Friday, September 28, 2012
Trenton, Maine to Bethel, Maine

We left Trenton at 10:00 a.m. We'd contemplated leaving earlier and trying to make it up the Mount Washington Auto Road in New Hampshire today, but the forecast is gloomy with rain this afternoon, so we'll just find a hotel nearby and drive it tomorrow.

Luckily, it's still sunny this morning, so we're heading back to the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, 45 minutes away, which connects Bucksport and Prospect, Maine. On Wednesday, we were foiled by bleak weather, but today we're going up in the observatory.

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Tom in Bucksport, Maine

The observatory entrance is inside Fort Knox State Historic Site, so we'll visit the fort while we're here as well. This is not the Fort Knox with the gold That's in Kentucky. Both Forts Knox, as well as Knoxville and Knox County in Tennessee, were named after Major General Henry Knox, America's first Secretary of War.

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Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Fort Knox

The Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory is the tallest public bridge observatory in the world and the only one in the Western Hemisphere. The observatory sits 420 feet above the Penobscot River, offering grand views of the surrounding countryside and all the way to Acadia. Tom was kind of freaked out by the height and just stayed up top for a few minutes. I stayed longer, till a group of schoolkids came along and caused me to run away.

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Fort Knox from the Observatory

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Bucksport from the Observatory

Fort Knox was built between 1844 and 1869, when invasion from Britain was feared, despite a treaty settling disputes over Maine's northern boundary. The British controlled this region during the Revolutionary War and again during the War of 1812, and the Penobscot River and its waterfront towns, including Bangor, were recognized by the U.S. as vulnerable. The fort never saw any actual fighting, but it was used for troop training and as a garrison during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.

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Bucksport from Fort Knox

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Fort Knox parade ground

Somehow, Tom and I inadvertently entered the fort from the rear instead of the main entrance. The fort was interesting, and we had more good views of the river, bridge, and Bucksport, but we wandered around in there forever until we finally found our way out! If you visit, take a flashlight for exploring the fort's long, dark passageways.

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Tom at the entrance

In the afternoon we enjoyed a lovely drive across the width of Maine on Route 2, stopping periodically, once in Newport for our requisite Subway sandwich fix, another time in Rumford Falls for a Paul Bunyan photo opportunity.

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Kennebec River, Skowhegan, Maine

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King of the Lumberjacks

Near the coast, the leaves had just begun to show their autumn colors, but as we gained elevation, they reached their peak. As the day wore on, the weather got darker and gloomier, until finally it started to rain, but that only added to the New England ambiance. In Newry, we followed a meandering road to a quaint covered bridge circa 1872.

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Sunday River, Newry, Maine

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The Artist's Covered Bridge, 1872

At 5:00 we stopped for the night at the Norseman Inn & Motel in Bethel, Maine, near the Maine-New Hampshire border. That will put us in good position to drive the Mount Washington Auto Road, just across the border, in the morning, before we head to Boston in the afternoon. Our room was huge, with two queen beds, a fridge, microwave, free wifi, and a free continental breakfast.

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Norseman Motel, Bethel, Maine

For dinner we went to Rooster's Roadhouse, a short walk from our hotel or a shamefully short drive. We drove because of the rain, but I felt pretty silly about it. The meal was awesome, the best of the whole trip! The soup-and-salad bar had fantastic creamy clam and corn chowder. I could have eaten that for my whole meal, but there was much more to come. Next were spicy hot buffalo wings. Then they brought out my delicious meatloaf, mashed potatoes with gravy, and corn on the cob and Tom's sausage lasagna. We washed it all down with Sam Adams Octoberfest on tap. All for only $51!

Man, were we stuffed from dinner, but that didn't stop us from finding the hotel game room and playing a rousing game of ping-pong badly but we had a lot of fun!

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Yellowish building in the background is Rooster's Roadhouse

Continue to September 29, 2012

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