maine · Travel · usa

USA Sept 2013: Discovering Maine – Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park

The day starts brightly, with our hostess Jayne plying us with fruit cocktail, tomato and basil quiche and home-baked peach and bran muffins for breakfast.  As you would expect from an ex-UK pat, there is also real English Breakfast teabags.  Best cuppa I’ve had all holiday…

Weather looks like it could be sunny, could be cold.  I err on the positive side and wear shorts.  I look horribly out of place in the Acadia Visitor Center when everyone is huddled up as if they are embarking on an arctic expedition.  They’ll all be sorry when it’s boiling hot later on, won’t they?

We purchase our visitors pass and enter the park.  And it is indeed spectacular.  There are mountains, forests, beaches and lakes.  I make an impressive attempt at climbing a mountain trail before deciding that jumping up onto a few rocks and waving at Mr Fletche does not constitute serious hiking.  Plus I’m wearing shorts and am slightly concerned about poison ivy.  How will I recognise it anyway?  Does it grow next to a sign with a skull on, warning of toxic hazards?  Those people in sensible waterproof full-length trousers probably have the right idea.

Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park
I climbed this mountain...
I climbed this mountain…
Sand Beach, Acadia National Park
Sand Beach, Acadia National Park

The famous Thunder Hole is something of a disappointment today, despite hordes of tourists waiting for its thunderous roar when the waves hit the rocks.  Today, Thunder Hole is more Whisper Hole…

Thunder Hole
Thunder Hole

In the park; out of the park; over the only fjord in Western USA and we’re in Bernard.  And there’s only one reason why people go to Bernard…lobster!  I get the lobster roll and Mr Fletche opts for the chowder.  We are entertained by fellow diners attempting to tackle the task of ripping apart their lobsters; the staff however seemed happy to give instructions and demonstrations.  Our lunch was much simpler, and required no additional instructions.  If I was determined to get lobster roll for lunch today, Mr Fletche is equally determined to get pie and coffee.  Quietside Café in Southwest Harbor kindly obliges, and we scoff a huge slice of pie a la mode each.  Mr Fletche – inspired by our recent viewing of 90s cult classic Twin Peaks – declares his blueberry pie to be a “damn fine pie”.  My key lime pie is also pretty damn fine.

Lobster Roll at Thurstons
Lobster Roll at Thurstons
Pie!
Pie!

We head back hotelwards to change before heading back to the park for sunset.  Even I realise that shorts are no longer appropriate garb for the ever decreasing temperatures.  Good job too.  It is ridiculously cold and windy on top of Cadillac Mountain.  Mr Fletche – hardy photographer type that he is – braves the weather to catch some sunset shots.  I hide in the FM2013 and read Game of Thrones on the Kindle.

Top of the World
Top of the World
Cadillac Mountain
Cadillac Mountain
Sunset over Cadillac Mountain
Sunset over Cadillac Mountain

Back in Bar Harbor, we dress for dinner – which means removing a couple of those recently added layers.  We are attracted by the neon lights of the Route 66 Diner.  As all good diners should, it is filled with 50s memorabilia and plays rock and roll.  Oh, and has a big yellow taxi coming out of the roof.  How can we resist this slice of Americana?  I opt for my second lobster meal of the day – this time a Lobster Club Wrap and Mr Fletche has the crabcakes.  Both are delicious; now we just need to get the check and….oh wait; “Sorry ma’am, your credit card has been declined”…

What? We scrabble round for loose change to pay our bill whilst apologising profusely to the waitress about the state of UK banking today.  Hence today ends with a late night lengthy and thus expensive telephone call to my bank reminding them that I did actually let them know we would be out of the country, and the suspicious activity that they are concerned about is simply a result of us dining, drinking and putting gas in the FM2013 (oh, and a Coach purse)…

Fingers crossed, tomorrow we will once more have funds to play with…

Before the can't pay incident...
Before the can’t pay incident…

Rain stops play = lovely lazy day!

After that cliffhanger of an ending yesterday…yes, security clearance on the credit card has now been granted.   The Fletches have funds again!

The day starts earlier for Mr Fletche than it does for me.  5:30am to be exact.  He mumbles something about photographing the sunrise up a mountain; I roll back over in our high but extremely comfortable bed and tell him to close the door quietly on his way out.  Whilst Mr Fletche deals with chilly pre-dawn temperatures and fighting other photographers to get that first shot of the sunshine on US shores, I doze, read a little, catch up on world news on the internet (also known as Facebook) and have a nice long shower.  When Mr Fletche rolls back in just after 8am, I am ready and eager to start the day.

Another scrummy breakfast; finally we’re all ready to get up and go rent those bikes.  We open the front door.  We are faced with torrential rain.  Hmmm. We duck back inside to don our waterproof gear.  My image of us leisurely cycling round the park, stopping in fields to lay down a picnic blanket and making daisy chains is now a dripping sodden fantasy.  Maybe it will dry up later?

A rainy morning in Maine
A rainy morning in Maine

We take a stroll down to the harbor instead, ducking under trees to shelter from the deluge.  Still no signs of it brightening up, so we stop for a coffee/hot chocolate at the Trailhead Café and discuss our options.  Yes, we could still get a bike but we both know what will happen.  We will cycle for approximately ten minutes before I start complaining that I am cold and miserable.  Our other option for today was a boat cruise.  We could do this but we both know what will happen.  We will sail for approximately ten minutes before I start complaining that I am cold and miserable.  We hadn’t planned very well (or at all) for potential wet weather activities.

We decide to grab a sandwich from the Downeast Deli and have a picnic in the park anyway, albeit a picnic in the car park at Echo Beach Lake.  Chris has pastrami on rye and I have corned beef reuben.  These are not sandwiches we get in Greggs back home.  Suffice to say, the sandwiches are huge and we only eat half.

Getting friendly with the locals
Getting friendly with the locals

What else can we do in gloomy, slightly wet weather? In English seaside resorts, there is only one thing to do.  Crazy golf (or “Adventure Golf” as it is known over here).  The Lee/Fletcher family have played crazy golf in all weathers.  As it happens, we passed Pirates Cove Adventure Golf on our journey in on Sunday.  Let’s do it!  Except it’s closed when we get there.  Due to ‘inclement’ weather.  What?  Torrential rain and gale-force winds don’t stop the Brits from playing crazy golf!  Hmm, today is literally a washout…

Mr Fletche is starting to feel the effects of his 5:30am alarm call, so for the first time this holiday we decide to have a relaxing afternoon back in our room.  Whilst Mr Fletche dozes, I catch up on Game of Thrones.  The room is freezing, until we discover the heating controls on the wall.  Within 5 minutes, the room is toasty warm.  Within 10 minutes the room is like a sauna and we are shedding clothes and opening windows.

We cannot laze around here all day, and at least the rain has finally stopped.  We drive back into the park to catch sunset at Jordan Pond.  It is a little warmer and a little less windy than last night’s trip up the mountain.  Invigorated by our walk, we head back to the guesthouse to drop off the car, shed some layers and head into town for some food.  Tonight we dine at Geddy’s – an American /Seafood /Mexican /Pizza /Asian bar and grill.  Mr Fletche has mustard clams, whilst I have the teriyaki salmon.  We share a slice of blueberry pie for dessert.  This is the first test of the credit card since last night’s debacle, and we are very pleased to make a successful transaction.

Late afternoon at Jordan Pond - CPF Photography
Late afternoon at Jordan Pond – CPF Photography

There’s another long driving day ahead tomorrow (for Mr Fletche at least…) so we head back to finish up packing.  We will soon leave the coast behind and head inland to the White Mountains in New Hampshire…

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