Thursday, December 27, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Beyond lobster dinners its tough to find a good place to eat in the downeast area that isn't fried food. Calypso is a great addition to the area.
Our group of four ended up there last Saturday night after not getting a reservation at Cleonice another fine dinning choice in downtown area and we were happy to discover another great dining choice in town.
We had a 5:30 dinner reservation and had plenty of time to enjoy a great, flavorful meal and then take in a 7 pm movie.
Everyone at our table had a flawless dinner service and sampled appetizers, soups, special and regular menu items. Everything was excellent. We'll be back!!!
Calypso is located at 156 Main St, Ellsworth
Monday, December 10, 2007
We recently gave the new incarnation a try and were extremely disappointed. At first glance we had high hopes. The renovation was great. Warm and inviting. The menu looked promising with its cute Moose items. But the wait staff was over worked and unattentive. The bar service was poor - mixing up white wine with rose. But mostly the food was subpar. Everything took forever to be served and when it was it was obviously from out of the freezer bag. One appetizer was a plate of cold greasey soggy fries with cheese poured on top. A "Ruben dip" was good but came with four crackers. The Asian salad was a small amount of lettuce with chow mein noddles sprinkled on top.
The Jerk chicken wrap was manufactured chicken chunks (Costco?) and the Philly Cheese steak was made of mystery meat manufactured "steak" chunks (Costco again?) on a fococia bun. How hard is it to at least have a bulkie roll and some minute steaks and cheese whiz?
We didn't stay around for the happening bar scene but from what we've heard its a bunch of local drunks who get their load on and then start fighting. Quite the problem on a small island where everyones history intersets with each other - Hey you left my sister at the prom back in 1985! I'll get you for that. etc etc.
Its too bad. The area could use a decent place that served good honest pub food. Maybe if the chef decides not to be so lazy and relied less on the freezer and more on fresh ingredients it could be better.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
"On Thursday October 12, 2006 with an offshore storm and a misty,foggy day, Thunderhole in Acadia National Park was putting on a show. In the summer this is generally a big letdown, but it lived up to its name today. Watch until the end for biggest waves that frightened us from our rocky perch."
The race is sponsored nationally by Red Lobster although you don't see too much mention of the sponsor in the write ups about race. Locals aren't all that savvy when it comes to marketing and giving the sponsors value for their sponsorship dollar it would seems.
Red Lobster is an interesting sponsor since the local economy is so dependent on lobstering (and selling shore dinners) and there isn't any Red Lobster restaurants in Maine (who needs chain seafood when you can buy locally direct from the fisherman). For Red Lobster the fit is perfect. They can promote seafood as healthy and tie themselves in with the image of Maine and Maine Lobstering. After all they most certainly buy a lot of lobsters from Maine fishermen even if all that shrimp is frozen.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Penobscot Narrows Bridge
Entrance: Fort Knox State Park
711 Fort Knox Rd, Prospect, ME 04981
$5 Adults - $3 Children 5 - 11 - $2.50 Free Children 4/under
Observatory fees include admission to Fort Knox
Observation Tower Open-May 21-Nov 1 Hrs: 8:30am - 5:00pm
Directions: The Penobscot Narrows Bridge is about 220 miles north of Boston, or about 4 1/2 hours. Take Interstate 95 north to Augusta, Maine; take exit 113, Route 3 east, to Belfast, where Route 3 joins Route 1. Follow Routes 1 and 3 north to Prospect.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
On September 9, the Ray-Smith family of Milbridge, ME, received the exciting news that Ty Pennington and the crew of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” will renovate and hopefully appease the ghosts in their haunted home, a family heirloom, in just seven days.
Brittany Ray and Ron Smith first met in nursery school. After attending separate colleges, they came back together and were married in 1994. Both valuing education and wanting to give back to their community, they retreated back to their hometown of Milbridge, a town founded by Brittany’s great-great grandparents, to become teachers and active community leaders.
With accumulating school loans and other bills, the family had no choice but to move into the family home that has been passed down for generations. The home which is over 100 years old and built by Brittany’s great-great grandparents is spooked with a slew of problems: an outdated septic system, no insulation, a cracking foundation, an outdated furnace is outdated which overheats, a leaky roof, freezing pipes, and ancient electrical wiring that is a fire hazard and one of the more dangerous and serious issues. If the extremely unsafe condition of their home weren’t enough, the Ray-Smith house is also haunted, likely by the ancestors of Brittany Ray. With an affinity for sharp objects, they have come home to find a pair of scissors standing upright on the counter, or shirt pins balanced in a circle in a candle. On one occasion, they were awakened in the middle of the night to discover the furnace turned up as high as it could go, driving the temperature in their home to 100 degrees.
In addition to the struggles they face with their home, they also contend with high medical bills as their son, Thomas, suffers from Autism and doctors fear their other son, JoJo, may be Autistic as well. Both Ron and his daughter, Bayley, suffer from Hypolipidemia, a condition causing extremely high cholesterol, which resulted in fatal heart attacks in Ron’s mother and brother.
The dangers lurking in this house are scary, and the family has come to realize the entities in the house are merely trying to help them understand how unsafe their home is and that it is time to do something about it. In this episode, Ty and the designers of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” will renovate this family jewel to create a safe environment for this family, their ghosts, and the newest member of their family, an adopted daughter from China.
While Ty and the designers, local builder Broughman Builders and hundreds of volunteers and workers are rebuilding their home, the Ray-Smith family will go on vacation to Walt Disney World.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Acadia Bike features the largest bicycle rental fleet in New England, so you're sure to get the bike you want. Enjoy Acadia's natural wonders as you pedal the car-free carriage roads or Park Loop Road. Our bikes - new each year, most with front suspension - are meticulously maintained and custom-fitted to ensure you'll have a great ride. All sizes, plus tandems, trailers & kids' bikes. Low rates, with discount for advance reservations. Located in downtown Bar Harbor, across from the post office. Open daily at 8am.
48 Cottage Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
The most fascinating journey in Bar Harbor begins at the Abbe Museum! Discover the story of the first people of Maine through exhibitions and programs that span 10,000 years of history, art and archaeology. Learn about the Native people of Maine today and enjoy their songs and stories, arts and crafts. Visit the Museum Shop for high quality gifts crafted by Maine Native people. Downtown museum: open May-November. Historic Abbe at Sieur de Monts Spring: open May-October. Admission charged.
P.O. Box 286, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Enjoy an up-close experience with marine life. At the oceanarium on Rt. 3 take a guided tour of a salt marsh and the Maine Lobster Museum. At the working lobster hatchery we take you on a fascinating tour to see mother lobsters & baby lobsters & the hatchery process. Combination tickets available. Group discounts and tours.
Rt. 3, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Surrounded by the mountains of Acadia National Park, Kebo Valley has been enticing golfers from all over the world for more than 100 years to the challenges of the finest 18 holes of championship golf in Maine. Just minutes from downtown Bar Harbor. Kebo Valley consistently ranks among America's best public golf courses. Expert PGA staff. Private and group lessons. Fully modern clubhouse. Banquets. Lunch served daily 11am-4pm. Open daily spring, summer & fall.
100 Eagle Lake Road, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
PO Box 514, 67 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609 207-288-2521
Unless you know a local fisherman this is the only clean and commercial lobster boat tour around...
The only Lobster Boat tour in Bar Harbor hosted on a traditional Downeast-style lobster boat. After several successful seasons delighting passengers in the Hancock area of Frenchman/Flanders Bays, Lulu now sails out of Bar Harbor. The Harborside Hotel & Marina is Lulu’s base of operations. Lulu carries a maximum of fifteen people on a two hour tour offering the most exclusive, personal and unique cruise in Bar Harbor.
