Most years on our first full day in Maine, we’re up before the sun. This time, either because we were more tired than usual or, more likely, we were sleeping better than usual, we didn’t get ourselves moving until 6:30am. It was around 7:00 when we started on the second half of our journey, which means that we arrived at L.L. Bean right at 8:00.
We spent an hour in the store, which is about average for us. As soon as we walked in the door we noticed some nice fleece pullover sweaters; I bought one and Rich tried a few on and put it on his list to order from home. I also ended up buying medium gray lined pants and Rich bought two pairs of green nylon shorts to replace some old ones that have worn out. It was the usual pleasant early morning shopping experience (just not as early as usual).
Our next destination was Fort Knox. We’ve had this on our list for a few years, primarily because we’ve seen it mentioned on some signs in the area and because there is a triangulation station (actually a bolt from 1863) at the site. That alone would have been enough to excite us, but it turned out to be many times more exciting than that!
Turns out that the admission to Fort Knox is combined with admission to the Penobscot Narrows bridge observatory (which at first we thought was just a viewing platform at the fort). Little did we know that for the admission price of $7 (adult) and $4 (senior) you actually ride an elevator up inside one of the 446′ high bridge piers to a fully windowed observatory at the very top. Panoramic views are only the beginning!
Charts are available so you can identify all of the surrounding peaks and points of interest (Moose Point and the Odens Odom ledge beacon among them). You also get a great view over the fort and of the remaining supports and abutments from the original bridge in this location, the Waldo-Hancock Bridge. This original span was built in 1931 and was undergoing restoration in 2002 when it was discovered that the cables were too corroded to be restored and the bridge was beyond hope. At that time the new bridge was commissioned and work on the old bridge shifted to temporary strengthening, so it would last a few years until the new bridge was in service.
I never drove over the old bridge, since it was already out of service by the time we began taking this route rather than the Interstate-only route, but I fondly remember seeing it many times alongside the new bridge until it was demolished in 2013. The supports and abutments, as I mentioned, remain standing.
As we passed over this bridge the last few years I wondered if it had been designed by Figg Engineering because of how closely it matched the distinctive style of their bridges. (One of my mother’s clients was Bob Wellner, senior VP and designer at Figg and someone of whom she always spoke very fondly.) It’s true! A plaque at the site mentioned Figg. I love finding these little connections.
We spent a long time at the observatory, well, observing the views from the bridge and the bridge itself, and taking photos. Then we moved on to the fort. Another unexpectedly awesome location! There are so many twists and turns, staircases, cannon mounts, two batteries, a restored powder magazine, multiple levels, tunnels, dark corners (again, twisty little—well, big—passages, all alike)—as Rich said, it’s like Fort Jefferson in miniature!
And like Fort Jeff, of course there was a survey mark (in this case a tri-station) at the fort. We made our way slowly to the top level, exploring and taking photos along the way. At the top, we began to look for the station, which in this case is a bolt. Oh, great, it’s on top of the roof of the fort directly above a sign that says Danger – do not climb on roof. I’m not one to let a sign stop me when I know I’ll be careful and responsible for myself (and won’t cause any damage) but I still didn’t want to be chased off of there before I could get a photo of, at least, the station if not the reference marks.
We found the first reference mark easily without having to go up on top of the wall. Then we found the supposed location of RM 2, near the east corner of the 2nd ventilator shaft, but couldn’t find the disk. We assumed it was beneath the heavy mat of soil and debris. I moved on to find the bolt, which is set out on the stone roof of the fort. I was able to get close enough to take some reasonably good photos. Then we searched again for RM 2; I held back the mat of soil and roots while Rich looked underneath. We had actually uncovered it before we noticed it, it was so completely covered and filled in with soil! Once we spotted it, we cleaned it off enough to take some photos.
After a few more minutes spent poking around at the fort, we descended the steps opposite from the ones we’d climbed up. We checked out the recently and lovingly restored powder magazine, which smelled of fresh wood and featured a simple but striking exhibit with powder kegs and cannonballs, and an explanation of how well guarded the magazine was, for safety reasons. (Nothing allowed that could cause a spark, etc.). We checked out the small visitors center and gift shop, buying a hat for my father, and then made our way back to the car.
At this point we had been planning to go to the Bagaduce Lunch, as has become our tradition the last few years, but we were tired and just wanted to get to our room and go for pizza and beer. The Bagaduce Lunch is open until Sunday, after which is closes for the season, so it’s possible we may get there yet.
The drive to Bar Harbor was uneventful and we were checked into our room by 3:00pm. As usual, we relaxed for a while and then went to Rosalie’s! Along the way we checked to see if anything has replaced Fathom, which is gone this year (nothing has) and spotted a promising new structure being built for Atlantic Brewing in the spot formerly held by Little Notch Bakery. They had moved to Bar Harbor just a few years ago and had just redone their yard, but I guess it didn’t work out. The whole area is excavated now and the new building is underway.
Rosalie’s was as awesome as ever, and always worth waiting a year for. We both got 22-ounce beers and split a medium plain pizza. AHH, perfect in every way! We spent our supper talking about crazy union antics at Rich’s former plant, what we would like to learn about genetics, and turning the mechanical/physical/chemical into the abstract.
Fully satisfied, we took a brief walk in the heavy fog to pick up a bus schedule, then to the Hannaford for provisions for the week (wine was at the top of the list!). Back to the room and Rich was dozing soundly by 8:30pm.