From a misbehaving new rental car to a misbehaving credit card, my problems mounted prior to the second part of my trip. Solving problems with a litlle help from my friend, and renewing an old friendship, I eventually set out to go thanks also to a little bit of Soul and had a lucky lucky day.
Back to Maine
In sorrow you’ll cross borders, but I made it fairly trouble-free from Sheidac, NB to the iconic road 1 and on to the famous so-called “Mountain Desert” island. The “desert” was not deserted, and Ellsworth was absolutely packed. Finding a place to stay was a tribulation. Luckily there was one lot available in Hadley’s Point Campground by Bar Harbor. All others were booked solid for the weekend. When you travel you can lose track of the days of the week, but that does not apply to the majority of the population…
I had lunch at Shinbashi, a wonderful Japanese restaurant: Teriyaki salmon, an excellent salad and miso soup. Also got some tuna sushi to go.
A Pearl of Calm and Beauty - First Look at the "Desert" Island
2.9.2016, Hadley’s Point Campground
After setting up my tent, I went to the adjacent beach. The tide was low. I stepped over clams and mussels, that would otherwise be submerged in seawater. It made me feel bad, so I tried, not very successfully, to climb out of the tidal flat. I do not understand how clams survive the bird onslaught during low tide. A question for investigation.
A Polish couple now living in Connecticut were having a lively bonfire on the beach. They were very excited that I could guess their nationality (I recognized the accent), and we talked at length about life and politics. We took each other’s photos, shared pictures and family stories.
They came to this country through their grandmother. She had a hard life after her American husband died, but nonetheless lived to a good old age of 104. I told them how my grandparents escaped Communist Russia on forged passports.
The woman said that when they left Poland there was nothing on the shelves, and now there is everything, but only if you have money, and the system is corrupt. You give money to a doctor and get an operation without waiting. Then the man started to say that the world is going to explode, and that somebody for sure will press the button. For 70 years there was peace, but it is over.
There was a lot of sadness in these people who had seen things in their lives. Optimism was not coming natural. “We are spoilt now”, said the wife,”We have everything”. They were renting a cottage here on Mount Desert Island for the week, and tomorrow are going back to work.
The sea shone with the lingering sky light for hours. The reflections of the clouds gave the water bright colors that played with the blacks and the silvers, the metallics and the silhouettes of the people on the beach.
Somebody said I didn’t need to get into the actual national park. There was enough to see on Mount Desert Island outside of it. The park itself, I was told, was expensive and you must pay for a full week of entry. [When I came back to Acadia on my second part of my trip, I found out that was not true in my age, but it affected how I took my decisions then]. So for the time being I drove around, enjoying the surrounding beauty .
In Northeast Harbor I had a few hours to walk around and see whatever I could see. I could not find parking anywhere along the main road, so eventually parked at the lot of a Catholic Church. They were preparing for sermon. The priest actually walked in, but it was still Saturday and the parking was empty.
Crossing the parking lot I walked down to the waterfront. A curious pink building with intriguing ornamentation captured my eye. I registered it as a landmark for where I parked the car, then walked along the water.
Lots of boats were bobbing up and down in the marina. I sat on a dock. People were coming in and out of boats. I wanted to ask somebody to take me for a ride, but knew that would not be appropriate here. If I were 20 again, who knows?
I kept walking, trying to stay by the water edge, but the path kept moving away from the shoreline, and everything was private property. Back on the main street I asked a store owner about kayaking. She said I had to go to town to rent the kayak, even though the kayaks were physically here. There is a famous lady captain who does cruises around the islands, and I could register for that as well. I did neither and, instead, headed back to the waterline.
Am I Syrian?????
My appetite started to build up when I saw a kiosk, “Charlotte’s Legendary”. A nice and friendly guy was running the place.
This was another occasion where hunger talked loud and travelling made me eat “out of my menu”, that is – a white bread sandwich, with omelet and vegetables. Everything else had meat in it. Expecting whole wheat bread is asking for too much on a trip, so I went along, and happily waited for him to prepare the eggs.
As he was preparing my sandwich, we had a lively conversation. I mentioned the lady captain I heard about. He said this was her booth and he was actually sitting in for her. He himself was a captain and had been to the Pacific and all the Americas.
Now came the strange part. He realized I had an accent, (some things you can’t hide), but had no clue. We started the game. He began with the usual guesses: German, Swiss, Dutch, then leaped to Lithuania. Strangely, several people asked me that previously. And I thought they were all blonde up there…
At stage B of the game I gave him a clue and said “not Europe”. That did not help. He still asked me if I was from Poland or Greece, which apparently didn’t count in his eyes as Europe.
I gave him a further clue: I am technically situated in Asia, but culturally in Europe (kind of, really, but let’s not get things too complicated). He was totally befuddled. That clue led to Russia and Italy…
I had to give a third clue, so said explicitly: Eastern Mediterranean. Kind of straight forward, I thought. Well, he tried for Lebanon, no. Jordan, no! Then, of all places …..Syria! At that point I had to set him straight. Oh, well…He was fairly embarrassed, but it was all in good spirit.
At this point, a lady came over to replace him at the booth (The captain? I did not ask). The day was nice and blue. Everybody was smiley and happy. A lot of money in the area does not hurt either…
I kept walking along the shoreline. There were beautiful little ponds with water lilies and ducks on the land side and multiple plants and hedges on the sea side. I met a friendly lady who was picking rosehips off the hedge. Her four children were somewhere around. She was the earthy motherly type, and actually resided here on Mount Desert Island, one of the few lucky ones. She was very happy to be living here. Well, indeed…
That was a place I got a recommendation for, plus the driving tip to get there on Sargeant Drive. I was trying to figure out my way in that mix of sea and land called, even more confusingly, Mount Desert Island. Were they hallucinating? Fata Morgana? Desert? What desert???
Well, I got there, and, unsurprisingly, it was beautiful. I parked somewhere by the end of a driveway leading to the beach, and walked. At some point, though, it all turned into private property, of course.
I did not see any seals, but there were humans, canoes, an interesting bridge, plants, dead trees and rocks. Uncharacteristically, there was quite a lot of garbage on the rocks, including a large firecracker gun. I collected all of that and carried back to the parking. For lack of any public trash bins around, I deposited it in somebody’s private garbage.
Driving back I stopped to take some gorgeous pictures:
Stopping at a kayak/canoe rental place, I picked up a brochure for a hypothetical future reference. It was the same deal everywhere – you take the kayak for six or seven hours… Were they serious??? The most I ever kayaked was probably two hours, not even.
To wrap up the day before driving to Maine, I stopped at Tan Turtle Tavern. It was a large place with a lot of “atmosphere”, the “coolest”, friendliest, most helpful waitresses, and what I considered mediocre food, but fun. I sat outside and enjoyed the leisure. The waitresses got out of their way to explain to me the different ways to drive to Portland with weekend traffic. I ended up listening to them and driving 1A, then 9, giving up on scenery and opting for speed and ease.
Bye for now, Mount Desert Island…