See the schedule
Thursday, August 30, 2007
On our recent trip we noticed a lots of families with kids. The kids menu is $6.95.
Where: Former XYZ location on the harbor in Manset (Southwest Harbor) near Hinkley Boat Yard
What: Brazilian food
Drinks: Fresh, unique, flavorful, generous and strong.
Food: Good but overpriced. $18 for franks and beans (black bean and sausage) and $28 for a sirloin. Make sure you check out the view of Southwest Harbor because you're paying for it. There is a lighter fare menu with $10 burgers, $8 Hot Dogs, lobster rolls and salads.
Service: Good, family affair with attentive service although my after dinner coffee cup was about 3/4 filled and no one came around to top it off.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
If You Have 3 Days
If you have three days on Mount Desert Island, stay in Bar Harbor. There's plenty of things in this popular resort town to keep you occupied on your first day -- from bustling boutiques to interesting museums. On Day 2, stop at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center to pick up information about special events, then head to Acadia National Park. A drive around Park Loop Road is a great way to learn the lay of the land. Stop along the way -- a lot of the scenic overlooks have informational signs you may find interesting. Finish up the Park Loop Road journey by driving to the top of Cadillac Mountain to enjoy the sunset. On Day 3, rent a bike and explore the network of carriage roads that crisscross the island. Take in the spectacular view of Jordan Pond from the observation deck of the Jordan Pond House, a restaurant known for its massive popovers with lots of strawberry jam. For the afternoon's entertainment, hike the South Bubble Mountain (easier) or Penobscot Mountain (more challenging).
If You Have 5 Days
Follow the three-day itinerary above. On Day 4, drive to Northeast Harbor, the summer home of many of the country's wealthiest families. Take in the Asticou Azalea Garden and Thuya Gardens. On your last day, take a sightseeing cruise in the morning. In the afternoon, head to Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, taking in Somesville and Southwest Harbor along the way.
When to Go to Acadia National Park
Memorial Day and Labor Day mark the official beginning and end of high season on Mount Desert Island. The reality, however, is that there is no reason you have to visit during this narrow window. Temperatures often begin to rise in April or May. The crowds are smaller during these months, but you may have to contend with minor irritants such as ice and snow on the trails through Acadia National Park.
By September, the heat and humidity of the summer begin to taper off, making it one of the most enjoyable months to visit. Autumn foliage peaks between the end of September and the middle of October, enhancing the already spectacular views. Although many seasonal businesses close their doors after Columbus Day, the island does not shut down entirely. You can still find some good restaurants and a small number of lodging options throughout the winter months.
Regardless of when you decide to visit, you will enjoy your visit to the island more if you book your accommodations in advance. Although it's possible to find last-minute accommodations during the summer months, it may take several phone calls before you locate a room. If you have a particular type of lodging in mind, it's best to book as far in advance as possible. Accommodations tend to fill up especially quickly on holiday weekends. From November to April, your challenge shifts from finding an open room to finding an open hotel. You'll definitely want to call ahead.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
A locals favorite when it opens each summer season. I can't believe I've never tried this place until recently. Probably because it is a bit off the beaten path and with so many seasonal places to sample its hard to get around to all of them.
My son actually went here with a friend before I did. He had a doughboy (fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon) and recommended the place (he's seven).
So we went for lunch. I had a crab cake special. $6.95. Nothing fancy - lettuce, tomato, bun, homemade chips on the side and just about the freshest, best crab cake ever! Very little filler. This was not one of the frozen hockey pucks you might get in Bar Harbor. This was the real McCoy, freshest crabmeat (they pick it down the street), hand formed and not overcooked.
You can get shrimp sandwiches, crabmeat, lobster rolls and even full lobster dinners but I'd try the crabmeat which really is picked in small operations around town.
My son had the chicken fingers side order ($3.95) and ate every last one of them.
They serve desert until 9 pm so go for some ice cream and the famous old fashioned doughboys and doughgirls ($2.00). Fried dough with powder suger and cinnamon or simply powdered sugar.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
My son's karate class recently moved to the Town Hill section of Bar Harbor, right down the street from the Atlantic Brewing Company's Knox Road brewery. Atlantic Brewing is the source of my favorite beer in the world - Bar Harbor Real Ale on tap.
At the brewery you can take a tour of the operation, buy items from their gift shop and even enjoy some tasty smoked meats at Mainely Meat a very laid back, extremely casual dining experience. Most of the seating is located outside under umbrellas so its best experience on a nice warm day.
The meats are all smoked in Mainly Meats huge smoker without a lot of extra favor added. Mainely the smoke favor. So don't expect ribs like you'd get in some chain restaurant where they warm up frozen ribs in a pan of BBQ sauce. Here you can enjoy the subtle smokey flavor and add your own sweet or spicy BBQ sauce to it as you please. Warning: The spicy BBQ sauce is very hot!
The side dishes are outstanding. My wife especially raves about the baked beans which have pieces of hot sausage in it for an extra kick of flavor.
Prices are good. In Bar Harbor if you happen to find baby back ribs on the menu its typically in the $20 plus range. At Mainely Meats the prices are much more reasonable. A half a rack dinner is only $11 and a sample plate (good for two people ) is $14. Plus they have the freshest beer in town.
Don't speed by the entrance. Its at the beginning of Knox Road right near the Town Hill Country store. Parking is in back. Also don't be put off by the number of Hogs or Harley's in the parking lot. The crowd is friendly.
On weekends they have an all you can eat BBQ buffet.
More info and directions
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Bar Harbor's amazing art deco theater is celebrating 75 years of history. We got a tour of the theater this weekend and got see backstage and the dressing rooms. Built at the end of the vaudeville era, the Criterion was primarily built and used as a movie house. Box seating in the upstairs Loge provided room for rich summer folk like the Astors and Rockerfellers.
We also took in a free show by the always wonderful Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers, a troup of local siblings who put on very original and very funny shows for all kids and the young at heart.
Here's to another 75 years!
A nonprofit arts group recently purchased the historic theatre, which was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, early last month.
Anyone who wants to contribute to the Criterion’s capital campaign can send a check made out to the Criterion Theatre and Arts Center, 35 Cottage St. Bar Harbor ME 04609.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
The Lompoc opened in 1989 as a small café and gradually evolved into what it is today: a slightly larger small café. Over the years, we have enlarged the space, adding a garden, a bocce court, a larger bar and a heated open air dining room.
We change our menu three times a year, every year, because we choose to use seasonal fish and locally grown, organic produce, and because we like to try new things. Some items return due to requests and some we can never change.
We have been recommended by "The New York Times", "Gourmet Magazine", "Yankee Magazine Travel Guide" and were voted the regional winner of "favorite restaurant" in a 2002 contest sponsored by the Maine Department of Agriculture.
One of the great things about the Lompoc is that even if you don't have dinner here, you can still come for the music. There are talented musicians on stage every Friday and Saturday night. Blues, rock, jazz, folk, bluegrass, soul...the offerings run the gamut. And if you have a talent to share, come down on Thursday nights in the summer for Open Mic night.
Our bar features locally made Atlantic Brewing Company ales on draft, 15 wines and ports by the glass, and an array of specialty cocktails, including the Lompoc Blueberry Cosmo and the Limoncella Lemon Drop. We welcome visitors to join the zany bunch of regulars at our bar; we'll take good care of you. Or stop by for a game of bocce. It's as much fun as a game of billiards, but you don't have to put down your beer while you play.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Rosalie's Pizza 46 Cottage Street, Bar Harbor, ME
Insider tip: Avoid the big line downstairs and head up to the second floor. If your lucky you can grab a table and put in your order at the counter. Or call in your order and do take out. Perfect for enjoying the summer concerts on the green. Also don't forget your veggies - Rosalie's has a great selection of salads. The staff is mainly imported Eastern European students so listen hard for your name when they call it out!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Outside Sips looks terrible. Like many of the buildings in Southwest Harbor, practical vinal siding has replaced much of the original wooden exteriors of the downtown buildings, details have been removed, all leading to a less then presentable downtown at least in the eyes of tourists used to "New England" tourist towns glitz up to their former or even created glory.
