Carolina: Cruising Past 70: OLA: Saving the Best for 'Last'

Sunday, July 22, 2012

OLA: Saving the Best for 'Last'

the von Trapps whose love story inspired  the Sound of Music
reestablished their family lodge among the hills of Stowe, Vermont
We came down from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick in Canada back to Bangor, Maine to pick up our RV from Webb’s RV.  They had been changing our flooring from carpet to wood laminate. That gave us the chance, at last, to visit Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island, an hour and a half from Webb’s, which they say is the best of Maine!  

Jackson Laboratory on Mount Desert Island
Mount Desert Island of Maine

Bill was in the vicinity 51 years ago when he, together with 28 other high school students  from all over the country, were awarded a  6-week grant from the National Science Foundation to work at Jackson Laboratory on the island. Bill remembers that the pier was where they bought whole live lobsters for a quarter or a large bucket of steamed clams in the restaurant for $1.50 (hamburgers were about $3). Bar Harbor has now turned into a huge tourist area! 

beautiful Bar Harbor
Sand Beach
But the main draws really are Acadia National Park in the eastern half of Mt. Desert Island and the beautiful harbor with many small islands.  It was too bad that the day we went there was low level fog so many of the sights were not picture perfect. The Sand Beach is the only area in the Park that is sandy and the notice read…Swimming, only for the hardy! The water is usually in the low 50’s and with the air temperature in the low 70s, you would not see me even dip a toe! But there were the hardy, frolicking in the cold water.

the water crushing into Thunder Hole
Bill at Thunder Hole, braving it all for my photo!!!
Thunder Hole is the hole that thunderously roars as the waves come rushing to its rocks, making the hole a little bigger each time. We were there on low tide and the waves were not as big as they can be. Still, it was a loud cry of the lonely seas. Then we had lots of fun posing atop different rocks, courting a fall from an unbalanced pose. But Bill was there; forever ready to be my knight in shining armor! 
yes, that's me, trying to be brave for the Otter Cliff
Next we hiked a mile to Otter Cliff, America’s highest coastal drop. Again, the photos taken were of a risky nature, but fun. But we were so disappointed that the low fog came even lower and masked the beautiful postcard scenery of Jordan Pond with the North and South Bubble (hills) at the background. But we were fortunate that it cleared some when we got to picturesque Bubble Pond.

atop very windy Cadillac Mountain, highest point in Acadia
The coup de gras is Cadillac Mountain. Standing at almost 5000 feet, it gave us a view of Mt. Desert Island. However, winds of 25 knots or more prevented me from enjoying the scenery. As usual the braver of us two had more of the fun.  Acadia National Park is truly a national treasure. Acadia comes from an extended meaning of an ancient Greek name "Arcadia", meaning "refuge" or "idyllic place".  
Montpelier and Nearby Communities of Vermont

From Maine we drove our RV, M’a ‘turn, to Camping du Compton to start our tour of Quebec and Ontario. But first we took a day trip to the last state we have not visited on the East Coast, Vermont. Its  capital, Montpelier, is only 2 hours away. The officer at the border laughed when Bill said we were going for some scoops of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream at its Factory. But that was the incredible truth… 4 hours of driving for the best ice cream in America.

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At the Green Mountain Coffee CafĂ© (a restored railroad station) we had a light lunch of spinach pie and broccoli cheddar quiche along with a taste of coconut-infused coffee. Bill finally chose to bring home the raspberry truffle coffee from a huge selection of the famous brand.  The Stowe Magazine on the cashier’s counter chronicled the attractions of nearby villages. We found three intriguing places to visit.

Ben and Jerry had our dessert waiting for us! I had 2 scoops of Chocolate Therapy, the most wicked chocolate ice cream I have ever had, filled with chunks of chocolate pudding and crumbles of chocolate cookie. If there was death by chocolate, this was it! Bill had the famous Cherry Garcia, cherry ice cream with chunks of cherries and fudge flakes, quite refreshing compared to my sinful pick.

Ben and Jerry's chocolate therapy
best chocolate ice cream I have ever tasted!
Cabot Creamery's tasting table
Then we found Cabot Creamery, makers of “the best cheddar cheese in the world.”   Bill questions this advertising claim. His loyalty is to Tillamook from the west coast factory. They had a tasting table of about 20 different kinds of cheeses, from 75 % reduced fat cheddar to vintage, New York, Vermont, Adirondack, etc., mild and sharp, Monterrey and Jack, jalapeno and habanero cheddars.  I finally found a 50% reduced fat sharp cheddar…I have been missing cheese a lot.

Trapp Family Lodge at Stowe, Vermont
Then we went to where the hills are alive. The famous von Trapps left Salzburg in 1950 to recreate their lovely Austrian lodge in the hills of Stowe.  All 2,500 rolling acres are filled with time-share villas, country club, bakery and brewery, green meadows and wonderful trails. Maria and the Baron had 3 children, in addition to the 7 he already had. The youngest, Johannes, is now taking care of the family estate.

'Love is as strong as death' says the couple, holding hands
in their jammies with their tombs as their bed
But the best find from the magazine is the Hope Cemetery at Barre, where granite sculptures and inscriptions therein celebrate the legacies of the interred. There was a large soccer ball, dice cube, biplane, and convertible, a woman coddling her love on his deathbed, and great replicas of the Pieta, dual pyramids, and Roman columns. But my favorite is the couple in jammies, whose tombs are their beds, holding hands saying to each other, ‘Set me as a seal upon thine heart for love is strong as death’

The best of Maine and Vermont will be difficult to forget. But the second half of our Canadian tour beckons. And may I add that our new wood laminate flooring is sooooo coooool! This is truly having the best for last!