Day five was spent entirely in Maine which has quickly become my favorite state of all those we’ve visited on this trip and our last. The road from Portland to Acadia was dotted with thrift stores, antique shops, art galleries, and doggie daycare centers. A wide array of independently-owned restaurants was to be found in Bar Harbor, where we spent our afternoon, as well as a healthy selection of ice cream and sweet shops, including Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, named Maine’s Best Ice Cream Shop in USA Today.
But apart from the shopping and eating, Maine is home to Acadia National Park, easily one of the most beautiful and scenic areas which I have ever visited. The Park Loop Road offers stunning photo opportunities at every turn and even offers access to the top of Cadillac Mountain at an elevation of 1528 ft. We drove around capturing the gorgeous setting, a cerulean blue sky dotted with clouds alighting upon the vast waters of the harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. The vibrant greenery of the wooded mountains that make up much of Acadia’s grounds were more beautiful than those of local Maryland parks with which I am familiar, free as they are of invasive species, choking vines, and the like. Even on major interstates such as I-95, the trees lining the roadside are picturesque unlike most of the highways in my area whose native plant life stands in competition to the invasive weeds. But I digress. Maine is gorgeous and there’s little I can do by way of words or photography to truly capture the beauty of this state.
But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Mike and I started the morning off with Tony’s Donuts, a renowned bakery in Portland. I enjoyed a bavarian donut as well as their famous molasses variety, a donut with a subtle but enjoyable flavor. Mike had a chocolate twist and a blueberry donut, both also delicious. The building itself is unprepossessing and unassuming as can be, but the delicacies created within far surpass nearly any of the kind I’ve tasted before.
|The donuts in all their glory.|
|Molasses donut perfection!|
Then we headed to Acadia. We started our visit off with a drive along the Park Loop Road to see the sights and acquaint ourselves with Mount Desert Island, where we spent the vast majority of our time. The weather was absolutely perfect for our photographic excursion and we could see far out over the Atlantic Ocean and to some of the other Acadian peaks. Our drive lead us to Jordan’s Pond and we hiked the 3 mile trail surrounding the lake which offers beautiful views out over the water. Mike and I, accustomed to the humid early June temperatures of Maryland, were surprised by the chilly Maine weather, with the temperature barely rising above 60 degrees during our visit. But the cool was a welcome relief after the first few steamy days of our trip.
|The first overlook we came to on the Park Loop Rd. Little did we know, this was probably the most underwhelming view of all the ones we would see throughout the course of the day.|
|An overlook nearing the summit of Cadillac Mountain. An absolutely breathtaking view.|
|The Cadillac Mountain Summit looking out over the Atlantic. These photos really don't do the view much justice.|
|Acadia flora and fauna.|
|Abundant ferns were to be found alongside Acadia's trails.|
We decided to fill up after our hike in nearby Bar Harbor. This is another one of those adorable historic districts that really draws a tourist crowd. There were plenty of souvenir shops selling Bar Harbor, Maine, and Acadia T-shirts, Christmas stores galore, ice creameries, candy shops, and tons of jewelry to pour through. We settled on a nice early dinner at The Carmen Verandah Club, ordering Maine’s most famous delicacy, lobster. I had a lobster bisque and Mike had an amazing Lobster Mac-n-Cheese with huge hunks of bright red lobster meat larger than any I’d ever seen before. Then we wandered the quaint but bustling streets of Bar Harbor, bought candy from Ben and Bill’s, explored a unique woodworking shop, and searched for cheap souvenir sweatshirts with which to warm up because we were poorly outfitted for the chill in the air.
|In addition to plenty of lobstery goodness, we started our meal off with some delicious sweet potato fries drizzled with honey mustard. We had a very healthy day as you can see!|
|Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium in Bar Harbor.|
From there we headed east for the final leg of our trip through New Hampshire and Vermont. But before leaving the Bar Harbor area, we stopped at Pirate’s Cove for not one but two rounds of Adventure Mini Golf. The place offered two separate courses and, being the golf lover that he is, Mike decided to play a good two rounds. I can’t say I had quite as much fun as him, but then again I’m not nearly as good of a putter as he is and I’m a bit of a sore loser.
On the drive to our stay for the night, we were continually impressed by Maine’s breathtaking scenery, adorable small towns, and surplus of inn’s and B&B’s. The state is full of charming places and people, which we got another taste of that night. We stopped at a Quality Inn around 9:00 pm and asked if there was anywhere nearby that we could get some blueberry pie. The overly-enthusiastic receptionist called a local restaurant to check and they invited us over, even though they were closing in just 30 minutes.
The restaurant was called Slates and it was absolutely heavenly. This was quite literally the restaurant the restaurant of my dreams with an excellent menu and the best blueberry pie I’ve ever tasted to boot. But what really stole the show for my was the ambience of the whole place. Located in a historic little strip of shops called Hallowell in Augusta, Slates was full of colorful wall murals, the gentle sounds of a live guitarist, candles and Christmas lights strung all around. It was romantic, whimsical, artistic, and classic in a way that I’ve never seen before. This was the kind of place I had been hoping to find in nearly every small town we visited. I just wish I had enough room to eat more than just blueberry pie a la mode!
|Enroute to the hotel, we also passed the Belfast Curling Club. I didn't know such places existed and begged Mike to turn around after we flew by the place so I could take a few photos.|