Sun 23 Jun - Bar Harbor, ME

A Gun Show, Wild Blueberry Land and an international marathon across the Canadian border. That's what we experienced today through our little Sunday drive. Let us bring you up to speed...

We tried to use Runkeeper again to get a map overview of where we went. Now, it appears that Runkeeper has a 99km limitation (perhaps they don't expect anybody to move more than that during one single session, but what about cycling...?). Anyway, apologies for the messy map, but our drive today was from Bar Harbor, lower left, to the Canadian border at the end of road 189, almost at the upper right, and of course back the same way again.

The trip mostly follows US coastal road number 1 north east from Bar Harbor which we had heard is a very beautiful route to drive. It was.

Di started off in the hot seat... Or should that be rainy seat? Watching out for any deer and moose. Paranoia, paranoia... Well, she seemed happy enough driving in the rain...

We had expected this weather and hence why the driving tour was planned for our last day in Bar Harbor, not hiking. We are really fair weather hikers. We can put up with some showers but when thunderstorms and rain is predicted it is not fun anymore. So, driving it was...

Here we are crossing the bridge from the island back to the mainland towards Trenton.

Google maps made us laugh. The App tries to find either the fastest or most direct route. This time our road went through a quarry. Yep, this is the road we drove on and yes, it was definitely both the fastest and the most direct.

The weather made us feel like a coffee break around 10.30am and we stopped at the next town that looked like it had more than 100 people. It was called Milbridge and was situated on a tidal inlet (as many of these towns are for lumber shipping and fishing).

The Milbridge House had a good number of cars parked outside and was open so in we went.

The menu had already switched to lunch so we ordered coffee and a "snack".
Di ordered an appetizer - of potato skis...and this is what she got! Serving sizes are made for hungry fisherman (the waitress told us so)! Seriously - they eat a main meal after this??? And perhaps desert too?
Delicious though and with some shared with Hans who loves potatoes.

Hans ordered a "famous Maine hotdog", which came with fries and coleslaw for $3.99. OK for the money, but not brilliant.

Our coffee break became defacto lunch due to the volume of food we were served.
A funny moment inside the diner; right of a sudden we hear 3 loud burps in succession... From an older lady sitting by herself at the table behind Di. We giggled a bit. Maybe a local custom here...
We then got back onto US coastal road 1 and continued driving north east towards the Canadian border.
We suddenly spotted this fake giant blueberry advertising "Wild Blueberry Land". We had to see whether it was in our favourite category of "so bad it must be good". It was.
Even the parking bollards are designed as large blueberries. This place could easily take pride of place with the big sheep, big pineapple and big banana that we have in Australia.
They even offered putt putt golf next door (not sure how that could be blueberry themed?)


Sir, wake up, the horse may bolt...

Di had money burning a hole in her pockets yet again so she had to go inside the giant blueberry gift store. Of course they made their own pies and jams (blueberry of course, and Di bought some jam) but this can of stew caught our eye... Maybe somebody had collected the remains from our too close encounter with the deer the other week and put the remains into the can...

About 15 minutes further north and we again make a sudden stop. A Gun Show is on today, here in Whitneyville. We had been looking for a gun show throughout our US visit but have not come across any until now. Let's go... No, not shopping, but we just had to have a look.

It was not immediately obvious, but the Plesant River Fish and Game Club gun show was held in the back of this warehouse. Whitney Wreaths? We found out their whole business operates 3 months a year making Christmas wreaths for decorations, like your front door. A local man said it was very busy in November each year.

We paid a reduced admission to get in (2 for 1) as the doorman recognized that we were not there to buy guns or knives (although he did suggest that we might be able to get a samurai sword back to Oz - we think not). No ID required but there was a requirement to have any weapon you have on you checked before you enter.

There were not that many vendors inside but it still fascinated us (and terrified us).

Handguns, hunting rifles, an AK47 and heaps more were for sale. Sorry, no up close photos of these guns as we figured that some vendors or shoppers may be upset and you don't want to cheese off people in an environment such as this.

We saw a Bushmaster semi automatic rifle for sale, which we believe was the weapon used in the recent Sandy Hook school shooting. We saw one customer taking a particular interest in that Bushmaster. A bit creepy...

