DNA-X 2014 #3 Olde New England
After our Canadian adventure in the wilds of the Kenauk Preserve, Blue got a good hosing off to remove the mud. We got out the map and in the Mystery Tour method, threw a dart to see where our next destination would be. Not too far, not too wild… so the dart landed in Maine. Humm, haven’t been there for a while, the ocean air sounded inviting, fresh lobstaa, eh yah, that’ll do! So we aimed for Camden along the mid coast. One thing about Maine roads to remember is there aren’t a lot of choices going east and west. Those roads tend to be rough, narrow, winding and under construction during the summer. The weather was good as we took the lonely back roads weaving our way from Quebec into New England.
Our roost for a few days was the historic Camden Harbor Inn set on a hill overlooking the harbor. Don’t be fooled by the inn’s traditional exterior, the rooms have been remodeled with a Euro flair and modern décor. The food is delicious. The steep coastal mountains of Mount Battie and Mount Megunticook tower over the town and protect it from the cold north wind. The bustling harbor was filled with boats of all sorts while a medley of tourists tromped through the streets. Do take the drive up Mount Battie to see a great view of Penobscot Bay and nearby islands. Wild Maine blueberries were everywhere for the hungry travelers to enjoy! If flea markets and antiques are your interest there is a 15-mile stretch of road north of town that is lined with old chicken coops, barns and assorted structures stuffed with treasures for all tastes!
We moved south to Boothbay Harbor and checked in to a small B&B. The town was choked with tourists! Parking was scarce and the restaurants were overflowing out the door with patrons. Somehow we found a small, local, family run place called Kaler’s where good olde fashioned Maine dishes are featured. Yes, we had the lobstaa and it was great. Just outside town is the beautiful Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens which has it’s own unique microclimate and features plants that grow nowhere else in Maine. This is well worth a stop.
Crowds along the coast chased us west and we decided to head for Lake George, New York. Lake Placid had been peaceful so why not check out another lake? We had read about the vintage Sagamore Hotel perched on the shore surrounded by the Adirondack Mountains, it looked charming. After a daylong drive, we pulled into the traffic-choked town and it became immediately apparent that everyone within 300 miles also had the same idea- escape to the country! Every hotel, motel, campsite, etc. was packed. What were we thinking?! The hotel entry was filled with other tourists jostling for position to check in. Kids ran helter-skelter through the lobby and parking lots. We had reserved a “lakeview” room in the nearby “lodge” building. The clerk signed us in, assured us that if we didn’t like the room we might be able to change. Wonder why he said that? Parking was, shall we say, limited to non-existent. We decided to take a look before we schlepped in the bags. Down a steep staircase into the basement, past a moldy porta-bed and through a door propped open with a garbage can was our “entry”. When we entered the room, our “view” was a wall 8 feet below the parking lot looking up at the undersides of parked vehicles. Oh, but wait, we had a “patio” (4 feet square) just outside the slider so you could get closer to the oil and rubber fumes wafting from the vehicles! We made an abrupt escape from the “Dungeon Room”- did we do something bad? Who would “convert” a moldy basement with banks of droning AC compressors in the next “room” into accommodations? They charge money for this?! After haggling- no refunds you know it’s “the season”, we got one of the last rooms in the main inn- for twice the price. Now what? The next morning a hasty exit was agreed upon and a quick reconnoiter of possible destinations aimed us west to Watkins Glen in New York.
A beautiful, un-crowded drive through Adirondack State Park led us to the Finger Lakes region with its pastoral farms and numerous vineyards. Watkins Glen sits at the south end of Seneca Lake. For those growing up in the 70’s you may remember there was a popular rock concert here that followed Woodstock (Captain Jay “attended”)! Today, the main attraction in town is the Watkins Glen International Speedway. Blue took a dim view of wasting time speeding around in circles, so we left the track to the sports cars. We had other pavement to conquer, time to throw the dart again…
For more information on botanical gardens in North America, visit one of our reader’s post on 55 Stunning Botanical Gardens You Really Need to See Before You Die .