Wednesday, August 10, 2022
We tried to slow down this morning, having only 150 miles to drive. Tom was up at 6:00, I was up at 7:00, and breakfast was up at 7:30! By 8:15 all the work was done except for the final hitching up – we hadn’t wanted to leave until 10:00!
Pippa was perched on the table – looking out the window, and wondering what today might bring. I always feel bad that I can’t explain the agenda to her, and that she must just go with whatever happens!
Our destination was the Highlands Region of Main in the middle of the state. There promises to be many points of interest to occupy us for a few days and our headquarters is in the town of Millinocket at the Wilderness Edge Campground. Arriving at 11:00 we were glad to hear our site was ready – but we would have to pay $8.00 to move in 4 hours early! GEEEEZ.
The campground is nice with sites that are deep and secluded with some requiring advanced maneuvering abilities for backing in. The sites are gravel, but it is a rather dusty, dirty, gravel – heaven help us if it rains! It appears that there is some expansion/construction going on, and our campsite has large mounds of dirt and gravel at the back end of it. The bath house is nearby, and very nice. Compared to where we have been staying, this is REALLY camping – in the woods!
We scouted out a couple of general stores/gift stores and enjoyed browsing but found nothing to buy. My general rule of thumb is that I have to be able to eat it, drink it, wear it, wash with it (soap), or I must really, really have a need for it! This excludes hats, t-shirts, blankets, dishtowels, socks, cute boxer shorts for Tom, and a lot of other things! At 4:30 we were back at the camper enjoying the woodsy nature of our campsite, and making plans for dinner: beef fajitas with Maine mashed potatoes!
Thursday, August 11
Tom fueled our morning by making blueberry pancakes and sausage. That prepared us for a trip into Baxter State Park. Here is the funny thing about Baxter State Park – it does not show up on Maine State maps except as a large boxed-out area with no details of roads, trails or land features. On the truck GPS as we crossed the border into the Park, there was . . . nothing!
At the point that you enter the park, you must pay $16. for a day pass and to receive a permit that is to be handed back in as you exit the park. You get a detailed map map with all features marked and have to make the choice between a left or right turn on the narrow, gravel, park road. The map is nicely labeled with all features in the park. We chose the right turn, for a 5-mile drive back to Roaring Brook campground and a hike back to Sandy Spring Pond.
The road was about 1 ½ lanes wide -- to be shared with cars coming at us. This sometimes called for pulling over as far to the side as possible. For a gravel road, it was nicely graded, and because of recent rain there was no dust. The Roaring Brook campground parking lot was surprisingly full, but there was plenty of room to park in the hiker’s parking lot.
Before embarking on any of the trails we had to sign in with our destination and expected time back. The trail back to the pond was not smooth – there were lots of roots and rocks and in several places there were narrow plank walk-ways and a more substantial wooden boardwalk. Walking was minimal uphill/downhill, and the only view was of the brilliantly green, dense forest, large moss-covered boulders, and occasional swampy bogs. The stroll was peaceful, but required a bit of concentration. When we reached the pond, which seemed to be just a glorified bog, the trees parted a bit and we saw a brief glimpses of the mountain. We might not have gotten all the way back for the best view, but I was not willing to tackle a significant length of those 8” wide boards!
When we arrived back at our parking lot, we walked down into the campground and a section where lean-to-shelters and cabins are rented out. The shelters are three sided with sloping roof, raised wooden floor, and no bunks. They all have a lovely view facing the river.
Driving back to the park entrance, we contemplated taking the left-hand turn and determined that a narrow dirt road (with 20 mph speeds), through 42 miles of dense forest with no view, would take us back to an area where we might see the mountains – if the clouds parted. Without speeding and no stops, that would be a 4-hour drive! We headed back to our campsite!
In fact, there were other ways to view the landscape in the area; Tom had signed us up for a 3-hour-moose excursion! We left at 5:30, escorted by Wendy who drives a truck-style Jeep. All around us were logging roads, mostly unfamiliar to the average tourist, but completely explored by driver Wendy who knew every pull-over and trail leading to a lake, pond, or the river. She also knew a lot about the area and wildlife (moose, bear) all along the “Golden Road” that we traveled – so named because of the cost to build the road. The area had incredible history of logging, and Wendy had large photos to show the area from the late 1880 until now.
Early on we parked and walked out to a bog/pond/river, where we instantly spotted two moose in the water. Wendy shared her binoculars, and we had a close-up view. Suddenly the smaller moose took off swimming, reached the bank and trotted out of the water, and then took off for a meadow at full speed! The larger bull swam and walked more casually and then trotted off in the same direction. If we would have been 5 minutes later – we would not have seen them!
There were more stops with quick trips to stroll across a bridge for beautiful lake/mountain views, and down a rocky path of boulders to a view of the roaring river. Eventually it started raining, and even that was beautiful with a full-view rainbow! Because of the rain it became dark a bit earlier, but we were in exactly the right spot when the sun dropped for some magnificent pictures through the forest.
