Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hitting the Road (Me and the Crazy GPS Lady)

Sad to say today is a big driving day.  I'm leaving New England and driving to Maryland.  I have about a 9-10 hour drive to make today (biggest driving day so far) and I can't seem to leave this lovely Motel 6 room and motivate myself to head toward home!

I have a nice Book on CD to finish--i found that I could only listen to it when i was on the interestate.  When driving on the backroads I seemed to miss large chunks of the plot and kept having to go back and hear it again.  So today is the day.  The only interstate driving-only day I have had. 

I have been getting along OK with the gps.  She and I had our moments in the beginning and it was rather touch and go.  We just couldn't seem to ever be on the same page and I guess she didn't grasp the fact that I was, in fact, in control.  Once we got to New York I thought we were almost to the point where she was nearly reading my mind - but, alas, I found this to only be temporary.  Now I think she is just being bossy - I'm like a teenage girl and her mother - always trying to find some new way to get somewhere even when the mom clearly states she thinks the best way is one certain way.  And I secretly I enjoy openly defying her from time to time and finding some random road I found on a the old fashioned paper maps (weh?) and seeing just how pissed off she gets.  Take that funny talking technology lady.

I need to get back to human contact.  Clearly I'm losing my mind.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Portland, Maine (First time in a real bed in over 10 days!)

On the way down to Portland from Acadia, I stopped at Booth Bay Port to grab a snack and see what the town was about - very similar to all the other port towns.  We stopped here at the lobster wharf where lobstermen unload their finds and its served up compelely fresh.  You can order Lobster here and they will ship it anywhere right off the boat.  I grabbed some seafood chowder and O and i sat on the deck and watched the lobstermen. 

The Lobster Wharf

My friend Danny at work said I was going to meet a lobsterman and never come home.   I figured this was my one chance ; )   I always pictured lobstermen to be big burly men with beards and raincoats (some image from a movie, I'm sure).  But the only ones I saw looked barely old enough to drink a beer.  Interesting.  I bet lobstermen would have some good stories.  But I met no lobsterman.  Sorry Danny... looks like its not in my cards this trip : )  I did; however, really enjoy my chowder!  It was very fresh.
We got to Portland around 5:30 ish and checked into our Motel 6.  I gotta say - these Motel 6's are really interesting.  My room appears to be decorated in the style of 1985 and the TV is bolted to the plywood "desk/dresser".   Quite the fancy livin it is.  Guess I've gotten used to nicer hotels for work.  But hey - they allow dogs for no extra charge!  and my rate was under $50.  So I should be very happy with this Back to the Future themeland I am sleeping in.  I did bring my own blanket and pillow, though.  I don't know how many times this coverlet has been washed since the 80s.  Bleh.  Anyway - after settling in and catching up on my bloggin - I drove down to the Old Port area downtown to see what it was all about.  I think after being in Bar Harbor-Portland isn't quite as cool as I had hoped.  Stores were mostly closed and bars and restaurants kinda spread out.  I think it was just being back in a larger city that was hard for me.  Being in these nice little small towns has really spoiled me.  This place didn't have the same friendly feel that the other towns had.  That being said - size wize - it was pretty cool compared to Knoxville.  They have all kinds of cool restaurants. I even saw an African grocery store.  Thats pretty cool.  Seems to have a lot of variety.  We ended up eating at an Irish Pub and heading back to the hotel.  Not a crazy night for the worn out travelers.  Things are definitely winding down on this trip!

