Geocaching the Towns of New England: The Bold Coast of Maine

I set out this weekend to work on the last grids I needed for Maine’s Delorme Challenge. The idea in this geocaching challenge is to find a geocache in each grid of the Delorme atlas. I had a few to go, mostly in the eastern part of the state near the border with Canada. The only one I couldn’t get over the weekend is #9 which involves a ferry ride to the island of Vinalhaven. I had planned to get that a few weeks ago but the cooler than expected weather put a crimp in my plans to get on a ferry. It will be soon, though.

I headed out on Friday for the 3 hour drive to my first cache. The idea was to get up near Houlton, Maine on Friday so on Saturday I could make the run south along Route 1 to Calais and then turn back west. I needed grids 26, 34, 37, 45, and 46.

Grid 34 was the target Friday, and I’m happy to say I achieved that. I stopped at numerous beautiful places along the way, including a boat ramp on the river in Howland, Maine, and numerous lakes and streams. The first three pictures are from a waterfall deep in the woods that would be hard to find if you weren’t hunting for a geocache there. It’s nice, pristine wilderness. If I’d had the time, I would have sat there a bit with my feet in the water.

Seemingly in the woods of Maine where there are no towns anymore is an old schoolhouse. At one time this area was not woods, but farmland where numerous Scotsmen settled their families. During the summer they would farm and in the winter they would work in logging camps while their family stayed on the farm. The schoolhouse was for the children of these farms since abandoned and reclaimed by the wilderness and townships dissolved.

There are cemeteries in the wilderness as well, where these families lived and buried their loved ones. At this particular one was a monument to a Union soldier. This is why it’s an affront to fly a Confederate flag in states where people’s ancestors were killed during the Civil War by Confederates.

In Lincoln, Maine I found their Veterans Memorial and a statue of Msg. Gary Gordon, a resident made famous by the movie Black Hawk Down. His actions during the Battle of Mogadishu earned him the Medal of Honor.

I stayed that night in a small family-owned motel in Smyrna, Maine. The Brookside Inn was a good choice to rest my head and the restaurant next door was great for dinner and breakfast again the next day. I’d stay there again any time. I had dinner and it was starting to drizzle as I walked into my room. By the time I was settled we were in a thunderstorm and it was raining torrents. The satellite dish for their television and internet kept going out. Perfectly understandable, but that is a good reason why I’ll never switch to satellite.

It wasn’t supposed to be raining the next morning when I got up, but it was. I was resigned to geocaching in the rain since that’s what I’d come all this way to do. A quick look at the forecast showed it was expected to stop raining by around noon. This was to be the morning of beautiful views I couldn’t see, or couldn’t see completely. There was one cache at a fire tower that I drove almost all the way up to, but when I got there, I had no view.

When I ate my lunch, it was starting to clear out pretty well. By the time I reached another cache on a lake, the sun was out.

On the left is where I had lunch. It’s actually a boat launch in a cemetery. It was a very pretty spot and quiet on this rainy morning, even as it was clearing.

This was another boat ramp, but also a rest area as I’d now gone through Calais and was starting to turn southwest along the coast. This was real pretty with a picnic area and space to walk. It’s also the location of a red granite beach. Granite usually runs from black to gray to white in coloring. Red granite is quite unusual.

This night I stayed in Machias. I stopped at a restaurant in town for dinner and wasn’t impressed. The hotel, The Bluebird Motel, was serviceable. I was in a room with one double bed. The television was mounted on the wall and it worked. The worst thing about the room was it smelled musty – likely due to being closed up for the winter. There was a Keurig with coffee pods. The only problem was my choices were decaf or light coffee. I tried in the morning, I really did, but it just didn’t cut it for me. Instead, I stopped at a place called The Lobster Crate as I headed towards Eastport, Maine, and had a great breakfast there.

On my way there, I stopped at Bad Little Falls Park. In addition to being the title of a great book by Paul Doiron, it’s just a beautiful location. I learned a little something here as the foam in the water, which I’d once been told was a result of pollution in rain and snow when it comes down over the area, is actually tannins from decaying organic matter upstream, and a normal part of nature.

I visited Easport, Maine during low tide. It’s unfortunate because there was supposed to be a cool whirlpool near this site, but not during low tide. Still, it’s a pretty spot and I enjoyed watching the people on what would be the ocean floor in a few hours. There were kids collecting sea glass, and one was thrilled to find a red piece.

This was my first experience seeing a dam with a fish ladder. This allows fish to get upstream over the dam. You can see some fish in the one section of the damn on the upper right. My research showed this is for alewives, which are a threatened species.

The town of Lubec was my final destination of the day. I first went into town where I found a geocache and also visited one of the shops where I made a purchase and talked with the owner for a bit. I then headed toward the West Quoddy Lighthouse, stopping to take pictures along the way.

The West Quoddy Head Light marks the easternmost point of the United States. The lighthouse is famous for the red and white stripes it’s been painted with. The museum has been reopened and has a small gift shop. There are trails near it as well, and I walked down stairs here to a beach area, as seen in the top left picture. I only bumped my knee on a rock once – go me! I’m not the steadiest person on my feet and should probably walk with my hiking poles a lot more often. It’s a beautiful spot, though, and I got to see how fast the tides rise on this section of the coast.

As I was driving towards home from Lubec, I came across this area. I stopped to take a picture (and there ended up being a geocache there). SOme quick research on Google told me this was a very low frequency transmitter. I had just finished reading a book by Nelson DeMille last month that talked about this and now I’d seen one!

One thing I really enjoyed in this area were all of the wildflowers around. Wild daisies are one of my favorites and there were plenty of those as well as lupine and other species. In Eastport I even saw a deer amid the wildflowers, not much alarmed by my approach. She watched me but didn’t run away.

This was a great trip and I’d love to visit this area again. I ended up finding 69 geocaches in 32 towns over the three days I was there.

2 replies »

  1. Wow~ That is some serious geocaching!! I’m working on getting all the counties in Indiana. We have about 15 to go out of 91. We are close but the ones we need are more than 5 hours away…

    • That’s my problem too. Most of the towns I need now are at least 3 hours away. With gas prices, it now pays to stay overnight and get at least 2 days out of it. In this case I got 3 days in.