Maine 2020 – Part 1 (July 14 – August 16, 2020)

On Tuesday, July 14th, we drove 307 miles from Middle Grove, NY to Biddeford, ME where we spent two nights at Homestead by the River RV Park.  The drive was almost entirely on interstate highways (mostly toll roads) and was largely uneventful, other than numerous work areas and service plazas in Massachusetts that were not big-rig friendly.  When we arrived at the campground, we learned that they had had three inches of rain that morning and our reserved pull-through site was a swamp.  So, rather than risk getting stuck in the muck, we were offered a back-in site.  Phil was not excited about the prospect of doing a blind-side back-in around a tree so the owner arranged for an experienced semi driver to back our rig into the site.

On Wednesday, we picked up a lobster roll at Pool Street Market in Biddeford and drove to Biddeford Pool.  After consuming our lobster roll, we hiked the 1.5-mile East Point Audubon Sanctuary Trail that took us along the rocky coast and provided us with a view of a lighthouse.

On Thursday, we drove 180 miles on the Maine Turnpike to Trenton, ME where we will spend 64 days at Timberland Acres RV Park.  This is the same campground where we spent a month in 2019.

The weather on Friday was cool and overcast so we just drove the Park Loop through Acadia National Park, including a brief stop at the Jordan Pond House.  We also drove through Bar Harbor, where we noted that several of the businesses we had frequented in 2019 had closed for 2020.

On Saturday, we stayed closer to home and hiked the 2.8-mile Trenton Community Trail.  Although the trail didn’t include much scenery, it was a pleasant walk through the forest and included a short boardwalk over the bog.  On Sunday, we sought to escape the heat by driving to Seal Cove, where we sat by the water and read our books.

On Monday, we returned to Acadia NP and hiked 6 miles on the Eagle Lake Carriage Road.

On Tuesday, we returned to Jordan Pond and hiked the 3.5-mile full loop around the lake.

On Wednesday, July 22nd, we returned to Acadia NP and hiked the Ocean Path from Sand Beach to Otter Cliff and back again, nearly 5 miles in total.  We timed our stop at Thunder Hole to be exactly two hours before high tide.  This is supposed to be the time when the waves at Thunder Hole are the loudest but it was somewhat disappointing.

On Friday, we hiked the 2-mile loop at Lower Hadlock Pond.  Then, on Saturday, we drove to Surry, ME and hiked another 2-mile loop at the Carter Nature Preserve.  We arrived at the coastal part of the hike exactly at low tide and were able to walk along the rocks.

Timberland Acres campground has special activities on the weekends during the summer.  Our first weekend had a Hawaiian theme, with a luau that included a pig roast.  Although we did check out the pig on the spit, the $15 per plate for dinner was a little too pricey for us.  Our second weekend was Christmas in July and offered prizes for the most impressive Christmas decorations.  Some people went all out and had some very elaborate displays.  Jan got in the spirit of the season and decorated our picnic table with the few Christmas items we carry with us.

On Monday, July 27th, we did a 7.3-mile hike on the Witch Hole Pond Carriage Trail.  Although the carriage trails make for rather smooth walking, this was the longest distance we had hiked this year.  We spotted several large birds of prey sitting on branches along the trail but we were unable to identify them.

On Tuesday, we hiked the 3-mile out-and-back Big Wood and Shore Trails. After walking through the forest, the Shore Trail brought us out to the coast. We found two Adirondack chairs conveniently placed above the shoreline of Western Bay.  It was a warm, sunny day but the chairs were in the shade and there was a cool breeze coming off the water.  We watched a couple of seals and some kayakers pass by.  If we had brought books with us, we would likely have stayed there a long time.

Phil had researched pickleball venues in the area and, on Tuesday, headed out to play.  His first stop was at the Ellsworth Tennis Club where they have four indoor courts.  However, he learned that Mainers apparently don’t play pickleball indoors when it is warm outdoors.  The clerk at the tennis club recommended Phil try the outdoor courts at the YMCA.  This worked out well and he found a nice group to play with several afternoons each week.  Making matters even better, there is no charge to play at the YMCA, unlike the Tennis Club.