In the morning we got up late and went back downtown to see what the place had to offer in the daylight.  It was a much different scene, for sho.  It took me a bit to figure out the parking situation.  I actually pulled into a parking garage that charged $25 PER DAY to park.  PER DAY.  I hit the reverse rather quickly and pulled out of that joint.  I looked back to see if I was just seeing stuff - but no.   Fortunately the street spots charge by the quarter and we eventually found one of those.   We hit a few dog-friendly shops and ate at Flatbread where we ate a really, really good gluten-free pizza.  I had to pay an extra $4.50 to have a gluten free crust.  kinda crazy - but it was definitely worth it.  For those who don't know - GF pizza typically tastes like cornchip tissue paper or carpet.  Or like you are eating a pizza stone.  But this crust was actually almost like real pizza crust!  It was great!!  I also drank a warm lemonade with a bit of maple syrup added for flavor.  I'm not a huge lemonade fan, but it was pretty freakin good.

After the pizza I decided I had had enough of the city and found the nearest public beach.  It was very windy and chilly (high was supposed to be around 64, but it felt much chillier than that on the beach).  We found a nice spot on a nearly empty beach (with just one crazy sunbathing lady and the occasional dog walkers) and i sat down to finish the book I've been reading (Little Bee - if you haven't read it - its very good-very deep).  It was a lazy, relaxing afternoon.  Very good to be near the ocean! 

Oreo was pretty excited because it was a leash-free beach... She was such an awesome dog - she just layed with me on the towel the whole time.  She occasionally went and met the dogs that passed by.  I think she enjoyed herself : )

After the tide came in and the chill got to me (and I finished my book), I got bored and didn't know what else to do, so I decided to go explore some local thrift stores.  I figured I could get cool Maine stuff at rock bottom prices.  Plus its just fun to see what kinda stuff you can find in these the t-shirt that said "Fresno State Cow Tipping Team" or "Screw Vintage...this shirt is from the future".  I actually did find some super cool tees that i did buy.  I also got a pair of shorts for a dollar, a Maine sweathirt for $5 and some other crap I didn't need.  But atleast it was super cheap crap I don't need...  I picked up some good thai food after this and went back to the hotel to organize all the crap i already had.  When I get home I'm having a yard sale : )

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Acadia, Day 3 (Branding Myself to Remind me of its Awesomeness)

Last full day in Acadia! I decided that i would explore the other side of the island and keep my expenses to a minimum (since I've blown my budget in this place!). I drove over toward the Southwest Harbor side of Mount Dessert island and decided to hike around the Long Island area. There were tons of trails winding around the lake so we started there first.

We headed up to Beech Mountain via the west trail. It was another rocky climb to the top, but great exercise and once again Oreo showed her Bad-Assness... We took a bajillion pics at the top and half climbed the fire tower (top closed off) then cruised back down via the south trail. It was super cool! It wasn't as steep at the west side and it had tons and tons of stone cut steps leading to the bottom. I took lots of pictures of the traill cause it just seemed so cool! Along the way I ran into some Park Service guys who were doing some trail maintenance and asked them about the steps - they were built over 70-80 years ago when much of the park was built (I forgot to ask if it was CCC labor like some of the other trails or if it was Rockefeller), but they said they had done very little maintainance other than drainage work since then. cool. Again, they just don't build things like they used to.

We stopped by Bass Harbor lighthouse-the only lighthouse on Mount Dessert island...

Took this pic on the side of the road - thought it was pretty. Everything is pretty here!

We stopped at this place called the Echo lake Ledges. I imagine that people swim here when its not 40 degrees outside! We sat along the edge of the lake and I played with my camera some more as we relaxed.

Proof of my bushy eyebrows:

Oreo chillin on a rock (finally sans-leash!):

We headed back to camp early. I decided to hang in camp instead of spending more money so we stopped at the bath house and I had an amazing $4 shower, bought some firewood and headed back to blackwoods. I made one of my freeze-dried dinners - Seafood Chowder. My favorite! Its amazing how good those freeze-dried camping dinners can be! Just add boiling water, wait 10 minutes and BAM! A good hot meal. Perfect for backpacking and camping when you don't want to lug a bunch of food stuff around. Here is O chillin at camp:

I ate my last 3 marshmallows (yes, I've consumed the WHOLE BAG). The perfect marshmallow:

What happens when an extremely clumsy girl walks around in the dark and trips over the firepit and lands on the hot marshmallow poker that she just cleaned by sticking it in the hot coals. If you can't see - there are some small white streaks on my ring and pinky finger where I branded myself. It hurt like dammit....

