Maine: Ever So Briefly: OTR 5.1

We departed Gorham, New Hampshire driving due east on Route 2 to Bethel, Maine. https://www.sundayriver.com/ In Bethel we took a break at DiCocoa’s Bakery & Cafe for coffee, tea and delicious baked goods. We highly recommend stopping here when you are in town. http://www.cafedicocoa.com

From Bethel we traveled north on Route 5 where we stopped in Andover for provisions. Andover is a small town in western Maine that dates back to 1788 and its roots as a lumber town go back to those early days. Ethan Allen Furniture operated a sawmill there until 2009.

This region of Maine has seen almost no Covid-19 cases and we did not see a single local resident wearing a face mask. When we entered the local grocery we were advised that “we don’t wear masks here, when it is your time it is your time”. Good luck………

Because of it’s geographic location Andover was chosen as the site of the Andover Earth Station, one of the first satellite earth stations. This antenna installation was utilized to communicate with the Telstar 1 satellite which provided the earliest satellite television and telephone service between Europe and North America. The original antenna was dismantled in the early 1960s. Currently the site is operated by Verizon in support of their satellite communication network. Today, Andover is primarily a destination for hunters and fishing enthusiasts.

After provisioning in Andover we traveled north through South Arm and into the backcountry of the Richardson Public Reserved Land Trust. There are 37 land trust areas in Maine. The land trust areas provide dispersed camping opportunities in addition to a multitude of outdoor recreation activities. https://www.nrcm.org/explore-maine-map/public-reserved-land/

Part of our reason for heading to the Richardson Lakes area was the opportunity to put the Beast into 4wd mode on the many forest and logging roads and trails that run through the reserve. We spent a fun afternoon circling around the perimeter of the 22,000 acre preserve before heading to Worthley Lake to camp.

Lover’s Lane, Richardson Lakes, MPRL
Richardson Lakes, MPRL
Worthley Pond, Peru, Maine

After our night at Worthley Pond we made the short trip to Hallowell to spend the day poking around in this historic town situated on the Kennebec River. The town was first settled in 1762.

The town has a prosperous history which was driven by the logging, shipbuilding, granite and ice industries that benefited from access to the Atlantic Ocean via the Kennebec River. Ice from Hallowell was taken by sailing ships to Cuba and various Caribbean Islands.

Today the town is a tourist draw with its many restaurants, pubs, shops and art galleries.

As many of you know, we are coffee and tea fans and were very pleased that Hallowell is home to Traverse Coffee Co located right in the heart of town on Water Street. Highly recommended. http://www.traversecoffeeco.com

Water Street, Hallowell, Maine, Pop. 2381

From Hallowell we made our way to the coast and the lovely town of Boothbay Harbor. The town sits on a peninsula which extends into the Bay of Maine and as such is a popular summer vacation destination and yachting center.

Our friends Dianna and Scott were vacationing in Boothbay Harbor while we were in town and they graciously allowed us to bivouac on their property during our stay.

Our Hosts: Scott, Dianna, Joanne, Penelope Rose, Phoebe Jane
Bivouac, Boothbay Harbor, Maine

While in Boothbay Harbor we visited the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. This botanical garden is an absolute gem located on apx. 300 acres. The gardens are thoughtfully designed for touring and there are walking trails that provide access to the Back River which abuts the property. https://www.mainegardens.org/

The gallery below consists of photographs taken by the talented photographer Phoebe and feature her sister Penelope.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

In addition to the botanical gardens we spent an afternoon in town at the harbor. Again we were blessed with an excellent coffee cafe in the heart of the shopping and restaurant district along the harbor. Highly recommended. http://www.brisettos.com

Portland was our destination after departing Boothbay Harbor. We had not visited Portland since 2011 so we were excited to get back to the city and see if the food, coffee and art scene is as vibrant as we remembered.

We spent our first afternoon walking around the city mural hunting and quickly found a plethora of fine works both authorized and unauthorized. We have included several works here but would refer you to our earlier post: Street Art From The Road:OTR 5.1 which includes a selection of murals from around Portland.

Portland, Maine – East Bayside

The third wave coffee scene in Portland has grown since our last visit but we continue to place Tandem Coffee at the top of our list. In addition to the great coffee the Congress Street cafe has an excellent bakery.

We made our first visit to Speckled Ax Coffee. This roaster and cafe operator opened in 2012. The coffee is excellent. Speckled Ax is unique in that they wood roast their coffee – not a common or easy way to roast coffee – but they have certainly mastered the technique.

Casco Bay, Portland, Maine

After taking in a nice sample of the street art and coffee scene we took advantage of the wonderful weather to ride the Casco Bay Ferry across the bay to Peaks Island. The island is about three miles off shore from the Portland waterfront and the ferry ride is just 20 minutes.

