Maine heaven

LOCATION: Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor, Maine

CAMPGROUND: Seawall Campground within the national park

WEATHER: Glorious! Warm sunshine with cool ocean breezes

Today was just about perfect, although we had a few close calls. The island has a free bus service with routes all over the island, to help keep traffic down. We took advantage of the bus and rode it to downtown Bar Harbor. The bus was scheduled to arrive downtown at 10:50, and the ferry we were hoping to catch left at 11:00. The bus driver warned us that he couldn’t guarantee an on-time arrival due to traffic and construction. He told us that in the winter, there are 9000 residents here, but the population swells to 3.1 million in the summer!

We arrived downtown on time, and rushed to the ferry dock. We weren’t sure where to go, as it was a bit confusing since there was a big cruise ship in the docks. I left George behind carrying the picnic lunch and ran to the boat By this time it was 10:59, and they directed us to hurry and board. Whew!

We took off for a one-hour ferry ride.

As we departed, we passed by the Bar Harbor Inn, where we had eaten last night with our Rochester friends.

We were headed to Winter Harbor, on a peninsula across one of the wide inlets. Part of this peninsula is also Acadia National Park. Only a few people live here, and there isn’t much commercial business. On our way we saw some porpoises frolicking in the water and some iconic lighthouses on little islands scattered around the bays.

The national park runs a bus shuttle service there, too. The bus was there to greet the ferry and we hopped on to make the loop around the peninsula. Our first stop was the campground. We wanted to check it out for future stops. It is brand new and looks superb. It is also part of the National Park Services. We hopped on the next shuttle, a half hour later, and got off at Schoodic Point, an Indian word for Eastern Rocky Point. It is fabulously beautiful.

We sat on the rocks and enjoyed a nice picnic, watching the water spray on the rocks.

Then, we boarded another shuttle (I had to hold the bus while George meandered slowly back from the bathroom) and finished the loop bus ride just as the ferry approached to take us back to Bar Harbor.

Back in Bar Harbor, we caught a bus back to the campground. By then, it was getting a bit late. We had planned to buy a fresh lobster to cook over the campfire, but most places were closed by then. So, we decided to go to a lobster “pound” and let someone else do the cooking! We stopped at the island’s brewery on the way. Their BBQ smelled awfully tempting, but we were determined to have lobster, since after all we are in Maine.

The lobster pound is located in a small village in a pretty cove. We highly recommend – Thurstons. (Www.thurstonforlobster.com). We discovered that it is quite popular, and we had to stand in line for awhile. However, as were in line we were able to watch the cooking process…..

We watched them take people’s orders, put the lobster (and/or clams or mussels) in a labeled mesh bag, then drop the bag in a huge boiling vat. After a few minutes, they pulled the bag from the vat and brought your order to your table. I had a lobster BLT that had been highly recommended; George had a whole lobster. He got the soft shell kind as it is easier to eat.

What a great day! A fun ending to a really nice stay here at Acadia. We want to come back!

Meeting Minnesota friends

LOCATION: Acadia National Park, near Bar Harbor

CAMPGROUND: Seawall Campground, part of the National Park

WEATHER: Sunny. Very pleasant. Highs upper 70s. Cool at night

One of today’s less glamorous chores was to do laundry. So nice to get all clean clothes again!

We found a cool spot for lunch, at a seafood restaurant/bar overlooking a marina. We had a CALT – crab/avocado/lettuce/tomato sandwich. Very tasty. The place was hopping with live music and gorgeous views..

Our campground is named after this natural seawall adjacent to the campground.

Then, we drove around the west side of Mt Desert Island (home of the national park) in an area that is much less crowded. The park and private lands criss-cross each other. We stopped in several little coves and admired the scenery.

We had arranged to meet up with friends from Rochester, Minnesota (our former hometown) who are passing through here. The plan was to meet at a beautiful terraced restaurant in Bar Harbor overlooking the water so we could enjoy the sunset together. Bar Harbor is so overrun with tourists, that there was no place to park. So, we drove to one of the park’s visitors’ center and caught the free island shuttle bus back to town.

The sunset was very nice and we really enjoyed talking with old friends.

George and I shared a platter called “Taste of Maine” that had lobster, crab, smoked shrimp (particularly good), mussels, and salad.

