Wednesday, July 19, 2017

2017-18 Bangor Maine (PART II) Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor

Sea Princess boat tour, North East Harbor

Bangor Maine (Part II)

wood carved duck

Acadia National Park

Bar Harbor

summers in Maine

Campground: Shady Acres RV and campground. A PPA campground $21. Full hookups, 30 amp. Nice grassy pull-thru sites. Above ground pool, one washer/dryer, restrooms/bathhouse.

How far north am I? So far north that the sky turns light by 4:30 am. That's pretty early, at first I thought the light might be coming from street lights. No, just being at such a northerly latitude.

Bangor Maine

  • big statue of Paul Bunyan
  • Hollywood Casino and raceway (no lunch buffet) $5+ free play when joining players club
  • Nice river walk through town
Bangor Maine

Bangor Maine, a few rivers and canals thru town

Steven King

Bangor downtown shops

North East Harbor

My first day trip before heading over to Acadia NP and Bar Harbor, I decided to travel the less crowded side of Mount Desert Island. Taking route 102 and 3, I headed down to Northeast Harbor and yes, there is a Southeast harbor as well. From the NE Harbor I was able to join the three hour Sea Princes boat tour. A National Park Ranger led the guided tour. After tooling around the bay, viewing sea otters, we stopped off at one of the Cranberry Islands where we had the opportunity to walk around the island and view the small village. It's not a tourist attraction and we were able to get a bit of a feeling of what life might be like living on one of these islands. It being a bright Sunday morning, the church doors were open and I could hear the sounds of singing coming from the members inside. Bikes are scattered where ever the rider last used it. Leaning against an old fence, a shrub or laying on the ground. Walking along the residential homes, one with a tall three story tower was having an estate sale, as the house was up for sale. $750,000 and you too could live on Cranberry Island. The owners are moving to North Carolina. Later we would head into the Somers Sound Fjord. It's been downgraded to just a ford as it's technically not deep enough to be considered a Fjord. A very pleasant way to spend my first day on the island. Well worth the $23 boat ride.

looking back at Acadia national park

harbor seals

a visit to one of the Cranberry Islands

experiencing what it's like to live on one of the Cranberry Islands

a cottage, tucked in between big pine trees
Cranberry Island

a three season wrap around porch

the church I heard music coming out of the
open front door

summers mean sailing in Maine

Bar Harbor

Of course the main attraction along the coast of Maine is the Acadia National Park and the seaside town of Bar Harbor. Back in the Gilded Age, many of the newly rich industrialists discovered this little piece of New England paradise. From the Vanderbilt's, Astor's, Rockefeller and Ford families they all built “cottages” here. Remember back in the late 1800's, there was no air-conditioning, so the wealthy moved from house to house, following the seasonal changes in weather.

Bar Harbor, park overlooking the harbor

Bar Harbor

In 1947 a forest fire, started in a cranberry bog burned down 67 of those palatial summer homes along millionaire's row, 5 grand hotels and 147 permanent residences.

Today, Martha Stuart has purchased the Edsel Ford home, Kirstie Alley and friend John Travolta have property on one of the islands and of course Steven King lives in Bar Harbor. The Rockefeller family twisted the arms of many of the wealthy to donate land around the peninsula to “preserve” it's natural beauty. IE to protect their playground from getting over populated. Rockefeller Jr spent millions of dollars to built the carriage roads and about 17 stone bridges still in use today so they would have a way to tour the peninsula they'd all preserved. So along with the beautiful bays and water ways for sailing, they also had their own forested preserve to take carriage rides, go for hikes and have picnics overlooking Bar harbor.

Today it is the playground of we ordinary folk and the town of Bar Harbor caters to a couple of cruise ships bringing the population the town to a stand still as cash registers ring up sale after sale.

Bar Harbor, lots of tourist shops and restaurants

On my Birthday, yes, I had another one, I drove back to the area to check out Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. My first impression upon entering the NP visitor center, which by the way is at the top of a slew of steps just to get there, yikes, what have I gotten myself into. The place was packed with tourists milling around. Ten deep waiting to get info from a half dozen Park Rangers on travel routes, hiking trails etc. Another bank of Rangers were collecting entry fees into the park. A short, and not very inspirational film was provided as an introduction to the park. Back down those stone steps to the parking lot and bus depot, I got on-board one of the many “free” buses that travel the various loop roads and other routes around the island peninsula. I didn't remain on-board very long, as the bus filled up to full capacity with folks standing in the isles and no a/c on-board.

Instead, I drove the loop road, or what I thought was the loop road, as it wasn't very well marked once in the park proper. In any case, this is just a scouting trip as I'll be coming back later on. What ever route I'd taken, I ended up being dumped out of the park and back on a route into Bar Harbor. Fine, I could deal with that as Bar Harbor was on my scouting destination as well. Parking can be a real challenge (no parking meters) but I was able to find a spot with a two hour parking limit and yes, they do have patrols and will ticket you if going over the two hour limit.

