Raindrops On Roses

zen garden panoramic blog

As our rainy week at Mount desert Island continued to curtail outside activities we went in search of things to do outside of the park.  Every National Park is there for a reason but the beauty doesn’t end at the park borders. By exploring beyond the park we’ve found some hidden gems. We encourage you to “think outside the park”.

While we were in Camden another camper told us about some beautiful gardens near Acadia. He wasn’t sure of their exact location. I Googled ‘gardens Bar Harbor’ and found some general directions for gardens off Route 1 (Peabody Drive) in Northeast Harbor.  We drove by the parking area for Asticou Landing and the harbor the first time. Signage is very discreet i.e. it helps you if you already know where you are going. This was a lucky accident however as it led to Thuya Drive and Thuya Gardens. Thuya Drive is a residential street leading to the gardens. It might as well have been part of the gardens. It was beautiful.  We spent twenty minutes hopping out of the car every tenth of a mile to photograph the hillside. Mother Nature is a fantastic landscaper.

Maine, garden, woods

Driving To Thuya 1

scenic drive, Maine

Driving To Thuya 2

More Scenes From Thuya Drive

More Scenes From Thuya Drive

garden

A Misty Day At Thuya Gardens

flower, photography

Raindrops On Globe Amaranth

Pineing Away

Pineing Away

Dalhia in HDR Monochrome Soft

Dalhia in HDR Monochrome Soft

Thuya Garden

Thuya Garden

Lichen And Moss

Lichen And Moss

Leaf Lichen On Tree

Leaf Lichen On Tree

Eventually we reached the parking lot for Thuya Gardens. Originally this was the summer home of Joseph Henry Curtis, a renowned landscape architect and civil engineer from Boston. He designed the terraced trail to serve as a path from the harbor to his home called Thuya Lodge after the local white cedar, thuja occidentalis.  Upon his death he gifted the property to the community under trustee management. The adjacent apple orchard was developed into a semi-formal English style garden in the style of Gertrude Jekyll by two other Bar Harbor landscape architects, Beatrix Farrand and Charles K. Savage. Many of the original plants were purchased from Beatrix Farrand’s garden in 1956. The property is now owned and operated by the Mount Desert Land & Garden Preserve, a non-profit corporation.  Their website is www.gardenpreserve.org.  You may visit the garden for a donation of $5.

NE harbor HDR B+W soft

HDR Version Of Photo Looking Down On Northeast Harbor

Path On Thuya Ledges

Path On Thuya Ledges

Steve At Thuya Ledges

Steve At Thuya Ledges

garden, Maine, Bar Harbor

Thuya Ledges

Thuya Terraces Shown As A Woodblock Print

Thuya Terraces Shown As A Woodblock Print

Laurel At Thuya Ledges

Laurel At Thuya Ledges

We returned to the harbor landing and parked. Then we walked to both the harbor and across the street to Thuya Terraces.  (Steve) this was my favorite part.  I loved the way the terraces were incorporated into the natural beauty of the area. It combines landscaping and nature at its best.  Although overcast, the harbor view was a fantastic site. The oriental style of the overlook shelters added a graceful element. (Chari) I’ve always been attracted to oriental design and took the opportunity to play with some post processing of photos taken here.

Third but not last by any means was Asticou Azalea Gardens located just half a mile away.  This garden was also designed and built by Charles K. Savage, owner of the Asticou Inn.  He obtained financial support from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to purchase the plant collection of Beatrix Farrand when her Reef Point estate was dismantled in 1956.  This is a Japanese style garden adapted to the native plants and coastal conditions of Maine. Asticou Gardens is open to the public from May 1st until October 31st.  We were there at the end of the blooming period for the azaleas but many summer plants such as smoke bush, Japanese iris and rosebay were stars.  Fall is also a great time to visit here as autumn color combines with re-blooming azaleas. An expansion of the garden was begun in 2007 and will continue for several years.

You already know we’ve said “When we come back …”

garden, Maine

Reflecting On Asticou

Grooming The Zen Garden

Grooming The Zen Garden

Rhododendrons At Asticou

Rhododendrons At Asticou

Asticou Scenery

Asticou Scenery

Peaceful Asticou

Peaceful Asticou

Lighting The Way

Nothing indicates the Liberality, Prosperity or Intelligence of a nation more clearly than the facilities it affords for the Safe Approach of the Mariner to its shores. 

From the 1868 report of the United States Lighthouse Board

lighthouse, museum

Lghthouses As Art

With its long maritime history and spectacular but rocky coast Maine offers lighthouse aficionados a rare treat. You can purchase a lighthouse passport book and attempt to collect stamps from all of the ones open to the public. Or perhaps join the annual Lighthouse race when hundreds of people dash along the coast to see all of them in one 24-hr period. We spent time at a much more leisurely pace at four lighthouses: Owls Head, Rockland Breakwater, Bass Harbor and West Quoddy Head.

