Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Marvelous Maine, Mystic and off to the Maritimes

I pledged to head home to Honolulu by Memorial Day and kept by promise. But, as luck would have it, two weddings and a 50th class reunion had me back on the mainland in early August. The weddings, one in Omaha and a second in Mystic, Conn., were only two weeks apart, but the reunion wasn't until Sept. 21, which gave me a couple of weeks after Labor Day to take Ol' Yeller for a ride up to the Canadian Maritimes.

Before the Mystic wedding, Mary, my sister Jane and I took a ride out to Manset, Maine, on Mount Desert Island, where we took a ferry ride out to Cranberry Island. On the way, we enjoyed a regatta, as did the yachtsmen in this classic little keel boat.

On little Cranberry Island, which has one paved road about a mile long, which is plied on weekends by volunteers in golf carts, who schlepp visitors up from the dock to the museum/ice cream shop, out to the scenic end of the road and back. Near the ferry dock, a clutch of color-coded lobster buoys await being reclaimed by their owners.

The view from Cranberry Island includes Cadillac Mountain, the taller granite mound to the right of center.

The ferry to Cranberry Island, which is also the mail boat, runs every other hour to Manset and Southwest Harbor. Another ferry makes the run to Northeast Harbor on the alternate hours. The crews are college kids -- the deckhand on our boat was from South Carolina and enjoying his summer on the water.

We stayed out at the family camp on Branch Pond near Ellsworth, where sitting out on the screened porch and enjoying a glass of wine while the neighbors paddle by in the glassy stillness is an August ritual.

The second wedding took us to Mystic, Conn., which is a seaside paradise in the summer.

The Mystic drawbridge opens hourly at 20 to the hour, stopping Main Street traffic but inviting boats to quiet up-river anchorages.

Martha and Kevin, the happy bride and groom, enjoyed a classic traditional ceremony in Noank's old Baptist Church, and hosted a terrific reception at the nearby Stonington Vineyard.

Wildflowers catch the late afternoon sun's rays in Jane's backyard in Ellsworth.

My grandparents raised eight children, four boys and four girls, in this house on Maple Street in Bangor, which is about 25 miles from Ellsworth.

Our family has taken thousands of pictures of the sunset at Branch Lake. Once the sun is down, the loons begin their nightly concert. It's a magic place.

On the Wednesday after Labor Day, following a bout with a cold and a couple of rainy days, I finally got the V-Strom out on the road, headed northeast toward New Brunswick. In Machias, I found a Model T Ford club out on a rally and stopped for lunch at the town's finest restaurant, where I took some pictures and ate a bowl of excellent haddock chowder.

The drivers of these fine vehicles were nearly as old as the cars themselves.

Further up the road at Calais, almost on the Canadian border, I spotted another Model T -- this one a sporty yellow roadster. I love the rear-view mirror clamped to the round windshield. These cars are ellegantly simple and obviously a kick to drive on today's paved, two-lane roads -- of which there are plenty in Downeast Maine.

While most features of Ford's Model T were rudimentary, the radiator caps with built-in thermometers are actually more complicated than today's versions. The ball-tipped levers -- shaped like wings on some cars -- made uncapping a boiling radiator easy to do without burning one's fingers.

The front wheels on the yellow roadster didn't include brakes, but the speedometer gears were impressively robust.

My ride took me about 200 miles from Ellsworth (A) through Machias (B) across the border at Calais (C) to Saint John, New Brunswick (D) -- up portions of US-1 and NB-1 to a fog-shrouded provincial capital on the Bay of Fundy -- where I took a room and waited for the morning and some sunshine.


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