Maine – Part 1 (June 10 – July 14, 2019)

On Monday, June 10th, we drove 175 miles from Lancaster, NH to Hermon, ME where we stayed at Pumpkin Patch RV Resort for four days. Although the drive was shorter than usual, it involved mostly winding state highways that took us through numerous small towns with frequently changing speed limits. We had dinner at the café next door named Just Down the Road and the food was very good.

Hermon is about eight miles outside of Bangor, ME. After a full day of rain on Tuesday, we spent Wednesday exploring Bangor (pronounced bayn-gor, not banger). Our first stop was the Paul Bunyan statue. At 31 feet high and 3,700 pounds, this is the largest of many Paul Bunyan statues across the U.S. Bangor claims it is the birthplace for Paul Bunyan, although there are those in Minnesota who also stake that claim. Our next stop was Riverfront Park where we walked along the Penobscot River Walkway. Since Bangor is a fairly small town, we next decided to continue walking to the home of Bangor’s most famous author, Stephen King. Although it is only one of Stephen King’s home, the gate was open so someone was at home. The house’s architecture and wrought iron fencing seemed consistent with Stephen King’s horror genre. There were other lovely homes in the neighborhood.

On Thursday, rain was forecast so we opted to stay close to home. We drove to the Hermon High School and hiked the Hermon Recreation Trail. This easy, 1.7-mile out and back trail connects the high school and the elementary school. It was rather muddy and buggy but provided us with some exercise. There was a potluck dinner at the campground that evening.

Friday was Phil’s 65th birthday. We drove 37 miles to Trenton, ME where we will spend a month at Timberland Acres RV Park. The campground is quite large and we have a very long pull-through site. Trenton, ME is only a few miles from Mt. Desert Island, home to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

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Phil’s 65th birthday blueberry pie

Our stay in Maine represents the 41st state we’ve camped in since beginning our full-time RV adventure. We plan to knock off a few more states this fall on our return trip.

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Updated US map showing where we’ve stayed in our RV

On Saturday, June 15th, we drove to the Bangor airport to pick up Jason who came to stay with us for a week. We then drove to Bar Harbor where, after much effort looking for a parking spot on the crowded streets, we ate dinner at Route 66, a 1950s-themed restaurant. We both had lobster rolls and Jason had haddock smothered in lobster sauce. It was all very good.

On Sunday we drove the Park Loop Road through Acadia National Park. We stopped at numerous overlooks, including Sand Beach where we hiked the 2.2-mile out-and-back Ocean Path along the coast. Our final stop was at the summit of Cadillac Mountain. The view was magnificent but we had not brought our warm clothes and the strong, cold wind kept us from spending much time there.

Although the majority of Acadia National Park is on Mount Desert (pronounced dessert) Island, there is a portion of the park east of Frenchman Bay on the Schoodic Peninsula. On Monday we drove to this section of the park. We made a couple of stops at scenic overlooks, then hiked a 3-mile loop consisting of the Anvil Trail, Schoodic Head Trail and Alder Trail. The sky was a gorgeous blue, making for breathtaking views.

That evening we drove to Seal Cove to watch the sunset. Because of the location of the cove, we were only able to see the sun drop below the trees but, since it was low tide, we enjoyed climbing on the rocks. We even saw several seals swimming in the cove.

On Tuesday we hiked the Beech Mountain Loop. This loop consisted of the Beech Mountain Loop Trail, Beech South Ridge Trail and Valley Trail. We mistakenly started out on the Beach Mountain Cliffs Trail and, although this provided us with some beautiful views of Echo Lake, it added an extra .7 mile to our hike. Upon getting to the correct trail, the Beech Mountain Loop Trail required some challenging climbing up a fairly steep ascent over boulders and tree roots. There was a fire tower at the top of Beech Mountain. The descent on Beech South Ridge Trail was steep in places but the Valley Trail was rather easy. Our hike, including the early mistake, was 3.7 miles.