The trip was a wonderful chance (especially for Tom) to sit back and enjoy the drive, without having to keep his eyes on the road. Still raining, Wendy delivered us back to the Silvermine at 9:00!
Friday, Aug 12
On our last day in the area, we did not venture far from home. A quick drive got us down to an area where two lakes merge, with a general store, restaurant, and a campground with nice cabins, where we could walk around with Pippa. We talked about eating out at a restaurant, but settled on a trip back into the town grocery to buy a fancy dessert to pair with our own steak and shrimp and New potatoes. While in town, Tom dusted off the lingering gravel road dust from the truck at a coin carwash.
Afternoon was perfect a temperature to sit in the campsite tending to a few duties related to leaving tomorrow, and lots of reading time. I found I could, on an intermittent basis, get a good signal from my hot spot, and was able to get caught up on my blog.
Monday, Aug 8
Destination Fort Kent, ME – 60 miles North and ETA 11:30. It is the confluence of the Fish River and the St. John River, and the northern terminus of U.S. 1. It is home to an Olympic training center that attracts biathletes from around the world. It is also known for the Can Am Crown International Sled Dog Race – a qualifier for the Iditarod.
The Fort is another American border outpost from the “bloodless” Aroostook War and is right beside the St. John River – across the river is Canada. The Fort is a national historical landmark, but also the local headquarters for a Boy Scout troop who seem to be in charge of maintaining it. On the Fort site is also the Trading Post – which is the location of the Scout Troop meetings.
The downtown of Fort Kent is not at all a tourist town, but a National Scenic Highway leads out of town west along the St. John, with views of Canada across the river, to the “end of the road” and a little town called Dickey. It was a 30 mile drive, rarely reaching 35mph, with sparse little towns, nicely maintained homes with manicured lawns, all of which we now associate with Northern-most Maine!
Back at the camper Tom wrote the kids some postcards (he does that regularly!) and then walked into town to the post office. I put Pippa on the picnic table for a groom session. I have neglected to say that we are staying at a city park campground right off the town main drag – electric, sewer and water, but no bath houses.
Supper was the last few pieces of our lobster, BBQ Ribs and Roosevelt beans (from the freezer), and blueberry pie that Tom purchased while on his walk! As overnight came rain moved in, and we settled down in the Silvermine for the evening.
Tuesday, Aug 9
It rained lightly most of the night. Our site was a small crushed gravel pad and thick, green grass, so there was no problem with mud or puddles.
Tom cooked a big breakfast, and we headed out for the west end of the National Scenic Highway. It was very much the same as yesterday’s drive, except that it took us to the town of Madawaska -- the northern-most town in main. A small downtown “Four Corners Park” commemorates its location as the most northeastern town in the contiguous United States! With a population of just over 3,000, 83% of the people speak French at home!
Almost the whole drive we could see Canada across the St. John River and at Madawaska there was a very small Customs office to go across the bridge into Canada. Two things we noticed yesterday and today on our border-patrol drives: This area displayed American flags high up on every/other telephone pole – 30 miles yesterday and 40 miles today! Also, flowers are a part of the landscaping in almost every yard – large plots of tall wildflowers, and enormous hanging baskets of amazing color.
We drove to the last town of Van Buren on the Scenic Highway, and then turned around and came back! It was only 65 degrees with light sprinkling rain on and off most of the time. Back at the Silvermine we gathered up laundry – including bedding, and headed into Dinah’s Laundrymat. What a treat that turned out to be. Dinah (owner of the laundry for 38 years, greeted us and escorted us (with her heavy French-Catholic accent) to the washers. She had us fill the washers and then “go to the bathroom to wash your hands really good.” (Later I saw one of her old-time customers come in and put laundry in a machine, and then march to the bathroom with her hands bent up at the elbows --- like a surgeon going to scrub!) She added up the total for the washing and drying and we paid her and then she supervised while we added detergent, and she started the machines! Born here, left town shortly to become a nun, returned as it appeared that was not her calling – and started her laundry business. The other closest laundry is in Caribou 60 miles away!
Back at the camper, still sprinkling we put laundry away and made a brief trip out for a few grocery items. Tomorrow we turn south, and I guess we can say that we are beginning to head home.
Friday, August 5
Tom plotted out a little driving tour circling the countryside around Presque Isle; he had talked to the owner of our campground as well as various campers. The drive took us through very productive and prosperous farm country – more shades of green than I have ever seen before!
Our first stop was Fort Fairfield, where a small fort (now the Blockhouse Museum) was situated on a village green – it is a fort from the Aroostook War! This was a military and civilian-involved confrontation in 1838–1839 between the United States and the United Kingdom over the international boundary between the British colony of New Brunswick and the U.S. State of Maine. Not a full-fledged war, it was more of an international incident.
Loring Air Force Base, built in the 1950’s as a bomber squadron (100 B-36 Peacemaker bombers) was the closest base in the United States to the Soviet Union, Europe and the Middle East. Loring was a megabase with enormous weapon and fuel storage, part of the Strategic Air Command (SAC). All the buildings and roads are still there – and not a person in sight! It is completely abandoned. And creepy.
