Monday, September 10, 2018

Amazing Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine

Naturally, a trip involving Brooke and Maxx was started off with something sweet :-) a cupcake we both agreed was phenomenal from Sue Cakes in Belfast, Maine.  A detour on our way up to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park for Labor Day weekend.  Chocolate raspberry flavor, the frosting creamy and light, the cake moist and rich.  We devoured this thing in seconds.  A delicious conclusion to our couple hours spent wandering Belfast.

Lunch was had at Chases Daily in Belfast.  A spot Maxx had chosen prior, imagining my liking it.  He hit the nail on the head.  My god, the white bean puree vegetable sandwich we sampled here was to. die. for.  As well as the Kale Salad- whoa.  Mouthwatering and superbly seasoned/flavored.

As well as during our brief stopover in Belfast, stumbling on, hands down, one of the most unique, charming, way cool bookshops I have ever had the pleasure of exploring the inside of, Bella Books

I ended up chatting with the owner for several minutes, telling him such with regards to how unique and special his bookstore was.  The two of us hitting it off right away.  A deal was then struck with Maxx, who waited for me outside with Ida.  I had purchased an Orange Julius Gingerbread cookie, which was to be his if and when he went inside on his own (while I then stayed outside with Ida) and checked out this memorable bookshop for himself.  He did, gone for several minutes more than I expected and on coming out, agreeing whole heartedly on how great it was inside. 

Man, oh man, if I lived in Belfast, I would take up residence at this rustic, romantic reading respite every Sunday afternoon.

See below for photos of the quaint downtown area of Belfast, as well as the rustic and romantic interior to Bella Books.  Swoon.

How fun are the painted on motifs of this door?

Bella Books

Bella Books

Bella Books

Hangin by the water in Belfast, sitting in lobster trap chairs :-)

Sweet Ida <3

Now, onto Acadia National Park.  We spent our full allotted day in the park hiking one of the Carriage Roads, leading us to an other worldly clearing, cut through by narrow stream, the focal point an old, arching bridge made entirely of individual stone pieces, so neat.

Pause and rewind for just a moment though.  Prior to our dreamy discovery down the Carriage Roads, we attempted hiking Penobscot Mountain.  This was, to put it mildly and in a nutshell, exhilarating, terrifying, and hilarious. 

At first, the trail was relatively easy.  A meandering incline of rock steps and narrow twisting turns.  Quickly this turned into steep rock faces, and eventually, cliff edges and boulders with sharp drops off into nothing.  Were it just Maxx and I, we could have done the hike, granted it would have been sweaty and shaky armed.  With Ida in tow?  This was not happening.  She clung to each step, shivering, quaking in terror, stressed to the max.  Refusing to budge until we had cajoled and pulled her into her coming along with us grudgingly.  We had to almost literally carry her at varying points, all while Maxx and my feet were wedged into the rocks at precarious, dangerous angles.

Both of us laughing and dripping sweat.  Ida was the only one without a smile, not seeming to find the humor in the situation ;-).  At one point, even turning around and, to mine and Maxxs chuckling and surprised reaction, walking back the way in which we had come, beating a swift retreat backwards the first second she was able.  Plopping herself down in the middle of the trail, she refused going any further, much to our amusement.

Finally, on coming to what was sheer rock as an intense angle upwards, we had to turn back.  Knowing there was no way we could possibly scale it safely with Ida.

This was as far up as we made it during our Penobscot trek ;-)

After the stressful, laughter inducing, and adrenaline packed attempt up Penobscot, see below for our wander and stroll along one of the Carriage Roads of Acadia, leading to a stunning stone bridge.  It seeming to glow in the afternoon sun.  The area was secluded, felt mysterious, as though from another time, as well as was bright, and magical.  My remarking to Maxx, "couldn't you totally see fairies and leprechauns hiding behind the trees of these woods?"

Check out this insane looking mushroom!!!  Like something from another planet.

Ida was enjoying this leg of the trip FAR more than our hike up Penobscot ;-p

Ida, taking a much needed rest.  Yes, half in the river ;-p

The underside of the bridge.  How gorgeous and way cool is that!?

And now, for more of Acadia State Park.  The below photos include: near Thunder Hole (though we didn't actually see Thunder Hole itself), as well as Otter Cliff.

See Maxx and Ida? :-)

See the person at the top of the cliff?  For size perspective, of where we were walking.

See the people in the photo?  Maxx, Ida and I spent a few hours walking along these very trails, with the stunning craggy cliffs and never ending stretch of water alongside us.

The next several photos are of our boat ride around several of the islands surrounding Acadia, including our stopping at Cranberry Island, a small lobstering island/village.  This was a gift from Maxx to me, and, both of us agreed, one of the major highlights of our weekend.