An observation that may or may not be correct... it seemed to us that these guys were genuine hunters and/or collectors and took gun safety seriously, and strangely also conservation. Hunting posters largely featured deers or turkeys. We felt also convinced that they teach their children gun skills and safety and that these are unlikely to be the people that buy guns to kill people.
We talked to several of the vendors about the guns they displayed, and admired the workmanship where it was "artistic" (like ornate engraving and woodwork). In fact, some of the weapons were really beautiful.
We also asked questions where the guns looked old. The gun below was not for sale but had a good story. It is a Colt .45 from the mid 1800's and was made and shipped in the same batch of 50 guns (verified) from which the Earp brothers (of Tombstone fame) selected their guns. So it is possible that this particular gun was handled by Wyatt Earp!
There were also bows and arrows, amazing knives and gun accessories for sale. A nice lady gave us a rundown on the Ammo her company makes and sells, and a price list for later online ordering. She wished us a "nice day" and thanked us for our interest.
Note that for sale is ammo for the 44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world. And it could blow your head clean off... with apologies to a certain Mr Eastwood.
This was not a kiddie jumping castle - but practice kiddie gun range!
Amazing experience for $6 and we were glad that we saw it. Obviously a gun show in a larger town like Las Vegas or in Texas would probably be quite different than small town Maine.
We liked the look of the little town, Machias, further up the road, and damn, we just missed their 250th birthday celebrations. Oh well.

Mathias is yet another cute town on a tidal inlet and we noticed on our way back through that this "river" was about 2/3rds lower at low tide.

We reached our destination, Lubec, at 1.30pm. Lubec is the most easterly town in USA and also a border crossing to Canada.

On the way into town we saw signs warning of marathon runners. We didn't see any as we drove, but that was not surprising considering a serious sea mist was rolling into town (we thought it was called the Quoddy Mist based on some signs in town).

We got to the Lubec waterfromt area and a few streets are closed for the "International Marathon". International? It turned out that the runners were going into Canada before finishing back at the Lubec waterfront. Seems like a good drawcard...

The rain had stopped but you still could not see much. Canada is there somewhere, over the bridge... Or so it says...

Of interest may be that the Canadian territory on the other side of the border is an island and the one and only land connection to that island is via this bridge to... the US.

Cars waiting to exit US and enter Canada. It appeared that there was some hold up with runners crossing the bridge. The guys in the fluro yellow vests are volunteers of the marathon.

This law enforcement vehicle had Brunswick, Canada plates (as did the other car in the background). It seemed like a very collaborative arrangement in law enforcement between the two countries given that this, of course, is US territory.

The fog created a level of spookiness, like the picture below where you were looking down a foggy barrel...

The bridge to... Nowhere? No, again, to Canada.

Grey on grey. The predominant color of housing up here seems to be grey. Suppose to blend in...

The view of the bridge and where it goes to wasn't any clearer from the other northern side.

Looking down North Water Street towards the finishing line of the marathon. We did not see runners here as the marathon had been going for 6+ hours already.

The marathon seems to have created a bit of a party atmosphere.

The two people to the right were runners (not sure marathon or just fun run). They were given a space blanket to keep themselves warm after finishing the race and yes, it was nippy alright.
Ha, this picture had to be taken as "tuffa" means "the tough" in Swedish. Yes we know, Hans is not fooling anybody...

A couple of pictures of the fantastic buildings along the North Water Street.

These buildings were part of an old herring pickling/smoking business.

The building behind the others above is the old herring smokehouse. History below.

The smokehouse no longer seems to be attached to the complex. Or maybe it never was?

The smokehouse story leads us onto the next smoking fish story. This wagon sold, as you can see, smoked salmon sticks which just had to be tried.

Hans tucking in on the smoked salmon stick.

Verdict...perhaps the most delicious food we have eaten on a stick. It beat most satay sticks that we have tried. The stick was served cool, with firm salmon flesh very well smoked/cooked and flavored brilliantly with spices etc. Di was asking for a bite, then another, then another... You get the picture.

We went back to purchase 2 more smoked salmon sticks, to be tonight's dinner and serve with potatoes.

We kept trying to catch glimpses of Canada but the sea mist defied us. The dock area looked great though.

Trust us, Canada was somewhere behind the anchored boats.

We like the US customs sign but really, does this honor system work? There were no coast guards or customs guys nearby as this sign was some distance from that border crossing bridge.

Northeast Maine seemed to have suffered economically. We saw lots of empty old houses, looking ready to fall down. In addition, we had to assume that the climate here is harsh on timber buildings.

However, the deserted buildings made for good photography though...

We got home around 5.30pm and later spoke tour motel host, Jerry, about our day. He was from Milbridge and said the population was about 70% of its peak because kids grow up, go to college and don't return. Any new people, he also said, are "sea changers" and bring money and housing prices become unaffordable for locals. Not sure how to take that given the number of deserted homes that we saw...

Di preps for dinner - and yes, smoked salmon sticks work deliciously with boiled potatoes.

We relax with a few drinks on the porch as this is our final night in Bar Harbor and reflected a little on our very enjoyable week:

  • Acadia National Park lived up to all the hype that we have heard. It is lovely and there is something for everyone.
  • The food here has been some of the best we've had since New Mexico and the seafood is genuinely fresh and delicious.
  • We could have stayed here for another week and possibly more. There were still large sections of the park that we hadn't been to.
  • We could see how people want to return here again and again. We could too.

A good day and a great week. Good night.


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