Maine Autumn Tour

Yesterday we took a bit of fall tour, driving from Stonington over to Castine. It’s a roundabout trip that takes you on winding roads that skirt the bays and coves and inlets of the craggy Maine coast. Along the way you see some beautiful scenery — like the view above of the Eggemoggin Reach in the distance and some colorful trees from the commanding heights of Caterpillar Hill.

Castine is a charming town that is the home of the Maine Maritime Academy. It has a long history that dates back to the 1600s. If you walk away from the downtown area you’ll find streets that look like movie sets, with tidy federal-style homes and white picket fences and trees sporting their blazing fall colors. Many of the houses feature signs in front that tell of the history of the area, and the intermittent clashes between the French, the Dutch, the Mohawks, the British, and finally the Americans who fought over this strategic spot on the shoreline from the 1600s until the War of 1812.

As is always the case with coastal Maine, it all comes down to the water. There aren’t many tourist here in October, which makes it a quiet, peaceful time to visit. You’ll get a chance to experience some beautiful colors, but also the serenity of the solitary sailboat moored on the quiet waters of Penobscot Bay.

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Into The Great Green Silence

When you get a chance to get away from it all, you should take full advantage of the opportunity.  I’ve been trying to follow that principle and get in a few last hikes around Deer Isle before we have to head back to civilization.

The Edgar Tennis Preserve is a pretty good place to appreciate nature in all its quiet, colorful glory.  We’re at the tail end of the season, so there aren’t many hikers to share the trails — which means the Preserve is as quiet as the world gets.  It is as if the moss and the ferns and the pine straw on the trail swallow any random bits of noise, and all you’re likely to hear is the whisper of the breeze through the branches of the pine trees towering overhead.  If you like silence — and who doesn’t, from time to time? — this is a good place for you.

And the colors are brilliant — even if they are, for the most part, shades of green.  The leaves of the trees and the ferns are clinging to the last bit of 60s temperatures to maintain their green finery to the last, until the fall colors finally emerge. If you were looking for a particular shade of green, this would be the place to come — the Preserve has the entire spectrum covered, from the deep green of the pine trees in shade to the bright, sun-dappled green of the moss and ferns as they are hit by rays of sunlight.

You can follow an old country road down to the foundations of a long-abandoned salt water farm where apple trees planted by the settlers — with green apples, of course — mix with the encroaching forest.  A small footpath winds down to a tidal pool, where the water is clear as crystal and looks green itself, thanks to the algae-covered rocks below.

Little Deer Lighthouse

Last night we did some exploring and drove to the far end of Little Deer Isle. There you will find the Pumpkin Island Lighthouse, one of many scenic whitewashed lighthouses that dot the craggy Maine coastline. This particular sentinel warns mariners of the shoals along the northwest entrance to the Eggemoggin Reach, a popular waterway that connects Penobscot Bay and Blue Hill Bay.

It was a beautiful day, with clear skies and only a slight riffle on the waters of the Reach. The Pumpkin Island Lighthouse is one of those places that seems untouched by time, and a still afternoon was a good time to enjoy its calm, quiet beauty.

Hiking The Tennis

This week Russell, Betty, and I took a hike on the Edgar Tennis Preserve — one of the nicest trails in Stonington. You can walk on the rim of the peninsula, getting a chance to explore the shoreline and some of the tidal areas, or choose one of the trails the cross the peninsula and take you inland through piney forest and meadow.

Whichever way you go, you’ll enjoy lots of fresh air, some beautiful views, interesting colors — particularly at low tide, as it was when we visited — and exposure to some of the diverse ecosystems found on Deer Isle. There are lots of good hikes on Deer Isle, and the Tennis Preserve is one of the best.