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!
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.
Well, not literally. But I couldn’t think of a better verb to use, so that’s whatcha get! 😉
Our introduction to the state of Maine actually began while we were still in Massachusetts, when we decided to take a quick trip to Bob’s Clam Hut and Wiggly Bridge Distillery. We had read about Bob’s in a New York Times article about coastal Maine and decided we needed to try it. And a distillery named Wiggly Bridge was just too cool to pass up! Both places are about an hour’s drive from Rockport, and we had originally planned to stop at both places on our drive from Rockport to Boothbay Harbor. But Bob’s doesn’t open until 11:00 and the distillery not until noon, and we didn’t want to wait so late to start our drive from Rockport. So we made it a stand-alone trip, even though it meant a little bit of duplication.
Bob’s is just one of those legendary places that attracts locals and tourists alike. Bob’s has been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, was named a “Great American Lobster Destination” by USA Today and took a spot on Thrillist’s list of “50 Essential Restaurants Every American Should Visit.” Coastal Living has also recognized the lobster roll at Bob’s as one of the best in the state and Yankee magazine spotlighted the clam hut as having one of “The 10 Best Fried Clams in Maine.”
Bob’s has been in business since 1956, and it gets pretty busy and the lines start as soon as they open at 11:00! I had a lobster roll and Kathy had fried clams – both were delicious and worth the stop, but the unexpected delay made us late for our tasting at the distillery!
Luckily (for us) the crowds were a lot smaller at Wiggly Bridge. We were the only people scheduled for a tour at 12:00, so they didn’t mind waiting. The distillery is family-run and so small that when we called to tell them we would be late, the owner/distiller/boss man answered the phone! They’ve also got an interesting history. Started by a father and son as a result of a discussion during a family dinner, they basically taught themselves how to build a distillery, including learning to weld so they could build their first still! The spirits are pretty darned good too, and made up a sizeable portion of our souvenir collection. 😉
Once we were ready to enter Maine for real, we met up with Joe and Katherine at a(nother) lobster shack, this one out on Cape Elizabeth near Two Lights Lighthouse, named, appropriately enough, The Lobster Shack at Two Lights. 🙂 I always knew that the Maine coast is rocky, but seeing it in person was absolutely amazing. The rocks looked a lot like petrified wood, but it is really rock!
After lunch, a bunch of gab and a few photos, Kathy & I and Joe & Katherine headed toward Boothbay Harbor and the hotel we had arranged to stay at. On the way, Kathy & I stopped at Portland Head Lighthouse, one of the most picturesque beacons on the Maine coast. Once leaving there we headed on toward Boothbay ourselves, which was going to be our base for the next 4 nights. More on Boothbay and beyond in my next post.
As a photographic aside, I’ve been working over the last couple of weeks with the new masking tools in the latest version of Lightroom. While it is much more powerful, I’m finding it a bit less intuitive than the prior version. I use luminance masking a lot, and it has been a bit frustrating to me. But the more I play with it the better I get. I hope! 🙂
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! 🙂
When choosing where to stay and what to do in Massachusetts, we decided to keep with the smallish coastal fishing village vibe as much as possible. We wanted to avoid the larger cities with their traffic and congestion, understanding that even though we were past the peak travel season, anywhere we went was likely to be busy. We really want to visit Boston, and in fact were scheduled to spend some time there last year before a cruise that was cancelled. It’s a destination in itself, and this trip was already shaping up to be a long one!
We wanted to stay near or on Cape Cod, so we looked for places to stay that suited our preferences – centrally located, a selection of restaurants, not too urban, etc. We also wanted to be able to take a coastal cruise, either sightseeing or whale watching. And we also hoped to get over the Martha’s Vineyard. We settled on Hyannis, because it met those criteria.
But first, we managed to do a little sightseeing on our drive from Mystic. I mentioned in a previous post that we had encountered traffic in Newport due to the boat show. We lost some valuable time there, and that cut into our visit to New Bedford, the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park and the Jonathan Bourne Whaling Museum. We spent a couple of hours in New Bedford before moving on. The drive ended up taking most of the day, albeit with some good stops.
Since we only had two full days to spend on Cape Cod, we had to choose wisely. We ended up deciding against Martha’s Vineyard, as it would have taken an entire day. We would have had a boat ride on the ferry, but would not have seen the sights around Hyannis Harbor and Cape Cod Bay. We had to make a choice and decided to devote a day to some time in town, a coastal cruise and then some driving down to Falmouth and Woods Hole. The second day was devoted to Provincetown, Chatham and Cape Cod National Seashore. Sadly, the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory was closed to visitors, so we did not get to visit. 🙁 We did, however, find some good clam chowder for lunch, so all was not lost! 🙂
Our coastal cruise was interesting, because it took us past a number of lighthouses, and houses built to look like lighthouses. The homes around the Hyannis Port Yacht Club include those once owned by members of the Kennedy family. We saw ‘Mya,’ the sailboat once owned by Ted Kennedy. It was moored in the harbor along with an unnamed sailboat that was moored to a mooring ball painted with the name “Kennedy.” No idea whose boat that was or who now owns Mya, but I’m guessing it is still in the family. That afternoon we visited Falmouth and Woods Hole, taking in a few more lighthouses.
Provincetown was an interesting place. A smaller version of Key West, perhaps. Funky shops, funky people and a real laid-back attitude. Probably not a place we would want to have stayed, but we were glad to have visited.
Along Cape Cod National Seashore, we made stops at the visitor center, Marconi Beach to see the remains of the original Marconi Wireless Station, Herring Cove, and the town of Chatham (more lighthouses!). No, we didn’t see any of the sharks reported to be making a comeback along the Cape, but we did see a few seals, which the sharks like to have for dinner! 🙂
Before returning to our hotel we made a stop at the John F. Kennedy Memorial. It was dark and cloudy and not the best conditions for photos, but I did manage to snap a few. The next day we headed up the coast, around Boston and on to Rockport. Stay tuned! 🙂