Wednesday’s hike was back in Acadia National Park.  We did the 2.4-mile Great Head Trail that begins with a walk across Sand Beach and then continues in a loop around the cliffs overlooking Fisherman’s Bay and the beach.

On Thursday, we hiked another Acadia NP carriage trail, the 6-mile Aunt Betty Loop.  This trail included two long, steep ascents and two long, steep descents.

Friday’s hike was a combination of three trails near Southwest Harbor; the Flying Mountain, Valley Peak and St. Sauveur Peak trails.  These three trails made two loops totaling over 4 miles, with an elevation rise of 931’.  The Alltrails app mistakenly had these trails listed as ‘easy’ but they were definitely not easy.  In addition to the usual tree roots and rocks on the trails, we had to scramble over lots of large boulders while we climbed up steep paths.  The scenery was worth the effort, though.  We rewarded ourselves by picking up a lobster roll on the way home.

On Saturday evening, we went to Bar Harbor for dinner at Jalapeños.  Downtown Bar Harbor was quite active and everyone was wearing masks.  After dinner, we strolled around town and along the waterfront.

Panorama of the harbor at Bar Harbor

On Sunday, we hiked the 2.5-mile Branch Lake Public Forest Loop.  Our initial challenge was in reaching the trailhead.  The GPS coordinates stopped on a busy highway and didn’t show how to reach the trail.  By using Google Earth, we could see some sort of road to the trailhead but we couldn’t understand why the GPS wouldn’t take us there.  We finally found a sign for the forest.  The parking area was a mile down a single-lane gravel road with deep ruts.  It was slow-going but, fortunately, we had no oncoming traffic.  Once we reached the forest, the hike was enjoyable and took us to the edge of beautiful Branch Lake.  We snacked on whoopie pies we had purchased Saturday night; Jan had Classic Chocolate and Phil had Blueberry Lemon.

On Monday, August 3rd, we drove to meet Jason at the Bangor airport.  On Tuesday, we began our re-introduction of Jason to the challenges of hiking in Acadia.  We hiked the Champlain North Ridge Trail, an up-and-back trail to the summit of Champlain Mountain.  Although it is only a little more than a mile to the summit, the route has an 833-foot elevation gain and mostly involves climbing on granite boulders.  That evening, we went into Bar Harbor and had dinner at Route 66.  We all had hot lobster rolls with melted butter.  After dinner, we visited some shops in Bar Harbor and, since it was near low tide, we were able to hike across the sand to Bar Island.

Overnight, the effects of tropical storm Isaias reached Maine and we had heavy rain and strong winds.  Because of the rain, we decided to avoid hikes that would require climbing up the rocks.  Instead, we hiked a couple of out-and-back trails with very little elevation gains, the Jesup Trail and the Kane Trail.  The Jesup Trail was quite easy, with much of it on a boardwalk.  However, the Kane Trail mostly consisted on walking on boulders along the edge of The Tarn, a large pond.  After our hike, we drove to the Schooner Head Overlook and hiked down to the rocks overlooking Frenchman’s Bay.

On Thursday, we returned to Jordan Pond.  Jason and Phil hiked a strenuous 5-mile loop consisting of the Spring, Penobscot, Deer Brook and Jordan Pond trails.  Jan opted for a easier hike by doing the full Jordan Pond Loop again.  That afternoon, Phil took Jason to the YMCA for a couple of hours of pickleball.

Friday’s adventure took us to the more remote part of Acadia National Park, the Schoodic Peninsula.  After stops at Frazer Point and Schoodic Point to enjoy the views, we continued to Blueberry Hill.  We hiked the Anvil Trail to the summit of Schoodic Head and ate our breakfast there.  We then returned down the Alder Trail.  A short distance further down the park loop road, we came to the trailhead for the East Trail.  Phil and Jason hiked this strenuous 1.4-mile out-and-back trail that involved a lot of climbing up the rocks.  Jan decided to stay behind and enjoy the views from the shoreline.

On Saturday, August 8th, we drove to Sand Beach.  We all hiked the Ocean Path together until we reached the Gorham Mountain trailhead.  Jan continued down the Ocean Path to Otter Point, then returned to Sand Beach.  Phil and Jason hiked the Gorham Mountain and Bowl trails, which brought them back to Sand Beach where they met up again with Jan.  We sat on the beach for a while and cooled our feet in the bay.

