Stop 8: New England Coast
Itching to get back behind the wheel for a few days, we hired a car and set off on the open road, heading north along the New England coastline. First stop - Salem, to visit the Salem Witch Museum. The tour consisted of being abandoned in a darkened auditorium while the story of Salem's witch hysteria was told via the use of immobile wax figures.... CREEPY! We were glad to be back in the sunshine and on the road, before they mistook our oddities for supernatural possession and made us modern day victims.
Drove through Massachusetts into New Hampshire and finally into Maine, stopping off several times along the way to take in stunning coastal scenery which reminded us of home. All the towns had an air of abandonment - most places being shut up for the winter season. Signs of winter were everywhere still - vast frozen lakes and snow in the fields, our hopes to "follow the weather" seemed even more ridiculous up here!
Our stop for the night was the town of Portland by the sea - described as a foodie's heaven for fresh lobster and seafood - we were practically drooling as we reached the town. Our disappointment was cataclysmic (yes, CATACLYSMIC) when we discovered all of the recommended seafood shacks were closed early/completely as we were visiting out of season, and we were forced to sup a distinctly average clam chowder at a disappointingly mainstream bar. Our moods were much improved by finding our host for the night owned the chubbiest but cutest bull dog called Gabby who was extremely excited to be making new friends - Helen did her best to poach her, but sadly she was too fat even for Helen's sizeable handbag.
The next day we continued northward, driving through more quaint, deserted seaside towns made up of picturesque white clapboard buildings and churches, with our most northerly point reached being Camden, a very pretty, sleepy town with a little waterfall rushing down from the town into the scenic harbour below. The highlight of the day was visiting Pemaquid Point, one of the most wildly beautiful places in Maine, with a candle-powered lighthouse (11,000 candles in case you're wondering) perched atop the rocks. Very rugged and akin to the north west coast of Scotland. That night we stayed in Boothbay Harbour, where the main attraction was apparently eating lobster - one we were more than happy to get on board with! We tracked down the only eatery open off-season, and attacked fresh lobster dripping in garlic butter. The locals were probably more than a little perturbed by the two blonde tourists who named their lobsters Sebastian 1 and Sebastian 2 and sang 'Under The Sea' from the Little Mermaid while violently cracking open their lobsters' claws... After our feast, we raided a local gas station for peanut butter flavoured goods before being chased into our car by a weird drug-crazed local (apparently he REALLY liked our accents). We set off, wheels spinning, to spend the next half hour trying to locate our overnight log cabin accommodation, in error exploring an off-the-beaten-track, deserted and creepy looking summer camp in vain for our lodge! Helen's insistence on relating the situation to one frequently favoured in horror films (two girls driving aimlessly through thick woodland without phone signals in pitch darkness) creeped Nat out more than a little bit, which resulted in a threat to evict Helen mid-darkened-forest if she didn't shut up.... We were relieved to eventually find our home for the night - a picturesque log cabin by a lake - which housed two brothers who, much to our relief, were not wielding bloodied chainsaws upon our arrival.
The next day we meandered our way slowly back down the coast, enjoying the last of our temporary freedom from public transport, before returning 'Shayla the Chevrolet' back to Boston Airport. Successful road trip - we managed to semi-safely navigate c.500 miles with only a couple of threats to (other peoples') lives. We're fairly certain no one would have missed the cyclist and two pedestrians we almost collided with anyway....
Next stop - Chicago aka The Windy City - great, because we're totally not sick of cold weather yet.....