COOOEE : A long, loud call used to attract attention when at a distance, mainly done in the Australian bush
OZ : Australia!

31 October 2012

North Conway NH

We followed I-99 to Lewiston then headed inland via Naples and Bridgton to North Conway.  Not an overly exciting drive for the most part … an Interstate, so can’t expect much.  But given that it wasn’t great driving weather, it was a pleasantly uneventful trip.

We stayed at the Golden Gables.  A bit like the Interstate … pleasantly uneventful.  As was North Conway. But I would like to thank the management of the Golden Gables for allowing a late change to our booking due (one less night).  The room was fine and in the block away from road noise and I loved accommodation where you could open the windows and not be stuck with air-con.

We did a little sightseeing and a little shopping in the North Conway area.  That night we had an outstanding meal at the Moat Mountain Brewery.  The serves were great value and absolutely enormous!  We had more than enough to have leftovers as a picnic lunch the next day!!  Breakfast before we left was at Peaches.  The less said the better … very meagre servings (though maybe that was a good thing given the quality of the ham and the overcooked eggs) and poor service (there were only 2 tables to look after but they were busy doing their books) … it think it wins most disappointing breakfast of the trip.  

The preplanned route was to go via I-95 to Augusta then head in via Bethal and Gorham and then south on Route16 to North Conway.  With two drivers (about 5 hours without stops) and with good weather it would have been doable.

North Conway wasn’t “us” … or at least the section where we were wasn’t.  Strip malls.  Yes, bigger and better strip malls … but still strip malls!  And, while I can understand that this makes it an attractive destination for some, it wasn’t our ideal stop.  I would look at Jackson as an alternative place to stay.

I was really disappointed that we only got one night in the White Mountains making it virtually an overnight stopover rather than a sightseeing base.  I was looking forward to Mt Washington, Franconia Notch, Bretton Woods etc.  It was unfortunate that Sandy made us err on the side of caution, but we got off lightly.

30 October 2012

Bar Harbor ME


We stayed at the Bar Harbor Inn in the oceanfront lodge.  Bliss!  A stunning view.  An expanse of lawn, the ocean front walk … and then fishing boats, lobster floats, islands, sunsets, cruise liners … and a very close visit by a bald eagle.  The complimentary breakfast was very good.

During our stay we ate at (will do full reviews on TA)
Jordan Pond House : I didn’t come away a fan of the famous popovers … erk!
Side Street Café : haphazard service, ho hum food
The Thirsty Whale : good fun, good value, good service, good food – especially those fried pickles!!!
The Reading Room :good service, but generally not impressed, food was ordinary
Morning Glory Bakery : If only we had found it sooner!!  Excellent coffee and food
Havanas : If only we could do it all over again … and again … and again.  Our waiter had to be the best I have ever had … he was so passionate about the food he was serving.  The mojito was the best ever … quality ingredients and superbly made.  The food was excellent, outstanding, delicious.  The owner was interested in customer satisfaction.  Oh??!!  Did I mention that we loved our meal here!!  A perfect night out (an added extra was the horse drawn wagon that kept passing by with loads of kids in Halloween costume)

Grindstone Neck : a wonderful selection of take away gourmet foods

Arcadia National Park still had plenty of colour and not many tourists so we almost had it to ourselves (there has to be some small advantage to missing out on things like the carriage rides …. Sighhhh).  We went through the park multiple times on just about every day that we were there, stopping in different sections for short walks.  We have some good before & After photos of the storm surge created by “Sandy”. We also went to the part of the park on the Schoodic Peninsular as well as driving all around Mt Desert Island.

I think I set aside too much time for Bar Harbor, given the time of year and with so much “closed for the season”.  And then we added an extra night to our stay so that we could keep an eye on where “Sandy” was going to make landfall, how much flooding might come with it, if roads would be closed because of debris, etc. 

I had planned Campobello as a day trip (FDR is one of DH’s political and polio heroes!), but once at Bar Harbor, and with only one designated driver, we realised that this would be too much of a rushed there-and-back-again drive.  In hindsight, maybe we would have spent a night up that way before doubling back to the White Mountains.

