Monday, October 21, 2013

Downeast it's Mainely Lobster

Howard and I have October birthdays less than 2 weeks apart and decided we would combine them somewhere in between and celebrate with Maine lobster, a delicacy to us west coast Dungeness crab folks  Our plan was to return, after some 15 years, to Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island (MDI), the largest island off the coast of Maine, and home to many popular summer colonies like Bar Harbor.

Lobster by the pound...delicious!

The park, of course, was closed therefore no carriage ride and no hikes from our campsite through the many roads and trails. Yes, you could still walk into the barricaded sites that were accessible from the public roads where you queued up in a long line of shoulder parking. Disappointing but we compensated well with yet another Passport America park, Mt. Desert Narrows.

At Mt. Desert Narrows with a view

We immediately set out to find Thurston's Lobster Pound, listed as one of the best in all of the reviews we read.  Why, I wondered, were all the lobster places called pounds, until we ordered at the walk-up counter and were asked what size.  We opted for lobster and salad with a cup of fish chowder, but many orders came packed with corn on the cob and many sides!  The very casual restaurant was crammed with international visitors, local New Englanders, and others on the road like us.  On our outings we'd stop for lunch adding lobster bisque, lobster rolls, Caesar salad topped with lobster. Enough already!  When we met up with our friend Al for yet another birthday celebration at Galyn's, a local favorite by the waterfront, we all ordered their famous prime rib! 

Colorful lobster trap buoys  

Our week's stay was full of long drives with strolls through towns and villages like Southwest HarborSomesville, and Northeast Harbor.  Each offered its own ambiance from working harbors and boat-building to summer enclaves for the rich and famous.  There was no lack of photo opportunities and rich history to enjoy.

Much photographed scene near Somes Sound
Splashes of Fall color on a gray day

Southwest Harbor

Northeast Harbor

Island sunset

Another beautiful scene around MDI

Getting into Bar Harbor, then securing a parking spot, was challenging due to the late-season crowds and beautiful weather.  We soon learned to avoid downtown on days when as many as 3 large cruise ships were in port, or arrive after 5 p.m. when passengers were back onboard. Since many of the park attractions were closed the sidewalks and streets were gridlocked with pedestrian traffic and fully loaded buses headed for outlying villages.

Downtown on a drizzly non-cruise ship day

By Bar Harbor waterfront
Tall ship & cruise ship

Around town

Bass Harbor Lighthouse was a must-see even with the access road closed to vehicles.  We drove toward the village of Tremont and Bass Harbor, parked along the highway and joined the parade of visitors walking in the approx. 1/4 mile to the lighthouse.  To the right is a path that takes you down to the tower and viewing area with a panoramic view of the harbor and islands in the distance. This is a working light and the ranger and his family were in residence.

Light tower and keeper's house

To the left of the buildings, and not as clearly marked, is a path leading to a stairway that follows the face of the cliff down to the rocks below.  In order to get a really good shot you need to climb out to the water's edge, but I was pushing my luck to get this far.  Clicking on the link above will show photos of those more nimble and courageous than I.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse seen from the rocks below

We are now at our furthest point East and will soon turn south.  I think it's worth mentioning that from Washington State we have followed US Highway 2, with a few detours along the way, to Bangor, Maine.  This northernmost east to west route spans some 2570 miles, mostly two-lanes, and often on America's backroads.  What a trip!

US Highway 2


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