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.
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!
To the casual observer, and likely to most tourists, the quaint, red-sided fishing shack with lobster buoys along the side is just another – albeit very nice – old fishing shack. It’s identity goes a bit deeper than that, however. According to Wikipedia:
“Motif Number 1, located on Bradley Wharf in the harbor town of Rockport, Massachusetts, is a replica of a former fishing shack well known to students of art and art history as “the most often-painted building in America.” The original structure was built in 1840 and destroyed in the Blizzard of 1978, but an exact replica was constructed that same year.
Built in the 1840s as Rockport was becoming home to a colony of artists and settlement of fishermen, the shack became a favorite subject of painters due to the composition and lighting of its location as well as being a symbol of New England maritime life. Painter Lester Hornby (1882–1956) is believed to be the first to call the shack “Motif Number 1,” a reference to its being the favorite subject of the town’s painters, and the name achieved general acceptance.
In the 1930s, painter John Buckley used the shack as his studio. He sold it to the town in 1945, dedicated “In 1945, the town of Rockport purchased the Motif as a monument to Rockporters who had served in the Armed Services.” The town, recognizing its iconic value, has taken pains to preserve both its structure and appearance, finding a red paint which appears weather-beaten even when new, and keeping the area clear of overhead wires, traffic signs and advertising.”
For me, Motif #1 was a primary reason for deciding to visit Rockport. Going out early in the morning virtually assured no tourist traffic, and if another photographer happened to be wandering around, we likely wouldn’t be in each others’ way. Over the course of several mornings and evenings the only people I saw were the few fisherman that were up and about even earlier than me.
I don’t think I came up with anything special or unusual in my compositions, but just like photos of the gondolas in Venice or the famous views of the Taj Mahal or Machu Picchu, if you’re there it’s just something you have to do. And I’m very glad I did!
After our time in Hyannis we headed toward Rockport, Massachusetts. On our way there, we decided to stop in Plymouth to see Plymouth Rock and Mayflower II. I’m pretty sure the rock is just a rock that someone carved a date on, but the Mayflower II is quite impressive. We didn’t go aboard, choosing to not take the time or pay the admission fee. So I just took a few photos from outside. We also stopped by train stations in Easton and Stoughton, and visited the Minute Man National Historical Park in Lincoln where we learned about the opening battles of the Revolutionary War.
Continuing with our small coastal town theme, we looked for a place to stay in a town that was walkable, scenic and situated in a location that was close to other things we wanted to do. We liked the Cape Ann area of Massachusetts, as it looked to be fairly quiet but located in an area with lots of choices. We eventually settled on Rockport.
The town of Rockport is situated at the end of Cape Ann, on Sandy Bay. When I saw photos of the iconic fishing shack called Motif #1, I was instantly drawn there as a photographic destination. It’s about as cliche as you can get, often referred to as “the most often-painted building in America.” But what the heck? I’ll do a separate post on Motif #1, because there is a lot more to Rockport than just one building!
As we planned our trip, I realized that we would be arriving in Rockport on the day before a full moon. A little research led me to identify several good spots to catch the rising moon over the town, on the night before the official full moon. As it turned out, the inn we selected for our stay there was directly across the street from one of those places. Sweet!
While we were on Cape Ann, and one of the reasons we chose to stay there, we booked a whale watch cruise out of Gloucester. Gloucester is a much more commercial-oriented town, likely due to it having a more protected harbor area as compared to Rockport. That’s part of the reason we chose not to stay there. There are a number of places we could have chosen, but the more laid-back vibe of Rockport suited our needs better.
One of the great things for me about Rockport was the ability to get up and out before sunrise, walking around the town to take advantage of the many photographic opportunities. Besides the full moon and Motif #1, there was plenty of other subject matter. Mostly boats and boat stuff, but that was perfectly OK with me.
The one surprising and perhaps disappointing thing about our stay in Rockport was that many of the businesses had gone to off-season hours or closed completely. This was purportedly due to the lack of staffing, and while most places we visited appeared to be struggling a bit but managing, Rockport seemed to be impacted more by the lack of seasonal help.
It was most irritating that businesses did not keep their signage or their websites up to date. One restaurant we wanted to visit said they were open, but on the day we wanted to go they were closed. But the next night they were supposed to be closed, we walked by and they were open but full. We stopped at a restaurant on another night nearly an hour before closing time, but were turned away because they were understaffed. Across the street, another restaurant that was open was still welcoming walk-ins an hour after they were supposed to have closed.
One morning while I was out walking around I had planned to stop at a shop that was known for its strudel, hoping to surprise Kathy with a little treat for breakfast. Their website and sign on the door said they would be open, but they were not. So we had to forego the strudel and make other plans. First world problems, I know. 😉
Rockport is a nice little town. Now that we have “done” it I probably wouldn’t need to stay there again. There just isn’t that much to do, and maybe that’s the point. 😉 After our stay in Rockport, we headed north to spend 9 days in Maine. I have a lot to say about Maine! 🙂
I posted this on Instagram yesterday but not everyone here would have seen it. One of a number of interesting scenes in Rockport, MA. I need to and will begin to highlight some of my more favorite photos from the various places we visited on our recent road trip.
I’ve edited and processed my photos through Massachusetts, but realized this morning that I have over 2500 from Maine! 🙂 Many of them are burst shots of waves and whales, but still. We were there for 9 days, so there was a lot of subject matter!
After Staunton, VA we spent a night in Scranton, PA. We stayed at a Radisson hotel in the former Lackawanna railroad station in downtown, and the following morning visited Steamtown National Historical Site before heading off to Rhode Island.
Steamtown National Historic Site is a railroad museum and heritage railroad located in downtown Scranton, PA at the site of the former Scranton yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W). The museum is built around a working turntable and a roundhouse that are largely replications of the original DL&W facilities. The roundhouse, for example, was reconstructed from remnants of a 1932 structure. The site also features several original outbuildings dated between 1899 and 1902. All the buildings on the site are listed with the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Yard-Dickson Manufacturing Co. site.
This is but a small sample of the photos I took there, and as usual mostly just scratch the surface of the place. A real railroad fan could spend days there!
I’ve posted a New England Part I gallery on Adobe Portfolio for anyone wanting to see more of my snapshots. The photos in that gallery take us through Rhode Island, which I’ll cover in a future post.
Photographers know this, of course. But for the few non-photographers who read my blog (and possibly even the photographers!) this might be interesting.
I took these two photos exactly 30 seconds apart. For the first one, above, there was just the right amount of light filtering through the clouds to provide some shape and contrast to the scene. In the second shot, below, the cloud has moved over the sun and the light has gone flat. Both of these photos are pretty nice, but to me the one with the shaping light and subtle shadows is the superior one.