As promised in a previous post, here is a selection of my photos from the Vermont Toy Museum in Quechee Gorge Village near Hartford, Vermont. The museum’s website is down, possibly due to the recent AWS issues, but I got the following from Atlas Obscura:
Nestled above a charming general store near the Quechee Gorge, the Vermont Toy Museum’s vast collection of dolls, action figures, lunchboxes, yo-yos, and matchbox cars is a hidden treasure right off the White River Junction. Around 100,000 toys are housed inside the museum.
The museum’s items largely came from members of the local community. They were collected and compiled decade-by-decade, which displays the evolution of toys and games from the 1950s to the present day. Though it’s unknown who operates and maintains the museum, it’s closely watched by the employees at the downstairs Cabot Cheese Store and the antique mall next door.
The museum also houses an intricate model train exhibit that takes visitors through the four seasons of the Green Mountain state for only a quarter. This museum’s tireless attention to detail, nostalgia, and cozy atmosphere make it a must-see for travelers on Route 4.
It was a fun visit. A place we might have spent a lot more time, but just like the camera museum in Staunton, Virginia, there is only so much time…. 😉 As it was, we spent a lot of time saying things like, “I had that!” or “I remember those” or “the kids had these.” Fun stuff!
Almost forgot! I have completed processing my photos from our New England trip and have posted them on my Adobe Portfolio site.
Growing up in western Pennsylvania, I had actually visited New York many times prior to this most recent trip. I went to Peek’n Peek to ski, visited Buffalo, Corning, Watkins Glen, Troy and even Lake Placid. But those visits were all before I started getting serious about photography, and many of them, including Lake Placid, were Before Kathy, and I wanted to take her there. While I had some photos that would have worked – they’re our rules, after all! – we decided that another swing through the state would be the right way to do it. Plus we wanted to visit the Finger Lakes.
Departing Burlington, we swung around the south shore of Lake Champlain, crossing into New York near the town of Moriah. Moriah’s claim to fame is as the home of Johnny Podres, 1955 World Series MVP for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Your trivia for the day. 😉 The rain and fog were still with us, but as we drove north and west the skies finally began to clear.
Our first destination was Lake Placid, and we arrived there in time for a late breakfast and a few photos of the fall color on the lake. We didn’t stay long, since we had a long day ahead and didn’t want to linger at the beginning. Also, the town was in the process of some major road work in town. Main Street was torn up and loaded with piles of dirt, rocks and road equipment, rendering the normally picturesque town pretty rough looking. Another technicality is that the lake in town is actually Mirror Lake, and that Lake Placid is out of town to the north. We did stop to see the Olympic ski jumping site on our way into town, but didn’t try to take a tour.
Leaving Lake Placid and heading west through Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, we crossed a bridge over the Raquette River near Piercefield and were greeted with a lovely park overlooking the river, complete with still water reflecting the fall color of the trees along the riverbank. The skies were clearing but still mostly cloudy, providing us with ideal conditions for photos. It made for one of those unplanned stops we were glad to have taken the time for.
Our ultimate destination was a lodge on the west shore of Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes and central to the Finger Lakes wine region. I had a chance to do a little early photography before heading out to explore the area attractions. We visited three wineries, bought souvenirs at two of them, visited a distillery and the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport. We took a boat cruise on Saranac Lake out of Watkins Glen. That was the seventh boat cruise of our trip – do you get the feeling we like boat cruises? 🙂
One of our days there was dedicated to a drive to Rochester, where we visited the George Eastman Museum and, most importantly, met up with two of our long-time photo buddies Paul Maxim and Ken Bello. We had lunch with them and Ken’s wife before driving along the shore of Lake Ontario through Webster (Where Life Is Worth Living) and ultimately returning to our lodge.
New York made for our 49th state visited. Number 50 is Hawaii, and we have plans to visit there in February. After that? We’ll have to see, but there is a lot more of this country we want to see, we have friends to visit all over, and we might want to see a little bit more of the world. 🙂
There’s no question we didn’t spend enough time in Vermont. Even if it hadn’t rained most of the time we were there, it would not have been enough. But what a beautiful state!