A great place to start your lighthouse education is at the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland. The museum consists of several rooms with exhibits and on demand videos. Whether your interest is in the technical and architectural area or in the stories of those who lived and worked at the light stations, you won’t be disappointed. Plan to spend at least 2 hours here. Of course we were there over four hours! Many people have worked very hard to preserve our coastal heritage but none more than Connie Scoville Small. She and her husband were lighthouse keepers along the New England coast from 1920-1948.  In her ‘retirement’ years she gave hundreds of lectures, appeared on television and wrote newspaper articles all aimed at preserving lighthouses and a way of life that no longer exists. She wrote a book called The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife.

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

The museum exhibits began with the history of the United States Lighthouse Establishment created by Congress when it federalized all lighthouses in 1789. The first man in charge of the service was Alexander Hamilton when he was our first Secretary of the Treasury.  We were fascinated by the story of Stephen Pleasonton.  Never heard of him? Neither had we. When you hear what he did you’ll wonder why. We’ve all heard about Dolly Madison saving George Washington’s portrait when the British burned the capital during the War of 1812. Stephen Pleasanton was auditor of the Treasury in 1814. Among his numerous duties was overseeing and staffing lighthouses. Under instructions from Secretary of State James Monroe who saw the British land in Maryland, Pleasanton and his staff sewed linen bags and filled them with important documents and books.  The documents were taken by wagon to a mill in Georgetown for safekeeping. Then Pleasonton realized the mill was near a munitions depot and moved the documents a second time to a farmhouse in Leesburg, VA. He kept the documents secure while watching Washington burn on the horizon.  Just what were these documents? The bags contained George Washington’s letter of resignation as General of the Continental Army, the original Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States and The Bill of Rights.  Throughout his 32 year civil service career Pleasonton  was known as a “tight wad”.   Eventually public outcry and congressional investigation put an end to his budgetary constraints.  In 1852 a nine member U. S. Lighthouse Board was created to take over the operation of our lighthouses.  The nation was divided into twelve lighthouse districts each with a Lighthouse inspector responsible for construction, operation and staffing of the navigational aids. The Board was proactive in construction and modernization of lighthouses. By 1860 Fresnel lenses had been installed in all lighthouses. The Lighthouse Board was dissolved in 1910 when the civilian run Lighthouse Service was created.  Under the leadership of George Putnam the United States went from sixth place in navigational safety to second place, surpassed only by the Netherlands. In 1939 the Coast Guard assumed responsibility for lighthouse operation by merging with the U. S. Lighthouse Service.

Another place where lighthouse history could have changed the world was when William Rosecrans was asked to be Abraham Lincoln’s second term Vice President. Besides a military career Rosecrans had invented the odorless oil lamp used in many lighthouses.  Rosecrans took an extended time to accept the offer. Lincoln thought the delay was Rosecrans way of declining and then asked Andrew Johnson to be his running mate. Had Rosecrans answered in a timely fashion, he would have been President after Lincoln’s assassination.

  Manticus Rock Lighthouse


mannticus Rock
Manticus Rock Lighthouse

There were stories about several women who made significant contributions to lighthouse history. One of the most widely publicized is that of 14 year-old Abbie Burgess when her family manned the remote Manticus Rock lighthouse in the Fall of 1856. The supply ship had not arrived on schedule and by December stores were at a critical level. Her father left to row the five miles to Manticus Island. A severe storm developed. Abbie moved her ailing mother and sisters from the wooden house to a granite building only minutes before the home was flooded. Then she scrambled along the rocks to rescue her pet chickens.  The storm raged for twenty days. Abbie kept the lights burning in the lighthouse, rationed supplies of one cup of cornmeal and one egg to each of her family members. The story ended happily with all surviving and her father’s safe return. Two books that might be of interest are The Original Biography of Abbie Burgess, Lighthouse Heroine or a children’s book Keep The Lights Burning Abbie.  Three years later her father was replaced by another lighthouse keeper but Abbie stayed on to assist with the transition. She fell in love with the new keeper’s  son and was married in 1861. Except for a short period when they tried ‘civilian’ life the couple served in the Lighthouse Service. Abbie died just before her 54th birthday and is buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Spruce Head, Maine where her grave is marked with an aluminum replica of a lighthouse.

