Along the Natchez Trace

Friday, June 1, 2012

Mainly Maine

We left Texas on Saturday, May 12....  that was 2,891 miles and nearly 3 weeks ago.  I'm way behind reading my favorite blogs since much of that time we did not have internet.  Of course I kept a log of how much gasoline the motorhome used; how much it cost; what the tolls cost and all that data that retired financial people do.  I'll tell you right now that we didn't stay in an RV park even once.  

Our goal was to visit all the kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and my siblings that we could along way and still get to Maine by June 1st.  We did just that...
We actually entered Maine on Wednesday, May 30.  But a stop at the Cabela's in Scarborough was on the agenda.  We bought a mosquito zapper.... (we'll see how THAT works)...  a new Garmin Nuvi (this one has lifetime map updates!), and I saw a t-shirt I just couldn't live without.

From there it was away from the coast and up I95, around Bangor, over to Houlton...
Yep!  We're in Maine...  

And finally we get into Aroostook County...
I feel like I'm almost home.  BUT...  Aroostook County is HUGE!  It's the largest county in any state east of the Mississippi.

We always stop at this Rest Area...  
That's Mt Katahdin...  Baxter State Park... in the background.  Today was an exceptionally clear day and the view was outstanding!

We stayed that night at Wal-Mart in Houlton, which is only about 60 miles from our final stop.

There is the neatest thing at the Visitor Center in Houlton...  the "end" of the solar system.  Huh?  you say...  well...  the University at Presque Isle has "duplicated" our solar system...  the sun is at the biology building on campus there, the planets are placed along the highway from Presque Isle to Houlton...
This is Uranus...
They are placed according to scale in size and distance apart.  (The Sun is in Presque Isle; Pluto is in Houlton)....  it's fun to find all the planets on this trip.

Aroostook is mostly agricultural.  POTATOES!!!
Most of the potatoes grown here are raised for restaurants like McDonalds for french fries.  Some are raised as seed potatoes.  You won't find Maine potatoes sold in the grocery stores. But later this summer, we will be able to buy them at roadside markets.  And, trust me!  they are delicious!

We arrived yesterday morning at our "summer place".  No, we don't own a vacation home here.  We volunteer at...
This will be our 6th summer to volunteer here...  our first time was 2003.  Aroostook NWR is a fairly "young" refuge...  established in 1998.  It was formerly the "Caribou Air Station"...  the home of the nuclear bombs during the cold war. I'll do another blog about the bunkers and contaminants; security; etc...  from the late 1940's until the 1960's...  (that's a story all in itself!)

Anyway, our first year here was 2003...  Bill helped take down chain-link fence back then...  the place slowly became open to wildlife.  I always time how long it takes for us to see a moose and a bear after our arrival.  Last year we saw both within 24 hours.

That record was broken this year...
Saw this cow moose less than 4 hours after we got here.  
We stopped at the office to talk with Kirk, who has been here since the Refuge was established...  then drove down to set up our rig...  then went for a drive.  We came across this cow almost immediately.  Yep!  A new record!

I always check out the ponds to see who's around...
A Common Goldeneye with at least 8 chicks....

Lots of ring-neck ducks here....  

Oh Boy!  Lots of good stuff!  Saw a pair of Canada Geese with 4 chicks...  haven't seen any wood duck or merganser chicks yet.  Saw some black ducks....  but, hey, we've not been here long.

Oh yes...  how long until we saw a bear?
Not a great picture...  but this black bear crossed the road later in the day...  around 3pm.  So...  didn't even take 12 hours to see some of my favorite critters.

Yesterday we saw a total of 3 bear and 4 moose....  not bad for a beginning, huh?

Today the Refuge is closed to the public.  I headed up the road around 6:30am to do some laundry (the washer/dryer is in the maintenance shop about 3 miles up the road)...
This guy was going to cross the road, but changed his mind when he saw my car.  He's probably 2 or 3 years old....  

After I got the laundry started I headed over to Delima Pond...  I almost always get lucky there...  Sure enough...

This bull moose was having breakfast... 

Here's a close-up of him...
You can see his antlers...  just starting to grow below his ears...  He'll have a gorgeous rack by fall.  There are a couple of ring-neck ducks in the water near him.

Bill & I were already busy today...  We spent a few hours mowing and weed-whacking.....  After so many days on the road it's nice to be active again!  (I hope I remember I said that when I wake up tomorrow all stiff and sore ;-)

The flies, mosquitoes, blackflies, no-see-ums have already found us.  But then, isn't it always a fact that the most beautiful sites have a price?  (scratch...  scratch)

I guess you can tell already what the next 3 months of my blogs will be like....  yep!  We're in paradise and I hope to share it with any of you who want to come along.

That's All for Today!


  1. I hate biting bugs! That said, i agree that some places are worth putting up with them. Looking forward to hearing about you Main summer.

  2. What a lovely place to spend your summer! Hope the animal life doesn't get too close.

  3. We love travelling thru Maine, such a beautiful state. I envy you being able to spend the summer there, sounds wonderful!

  4. Great to see you back "home" again, after your long trip! Thanks for sharing all the lovely photos...will look forward to more. I love moose pictures...and bear pictures...and birds of all're in a wonderful place there!

  5. What a beautiful spot! Enjoy your summer!!

  6. I'm looking forward to your posts from that area. Are the bears dangerous to the campers, or do they stay away? Cool moose photos! :)

  7. Beautiful photos. Can't believe you saw all those wild animals in just one day.

  8. I like the moose and bear shots..and the potato fields plowed and brown. Enjoy the summer, minus the bugs.

  9. Your pictures of "The County" makes us miss it a little. We had some Thermacell insect repelling devices while we were at Aroostook SP last year, and they seemed to help quite a lot. But not as much as that screened shelter that we picked up at Walmart!!

    We love seeing your Moose and Bear pictures, not to mention all of your bird pictures. We look forward to seeing more of Maine!

    Mark McClelland

  10. Gorgeous ... look at the wildlife! again, wow

  11. Great post, Sharon! We are on the road to Maine, and our journey began in Texas, too, but El Paso. We've started to book it because we upgraded to a Class A and need to register it. We are only in Indiana, but it's getting me in the mood to get home :) And we will definitely head up to The County as we called it (I am from Paris) to visit the NWR. Thanks for sharing!