10/20/16: Birthday Hikes/Where Are My Presents?

We got up with the 5:00 alarm surprisingly and we got ready quickly since I had gotten our packs ready last night. We left around 5:40 and got up to Cadillac Mountain a bit after 6. I was surprised to see so many cars up there. I didn’t realize this was such a big deal but it sure looks like it is. It was freezing up there and my thin pants & tow layers didn’t really cut it. Luckily I was smart & had gloves in my pack. Sunrise was supposed to hit around 6:50 and by 6:40 it was getting pretty packed with people. The tripod gang was out in force with some rocking multiple cameras along with GoPro’s on time delay. I was surprised how light it got before the sun actually rose above the horizon but it makes sense. It stays light for a while after sunset as well. We walked around the mountain top to keep warm and we settled at a place just beneath the peak. We were watching and around 6:45 when the sun popped up and there was an audible gasp from the throng gathered to see it. We watched for a bit and then hightailed it out of there to get breakfast. As we were leaving we saw that the lot was full and cars were parked along the road for some distance down the hill.

Pre-sunrise on the cold Cadillac Mountain.

The sun rises for my birthday.

We went to Jordan’s for our last breakfast in Bar Harbor. It was good as usual and after breakfast we headed over to the West side of the island to hike Acadia Mountain. There was a small lot off of the 102 which was virtually empty when we got there. It was still early & was still cold when we “packed up” and headed on up the mountain. Like all of the hikes here the trail starts off immediately uphill to the peak and then winds along the peak for a bit before descending back down. This trail offered some great views out over Somes Sound and there was plenty of Fall foliage to gawk at. I really liked this trail. The trail crosses a creek once it descended down to the Sound and we were able to get right above the water at that point. At that point we made the decision to go back to the car via a very scenic fire road rather than loop in another trail so that we would have time to see the Bass Harbor Lighthouse and drive the rest of the West side of the island.

Joyce on the Acadia Summit.

Nice colors on the Acadia Trail.

Joyce dominating the Acadia Trail.

Artistic leaf on the fire road.

Leaf peeping on the fire road.

More fire road peeping going on.

Once back at the car we drove over to the lighthouse and it was ok to see. Not mandatory but you could walk out onto some rocks to get a better view of it. You are not able to go into the lighthouse. Once out of there it was only 2 or so and we decided to hike another trail since we had time. Beech Mountain was near and the trail was only 2-3 miles long without a huge amount of difficulty so we ate a snack & then drove over to that trailhead and got to see more of the West side of the island as we did. Beech Mountain was another good hike with some good views at the summit along with a fire lookout that is no longer used. We decided to Loop in the South Ridge and Valley Trail for some variety rather than loop the Beech Trail. The South Ridge descended steeply and the Valley Trail then was pretty flat and took us back to the trailhead about 4:00.

Joyce at the Bass Harbor Lighthouse.

Birthday boy at the Bass Harbor Lighthouse.

Nice view from the Beech Mountain summit.

Unused fire lookout on the Beech Mountain summit.

We drove back to Bar Harbor and had dinner at my choice the Side Street Cafe. I wanted more mac & cheese and Joyce also got mac & cheese but she got the lobster mac. She liked it but was unable to finish due to us also getting a hummus/tapenade appetizer. She did eat all the lobster though! I also had to have another pumpkin ale with cinnamon sugar on the rim as well as an IPA. After dinner we walked the town for the final time and then drove back to the hotel to pack & get ready for the drive back to Burlington tomorrow. It was good birthday today!

Mmm pumpkin ale with cinnamon sugar rim for the birthday boy.



10/19/16: More Trails & the Rest of the Park Loop Road

We got up & got ready and then set out for breakfast in town. We planned on Jordan’s but I read in the book that Cafe This Way was good so we walked there instead. The place was packed but we go a spot right away. It was a bit more modern than Jordan’s but the menu looked good. I ordered some corned beef hash with poached eggs which was great. Joyce got an omelette that she liked as well. We ordered a couple of blueberry muffins to go for an after hike snack. Once we were done with breakfast we walked back to the car and set off for the Sand Beach parking area where the first hike we wanted to do started from.