On Wednesday we decided to take a day off from hiking and, instead, took a 2¾-hour boat cruise around the five islands that make up the Cranberry Islands. The scenery was beautiful and we saw lots of waterfowl, seals and a few porpoises. We stopped for 45 minutes on Little Cranberry Island where we visited an old Congregational Church.  The last part of the cruise was up the Somes Sound, the only fjord in the Lower 48, where we sailed past beautiful estates.

For dinner we ate at Rose Eden Lobster, an authentic Maine lobster restaurant with only outdoor seating at picnic tables. We each had a 1.25# whole lobster, an ear of corn and more steamed mussels than we could finish. Jan also ordered a blueberry soda that was very tasty. The food was delivered in a bucket, along with bibs, seafood cracking tools and instructions on how to eat a whole lobster. It was messy but delicious!

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Phil & Jason with our lobster dinner

After dinner we returned to Bar Harbor and hiked across the harbor to Bar Island. Bar Island is about a half-mile off the coast of Bar Harbor but can be reached by foot 1½ hour on either side of low tide. Low tide was at 7:11 pm that day and we arrived around 6:30. Those who stay on the island too long risk being stranded until the next low tide unless they want to foot the expensive fare for a water taxi. After reaching the island, we did a mile-long up-and-back hike to the summit where there is a scenic overlook of the harbor and town.

Since rain was forecast for Thursday afternoon and all day on Friday, we left at 10 a.m. on Thursday for our last hike with Jason. Unfortunately it began to drizzle as soon as we were leaving but we decided to do the hike anyway. We hiked a loop consisting of Bald Mountain Trail and Parkman Mountain Trail. Based on the reviews on our AllTrails app, we hiked the Bald Mountain Trail first. This proved to be a wise decision since it required a lot of climbing up boulders and climbing the wet rocks was easier than descending them. The reviews had talked about fantastic views from the summits of Bald and Parkman mountains but both summits were socked in with fog. The descent on Parkman Mountain Trail wasn’t as steep but the rain and lichen made the boulders slippery. Since we were already wet, we sometimes simply sat on the rocks and slid down to the landing beneath. The hike had begun on a carriage trail that runs up the mountain so we knew that we would have to return on this carriage road. Unfortunately, we hadn’t realized that the Parkman Mountain Trail crossed the carriage road several times before it reached the section of road we wanted. As a result, we hiked parts of the carriage road twice before realizing we were on the wrong section and having to backtrack. When we finally reached the right section of the carriage road, we didn’t recognize it and continued down the trail to the highway. This required an additional ¼-mile hike to the parking lot. These extra adventures extended our hike to a total of 5.2 miles.

On Saturday, June 22nd, we drove Jason to the Bangor airport for his return to Nashville.

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On Sunday we decided to hike the Great Head Trail, near Sand Beach. It was a sunny day with temperatures in the low 80s. The parking area at the trailhead was full so we had to drive to Sand Beach and, even then, had to park ¼ mile up the road from the parking lot and hike across the beach to the trailhead. The first half of the hike was fairly easy but, as we got near the coast, it became quite rocky and required climbing over boulders in numerous spots. However, the views of Frenchman Bay from the crags were spectacular. The hike, including crossing Sand Beach, was 2.4 miles.

On Monday we decided to get an earlier start on our hike. However, the weather was perfect and Acadia NP was very popular. We had to drive around several parking lots before finally finding someone backing out of a spot at Jordan Pond. We hiked the easy Jordan Pond Trail along the edge of the lake, then turned north up the Bubbles Trail which was quite challenging. The first part of this steep climb had lots of rock steps but, as we neared the summit, there were a couple of cliffs where we had to use our hands to help pull ourselves up the boulders. We were grateful for the assistance Jan received from a younger couple to scale these spots. The views looking back at Jordan Pond were beautiful. After reaching the summit of South Bubbles, we snacked by Bubbles Rock, a large boulder hanging over the edge of a cliff. The rest of the hike was much easier. The total hike was 3.7 miles.

