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Archive for the ‘Maine’ Category

So, after meandering our way from the Chesapeake Bay to Bar Harbor, we caught up with friends, 3 other couples, from central Ohio for a few days of hiking and exploring in the beautiful Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor, Maine.  We’d been in the area a couple of times before on bicycle trips , but never with gear or time to do much hiking.  This trip was different for it was planned to be all about the hiking and exploring.  We had absolutely perfect weather, crisp clear days with comfortable temps for hiking by day, donning sweaters/jackets for our walks in the evening, nice sleeping weather as well.  For the most part skies were clear as a bell, except for our last day which brought us some misty morning fog, fairly typical for these parts this time of year.

We based in Bar Harbor at a simple but nice place called the Moseley Cottage Inn and Town Motel.  The inn was a lovely B&B, though we stayed in the motel adjacent.  Worked just fine for our purposes.  One of the coolest things was the Island Explorer system, a whole fleet of propane-powered shuttle buses over 8 routes to move folks all over the park and surrounding towns.  For free!  Kudos to L.L.Bean for 10 years and counting of major support for this eco-friendly endeavor.  We caught it each morning at the Village Green in Bar Harbor, with the luxury of being able to plan point to point hikes without worrying about where we left the cars or having to spot cars, etc.  In the end, we covered a lot more trail miles than we would have otherwise.

I’ll spare you the details of our hikes, except to mention a few of the trails by name for those who might have been or may plan a trip.  We had four days to play with, starting and finishing, days 1 and 4, with fairly challenging hikes with some elevation changes and the amazing vistas that go with same, and the two days in between meandering the shoreline trails, finding one more lighthouse and staring into a lot of tidal pools.

Day 1 was a climb of Cadillac Mountain, elevation 1530 ft at the summit.  We started near Blackwoods Campground, caught the Cadillac South Ridge Trail, looped Eagles Crag before reaching the summit.  The summit complete with parking lot, snack bar and gift shop, though I’ll tell you that I personally don’t believe you quite appreciate the view as much if you haven’t climbed it on foot.  Our decent took us down the North Ridge Trail which included an awesome view of Eagle Lake.

Day 2 we caught the shuttle bus to Sand Beach near Newport Cove, and hiked the fairly tame Great Head Trail.  Back at Sand Beach, we caught the shuttle to Jordan Pond.  Jordan Pond is another popular spot in the park where the tradition as recommended by a family member of one in our group, is to eat popovers.  Yes, popovers, along with some other tasty things, with a very nice view of the pond.  We walked off our lunch with a subsequent hike around the 3.5 mile Jordan Pond Path.

Day 3 we opted to drive to the southern end of Mount Desert Island to see Bass Harbor Light and do some short hikes.  The shuttle buses actually do run down there as well, but on a very sparse schedule in the late season… I guess the southern end of the island isn’t as popular as some other parts.  We however found some lovely spots.  The lighthouse wasn’t much to look at, surrounded by green scaffolding while undergoing some restoration, but we had a grand time climbing on the rocks at the shore, enjoying the morning light and catching sight of a couple of magnificent old sailing vessels on the water.  Nearby we walked Ship Harbor Nature Trail and the Wonderland Trail, the latter of which had some phenomenal tidal pools.  Following our hikes we headed for Southwest Harbor for a bite of lunch and a bit of exploring in a town not quite as touristy as Bar Harbor, then motored back north and down Sargent Drive along Somes Sound, stopping again in Northeast Harbor for a wander around the marina.

Day 4 found us back on the more challenging trails.  We caught the shuttle to Monument Cove where we picked up the Gorham Mountain Trail up to the Gorham Mountain summit at 525 ft, on to Halfway Mountain and around a really pretty pond known as the Bowl, then caught the Champlain South Ridge Trail to the Champlain Mountain summit at 1058 ft.  Our views for this climb were clear enough to see the water, but with enough fog and mist for a bit of interest.  Spectacular really.  And unlike Cadillac Mountain, if you were on top of Champlain Mountain, you’d gotten there by climbing.  No parking lot, no gift shop.  Our decent took us around Huguenot Head down Beachcroft Trail which had its own amazing views.  We spent a wee bit of time poking around the Nature Center near the end of the trail, but mostly we were spent.