But anyway, wander inside and you're in for a treat. Sips cosy interior looks like something you'd find in New York or Boston. From the looks of things you might expect to be paying Starbucks prices for coffee, bagels etc but remember this is Southwest Harbor not Bar Harbor so the prices are surpisingly reasonable. I had an excellent bagel, egg and bacon sandwich and it was under $3.50.
Great coffee, bagels and cosy interior what's not to love in Southwest Harbor?
A new addition to Southwest Harbor is brought to you by Sawyer's Specialties Wine & Cheese - this wine bar style restaurant serves wine friendly small plates of innovative creations including salads, cheese & olive plates, bruschetta, seafood crepes, desserts and more. A nice selection of wines by the bottle or glass. Open for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
Maine is probably the furthest place you'll ever be from Mexico but these burritos make for a great lunch.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
On July 14, 1894, the local paper, the Bar Harbor Record, noted “A golf club has been formed and links covering one and three fourths miles have been laid out at Kebo Valley...
Indeed today Bar Harbor boasts a golf course within walking distance from its downtown. The Kebo Valley Golf Club was founded in 1888 making it the the 8th oldest golf club in the United States and has challenged the skills of many of the country’s finest players, most influential politicians and leaders of industry. Nestled between Cadillac and Dorr Mountain in Bar Harbor, Maine, Kebo is a spectacular 6,131 yard, classic link and parkland golf course. Much of Kebo Valley Golf Course shares its borders with Acadia National Park, in fact at one point on the Park Loop road you pass the course on the left.
As you play on the course keep an eye out for wildlife, including Whitetail Deer, Red Fox, and the famous "mangy coyote" that always appears in the Police Beat. Look up once in a while to spot American Bald Eagles soaring above the links as well as hawks and falcons.
From Kebo management:
"Our championship par 70 course consistently ranks among America’s best public courses. We are rated among the "Top 15" public courses in New England by the New England Journal of Golf, among the "Top 10" classical public golf courses by Golf Digest and received a four star rating in Golf Digest’s Places to Play."
Photo from 1911: President Taft cards a 27 on what was then the "Elbow" hole, which is today's 17th hole. This hole is now commonly referred to as the "Taft" hole.
Note: For less serious golfers and kids, there is always Pirate's Cove mini golf just outside of town on Route 3!
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Monday, April 30, 2007
The famed 1947 fire that burned most of the eastern side of Mount Desert Island is the most recent extensive fire, but evidence of past burns is present in trees and soils throughout the Park. Post-fire aspen-birch communities are still abundant. The spruce-fir forests, the dominant closed-canopy forest type on the island, include a large component of earlier-successional birch and red maple within the area that burned, along with the maturing spruce and fir. Vegetation on the western half of the island, which escaped the 1947 fire, reflects more clearly the underlying edaphic characteristics rather than the effects of recent fire.
Maine winters are long. Spring is always eagerly anticipated and this was especially true in 1947. The gloominess of WWII still lingered and everyone looked forward to the return of nice weather. Disappointingly, it rained continually through April, May, and most of June. Finally, at the end of June, the sun came out, temperatures soared, and a glorious summer emerged. But weather patterns continued to be odd that year. Through the summer and into the fall, Maine received only 50% of its normal rainfall. Vegetation became bone dry. Water supplies dwindled. Still, most people did not worry - rain would come eventually. The island enjoyed one of the most beautiful Indian summers in memory. But the autumn rains never came and by mid-October, Mount Desert Island was experiencing the driest conditions ever recorded. The stage was set for a disastrous blaze.
On Friday, October 17, 1947,at 4 PM, the fire department received a call from Mrs. Gilbert, who lived near Dolliver's dump on Crooked Road west of Hulls Cove. She reported smoke rising from a cranberry bog between her home and the dump. No one knows what started the fire. It could have been cranberry pickers smoking cigarettes in the bog. Or perhaps it was sunlight shining through a piece of broken glass in the dump that acted like an incendiary magnifying glass. Whatever the cause, once ignited, the fire smoldered underground. From this quiet beginning arose an inferno that burned nearly half the eastern side of Mount Desert Island and made international news.
In its first three days, the fire burned a relatively small area, blackening only 169 acres. But on October 21, strong winds fanned the ßames and the blaze spread rapidly and raged out of control, engulÞng over 2,000 acres. Personnel from the Army Air Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, University of Maine forestry program, and Bangor Theological Seminary joined local fire fighting crews. National Park Service employees flew in from parks throughout the East and additional experts in the West were put on standby.
The pace of the blaze intensiÞed and nearly 2300 acres burned on October 22. The fire crossed Route 233 and continued along the western shore of Eagle Lake. On the morning of October 23, the wind shifted, pushing one finger of the fire toward Hulls Cove. Firefighters shifted their efforts in an attempt to squelch the threat to that community. But in the afternoon, the wind suddenly turned again and increased to gale proportions, as a dry cold front moved through, sending the inferno directly toward Bar Harbor. In less than three hours the wildfire traveled six miles, leaving behind a three mile wide path of destruction. The fire swept down Millionaires' Row, an impressive collection of majestic summer cottages on the shore of Frenchman Bay. Sixty-seven of these seasonal estates were destroyed. The fire skirted the business district, but razed 170 permanent homes and five large historic hotels in the area surrounding downtown Bar Harbor.
Bar Harbor residents not actively engaged in fire fighting tried to find safety, fleeing first to the athletic field and later to the town pier. At one point all roads from the town were blocked by flames, so fishermen from nearby Winter Harbor, Gouldsboro, and Lamoine prepared to help with a mass exodus by boat. At least 400 people left by sea. Finally, by 9 PM, bulldozers opened a pathway through the rubble on Route 3 and a caravan of 700 cars carrying 2000 people began the slow trip to safety in Ellsworth. According to eyewitness reports, it was a terrifying drive - cars were pelted by sparks and ßames flickered overhead. But the motorcade was orderly and successful, an uplifting end to a day that saw close to 11,000 additional acres blackened.
Still, the fire continued to burn. From Bar Harbor, the blaze raced down the coast almost to Otter Point, engulÞng and destroying the Jackson Laboratory on its way. The fire blew itself out over the ocean in a massive fireball. But that wasnÕt the end of the destruction. Almost 2000 more acres burned before the fire was declared under control on October 27. Organic soil and vegetation on the forest floor, along with matted tree roots infiltrating deeply around granite boulders, aided stubborn underground fires. Even weeks later, after rain and snow had fallen, fire still smoldered below ground. The fire was not pronounced completely out until 4 PM on November 14.
In all, some 17,188 acres burned. Over 10,000 acres of this was in Acadia National Park. Property damage exceeded twenty-three million dollars. Considering the magnitude of the fire, loss of human life had been minimal. An elderly man returned to his home to save his cat and was never seen alive again. A car accident claimed the lives of an Air Force officer and a local teenage girl. A man and woman, already ill, succumbed to heart attacks. An unknown number of animals died in the blaze, but park rangers believe that most outran the fire and found safety in ponds and lakes.
Once the fire was over, it was time to start anew. Two crews, one hired by the park and one hired by the Rockfeller family, logged selected park areas for timber salvage and clean-up. Some timber was milled, slash was burned, and other logs, still visible today, were left to prevent soil erosion.
