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A Front-Row Seat | East Coast USA

Writer Vic Gronek shares his East Coast travel experiences complete with vivid photos and iconic stops. Be sure to check out Part 1 before diving into Boston, MA, and Acadia National Par, just to name a few…

By Vic Gronek

Saturday, July 16, 2017

We were up before dawn, seeing that we had to catch the first car ferry scheduled for 6:00 AM for the forty-five-minute ride back to Woods Hole from Martha’s Vineyard. We wanted to get a good jump on any traffic we might encounter and our goal was to get to Boston before noon. The early morning sun gave me an opportunity to catch a sailboat silhouetted against the sun, it was a beautiful although windy morning and was a nice leisurely ride.

It was about a ninety-minute jaunt to Boston from Woods Hole and needless to say, it was another scorcher of a day.

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One of the things you should be aware of when visiting Boston is a lack of toilet facilities. Once we were able to secure parking, we walked on a portion of the Freedom trail starting at the Boston common to see the Granary cemetery where Paul Revere and Samuel Adams and many others have been buried.

As we walked the Freedom Trail, we came across the site of the Boston Massacre. It’s hard to believe all the history that had taken place nearly everywhere we went, 241 years prior to our visit in 2017, some very brave and courageous people took a stand to risk everything they had (including their lives) to stand up against tyranny and create the great country that we live in today.

We were only in Boston for two or three hours at which time we got back in the van and headed for Plymouth, Gloucester, and Rockport, Mass. We stopped in Plymouth to see Plymouth rock and to stretch our legs a bit during the ride. I have to admit that when I first saw Plymouth rock I did not know what to expect, it really is pretty small and is kept in a pit with fencing to protect it from the weather and to deter vandalism. I guess I also thought it would be much larger than it was as it was much smaller than what I had visualized in my mind.

We also stopped in Gloucester to stretch our legs and get out of the van for a while. Gloucester was where the fishing boat Andrea Gail departed from on her fatal voyage in 1991. The perfect storm with George Clooney was a movie about the fishing vessel Andrea Gail, which was lost in a freak storm in 1991. They were in the midst of a carnival today and it was just so interesting to see this old nautical and historical fishing town…on to Rockport, Mass.

Another thing I wanted to do on this trip was to have a lobster dinner. I could not see myself coming to Massachusetts or Maine without having a lobster dinner. When I was in the navy, it’s hard to believe but, quite often on Fridays, we would have the choice of lobster or steak for supper. I had never had lobster prior to going into the navy but, in the navy, the lobster tail was outstanding. It was always served with lemon butter and it was always excellent. While in Rockport we checked out who had the best lobster and found a place called Roy Moore’s fish shack. I splurged on this meal and while it was good, it was not as good as the lobster tail I remembered in the navy.

We finished our supper, walked around town to take in the sights and sounds then went back to our hotel to watch the sunset and relax before we left in the morning. We had some nice views of the sunset in Rockport as you can see below:

Leaving early the next morning we were headed for Acadia, National park but, we were going to swing by the Hamptons in New Hampshire, there is no doubt that there is a lot of money in this area. We stopped by a public beach in the area and it seemed that the beach stretched out forever before reaching the water’s edge. There were many families on the beach, swimming or just basking in the sun’s rays but, we were just here long enough to stretch our legs.

A House in the Hamptons

On the way to Acadia, we went through Kennebunkport, where George H.W. Bush (41st president) had his summer estate. What a mansion, located on a peninsula called Walker’s Point. It juts out into the Atlantic and is very private, and although it had been some time since he was president, you could still see security everywhere.

George H.W. Bush’s Summer Estate

We also had lunch at George Bush’s favorite restaurant in Kennebunkport, Mabel’s Lobster Claw and they had numerous photos of George and his family on the walls. We just had burgers or sandwiches and the food and price were pretty good. Just a hole-in-the-wall type of restaurant but, we were happy… and full.

On to Acadia for the next stop. Our plan was to get there in the afternoon slightly before check-in time. We had some time to kill so we drove around the park a bit to check out the sights. We were in the vicinity of Bar Harbor, Maine which gets its name from a sand bar connecting Mount Desert Island with Bar Island about a half-mile distance. This is actually a sandbar that gets completely submerged when the tide comes in. When the tide is out, you can walk from the mainland to Bar Island which is somewhat of a desolate wooded island with virtually nothing on it. There is a three-hour window to take this hike before the tide starts coming in again and the last place you would want to be is stuck on Bar Island with no food or water for nine to twelve hours. The walk across the sandbar while the tide is out is about a half-mile and is pretty dry considering it was underwater only a few hours earlier.

Landbridge to Bar Island, Tide is out
Landbridge to Bar Island, Tide is out
Landbridge to Bar Island, Tide is in

When the sun hits the top of Cadillac Mountain on Mt. Desert Island, Maine in Acadia National Park, it is the first place in the continental USA that the sun’s rays hit. The top of Cadillac Mountain looks like a hard granite dome and the footing can be treacherous, so be careful if you venture out.

We spent a couple of days here at the Bar Harbor Hotel and there are so many things to see here; the rocky coast where the Atlantic is constantly pounding away at the shoreline, the lobster boats tending their lobster pots in Somes Sound. It was interesting to watch them cruise slowly up to each buoy to retrieve the line and haul up the pots.

Needless to say, our trip here was great and we were happy to have experienced what the northeast has to offer. From my experience, whether you are visiting the Northeast coast or Washington DC, the experience is going to be much different than visiting the West and the wide-open spaces.

We were heading back home tomorrow and the midway point was going to be Lake Placid, the site of the 1980 winter Olympic games and the miracle on ice when the USA’s Olympic hockey team beat the Russians who were so heavily favored to win. This was interesting and if we had more time, there were some things in the Olympic village that we would have visited, but it was not to be on this trip.

All in all, we had fun, saw some very interesting and historical things, and more importantly made it back home safe and sound with memories galore that we can talk about for years to come.

Cadillac Mountain
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park
Landbridge, Bar Island

So, get off that couch and do something! Get the heart rate up along with a little exercise and rejuvenate yourself. It will be good for the body, mind, and soul. Set some goals and a little money aside to take the trip you have dreamed about. That’s the only way it will ever happen. It’s not that hard and you will be so very glad that you did. After all, you still have the rest of your life in front of you.

See ya next week at….

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