We had a wonderful week in Bar Harbor but now it was time to head south. We have been in Maine for three weeks and we were now headed to the small town of Wells for our last week in Maine. We are really enjoying our time along the Maine coast. If you measure the coast of Maine DIRECTLY it is only 228 miles. BUT, Maine’s SHORELINE is 3,478 miles, which is longer than California’s. Three fourths of all visitors to Maine stay along the coastline.
We had a pleasant drive except for some roadwork which they DO need. We settled into our campground and started planning our week. The week in Bar Harbor had been quite intense and busy, so we decided to make this week more laid back and relaxing, along with catching up on paperwork and the blog. Even life on the road has paperwork and cleaning and laundry that needs to be done and it sure piles up fast!
Nevertheless we did find time to explore the area. On Saturday we drove to Mount Agamenticus where we were promised a fantastic view of the White Mountains of New Hampshire to the west and far out to sea in the east. At 692 feet it is not a very big mountain as mountains go, but since it was a beautiful day we decided it was worth the drive. The view at the top was nice but as summer views often are, it was too hazy to get a great view or picture.
Monday we drove up to Kennebunkport, a popular summer resort and location of one of the homes of the President George Bush family. Kennebunkport is a small touristy town but we loved the view along the beach where we could see the Bush residence. The home is located on a peninsula called Walkers Point. We took pictures from the closest point allowed. At this viewpoint an anchor was placed in honor of George H. W. Bush.
During our time in the area we spent time in the various little coastal towns of Wells, Kennebunkport and York. The beautiful homes and picturesque views along the water were in my opinion prettier than Martha’s Vineyard.
Next we leave Maine and head to the Adirondacks in New York.
We spent most of our time in Acadia National Park but we did go into Bar Harbor a couple times. Bar Harbor was originally incorporated in 1763 and named Eden after Sir Richard Eden, an English statesman. It was renamed Bar Harbor in 1918 because of a sand bar that is visible at low tide. In the 1800’s tourists were attracted to Bar Harbor by the writings of Henry David Thoreau and paintings showing the Maine landscapes by famous painters. The area attracted families such as the Astors, Fords, Morgans, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts. The Great Fire of 1947 destroyed nearly half of the eastern side of Mount Desert Island. Sixty-seven of the 222 palatial summer homes and five grand hotels were destroyed in addition to 170 year round homes. The town’s business district survived the fire. More than 10,000 acres of Acadia National Park was destroyed.
Parking in Bar Harbor is scarce so a free shuttle bus called the “Island Explorer” is available to residents and tourists. The shuttle stops at several campgrounds near Bar Harbor, including ours. There are also shuttle buses that travel throughout Acadia National Park to encourage people not to drive. The shuttle buses are all free and funded by local, state and federal tax dollars, including a sizable donation from L. L. Bean whose flagship store is located in Freeport, Maine.
We usually don’t do many activities geared to tourists because they tend to be expensive, but two activities caught our eye. The first was a horse drawn carriage ride along one of the carriage roads in the park. John D Rockefeller Jr was one of the main contributors of Acadia National Park, donating about a third of the park’s land. In his efforts to preserve the park he had over 45 miles of crushed stone roads built between 1913 and 1940. The roads are sixteen feet wide with crowns that provide drainage. The roads are considered the best example of broken stone roads in the United States. Local workers quarried granite from the island to build the roads and seventeen stone bridges. No motor vehicle traffic is allowed on the carriage roads throughout the park, allowing for a safe and peaceful roadway for hikers, bikers and horses. We decided to take a one hour carriage ride on a carriage road and made a reservation with Wildwood Stables located in the park. The morning of our ride we arrived early enough to see some of the horses having a morning bath. I must say I have been opposed to horses being used in places like Central Park where they spend hours each day pulling people around in carriages in all kinds of weather. I was very glad to hear that there are 26 horses and only three tours conducted each day. The horses work no more than four hours a day, twice a week. They also only work five months of the year. We were assured they really have an easy life and are very well cared for. There were three families on the tour with us with children ranging in age from twelve years to thirteen months. They were all very well behaved. We really enjoyed our ride along the tree lined shaded road with occasional views of the ocean shimmering in the morning sun. Our second activity was a two hour excursion on a sailboat. Bill had mentioned he would really like to go on a sailboat while in Bar Harbor, so we were excited to find the 151 foot Margaret Todd, the first four masted schooner to sail the New England waters in over half a century. We knew parking in the afternoon would be hard to find so we took the shuttle bus from the campground into Bar Harbor and then back home after our cruise. So convenient! Our voyage took us around Frenchman’s Bay with beautiful views of Acadia National Park. We saw lobster boats, many many lobster pots, a porpoise and several seals. They are so quick it is impossible to get a picture. We loved our time on the boat!
