. Somehow the day got away from us, and after a delightful lunch in a little spot about half way between Peggy's Cove and Lunenburg, a town noted for wooden boat building, we realized we needed to hightail it back to the ship. We dropped the car, cut through a hotel,ran the last block and across the street and parking area to make the final call. Turns out a whole tour bus hadn't showed up yet. We could have walked. But we certainly could not have made it to Lunenburg.
The lighthouse at Peggy's Cove has been photographed a million times.  Our lighting wasn't great, but when the man and his dog walked in front, I managed something a little different.  At least we arrived before the onslaught of tour buses when the place gets mobbed.

The low bush blueberries had finished their season and the leaves had turned red.  This was in the Peggy's Cove Area.

This scene and below were on the drive to Peggy's Cove.

In St. Johns, New Brunswick we took a short train ride to the bridge overlooking the reversing tides.   Since the Bay of Fundy has one of the most extreme tides in the world, this can be a fascinating spot.  However, timing wasn't right to see a whole lot of activity.  Later in the day, I took this photo of the mud flats in the harbor.   

This bobby went with the great VW police car above, outside the police museum in St. Johns.

We spent the afternoon wandering the streets.  Much of the city was burned in a huge fire but there is a few block area of old homes which was fun to photograph.   Here are a couple of steps, since our assignment was to simplify our photos.

After taking photos in the old part of town, we were wandering in a leisurely fashion toward the waterfront and eventually our ship.   A car pulled up beside us.  It was one of the conductors from the short train ride.   We wondered if we were lost (he didn't think the neighborhood we were walking through was the best).  He was eager to show us a little more of the area around St. Johns.  He drove us to the old fort overlooking the town, through some areas where he hoped the fall color would be good, and past some other sites.   He wasn't looking for payment; he simply wanted us to enjoy our stay in his city. 

Photos below are Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park

Views in Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine above and below .

The Rockefeller family summered (still do) in Bar Harbor and were one of the leading families in getting Acadia made a national park.   John D. was also a prime mover in getting the Grand Tetons saved as a national park.  This elegant stone home was for the gatekeeper to the estate, a man who acted as manager.  Today the gatekeepers house is used as summer housing for rangers.  It is unheated, except by fireplaces, and is not used in the winter.

Another scene in our drive around the island

In Bar Harbor (or Bah Haabah as the locals say it) we ended up taking a great taxi cab tour. We didn't want a bus tour. I learned that the high guiding standards to which Leslie Quinn held us in Yellowstone, standards of the National Association for Interpretation, are not the norm among guides. Since we didn't want lots of corny jokes, hurried stops, etc, we opted for renting a car in Halifax and going at our own pace. We mostly walked in St. Johns, and took a taxi in Bar Harbor. We enquired about a car rental, but by the time we rented a taxi to get to the tiny airport where we could rent a car, tour, then get the car back and take a taxi back to the ship, it wasn't making sense. This guy offered us a deal and we took it. And it was a deal. He was having as much fun as we were and went 1.5 hours beyond the agreed upon time and refused payment for it. We tipped generously. Above are a few views from our time in and around Bar Harbor and Acadia.

     When I lived in New Hampshire back in the early 1970's, Portland Maine seemed a sad and depressed place.   Not anymore.   While it has kept its downtown waterfront a working waterfront, it is also a lively and interesting place for visitors and locals alike.  There are great restaurants, active arts scene, and the old cobbled streets have been maintained.  Our photo instructor urged us to take photos of people.  Its isn't something I am comfortable doing.  But Chris has no fear of asking total strangers if he may photograph them.   I tagged along and got several shots of my own, which I add to my blog just to show I can do it.

Mural in downtown Portland, Maine.

clerk in store in Portland

This woman was playing along the port facing street of Portland.
Owner of a great pub (we had lunch there twice) called "Andy's"  And is this gentleman's name Andy?  No, he named his pub after a developmentally disabled friend.  

Enjoying a last great weekend of good weather, these folks posed for us next to their motorcycle.

Great gentleman from Nova Scotia.  Unlike the ones above where we initiated the conversation, he walked by with his Canon and shared the usual banter that goes on between Canon and Nikon DSLR users.   We had a great time talking for over half an hour.  His wife is used to it....she just told him where she was headed and left him to chat with us.  

And finally, we returned to Boston.   WE flew out on Sunday late afternoon, well in advance of Sandy although we saw preparations all along the coast as lobster men brought in their lobster traps, small boats were being hauled out of harbors, people were being warned to prepare.   The areas we visited were not hit with the ferocious strength that the storm displayed in New Jersey and New York.

Entering Boston Harbor in the morning.