This part of Maine is prime potato land and harvesting is going on right now. The schools used to close so that the kids could help pick potatoes. Tom was looking for a road-side stand to purchase a 5# bag of new potatoes. A man at the campground had told him to boil the new potatoes, add some peas, cream , butter, S&P and smash it all up. Back at the camper for lunch Tom did as instructed, except he didn’t have the peas and used milk instead of cream. The result was very excellent . . . mashed potatoes!
The afternoon was amazing weather to sit outside and read – 75 degrees, blue sky, and a nice breeze. All sight-seeing this afternoon came from the vantage of our chairs. Our young neighbor is with a wildlife division that is doing a duck study of area lakes; she visited awhile and told us about trapping, gathering data, and releasing ducks. Back home in Bangor, her husband is a deer counter!
Supper tonight was a gourmet treat – Ruben grilled sandwiches with corned beef, Swiss cheese, and thousand Island dressing -- with fried Maine new potatoes.
Saturday, Aug 6
We are a little bit in the middle of nowhere up here in Northern Maine, but Tom had scoped out a visit to the Salmon Brook Lake Bog PRI. It was on the map! It was only 15 miles away. After a breakfast of eggs and bacon, we set out!
Our main roads turned to back roads and then to gravel roads as we searched through the beautiful country scenery. A country mail carrier gave us directions and we followed those to one smallish sign – but there was nothing there! There was supposed to be all kinds of hiking, biking, and 4-wheeler trails, from gravel roads to narrower hiking trail and boardwalks over the bog. We could not find it!
Driving back into the town of Caribou (known for its view of the Northern Lights – but not until December!) I had a hankering for a hair-cut. We found a salon and a guy that was between appointments and had time to trim me. He was so good, I wish we could take him home with us.
Tom pulled into a 50’s-style Burger Boy restaurant for lunch. I sat with Pippa in the car while Tom went in and ordered three cheeseburgers and an order of fries for carry-out. Thirty minutes later (!) Tom emerged with our lunch! While he waited, he admired the artwork hanging in the restaurant.
We landed back at the camper at 1:30 . . . with no other plan for the day except to enjoy the camping experience. Our neighbor came over with her Aussie-mini puppy to sit and chat. The puppy, EV, is so well-behaved and Pippa enjoyed a little romp session. Tom took a picture of the hillside view below our campsite – during the day . . . and again at sunset.
Sunday, August 7, 2022
Today , our last day at Presque Isle, Tom outlined a little trip to Eagle Lake – about 50 miles away. As always, in Aroostook County the secondary roads wandered through the farmland and small towns, but this trip followed along the Fish River. Adding to the beautiful scenery, the roads were once again freshly paved!
We found Eagle Lake, but there was not a rousing tourist trade or even a small downtown. There were some beautiful homes strung along the lake, but we got the feeling that most of those were family residences more than vacation homes. There were a few pontoon boats on the water but no speed boats, fishing boats, kayaks, or canoes that we saw. There was a parking lot with a picnic shelter that was perched beside the road, overlooking the lake!
On our way back we stopped at a little roadside eatery – the dining room was closed (Covid?) but the place was doing a great business out the window! Tom got a hotdog that was as red as a fire truck (but tasteless), and I got a cheeseburger. They served Pippa’s burger plain, without the bun, nicely chopped into bite-sized pieces and in a container labeled “dog.”
We were back at the Silvermine at 1:00, and surprised to see that a wind had come up and trashed the neighbor’s awning. Tom helped her untangle the supports, slice the rotted awning fabric off, and roll everything up in tidy bundles. It is not her trailer – but one that the Maine Department of Natural Resources loans to its employees when they are on assignment for a month . . . not well taken care of!
Tuesday, Aug 2
Our goal today was Seal Harbor and the little town of Northeast Harbor. We found the little on-the-shore town to be a minimal version of Bar Harbor with a few shops and restaurants. One shop in particular was unbelievable – being half store and half museum! I took more pictures of the inside than I did of the Harbor outside. Had this store been there when my kids were little -- we would have never gotten out of there . . . for under $1,000!
Finally, done shopping (nothing purchased!), we found a water-front city park with a walkway down to the harbor. There were a couple of food trucks and Tom bought a barbacoa Taco, and I got the barbacoa Quesadilla. There were picnic tables on lush green grass under large shade trees, and the weather was perfect in the mid-70’s.
We arrived back at our campground at 2:00 to take a break – Pippa got a much-needed bath! At 4:00 we headed out to walk another section of the Bar Harbor shops – this time, up on the hill from the harbor. The stores were all dog-friendly – but so were the people; we were constantly stopping to let people pet, hold, and inquire about Pippa. At 7:00 we were back at the Silvermine for quick showers and a hamburger dinner.
