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

Henry David Thoreau

Off to Acadia

Friday July 5 and Saturday July 6, 2013
Site 79, Blackwoods Campground
Acadia National Park
Bar Harbor, Maine

 

I’m sorry this post is so long but I’m really trying to get caught up to real time and have to combine days to do that or post several in one day. Hope you will bear with me.

 

FRIDAY

All the while we have been at Camden Hills and knowing we are going to Acadia next where there are no water or electric hook ups in your site, we have been saying we should wash Winnona and wax her.  It’s been nearly a year poor girl.   There isn’t anything in the “rules” list prohibiting it and our campsite is out of site.  The perfect spot. AND plus it’s in the shade.  

But do we ever get around to this in the FIVE days we are here???  Nope.  So finally this morning, the day we have to be out of the site by 11am, we clean the awning to at least reduce the mildew.  I’m pretty disgusted with us.  I know Winnona is too.

 

Cleaning the Awning at Camden

 

If you can suggest things we shouldn’t miss in Acadia PLEASE do.

Our drive is all along Route 1 going North.  It’s a very nice and scenic road with fairly constant changes in the speed limit from 25 mph going through the little towns to as much as 50 every once in a while for short stretches.    We see nary a chain store or big box anywhere on our drive.   It’s amazing how beautiful Maine has kept this road.

Things slow considerably as we approach Mount Desert Island.  Would you like to weigh in on the pronunciation?  I’ve been told Mt. Dessert although it isn’t spelled that way and Mt. Desert as in dry hot sandy although it isn’t like that at all.

The bridge over to the island is the first one I’ve ever seen with “window” boxes full of flowers.  Nice touch when you are sitting there in traffic.

 

 

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Driving through Bar Harbor is a HARROWING experience.

 

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I definitely should have researched our approach more carefully.  We are driving on Route 3 which goes right through the town where I was not expecting streets with parking on both sides.    I’m a nervous wreck but David does just a seriously expert job of negotiating this mess even with a large truck with giant mirrors coming toward us in the other lane of the cars parked on both sides of the street.  And even when he has to make a right hand turn from one ‘cars parked on both sides of the street’ to another one backed up traffic in all lanes.   These pictures were taken on the large street.  I was having a heart attack on the really narrow one and the right hand turn.  He definitely needs an RV driving award!!  

 

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What’s with the Ranger?

After we are out of the town and I’m heaving sighs of relief,  the road is wonderful and we have no trouble getting to Blackwoods where we encounter the only surly check in ranger I have ever met.  Wish I’d thought to get his name. 

Although you make reservations for a site at Blackwoods, it’s not for a specific site.  They assign the site to you when you arrive.  After telling us to turn off our engine before we’d hardly put the brake on, he is into his lecture about how they seriously enforce the rules and we should read them all carefully.  Finally he gets around to giving us a site and we drive over to find there is no way in the world to either level up or open your slides on this site.  Mind you the park has a record of our size and slides. 

After trying to make this site work for nearly an hour we give up in frustration and return to the office where a very very nice ranger, the kind you think you will always encounter in a National Park, gives us a list of available sites and lets us choose # 79 a nice pull through.  The only thing I can imagine is that the original guy was having a very bad day, is very new or for whatever reason doesn’t like big RVs.   It is true that the Acadia campgrounds have 4 times as many sites for tenters as they do for RVs but many of the sites can easily accommodate our size, 35’.   They have two rows of pull throughs with a total of 20 or so campsites and many of the back ins would accommodate a 35’ as well. 

 

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So here we are.  All set up including hammock but not yet screen room.  We’ll see how much we are able to be on the patio and the situation with the mosquitoes before we set it up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We have great neighbors at Blackwoods.

You can see one of our neighbors in the van.   Here are the others who actually share our site.  We have a tree stump and a large rock, both of which have proven to be popular spots today. 

 

I’m thinking this is a hairy woodpecker but Judy will correct me I hope if I’m wrong.    I had never seen a Red Squirrel until today.  He’s a little guy only about a foot from nose to the tip of his tail. 

