Monday, June 11, 2007

Bar Harbor, Maine

One of these days I'm actually going to take an actual vacation. You know, four+ days off from work in a row. But until I do, I am going to enjoy my weekends - like this last one: a girls' weekend in Bar Harbor [the cast of characters: me, my mom, my sister-in-law and a family friend]. My brother and sister-in-law had a baby last August, and my sister-in-law had been craving some non-diaper time. Since three of the four of us live in Maine, and the true tourist season has not yet descended upon our state, we thought a weekend in Bar Harbor would be just right. As soon as our friend drove up from Connecticut, we loaded my car with many bottles of wine and headed north on Route 1 Friday afternoon. The forecast was for low 60s and raining - typical Maine weather in June - but we saw nary a cloud all weekend and the mosquitos weren't bad either (another early summer in Maine concern!) so the gods clearly were smiling on us.

We stayed at the Aurora Inn, a little motel just ten minutes' walk from the center of downvillage Bar Harbor; the bathroom was teeny, but the room had plenty of space for the four of us, a mini-fridge and coffeemaker, and a porch with plenty of benches on which to enjoy before-dinner drinks. After checking in, we wandered into town and strolled the Shore Path before seating ourselves at the Lompoc Cafe. I had a locally brewed Coal Porter and my mom tried the seasonal Island Ginger summer ale; my thin and crispy pizza was laden with locally made goat cheese with red peppers, tomatoes, red onion and mozzarella; elsewhere on our table was a tasty poblano and corn chowder. Since we were on holiday, we shared a creme brulee which turned out to be the weakest part of the meal: it was warm all the way through, not cool on the bottom. We managed to get it all down even so.

On Saturday we breakfasted at a nearby diner, Jordan's: wild Maine blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, bacon and eggs, and a fantastic, funny waitress. Thus fortified, we packed a little picnic and our maps, and headed off to explore Acadia National Park. Acadia is just stunning and we were, as I mentioned, fortunate enough to be ahead of the tourists, so we had it to ourselves more often than not. We hiked the Great Head Loop, then walked along the shore to Thunder Hole. After coming out of the park to explore the exquisite Asticou Azalea Gardens (in Northeast Harbor), we nibbled our picnic lunch and did a 3.9 mile loop (along the Hadlock ponds) on the Carriage Roads. We were then running a little short on time so we drove (I know, I know) to the summit of Cadillac Mountain where the 360-degree views were simply amazing. After our descent, we paused for strawberries and wine on our motel's porch, then supped at the Thirsty Whale Tavern (chunk-meat-only lobster rolls and clam chowder for all) while the filly won the Belmont. Girl power! We felt that all the walking we'd done justified a little ice cream and a little shopping, and then we toddled back to our room for a little more wine before bed.

Sunday morning, after a blueberry turnover and a big old coffee and slightly more shopping, we packed up the car and headed home. By "heading home" I mean taking the long way and exploring the "quiet side" of Mount Desert Island, including driving through Southwest Harbor, walking to the Wonder Land beach, checking out the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse and pausing for a doe to stroll across the road in Pretty Marsh.

It was well into the afternoon at this point, so - reluctantly, because it was such a beautiful day - we cruised back down Route 1, stopping outside of Belfast to pick up some homemade blueberry pie for my friend to bring back to Connecticut with her. I finally arrived back home to both a laconic (husband) and frantic (dog) welcome, a little bit sunburned and a lotta bit happy with my weekend.

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