Peaks Island is part of the city of Portland but does have its own police station, post office and elementary school. Post elementary students ride the ferry to and from the mainland to attend school.

The full time residents of the island have a long history of trying to secede from the city – most recently in 2011 when the city reevaluated properties on the island and property taxes increased by over 200%. As with previous attempts to secede the Portland City Council Council voted no.

Ah well, a beautiful spot to visit even if you cannot afford to own a house. We took in the island scenery on a rented golf cart and dined on fresh sea food before returning to Portland

Portland happily is as handsome and interesting as we remembered. From Portland we meandered along the coastline and stopped for a hike as we made our way to Portsmouth for our final overnight before returning to Connecticut.

Susan Bartlett Rice, Biddeford, Maine

Our final day on the road required a short detour to Dover to check out locally renowned Flight Coffee and fuel up for the final leg to The Fort. A nice cafe for planning your next adventure! https://www.flightcoffeedover.com/

We thoroughly enjoyed our brief swing through Maine as the final segment of our brief return to the road. While all aspects of travel are not back to pre-pandemic conditions we think the country has opened up enough to allow life on the road to be enjoyable and safe. To that end we plan on departing The Fort in October for a fall tour of West Virginia and Virginia.

The Grid, Worcester, Massachusetts

We could not actually make it back to Connecticut without more coffee and tea so we ventured into The Grid district of Worcester for fika and found several fantastic murals to boot. Life is good.

Be seeing you!

Street Art From The Road: OTR 5.1

Our recent trip took us through portions of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. We have included a sample of some of the street art and murals that we found along the way. We appreciate the range of emotions these very different works of art evoke in us. Please let us know what you think.

Stay tuned for another post on OTR 5.1. Of course you can see more of our street art photographs on @streetartfromtheroad.

Be seeing you!

Northampton, Massachusetts

Mona June, Littleton, New Hampshire
XB-500, Location: Portland, Maine

Damien Mitchell @damien_mitchell Location, Worcester, Massachusetts

Ryan Adams @Ryan Writes on Things, Portland, Maine
Flyn Costello @flyncostello, Black Elephant Hostel, Portland, Maine
George Floyd by Ryan Adams, Jason McDonald, Mike Rich, Aura, Portland, Maine
Lola by Matt Bassett @mattbassett.mojodesign, Littleton, New Hampshire

Clam Diggers by Susan Bartlett Rice, Portland, East Bayside, Maine

Biddeford, Maine
By Susan Bartlett Rice, Biddeford, Maine
Portland, Maine
Rest Easy, Portland, Maine
Mary Mitchell Gabriel by Abigail Gray Swartz, Portland-East Bayside, Maine
By Greta Ault Van Campen @gretavancampen.art, Bayside Trail, Portland, Maine
Musician Mural, Bayside Trail, Portland, Maine

King Ember by Tim Clorius @timclorius aka SUBONE, Bayside Trail, Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine
By Insane 51, Worcester, Massachusetts
Portland, Maine

New Hampshire: On The Road 5.1

Loading the Beast
Pandemic Travel Wardrobe

Howdy! After shortening our winter/spring roadtrip by about 50% we finally got back on the road for a short adventure. Based on the title above you have probably figured out that we journeyed up the road apiece from our home base in Connecticut to the Granite State, New Hampshire. This trip was intended to “test the waters” for travel conditions in the new normal of the forever pandemic. Our choice of New Hampshire reflected its proximity, the fact we had not visited the state in some time and the state is welcoming visitors from all of the other New England states.

View from Bald Mountain, Franconia Notch

We visited Nashua and Manchester briefly on our trip north to the White Mountains but our main focus in New Hampshire was on camping and hiking.

The White Mountain National Forest offers significant camping options as well as a seemingly infinite amount of hiking options. We were fortunate to have very comfortable and mostly sunny weather which made for some wonderful (and occasionally strenuous) hiking.

Hiking in New Hampshire is so rewarding with its abundance of streams, rivers, lakes and waterfalls to be found along the way not to mention the views from the ridgelines and summits.

Franconia Falls, Lincoln, New Hampshire
View from Pine Mountain, Gorham, New Hampshire
Cherry Lake, Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge
Beautiful Stands of Birch Trees are Scattered Throughout the Forest
Riding the Trails near Gorham, New Hampshire

Littleton, hard on the Ammonoosuc River, was one of our favorite small towns in the Franconia Notch area. It has a well preserved downtown with a variety of shops as well as a number of eateries right along the river. Of course, best of all there was an excellent coffee shop with ooutdoor seating on the riverbank (Inkwell Coffee & Tea).

Bridal Veil Falls, Moultonborough, New Hampshire
Franconia, New Hampshire

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in New Hampshire and plan to explore all of northern New England on a more comprehensive basis at some point in the future. Next stop: a short swing into Maine to visit friends in Boothbay Harbor and then visit the beautiful city of Portland.

