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Posts Tagged ‘Maine’

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Angelina and I presented a lecture at the Maine Flower Show in Portland last week. We had been invited to speak last fall and were looking forward to the drive to Portland, one of our favorite New England cities. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and did not snow as it had on and off all month — good for the show, better for us.

Even though our program slot was for 10:30 on Saturday morning right after the show opened, the lecture room was full with mostly Mainers but also visitors “from away” as they say in Maine — New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, New York and a few Canadians from New Brunswick. We thought that our “Roses for New England” program with an emphasis on cold-climate rose gardening would hit the spot and it did. The show provided a generous two-hour time slot for each program which allowed for plenty of Q and A after the PowerPoint presentation was complete. This is often the best part of  lecture and where we connect with our audience.

The flower show was staged at Thompson’s Point along the Portland waterfront. Unlike the slick convention facilities at other big New England cities, Thompson’s Point was a large older wooden structure that was transformed for four days into an oasis of spring amidst an otherwise wintry month of March in Maine. A big, heated tent connecting to the main building accommodated the overflow of vendors. The venue was rustic and absolutely perfect. Very Maine.

After our program, we walked the show and chatted with vendors and exhibitors.

2-Pick-upOne exhibitor took an old pick-up truck — a real beater, all rusty and dusty — and packed the bed with annuals that spilled out into the rest of the garden display. A wild explosion of color.

5-Water-FeatureAnother was a realistic water feature — a pond surrounded by native Maine plants and trees.

3-Stone-CourtyardMy favorite was an impressive fieldstone courtyard complete with niches, stone shelves and raised stone beds of flowers, herbs and lettuce plants. A dramatic display of Maine masonry.

Attendance was high with lots of foot traffic streaming throughout the garden area as well as among the vendors. The crowd was festive and, judging by the armfuls of merchandise, free spending — the life blood of every flower show.

Since we had a long drive home, we left early but first stopped to have lunch at Becky’s Restaurant on the waterfront — a popular Portland landmark with really good food at reasonable prices.

The state of Maine is huge, as large as the rest of New England combined, and Angelina and I have been driving up at least once a year for decades. We enjoy road trips along Downeast Maine’s jagged Atlantic coast up to Acadia National Park and beyond as well as long, long drives in rural Maine north and west into the mountains and on into Quebec.

The Maine Flower Show gave us another opportunity to visit this unique northern New England region, to enjoy a taste of spring in the middle of winter.

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Stone Bridge at Acadia National Park

Stone Bridge at Acadia National Park

In late September every few years, Mike and I visit Acadia National Park and stay in Bar Harbor. Acadia National Park, located on Mount Desert Island, is a 6½ hour drive from Rhode Island. We spend the entire first day winding our way up Rt. 95 past Portland and then jump off and enjoy the leisurely drive along scenic Rt. 1 through old Maine towns like Bath, Camden, Wiscasset, and Rockland.

Thunder Hole

Thunder Hole

Six years ago, on our first trip to Acadia, we bought the Acadia Tour CD, so the first thing we do, after visiting the Hulls Cove Visitor Center is travel the Park Loop Road. This audio tour of 27 miles takes us over winding roads along the coast and through forests. Along the way are overlooks, trails, beautifully constructed stone bridges and iconic sites like Thunder Hole, where the rock formation is such that at high tide as the water comes rushing into the naturally formed inlet, the water can burst into the air with a roar that sounds like thunder, hence its name. Rugosa roses grow in abundance here, and while the bushes might still offer a bloom or two in late September, there are always beautiful red rose hips to see.

Rose Hips

Rose Hips

Sand Beach

Sand Beach

I think my favorite stop is Sand Beach. This is a small beach, open to sunbathers and swimmers who are hardy enough to swim in the cold ocean waters that rarely reach more than 55°. On an extremely warm day a few years ago, I went in only as far as my ankles. On this trip we walked along the packed sand at the high water mark to the rocks at the further edge of the beach and discovered an arch that someone had built from beach stones suspended between two large boulders.

Rock FormationWe always make sure to have time for lunch at the Jordan Pond House, well-known for its warm popovers served with delicious strawberry jam and other homemade treats. When we discovered that their seafood chowder was gluten-free, Mike always orders a bowl of this creamy chowder packed with fresh shrimp, clams, fish and diced potatoes served with gluten free rolls. Later, we hiked the Pond Trail for the first time, a 3.3 mile trail that hugged the edge of Jordan Pond, taking us over boulders and along a long wooden platform that was constructed to preserve the delicate fauna growing underfoot.

View from Jordan Pond Trail

View from Jordan Pond Trail

Me on the top of Cadillac Mountain on a windy day

Me on the top of Cadillac Mountain on a windy day

We always end our visit to Acadia by driving the 3.5 miles to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast where, on a clear day, you can see views of Bar Harbor and Frenchman Bay. We like to walk around the summit of the mountain and catch the 360-degree views. The summit is 1,530 feet high and it’s usually windy and cold, even on a nice day, so we always pack fleece or warm jackets.

There’s so much to see and do at Acadia, a real jewel of a National Park as well as the only National Park in the Northeast.

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