Our first stop after crossing the VT-NH state line was the King Arthur Baking Company in Norwich. We’re not bakers but know the name, and since it was on the way we thought we’d check it out. I guess if you are into making breads and cakes from scratch, this would be your Mecca. From what I could tell they have a little bit of everything in the store, including seemingly dozens of types of flour, pans, mixers, storage containers, you name it. Like a camera store for bakers! There is a cafe on site where they serve products that are made in-house, and there is a cooking school where you can learn to make lots of yummy things – after buying all of the proper equipment and ingredients, of course!
Next we stopped at a place called Quechee Village, and visited the Vermont Toy Museum (what a place – I’ll do a separate post) and Vermont Spirits Distilling Company. Of course we brought home souvenirs. Then it was on to Sugarbush Farm, a working maple syrup and cheese making farm near Woodstock, where we sampled and purchased some of their products. After that we visited The New England Maple Museum in Pittsford.
We spent most of our time in Burlington, which was essentially only one day since we got there late and were only staying two nights. But we crammed as much as possible into one day, visiting Ben & Jerry’s, taking a boat cruise on Lake Champlain, and exploring the town. After a nice dinner at an Irish pub, we headed back to our motel to prepare for the drive to New York.
We were somewhat disappointed with our time in both New Hampshire and Vermont, but it wasn’t the states’ fault. A low pressure system decided to visit about the same time we did, and other than a little sun at the beginning, it was mostly rain, fog and general cuck the entire time we were there.
Our first visit to New Hampshire actually occurred when we passed through the twenty-ish mile strip of the state that sits along the coast between Massachusetts and Maine. We stopped for breakfast at The Airport Cafe in North Hampton, which as you would guess, is a cafe at a small airport. One of the highlights there is a track attached to the ceiling that carries a parade of model aircraft around the restaurant, much like you would see a train running in some place. It was very clever, and from what little I know about conveyor systems, appeared to be very well designed. If you ever go there, I recommend the Cinnamon Streusel French Toast. Sugar coma on a plate! 🙂
After all of the lighthouses on the coast, it was nice to see something different: COVERED BRIDGES! We had identified a number of them along our drive from Asticou to North Conway, where we had arranged to spend a couple of nights. We visited bridges in or near the towns of Ossipee and Conway (Conway has at least three!).
The highlight of our New Hampshire visit was a ride on the Mount Washington Cog Railway, to the top of Mount Washington. When we woke up that morning, it was about 40 degrees and starting to rain. When we got to the parking area for the railway base station, it was 35 degrees and raining harder. We brought everything we could bring to try and keep warm, and it was just barely doing the job.
As we approached the top of the mountain, the rain was turning to snow and sleet, and at the top it was about 31 degrees in fog and a wintry mix with a 40-50 mph wind. Everything was covered in ice, including the ground, railings and walkways. Yikes!
We first went into the visitor center to get our bearings, then decided to try and find the actual summit. We went out on to an “observation deck” where the only thing you could observe were the ice-covered viewing machines! Finallly, through the fog we could see people climbing up some rocks about 20 yards from us and realized that must be the summit. So carefully made our way up, slipping and sliding as we went. The cool part was that everyone was helping each other, lending a hand or a boost when necessary. A couple in front of us was taking turns taking each others’ photo with their phone, and when I offered to take a photo of the two of them, they readily accepted. I then handed my camera to them and they shot a few of us. I was a little nervous handing my camera over in those slippery conditions, but it turned out fine. Other than getting a little wet from the snow and feeling like we were getting blown off the mountain, it was truly a memorable experience!
After returning to our car, we then explored the area, looking for photographs in the fog and rain. We then drove a portion the fabled Kancamagus Highway, but of course couldn’t see the views that make it so famous! That night, tired and chilled after an eventful day, we opted to have dinner in our motel room, stopping at a grocery store for meat, cheese, olives and wine. 🙂
The following day we headed toward Vermont, taking the “long way” through Laconia and Belmont before crossing the state line at Norwich, Vermont.