Be seeing you!

P.S. Don’t forget to check out the art and coffee photo galleries in the sidebar.

Mostly Foreign Travel Adventures from the Archives

While we are doing our best to be productive and helpful to others during our time at home our thoughts invariably turn to travel: over coffee we began to reminisce about trips we have taken over the years. This post is a photo essay of some of our favorite trips. We hope you enjoy the photos and are inspired to make the journey to a place you have dreamed of visiting.

New England Bike Tour
California Coast
London, England
Scottish Isles
France and Monaco

Our Italian phase with the men!

Roma
Firenze
Firenze
Firenze and Bologna
Firenze

Street Murals: OTR 4.0

A collage of our favorite street murals from On The Road With MARIA + STEPHEN

See more street murals @ #streetartfromtheroad

Be seeing you!

Utah
Farmington and Santa Fe, New Mexico
ABQ, New Mexico
ABQ and Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Pecos, Marfa and Alpine, Texas
Terlingua and Houston Heights, Texas
The King
Huntsville, Alabama
Del Rio and Alpine, Texas
Roanoke, Virginia

Big Bend Ranch State Park or The Other Side of Nowhere!

We spent four days camping and hiking in the interior of Big Bend Ranch State Park. This park encompasses 300,000 acres of rugged and beautiful mountains, canyons and high desert. The park land was formerly a cattle ranching operation but when repeated droughts brought about the demise of the ranching operation the state of Texas acquired the land for recreational purposes and created BBRSP.

This park is very primitive. There are no paved roads – many of the roads are single track roads that require 4WD and high clearance. There are no water, elctricity or toilet facilities within the park except at the Sauceda Ranger Station.

We were able to camp on a vista at an elevation of 3600 feet above sea level with a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains including Mexico to the southeast. The night sky is a Class 1 Dark Sky – the darkest rating – spectacular.

The hiking opportunities are numerous with a range of hikes from desert floor hikes to canyon rim views. We had complete solitude on most of our hikes as the many of the trail heads require a 4WD vehicle for access.

This park is probably not for everyone because of the primnitive and rugged conditions. Having said that this park is a treasure – a place where you can get off the grid and enjoy beauty, silence, incredible sunrises, sunsets and night sky.

Big Bend National Park is our next stop.

Be seeing you!

P.S. We have included two photos of the Green Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus. This a variety of cactus that we had never seen before. The flowering leaves are edible and are supposed to taste like strawberries. This cactus is found predominately in this part of Texas and a small area of southern New Mexico. We think it will be a beautiful specimen when it fully blooms.

Camping on Vista Del Bofecillos, BBRSP

Bofecillos Mountains

Bofecillos Mountains

Bofecillos Mountain

Fresno Canyon and Flat Iron Mountains

Green Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus

Sunrise from Vista Del Bofecillos

Returning Home Part 2: Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania

We accelerated the pace of our return home to the Fort as more towns, counties and states issued tighter restrictions on a daily basis. Ever in need of espresso and tea to sustain the journey we did venture into a number of towns for take out beverages and food. While passing through we usually managed to take a quick tour of the historic or downtown areas before departing for our next fika.

Below are some photos from the final days of OTR 4.0.

Thanks for following.

Be seeing you!

Huntsville First United Methodist Church, Huntsville, Alabama

First Presbyterian Church, Huntsville, Alabama

Church of the Nativity Episcopal, Huntsville, Alabama

Harrison Brothers Hardware, Upper Right, Huntsville, Alabama

Clinton Row, Huntsville, Alabama

Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina

Video Clip, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Crucible Coffee in beautiful Staunton (pronounced Stanton) Virginia

Top:Cardinal Coffee Bottom:Anchor Coffee

Emanuel Bell, United Lutheran Seminary, Gettysburg, Founded 1823

Lutheran Seminary, Seminary Ridge, Served as a Field Hospital for Federal and Confederate Soldiers after the Battle at Gettysburg

C.S.A. cannons on Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg Battlefield

Returning Home Part 1: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi

After deciding to shorten our trip due to the Covid-19 pandemic we are still keeping to more scenic routes, backways and small towns whenever possible as we return to Connecticut.

From Texas we passed into Louisiana and toured the low country along the Gulf before heading north and making stops in Lafayette and Baton Rouge.After Baton Rouge we continued north into Mississippi and spent a night in the beautiful town of Natchez which sits high above the Mississippi River on a bluff. From Natchez we traveled north on the Natchez Trace Parkway. The NTP is a 440 mile road that follows the path that Native Americans and later Euro-Americans used to travel by foot back to Tennessee and Kentucky after floating down the Mississippi on rafts to trading posts. The entire route from Natchez to Nashville is a national park. There are many historic sites as well as hikes and walks that can be accessed on this beautiful trip. We followed the road as far as the Tennessee/Alabama border before departing to travel east across Northern Alabama.

