Thursday, June 20, 2024

2 days in Bar Harbor

Dawn at Bar Harbor

 

 

In 2019, the NewYork Times published one of its “what to do if you have a day and a half in…..” columns featuring Bar Harbor, Maine. So, on me recent visit, I once again used their column as inspiration, searching out its recommendations.



Bar Harbor Eating and Shopping


 


The Times suggested several places in town to eat and shop, and they were all great choices. Geddy’s offers a sports pub vibe, while serving great seafood and a wide variety of locally brewed beers. I had their lobster roll combo with clam chowder. The Wicked Maine Blueberry Ale was an excellent pairing.

Wicked Maine Blueberry Ale

Lobster Roll Combo



The Reading Room, at the Bar Harbor Inn, offers fine dining with a great view of Frenchman’s Bay. My meal started with warm challah bread and blueberry infused butter. The main course was seared scallops with potato hash. The scallops were perfectly cooked, and the potatoes were delicious.




Challah with Blueberry Butter

Scallops and Potato Hash

 

If you are looking for something to read, or a gift that is not a t-shirt, stop in to Sherman's Maine Coast Book Shop. They have a great selection covering local history, fiction by local authors, national best sellers and children’s literature. They also carry note and post cards, puzzles, and other Maine-made souvenirs.


 

The Cranberry Islands

Bouy Tree

If you want to get off of Mount Desert Island, there are some nice places to visit. Head to Northeast Harbor and take The Mail Boat to the Canary Islands. There are five islands in this township with a year-round population of about 160 people. The Mail Boat will take you to the biggest two islands - Great Cranberry Island and Little Cranberry Island. Each of these has a historical museum and hiking trails, and they offer great views of Acadia National Park across the water. Little Cranberry Island also is home to the Isleford Dock Restaurant, which offers a seafood menu with views of the fishing harbor and Acadia National Park. The mail boat runs four to six times a day, depending on the season, and costs $30 round trip.


Marina at Northeast Harbor

Marina at Northeast Harbor












The Mail Boat







Schoodic Point


 

Norris Island, Mosquito Harbor


Four miles due east of Bar Harbor, across Frenchman’s Bay, is the town of Winter Harbor on Schoodic Peninsula. This is where you will find one of the most fascinating parts of Acadia National Park - Schoodic Point. At the southern tip of the peninsula is a place where the granite rocks of Maine’s shore meets the Atlantic Ocean. It is famous for the shelf of granite that juts out into the water, and for the basalt dikes that have pushed up through the rocks. 







Getting to Schoodic Point is a 45 mile drive from Bar Harbor. However, during the summer there is a ferry that will take you directly across the bay, and a free shuttle bus around the peninsula.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Mount Desert Island, Maine

Frenchman's Bay from Bar Harbor

 

 There is more to see on Mount Desert Island than Acadia National Park. There are several small towns that have their own charm and attractions.



Bar Harbor

 

 



The largest town on Mount Desert Island is Bar Harbor. It is the gateway to Acadia and it is mostly a tourist town. In fact, it is the place that cruise ships stop when they visit the area. That being said, there are some excellent restaurants that stay open during the off-season. Vacationland Coffee Roasters was open early, serves a great cup of Java, and has a friendly staff. Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium provides an amazing selection of ice cream flavors, including a lobster ice cream. Lunch Bar Harbor serves great sandwiches and a wonderful clam chowder. 



Northeast Harbor

 




The village of Northeast Harbor is a small enclave on Mount Desert Island. It is the summer home of members of the Rockefeller family, and many of Philadelphia’s rich and famous. The Salt Market offers great coffee and pastries, and the Milk and Honey Kitchen has an excellent selection of sandwiches for lunch.


 





Seal Cove Auto Museum


1910 Piece Arrow


On the western side of the island is the Seal Cove Auto Museum. Richard Cushing Paine Jr. was a local doctor, and the son of local business owners. He collected classic cars during his life. In 1963 he created a museum to protect, care for, and grow the collection. Today, the museum houses around 200 cars and other motor vehicles, focusing on the era from 1895-1925, when cars were known for their brass decorations.


