July 2015 – When we returned to Maine from our RV roadtrip around Nova Scotia, we did some sightseeing while we waited for our new trailer axle to arrive at Harvey RVs in Bangor. We parked the rig so we wouldn’t have to drive it around on its disintegrating tires, and explored some of the lesser known spots downeast.
The whole northeast end of Maine is made up of skinny peninsulas and islands, like bubbles of land floating in a bath of water. It’s not always easy to see the ocean, because the woods are so thick, but whenever the vistas open up, the water views are lovely.
We spent some time prowling around the wonderful little seaside town of Eastport, and we were floored that everyone we met in the streets, in the bakery and at the library booksale were all locals.
Easport is home to just 1,300 people, and one woman explained to me that their main wharf had been severely damaged in a storm and that that had affected the number of visitors they saw. The Navy ships couldn’t come in any more and tourism was suffering. “We aren’t seeing nearly the numbers of visitors we used to,” she said, adding that it would be a while before the wharf was fully repaired.
I was amazed that something as basic as a damaged wharf could impact a town so deeply. What a shame, because this is one really sweet town. Eastport is wonderfully tranquil and very friendly.
It also has a fun spirit. The town dock has a statue of a fisherman holding a large fish. This isn’t just any old fisherman-with-a-fish statue like you see in so many seaside towns, however. It was created as a prop for the 2001 Fox reality TV contest, Murder in Small Town X! Sculpted by Jeff Poss, a group of citizens saw to it that the statue remained on the dock after the show was over.
Just a few paces further down on the waterfront we found a delightful little library lending box. Lots of places have bookswaps where you can take a book from a bookshelf if you leave one of your own behind. But this one is special because it is a little mailbox style box on a post right on the waterfront! The glass door lets you see the books inside, and a simple wooden latch keeps the door closed. It even has a pitched roof for those blustery downeast winters!
Another Maine treasure that doesn’t get a lot of glitzy promotion from the folks at the Maine visitors centers is Bangor. We ended up spending a lot of time in the Bangor area becuase of our trailer axle repair, and we were charmed by the many fun things there are to do.
The Kenduskeag Stream Trail runs right from the heart of town by the Sea Dog Brewery out into the hinterlands, taking you past the hustle and bustle of downtown into more rural areas in a fairly short walk. We loved the way the back sides of the city buildings and bridge reflected in the water!!
While we were in Bangor we visited with very special friends who live there, and they took us on a whirlwind tour of some of the highlights in the area. Author Stephen King lives in Bangor, and true to form, his house stands behind beautiful wrought iron fencing that is decorated with gargoyles and bats!
A little south of Bangor is the town of Bucksport which is home to a modern engineering marvel, the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. Opened in 2006, this suspension bridge looks nothing like the classic old 1931 suspension bridge it replaced, a bridge that had also been a major engineering achievement in its time. Standing nearly 450 feet tall, there is an observatory at the top of one of the towers, and we rode the elevator up to have a look around the glass-enclosed observation room. What a view!!
Down at the base there is a slice of the bridge that shows exactly how it is constructed — with a picnic table underneath!
Of course, visiting friends means downtime too, and Mark got some wonderful photos of our friend Bud’s flower garden.
A little north of Bangor we went to the University of Maine – Orono Bog Walk. This is a raised wooden platform path that winds all through a natural bog. Starting in thick woods and coming out into the wide open bog, we were intrigued by the peaceful beauty of this place.
In our wanderings we saw a little spotted fawn in the distance.
Then a beautiful little bird with a yellow head started bopping around on a tree branch right in front of me. We later found out this was a black-throated green warbler.
Heading up into the heavens for another bird’s eye view of the area, we climbed to the top of the Bangor water tower. Built in 1897, the Thomas Hill Standpipe is a round wooden tower that encloses a steel tank. Four times a year they open the tower for people to walk up inside and enjoy the open air views at the top.
It was neat going up inside this very old water tower, but even more fun was finding the evening news Live at 5 folks at the top rehearsing for their big moment. A guy had a huge camera on his shoulder and the newscaster rehearsed her spiel a few times. We stuck around long enough to get selfies with her, but didn’t see the real taping.
Maine turned out to be quite a highlight in our travels this year, from the wonders of Acadia National Park to the twin international lighthouses way downeast to Rockefeller’s Carriage Roads to the crazy Mail Boat ride to the Cranberry Islands, the misty Maine scenery in fog, and the stunning Schoodic Scenic Drive.
When we came back to Maine with this big trailer repair on our minds, I wasn’t sure we could top the good times we’d had in this pretty state a month prior, but tiny Eastport and the Bangor area proved to be truly delightful.
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More info about these cool things Eastport and Bangor:
- Eastport Maine – Tourism Website
- Bangor Maine – Tourism Website
- Kenduskeag Stream Trail
- University of Maine Orono Bog Walk
- Thomas Hill Standpipe
- Penobscot narrows Bridge & Observatory
- Where Are All These Fun Places? – Google Maps
Other blog posts from our RV travels in Downeast Maine:
- Lubec & Campobello Island – Fantastic Lighthouses! 07/17/15
- Taking the Mail Boat Ferry to Maine’s Cranberry Islands 07/15/15
- Beauty in the Mist – Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Maine 07/10/15
- Acadia National Park’s Carriage Roads in Maine – Thanks, Rockefeller! 07/07/15
- Schoodic National Scenic Byway – Downeast Maine at its best! 07/04/15
- Acadia National Park – Alluring Beauty on the Maine Coast 07/01/15
- Narrows Too RV Resort – A Great Acadia National Park Home Base 06/27/15
- Hinckley Yachts Factory Tour – Where Cruising Dreams Come True 06/16/15