As much as we’d enjoyed our many hikes, Jan’s desire to spot her elusive owl had not yet been satisfied. After dinner on Tuesday, we took an easy 2.5 mile hike on the Jesup Path and Jesup Trail. A reviewer on AllTrails had written that he always saw owls on this hike. The highlight of the Jesup Path is a long boardwalk through a heavily-forested wetlands. We were fortunate to spot two owls sitting together on a branch a short distance from the boardwalk. We later identified these as juvenile Barred Owls.

On Wednesday, Jan’s girlfriend, Sheila Gaskin, arrived to spend a week with us. On Thursday, Jan and Sheila took the free shuttle bus to Bar Harbor and spent the day exploring the shops. Phil joined the girls in Bar Harbor for dinner at Route 66. We then strolled along the pier and enjoyed views of the bay.

Friday was a warm, sunny day. After a stop at Schooner Head overlook, Jan and Sheila spent a couple of hours at Sand Beach while Phil hiked the 3-mile Gorham Mountain loop trail. Sand Beach was a very popular destination so Phil had to drive nearly a mile up the road just to find a parking spot. After Sand Beach, we drove the rest of the Park Loop Road with stops at Jordan Pond and Cadillac Mountain.

On Saturday, June 29th, we drove the loop around the western half of Mount Desert Island. We first visited Southwest Harbor but the views were less than ideal since the water was at low tide. Our next stop was at Bass Harbor where we visited the lighthouse that was established in 1858 and is still in operation. We continued on to the little fishing village of Bernard. We came to a dead end and had to turn around in the driveway of a house. There were three kids holding a sign advertising the opportunity to touch live crabs for 50 cents. Phil took them up on the offer and quickly understood why the boy was wearing protective gloves. Even though the crabs were small, their pincers were quite sharp. Our final stop was at Seal Cove but, unfortunately, we didn’t see any seals.

On Sunday we returned to Jordan Pond for some souvenir shopping, then visited the small fishing villages of Seal Harbor and Northeast Harbor. We stopped at the Acadia National Park sign for pictures. We went out for dinner that evening at Finelli’s Pizzeria. During our wait of over an hour, Jan and Sheila relived their college days on the pinball machine.

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Sheila and Jan at park sign

Monday was our day for a whale watching cruise which was advertised at being between 3 and 5.5 hours in length. The weather was much nicer than forecast. Upon boarding the boat, we learned that the cruise would be over five hours. We sailed for two hours into Canadian waters of the Bay of Fundy to get to where whales were thought to be feeding. When we stopped, we started to see whales all around us. Initially we only saw the spray from the whales’ blowholes as they re-surfaced. Then, as we got closer, we began to see their backs. Many of the humpback whales showed their flukes (tails) as they prepared to dive. Since the coloration of each humpback’s fluke is unique, the naturalists are able to identify them and track their movements. In total, we saw 17 whales of three different species (8 fin whales, 5 humpback whales, and 4 Minke whales) but, because we were in the middle of them for over an hour, we saw the same ones surface near us many times. The fin whales are an endangered species and, at over 60 feet in length, are the second-largest species on Earth.

Tuesday was Sheila’s last full day with us. She and Jan took the shuttle bus to Bar Harbor again and did some more shopping. They had lobster rolls for lunch.  There were rain storms off and on throughout the afternoon.  Phil joined them for dinner at Jalapeño where we all had lobster quesadillas.

On Wednesday, we visited a furniture store in Ellsworth to look at La-Z-Boy recliners but, after finding one we liked, learned that the tariffs on Chinese goods have driven the prices up astronomically. After stopping for enormous “small” ice cream cones at the Blueberry Hill Dairy Bar, we drove Sheila back to the airport in Bangor. On the way home, we stopped at another furniture store.