Wednesday, August 3
This morning we drove into Ellsworth to do laundry, and we were back by 10:30. We packed some snacks for a lunch and headed off on the Park Loop Road; I wanted to go to Jordon Pond again. It seems that the weekend tourist action starts picking up on Wednesday, as there was no place to park . . . anywhere! We circled around for awhile before giving up and eating our snacks while driving on the loop road.
Back at the campground we rested awhile, and I did some cleaning and sorting in the camper.
Tonight is our last night in Acadia and we will have a grand good-bye supper of lobster. At the lobster pond, we also bought two slices of blueberry pie, and frozen shrimp for in the future.
The only pictures I took today was of the sunset – goodnight!
Thursday, August 4, 2022
This has been a very nice campground – but we missed staying in Acadia National Park; the compensation was that we had water and electric hook-up! In no hurry this morning, with only 200 miles to drive to Presque Isle, we will be paralleling the Canadian border the last 100 miles, and will settle in Aroostook County – the northern-most county in Maine. The county covers 1/3 of the land mass of Maine and is primarily farming country – potatoes!
Our campground, Arndt’s River Lodge, is very pretty. Built on a hill with stair-step sites all covered in thick green grass, there are trees the higher on the hill you are! We first pulled in and set up with the water/electric on the back side of the camper. Thirty minutes later when we saw the sun going down directly on the front side of the trailer, we pulled up the set-up and backed the trailer in the other way. Now, without even putting the awning down, we have nice shade created by our camper in our own front yard in the afternoon.
Saturday, July 30
The morning was a slow-go as we organized and packed the inside and the outside of the Silvermine for 30 days of non-rally camping. Tom cooked a breakfast of hash/eggs, and we packed in measured motion as we said good-bye to our NOVA friends. We pulled out at about 10:00 a.m.
The drive to Bar Harbor was just under 200 miles, but slow as it was mostly back, winding roads, with only a few miles on Interstate 95. We stopped at a toll-road service station for lunch, and arrived at Mt. Desert Narrows Camping Resort, just 6 miles from Bar Harbor, at 2:00. Our site was one down from ocean-front and nicely shaded. (We had hoped to get a site in Acadia National Park, but even though we were “on it” on the first day available – we did not score. We dumped our tanks and have water and electric at our site. The temperature was in the high 70’s and there was a brisk ocean breeze. About 15 other Airstreamers had the same idea that we had, landing at this campground after leaving the International Rally.
We got comfortable in our new home, which we will be in for about 6 days, and then did an exploratory trip into Bar Harbor, about 5 miles away. We parked down by the harbor (Frenchman Bay) by Adamant Park and Town Pier. We walked a few of the shopping-district streets which we well remembered from our last visit years ago with Caleb. Traffic was picking up on the street . . . and on the sidewalks.
At 5:30 we left the downtown area and drove back to our campground (and one mile past) to a lobster pond. Tom asked for two large lobsters; when we got them back to the campsite, they were so big we only cooked one. The one monster was plenty for the evening meal, and the other is . . . on deck for tomorrow!
Sunday July 31, 2022
No rush this morning as Tom fixed our bacon and eggs, and it wasn’t until 10:00 that we were off to explore Acadia National Park. The last time we were here was with Caleb 10-15 years ago, and we are finding things very different.
As we jumped on the Park Loop Road we pulled into the Hills Cove Visitor Center – absolutely no place to park! Driving on down the Loop Road we passed the turn-off to Cadillac Mountain – must have a reservation “ticket” for a specific morning or afternoon to drive that road! Luckily, we do have a reservation for tomorrow – but it is no longer possible to show up and just decide to take the drive! As we continued down the road to the Bubble Rock pull-off, there were, again, no parking space.
Finally, at Jordon Pond we scored a parking space and were able to walk some of the paths down to the pond and then back up to the Jordon Pond House . . . and gift shop. Shortly after that point the loop road turned into a one-way road (the other way!) and we got off on Highway 3 for the drive back to our campground for lunch. So, the big conclusion from today’s excursion is that this park is heavily jam-packed with cars and people. Tomorrow our goal will be to set out earlier to score some parking spots.
In the afternoon we were due for a major reinforcement of food stocks, and with a list we drove back into the little town of Ellsworth. First, we walked the sweet little streets of Ellsworth, although many stores were closed on Sunday. Then, we hit up a grocery store before returning to our campsite at 4:30.
Our big lobster was still alive – but not for long! After dinner we went for a drive around Bar Harbor returning home just as the sun set. A shower in the campground bath house ended my evening. Lesson learned today – get up and go early if you want a parking spot!
Monday, August 1
We were up early and anxious to continue exploring Acadia. Quickly we discovered that it was not as crowded as it had been on Sunday, and we were able to park at various stopping points along the Park Loop Road. As we started our drive the temperature was almost 70 and the sky was overcast with a grey haze over the water. That later changed to clear views and blue sky. The Hulls Cove Visitor Center was not open when we arrived at 8:00 so we drove on to Sand Beach. Tom went all the way down onto the beach, but I stayed on top with Pippa – no dogs on the beach! Despite the name, the beach is not made of sand . . . but, small ground up seashells!
