Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bridgewater, Maine (or, the Hayes-Bohanan's Take the Solar System) June 6-8, 2011

"Is that a globe?"
"No, it's just a blue sphere on a stick."

Uranus at the Bridgewater, Maine American Legion Hall
In fact, it is Uranus!

We saw this model shortly after we passed the "Welcome to Bridgewater" sign. It was not until we noticed models of Saturn and Jupiter a bit farther along Route 1 that we realized that it must have been a planet. As it turned out, the model for the sun, a big yellow arc, is located at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, which was just across the street from the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center, where we were staying.

We really had no choice but to take the entire tour of this orrery, which is located along a 40-mile stretch of Route 1.

We actually stopped at each planet including Pluto, which has not been demoted for purposes of this project. Rather, some of the smaller planetary bodies have actually been added -- one much farther south -- so we need to return. Pluto is located at the Houlton Visitor Center, which was originally the end of the tour, and served as such for this time. Photos of each of our stops are included among our Aroostook photos on Flickr, as are various artsy contributions by Paloma.

Paloma experiments with sepia, to good effect
As the photo above illustrates, the afternoon light at this time of year and latitude (nearly 47 degrees) lingers and glows. Sunset was a few minutes later than at home, with sunrise much earlier. At higher latitudes, the sun sets at an increasingly oblique angle, so that twilight lingers. The effect of the light is at times mesmerizing, particularly as it interacts with the region's many commercial windmills.

As it turned out, Uranus was about the most exciting thing in Bridgewater. We did stop at a barrel store, and attempted, on two occasions, to visit the Wood Prarie Farm, but both times we tried we never saw any people, or anything that looked like a farm stand. We had hoped to buy some potatoes to support the local economy, but ended up not spending any money in Bridgewater.

After touring all the planets up to Uranus we headed east the Canada. Our destination? Potato World!

We visited the museum and learned some cool stuff about potato farming. I never knew potato plants flowered! We had lunch at the Potato World Cafe - Baked Potato soup for Pam and the curliest, skinniest curly fries we ever saw for James and Paloma (who described them as "beast," which apparently is a good thing). The very helpful and friendly guide at Potato World took our picture and let us know about the zipline across the St. John River Gorge in  Grand Falls. Paloma took the bird's eye view tour of the falls and saw a rainbow in a complete circle below her feet!

We did enjoy our stay in Presque Isle, though next time we will pack our own coffee and brewing equipment. The hotel coffee was bad, as we expected, and although we enjoyed a very nice breakfast at Governor's Restaurant and Bakery, the coffee was only slightly better than at the hotel. We had hoped to visit the Sorpreso Cafe, which had been reviewed by one of James' students, but its was not open during our visit.

On Sunday we visited the last two planets, Neptune and Pluto. Of course Pluto has since lost its planetary status.

Our return to Bridgewater, Massachusetts featured a traffic crawl on 93 through Boston reminscent of our return from Bridgewater, New Hampshire. Even on a Tuesday and even with the HOV lanes, congestion seems to be inevitable on the misnamed expressway.

Plus, we almost forgot to mention the moose!

~~ post by Pam with some help from James

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