October 6 Bar Harbor/Acadian National Park

Good morning. This is the last full day of our adventure. The motel we’re staying in is a bit outside of Bar Harbor, and each of our rooms has a balcony, which I haven’t spent nearly enough time on. But here’s the sunrise, seen from the balcony:P1010995

It’s worth getting up in the morning, just for the view.

Okay, we could leave the luggage and and the increasingly large piles of laundry in the hotel rooms, and off we go on our adventure at the Acadian National Park. We finally found what passed for adequate “Fall Color” so we all have a photo of the same tree: P1010996

On the way in, Linda pointed out a beaver lodge, so some of us piled out to take photos. P1010999

And John noticed a nearby beaver dam:P1020001

Way cool, though of course it was the wrong time of day for beavers. Mary warned us about ticks. Several times.

We caught up with the group at the information center by the Precipice Trail. There was the gift shop, of course, and a series of trails.  Mary was thrilled to purchase a Senior Pass for the National Park System. Then I pointed out to her the official “passport” for recording every park she visited. She bought it. Then I showed here where the first stamp was so she could mark her visit to the park. By the end of the day, she had already collected four stamps!  Time constraints prevented Alice and me from climbing to the top, though we walked far enough to see the wigwam:P1020002 and the local branch of the Abbe Museum (more about that later):P1020003 There were some alluring “paths not taken” that at least I was able to get a photo of. Maybe next trip:P1020005P1020007  Rumor was that a couple from the group had climbed up to the very top here:P1020006 Then, still cruising around in this incredible place, we arrived at the “Thunder Hole” where the waves, crashing in, are forced into a very narrow chute, and, as a result, crash more spectacularly:P1020013 As we watched, we could see why visitors were no longer allowed in the walkway close to the waves.

This park consists mostly of tracts of acreage purchased in the early 1900s by millionaires who vacationed on the island. They eventually talked the National Park System into taking over management of the park. John D. Rockefeller gave a large chunk of land, and also was intimately involved in development of the park. He paid for 16 bridges that were constructed on the roads. Didn’t get photos, as we were driving. They were big enough for our huge bus to pass under. All were gorgeously, uniquely designed, and are worth visiting for their own merits. Much of Rockefeller’s fortune came from oil, but he hated the noisy new autos, and instead paid for the building of 45 miles of auto-free roads within the park. They’re still auto free, and used by hikers, horseback riders, horse-drawn carriages, and bicyclists. I think it would be a fabulous way to see the park.

http://www.acadiamagic.com/carriage-roads.htm

The cyclists we saw certainly seemed to be having a good time.

Lunch was at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant within the park. We had a reservation, which was great, as there was a huge number of folks hoping to get fed, and there was still an equally large number waiting when we left. The house favorite are popovers, which seemed spendy at $4 each. But we were hungry, and our waiter passed them around, and we all had two, with butter and jam. Sandwiches for lunch. The quinoa salad, accented with nuts and cranberries and carrots, was absolutely fabulous. I would have enjoyed just the salad. No photos, but it wasn’t much to look at.

After lunch, we were directed to go outside and see as much as we could by 2:30. For Alice and me, that meant a brisk walk about the Jordan Pond Trail. It was great. We went the reverse of the usual way, which was a good thing. The more difficult walking, balancing on planks and climbing around rocks, were in the first half of our trek, while folks who had an easy first half had tougher going at the end. There was much to see, when we didn’t have to look where we were going.P1020014  This whimsical structure (obviously not a Rockefeller bridge; it looks like a coat hanger on steroids,) marked the half way point in our walk:P1020016 They were a little coy about the distance around the pond. But John noticed two signs, pointing to the north and south sides, and each indicating it was 1.5 miles to the other shore. So we decided the distance around the pond was a vigorous three miles. It was wonderful to walk briskly and talk honestly and enjoy how peaceful and beautiful everything was. Just magnificent.

After the walk, we all piled onto the bus and drove to Cadillac Mountain. I was too tired to walk around much, but we got another group photo:P1020019 and one more magnificent landscape, in case we didn’t have enough photos of them: P1020018 And Linda lured Joe away from the bus long enough so we could practice the song we were going to sing to Joe that evening.

We finally finished at the park, and headed for home. Joe dropped most of the tired, dirty travelers off at the hotel (rumors of lounging on the balconies) and took five of us into town for an hour. Rick and Sally wanted to walk in on their own. I wanted to see the Abbe Museum, right across from the Anglican church  .http://www.abbemuseum.org/ It has a lot of interesting information about archaeology, and how methods and technology have evolved over time since the first work was done in the area in the 1920s. The Abbe seems to have another mission, that of encouraging the preservation and passing down of native skills. There was a beautiful new canoe, sleek and elegant, and these wonderful new baskets, which all looked like berries:P1020024 and another basket, which looked like a wedding cake:P1020022 here’s  photo of some of the artifacts I found:P1020021 P1020023 Look closely on the big brown circle for the picture of the moose, which seems to be everyone’s favorite animal around here. Tom showed up at the museum, and enjoyed the exhibits, too.

Then Joe drove us back to the hotel, and it was time to get cleaned up and dressed for our grand farewell dinner. Linda especially liked my fancy top. Most of the group had ordered lobster, but after witnessing the ordeal with the first lobster dinner, I had opted for the vegetarian option. And it was one of the best meals of the trip, which is really saying something. We all had an ear of corn on the cob and some potato wedges. I hadn’t realized it’s a cultural identification, if one scrapes the corn off the cob, and then eats the kernels, or if one simply gnaws on the ear. Whatever. And of course potatoes because they’re all grown locally. My entree was a portabella mushroom, cooked, and topped with a tall tower of couscous, artichoke, spinach, and seasoning. I’m sorry I didn’t get a photo–it didn’t look nearly as fabulous as it tasted. I ate every bite. Then Mike, the maitre d’, served us all a slice of blueberry pie with a dollop of sweetened, flavored whipped cream. It was delicious, but I think nothing could surpass the pie we’d scarfed up at lunch yesterday. Some requested ice cream for their pie, but it just wasn’t the same. Mary bought me a glass of pinot grigio, which was divine.

When we finally finished eating, Linda handed around these great certificates, supposedly signed by Champlain, indicating we all belonged to his Order of Good Cheer. We even had our name inscribed on our individual copy. Then we took turns talking about what we enjoyed most about the trip. I think most of us were in agreement of what the high points were. I mentioned the pumpkin patch, and petting a cat there. They agreed with the former, not the latter. Linda talked about all the activities, and how they all came together perfectly. We ended with singing the Busdriver Song to Joe. He didn’t cry, as promised, but he was touched, and talked about how much he enjoyed working with Linda and Road Scholar. Then it was time for the long, last walk to the hotel, and bed, and sweet dreams about these marvelous last two weeks. And for the first time since I started the trip, I passed 20,000 steps on my pedometer. A perfect ending.

Good bye.

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