We took a day off from hiking on Sunday.  Instead, we did a road trip down the coast of Maine and drove through many harbor towns.  Phil had found an article on the Internet titled the “Top 10 Places to Retire in Maine” and we decided to visit two of these towns, Belfast and Rockland.  We reached Belfast first and spent some time walking along the harbor, visiting the downtown shopping district and driving past a few houses listed for sale.  Our next stop was Camden where we visited several shops.  We then continued on to Rockland where we ate lunch at The Brass Compass, strolled down to the harbor where we could see a lighthouse and drove by a few houses for sale.  On our return trip, we drove to see a house that we had seen listed on the window of a Rockland realtor.  It had a Lincolnville address but was actually located over a mile down an unpaved road along Coleman Pond.

Jason stayed with us for another week and worked remotely during the day.  He was able to stay connected successfully using the hotspot on Jan’s phone.  We resumed our morning hikes on Tuesday while Jason worked.  We hiked the 3.5-mile Conners Nubble Trail.  The beginning and end of this hike was along the Eagle Lake Carriage Road.  Then we headed up a steep trail that took us to the Conners Nubble summit.  We ate our breakfast while enjoying the views of Eagle Lake and the Bubbles range.

That evening Jan packed our dinner and we headed to Cadillac Mountain to watch the sunset.  When we arrived, we discovered that there was no view of the western horizon from the summit.  Instead, we drove down the access road to a pullout and carried our chairs and food through the bushes to a plateau where we could set up for the show.  The only downside to this location was that it was extremely windy so we had to turn our backs to the wind while we ate.  The sun set at 7:44 pm and we enjoyed every minute of it.

On Wednesday, we drove to Southwest Harbor and hiked two fairly short hikes.  The first, Ship Harbor Trail, was a 1.5-mile figure-8 hike that took us out to the harbor.  Since it was close to low tide, we were able to climb on the rocks and explore the many tide pools.  We ate our breakfast on a big rock facing the ocean.  Our second hike was the nearby Wonderland Trail, a 1-mile out-and-back trail to the rocky coast line.  We spent a lot of time climbing on the rocks and examining the many cairns that had been built along the shore.

We attempted to hike the Kebo Mountain Trail that evening after our dentist appointments and after Jason finished working.  Unfortunately, we ran out of daylight and had to turn back after reaching the summit, rather than finishing the whole hike.

On Thursday, we drove to the town of Blue Hill and hiked the 2.5-mile Blue Hill Mountain Loop.  The initial climb was rather steep but we were rewarded with beautiful views of the Blue Hill harbor.  After our hike, we drove through the town.

On Friday, August 14th, we drove to Northeast Harbor and hiked the 3-mile out-and-back Day Mountain Trail. Although most of the hike was through the woods, there were some great overlooks of the harbor and the Atlantic Ocean from near the summit.  That evening, we had dinner at the Chart Room before heading into Bar Harbor for some shopping.  During Jason’s 2019 visit, we had driven by this restaurant and Jason had mistakenly read the sign as the Chat Room.  This had been a running joke ever since then but this was the first time we had actually eaten there.

On Saturday, we took Jason for his last hike in Acadia for 2020.  We left early and were lucky to get the last spot at the Bubbles parking area.  We did the 4-mile Jordan Pond Carry to Eagle Lake and Bubbles Trail Loop.  This hike had a little bit of everything.  The trail along Eagle Lake was extremely rocky and required a great deal of care in finding our footing.  Then we climbed to the summit of Conners Nubble, repeating the trail we had done on Tuesday.  The next leg was a climb to the summit of North Bubble, before descending and returning to the parking lot.  We were glad to have started early since the parking lot was packed and tensions were high among the many people waiting for a parking spot.

That evening, we rented kayaks and spent 2.5 hours paddling on Long Lake during sunset.  Jan and Phil shared a tandem kayak while Jason had a single.  It was a beautiful night with a light wind.

Sunday marked the end of our first month at Timberland Acres RV Park.  Fortunately, we have another 33 days here.  We drove Jason to the Bangor airport for his flight home. The 13 days he was with us went by very quickly and were very enjoyable.