A side trip to Plum Island Thusday, July 3
Today we're headed for Maine, but before we left we decided to see a little more of the Massachusetts coast. So we got on Highway 1 south and backtracked to the town of Newburyport, which is the gateway to Plum Island.
Both town and Island lie north of Ipswich and the Gloucester peninsula. It would have been nice to see Gloucester, but there just isn't time this trip through.
Newburyport is a clean, pretty town at the mouth of the Merrimack River. The streets are a little narrow but we navigated them OK and headed out to Plum Island. On the way we stopped at the Parker National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. The refuge is on Plum Island, where it lies on the Atlantic Flyway, but the Visitor Center is on the mainland.
They showed an excellent video on the five geographical zones of the refuge, the sand beach, the dunes, the shrub and vegetation level, the ponds, and the salt marsh. At the present the beach is closed to the public to protect the piping plover nesting areas. A very nice woman filled us in on the details of the refuge, and also gave us good directions to explore the coast on our way to Maine, and a lot of information on Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
We drove out to the refuge and spent the next few hours driving the road and taking the several walks out to observation areas. We saw a lot of egrets and swallows, and a cormorant, a duck and a group of mute swans. The wind made the walks through the woods fly and mosquito free, and the salt marshes were beautiful.
On the way back through Newburyport we stopped at a great little restaurant with a fine view of the harbor, then we got back on Highway 1 and took off for Maine.
To get to Maine via the coast route, you have to drive across about 15 miles of New Hampshire. That's not much coastline for a state, but New Hampshire makes the most of it. There are resort and beach communities, and stretches of open bluffs that overlook the rocky coast and surf. It's a beautiful drive, and we were glad we drove this way instead of I-95.
At the town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire we crossed the river into Kittery, Maine and from there it was a half hour drive to our campground in Wells. For the next three nights we'll be here at the Sea Vu Campground. The name kind of grates on the nerves, but with a trip journal called 2008keys2canada who am I to criticize?