All these floats are connected to lobster traps
The view of Cadillac Mountain from Bar Harbor and our ship
Our last day in Bar Harbor we decided to drive around the “quiet” side of the island. This part of the island is less visited by tourists and is more like what the island was like before Bar Harbor became so touristy. We enjoyed riding through the small villages finding geocaches and taking a picture of the most photographed bridge in Maine. We took our last hike of the visit on the Wonderland Trail. It was an easy trail and we were rewarded with a beautiful ocean view at the end. On the way home we stopped at a restaurant where Bill had a lobster dinner. We left the camera in the car so I missed getting a picture of him with the lobster bib!
Bar Harbor Facts:
Bar Harbor and two other Mount Desert towns have light ordinances to protect the quality of the night skies.
Bar Harbor was the birthplace of vice president Nelson Rockefeller.
The Bar Harbor area was used for naval practices during World War II when nearby Bald Porcupine Island was fired upon by live torpedoes from the submarine USS Piper.
President William Howard Taft enjoyed playing golf in Bar Harbor.
Current residents include Martha Stewart and Roxanne Quincy, the co-founder and CEO of Burt’s Bees.
On August 18th we left the easternmost area of the United States and headed south to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. I have mentioned before how bad the roads are in Maine, and this trip was no better. The roads do not seem that bad in a car, but in a large vehicle it is a bumpy and rocky trip. By the time we reached the campground the cap on our exhaust pipe had once again worked loose. Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park are both located on Mount Desert Island. There are no fast food restaurants, box stores or large grocery stores on the island, so just before crossing the Trenton Bridge we stopped at a Walmart Supercenter and stocked up. Before leaving New Hampshire three weeks ago we planned ahead and bought a month’s worth of any drinks that come in bottles and cans because Maine has deposits on all of them. We also liked New Hampshire’s no state sales tax and stocked up on paper products, canned goods etc, keeping in mind we only have so much room in the pantry and freezer. We then crossed Trenton Bridge onto Mount Desert Island. The views were amazing. Mount Desert Island is the third largest island on the eastern seaboard and the largest rock based island on the Atlantic coast. It is 108 square miles; sixteen miles wide and thirteen miles long. It also has “Some Sound”, the only national fjord on the east coast.
Our major reason for coming to this area was to visit Acadia National Park. We had so much to see and do, we hit the ground running the next day. We stopped by the Visitors Center first and bought an audio tape tour of the park to listen to as we drove around the Park Loop Road. Unlike most parks, they did not have a free list of hiking trails so we bought a book on hiking trails in the park that listed details such as length and difficulty. Acadia National Park is the second most visited national park in the country with over two million visitors a year (Smoky Mountain is the most visited) and one of the smallest. It covers over 2/5 of Mount Desert Island and is 35,000 acres in area with 41 miles of spectacular coastline. Established in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson, it is the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi River, the only national park in the northeast, and the first park where land was donated to the federal government (most notable being 11,000 acres by John D Rockefeller, Jr). The park has a diverse landscape with glacial mountain ridges, rivers, lakes and streams carved from receding glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age, woodland forests and miles of dramatic rocky coastline.
