Sat 22 Jun - Bar Harbor, ME

On today's agenda are a 10am nature cruise and after that we thought we might explore the island a bit more by car. In other words, today was a more leisurely day. But first...breakfast.

Di tries to convince Hans about eating breakfast "out" at least once a week and it sometimes works. It helped here that the place Di chose, Cafe This Way, had some great seafood options on Eggs Benedict (one of Hans favourite dishes) and was strongly recommended by our motel host.

At 7.30am Di is hungry and the cafe helpfully provided footsteps to follow to the front door. Not that she needed that...

As you might be able to see Cafe This Way has an outdoor deck for dining but it opens with French doors into this lovely space. We chose a table in the doorway looking out - you can't see it but our table was located where the man in blue is looking.
We love this about eating out in America - bottomless cups of coffee.
The menu at Cafe This Way (sorry, we never asked them whether there was a Cafe That Way somewhere else) was excellent and wide-ranging.
Di ordered poached eggs with corned beef hash. Hans had smoked trout Eggs Benedict with home fries - both dishes were delicious.

We did a bit of a wander around town after breakfast before we headed to our cruise at 9.30am for a 10am start. Of course, we were the first ones there (Di.....)

Our cruise group is called Acadian Nature Cruises and have been in business since 1934. Among their crew they have at least one trained naturalist who commentates the cruise and points out various sights. Being early we got to choose great seats on the top deck behind where the captain (with the white shirt) is leaning.

Our naturalist, Bill, studied and taught various sciences and for 21 years was a summer park ranger in Acadia National Park. Bill knew a lot about a lot.

We noticed a lobster trap and some fake lobsters near Bill and while he was away talking to the captain, Di gave her impression of what a lobster had done to her after dinner the other night...sprung by Bill!
Bill talked about some of the grand houses on the island and particularly some which are within the National Park boundaries. Acadia is an unusual national park in the US that gets land by donations. No public funds were used to buy land and the government could not give it to them as there was none on the island.

So John D. Rockefeller II set a trend with his gift and surprisingly a lot of wealthy people donated land towards the park over time and it therefore has expanded regularly.

The coast is rugged and interesting. Lots of shear cliffs and caves.

The people heading down to the water on the path with the handrail are looking at Thunder Hole. It is supposed to "thunder" when large waves hit it but Bill revealed that you have to be here in January or February to hear it - brrrr - we don't think so.

It was a good decision to hire binoculars for $3. Di now turned into Bald Eagle spotter...

Di pointed out two of the eagles to Bill before he saw them. Fantastic to see the mature Bald Eagles and we were fortunate to see a total of 5 mature and a young eagle during the cruise. Awesome birds.
Here are a couple of eagles pics...


Our fellow passengers consist of a mixed group of punters including about 20 Chinese people from New York on a bus trip. The top deck was not crowded at all and of course we were all excited about seeing the eagles.

We had been forewarned to dress warmly and sure enough out at sea it was cool (about 50F with windchill factor, or felt about 10 degrees C). Some people arrived in shorts and t-shirts and quickly grabbed blankets provided by the crew and huddled downstairs.

Of course we were prepared with at least 2 layers plus a Gortex jacket each. No sissy blankets for us...

Heading away from the coast and towards some islands we passed these buoys.

Bill, our narrator, pointed out that if you line these 2 buoys up and follow that direction constantly the next place you hit is... the south west coast of Australia!!??

What? We had to believe him but he said check it out on a globe of the world if we we not convinced. We will - when we find a globe.

Egg Rock lighthouse is famous for being voted the ugliest lighthouse in Maine. We thought it looked great. It sits on a little island, with all the lighthouse functions now automated and has nesting gulls and lots of seals for company.

It may be hard to see but the rocks here had about 100 seals or so lying about, with about 20 more pups playing in the water. Very cute and they don't look underfed - all plump looking - like over fed corgis.

Bill gave us a bit of a run down on lobster fishing and legal sizes and weights etc. Basically, lobsters are legal between about 1 pound and 5 pounds - outside these limits, or it they are carrying eggs they need to go back into the sea. Most restaurants serve lobsters around 1.25 pounds.

