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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Around the Lower Penobscot River, Maine

Today is my aunt and uncle's 40th wedding anniversary, so we headed up to Stockton Springs for a celebration of that yesterday. We had a great luncheon, with a decent chunk of my mother's extended family. There was good food, and tons of little cousins running around causing much noise and fun. Hands down cutest moment of the afternoon was when my 2-year-old little cousin J decided to try and emulate the older boys when they were rolling down the grassy hill we'd taken pictures on. J didn't quite get the concept of rolling, so was instead inching down the hill like an inch worm. Cutest thing ever.

The after party turned into an imprompto historical tour of the lower Penobscot River Valley.

The BF and I started the afternoon with a side trip to Fort Point State Park in Stockton Springs. The actual fort (Pownall) is long gone, but you can still see the vaguely four-sided star shaped walls. There's also a small lighthouse and belltower, and plenty of picnic space and shore to wander. The fog horn out on a ledge in the middle of the river was going great guns while we were there, despite the brilliant sunshine. I suspect there was a fog bank hovering closer to the mouth of the river.

After Fort Point, we met up with several of my cousins at Fort Knox State Historic Site a little further up the river in Prospect. I'd been to Fort Knox before when I was much younger, which is the best time for a first trip. It was a blast being there with my cousin K's four boys, who were having the time of their lives wandering around the grounds.

The fort is fairly well preserved, and you can wander around in the tunnels in the hillside that lead to the batteries. There are parts where you really need a flashlight, which of course are perfect for scaring the living daylights out of the kids, who mostly love every minute of it.

It's possible to get up on the roof level, which offers some great views of the town of Bucksport on the other side of the river, and all of the surrounding scenery. It also offers a good view of the two year old Penobscot Narrows Bridge (which is currently fronted by the smaller Hancock-Waldo bridge it replaced). The old bridge there was pretty tall, and was always exciting to cross, so the new, taller bridge is even better. (It was really neat watching as they built it. They started on either side, and built out to meet in the middle.)

The other really cool thing about the bridge is that they built an observation deck into the top of one of the towers. It's just an additional two dollar charge to the Fort Knox entrance fee (a whopping $5 total for an adult) to get in. Anyone that doesn't like heights should stay away, but for everyone else, it's a great experience. The tower is essentially the tallest occupied structure in Maine, and the view is amazing.

Yesterday was just hazy enough that we couldn't see the furthest away features, like Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, but there was still plenty to see of the river valley and some of the slightly less far away topography. Definitely a cool way to end the day.

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