When Ed and Rachel Barnhart retired in 2004, the intrepid RVers hooked up their Alfa Gold fifth wheel on a mission to see all that God created and man constructed…and find the best pizza in the USA. From the beaches of Seattle, Ed and Rachel set their sights on Maine. From there they would turn south toward the sunshine, only to be greeted by the worst Mother Nature had unleashed in decades. Undaunted, the Barnharts headed off into the sunset, through the southwest and across the Rio Grande to the shores of Mexico's Sea of Cortez. From sea to shining sea and back again, all in their first year exploring the country they dubbed the “Land of Awes.” In Chapter 16, Ed and Rachel close down the Lobster Festival and cruise the coast of Maine.
Our time in Maine was drawing to a close. We planned to enjoy the final two days of the Lobster Festival and then explore the gorgeous Atlantic coast of Maine before heading south.
Rachel with King Neptune
The music at the Lobster Festival was surprisingly diverse. We had already seen bluegrass and polka. On Saturday, the bill included country and – of all things – a steel drum band. “Steelin’ Thunder” was directed by Lobster Festival “dignitary”, King Neptune. Their music was so good we forgot we even had a camera – but we did get a shot, later, of Rachel the “Lobstah Princess” and King Neptune. Country bands “Little Big Town” and “SheDaisy” closed the evening. Excellent vocals, exemplary musicianship…and they were all just plain fun!
We woke Sunday looking for something silly to entertain folks who had been out much too late
The winner of the lobster crate race
the night before. The festival’s waterfront lobster crate races certainly fit the bill. Like a down home version of something you might see on TV’s Wipeout, contestants line up to dash fifty yards from one floating dock to another across a “bridge” of tethered, floating lobster crates. The 60-degree water easily overcame a momentary impulse to enter the contest and we remained laughing, cheering spectators. Most folks crossed about five crates before joining previous contestants in the chilly water. Then came the winner, who made it look easy. He crossed back and forth five times before the race coordinators declared him the champion.
After the crate race we walked down to the Rockland Coast Guard Station to tour the barque Eagle and the icebreaker Thunder Bay. Watching the Eagle enter the harbor (see chapter 15) had been memorable, but actually exploring the deck of this historic ship was the chance of a lifetime! The helm, close up shots of the rigging, chatting with the crew – tall ship heaven! Our tour of Thunder Bay was exciting and thorough. We were able to see everything save the engine room – which we looked at on closed circuit TV.
As we disembarked Thunder Bay a storm rolled into the harbor. Ironically appropriate thunder rumbled across the bay and lightning flashed across the sky. It had rained during the festival a few days earlier, but this was a biblical deluge – and we were several blocks from the truck! Well, we turned the inconvenience into a Hallmark moment, strolling hand-in-hand, huddled close beneath an umbrella as the rain came down and the wind tried to blow us to Nova Scotia.
We arrived back at camp soaking wet and elated. What a time we had shared! A busy week of fun, food, entertainment and exploring had made Maine feel like home. We had learned our way around and were being recognized out and about by locals and other festivalgoers. We felt so welcome we decided to spend the next week just being homebodies and occasionally cruising the attractive and inviting coastal towns near the park.
Camden Harbor from Battie Mountain
We toured Rockland, Thomaston, Rockport and Camden and found each town to be interesting, historic and picturesque. This trip also underscored the value of a good digital camera. Using the old 35mm we would have spent a fortune developing all the shots we had taken! One of the highlights of our tour was Mount Battie. Gorgeous vistas for miles in every direction.
We spent our last full day in Maine touring Port Clyde, a town billed as “the way it used to be.” A consummate fishing and trapping community, ships continually moved in and out of the harbor and the water for miles was dotted with thousands of buoys marking lobster traps – or “bug cages.” Lobster traps are much like cattle brands. Each lobsterman has his own buoy color and cage design, and the industry works on a strict honor system. No matter what you find – or don’t find – in the trap, you only pull your own.
Marshall Point Lighthouse
The town itself could have been straight out of the 1850’s. Narrow streets led out to Marshall Point Lighthouse overlooking Penobscot Bay. A terrific local museum in the former lighthouse keeper’s home displays photos, exhibits and documents detailing local history of the town and the light. If you have seen Forrest Gump, you have seen Marshall Point. It’s the lighthouse shown when Forrest is on his “running for no particular reason” cross-country jag. But you don’t need to just run in and out. The facility offers picnic tables and a terrific view of local islands. To learn more about the lighthouse and museum, go to www.marshallpoint.org
Our last stop in Rockland was the Coast Guard installation at Owl’s Head to view another beautiful lighthouse. Civilians cared for this light until Douglas Larrabee retired in 1963. The U.S. Coast Guard took over management and, eventually, automated the light in 1989. The circa-1854 keeper’s cottage remains, housing Coast Guard personnel, and the surrounding grounds are a state park. We stood for a time and just let the view wash over us like a seabreeze. Schooners and lobster boats passed the point and a small red fox darted from the trees across our path. Another perfect moment in an idyllic two weeks in Maine.
As we were pulling out of the park in Rockland another RVer was waiting to turn in. This considerate person held traffic for us until we were out on the highway, a show of solidarity that endeared us, once again, to both the people of Maine and our fellow RVers.
Read previous chapters by selecting one of the links below:
Chapter 16 – Thunder Bay & the Lobstah Princess
Chapter 15 – Rock Lobstah? Ayuh, it’s Good
Chapter 14 – Historic Boston, The Commons & Uncommon Pizza
Chapter 13 – Plymouth Rock and Saugus Iron
Chapter 12 – At the Atlantic and Around Cape Cod
Chapter 11 – Marches, Mozart and Mozzarella
Chapter 10 – Loving Life on the Road
Chapter 9 – Picturesque Settings & Police Surveillance
Chapter 8 – Erie Museums and Niagara Mist
Chapter 7 – The Amish and Edison
Chapter 6 – Dutch Treats and Bavarian Festivals
Chapter 5 – Two American Icons – Miller Beer and Chicago Pizza
Chapter 4 – Touring the Twin Cities
Chapter 3 – Discovering Middle America
Chapter 2 – A Trip Around the Sun
Chapter 1 –Pacific in the Rearview, We Wave Goodbye