If you haven’t read it already, don’t miss Vacation in Maine, Part I.
Above the pragmatically-named “Sand Beach”.
Most of our Maine vacation was in Bar Harbor, and most of our time there was spent hiking in Acadia National Park. Acadia is one of the most-visited national parks in the USA, so we frequently encountered other hikers, limiting the wilderness experience, but on a few of the lesser-used trails we’d only encounter one or two other groups.
The trails varied in difficulty. There were flat strolls along lakeshores or through pine-and-birch forests, hikes up and down slopes on bare rock faces, and stepping from rock to rock on other slopes or around tidepools. The trails could benefit from a rating system like snow-skiers use. Maybe older couples wearing flip-flops, or a mother towing three small children, wouldn’t head down the black diamond trails.
Speaking of inappropriate footwear, I wore a fifteen-year-old pair of running shoes. My old hiking boots don’t fit due to toe surgery, and I was going to pick up new footwear at LL Bean, but all the shoe companies were getting cute with their designs. I liked a shoe from Vasque, but the tall part of the arch support ran all the way back to the heel. Who has a foot shaped like that? The goat-men of Tau Ceti, I suppose.
This was after several rounds of super-glue repairs.
Many of the trails were a mental exercise in multitasking. I had to watch my foot placement to avoid falling, I had to look an intermediate distance ahead to follow the trail markers, and I tried to take in the big picture of the scenery. I also often tried to plot an alternative course parallel to the trail markers, because the trail-marking team seemed to prefer big, knee-straining steps up and down onto rock shelves, while I prefer a gentler slope, even if it’s not the most direct route. My legs never got sore, even though I don’t exercise on slopes at home. My nightly soak in the hotel hot tub may have driven away the soreness.
My wife loved the scenery, but I also enjoy the small-scale stuff. I would have been happy to spend an entire day photographing lichens on Cadillac Mountain (some photos here), or the tidepools along the coast (some photos here), but my wife thinks I’m a bit crazy.
My wife tried the classic Maine foods: boiled lobster, lobster roll, and blueberry pie…
…but our favorite restaurant was the Tuscan Bistro in Freeport.
We visited the Mount Desert Oceanarium for a guided nature walk around some pine forest and salt marsh, and a visit to its lobster hatchery. Since I used to work in a giant clam hatchery, and have visited hatcheries for other freshwater and marine species, I was glad to add lobster to my list.
We bought tickets for a whale-watching trip, but when we rounded the corner and saw the boat we’d ride, I had a reverse-JAWS moment. “We need a smaller boat. We’ve got to go back and get a smaller boat.” It was a triple-decker passenger ferry, designed to maximize internal passenger seating, not at-the-rails viewing area. Hundreds of people were waiting to board. But, we’d already paid, and as far as I know, it’s the only whale-watching boat in Bar Harbor. There are other outfits at other harbors, but I don’t know what type of boats they use.
Whale going down
Our boat got close to a number of fin whales and humpback whales, but I mostly got glimpses between people’s heads from three ranks back. There was a rare experience where a newborn whale calf came up to the boat and eyeballed the humans for a good while, but I only heard about it afterwards. Near the end of the trip, as other passengers tired of the experience and went back to their i-phones, I got a couple of unobstructed views and even some photos, but I really wish I’d seen that calf.
Whale waves goodbye with pectoral fin
On our way home from Bar Harbor, we stopped in Bangor because my wife wanted to take her picture at Stephen King’s house. Stephen King was responsible for my first job — I was one of the kids in the original “Children of the Corn” movie. My picture is on the back cover of the original VHS packaging.
I’m pleased that we chose Maine as our vacation spot. The combination of ocean, forest, and mountain ecosystems, along with the historical sites, almost made it seem like several vacations. The only drawback to a Maine vacation is the cost. Hotels and restaurant meals cost two to three times what I’d expect to pay for similar quality elsewhere in the USA. You could cut costs by camping or staying at one of the many Bates Motels in the area, but we splurged because I now get very little vacation time, and because I wanted to reward my wife for sticking through my career ups and downs.
I have additional Maine photos up at the Alien Rover site, and I may add a few more.
Leave me a comment if you’ve been to Maine, or if you’re thinking about going there.