In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Monday, October 15, 2007


It's been a while since I've had any updates on my actual travels and today it's time to start playing catch up.

I continued heading east after leaving the Adirondack mountains on my way to Maine. I made a short pit stop in Montpelier, Vermont for an afternoon to bum an internet connection and get caught up on some computer work. As with most New England towns I've passed through I was pretty impressed how it had an honest to goodness small town feel to it; even more amazing considering it's the state capital. Then again it does only have about 8000 people living in it so I guess it's kinda hard not to have a small town feel.

Another fun fact about Montpelier is that it's the only state capitol that doesn't have a McDonald's. I can't believe there are any state capitols (or any other town with over 5000 people in it) that don't have a McDonald's. It really makes me want to move there.

I didn't spend much time checking out the city, just walked around downtown a little and then up to a hill top park over looking the city. I bought a few Steinbeck paper backs at a small bookstore I hadn't read to keep me busy over the next week. The place doesn't even look real, it looks like a movie set or something.

I left Montpelier that afternoon and pointed my house towards Maine again; not really knowing exactly where I was going to go when I got there. I knew I wanted to head up to the Pembroke area to hang out for a while but I didn't know what I'd do on the way. I'd be driving close to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor but didn't know if I really wanted to stop or not. When I took a short trip to Maine a couple years ago I spent some time in that area and while it was nice it was really touristy, which isn't my taste at all. In the end though I decided that since it was a few weeks after the end of the summer vacation season and it was the middle of the week I'd give it another shot. I stopped in Ellsworth on the way to do a little shopping at some outdoor stores before heading out to Mount Desert Island, which houses Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't find any gear I needed to buy. I had fun looking though.

It was still pretty early in the morning when I got there but I was amazed how many people were at the parks visitor center. I almost turned around and left when I saw the parking lot but went in to grab a map anyway. Acadia National Park takes up much of Mt. Desert Island and it has a lot of hiking trails; but unfortunately most of the trails are pretty short and there are lots of roads on the island, which means it's a big tourist attraction and there's not really any where you can go to get away from it all.

I looked at the map and at the trails trying to decide where I'd go to do some hiking. I finally decided I'd hike up The Precipice and then come back down a different trail heading south to stretch it out and see some different areas.

The Precipice trail climbs about 1000 feet straight up Champlain Mountain and is very well known. There are all kinds of signs and warnings telling you how it's the most difficult trail in the park and how dangerous it can be. To make sure you're physically fit before attempting it, don't climb it alone, and to take plenty of water with you. Signs like that make me want to climb something.

I'd climbed The Precipice a couple years ago when I was out here and I found it wasn't anywhere near as scary as they make it sound. Yeah, it's a pretty strenuous climb since it's very vertical but I never felt like I was in a dangerous position. You're on an exposed rock face but they have plenty of iron ladders and bars to use as hand holds on the way up. If anything I think they have too many of those things and that they tend to get in the way at times and make it more dangerous.

I don't know why I decided to climb it again this time, probably because it's one of the most interesting trails in the park and there aren't tons of people on it. Also, it had been a very foggy morning and it was just starting to break up. I thought the view from the top overlooking the ocean with some fog still around might be pretty nice. Plus I tend to like doing the same thing multiple times. I usually enjoy it more the second or third time I do something.

I pulled into the trail head parking lot and found it was already full of vehicles. Plenty of people were milling about and tour buses were pulling up with people climbing out. Thankfully I realized that they weren't here to climb the trail but that the tourist companies must be making it a stop on their tours now. Telling the passengers how tough the trail was and piquing they're interest so they'd want to stop.

As I got my gear ready for the hike people were buzzing all over. Taking pictures of the face of the mountain, watching the climbers edge their way around through binoculars and constantly making jokes and comments to each other about climbing it. Most seemed to be petrified of the trail, I don't know if that's really how they felt or if it was just more fun to feel that way.

I set out up the trail and just like when I climbed it a couple years ago I found just as many people in their 50's and 60's on the trail as people my age. They might have been a little slower but they weren't having any problems and were thoroughly enjoying themselves. In fact, a couple years ago I passed a fella in his 80's that was climbing the trail; he was doing it with his son (who was in his 60's). I passed him about 1/2 way up and although it took him a while I saw him make it to the top just before I started back down. While most of the people that visit parks like this don't get more then 50 feet from their car it's always nice to see people actually get out and make use of the trails. A couple miles from the roads the parks take on a totally different feel then when you're in the parking lot.

I enjoyed my climb up to the top and it was a good work out. I paused for a while about half way up and admired the view. The fog was still rolling in but the sun seemed to be trying to break free now and again and it was nice having the outside world come and go with the wind. By the time I got to the top though the fog had rolled in and it appeared to be there for good. A couple of guys my age from Germany were standing on top and said they were waiting for the fog to blow off so they could get a view of the ocean. One joked and said they'd been waiting for 2 days. It never did break and we headed off in the same direction down the south side of the mountain into the fog.