 

 

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SATURDAY

 

The park has an extensive bus service called the island explorer which stops pretty much anywhere and everywhere.  There are 7 routes that cover the island and numerous scheduled stops along them.  But drivers will pick you up or drop you off at any point where they can safely pull over.   Apparently the system is heavily sponsored by L.L. Bean.   Thanks L.L.!!

 

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We hop on the bus right in the campground and ride it north to the Visitor’s Center.  

 

Taking up a large section of the center of the room is a large 3 dimensional  relief map which is really wonderful for getting a look at where you are and where everything else is.

 

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I find Blackwoods campground and its surrounding area

 

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Of course I have to stamp my passport and look at all the information on what there is to do in this large park.  I’m like a kid in a candy store.  There are more hikes than you could do in many months, there are lakes and lakes for flat water kayaking,  there are fabulous Carriage paths for biking.  OH MY! 

 

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It’s pretty warm this morning so I check the current weather forecast.   HOT!!  Oh no, not here too.  I thought Maine was in the 70’s during the summer.

 

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Before leaving the center we watch the 20 minute film which I find a bit disappointing.  The history and creation of this park is a wonderful story and they do not mention it at all.  The film seems more geared to a group you are trying to convince to come to the park rather than a group which is already here.   They show people doing various activities in the park but no details on where they are.  This too is a first for me at a National Park since I have always found their films to be excellent.

 

 

The College of the Atlantic is a must see on my list for Mount Desert Island.

 

Yesterday while driving onto the island we passed by The College of the Atlantic.  It’s a small 4 year school which only gives degrees in Human Ecology.  It has a really interesting curriculum and faculty.  When Carrie and I were researching small colleges for her to attend I read up on this one and while she wasn’t interested I would have LOVED to have gone to school here or been on the faculty. COA is the first college in the US to have, as its primary focus, the relationships between humans and the environment.  It’s an interesting college with an interesting philosophy and curriculum.  Check it out here.

I definitely want to see the college and its campus right on the water.  But there is an added incentive.  They have a big banner by their main entrance saying Native American Festival.  Today is the day for it so we hop on the bus and head over there.  

 

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What a huge disappointment to find that the festival lasted from 10-3 and it is now 3:15 and everything is over and everyone has packed up.  The hours were not listed on the sign or I would have come here before the Visitor’s center today.  Last evening, I might well have googled information about it if I could have but we have no verizon service at the campground. 

That means no phone and no internet.   That’s going to make for difficult blogging and blog commenting.  I hope you’ll bear with me on both accounts.  I can get a signal about 4 miles closer to Bar Harbor than the campground but my equipment won’t pick it up here. If you have any suggestions for what equipment I might add or replace that would fix this problem PLEASE share it with me.

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The festival which is the annual Wabanaki Indian Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market is in its 20th year. 

The schedule for the day included a children’s etching activity, the host drum and singers, Wabanaki dancing, Penobscot songs and Feather Dance, Flintknapping demonstration, Ash pounding demonstrations, Native flute music, and story telling as well as booths for food and Native crafts. I am definitely bummed out to have missed this.

 

 

 

 

 

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What I do see as they pack up are some beautiful intricately woven and designed baskets which I am so busy looking at as they are putting them away that I don’t think to take pictures of them before they are gone off of the tables.  I do get a few shots of the more utilitarian ones in the back of truck as it is leaving. 

I am also able to catch the end of an ash splitting demonstration which is very interesting.  What a lot of labor and time goes into those beautiful baskets.

 

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Well, here we are and no festival, now what?

 

Time to see the college which was on my agenda even before the festival.  Most of the students are away for the summer of course so I cannot see the college in action.  There is a music festival on campus apparently although I don’t see any signs of them as we walk around.  I imagine the college can host lots of summer programs given the beauty and location of its campus.

 

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I have to show you a close up of this large elk sculpture made out of salvaged steel which is at the sidewalk edge of the lawn on which the festival was held.  It was made by one of the college’s students.  Throughout the day we find that many things we see were made by the students.