All in all, it was a successful trip.  We had no injuries or disasters, lost and found hiking sticks a few times, enjoyed each others’ company both on the trail and relaxing at day’s end.  And of course there was the food.  I have to say that Bar Harbor has plentiful restaurants, and we found a few that we enjoyed enough to visit more than once.  In case you go, some of our favorites were Poor Boys Gourmet, Cafe This Way (we visited for both breakfast and dinner… check out the lobster pics below), Side Street Cafe, which we gave mixed reviews but who had a Lobster Mac and Cheese that was very yummy, and last but not least, the Morning Glory Bakery for tasty pastries which we enjoyed on the Town Green while waiting for the morning shuttle.

Saturday morning had us saying good-byes, the rest of the group headed for Woodstock, VT while Mike and I headed south.  For our return trip, we opted to skip the $40+ tolls and took in the sights of US1… which was pretty in Maine and got interesting/ethnic through New Jersey and metro New York.  Toll costs for the return trip: $0.  Food highlights:  Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro, ME  for breakfast on Saturday (though more for the ambiance than for the food) and a decent little Irish Pub in Stratford, CT called McCoy’s Pub for dinner that night. We were pleased to find Cheshire still floating when we returned, have spent the last few days getting some things sorted out, laundry done, etc and are starting to plan for our journey south beginning later this month.  Stay tuned.

And the photos… plenty this time.  The ones noted (BP) are compliments of our friend Bob who is an awesome photographer.  Thanks, Bob!

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As much as we love living/traveling aboard Cheshire, we also love a good road trip now and again.  With that in mind, we decided to do some exploring en route to Bar Harbor, Maine where we planned to meet friends from Ohio for several days of hiking around Acadia National Park.  We tucked Cheshire into her slip in Solomons and crossed our fingers for a good “weather window”, that is no hurricanes that would have us turning around and heading back to MD for storm preparations, and headed north.

We decided that Baltimore would be our first stop, as it was becoming unlikely we’d get there by water this season.  We found a parking garage near the Inner Harbor area and hoped we’d be able to find the car again;  we’re a little rusty on the ways of the big city.  We spent the rest of the day exploring the historic waterfront on foot.  They’re doing a nice job with restoration, an ongoing project it seems.  Fell’s Point, one of the historic districts on the waterfront, is very much in process;  it’s also home to Thames Street Oyster House where we had a very good lunch.  The Inner Harbor area of Baltimore is quite the cultural center these days, including the Historic Ships of Baltimore, though we opted to skip the “indoor activities” this beautiful day, and spent our time walking the neighborhoods and waterfront.  That said, if you plan to visit Baltimore, check out the Charm City Circulator, a free hybrid/electric  shuttle service.  Kudos to Baltimore for being eco-friendly, and for making it free.  Seven Knolls Lighthouse was a highlight, and one of a number of lighthouses we’d visit in the days to come.  Lighthouses are a new fascination of mine I guess. Seven Knolls is the oldest surviving screw pile lighthouse, constructed in 1855 and transferred to the city of Baltimore/moved to the Inner Harbor to become part of the  Maritime Museum complex in 1988.  Come mid-afternoon, we were back in the car, beating feet to get north of NYC, drove from Maryland> Delaware> New Jersey> New York before our overnight in Connecticut.  Pizza Cucina in East Lyme, CT is a nice little spot for dinner if you’re ever in the neighborhood.

Saturday found us exploring the waterfront towns of Connecticut.  First stop, Mystic.  For those who are fans of the movie, there really is a Mystic Pizza, but alas, we were there too early for lunch.  Even worse, the whole town was setting up for a weekend food fair, “A Taste of Mystic” with numerous restaurants participating.  Bad timing for us.  It was a beautiful morning and we enjoyed our stroll about town.  Again we opted to skip the very highly recommended and very pricey “indoor activity” of Mystic Seaport.  It would have taken a whole day to do it justice, I’m afraid.  We moved on to Stonington, CT for the afternoon, another lovely spot with a lighthouse, and not quite as popular as Mystic.  Back in the car for a late afternoon-into-evening drive, and on a whim, jumped off the highway at Newburyport, MA, which neither of us had ever heard of.  Turns out they also have a lovely historic waterfront, including tons of public art/sculpture.  Glenn’s Restaurant and Cool Bar turned out to be a very nice spot for dinner despite its name.

