Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

On the quiet side of Mount Desert Island

Saturday July 27, 2013
Site 730 Narrows Too
Trenton, Maine



Today we do a few easy things on the West side of the island.

It’s a lovely day today, high 79 and low of 61.  I don’t think it could be more perfect. 


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During our two weeks at Blackwoods Campground in the park, we did mainly things on the East side of the island.  Since it is a week-end and likely to have even more people in the neighborhood of Bar Harbor, we think we will go over to the west side of Mount Desert (dessert) Island which is known as the quiet side.  There just aren’t as many people over there since the crowds tend to congregate along the park loop road and around Bar Harbor.

We begin by taking a look at the other “swimming” beach in the park.  This one is at Echo Lake where the water is at least a tad warmer.


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David thinks Changing Rooms are cool.  I haven’t seen those since the 50’s and I wonder if they are vestiges of the early days of the area at the turn of the 20th century. He reports that there is room enough in each for an entire family.





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It’s fairly early in the day and the temperatures haven’t warmed up beyond the low 70’s yet but people are still here.  They seem to have a rubber mat or something for you to walk out into Echo Lake on.  I’ve never seen that before.




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While we are here, we take a look at the trailheads for the Canada Cliff’s trail and for the Beech Cliffs trail.   The former has a warning sign about iron rungs and ladders.  We walk a short way on the latter which seems like a lovely trail we may return to hike.





Just a little further on down Route 102, we stop in at the Carroll Homestead.


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Interestingly it is only open on Thursdays during the season.  I would have thought a week-end day would bring more visitors.  So today we just look around the grounds but cannot go into the house.  I hope we’ll be able to come back some Thursday and see inside the house.

Four generations of the Carroll family lived in this house built by John Carroll, an Irish immigrant, in 1825.

There is a nice trail from the parking lot through the woods to the edge of the property where the rock wall fences still stand.

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After the Carroll Homestead, we continue on Route 102 and when 102A cuts off to the left we take it around to the Seawall Campground. 

This is the other Acadia National Park campground that we were to have spent two weeks in until we had the battery and charging problems. 

We drive into the campground and look around.  There are 4 loops.  Loop A is my favorite but it appears to be mainly small trailers, popups and tents although I think bigger rigs could get into many of the sites.  Loop B is very small and all tents or small pop ups.  Loop C is where the larger rigs up to 35’ are and we see several sites we like.  Loop D is walk in tenting and if I were still a tenter, it would be my hands down favorite. 

None of the sites have any hook ups just as in Blackwoods.  But there are nice bath houses although no showers.  Showers are available at private concessionaires just outside the park.  We do find that here, unlike Blackwoods, we can get a 1X with 2 or 3 bars signal on my Verizon smart phone.  I am able to bring up the blog, check the weather and make a phone call.  Good deal!   Perhaps we will return here to camp either yet this year or the next time we are in Acadia.  This is a place we really love.  

I should have taken a few pictures of the camp sites for those interested.  I’m sorry I was so busy checking my phone that I forget.



We continue on around the loop road to our next stop, a trail called Wonderland.


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This is a short hike of just over a half mile to the shore.  It is a wide level path that first goes through a mixed deciduous and coniferous woods and then through a grove of pitch pines before entering a tall strand of spruces along the seashore.  The path then encircles a small peninsula , on each side of which is a beautiful little cove with pebble beaches, cobblestone seawalls, and ledges of granite shelving into the sea. 






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It’s a short walk but I get very stuck on the beauty of it.  David comments that he wonders how the trail came to be called Wonderland.  It became very clear as we experienced this wonderland of rocks, waves, and tide pools.



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I really could sit and gaze at scenes like this for hours. 

Although along the shore even in July you’d better at least bring a long sleeve shirt most days as the breeze is chilly.


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The tide is coming in but we are here in time to see some of the beautiful tide pools. 


There are many of them, all different, all interesting.

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Look at how clear the water is.  What do you suppose he’s trying to see more closely??

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Even the clouds are fantastic.
It’s just a perfect day!

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It is extremely hard to leave Wonderland but we have one more stop we want to make before heading back. 


Only a little further along Route 102A is the ship Harbor Trail.  Another short one, only 1.1 miles, that takes us hours to do.  :-))


The Ship Harbor Trail begins with a walk down a beautifully wooded path which arrives at the harbor, a sheltered little cove that drains nearly dry at low tide..


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We are really hungry by this point.  Time to eat!


