Posts Tagged ‘Acadia National Park’

Newsy bits and pieces from all over Maine

June 3, 2010

TONIGHT: It’s not too late to Eat for Pete’s Sake, a Humane Society of Knox County fund raiser to benefit homeless animals . See previous posting.

FREE! Don’t you love that word? The National Park Service has waived entrance fees to Acadia National Park this weekend, June 5 and 6, as well as Aug. 14-15, Sept. 25, and Nov. 1. Saturday, June 5, is National Trails Day, so go hike one of the park’s rehabbed classics in its honor.

CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION: “Winslow Homer and the Poetics of Place” opens at the Portland Museum of Art on June 5 and remains on display through Sept. 6. The exhibit, in honor of the centennial of Homer’s death, showcases PMA’s collection of about 20 watercolors and oils by the noted artist. It’s the first time since 1988 that all the works will be on view in the Charles Shipman Payson building. The museum owns Homer’s Prouts Neck studio, which is undergoing restoration and expected to reopen in 2012.

HUT, TWO, THREEMaine Huts & Trails has begun construction on its third full-service, back-country hut. This one’s about two miles below Grand Falls on the Dead River, and will be accessible by foot, bike, ski/snowshoe, and self-propelled boat .  “Construction of Grand Falls Hut, more than 15 miles of new trails and a spectacular 200-foot pedestrian bridge over the Dead River completes the first phase of our vision,” Herring said.

ISLAND ESCAPE: Nebo Lodge, on North Haven Island, has undergone a renovation and expansion, which included the addition of a new bar and fireplace, new deck and courtyard, new entryway, enlarged kitchen, expansion of two guest rooms. The lodge, owned by congresswoman Chellie Pingree, is open to the public for dinner. Its teamed with Equinox Island Transport to offer roundtrip transportation on the last two Fridays in June, and every Thursday in July and August. Depart Rockland, have dinner, and return the same evening; transportation is $20 pp. 

TWEET! Aroostook State Park is hosting a Birding Festival, Saturday, June 12. Highlights include: guided hikes led by seven of Maine’s top bird; birding by boat from Echo Lake; a live-bird demonstration of raptors; bird-house building for youngsters; and a group of artisan wood carvers demonstrating nature and bird carving. According to Park Manager Scott Thompson, this year’s festival emphasizes diverse birding experiences. “We’re here for more than just fishing and hiking; there’s a whole world of nature to explore and to learn how this park relates to Maine and the park system.”

FEELING BLUE? You might want to ink the Saddleback Bluegrass Festival on your calendar for the weekend of Aug. 6-8. Featured performers on Saturday include: The Jerks of Grass; Darol Anger, Scott Law, Sharon Gilchrist and Sam Grisman; The Stowaways; The Infamous Stringdusters; Mason Strunk; The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience; and The Del McCoury Band. Additional performances over the weekend will include The Mueller Family and Erica Brown & The Bluegrass Connection.

Plan now to attend Maine’s spring birding festivals

April 22, 2010

Both the Down East Spring Birding Festival and the Acadia Birding Festival are open for registrations. Maine’s location on the East Coast Flyway means it’s a stopover for feathered snowbirds winging their way northward after wintering in warmer climes, so it’s a great place and time to add a few species to your life list as well as enjoy the company of other birders.

Down East Birding Festival: May 28-31, Cobscook Bay Area

The American Bird Conservancy has identified Northeast coastal Maine and the waters around Machias Seal Island as “One of the important bird areas in the U.S.,” and Washington County has won the America’s Birdiest Atlantic Coastal County title annually since 2007. The three-day festival is jampacked with activities: walks, talks, demonstrations, presentations, social events, art programs, and more. A $60 fee covers almost everything, although you still have to register for individual events. Info on lodging and other local resources is on the site.