Sunday morning we finally crossed over the state line into Maine, and the tour of lighthouses began in earnest. I’ve read that there are about 60 lighthouses in the state of Maine, and while we certainly wouldn’t see all of them, I had a list of several I wanted to find.  We checked out  Cape Neddick aka “Nubble” Light.  Check out the website for a couple of good photos and some fun history, including description of Mr T, a swimming cat who lived on the island for a bit.

The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was a nice spot to stop and stretch our legs a bit.  Established in 1966, it’s still growing in bits and pieces along the Maine coast in hopes of preserving some of the salt marshes and estuaries favored by migrating birds.  While we didn’t see much for birds during this time of year, it was nevertheless a lovely spot, and an introduction for me to the life and work of Rachel Carson.  What an amazing woman she was, particularly her research and writing, efforts that eventually led to the banning of DDT.  I guess I have her to thank for the osprey I’ve been so fascinated with this past year.  They were nearly extinct at one point, but have made quite a comeback with the restrictions in pesticide use in recent decades.  And a few more books get added to my ever growing “to read” list.

Having worked up an appetite, we found a fun place for lunch, the Cape Pier Chowder House, on site at the Cape Porpoise Lobster Company.  Nothing fancy, but it doesn’t get any fresher than sitting at a picnic table overlooking  a small harbor of fishing boats, one of which was certainly a contributor to my lobster roll, or as those not “from away” would say, lobstah roll.  Mike enjoyed his steamers (clams) as well.  Check out the aerial photo on the website and you’ll understand.  Sufficiently fueled for the afternoon, we headed for South Portland and two more lighthouses, Portland Head and Portland Breakwater.  It was particularly fun to see Portland Head Light in person, as it was featured on a holiday card we sent out some years ago.  Portland Breakwater or “Bug Light”, at Bug Light Park is not quite as impressive, but also has an interesting history.  The park also features a monument to the famed Liberty Ships.  (See my post titled “The Liberty Ships of Brunswick, GA” for more info if you missed it the first posting.)

Monday morning’s itinerary took us to two more lights.  Pemaquid Point Light is said to be one of New England’s most visited and most photographed lighthouse, and we were fortunate enough to visit in some great early morning light.   Unfortunately the rocks down to the water in front of the light were roped off with caution tape due to some wave activity in recent days;  one of the volunteers commented that those “from away” don’t understand waves, hence the precaution.  Not so at our next stop, Marshall Point Light, where we were as impressed with the tidal pools as with the lighthouse itself.  Tidal pools, aka tide pools are the pools of water left behind at water’s edge at low tide.  But they’re way more interesting than they sound.  I was introduced to them a few years back on a sailing trip with friends out of Vancouver (Alane, remember the purple stars?!)  The tidal pools of Maine, though lacking sea stars, were quite colorful and frustratingly difficult to photograph.  For those who can find it, I’ve just found reference to a PBS documentary titled “Life at the Edge of the Sea”, 2 years in the filming and involving time-lapse photography. Check out the website for details.   Even if you’re not interested, the first paragraph is worth a read;  oh, the challenging life of a small sea creature.

For  lunch we found another simple but delicious seafood shack, Capt’n Doug’s (Lobster Grilled Cheese for me, Fish Tacos for Mike).  Turns out Doug and his former restaurant have been featured in Saveur magazine (a personal favorite foodie/travel mag).  His current location is in his front yard, really, I’m not kidding.  Check out this article for the story on Doug and his family; unfortunately we didn’t get to meet Doug, but after reading this article, I wonder if some of his grandchildren weren’t behind the counter… Inquiring minds…

One last lighthouse awaited us this afternoon, Owl’s Head Light, which we’d visited before while on a bicycle trip in Maine, but it was nearby, so I couldn’t resist.  And then, on to Bar Harbor, ME  where we caught up with the rest of the gang.  Stay tuned for more on that leg of the trip…

In the meantime, some favorite photos…

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