We go straight to the harbor looking for a picnic spot rather than do the trail first.

We aren’t able to visit at low tide “this time” but we find a ledge on the edge of the harbor that is a great place to have our lunch since it is well into the afternoon by the time we arrive.


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Here is our lunch view looking across the harbor to the mouth.  We’ll end up on that gravel spur at the end of the day.


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After lunch we go back to the trail and there are two choices for the loop trail, the low road to the right or the high road to the left. 

We choose to do the trail counter clockwise which turns out to be a great choice.   We climb up to the top of the ledges through a lovely conifer forest with teasing glimpses of the ocean below.


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We reach the pink granite ledges and OH Boy, here we are in another wonderland. 


Only this time the wind has picked up and the waves are a bit stronger.   I must admit, I would love to see these shores in a storm.   We’ve had a fair amount of rain, but never a real storm…..yet.


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I don’t know where to look next to keep up with the waves crashing in every direction.  It is just so fantastic.


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Finally I just take a front row seat beyond the spitting gallery and enjoy the show.


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Eventually we walk on down the length of the ledges and find a Thunder Hole competitor. 


We heard the boom before we figure out where it is coming from.    It’s over there somewhere.



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I’m looking back over my shoulder when David finds it.  Well actually we find two of them.   This is the first one.


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But this is the better one.  We watch the water roll in, hit the back of the small “cave”, make its booming noise and rush back out only to repeat.   We stay here for quite a while watching before I think to get David’s picture.  Of course as soon as I stand up and bring out my camera, the waves slack off and I am never able to get a picture of the real boomers.   But this will give you an idea of the placid water and then at least some minor wave action.   I could watch these things forever I think.   Just amazing.

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Evening is coming on.

We really must be starting back around to finish off the loop trail.  It takes us off the rocks and through the woods.


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We arrive back at the gravel bar at the harbor mouth.  Looking at the calm harbor waters, you would never guess the wave action out in the sea itself.


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We leave the point going up the stairs and take the central path back to our car.

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These two hikes, Wonderland and Ship’s Harbor are very deceptive.  They are shorter than nearly any other hike on Mount Desert Island but they are full of surprises and if you are like us, they will take you hours to do and you may never want to leave.

A rainy day at the Abbe Museum and Party Time

Friday July 26, 2013
Site 730, Narrows Too
Trenton, Maine



It starts raining Thursday afternoon and rains steadily for the next 24 hours.


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Looking pretty dreary when we get up.  Nice day for the ducks. 

So what to do in the rain?  We’ve been wanting to see the Abbe Museum and this is just the right day. 






I suspect a lot of other people will have this same idea but what the heck.


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The Abbe is in Bar Harbor and was much closer to us while we were at Blackwoods.  Today it is a 12 mile drive.  But we head in to town to take a look.

This is the “new” additional Abbe location in downtown Bar Harbor.  The oldest part of the building facing Mount Dessert street was built in the early 1890’s.  it served as the YMCA for more than 100 years. 




The Abbe was founded at its Sieur de Monts location in 1926 by Dr. Robert Abbe an eminent New York physician known for his pioneering work in radiation therapy. 

He was a summer resident of Bar Harbor and during the 1920’s assembled a collection of early Native American artifacts.  He and other amateur archeologists of the island established the museum to protect the objects and display them to the public.

In 1928 the Abbe became the first institution in Maine to sponsor archeological research which it continues today.  It is the main repository for archeological collections from the midcoast Maine region.

It expanded its scope to include ethnographic materials from the 17th through the 20th century and has acquired an extensive contemporary collection documenting the continuing Wabanaki craft tradition in Maine.  The Abbe’s collections now represent 10,000 years of Native American culture and history in Maine. It holds the largest and best documented collection of Maine Indian basketry. 

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By the 1990s the Abbe's 2,000-square-foot museum at Sieur de Monts Spring had become inadequate to house the growing collections, and provided no space for indoor programs, changing exhibitions or research. Because of its location it could only operate seasonally. In 1997, the Abbe purchased the former YMCA building in downtown Bar Harbor. A $6 million capital campaign enabled the Abbe to renovate and expand the 1893 landmark to create a 17,000-square-foot museum with exhibition galleries, indoor and outdoor program spaces, a research lab and state-of-the-art collections storage.

There is a lot to see here as you can tell from the floor map.



The Abbe Bar Harbor is eight times the size of the original Abbe.  The total collection includes more than 50,000 items spanning 10,000 years.