Barbara Mabrity

Barbara Mabrity

Stories are not limited to lighthouses in Maine. Barbara Mabrity became keeper of the Key West lighthouse in 1832 upon the death of her husband who’d been lighthouse keeper. She was one of the first women appointed to the Lighthouse Service. Later on it became common for widowed women to assume their husband’s position. In 1846 a severe storm destroyed the lighthouse and all who sought shelter there including the six Mabrity children. Mrs. Mabrity resumed her duties in the new lighthouse in 1847 and remained until her retirement at age 82. Then there is Ida Lewis who at age 16 assumed lighthouse keeper duties at Lime Rock in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island when her father suffered a stroke. She performed many rescues and was the first woman to receive the Congressional Lifesaving Medal.  Her fame spread and she received visits from President Grant, Susan B. Anthony and Mrs. William Astor.  Andrew Carnegie became concerned over her lack of funds for her later years and set up a retirement fund. The first Coast Guard bouy tender was named after her. The next time you think you’ve had a hard day at the office, think about Katherine Walker who at 4’10” and 100 lbs. assumed keeper duties at Robbins Reef Light in New York Harbor when her husband died. She performed over fifty rescues, operated the fog bell and lantern as well as rowing her children to and from school in Bayonne, New Jersey. Life at a light station was not always bleak as shown by Emily Fish at Point Pinos Light in Pacific Grove, CA. She became keeper at age 50 after being widowed but continued to decorate and entertain with style using antiques, paintings and fine china. This earned her the title of “The Socialite Keeper”. The last civilian woman lighthouse keeper was Fannie Mae Salter at Turkey Point, MD. She served from 1925-1947.

Last Woman Lighthouse Keeper

Last Woman Lighthouse Keeper

The Four Types Of Lighthouses

The Four Types Of Lighthouses

On the more technical side the museum has displays showing the four types of marine light alerts; lighthouses, lightships, beacons and lighted buoys. Lighthouses were constructed from wood, cast iron, rubble stone, dressed granite and brick depending on the location.  A 55-page manual listed the keeper’s duties beginning with the instruction “to be conversant with all apparatus.”  This was closely followed with the admonition that “Ignorance upon any point will not be considered as a reason for neglect of duty.” Keepers stood watches of 12 hours at night to make sure the lights operated properly. If weather conditions required it a foghorn was sounded manually and often required operation for several days at a time.  The keeper was responsible for all medical care at the station until he could signal a passing ship for assistance. Children were home schooled through the elementary grades unless they were close enough to attend shore-based schools. In the later years children would live with friends or relatives off island to attend school. After 1918 the Lighthouse Service paid teachers to go to the larger stations or built one room schoolhouses. An extensive display of Fresnel lenses, clothing, rescue equipment and artifacts will keep the technology oriented visitor interested.  Lighthouses are used as symbols by many organizations. A display of badges and patches using lighthouses was on display. One shown here uses The Statue of Liberty, our most recognized lighthouse. There’s even a bit of roadside humor in the Elvis patch.

Maine Lighthouse Museum Artifacts

Maine Lighthouse Museum Artifacts

Fresnel Lens

Fresnel Lens

How Fresnel Works

Statue Of Liberty Patch

Statue Of Liberty Patch

Elvis Has Left The Lighthouse

Elvis Has Left The Lighthouse

One of the last displays discussed lighthouses in other countries such as Canada, Great Britain, Russia and Japan. Japan has over 3300 lighthouses. The father and uncle of author Robert Louis Stevenson were lighthouse designers and builders in Scotland. They built the northernmost lighthouse in Great Britain, Muckle Flugga.  This ties in with the Wyeth exhibit as N. C. Wyeth illustrated many of Stevenson’s books.

If you aren’t overdosed on seafaring history also plan a visit to the Penobscot Maritime Museum in Searsport, Maine. We stopped one Sunday afternoon not realizing the extent of the museum. We saw about half of the exhibits that are devoted to shipbuilding, trading and seamanship. We look forward to another longer visit when we come back.

Here are the four lighthouses we visited:

Owls Head lighthouse is located just south of Rockland at Owls Head State Park. This is a day use park with picnic facilities and a beach. The lighthouse is managed by the American Lighthouse Foundation and staffed by volunteers. Many of the properties under their umbrella were badly deteriorated with the USCG doing only operational and structurally required maintenance when ALF stepped in. By using the funds from tours and gift shops they have restored them to period condition. We went on a Saturday but I’m not sure about operating hours on weekdays. There is a nominal charge to enter the lighthouse but no fee for the grounds or small museum. This is one of the few lighthouses that has an original Fresnel lens. Most of them have been broken or ceased working and were replaced with a plastic lens. Unlike lighthouses in the south that must be several stories tall for ships to see them, Owls Head is short and built on a rocky hill. This means an easy climb to the top. While there we met a couple from New Hampshire who asked us to take their picture and then reciprocated by taking ours. Later we met again at the beach. We sat and talked for an hour finding many things in common. They had their RV at Camden Hills too so we continued our conversation at our site that evening. We hope to meet them at a New Hampshire State Park in September on our return loop.

