Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Acadia - A Stunning NP along side Bah Hahbah (Bar Harbor)

The National Parks in our country are true gems to be enjoyed.  Each one has its own charms, beauties and history and Acadia NP is no exception.  Inhabiting a large portion of Mount Desert Island, Acadia has many personalities.  One of our favorite spots in the Park - Cadillac Mountain - began as molten magma.  As it cooled, it hardened and crystallized.  This granite is found all in and around the park - even just below the turf on the golf course!  YEARS after the molten magma the glaciers came and shaped the domed summit of Cadillac Mountain and the U-shaped valley of Bubble Pond.  Then came inhabitants - the first dated 5,000 years ago and were hunter-gatherers.  More recently hunters and traders came to the island - then the European fishermen and explorers.  150 years of war between the French and the British made it disputed territory unsafe for habitation until 1761 when English colonists established the first permanent settlement.  After artists came to the island and spread their pictures tourists came to see the beautiful scenery and a tourist trade was born.  The wealthy came to build their "cottages" (which were million dollar homes in the late 1800's to early 1900's!) transforming the quiet farming and fishing villages.

Thankfully, many of these wealthy were also preservationists and acquired 5,000 acres in donated land that they then presented to the Federal government in 1916 to be designated a National Monument.   Many more acres were  obtained through donations and in 1919 it was redesignated as a National Park.

We have been looking forward to checking this NP off our list for some time now - and we were not disappointed.  Of course our first view of the area was our 'parking place' as always.  And again - we had a beautiful spot on the Western Bay of the Atlantic Ocean.

Our new spot near Acadia National Park - at low tide.

Great views while grilling.

Never seen one of these before..a sleeper tour bus.  Sleeper bunks in the rear - bus tour seats in the front.
26 Germans were on a 2 week trip from Boston to Montreal.

Bar Harbor, a quaint harbor town, sits on the east side of Mount Desert Island and Acadia NP.  We again were blessed with some of the most beautiful weather during our weekend here - which made a lunch on the lawn of the Bar Harbor Inn really delightful.  (It is also a port for cruise ships, which we quickly learned to avoid when we saw two or three of those floating cities in port;-(  )

We had lunch at the Bar Harbor Inn under on of the umbrellas before our harbor cruise on the
 fourmasted schooner in the background.

See the island in the background?

You can walk to it during low tide.

Once one has investigated Bar Harbor, it is time to head into the Park.  There is way too much to do but we attempted to pack in as much as possible.  The 20-mile Park Loop Road provides outstanding shoreline views - both from high above the bays and ocean and from the lone sand beach and rocky outcroppings.  Remember - I talked about the warm, beautiful weather?  Well, Saturday it was in the mid-80's and all the pasty easterners were exposing themselves at Sand Beach.

Just like a day at Venice Beach, CA??

There were several hikes to the top of Cadillac Mountain - the park's highest peak AND the tallest mountain on the Atlantic coast north of Brazil!!  The summit is 1,530 - which, coming from Park City, hardly seems like it could be the tallest on the Atlantic coast but that's what all the literature says?!?!  In any event - it was one of our favorite places in the Park.  One gets a 360 degree view atop the granite dome and, therefore, a favorite spot to watch the sun rise and set.  While we were here there was also a night sky watch as there was a new moon so very little light to interfere with the star watching.

A view of Bar Harbor, Bar Island (the long one on the left) and Frenchman's Bay from the top of Cadillac Mountain.

There were lots of folks getting ready for Sky Watch on the top of Cadillac Mountain.

Another favorite - The Carriage Roads.  Forty-five miles of rustic carriage roads, the gift of John D.  Rockefeller Jr., weave around the mountains and valleys of Acadia NP.  Rockefeller wanted to travel on motor-free byways via horse and carriage into the heart of Mount Desert Island.  (He was afraid that the new automobile would take over the quiet of the Park so they were forbidden on the Carriage Roads.  It remains that way today - only hikers, bikes and horses can use the Carriage Roads.)  His construction efforts from 1913 to 1940 resulted in roads with sweeping vistas and close-up views of the landscape.  On these roads, Rockefeller financed 16 of 17 stone-faced bridges, each unique in design, to span streams, waterfalls, roads, and cliffsides.  We only managed to do a five mile loop with five bridges and fell in love with these roads.

The Carriage Roads in Acadia National Park provided lots of beautiful scenery for our "walk in the park".

And afterwards...

Of course, we took the loop that would allow us to end at Jordan Pond, the Bubbles and the Jordan Pond House for lunch;-)  In a park dotted with glacier-carved ponds and lakes, Jordan Pond is perhaps the loveliest.  Its waters are clear and cool - a water supply for the area - so no swimming allowed.  Its shores are flanked by Penobscot Mountain to the west (which we hiked around on the Carriage Roads) and to the north the pair of round mountains, aptly named, The Bubbles!

The Bubbles rising out of Jordan Pond.
(As we were wandering around taking these pictures - a young man came up to Gary and asked if he would take a picture of him and his girlfriend.  He turned away from his girlfriend and whispered to Gary that he was going to propose - so would Gary take several shots!  We got to be the photographer and witness the happy event as he proposed on one knee right here in front of this pond!!  What a memory for them - and us.)