French explorer Samuel Champlain documented the first European record of this area in 1604. Attempts were made to settle the island after his visit but 150 years of war between the French and British made the area unsafe for habitation until 1761 when English colonists established a permanent settlement. Colonists farmed, fished, quarried granite and engaged in shipping. When tourists began to arrive in the mid 1800’s, tourism became a new and important source of income. The small farming and fishing villages were transformed with hotels and large extravagant summer cottages for wealthy summer residents.
This first day our plan was to drive the 27 mile Park Loop Road and listen to the audio tour.
Two Beaver Lodges are across the lake they made
This took pretty much all day because of all the overlooks where we passed some beaver lodges and admired the magnificent beauty of the park.
Bar Harbor is located on the left
Our last stop of the day was on Cadillac Mountain which at 1,530 feet is the highest point on the eastern seaboard north of Rio de Janeiro. Bill and I spent two days in Acadia back in 2011. It was rainy and foggy and we couldn’t see a thing from Cadillac Mountain. What a difference today was! We had a 360° view of Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay and Cranberry Isles (see our video below). One bit of drama was I left my cell phone in the restroom. Thirty minutes later as we were getting ready to leave I remembered. Fortunately some kind person has turned it in to the gift shop personnel. We knew we wanted to do some hiking and with 120 miles of hiking trails in the park we had several to choose from. Our first choice was the Ocean Path Trail which we started at Sand Beach, a popular spot in the park. In order to get a parking spot this time of year you have to arrive no later than 10:00 A.M. The trail was an easy hike along the cliff with views of Sand Beach and the coastline. Sunday was our one foggy day and we drove past a harbor and hiked up 200 primitive rock steps and along a trail to find two geocaches. What we thought was going to be an easy walk turned into a longer hike along a rocky trail with big tree roots in the path. But we found two geocaches!
On Wednesday we hiked the popular Jordan Pond Trail which took us around the beautiful peaceful pond where we saw kayakers.
In the next blog we will talk about Bar Harbor and a couple special activities!
Maine has 3,500 miles of coastline. That is all the way across the United States and halfway back.
There are over 3,000 islands along Maine’s coast.
Maine’s coastline has so many deep harbors, it could provide anchorage for all the navy fleets in the world.
Smoking is prohibited in a motor vehicle by the driver or passenger when a person under the age of 16 is present.
We left Millinocket and traveled to Eastport, our most easterly location in 2016. This area of Maine is the first place in the United States to see the sunrise each day. As before, the roads were in bad shape from frost heaves and we rocked and bounced our way along.
We arrived at our campground in Eastport with a view from our campsite of Canada across the water. The weather until now had been hot and dry, but some cooler, wet weather was settling in for our week here.
We spent some time on 2017 planning and enjoyed the cooler temperatures. Sunday we drove into the small downtown area to find some geocaches. We loved the small library geocache and took some pictures of a fisherman and Bill flirting with a local mermaid.
Tuesday we drove to the tiny town of Machias and had lunch at Helen’s Restaurant. Bill had a lobster roll and we shared a huge slice of blueberry pie. While in Machias we found a couple geocaches including a neat one inside a small lighthouse.
Wednesday we drove to Lubec and Quoddy Head State Park, the easternmost point of the United States. The views were beautiful at the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, which in 1808 became the easternmost lighthouse in the country. Its light and fog cannon warned seamen of the dangerous cliffs and rocks. It was among the first lighthouses to use a fog bell and later a steam powered foghorn. Today its automated light still shines and is monitored and serviced by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Across the water we could see Campobello Island in Canada. The strong tidal currents between West Quoddy Head and Campobello Island are the cause of the largest whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere.
We found a geocache in the park and enjoyed finding several more on the way home. It was lots of fun but the mosquitoes were really biting!
Next stop:. Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park
Approximately 40 million pounds of lobster (nearly 90% of the country’s supply) are caught off the coast of Maine.
90% of the nation’s toothpick supply is produced in Maine.
L. L. Bean’s flagship store is located in Freeport and is the first retail clothier to be open 24/7/365.