 

After having our lunch on a bench in a quiet shady area we discover this main building which has an open walkway through to a fabulous view of lovely lawns and a walk along Frenchman Bay .   The college cafeteria is located on one side and there are tables in the middle.  What a place to eat your meals as a college student.   Wish we’d discovered this before picking a table.  But it is late for lunch and we were pretty hungry.

 

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The next thing we run into is this Finback Whale Skull on a building opposite the college Museum of Natural History. The sign tells us that he died from a collision with a ship in 1983. He was 11 years old, 60’ long and weighed 40 tons.  The size of just his skull is AMAZING.  It makes me very sad to know that our activities caused his death.  This installation too was done by college student Daniel DenDanto as part of a college independent study project.  WOW!

 

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OK then, Natural History Museum here we come.

 

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The museum is small but mighty.  We have shown up only 30 minutes before it closes at 5:00 and it is clear we could spend hours in here.  All of the exhibits are done by students.  It is just fantastic.   David and several other folks are looking at the sea tank located just off the main room which has the small store and several exhibits I’ll talk about later.

I wish I’d taken a picture of the tiles on the tank.  They are beautiful and were also done by students.

 

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We are all fascinated by seeing these creatures up close.

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The star fish seem very happy here.  Not sure about the crab.  He seems to want to escape.  Little does he know he won’t be someone’s dinner if he stays here.

 

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Normally I don’t like preserved animal displays but this one is extremely well done.

 

In the next room are the species found on Mount Desert Island.  Again all of the exhibits were designed and the taxidermy done by students. The snowy owl has a poem by one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, as part of its display.  You can click the photo to blow it up if you’d like to read it.

 

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While the picture isn’t good due to the lighting reflections, I think this placement of the porcupine is excellent.

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I have no idea how this fox was kept in pouncing position.  Neither of us can see any wires or stakes or straps.   

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Can you imitate bird sounds or frogs??

In the final room is the Raven Exhibit of Sound.  I’ve asked David to write a small blurb about this.  It is just wonderful.  I suppose those of you with an iphone may have an app that will do this but I could have stayed in there and watched and listened and talked for hours.  How well can you imitate a bird sound?  Come over here and try your hand at it.  Here’s what David has to say.

In the very back of the museum we find a very cool sound booth. From the outside it appears to be two old British phone booths sitting side by side. Inside there is actually a working wall-mounted payphone which is free for local calls.  This is cool enough, however the really cool thing is the sound application they have running on a computer in the back of the booth. This program uses two screens, one to allow you to choose a species of amphibian, bird or mammal, while the other screen displays a visual sound wave of the sound that creature is making as it is played and you are hearing it. The graphs show the frequency and amplitude of the sounds on a moving line that represents time, so you can see the interval between sounds and their unique profiles. We have fun choosing some of our favorites that we don’t get to hear often enough – like the loon. And If that isn’t enough to keep one occupied, they also have a speaker mounted on the wall so you can try to imitate the sounds of the animals and see how your sound waves compare.  They are displayed above the actual animal sounds for comparison in real time. I was hoping we could ask it to compare our frog sound (rib-it) to see if it closely matched any known species. Unfortunately after playing everything we wanted to hear, we did not have time to do this. If there are any kids in the museum you will have to wait a while to get a turn in the sound booth. Of course there are some adults who still have that child’s sense of wonder (see below), so you may have to wait on us too.

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The museum is closing and we’ve only made a cursory look around.  As I look quickly through the shop I notice that the glass book cases hold published works by faculty and students and one of them is a book I must have.

 

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There is some amazing talent nurtured at this college.

 

Notice the book on the middle of the shelf in the second picture above.  It’s titled Birds of Mount Desert Island Maine and was done by 2013 graduate Anna Strunkle as her senior project.

 

Her work is among the most captivating to me of everything I’ve seen.  I have never seen more fabulous drawings of birds.  I wish you could see the originals in which the birds’ feathers appear real, so delicately drawn are they.  In some, the birds look as if they might fly off the page.   These pictures are inadequate to convey the gorgeous subtle drawings.