Nature, however, played the predominant role in the island's restoration. The forests that exist today regrew naturally. Wind carried seeds back into burned areas and some deciduous trees regenerated by stump sprouts or suckers. Today's forest, however, is often different than what grew before the fire. Spruce and fir that reigned before the fire have given way to sun-loving trees, such as birch and aspen. But these deciduous trees are short-lived. As they grow and begin to shade out the forest floor, they provide a nursery for the shade-loving spruce and fir which may eventually reclaim the territory.
Fire has an important natural role. It clears away mature growth, opening areas to the sun-loving species that are food for wildlife. The fire of 1947 increased diversity in the composition and age structure of the park's forests. It even enhanced the scenery. Today, instead of one uniform evergreen forest, we are treated to a brilliant mix of red, yellow, and orange supplied by the new diverse deciduous forests.
Bar Harbor, too, was changed by the fire. Most of the permanent residents rebuilt their homes, but many of the grand summer cottages were not replaced. In fact, many of the seasonal families never returned. The estates on Millionaires' Row have been replaced by motels that house the ever-increasing tourist population. But the fire alone cannot be blamed for ending the island's once-grand "Cottage era" The opulent lifestyle had already been suffering from the effects of the newly invented income tax and the Depression. The destructive flames merely provided a final blow.The fire on Mount Desert Island was publicized in headlines in newspapers around the world because the island was a renowned summer retreat for the wealthy. But actually, the fall of 1947 was a dry one throughout the state, and many serious fires occurred. State-wide, over 200,000 acres, 851 permanent homes, and 397 seasonal cottages were destroyed in "The year Maine burned."
Monday, April 23, 2007
When one visit's Bar Harbor one can't help but become interested in lobster - from eating them to wondering what its like to be a lobsterman. I recommend this book which is a facinating read. It covers everything from the scientific (the secret sex lives of lobsters) to the social (lobstering as a family tradition on the coast of Maine) and the efforts to conserve the fishery for future generations.
Follow this link for more info. LOBSTER SECRETS
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Drink: TTT Black and Tan - Excellent!
Kid's Grilled Cheese - Excellent! Great bread.
Voodoo Fish Sandwich - Excellent! Great bun.
Chicken Pot Pie - So So. Very watery, soup-like "chicken stew". Menu claimed 'seasonal veggies' but the reality its was frozen peas and carrots.
We like the place, it's just a matter of figuring out what they do well (any fish dish seems like a safe bet) and what to avoid.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Pancho Villa's Tex-Mex Restaurant at 116 Cottage St. (www.panchovillatexmex.com)
The Colonel's in downtown Northeast Harbor
Galyn's 17 Main Street Bar Harbor
Guiness & Porcelli's 191 Main Street with Friday and Saturday night "Spring Fling" deals
Tan Turtle Tavern in Northeast Harbor
Red Sky - Southwest Harbor
Know what you are eating! For lobster identification get the above "Lobster Identification" t-shirt from fishboy.com
Lobster is one of the few meal choices that invites you to choose your own victim. While there are some restaurants where you can pick out your own steak, it's not like seeing the whole cow. With lobsters, you do see the whole thing. This leaves the diner with several tough decisions:
* Should you have a soft-shell or a hard-shell lobster?
* Will a large lobster be as tender as a small lobster?
* Should you choose a male or a female?
* Should you choose a green lobster or a red one?
According to David Dow, former Director of the Lobster Institute in Orono, Maine, and a lobsterman himself, "Most people in the industry prefer the new shell: the 'shedders.' Their meat is sweet, and the shells are easy to break apart." However, others claim hard-shelled lobsters are better because the meat is firmer and there is more of it than in a newly-molted lobster.
Of course, you have to expect that the shell will not be crammed full of lobster meat in a 'shedder.' Lobster dealers sometimes refer to soft-shell lobsters as "low quality". It's not that they don't taste as good, but rather that in their weakened post-molt condition, these lobsters don't transport well. So if you plan to take a Maine lobster across state lines, a hard-shell lobster travels best.
Dow also claims that large lobsters taste as good as small ones "until you get to 5 to 7 pounds. Then the meat gets kind of stringy." Advocates of tail meat recommend getting a female whose tail is broader than a male's of equal size since she uses the space to carry her eggs. The best time to buy lobsters is in the fall, after Labor Day, when all the tourists have gone home and the lobster landings are at their highest.
Because lobster meat can go bad quickly, it's generally necessary to cook a lobster while it's still alive. That means you pick a green lobster, but don't eat it until its shell turns red! Never eat a cooked lobster with its tail uncurled, as it died before it was cooked.
Note: The Bar Harbor Insider agrees that the shedder meat is sweeter and you do pay less per pound because you end up buying more water but I don't like the tips of the claws on the shedders, they tend to be mushy. Tip: If you are dining with a friend get one of each and compare but keep in mind each lobster does have its own individuality - we are not talking about mass produced chicken nuggets here!
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Wednesday, July 4th, At the Ball field after the Parade
Watch local businesses put their lobsters to the test in a high-speed crustacean contest where guts and determination will reign supreme. Proceeds benefit the MDI YMCA Scholarship Program. MDI YMCA, 21 Park St., Bar Harbor.
The Quietside Campground is a Bar Harbor Insider recommended business:
ALL SITES have a picnic table and fire ring.
TENT SITES have a 12' X 12' wood tent platform (most sites have been updated with larger wood tent platform.) Some sites are located near the campground road; others are "walk-in" sites in a more wooded area.
LOG CAMPING CABINS sleep four (queen size and bunk bed), are located in a wooded area, and have heat, electricity, and a small refrigerator. There is no plumbing in the cabins.
WATER & ELECTRIC SITES have 30 amp service and accommodate pop-ups or small RVs up to 28 feet.
RUSTIC CABINS sleep four (queen size loft and queen size bed on main floor), they do NOT have heat, electricity or plumbing. They have a propane lantern, gas grill and screened in porch.
LARGER CAMPING CABIN has electricity. The upstairs has a queen size bed and 2 twin sized beds. This cabin features a sofa, microwave, gas fireplace, small refrigerator and gas grill. There is no plumbing, but the bathhouse is nearby.
A-FRAME CABIN accommodates 2 adults in an upstairs loft, has heat, electricity, and a small refrigerator. There is also a small futon on the first floor.
THE CAMPGROUND has a total of 37 sites. There are two full-service bathhouses with free hot showers. There is an outside toilet near the cabin area.
Call: (207) 244-5992
Write: PO Box 10, Bass Harbor, ME 04653
Ten great things to do on Mount Desert Island.
June 2000 issue of ISLANDS magazine
1 Up With the Sun
Every day the sun's first rays touch the nation at the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, which takes up much of Mount Desert Island. The 1,530-foot peak, the highest point on the eastern seaboard, is a mecca for sunrise enthusiasts, who congregate as early as 4 a.m. for the spectacle. Bring hot coffee and a blanket, find an east-facing niche on the stark granite slopes, and settle in to watch the predawn light slowly creep down over the forested landscape and onto a string of islands in a glimmering sea.
BHI- most tourist sleep in so you can beat the crowds by getting up early but pack a jacket! It takes awhile before the coastal effect cool mornings burn off.
2 Million-Dollar Stroll
The town of Bar Harbor once went by the name of Eden, and it was truly a paradise for the turn-of-the-century aristocrats who summered on Mount Desert. Steamboats ferried du Ponts, Vanderbilts, and Drexels from the mainland to their elegant, mansion-size "cottages." But after a 1947 inferno destroyed many lavish homes, the town languished. You can get a glimpse of the glamour days with a stroll along the Shore Path, a 3Ú4-mile gravel walkway that follows the curve of Frenchman Bay, past surviving Tudor-style mansions and their manicured gardens. At the pier, turn inland to reach the town's boutiques and galleries. Or, for a longer walk, head to the end of Bridge Street at low tide and slosh across the sandbar to Bar Island, where meadows and a fir forest await.