We saw bald eagles, huge osprey nests (including baby ospreys attempting to fly), porpoises cresting the water, gray seals popping their heads up out of the surf, and all manner of unique birds.  The day was just warm enough for this to be perfect, the breeze on our faces and in our hair.  The host of the boat cruise, Winston, a passionate, knowledgeable, elderly gentleman, was such fun to listen to.  It was obvious he loves Acadia and knows plethora's of information about the islands and wildlife there.  His narration akin to reading an engaging and informative story.

See the huge osprey nest on that giant rock??

Entering the quaint lobster village on Little Cranberry island.

And then, on our last night, a fabulous seafood dinner.  Maxx had the traditional lobster dinner, with a side of clam chowder and wild rice.  I had grilled salmon with a cranberry apple chutney, which was superb.  Sweetly spiced and lovely.

Below, the only two photos which are not my own (aside from the 3 at the beginning of this entry of Chases Daily in Belfast)- these pictures are supposed to resemble a little wood that Maxx found, both of us stunned by how gorgeous it was.  Maxx commenting, "now this is a wood where fairies and elves would live."  It truly was. 

Moss blanketing the forest floor, much of the moss even flowered.  Little foot bridges and logs for crossing miniature ravines in the ground.  Snaking pathways.  Gigantic tree roots, twisting and curving along the ground.  Beams of light shining through the tree leaves above.  It truly was an enchanting little forest, the most beautiful Ive ever walked in or seen.  I was so bummed at not having brought my camera along.  Therefore, here are two photos I found online which most conjure up what it was like...

And, way cool thing/follow up: Maxx found a link online that shows actual photos of this very little wood we explored and loved!  This blogger calls it the "best short hike in all of Maine."  Its the loop trail on the Frank E. Woodworth Preserve in Harrington, Maine.  You can scroll through the blog entry and see a few photos of the actual wood I described just above, with the small wooden plank foot walkways and such.

Now, back to my own photos...a snapshot of the area we stayed just below.

One evening, Maxx and I walked down past the picnic table and laid out on a huge boulder alongside the water just below.  Staring up at the starry ski above us, awed.  It looked like a forest of stars.  As though the sky had been thrown with glitter in varying sizes.  Hands down, the most jaw dropping night sky I have ever seen with my own eyes.

We lay here for roughly 20 minutes, just gazing upward, lying side by side in the cool night air.  Awesome.

The only other photo not my own in this article, this is very akin to and closely resembles the night sky that Maxx and I witnessed that night.  I didn't take this picture, got it offline to give an example as close to what I could find as what we saw.  It was truly astounding.

While in Bar Harbor Maine, Maxx and I dined at several succulent and delectable establishments...

Those include:

--Mount Dessert Bakery: where we sampled a decadent mint chocolate brownie, both moaning over the deliciousness of such.

--Café This Way: where we split a Korean mushroom sauté (with tofu, kimchi, and carrots, all in a spicy broth), then I had the Pecan Crusted Fish Cakes (so yummy, though for $14, the portion was TINY), and Maxx had the Lamb Kofta Tacos (looked absolutely delicious) and the Sesame Tuna Poke.  All of the food was great, we agreed.  High quality, excellent stuff.  And the atmosphere of this place, I personally reveled in.  A low lit, intimate, cozy, romantic library/café type of spot where one might hole up during the colder months.

--Rosalie's Pizza: ordering a half and half pizza and then taking such to the local park where we sat, devouring our pie with a great view of the harbor, along with the cliffs and forests beyond.  My half with spinach, feta, and tomato, while Maxx ordered a veggie with pepperoni.

--Our seafood dinner at Galyns Restaurant, with great views of the harbor.  The food here, pricey, though very good.

--Morning Glory Bakery, where we sampled a blueberry muffin, a moist chocolate cake with maple frosting, and I had an awesome salad on our last day there topped with curried chicken, roasted red peppers, onion, spinach, avocado, cucumber, and tomatoes, SO good.  Highly recommend this place.

--Mount Desert Island Ice Cream.  We sampled this spot twice.  Said to be one of the best ice cream shops in New England.  Maxx and I both loved it.

--CJs Big Dipper Ice Cream.  Maxx could not get enough of the homemade blueberry softserve here.

And, onto our last awe inspiring moment of the trip.  Cadillac Mountain.  Check out the below photos of us at the peak.  The scenery below us, absolutely arresting and stunning.

In conclusion: cannot recommend Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine enough.  Maxx and I had a fabulous time, reveling in every moment of our weekend together.  Both agreeing on our having to pack up and leave come Monday that 2.5 days isn't enough.  That we easily could have done 2 more full days, as there is just so much to do, taste, and see in Bar Harbor and Acadia!

Absolutely make a point to spend a long weekend or vacation up here when you can.

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