Acadia Birding Festival: June 10-13, Mount Desert Island

Roger Tory Peterson called Mt. Desert Island the “warbler capital of the world,” and the Acadia festival provides opportunities to see and hear these songbirds as well as sight puffins and pelagic birds at sea and observe peregrin falcons at an active breeding site in Acadia National Park. The program includes lectures, walks, and adventures, all led by notable birders and others and designed to introduce participants to Downeast Maine’s many bird species, diverse habitats , and local birding experts. Keynote speaker Paul Kerlinger will address “Migratory Birds, Wind Turbines, and Communication Towers,” on Thursday evening. Most events require registration ($60/one day, $125/two days, $175/three days + individual fees for special activities), but a few are open to the public.

I’ve had the good fortune to go birding with Michael Good, depicted right, who runs this festival, and he’s a fabulous guide. He operates Down East Nature Tours, and if you can’t make it to the island for this festival, book an adventure with him when you can, even if birding sounds like the least fun activity in the world. Trust me, he makes it fun.

Free admission days announced for Nat’l Parks and lands

April 22, 2010

Every National Park, National Wildlife Refuge, and numerous areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management are offering free admission June 5-6, Aug. 14-15, Sept. 25 (Public Lands Day), and Nov. 11 (Veterans Day).  These dates are in addition to the previously announced free admission at all 392 national parks April 17-25 as part of the celebration of National Park Week. Consider planning you next visit to Acadia National Park around these fee-free days.

Acadia on the big screen, free

September 29, 2009

If you happen to be on Mount Desert Island this week, head to The Criterion Theater in Bar Harbor to view Ken Burns’ National Parks series in high def on the big screen. Doors open nightly at 6:30 p.m.; guest presenters will lead a discussion and answer questions before the PBS simulcast starts at 8 p.m., . Best of all, it’s free, thanks to  The Criterion Theatre and Arts Center, Friends of Acadia, and Acadia National Park.

MDI foodie reruns

September 24, 2009

We finished our visit to Mount Desert Island with two returns, Mache Bistro for a dinner and Jordan Pond House for lunch.

Once again, Mache did everything right. Chef/owner Karl Yarborough knows how to put out excellent food and how to keep the front of the house running smoothly. Our table of six ordered two cassoulets, two salmon specials, one scallops, and one mix of appetizers (calmari salad and the lobster/crab cakes), and none of us was disappointed in any way. We each kept raving, and for the most part, refused to share. One friend, a regular at Hammersley’s in Boston’s South End, proclaimed this cassoulet better, quite an accomplishment. The only complaint at our table was the need for a bit more light (and perhaps larger print on the menu—yeah, we’re all in denial about the glasses thing). You definitely want to make reservations; this place is very small and very popular.

Visiting MDI without having lunch at Jordan Pond House is like visiting the park without touring the park loop. Four of us went, and while we each had at least one popover, or lunch choices were varied. One cranberry island salad, made with greens, dried cranberries, pecans, and apples tossed with the house vinaigrette. Two orders of the soup of the day, a golden pea with butternut squash that was rich and delicious and quite flavorful. And one order of the lobster stew, served with big pieces of lobster meat. Now all that’s quite fine, but for me, it’s the popovers that make this place sing. Call me a sucker for tradition, but I just love ’em. And here’s a hint, if you’re not offered the blueberry jam, ask for it—it’s thick and rich and tastes just like fresh-picked blueberries. So good, you might just want to skip the popover and just eat it by the spoonful.

Island Hopping 4: Isle au Haut

September 23, 2009

In summer, the daily boat to Isle au Haut is packed with kids and dogs, hikers and freight. Not so in September. As I write this, I’m sitting at the Black Dinah Chocolatiers Internet Cafe, having nibbled my way through a couple of selections and a cup of tea. That alone is reason to visit this lovely oasis about a 45-minute boat ride from Stonington.

Frankly, though, most folks come for the hiking. Isle au Haut is home to a remote section of Acadia National Park. On most mornings, a park ranger boards the boat in Stonington, passes out trail maps, points out highlights en route, and answers questions as the boat stops first at the town landing, then continues on to Duck Harbor. Also here are a handful of lean-to camping sites.

What an idea time of the year to hike. The temperatures are coolishly warm, or is that warmishly cool? A nice breeze keeps it that way. The trees are beginning to blush. And the trails are all but empty.

