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29 August 2005

Back Down East!

We head up to Acadia after work on Friday, and arrived just after sunset. We camped at Seawall campground on "the quiet side" of the island. See southern part of left peninsula.

acadia-map

I was good about writing in journal this trip, so this entry will basically be a transcription of that. Excuse the tense shifting, as at times, I was conscious that this would be going in the blog.

8/27- Seawall
Awoke at 6am with Gamma and Seamus. Raf was still asleep so we decided to go on a walk without her. It's gorgeous today.
We head over to the seashore, which yesterday we only saw from the car driving in. It was beautiful in the morning, and we saw either a otters or seals' heads bobbing not too far offshore (I had my glasses on, but it's time for a new prescription).
We walked through a magical little trail in the woods, the groound covered with moss. In a clearing, wes saw a brown snowshoe hare, and overhead a bald eagle circled. Do eagles eat rabbits? Run, rabbit, run! Both rabbits and golden eagles are common in this area. On the way back, we saw several red squirrels, and it took all of my strength to hang onto the dogs, who wanted to see them up close! We saw several spider webs among the tall grass - webs built between several stalks of grass. Because of the webs' size, I at first thought they were cocoons, but upon further inspection, I could see that they were indeed webs. The spider, I think, is nature's original entreprenuer, always setting up shop wherever he thinks he might find an unwitting sucker.

Come by, come by
Said the Spider to the Fly.


Back at the camp, Raf was still sleeping, so I sic'd the dogs on her, and now she's up scrambling eggs and making bacon - ah, Maine. The way life should be. I get it now.

Later...
Raf's Recyling-by-Redefining Function Tip of the Day:

I eat a yogurt at work every day at lunch, and I always bring home my containers to recycle. Raf took 4 containers from this week's lunch and used them to transport 4 raw eggs. It worked. None broked until she cracked each into the hot skillet. Now the cups will be returned to Portland and become planters for seedlings.

Later...
We made up new words to an existing song. If you don't know the song"You Oughta Know " by Alanis Morisette (Jagged Little Pill CD), this will NOT be funny, and it won't even make much sense. If you do know the song, this is our new hiking anthem.

Alanis's words:
And I'm here to remind you
Of the mess you left when you went away
It's not fair to deny me
Of the cross I bear that you gave to me
You, you, you oughta know

Our words:
We're out here to go hiking
Walk in nature with all the animals
We've got beer and some trail mix
Climbing mountains with Seamus and Gamma Ray - ay-ay-ay-

AFter a great breakfast we cleaned up and stopped at Jumpin' Java at 9:30. I had an iced coffee, for some unknown reason, and got very caffeinated. For those of you that know me well, I don't do caffeine. I don't know why I ordered it - it sounded good and refreshing, but after 2 sips, I was feeling it!

After Jumpin' Java, we stopped by a small antique shop on the way back to the car, and $54 later, we were armed with the tale of O.P. and Miss Ethel Rowe of 57 Penobscot Street, Bangor, Maine. Let me back up - Raf likes old stamps and postcards, and I'm a sucker for a good narrative.
bass harbor

We took our postcards back to the camp, making a quick pitstop at the Bass Harbor Lighthouse, which is just minutes from our campsite,
and over a delicious feast of blackberry jam (we picked up a jar roadside in Southwest Harbor), Italian bread, hard cheese and sliced apple, we organized the postcards chronologically and read them aloud.

Mind you, it was 84F and sunny - not a cloud in the sky - and we had planned a 4 hour hike on Acadia Mountain, but as we learned the story of OP and Ethel in 1904, our plans shifted.