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The Downtown Abbe museum opened on September 29, 2001 and has permanent and changing exhibitions including the major installation of “Wabanaki: People of the Dawn” which we view today. 

We begin in the Orientation Gallery on the left opposite the museum shop as you enter the museum.  It includes an extensive time line of the Wabanaki people with world events listed above along the time line for reference.   The time line is shown below.  It is what David is reading in the above picture.

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This time line is unique at least for me in that it begins with contemporary events and works backwards in the Wabanaki history.  I had no idea that Native Americans were only given the right to vote in National Elections in 1954.  It was 1967 before they were allowed to vote in Maine State Elections.

Also in this Gallery today is an etching activity to give visitors a chance to see how the Wabanaki etch designs on birch bark baskets and canoes.  The people at the tables are working on this.  Birch trees have a winter and a summer bark.  The winter bark is on the trees at the time of sap rising and is the dark color of the basket (the inside of the bark).  Thus if they etch off the darker color they expose the lighter color and thus by using the lighter color negative space they can reveal their etching.  They sometimes do this same artistic rendering on their canoes. 


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The art work is outstanding.

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Also in the Orientation Gallery today is a model of  building a canoe.

Raney Bench, the Curator of Education, explains the entire process to us which is mind boggling.  Two master builders would build a 20’ birch bark canoe from the selection of the tree, stripping the bark, building the frame to the finished product.  She answers every question and clearly knows the process thoroughly.  She also tells us that in early August they will be having 2 master builders actually building a canoe in the outdoor courtyard.  I want to come back and see that.   If you are in the area, I hope you will come too.  You’ll be amazed.


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It is hard for me to get out of the Orientation Gallery, there is so much to see.  But there is so much more in the museum that I have to move along.  Only one more thing….the story book in Passamaquoddy and English.   I read the entire story of Espons and really enjoy trying to pronounce the Native words.  Espons is quite a rascal.


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So who are the Wabanaki people?


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Raney explains to us that the Wabanaki Tribes of Maine are a group of 4 tribes has been a confederacy since prior to the white settlement of Maine.  The four federally recognized  tribes are  the Maliseet, Micmac, Penobscot and Passamaquoddy.   Each tribe maintains its own tribal government, community schools, cultural centers and manages tribal lands and natural resources.  The Aroostook Band of Micmac live in Presque Isle.
The Houlton Band of Maliseet live in Houlton.  The Passamaquoddy Tribe have two reservations at Indian Township and Pleasant Point.  The Penobscot Indian Nation has their main reservation at Indian Island.







Today the Education Gallery has two types of education going on.


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Like the activities in the Orientation Gallery, all the Abbe exhibitions are accompanied by a variety of educational programs for adults and families.  They also present special programs for school groups.  Today there is one on basket weaving taking place in the Education Gallery.




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There is also an exhibit on the walls discussing the central Wabanaki homeland area which was over the years used as a toxic waste dump by federal contractors.  In the 1990’s it became a superfund site and the clean up led to an ongoing archeological project documenting the Native Presence in this area for over 12,000 years.



As we continue on, we learn about other Wabanaki crafts.

In the hallway between these two rooms the time line continues.  We also learn about other skills perfected into artistic crafts by the Wabanaki.  These talking stick carvings on the wall are exquisite.  The detail is amazing. 


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The Wabanaki make several types of baskets including sweetgrass.  I am surprised to see this as I know that many Native peoples weave sweetgrass baskets along the coastal south.  I wasn’t expecting to find sweetgrass this far north.  I find the explanation of the process for gathering sweetgrass very interesting.  The patience and attention to detail that goes into all of these arts is a tradition the Native peoples seem to be keeping alive.  I have great admiration for them.

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Over the years the Abbe has changed its focus from collecting to collaboration.

The Abbe began its collaboration with Native people during the 1980’s and 90’s and has had exhibitions on many local artists such as the birchbark art of Tomah Joseph.  During recent years Native Americans have become involved in all aspects of the museum as members of the Board of Trustees.




The current exhibition on the Wabanaki Guides is perfect for me.  I first read about them during my “Thoreau period” and had completely forgotten.


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The Exhibition Gallery today is devoted to another of the Wabanaki skills.  They are renown for their basketry, canoe building, carving skills and for providing expert guiding services for nearly 200 years.   I had no idea the long tradition of Naive Maine Guides. 