We will pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, North Carolina and plan on driving the full route which terminates in Front Royal, VA.

We have included a collection of some of our favorites sights as we drove through Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Be seeing you!

Saint Mary Catholic Mission Church, Marathon, Texas

Gage Hotel, 1927, Marathon, Texas

Gage Hotel Lobby

Marathon, Texas

Langtry, Texas – Home of Judge Roy Bean

Uvalde, Texas

Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, Hackberry, Louisiana

Holly Beach, Louisiana

Cathedral of Saint John The Evangelist, 1916, Lafayette, Louisiana

The Cathedral Oak, Estimated to be 500 Years Old, Lafayette, Louisiana

Street Murals, Lafayette, Louisiana

Mississippi River, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Swamp Blues Legends from baton Rouge aka Red Stick

Martin Luther King, Jr., Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Bontura House, 1851, Natchez, Owned by Free Black Businessman Robert Smith

Rosalie Mansion, 1823, Owned by Peter Little, Cotton Broker

Line Boat Pushing Barges North on the Mississippi Under the Natchez Bluff

Natchez Trace, Mississippi

The King

Honoring the Soldiers of the C.S.A.

Tornado Damage in Tishomingo, Mississippi

Terlingua, Texas

During our time at Big Bend NP we used the town of Terlingua (pop. 58) as our home base. Terlingua is only about twelve miles north of the Study Butte (stew-dee) entrance into the park and has a well stocked general store (Cottonwood GS) for provisions and a half dozen restaurants and shops in addition to motel, camping and RV accommodations. Terlingua has two paved roads – FM 170 which runs east to west terminating at Route 118 which runs north to south from Alpine to the park entrance.

Terlingua came into existence around 1900 after the discovery of cinnabar. The commercial value of cinnabar derives from the extraction of quicksilver, aka mercury. Shortly thereafter about a half dozen mining companies staked claims and set up operations. Over time the companies were consolidated as the Chisos Mining Company but still became bankrupt in 1937 due to falling market prices. During WW2 several mines were re-opened as heightened demand caused prices to rise but by 1947 the mines were again closed.

Many of the miners that worked these mines were Mexicans who came north for the work. Many of the descendants of the Mexican miners still live in Terlingua and the surrounding area. We visited the Terlingua cemetery where a number of the miners who died working the mines are buried and which also is the final resting place for many victims of the 1918 flu epidemic. The cemetery is still in use today.

The town itself is pretty ramshackle which frankly is part of the charm. The local residents are very laid back and friendly. The Terlingua Ghost Town is where most of the restaurants and shops are located – scattered amongst the ruins of the mining company buildings and housing. Many of the current businesses occupy the abandoned mining company structures.

We found Terlingua to be an excellent spot for visiting BBNP if you decide to stay outside the park and had a lot of fun after our hikes unwinding and meeting people in the restaurants and bars in the ghost town area.

Be seeing you!

P.S. Terlingua has the most stunning sunrises which you can watch from most anywhere in town as the sun rises over the Chisos Mountains, Class 1 dark skies for awe inspiring star gazing and the loudest packs of coyotes we have ever heard.

Chicken-Fried Antelope and Grilled Quail

Big Bend National Park

Hola!

After our terrific stay in BBRSP we journeyed east on FM 170 (farm to market) alternatively known as Farm Road 170. The local folks just call it the River Road. It is also a segment of the Texas Mountain Trail. Regardless of what name you reference it by it is an absolutely stunning drive. The road is an undulating strip of asphalt winding its way between the mountains of BBRSP on one side and the Rio Grande and Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains on the other.

Big Bend National Park is an expansive park with remarkable diversity in regard to the terrain and species of wildlife and flora. While it is wild and rugged it is far more accessible than Big Bend Ranch State Park. There are visitor centers, a gas station, drinking water, paved scenic drives and more people. The one thing that both parks have in common is the spectacular scenery.

We would rate this park as a “must visit” national park. A couple things to keep in mind – this is not a summer park due to the South Texas location and it is a spring break destination for many Texas families (making mid-March the busiest time).

Re-assessing our itinerary based on developments with Covid-19.

Be seeing you!

Video Clip: FM 170

Rio Grande, Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains, Mexico

St Elena Canyon

St Elena Canyon

Side Canyon Lower Burro Mesa Pour-off

Lower Buro Mesa Pour-off

Box Canyon, Lower Burro Mesa

Tuff Canyon

Scrambling in Tuff Canyon

Burro Spring Trail

Chisos Mountains

Early Morning Fog Lifting Off Chisos Mountains

Video: Chisos Basin Road, BBNP

Rio Grande

Boquillos Canyon, Wild Burro

Boquillos Canyon, Rio Grande, Mexico on the Right

Rio Grande, Sierra del Carmen Mountains, Mexico