We end up our trip in Maine in two of the most well known locations in all of Maine––and two of the most mispronounced. Every time I mentioned Bar Harbor, folks would immediately go into the Bah Habah routine. So that’s what I expected, but folks who actually lived there pronounced it Bar Harbor. Go figure! And, of course, most of us want to say Arcadia National Park instead of Acadia National Park. The folks at the park realize this and, in the film about the park that we watched, make a point of the correct pronunciation.
Day 13, Saturday, Oct 13
As we were wheeling our suitcases down the street in Vinalhaven, a car stopped. A women we had not met asked it we wanted a ride to the ferry terminal. We accepted, and she stayed right where she was in the middle of the street as we loaded our stuff and got in the car.
Unlike the trip on the ferry to Vinalhaven, the trip back was smooth with no rain. I was able to see Owl’s Head and Rockland Breakwater Lighthouses and take photos of them.
On the mainland, however, it was raining. Our car was still in the shelter of the fishing boat where we left it. The nearby boat storage doubled as ferry terminal parking while the ferry parking lot was being redone. While we thought it a bit strange to see cars tucked in next to boats of every description, everyone else seemed to think it was normal.
We headed off to Bar Harbor. Hwy 1 took us up Penobscot Bay until we came to the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory. The tall pillars of this bridge rise 420 feet with an elevator in one of them to take visitors to an observation room at the top. This was one of the places that I wanted to visit, to ride the elevator to the top, and to observe Maine from that high up with a 360-degree view. Because of the heavy rain and low cloud cover, we just stopped and took photos before driving across the bridge. Dang!
It didn’t take long to reach Ellsworth and head south to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. They are on an island. It was such a short connecting bridge that it seemed we were crossing a river. It is Mount Desert Island and the location of the largest and most popular segment of Acadia National Park.
Our motel was outside of town. It was a Days Inn and when we got there mid-day, we were initially told that our reservation had been canceled. That was a bummer cause there was a bicycling race in the area and no lodging was available anywhere. But she kept looking and discovered that the owner had cancelled our reservation and moved us across the highway to a Holiday Inn. That was a relief, but it would take some doing to get there.
This section of Hwy 3 was being worked on and had only one-way traffic. We would have to take a detour through the national park and retrace Hwy 3. So we did, but could not see any sign to a Holiday Inn. So we went around again. This time I saw the sign, unlit and behind trees. Evidently, it was now a part of the Bar Harbor Regency, which was nearby. It had taken the better part of an hour, but we finally found our hotel and got checked in. Our room was very nice, and on an upper story. It was a bit of a walk to the Regency, which had the Bella Vita Restaurant. It was the second best meal of the trip. I had a minestrone type soup with a great caprese salad and to-die-for bread and good wine. Back in our room we watched TV, continuing the adventures of the North Forest Fish and Wildlife.
Day 14, Sunday, Oct 14
After a terrific breakfast buffet at the Bella Vita, we spent much of the day seeing the sights of Acadia National Park. The rain had stopped and it was a gorgeous day. Unfortunately, we were not the only ones. It was a sunny Sunday and one of the last days portions of the park would be open, which we did not realize. But we saw tons of people everywhere. There was bumper-to-bumper traffic and circling parking lots to find a place to park. That was the bad part. The good part was the beautiful colors of the trees and fabulous views from the top of Cadillac Mountain.
We stopped at the entrance lodge and stood in line for a day-pass. While there, Edna bought me a telescoping cane for my birthday, which would be in a few weeks. We also saw a film chronicling the history and beauty of Acadia.
Then we headed up to Cadillac Mountain. At 1,530 feet, it is the highest point on the East Coast. That was hard to believe for us from the west where mountains tend to have a bit of steepness to them. This was like a high softly rounded hill with scrubby growth and lots of granite showing—thus the name Mount Desert. But the views were spectacular—all 360 degrees.
Next, we headed to Jordan Pond. It’s a lovely lake with a grand house famous for its popovers. Since we were here, we felt we had to partake. I think we circled the parking lot a dozen times before finding a spot. I remembered reading that Acadia is one of the most visited national parks in the country. On this day, I believed it.
There was a nice trail through the trees to the Jordon Pond House and some gorgeous tree color. Once inside, we had to wait a half hour to be seated. We placed our order and were brought some popovers and then surprisingly some more. They were quite good even though our waitress forgot the strawberry preserves for the first ones. Then she wanted to know if we were ready for our bill, and we said we were ready for our order. Her response, “Oh, that’s why they were there.” So my lobster stew was no longer hot. Even so, it was very good. We found it was the last day for the lodge to be open for the season, and our waitress was definitely ready for it to be over. After eating, we browsed the gift shop, and I got a couple of things.
We drove around the park a bit more and then headed for Bar Harbor. It was another charming seacoast village. We browsed the shops and headed back to our lodging. We were still full, so no dinner that night. But we did watch more North Forest Fish and Wildlife adventures..
Day 15, Monday, Oct 15
We enjoyed the last day of the wonderful breakfast buffet for the season. Then we drove inland to Ellsworth and headed on Hwy 1 to Schoodic Peninsula for another segment of Acadia National Park. Although this was a cloudy Monday, not a gloriously sunny Sunday, this segment of the park had no traffic. Occasionally, we saw another car. Couldn’t have been more opposite.
We checked out a couple of small towns––Winter Harbor and Prospect Harbor. Both very small and neither touristy—just very small coastal towns where the main industry is fishing. In one of the towns, we found a tiny bakery located in the glassed in area of the entry to a large house. We stopped and got coffee/tea and pastries to go. We found the entrance to the park—no day-pass needed here. Drove along water, it was an inlet. Stopped at Frazier Point to enjoy our pastries. Saw a couple of lighthouses across the way. One was Winter Harbor and the other Prospect Harbor Point Lighthouses. Got some photos, too far away to be any good.
