Monday, November 9, 2015

Ah Maine We love you!!! Bass Harbor, Mt Desert Island Acadia National Park ME Jun 7-22 2015

We left Jana and Harpswell and got on the highway to Mt Desert Island which is largely covered by Acadia National Park.  We briefly discussed driving I-95 but almost immediately decided US-1 would be the far more scenic even if longer route.  So we hopped onto Rte 1 and started driving along the coast.  My first time in ME was years ago when I went to a rodeo (yes, a rodeo with cowboys and horses and bulls!) in Portland.  I'd been to western ME and to visit Jana but I had yet to visit the iconic ME coast.  Don, on the other hand, spent 3 summers as a young boy at a camp in western ME and the summer after his senior year of high school at Outward Bound Hurricane Island.  He knew how beautiful it would be.  Despite my plans to watch the scenery as we drove along I got involved with doing paperwork and missed much of it but did take the chance to appreciate a few of the towns we drove past.  One of the places was when we crossed the Penobscot Narrows Bridge.  We stopped to make and eat sandwiches and to give the pets a walk before crossing onto and then off Verona Island as we took in a view of Bucksport and then Camden where two more of my oldest friends live (but were not there) but as we neared Mt Desert I had to pay more attention to the route.
Bucksport ME

The Penobscot Narrows Bridge which has the tallest bridge observatory in the world and which we did not visit.

Penobscot River
Our campground was not at either of the National Park campgrounds, but at a small private campground in Bass Harbor, which is on the tip of the western (quiet) side of the island.  Before we started our voyage I had joined Passport America, a club for RVers, that has campgrounds around the country that offer 50% off.  Having recouped our membership dues at the first place we stayed (old Mystic CT for Sara's graduation) I'd made reservations with Bass Harbor Campground as well.  The 50% off period was ended the day we planned to leave though and would not be available during "the season." Our first attempt to find the campground got us lost because, as happens with GPS, at a crossroads you sometimes get conflicting directions.  We chose the wrong way but ended up making a big circle and getting to the campground nevertheless.  Because it was just before season many of the campers were workcampers who would be working at the campground in return for a site.  Right away, Sherri came over to help us park our MoHo which was gong to be a VERY tight squeeze on our site.  Poor her!  I park and Don directs and we now have honed our procedure almost to perfection but back then?  Not so much.  I was cussin' and yellin' because he could not hear me saying I couldn't see him.  He was cussin' and yellin' because I was not doing what he said to do and Sherri very intelligently skeedaddled.  As it turned out we were parked right up against one tree-our driver's side slide came right to it and we still didn't have enough room to extend the awning.  It is not imperative but if it's not out when it rains opening the door is like stepping into a shower.  So, we hauled out our "EZ CanopY" and set it up so that we could at least escape any deluges and not have to stand there getting drenched.  Then later, luckily, we were all able to laugh about it all with Sherri and she became a good friend over the next two weeks that we spent there.

If there is one national park that I think everyone should visit (oh besides Yellowstone and several others) it is Acadia NP.  When we arrived the lilacs were still blooming, there were blooms on the apple trees, the pine trees were budding out and the lupines were in FULL glory.  The days were clear and cool, which turned out to be great since "down south" in the mid-Atlantic and southern eastern states they were having an awful heat wave, the air smelled and felt delicious and there was no traffic.  The skies with one great exception were violet blue day after day.  Our first afternoon we walked the 10 minutes to Bass Harbor Head Light, one of the most photographed lighthouses in New England.  Not only is the lighthouse and keeper's cottage iconic but the sunsets are incredible.  Of course the most incredible one while we were there was the ONE time I forgot my camera! The next days were filled with drives to the busy side of the island, hikes on mountains where we could take Phoenix. Don riding on the Carriage roads and a visit to old friends Matt and Mau.

Our first day we thought we'd go to the Acadia NP Visitor's Center and then decide from there.  We did and opted to drive the road along the eastern side scenic route to get a feel for the island. We drove past several places we wanted to go back to. Each of the succeeding days we set off on a trip to hike or visit as many of the places we could.  Other than one day when it POURED rain all day.  Luckily we'd set up that canopy because taking Phoenix out for her walks would have resulted in a puddle inside and inexplicably He Who Hates Water (Cadbury) wanted to sit outside under the canopy watching the rain.

