Before we get into our latest escapades, first things first:
We want express appreciation for the nice comments and feedback we’ve received from many of you about this blog. We had two initial reasons for doing this blog: 1) So friends and family could keep tuned in to our whereabouts, and 2) So as we get old, feeble and forgetful we’ll have a record of this time to look back on for ourselves. (We are one of those three things now, but I can’t remember which one.) So we’re surprised at the number of people who have taken an interest in our adventure and read along. Thanks for your time, support, thoughts and comments! It’s nice to know you’re out there.
Moving on – our “ultimate” destination in Maine has always been to get to Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island. We had one more stop after leaving Pulpit Harbor and that stop was Center Harbor. The route that we chose to get there was through the Eggemoggin Reach. (I love the names you come across in Maine.) The reach is a 10 mile long body of water running between Deer Isle and the mainland and it averages about a mile in width with spectacular views on both sides. At one point there is a suspension bridge that runs across (plenty high enough for us to pass under).
The suspension bridge across Eggemoggin Reach. Made us think about the Bay Bridge in Annapolis a little bit!
The head sail up for an easy cruise down Eggemoggin Reach
It is called a “reach” because the way it is positioned and the direction of the predominant winds, a sailboat is almost always on a “reach” (meaning with the wind hitting the boat broadside) which is the most desirable point of sail. The weather was gorgeous and, best of all, the lobster pots subsided for a while!! My friends, we did something shocking. We put up the sails and turned off the engine – a rare experience in these parts for us! Sun, warmth, wind, no pots – that makes Frank very happy. Here’s how happy it made him:
Here’s what’s really happening in this picture: Frank is so happy, he turned on Motown music and started singing and dancing, that’s how happy he was!
After thoroughly enjoying our sail for a portion of the Reach, we started nosing around to decide which harbor we would spend the night in . . . and ended up in Center Harbor – a perfectly delightful place. We took what appeared to be the last mooring ball for rent. Not two minutes after we got settled, a boat came towards us looking like he had something on his mind. This kind soul told us that we weren’t going to be very happy with the mooring at low tide . . . it was dangerously close to a rocky ledge . . . and he suggested that we take a nearby private mooring that belonged to someone who would be out of town for several days. Not only was it a better spot, it was FREE! Good samaritans everywhere.
The good weather was holding out for us again and we took the dinghy to shore and hoofed it for about a mile to “town.” We were mostly looking for a nice walk and to find some dinner, maybe check out the market – ’cause that’s what we do. We hadn’t showered or changed clothes and expected to come across the usual casual eatery. There was only one game in town for dinner and that was the Brooklin Inn. Yes, we were in Brooklin. (Not THAT Brooklyn.) We walked in right at 5:00pm (our eating hours are highly unpredicatable) – and then we saw the white table clothes and thought “uh oh.” But we were really hungry and weary and looking for a good meal, and they welcomed us in spite of our appearance (and ripeness). What a GREAT meal. Good food makes me very happy.
Dinner at the Brooklin Inn
The Brooklin Inn – a charming place.
A well fed Ems is a happy Ems!
The chair had babies. This was too cute not to take a picture.
It was warm enough to enjoy some time in the cockpit and a beautiful sunset when we got back. (Usually by sunset we’re freezing our you-know-whats off and have retreated to down below, only sticking our heads back up to watch the last sliver of sun drop down behind the horizon. Then we shiver and run back down below. Yeah, we’re weenies.
Sunset in Central Harbor
Sunset – Moonrise
Next day, off to Mount Desert Island. By the way, I am well read on the subject of how you pronounce the name of the island. It looks like it should be “DEH-sert” like the Sahara, and many people DO say it that way and that would technically be correct; HOWEVER, the locals pronounce it “da-SERT” like ice cream after a meal. I just wondered aloud about the pronunciation as we motoring, happened to have good enough internet to Google it, and proceeded to read my findings to Frank. I do believe that was one of those, “I’m going to blow my brains out” moments for him. There was a point where I kept going just to torture him. I thought it was interesting. I won’t bore you, too, but the short answer is that the Frenchman who discovered it thought it looked like an island with a deserted mountain and thus named it “Ils de Monts Deserts.” The French pronunciation for “deserts” sounds much more like the ice cream. So blame the French but don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.
Although a grueling, pot-filled trip, It was spectacular arriving at Mount Desert Island. This is Acadia National Park! This was our ultimate northeastern point of our trip! We had made it clear to here from Annapolis!
Arriving at Mount Desert Island
Ems up on the bow as we come into Northeast Harbor with Mt. Desert Island in the background. A big moment!!