He also related a gross story about when he was a lad on a scientific trip that he and a mate were eating seagull eggs for breakfast. He described it as a giant runny chook egg, with a blood red/orange yolk. They scrambled them and closed their eyes to eat the bloody looking mess. However, he said that they tasted just like normal hen eggs. Still, it was not that appetizing for us after having had such a nice breakfast, nor for anyone else from what we could see and hear...

We moved back into the bay and passed close to the Porcupine Islands. There are about 8 of them and some are privately owned. This is perhaps the smallest island.

According to Bill, this island had some checkered history from during the probation era when alcohol was smuggled here from Canada and hid in lobster cages for somebody else to pick up...

Porcupine Islands are rugged and its hard to see how you could land a boat here - but this one is privately owned by one single family who built about 6 cottages on it. Apparently the extended family still comes here every summer.
We were very pleased with the 2+ hours cruise and we drove back to our motel afterwards to relax for a while before we headed out for some more sightseeing around the island with the car.
The following Runkeeper map doesn't tell the whole story as we also did the loop on roads 102 and 102A down at south western end, but it gives an overview of the surroundings and where we were.
BTW, all green patches on the map form part of Acadia National Park while the white patches are privately owned land.
We stopped at Northwest Harbor for a belated picnic light lunch (three bean salad and fruit) sitting on a bench overlooking the marina. This is what we saw.

A potential gatecrasher arrived and kept our eating under view. The seagulls are a lot bigger here and they all look very well fed. No food from us, sorry.

We stopped at Somes Harbor in Somesville as we had already passed through the area 4 times without stopping despite it looking very nice and interesting (2 x to and from the kayak hire place at the Long Pond).

This foot bridge was funded by Somes grand daughter and then given to the national park. It really is there for beauty rather than any practical reason as the road passes only a few meters away. Why this guy is loitering on the foot bridge, we don't know...

Across the road from the foot bridge is this lovely dam. The flower boxes are on the road bridge.

The water spilled from the dam into Somes harbor.

And next to it all is Somesville library in what looked like an old converted cottage. Too cute for words.

Di is inspecting the somewhat restricted business hours of the library, 10 hours per week. Perhaps reading paper books is not a big thing in Somesville and its surrounding area (or maybe they are kindle advocates?)

We continue driving to almost the southern tip where the road is constructed over rocks and divides the ocean from an inland water collection (wasn't sure what to call it). The town logically is called Sea Wall although there is no town just here.

We stopped the car and got out to have a further look. Here we were looking even further south along the eastern shore.

As we completed the loop road, we headed back north and stopped at Southwest Harbor (which is southwest of Northeast Harbor where we had our lunch...). We were thinking of coffee and cake and found it at Quiet Side Cafe.

Quiet Side Cafe was quite (ha!) a find and a very interesting experience. First the people owning it and working there.

Our orders were taken by a Romanian girl who, like the girl at the Chinese restaurant the other day, was in the US on a "Work and Travel" program. She was from a small town in Romania that we had never heard of and wanted to go to Miami as she found Maine to be a bit cold (is Romania really that much warmer?)

The bloke with the Swag shirt in the picture below is the owner. He came up to us asking how we found our apple pie. We chatted to him and he told us very proudly that the apple pie was made by his wife.

The wall below is what started our discussion with the owner. You may be able to find him, and his wife, in the middle picture in the third vertical row. All pictures were family portraits of one kind or another.

What the pictures told us was that the owner was married to a black lady and that he had 3 daughters, 2 of whom are serving in the US Military (he mentioned Air Force for one). The washed out 2nd picture in the first vertical row shows one of his daughters in military uniform from San Antonio, TX. That is obviously some distance away from Maine, but according to the owner, she is now serving in Virginia. She had not seen any action yet. Where the other daughter is serving, he didn't tell us.

Oh, the owner himself had served 25 years in the US Army.

We almost forgot the goodies. The apple pie, that we shared, was to die for. It was very very nice indeed, topped with walnut crust and served with good quality french vanilla icecream. His wife knew her baking very well.

We then drove back to our motel and at 5.30pm or so, headed outside to the porch for a well deserved beer or three (or so we claim) and some blogging.

Dinner was frozen meals nuked to perfection... Well sort of. Total cost $4. Great value. Enjoyed on the porch as well. Showers and thunderstorms had been predicted throughout the afternoon, but it had just been overcast and cloudy all day. Same for tomorrow. We'll see. Good night.


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