BHI - A great stroll. For more hikes head into Acadia National Park.
3 Horsing Around
Industrialist John D. Rockefeller Jr. may have owned Standard Oil, but when he retreated to his sprawling summer estate here, he wanted to leave automobile exhaust fumes behind. In the early 1900s he ordered the construction of a 57-mile network of gravel roads – for the exclusive use of horse-drawn carriages. Now part of Acadia National Park, these "carriage paths" wind beside tranquil ponds and over picturesque granite bridges, past pines, cedars, and maples, attracting bicyclists in summer and cross-country skiers in winter. Enjoy the millionaire's largesse with a horse-drawn carriage tour from Wildwood Stables. For a cost of $16.50 per person, you can take a two-hour ride to Day Mountain to watch the sunset or to the Jordan Pond House for tea and popovers.
BHI - Skiing is very iffy these days due to global warming and the coastal warming effect. Bikers watch your speed, you can be ticketed for driving to endanger. Heed the signs that explain the right of way and yield to less manuverable people.
4 Blueberry Fields Forever
In August and September the island's "barrens" are laden with wild blueberries. To fill a basket, try the bushes along the park's trails, including those radiating from the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Too pooped to pick? Then stop at the Sunday Farmer's Market on Main Street for a pint of blueberries and other local specialties, like strawberries, raspberries, and maple syrup.
BHI - Pick your own trail side but don't tresspass!
5 Edible Exotics
Restaurateur Michael Boland named his Main Street bar and grill Rupununi, after a river in Guyana. The exotic name complements his creative menu, which includes ostrich, buffalo burgers, and wild mushroom risotto. (For less adventurous eaters, there's also that Down East mainstay – lobster, served any way you want it.) Upstairs, the Carmen Verandah bar overlooks the Village Green, where the town band performs on Monday and Thursday evenings in summer. For more rowdy tunes, wait for nightfall, when blues, rock, or jazz bands energize Carmen's. Finish off the evening with a smoke at Boland's upscale cigar bar, also on the premises.
BHI - A long time bar and grill in Bar Harbor and its good. On a warm day sit outside on the patio and watch the tourists go by.
6 Here, Kitty, Kitty
There is nothing meek about The Cat, the sleek, black, high-speed catamaran that whisks travelers across the Bay of Fundy to Nova Scotia. What was once a six-hour-long journey now takes a mere 2 hours and 45 minutes aboard the 300-foot-long motorized vessel, which even has a gambling casino. A day trip to the Canadian fishing port of Yarmouth allows for five hours on shore to see the town's lighthouses and white-sand beaches.
BHI - The Cat has cut back its schedule. Look for info online. They no longer have daily service.
7 Thar She Blows
Each summer a teeming smorgasbord of herring and krill lures pods of whales into the Gulf of Maine, where they breach, "spyhop," and "lobtail." Humpback whales are the most acrobatic – sometimes launching their gargantuan bodies completely out of the water – but fin whales, the second-largest animal on earth, and the more diminutive minkes also give astounding performances. The gulf's skies are the domain of shearwaters, which skim the ocean surface for food, and northern gannets, known for spectacular dives. Getting a close look at the behemoths and birds requires taking a blustery 25-mile boat ride out of Bar Harbor. For the weak of stomach, the Friendship V catamaran promises the smoothest ride.
BHI - Not for those who experience sea sickness.
8 Rock On
Granite cliffs loom throughout Acadia National Park, beckoning those who love heights. Several local climbing schools offer instruction in rock climbing, from basic techniques and rope skills to scaling and rappelling. When you're ready for a challenge, grab your ropes and pitons and head for the top of Otter Cliffs, a 110-foot-high oceanfront wall within the park. The reward? A mesmerizing view of the coast and the rolling Atlantic Ocean. Beyond lies Europe.
BHI - Recent earthquakes on the island may have lossened rocks. Be careful!
9 Sweet Somethings
Tempting treats abound in Bar Harbor, but Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium on Main Street makes oversize indulgence irresistible. Of course, there's homemade fudge, but also peanut and macadamia nut brittles, truffles weighing in at a fifth of a pound, two-foot-long gummy snakes, and chocolate- covered everything, including not-to-be-missed chocolate-covered blueberries in season. Want more temptation? Try a waffle cone with a couple of the 64 ice cream flavors – from lobster (with real lobster chunks) to "moose droppings," a chocolate mousse taste-alike with malt balls.
BHI - I've had the lobster ice cream - once. The ice cream part is butter flavored, the lobster chucks are kind of nasty. Maybe an eskimo would enjoy biting into frozen lobster chunks. Novelity item - order it just to say you tried it.
10 Windows Into Heaven
Maine's largest collection of Tiffany stained-glass windows shines at St. Saviour's Episcopal church, built in 1878 in Bar Harbor. A noted New York surgeon donated the first colorful installation – a three-panel depiction of the resurrected Christ placed above the original altar – in 1886. Since then, members of the congregation have added additional awe-inspiring Tiffany windows and others crafted as far away as England and France. The Victorian stone church offers tours during summer, but the building is open year-round. Next door, cemetery buffs can wander the old graveyard, where the maze of tombstones memorializes the town's distinguished founders and their families.
BHI - Number one tourist attraction for the cruise ship crowd.
Parking is limited.
Thurston's Lobster Pound Steamboat Wharf Road Bernard, Maine 04612 207-244-7600
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The first time my wife, son and I tried to eat here we were put off by the lack of attention from the hostess, the prices on the menu and the lack of a children's menu. We actually ended up walking out before we even ordered!
That was about a year and a half ago. As one of the only restaurants on the island that stays open year round we decided to try it again on a Saturday Night "Date Night" sans child. And I'm happy to report we had a great dinner!
We made a early reservation (not really needed in April) and found the place rather empty for the time (6 pm) but then again it was off season. I ordered the drink special, a Dark and Stormy which was fantastic. My wife ordered the Maple Martini which she has been raving about for weeks. Then we got down to business and studied the menu. I was pleasantly surprised to see options any where from $12 to $28 with plenty of choices for any budget. I settled in for a teriakyi steak kabob ($12) with a crab cake on the side (+ $8) and my wife had the rib eye. Both were cooked to prefection and the plate had ample sides.
My only complaint would be about the crab cake which was rather standard fare. More dry than I like although that seems to be the standard. I like mine with a bit more flare, like with red pepper and corn and a few sauces to add. This crab cake was rather bland. I suppose I should just give up on crab cakes. The worst one I've had on the island was at Gaylns in Bar Harbor. They usually have good food but their crab cakes are like hockey pucks. The best crab cakes in Bar Harbor can found at Rupununi, American Bar and Grill down at 119 Main St. They have the moist ones with corn, red pepper and its served with two great sauces.
Back to Jack Russell's, good food and a great bar makes the perfect combination for a nice date night. (By the way, they do now have a children's menu!)
Friday, April 6, 2007
But if you are headed to Bar Harbor this summer don't worry, you won't be paying $20 a pound. Typically by late spring the lobster landings go way up and the prices fall to more reasonable amounts. Expect to pay around $7 a pound at the market or $12 a pound at a restaurant with some places offering early bird deals for $15 - $17 including sides.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
In fact Maine has more dark sky than any other state on the East Coast and its just one more thing that makes a visit to Maine so special. People visiting the island from the city are in for a real treat.
Just how dark is it around here? Well, once I parked my car at end of my long driveway. The outside lights of the house were on but by the time I reached the road where I thought I left my car I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. I used my foot to feel for the end of the gravel driveway and the pavement of the road. I turned leftin the direction of my car and ended up walking right past it! Not until I saw the flashing red light of my car alarm could I find the car! Now that is dark!
