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Suggestions Needed: Traveling to Maine, USA
Old 02-22-2012   #1
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Suggestions Needed: Traveling to Maine, USA

I'm taking my family up to Boston area in March for vacation.
I have always wanted to visit Maine.

But I probably don't have enough time to venture too far from the coastal area between Boston to Portland.

Any info regarding which neat places to visit and tips on selecting lodgings that is safe with reasonable rates would be very helpful and appreciated. Emphasis on seashore vistas, and antiquing.

Thank you in advance!
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Old 02-22-2012   #2
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I'm afraid I can't offer lodging suggestions but you can't go wrong with following Route 1 for inns/motels and antique stores. South of Portland is not the most picturesque IMO (sand beaches, not granite cliffs) but I did like Kennebunkport when I took some visitors there a couple of years ago. Consider going a few miles past Portland to Freeport, famous for LL Bean and dozens of other outlet stores.

Portland itself has a nice, trendy vibe these days, modulo March not being a particularly good month for anything.

Don't overlook NH, particularly for antiquing. I like Portsmouth, and I've always wanted to take the boat out to the Isles of Shoals.
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Old 02-22-2012   #3
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Boothbay Harbor is a little further north of Portland, but a very nice little harbor town. Plenty of shops and family things to walk around and see, whale watching right out of the harbor, and lobster, lots of lobster to eat.

I have stayed a couple times at the Ship Ahoy Motel in Southport. It is a simple family run motel, nothing special. It has always been clean and it is convenient to Boothbay. Relatively inexpensive too. Again, it is a simple motel so if you are looking for something a bit more fancy, or a bed and breakfast type place, this isn't it. But did I mention it is pretty cheap, and clean? You get what I mean.

Cove at the restaruant (lobsters right off the boat) next to the bridge onto Southport Island.


This is the cove the motel is on. I didn't mention it is on the water.
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Old 02-22-2012   #4
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I forgot the link to the motel's web site.

http://www.shipahoymotel.com/
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Old 02-22-2012   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by batterytypehah! View Post
I'm afraid I can't offer lodging suggestions but you can't go wrong with following Route 1 for inns/motels and antique stores. South of Portland is not the most picturesque IMO (sand beaches, not granite cliffs) but I did like Kennebunkport when I took some visitors there a couple of years ago. Consider going a few miles past Portland to Freeport, famous for LL Bean and dozens of other outlet stores.

Portland itself has a nice, trendy vibe these days, modulo March not being a particularly good month for anything.

Don't overlook NH, particularly for antiquing. I like Portsmouth, and I've always wanted to take the boat out to the Isles of Shoals.
Good suggestions, I know March is probably not the ideal time of the year, but hopefully that also means that we can enjoy the less touristy aspects of life over there.


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Boothbay is a little further north of Portland, but a very nice little harbor town. Plenty of shops and family things to walk around and see, whale watching right out of the harbor, and lobster, lots of lobster to eat.

I have stayed a couple times at the Ship Ahoy Motel in Southport. It is a simple family run motel, nothing special. It has always been clean and it is convenient to Boothbay. Relatively inexpensive too. Again, it is a simple motel so if you are looking for something a bit more fancy, or a bed and breakfast type place, this isn't it. But did I mention it is pretty cheap, and clean? You get what I mean.

Cove at the restaruant (lobsters right off the boat) next to the bridge onto Southport Island.

This is the cove the motel is on. I didn't mention it is on the water.
Rover, I get what you mean totally, my wife and I much prefer the lodgings to be safe, clean, and simple in that order.

I want my daughter to enjoy the seashore, coastal markets, life on the harbors and ports, those kind of things. It's quite the opposite goal than when visiting resorts

And your beautiful photos just make me want to go there sooner ...

Please keep the advice coming.
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Old 02-22-2012   #6
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Second Boothbay but it doesn't sound like you want to drive that far (3 hours from Boston, versus 2 to Portland).

Yarmouth is a pretty little harbor, too, but I must confess I've only ever seen it from the Interstate, on my way to the "real" Maine
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Old 02-22-2012   #7
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I live in Boston and my wife and I (and now son too) often take day trips or overnights up to coastal Maine. You really can't go wrong as far as picturesque scenery. This is their off-season, so there won't be nearly as many hotels, shops, and restaurants open, but the good news is that things are much cheaper. You can stay in really lovely places such as the York Harbor Inn or Union Bluff Hotel, both in York Beach, for half the price you would during the summer months. These are just two that came to mind--there are many others. If you drive up the coast, nearly every town has something to offer, from York to Kennebunport. Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, Wells, etc., are all terrific, but again, pretty desolate this time of year. If you want a gorgeous walk, take a stroll on the Appian Way. At some point, the coastal route may get tedious, in which case just jump on 95 and head up to Portland. As mentioned by the previous poster, if you have time, Portsmouth, NH, is also lovely, and more lively this time of year than much of southern Maine.