We stopped next at Thunder Hole where the ocean waves funnel into a narrow channel and where escaping air creates a deep “thunder” noise. The tide was out, so not as much water was booming through, but we were able to hear some baby boomers!
We stopped at Otter Cliffs and continued the one-way drive back past Jordan Pond and the turnoff to Cadillac Mountain and back to the Hull Cove Visitor Center . . . which was now open with parking available. The National Park Center has the last laugh, though – there are 52 steps to reach the Visitor Center! That is a lot of climbing for little Pippa Joy!
Vehicle reservations are required to drive on the Cadillac Summit Road from sunrise to sunset from May 25-October 22. This is another indication that tourism at Acadia is booming! Tom bought our reservation on-line months ago. The Summit Road is only 3.5 miles long and was built in 1931. The top of Cadillac Mountain is the first point that the sunlight hits on the Eastern Seaboard – 1,530 feet high!
We were right on time for our 5:30 trip to the top. True to the Park Service’s intent, there were lots of parking spots on top and a reasonable number of tourists. There is a ½ mile trail that you can follow around the summit for good views of the harbor down below with other paths feeding off of it for observation areas. The paths are rough from upheaval and there are lots of uneven steps. I am sure I navigated it all with more agility 15 years ago! It was very windy on top, and poor little Pippa looked to be blown away. We stayed on the top for an hour, and then returned to our camper by 7:00 for supper.
Thursday, July 28
Today was a big day for Carol and me as we did a girl-only trip to the 45th Annual Maine Quilt Show at the Augusta Civic Center. It was a drive of 85 miles both ways, and very worth every inch of time and gas! The quilts were spectacular – it was like being in an art gallery where you wanted to stand in front of a quilt for a long time while it “spoke” to you (or didn’t speak to you!). There were over 500 quilts, and Carol knew most of the piecing patterns/techniques, fabric choices, quilting patterns, and the pattern designers and some of the quilters! There were lots of vendors with a great variety of fabrics, tools, accessories, demonstrations, lectures, classes. Several “challenges” made for interesting viewing: all quilters had the same pattern, colors, and fabrics, but applied different quilting patterns and techniques. Another was all quilters have the same pattern, and chose their own fabrics, colors, and quilting style.
When Carol and I arrived back at the Rally (promptly at 5:00) we gathered up Tom and Randy and headed for a local restaurant. That poor (lucky?) restaurant has been besieged each day by rally folk, and there were two other tables of NOVA peeps there! The restaurant owner had even called in her father-in-law to help out cleaning up tables! With that, we wrapped up the day.
Friday, July 29, 2022
At 9:00 was the popular flea-market event where people sell their craft items, and spare Airstream parts, pieces, gadgets, and items – everything from sewer hoses to folding chairs. I couldn’t resist a sweet little fabric-wrap and sewn basket.
Pippa has spent so much time in the Airstream that we took her down to the event area to walk around and do her favorite thing -- people-watching. She makes eye contact with somebody and then puts on a big show and display wanting to be petted. Few can resist.
Carol and I had an afternoon pow-wow to hash out another Airstream quilt. We went from one idea to another, and everything seemed complicated. Suzie came over and the three of us were able to settle on an idea we all liked and made a plan for the four of us to complete it: Sue, Suzie, Carol and Ella.
All day long there were indications that the rally was coming to a rapid conclusion as many people left the Fairgrounds. For us the evening was slow-paced: pack a little – chat a little! Tom went to the closing ceremony which was preceded by the installation of new officers. RALLY DONE!
Sunday, July 24
There have been many pictures of the Airstreams taken by drones, and I am slipping this one in my blog! It was taken by Diane Ruby Titche and was posted on the Fryeburg Facebook page!
The big news this morning was that the “honey wagon” was making its way down our row of Airstreams. The news spread, and everyone hustled to finish up in the bathroom (!) and run all the water they wanted for cleaning! It is such a nice, fresh, feeling after having our grey/black tanks fully discharged! The gals and guys running this business are HEROES to everyone at the rally!
Another group of HEROES are the men and women running the shuttle service all over the fairgrounds. They keep going and going, and there is very little reason to walk from the far reaches of the Fairgrounds to the center of the activities. NOVA member Jamie is pulling a large tractor-shuttle with room for lots of people! Other shuttles are golf-carts.
The Region 4 Brunch was at 11:00; we went down early to walk around the flea market on the inside of the race track. It was already starting to get uncomfortably hot, and the building hosting the Brunch was uncomfortable with no breeze. We ate quickly and then left for a run to get some grocery items. WalMart was airconditioned!
At 2:00 we went down to watch the Pet Show in the Livestock Arena. The poor dogs (and owners) were very hot while they waited for the show to get underway 25 minutes late. We left. I know there is more stuff to do in the afternoon and early evening – but with temperatures reaching 95 degrees – I cancelled everything else on my agenda . . . and on my blog! I include this picture of one hot doggie sportin' his Blue Beret with style!!
