Northeast 2014

July 2014

We left home July 10, 2014, for a two-week driving tour of the Northeast. It was a chance to hike in Virginia, Maine, and New Hampshire; to visit family in Virginia and Rhode Island; and to see Niagara Falls, which was on Mary’s bucket list. It was also an opportunity for Keith to see seven states that he had never visited before (bringing his total to 45).

Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia

Our first stop was at a bed-and-breakfast called the Duck Roost Inn in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. It was a clean, comfortable, old-fashioned house in a quiet, out-of-the-way location, and our hosts Kate and Mark treated us like family. Kate is also an excellent cook. We enjoyed our stay there and would definitely go back.

The next day we hiked at Grayson Highlands State Park.

Wild ponies Wild but very tame ponies along the trail
Wild ponies This foal tried to nibble Mary’s pants, forcing her to brush his head away gently and repeatedly with her hand (but we wouldn’t say petting, which is frowned upon).
photo Information about the wild ponies
Wilburn Ridge Trail Keith on the Wilburn Ridge Trail
Longhorns Keith hiking near longhorns on the Wilburn Ridge Trail
Longhorns Longhorns
Fat Man’s Squeeze A tight spot called Fat Man’s Squeeze
photo Crossing one of the fences that help to control the ponies — Notice the rhododendrons in bloom.
photo Wise shelter on the AT
photo At the top of the Appalachian Spur Trail, Mary climbed some rocks to get a better view and took this shot with Keith waiting below.

After leaving Mouth of Wilson the next day, we drove to Alexandria, Virginia, for a one-night visit with Mary’s brother Bill and sister-in-law Mary.

West Point, New York

After the visit in Alexandria, we drove by way of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey to the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, where we spent one night at the Thayer Hotel. Mary showed Keith around the grounds of West Point and we took a short walk up a trail that turned out to be Flirtation Walk, which is marked (at the other end) as off-limits to anyone not accompanied by a cadet. We would have seen more, but many areas are now off-limits to visitors since someone a couple of years ago walked around the grounds taking photographs that he later published in an unflattering story about the place.

Hudson River at West Point Hudson River
Barracks Barracks and chapel
Statue of Washington Statue of Washington

Rhode Island (and Providence Plantations)

When we left West Point, we drove through Connecticut to Wakefield, Rhode Island, for a two-night visit with Mary’s cousin Joanne. Joanne showed us around Narragansett and Newport, and we toured The Breakers, one of the Newport mansions, built by Cornelius Vanderbilt, II.

Balancing rocks Rock art at the Narragansett shore
Balancing rocks More rock art
Balancing rocks And more
Balancing rocks Imagine what happens if one of these rocks falls while you’re standing next to it.
Beavertail Lighthouse Joanne took us to see the Beavertail Lighthouse.
Beavertail Lighthouse The lighthouse and museum
Beavertail Lighthouse Foundation of the old lighthouse
Plaque Close-up of the plaque on the foundation
Plaque A little history
Fort Adams State Park Mary and Joanne at Fort Adams State Park, Newport, RI
The Breakers Mary and Joanne at The Breakers, Newport, RI
The Breakers Outside The Breakers — No photos are allowed inside.


After Rhode Island we went back into Connecticut for a brief visit and dinner with our old friend Doug Van Cleef, who was working that week in Meriden. On the way to see Doug, we stopped first in Mystic, Connecticut, and then in East Haddam for a tour of Gillette Castle. We had hoped to see the schooner Mystic, which Mary’s son Jason had crewed in 2013, but we didn’t find it, and the locals told us it had been sold.

Mystic River sign On the Mystic River
Mystic, CT The town of Mystic
Mystic, CT Mystic
Mystic River drawbridge Drawbridge over the Mystic River
Gillette Castle Gillette Castle
Gillette Castle Gillette Castle
Arch Stone arch
Stairs Stairs just inside the castle entrance
Gillette Castle Carved wooden switches
Gillette Castle Living room
Porch Porch with a view
Gillette Castle Upstairs hallway
Ferry sign After touring the castle, we took the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry across the river to save a few minutes.
Waiting to board Waiting to board
Ferry leaves dock Leaving the dock
Ferry On the ferry. It seemed a little strange to open the door and step out of the vehicle while it was moving.