That was a big moment for us. We pulled into Northeast Harbor and made that our home base for the next four days. We had a new experience in the harbor: floats. We called in to the harbormaster to see about getting a mooring ball . . . they were all taken, but they had a float available. A float is like a little, tiny floating dock just about the length of a boat. It is, like a mooring ball, anchored to the floor of the body of water, but it is a mini-dock. You get one side of it and another boat gets the other, so you have one very close neighbor. One thing we have discovered: the “knucklehead factor” up here is pretty low, so you’re not worried about having “Fuggedaboutit” pull up beside you blaring Pit Bull (no offense, Pit Bull fans). We found it very comfortable, quiet and good sleeping. Our first night there, a dinghy came riding over with two familiar faces: a couple we had met at the gam! They invited us to come for “sundowners” on their boat. It was a great way to wind up the day, and they had lots of helpful information about getting around the area.
Eleanor Q on her float
Frank with the harbor behind him
Day One: Couldn’t wait to get to Acadia. Northeast Harbor is a great location for exploring the area. There are bike rentals right in downtown, which is just a few blocks away, and there are free buses that go all over Acadia subsidized primarily by L.L. Bean. What a great service! We chose biking for this day. In addition to a whole lot of hiking trails, Acadia has more than 50 miles of carriage trails that are for pedestrians, horse drawn carriages or bikes. That’s it. They are hard packed gravel and they are wonderful. We did not bike all 50 miles, I promise you. We figured we did about 8 – 10. That was plenty! It was a great way to see the park . . . both the heavily, inland wooded sections to some of the vistas looking down over the water. We didn’t see as much wildlife as hoped . . . just a few deer.
We rode to Jordan Pond, a HUGE tourist destination (which we did not know). After coming off of the sparsely traveled carriage trail to the mass of humanity waiting to get into the hotel restaurant for a famous popover, we did a quick walk around, bought a couple of t-shirts and made a hasty exit. We wanted to avoid the crowds! (Our goal was to stay far away from Bar Harbor for that reason). We completed our tour with tired legs and happy hearts.
Ems conquers Mt. Everest! Well, no. But we did bike around Acadia State Park
Frank on the Carriage Trail
Asked a passerby to take our picture. Her son jumped in the picture with us!! Priceless. Noticed her shirt: it was an autism group. Yes, he was autistic. Had a great chat with both of them . . . and he had a Hershey shirt on!
After a walk through town (to the market!), we paused at the boat for lunch and then . . . went for a walk? Straight up a hill? I don’t know what we were thinking. But it was a gorgeous day and we wanted to see the Asticou Gardens. It was definitely worth the effort.
The view from the hillside path to the gardens
On the way to Asticou . . . pausing at a pavillion
Day Two: A foggy, drizzly day. Good for doing chores, one being the dreaded laundry. We piled our stuff into the dinghy and hiked into town to find the laundromat. Here’s the thing about a place like this on a yucky day: everybody is just a little more miserable. When I got to the laundromat, two woman who looked less happy to be there than I did had commandeered the entire place and were not looking to share any of the machines any time soon. We walked down the street and treated ourselves to a luxury: same day laundry service. Yes, I paid three times as much and left the laundry there for the day to come back and retrieve it at 5:00pm that evening. I am not embarrassed to tell you that it was a well spent $40. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. We hit the hardware store and the market again. Aaron, the owner, and I were on a first name basis by the time we left town. We puttered around the rest of the day and made a nice dinner on the boat.
Foggy day in Northeast Harbor
Day Three: Woke up to sun which was quickly hidden by the fog. It was not predicted to stick around all day, so we headed off to the park again, this time picking up one of the buses by the harbormaster’s office. There are multiple routes going through the park to multiple destinations. We tried very hard to figure out the routes and schedules. We made sure we knew how to avoid the buses that went to Bar Harbor. We hopped off and started walking through a different part of the carriage trails for about 45 minutes. Although there are designated stops for the buses, the instructions are clear that if you flag the bus down at any point in the park, unless they deem it unsafe, they will pull over and pick you up. We wanted the bus to Southwest Harbor and waited for what felt like a very long time. Finally we saw it coming and flagged the bus down. Apparently he deemed it “unsafe” despite the fact that we were standing right across from a sign that said “bus stop.” Don’t get me started. The next bus wasn’t coming for another hour. There was no way we were going to make it to Southwest Harbor. We agreed that we should jump on the next bus that came along – and we did. It went to Bar Harbor. The good news about that was that the Bar Harbor stop was the central clearing house for the buses, so we were able to get off of one bus, take one look at the mass of humanity and get back on our return bus without ever leaving the town square. I want to say a big thank you to L.L. Bean for the free buses. We made a donation towards their continuation . . . but could you throw in some customer service training for the bus drivers, please? I’ll even barter goods for services with you . . . I’m sure we can work out a deal. Call me. In spite of our extensive experience with public transportation that day, we loved being back in the park, so it was all good. Hopped off the bus on main street and went to say goodbye to Aaron. Stopped for a delicious seafood fest in a funky little joint on our way back to the boat. And they had ice cream.
A little fog didn’t deter us from walking through Acadia
We had done Acadia – many miles of it. We were satisfied and pleased with ourselves. And sore and tired. It was a good tired. And we slept like babies with visions of carriage trails dancing in our heads.