 

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In her artist’s statement next to 8 of these framed originals, Ms Strunkle  says:

This project is a guide to the natural history of 55 bird species found on Mount Desert Island Maine.  The guide mainly focuses on common species which can be easily found by the average observer.  The book attempts to answer questions about why birds behave as they do, and about why they have evolved certain adaptations.  By looking beyond the simple listing of species, one can gain a new perspective and appreciation for these animals.  I hope that the book will encourage people to be amazed by the beauty and diversity of the birdlife in this region.

The guide represents my own course of study by integrating natural history, science, art and an aesthetic appreciation for nature.  I have focused my undergraduate studies on field ecology and animal behavior, and also have a love of illustration.  I feel that art can add a fascinating perspective to science and natural history.  By paying close attention to the shapes, colors and details of an organism or landscape, one can learn so much about it and further appreciate its beauty.

 

I think this is a great example of the kind of self driven education COA is known for.  I purchase a copy of Anna’s book not only so that I can continue to enjoy her stunning drawings but to support her work in whatever small way.

 

With that we are the last folks out of the museum, not atypical for us.  Straight across the road near the Finback skull is the Island bus stop. 

 

In short order we are returned to the Village Green in Bar Harbor which is the hub for the different routes and the central, though not only, transfer spot between bus routes.  

 

The green is lovely with its gazebo and islands of flowers.  Many folks are sitting on the benches, walking the paths and lounging on the grass.

 

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After checking the bus schedule for our #3 to return to the campground we see we have about 12 minutes.  I see this darling little building with its door open and go over to investigate.  Turns out it is a National Park Information Center.  It is staffed until 5pm but left open later than that so you can pick up maps or brochures if you need.  I pick up a Walking Guide to Bar Harbor and some information on restaurants.  I love the curved doors and the stained glass in them.  This town really does have artistic written all over it.

 

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Well this is a new one on me.  Maybe you have one in your town but I’ve never seen it before.

 

We walk back over to the stop and I look over the town map to get a feel for the layout.  Definitely doable for a walking too.  I’m anxious to do the walking tour but too tired at this moment.   

 

Just across the street from the map is the Reel Pizza Cinerama.  What?  A movie house/pizza parlor?  Sure enough, David goes over to take a closer look while I keep an eye out for the bus.  He brings back some information which shows that you can see a movie including first runs, arts and foreign films on one of two screens for $6 a seat.  I just about drop my jaw.  $6.  When was the last time you saw a first run movie for $6??   And you can have a giant bag of buttered popcorn for $3.75 or a huge refillable bowl for $5 and eat it or the pizza of your choice inside while watching the film and sitting in either movie seats with a breakfast bar or on comfy couches and chairs including recliners.  Have you ever seen a movie house like that?  When I see that the current movie is The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp that seals putting this on my list of experiences to have here.

 

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Our bus arrives and takes us on a nice relaxing ride back to Winnona to begin our plans for another day.  We’re home before dark, excellent!!

 

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17 comments:

  1. When I was in Maine on the schooner cruise, the captain and crew all referred to Mt. "Dessert" island and I've always pronounced it that way.

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  2. Awesome movie theater! There was one like it in Ithaca, NY, complete with couches. They even had nutritional yeast for vegans to put on their popcorn. Cool old place.

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  3. What a fun start to your stay at Acadia. I will chime in on "Dessert" being the pronunciation I heard from the locals--seems weird though. As for things to do there, it sounds like you have plenty of activities on your list. I did enjoy having popovers and tea on the lawn at Jordan Pond house. We also liked the farmer's market in Bar Harbor. In town, there is a nice trail along the harbor that we wouldn't have known about unless a local told us. It passes in front of some incredible "summer" homes.

    One more thing: the Mary Oliver poem is so special. I am sure impressed with that college. Thinking about the sounds of bird, do you know the Richard Wilbur poem?

    A Barred Owl--BY RICHARD WILBUR
    The warping night air having brought the boom
    Of an owl’s voice into her darkened room,
    We tell the wakened child that all she heard
    Was an odd question from a forest bird,
    Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
    “Who cooks for you?” and then “Who cooks for you?”

    Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
    Can also thus domesticate a fear,
    And send a small child back to sleep at night
    Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
    Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
    Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.

