THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JAMES A. BONDOUX

ROAD TRIP "UP TO DOWN EAST"
MAINE 2007

Foliage

The reason for choosing October as the time for our visit.We earned our "leaf–lookers"badge.

Town Sign

Arriving in Kennebunkport, site of President George H.W. Bush's coastal house.

Land of the free

Sad discovery: the authorities in Portland are not fans of American Freedoms.

Moose Sign

The moose are big in Maine - lots of tourist–oriented businesses adopt cute moose names. We came across The Mangy Moose, The Hungry Moose, Once in a Blue Moose, etc.

Roadside stop

We rented a big Durango for the trip, and Mitchel did almost all of the driving.

Michelle dinner

Caught up with cousin Michelle for dinner at the Frost Tavern in Durham, NH.

More foliage

The season is almost over -– tourists starting to leave and tourist facilities closing down.

Campobello

The Franklin Roosevelt retreat on Campobello Island, about a mile across the border inside Canada.

Lobster Biology

Checking out lobster biology at the Oceanarium. A lobster hatchery helping keep the fishery healthy.

Bucksport

Gun emplacement in Fort Knox, Bucksport. About halfway up the coast of Maine, Bucksport is where the "Down East" designation begins to apply to coastal Maine. The fort was only used briefly, and that during the Spanish–American war!

Thunder Hole

A point of interest in Acadia National Park. We weren't too sure what to make of it, so we drove on.

Quoddy

We've been to the southern tip of the continental US in Key West. Here's the eastern tip - how does it get to be "West Quoddy"? Easy - Quoddy is water, not land, as in "Passamaquoddy Bay".

Over the years, yacht club friends had brought back intriguing stories of their summers drifting around Penobscot Bay and the islands of the Maine coast. I also had admired what I had read about the taciturn, hardy, no-nonsense culture of the northeastern US.

We also have really warm memories of our 2005 family road trip, which was a relatively leisurely drive from Fort Lauderdale to Reno over a two–week period. During that time we were able to adjust our itinerary and timetable to check out various places of interest along the way.

It therefore became an easy decision in 2007 to do a "landcruise" of the coast of Maine. That part of the world attracts tourists, locally termed "leaf lookers" when the foliage turns into diverse and vibrant colors at the end of summer – so we timed our visit for the early fall weeks. A repeat road trip, but this time up (i.e. north) to Down East (i.e. downwind from Boston for sailing ships).

To cover the ground most efficiently, we flew into Bangor – it is just about the northeasternmost US airport with frequent regular scheduled service. Renting a car there to be turned in at Logan airport in Boston would give us the most stretch of coastal exploration with a minimum of retracing of our own steps. And we would be able to add a few sights in New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the bargain.

We drove all of US Route 1 from the Canadian border to Boston. This is part of the old King's Highway, as the coastal road was called when the first improvements were made in the late 17th century. The road follows the original Indian paths and wildlife trails through scenic landscapes, albeit with modern bridges now replacing the old wading shallows and ferry crossings of history.

Kathryn and I gorged ourselves on lobsters, the trademark coastal crop of Maine. Sadly, Mitchel's allergies prevented him from joining us in our various shellfish feast excesses. I experienced a seafood stew that outclassed any bouillabaisse in memory, and we enjoyed a standout lobster dinner at particularly noteworthy "The Whale's Tooth" in Lincolnville.

Since we chose the landcruise mode, we didn't experience the nautical cruising that had piqued our initial interest, but we were able to check out some of the islands and their typical seascapes and local color via a harbor boat excursion out of Boothbay Harbor.

Kathryn enjoyed exploring some of the sites of a memorable childhood trip with her family, including the York Harbor Inn where lunched in the historic "cellar".

Lengthy stop at Freeport, the headquarters of L.L. Bean, whose massive retail center has attracted a bevy of shops and outlets seeking symbiosis with the iconic outfitter. Succumbing to the buying impulse suggests that Freeport is anything but "free"... And we also stopped at a concentration of factory outlets near Kittery, just inside the Maine state line, so there are still plenty of spending opportunities in remote Maine.

Everywhere we stayed along this coast was close to the water, and in Kennebunkport our room was a few paces away from, and level with, the yacht harbor slips. Right in front of our window was the berth of former President Bush's noted "go-fast" speedboat. While we watched, a crew came on board, fired up the engines and departed, closely followed by the President's chase boat, an ominous–looking Secret Service launch. We were told that the season having ended, the boat was being taken to the US Navy base at Portsmouth for winter storage.

One of the side curiosities we visited is a place called "America's Stonehenge", a large wooded property on which various stone structures are presented as having ancient and mysterious cultural significance. Fun, but hokey.

We wound up with a visit to Durham, home of the University of New Hampshire to catch up with cousin Michelle and also Somerville, Massachusetts to see Mitchel's old San Rafael pal, Kevin.

Another collection of good family moments for the memory bank...

The Route

The red line traces the King's Highway, and aside from the easternmost little curl, is the route we followed to explore coastal Maine.