“Once, man turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.
Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man’s mind.”
Frank Herbert’s Dune, 1965
I’m currently reading the first of six books in the Dune series. Why watch a movie when you can read a 500+ page book, right? 😉 I was particularly struck by this quote when taken in context of the world we live in today.
I started this book years ago as a teenager and couldn’t get through the first few chapters. It’s a different writing style than I had become accustomed to reading Asimov, Heinlein and Bradbury. It took me a while to get into it, but now that I’m over halfway through I think I’ve gotten the hang of it. Will I read the rest of the series? Likely, but no rush!
After spending 9 days in Maine, it is easy to see why it has become a very popular destination over the last few years. I read recently that, according to the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, restaurant and lodging sales reached $2.3 billion between May and August, a roughly 12% increase over 2019. It seemed like most, or at least many, of those people were in Acadia, Bar Harbor and the surrounding areas!
Our visit was based at the Asticou Inn, located in Northeast Harbor. That area is much less busy than Bar Harbor and made a fairly central place to stay without being too far away or right in the hustle and bustle. We heard about Asticou from a waitress at a restaurant in Whiteville, NC. She had waited on us in April and during our conversation told us that she worked at Asticou during the summers. When we made our travel plans we got reservations at the inn and met her there during our visit. Small world! We stayed in a group of rooms on the first floor of an 1854 “cottage” which is really a big old house. We had plenty of space, and although the floors were uneven and squeeky, it was a nice place to call home for a few days. The restaurant there was awesome, although it was closed for two of the five nights we were there. Not lacking for choices, however, we found two great alternatives the other nights!
Our first morning there entailed sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in Acadia National Park, and the first place in the US touched by the sun each morning. Reservations are required to go to Cadillac during the day in-season, and sunrise spots are especially coveted and limited to one per person every seven days. Sunrise was about 6:25am, which required a very early alarm in order to get there with time to spare. And Kathy went with me! My funny story from that morning was at the entry gate, the ranger checked our documents, welcomed us and allowed us to go ahead. I asked if he had any tips (meaning for sunrise) and his reply was “keep it between the white lines!” It gave us a laugh. Despite the restricted entry, the parking lot filled quickly, as did the top of the mountain – people bundled up against the cold and wind with all kinds of clothing, both weather-appropriate and otherwise! It was pitch black dark when we got there, and as it got lighter we were able to see more and more people. I can only imagine the pandemonium at peak times before the restrictions!
Admission to Cadillac Mountain after 7am was by timed entry every 30 minutes. Once there you can stay as long as you want. I arbitrarily made a sunrise reservation for our first day, and a 7am reservation for our fourth day. It was good timing, as the sunrise morning was “severe clear” while the second visit was socked in with fog. A few clouds on the sunrise morning would have been preferred, but clear was better than pea soup!
After sunrise we headed back down the mountain and took the Park Loop Road, which goes past many of the top destinations, such as Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Boulder Beach and Otter Cliff. The nice light faded quickly and we stopped a lot to explore, but our main goal was to get there before the “nooners,” as we like to call the crowds of people who start showing up at popular places late morning. They were all in Bar Harbor having breakfast at 7:30 in the morning, heading into the park afterward. Case in point was when a couple days later we cruised past this area of the coast on a boat tour. That afternoon the traffic on the Loop Road was bumper to bumper, and there were dozens of people trying to get a peek at Thunder Hole. When we visited there early in the morning there were only a handful of people at each place!
That afternoon we headed toward the eastern side of Acadia to the Schoodic Peninsula. It turned out to be the least-populated part of the park and probably our ultimate favorite. It doesn’t have the views or the terrain of Acadia proper, but what it lacks in drama it makes up in quietude. It does still have its own beauty, with rocky coastline, nice views and plenty of places to explore. We didn’t have nearly enough time to really relax and enjoy Schoodic, and would make up for it be staying closer to there on a subsequent visit.
