We departed Northeast Harbor on Sunday, August 1, after filling our tanks with water at the water dock. It was another day with bright blue skies, sunshine, and calm waters.
A little island, Bar Island is connected to Bar Harbor (I assume the names are related) by a sand bar. On the opposite side of that sand bar is an anchorage area which was quite nice. After lunch we dinghied around Bar Island and into the harbor to scout out and explore the town of Bar Harbor.
I was surprised just how crowded this town was, despite being forewarned. Wow. People everywhere. The sidewalks and stores were so packed that we decided to wear face masks on every trip into town after that. The town green overlooks the docks and harbor.
The cluster of islands around Bar Harbor all have porcupine names – Bald Porcupine Island, Sheep Porcupine Island, Burnt Porcupine Island, Long Porcupine Island. Does this mean that porcupines inhabit all of these small rocky islands? I do not know. We took the dinghy over and circled Sheep Porcupine Island and poked around on that small rocky shore.
From Sheep Porcupine Island, we decided to hike on Bar Island, a part of Acadia National Park right next to us. By land, Bar Island can only be reached by walking over the connecting sand bar at low tide.
We dinghied before low tide so that we could have a more peaceful hike. Following the path, the hike was about 1.5 miles total through the woods.
During our dinking about, we saw a small lobster boat working his traps nearby. One of the items on our Maine checklist was to buy lobsters directly from a boat and cook them onboard. Now, don’t laugh at us if you are a frequent Mainer cruiser. This is our first trip and we are novices, through and through. We came alongside, offered cash and our bucket.
Tuesday was predicted to be the best day of the week and it was, so we took full advantage of that. With limited and crowded shuttles on Mount Desert Island, and my limitations from the lymphedema, there weren’t many options for us to get around Acadia National Park. So we booked a little tour bus to take us around Acadia. Yes, a tourist bus. Yes, I felt like a senior citizen. Oh, wait — we ARE senior citizens. I wish we could hike or bike to the top of Cadillac Mountain, but we need to be practical and realistic.
The park was established first as Sieur de Monts National Monument in July 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson. The name was changed to Lafayette National Park in February 1919 when it became the first national park east of the Mississippi. The French names honored the historical roots and friendship between the two countries. In the late 1920’s it became possible to acquire the tip of Schoodic Peninsula and add it to the park, bit the heirs to the land lived in England and objected to the French name Lafayette. So in 1929, the park was renamed Acadia National Park with no objections.
Narrated by a very witty 78-year old driver/guide, the shuttle took us to the top of Cadillac Mountain first. Again, I was amazed by the number of cars, bikes, and the masses of people.
The next stop was Thunderhole. The best way to describe it is from the Acadia website – “When the right size wave rolls into the naturally formed inlet, a deep thunderous sound emanates. The cause is a small cavern formed low, just beneath the surface of the water. When the wave pulls back just before lunging forward, it dips the water just below the ceiling of the cavern allowing air to enter. When the wave arrives full force, it collides with the air, forcing it out, resulting in a sound like distant thunder. Water may splash into the air as high as 40 feet with a roar!”
Above is an explanation of why it is called Thunderhole, but the photos below are better than a written description. The seas had been relatively calm so we weren’t treated to the best Thunderhole show, but it was still loud and impressive.
Third stop was the Wild Gardens of Acadia, established in 1961 to preserve and propagate native trees, shrubs, wild flowers, ferns in clusters representing the natural ecosystems in Acadia National Park. These plant communities were organized as coniferous woods, mixed woods, brookside, bird thicket, meadow, mountain, heath, beach.
Last official stop of the afternoon was Jordan Pond, the peaceful grounds made for a delightful outdoor place to have lunch.
We decided to leave Bar Harbor on Wednesday morning. It is simply too crowded here and it makes me feel rather sad. I can understand why Maine residents would dislike the summer residents, the vacationers, and the boaters who pour into this beautiful region. I felt like apologizing for being one of the invaders. It must be challenging for Maine to balance the economic needs of this summer influx with the burdens of that same flood. Acadia is beautiful and everyone should be able to share the natural beauty and wonder, but……. I don’t have the answers.
I’ll end this blog post with the flaming sunset over the anchorage on Tuesday evening. We are as far north and east as we planned to go, 337 nautical miles from Shennecosset, and it was now time to turn around and head back.