Island Time

My brother warned me that it’d be a pain in the ass to get here, but I really hadn’t given too much credence to his claims. Sure we had to get the girls up at 5:00 am to make our flight, but the flight itself left on time, the transfer in Philly went well, and the second leg actually arrived early. Picking up the rental car went well, and we were on the road. Four hours and several frayed tempers later, and we finally arrived at our destination.

The first sign of trouble (or at least concern) was the drizzly rain — the last thing you want to see on your first day of vacation. Still, we didn’t even know if the Bar Harbor area was in the same weather system as Portland, so we soldiered on. Shortly thereafter, though, we realized that the directions we’d been given — three different sets, none of which matched — had poorly prepared us for what lay ahead. One thing that surprised me was the lack of adequate signage. After ending up on the wrong highway, at no point were there any signs indicating what lay ahead, or how far ahead those places might be, making decision-making (i.e., keep going or turn around) exceedingly difficult; Brenda was sorely missed. We debated following the directions that kept us on the highways as long as possible versus the set(s) that took us on some of the more rural — but more scenic — routes. Figuring we had plenty of time, we chose one of the latter.

Yes, we got to see a lot more of the beautiful Maine countryside. But on the other hand, we were frequently stuck behind annoyingly slow people. Maybe this is one of the things I’ve gotten accustomed to by living in a relatively urbanized region, but I tend to believe that routinely driving at ten miles below the speed limit — or worse, varying randomly between ten over and ten under — is not acceptable driving behavior. Especially when you’re on winding roads with no possibility of passing. Well, no possibility the way most people drive — I managed to find a few opportunities. And I only ran one person off the road. Seriously.

In the end, we managed to get the rental car returned (though not with a full tank of gas —where do the people here fill up their cars?), meet up with my brother and his family, have a quick drink in Northeast Harbor (one of our delays had resulting from my misconception that Northeast Harbor was a simple harbor, like Seal Harbor, as opposed to a small harbor town with no visible signage directing you to the actual harbor), and (having seriously missed our initial ferry appointment) catch a later ferry to the island.

The house is pretty damned big. It’s actually got nine bedrooms (though three aren’t made up), and though it’s clearly very old, it’s been refitted with most modern amenities (primarily phone, electricity, and running water). The girls got a kick out of running around and picking which rooms would be theirs for the stay. After unpacking, we still had time to cook out hamburgers and spend a nice evening out on the wraparound patio enjoying the scenery, the skies having cleared completely.

Today, our first full day here, we went to the mainland (or technically, the larger island, Mt. Desert Island), went on a nature hike and spent some time at Echo Lake, where my sister-in-law and I climbed to the top of Beech Cliff — a moderately strenuous climb, but I don’t mean to imply that it was really mountain climbing. Still, the view was absolutely spectacular — and I made sure to call down via cell phone to Pam and my brother on the beach below, so they could look up and see us.

We wrapped up the evening with fresh lobster at Southwest Harbor (delicious, though awkward explaining to the girls what happened between when they saw the lobsters skittering around on the scale and when we ate them) and caught a private water taxi home, after which everyone went to bed. Well, except me, as I wanted to jot down my recap before I forgot all about it. That done, though, I think I’ll turn in myself. No promises about future island entries, as I sincerely hope to be keeping myself pretty busy.


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