Once at the lot we grabbed our packs and set off on the Beehive Trail. This trail went up steeply much like the Precipice Trail. It also had a few sections of ladders that we had to ascend. It wasn’t as difficult as the Precipice and was only about half the elevation gain as well. It had spectacular scenery and offered plenty of views out over the coast & San Beach as well as lots of Fall foliage to look at. After we summited we looked at the trail map & decided to loop over to The Bowl which looked to be a lake not too far away. It was a fairly short hike over and it was worth it as the small lake was pretty cool. Along the shore was an elevated trail built on wood planks that you walked on. The trail then looped back to another trail intersection where we could descend down to the car. We noticed that we were only half a mile from the Gorham Mountain summit so we decided to climb up there to check it out and it was a nice hike and the views were decent at the top but not as nice as Beehive was.

Nice colors on the trail today.

One of the many nice views on the Beehive Trail.

More ladders for Joyce!

Look out below!


Joyce at The Bowl.

Gorham Mountain summit.

After Gorham Mountain we doubled back down to where we made the turn up and then took the trail down to where the car was. We spread out on a patch of grass near the car & snacked on the muffins & an apple and then headed off to complete the Park Loop Road. There were only a few spots left for us to check out and they were nice coastal spots but nothing that we haven’t seen before here in CA. Spots we hit included Otter Cove & Little Hunters Beach. Definitely pretty along the coast though. Our last stop was at the Jordan Pond House where we did a bit of the Jordan Lake loop trail which was nice and had some great views of the Bubble Rocks we climbed up a couple of days ago. I wanted to hit the Penobscot Trail which started near the Jordan Lake House but Joyce wasn’t up for it since it was a tougher hike and we likely didn’t have enough time either.

Muffin time!

Views along Park Loop Road.

View of Bubble Mountains from Jordan Lake.

Joyce at Jordan Lake with the Bubbles.

Once done with Jordan Lake we drove out of the park & back to town for dinner. We hit up the Thai place again since we liked it last night. After dinner we walked the town a bit and the hit the market for some water & fruit. On the walk back to the car from the store  I stopped in a gas station quickie mart to get a Moxie soda to try. I read about it in the book so I had to try it. It was a bit like Dr. Pepper but definitely more bitter and it had an aftertaste. Moxie has an interesting history to it which is worth reading. I finished maybe half of it and that was all I needed. Once back at the hotel we rested and got our stuff ready to leave early tomorrow. We plan to see the sun rise over Cadillac Mountain in the morning. We’ll see if that happens.

Moxie time.

10/18/16: The Precipice Trail, Thunder Holes & Popovers

We got up around 7:30, got ready and it was back to Jordan’s where we should be getting our own booth soon. I went with oatmeal with eggs again while Joyce lived on the due and got a lobster roll for breakfast. Last night’s was warm while this one came cold. She said it was good though. Once done with breakfast we drove to the park to do the Park Loop Road. We took in a few viewpoints and then we came across the Precipice Trail pullout and I remembered that this was one trail I really wanted to do. It was supposed to be challenging and not for people who are afraid of heights. It sounded to me like the Angel’s Landing Trail in Zion.