We planned a boat cruise out of Bar Harbor for the afternoon of our second day. So we got into town early so we could find a place to park, spent some time walking around town and had a late breakfast at a restaurant called Jordan’s Restaurant. Jordan’s is known for, among other things, their Wild Maine Blueberry Pancakes. Maine IS blueberry country, after all! And they were as good as you might expect, topped with real Maine maple syrup. There was a bit of a wait, but we expected it and it was well worth it. We went to the boat dock in the early afternoon and took a cruise aboard Acadian Boat Tours’ ‘Eden Star.’ We saw…more lighthouses. Also lots of wildlife – seals, dolphins, lobster fishermen and tourists. 😉 The weather was less than ideal – cold and rainy – but the water was smooth as glass, the clouds made for glare-free photographs and we saw some very interesting clouds. We returned from the boat ride ready for cocktails and dinner, and had both at Jack Russell’s Steakhouse and Brewery, a nice steakhouse right across the road. No, it’s not sacrilegious to have steak in Maine!
We devoted our third day for a drive to Quoddy Head State Park, site of the Quoddy Head Lighthouse and known as the Easternmost Point in the Continental US. That means we have now visited the two easiest points to get to – the other being the Southernmost Point in Key West. The Northernmost Point is in Middle of Nowhere (not the actual name!), Minnesota and the Westernmost Point is in Middle of Nowhere (not the actual name!) Oregon. We want to get there but it may need to wait a while! The lighthouse is quite beautiful, and from the shore we could see Canada. In fact, when we were in the parking lot our phones buzzed with the message “Welcome to Canada” and we were charged for using my phone “internationally” even though we never actually left the country! We had a nice dinner – seafood this time – at The Chart Room, a a local waterfront place we had passed earlier in the week.
We devoted our fourth and final day, after an early morning drive back to Cadillac Mountain, to exploring the western side of Mount Desert Island (pronounced ‘dessert’ even though it is spelled like ‘desert.’ It’s evidently a French thing.). We returned to the inn for a late lunch of Lobster Bisque, Lobster Roll and Lobster Popovers (an Acadian thing), knowing that we probably would not be getting lobster in New Hampshire 😉 and spent the afternoon getting ready for our departure toward New Hampshire the next morning.
As spectacular is Acadia is, I don’t know that I would rush back there. I’m glad we went, but truthfully there is so much more to see than just that area. There’s a good reason it is so popular – it is truly gorgeous – but like so many National Parks it has become almost too popular for its own good. We did really enjoy the afternoon we spent exploring the Schoodic Peninsula, and I would go back there in a heartbeat. But the entire Maine coast has some beautiful places just waiting to be explored. We barely got to see inland Maine, and we weren’t anywhere near the north woods or Katahdin. So there is plenty of unseen territory for another visit, or two or ten! Plus we have friends there, so how hard is that!
For anyone interested in seeing even more of my photos, I have posted a photo gallery on my Adobe Portfolio page for Maine, as well as the other parts of our New England trip. I hope to have the final group processed over the next week or so.
For years I have been seeing photographs of a lovely bridge, reflected in a pond and surrounded by – depending on time of the year – snow and Christmas decorations, spring flowers and fall colors. Karin Pinkham is a Maine photographer who has made several splendid photographs of this bridge. I didn’t ask for her permission to show her photos here, but several examples can be found on her website: Flag, Flowers, Fall, More Fall, Winter. Spend some time on her site – she does beautiful work.
I knew that this bridge was in Somesville, somewhere near Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park in Maine in a place called Somesville Museum and Gardens. I imagined it as this idyllic place, hidden in a quiet forest with hiking paths and benches for contemplation and rest. Actually, it is right beside a busy road!
In most of the photos I have seen, the road is cropped out or well hidden behind greenery or with a low perspective. There’s a little parking lot, enough for about 10 cars, and there is always someone pulling in or out. It’s one of those places that few people actually look for but many people recognize. We were actually driving through town on our way to somewhere else, planning to find the bridge on our way back. When I saw it I said, “that’s IT?” But of course it was, just not in the context I had expected it to be.
