One week ago today, we left home heading north in search of fall color and to see cousins I hadn't seen in years. New England is famous for its fall foliage and people who travel to see it are known as "leaf peakers", or so I have been told. First stop Kittery Point, Maine, a charming, rural, coastline town just over the border from New Hampshire, which is, in fact, where we had dinner. Dinner at Jumpin' Jays Fish Cafe was delicious but what struck me about Portsmouth was their practical approach to crossing the street at four corners - they permit diagonal crossings. Think that would work in New York City?
The leaves in lower Maine seem to be just turning, so we were happy we have time to head further north.
Once under way the next day, we stopped in Portland for lunch at a restaurant called Duckfat, where we split french fries cooked in duck fat and a duck confit panini, the contents of which probably provided the fat for frying those fries.
With a name like Duckfat it couldn't be bad ... and it wasn't.
Now to see the furthest eastern point in the U.S. where the sun rises before anywhere else ... well there's an argument going on between Lubec and Eastport, Maine. I expect it probably depends on the winds and sands and where mean high tide is on any day.
As Lubec was closest, we went there, enjoyed their harbor, the lighthouse, an early lunch, and the fickle fog hiding and revealing the bridge to Campobello Island, Canada. FDR summered on this island when he was young and there's a park around his summer home that is beautiful and should be seen, so we did - walking the grounds, the docks, and the house.
Now in Canada, we decided to continue north and save Eastport, Maine for yet another day. This was the last day of the season that the ferry from Campobello to Deer Island would run, so we drove onto the 4:00 p.m. ferry still heading north. The day was brisk, comfortable and immensely colorful but with foggy blues, greens and grays not the firey colors of fall, but we loved them anyway. We crossed Deer Island, just like we do Shelter Island when we go north, in less than a half hour and linked up with the northern ferry from Deer Island to L'Etete, New Brunswick. On the mainland, we decided to spend a couple of nights in Saint John, a small charming city on a large harbor that can accomodate cruise ships. When we first saw the industrial skyline around the harbor from our hotel room we were a little disappointed and then ... the sunset! Two nights, two sunsets and we can't decide which is our favorite.
City Market in Saint John has been a farmers' market since 1876 and it's roof is built in the shape of the hull of a ship - what else would you expect from ship builders? It sells meats, fish, bread, fresh produce, cheese, local wine, and local crafts. It's colorful, crowded, busy, and simply wonderful. We had the best oysters I've ever had, along with a good fish taco, at Billy's just inside the market building. Good simple and affordable ... does it get better?
After the rainy day in Saint John, we woke to a FOGGY morning hearing cruise ships sounding fog horns as they arrived in the harbor. Watching them tie up occupied us for hours, after which the fog lifted and the sun shone brightly, so why not take another ferry ride (our 5th on this trip), this time to Nova Scotia - only three hours away. We've always wanted to go there, so when you're so close ...
Friends had traveled to Nova Scotia years ago and mentioned a delightful inn in Wolfville called The Blomidon Inn. I'd made a mental note of it for the future, and with the future here and now, I made a reservation there for our first night on the island. The Inn is a former sea captain's house, with dark wood walls, creaking staircases and beautiful carved banisters. They also have canapy style beds that require a step stool to "climb in", but they only provided one so Peter taught himself a clever "hop and roll" action that got him safely onboard!
On our first full day in Nova Scotia, Peter and I drove around the countryside, skirting the Minus Basin of the Bay of Fundy enjoying the rolling hills, livestock, apple orchards, and dirt roads. On one we even found a babbling brook that we photographed for over an hour, but when hunger kicked in we packed up the tripod and headed to Halls Harbour for lunch at the Lobster Pound. Winding roads lead you down a steep hill to the shores of the Bay and the tiny harbor. The lobster season will start soon here but for now the lobster boats are tied up along the sides of the harbor. We got there about 1:15 p.m. and left around 4:30 p.m. By then the boats were "beached" and the harbor nearly drained. It was like watching a slow leaking bathtub drain, marooning everything until the tide turns. It was pure delight I felt sitting in the lee of the lobster pound, eating fresh steamed lobster, under the sunny blue skies of Nova Scotia.
In need of some clean clothes, Peter and I got a room at the Super 8 in Windsor, about 20 minutes south of Wolfville. It's a simple motel on top of a hill, costing only $89.99 a night, with great WiFi and a laundry for their guests. You might wonder how we found it. Well Nova Scotia has an incredible Tourist Information network and you can call their 800 number and they will find you a room meeting your specifications (subject to availability of course, but this is the very end of their season). Staying here allowed us to further explore the northern coastline of the Annapolis Valley and travel down lots of gravel roads, one that even led us to a fresh-water waterfall. The water here often appears purple because the soil is red and the sky is blue, and the water mixes the two.
Where to next? East, still in search of the brilliant colors of fall.
P.S. All photos were taken with the iPhone 4 © Claudia Ward