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Too many visitors to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, Ellsworth is like the last reminder of New Jersey, i.e. sprawling retail and pavement before they can take a deep breath and breath in the natural scenery of Mount Desert Island. But behind off of the chain stores and urban blight of signage, parking lots and power lines, the heart of Ellsworth - its downtown area is worth a visit. There are plenty of nice little shops and fine eateries. The jewel of Ellsworth is The Grand. The Grand shows movies and produces excellent regional theater. Every production is professional with great sets, wonderful costumes and amazing acting. Much more than one might expect from this corner of Maine.
The Bar Harbor Insider just saw the latest production - Once Upon A Mattress and it was a wonderful experience especially because of the brand new comfy seating that they recently put in.
"The riotous and much acclaimed Broadway musical comedy, Once Upon A Mattress, comes to the stage of The Grand this spring. In this hilarious revision of the fairy tale, “The Princess and The Pea”, the shrewish Queen Aggravain has ruled that no one may be married before her son, Prince Dauntless, marries. However, she sabotages every princess who comes along, believing none is good enough for her precious son. Mischief and side-splitting antics fill the palace as the court schemes to short-circuit the Queen’s best efforts." - A must see says the Bar Harbor Insider
About The Grand
On July 13, 1938, The Ellsworth American headline read "New Grand Theatre Gala Opening Thursday." Ellsworth's long-awaited new motion picture theatre at last had become a reality. However, between 1950 and 1960, the lights were turned off and the 500 seats of The Grand were empty when structural and financial problems closed the building. By thelate 1960's and early 1970's it was used as a boxing ring, because Ellsworth had "no use" for a downtown moview theater. And in 1974, it was scheduled for demolition.
In 1975 a group of community leaders formed The Hancock County Auditorium Associates, which bought the historic Art Deco landmark for $7,000 and a mortgage of the facility. As it had not been used for several years, The Grand was "a mess." Seats were broken and ripped up, there were mountains of trash, and plugged drains caused water to back up into the theater. The Grand Auditorium re-opened on august 8, 1975, to a standing-room-only crowd for a benefit performance by Noel Paul Stookey.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Local t-shirt creator Fishboy has been serving up fresh fish, lobster and moose t-shirts since 1996. You can find Fishboy products on their website (www.fishboy.com), at national retailers such as Bass Pro Shops and at resort retailers such as Bar Harbor's very own famous Cool As A Moose.
Fishboy only sells the very best t-shirts and hats. Their shirts are 100% cotton and custom pigment dyed in the U.S.A., their hats feature nice extras such as leather straps and brass "tail" hiders. Check out their selection of over 70 designs.
“One thing I want you to be aware of — you aren’t required to laugh at any of my jokes,” says Petruzzello at the start of today’s tour. “But there is a law in the state of Maine that says you’re not allowed to throw anything at the driver.”
Oli’s Trolley tours in Bar Harbor are a unique and humorous way to see Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park — and to learn a little bit about the history of the area, with a few tall tales thrown in for good measure. The trick is to separate the jokes from the facts.
Did you know: The most common death of beavers is to be crushed by the tree they are chewing down? The fire of 1947 on Mount Desert Island started in a cranberry bog near the town dump? A train ran to the top of Cadillac Mountain from 1883 to 1890? These are just a few of the tidbits you’ll be offered while taking an Oli’s Trolley tour ride.
“A lot of the stuff comes from people who live here,” says Petruzzello about the information he includes. Other facts and stories come from books, other tour guides, periodicals and a script of basic material to cover developed by the company.
“The first time I did the two-and-a-half hour tour, I ran out of information and wasn’t even done with the tour yet,” he says. “I didn’t know what to say. I said ‘I’m not going to get caught like that again.’”
That was a couple of years ago. Now Petruzzello studies or reads any book he can get his hands on and paces and embellishes his tours in certain spots to keep it going as long as possible. And now he knows so much that he could probably do the two-and-a-half-hour tour twice before he exhausted all the information he has, says Petruzzello.
In the mid-1980s, Oliver Parker started Oli’s Trolley with one trolley car. In 1988, Bill and Mary Sweet purchased the tour company and added three custom-built trolleys to the lineup. This fall, they’ll be adding another trolley to the fleet for their busiest time of year — the cruise ship season.
“We like to say Oli’s Trolley is a fun way to see the island,” says Denise Morgan, operations manager for the trolley company. “The open air trolleys provide great photo opportunities.”
The trolley company is a concession of Acadia National Park. That means they are regulated by the Department of the Interior.
Back on the tour, Petruzzello is pulling the big red and green trolley that looks like it came straight from San Francisco into the Cadillac Summit parking lot. The 27 passengers file out for a few minutes to explore the mountain-top.
“The most popular stop is Cadillac Mountain,” says Petruzzello. “But during stormy weather, the most popular stop is Thunder Hole. Thunder Hole becomes extremely popular when you have a little action.”
Oli’s Trolley has two different tours, an hour tour and a two-and-a-half-hour tour. The hour tour goes to the top of Cadillac Mountain and the two-and-a-half hour tour goes to Cadillac Mountain, Sieur De Mont Springs, Thunder Hole and on occasion, the Jordan Pond House.
Today Thunder Hole is a dud and Petruzzello decides to stop at the Jordan Pond House. Along the way, we hear the story of how some of the first lobstermen in the area didn’t even need boats or traps to catch their lobsters.
At the Jordan Pond House, Petruzzello points out some of the dozens of books he’s read on the area. “Steam to the Summit: The Green Mountain Railway, Bar Harbor’s Remarkable Cog Railroad,” “The Story of Acadia National Park,” “Lost Bar Harbor,” the titles pile up.
The trip back to Bar Harbor brings another story, this one about the Jordan Pond House, how it was started and about the first “rusticators” to come to the area. Like a master storyteller, Petruzzello makes history fun and interesting. It’s a job well suited for him. He loves to talk and loves working with people.
“It’s just a great job,” says Petruzzello. “Where else can you drive people around and get paid for it?”
Other tidbits you’ll learn on the trip include how George B. Dorr established Acadia National Park over 75 years ago and some background on John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s carriage roads. For more information, call Oli’s Trolley at 866-9Trolley (866-987-6553).
In the off seasons the Subway is about one of the only quick places to grab sandwich to go. Check it out. The Bar Harbor Subway is convienently located next to Ollie's Trolley.
The litigator responded, “I shot a duck and it fell in this field, and now I’m going to retrieve it.”
The old farmer replied, “This is my property and you are not coming over here.”
The indignant lawyer said, “I am one of the best trial attorneys in the United States and, if you don’t let me get that duck, I’ll sue you and take everything you own.
The old farmer smiled and said, “Apparently, you don’t know how we settle disputes Down East. We settle small disagreements like this with the Down East Three Kick Rule.”
The lawyer asked, “What is the Down East Three Kick Rule?”
The Farmer replied, “Well, because the dispute occurs on my land, first I kick you three times and then you kick me three times and so on back and forth until someone gives up.”
The attorney quickly thought about the proposed contest and decided that he could easily take the old codger. He agreed to abide by the local custom.
The old farmer slowly climbed down from the tractor and walked up to the attorney. His first kick planted the toe of his heavy steel toed work boot into the lawyer’s groin and dropped him to his knees. His second kick to the midriff sent the lawyer’s last meal gushing from his mouth. The barrister was on all fours when the farmer’s third kick to his rear end sent him face-first into a fresh cow pie.
The lawyer summoned every bit of his will and managed to get to his feet. Wiping his face with the arm of his jacket, he said, “Okay, you old coot. Now it’s my turn.”
The old farmer smiled and said, “Naw, I give up. You can have the duck.”