It was a nice and relaxing hike down. A couple times the fog moved out just enough to give a nice view of parts of the surrounding area but then it socked itself right back in again. I took my time getting down and actually cut my hike short and took a short cut back to the road and walked back to the parking lot. I'd planned on hiking a few more miles but I was feeling kind of lazy and tired. I knew by the time I hiked another couple miles I really wouldn't want to hike all the way back to the car so I figured I better do it now.

Although it was a nice hike I knew I was done exerting myself for the day and that I was ready to leave Acadia National Park. Even though I'd barely gotten into the park I had no desire to continue the rest of the way along the loop road with the scores of other tourists slowly making their way around the island. I hopped back in my car and headed to the next ranger station to get some recommendations on good, local seafood before leaving the park. On my way there I had to weave through a couple spots in the road where a dozen cars were pulled over on the road with tons of people milling about looking at whatever caught someone's eye.

It's amazing how people will drive past something and not even notice it unless someone else pulls over first. More then once on my journey I've been in national parks and stopped to look or take a picture of something. There was no one else there when I stopped but once I was standing out there with my camera almost every car that passed would stop so someone could hop out and take a picture before jumping back in the car again. Usually by the time I would leave there were 4 or 5 cars pulled over.

I managed not to run anyone over and got a couple good recommendations for seafood in Bar Harbor, just a short drive from Acadia. Although it's one of the big “must see” spots of the area I never went to Bar Harbor when I was in the area before. It's a quaint little coastal town that I believe lives almost entirely off of tourism. As I pulled into town I was amazed at how many cars lined the streets and at how many people were walking around on the side walks; this on a Wednesday in the middle of the afternoon well after peak tourist season!

Thankfully I found the recommended restaurant to be nearly deserted as I took my table. I didn't know what I wanted to eat other then a cup of clam chowder. I took the waiters recommendation to pair it up with a Haddock Sandwich and fries. I also ordered a 1/2 carafe of wine and pulled out my laptop to do some work while I waited for my meal.

I normally don't spend a whole lot of extra time in restaurants; I order, I eat, and then I leave. But I'm starting to stay longer now. It's nice to just sit read the paper or to do some work on my laptop while I take my times eating my meal and drinking my wine. It's much more enjoyable that way; plus I get to listen in on more conversations that go on around me as different people come in and leave.

After about 15 minutes my food showed up and the waiters recommendation turned out to be a good one. The haddock was very good and the fries were some of the best I've had. I took my time eating and when I got done figured that since I was splurging by going out to eat I might as well go all the way. I asked about dessert and found that they had a home made Maine blueberry pie. I asked him to bring it out in about 10 minutes warmed up and with ice cream. I wrapped up what little work I had as I finished my wine and prepared myself for a wonderful dessert.

I got done at the restaurant and thought about spending some time seeing Bar Harbor but thought better of that idea and instead took the most direct route out of town and off of Mount Desert Island. I'd had enough of touristy and populated areas; it was time to head farther up the coast where it was a bit more on the isolated side.

I always think Maine is a really big state and I'm always surprised how little time it takes to get from one place to another. I suppose it just looks big on the map since it's next to all those really tiny states. I took my time driving up highway 1 which follows the Maine coast for the most part. That night I found a library parking lot with a wi-fi connection to sleep in before waking up in the morning and continuing my journey north. I stopped in Machias to see Andy Beal, an iATN member who offered to take me out for lunch.

I met Andy at his one man shop where we hung out for a while as he finished up the mornings work. It was nice to have some company again and I enjoyed talking with him. A little before noon he closed up shop and took me out to an excellent local pizza joint. We took our time eating and had a nice chat before he headed back to work and I headed back to the highway. From Machias it was only about 30 miles to my main Maine destination, The Reversing Falls park in Pembroke.

I was told about it last time I was in Maine and I'd come and spent a day there at that time. I really liked the place and this time I planned on spending a lot more time in the area and getting to know it a little. It was the middle of the afternoon when I got to Pembroke and I found the park again without a problem. I was afraid that perhaps the park had changed in the last couple years but I was happy to see it was just how I remembered it.

I found myself a nice spot to park the house at a little campsite, walked around for a quick look to reacquaint myself with the area, and went about gathering and chopping some wood to burn for the next week or so. I was really looking forward to my time there.

I hoped that the area would be as nice as I remembered. It's always a little dicey coming back to someplace you've only been once but have fond memories of. There's always the worry that it's not really that special after all, that the reason you enjoyed it so much the first time was because finding it was an accident or because of the way circumstances worked out at the time. By returning for a second visit you not only risk disappointment this time but you also risk ruining the nice memories you already have of the place.

More to come...

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You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.