Maybe it was a splurge to come here, but it’s been awfully nice spending the week among some awfully nice scenery. Our first two nights were a Groupon deal with the York Harbor Inn, a very nice place across the street from a beach with great views. The Groupon came with free breakfast and $25 coupons off 2 dinners, which another local hotelier told me was not a bad deal. Still, the rooms were not exactly free, which is why we spent the next two nights in the dorms of a Franciscan monastery in Kennebunk, next to the George-Bush famous Kennebunkport.
‘Twas an interesting visit but I’m not rushing back there, as the signage giving directions to basically anywhere was awful. We did drive past the Bush compound on one of our cloudier days (after which I got lost somewhere on Route 1 in Saco) and sure enough there were antennae a’bristling from Secret Service commandoes at the ready. I took Veeka to a nearby beach where she clambered on some rocks (her fav new pasttime) with other kids as they looked for crabs. Sunday was gorgeous and Monday was OK but Tuesday-Wednesday weren’t so great. Wednesday it poured rain in buckets, which was the day Veeka and I spent in Portland sloshing about the Old Port area and visiting the local children’s museum. Actually, a friend of Hyattsville met us there and kindly took Veeka through the museum along with her 2 kids, giving me about 75 minutes free time to drift through the local art museum next door. Which had some lovely stuff and a respectable collection for a town with only 65,000 inhabitants.
Finally the weather cleared on Thursday, so we were glad to leave the monastery and head north of Portland onto Route 1. I avoided the outlets at Freeport – too much temptation – and began driving through these lovely coastal towns, finally stopping at Camden, one of the best of the lot. We were not there to shop or eat, though; I had seen photos of their lovely state park and wanted to do some hiking there. We first drove to the top of Mt. Battie (see view above) and then I made the mistake of asking Veeka which of two hiking trails she wanted: the easy one called Maiden Cliff or the tough climb up Mt. Megunticook. Of course she picked the 1,300-foot ascent up the latter, so we started climbing up through the woods. Now being with Veeka is no meditative stroll; she talks constantly and a poor hiker who happened to be going up the same time as us got the full brunt of her questions about every leaf, tree and animal we passed. (No wonder he took a nap upon reaching the summit). You’d think a 7-year-old would be lagging behind but nooooooo, she set the pace while her mother galloped along behind her. That kid can climb pretty quickly and so we got to the top ledge in about 50 minutes.
Eventually we headed back down the mountain and up the coastal road, drinking everything in. Just outside of Acadia National Park, we stopped at a “lobster pound,” which is a restaurant with a bunch of picnic tables and pots of boiling lobsters. You order up a lobster, corn-on-the-cob and baked beans. Sometimes they show you the poor creature before they dump it in the pot. I couldn’t leave Maine without going to at least one, so in the warm evening sun, we sat there polishing off a lobster. Or rather, Veeka nibbled pieces of *my* lobster while neglecting the hamburger and fries I’d ordered for her. We settled in at the Acadia Hotel, which was in downtown Bar Harbor. I really liked this locale; it was the nearest lodging place to downtown establishments (which helped during morning coffee runs) and I found Bar Harbor to be a very nice place and not deserving of the bad rap it’s gotten. Maybe I’d feel differently if I were here in July/August but I was awfully glad I didn’t pick some of the more isolated hotels along Rt. 3 that were north of town. I’d definitely come back to this place, although I’d ask for a larger (king) room as there weren’t a lot of places to put our stuff. So it basically sat on the floor. We spent Friday familiarizing ourselves with the park, driving up Mt. Cadillac, relaxing at Sand Beach (where Veeka finally found kids to play with), having a very late lunch at Jordan Pond House (a fabulous restaurant in the park known for its hot popovers) and then going to Wildwood Stables, where we had a late afternoon ride on a wagon pulled by two Clydesdales who took us up Day Mountain and around on some of the carriage roads built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. Because Rockefeller hated the newfangled automobile back in 1913, he built 45 miles of gravel roads that are used today by bikers, joggers and folks on horseback. They are quite impressive, as are also the granite bridges that support these roads.