Short trip Maine western mountains and lakes

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Sep 3rd, 2018, 07:58 AM
  #1
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Short trip Maine western mountains and lakes

Each year we take a short anniversary trip. This year we took a 4-day trip to interior Maine for nature and to see some old friends. We have visited the Maine coast in the past, enjoying coastal towns and Acadia along with extensions into New Brunswick, but hadn't been to the interior of the state.

After flying into Portland (small airport, so easy) and renting a car (crowded parking garage so not as easy pick up/return), our stops included Yarmouth, Harpswell, Farmington, Kingsfield, Eustis, Rangeley, and Bethel.

We stopped at the SugarWood Gallery in Farmington--some wood furniture, but much more arts and crafts in wood, ceramics, glass, stone, etc.; lots of photography. Lovely work if one is in the market for nice souvenirs or gifts (but many quite large and heavy). Great to see a small town with busy stores (including a bookstore). A few interesting old houses.

The Stanley Museum in Kingsfield is a 2-room museum one can easily cover in 1 hour. We arrived near the end of the day. The young docent offered us a tour, so we accepted. We enjoyed her enthusiasm, but her knowledge was limited. I think she was new. Nevertheless, we enjoyed seeing the cars, the old photos, all the artifacts of the Stanley brothers' early career in photography and their sister's work as well. I left feeling a need to do some reading/research of my own to put it all in context because I didn't have much knowledge going in.

Bethel has a quite nice collection of old houses. I had printed a copy of a walking tour, but we were visiting during the heat wave and had been hiking earlier, so we opted for a driving tour in our air conditioned auto instead. It would have made a nice walk, though.

As for hiking (one of our favorite activities), we did some walking to one of the Maine Huts by Flagstaff Lake. Very nice hut for dining and the sleeping huts looked modern and comfortable for what they are. Cathedral Pines was a nice stroll, but the boardwalk over the bog had many rotting and loose boards, so we kept our heads bowed watching where to put our feet and didn't find that part enjoyable. We decided the "breathtaking views" on the Rumford Whitecap Mountain Preserve came as much from the continuous climb up the red/orange trail as from the open rock at the top. Coming down the yellow trail was challenging in places due to a lack of blazes or cairns on some steep open rock slopes. The unusually high temperatures didn't help. We also stopped for the waterfall short walks in Grafton Notch State Park. I was rather underwhelmed. Nice, but I was glad we didn't go out of our way just to visit.

Our hotel in Rangeley offered canoes and kayaks on Haley Pond, so we suited up in life preservers and signed away liability to paddle across the pond to see the loons. Our marriage survived paddling a canoe better than previously kayaking together.

Height of Land did provide a nice view over the lakes as did the viewpoint south of Rangeley. We didn't make to either at sunset though. One evening we did enjoy a sunset picnic from the IGA at the small park on Rangeley Lake. We also paid $5 per person for a movie at the local theater.

As for wildlife, we saw the elusive moose--I think it was along highway 16 between Eustis and Rangeley around 4pm, but before dusk. When we stopped, she moved into the tree line. We also saw and heard the loons on Rangeley Lake and Haley Pond, kingfishers, pileated woodpeckers, a wild turkey hen with chicks (correct term?), and a green snake. Still some wild blackberries along the trail. I think there were wild blueberries on the Rumford Whitecap mountain, but because I am unfamiliar with some of the bushes up there, I didn't taste to find out.

Not a very exciting trip, but a quiet few days together in a new place and a very pleasant visit with a couple we had not seen in 20 years. And also many pleasant interactions with local folks in the small towns we visited. Now if only someone can explain to me why we met so many drivers in the center of wide 2-lane roads?
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Sep 4th, 2018, 01:13 AM
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Thanks for a report on a different part of Maine. We have driven through but not spent time in some of those areas. A long time ago I read a story about a person driving an old car down the middle of the road so the tires would wear evenly. Here in NH there can be some rough spots (and poor patching jobs) in the normal tire area so, yes, when I have a clear view of the road, I tend to be more in the middle than on the side but it's usually a two lane back road without any white or yellow lines. I call the wild turkey babies chick, too, but it's not the correct term. Glad you got to see a moose although I've been telling a current visitor they are invisible. In 65+ years I have only seen moose twice in NH, never in Maine or VT.
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