From Town Landing to the park is nearly 4 miles, so it’s smart to exit at the park for hiking only. But, if you want to visit the Isle au Haut General Store, see the tiny post office, visit Black Dinah for to-die-for truffles, or shop at the island’s lone souvenir store, The Urchin Shop (you can purchase all of local celebrity swordfishing captain-turned author Linda Greenlaw’s books here), then Town Landing it is.

Truth is, if you want a ride, it’s a safe hitch. Everyone slows down, waves, smiles or nods. it would be easy to request a ride on down the, even if that means hopping in a pick-up bed. Island cars aren’t fancy, but they do the job. But walking provides other pleasures, like watching the dragonflies dance and deer nibble on fallen apples in forgotten orchards.

Truly, there’s not much on Isle au Haut, and that’s what’s so appealing about it. You can hear yourself think and, if you’re lucky and in the right frame o’ mind, achieve Zen.

Freebie reminder

August 13, 2009

Moon Acadia coverEntrance to Acadia National Park is free this weekend.

• Hike the trails.

• Bike the carriage roads.

• Drive the Park Loop.

• Enjoy a ranger program.

Splurge with the savings on popovers and tea at the Jordan Pond House. Mmmmm. And it looks to be a gorgeous weekend, too.

A $1 million gift for SERC and Schoodic

July 10, 2009

Bravo and thank you to Edith Robb Dixon, who donated $1 million in the name of her late husband, Fritz Eugene Dixon Jr., to renovate the Rockefeller Building on the Schoodic Education and Research Center campus, part of the former Navy base absorbed by the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park.

According to the story in this week’s Ellsworth American, initial plans call for the French Norman Revival-style mansion built by John D. Rockefeller in the 1930s to be renovated into a welcome center on the first floor, with  executive offices and accommodations for researchers and faculty on the upper floors.

Now wouldn’t it be nice if someone stepped forward with similar gifts to save Ocean Wood Campground?

The MDI report

June 23, 2009

Just back from the island, and here’s what’s new and changed since my last update:


Side Street Cafe, Rodick Street, Bar Harbor: Very promising. Serving breakfast, lunch, and as of this weekend, dinner (small plates), too. Plans to be open year round (we’ll see; heard that before). Very comfy space with avocado and tangerine walls, fireplace in dining room.

Chow Maine, Clark Street, Southwest Harbor: Chiaolin and Ken Korona are back in the space adjacent to the Post Office. According to a sign on the door, they hope to open later this week to serve and sell Taiwan-born Chiaolin’s wonderful Asian foods along with selections from Pectic Seafood, home-baked goods, and “lots, lots, more.”

• Pizza place, Main St., Bar Harbor: Where the doll shop used to be, no sign and wasn’t open when I went by, but an acquaintance said it was pretty good ‘za. More details when I get them.


IMG_0989Pier 1 Suites, Southwest Harbor: Don and Javier have renovated and redecorated each of these sweet accommodations (efficiency to two-bedroom) that hover over the harbor. Genuine cottage style that doesn’t try to hard. Each is cozy, private, with great views. Rent by the week in summer, three-night minimum, when available, spring and fall (and some good specials right now, too).

Parkside, Bar Harbor, has new owners; didn’t eat there, so can’t report.

Colonel’s Restaurant, Northeast Harbor, has rebuilt and looks quite nice. Still an enticing array of baked items in the front room with the dining room out back. New upstairs: luxury rental suites.

• The tea shop in Bar Harbor moved to Main Street.


IMG_0942The Claremont, Southwest Harbor: Celebrating 125 years and looking pretty spiffy for a grande dame. Hearing good things about Xanthus, its restaurant (in the able hands of Chef Daniel S.), and the new restaurant bar looks both cozy and inviting.


• Presto’s, Southwest Harbor.