Eat seafood, browse the antique shops, and bring plenty of film (if that's your thing), especially slides! Enjoy!
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Old 02-22-2012   #8
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Rover, I get what you mean totally, my wife and I much prefer the lodgings to be safe, clean, and simple in that order.

I want my daughter to enjoy the seashore, coastal markets, life on the harbors and ports, those kind of things. It's quite the opposite goal than when visiting resorts

And your beautiful photos just make me want to go there sooner ...
I want to go back too.

Actually, I have been thinking of finding someplace a little closer to me for a weekend shoreline trip in March too. Just an opportunity to get away, relax, an take some photos.
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Old 02-22-2012   #9
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http://www.roadsideamerica.com/

They list neat things in all sorts of out of the way places.
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Old 02-22-2012   #10
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If you are willing to go an hour or so north of Portland, you should check out the town of Damriscotta and the surrounding area- it's very pretty (I grew up there!). There used to be a wonderful B&B called the Flying Cloud just across the river in Newcastle, but a google search just showed it has closed- but the search pointed me to another lovely looking place just down the road- http://www.newcastleinn.com/flying-cloud-closing.html

While you are there, you must visit Pemaquid Point. It's one of the most beautiful and picturesque spots in the mid coast, and Pemaquid lighthouse is one the most photographed on the east coast. Do a good search and you'll find tons of amazing images. Because the point and the light are so dramatic and beautiful, there always seem to be people there with paints and easels set up, and there is a lovely little gallery you can walk through. It's well worth a trip. I cannot count the number of days I spent picnicking and frolicking there as a kid.

If you go there and are looking for a great place to eat nearby, New Harbor is classic picturesque village two minutes up the road from the point. We always eat at the Pemaquid Lobster Co-op restaurant, which is really just a shack off the road 100 feet from the dock where the lobster boats come in. You can watch the men unload while munching a lobster out of the water for only a few hours. I'm not sure if they are open in March, but here's a link to this humble but spectacular eatery. http://www.pemaquidlobstercoop.com/Restaurant.html

Enjoy your trip!
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Old 02-22-2012   #11
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Keep in mind too that hear in New England March is part of winter. It isn't very unusual for a big snow storm to visit us in March.
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Old 02-22-2012   #12
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go to bull feeneys pub
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Old 02-22-2012   #13
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While in the Boston area and if you run into a rainy day, it is known to happen in New England, you may want to check out the Peabody Museum in Salem, MA which has some great exhibits of the China Trade era with the history of Clipper Ships. http://www.pem.org/exhibitions/


Another beautiful spot for great views of the Atlantic Ocean is Halibut State Park. http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/northeast/halb.htm This is located in Rockport, MA which is a artisan town with lots of shops located on the coast.

I love traveling route 1 up to Maine, traveling through NH is a treat since there is only a small portion of the state that is on the coast and there is miles of ocean views as you drive along. Portsmouth NH has some nice shops and restaurants and great views as you cross the river into Kittery Maine.

You will also find the Nubble Light, also known as Cape Neddick Light Station right up the road in York, ME http://nubblelight.org/ which offers some great views and photograph opportunities.


Lots of great towns along the road but a place I love to visit is the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve. http://www.wellsreserve.org/ The reserve is located on the old Laudholm Farm which has miles of trails as well as miles of seashore to walk.

You certainly can enjoy the southern coast of Maine and do hope you have some good weather. My memory of New England is you can still have some brutal winter days in March as well as some comfortable days.

If you do have the time to head north of Portland, you may want to visit Booth Bay Harbor, a beautiful spot.

Good luck with your travels and do hope you find good weather and sunshine on your trip.


Note: If in Boston and the weather is more suited for indoor activities the Museum of Fine Arts is a nice place to visit, lots of exhibits and they do allow you to use you camera while in the museum.
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Old 02-22-2012   #14
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Sure, the weather can change quickly here in NE, but today it's about 60 degrees in Boston, and although normally snow would be piled high right now, we've had little more than a dusting. If this trend continues, you should have balmy weather in March!
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Old 02-22-2012   #15
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Following up on seakayacker... don't miss Cape Ann in MA on the way to ME. If flying in to Logan, head north from the rental cars to 1A and take the surface streets to 93, or continue on surface streets to Salem and Marblehead. Then head out to Gloucester and Rockport and on the way back head north on route 133 through Essex and Ipswich. Eventually you'll get to Newburyport, Portsmouth, and ME. Wicked scenic! Drive slow, stop often and if you don't mind pi$$ing off the locals you will be able to get some really nice photos. Eat clams.
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Old 02-22-2012   #16
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If you have the time:
Pemaquid Point lighthouse
Acadia National Park
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Old 02-22-2012   #17
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^All good suggestions, I was just afraid you'd never get to Maine if we told you too much about MA...