Never fear, i think. I'm trained in wilderness First Aid... I can remedy this. I run to the car and grab my wilderness first aid pack and find out what to do for a 1st degree burn. First thing- do not put ice directly on burn. oops. already messed that up. 2nd, apply cold compress and aloe. Don't have either. crap. so much for the wilderness pack. I did have neosporine and i coated myself up and wrapped up my fingers, making sure i kept them above my heart. They throbbed quite a bit, but were okay by morning. Speaking of which - a HUGE storm rained down for hours first thing in the morning. Had to pack up all my gear soaking wet. Its now hanging in the bathroom of my Motel 6 hotel room :)

Acadia, Day 2

On our 2nd day, we started out early - first stopping at the Bar Harbor grocery store for water and coffee - then hitting the part of the loop trail we missed the previous day. It was shaping up to be another pretty day - although a bit cloudier and much cooler. First stop was Sand Beach where i snapped a few pics. This is one of the few "dogs aren't allowed" places in Acadia, so Oreo chilled out in the car for a minute while I ran down to have a look.

After that we hit a few other cool places along the road, including Hunter's beach - a mecca for rock lovers....such as myself. There were so many different types of rocks on this beach - i collected a few for a geek-photo to share with everyone - cause i know everyone appreciates rocks as much as me ; )

Cool rocks:

After that we stopped at Jordan Lake for some hiking. There is a nice flat trail that goes all the way around the lake - but we also went up to what is called the bubble trails - we only were able to get up to the south bubble, there was a great big vertical climb i was afraid to take O on. Other than that, Oreo is an extremely big bad-ass rock climber. She just isn't such a great fan of that stupid leash thing i keep strapping on her. Sometimes she jumps up faster than me and kinda chokes herself. She doesn't like that. Probably as much as I dont like it when she dives down hill and pulls me along with her. I guess we are even in that way.. Along the trail i passed two guys who were leisurely strolling along - one taking photos and the other waiting for him. he struck up a conversation with me and I looked up and had one of those moments where I couldn't remember how to speak. He looked like an underwear model. or, not knowing what he looked like in underwear, a hair model. or a hat model. or something. He asked what Oreo's name was and said she was really pretty and I studdered something stupid and kept on walking. Why would someone so pretty be speaking to me? I smelled like a lobster and I'm pretty sure my eyebrows have started growing back together. They most assuredly had to be gay.

Oreo looking down from the South Bubble:

I played with my camera alot in Acadia. It is one of the most photogenic places I have ever been. I took hundreds of pictures!

This is looking over at the Bubble from the lake trail:

After the approximate 4 mile hike, we stopped at Jordan Lake Restaurant for a snack on their outdoor lawn with a view of our bubble. i decided South Bubble sounded stupid - so I renamed it Erin and Oreo's bubble. Cause we kicked its ass. Oreo was even allowed in the gift shop at the Jordan house. Pretty cool.

After driving around the rest of the loop road - we headed back to camp to change clothes and take a nap before the big Margaret Todd adventure. I was starting to feel a bit exhausted. I feel like i've been going non-stop for over a week and I am starting to feel a little worn out! But will not stop.
We boarded the Margaret Todd at 5pm and met lots of really nice people. Oreo befriended a really nice lady from Texas who was sitting beside us when we set sail. She was one of those ladies who you know is probably an awesome grandma. She was adorable and we talked for a bit about our travels. She said her and her husband's last boat trip was in Africa in a dugout canoe. How cool is this grandma?

Some really cool Harley motorcycle peeps befriended us next. They were those really rich harley people with really expensive Harley clothes and houses all across the country. They just loved Oreo and offered to take our picture...

