It stormed Friday night, quite a bit, but we stayed dry in the tent.
After splitting a spinach omelet in Bar Harbor, we drove into Acadia National Park. The Visitors Center there seriously needs the consultation of some marketing genius. A huge line of people were waiting to pay their entrance fee so they could use the bus system. I marveled that the National Park could mean so well but do it so poorly. It was simply customer-unfriendly. It makes me think about churches, too, where well-meaning people just don’t have a clue how to do something the most expeditious way and instead muck about in their good intentions.
We wanted to hike a trail up to a nice lookout, so we chose one called Beehive which came down Bowl. The trail was only 1.6 miles, but took us an hour and a half. It was pretty much straight up, to the point that we climbed up a series of metal rungs anchored into the rock, kind of like a staircase that hopscotched across the face of the mountain. It was thrilling, and I didn’t get frightened. We ran into a daughter and a dad who were stuck in one spot, she was in her early twenties maybe, and just couldn’t take the leap of faith? required. I was sympathetic, the leap of faith is not purely metaphorical on a mountain side. I was impressed at the dad’s attitude. He said, you just can’t do this if you’re afraid. Ain’t that the truth about so many things?
Great view at the top, in three directions. As usual, we took a picture for a couple and they returned the favor. The day was overcast and the water was calm. No line on the horizon described it. Doug commented that the basalt, lichen, and juniper reminded him of the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota. There was a rock cairn at the top, right next to a sign asking people to refrain from building rock cairns. Coming down felt more perilous than going up, you have to keep your eyes peeled on your feet, which just gets tiring. The path was entirely boulder-strewn.
At the bottom I saw a woman wearing a wildflower T-shirt and peering at flowers along the trail, so I asked her: What should I be looking for? She gave me a rundown on all the local plants: sumac (not yet in bloom), wild roses (pink), a pea (a purple flower like lupine, only smaller), meadowsweet (looks like spirea, only with a more conical head). Daisies, clover, and Queen Anne’s lace galore.
We stopped to look at some nesting peregrine falcons, using a telescope set up by the rangers. They said there’s just one pair this year and they don’t have any babies. I studied the female, who was black and white, her markings were quite striking.
We headed out of the park, stopping at the LLBean outlet. The best part of that stop was seeing the Home section. All the furniture was inhabited by tired-looking men in T-shirts with fishing slogans or World’s Best Dad. I found a pair of black yoga-type pants for $10.
Doug and I split a plate of fried scallops for lunch at a place called Pretty Good Pete. I didn’t know that there were local scallops in Maine, but there are and they were delicious. Pete said he uses a dry corn meal for the fish, and flour for the clams.
I didn’t expect the food to be such a highlight on this trip, but it is.
Once again I’m typing while we drive. I was navigating when we left the park, and we got on the wrong highway. Oh well, a re-route.
Lots of antique stores The supply seems inexhaustible. They must be manufacturing antiques deep in the heart of Maine.
Curbs here are made of granite.
The Border at Calais:
~ we cross into Atlantic Time (for the first time in my life)
~ the GPS no longer works
~ the skies open up and it is instantly dark and pouring. We still have two hours to drive and a tent to set up.
~ there are no other cars on the road. at all.
Fortunately, we outdistanced the rain and arrived at our reserved camping spot at Sea Side Tent & Trailer Park, St. Martins. We arrived at 8:45 and needed to get right to the only restaurant still serving, for takeout. Seafood chowder, which we ate at our campsite. Delicious. We are right on the Bay of Fundy, in between a large French-speaking extended family and a whole lot of Brownies. There are lots of fires on the beach, and some kids set off fireworks. The sound of the surf is steady and rolling.
Rain again overnight, and some very cool air, but we were fine in the tent. The washrooms here are exactly one toilet per gender, in the same room as the one shower and the one sink. Amazingly enough, no lines. I suppose it’s all the RVs.
We had breakfast at a place with a lot of locals hobnobbing on Sunday AM. Weird not to be at church, or even thinking church thoughts. After our eggs, we went around the bend to St. Martin’s to admire their two covered bridges and watch the tides. The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world, they cycle every 13 hours. During low tide you can walk out to some caves, which we did, then we sat on the beach and I did some writing. Eventually we decided to explore and got in the car. We discovered the Bay of Fundy Trail? which turned out to be a large park with extensive hiking trails. We paid our fee and decided to hike. A loop trail labeled challenging certainly was. We followed the Big Salmon River for an hour and a half. It was deep pine woods along the side of a ravine, with precarious footing. Beautiful and pristine feeling, but no wildlife.
At the visitors center we heard about the logging operation that thrived here from 1830 to 1940, and the whole town it created, which has since vanished. Do you think they ever imagined their entire way of life would vanish without a trace?
We could see where the logs had floated down the river, and the word logjam? took on new meaning, as the woman described how such a jam was freed, by suspending a man, upside-down over the jam so he could pull the log causing the problem. If they didn’t hoist him back up fast enough, he would be killed by the falling logs. Yes, quick retraction or death.
The trail we took led to the Hearst Lodge, which was built in the 1930s by someone connected to the Hearst Foundation. Back then you could walk across the river on the salmon and now there is no salmon left. Speculation: the DDT which the Irving corporation sprayed (1960s?) to kill everything but the conifers, killed a whole lot of things, including the salmon eggs, which lie in the silt of the river.
All of a sudden the all-conifer terrain that I love so much looked less beautiful to my eyes. We hiked an hour and a half to the lodge, then an hour and a half back. We were off the map, and ended up walking along the road down a steep grade with beautiful vistas. The temperature was in the mid-sixties, with high humidity. Oh, we never did have lunch, but a granola bar kept us going.
We ended the day with another seafood meal on a restaurant overlooking the Bay, now at low tide.