Welcome to our Adventure!

Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Homer, Alaska

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What We've Been Up To!

The past week we've been on the morning shift, which means our work day is over around 3:00 in the afternoon. The weather has been wonderful, finally, so we've had a few hours each afternoon to play in the park :-).

The month of August presented us geo-cachers with a special opportunity; every day in August that you find and log a cache you earn a souvenir. So far, we've only missed three days out of the month...thank goodness there are so many caches here! In searching for various caches, we've gone to some real pretty spots.

This was one of the most interesting "hidden in plain sight" caches...note the name on the mailbox!

We dropped into the town of Bar Harbor on the "blue moon" night for some practice in taking night pictures. This is the beautiful hotel at the edge of town with the full moon shining over it.

I've also been wanting a picture of this character on top of Geddy's...

Close up!

While in town we did a little shopping...this was our favorite sticker :-).

We FINALLY made it to lunch at Jordan Pond House...popovers and soup....delicious!!

On the outskirts of town, there's a short, little used hiking trail to Compass Harbor. We had a lovely view of the Porcupine Islands.

Following the trail around to the other side of the harbor we saw more beautiful rocky coastline.

Why on earth is there a staircase leading apparently to no-where?

We found the "Missing Mansion"! (forgive the lens hood shadow, I forgot to remove it!). For a wonderful explanation of this area, check out Sherry's blog here. I can't possibly do a better job of writing about it, so enjoy her explanations :-)

Another cache led us down a beautiful creek that led to Hunter's Beach.

A short but rugged trek across Hunter's Cliff, including hopping over several large downed trees,  led us to the cache.

Hunter's Beach is a cobblestone beach....I didn't realize when I took this photo that the trees were reflecting in the puddle...cool!

Another cache was at Otter Point....going down!

Looking back up at the start of the trail.

The scenery along the trail is awesome.

Looking back north you can see Sand Beach in the distance, one of the few places where you are able to swim on the island.

Our last adventure this past week was a kayak paddle on Long Pond. We broke down and bought a SeaEagle kayak after seeing all the great kayaking trips Sherry and David did while they were here. 

It was a calm beautiful morning, and the reflections were unreal. We also heard the haunting, eerie call of loons, and hoped we would see them. If you've never heard a loon, click here and listen.

The shoreline was very pretty....

interesting how the tree and rockline go right to the edge.

You can see here the rocks go beyond the edge....the bottom of the pond is covered with rock!

Success! We saw this mamma loon with her baby, and were able to float quite close.

Isn't he cute??

I'm pretty sure she caught a fish :-).

Close up showing the beautiful coloring of the loon.

So, we haven't spent all day playing, but the few hours each day have provided plenty of entertainment. The good weather has been such a lift to our spirits. I'm hoping September is going to bring us some glorious color and great weather...although I wouldn't mind a couple of freezing nights to knock off these mosquitoes!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Schoodic Peninsula

One fine afternoon we took a drive over to another section of Acadia National Park, the Schoodic Peninsula. It's about an hour's drive from Bar Harbor, up off the island and then north on US1 for a ways along the Scenic Byway, then southeast onto the Peninsula.

You can see Mount Desert Island in the bottom left of the corner.

The Schoodic Peninsula is the only portion of Acadia National Park on the mainland. Much of the peninsula was once owned by John G. Moore, a Maine native and Wall Street financier. In the 1920s, Moore’s heirs donated the land to the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations with the stipulation that the land be used as a public park and for other uses, including the “promotion of biological and other scientific research.” In 1929, legislation authorized the National Park Service to accept land on the Schoodic Peninsula as an addition to the park and changed the name of the park to Acadia. Soon after the law’s enactment, the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations donated the former Moore property (2,050 acres) to the National Park Service “for the public good and for the extension or improvement of said park, forever.”
In the 1930s and 1940s, some of this land was transferred to the U.S. Navy for use as a radio communication station. The U.S. Navy operated the base until the land was transferred back to the National Park Service in 2002.
The former base has become the Schoodic Education and Research Center, one of 17 National Park Service research learning centers across the country. The center facilitates research projects throughout Acadia National Park and provides opportunities for learners of all ages to discover the park’s natural and cultural resources. (excepted from NPS brochure...they said it better than I could :-)).