It's a nice town with lots and lots of shops and restaurants. I particularly liked the grassy park on a hill over looking the harbor and a nice walking path along the hotels and shore line. Try to get a cruise ship schedule so that you can avoid the days it is in town.

one of the stone bridges Rockefeller Jr. had
built for the carriage roads around Acadia 

Kathy S Visits Maine

One of the pleasures in life is meeting new friends and then being able to reconnect with them especially during my Rv travels. Kathy is a one of those adventurous spirits who, along with a new R-Pod camper left her husband, kids and grand-kids behind to do a bit of traveling this summer. And here she is after a 1,400+ mile journey on the east coast, having come all the way from Iowa.

We'll explore Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, along with other coastal scenic tours over the next couple of days before caravaning across Maine into Northern New Hampshire and Vermont before getting into upstate New York, where way we may part ways on our journey.

Bar Harbor
And just think, you are along for the ride as well and I sure enjoy having you along for the journey as we discover new parts of the country together.

Kathy and I attempted to join a light house boat tour over two days, but fog rolled in and canceled both days. There's usually a plan B and we actually had a couple of them. Since we were in Bar Harbor of course we walked around town and enjoyed a good cup of coffee at a local coffee shop. Bought the required T-shirts and then headed out to our plan B. It was onto touring Acadia National Park. We followed a loop road around the park stopping off at as many of the major attractions as we could, taking advantage of parking right on the two lane road, as it was designated a one way road and the right hand side one could park right on the road at most any point. Fortunate, as many of the small parking lots were usually full up. Even with the fog, we could enjoy the rugged coastline, view the “blow hole”, get awesome views of glacier created lakes and the best of views from Cadillac Mountain. A bare pink granite mountain top that provides an unobstructed view of the entire island and National Park. I can see why the free buses are popular, as the traffic along the loop road and around the island can be very congested.

taking the loop tour around Acadia National Park

 a typical foggy day

the tour boat, we didn't get to go on, too much fog

my friend Kathy, what fun touring with her

there's even a beaver dam... look closely

falcons on the mountain

like an Andrew Wyeth painting

Acadia National Park

the Blow Hole

low tide along the coast

a few steep cliffs

on the edge 
on top of Cadillac Mountain, the center of Acadia national park

from Cadillac Mountain, looking at North East Bay

North east bay

Cadillac Mountain and the pink granite 

South East Harbor

with heavy fog, we stopped at a small museum
and were treated to a wood carvers
awesome collection on display

Another try at joining the lighthouse tour was again canceled, so we drove the South East Harbor side of Desert Island which is the name of the island that Bar Harbor and Acadia NP are on. It's a dramatic change from the popular tourist sides of the island. Many of the homes are middle class, fishing and working class homes. Some are not in the best of condition and the small towns and communities have little to offer the tourist except exceptional harbor views, live lobsters /dining and a great lighthouse at the end of a narrow dirt road. The coastguard operates it and it is part of Acadia NP. Again little parking, as we had to wait in line along the narrow entry road for a place to park. No access to the lighthouse itself as the coastguard actively used the building and lighthouse. But views, especially from the rocky beach coastal side are worth the steep steps leading down to the best viewing areas. Kathy and I survived the rocky outcropping for a couple great shots of the lighthouse with a misty backdrop. Totally worth the extra if somewhat dangerous effort.

a true fishing/lobster working harbor

lobster boats returning with their catch

a private home

South East Harbor

So much fun sharing these experiences with a fellow traveler and gypsy. Thank Kathy, you really made this journey extra special.

even foggy days have beauty

it really was worth the effort

More Photos

South East Bay the quiet side


Bucksport Maine and the narrows Bridge

Kathy and I had one more day to do a minor tour, so we headed to Bucksport and the big suspension bridge that has a 43 story elevator to the top viewing area. It was still fogged in when we got there, so into town we went for coffee, a walk around and lunch. By the time we got back across the bridge, the fog had finally lifted and up we went. Not a big fan of heights, I can tell you it was not bad at all. The elevator runs very smoothly to almost the top, where one gets off the elevator and then climbs a few more flights of stairs to the actual viewing platform. We of course saw some great views from that height and the viewing area was rock solid. No swaying thank goodness. Though I talked to the elevator attendant and she told me that a number of folks get to the top, look out thru the open elevator doors and don't even get off. Saying, “we're ready to go back down”.   

Bucksport Maine

1st attempt was all fogged in

around 10:30, still fogged in 
from the 43 floor

1 comment:

Happytrails said...

You have captured some beautiful pics of the areas where you are in Maine. Acadia is awesome and just by looking at your pics of Bar Harbor I get a feel for the area. Thanks for the share!