Rather than rhapsodizing further here are pictures with blurbs beneath them...

Apple Blossoms

A smattering of lupines by a rock

an epiphytic moss hangs from a tree

pinecone strewn path through the woods

purple pine cone

The Bass Harbor Head Light from the rocks below.
(This is actually the same view that was used on the National Park Quarter for Acadia National Park)

A Scenic Overlook along the drive around the east side

The Cranberry Islands from along Rte 3

We went for a hike at Ship Harbor and Wonderland, two short hikes near Seawall on the southern tip of the western side
A lone pine perseveres 

I have always believed in fairies and I knew they were living in here-I even found evidence of a party from the night before in the form of tiny golden yellow drops which I was convinced is where mead was spilled as the dancing got out of hand

There was a stiff breeze and the moss was blowing all around

Warning: I LOVE mushrooms and tree fungus and when I see them I photograph them.  So SOME of what I have seen will appear in these pages

Standing on the rocks at Wonderland and looking east

There were tidal pools and seaweed among the rocks

Fog had come in and out all day long and as we neared the end of the walk it began to come in again

I could not tell if another human or a fastidious bird had made this arrangement but I loved the colors

The rocks with their hair looked like some kind of creature

Bass Harbor looking at Bernard across the water during the day and at sunset (below)

Lobster pots at Bass Harbor

On one of our daytime walks to Bass Harbor Head Light we met a couple from Germany.  They were trying to take a selfie and it just wasn't working so I offered to take it for them and they returned the favor.  Photos of me are relatively rare because I don't like having them taken 

 We biked to Seawall one day and then drove back in the car so we could hike around with Phoenix

Don and Phoenix exploring

I startled this little doe as we got out of the car and she bounded into the woods but as I walked up the path to the restrooms I noticed her following me.  I said "May I take your picture?" and she turned and gave me this look

A lobster boat off the point

lichen on the rocks-we saw it in all colors but this reminded me of the bacterial mats in Yellowstone

A red winged blackbird calling to another that was flitting around

Rosa rugosa spilling over the white rocks
I really wanted to go have popovers and jam at the Jordan Pond House so one day Don obliged me and we went and had some and then took a short stroll around 
As we would find the day we hiked around the pond, there is a lot of beaver activity and this was just one of the trees felled by them

The Gate House at Jordan Pond

From Jordan Pond we continued to Sieur de Monts Nature Center and then hiked the Jesup Trail and Hemlock Road Loop where we met a couple who'd been coming here for 26 years.  On that day they were trying to find a baby owl they'd seen the week before but had been unable.  They gave us all sorts of tips on what trails to hike and when and we began to see how great our new life "on the road" would be meeting interesting, friendly and helpful people and forming new friendships.
A Jack in the Pulpit at the Nature Center

Jesup Trail

maple seeds

a log along the way with very small fungi

A hanging Trillium

I flushed this ruffed grouse as I was walking along the trail and was only able to take a quick picture before he scurried away.  But he "displayed" thus showing how he got his name and gave me a dirty look to boot.

The Bubbles-two hills at the end of Jordan Lake that look far more like "tetons" to me that the grand ones in Wyoming

Thunder Hole is along Rte 3 but we got there when the tide was low and therefore did not get to appreciate the full effect of the water rushing in.  The sound, though, even with this little was loud.
We decided one day to climb Acadia Mountain.  According to Don's interpretation of the map, and the fact that it was labeled as an easy climb, we would be able to take Phoenix as the elevation was gradual.  It wasn't.  We got about 2/3 of the way and decided that it was not fair to make her climb any further.  It was not difficult for us as we could climb the boulders with some ease but we were having to lift her more and more and could see she was getting tired.
One rock that I loved was this one with the root growing right through it
View of Somes Sound from Acadia Mountain

We drove past Southwest Harbor virtually every time we went somewhere and it seemed that no matter what time it was it was low or half tide.  The last day, while I was busy fiddling with something else it was at high tide and I did not have my camera!
We came to Bar Harbor, which is the busiest of all the towns because we had read about being able to walk out to Bar Island at low tide.  And so we did.

