Joseph and I eased into the day. Ollie stopped over and asked us if we wanted to go lobstering with him; he was leaving in about a half-hour. I wanted to go, but I was still in my pajamas, Sunday morning style and not moving too fast. So I passed. A little while later I watched Ollie leaving the shore, taking the motorboat out to the lobster boat, boarding, and disappearing into the beautiful blue horizon.
About an hour later, still in my pjs, I watched Ollie returning. It would have been a nice afternoon, but I just couldn’t make it happen for me. In fact, I was moving so slow that, by the time I was ready to leave the cottage, Ollie was already getting back!
Joseph and I decided to take hike – choosing the Jordan Stream – a little traveled but very pleasant trip through the forest following the Jordan Stream. We picked it because the island swells with travelers, so the roads and most of the trails are packed.
Jordan Stream starts, as many hikes and carriage trails do, at the Jordan Pond house – a go-to place for many of the Labor Day weekend vacationers. Since it’s a hub, and since a cruise ship was docking in the morning, we knew Jordan Pond would be exceptionally crowded.
Uninterested in being part of the crazy “find a parking space” hassle, Joseph and I took Ollie’s suggestion and went to the Hull’s Cove Visitors Center. There we picked up an Island Explorer bus that did the driving for us. It was a good idea – except that I white-knuckled it all the way. Not that the ride was bad or the driver reckless – they weren’t. But I’m not good about heights and the bus is tall enough to see way over the stone barriers that keep visitors from falling off the road and down the mountain. So I was very aware of how high I was and how deep the valleys were below me.
Still, I refused to close my eyes – just because I feel like it’s unhealthy to cater to that weakness. Joseph later told me he knew I was nervous because I was squeezing the crap out of his hand. Good thing he isn’t doing any massages this week!
When we got to Jordan Pond, the place was packed! I was glad we just got dropped off the bus. I had to use the bathroom and there were a half-dozen women in front of me. And I overheard the reservation person tell another visitor that it would be 65 minutes to get a table for popovers. Ugh!
Once we headed to the path behind the building, it was like we were the only ones there. Well…we were! During our two-hour hike, we only saw five people and four dogs – and a couple horseback riders on the carriage trail above the stream. It was a perfect day for walking a dog along the path.
The Jordan Stream Path has always been a favorite, but the national park service has made changes that has altered our view of it. At first I thought the changes were good – more “boardwalks” over marshy areas that made sections easier and more pleasant. But about 2/3 of the way, there were some changes. It seems that whoever is making decisions about the paths are honoring the ecology and not the visitors – people with probably awesome book smarts and little common sense.
As a result, the NPS folk rerouted the path away from the stream and more into the forest. As a result, it was longer, harder – walking over lots and lots of exposed tree roots – less safe, and way less scenic. At one point Joseph fell getting off one of the boardwalks. I was behind him and watched him go down – half on the boardwalk and half on the ground. Even though he was wearing jeans, he scrapped his leg pretty bad. When the love for the ecology overshadows the love for and safety of the people enjoying the ecology, it’s a problem.
Usually we walk past the stream to the harbor and then take the carriage trail back. We didn’t do that today. Because it took us longer, and because we couldn’t get an answer to the “how late are the buses running” question, Joseph was afraid we’d miss the bus back to the visitors center. And he wanted to take care of his leg. So, when we got to Bryce Harbor, Joseph flagged down a bus heading to the next stop, Seal Harbor. I was glad – Seal Harbor was about a half-mile down the road. There was no other way to get there except walking on the road. For as crowded as the park was today, I wasn’t looking forward to it.
The bus was empty when we got on, but by the time the driver made the last stop, there was standing room only…close standing room. We passed by entrance to Cadillac Mountain entrance and I saw flashing lights and park guards in the street. It looked like there had been an accident. There wasn’t – it was just too crowded on Cadillac and the NPS wasn’t allowing anyone else to go up the mountain. First time I ever saw that happen!
We finally got dropped of at the Visitor’s Center. We were going to the Walgreens in Ellsworth for first aid supplies so we went “the long way” on route 3. We usually take back roads on the island but at least once a trip we do this just to see what’s going on there.
Today, as we passed the Best Western on Rt3, I remembered the year we stayed at Eden Village and drove to Camden for the day. We stopped in Belfast on the way back to Bar Harbor and our car, a blue Caravan, broke down. It still ran, but the headlights stopped working. We drove all the way back to Bar Harbor with no lights. It was the grace of God that we weren’t in an accident. The freakiest part was that the car died just as we pulled into the gas station in the village. We took a cab back to cottage, and it cost us a small fortune.
The next day we asked the owner of the cottage to drive us into the village. He refused. I was so angry I told Joseph we would have to walk. He had no idea how far it was (neither did I). We started walking…along the highway! We got as far as the Best Western and stopped there to find out how much further it was to Bar Harbor. When she heard our story, she called her spouse. Turns out he worked at the post office and was going into work. He gave us a ride. The mechanic at the gas station was awesome. He fixed the car and didn’t overcharge. In the years afterward, whenever I passed his shop, I’d ask God to bless him. I’m thinking he sold it a few years later to a bank. I hope they paid him well for it. We never stayed at Eden Village again.
So today I thought I’d see how far we walked that morning. I was shocked to track 2.8 miles between the Best Western and Eden Village. It was about another 3-5 miles to the gas station. What were we thinking? And how blessed were we that year?!?
In Ellsworth we got the supplies we needed and headed back to the cottage. I would have stayed there, BUT there was word that the Northern Lights would be visible. So we ate some spaghetti and then headed to Seawall.
It was almost 10pm when we found a parking area that was dark and suitable. We weren’t the only ones there looking for the celestial treat. It could have been awesome, but it wasn’t. After a couple hours, one-by-one each of the cars left. Die-hards, Joseph and I were the last to leave – cold and disappointed – around midnight.
What a day!
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Every year, for the last 19 years, I trek to Maine. Find out what keeps me returning year after year in The Maine Diaries.