Maine, Lighthouse

Chari And Steve At Owls Head Light June 2013

Steve Inside The Lighthouse

Steve Inside The Lighthouse

View From Owls Head Light

View From Owls Head Light

Spot Lived Here

Spot Lived Here

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is at the end of a granite barrier in a city park. The Breakwater is almost a mile long, seven stories high and is constructed entirely of granite (700,000 tons that is). It was constructed between 1881 and 1902. You really have to see it to appreciate the size of the blocks of granite. The closest thing I’d seen were the huge blocks used at the Pyramids in Giza. As you walk along the breakwater you must watch the uneven surface and the 6-12” cracks between the blocks. There is a campaign running between June and September 2013 to make this the 8th Wonder of the World. The lighthouse wasn’t open when we were there in the evening. We did see some shorebirds and our first eider duck. On the way back I’d put my camera in my backpack. Apparently I’d forgotten to zip one half. All of a sudden the camera fell onto the stone. Could I have picked a grassy spot…no. I held my breath as I picked it up. The polarizer was smashed but my new 18-300mm lens appeared OK. The camera worked. Yes, I did deserve the HOW COULD I BE SO STUPID AWARD that day. I think Nikon should use this like Samsonite used the gorilla to demonstrate the durability of their product.

A Long Way To The Light

A Long Way To The Light

Reflecting On Rockland Breakwater

Reflecting On Rockland Breakwater

A Working Harbor

A Working Harbor

While we were in the Bar Harbor area we drove to Southwest Harbor to see the Bass Harbor lighthouse. It was a foggy afternoon but this gave us a different view of the lighthouse probably one similar to that of fishermen in the area. This lighthouse is not open to the public and access is only by scrambling along the rocks. Steve’s always much braver than I am about going out to the edge.  As this was just before July 4th, there were lots of people crawling all over the rocks so getting a people free picture was a challenge.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse

Bass Harbor Lighthouse

The fourth Maine lighthouse we visited is West Quoddy Head. This is the easternmost lighthouse in the USA. So why is the easternmost lighthouse called West Quoddy Head, you ask? It’s because East Quoddy lighthouse is on Campbobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada. We saw that too and will cover it in an upcoming post. Quoddy Head State Park offers 5.5 miles trails through forest and bog down to the rocky shore. and an interesting museum. Here we learned that the body of XXX, father of the Coast Guard was buried until his body was exhumed and moved to New London in XXX. The red and white striped lighthouse built in 1808 has been painted with six or eight alternating stripes at various times. Right now there are eight. It was the first to use a fog bell and later a steam powered foghorn. The light was automated in 1988. Unfortunately the tower is not open. The view of Grand Manan Channel and Sail Rock is worth a visit by itself. The black cliffs are a type of rock called gabbro. You’ll hear more about this when we post our Catching Up #2 about Saugus Iron Works.

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse

Out And About In Camden And Rockland, Maine

Camden Hills panorama

Lest you think all we did was run back and forth to the Stonington area we want you to know that there is a great deal to do in the two communities closest to Camden Hills State Park, Camden and Rockland. Both of these are small coastal towns with a healthy tourist population however they offer year round activities and events.

Camden, Maine

Dining Al Fresco With A Harbor View

Maine, Camden, photography

Evening At Camden Harbor

Camden is the smaller of the two towns with most of the businesses located on Rt. 1 or a few side streets near the harbor. It is one of the prettiest harbors we’ve seen. Several restaurants overlook the harbor and offer dining al fresco on summer days. As you’d expect there are several stores offering typical tourist souvenirs but there are several shops with high end home decorator items and local crafts. I used to collect pottery when we lived in a “regular” house and I’d have been buying up a storm. Now I just enjoy window-shopping and save a lot of money!

Maine, Rockland, mural

A Mural Near Rockland Harbor

Rockland is much larger than Camden and the place to head for everyday items such as groceries, pet supplies and auto care. The older section has been beautifully preserved and this is where you will find the Farnsworth Museum of Art. While we were there they had a special exhibit of paintings by N. C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth. Many of these artworks were on loan from the Brandywine Museum in Delaware. The Wyeth family lived in Massachusetts but spent their summers in mid-coast Maine. While not formally educated in art appreciation we enjoyed the exhibit very much and learned a great deal. We even found a connection between the Wyeths and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s family. A sister and brother who lived in Maine were subjects that N. C. Wyeth painted often in his Christina series. Their family was descended from the Hathorne family of Salem, MA. We’ll tell you about the name change when we talk about Nathaniel Hawthorne in our “Catching Up” posts.

As we returned to the car we passed an old movie theatre. I think it was called the State Theatre but after a month I’m not sure. Rain was predicted for the next two days so a movie sounded good. This is an ‘art’ theatre where independent films and documentaries are shown. Looking at the billboard we saw a movie “No Place On Earth” was to play. This turned out to be a great choice. It is a film about five Ukranian Jewish families hiding in a cave for over 18 months to escape Nazi persecution. Even after these families immigrated to Canada and the USA they kept silent about the story. In the 1990s an American cave explorer found evidence of their life in the cave and began trying to find out who these people were. After ten years he thought he was at a dead end. Then miraculously one of the men who’d been a child when this occurred contacted him. The History Channel produced the film. It is being shown in very few theatres but will be aired on the History Channel soon so keep your eyes open for it. We felt it was one of the most amazing, heart-wrenching yet uplifting films we’ve seen. Before the film a local Camden man spoke.  He too is a caver (no, they don’t call themselves spelunkers) and knew the man who located the families in the film. As an aside, he mentioned that he was also a professional potter and photographer. He would be doing a presentation of his photos taken in Guadalupe NP and Carlsbad Caverns. Our ears perked up.