Thursday was July 4th and the temperature was in the upper-80s. We attended the campground BBQ and had a nice conversation with another couple who have been full-timing for five years. We then retreated indoors to enjoy our air conditioning.

Friday’s forecast called for another hot, sunny day so we decided to get going earlier than usual for our hike. We left home at 9:30 am but it was already close to 80 degrees when we began the hike. We hiked the 2.5 mile Champlain North Ridge Trail that took us to the summit of Champlain Mountain and back. The trail provided almost non-stop vistas of Bar Harbor and Frenchman Bay. However, it rose 833’ to the summit, mostly up granite rock facings with very little shade. The sun radiating off the rock made it feel even hotter than the air temperature. Jan struggled with heat exhaustion for much of the hike and was very relieved when we got back in the car with the air conditioner running.

After Friday’s experience, we decided to be more mindful of the weather on future hikes. On Saturday, we left the house at 7:30 am and chose a shorter hike with more shade. We hiked the 1.8 mile Flying Mountain Trail. The beginning of the hike had a fairly steep incline but there were ladders and rock steps most of the way. We ate our snack at a Somes Sound overlook, shortly after reaching the Flying Mountain summit. The remainder of the hike was largely downhill, including a stop at the beach which was near low tide.

On Sunday we were back to doing a more challenging hike. We hiked a 4 mile loop that started on the Man O’ War fire road and then turned onto the Acadia Mountain Trail. The Acadia Mountain Trail included an overlook of Somes Sound and a waterfall before turning steeper, with numerous scrambles up granite rocks. Jan had a couple of adrenalin rushes when she needed to climb up rock faces close to steep cliffs but managed to complete the climbs successfully. The views from the summit, which required a 682’ ascent, were quite impressive.

Monday’s hike focused more on endurance, rather than rock climbing, as we walked 6+ miles on the Eagle Lake carriage road. Between 1913 and 1940, philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. financed and directed the construction of 57 miles of carriage roads (free of motor vehicles) and stone bridges for use by hikers, runners, cyclists, and horseback riders and carriages. The hike was entirely through the woods and included views of Eagle Lake for about half the distance.

After taking a day off for dentist appointments, Wednesday found us back on the trails in Acadia National Park. We hiked a 3.5-mile loop that included the Gorham Mountain Trail, Bowl Trail and Ocean Path. Phil had hiked this loop previously when Jan and Sheila were at Sand Beach but this was Jan’s first time. We spotted a small snake that slithered across the trail.  A large insect, later identified as a Great Golden Digger Wasp, hitched a ride on Jan’s backpack.

On Thursday, July 11th, we had a very active day. With rain forecast for Friday and our departure from Trenton coming on Sunday, we had a few activities left on our To Do list. We began the day with a hike of the Day Mountain Trail. This 3-mile out-and-back hike took us to the summit of Day Mountain and beyond. It was mostly through the woods but there was a spot near the summit that provided a beautiful panoramic view of the Gulf of Maine.

We then hiked the Compass Harbor Trail, an easy 1-mile out-and-back trail to a harbor near downtown Bar Harbor. The trail took us through the remains of the mansion formerly owned by George Dorr, known as the father of Acadia National Park.

After getting cleaned up, we took the shuttle bus back to Bar Harbor for some last minute sightseeing and shopping. We walked the short Bar Harbor Shore Path that took us along the shoreline with Frenchman Bay on one side and impressive estates and hotels on the other. We hadn’t checked the weather forecast and, thus, had failed to dress properly for the much cooler weather. Despite this, we enjoyed a happy hour dinner outside on the patio of a restaurant on Main Street.

On Saturday we took an easy 2-mile hike on Lower Hadlock Pond Trail. The entire hike was in the pine forest that surrounds the lake and included a stop at a small waterfall.

After spending the afternoon preparing for our departure, we went to Travelin’ Lobster for lobster rolls. We stood in line to order for about 20 minutes but the wait was worth it as we were rewarded with enormous portions.

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