It was fascinating being able to examine all the normally undersea life up close and I loved all the shells and rocks decorated with barnacles

We got to Bar Island and saw people walking up a trail so we decided to follow and see where it lead. 

For awhile the trail was along shady, tree covered paths and then it opened onto this meadow FILLED with lupines of pink, white and blue.  It was gorgeous, as on both sides of the trail the meadow stretched out and lupines filled them.

A lupine from above

A line of lupines

Pink lupines
When we were in Ulster Park a couple of our old friends, Matt and Marian, mentioned that they would be going to Marian's family's house on Mt Desert and it would be the same time that we were there.  We agreed to get together so we called them when they arrived and were invited to go for a picnic with them. We would be going out to Bartlett Island across the water from their house.  The first boat to leave were their sons and  friends who were going to hike to the picnic spot and build the fire for the burgers.

we then followed chugging along past the rocks and pines one associates with Maine

The fire was completely built when we arrived but it was ready in no time and the "younger set" began cooking the burgers for those who would be having them.


The day was insanely gorgeous and the sun beat down
On the way back the sun gave a different color to the rocks and 

we then saw the seals on the rocks.  They were as interested in us as we in them

although one of them seemed not to have a care in the world

Back at the house we sat on the deck for awhile and enjoyed the view before heading back to the campground
Having seen part of Jordan Lake when we went for popovers we knew we wanted to hike around it. It was another nice day and the hike was excellent.  The sun was warm and the air cool and it was that kind of hike where you never seem to get hot or tired because every turn holds another beautiful view or interesting sight.

Jordan Lake
As we walked along the far side of the lake I kept hoping we'd be able to see a loon close up.  I'd about given up even though we'd spied several way out in the lake when the woman in front of us put her finger up to her mouth to indicate to be quiet.  Right there was a loon pair swimming along.  The female then began to preen and clean...

she turned under water...
flipped her belly over so she could clean it and generally put on a show
while the male swam 

the path along the near side of the lake was mostly dirt with pine needles

Determined to climb at least one mountain but hindered by having to take Phoenix with us we decided on Beech Mountain.  We packed a large container of water and a bowl as well as some treats and began at the Canada Cliffs 
where the boulders were covered with ferns

and light streamed through the trees
at one point we thought we'd reached the top and then saw the trail to the fire tower

We reached the tower
the view was expansive
and then I climbed the tower while Don and Phoenix waited

As we came down the far side the views were even more beautiful

and I found some more fungus

and little alpine flowers
at the bottom 2 couples were sitting discussing whether to climb it or not and asked us our opinion.  Then they offered to take our picture and for the second time in a week I allowed a picture to be taken-this was an occurrence I would soon have to halt

Our original plans had been to leave on Sunday Jun 21 but as we were leaving the Cape Cod truck place the mechanic had mentioned  "Oh I could not get your horn to work."  We'd asked about it in Saco but they said it was part of the chassis and we have a Workhorse chassis which was of course made my GM and so no longer in production.  That means that not a lot of mechanics work on them BUT after calling 11, yes 11, different places from Portland to Bangor I finally found one place in Bangor that said to bring it in.  Then miraculously one day Don leaned on the horn by mistake and let's just say he's lucky it was 3 pm and not 3 am.  It worked.  We tested it a few times and each time it worked although we had to push an area off center.  I marked it so we'd know where to push when we needed it and we decided that even though we'd extended our reservations for one day we would skip Bangor.  I called and cancelled the appointment.  When we got on the road Monday morning I said let's test it to make sure it works when the coach is on ...yeah, no horn.  I quickly called the Bangor place back and asked if they could fit us in and they said sure.  So, after a literal 20 minute stop in Brewer where I had a 15 minute (perfect) haircut from Supercuts and Don ra to the grocery store and picked up some bread, we drove to Bangor.  The guys were great they checked under the hood, the fuses, basically everything that anyone could think of and no horn.  Finally I asked if we could take off the cover on the steering wheel. We did and lo and behold-there was a loose connection.  One of the wires was loose and despite numerous attempts the mechanic could not get it to stay until finally he said "Time for a toothpick."  At this point he opened his tool box, pulled out a toothpick and jammed it in that sucker so the wire could not move and we have had a horn ever since.  Still haven't had to use it but we check from time to time.  

From Bangor is was straight west to our next stop, Bethel.

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