Once at the Precipice Trail lot we noticed people looking up and I saw they were looking at people high up on the trail. You could see them on the exposed face near the top. From here it looked tough but the book says it isn’t too bad so we put on our packs and headed out. The trail started out with a lot of rock scrambling and you needed to pay attention to the blue marks on the trail so you didn’t get off course. There were a couple of times where we needed to crawl under large boulders as well. Once through the boulder field near the bottom the trail was a mix of rock crawling and rock climbing. There was very little “normal” trail on this one since the trail went virtually straight up. They had put in handholds and railing where needed so you didn’t need to be an experienced climber to get up. There were only a few sections that I was a bit uncomfortable with. Each section I was thinking what it would be like to have to come back down to make sure I wanted to continue. Near the top were the most exposed places on the trail and this was also where it was the windiest. Rain was expected later in the day and we could feel it coming in. Right after the exposed bits were passed we reached the point where the trail left the cliffs and moved towards the summit. This was a nice change from the constant challenges we had the rest of the way up. We reached the summit about noon and rain was expected to hit around 2:00.

Looking up at the Precipice Trail.

Joyce rock scrambling.

Coming through.

Nice view!

Narrow stairs.

Climbing up.

The views get better the higher you go.

Joyce happy the real climbing is done!

At the top we ran into a couple from Brisbane, Australia and we took photos for each other & chatted a bit. Turns out he sold a boat to a guy in El Cajon & he said he could see it in the guy’s driveway on Google Earth. We talked about s=descending & they were going to go down another way which would put them out on the Park Loop Road a bit away from the lot that we had both parked in. This sounded like a good idea to us since this would mean we wouldn’t need to descend down the tricky sections we came up. I’m a dope and didn’t bring my trail map with me since I intended to come down the same way we went up but the Australian couple gave us the route and we descended the Champlain North Ridge Trail and then transferred to the Orange & Black Path which took us to the road. Both of these trails were pretty mellow with no challenging sections that I recall. From where the Orange & Black Path hit the road it was about 1/2 mile hike on the road to get back to the car.

At the summit.

The hike down was easier…and pretty scenic.

We ate an apple in the car and then continued on the Park Loop Road. The next big spot we looked at was the Sand Beach which was cool but nothing we haven’t seen before. There was a walk that started form there called the Ocean Trail that took you along the road to the Thunder Hole & then went further to see other view points. We just took it to the Thunder Hole which was a place where you could watch waves come in and hit the rocks in such a way that it booms. It was only a 1/2 mile on the trail to get there. We got splashed a little but again it was no big deal since we have that here. There was nice foliage & rocks along the coast though which was different from home. Once we had walked back to the car we decided to call it a day and go over to the Jordan Pond Restaurant to try some of the famous Maine popovers they sell there. It started to drizzle lightly as we drove to the restaurant.

The aptly named Sand Beach.

Some nice scenery along the Ocean Trail.

The place was nice and sits right next to Jordan Pond. We got seated right away and ordered two popovers each along with coffee for me & blueberry lemonade for Joyce. The popovers were similar to the cream puffs my Mom used to make. They were like a muffin but far less dense. More hollow than anything. They served them with butter & strawberry jam and they were pretty good. After finishing up there we headed into town to get some dinner. Our plan was to hit up a pizza place we saw for some calzones but when we got there they had a sign on the door that they had closed for the season. Odd since they were open yesterday. We made a quick decision to grab food at a That place near the Side Street cafe and the. Food there was pretty good. I got a beer there that I hadn’t tried before and it was good as well. Once done with dinner we walked the town in the drizzle for an hour or so and then grabbed the car and went back to the hotel to rest.

Closed for the season???

Makin’ Bacon. We were able to resist buying these salt & pepper shakers.

10/17/16: First Day in Acadia National Park

We got up around 8 & got ready to go and then left for breakfast at Jordan’s again. Today I ordered oatmeal which I’ve never ordered in a restaurant and it was actually good. It came with brown sugar & blueberries to add in. Good stuff. After breakfast we intended to do the Park Loop Road drive but once we entered the Park we saw signed for the drive to Cadillac Mountain so we decided to check that out since we were there. Cadillac Mountain is highest point on the Eastern seaboard and the views were incredible up there. You could see in all directions so we had views of all of the islands along with the city of Bar Harbor. Once we did the small loop hike at the summit we saw the trailhead for the Cadillac South Ridge Trail and we decided to do that. We grabbed our packs from the car and headed out on the trail.

