Up before dawn on this mid-September morning of 2021, Hannah and I have packed canvas bags with shorts, tee-shirts, hiking shoes and sandals for our 530-mile road trip on Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent. With umbrellas and jackets for cool and/or rainy mornings, we also bring two lawn chairs for the roadside when we just want to chill.
Just before 8 AM, we take the ceremonial pictures at the start of Route One just over the Memorial Bridge from Portsmouth, NH in Kittery. Let the Road Trip begin!
For much of today, we will be traversing parts of Route One that we have traveled in the past. By tonight we will have driven some 200 miles to our Comfort Inn in Ellsworth, which is the crossroads town at the Gateway to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. By the way Bar Harbor is not on Route One and we will be 15 miles from the coastal national park.
In the past when hiking in Acadia, we’d take a mere 3 1/2 hours on the Maine Turnpike to Bangor, then Route 1A to the coast to hit the trails. Today it will likely be sunset (7P) before we arrive in Ellsworth.
The southern part of Route One in Maine comes alive from Memorial Day through Columbus Day with visitors from Away. (Away is anywhere beyond the state that fashions itself as the Way Life Should Be.) The coastal traffic and congestion of those 4+ months is the price we pay for living in Paradise. Not a bad trade off for 7-8 months of peace and love, and yes a lot of cold and snow from December through March.
Over the first fifty miles of Route One we only occasionally have views of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s basically a forgettable inland stretch of ten thousand traffic lights with Hannaford grocery stores, car dealerships, Dunkin’s, Subways, Tire Warehouses, Mister Bagels, gas stations, financial services, and Salons by the Sea. You get the picture – modern day America that you could see most anywhere.
But there are local treasures. See below.
Here’s the morning break down of our version of the slow boat to China. In fact, China, Maine is inland and not a part of today’s itinerary.
8A – leave Kittery
9A – 26 miles to Kennebunk
10A – 57 miles to Falmouth
11A – 70 miles to Freeport
12P – 108 miles to Damariscotta
By the way, this summer, this same 108 miles would take all day!
Always looking for a bargain, Hannah and I park in Freeport so Hannah can shop at the LL Bean Outlet Store, just down the street from the Flagship Store on Route One. With rain in the forecast for Wednesday (Day 3 of our Three Day Road Trip), Hannah looks for a stylish raincoat at the right price. Never much a shopper, I check out the Big Daddy Bean Store up the hill.
Leaving the outlets of Freeport, we head to Newcastle and Damariscotta on the Mid-coast where we plan to find a pub where everyone may not know our name but will at least appreciate the business.
Part 3 has you come along with us to the Penalty Box and learn about our issues with “dining out” and something about old dogs and new tricks.