Monday, July 25
It started sprinkling at 7:00 this morning, and by 8:00 it was pouring rain and flashing lightening. Tom made coffee and was sitting out under the awning by 7:30, and I joined him by 8:30 – it was wonderful. The NOVA President’s breakfast was to have been at 9:00, but with lightening in the area it was decided to be safe and reschedule for 11:30. I used some of the down-time to put Pippa up on the table and groom and trim, getting off a surprisingly large amount of hair.
At 11:00 people started hustling around to cook the brunch foods just two trailers down from us, at 11:15 the smell of bacon filled the air, and at 11:30 brunch was served. About 30 people attended, and the social mingling lasted for a long time. The brunch was hosted by our NOVA President/First Lady Randy and Chris, aided by Cougers and other volunteers who stepped in to help cook! After eating, Randy gave the members a pep talk to thank volunteers, and encourage people to volunteer.
Tom and I headed down to hear Pee Wee Schwamborn show slides and talk about his mother Helen Schwamborn. Helen was Wally Byam’s cousin, and she began the WBCCI club. During the early 50’s Helen was the only woman in management at Airstream with all the good ole boys. Before we left the campsite, we put the awning away because of predicted storms!
At 5:00 Tom and I were both back at the Silvermine as a storm blew in. Within minutes there was pounding rain – not much wind – and lightening. Two Airstreams down from us, an awning broke under the heavy rain impact – the arm just snapped! As the rain cleared away, there were at least 8 people out assessing the situation and looking to shore it up until it could be fixed!
byTuesday, July 26, 2022
Tom said it was 65 degrees when he woke up this morning – but by the time I was up and outside at 8:00, it was about 70 and climbing. Tom cooked breakfast and then we were off for a few sit-and-listen presentations.
Justin Humphreys, Chief Operating Officer and VP of Sales at Airstream gave an update on Airstream and the RV industry. He had great slides and statistics and described how the Airstream company has been on a roller coaster of highs and lows in the last few years.
Samantha Mart, Archivist/Historian and main force behind the new Heritage Center at Airstream gave a great presentation with slides of some of the features at the Center, while leaving much of it as a tease in order to not give it all away; we need to go see it!
Tom and I ate a quick lunch and by noon we were in the next-door little town of Conway doing laundry . . . by 1:30 we were back! It seemed the right time to do a good cleaning and organizing of the inside of the Silvermine while we put clean clothes and bedding away!
Wednesday, July 27
We began the morning with a “Tool Kit” presentation put on by NOVA’s own Mike Miller. He had a wonderful speaking manner in front of a captivated audience and covered every tool you might need for any little FIY emergency you might encounter. Many people were writing down everything he said!
We dropped by the Fiber Arts building where people come and set up machines and work on their own personal projects throughout the day. Not many were there, but their works-in-progress were all sitting out on display.
At 1:00 we went to the Maine Derby Tea Party – equipped with teacups and pearls! It was a beautifully staged event with waiters serving tea and a beautiful assortment of scones and biscuits and muffins on the tables. The highlight as a fashion show with costumes spanning a timeline from the roaring twenties flapper to the rocking 50’s poodle skirts!
Carol and Randy came over for an impromptu cook-out; they had been wanting to see a Blackstone grill in use. They had ham steaks, we had tenderloin, and Tom did potatoes, onions, peppers, corn on the griddle and Carol and Randy added potato salad and slaw. It was a nice evening to sit out, but Carol and I went in early to prepare for our all-day trip tomorrow.
Friday, July 22, 2022
We were up at 6:00, hooked up and dumped by 7:15. (Gary was already at the dump and gave us important tips for success!) We then drove back to the campsite and got in line for the caravan: Suzie/John, Sue, and Tom/Ella. We were only 70 miles from the Fairgrounds, and our target-time for arrival was 9:30! Suzie driving the lead rig, drove us through small towns and beautiful country scenery.
Fryeburg Fairgrounds was efficiently taken over by the Airstream Club machine, and parkers greeted NOVA as a group and parked us all together -- in the further-most field from all the events! As other NOVA Airstreams arrived, they were led in and lined up with the NOVA contingent. We are way out in the “Trackside North” field, and the Airstreams are nicely angle parked on grass with electric and water hook-ups. Some attention must have been given in planning to the angle of the sun, as it turned out a very nice arrangement for our awnings – considering we were in a field with no shade. That was important as the temperature climbed to 90 degrees by 4:00.
We were in place and unhooked by 11:00, and spent some time getting situated and having lunch. At 1:00 we went to the Agricultural Exhibition Building to claim our Welcome Bag that held our rally gifts, pins, plaque and Fryeburg information. This excursion discovered that we were a long walk away from all the buildings that held the main events – a long way in very hot weather. We walked all the way down, did our business, and then were able to pick up a golf cart shuttle to get back.
HOT ruled the afternoon! I took refuge inside where the temperature/air conditioner worked hard and only got down to 84 degrees! Outside, Tom retreated under the shades of the awning with a few other brave men. At 4:00 I ventured out to watch the parade of Vintage Airstreams around the fairgrounds and at 6:00 we had supper in the Airstream – BBQ Ribs and Roosevelt beans from the freezer!