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Explorers, cartographers, artists, hunters, and writers have all employed the Wabanaki as guides, learning how to travel, hunt, appreciate and live in what is now called Maine amid the rugged beauty, rocky coastlines and extreme tides where dense forests, rivers and lakes dominate the landscape interspersed with mountains and rocky terrain. Weather can change suddenly.  The ancestors of the Wabanaki have lived here for over 12,000 years.  Visitors to Maine continue to hire Wabanaki guides for these same reasons.


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Here’s where Henry David comes in and the light goes off in my head.

This exhibit talks about the history of the Guides, showing many examples of historical trips and guides along with quotations from those who went hunting or fishing by birch bark canoe into the interior of Maine with them.  Anyone who has read Henry David Thoreau’s book The Maine Woods (1864) has read about his trips with Wabanaki Guides.


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This is a map of the new Thoreau-Wabanaki trail formed by stitching Thoreau’s trips together into a 30 miles paddle. Thoreau took three trips.  One in 1846, 1853, and 1857.  The 1853 trip was with Wabanaki guide Joseph Attean and the 1857 with Wabanaki guide Joe Polis.  There has been a book written about traveling the new trail entitled Wilderness Within, Wilderness Without: Exploring Maine’s Thoreau- Wabanaki Trail.   Sounds like a great trip I’d love to do.



The guides use birch bark cones to call the moose.  Notice the beautiful carvings on the cone.  They imitate a female moose call to attract the male.  When the moose calls back, they make the female call sound a long way off so that the moose will come right by them on his way to the female.  Apparently they were amazingly successful with this trick.  Poor moose.


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The exhibit has a sample “camp” set  up with a moose hide skin for a blanket inside the tent.  I had no idea moose fur was 5 or 6” long.  It felt much different than any other fur I’ve ever felt.


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Throughout the exhibit they emphasize the ongoing nature of the Wabanaki Guides training and the certifying of new guides.  I am particularly impressed that  Jennifer Neptune is a Penobscot Indian guide in training who will have to pass rigorous tests to be licensed to guide.  She is keeping the tradition alive in her family.


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And now for the quiz.


As part of the educational information regarding the Wabanaki Guides exhibit there is a Tracking challenge in which you look at the footprints, scat and habitat of an animal and try to identify it..
There are 9 and I am only able to get 4.  Not a very good percentage but I learn a lot.


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I do a lot better on the “what would you do quiz”.  They show you a scenario that has happened to a guide and give you three possible ways to respond.  You are to pick the correct one.  I get them all right so now David thinks I should sign up to be a guide.  Hmmmm, one big problem, I’m not a Wabanaki.

Both of the educational “quizzes” are a lot of fun and very educational.

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The last thing I’ll  show from this Gallery is a beautiful work of art in the form of a hand made snowshoe.  It looks like intricate crochet work to me.  These are Penobscot snowshoes made of ash or birch and hide.  They are said to be almost identical to a pair Thoreau owned that date to 1853..


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The Abbe Bar Harbor serves the community year round, while the trailside Abbe at Sieur de Monts Spring is open seasonally.  In a previous post I showed a picture of us having lunch one afternoon in front of the original Abbe at Sieur de Monts.  We will definitely use our ticket  and return there to see the original museum.

This is the very best place to learn about the Native peoples of Maine, their history, their beautiful craftsmanship, their sense of place and love for their home lands and their ongoing position in the communities of Maine.

We spend the entire day here and enjoy it immensely.  Admission is $6 ($5 for seniors) and includes admission to both museums.


I’ll leave you with some of the magnificent basketry for sale in the museum store.

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This set of nesting baskets has birch bark folded butterflies on the lids.

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Ok school’s out and it is time to PARTY.


We get back from the Abbe in time to whip up a fresh fruit salad to take to the potluck party for Gin’s 50th birthday.  She’s joined the half century club.  Doesn’t she look it?   Party hat, noise maker and all??HA! 

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Everybody brings a little something for the dinner and all the cooks are getting it set up.


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Not sure if Nancy is first in line but I know I’m not far behind her.
This is some delicious food!!  Lasagna, two kinds of salad, garlic bread and the birthday cake is a cheese cake.  Whoever planned the menu gets an A+!!


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Good thing Gin and Syl have the party house since it was originally planned to be outside but then it rained ALL DAY LONG!

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And here we are,  the youngest and the oldest on either side of the birthday girl.  Don’t we look like the 3 musketeers or is that mouseketeers??   Are these girls too young to even know who Annette was??  :-))


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These folks definitely know how to throw a party.

Happy happy birthday GIN and many many more!!