1904 Pope Hartford

1910 White

1916 Saxon Model 14

1909 Corbin

1904 Knox

1912 Maxwell Mascotte


Maine Granite Industry Historical Society




This small museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the mining and production of granite in Maine, and on Mount Desert Island in particular. There are two large rooms whose walls filled with historic photos and newspaper articles. Here there are displays of the tools used to quarry granite, to cut it to size and to polish it. There are also samples of stone from the many different quarries on the island. A third room serves as a workshop where demonstrations and classes are held.



Quarry Tools

Carving Guide for the Seal of New York City

Map of Quarries on Mount Desert Island

Finished and Unfinished samples of Granite


Acadia National Park is certainly the main draw on Mount Desert Island, but there is a lot more to do and see once your are there. So come to Maine and enjoy your time there.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Acadia in the Rain

Sand beach

 

 The national parks of the United States are known for their beauty. One of the parks at the top of that list is Acadia National Park in Maine. It offers the best of Maine’s sea coast, from rocky beaches to the views from mountain tops.

Acadia National Park sits (mostly) on Mount Desert Island, about 35 miles (58 Km) southeast of the city of Bangor. It has an area of over 49,000 acres (77 sq. Mi.). Acadia also has park land on surrounding peninsulas and islands. Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Atlantic coast of the U.S. is here, along with granite domes, cobble beaches, and glacial lakes. Acadia was the first national park created from land donated by private citizens.

Frenchman's Bay


The main access to Acadia National Park is along the 27 mile long Park Loop Road. The road is fully open from April 15 through December 1, weather permitting. The Loop was completed in 1958, by a design team put together by John D. Rockefeller, who also helped create a series of carriage roads throughout the park. It is a one-way passage for most of its circuit, and passes by the parks main attractions. I had the chance to drive the Park Loop on a rainy day in early May.

Early May can be an unpredictable time to visit Maine’s coast. The weather can be cold and rain storms roll through the area. But this was the day on my schedule to spend in the park, so off I went. I have found that, as long as it is safe, rain is not a reason to avoid visiting a park. In fact, as long as you are prepared for the weather, you can often find sights that are unique. 

Near Seal Bay

 

I entered the park through the Sieur du Monte Gate, just south of Bar Harbor. My first stop was Sand Beach. This 300 yard long beach stretches between rocky ridges on either side of the short cove that is its home. Getting onto the beach proved a little difficult, as the stairs from the parking lot end in an area that is filled with large stones. But once on the sand, it was worth the effort. The low clouds framed the view out to the Atlantic, while the fog had rolled in over the surrounding land, shrouding the nearby hills. Even though it was raining, the water was calm, so nearby Thunder Hole was quiet.






 



Next I headed for Jordan Pond. This lake was carved out by glaciers during the last ice age. Jordan Pond sits in a valley between several mountains, ridges and granite domes. It has an area of 187 acres, and a maximum depth of 150 feet. Its water is crystal clear, and there is an easy 3,8 mile hike around it. Once again, the clouds and fog created some beautiful scenes. Jordan Pond is also where you will find one of the two largest park stores, and a cafe that is rumored to serve excellent pop-overs. Unfortunately the cafe was closed when I visited.




 

My final stop was at the summit of Cadillac Mountain. The trip up to the top of the mountain is not directly on the Park Loop, and during high season (between May 15 and October 31) you have to reserve a ticket to drive up there. Reservations open up 90 days ahead, and sell out quickly, so plan ahead. The summit offers amazing views of Mount Desert Island, Frenchman’s Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. I was able to see some of these during my drive, taking advantage of the several pull-outs to stop and take some photos. But as I neared the top of Mt. Cadillac, the clouds rolled in. However they created their own atmosphere, with eerie scenes of rocks and trees fading into the fog. 

Bar Harbor and Frenchman's Bay








 

Acadia National Park is beautiful place, and it is worth a visit os several days. There are great hikes, and, as I will discuss in a future post, Mount Desert Island has a lot to do.



Nuts and Bolts


Acadia National Park is open all year, however parts of it are subject to seasonal and weather related closings, so check their web-site when making plans.

The entrance fee for a car is $35 for a 7-day pass. The allows a non-commercial car/van and all of its passengers entrance.

Between June 1 and Oct 31 there are a series of fee-free shuttles busses that serve the park, Bar Harbor and some other surrounding villages. If you enter the park on one of these buses, there is a $20/per person usage fee.

The timed reservation for Mount Cadillac is $6.

All yearly NPS passes are valid at Acadia National Park at all times EXCEPT for the Mt. Cadillac reservation.