Song of the Sea, Bar Harbor (that wonderful music store)

• The tavern/bar/hot dog emporium in Southwest, behind the hardware store is gone, replaced by an addition to the hardware store

207 tonight: MDI on a budget

June 23, 2009

IMG_6646I’ll be on the 207 show tonight (WCSH 6, Portland’s NBC affiliate, 7 p.m.) discussing visiting Mount Desert Island on a budget. Conventional wisdom says it’s a pricey place, but truth is, there are bargains to be found and once you’ve purchased your Acadia National Park Pass, both your recreation and your transportation is free. And, this year, the park is providing free access on the third weekend of June, July, and August (June 20–21    July 18–19, August 15–16).


The Island Explorer buses circulate around the island and onto the mainland, and ridership for people and bikes is free with a park pass. Not only is this a green option, it also eliminates the hassles of finding parking near a trail head or intown.

Cheap Activities

IMG_5605Acadia is a natural playground, with trails for hiking, carriage roads for biking or walking, lake and ocean beaches for sunning and swimming, cliffs for scaling, and so much more.

• Pick up a Beaver Log, the park’s newspaper upon arrival and use it to plan activities. Don’t miss the park ranger programs. Most are free and include activites such as guided hikes, birdwatching, tide-pooling.

A sampling of other free activities:

• sunbathe/swim at Sand Beach or swim in Echo Lake or one of the swimming holes, such as Lake Wood.

IMG_6664• nature programs and wildflower gardens at Sieur de Monts Springs

Jackson Lab and MDI Bio Lab, both world renowned scientific labs, offer tours, lectures, and other public programs

• walk Bar Harbor’s Shore Path; walk out to Bar Island at low tide; mosey along West Street and admire the “cottages” that survived the Great Fire

• most of the island historical society museums are free or request a small donation, and there’s some really cool stuff to be seen.

Asticou and Thuya Gardens, okay, these aren’t free, but they are by donation, so quite reasonable.

• Admire the 10 Tiffany windows at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church, in Bar Harbor. Pick up a brochure in the church to tour on your own, or ask about scheduled tours.

IMG_5712• visit the Whale Museum: run by the researchers from Allied Whale and chockful of interesting exhibits as well as a mesmerizing video of whales in their habitat.

Festivals and concerts: there’s almost always something going on in Bar Harbor: town band concerts, Native American Festival, arts programs, lecture series, etc.

Now that’s just the freebies. If you’re willing to spend a bit, you’ll find plenty more. Expand the options by bringing or renting bicycles and/or kayaks.

IMG_6475Cheap Sleeps:

Mom-and-pop motels pepper Route 3 into Bar Harbor, and I’ve seen signs out front of these with rates as low as $26 per night. Now don’t go expecting breakfast or fancy linens, but if all you crave is a bed and clean bathroom, these fit the bill without adding to it. Beyond these, check here for rooms that are a bit nicer but still come in at less than $100 per night, sometimes with a few perks included.

B&Bs tend to be pricier, usually starting around $150 per room, double, but the rate usually includes a breakfast that can tide many folks over to dinner and perhaps afternoon snacks, so if you’re budget isn’t too tight, worth considering.

Cheap Eats:

Plenty of places offer early-bird specials, usually beginning around 4:30 p.m. and going to 6ish. Two good choices for early bird or later are:

Poor Boy’s Gourmet Restaurant, Main Street, Bar Harbor
(Early Bird between 4:30 and 6:30: $8.95: about 9 entrees plus another 10 all-you-can-eat pastas)

DeMuro’s Top of the Hill, Rte. 102, Southwest Harbor

IMG_0701Other choices for budget meals:

• College of the Atlantic’s Blair Dining Hall, not only cheap, but healthful! Call for summer hours as they vary with programs: 288-5015

• Cheapest breakfasts, white-bread lunches, or ice cream: West End Drug, Main St., Bar Harbor.

• Wander down Rodick Street for a good selection of inexpensive restaurants, many with an ethnic accent.

• check the local papers for notices re:  Bean, chowder, potluck suppers, pancake breakfasts, etc.

Hannaford’s, downtown Bar Harbor.

And if you want entertainment with dinner, consider Reel Pizza (tix $6; pizzas begin at $9 or $2.50 per slice; go early, grab a couch, order a pie, and enjoy.