Downeast Magazine (which is a wonderful publication about the state of Maine) defines it well:
"When ships sailed from Boston to ports in Maine (which were to the east of Boston), the wind was at their backs, so they were sailing downwind, hence the term 'Down East.' And it follows that when they returned to Boston they were sailing upwind; many Mainers still speak of going 'up to Boston,' despite the fact that the city lies approximately 50 miles to the south of Maine’s southern border."
Bar Harbor to host ship bigger than QM2
By Bill Trotter
Monday, March 12, 2007 - Bangor Daily News
BAR HARBOR - Three years ago, the enormous cruise ship Queen Mary 2 got a big reception when local officials set up a pedestrian-only zone on a downtown street, hundreds of sightseers flocked to the Shore Path to see the vessel ease into Frenchman Bay, and the governor showed up to help cut a cake celebrating the ship’s inaugural visit to this scenic coastal town.
This year, it might be the first-ever local appearance of the Explorer of the Seas that everyone remembers.
Though maybe not as well known, the Royal Caribbean ship arguably is bigger than the QM2. With a length of 1,020 feet, it is 112 feet shorter than the Cunard vessel, but it is about 10 feet wider. And it can hold more people.
Explorer of the Seas has a capacity for 3,114 passengers — nearly 500 more than the QM2. Its first visit to Bar Harbor is scheduled for Sept. 5.
That day and Sept. 19 likely will be busy for downtown merchants and tour bus operators who line up near the town pier waiting to take cruise ship passengers on rides through Acadia National Park.
Both Explorer and the Norwegian Spirit, which can hold 1,966 passengers, are scheduled to be in town on both those days, which means there could be as many as 5,080 cruise ship passengers tromping around Bar Harbor’s seaside village at the same time.
That’s about 260 more people than the U.S. Census Bureau counted when it added up the number of year-round residents Bar Harbor had in 2000, when the most recent official census took place.
Based on the number of vessels that have booked dates to be in Bar Harbor, this year well might be the town’s busiest ever for cruise ship visits, according to town harbor master Charlie Phippen. He said there are 91 ships scheduled to stop in Bar Harbor between mid-May and the end of October.
"That’s the most ever on the schedule before the season started," Phippen said last week. "Preseason, we’re at an all-time high."
Phippen said that if there are enough cancellations, 2007 could end up not being a record year. There were 83 scheduled visits in 2006, he said, but because of weather and other issues it turned out that only 73 ships stopped in port.
"You never know until after the season," Phippen said.
Chris Fogg, executive director of the local Chamber of Commerce, said last week that his group may be interested in giving the Explorer of the Seas a welcome similar to the red-carpet treatment the QM2 received in 2004, but that he has yet to talk to town officials about it.
He said the final draft of a cruise ship management plan commissioned by the state might formally establish certain procedures, such as blocking off downtown streets to vehicles, that could be followed for special cruise ship visits.
"There’s a lot of moving parts to it," Fogg said about the plan, which has only been presented to the town in a preliminary draft.
State and town officials and the Florida consultant who drafted the document are expected to attend a public workshop on the plan at 7 p.m. March 22 at the local municipal building.
Phippen said each ship gets a plaque from the town when it makes its first-ever visit to Bar Harbor, but that he didn’t expect there would be any extra pomp and circumstance for the Explorer.
Whether it might be the town or the state that takes the lead in implementing some of the management plan’s recommendations has yet to be worked out, according to Fogg.
Planners have considered rerouting tour bus traffic downtown, blocking off some parking spaces near the pier to help with pedestrian traffic flow, and even increasing the number of anchorages in Frenchman Bay from two to three.
Mark Ittel, the consultant who drafted the plan, has said he does not recommend expanding the number of anchorages at this time.
The cruise ship business in Bar Harbor has changed considerably since at least 1990, when only 27,000 cruise ship passengers came through town.
This year it could bring roughly 130,000, a small percentage compared to the 2 million to 3 million tourists that visit Bar Harbor and Acadia every summer, but still a sizable number when considering cruise ship passengers spent $11 million in Bar Harbor in 2005.
The ships have grown bigger, and they come more frequently. An item from the Sept. 25, 1990, edition of the Bangor Daily News indicated that after that date, five more cruise ships were expected to stop in Bar Harbor that fall.
The item also pointed out that typically "the cruise ships disembark more than 600 passengers to spend several hours visiting local shops and touring the national park."
This year, 33 cruise ship appearances are expected in Bar Harbor after Sept. 25.
Queen Mary 2 will make its one stop in Bar Harbor on Oct. 1 and its sister ship, Queen Elizabeth 2, will make its lone appearance for 2007 the next day.
Crown Princess, which like Explorer can hold more than 3,000 passengers, is scheduled to make five visits, two of them on the same day Norwegian Spirit will be in port. On those days, Oct. 3 and Oct. 10, there could be as many as 5,046 cruise ship passengers walking around Bar Harbor.
The Maasdam will be the first to arrive on May 12 and on Oct. 31 Norwegian Spirit is expected to be the last cruise ship to sail out of Frenchman Bay for 2007.
Many of those visits will be repeat appearances by the same ship, with Maasdam leading the way with 17 stops. American Star, a ship with a 100-passenger capacity that ties up directly to the Bar Harbor Town Pier, is scheduled to make 15 visits.
More information on Bar Harbor’s cruise ship schedule is available on the Internet at www.barharbormaine.gov/tourism.
Seeing the cruise ships in the harbor can be very exciting but while the cruise ships are great for the local economy and don't increase the number of cars on island there are some disadvantages. If you have limited vacation time you should plan out your activities with the cruise ship schedule in mind. There are simply places you don't want to be when a cruise ship is in town. Here are the top places to avoid:
1. The Shore Path - The Shore Path in Bar Harbor is very convienent to cruise ship passengers and many guided tours take place here when cruise ships are in town. Its a great place to view the ships be prepared to have your way blocked by groups of cruisers. Best to take a stroll around dinner time when the ships passengers are rushing back for buffets and the ships are getting ready to set sail. This way you can watch them leave the harbor.
2. China Joy (and the sub shops like the now closed EPI) - The less expensive eateries in downtown Bar Harbor get filled up with employees from the ships looking for a break from cruise food.
3. The Town Pier - This is where the cruise line shuttle boats drop off passengers and tour bus operators who line up waiting to take cruise ship passengers on rides through Acadia National Park.
4. Any ice cream outlet in Bar Harbor. Prepare to wait in line if a cruise ship is in town.
5. Cadillac Mountain - The mountain top is busy enough normally, then add all of the buses full of cruisers. Go around five when the cruise ships are getting ready to leave town.
6. Jordan Pond House - This area will be covered with cruise ship passengers as well as the popular hiking trail around Jordan Pond.
7. The Park Loop Road - Popular spots such as Sand Beach and Thunderhole will be extra busy.
All in all it might be best to check out the "Quietside" of MDI on cruise ship days. Swim at Echo Lake, dine in Southwest Harbor, check out the lighthouse in Bass Harbor, get a lobster at Thurstons.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Although it can be pronounce like a hot expanse of sand or like the treat that comes after dinner, the locals call it "Mount Dessert Island" like the treat.
"In Maine, you're taught to pronounce, "mount dessert island", although they can still tell that you're up from Boston or New York for the summer."
