Thursday, August 27, 2009
We had a lot of fun today, AND we are TOTALLY exhausted!
I must say, we are not really the “get going early” crowd when we are on vacation. I didn’t wake up until 8:15 today. I rolled out of bed (sleeping in our cabover bed, this can be taken somewhat literally!) and started the day by walking the dog. This is usually Joe’s morning “job” when we are RVing, but I was in the mood to go out, as was Roxy, and Joe was still abed. So for the first time, I took a walk down the road adjacent to our campground, and discovered the beach only about ¼ mile down the road from us! It was a gorgeous, crisp morning with a bright blue sky, and the ocean was beckoning me in the distance almost from the minute I began walking. We were virtually alone on the road (there are perhaps 4-5 houses down this road, but it’s pretty isolated) so I was surprised to find a guy with a border collie already on the beach when we got down there. Roxy and I basically ignored them, concentrating instead on the gorgeous blue water (me) and the smells along the beach (Roxy). We did see a bunch of dead crabs, big ones, near the edge of the sand. I guess that was the high water mark; it was hard to tell.
The walk back was all uphill, but I felt I was earning my not-yet-eaten breakfast. Joe was awake when I got back, and he went off to shower while I ate breakfast and transferred yesterday’s photos. Then he came back and I went up to the laundry to upload my blog. Beth called and we caught up with her. All in all, once again we weren’t ready to catch the shuttle until the 11:25 bus came through.
We went directly to the scooter rental place, and after about a 30-minute check in and instruction process, we were on our way. Part of the process included chatting with the lady who rented us the scoots. She and her husband are “retired”, so they spend the summers in vacation places (last year she says they spent in Yellowstone) work-camping. This year they are camped through October at a campground on Mount Desert Island, and working at the bike/kayak/scooter rental place. They split the job with another couple (this is quite common in the work-camping world) which means they basically work half-time all summer, and get to visit different parts of the country for an extended period. She says she can’t go “full time” like this (many do) because she gets claustrophobic in her RV after a while, so they go home in the winter to Arkansas. Both the lady and her husband were very nice and seemed to be enjoying their jobs. I would have liked to chat longer and find out what their jobs were at Yellowstone, but we wanted to get going with our scooters.
After perusing our maps, we decided our first destination would be to the top of Cadillac Mountain, which we missed out on yesterday. This turned out to be a fantastic choice! We scootered up the road into the park, and started our ascent up the mountain. There was very little traffic, so we felt quite comfortable, and we stopped as we passed the scenic turnouts.
The higher we went, the more stunning the vistas became. Eagle Lake
^ Looking down on Bar Harbor (this gull was very friendly!)
It was actually quite cool with the wind blowing past us—I was glad I had worn jeans and a long-sleeved shirt over my sleeveless shell; Joe had on a sweatshirt (I would have liked that, too, but wasn’t too cold with just the long sleeves.) It was so much fun going up!
We got to the top and found a lot of people up there. We ended up buying some granola bars and nuts at the Visitor’s Center, because it was already after 1:30 and Joe needed to eat something. (I had suggested packing a picnic lunch, and we decided instead to get “a nice lunch”—but THAT didn’t happen, due to our stupid timing.) After eating, we wandered around the summit of Cadillac Mountain. You can look out in every direction, looking east down on Bar Harbor and surrounding islands, or south-east out toward the ocean, or west toward the center of Mount Desert Island and Eagle Lake. The top of the mountain is basically all rock, and people were climbing out way past the paved walkways. There is a trail which leads 2 miles back down to Bar Harbor, and people were heading that way, or coming back up. It was a great view everywhere we looked, despite the fact that our blue sky definitely had a haze in the distance. This is, unfortunately, pollution being blown up from Boston and New York toward Maine. It wasn’t severe today, but I’m sure that 100 years ago, the air was much clearer. Nevertheless, we had a basically perfect day today, and nothing to complain about.Looking west toward Eagle Lake --^
Looking Southeast out to sea--^
Looking east down toward Bar Harbor/Porcupine Islands --^
Zoom in on Bar Harbor from top of Cadillac Mountain--^
We headed back down the mountain finally, and the descent was a real “wow moment” for me. They tell you that the “only” way to “really” appreciate the park is walking or biking, but scooters give the same effect and are easier on the legs! We swept around the road’s curves, being treated to wonderfully scenery around each corner spreading out below us. I felt positively jubilant—it was so exhilarating and absolutely gorgeous to see the foliage close up, smell the wind, and see the blue and green stretching below us. I was sorry when we got to the bottom (and in retrospect, I’m thinking we should have simply driven back up so we could come back down again, LOL!)
At the bottom of the mountain, we stopped so we could look at the map, and we decided to try to ride to the other side of Mount Desert Island to see what the towns there were like. This turned out to be not such a great idea, however. First of all, I underestimated the length of the roads across the island, and it was a longer trip than I expected. Second, our scooters (or at least mine) went about 40 mph downhill, no more than 30 uphill, and a steady 35 on a flat road—but the speed limits were anywhere from 35 MPH to, in one place, 50 mph! The traffic was not terribly heavy at that time of day, but we pulled over quite often (sometimes on the shoulder, sometimes on pullouts, and sometimes on the bike paths) to let cars pass us, and it made me feel unsafe (I was the lead rider, with Joe following me.)
After riding for maybe 20 minutes, and realizing we still had quite a long way to go, I was not too happy about my choice. Joe said, “Let’s just go back to Bar Harbor and drive around there.” So that is what we did. We drove down a bunch of streets which we hadn’t walked, and which the shuttle hadn’t taken. We finally found the RV parking—not too close to the center of town, that’s for sure!—as well as exploring some of the historic roads with large old houses on them. Finally, we drove back down Main Street and stopped for our daily ice cream fix, before returning the scooters to the rental shop down the street.
All in all, we had a wonderful time with the scoots. I would have liked to get an earlier start, and to have packed lunch. There was storage under the scooter seats, which was great—we had the backpack under one seat and water bottles under the other, but we had room for lunch! That also allowed us to be free of appendages as we buzzed along the roads. They were very cute bikes, but I would have been happier with more power!
After we returned the scooters, we noticed a hardware store right next door. Our muffler needed a little attention (I don’t remember if I wrote about this before—one of the supports seems to have rusted, and Joe rigged a temporary substitute, but this time he got what he needed to actually fix it.) And then we walked to the shuttle and caught a ride back to Mo by 5:30. We realized we were VERY tired—I guess all the fresh air, and the energy of riding the scooters really wore us out!
So now we are planning the rest of the trip. At this point, I think we will be heading down the coast of Maine tomorrow on Route 1 (if we follow it all the way, it leads us home!) with a stop at L.L. Bean, of course, and we’ll see where else we end up. I am going to route us through Rhode Island to be sure not to miss a complete sweep of New England state stickers (plus New York!) for this trip. Some people say you have to spend the night in the state before you can put up the sticker. But we figure that given Mo’s history, we should be thrilled to make it THROUGH any state—and we deserve the sticker for survival! I have no idea where we’ll be able to stay the next two nights—it is once again a weekend, after all. But we’ll worry about that when we get ready to stop for the night, and meanwhile, we are still….Deb and Joe, on the road!