All the postcards were to Ethel, ans signed "O.P.", until 1907, when he started signing Oscar Perfall and sometimes Oscar von Perfall. Apparently, Ethel was traveling in Germany with her sister, Mary Louise, and her mother. They stayed at the Pension Muller in Munich, where Ethel met OP, an aristocrat and soldier in the German army. We don't know what happened, other than it was in the March of '04, and they took several "walks" together. OP's friends, Fox, Fitz, and Samoa, met the Rowe sisters, too, and the postcards give updates of their well-being. We bough one postcard from Fitz to Ethel, too. Apparently, OP and Ethel wrote veraciously, although we of course don't have the letters of Ethel, as they would be in Germany and probably were destroyed in one of the wars.

We were intrigued. Mesmerized, even. After we ate, we went back tot he store and bought more of the postcards - another $20 worth. Crazy, I know, for 2 people so broke. Insane, actually. But this is a great love story, and we are th only keepers of it now. We could have bought even more, but the relationship seemed to cool off after 1907, and the postcards became more formal after that, saying things like, "I haven't heard from you in a while," or "Have a good year," on a New Year's card. The 1904 postcards were sent weekly almost, and full of reminiscences of their time together. They were often signed "Heartiest greetings" or "Wishing you were here." Stay tuned for the website. This is a little project we have. We're going to scan all of the postcards (both sides, for the stamps are terrific, and Raf thinks they actually might be worth some money because some of them are from places that were destroyed in WW2.) and transcript all the writing, so if you want to see what happens, check back here soon.

We finally went for a hike. We drove up to the Flying Mountain trailhead, and started down the fire road because the antique shop owner told us it was prettier.

somes soundView of Somes Sound from Flying Mountain

In 1/2 mile, we ended up on the prettiest little beach in the prettiest little cove. I wanted to stay and swim and read, and Raf wanted to hike, so we decided to hike first and then come back and chill out. Somehow, though, we lost our trail, and we found ourselves in the midst of moss and lichen covered boulders - the kind of fragile landscape that the STAY ON THE TRAILS signs are erected to protect because the park wardens are worried about folks trampling it. It was steep, sort of dangerous steep, but instead of turning back, we plunged ahead, thinking we'd hit the trail again at the top of the mountain. We didn't. The dogs, mind you, are having the time of their lives because we had to let go of their leashes as this was hands-on climbing at many parts. We weren't worried about being lost, though. The ocean was directly below us (I do mean "directly"!), so while we weren't on trail, we weren't technically "lost."

After a few more minutes of devastating the delicate ecosystem, we turned back, but we were so far off the make by this point that we never found the trail again, and we just headed down toward the water. We reached the rocky coast after some serious descent-action, and then made our way across to our beach and cove, where Gamma chased shells that we tossed in the ocean, I played naturalist and got busy id-ing acorn barnacles and types of crabs and seaweeds, Raf sat back on a rock and took it all in, and Seamus rock-hopped, busily marking large boulders and mounds of seaweed.

We left at 4:30, and stopped at a small grocery for breakfast supplies, and then we head up towards Bar Harbor – Hadley Point, to be exact – to buy dinner from the Travelin’ Lobster. This is a small business run out of a trailer that delivers a lobster dinner to your door or campsite (not to Seawall Campground, though). $30 got us 2 lobsters, 2 lobs of mussels, 2 lbs of steamers, 2 Jonah crabs, and 2 ears of corn. Unfortunately, it was cold by the time we made the 30-minute drive back to Seawall, the Jonah crabs looked as if they had been starved (no meat in claws), and the fog had rolled in thick and heavy-style, trashing our plans to eat at a picnic table overlooking Southwest Harbor. Even cold, though, the dinner was good, and we supplemented it with a can of chowder we picked up at the grocery, and we washed it all down with a fine bottle of Cotes du Rhone brought from home.

Bee Attack
Or was it wasps? When we were walking from the car to the campsite with our dinner, Gamma Ray and I were attacked by a swarm of something – I received 4 painful stings and I don’t know how many Gamma received, but we’re both pretty uncomfortable now. They really hurt, and it was very frightening for both of us. I’m writing this 2 1/2 hours later, and my stings are still throbbing hard. Gamma has finally settled down on the soft moss and is lazily gazing us over the campfire. Seamus, of course, is in the tent – he was stung just once, and the Cotes du Rhone is almost gone. We’ll be switching to Corona momentarily.