The following evening we attended Peter Jones photography lecture at the Camden library. His photos are breathtaking! He is a very experienced caver who goes where very few of us will ever wander. Plus he brings with him more equipment than any of us own. He did say he was appreciative of his friends who are willing to be his ‘sherpas’ and help with the equipment. If you’d like to see either his pottery or his photos or both please visit www.pjcaver.com .

Another great find in Rockland was a store called Fiore. They sell artisan olive oils and vinegars as well as a few specialty items. We went into the store because we were going to have pasta for dinner and needed some dipping oil. Over an hour later we came out with Tuscan herbed oil, an African green chile oil and pomegranate infused vinegar. That was after tasting many other offerings. We signed up for their club. Over the next year we’ll get three bottles every quarter along with a recipe that uses at least two of the products and a 10% discount toward other purchases. We’ve already tried the chile oil and pomegranate vinegar on grilled veggies. It was terrific.

Here’s the recipe for 2: Grilled veggies of your choice. We used snow peas, water chestnuts, mixed young peppers, onion and pineapple. Saute over charcoal in a wok using spicy chile oil (about 2 tablespoons). Remove from heat. Drizzle 1 tablespoon pomegranate vinegar over veggies and allow to stand for 3-5 minutes. YUM!! If you are interested in their products please visit the website at www.FIOREoliveoils.com and they will ship to you. There is another store in Bar Harbor, Maine.

wildflowers, photography, Maine

Bunchberry On Mount Battie

nature, photography

The Colors Of Granite

wildflowers, Maine, photography

Sandworts Blooming On Mt. Battie

When the weather cleared we made a return trip up Mount Battie and spent 2-3 hours taking photos. Chari spent most of the time using her new 105mm macro lens while Steve used varied lenses. Somewhere along the way the pouch he used for his close-up rings opened and two of the three rings fell out. We tried to retrace his route but this was really a “needle in a haystack” attempt. If anyone out there in cyber space finds them, let us know!

There are several museums in the area such as the Transportation Museum, Indian Basket museum (part of a basket makers store) and the Merryspring Nature Center that we did not have time to visit. We did visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum and the Penobscot Maritime Museum near Searsport. Two lighthouses open to the public are in the Rockland area: Owls Head and Rockland Breakwater.  We’ll be covering those in a separate post on lighthouses.

Maine

The Perfect Picnic Spot

One day we took a drive looking for public access to some lakes we saw in the Maine Gazetteer. These are the greatest resource for anyone traveling by car. DeLorme makes one for each state. We have them all and have found many hidden gems by using them. We didn’t have luck finding boat ramps but did find a great rocky pasture for lunch. Opal had some much needed off leash time too. On our last full day in the Camden area we kayaked on Lake Megunticook. This is a 5+ mile long lake with a public access ramp. It is studded with small islands many of which have private summer cottages. The day was one of the warmest so far this summer and a swim sounded good. We found a shallow cove where the water was fairly warm and we took a dip and had lunch. It wasn’t a long paddle, just three miles or so but very relaxing.

lake, Maine

Paddling Lake Megunticook

Maine, lake, photography

Iris Bloom On Lake Megunticook

Chari's Better Side

Chari’s Better Side

wildflowers, nature, kayaking

Waterlilies And Lake Megunticook

Our Swimming Hole

Our Swimming Hole

This is a wonderful area to visit. We look forward to returning in a few years and hope you’ll experience these towns for yourself.

Roadside Trivia # 5

What famous music trail passes through Rockland, Maine?

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This is a tough one!

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We didn’t know this before our visit.

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The envelope, please!

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And the answer is……

Mississippi Comes To Maine

Mississippi Comes To Maine

Famous Musicians Of The Trail

Famous Musicians Of The Trail

Seals, Puffins And Rachael Carson

puffin, Maine

Serial Photos Of Puffin Flying

While prowling around Rockland, we came across the Project Puffin Center, a small storefront type museum and information center right on the main street running through town.  We watched an interesting film that told us about how puffins used to nest in the area, but had disappeared years ago.  In the 1970s, a group of scientists, working with the Audubon Society, realizing that the environment hadn’t changed and was still suitable, began a program to bring them back. They went to Newfoundland to get puffin chicks, at a very young age, and brought them to Egg Rock, off New Harbor, Maine.

