Last October, in the midst of one of the more stressful periods in my life, we departed north for a four day weekend in Bar Harbor and Bangor, Maine. It was one of the best vacations in my lifetime. I was relaxed by noon on the first full day at Acadia National Park – to this day, one of the most beautiful places that I had ever been.
Formerly named Eden, Bar Harbor may well be the perfect New England tourist town. There are the requisite T-shirt emporiums and fudge shops and multiple quality homemade-ice cream joints. There are the tasteful and schlocky art galleries and free chamber music concerts on Friday nights. The architecture consists mainly of “cottages” built in the early 20th century by titans of pre-income-tax industry, but they are not about Newportesque excess as much as bygone elegance. Meanwhile, the honky-tonk water slides, go-karts and minigolf are just far enough away, in nearby Trenton, to make them accessible but invisible. Above all else, though, Bar Harbor is special because a few of those early visitors donated their land and pulled the strings to get 40 percent of the incomparably dramatic and beautiful Mount Desert Island, on which Bar Harbor sits, designated as Acadia National Park. Bike, hike, amble, kayak, rock-climb, horseback ride, lobster tour, whatever — it’s a day tripper’s paradise, at least until the leaf peeping ends around the second week of October.
Bar Harbor is nearly a six hour drive from my home – but it was like flying into a different world.
As I was there in October, it was cold – but not too cold – around 50 degrees. A t-shirt with sweatshirt and jeans seemed to fit the bills without any problem. The fog and other scenery near the ocean was simply fabulous. Tea at Jordan Pond and driving down to Brunswick to walk through Bowdoin College and pay my respects to Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain – a personal hero of mine – are among the many highlights of that trip.
I had hoped to go back this year – or at least up to some area of Maine – but unfortunately the $2,000 I had to drop on termite baiting put an end to that idea.
I have many pictures of this vacation – and some previous blog entries, but I am offline at the moment and cannot link to them. I’ll try to remember to come back and add these in at a later time.