The Peabody Essex is indeed spectacular, and not just for those of us who are into antiques. It's one of those museums that's so old they just collected everything, China trade items, nautical, Native American, modern art, photography, you name it. Impressive architecture, too. The admission is a little steep, and there's an extra charge for the special exhibit of an entire Chinese house they moved and reassembled. Well worth it, though.

Back to Maine, though. You should hit the tourist info on I-95, a couple of miles after the Kittery exit (i.e. just after you cross the river/state line). They'll have flyers for every attraction and business in the entire area.
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Old 02-22-2012   #18
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I have been wanting to go to Essex to eat at TJ Farnham's and Woodman's.
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Old 02-22-2012   #19
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I have been wanting to go to Essex to eat at TJ Farnham's and Woodman's.
Save your appetite for the Clam Box in Ipswich.
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Old 02-22-2012   #20
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Save your appetite for the Clam Box in Ipswich.
Funny, everyone has their favorites. I grew up a half mile from the shore and our city had a half dozen excellent competing seafood restaurants.

I will go to the Clam Box too when I make my trip. If I stay two nights I will need two dinners and two lunches. So I need another clam shack.
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Old 02-22-2012   #21
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This turned out to be a high quality (and quantity) trip guide, thanks to all of you!

Both my wife and I loves to interact with people living their lives whenever we go on travel vacations. Sounds like winter months are suitable for that.

And both of us are antique nuts (the "junque" kind, not the sell-your-kidney-to-afford-it kind).

Now since I have all the experts chiming in, a question about timing:
Originally, I was planning for about 3 days to cover areas south of Boston (Newport, Martha's Vineyard), and 4 days to cover areas surrounding Portland.

Is this realistic? would it be better if I dedicate all 7 days to Boston, North MA, and spend more time north of Portland?
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Old 02-22-2012   #22
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Tough one. Much as I love downeast Maine, I don't think I would skip Rhode Island and MV in favor of more time north. The tricky part is the time of year. I only know Newport and the Vineyard in the summertime.
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Old 02-22-2012   #23
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I do have a lodging suggestion near Providence. My wife and I spent a lovely long weekend at the Johnson & Wales Inn a couple of years ago. Run by J&W the college, and staffed entirely with their hospitality students. Very convenient, if ugly, location (in Seekonk, MA) and reasonable rates. You will not notice that those kids are still learning.
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Old 02-22-2012   #24
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Tough call, you could easily do a full week in either of the locations. If you do decide to see Newport and Martha's Vinyard, you may want to consider the beach and lighthouse at Chatham on the Cape as well as a walk along the beach at the National Seashore. Certainly the traffic will not be as much of an issue as a Memorial Day through Labor Day vacation period.

With that said the coast of Maine can be spectacular and you could spend the whole time and visit all the nooks and crannies along the coast. Some beautiful and spectacular views. If you make the northern route a week long stay you may want to stretch your legs and make it up to Bar Habor and the Arcadia National Park.

Enjoy your vacation and report back with a couple of photographs!
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Old 02-22-2012   #25
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If you have time to get up to Rockland, you can take the ferry over to Vinalhaven (about 1.5 hours each way). Worth the trip.


Off Rockland, Maine by bingley0522, on Flickr


Tying Up by bingley0522, on Flickr


Lobstah by bingley0522, on Flickr
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Old 02-23-2012   #26
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^ Penobscot Bay. Now we're talking Maine.

It sure is lovely up there. We have a property on Deer Isle. However, that is quite a bit of driving. Minimum 3.5 hours Boston to Rockland, 5+ hours to Acadia. Stop for lunch and pull into a few antique stores along the way and the day is over before you know it.
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Old 02-23-2012   #27
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I used to live in Maine and even married a Mainer. It doesn't really feel like Maine until you get North of Portland, frankly I would pick a town and just explore locally for the day rather than driving all over the place. Portland is fascinating, any working boatyard-docks are interesting. The seafood will be better than Summer too. Antiquing around Portland should be good too.

I'd note that some of the classic Summer hotels may not have the greatest Winter heating systems, I'd probably opt for a characterless chain (Hampton Inns) in the off-season just to know it would be dependable.

But if you power through and get up to Rockland-Camden-BarHarbor, then you're in Maine.
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Old 02-23-2012   #28
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^ Penobscot Bay. Now we're talking Maine.

It sure is lovely up there. We have a property on Deer Isle. However, that is quite a bit of driving. Minimum 3.5 hours Boston to Rockland, 5+ hours to Acadia. Stop for lunch and pull into a few antique stores along the way and the day is over before you know it.
Really?? We have a place in Stonington; we were there just this weekend. Seven hours from Hartford, where we live; well worth it. Definitely -- forget southern Maine; Down East is where the real Maine is to be seen. (I spend more time deciding which cameras to bring than packing clothes.)

We'll need to connect up on Deer Isle sometime.
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Old 02-24-2012   #29
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^ Penobscot Bay. Now we're talking Maine.

It sure is lovely up there. We have a property on Deer Isle. However, that is quite a bit of driving. Minimum 3.5 hours Boston to Rockland, 5+ hours to Acadia. Stop for lunch and pull into a few antique stores along the way and the day is over before you know it.
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Really?? We have a place in Stonington; we were there just this weekend. Seven hours from Hartford, where we live; well worth it. Definitely -- forget southern Maine; Down East is where the real Maine is to be seen. (I spend more time deciding which cameras to bring than packing clothes.)

We'll need to connect up on Deer Isle sometime.
Ok, which one of you are opening your doors at your properties for a family of three in March?

Just joking!
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Old 02-24-2012   #30
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Ok, which one of you are opening your doors at your properties for a family of three in March?

Just joking!
How about for just one photographer and too many cameras since Will is joking?
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Old 02-24-2012   #31
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I'd love to, in all seriousness, but there's no heat or hot water at the moment. Just getting quotes for the necessary work now. Yikes.
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Old 02-25-2012   #32
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(snip) While you are there, you must visit Pemaquid Point. It's one of the most beautiful and picturesque spots in the mid coast, and Pemaquid lighthouse is one the most photographed on the east coast. (snip)
If you go there and are looking for a great place to eat nearby, New Harbor is classic picturesque village two minutes up the road from the point. We always eat at ...
Pemaquid is one of my favorite place also. Probably more out of habit than anything else, but we eat at Shaw's. Can't go wrong with either.
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Old 02-25-2012   #33
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So I need another clam shack.
There are so many of them and so little time. Also: Bob's in Kittery, and the place I can't remember the name of in the town I can't remember the name of.
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Old 02-25-2012   #34
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Oh, now I remember... The Clam Shack in Kennybunkport.
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Old 02-25-2012   #35
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Originally Posted by batterytypehah!
^ Penobscot Bay. Now we're talking Maine.

It sure is lovely up there. We have a property on Deer Isle. However, that is quite a bit of driving. Minimum 3.5 hours Boston to Rockland, 5+ hours to Acadia. Stop for lunch and pull into a few antique stores along the way and the day is over before you know it.
Really?? We have a place in Stonington; we were there just this weekend. Seven hours from Hartford, where we live; well worth it. Definitely -- forget southern Maine; Down East is where the real Maine is to be seen. (I spend more time deciding which cameras to bring than packing clothes.)

We'll need to connect up on Deer Isle sometime.

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Really?? We have a place in Stonington; we were there just this weekend. Seven hours from Hartford, where we live; well worth it. Definitely -- forget southern Maine; Down East is where the real Maine is to be seen. (I spend more time deciding which cameras to bring than packing clothes.)

We'll need to connect up on Deer Isle sometime.

When I was a kid we used to go up to Stonington every summer to visit family friends. I haven't been in years, but I think the family is still there, still hauling lobsters. I have fond memories of those visits.

(Just looked at in Google Street View; their house on W Main St and the town look just as I remember them.)
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Old 03-11-2012   #36
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Just want to pop in and give y'all an update:
Well, I'm in Maine now
It can't be much more gorgeous, the weather is sunny and beautiful clouds through out the days. It's cold, but not terribly so.

Photo-wise, I don't think I've shot a single subject or scenes this many times, just because I want to make sure that I got at least one keeper (hehe...). Beautiful is an understatement. I've shot 4 rolls of 35mm and 3 rolls of 120, and this is just day 4 out of 9.

Gear-wise, I ended up bringing the Fuji GA645wi for no-fuss-no-muss medium format goodness, OM-3 with 24mm and 85mm (both f/2), M4-P, and Ricoh GR1s which has officially replaced my XA4 as the just-in-case trip camera.

I have some shots from my E-P2 (the only digital we brought and basically my wife's). But haven't got time to edit them yet.

Gotta go. Oh, and so far, all the advices I got here has been very useful to prepare us. Thank you.
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Old 03-13-2012   #37
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First up, the Tugboat.
Of all the types of boats I've seen in my life (not many), tugboats are always one that has that endearing look



I have several shots on film from this angle, this one is just a digital "proof of concept."
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Old 03-14-2012   #38
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What an amazing March to be in the NE! The weather is great this week.

More photos, and when you get back share your experiences. Where did you go? Good restaurants and hotels. Best places for photography.
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Old 03-14-2012   #39
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We are indeed blessed weather-wise.
Today we saw a gray day for the first time.

I'll post on a separate thread when I got home.
Good news is almost all of my film shots are C-41 (which is very unusual for me), so I can just drop them at Costco and start scanning.


"Wish y'all were here"
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