Goth Panda

June 29, 2015

Plans for 2015-2016

When we got back from Australia two weeks ago, for the first time in years, I did not have the next trip planned. In the beginning of April, we moved from the Philadelphia area to Central Pennsylvania, where I’d gotten a new job. Although just about everything having to do with this move, including the new location and my new job, have been terrific, I had to give up my stored-up vacation days and start over. So for a few months, we are going to be homebound. This is not as bad as it sounds; we have several weekend trips planned, and several weekends hosting houseguests. But my next chance for a long trip is over the holiday break.

In keeping with my new theme of wanting to go somewhere warm, we decided to knock out a state that Mike hasn’t been to yet and visit New Orleans. This is also fulfilling another goal of mine to take an overnight train trip, since we will arrive via Amtrak. We will drive up to visit Mike’s sister in Arkansas for Christmas, then return to NOLA for a few days before flying home. I have been to New Orleans, but it was more than 10 years ago, and not for very long. I’m going to have to come up with something interesting for us to do, since my favorite things (beignets and French Quarter houses) are not going to interest Mike very much.

We decided almost spur of the moment to make our May/June trip next year to see some more Utah National Parks. The real impetus was when I checked the National Park hotels at Zion and Bryce Canyon and found out they had (very few) rooms available. I’d already had the basic plan for the trip mapped out, so I snapped up the reservations, and also added an overnight stop at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, which I didn’t get to see last fall. My obsession with National Parks and National Park hotels continues. I thought about making our next goal (after achieving the 50 States) visiting all of the National Parks, but I’m not sure because there are a few I am just not interested in. But we might get almost there without making it an explicit goal.

In late summer, we have two possibilities: Nova Scotia or back to Bar Harbor. We’ve never been to Nova Scotia, and usually a new place would win out over a repeat, but I loved Bar Harbor so much that I view these as almost even.

For next year’s holiday break, I am thinking of going back to the Southwest: specifically Big Bend National Park, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe. I will not pretend that the regional cuisine is not a major reason for this plan.

June 27, 2015

Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, Maine

We started this trip by staying a few days in Boston, but we definitely need to go back. It rained most of the time we were there, and I didn’t get a chance to explore all of the historical sites I was hoping to see. We were there over July 4, so most of the art museums and the indoor activities were closed for the holiday, too.

From Boston, we headed north and stopped in Portland, ME for lunch. We had been there before, and we already knew it was a great small coastal city. After getting lunch, we happened to pass by Holy Donut, which makes donuts out of mashed potatoes, apparently a local tradition. It was Mike’s birthday, and we celebrated with “birthday donuts.” He got maple and I got lemon.

Holy Donut, Portland, Maine.

Then we got on Route 1 to take the scenic route to Bar Harbor, and we got there by late afternoon. We stayed a little outside of the town, and even though there are free shuttles that take you all around Mount Desert Island, I regret not staying in the town. When we go back – because we are definitely going back – I would stay in Bar Harbor.

Bar Harbor, ME. Cutest small town ever? #barharbor #maine

Brass band in the Village Green. #barharbor #maine

The first day we took the shuttle to Bar Harbor and got our park passes and maps, and then we took another shuttle to Sand Beach. We walked down the Ocean Path to Otter Point. The trail was easy and level for the most part, except for all of the scenic detours we took.

Hiking on Ocean Trail. #acadianationalpark #maine

On one rocky outcropping, we passed a small wedding overlooking the ocean. Besides the young couple, there were only four older women, one of them the officiant. The bride wore a silver, sparkling headband, and she cried through the ceremony.

Hiking in #acadianationalpark #maine

We tried stand-up paddling for the first time on one of the ponds. Mike did very well, and I never even got to the stand-up part. The best part was we saw a family of loons – a mom, dad, and two baby loons. All of the locals present told us that it is very rare to see baby loons.

The day after that, we hiked the Jordan Pond path loop, and got the traditional popovers at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant afterwards.

Hiking at Jordan Pond. #latergram #acadianationalpark #maine

Mike taking a photo at Jordan Pond. #acadianationalpark #maine

We went to visit Bass Harbor lighthouse, and hiked along the shoreline near there.

Maine Lighthouse

We also walked across the sandbar at low tide and hiked on Bar Island. We drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain on a very windy day, but I can’t remember which day that was.

Ocean Walk in Bar Harbor. #barharbor #maine #latergram

We went in early July and the weather was beautiful. We were advised that we had come at a good time, that later in July and August is insanely busy, and September is beautiful but no one comes then.

We were in Bar Harbor for five full days, and of all of the places we have been, this was one of my favorites. I definitely want to go back.

We didn’t have an easy time finding vegetarian food in this lobster and seafood town. Shoutouts to some of the delicious restaurants we ate at:

Geddy’s
Gringo’s
Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast
Lompoc Cafe
Rosalie’s Pizza
Route 66 Diner
Side Street Cafe
Two Cats Cafe

Not a restaurant, but we drank it the whole time we were there: Down East Cider.

An amazing restaurant we stopped at in Portsmouth, NH on the way back: The Friendly Toast

Posted from Bar Harbor, Maine, United States.