This hike was only a bit under three miles round trip but it was pretty rocky and had a fair amount of ascent/descent. Not a hard hike but it had some stunning views along the entire length. Lots of views over the ocean and plenty of fall foliage to be seen. They marked the trail with paint dots since most of it was on rocks and there were many cairns along the route that were also there to guide your way. Once we were back at the car we thought we’d go down to Jordan Pond since it was close. Along the road we saw a pullout for the Bubble Rock hike so we put on our packs & did both the North and South spurs of the route. This one was maybe 3 miles total and also had a bit of climbing. The North spur was rocky but the South spur was more mellow. Both had great views with the North having the better of the two.

Joyce on Cadillac Mountain. Bar Harbor is down below with the island we hiked out to at low tide.

Joyce on the South Ridge Trail.

Which way to go??

Nice colors on the South Ridge Trail.

More colors on the South Ridge Trail.

Joyce on the North Bubble Rock.

Fall colors on the South Bubble Rock trail.

Look out below! South Bubble Rock trail.

Once done with the Bubble Rock hike we were both a bit beat & needed food since we skipped lunch. We hopped in the car and went into town to go to the Side Street Cafe since we couldn’t get in yesterday due to the marathon. We got in no problem today since it was only around 5 when we got there. We’re turning into old people that eat dinner before 6. I started off with a local pumpkin ale. The waitress asked if I wanted cinnamon sugar on the rim of the glass so I lived on the edge & said yes. This was a good call since it was really good. The cinnamon worked great with the spices already in the pumpkin ale. She said they also do a Drunken Pumpkin where they also add a shot of rum or whiskey. For dinner Joyce wanted lobster so she got a lobster roll & she said it was good. It wasn’t much food so she got a bowl of clam chowder for “dessert”. I went with the mac & cheese which was made with seashell shaped pasta and had black beans, ham & jalapeños. Sounds odd but it was great. I had a local IPA for dessert and then we headed out to walk the town a bit. Joyce got an ice cream at a local shop & they had a picture of Obama at their shop. Joyce got the same flavor he did. After we walked the town for an hour or so it was back to the room to rest.

10/16/16: Exploring Bar Harbor

Today is the day of the marathon in Bar Harbor which we weren’t expecting so, given that it’s also a weekend day, our plan is just to explore Bar Harbor & leave Acadia for the next four days. We got up a bit before 8 & got ready and left to grab breakfast at Jordan’s restaurant which was recommended by the owner of the hotel we’re staying at. The restaurant is about 10 miles from the place we are staying at & is a bit past the entrance to Acadia National Park. We got parking close to the restaurant but it was two hour parking so we needed to watch that. Jordan’s is famous for their blueberry pancakes so we had to try them so we also got an omelette & shard the two. Both were great so my prediction is that we will hit this place up again before we leave. Likely more than once.

Jordan’s. Where yummy is the name of the game.

Once done with breakfast we took a walk down to a spot where you can walk across to a nearby island at low tide. When we got there the ocean was up to the retaining wall near the shore. We spotted a guy kayaking up to the point we were at towing about 5 empty kayaks so we talked to him a bit. He said they were getting ready to shut down the kayak rentals for the winter so they were pulling all of their kayaks out for the winter. He said it was about high tide now & the next low would be in about four hours. He said the tide drops 12 feet which is huge! He also said that 14 cars were lost in the tide this summer due to people driving out & not realizing that the tide would come back in.

Bridge Street at high tide. 

Since we couldn’t walk about to the island we moved our car one spot ahead to reset the two hour limit and then walked along the shore path that winds along the shore. It was an easy walk but very scenic with great views of the harbor and the islands nearby. Once done with the shore path we hiked through town & likely did most of the streets in the main part of town. Lots of it is the typical tourist stuff but once you get out of the tourist part of town & into the residential streets you see how really nice the town is. Lots of great houses with fall foliage going on. We hit the Abbe Museum which had exhibits documenting the native indian tribes that inhabited this area. Not usually my type of thing to hit but it had some interesting stuff.

