After our visit to the wild woodlands of Isle au Haut, it was time to head back to civilization. Off to one of our favorite hang-outs, the home of Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island, and also home of the spectacular Acadia National Park and the tourist mecca, Bar Harbor.
We got an early start out of Isle au Haut, taking advantage of the clear, calm morning for a trip out the shallow dredged channel, then a lovely cruise back through Merchants Row, across Jericho Bay, through Casco Passage, and across southern Blue Hill Bay to the Bar Harbor Bar, up Western Way, and into Northeast Harbor. It was a lovely ride, but the gazillion lobster pots, with toggles strung across our path by the tide, kept us busy. Porpoises and harbor seals played in our wake. A perfect ride. And with no wind, it was great to have a motor boat (don’t tell Bruce I said that). As we crossed through Casco Passage we came across another American Tug, the 34 Edith B. from St. Louis.
We were in Northeast Harbor by mid-day, and the Harbormaster directed us to an available mooring. We miss the girls in the skiff who used to welcome us and have cookies for the dogs. Times have changed and it’s a lot less personal than it used to be. We launched the dinghy and went ashore to register and pay for our mooring. And found the dinghy dock was an even bigger nightmare than we remembered in past years.
Apparently some archaic ordinance requires that the town allow any resident to leave a “dinghy” at the dinghy dock that is shared with transient visitors. Thus, the float is always jammed with local derelicts that look like they haven’t been touched for the season. Many are much larger than a typical “dinghy”. Each trip ashore is defined by the struggle to create some space large enough to get close enough to the dock to tie up, toss the dogs across to the float, and climb out of the dinghy. Not.Fun. A wonderful yachtsman’s building with showers, laundry and lounge, and expansive new Harbormasters building and large tourist information center. But you can’t get your dinghy into a dock. Shameful, really.
Friends Cleave and Darcy joined us on the flybridge for sundowners, and then dinner below. Sometime during the evening we noticed that Pepper wasn’t looking well. We got very worried about him, and after struggling for several hours, started him on antibiotics AGAIN. It was a long night, as Pepper became more and more lethargic and struggled with breathing and gagging.
By morning Pepper seemed a little bit better, but since vets are hard to come by in harbors on the coast of Maine, we felt we should take advantage of Acadia Veterinary Hospital in Bar Harbor and get Pep checked out. I called, they gave us an appointment in the afternoon, so off we went.
Getting from Northeast Harbor to Bar Harbor is not only easy, it is also fun and free! We used the Island Explorer buses that run around Mount Dessert Island, primarily to shuttle visitors to Acadia National Park to different park locations. Buses are free, run pretty regularly, are generally not crowded, and they welcome dogs. It’s a great resource for cruisers to the island, and with a sick dog, we were especially grateful.
I can’t say enough about the great folks at Acadia Veterinary Hospital. They were kind, thoughtful, efficient, and gave us all the time we needed to explain Pepper’s complicated health history and current situation. We got no answers, but left comforted that we were managing the situation as best we could.
We took advantage of our visit to wander around Bar Harbor and be tourists for the day. The pups were welcomed pretty much everywhere, which is always nice. Tourists loved them. And we had lunch at our favorite outdoor, dockside, dog-friendly tourist stop, Stewman’s Lobster Pound. I dove head-first into my awesome lobster roll, and left fat-and-happy. Joy.
One of the problems with visiting Mount Desert is that it is easy to settle in and never leave. We generally go with the intent of staying two nights, but almost always stay three to four nights. This time staying was easier than ever, primarily because we wanted to be sure Pepper was doing OK before we left a convenient vet. It’s also nice to have good supplies, laundry, shopping, and a safe, calm and easy (except for the dinghy dock) harbor. And of course, all of Acadia National Park at your doorstep.
The park is spectacular and has a rich history. While we would recommend visiting in the off-season to avoid the worst of the crowds, you can do really well if you plan properly, even in the height of the summer. There are 158 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of carriage roads (great for biking), and seven peaks to climb. Over 3.3 million people visit each year, and often it seems like they are all there on whatever day(s) you decide to explore. But that’s OK: it’s worth it.
In addition to Northeast Harbor and Bar Harbor, it’s fun to travel over to Southwest Harbor, home of Hinckley Yachts and another fine village to explore, A trip up Somes Sound is lovely. Seal Cove might bring you face to face with Martha Stewart. We saw her entertaining friends on her boat at the dock at Little Cranberry a few years ago. You could cruise Mount Desert for a couple of weeks, and stay someplace different almost every night, especially if you include the surrounding islands such as the Cranberries.
We could have spent most of the month in the area, but after four days, it was time to move on. We had other things to accomplish.