Thursday, September 24, 2015

'Ba Ha Ba' - Bar Harbor, Maine

We changed our itinerary and decided to go to Bar Harbor two days early.  Luckily, the RV park we had reservations for was able to accommodate us for the extra days and it turned out to be an exceptionally nice park, too.

The park is in Trenton, Maine which is just across the bridge from Mount Desert Island the home of Acadia National Park and and the port town of Bar Harbor. 

Bar Harbor is a very busy town with many, many tourists even though the summer season has ended and most kids were back in school.

And this is the reason why.  We did not know that Bar Harbor is a major port to cruise ships and most days there are one to three ships berthed in the water.  One shop owner said that there have been up to nine cruise ships in the harbor at one time. Yikes !  This particular cruise ship was from Germany.

Along with the cruise ships there were a few yachts sitting around enjoying the area.

Mount Desert Island is the largest island off the coast of Maine.  With an area of 108 square miles it is the second largest island on the Eastern seaboard behind Long Island, New York.  While the island has a normal population of approximately 10,000 people it is estimated 2.5 million tourists visit Acadia National Park each year.  Acadia covers 47,000 acres marked by woodland, rocky beaches, and granite peaks with Cadillac Mountain being the highest point on the U.S. East Coast.

John D. Rockefeller Jr. endowed the park with much of its land area.  Rockefeller wanted to keep the island free of automobiles but local government allowed the entry of vehicles so Rockefeller constructed 50 miles of carriage roads around the eastern side of the island. These roads, closed to automobiles, include many scenic vistas and are open to hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, horse-drawn carriages, and cross-country skiers.

Acadia also has a 27 mile park loop rode that offers spectacular views of the island's coast and interior for those who want to see it by automobile.  The park, however, has few places to stop your vehicle along the loop road so pulling into a scenic overview area can be a challenge.  We saw articles in the local paper about the traffic problems the park is having and there are rumors that private vehicles may be banned from Acadia in the near future in lieu of shuttle buses.

We took a hike out to the Otter Cliffs and found the coastline to be very rocky.

Isn't that a great view !

The rocks were covered in a silky seaweed.

  We spent several days in Acadia but never saw any wildlife.  But we did see this big boy at our RV park.

I spotted him/her outside the window of our rig.

I thought this porcupine was huge but locals said they had seen much larger.  They hang around the park all the time so you have to be careful with your dogs.  A visitor staying in the park had their dog injured when it stuck its head in a wooded area and met up with one.  

We spent several days in Acadia hiking the trails and enjoying the views.  The weather was delightful, in the 80's and sunny.

We took a hike near Southwest Harbor, another small town on Desert Island.

We were surprised to see all the mossy rocks and trees on this trail.

I guess we figured the Northeast would have less of this because it isn't as humid.

Everywhere we went on our hikes there were slabs of granite.
A view of Southwest Harbor, another neat little town on the island.

It was very busy, too.
Heading back for the day we drove along Somes Sound which is a body of water running deep into Mount Desert Island.  The sound almost splits the island in two and is often described as the only fjord on the East Coast.  But it lacks the extreme vertical relief and sediments associated with Norwegian fjords so it is now called a fjard by officials - a smaller drowned glacial embayment. Later in the week we took a boat trip around the island and up the Somes Sound.

While in Acadia we decided for our big hike we would climb Cadillac Mountain because it is the highest point on the island (and the Atlantic Coast) at 1,530 feet and has 360 degree views.

Views of Bar Harbor as we climbed Cadillac Mountain.

A different day and a different cruise ship.

The trail encompassed many rock slabs as we climbed up. 

There were also sections of rock "steps" to climb.

Views from the top.

The climb up the mountain took about two hours so we all had a much needed break for water and a snack.

We had two choices to get back off the mountain.  We could climb back down the way we came which was a longer trail but a little more moderate or we could take the shorter trail which was more rugged and steeper. 

We chose the steeper trail and it really was a climb down. In several areas we had to lift the pups down over the rocks and we slid down on our butts. 

Along the way there was a stream with small waterfalls twisting back and forth across the trail.  The pups loved it because they could get a drink and cool off in the water.

Yes, this is a trail!

Carefully moving across the rocks on the trail.  Although it was a little shorter than the first trail, it still took another two hours to work our way down.

Later that day we enjoyed Cadillac Mountain so much that we drove back to the top to view the sunset.

Acadia Park has many different types of trails and one of them was a hike around Jordan Pond.

One side of the lake consisted of  'boardwalks' because the area was marshy. 

It was in the morning and the area around Bar Harbor and the trail we were on was socked in with fog.

This is a popular trail so we found it was easier to go early in the morning to beat the crowds.