Joyce on the shore path.

Real flame lamp near Bridge Street. Still not sure how they run. Natural gas or kerosene??

This guy has massive wood. Wish I had wood like that.

Fall colors in Bar Harbor.

Around 1:00 we hit a pub for a beer (for me) and some lobster bisque for Joyce. The Patriots game was going on so the place was packed & we had to sit in the outdoor bar area. Once done with that we walked more of the town and then around 4:00 we moved the car again to a three hour spot and then walked back to Bridge Street to see if the tide was out far enough to walk to the island and, sure enough, it was. What was fully underwater the last time we were there was now all above water. The water had receded a long way. We asked over the sand to Bar Island & I had expected the sand to be muddy & soft but it was firm enough for cars to drive on. And drive they did. There were a number of cars driving out onto the sand to get across. Not sure why since it was an easy walk but I guess it was easier. Once across to the island there was a trail you could hike to the “summit” which had some decent views over Bar Harbor. On the way back it started to rain lightly and the wind began to blow pretty hard but not bad enough to need a shell.

Bridge Street at low tide. Where’d the water go??

Joyce wondering where the water went.

The view from the “summit” of Bar Island.

Once back across we needed dinner since we skipped lunch. We tried to hit the Side Street Cafe which the hotel owner also recommended but all we could get was a patio railing spot since they had sections reserved for marathon runners and to get a table inside would take 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It looked like it could rain again so we walked the town & decided on a place that had wood fired pizzas & a good beer selection. We ended up getting duck fat fries (I assume they’re fried in duck fat??) and a basic mozzarella basil pizza. Both were decent. I got a local Maine beer to start & then got a Maine mead made with lavender along with an Allagash double yeast sour. All of these were great & Joyce liked the mead a lot. After dinner we walked a bit of the town & ended up buying a chocolate chip whoopie but only after confirming that I wouldn’t’ need to yell “whoopie” if I bought one. This was confirmed and it was also confirmed that it was full of gluten as well as dairy and sugar. Once this was accomplished it was back to the car and the drive back to the hotel to eat our whoopie and then rest. I did have two Allagash White Ales after the whoopie though.



10/15/16: Burlington to Bar Harbor

Today is a travel day but we hoped to make the most of it as we moved from Burlington over to Bar Harbor. My original plan was to go over the Kancamagus Highway (The Kanc) over the White Mountains and then wind over to Portland, ME where we would take the coastal highway 1 up to Bar Harbor. We ended up doing The Kanc but ended up taking an inland route from there to Bangor, ME & then up to Bar Harbor. We’ll do the coastal section on the way back to Burlington.

We set the alarm for 7 & actually got up then so jet lag must be gone. We ate & then checked out, loaded up the car and hit the road. We took 89 up to the 302 which we had done most of before when we went to Montpelier. From 302 we hit The Kanc and it was a great highway to drive. Very scenic and full of Fall colors. The West side wasn’t too bad but after Lincoln it started to get busier. It was a Saturday & it was near peak foliage so that was expected. Towards the Eastern end of the highway we took Bear Notch Road North on a recommendation from a BOB list member. This ended up being great with lower traffic & better scenery than the main highway. At the top of Bear Notch we took the 302 West to see the Crawford Notch which is a state park & was scenic as well. We went as far as the Mt. Washington viewpoint near the Mt. Washington Resort. Mt. Washington is the highest peak East of the Mississippi topping out at a whopping 6,288 feet. It is also where the highest winds ever recorded happened.

Somewhere on The Kanc.

Near Beaver Pond off The Kanc.

Colors popping on Bear Notch Road.

Near Crawford Notch State Park.

Also near Crawford Notch State Park.

Mt. Washington Resort with Mt. Washington in the background.