One of the ladies was so cool, she even gave Oreo lots of stinky cheese (I think it was brie or maybe goat cheese, I'm not sure--but O loved it), even after oreo kinda snapped at her. She just kept feeding her cheese and talking to us. Again, I have never met such nice people. I think Oreo is a magnet for cool people, even when she is not exactly being cool herself. Everyone just thinks she is so cute!

After docking back at Bar Harbor - Oreo and i headed to the Parkside restaurant and had dinner before heading back to camp and crashing...again. Another busy day. So much fun : )

Oreo admiring the sunset:

Maine - Acadia National Park, Part I

Shortly after i entered the state of Maine I knew I was in love... Why? Because one of the first stops was at a small bakery along the road in Mexico, Maine, where they made all Gluten free goodies! I had to stop! I purchased 2 freshly made muffins - one strawberry and the other apple cinnamon. I ate the strawberry one in about .01 seconds - it was amazing. made with fresh strawberries. I saved the other for breakfast the next day. The couple who own the bakery were very friendly and we talked briefly about gluten free travelling and how we always just end up eating salads when in doubt. They were great!

So, back to Maine...where to begin.. well, I don't know if I mentioned this in my earlier posts, but one of the many reasons why I really enjoyed New Hampshire was because the entire state seemed to smell like a Christmas tree. The good kinda Christmas tree, not the cheap kind. The one that makes you want to drink cocoa and wait for santa kind. So when I got to Maine, specifically when I got to Acadia, I found a little piece of awesome when I got to the shoreline and smelled the lovely smell of the ocean mixed with the happy smell of Christmas trees. It was amazing. for a long time I just sat and enjoyed the gorgeous view (the skies were so blue on this first day), relaxing and soaking in the amazing smells around me. After the few grey days i had in New Hampshire, I really enjoyed the sunshine, even if it was a bit chilly!

I walked along the beach trail for a bit and admired the many views and then hopped back in the car and went around the loop road for some more views before driving up Cadillac Mountain. There are about 6 different trails I could have climbed to make it to this point, but I totally cheated and drove instead (not to make same mistake as Natasha... ; ). After this we drove to Bar Harbor and walked around a bit. There were SO MANY dog friendly stores in this town! i'm going to blame the reason i spent so much money in this town on the fact that I was so greatful these stores allowed me to bring my pooch inside, therefore i felt i needed to be a patron of their wares. Yea. thats it...

After spending a million dollars on a bunch of useless crap (lots of stickers...), i walked along the wharf and found Steumans - which i had found in my Dog-friendly travel book and we got a nice picnic table by the water. As I waited on my food, I caught up on my post card writing for my co-workers and I fed Oreo yummy doggy biscuits (although she had had about a million of them in the stores where everyone offered her treats and hugs -- and she only gave hugs after they gave treats -- my dog is really a whore).

I ordered my very first lobster. I have, in all my 35 years on this planet, NEVER eaten lobster, not even in parts. So I ordered my first one - a whole one...I felt comforted by the fact that my menu included lengthy instructions and my waiter was very friendly and said he'd help me out if I needed it, so I felt relatively safe. I was a bit nervous, thought.
When the lobster came I got so so excited i spilled my butter bowl everywhere. My waiter graciously told me i had committed a my first party foul... but kindly brought me another. He gave me some brief instructions and I went to work. I am proud tos ay that i ate the whole guy - except the green "brain goo" or intestinal poo, whatever it is they refer to as a "delicacy". Not for me, thanks. bleh. In the process of eating the little guy, I also broke my little lobster meat picking fork. I hid it in the midst of my lobster remains so it could be buried along with the corpse, so as not to have the waiter put me down for my 2nd party foul...

I felt full and satisfied with my first day in Maine. After this we headed back to camp and immediately crashed out. Stomach full of the little lobster.

Oh, and there are a few cool things about this place... Thought this pic was pretty cool: