Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Maine Solar System Model

"To infinity and beyond!" we exclaimed as we drove south on Rt 1 in Presque Isle. Winter is long up in Aroostook County so folks have time to come up with some interesting ideas. Vodka made from potatoes. The Phantom snowmobile. A scale model solar system.

The vodka we can find right here in Freeport at Cold River Distillery. The Phantom snowmobile is a great idea but it's not for me. But a scale model solar system? OK, I'll give it a try.

We decided not to stop at UMPI (University of Maine Presque Isle) to see the sun. Finding the Science Building would not be difficult but we still had a long drive ahead of us to get back to Freeport from Edmundston, NB. Then, oops, we drove right by Mercury, but quickly pulled in at the Budget Traveler Motor Inn to view Venus. (We found the distances on the website to be a little off, but most of the planets are easy to find anyway.)

Maine solar sytem model Venus

Next up was Earth - located at Percy's Auto Sales. Rock kept yelling out the car window at me to make sure I got the moon in the photos. Sorry, the moon is just too small and Rt 1 was just too busy for me to keep backing up to get the shot.

Maine solar system model Earth

You'll notice that all the planets are tilted properly as well as being sized appropriately in comparison with each other. The entire drive from UMPI to Houlton is 40 miles. It's fun to be on the lookout for the next planet and realize it's that GIANT ball at the side of the road!

Maine solar system model Jupiter

Driving along, this ditty popped into my head: Bend and stretch, reach for the stars. There goes Jupiter, there goes Mars. (OK, if you remember that, you are ancient like me! Romper Room. 50's TV show. They once called out my name for my birthday. I was in heaven. Thanks Mom.)

Along that line, we missed Mars. Drove right by it. We did, however, see the wind turbines at Mars Hill. Not quite the same thing but impressive nonetheless.

Maine solar system model Saturn

Saturn was very nicely taken care of. Lovely garden, benches to sit on, gorgeous view all around. Again, getting the moon in the photo was out of the question. Every model has a place to pull off the road. Don't park in traffic.

Uranus was so sad I'm going to skip the photo. It's located outside the unused old town hall in Bridgewater. 

Next up, Neptune. Neptune was completely missing its sign. Still, it's hard to miss the planet by the side of the road.

Maine solar system model Neptune

The final stop on our solar system trek was at the Houlton Information Center. (You need travel info about Aroostook County? These folks have it! They also have limited info for NB as well.)

Although certain people no longer recognize Pluto as a planet, the folks at the info center proudly display their model in the entryway. Go inside for a brochure that gives you mileage and signposts for where to find all the planets and the sun. It's a fun way to explore with your kids and some of the model locations are a great place for a picnic.

Maine solar system model Pluto

Coming across the border from Canada, we asked the customs guy where to find the Four Corners Park in Madawaska, Maine. You can see it from the crossing, it's that close. If you do the Solar System Drive on a motorcycle, might as well keep going and stop at this park.

Four Corners Park Madawaska Maine

   And, of course, we stopped to take a picture of Rock in front of the place his family started out. If you've heard the story you know his family were Acadians who were pushed off their lands and forced to settle in New Brunswick or New Orleans. (That's what the colorful sign is about - the recognition of the Acadian families.)

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

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