It was foggy enough to be misting so I came prepared.

The Smiths on a hand-made bridge.  Later in the day the sky cleared up and it was beautiful and sunny.

This was the ship we were on during our cruise up Somes Sound.   

From the harbor kayakers were also heading out on a tour.

Schooners were also docked near our boat.

A view of a Norwegian cruise ship from our boat.

This large rock on the beach was left by a glacier.  Studied by scientists they say it is over 20,000 years old.

Some of the little 'cottages'  along the way as we headed toward Somes Sound.

Notable residents in the Sound include David Rockefeller, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon and Martha Stewart.

Somes Sound is very deep, up to 168 feet in some places.  The wind blows hard in the Sound which makes the current swift.  In summer the water is very chilly, 56 degrees at best. 

A cave set into the rocks along the Sound.  The hikers above try to find a way down to the cave but according to our guide the park service prefers people stay out of it.

Lobstermen at work.

This is Thunder Hole.  It is a small cavern formed low, just beneath the surface of the water.  When the wave pulls back it dips the water below the ceiling of the cave allowing air to enter. When the next wave arrives full force it collides with the air resulting in a sound like distant thunder with waves as high as 40 feet.  As you can see, there isn't much action today because the ocean was very calm. But people were hopeful.......

The people on top of this rock were getting their gear ready to rappel down the side of the cliff.

Sandy Beach in the distance, one of only two beaches in Acadia.  Today the water temperature was 55 degrees so few were getting in.

One of the oldest hotels on the island

This is a town called Northeast Harbor.

A barge pushing docks over to land to remove them from the water for the winter.  

Bear Island Lighthouse.

Built in 1858, today the lighthouse is privately owned by a local Coast Guard family.

Bass Harbor
Bass Harbor Lighthouse

Back in the distance near the top of the ridge is the rooftop of the home owned by Martha Stewart.

Another harbor on Mount Desert Island with Cadillac Mountain in the background.

This 'cottage' had a lot of windows and a very unique design for the area.

Rugged terrain lining parts of Somes Sound.

This home is reputed to be the most expensive in the area priced at 25 million dollars.  It is owned by a lawyer.

The lawyer's brother is now in the process of building a bigger home on Somes Sound which will cost 35 million dollars.  Remember these are just cottages that are seldom used.........

This building used to be a life saving station used to rescue people from ships that had gone aground.

Egg Island Lighthouse.

As we came back to shore we moved past the Norwegian cruise ship.

Wow!  That was exhausting so we stopped at the Atlantic Brewing Company to have a bite.  Their pulled pork sandwich was delicious and served without sauce.  You added the sauce as you ate it, as much or as little as you liked. 

The Captain had another special which gave him a taste of many local items.  It was quite tasty, too.

Near the end of our stay we went back into Bar Harbor to walk over to Bar Island.  The island can be accessed during low tide only.  If you don't get back to the town before the tide rises you have to stay on the island until the tide drops later in the day.

This warning sign says it all.  A local told us even with the warning there are a half dozen people who park on the sand bar every year and get their cars submerged.  Then the police have to come and get the car towed out.  They charge you for the towing and also fine you for parking there in the first place.

Bar Harbor from Bar Island.

The ground on the sand bar is lumpy with heavy smelly seaweed in many places.

You could actually see the tide creeping up on the sandbar.

Crossing back over we met a couple from California and stopped to chat for awhile.   

Cris and Kimmy Liliedahl have been touring the country for the last few months in their RV.  We hit it off immediately and got together again later in the day.  Had a wonderful time with them and hope we can get back together either in South Carolina or visit them someday in California.  They live in Topanga Canyon near Malibu.  Wow!  I've always wanted to see Malibu :)

We had a wonderful time in Bar Harbor and Acadia and nine days wasn't nearly enough time to see all the sights.  My only caution about the area is the traffic situation.  When you enter onto Mount Desert Island you have a seven mile drive to Acadia National Park and an eleven mile drive to Bar Harbor.  The road is two lane and drivers seem to be in a big hurry.  While we were staying here a 79 year old gentlemen visiting from North Carolina got out of his car in a scenic overlook area to view the bluffs overlooking the water.  A commercial vehicle veered across the oncoming lane into the overlook and collided head on into the car killing the man standing outside his car and severely injuring his wife who was sitting inside the car.  Because it is only a two lane highway they had to divert traffic through Acadia Park for seven hours while they investigated the accident.  Acadia National Park is celebrating their 100th anniversary next year so it will be even more crowded.  I'm glad we visited this year.

Finally, I saw this sign that I had to share with all of you.  Probably one of my most favorite of all time.  I'm sure you animal lovers will appreciate it.  Peace!

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