MONDAY, SEPT. 23
(Ah… a license plate that ends in “XL” … as in X-tra Loads-of-Fun!)
We’ve had a long-held family debate about whether it “counts” to have visited a country if all you’ve seen of that country is the airport where one’s layover resides (e.g. Frankfurt, Germany). Most sane members of our clan say “no,” of course I can’t therefore say “I’ve been to Germany.” I have to leave the airport and actually VISIT the city, no? My father always humorously insisted that it would count to merely have landed for a couple hours in a country’s airport. But I think he was probably just enjoying a good debate.
The same debate exists of course for having visited American states. On Monday morning, Erin and I boarded Amtrak 681 from Boston to Portland, ME. On the way, we made stops at 3 New Hampshire locations. So, have I BEEN to New Hampshire? Is a train ride more “real” than sitting in an airport terminal? I still say no. Anyway, this is all on its way to letting you know that we are now in Maine!! Before we left Portland, we rented a really nice Nissan Sentra and stopped by local deli, Anania’s Variety, a Portland institution which I can tell you makes a really good deli sandwich. For those keeping score, I had the Italian Cold-Cut Combo. Erin the Turkey and Cheese. A clear winner? Probably not.
From Portland, we took the 295 north to connect with 95 in Augusta, the state capitol, and continued all the way to Bangor. That total trip among Maine’s 3 best known cities is just over 2 hours. Past Bangor, one links up with State Road 1A and later State Road 3 for the trip into Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Our hotel is a very nice Holiday Inn Property called “The Bar Harbor Regency” along Eden Rd. We checked in, dropped our stuff, and grabbed the local shuttle (shared by a number of hotels) into Bar Harbor’s downtown.
While making our way down Main St. and Cottage St., we browsed some gift shops, finally settling in at the Finback Alehouse for dinner. The restaurant is a terrific little white, wood-paneled bar and seafood joint, which made for a fitting start to our stay. I enjoyed a sinfully delicious lobster and crab mac-n-cheese, while Erin took in what looked like really solid fish & chips. From there, we continued to walk around town, but returned after sundown to rest at the Regency.
Now, Erin and I aren’t above our TV / Streaming service binge habits while traveling, especially after a long travel day. So, upon Rachel’s recommendation (yes, Rachel from Boston! You JUST read about her the other day) we began the Netflix limited series, “Unbelievable,” about a young woman in Washington State who is not only not believed when she reports her horrible rape, but is also then accused of making a false police report when some of her recollections are not consistent. It’s a classic tale of white men doing bad and is very compelling through the first 2 of 8 episodes. But, after every heavy engagement such as a show like this, Erin and I have a rule – Take a “comedy shower.” To clean off the seriousness, we took in a couple episodes of newly discovered favorite “Schitt’s Creek,” a Pop Entertainment enterprise which has significantly grown its audience due to the “Netflix Affect.” The show is a non-stop comedy gift for those that appreciate not so subtle comic overtures delivered more subtly … and Canada. And then we slept a lot.
TUESDAY, SEPT. 24
It’s 6:20PM in Bar Harbor and a HUGE clap of thunder just scared the shit out of me. Yes, we’re back here at the Bar Harbor Regency, after a fantastic first full day in Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. After sleeping in, we jetted off to Acadia and first took the Loop Road up to Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in the Park but also in the area generally, I believe. The views were tremendous as you can see from a few photos (one of me and Erin at the peak, the town of Bar Harbor down below [blown up in size])
We enjoyed a 2-mile hike down the mountain starting at the North Mountain Trailhead, rated a “Moderately Difficult” hike by the powers that be, and by me as “easy going down, harder coming back up the mountain” (you’re welcome for my exhaustive detail). But it was a beautiful view of Maine’s famous rocky history, and beautiful forestry, a quarter of which (best guess) is at least beginning the transition to fall colors. We met some nice folks along the hike, including a couple from Green Bay, WI who are concerned about Climate Change given the harsher summers and colder winters there, and some park rangers conducting a “Hawk Watch” at a particular lookout. The Southwest winds apparently kept hawks and other local avian life away for the day, as they serve as a headwind to their efforts to migrate south for the winter. We were told we would have better luck when the winds changed Wednesday or Thursday.
From Cadillac Mountain we ventured to Jordan Pond, a beautiful and very clear, clean body of water (which looked big enough to be a lake to me) southwest of the Mountain. The Pond is surrounded by beautiful forestry and great hiking trails, and is a bit famous for the restaurant at Jordan Pond House, which we passed on to return to downtown Bar Harbor after our lakeside hike. Looking for a sub sandwich shop, we instead decided on seafood, ordering some dishes from Cherrystones. I enjoyed a seafood filled Cioppino, and Erin some seared Ahi Tuna. Hers looked delicious for people willing to eat raw looking tuna. Mine was a B+ offering that fully satisfied our late lunch needs circa 2:30PM. One thing I’ll compliment Cherrystones on is that even post-lunch rush, their service was very attentive.
Following a late lunch, we continued to shop in town for family gifts and the ultimate dream, a plain “Maine” sweatshirt, which we’re hoping to perfectly match 3 of for me, Erin, and my mom. But it’s clear that in a marketable town like Bar Harbor, we’re really only going to find T-shirts and Sweatshirts that qualify (maine) with “BAR HARBOR” and “ACADIA.” So, I guess we’ll have to adjust…. 1st World Problems, indeed.
We made it back to the hotel by about 5:15PM, which seems early, but boy did we need a shower and a good meal. Both felt great and we once again turned to Netflix to finally view “Despicable Me 3,” which was a B- of a film dedicated to the Minions and Gru family we’ve come to love (don’t make me read that last sentence again). About halfway through the film, Erin and I decided to try the hotel’s Lobster Bisk, and let’s just say it did NOT disappoint. Our room service server, Marko, incidentally, is part of a large contingent of Balkan workers here in Bar Harbor, which makes us proud as a family that has studied the Balkans and supports the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
We were delighted at 9:30 to enjoy the season premiere of “Blackish” on ABC, a show we’ve dedicated ourselves to for 4 years thus far. Let me just say that if you are white and are NOT watching “Blackish,” you are NOT as woke as me and Erin, and I’m going to remind you of that every time we speak… and I’m not joking… nor would any African-American be taking my lame attempt at understanding joint struggle seriously. Because what a joke, no?
We have two days remaining in Bar Harbor. We are looking for ways to make the following happen:
- More Acadia National Park – in particular, perhaps mountain biking
- More critters – we want to see otters, seals, and perhaps butterflies at a regional butterfly reserve.