There are a lot of places along the coast with the name “Egg Rock” or Egg Island” or West Egg Rock” or something similar.  I had always assumed that whoever had named the place thought its shape resembled an egg.  Actually, that’s not the case.  Sea bird eggs were, in the past, a very desirable commodity, and it was common practice for people to go out to certain islands when the birds were breeding to collect them for market.  No one really gave these places the name, in normal conversation they may have said something like “I think tomorrow I’ll go out to the egg rock and get a couple of bushels of eggs.  Wanna come along?”  Eventually, even after the eggs and the birds themselves were long gone, the names stuck.

The chicks that were brought to Egg Rock were fed, and eventually left.  Puffins spend their lives at sea, returning to the place where they had been born only to breed, at about four or five years old.  Several years went by.  Each year more chicks would be brought to the island and reared.  They would be banded, and eventually would leave.  Occasionally, puffins would be seen in the area, but there was no evidence that they were nesting.

After about seven or eight years, someone observed a puffin with his (her?) beak full of fish.  A puffin will dive to catch tiny fish, usually a type of eel about two or three inches long.  They generally eat these eels as they catch them, but if they have young to feed, they will collect a mouthful, sometimes a dozen or more, to bring to the nest.  They have barbs inside their beaks which keep any eels already caught from slipping out while they catch more.  This particular puffin, observed by a fisherman and reported to the Audubon Society, had his mouth full of eels.  This meant only one thing.  The program was working!  This bird had young to feed!  They were back!

It turned out that this pioneering effort to bring puffins back to these islands was a huge success.  The methods these scientists used are now being used worldwide to restore seabirds to habitats long abandoned.

New Harbor, Maine

Old Waterfront Home Turned Into B+B

New Harbor, Maine

New Harbor Evening

We picked up some information about a cruise that would go out to Egg Rock to try to see puffins, and a few days later, found ourselves on the road to New Harbor.

When we got there, we found that the puffin cruise left in late afternoon, but earlier in the day there would be a cruise out to another rocky island where we could see seals.  We decided to buy tickets for both.

The boat left the dock and headed out through the bay, passing by a beautiful shore and islands.  Lobster fishermen were working their traps and it was a very enjoyable ride.  The seals were lying on the beach sunning themselves and just being seals, occasionally we would see one or two swimming with their heads up above the water.  The boat wouldn’t get close enough to disturb them, to see them well you would really need a pair of binoculars.  Luckily, we were able to zoom in close enough with our telephoto lenses to get some photos, but don’t expect to see any of them in National Geographic.

lobstermen, Maine

Unloading Their Catch

Steve Learned About Lobstering From This Man

Steve Learned About Lobstering From This Man

A Good Day's Work

A Good Day’s Work

Harbor Seals Basking In The Sun

Harbor Seals Basking In The Sun

Rachael Carson Cove

Rachael Carson Cove

Barnacles Close-up

Barnacles Close-up

Tidal Pool Magic

Tidal Pool Magic

Color Beneath The Surface

Color Beneath The Surface

Beauty In A Sea Feather

Beauty In A Sea Feather

On the way out, the boat captain would describe the sights we were passing, and shortly after we left the dock he mentioned the Rachel Carson Salt Pond.  A salt pond is a depression on the beach that floods during high tide, but holds water when the tide goes out.  At low tide you can walk out to it and observe the various shellfish and plants that live in it.  Rachel Carson, author of several books including Silent Spring,  would often spend time at this particular pond.  After the seal cruise, we had a bit of lunch (crab cakes for Chari, fried haddock for me) and since the tide was out, took a walk down to the salt pond.

Had I known we’d be doing this, I would have worn different shoes, maybe sneakers that I wouldn’t mind getting wet.  The rocks we had to walk out on could be a bit slippery.  It was three days before my shoes were dry enough to wear again!  But it was worth it.  The pond was a photographer’s dream.  The various shellfish, crabs and seaweed were very colorful and fascinating to see.

Steve At Rachael Carson Cove

Steve At Rachael Carson Cove

The sun was beating down on us, and while we had brought some drinking water along, after a while we both thought a cold drink would taste awful good.  So we walked back to the dock area, where there is also a restaurant (where we had eaten lunch) with a deck overlooking the harbor.  I had a cold beer while Chari sipped on a glass of sangria, and we watched the lobstermen coming in and unloading their catch.

Aboard The Puffin Cruise

Aboard The Puffin Cruise

Eventually it was time to board again, and we were off to Egg Island.  Two members of the Audubon Society were aboard to act as tour guides, and they described the various birds we hoped we’d see as we went out.  We saw common eiders and herring gulls.  We saw black-backed gulls and black guillemots.  And we saw…  wait a minute, is it?  Yes, I think so!  Here he comes!

A puffin flew out from the island, circled around our boat, and went back again.  Then we saw some floating on the water.  Then another in the air.

A Black Guielmot

A Black Guielmot

A Laughing Gull

A Laughing Gull

Puffin With A Beak Full Of Fish

Puffin With A Beak Full Of Fish

Again, as with the seals, the boat would not get close enough to disturb the birds.  A puffin, about the size of a pigeon, from a hundred or more yards away makes a pretty small photo.  And, like the seals, don’t look for any of our puffin pix to appear on the pages of Nat Geo.  But it was a real thrill seeing these north Atlantic birds, and getting a few photos to remember the experience is certainly enough for us.

