Thursday, June 18 (Bar Harbor / Mount Desert area)


Another perfect vacation day! We headed out early in the morning for a
series of small hikes. We started by driving back to Sand Beach in Acadia
National Park, still one of our very favorite places in the park, because
Richard had told us that there was a trail directly to the left of it
heading up to a cliff/promontory, Great Head. It was a fabulous hike,
complete with climbing around on the big chunks of granite that were part of the cliff, looking at some tidal pools, and generally enjoying these
fabulous Maine views of ocean, forest, and granite cliffs all in the same
area. A lot of the trail was just up granite surfaces, and that was fun
climbing. After that, we went to one more spot in the park that we wanted
to explore a little, Jordan Pond. We didn’t go on a real hike from there,
but we wandered around a little and saw the lake and walked a few hundred
feet on the famous carriage roads. There are miles and miles of these all
through the park, built by John D. Rockefeller in super high quality, and
although they’d be a perfectly fine gravel motor road anywhere else, they
don’t allow any cars–very far-seeing of Rockefeller, who had these built in
the early 1900s, up to the 1930s. You can ride bikes, have horses, and of
course walk, but they are about two car widths broad and really well
maintained. We also saw one of the gatehouses that forms an “entrance” to
the carriage house area, but I thought it was a bit goofy–built in perfect
imitation of French 16th-century tudor-framed houses in the 1930s.
Rockefeller also had a thing about granite bridges over and under the
carriage roads, and apparently no two are alike–we saw several, and they
are very pretty, blending into the landscape well. That was his goal–he
also instituted the tradition of using big squarish blocks of granite, set a
few feet apart from each other, as “guard rails” along the road–we learned
that they are called “Rockefeller’s teeth” around here.

We then left the park and had lunch in Northeast Harbor–at a cafe called
the Colonel that had sold us the fabulous donut the day before. But their
lunch was pretty blah, and their homemade bread/rolls were boring. So we
consoled ourselves by buying another donut to share (even though the cost
made me gulp–who has ever HEARD of a donut that costs $ 2.11 including
tax?). We then took a drive along the waterfront that we had seen from the
boat yesterday (Sergeant Drive) and headed to the fabulous public gardens in town. There are two, an Asian-inspired azalea garden right across from the Azicou Inn, where we had lunch the day before, and then another further up the hill called Thuya Garden, which has all kinds of glorious plants (and 5 gardeners to keep it maintained). A 2-mile loop hike through forest took us from the one to the other and back, and it was wonderful–better even than the gardens themselves. Mark took a lot of plant pictures of some awesome blooming flowers and bushes, and then we also got to visit the Thuya lodge.  This is the “cottage” (spacious, but not crazy–a couple of big rooms and a kitchen downstairs, a couple more rooms upstairs, deliberately rustic but with a huge library) where the original owner of this land, a man named Curtis, lived. He was another trailblazer philanthropist in the area–who decided that the non-wealthy regular folks in the area needed access to hikes and cool views, as everything was bought up by the wealthy vacationers. He built the lodge and landscaped the terraced land below and above (where the garden now sits), but made sure the path up remained public access. When he died (in the 20s), he left the land and the lodge to the town, who wisely appointed a friend of his who was a landscaping architected (and woodcarver) as a “steward.” That man in turn designed the gardens and fine-tuned the terraces, which made for a fabulous path down out of the garden with views of the harbor and many sit-down/lookout spots.  Beautifully designed.

Our last hiking stop was on the “quiet side” of the island, i.e. on the
western half–we drove to a dead-end parking lot below a hill called Beech
Mountain (mountains are not very high here, but I guess it counts, because
you can see so far). There was a steep 0.4 mile hike up to the fire tower
on top, and another 0.7 hike back down, with more beautiful views of the
ocean, the freshwater lakes on the inside of the island, and the forest in
between. A fun way to wrap up the hiking of the day! It was gloriously
sunny and in the 60s all day, so we were never too warm, but we did get a
bit grimy and sweaty, so we went to the motel to take showers and rest up a
bit. Then we drove to Richard and Lorraine’s house and had a simple dinner
with them and Rebecca. The house is inland, but completely awesome–a
unique design by a very modern-minded architect, and with a very
Scandinavian / space-saving design and a very steep-slope roof that prevents snow and rain from staying on the roof, even without gutters of any sort.  There are two bedrooms and a big loft area with office and reading space, and lots of light-colored wood and white paint. A bit much in terms of knick-knacks everywhere, but the design is beautiful, as is the rock garden outside–lots of granite, mostly there before they built there! R & L come there multiple times a year between May and October, and are clearly very happy to have this place for regular vacations. We talked over dessert and coffee, and left at about 9:30. Because it was a clear night, we took a
detour into the park and up to Cadillac Mountain to see the stars. But it
was very windy and cold up there, so we only lasted a few minutes. We could
see the stars above and the lights of the harbor towns below, but it was
spooky with the high winds, which actually blew entire CLOUDS of pine pollen across the road–dense enough that we at first thought it was fog! It was a great end to a wonderful day.


Leave a Reply