It did cool off finally, but we were so tired from an early start this morning, we each chose a movie on our Ipads and hit the trailer for good at 8:30.
Saturday, July 23
When Tom stepped out of the trailer this morning it was 70 degrees with the temperature climbing by the minute! He cooked eggs and bacon for breakfast and at 9:30 we headed off to the central hub of buildings where events were taking place – we took the truck. The vendors were open and Tom stopped for a quick talk with the Pro-Pride man.
At 10:00 we headed to the location of the Opening Ceremony, to grab pre-ceremony pictures of NOVA President Randy with the NOVA flag. The building was large and spacious and breezy with lots of large doors open and fans running. We got seats on the aisle, near the front, and settled in for the show. The ceremony is always very impressive and it truly raises a sense of Airstream/WBCCI pride. The concert band played John Phillips Susa in the background while the flags marched in, and did a special performance for the march of each of the armed service flags.
We were back at the Silvermine in time for a noon lunch, and took a little ride in the truck to view the town. I was able to rest from the heat in the trailer . . . if a fan was blowing right on me! The sun is relentless, there is no shade in sight, and the air-conditioner can’t keep up during the heat of the afternoon!
Tonight was a dinner sponsored by the rally, and tickets were issued for three different dining times. . . we were at 5:15. The meal was pasta, meatballs and red marinara sauce, salad, and rolls/butter. It was good, but the dining area must have been in the 90’s – with not a bit of air stirring. We ate what we could in 12 minutes flat, and headed for the fresh outdoors – where the temperature was still in low 90’s --- but a bit breezier. We drove back to the Silvermine where we found that the temperature had dropped inside quite a bit. As it continued to cool, people ventured outside to gather for an after-dinner happy hour.
The evening event was a “glow walk” where everyone opens their airstream blinds, turns on their indoor and outdoor lights, and walks around admiring the effect. We walked with a few of our NOVA buds, and Pippa enjoyed the walk now that it was dark and cool. By 9:30 we were in the Airstream and ready for cool-down showers . . . and a book.
Tuesday, July 19
Well established for the next three days, we ate breakfast while looking at a map and making a tour plan of the area. First on my list – the L.L. Bean Flagship store, just five miles away. The store opened at 9:00 and we were there by 9:15. It is big -- with hallways, staircases additions and annexes all attached to the main building. Tom and I each got a button-down shirt. We walked the “Freeport Village Station” and surrounding streets enjoying the distinct little shops with ocean-side/Main themes. There are lots of parking lots in Freeport, and parking is all free!
We found the Bow Street market and stocked up on a few things we didn’t really need and headed back to the camper for a light lunch. With Pippa on board, we headed out again for a little driving tour of the area and the town of Brunswick. We found Bowdoin College and a statute of Lawrence Chamberlain -- a professor of rhetoric who joined the Civil War in a Maine unit. We also stopped at a pet store that advertised “Meowijuana” – Pippa didn’t get any – and shopped a few more stores.
Route 123 headed south along a “neck” of land for 10 miles to the final stop where the road meets the sea a Harpswell. We were never very far from the coast, although it was well-hidden as we twisted through the small settlements on the tree lined road. When we reached the southern-most “Potts Point” the sea scene was spread out in front of us with views of the different “necks” that project out into the ocean. A sign said Harpswell was a “working” town – and it sure looked picturesque with beautiful coastal, Maine homes.
Our thoughts turned to lobster again, and we made another trip to the Harraseeket Lobster Pond – two large lobsters (1 ½ pounds each) for $27.00. We also bought a watermelon to slice up and share with friends! John and Suzie had also bought lobster, and we were able to coordinate a sit-down time of 7:45! Corn, watermelon, and wild rice added to the menu!
In the evening there was a group pow-wow to talk about riding on the Intercoastal mail boat! Leaving at noon, it is a 3-hour trip, and weaves through the little Islands to deliver mail – you can take what-ever-you-want for eats and drinks. Tom and I opted out.
Wednesday, July 20
I slept late, but by 9:30 we were on our way to explore. We located the Pet Pantry that we had failed to find yesterday, and found it a very comprehensive pet store. Just 20 miles away Bath was a nice little shopping/eating/touring town, and we walked those streets up and down all the way to the waterfront, and back up to the Main Street on top. The drive from Bath out along the “neck” was freshly paved . . . most of the way. When it ended – it was abruptly dirt road, and in another ½ miles it was just OVER; barely a place to turn around!
We got the message that people were planning another lobster cook for the evening, so we stopped at our source and got three lobsters – 2 to eat tonight, and one to cook and use to make lobster salad for future lobster rolls. It is always tricky to plan a “lobster drop” among people camped in different campsites! John stood in the middle of the road and signaled the drop into the boiling water – and 15 minutes later we were all around the table eating! Today was the “first day of corn” in the area, (so said the lady at the farm stand) and we all enjoyed corn with the same butter we used for the lobster! It was hard to tell what was best -- the lobster or the corn!
