Thursday, March 29, 2007

What are those shiny things up in the sky?

One of the real treats of visiting Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park is laying on your back on Sand Beach and gazing up at the stars. Just bring a flashlight so you can find you way back to the car because in this part of Maine the skys are dark!

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

The Grand, Ellsworth

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

Mount Desert Island Business: FISHBOY

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 (, 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.

Ollie's Trolley

Santo Petruzzello is a veritable encyclopedia of information and odd “facts” about subjects and sights having to do with Mount Desert Island. He can spend over two hours talking with you and still not cover all the information he knows about the area. But for a tour guide, that’s a good thing.

“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).

Have it your way - The Bar Harbor Subway

My good friend Dave runs the Subway in Bar Harbor. Boy, this guy puts in a lot of hours making sandwiches for hungry tourists and locals alike. Interesting enough he tells me that he gets really busy early in the morning around 9 am. Seem to early for a sub? Well, clever tourists going on boat trips, hiking, to Sand Beach etc, stop in and get a sub to go for later on in the day. This way they don't have to worry about trying to find a place to eat later in the day.

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 Downeast Three Kick Rule

A New York lawyer went duck hunting in rural Down East Maine. He shot and dropped a bird, but it fell into a farmer’s field on the other side of a fence. As the lawyer climbed over the fence, an elderly farmer drove up on his tractor and asked him what he was doing.

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.”

A Sample from Tim Sample

Tim Sample (well-known Maine Humorist), once put it, "You can come from anyplace in the whole world, and come to the state of Maine, you’ll be just fine here. Everything will be hunky-dory as long as you don’t break the only rule that really exist in the state of Maine, and that is - you can’t think that being from away make you better than the local people. You come into the state of Maine with what Unc’ refers to as an altitude problem and you won’t even get the number of the truck that hit ya."

Going Up to Boston? - What's with this Downeast stuff?

Around here you'll hear people tell about going up to Portland or up to Augusta. Huh? Since when does going up mean going south? Well here in "Downeast" Maine we still think in terms of traveling by sea instead of by car. In the early days when roads were few, bridges even fewer and what was, was rough - it was easier to travel by boat from the various islands, pennisulas and towns along the coast of Maine. The prevailing winds blow up from Boston so to get to Bar Harbor one would be sailing downwind and east.

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."

2007 Bar Harbor Cruise Ship Schedule

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

Top Five Places to Avoid When A Cruise Ship is Visiting Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor gets over 70 cruise ship visits in a single season! Sometimes two large ships can be docked in the harbor at once sending a flood of tourists itching for dry land on to the island during daylight hours. Or even a single monster ship like the Queen Mary 2 or even larger (by 10 feet and more passengers) Explorer of the Seas from Royal Caribbean.

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

How does one pronounce "Mount Desert Island"

"Mount Desert Islands" comes it's îles du mont Désert. Frenchman, Samuel de Champlain, who made the first important contribution to the historical record of Mount Desert Island. He led the expedition that landed on Mount Desert on September 5, 1604 and wrote in his journal, "The mountain summits are all bare and rocky..... I name it Isles des Monts Desert."

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

Bird Watching in Acadia National Park

Good birding is even more appealing when its setting is one of the most beautiful areas on the northeastern coast. Acadia National Park attracts millions of visitors each year with its surf-splashed rocky headlands, rugged hills, and placid ponds. Birders enjoy all those attractions while searching for seabirds and a good assortment of nesting land birds. Mostly located on Mount Desert Island (other park areas are found on Isle au Haut, Baker Island, and the Schoodic Peninsula), Acadia is easily explored along paved roads and on hiking trails, including 57 miles [91.7 kilometers] of carriage roads—broad, level paths crisscrossing much of the park.

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

Black Fly Season

After a long wet spring on coastal Maine - Mid-May to Mid-June is host to a bumper crop of Black Flies. If you thought mosquitos were bad, you haven't experience Black Flies. Black Flies are tiny flys that bite. They can leave you marked with little blood splots. They don't use a needle like nose like mosquitos to get your blood rather they simply take a bite out of you. Plus they have the annoying habit of swarming around your head. Plus if that were not enough they come out in the daytime!