A very pleasant evening. It was not so fun, however, driving back in the dark to the campground. We thought a moose might jump out in front of us at any time!

Almost out of gas….

LOCATION: Outside of Bar Harbor, Maine

CAMPGROUND: Seawall Campground within Acadia National Park. As with most national park campgrounds, it is woodsy and basic. Clean bathrooms (no showers). No hook-ups. Beautiful location. Campfire pit and picnic table. With senior pass, $15/night. 4 stars out of 5.

WEATHER: Hot and sunny. Cool and pleasant evening.

We took our time packing up at Chewonki Campground (www.chewonkicampground.com) wanting to get our money’s worth. Too bad we had to leave today, as the swimming pool looked inviting, finally. It really is a nice campground, just too expensive.

However, we have glanced at RV Parks along the highway that look much worse. The big rigs are packed in like sardines, and are probably the same price. And, Chewonki has been a great location for exploring this part of the coast.

So, we said a fond farewell, and headed north (but called “Down East”). I am confused.

We drove through the cutest seaside towns, and by mansions that probably were once summer houses of the rich and famous, but are now mostly inns and B&Bs.

We stopped for a picnic along the highway overlooking the water and a bridge with the tallest observatory in the world.

The trip was about 3 hours to the entrance of Acadia. It is a very large park, and our campground was all the way at the end of a road, way into the park. Just as we entered the Visitors’ Center, the warning beep sounded telling us we were very low on gas. George’s plan was to get to the campsite, unhook the Airstream, then fill up when we were in town again. We missed the turn for the campsite, and according to the map, would have to drive about 40 miles to get there. We wouldn’t make it. I had visions of running out of gas on the narrow, shoulderless road through the park. So, we turned around and drove into the town of Bar Harbor. A cruise ship was in town, making it terribly crowded. Pedestrians everywhere. Lots and lots of cute shops. Every building seemed to be an inn, mostly with “no vacancy” signs. We dodged the pedestrians, navigated the narrow and crowded streets, and squeezed into a teeny gas station. With our gas tank happily full, we headed to the campsite again.

We knew that we would not have electricity and water, so we had previously filled our water tank. I was worried about electricity; translation: no air conditioning. It was hot in Bar Harbor – 85, but when we pulled into the campground, it was magically 70. Very pleasant. It would be ok sleeping.

DINNER – Last of the leftovers. To the leftover riced cauliflower dish, I added leftover grilled hamburger and broccoli. Nice arugula salad and good tomato on the side.

Wicked good Lobstah!

LOCATION: Wiscasset, Maine

CAMPGROUND: Chewonki Campground. See previous description

WEATHER: Sunny again. Yeah! Highs upper 70s

My friend from Maine recommended a “lobster shack” so today we decided to check it out. Lobster is for sale everywhere – gas stations, fast food shops, expensive restaurants, road-side stands, food trucks. We wanted “the real thing”. Based on the book “1000 Places to Go Before You Die” and other critics, Red’s Eats is the best place to buy a lobster roll. It is just a few minutes from our campground. No matter what time of day, it has a long, long line of customers. We didn’t want to stand in that line, although they do, thoughtfully, provide umbrellas to protect customers from rain or too much sunshine.

We drove quite awhile down a narrow slice of land between picturesque inlets. Everyone here seems to be a lobster fisherman. We saw artists painting pictures of the scenery in “plein aire”.

At the end of the road, on an island, we found our destination – McLoon’s Lobstah Shack. We shared a wicked good lobster roll…

And some clams that we watched being grilled…

We sat outside at a picnic table, overlooking the water and watching the fishermen.

Later, we talked with a local who told us that even though Red’s Eats is the most famous, the lobster rolls at McLoon’s are better and cheaper.

From there, we poked around side roads until we saw a sign for a winery. It was the most unassuming winery we have ever visited – just an old barn. The winemaker uses hand cranks to press the grapes, all in the cellar of the barn.

As we were tasting their (fairly good) wines and ciders, we watched them unload a truck full of wild blueberries. They will let them ferment and make wine from them later.

Back at the campground, we put away our screen tent as it is supposed to rain again tonight. We packed up a little to prepare for tomorrow’s departure.

