Mon 17 Jun - Bar Harbor, ME

Driving day, to yet another state. From New Hampshire we drove 250 miles to the east to Bar Harbor which is the town supporting Acadia National Park in Maine by the Atlantic Coast. According to Google Maps, it is a 5 hour trip, but it took longer for us of course as we stopped for breaks.

Acadia National Park has been recommended to us by several people that we have met during our time in the US, hence we booked a room there for a full week.

A funny coincidence when we checked out from Profile Motel this morning. Our immediate neighbors from last night who also checked out at the same time were Dutch and were doing parts of our trip in reverse.

The Dutch couple started off their 2 1/2 weeks holiday in Boston which is where we will finish up in 2 weeks time. They then stayed in Portland ME, Bar Harbor NE, Lincoln NH our crossover point and today they were going to Manchester, VT our previous port of call, and after that Cape Cod which is where we were before Manchester. Hmmm... There must be a level of predictability here.

Back to our road trip...

The first part half of our journey was east along the northern border of the White Mountains along smaller highways and through lovely scenery and some interesting small towns. Apart from a constant watch out for moose, all went well.

We reached the Maine border in no time and quickly realized that timber milling is big business here. Maine is scarcely populated and 90% of the land is forest. This truck was a bit of a giveaway.

Maine is a land of rivers and lakes. Hans said some parts reminded him of Sweden and we noticed some reference to Finland and thought Finnish people would feel right at home given the abundance of both woods and lakes.

We crossed over a rapidly flowing large river - we didn't know what it was called - but we liked the rapids. A couple of canoeists were getting ready to put there vessels into the water. We stopped to take a couple of photos (and to stretch our legs).

We continued on and started looking for a coffee shop or store for a coffee break. We found it in Wayne, Maine (yes, we are serious). A general store sold coffee and there were benches by the town's dam behind the store so we sat there in the sun and enjoyed the coffees and the view.

Then, of course, we had to test the swimming pontoon for "swingability".

Nope, the footbridge didn't swing but was still nice. Hans wanted to test the warnings of why no swimming near the dam sluice - no....

Maybe this explains it...

We had quietly been enjoying ourselves until we realized we weren't wanted! The park area was for Wayne Residents only. Hmm...

So we took our bat and ball, left Wayne and continued our drive to Bangor, where we stopped for lunch.

The only thing we knew about Bangor is that it is home to Stephen King, the author of the creepy paranormal fiction books (which Di likes).

It turns out that to get something to eat (other than Maccas and Pizza Hut) you end up at one street intersection downtown, with a Mexican on one corner, a outdoor store next door, a Thai across the street and a sandwich place called Giacomo's on the other.

We went for the crowded sandwich joint. Here is the intersection looking up Main Street.

The most notable decor item of the sandwich place was this graphic depiction of a "famous" gun battle in 1937 between the FBI and the Brady gang. We were not familiar with that shootout, but a subsequent search on Wikipedia depicts an FBI ambush on Al Brady, one of the FBI's "public enemies" in the 30s, and his accomplices when they sought to purchase weapons at a downtown sports store.

The Al Brady gang had killed numerous people including several policemen and robbed numerous banks, mostly in Indiana before they relocated to Connecticut and then to Maine.

Apparently, photographs of the bullet ridden 2 gang members who got killed that day hung behind the counter at the sports store for a very long time. Perhaps this painting is an artist's modern spin on that event.

The sandwiches (toasted chicken panini and some bruschetta) were quite good but the thing that struck us most were the passing pedestrians as well as the customers.

As Hans summed up - too many looked odd, weird. When we walked back to our car and when we were driving Di had to agree and we were not sure why? Hans' theory was that this was such a remote town with long and harsh winters that inbreeding showed in the population. Di theorised that maybe Stephen King's presence attracted "unusual" people here. Either way we did not linger.

It took us an hour to drive to Bar Harbor and once on the island we quickly understood the attraction. It is beautiful. The sun was shining and the surrounding bays looked ideal for canoeing. Trees everywhere.

We made a quick stop at the Acadia National Park visitors centre - where hiking maps need to be bought (ours cost $8.99 + tax). The money raised goes to the now familiar AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) to help maintain trails etc. Good cause.

Aurora Motel, our home for the next 7 nights was easy to find and we checked in.

Our host at Aurora Motel is a hiker - he did 17 miles earlier today before starting work! He starts in the dark around 4.30am, but he mentioned that the sun rises here by 5ish. He claims that he knows pretty much every hike in the area.

Di later went back with our maps to ask him for a suggested hike for our first full day here tomorrow - his favourite - Sargent Mountain South Ridge trail with some additional loops. We will soon know if his tastes match ours.

Then the predicted thunderstorm came...buckets of rain just as we were heading out for groceries - but within 2 hours the thunder and rain was gone and the sun started to shine through again. A bit like Sydney we think...

Dinner is warm rotisserie chook that we bought in the grocery store with microwaved boiled potatoes and three bean mix salad, consumed outside our motel room using the provided outdoor chairs. Most relaxing.

After dinner, our host turned up again and starts chatting hiking again. He seems to have taken a liking towards us and apart from hiking stories, tells us about some of the punters who have come to stay at his motel. Apparently, 3 very common questions he hears are:

  • What is is there to do here? (so they have made a conscious decision to come all this way and yet have no clue of what the area can offer?)
  • Where is the nearest WalMart?
  • Where is the nearest McDonalds?
We were shaking our heads. He also told us about a Texan who claimed to have seen everything the area had to offer in 1/2 day. He checked in at 3pm and checked out the following morning after having "seen it all". We laughed. Our host predicted that "our type" will have a wonderful week here and still feel like we have not seen it all. Spot on - a common occurrence for us.

Lazy evening in the room and after dinner we each had a nice hot bath to soak away the last of the muscle soreness. Very nice! Good night.


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