 Once out of there it was back East on the 302 & we ended up taking the 16 North so that we could hook up with the 95 over to Bangor. We had smooth sailing until we ran into a huge traffic block. Nothing was moving in our direction but Southbound traffic was moving fine. After 20 minutes or so of waiting a girl in front of us flagged down someone coming South and must have gotten the reason because she ditched off into the emergency lane and scooted by the line. Other cars followed so we joined them and found that the huge line was waiting to turn left onto the Mt. Washington Road. The intersection was blocked by people coming from 4 different directions with nobody to control traffic. It was crazy. Once by this we were cruising all of the way to Bar Harbor. We joined the 1 out of Bangor and it was one lane each way. Traffic moved fine but it was busy and we were on it after dark so the constant headlights in my eyes got annoying. We grabbed gas (and a 6-pack) and headed for our digs for the next few days.

We arrived at our hotel right on the 1 about 6:30 and checked in. The owner told us there was a marathon tomorrow with 1,500 runners so all of the hotels are booked. We’ll try & avoid them as we go that way for the park tomorrow. Our room is tiny but nice. We got our stuff situated & I had a beer and then walked down the street a bit to get dinner at some lobster place that was also supposed to have normal food as well. They said they were closed so, with nothing else around us, we hit up Yelp and found a Thai place about six miles away. We grabbed the car and hit it up and it was decent. Once done with dinner it was back to the hotel to rest up after the long day in the car.

10/14/16: Green Mountains and Covered Bridges

Our plan for today was to check out some of the Green Mountains and also to see some covered bridges which have always been something I’ve wanted to see for some reason. After we hit up the free hotel breakfast we hit the road with our destination being Waitsfield which is a small town in the Green Mountains from which you can drive to see many different covered bridges. Waitsfield was about an hour away and it was a nice drive mostly along the 89. The day was sunny and clear after the rain we had yesterday.

Once in Waitsfield we used a route we found online that takes about 2 hours and routes you along small roads to see seven covered bridges. There was a longer route but 2 hours seemed about right. Before we started we checked out a ski resort which was a bit up one of the mountain roads. It was small but the leaves were really changing up there so the views were nice. Once back on course with the covered bridge thing we did the route and it was pretty fun. Some bridges were just ok but others were really nice. We did come to a place where there were three in quick succession and it is apparently the only place in Vermont where you can see once covered bridge ahead while going through another covered bridge. And we were there to see it! On the last bridge we stopped at we took a short walk along the road since it was nice & covered with trees. We did end up skipping the seventh bridge on the route since it was another six miles out and we had seen enough. Throughout all of the roads we drove the scenery was amazing. Colors everywhere. The pictures don’t really do it justice. We took a break for lunch at a general store that had a good menu & also had espresso so we got a caffeine fix along with lunch.

Joyce at the Mad River Glen.

One of the many pictures that doesn’t show how colorful it really was.

Covered bridge fetish shot.

Scene off of a dirt road we drove. There were about 10 wild turkeys walking around here.

Another bridge picture.

Road we took a hike on.

Once we were done with the bridge route we wandered South down Highway 100 since it is supposed to be one of the best roads for Fall foliage and it didn’t disappoint. We did end up crossing over the Green Mountains on Scenic Route 125 which was scenic as the name suggests. It was a bit of a tough drive due to construction as well as glare from the setting sun but it was worth it. Once over the mountains we headed back to Burlington along the 7 and headed for dinner at a place Joyce found online that served Mo Mo (Moh Moh per their menu). The name was The Spice Traders Kitchen and it was a small place but they had a decent menu and the food was good. And we had to get Mo Mo since I haven’t seen it since Tibet. Once done with dinner we drove back to the hotel at a relatively early time for us. There was no beer to be had at either lunch or dinner so I opened the big bottle of Chili Coconut Cinnamon Stout I picked up the other day. I’d give this one two snaps up in a circle.