The best part of ending ones hike here is Jordan Pond House, where one can have lunch or tea on the  lawn.  As Saturday was that wonderful 80 degree day - it was tea on the lawn with their 'famous' Popovers;-)

So did many others!


It was bound to happen - a gloomy day.  So - it must be time for a ride around the southwest part of the island.  First - Somes Sound - the only fjord in the contiguous 48 states.  Next - the Seawall - literally a seawall protecting the island from the tides of the Atlantic.  Bass Harbor Lighthouse - One of the most photographed lighthouses on the East Coast, the head light rises from the rocky southernmost tip of Mount Desert Island.  The light was built in 1858 and marks the entrance to Bass Harbor.  Now it is fully automated and managed by the U. S. Coast Guard.  There were also great views of the turbulent ocean this day from the rocks below.

The Bass Harbor lighthouse.

This serves as a memorial for two brothers who ran a lobster fishing business from this wharf for over 50 years.

With the beautiful 'parking' spot that we had, watching the low and high tides and the bird life just out our door kept us busy when we were actually at the Bus.  Gary had his eye on this crane for several days and finally managed to get good lighting and a low tide to capture this guy fishing ---

It took almost a half hour to edge up on this blue heron while it was hunting for breakfast.

Then I got too close.

Another fantastic five days of experiences and an ever growing love for our National Parks.

E & G Wowed by Nature

Friday, September 26, 2014

Golf (and other things) in St. Andrews;-)

What a wonderful, charming, scenic little town.  In short - we loved it at St. Andrews by-the-Sea!  It was a perfect place to spend the last few days in Canada - just as the colors are beginning to explode --

Fall colors are beginning to spread as our time in Canada draws to a close.

That Bay of Fundy tide thing was also very apparent here - which we watched in the morning and evening from Magic's parking spot.  Know it sounds like a broken record - but, our parking spots have been unbelievable and this was no exception.

A group walking on the beach at low tide.

I hope they got back to shore before this.  AND - that is Maine across the water!

For a little village there sure was a lot to do here.  Our 2 1/2 days were packed - no rest for the weary.

First up was the Kingsbrae Garden - 27 acres that are part of the original summer home of Lucinda Flemer's childhood.  Her family lived here for five generations and she and her husband still spend their summers here.  However, they realized they had far more land than they needed, but they wanted to keep it green.  Finally, after months of brainstorming what to do with the property, Lucinda began overseeing plans for the Public Gardens in 1995.  What makes this such an accomplishment is that she built her garden using unskilled local labor provided by teens and unemployable adults - young and old, troubled teens and abused women, people who had never held down a steady job.  The resulting gardens are wonderful and many of those who helped create it are still employed here!  Besides the Gardens, there is a wonderful little Cafe with excellent food (we enjoyed a delicious lunch) and a group of alpacas that come to graze on the lawn outside the Cafe everyday at noon --

A couple of young Alpaca jostle at the gardens.

Remember that tide thing?  Well - during low tide here a sandbar is exposed that one drives on to get to Ministers Island - named for Rev. Samuel Andrews who built his stone house here in 1790.  In the mid 1890's Sir William Cornelius Van Horne, the second President of the Canadian Pacific Railway, discovered the Island.  Flush with wealth from building the Canadian coast-to-coast railway, he built his summer "cottage" and model farm here.   The island is only open about 3 hours a day scheduled around that low tide time so that visitors can drive there on the exposed sandbar, get a house tour and get back across the Bay before the tide comes back in!   Unfortunately, the estate changed hands several times in more recent years with most of the original valuable furnishings sold and then falling into disrepair.  However,  a trust has now taken over the property and is progressing in restoring the property.  In any event, it is still something to see.  

The low tide road to Minister Island

The Van Horne summer 'cottage' on Minister Island
The Algonquin Hotel, one of those historic hotels built by the railroad (in this case the Canadian Pacific RR), also provided much pleasure for us.  It is a wonderful old hotel which has been restored by Marriott and provided a morning of spa activities for us, a delicious dinner one night AND a St. Andrews golf course so we can say - "we finally played golf at St. Andrews"!! 

Golfing at St. Andrews ;-}

St. Andrews also provided a little Main Street chocked full of shops and restaurants within walking distance from our 'parking spot', that kept us busy when we weren't involved in all the activities above.  And, if that wasn't enough, the cute little town of St. Stephen - Canada's Chocolate Town -  was just about 30 minutes away with a chocolate factory, museum and store;-)

Farewell Canada.

St. Andrews by-the-Sea!  What a wonderful way to conclude our adventures in Canada.  Tomorrow it is back to the US.

What fun - ey?!?!

Elizabeth & Gary saying a fond farewell to Canada;-)  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fantastic Fundy Fhenomenon;-)

We are getting sooooooo spoiled - Hopewell Cape provided yet another beautiful spot - where the amazing tidal action of the Fundy Bay was visible from Magic.

Our spot on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick.