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  4. It's been over 30 years since I've been to Acadia, and that was traveling in a pop-up with two little ones under 4 years of age, so I'm really enjoying the tales from your visit. How long are you there for?

    It's either a hairy or a downy woodpecker. I can't tell the size by the picture nor hear it's 'chip'. ;)

    I'm guessing I could have spent an hour in that sound booth too. And the bird book? Wonderful!

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  5. Can't even imagine drive a big rig through Bar Harbor;o(( You two sure cover a lot of turf in one day!!!

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  6. Acadia is just so beautiful!
    Syl

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  7. The college is really interesting. I'm glad that you took time to go by. This looks like such a lovely place!

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  8. I think we need to find a way to tuck a few more hours into your day. I may have PDD as it applies to driving, I think you have SVD (Sherry Visiting Disorder), packing so many things to visit in one day. :cD

    Maybe we have a common ancestor? ;c)

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  9. Thanks for the tour! Just lovely. Our old town in PA had an old movie theater that they retrofitted with long tables. They served bar food and beer or wine. They had second run movies for $3! Was a fun place :)

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  10. I agree with others that you really packed a lot into one day. What a great place to visit. So much to see and do. I hope you're going to be there longer than your usual 5 days! It looks like you'd need months there. Check back on Jeannie and Eldy's blog from last summer. They really enjoyed the area. I remember her raving about bike riding on the carriage roads.

    I'm so jealous! I hope the temps cool down. It would be so much nicer for some nice 70's, wouldn't it?

    That elk sculpture is amazing. Was there glass in the belly of the elk? It's amazing. Love the bird drawings too. What a fun place.

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  11. Very interesting college ... and what a great place it would be to go to school.

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  12. Ah, you duplicated our drive through downtown Bar Harbor with the car in tow...we did it on the Fourth of July weekend...had the wrong street in the GPS. I STILL remember how scary that was! Loved the College of the Atlantic--there are several more sculptures on the campus, did you see them? How are the temps?

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  13. What a great spot. The College of the Atlantic is a pretty amazing place - thanks for the tour.

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  14. Loved reading this along with the pictures, Sherry. I've said it before and I'm saying it again .. I love Maine... can not believe it's hot there! I was in sweats n August! the first time I went there.

    The Rangers are really something ... I drove around all over the NP ... stopped and oooed and ahhhed ... had a seagull follow me and stop with... just blew me away.

    There were some gorgeous deep red maple leaves laying on the ground. I reached down... picked up several ... SCREEECH ... what are you doing? uh looking at leaves?... no you mustn't pick anything up.

    I said.. but these were on the ground... she explained in detail how at any NP ... you don't disturb anything. I said, I knew that and don't but fallen leaves beside a stopping place turnabout?

    yes. okay... I apologized... thought she was going to take me away in chains. Then I began asking her questins about this or that ... told her I loved to make jewelry out of natural stuff... i wanted to make earrings out of these beautifu leaves. she liked that. she let me take a little baggy full.

    never did get the stuff you dip 'em in to preserve them... blast! but it was a couple of years later that I found the leaves ... still RED in the baggy but they were too crumbly.

    love Acadia. and yes, I remember it as dessert also. thought that was fun. Thunder Hole is there... forget where... it's on the drive around thing. just magnificent. and the sound? oh man.

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  15. Rich and thought we would make it back to Maine. I doubt that I will, but you take me there with your words. :) Still trying to catch up on blog reading...I swear, it's impossible!

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  16. I literally laughed out loud at your comment that Winona was disappointed in you for not getting her washed and waxed. . .too funny.

    Our plan is to arrive in Acadia in exactly two weeks. . .can't wait!

    Janice
    ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing Blog
    FaceBook.com/ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing

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  17. What a few days!! Harrowing drive - Dad is a master - he's got great spacial perception that I just...don't :) Sorry the film was a disappointment and that you missed the Indian festival, but I'm glad the college of the atlantic museum was so impressive! And, that movie - WOW - I'd love that - popcorn and the big screen - what a fun special treat!

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