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

Bar Harbor Insider Tip

You'll pay less taxes on your meals if you get them "to go" instead of eating in.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Tourists Are An Endless Source of Humor

A Tourist pulls up in his shiny BMW and shouts to the fellow in front of the general store, "How do you get to Bangor?" His reply: "My father takes me."

Downeast Humor

A lobsterman's wife falls overboard from his boat in rough seas and her body washes up on shore weeks later with a dozen lobsters attached. In discussing disposition of the remains, a fellow fisherman says that in view of the high price of lobster and the poor state of the economy, he'd "set her again."

Thunder Hole

"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

Avoid the Crowds in Bar Harbor and Acadia

Here a list of ten great ways to beat the crowds in Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor.

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!

Support The Friends of Acadia

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:

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!

Live Eagle Cam

The Eagle Web cam is presented by BioDiversity Research Institute and made possible through the generous support of FPL Energy Maine Hydro, National Wildlife Federation, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Bar Harbor Insider Believe It Or Not: Soft Drinks

Don't try to order a Coke on Mount Desert Island - Only Pepsi products are available at the local dining establishments. Some places stock bottles and cans but no Coke products from the fountain.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Bar Harbor Brewing Company

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."

Charles Laverick
All About Beer Magazine
Buyer's Guide No. 6
March 1996

Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale

Sample some of the local microbrews like this fellow we call "Red". Personally I like Bar Harbor Real Ale - fresh on tap of course. But tourist usually go for the Blueberry Ale. Bar Harbor brews from Atlantic Brewing Company are available at most of the local eateries.

But why not go to the source and see how its made (plus get some free samples - yum!). Tours of the brewery are available in season at the Atlantic Brewing Company. They also have a gift shop and a BBQ restaurant on the premises.

Atlantic Brewing Company
15 Knox Road
Bar Harbor (Town Hill Section), ME 04609

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Tan Turtle Tavern - Northeast Harbor

This Bar Harbor Insider was excited to learn about a new casual, family oriented restaurant coming to the island. We have plenty of high end places chasing the tourist dollar and trying to make their rent money in a few short weeks, but as a regular guy with a family to feed, we need more places to eat out without empting the wallet. The Tan Turtle Tavern advertised itself as having good food at good prices and a extensive kids menu and it did!

We visited the TTT a few days after it openned and were pleasantly surpised that dinner went along without much of a hitch. The only problems we encountered was a bit of a chill out on the porch area, some slow service and our free dessert (we clipped the grand opening coupon) which was the lava cake didn't exactly have "molten" chocolate lava - it was cold inside.

But we expected some opening night jitters and beside we are rooting for the place! Our main courses - Maple BBQ Baby Back Ribs ($16.95), Crispy Scallops Basket ($13.95) and the Chicken Fingers ($5.99) from the kids menus were fine and tasty. The ribs were very good and reasonably priced especially compared to other places on the island who want over $20 for ribs. $17 bought a whole rack which was plenty for two people. The only complaint from our tester was that she wanted more maple flavor (she is a maple nut). This meal included some nice mashed potatoes and a side of veggies.

I had the crispy scallops which were fried to perfection and had, as advertised, a nice crispy coating. Also in the basket were some great hushpuppies, a side of potato salad and some nice crispy "Turtle Chips" which are homemade potato chips. I've had these type of chips before at another place on the island and found them over cooked. The turtle did them right. The only thing missing was some tarter sauce.

The junior dinner in our party had some great hand-cut chicken breast with some chips and potato salad (I guess they were out of cole slaw on this evening).

The Tan Turtle Tavern is located in the old "151" building on main street in Northeast Harbor. Its a cosy little place in a cosy little town filled with people like Martha Stewart and David Rockerfeller in the summer but on the early March evening we visited it, the place was filled with locals, many brought their kids along. The place was packed and reservations after six pm were a must to get a table on this opening weekend night.

We will certainly be returning again for few reasons. The food was good. The prices were good. The atmoshere was good. They gave us a frequent dinners card good for one free dinner with the purchase of six. And they offer a mind boggling number of dinner options so you can never get bored with the place! No kidding the menu had the most number of choices I have ever seen. Everything from fish to burgers to sandwiches to steaks to BBQ to Mexican to Salads. Luckily they let you take home the menus so you can study them for your next visit. Those poor waitresses!