Previous Port: Mackerel Cove (Maine Part 2)
The Acadia National Park covers much of Mount Desert Island. This island is an area that you could spend months exploring and enjoying. There are mountains, springs, lakes, beaches, walks, hiking trails, wildlife, gardens, bluffs overlooking the ocean, carriage rides, and of course shopping and restaurants.
L.L. Bean, Friends of Acadia, and private donations pay for the propane powered Island Explorer buses that are used to discourage auto traffic, thus cutting down the amount of pollution. The shuttle service covers most anywhere you want to go on the island and it is free to the rider (donations accepted). The eight or so different routes all originate at The Village Green in Bar Harbor. There are regular stops along each route but if you don't make it to the stop, just flag down the bus and it will stop for you. They will also stop to let you off anywhere along the line where they can do so safely. What a marvelous treat for the car-less cruiser.
Our first day there we took the Jordan Pond bus to Bar Harbor for lunch and shopping. Our second day we took the Sand Beach bus for a beautiful hike & picnic along the bluffs. What a delight it was to sit on the bluffs enjoying our lunch. Our third day, we took the Southwest Harbor bus just to see where it goes (3 hour round trip). This was just the beginning.
The Acadia Visitors Center is also on the Village Green in Bar Harbor. There you can pick up trail maps, information, and recommendations on things to do and see. You can also buy your park pass at the Visitors Center.
August 17-21, 2005
September 4, 2005
Mooring: N44017.772 W068017.037
I was initially very disappointed with Northeast Harbor since it was rated as a 5-star in the cruising guide. Again, we came in at low tide. I've since realized that I don't like the way things look after the tide has gone out. Of course here we're talking about 15 foot tides. That leaves a lot of gunk uncovered when it flows out. I never came around to seeing NE Harbor as a 5-star but it was pretty and so very calm.
Anchoring is not allowed in Northeast Harbor so we had to pick up a mooring ($25.00/night). Our planned two night stay turned into five nights. You really don't get much for your money in the way of amenities. The restrooms are public. The showers are in the Chamber of Commerce across the parking lot and they charge $2.00 for 4 minutes. But the little town is an easy walk from the pier. There you will find a grocery store and laundry as well as restaurants, delis, a book store and such. It's a pleasant little town and not so touristy as Bar Harbor.
We kept returning to Northeast Harbor because it was convenient & the Captain loved it. The dinghy dock is nice. Water is easy to get. The no-wake zone is strictly enforced. The staff is super nice. The Island Explorer bus service stops in front of the marina office. This gave us freedom that we're not used to. All-in-all, Northeast Harbor is a good place to be and definitely our favorite anchorage in Mount Desert.
September 12-20, 2005
We returned to Northeast Harbor during my sister, Betty's, visit. Our original plan was to spend a few nights there and then head to Boothbay Harbor. Weather conditions foiled that plan. Betty is not much on boating so she seemed perfectly content to stay in NE Harbor.
We had a few rainy dreary days during her visit. On those days we sat in the cockpit working numbers puzzles from USA Today. On the nice days, we took the bus to Bar Harbor or to one of the many trails. One of the most strenuous trails started out being a Nature Walk along Jordan Pond. I spotted a sign that read "Pemetick Mountain Trail: 1-1/2 miles". Now 1-1/2 miles is nothing for cruisers. I guess we should have realized it was 1-1/2 miles up. Anyway, we kept hiking and hiking. Somewhere along the trail we met a young couple coming down. They assured us the view at the top was well worth the hike. The fact they were fully geared with hiking boots, poles, and water should have told us that we weren't really prepared, but we kept going. It's one of those things - no one wants to be the first to say "No more".
Well we made it to the top - not the end of the trail but the top. Betty & I fell exhausted on the rocks, heaving for breath. Bob didn't seem to be too much the worse for wear but even he admitted that he'd had enough. After a long rest and marveling at the view, we headed back down for a late lunch at The Jordan Pond Restaurant. This restaurant is the only one in the park and a "must do" for many folks. Their specialty is giant popovers, which are delicious. The lunch was pretty good except for the seafood chowder that Bob had. Never have we seen such watery, tasteless chowder. He should have sent it back but that's not Bob's way.
It would be great to go back to Mount Desert next summer or any summer. There is so much we didn't get to see and much we would love to see again. We had some days of fog and a few days we were rained in, but mostly it was sunny, beautiful, and have I mentioned cool. The summer of 2005 has definitely been the best summer of my life.
Next Port: Rogue Island (Maine Part 4)