After Connecticut we headed to Bar Harbor, Maine.

Acadia National Park, Maine

We checked into the Castlemaine Inn in Bar Harbor for two nights, and we were very pleased with our hosts and the accomodations. (We took the Eyebrow Suite on the third floor.) Dan advised us about hiking trails in Acadia National Park. We took his advice and had a full and enjoyable day of hiking and sightseeing.

Castlemaine Inn sign The Castlemaine Inn
Mary relaxing on the balcony Soon after checking in, Mary relaxed for a few minutes and phoned home from our third-floor balcony at the Castlemaine Inn.

In the morning we drove around Park Loop Road to the trailhead for Gorham Mountain. Our plan was to take the trail over Gorham Mountain, continue north and take a detour over Beehive, and then hike over and beyond Champlain Mountain. We would reach Park Loop Road again several miles to the north and catch a park shuttle back to the car at the original trailhead. We would have considered the Precipice Trail but it was closed because of nesting peregrine falcons.

Gorham Mountain Trail View from the Gorham Mountain Trail looking toward Otter Point
Gorham Mountain summit At the top of Gorham Mountain
The Beehive When we saw the Beehive, we were pretty sure we would climb it.
The Beehive from below View of the Beehive from the trail below
The Beehive trail: hiker Keith turned a corner, saw this view and said, Cool! The woman ahead of him turned and said, Not the word I would have chosen.
Keith on the Beehive trail Mary got a shot of Keith proceeding cautiously, or maybe he was still putting his camera away on his belt.
Mary climbing the Beehive Keith looked back and found Mary in a perfect spot for a photograph that would capture the experience.
Mary reaches the summit of the Beehive Mary reaches the summit of the Beehive.
Keith, arms wide Keith cools off in the breeze after climbing the Beehive. The Bowl is visible below.
View from Champlain Mountain The Bowl comes into view.
View from Champlain Mountain At the top of Champlain Mountain
View from Champlain Mountain Other hikers enjoy the view from Champlain Mountain.
Champlain Mountain View from Champlain Mountain in the direction of Bar Harbor
Jordan Pond After the hikes we did a little sightseeing on the way back. This is a view of Jordan Pond.
View from Cadillac Mountain Finally, at the end of a long day, we drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain.

Franconia Notch, New Hampshire

After Acadia we drove across Maine and into New Hampshire. We stayed at the Franconia Notch Guest House, a hiker-friendly bed-and-breakfast, and again we were very pleased with our hosts and the accomodations. Tom and Pauline really treated us like family. We highly recommend their B&B.

We went to New Hampshire to hike along the Franconia Ridge in the White Mountains. We were advised to go up the Falling Waters Trail, across the ridge, and then down the Greenleaf Trail and Old Bridle Path Trail to close the loop. The Falling Waters Trail is steep and rocky, and the rocks in some places are wet. We think the advice was good. It’s hard enough to go up a steep, wet, rocky trail, but going down would have been much worse.

