of the things you don’t have in
NP offers a lot of outdoor activities and recreations, including hiking,
kayaking, bike riding, and of course excellent seafood. This would be a great
getaway from the hot and humid
a stop in
get the rental car at the
landscape reminds me a lot of
stop briefly in
walk out to one of the piers and watch the repairs of one of the 2-masted
schooners as a woman oils the cables of the rigging. Sailing on schooners is
one of the tourist attractions, as we would find out son enough in
We reach our destination just after sunset as its getting dark. The cabin is very spacious; it has wooden floors on two levels, a nice kitchen and a fireplace. Comfortable, yet with the rustic charm of a cabin in the woods.
getting settled, we explore the local main street on
is a hiking day. The day starts clear with abundant sunshine. From the maps and
guide books we pick a suitable hike – this one is called “Peak Bagger’s
delight” as it features 4 distinct peaks in one large, 4hr loop. The peaks are about
1000 ft high and offer sweeping views of
hike starts out in a dense forest with spruces, firs and pines. As we climb
higher, the forest thins out and gives way to lichen-splotched granite. This
also opens views of the
we reach the top of the first peak fittingly called
meet some locals from
The wind is a bit cool and so we don’t linger too long on any of the peaks. Instead we continue on down through the valley of a little stream which makes for an interesting contrast to the windswept ridges on the top. After crossing the streambed a few times we pass under a stone bridge of a small gravel road.
Shortly thereafter we’re back at the parking lot. I pick up a few pieces of small kindling wood for our fireplace to start what would become the habitual evening wood fire in our cabin fireplace. From the road we have a look back at the mountains we just explored.
The road follows the Southern coast line and we stop at a bay which provides nice access to the waters currently at low tide. Lots of seabirds and the smells of the saltwater and plants exposed at low tide give the unmistakable impression of the sea.
thereafter we reach Bar Harbor, the central village on
Located in Downeast,
We drive up to the main parking lot at the harbor and are greeted to a pretty spectacular sight: The 4-masted schooner “Margaret Todd” as well as the Celebrity X Cruises “Constellation” cruise ship.
Without so much as a plan we walk over to the pier and spontaneously decide to join the schooner crew for their sunset cruise – impeccable timing as they literally pull away minutes after we step on board.
The 150 ft vessel motors away from the shore and then – with the help of volunteer passengers – we set the 4 main sails as well as a few front sails to provide a quiet, natural form of propulsion.
The contrast to the big glass and steel cruise ship anchoring in the bay could hardly be any bigger!
It is a wonderful, serene experience slowly floating over the calm waters on this big schooner. Of course with hardly any wind we’re not moving much, but it’s very scenic nonetheless.
Since this sunset cruise happened spontaneously and without any planning we just got out of the car in shorts and wearing one thin sweater; as a result we were quite cold upon return, and we badly needed some hot food or drinks to warm up again. We find it at Testa’s Lobster house with a bowl of hot Clam Chowder, good seafood pasta and later a nice fire back at the cabin.
We get up quite early before sunrise. We intend to see the Southern Ocean shore and the famous Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in the first morning light. We don’t quite make it at sunrise – that happens while we’re driving the 10 minutes from our cabin – but still we’re greeted to a stunning scenery with calm waters and warm, yellow morning light.
Only the engine of the passing Lobster boat and the occasional bell rung by the floating buoy break the silence. A pathway leads down to the shoreline and the rocks. From there the view opens up to the East towards the rising sun.
We climb around a bit on the cliffs and exposed rock. The pink granite reflects the rays of the morning sun and creates a beautiful contrast to the lighthouse in the back.
is one of the most photographed spots in all of
We explore another trail called the Ship Harbor Trail. The effect of the tides is very clearly visible now at low tide. I would not have thought that the tides make such a big difference in water levels.
at the Inlets of the Intra-Coastal Waterway in
the way back to
We hang out a bit at the Claremont Hotel and take in the view from its lawn where they apparently have annual championships in Crocket – all very meticulous with a sense of British style.
for the afternoon, we have registered with an organized Kayak tour. We meet the
tour guide at noon in a little village called Somesville near
kayaks are a bit different from my Ocean kayak; they remind me very much of the
sea kayak I rented back in August 1999 on Vancouver Island on my return trip
spray skirt and life vest we’re well equipped. As a matter of fact, we’re
dressed too warmly for this spectacular day, with temperatures up to 70 F and
abundant sunshine an exceptional day for October in
After about 1 hour of slow paddling we encounter a bald eagle sitting in a tree high above the waterline. Thanks to the zoom on Jill’s Olympus Stylus 720 SW camera I can get a good close-up picture of the eagle.