A good day.


August 28
seawall

Recipe for a perfect breakfast

A dozen brown eggs
Organic blackberry jam bought roadside
Hard cheese
Blueberry pancake mix
Fresh blueberries bought roadside
A plum
An apple
Tea
Water
Finger rolls
Bacon
Chocolate bar
Portable propane camp stove
Swiss army knife
Good conversation
2 Terrific dogs
Excellent View

After what may have been the most terrific breakfast of my life (we ate at the table we wanted to eat the lobster dinner at), I scooted down to the tidal pools. It was low tide at Seawall, and our table was situated high up on the rocks (the seawall).
Raf and the dogs soon joined me, as I pointed out periwinkles and rockweed and limpets and isopods and irish moss (chondrus crispus: the stuff Tom's of Maine uses in their toothpaste!) and hydroids and dog whelks and blue mussels and bladder wrack and lots, lots more.

periwinkle rockweed_lgbarnacleslimpetisopod
irishmossGlassy-plume-hydroiddog whelkblue musselbladder wrack

It was terrific. We decided to do the Wonderland Trail and the Ship Harbor Trail, both on the tip of the peninsula and quite near each other, and both relatively short walks. Wonderland Trail wasn't too impressive - just a gravel road, but it ended at the ocean along the sea wall, and it was gorgeous.

Wonderland3

Wonderland2

We took off and found tidal pools that were really deep (like 3 or 4 feet). We saw several green crabs and rock crabs and skeleton shrimp. We kept walking and looking and walking and looking. The dogs began diving into these tidal pools - they saw us looking into them and I think they wanted to help or be a part of it or something. It was funny.

tidal pool

I wish I had a digital camera so I could have taken pictures of these. They were amazing. If I ever have seen anything like them before, I don't recall, although it could be that I know more about them now because I've been reading about the sea so much lately that I'm naturally more interested and seeing things with new eyes. Raf and I are reading this old book from the 30s call "The Sea" aloud to each other every night. It's written by a Brit, and his favorite adjective for describing anything oceanic is "limy."

Seawall2

Seawall1

We kept walking along these gigantic rocks for about 3 hours, stopping at every tide pool. We did a star fish rescue. One little starfish, whom I named Joe, seemed to be drying out under a rock. I checked my books, and it didn't seem right that he was so far from the water (the books warn about intervening, but I couldn't help myself), so I gently placed him on the edge of a nearby tidal pool. He slowly slid himself in and started wedging himself under another rock. We realized he was probably ok where he had been, and now he was working hard to secure a good position under another rock. Sorry Joe! We watched him forever. They are fascinating creatures, and I've never found a live one before, so we were very entranced.

An off-leash German Shepherd was too near our tide pool for Gamma and Seamus, so it was time to move on. We found another REALLY DEEP tide pool - about 5 feet deep. It was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Now that I'm reading these books and I know a little something, I understand that when I see a dog whelk sitting on a blue mussel, there's a murder going down. And Mr. Crab under the rock is plotting on eating that same dog whelk soon enough. It's fascinating. At first glance, nothing seems to be happening, but life in the tide pool is fast and violent if you only stop and look. Suddenly, the rocks became very crowded. We realized we had probably walked to the Harbor Trail. The 2 trails are separated by only 1/2 mile by road, but by coast it's a bit longer. We walked out to the road from the Ship Harbor Trail and then back to our car.
ship-harbor-04

ship-harbor-03

ship-harbor-02

We drove up alongside the coast, passing through Tremont, Seal Cove and Pretty Marsh, and we learned why this is area is called the quiet side. Nothing was going on. The spectacular beauty of the rest of the island was nowhere to be found, though everything was lovely. Once back on Route 3, we made our way home again to Portland, another great weekend behind us.

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