We had wanted to get the dogs out for some walking, and there are four different trails on the peninsula in the park. We need the milder trails now for Chelsea (her arthritis is hampering her a bit), so after looking at the guides, we thought the Alder Trail and Schoodic Head trails wouldn't be too hard for her. First up, though, was a drive on the six mile one-way road scenic drive around the peninsula, with a stop at Schoodic Point to gather a couple of caches.

There's a plaque at the parking area dedicated to John G. Moore.

Schoodic Point is a wind-swept rocky point of land, with the evergreens and plants leading down to the edge.

Close-up of the green carpet on the rocks. I can't find what they are though, if anyone knows.

The cache we came here to collect is actually an earth cache; real caches are not permitted on National Park property, so caches have to be "virtual". The cache here was to teach us about "diabase dikes".

The granites of Mount Desert Island are approximately 420 million years old. Because their mineralogy is so similar, the granites are identified by the size of individual mineral grains and the composition of the scattered dark minerals present. One of the oldest granites to appear was the Cadillac Mountain Granite, the largest granite body on the island. It oozed up through existing rocks, stressing and fracturing the overlying bedrock and causing large chunks to fall into the molten magma body. Some chunks of bedrock melted in the intense heat, while others were suspended in the magma. When the granite cooled deep in the earth, these blocks remained, surrounded by crystallized granite. This region of granite and broken rock, called the shatter zone, is still visible on the eastern side of the Cadillac Mountain Granite. A medium-grained granite formed to the west of the Cadillac Mountain Granite. Later volcanic activity injected diabase, a fine-grained, black igneous rock into the granites and surrounding rocks. These diabase bodies, or dikes, can be seen along the road to the summit of Cadillac Mountain and on the Schoodic Peninsula.(from US-Parks.com geology page).
It was interesting to investigate this geologic formation, which I hadn't noticed before!

One last look before heading to the trailhead.

Even the parking areas have beautiful views.

The Alder Trail started off quite innocently, through beautiful grassy trails.

We entered the wooded area, and came to the crossroads where we could either turn back, or continue on the Schoodic Head Trail that climbs up to the summit of Schoodic Mountain. We figured we'd keep going, Chelsea was doing ok.

The trail turned a bit rougher, and we were doing ok, although stopping to catch our breath. But we reached a bridge over some water, and had to thrash around for the trail for awhile. We did find it, but it was going to involve quite a bit of rock scrambling, and large steps, and we felt it wasn't worth risking injury to Chelsea, so we headed back down the way we came.

Out in the cove by the parking area was this little island covered by gulls. They were quite noisy!

We noted on the map that there was a gravel road that went to the summit, and Chelsea thought that was a much better idea than walking up :-). This is the view from the summit looking towards Mount Desert Island.

Another nice day in a different section of the park came to a close. It's hard to believe we now have less than two months left here before its time to move on. Its time to make a list of the "must see places" and "must do items" before out time is up :-). 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Little Cranberry Island

One of the perks of our jobs here at Mount Desert Narrows is complimentary tickets to several activities offered by tour companies here on the island. We had tickets to join a cruise to Little Cranberry Island and Somes Sound on the Sea Princess out of Northeast Harbor. So we picked a day, and invited our friends Sherry and David of In The Direction of Our Dreams to join us, and happily we received an email accepting our offer :-). By the way, she has an excellent blog about this trip here, so head over there to read a detailed history and even pictures of us for a change :-).

I chose the 10:00AM morning cruise that was narrated by a park ranger, thinking the ride would be more interesting with a ranger narrating. It was ok. Our ranger, Becky, was ok, but wasn't really able to answer too many questions outside of her scripted narrative.

Our boat, the Sea Princess. I would say there were about 20 passengers on our tour.

Pulling away from the dock in Northeast Harbor. I'm sorry I didn't take any pictures of some of the beautiful yachts docked here, it's apparent that many wealthy people make this town their summer base :-).

As we got under way, Ranger Becky handed out a navigation chart and a wildlife identity chart.

Heading out into the open sea! Well, not too far ;-)

We went past Bear Island, and saw beautiful Bear Island lighthouse. Ranger Becky showed us pictures of the island back when the lighthouse was built in 1828 and there were no trees around the lighthouse to be found. A history can be read here.

A view of the mountains named "The Bubbles" to the right. I love the lobster pots everywhere, there's so many you feel as if you could hop-scotch across the water on them :-)

We had an up-close view of this beautiful lobster boat and fishermen checking their pots. It seemed as if everytime they pulled up a pot, the boat swung around so I couldn't get a shot of it!

I call this my "moody Maine" picture. I didn't catch what she called this, but they used to light a fire in it as an old-fashioned lighthouse.It looks very ancient.

One lone seal popped it's head out of the water to check us out.

After motoring past some beautiful homes along the shoreline, we came to the harbor of Islesford.

The Islesford Historical Building, part of Acadia National Park, sits next to the original Blue Duck General Store. 

The Blue Duck Ships' Store was a ship's chandlery, built about 1850 by Edwin Hadlock. The chandlery operated until about 1875, when it became a store, the Isleford Market, then apartments after 1912. Sometime later, George Hadlock, Edwin's son, sold the building to William Otis Sawtelle, a physics professor at Haverford College who spent his summers on the island. Sawtelle was a founder of the Islesford Historical Society, and after 1919 he maintained the store as the headquarters for the society and as a museum. Sawtelle named the store the "Blue Duck Ships' Store." In 1927 a new facility was built to be a museum. The Islesford Historical Museum took over the Blue Duck collection, which included ship's manifests, historical artifacts and genealogical information. Such collections and purpose-built museums were unusual at the time, and the Islesford Historical Museum represents one of the first of its kind. (Krog, Bronwyn (February 14, 1978). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination FOrm: Islesford Historical Museum and Blue Duck Ships Store". National Park Service. )

The dock housed a photogenic restaurant, and several artist shops.

There was also a ranger inside the museum, who gave us a short synopsis of the history of the museum. Sadly, we found that although the museum had been built to be fire-proof, for the protection of the artifacts and documents stored here, a bad storm last winter had blown in some windows, and resulted in massive amounts of water damage. The artifacts and documents were removed to the main park headquarters in Acadia for restoration efforts. A photographic display was put up in the museum for visitor's to look at instead.

This reminded me a lot of the "dory rescue squad' back on Eastern Long Island. Our two areas have much history in common.

One artifact on display is "Squirt", Islesford's only fire pump for over 100 years.

Heading back to the Sea Princess, I passed these cute dinghies tied up together and couldn't resist a picture.

Heading back to Northeast harbor, we made a side trip into Somes Sound for a view of Eagle Cliffs. I never tire of seeing the almost perfect blocks of granite piled on top of each other, and how the tree line goes right to the water. I've heard that so many times from visitors here, that they didn't know how close to the shore the trees grow. It's not like the beach areas south of here, its the rocky wild coast of Maine!

So we had a very nice morning with Sherry and David, and enjoyed our cruise on the water. The only drawback to this trip is this small amount of time you have on Little Cranberry Island. For a more extensive trip, it would be better to take one of the mail boats over, and then you would have plenty of time to explore the museums, visit the town itself, and maybe even have lunch at that pretty little restaurant!

We had planned to enjoy lunch of soup and popovers at Jordan House with Sherry and David afterwards, but unfortunately it is peak season here, and the park is swamped with visitors. They were able to find parking for their little car Ruby, but we couldn't find anything for our big monster truck :-(. So they enjoyed lunch without us (although were kind enough to post a picture of the two empty seats we should have been in!), and we'll get there for lunch after Labor Day ;-)!!