Join us now for some of the highlights of our trip:
# Quebec City: Our apartment in the old city nestled within the broad city walls. The city is ancient but very easy to get around. High on the river cliffs, the Chateau de Frontenac dominates the skyline with its turrets and towers. On the promenade which overlooks the River St Laurent, singers busk and fill the night air with husky French tones. Down in the lower town, the narrow walkways are filled with tourists off the cruise ships which follow the river all the way to Nova ScotIa, Maine and Boston.
After wandering around the wide array of shops, it was great to relax over a wine and a beer and soak up the atmosphere. Quebec feels so much like Paris. Sadly, our attempts at the language were met with sighs and a return to English by the long suffering shopkeepers and waiters.
From Quebec, our hire car took us over the US border into Maine. You can wait several hours in a queue but it was a quiet day and our passage was conveniently quick.
# Maine: Down along the old Canada Highway, great swathes of Autumn leaves lit up Moose River Valley. Off in the distance, lakes curved around small islands. Though we knew it was hunting season, we were surprised to see moose hanging from wooden contraptions. Later we learned they were used to fulfill government requirements to weigh and determine the age, by pulling a tooth, of the great beasts.
Our first night in Maine was spent at a fabulous old Inn, Colony House, which sat on the shores of the pristine Lake Wesserunsett. Nearby was the Lakewood Theatre; the oldest running Summer Theatre in the US.
Though the theatre season had just closed, we were fortunate to be allowed inside. Here, stars such as Lana Turner, Ginger Rogers and Humphrey Bogart had played to eager audiences. Many had stayed at the Inn. I was fascinated to learn that the room we were staying in, had been the home of Lana Turner for a whole summer season. I imagined her standing at the window, looking through the trees and gardens to the lake’s glistening waters as she rehearsed her lines.
That night we found our way into Skowhegan, the closest town, and enjoyed a great meal and good music at the Olde Mill Inn. Bob, our congenial host at the Inn, told us stories of the area, how the Native Americans canoed down the lakes and rivers, planting corn on the way. They travelled all the way to the sea, had their fill of seafood and enjoyed relief from the Summer insects. In Fall they made the return journey, harvesting their matured crops on the way.
Our next destination was the iconic L L Bean store with its big boot outside, and emphasis on country-wear, and then edged our way around the coastal villages of Maine to the Acadia National Park. The quieter part, Mount Desert National Park, was our home for two nights at idyllic Bass Harbour. Our first day was spent walking through the forest to the rocky shoreline of pink granite where we caught our first sight of a blue jay; a startling sky blue with a crested head. Later we learned it was the ‘bad boy’ of the bird world – known to eat the young of other species. We also had our first sighting of a chipmunk and had to ask passerbys what it was! They’re so tiny!
Dinner that night at a fabulous seafood restaurant allowed us to sit outside in the gathering dusk and watch the quicksilver reflections of harbor lights rippling in the wake of incoming boats. A one-eyed seal seal known as Lucille visits Bass Harbor each afternoon and feeds on the scraps discarded overboard from the fishing boats.
The following day, lunch at Captain Nemos proved a fascinating experience. It is impossible to describe the decor; you’ll have to visit their website! The word, unique, doesn’t do it justice – suffice to say we had a great time.
Join me for my next blog as our journey takes us to beautiful Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and rugged Cape Breton with the Celtic Colours Music Festival. As we head north, the Scottish influence grows stronger for many, many thousands of Scots made their new homes in this stunning land.
Alba gu Brath