Monday, June 14, 2010

Mount Desert Island

We had a pleasant drive up U.S. Route 1 from Camden, not only in the sense that we didn't blow any tires or get stuck under any bridges, but also in the sense that we passed through some nice waterfront countryside. We didn't have reservations, so we were able to stop at a campground to check it out before committing, and ended up paying for a week's stay at Smuggler's Den in Southwest Harbor. We mostly camp in trees, so it's kind of nice to get some sunlight for a change.

Our first day out we took the kayaks down to Bass Harbor and found a place to launch. The tide was ripping strongly into a deep estuary with great view of the mountains. Our paddle started by shooting a mini rapid under a small bridge, which was great fun. I was a little concerned that it might be a challenge later when we came back - more on that later...

Here is Nancy framed by a smaller, but calmer, bridge:

The Rapid:

After a nice paddle on flat water with great views, we returned back hoping that the tide had changed and that the rapid we'd shot earlier would be either calm or running the other way. No such luck. So, we could either pull the boats up a steep rocky bank and then dash across the road to the truck...or...try to paddle up the rapid. I gave it a try, and couldn't overpower the strong current, but then Nancy poked up along the edge in an eddy and found that she could pull the boat through by grabbing the edges of the granite blocks the bridge is made from. She didn’t quite make it - got turned around and shot backwards, but I saw that she was onto something, and I was able to get my boat through using that technique! So then I walked back and hopped into Nancy's boat to take hers through. Kinsey was still on board as I cut across the current to get to the eddy. Then, I caught an edge, and rolled! Kinsey and I and a bunch of loose items were in the shockingly cold Maine water being swept downstream. It was not very deep, and I was bumping along, holding the boat, gasping from the cold and sputtering, and realizing that Kinsey was not accounted for!!! Before I could take any action she popped up from under the kayak and swam right into my arms! I caught a foothold, flipped the boat over, put Kinsey on board, and climbed in after her. I saw my paddle downstream a ways, so hand paddled the boat to catch it, then retrieved the other lost items! I made it through the bridge on my next try, but it was an exciting mishap!

Hiking Mt. Acadia:

Toby and I also took a hike up nearby Mt. Acadia, which was a beautiful but challenging trail, consisting of steep, rocky terrain. In many places the trailbuilders had posisitioned large hunks of granite to form rough steps, but some of these were too tall for Toby, especially on the way down the other side, where I had to carry him over the steepest sections of trail. Here is Toby waiting for a lift:

Views from the broad, granite ledges at the top were outstanding, offering vistas to the East, South, and West. To the east were a couple of other minor peaks on M.D.I. and much of Penobscot Bay, Camden Hills, etc.. To the West was Somes Sound and Cadillac Mountain. To the south was Southwest and Northeast Harbors, the Cranberry Isles, and the Atlantic Ocean, shown here:

Touring the West Side

We all took a drive around the west side of the island, stopping at the natural seawall:

A nice, easy hike down to the water on the Wonderland Trail brought us to fantastic waterfront: pebble beaches, boulder beaches, and huge chunks of pink granite "beaches", like this one:

We also stopped to check out pictoral Bass Harbor Light:

Bah Hahbah

What trip to MDI would be complete without a visit Bar Harbor? This iconic town, crowded with cute Maine-themed gift shops and seafood restaurants, is bustling with tourists hailing from as close as Ellsworth to as far as China. We went in for a night on the town: dining out and an entertaining improv comedy show.

Here we are in front of the harbor. Note the 4-masted wind-jammer moored there:

I had to have at least one lobster while in Maine! Here I humor Nancy by donning the obligatory lobster bib:


We got to know our neighbor, parked next to us in a shiny aluminum Airstream. It was great to get to know someone who is, like us, living and working on the road! Sharon, her exuberant husky-mix Harley and aged cat Peyote live in her stylish 20' trailer, staying between a week and a month at each destination. This is her second trip; she's already done a two-year tour of the country, so I think this time she will stay longer at her favorite places, including the great state of Maine. We had her over for dinner, and had a great evening sharing stories from the road, getting advice on this lifestyle, talking pets and drinking wine. Sharon is the first person we've met on our trip that we hope to keep in touch with and to meet again someday. Here we are sharing a grilled salmon dinner:

Lots to do and see on this island, so another blog entry coming up soon...

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