Back to the dock, where we picked out a couple of lobsters to have cooked for tomorrow’s supper, then the two hour drive back to Camden.

Ahhh…  Life Is Good!

Nuts And Bolts Of RV Living # 3 – Attack Of The Tree Branch

RV

OH, My Aching Roof!

It’s been quite a while since we’ve posted a “Nuts and Bolts” column, about the everyday stuff in RV living, but it’s time for another. 

Anyone who claims to be an RVer can tell you (and if they can’t, they are probably being less than truthful) about an incident of hitting something with their trailer.  It happened to us once, with our old trailer before we were full-timers, at a private park out in Colorado I think it was, when I pulled into a wrong site by mistake.  As I was pulling out of it to get into our correct site, I was distracted by something, and didn’t make quite enough of a wide turn.  The back of my trailer hit a picnic table and dragged it up against a tree, destroying it in the process.  It was kind of hard to pretend that nothing had happened since one of the neighbors was standing there laughing at me.  The owner was understanding, and also laughed as he accepted my payment for a new table.

Well, it happened again.  Not with a picnic table this time, but with a tree.  When we planned on going to the Bar Harbor area, Chari had made reservations at a private park.  At the time, several months ago, we hadn’t “dry-camped” anyplace, and she wasn’t sure about using a local state park that didn’t have any services.  But, as the time for going there got closer, and having “dry-camped” this spring down at Assoteague, we gave it a re-think.  Our generator worked well, and the public parks are certainly a lot cheaper than the private parks, and generally a lot nicer as well. 

So, Chari checked, and yes, Lamoine State Park had one site open that would fit us.  We changed our reservations.

As we pulled into Lamoine, we saw we had made a good decision.  A very attractive and nice park.  The site we had was certainly big enough for our thirty-five foot trailer.  But, when I tried backing in to it, I realized we had a problem.  The road was narrow, with a post on the left hand side I was trying to back into, and a ditch on the right.  The only way I could get into the site was to back in with a wide swing to avoid the post, but the ditch wouldn’t allow me to make a swing quite wide enough.  I wound up in the site, but too far over to one side.

No problem,  thought I.  I’ll just pull back and forth a bit and inch my way over.  It may take ten or twelve times, but eventually I’ll get over.  The trouble was, with the ditch on the other side, I didn’t have quite enough room to get the truck and trailer straight between attempts.  I was inching my way over, but in the wrong direction, getting closer and closer to a tree on the side. 

I saw the tree, and was watching it in my mirror.  I was still trying to work my way over, getting somewhat frustrated, when I felt myself hit some sort of an obstruction.  I was watching the tree, and I was still a foot and a half away from it.  What could that be?  I got out of the truck, and happened to look up.

Guess what?  The tree had a branch!  For about eighteen inches, the branch had scraped along my roof as I was backing up.  The roof is made with a rubber fabric, and this section of it was now perforated with holes.

I managed to pull out again, into the road, without hitting anything.  It looked as if I could probably back into the site if I could do it from the opposite direction.  So, I drove around the loop and found a place where I could turn the rig around, and began backing down the road toward the site.  The camp host saw me, and came out to ask if I was having a problem.  He suggested maybe we could get a different site.  He went over to talk to the park rangers, and they checked and found out that there was another site available, a big grassy area where I could just pull in off the road. 

We changed sites, and I got in with no problem, but didn’t unhook from the truck.  We had a gash in our roof, it was already drizzling, and we had heavy rains in the forecast.  We got on the horn to our insurance company.  We’re covered, but there is a $500 deductible. 

Chari went on-line to try to find a repair place.  Looked like the nearest one would be in Bangor, an hour and a half away.  I called, and asked if we could take the trailer there to get it fixed?  He could do it, he told me, but not for a while, he was booked up with work.  What could I do, I asked…  I’ve got a bad roof with heavy rains coming.  He gave me the phone number of a guy in Ellsworth, only about ten miles away who might be able to help.

So, I called, and the feller there told me he could take it in the morning, but the roof would have to be perfectly dry for him to do anything.  He didn’t have an inside garage, he would have to work on it outside.  Would nine o’clock tomorrow be OK?  You betcha, sez I.  We’ll be there.

So, up on the roof I go with a towel to dry it, and a tarp to cover the gash.  I held the tarp down with some pieces of firewood, but then realized that I would have to remove it before driving off in the morning.  If it was raining then, it would all get wet.  So, I ran some ropes under the trailer to tie the tarp down in place.  Hopefully, it would stay down as I drove to Ellsworth in the morning.

Ever see a cartoon of someone with a toothache, with a bandage holding an icepack against his face?  That’s what we looked like.

