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.