Wednesday, June 24
The weather continued to be rotten. It was alternately cloudy, foggy, or rainy and sometimes all three. We were really glad to have our new rain gear from L. L. Bean. It had been a worthwhile stop.
The breakfasts continue to be fantastic at the inn. This morning was another three-course meal, culminating in a wonderful fritatta.
Despite the foul weather, we decided to head up to Acadia National Park. We figured that mid-week would be less crowded than the weekend, so now was the time.
We headed north out of Belfast on US 1, retracing the route we had take Monday. Once again, I had to resist the urge to stop and photograph every one of the Victorian mansions we passed. Of particular interest to me was the traditional Maine farm house. This usually consisted of a small wood frame cottage, usually with Victorian Gothic trim, and a huge cedar-sided barn that would be attached to the house via a passageway. I guess the farmers wanted a way to get to their barns without having to trudge through winter weather. In many of these the barn had now been converted to living space or garages, so the actual square footage of the house had been greatly increased.
US 1 from Bucksport to Ellsworth was fairly non-descript. Ellsworth itself was a quaint town, with a lovely riverfront area. However, the town was much larger than others we had encountered. The town was somewhat extended even further, by virtue of it being near a National Park. The route from Ellsworth to Bar Harbor was lined with motels and the types of distractions that come with such parks – campgrounds, miniature golf places, etc., etc.
When we got to the park we stopped by the visitors center briefly, then headed into the park proper. A one-way drive encircles Mount Desert Island, and that was to be our first goal.
Our first stop was at Schooner Point. We got out to watch the waves crashing on the rocks, and to look out at the large hotel on the Point itself. A few others stopped to enjoy the view, or what there was of it in the fog.
We continued along the road, which probably would have been incredibly scenic in better weather. A side road led down to Sandy Beach, so we decided to check it out. we found a spot with lots of people and an area fitting its name. The surf was still very rough with the incoming tide. Since it was crowded and there wasn’t much to do, we decided to continue on our way.
The one-way circuit was really a pleasant way to see the park. Faster traffic could pass us, and we could take our time as we drove along. Not that there was much to see today.
The next stop was Thunder Hole. A narrow slot in the rocks leads to an undercut area. In the right surf conditions the water traps a pocket of air under the rock, creating a booming sound and giving the feature its name. Since the tide was much higher, the booming sound wasn’t present. However, the crashing waves were still impressive. A lower viewing area had been closed off as the waves crashed over it.
We continued on to Seal Point, pausing briefly at a couple of futile overlooks. We found one place where we could hang out just a bit and enjoy the waves without others around.
Finally we reached the end of the one-way drive, and it was time to find some lunch. We had been told that Jacob’s Pond had food, and so headed that way. What we found was a madhouse. The area was under construction, so things were a bit in disarray. However, there was not a parking spot to be found. Anywhere. I figured that even if we did find a place, it would be so crazy that we wouldn’t enjoy the meal. We decided to look elsewhere.
A road lead out of the park to the little community of Seal Harbor. Our GPS indicated the only food in the area was the Lighthouse Inn, so we headed in that direction. This turned out to be a quiet little place, much more relaxed than what the park had to offer. I think the food was much better, too. I had a fantastic crab melt sandwich and Laura had fish and chips with fresh haddock.
Suitable refreshed, we headed back into the park. The road continued along Somes Sound, which is supposedly the only fjord on the eastern seaboard. Soon we reached the turn off to Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the island, and supposedly the first place to receive sunlight in the US. That wasn’t going to happen today, though.
As we drove up the twisting road, it got even foggier. At this point it was ridiculous. We couldn’t see anything at all. At the top of the mountain we got out and admired the lovely signs that told us what we would have seen, had the weather been better.
We headed back down the mountain, in search of scenery and recreation that wasn’t so dependent on the weather. We took the road southward toward the western portion of the island. Along the way we stopped at Hope Pond, a large lake surrounded by high hills and forests. There we found a couple of bird watchers who had a telescope set up, and were observing a nest of peregrine falcons. It looked like there were two chicks that were just about ready to fledge. The parents were trying to entreat them on out of the nest. We wished we had better binoculars and camera lenses for this unexpected find.
This area was a mixture of small coastal communities and private farms interspersed with park land. At south end of the island we found another rocky area that formed a natural seawall, with the road running on top of it. We paused once more to look out over the rocks.
Our next stop was not too far away at Bass Barbor, where we found another lighthouse. This was also one with the house attached to the light. I took a few photos, then we took a small path that led to the rocks below for a few more photographs. We were really racking up the light houses at this point.
Time to turn northward, and we headed on up the western side of the island. Pretty Marsh seemed like a place we might want to stop, and it turned out to be a gem. The little cove had mist that was filtering in through the main inlet, and the area had several small fishing and work vessels. A group of kayaks was launching, and I longingly asked if they had a spare boat. They didn’t. We lingered, enjoying the scene for awhile.
Continuing northward, we wanted to find Indian Isle, where we had been told were seals. that area turned out to be under the control of the Nature Conservancy, and was quite a hike, so we declined.
The afternoon had disappeared, so we turned our thoughts toward dinner. Having eaten seafood for most of the week, we were in the mood for something simpler. We figured that a place like Bar Harbor should have lots of options, so we headed in that direction.
The town was hopping. We managed to find parking at the waterfront, and began walking through the downtown tourist area. As we suspected, there were lots of dining options, and we picked a place that had brick oven pizza.
While at dinner two seemingly unrelated events took place. First, we learned from the TV in the restaurant that our idiot governor admitted that he had not been hiking the Appalachian Trail as we were told, but had, in fact, been in Argentina visiting his mistress. Just what we needed – something else to make South Carolina a laughing stock. While we felt sorry for the Sanford family, it was hard not to take delight in the demise of another holier-than-thou Republican, one who had called Clinton a “rascal” for his affairs. At about that same time, the sun finally came out.
Since things were looking up, both on the political front and as far as the weather was concerned, we decided to head back into the park. We started on the one-way loop, pausing at a lovely meadow to look for wildlife.
Our next stop was Thunder Hole. This time, things were completely different. There was hardly anyone there, and the tides were much lower. This meant that the water could rush into the undercut hole and create the namesake booming sound. It was quite impressive. We stayed for awhile listening, and watching the fog and clouds roll back in.
We continued on around the loop, pausing occasionally. When we reached the end, we headed on out of the park and back toward Belfast. We were beat, and were ready to crash for the night. Despite the low visibility due to weather, we had still seen quite a lot.