Turned out that the heavy rain held off, and it only drizzled all night.  We headed out the next morning, and the guy at the shop looked at the gash.  Yes, he said, it’s all perfectly dry.  He had to go out on a job, but would call a friend, someone he works with all the time, to come over and patch it up. The patch would be as good as new, and would last as long as the rest of the roof. But, he told me, most of the time the insurance companies in a case like this would require the entire roof be replaced.  It would probably cost a few thousand dollars, and would take some time to get the materials.  Then, it would be a couple of day’s work.  The rain would be here this afternoon. 

So, back on the phone to the insurance company.  The gal at the other end of the line heard the story and went to get her supervisor.  He told me that if I would be happy with the patch, which would cost $125…  less than the deductible, they would close the case.  But, just in case a problem developed, they would allow me to reopen it at any time in the next three years and have the roof replaced. 

Needless to say, Chari and I were very happy with that decision.  We had the roof patched, and are confident it will last the lifetime of the original roof. 

It cost us $125, but we learned a valuable lesson.  LOOK UP!

Hidden Acadia On Isle Au Haut

When you talk to someone about Acadia National Park they naturally think of the park on Mt. Desert Island near Bar Harbor, Maine. We’d be going there next. On our first drive out to Stonington we learned that part of Isle Au Haut (pronounced like Isle  A Hoe) was also Acadia NP. In 1978 land was donated to the National Park Service. Residents of the island were not pleased and feared their piece of paradise would be ruined by “Coney Island types”. The NPS worked with the islanders and a compromise was reached. This area covers about half of the island and is kept as a wilderness park. No Visitors Center, no ranger led activities just pit toilets and a 5 site lean-to campground are all the facilities you’ll find. There are trails and a dirt road circling the island. You can reach the park by taking the Stonington ferry for five miles to either the town landing or Duck Cove. Compared to the three million people who visit Acadia on MDI, Isle Au Haut has an annual visitation of about 7,000.

Stonington, Maine, Isle Au Haut

Stonington Harbor From The Ferry

lobster boat, sepia photo

Lobster Boat Post Processed As A Sepia Photo

We had to get up early for the two hour drive out there to catch the 10 AM ferry. (Opal) This would be a record day in bladder control for me. I was alone for twelve hours. I hope they don’t do that very often! We’d decided to take our bikes with us. This meant that we had to get off at the town landing. The entrance to the park is about a half mile away. They don’t allow bikes or boats to come off the ferry at Duck Cove in order to preserve the wilderness setting. You can pedal and paddle in the park. The road was paved until the park boundary. Then it was a dirt road – so far so good. Gradually it became rocky until it was more than our street bikes could handle. Along the way we spotted an old truck just begging for a photo. I’ve done a few artistic post processing pictures. Which one do you like best? We did stop and take two short hikes. The mosquitos were biting and we’d forgotten to bring bug spray. We sat and took in the beauty as we (and the mosquitos) had lunch. Spending the day in such a pristine environment was terrific even if we didn’t get that far. Next time we’ll forego the bikes and take the ferry to the park landing and just do the trails.

Old Trunk HDR Vintage Colors

Old Trunk HDR Vintage Colors

Old Truck HDR Bleached Bypass With White Vignette

Old Truck HDR Bleached Bypass With White Vignette

Old Truck HDR B+W Soft Tint

Old Truck HDR B+W Soft Tint

Mossy Microcosom In The Woods

Mossy Microcosom In The Woods

Skunk Cabbage And Wetlands

Skunk Cabbage And Wetlands

View Of The Beach On Isle Au Haut

View Of The Beach On Isle Au Haut

Tidal Pool

Tidal Pool

deer

Deer-ly Missed

On our way back to the ferry we saw a deer on the road. It was in the same area as one we’d seen earlier in a field. The bikes didn’t scare her. She just looked at us, grazed, came closer and grazed until she was less than 50 feet away. Off she went. There was something so touching about being that close wildlife, being accepted by them and just enjoying the moment. Of course I’d put my camera in my backpack!

Once back in “town”, a collection of eight or so businesses, we stopped at a small gift shop. The owner, a fourth generation islander, opened the shop two years ago. It features items made on the island or in other areas of Maine. I’d been looking for a new compact wallet and found a pretty quilted one there. The other thing that attracted me was some jewelry made from gold wire and white birch bark. Very different. I resisted as I’m not wearing much jewelry these days. But when I come back … We spent about twenty minutes talking with the owner about life on the island. There are 30-40 year round residents but that swells to 300+ in the summer. She said if she were ever stranded somewhere she’d want to be with an islander. She said they are very resourceful folks, like “little Mc Guyvers” (hope you remember the TV show). We took the 4:30pm ferry back then drove straight home stopping only to snap a picture of the old Mobil station cum Lobster Co-op. 

We have such a beautiful world. Let’s all try to be good stewards wherever our travels take us.

Maine, Nik HDR, photography

Lobster Co-op In Nik HDR Vibrant Textures