We drove on out to Schoodic Point and found several cars and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance. First time to see the ocean since we left the southern beaches area, except for when we were on top of Cadillac Mountain. Since entering the park, we had been on a one-way road. It took several tries to find a two-way road to get off Schoodic Peninsula. Did I mention that signage left a bit to be desired. We ran into rain on the way back to our lodging.
That evening we had dinner once again at Bella Vita. I wanted the same as before, but they were out of the wonderful soup. So I had an Italian dish that started with ‘t’—something like tagilitini. It was good. And I had the same wonderful caprese salad and bread and wine. Edna had their pizza. Back to our room and we watched more North Forest adventures.
Day 16, Tuesday, Oct 16
We missed the wonderful buffet and had a regular breakfast at Bella Vita. We packed and left by 11 a.m. Our vacation was nearly over. We took the faster route via turnpike back to the Portland area. We took I-95 and I-395 both part of the turnpike. The trees were lovely, and there was little traffic and good signage. What’s not to like. The $1 toll was definitely worth it.
We stopped at Freeport, home of L.L. Bean, to gas up the car and to get a snack. When we got off the turnpike, we turned the wrong way and everything was L.L. Bean. When we got turned around in the right direction, we found what we needed.
The airport is actually in South Portland, a separate city. The signage getting from the turnpike to the Days Inn near the airport where we would be staying, was tricky. Thank goodness for the Mapquest directions I had run off prior to the trip. It helped us navigate our way.
Once we found the motel, it took three clerks before one could figure how to check us in. Because the price was different through the third party booking agency, the computer system wouldn’t cooperate. But finally, one gal said she had dealt with the problem before and figured a way around. Whew! Before heading to our room, we got directions to the airport so we could return our rental car.
We only unpacked what we absolutely needed because we would be getting up at 4 a.m. for a 5 a.m. shuttle to the airport. After we got settled in, we went down and told the front desk that we would be heading for the airport to return our rental car. They would send a shuttle to bring us back.
When we got to the car rental and pulled into a slot. A fellow with a clipboard was instantly at my window, saying, “Judith?” I asked him how he knew my name, and he said they were expecting the car to be returned that day. Duh!
We waited awhile for the shuttle, and it took us back to the motel. Since it was dinnertime, we headed next door to a Mexican restaurant. Edna had fajitas and I had enchaladas. They were good. Because of our early wake-up call, we hit the sack early.
Day 17, Wednesday, Oct 17
We were up and out in record time––brushed out teeth, wore the same clothes as the previous day, and packed the little we had taken out of our suitcases. And we weren’t the only ones in the lobby waiting for the shuttle to the airport. Before we left, the driver prepared a boxed breakfast for each of us, since we were too early for the comp breakfast. It was unexpected and very much appreciated. We ate ours while waiting at the airport.
The plane left 35 minutes late and was full. We each got the dreaded middle seat and, of course, didn’t sit next to each other. I had a nice chat with one of my seat partners. And she also had been interested in the lighthouses. She and her husband had gone farther north than we did, so she got a photo of Quoddy Lighthouse, the one with the red and white stripes. She said she would share her photo with me.
We had an hour and a half layover in Chicago but we were at least 35 minutes late. It took awhile to find a departure/arrival board to discover our gate. Since it was a different terminal, we had a ways to go. Fortunately, there was a people conveyor belt. That helped. And it was decorated above with a neon light display. Very impressive. Once we were in the right terminal, more walking. When we saw our gate number in the distance, we turked into a restroom. Then we continued onto our gate. They were boarding our flight when we arrived and were on Group 3. We were Group 5. Whew! I don’t like cutting it that close.
Again we had middle seats, and this time we were across the aisle from each other. We both had books to read and could wave at each other. We arrived at 12:45 p.m. in Portland, Oregon, and surprise, surprise, it was 75 degrees. We retrieved our luggage and than I stayed with Edna for awhile.
She got checked in and her boarding passes for her two flights to Bakersfield. We found a place to get some coffee and a cookie for a quick lunch. Then we parted. She headed to security and wouldn’t have long to wait for her flight. And I headed for the tunnel back to the parking garage.
I found my car easily, but had to turn my purse inside out to find the long-term parking ticket. Finally found it.
It was a stressful bumper-to-bumper drive along 1-205 because of road construction. And it continued heavy as far as I-5 to Woodburn. I finally got home about 7 p.m. I was really tired. I talked to Carole, the gal who rents my downstairs and takes care of Groucho when I’m gone, and received a loving welcome from Groucho. He was very glad to see me . . . for days.
- Book lodgings ahead, but not through third party. Go onto the booking sites to find what you want, and then book through actual lodging.
- Plan trip earlier in the year, less chance of rain and places won’t be closing for the season. Didn’t realize that so many coastal tourist facilities are closed during the winter.
- The geology of the coast of Maine is so different than that of Oregon.
- Maine has so many lighthouses, 67, and so varied. Surprised that many were attached to houses. Also surprised that many were shorter than our shortest one on the Oregon coast—Capes Meares at 38 feet. Nearly all of Oregon’s lighthouses have a range of 21 miles, but the ones in Maine can be anywhere from 12 to 29 nautical miles.
- Lobster tastes good no matter how it’s prepared.
- Wonderful trip. Yes, I’d do it again. Yes, I’d recommend it.
I so appreciate the detail in which you shared your adventure. I am hoping to go to Bar Harbor sometime and now know some of the ins and outs before I go. Thanks! Sounds like you had an excellent time minus the weather.