The lesson for me is a reminder that not everything is what you imagine it to be. The power of photography, and particularly of composition, is to make a photograph of what something is, often without reference to its surroundings. It was an interesting place to see with my own eyes. I was not there at an ideal time, condition-wise, but I did make a few photographs to illustrate my points. I’m glad we took the time to check it out!
“Three weeks ago, I found myself sitting on the banks of Hudson Bay, a stone’s throw from the Arctic circle, waiting for a polar bear to wake from his slumber. One can wait a long time for a polar bear to awaken. Several times, our group of photographers asked whether we should move on, and several times the answer was, “You don’t leave a bear to go look for a bear.””
Most followers of this blog are already familiar with David duChemin. He gets a little preachy sometimes, but more often than not his words of wisdom are quite wise. In his most recent blog post, For Stronger Photographs: More Time, he writes about the difficult but valuable need to be patient. To take the time for something to happen. To make the time to be in the right place for something to happen. Its a lesson for all of us, photographers and non-photographers alike.
I’ve said numerous times that the most valuable thing I have learned from photography is that it is nearly impossible to be in the perfect spot at the perfect time. For that to happen even once is unimaginable, but to expect it over and over again is foolish and unproductive. There is always a better sunset, a better wave, a better expression, somewhere. But we don’t know where or when, so the best we can do is be where we feel we need to be, or make the best of wherever we are.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not generally a patient person. But in waiting for a cloud to cover the sun, or for a wave to crash on a rock, or for shadow to spread evenly over a waterfall, there are times when patience is rewarded. Slow down, look around, and don’t leave a bear to go look for a bear.
When Kathy & I were planning our journey through New England, we knew we would want to spend plenty of time in Maine, and most of it along the coast. But we were pretty sure we didn’t want to spend all of our time in Acadia.
Boothbay Harbor is the current home of photographer Bob Krist and his wife Peggy. Bob frequently writes and posts photos about Boothbay and the surrounding area on Facebook and Instagram, and his descriptions of the people and places caused us to look seriously at staying there. One of his posts shared a promotional video he made for Capt. Fish, a cruise operator in Boothbay. Another profiled a long-time boat builder, another a painter. It looked like the kind of place – people, pace and atmosphere – that we enjoy visiting.
I corresponded with Bob several times before our visit, and while he was off on assignment during the time we were there, he made a number of recommendations of places to go and even places to stay. He actually suggested that we stay somewhere more centrally located than Boothbay, but his suggestion was based on the assumption that I was there to photograph all of the “iconic” landmarks such as the lighthouses and coastline. But Kathy & I enjoy the charm and character of small towns, and the more we looked and researched, the more we thought that Boothbay Harbor would be a good place to spend a few days.
As an added bonus, we arranged to meet up with our friends Joe and Katherine in Boothbay. Joe & I spent a little time photographing, and we enjoyed a nice seafood dinner at Harborside 1901, a local restaurant. It was an excellent meal, so good that we went back a second time!
One of the notable features of the harbor in Boothbay is the wooden pedestrian bridge that connects the “downtown” with the quieter side of the water, which is where we stayed, at the Boothbay Harbor Inn. The bridge is strung with lights that illuminate the way at night, and it made for a nice scene.
Boothbay Harbor turned out to be a good place to call home for a few days. We had a nice stay at the Boothbay Harbor Inn, with a waterfront room that allowed us to enjoy the harbor, located close enough to everything that we could walk to breakfast and dinner. One morning we got to see a lobsterman servicing his traps that were scattered around the bay. We took a coastal tour on Capt. Fish’s “Pink Lady” and it was a delightful way to see some lighthouses and coastal spots you wouldn’t otherwise see. We drove to a few other lighthouses, visited a few small towns and even happened upon a photo shoot for LL Bean that was happening near the Marshall Point Lighthouse. They have more assistants that either Bob or I do! The model we saw is one that we have since seen in catalogs and on the website!
It was nice to enjoy the quieter pace of that part of the Maine coast before heading off to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. It was just a bit busier there! I’m working on those photos now and hope to have some posted later this week.