DINNER: Leftover pasta with a pesto sauce. Salad on the side.

Wicked good times in Maine

LOCATION: Wiscasset, Maine

CAMPGROUND: Chewonki Campground. See previous description

WEATHER: Rain and fog most of the day. High mid 70s

Today’s highlight was meeting up with a former professional colleague of mine in Rockland, about an hour east of Wiscasset. She and I met while serving together on the ASHHRA Board of Directors. (American Society of Healthcare Human Resources Association). We toured the Farnmouth Museum together, featuring hometown’s famous Andrew Wyeth and family artists. Very well-done.

Even though it was foggy, we enjoyed a beautiful view at an outdoor restaurant overlooking the water. (Note the yacht in the background). We had a wicked good lunch – a baked potato stuffed with crab meat and cheese. (In Maine they use the word “wicked” to mean “very good”).

We stopped later at a wicked good microbrewery and took advantage of their wicked strong wifi.

On our way back to Wiscasset, we drove down narrow inlets toward the ocean. One could spend months exploring these fingers of land that form the coastline.

DINNER: Leftover chili. (Not wicked good, but ok). :-).

Everything in moderation

LOCATION: Wiscasset, Maine

CAMPGROUND: Chewonki RV Park – see yesterday’s description

WEATHER: Rainy, overcast. Highs low 70s

Rain is forecast for the next several days, so we are making the best of it with indoor activities.

We drove in to Brunswick, about 15 miles from here, to check out a brewery that is supposedly a “Destination Brewery”. It is located at an old British Air Force building from WWII. The airport now is an executive, private-jet one.

From there, we went in to the town of Brunswick itself. It is a lovely town, with a vibrant downtown and a nice park with food trucks parked around. We bought a tasty, juicy chicken sub and shared it on a park bench.

Then, to Sea Dog Brewery which is quite popular, with several outlets. This one is in an old mill. Very pleasant, and great wifi!

Then, to a 3rd brewery. Note that we had small pours in each one, as “everything in moderation” is best.

We drove around the area, and discovered our namesake – Reid State Park! We checked it out. It is a lovely, rugged beach area, but unfortunately does not offer camping.

As we watch TV news, we are saddened about the natural disasters occurring in different parts of the US. We watched footage of Yosemite National Park being evacuated, just where we were last year, and Idlewyld, CA, a cute mountain town we visited a few years ago, now mostly destroyed. We just missed the rain and floods in Pennsylvania and New York where we were a few weeks ago.

DINNER: Leftover vegetarian stroganoff “beefed up” with some hamburger.

To the Maine Coast!

LOCATION: Wiscasset, Maine – about 25 miles east of Portland

WEATHER: Misty, mostly overcast. Highs in 70s

CAMPGROUND: Chewonki Campground. We had had high hopes for this one. It had been recommended highly to us. It is pretty nice, but WAY overpriced at $61/night. Water and electricity (30 amp) at sites. Fire ring and picnic table. Central dump station. Some sites overlook water. Grassy sites, but not level. Lots of amenities that we probably won’t use – swimming pool, children’s playground, rec room, badminton court, tennis court. Adding salt to the wound – $25 extra for checking in early and $.25 for shower! 3 out of 5 stars.

We packed up at Blueberry Campground, wanting to leave the mud before it started raining too much. We took photos of the mysterious dent in case we need it for insurance.

Wiscasset is only about 30 miles away. After getting settled in and unhooked, we drove in to nearby Bath for lunch. Bath is an old ship-making town, with a cute, historic downtown. We had lunch in a new pub. We shared some seared tofu served with balsamic vinegar and Brussels sprouts. Different and tasty.

Maine, of course, is famous for its lobsters. We see lobsters for sale everywhere. This restaurant is near our RV park…

As we drove home, we stopped for some wild blueberries. We have been following the season as we drive north.

Back at the RV park, George was bitten by a green fly, so we decided to put up the screened tent. This is our first time using it. A good rehearsal, although we hope that we don’t have to use it much.

DINNER: Leftover pork. Individual ramekins with sautéed zucchini and onions, with croutons and cheese. I figured out the convection oven function in the microwave, and baked them. Success! Couscous on the side.