- Correction to the above quote found on the Internet - It's down not up. More on that later.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
A bird list is available at the visitor center on Maine 3, north of Bar Harbor. Your next step might then be a drive up Cadillac Mountain for an overview of this dramatic landscape. In fall, Cadillac can be a productive hawk-watch site. From here you can look down on the islands off Bar Harbor, 1,530 feet [466 meters] below, where Osprey and Bald Eagle nest; Common Raven gives its croaking call as it passes by. Not far to the west, trails around Jordan Pond make a good introduction to some of the park’s nesting birds, including Ruffed Grouse, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Black-throated Blue and Black-and-white Warblers, Ovenbird, and Dark-eyed Junco; in spring, you’ll hear the laughing call of Common Loon from the pond. As you drive the park’s Loop Road near Bar Harbor, stop at Acadia Wild Gardens for an introduction to some of the plants found on the island. Walk nearby trails for Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; Eastern Wood-Pewee; Alder and Least Flycatchers; Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, and Canada Warblers; and American Redstart. Continuing on the one-way Park Loop Road, stop to scan the cliffs of Champlain Mountain, where Peregrine Falcon nests. A few miles beyond, where the drive borders the Atlantic around Otter Point, watch for Common Eider, Black Guillemot, and other seabirds.
Some of the park’s best birding is found on the southwest part of Mount Desert, between the Seawall Campground and the famously picturesque Bass Harbor Head lighthouse. Walk the Wonderland Trail (1.4 miles [2.3 kilometers] round-trip) and the Ship Harbor Nature Trail (1.3-mile [2.1-kilometer] loop) and look for breeding Yellow-bellied and Alder Flycatchers, Blue-headed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Swainson’s Thrush, and warblers including Nashville, Black-throated Green, Palm, Wilson’s, Northern Parula, and American Redstart. Spruce Grouse might b e found here, too, but is rare and elusive.
In the warmer months, several companies offer whale-watching tours from Bar Harbor out into the Atlantic. Some also specialize in seabird-watching, with experienced onboard naturalists (cruise information available in Bar Harbor; Chamber of Commerce +1 207 288 3393). Though dependent on the season, and the luck of the day, some of the birds that might be seen on an offshore cruise are Common Loon; Greater, Sooty, and Manx Shearwaters; Wilson’s Storm-Petrel; Northern Gannet; Double-crested and Great Cormorants; Common Eider; Osprey; Bald Eagle; Red-necked and Red Phalaropes; Razorbill; and Atlantic Puffin.
Monday, March 12, 2007
They seem to be attracted to sweat so as soon as you start to do a little gardening they attact. Black Flies seem to have a keen sense that tells them when you have your hands full so you can't swat at them. They also don't make any buzzing sounds, unlike mosquitos, so you can't hear them coming. A familiar site around the island during the black fly season is a father and son playing catch wearing head nets!
The good news is the Black Fly season does have an end. When hotter days arrive the Black Flies die. Usually its only about four weeks of torture. Unlike mosquitos which go through cycles of various varieties (freshwater, saltwater etc). Plus downtown Bar Harbor doesn't seem to get the flies. Probably because it is drier, has less trees around and gets a nice breeze off the ocean.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Thursday, March 8, 2007
"The highlight of the Ocean Drive Trail was Thunder Hole, a crevice where the surging ocean crashes against the rocks and makes a booming noise. The best time to see and hear Thunder Hole is at mid-tide when the sea is rising."
Acadia with all of its beautiful scenery is not as dramatic as the National Parks in the western United States. There is no Grand Canyon, or huge mountain, or faithful geyser. Our mountains are smooth, grinded down miles thick ice and we don't have the geological features of say Yellowstone or even the water worn sandstone natural sculptures of a Arches National Park. Yes, we have our incredible rugged coastline but Acadia really doesn't have those singular features like a giant redwood that you can walk through -- thus Thunder Hole unfortunately has to bear the brunt of such responsibilitly.
It's unfortunate because as much as Thunder Hole is a very interesting feature, it often does not live up to the hype so to speak. I visit Thunder Hole through out the year (it's accessible by car even in the winter) and have seen it at its most dramatic - water shooting up 15 feet over the top of the highest rocks during a tropical depression off the coast - to its most minimal gurgling at low tide.
But tourists have limited time and are going to stop at Thunder Hole when they happen to be driving buy so poor Thunder Hole is under a lot of pressure to perform. Its not Thunder Hole's fault that people have put so much pressure on it to be the Old Faithful of Acadia!
So if you visit Thunder Hole and are disappointed, realise that it is you who failed Thunder Hole by not visiting at the right time and right conditions and keep your expectations low - Thunder Hole just might surprise you and put on a great show. Or not.
"Thunder Hole is the place in Acadia National Park to experience the thunder of the sea against the rocky shores of Maine! On calm days you may wonder what the fuss is all about. But wait until the waves kick up a few notches. Thunder Hole is a small inlet, naturally carved out of the rocks, where the waves roll into. At the end of this inlet, down low, is a small cavern where, when the rush of the wave arrives, air and water is forced out like a clap of distant thunder. Water may spout as high as 40 feet with a thunderous roar! Hence the name: Thunder Hole. "
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
1. Visit on the "shoulder season" June or September are much less crowded then July and August.
2. Get Up Early - Locals on the island get up at the crack of dawn, while most tourist like to sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast. If you get to Sand Beach, Echo Lake or the popular trail heads before 10 am you should have no trouble finding parking.
3. Avoid rush hour on the bridge. Never try to leave the island between 4:30 and 5:30 when Hinkley Boat, Jackson Labs and other employers are letting loose their employees - many who can't afford or simply don't live on the island.
4. Skip dinner. Around 5 most places are really empty as everyone heads back to Bar Harbor for dinner. Perfect time to enjoy a hike when its cooler and the lighting is at its best!
5. Explore the less traveled paths. 90% of visitors are at 10% of the locations. Take a less well known path and you'll find amazingly fewer people. For every over populated spot like Cadillac MT. you'll discover peaceful trails with very few people.
6. Visit the Quietside of the island. Southwest Harbor is much quieter then Bar Harbor and Tremont is even quieter than Southwest Harbor.
7. Visit Schoonic Point. Very few people visit this part of Acadia National Park.
8. Take a boat trip. Get out on the water and see the park from a different perspective. Lots of small boat trips are available. You can even take a trip out to some of the outer islands were very few people live.
9. Go Deep. Take a longer hike and you'll leave the crowds behind. Most visitors only venture a few feet from their car. You'll find fewer people the farther you head from the parking lots.
10. Take the Free Buses. Let someone else do the driving and parking. Just sit back and enjoy the free ride on the Island Explorer propane fueled buses!
Friends of Acadia
Fishboy is a proud member of Friends of Acadia, a nonprofit membership organization protecting Acadia National Park through advocacy, trail and carriage road maintenance. Click the button below to make a donation to Friends of Acadia:
* Fishboy is located on Mount Desert Island, a short hike from Acadia National Park - our inspiration for great outdoors products!
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Monday, March 5, 2007
Mount Dessert Island is lucky to have two brewers on the island. The Bar Harbor Brewing Company offers its small batch beers in large glass bottles. You can also take a tour of this small brewing operation. The brewer loves to go on fishing trips while the beer is fermenting!
Bar Harbor Brewing Company
Bar Harbor's First & Most Unique Microbrewery
..."Seeming to reaffirm, however, that 1996 would bring new discoveries, we were blessed to find the tiny Bar Harbor Brewing Company in Bar Harbor, Maine. Winning perhaps the most prestigious and competitive category of dry stouts and earning a rare platinum medal in the process, Cadillac Mtn. Stout proved to be the surprise of the competition. A self-described "cottage brewery", Bar Harbor is one of North America's smallest breweries, producing only 260 barrels of bottle-conditioned beer per year.
Run exclusively by husband and wife team Tod and Suzi Foster, with occasional help from a friend, they do everything themselves, from brewing to labeling to delivery. In the tradition of classic Bavarian brewers, they control their product until it is dropped at their customer's door. This assures the ultimate level of quality control as well as direct consumer feedback, a fact that they believe is key to their success. An inspiration to other small brewers, their beers can be found on the Maine shore and are a must for those visiting nearby Acadia National Park."
All About Beer Magazine
Buyer's Guide No. 6