Pauline’s welcome They were expecting us at the FNGH.
Great room at the FNGH The great room
Signpost Signpost near the trailhead (photo taken at the end of the hike after the sun had come out)
Start of the Falling Waters Trail Beginning of the Falling Waters Trail
Foot bridge Stream crossing at the start of the Falling Waters Trail
Waterfall Falling waters
Waterfall Falling waters
Mary crossing stream Mary crosses the stream.
Waterfall Falling waters—There are several pretty waterfalls along the way, which means the stream has a steep grade, which means the Falling Waters Trail beside it also has a steep grade.
Waterfall Falling waters
Stream crossing One of many stream crossings
Steep, rocky trail In some places the trail is very steep and rough.
Keith on the trail Yes, that’s a trail; Keith is hiking it.
Little Haystack Mary reaches the top of Little Haystack. Zoom in for a different perspective.
Little Haystack It was breezy and very cool at the top, but Keith enjoyed it in short sleeves for a few minutes while shedding some of the heat generated by the previous three miles of steep climbing.
Mt. Lincoln On the ridge trail to Mt. Lincoln
Trail to Lafayette The trail to Mount Lafayette
Trail to Lafayette At the summit of Mount Lafayette
Trail to Lafayette At the summit of Mount Lafayette
Greenleaf hut The Greenleaf Trail — Greenleaf Hut is visible below.
Greenleaf Trail Mary on the Greenleaf Trail
Greenleaf hut The Greenleaf Hut
Greenleaf hut ☢ We spoke briefly with this friendly employee at the Greenleaf Hut. Keith had to tell him the radiation warning sign  ☢  didn’t scare him.
Old Bridle Path Trail View from the Old Bridle Path Trail
Old Bridle Path Trail View from the Old Bridle Path Trail
Old Bridle Path Trail View of Franconia Ridge from the Old Bridle Path Trail
Shining Rock Zoomed view of Shining Rock, with increased color saturation to compensate for the effects of distance.
Moose and woman Shortly after hitting the road, we saw a line of cars stopped by the highway. We stopped too, expecting—correctly—to see a moose. The moose ignored the crowd until one woman (not Mary) got too close. Luckily for her the moose chose to walk away.
Moose by Mary Mary got a better photo.
Franconia Notch sunset Back at the Guest House: a view of the notch in the light of the setting sun
Bear #2 Our last morning at the Guest House, while we were eating breakfast, Pauline told us there was a bear in the field behind the inn. We left breakfast and watched the bear lying under an apple tree. After a while another bear showed up, chased the first bear away, and claimed the apple tree for itself.

Mary came across a good description of this hike after we returned home.

Niagara Falls, New York

From New Hampshire we drove down and across Vermont and then across New York on the thruway to Buffalo and up to Niagara Falls. After being spoiled by Tom and Pauline at Franconia Notch, we had lower expectations for Niagara Falls, but our experience there was also mostly good. We met mostly friendly people, with the exception of two border guards and one young Canadian hot dog vendor. The Canadian border guard was businesslike and maybe a little perfunctory, but the American border guard seemed downright unfriendly. When we left, Mary thanked him for his work and got no acknowledgment. The hot dog vendor clearly did not enjoy selling hot dogs in the summer heat (upper 80s Fahrenheit, more than 30 °C).

Evening view We arrived early enough to see the falls before sunset.
Evening view View from Prospect Point in the late sunlight — Maybe our prettiest shot of the falls
Evening view from pedestrian bridge View from the pedestrian bridge to Goat Island. The rapids would be impressive even without the waterfall.
Maid of the Mist The next morning we took one of the early Maid of the Mist tours and beat the crowds. Later in the day this boat would be packed.
American Falls American Falls with Horseshoe Falls in the distance
Cave of the Winds At the bottom of American Falls during the Cave of the Winds tour
American Falls from Luna Island Looking north (more or less) from Luna Island
Best view from the Rainbow Bridge We also brought our passports to see the Canadian side, which has the most popular views. This photo shows the best view from the Rainbow Bridge.
View from the Canadian soil First view from Canadian soil
Hole in the river There’s a hole in the river.
Portal 1 - Journey Behind the Falls While in Canada we took the Journey Behind the Falls. The view from the portals is really not impressive, especially after such a long wait to see it.
Portal 2 - Journey Behind the Falls Portal 2: Journey Behind the Falls
Journey Behind the Falls - Observation deck The view from the observation deck was better. (We have no explanation for the feet in the air.)
Hornblower tour boat The (Canadian) Hornblower tour boat approaches Horseshoe Falls
Horseshoe Falls Horseshoe Falls
Rainbow in front of the American Falls Rainbow in front of the American Falls
Cars waiting to enter Canada As we walked back to the US, we were happy to be on foot, but we still had a 20 to 30-minute wait at the end, where we got the evil eye from US Customs and Border Protection.