We should (and we are still kicking ourselves!) have found out about bike hire when we arrived.  So many things were already closed and the courtesy bus had stopped running … we made an assumption, without checking, that bike hire would be out of the question.  For all we know it was … but after it was too late, when the weather had changed for the worse, we noticed the bike shop was open!  We should have checked - those carriage trails looked so beautiful! And we had fairly good weather for our first few days.

And we should have eaten at Havana’s much, much earlier in our visit … so that we could eat there again and again!  And we shouldn’t have assumed that The Reading Room would be the “special” place for our last night (it was also my birthday!!) … when we could have been at Havana’s.

25 October 2012

Portland ME to Bar Harbor ME

Our route was to Freeport via I-295, then US-1 to Bar Harbor.  Just plain beautiful.  I thought Day 1 coast was great, and things just kept getting better!! Everything you could expect … but more than you expected!

Of course, we stopped at L. L. Bean!  (My Maine ship’s bell windchime is sounding as I type this!) And then it was a slow scenic coastal & small town drive.  We stopped at Damariscotta for an outstanding coffee in an excellent bookshop (Maine Coast Bookshop & Café). We had perfect weather and clear views for our detour on the Mt Battie Auto Road.  Lunch was possibly my favourite of the trip!  Ahhhhh! Young’s Lobster Pound at Belfast!!! (I shall do a TA review later … but right now I will just sit and think about that lobster for a while .   .  .  .   .   .  mmmmmm, yum)  And I should mention DH’s scallops were also amazing!

Hard to say … Maybe an extra night on the coast getting from Portland to Bar Harbor as we loved all those coastal town.  And maybe it would work taking this extra night coming south from Bar Harbor before heading inland to the White Mountains.  One thing we did miss was going up to the Observatory on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge as we were getting tired of the drive, so an extra night and extra travelling time would allow this to be fitted in.

24 October 2012

Portsmouth NH to Portland ME

Our route was via ME9 & US1.  What a glorious drive!  Coastal Maine at its best!!

We loved our stop at the Rachel Carson Nature Reserve (a hero of our times!) .  We loved the lighthouses, the deluxe holiday houses, the small ports, the charm of the towns… all movie set gorgeous!  But we were very disappointed with our lunch stop at Mabel’s Lobster Claw (overpriced, under-endowed lobster roll … and serving a fork for eating the melted icecream pie??? But DH was happy with his Lobster Mac & Cheese).

We stayed at the Inn At St John.  As fans of John Connolly crime fiction, we came by this from his website … and I checked it our on TA as well. It was a great choice. Staff were very helpful ensuring we had an accessible room, the accommodation stylish and cosy and the complimentary continental breakfast was the best!  We ate that night at The Great Lost Bear, another suggestion from John Connolly as his fictitious private eye “works” there.  Thanks, Mr Connolly … two excellent recommendations!

Not much!  Beautiful scenery and plenty of time to sight see. 
Would choose somewhere else for lunch.  This was one of the shortcomings of the timing of our trip – so many places were “Closed For The Season” (and in fact Mabel’s was closing up a few days later) so we didn’t always have a wide selection to choose from.

23 October 2012

Boston MA to Portsmouth NH

Flew in, arriving at Logan at around 5.15.  Picked up rental car from Alamo.  Headed to Portsmouth via I-95.  It was dark, there was a fair bit of traffic and we were tired and hungry.  Good advice from Alamo counter on exiting the airport and city, and it was good to have the GPS!

Stayed at Port Inn (easy to find, good value, nice roomy room, very ordinary continental breakfast included).  Ate at Jumping Jay’s Fish Café (excellent!  especially their clam chowder).  Next morning toured around Portsmouth (beautiful).

Portsmouth deserved more!  Should have allocated two nights as we were very tired when we arrived and didn’t get the best value out of a fine restaurant.  We saw a little of Portsmouth the next day, but would have like to have explored a lot more.