This iThursday, July 21
Only 45 miles away from Augusta, we set out for a visit at 8:30 for the Capital city. Route 24, a 2-lane road following the Kennebec River, took us through small towns with a Maine flavor. The State Capital building rose up unexpectedly – not really in the middle of a downtown. The population of Augusta is just 18,000, and the Capital building is downsized, too! To our great surprise, dogs were welcome in the Capital Building and we got to tour the inside with Pippa Joy! She made friends with all the officers on duty both on the way in, and the way out! The Capital building is not fancy, and not even very pretty. There are some really nice elements (marble, staircases, brass railing, historical paintings, portraits of past dignitaries) but nothing that was a stand-out. This is not to say it is not a grand building for the affairs of state because it certainly is. In fact, it was much like the little towns we had been through – it was just an everyday working building! And, on this mid-week day, it was not at all busy!
Tom tried for a circle-route back to Freeport for a different view – but some road closures confounded that. At the sweet little town of Richmond we saw a small, hometown restaurant with shaded outdoor seating. We ordered a crab roll and a lobster roll and split them. They were good, but the lobster was not the quality that we have been eating!
In Freeport we did a run of the LLBean outlet store – I scored a shirt. A kitchen-gadget outlet was very interesting, but I have repeatedly sworn I am NOT going to fill every nook and cranny of the Airstream with gadgets! We also stopped at the Market to a few items we needed.
Back at the camper we put the awning up and all outdoor stuff away as a storm was predicted to come through. We cleaned the inside of the trailer, took showers, and gave Pippa a bath. There was a brief meeting called by John where plans were made for morning dumping and lining-up to caravan to . . . . Fryeburg and the International Rally!
Sunday, July 17
The front end of this 7-week trip was cut short when a totaled vehicle kept us close to home. I am sure the 16-year-old boy (who did not speak English!) that rear-ended our son Caleb had no idea of the difficulty that we encountered finding Caleb a comparable accessible van with hand controls . . . much less a rental car! Caleb and Tom navigated their way through the process and jumped through all the insurance hoops. Friday, 23 days after the accident, Caleb’s replacement minivan was outfitted with hand controls, and financial settlement was completed . . . and today we headed out. Think of all the gas money we saved by staying home an extra few weeks!
The delay means that we are making a 2-day beeline to meet up with our NOVA peeps where we will gather for a grand entrance into the 2022 International Airstream Rally. Our NOVA group is going to be well-represented with over 22 Airstreams/44 people joining almost 1000 other Airstreams.
All week long, on FB Airstream Addicts, I have been reading reports of Airstreamers in the process of converging on Fryeburg, Main. Somebody posted a great picture of this WBCCI supply truck on its way!!!
Last night Caleb and Halie came over for dinner to bid us a 5-week good-bye. This morning we were up at 6:30, and off at 7:30 – in time to get a picture before the rain began – with 595 miles to travel to Matamoras, PA. Pippa Joy is outfitted with a new car seat harness, and we feel good knowing that she is riding safe!
The drive seemed unusually long and tedious, but at 3:00 Tom retreated to the Toronto Indy Car race broadcast, and I had a session with my current audio book. This occupied us until the last 10 miles, and we arrived at the Tri-State RV Park at 5:45. We plugged into a gravel parking-lot style site and didn’t bother to unhook. While walking Pippa I met another couple on their way to International . . . she writes children's books and makes earrings!
The camp-site wasn't very nice, but the Delaware River was nearby with a pretty walking path.
Monday, July 18
With only 350 miles to drive today, knowing we were going to be joining our NOVA peeps, we were on our way by 7:30. . . in the rain. The refrain for the drive was TRAFFIC! Lots of traffic. We were in the center lane when a car passed us in the left lane, faltered, skidded, hit the center median wall, circled 180 degrees and came to a stop – as we sailed past! Tom and I had the same thought half-way through the sequence: “How far will the car recoil into our lane when it hits?” Tom slowed considerably and kept our rig under control, and the car didn’t bounce very much!
At 1:00 we entered the State of Maine – our 6th State for the day: Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. With just one more hour to drive we stopped at the Maine Visitor center on Interstate 95 to pick up some pamphlets on Freeport.
At 2:30 we landed at Wolf’s Neck campground where other NOVA peeps had been congregating the last few days: John/Suzie, Gary, Sue & Friends, Steve/Tam, and Mike/MJ. We checked in at the front officer and then filed right in at the end of the NOVA line, set up, greeted a few . . . and took off to find LOBSTER!
We found a Lobster Pond and bought two “large” live lobsters. Back at the campground we enjoyed a sit-session (in light rain) with everyone under their wonderful compound made of two clam-shell screen units, connected by a rain-proof runway. We sat until, knowing that lobster was waiting for us, we couldn’t stand it anymore . . . and excused ourselves to go cook the lobster!
With three more days to spend in Freeport, there is plenty more to do . . . check back!
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2018 25' Airstream Serenity with Salsa interior and front twin beds., and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown