Western Maine

We finally were able to drag ourselves away from the Maine coast, and find ourselves in western Maine, with an entire campground to ourselves.

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Pine needles have been raining down on us ever since we got here.
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Our site overlooks the pond

We spent a quiet morning at the campground, then headed to the Gem and Mineral Preview Museum in Bethel. Just a couple of rooms were open, but we found plenty to keep us interested. Note to self: come back next year when the entire museum is open!

We went home via a National Scenic Byway, a winding road east of the White Mountains that follows the Wild River. There are campgrounds and hiking trails all through the White Mountains National Forest, and we took our time enjoying the beauty of the river and the mountains.

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I was fascinated with this amazing bridge that connects to a hiking trail within the National Forest. It serves as a reminder that bridges, unlike walls, often give safe passage over and from dangerous circumstances, and can lead to beautiful places.

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Little Moose Island

I had suggested that with all the fog horns blowing, perhaps this wasn’t the ideal day for catching the sunrise. We had gotten up at 5:30 and were on our way to the top of Schoodic Head. “You gotta show up!” is Russ’ mantra, so off we went for what can only be called a soft sunrise. It was beautiful in a misty sort of way, as we stood alone on this highest point of the peninsula

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Little Moose Island lies just east of Schoodic Point, and is accessible during low tide. We spent the morning exploring this magical place, listening to the lobster boats checking their traps far below, though the lingering mist made it impossible for us to see them.

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The vegetation brightened the landscape as fall begins to show its colors.

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The Schoodic Peninsula

The Schoodic Peninsula

If you want to experience Acadia National Park, but without the crowds and the trappings of tourism, come to the Schoodic Peninsula. It’s Maine at its finest, with crashing waves, expansive vistas, and prime real estate being put to good use as a working waterfront. I’ll let the photos tell the story of this beautiful place.

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The Lobster Pound in the tiny village of Corea was closing when we arrived (we’ll be back tomorrow), so we came home and fixed Curried Chicken and Cucumber Raita with side of Mango Chutney for dinner.

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Acadian Night Sky Festival – part 2

This pretty much sums up our experience at the Acadian Night Sky Festival this weekend.

“As I lay underneath the night canopy I am forced to realize once again the majesty of the universe. I won’t pretend to be significant as I see a meteor that has traveled for millions of years burn out in one majestic second above me. I only hope that the souls I have touched in my blink of an eye existance have been bettered for it. For they are all that truly matter to me.”     – Posted last night on Facebook by our son Jesse

At last night’s star party on Cadillac Mountain, we were able to peer into vast distances of time and space. Astronomers had set up dozens of telescopes, the largest one being 36 inches in diameter.. We climbed up the ladder to view M13, the Great Globular Cluster of Hercules, with around 300,000 stars and estimated at 25,100 light years away. Since one light year = 6 trillion miles… well, you do the math!

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Acadia, a designated Dark Sky Park, is the only National Park on the east coast where the Milky Way is visible. Right next door is our sister galaxy, Andromeda, the most distant thing we can see with our naked eye – 2.3 million light years away.

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Earlier that day we packed a picnic lunch and rode our bikes around Eagle Lake. A gift from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the 45 miles of Carriage Roads throughout the park are for pedestrians, bicycles and horses only.

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It’s been a wonderful weekend here in Acadia, with amateur astronomers willing to share their time, their expertise, and their wide array of telescopes with anyone who wants to take a look. Here are a few that were set up with filters for viewing the sun during the day.

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Acadia Night Sky Festival

We went from Back-to-the-Land to Out-Into-Space as we arrived in Acadia National Park in time to hear Dava Sobel give the keynote address for the Acadia Night Sky Festival. Sobel is author of Longtitude, The Planets, Galileo’s Daughter, A More Perfect Heaven, and her newest book, The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars.

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Though not formally trained in the sciences, her curiosity about the universe led her to score an interview with Carl Sagan. Her ability to convey scientific concepts in easily understandable ways so impressed Sagan that he hired her to be part of the team that produced Cosmos. She has since been recognized for her “outstanding contribution toward public understanding of science, appreciation of its fascination, and the vital role it plays in all our lives.”

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We decided to attend at least one seminar/event each day, and today it was “Exploring Jupiter.” Daniel Krysak was the presenter, a young man (30ish) who’s had a passion for the planets from the age of three. The company he works for designs and makes cameras for interplanetary exploration, and he is personally involved in the missions to both Jupiter and Mars. If you’re interested, check out this website on the Juno project.

We also were able to reconnect with friends Doug and Mary after a 10+ year hiatus. They introduced us to Mainely Meat – some of the best barbeque I’ve ever had (and that’s saying a lot, coming from a North Carolina girl!)

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A visit to the Wendell Gilley Museum in Southwest Harbor gave us a birds-eye view of this local artist, who took woodcarving to an outstanding level.

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We especially enjoyed the woodcuts of guest artist Andrea Rich.

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Helen and Scott Nearing

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Helen and Scott Nearing were considered the gurus of the back-to-the-land movement in the 60’s and 70’s. They chronicled their journey from New York City to self sufficiency in Vermont and Maine in their books Living the Good Life and Continuing the Good Life. While we never ascribed to their vegetarian lifestyle, we did make a quasi attempt at the “good life” when we raised goats, bees, and blueberries on a 10-acre farm in Geneva NY. The Nearings built their last home, Forest Farm, in Harborside ME when Scott was in his 90’s and Helen in her 70’s. We made a pilgrimage to The Good Life Center whose mission is “advancing Helen and Scott Nearing’s commitment to social justice and simple living, and preserving their last hand-built home.”

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Nearing House

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Warren worked with the Nearing’s and continues to manage the farm.

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The yurt built for visitors to stay in.

“In Maine, as in Vermont we made serious and various attempts to live at five levels: with nature; by doing our daily stint of bread labor; by carrying out our professional activities; by constant association with out fellow citizens; and by unremitting efforts to cultivate the life of the mind and spirit.”     – Man’s Search for the Good Life (1954/1974)

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We have a friend who owns property near The Good Life Center, and graciously offered to let us camp there. It was an amazing spot –  secluded and quiet, and as the evening progressed, a stunning end of the day with loons calling in the distance. Thank you Les!

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Christina’s World

We stayed in Camden longer than planned so we could go see the Olson farm that captivated Andrew Wyeth and was the setting for Christina’s World. Inspiration for this painting came when Wyeth, standing in an upstairs window, saw Christina crawling across the field. (Internet photo)

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“The challenge to me was to do justice to her extraordinary conquest of a life which most people would consider hopeless,” he wrote. “If in some small way I have been able in paint to make the viewer sense that her world may be limited physically but by no means spiritually, then I have achieved what I set out to do.”  – Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth spent many hours at the Olson farm where Christina and her brother Alvaro lived. Despite a degenerative muscular condition that left her unable to walk or use her hands, Christina was a formidable personality that fascinated Andrew. The house is large and sparse, echoing the feeling that Wyeth captured in over 300 paintings of the Olsons, their home, and the land.

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“In the portraits of that house, the windows are eyes or pieces of the soul almost. To me, each window is a different part of Christina’s life.”

Per his wishes, Andrew Wyeth is buried near Christina in the family burial ground not far from the house.