22 October 2012

New England Road Trip

Everyone has different agendas and wishlists, and so, for what it is worth, here is a trip report of our holiday.  I did my planning mainly with the help of Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet Guides (New England & Trips) and lots of great websites (my favourites were and and )

We are more into history than art, more into photography than shopping, more into road food than fine dining, more into rural than urban.  As the road trip accounted for 19 nights of accommodation, and wasn’t the sum total of our holiday, I was also looking for accommodation that was reasonable in price (and for this in particular Trip Advisor was excellent). 

We did a 1300mi (or around 2000 km) road trip through the New England states from October 23 till November 11.  We did a loop, setting out from and returning to Boston.

We had pre-booked a car from Alamo and all of our accommodation.  We took our own GPS.  I also picked up some maps from AAA.  And I had already planned the road trip on Google.

Boston MA > Portsmouth NH : 1 night
Portsmouth > Portland ME : 1 night
Portland > Bar Harbor ME : 6 nights (last minute change)
Bar Harbor > North Conway NH : 1 night (last minute change)
North Conway > Woodstock VT : 1 night
Woodstock > Great Barrington MA : 2 nights
Great Barrington > Mystic CT : 2 nights
Mystic > Newport RI : 3 nights
Newport > Concord MA : 2 nights
Concord > Boston MA : 1 night

We were originally booked for 5 nights in Bar Harbor and 2 nights in North Conway but Hurricane Sandy gave us reason to wait and see if bigger changes were necessary.  We were lucky and our thoughts were with those who bore the brunt of what was known as Frankenstorm.

Yes!  We would have loved to have been in the New England for the peak colour!! (This was an add-on holiday to a visit to family on the West coast and that dictated our travel dates).  But not to worry … there were pluses (like no crowds)

With the rental car, I had checked and even printed out the fine detail from the Alamo website, but when we picked up the car they refused the extra driver at no cost (even though site said it was a perk of being in their “Insiders Club”). We were told that our Alamo included insurance (which as Aussies we have to take) didn’t cover it.  An extra driver just about doubled the cost so DH was to be the only driver.  Next time I would get confirmation via email.  The strange thing was that we had just handed in our Alamo rental in San Francisco where we were both listed with no extra charge!!  Someone was wrong but we were too tired to argue the point and needed to be on our way.

We were very happy with what we saw and did on our road trip.  In fact, we are hard pressed to say what our favourite part was.  But we may, when pushed over a wine or two, consider some tweaks, eg Portsmouth : 2 nights; Bar Harbor : 4 nights; Mystic : 2 nights; Great Barrington : 3 nights

The Witch of Blackbird Pond ~ Elizabeth George Speare
Little Women ~ Louisa May Allcot
The Crucible ~ Arthur Miller
It and others~ Stephen King
Cider House Rules and others ~ John Irving
The Perfect Storm ~ Sebastian Junger (wow! That was a bit prophetic!!)
Mystic River and others ~ Dennis Lehane
Charlie Parker series ~ John Connolly
Caleb's Crossing ~ Geraldine Brooks
The Marriage Plot ~ Jeffrey Eugenides
Empire Falls ~ Richard Russo
Olive Kitterage ~ Elizabeth Strout
In The Heart of the Sea ~ Nathaniel Philbrick
Ethan Frome ~ Edith Wharton
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

with a New England selection:
Connecticut ~ Judy Garland & Bing Crosby
Moonlight in Vermont ~ Willie Nelson
Massachusetts ~ Bee Gees
M.T.A ~ Kingston Trio
Old Cape Cod ~ Patti Page
Whoever’s in New England ~ Reba McEntire
Weekend in New England ~ Barry Manilow
The Last Resort ~ The Eagles
Please Come to Boston ~ Joan Baez
Cheers ~ TV Themes
I Will Find You (Last Of The Mohicans) ~ Clannad
with a little bit of travelling music thrown in:
On The Road Again ~ Willie Nelson
On The Road Again ~ Canned Heat
I’ve Been Everywhere ~ Johnny Cash
Going Up The Country ~ Canned Heat
No Particular Place To Go ~ Chuck Berry
King Of The Road ~ Roger Miller
Rockin’ Down The Highway ~ Doobie Brothers
Ramblin’ Man ~ The Allman Brothers
Travellin’ Man ~ Rick Nelson
America ~ Simon & Garfunkel