After about 3 hrs we pull ashore on Thomas island and stop for a snack. Tour guide Shaw actually brought a small gas stove and is heating chocolate for some fondue with sweet crackers and marsh mellows – pretty good for hungry paddlers!
The way back is now easier since we have the wind at our back. We gently paddle and float back towards our launch point. Shaw takes a picture of both Jill and myself on the water.
Upon return we decide to rent the two kayaks for the next day which still promises to be sunny and dry. Thanks to us having been given a Ford Explorer as rental car – we had been upgraded since the other models were not available – and due to the fact that Shaw had some foam and tie-down straps we were able to load both kayaks on top of our rental car and drive around with them for the rest of the day. Definitely a first with a rental car!
like on the very mild day of kayaking in the
the kayak trip we drive over to
The cruise ship is huge and dwarfs everything else in the water. Smaller shuttle boats continuously go back & forth to bring passengers to the mainland. We go for a little walk along the shore and enjoy the view of the big ship while the sun is setting.
it’s getting dark. The schooner returns from its sunset sail and the cruise
ship “sets sail”, i.e. moves out to sea after blowing its horn a few times. We
sample another restaurant in
Today we’re having a special program: We made reservations for a Biplane ride with a local operator at the nearby airport. After some breakfast in our cabin we pack our gear for the afternoon – the kayaks from yesterday are still atop our rental car roof rack – and then venture out to the airport. There we are greeted by a local aviator, who confesses to us that after all the airplanes he had flown in (including F-15 fighters and P51 mustangs), he still thought that the biplane was the most enjoyable airplane. That should work for us!
the next 45 minutes we’re enjoying a tour of the entire
One of the interesting aspects of the biplane is that you’re flying “open air”, pretty much like a convertible car ride. Over the next 45 minutes we’re just looking around and enjoying the wonderful views. In fact, as I count later, I took 140 pictures in all of this flight, so it is had to pick just a small handful of those to include here.
the above picture of the bay near
we are flying over
we fly over
our way back to the airport we look South towards the Long Pond on the Western
part of the
Soon we’re back to the airport and land safely. The whole adventure took only ¾ hours, but its memory will surely last a lifetime. One of the best things I’ve ever done J
the Biplane ride we drive straight to the Inlet across from
The whole trip is a bit of a discovery, as we don’t know whether the island is perhaps too big for us to circumnavigate with the remaining daylight of about 5 hours. So every time we come around a corner which had been the visible horizon for us we see a new point coming up and make that our new goal.
We see plenty of birds and the occasional seal sticking its head out of the water. Once we paddle to shore, get out of the boats and have a break with a drink and a snack.
The weather holds out longer than predicted and so we’re blessed with a sunny afternoon, which makes the kayak trip much more enjoyable. It’s a mild autumn day and the shore line is painted in a warm, yellow afternoon sun.
last quarter of our circumnavigation is a bit more strenuous than the rest as
we need to paddle back into the wind. But as we’re hopping from one little rock
outcrop to the next, we’re quickly getting back to the point of our departure.
There we watch how local workers try to load a truck and trailer on a barge as
a way to ferry them across to
In the meantime we’re loading our kayaks on the car again and enjoy the conclusion of our round-the-Island trip.
conclude the day with a fine dinner at the Seafood Ketch, a local fish
is the first overcast day of our trip. Nevertheless, it is still a good day for
hiking, cool, but no rain. After a leisure breakfast we mosey over to the
Eastern part of the Island and park the car at the
of the visitors stop for the
the middle of the trail, if you look down towards the Ocean you can clearly see
The trail continues on very steeply, with the help of occasional ladders cemented into the granite rock face.
From here I also take a 210 degree panorama picture which you can see below:
up on the knob of the Beehive the trail continues to the Bowl, a small lake on
the plateau behind the initial ridge. From here we can see the rest of the
trail up to the
1 hour later we reach the top of 1058 ft top of
The trail leads back along the ridge with sweeping views of the shore line as well as the other mountains on the island. Even though the sun is obscured by clouds for most of the time, the fall colors are still quite spectacular.
The trail cuts underneath the Cadillac Cliffs – a band of vertical rocks with boulders at the bottom – and finally delivers us at the bottom a mile south of the parking lot. We conclude the loop by walking back along the Ocean trail, stopping once at the Thunder hole, a cave like opening in the rock where the Ocean surf creates rumbling and splashing as the waves hit the rock and spray water up several feet in the air. There are also hundreds of seabirds here, especially seagulls and loons. I play with the camera getting really close to some of them and taking pictures while they maintain their distance.