Just blocks away from our Ponderosa Pines CG, one finds the Hopewell Rocks where you can literally walk on the ocean floor at low tide.  Then you can watch the worlds highest tide (reaches the height of a 4-story building!) come back in and completely cover the area you were just walking on.  This phenomenon occurs EVERY day - of course.  Although this seems quite obvious, as the tides are created by the pull of the moon (which comes and goes every day) and the severity depends on the position of the moon to the earth (more severe on full and new moons - least severe while we were here) - so of course it happens every day.  But, this statement is made to emphasize the enormity and severity of this act of nature and how those depending on the waters for fishing in these areas must cope - EVERY DAY!  You will get what I am talking about as you peruse the pictures that my crack photographer has provided below - - -

Exploring the Hopewell Rocks at low tide.

This next few shots compare low tide and high tide the next morning at the the same locations.

Notice how far below the dock these boats are and that they must be supported anew EVERY day.

These fishermen have a FOUR hour window to do their work.

Notice the poles at the edge of the water.

See the poles?

This is just an amazing thing to watch - and quite fascinating!!  More of this to come at our next spot in St. Andrews by-the-Sea.

Totally amazed E & G from the Fundy Coast (where we can see Maine across the channel!)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

OMG - What a place!!

Well!  The time has come to turn around and head west.  As Magic left Cape Breton and headed to Halifax, the realization hit that we had just left the most eastern (and we believe northern) point of our journey.  Which means - we are now headed home after 4 months on the road;-)

When we began planning this trip - to ultimately arrive in Nova Scotia - everyone we talked to said to be sure to go to Peggy's Cove just west of Halifax.  G did a great job of vetting a camping spot at Peggy's Cove and the below is the result - - 

Magic's Parking spot at Peggy's Cove - WHAT A VIEW!!

The view from our 'living room' window.
Just around the corner from our parking spot - perched atop massive granite worn smooth by the pounding waves below - is the world famous and picturesque lighthouse beacon at Peggy's Cove, which has been guiding sailors and fishermen home since 1868!!

The famous Peggy's Cove light house.  It must be famous as there was tour bus after tour bus
dropping of passengers to take a look.

The view from the lighthouse in the direction of our campground at the end of the point.

The little village around the lighthouse was so very picturesque - the pictures speak for themselves --

Gary really did a good job on those - don't you think?!?!?

The South Shore (the coastal area extending west from Halifax) is one quaint village after another.  Perhaps the most well known (or celebrated) is that of Lunenburg, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Established in 1753, Old Town Lunenburg is the best surviving example of a British planned colonial settlement in North America.  Its colorful waterfront, narrow streets, captivating architecture and seafaring history make it a real adventure not to be missed.  Again - the pictures tell the story -

The colorful architecture on its narrow streets.

Views of the Lunenberg Harbor.

And then there is the center piece - Halifax.  Full of history and connections to many events we have all learned about but may not know the Halifax connection.  The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is a good place to start to (re)learn history.  As those rebels in the colonies broke ties from the mother country England, both England and France tried to advance or protect interests via the Maritimes/Nova Scotia - and Halifax was the hub of this activity.  First it was the French in the late 1600's to the mid-1700's.  Then the British came in to take over until the mid-1800's (when Canada became its own 'country').  There is much sea-faring history from this port that took place through all those years.

Then - in 1912 Halifax played a major role at the time of the sinking of the Titanic.  The maiden voyage of RMS Titanic began in Southampton, England on April 10, 1912 - made several stops - and was to arrive in New York on the 17th with 2,200 passengers.  On Sunday, April 14 at 11:40pm, the Titanic struck an iceberg and by 2:20am on April 15, the "unsinkable ship" was gone.  The grim task of recovering victims was given to four Canadian vessels, which originated from Halifax as it was the closest city to the tragedy.  The bodies that were found were either buried at sea, shipped by train to their families or buried in three Halifax cemeteries.

A short five years later, Halifax endured the largest man-made explosion before the atomic age with the 1917 Halifax Explosion.  A French freighter packed to the gills with explosives entered the harbor to join a convoy to cross the Atlantic.  On its way in, it 'clipped' another ship and caught fire.  Within a short period of time it exploded - eliminating the shoreside villages killing over 2,000 people.

All of this and much more is to be learned at the Maritime Museum.  And - this is just the beginning as there is also the Halifax Citadel, The Public Gardens, Art Galleries and many other historic spots that we could not get to in the allotted time.  HOWEVER - the spots we did see were made possible because of the Segway Tour we did!!  What FUN - -- -

Touring Halifax via Segway.  First - a QUICK training course.

The city below from the Citadel

The harbor.

There is a story here - Can you get it??

More harbor.

As always - the time goes MUCH too fast and we are on our way again.  And so - the sun sets on our little spot here in Peggy's Cove --

The sunsets from our spot were beautiful.  The lens doesn't do them justice.

Once again we are on our way.  Next stop is the Bay of Fundy and those amazing tides;-)

Our next posting will be from Hopewell Rocks if we don't get washed away with the sea -

Elizabeth and Gary - newly trained Segway aficionados;-)