After some 5 hours of hiking it feels good to just sit in the car and warm up from the cool wind on the way to Bar Harbor, where we conclude the day with another nice dinner, this time at the Island Chowder house with Lobster and Mussels, a Fisherman’s Seafood platter and a delicious Blueberry Pie with Vanilla Ice cream – yummy!
Today is the one really cold and rainy day. We spend most of the day in the cabin and light up the wood fire earlier than usual to keep it nice and warm inside the cabin. We go out only once for about an hour to walk along the beach and retrace our steps from Monday morning. This time we see the Bass Harbor Light House in a different light, with fog and heavier seas.
little walk is good for us as it lifts our spirits somewhat. We spend the rest
of the day over hot coffee with muffins as well as tea and bread in the
evening. Finally we get some time to
read the books we brought along for the trip, as well as news from the
Internet, as we surprisingly have a free wireless Internet connection
compliment to the
have to pack our suitcases and prepare leaving the
weather is flawless again, with perfect sunshine and cool, but dry conditions.
We decide to drive up to
We explore the local area around the top, walk down to the Gorge Trail for some 1 hour mini-hiking and get back to the souvenir store at the top of the mountain. In the 18th century they actually had a railway track leading up the mountain with a small hotel on the top! So the view apparently has always attracted people to come up here…
Jill buys a metallic plaque of the top for her collection. You can actually order these from the www.geositu.com website.
We continue and stop at the Jordan Pond house, a very scenic place with some history dating back to the 18th century.
we get back to
get some good exercise from this hike and we arrive somewhat tired and a bit
cold back at the car. Once the trail is in the shade from the low sun and the
chilly wind is blowing, we start getting a bit cold. After we get back to the
car, we turn the heater on. In
Nearby we find a little coffee shop that’s still open and get some hot drinks and sweets for the road ahead. This time we don’t order a latte, but in fact a hot apple cider with cinnamon. The sweet-sour taste of this cider is a real culinary highlight of this entire trip – very good stuff!
getting dark and late by the time we reach
we plan to spend in the city of
Here is the view from our hotel room.
In order to tour the city with such a sunny day, we decide to rent bicycles and pedal around the city trails. We quickly find a local bike shop that rents both road bikes as well as hybrids.
we’re off to the races – well, make that the ride. We explore the harbor, cross
over the big harbor bridge and venture south to
We stop at several light houses along the way. Somewhat similar to the Biplane ride with 6 light houses, we will see 5 light houses today during the course of about 4-5 hours.
of the more famous ones is the Portland Head Light; it is in operation since
1791 for more than two hundred years! The gift shop has dozens of memorabilia,
including T-Shirts, Posters, Mugs, Stickers, Pillows, Puzzles etc. This light
house is believed to be the most photographed object in all of
the next light house at the southern tip of
Along the way and on the return trip we pass along beautiful pieces of property and very nice homes. We are astonished to find relative rural and quiet areas within less than 10 miles from the city and harbor.
After a few hours we’re crossing back over the harbor bridge to the center of town. A tug boat is just passing under the bridge as we are crossing.
We make sure to return the bikes before 5:00pm as the bike shop will close and not open on Sunday, so missing the 5:00pm deadline is not an option for us!
we put our names on the waiting list for the famous
Finally we get some really good seafood and venison for dinner, as well as some fine wine and sweet desert to top it off. Now we are really toasting to our good luck with the fall weather and all the logistics having worked out well along the trip.
Once again we pack our suitcases leaving the hotel. We drive to a nearby small bay called the ‘Back Cove’ which features a nice 3 mile walking path around it, just right for a 1 hour walk with nice views of the city.
And until the last hour the weather turns out to be very nice. In fact this walk reminds me a lot of the lakes in Minneapolis, such as Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet, which I had explored on a tandem with a friend back in 2004 (see Minneapolis tandem sight seeing trip report). The nice homes, lake view, fall colors, mild sunshine… definitely worth the trip this time of the year!
the only slight negative of the day is the fact that at the
you can see from the smile on my face I am very happy with the last week and
our trip to
On the flight back Jill spends time reading the “Short History of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson, while I continue learning from Joe Stiglitz about “Making Globalization Work”. We just didn’t have as much cold weather and as many rainy days as we expected when packing those big books J