August 21, 2023

Farewell, Acadia!

We’ve just returned from our annual two week vacation at the Northampton Beach Campground on Great Lake Sacandaga.  Managing to snag a reservation in this park is always difficult; reserving a waterfront site is even more so.  Diligence and perseverance are required, but the time and effort spent securing a campsite is well worth the effort.  Believe me, we exerted quite the effort.  Many days, there were four of us with fingers poised on the “Book Now” button on ReserveAmerica; at one point, all five of us were trying for one particular campsite.  No luck that time, but we did triumph – eventually.

A view of the inlet and on out to the lake from the kids' campsite

Ryan and Anya, our son and daughter-in-law, camped at their own site with our former travel trailer.  Our daughter, Kyra, was there briefly, as allowed by her work schedule.  Although Alan was the one to secure our waterfront campsite, we gave it to the kids.  The Jayco, with its big dinette window on the curb side, was better suited to take advantage of the site (and the sights) than our Outdoors RV trailer with its big windows on the back and street side.  We were camped across the road, but took full advantage of “the neighbors’” excellent location, dragging our camp chairs and our morning coffee over to their site without apology.  (They assured us we were always welcome.  Had we not been, I’m not sure that would have stopped us.)  The views of both the lake and the never-disappointing entertainment at the boat launch were spectacular!  The weather was not as cooperative as we would have liked, but a good time was had by all.  We enjoyed boating and biking, coffee around the campfire and kayaking.  There may or may not have been a couple of trips to the local ice cream stand.  The day of departure is a challenge for all of us, because nobody wants to leave.  Whining, complaining and sniffling are not uncommon occurrences, and we all drag our feet when saying goodbye to the lake.  Now that we’re home, with the laundry done and the bills paid, let’s get back to our adventures in Maine over the Memorial Day weekend.

Schoodic Woods Campground - Acadia National Park

Visiting a popular National Park on a holiday weekend required careful consideration of our schedule, but our planning did pay off and our activities proved to be free of crowds.  On Labor Day itself, we had an easy-peasy kind of day.  Tucked into our cozy campsite at Schoodic Woods, we slept late (well, late for us), had breakfast and then took our morning coffee with us to one of our favorite places on the Schoodic Peninsula.  There is a small pull-off on the side of the road right next to a special spot on the shoreline where we like to hang out.  Because that pull-off comes up unexpectedly, unless you’re familiar with the loop road on the peninsula it's easily bypassed, and almost everyone ends up parking on the other side of the bridge, a short distance away.  If you know that pull-off is there, you can swing right in and have what we think is one of the prettiest views all to yourself.  We pulled our camp chairs from the truck and set them up on a level area near the water’s edge.  Something about sitting quietly in nature is so incredibly soothing and refreshing.  I honestly don’t know how long we were there but, with nowhere to go and nowhere to be, it felt like we had all day to relax, so we did.

One of our two favorite spots on the Schoodic Peninsula

The following day, the Tuesday after Memorial Day weekend, was our final day in the Acadia area.  Hoping that the holiday crowds had dissipated, we made our final pass through the main section of the Park on Mt. Desert Island along the Park Loop Road.  This time we were lucky enough to catch Otter Cove at something other than low tide, so we did get to enjoy the view of the water-filled cove framed by the mountains.   But it was the popovers at the Jordan Pond House that remained uppermost in our minds.

Jordan Pond with the Bubbles (North and South) in the background

Having learned on Friday that the staff at the Jordan Pond House opened a customer service window at 10:30 a.m. (a half hour before the restaurant actually opened its doors), we timed our arrival to be there fifteen minutes prior to that.  It was a good plan, and we got the first reservation of the day – which translated to one of the best seats in the house!  Well, not actually in the house, it was on the lawn – right where we wanted to be.

The early bird gets the best view of the pond!

I LOVE the popovers with jam at the Jordon Pond House.  On that particular day, however, Alan and I decided to try something a little different – Lobster Popovers.  (When you’re in Maine, it’s all about the lobsters.)  Honestly, I was a bit disappointed.   When the bill arrived, I was even more disappointed.  I understand that fresh seafood in Maine is sold at market price but, even so, I believe our meals were way overpriced for what we were served.  Note that we didn’t even have any cocktails; our drinks were iced teas or soft drinks only.  I’d rather not tell you exactly what we spent, only because Alan doesn’t like to look at our restaurant bills unless absolutely necessary, and he’s a faithful reader of this blog.  (He feels the same way about our tax, insurance and auto repair bills, too.)  Let’s just say that Benjamin Franklin and a couple of presidents disappeared from my wallet into the coffers of the Jordan Pond House and leave it at that.  If the meal had been exquisite, I wouldn’t even have minded the big bill that followed it.  Truthfully, I’d go back to Thurston’s Lobster Pound or Tracey’s Seafood for more lobster rolls before I ordered the Lobster Popover at the Jordan Pond House again.  Now, popovers and jam?  I’d order those again in a heartbeat.  Maybe even half a heartbeat.

Lobster Popovers - not as good as I had hoped or expected

When you live or vacation along the coast, tide charts become a familiar and handy tool.  After our expensive lunch in an expansive setting, we finished up on the Park Loop Road and headed into Bar Harbor so that we could arrive close to low tide.  Why?  Because it’s only for about an hour and a half on either side of low tide that the gravel bar between Bar Harbor and Bar Island is exposed.  Timing it right means you can walk over to the island, and hike the Bar Island Trail which leads to a lovely view of the village of Bar Harbor.  Although the hike is fairly short and not terribly difficult, our family likes it a lot.  The fact that there’s a chance you’ll be stuck on the island until the next low tide if you lose track of time only adds to the adventure.  For anyone interested in the Bar Island Trail, you can access it via Bridge Street in Bar Harbor.  My suggestion would be to find street parking along West Street, and then walk down Bridge Street to the gravel bar.  Although some people do take their trucks or SUVs out onto the bar, we don’t recommend it.  You might end up like the poor guy we saw who tried to turn his vehicle around in the loose gravel on the bar.  “Tried” being the operative word - it didn’t work, and he needed a tow.  This time around, Alan and I decided not to walk the entire Bar Island Trail even though it’s only 1.9 miles roundtrip, including the gravel bar.  Instead, we were content to simply stroll along the bar enjoying the views of the harbor and poking around the tide pools.  I don’t think we could have ended our stay on Mt. Desert Island in a more blissful or relaxing way.

Yup, this is usually underwater.  That's Bar Island in the background.

I’d like to mention what may be a useful tip to anyone traveling into the Bar Harbor area to visit Acadia National Park.  As you travel south along Route 3 (Bar Harbor Road) from Ellsworth and Trenton toward Acadia, you’ll cross the first branch of the Mt. Desert Narrows, briefly land on Thompson Island (don’t blink – you’ll miss it!) and then continue on across the second branch of the Narrows into Bar Harbor.  The Thompson Island Visitor Center is run jointly by the National Park Service and the Acadia Chamber of Commerce.  That means that you’ll find information on both the National Park and the local businesses there.  Restrooms, too, and we all know how important they can be.  The Visitor Center can be accessed from both the northbound and southbound lanes, and it’s a convenient stop whether you’re coming or going.  Plus, here’s a bonus tip: Directly on the opposite side of Route 3 from the Visitor Center, is access to a small, waterfront picnic area along the Narrows that also has a public restroom. With facilities on both sides of the road on Thompson Island, there’s no need to cross traffic to use a restroom.  On busy days in Bar Harbor, that’s a blessing!

For our last supper . . . No, wait, I don’t like the sound of that.  Let’s start over.  To close out our stay at the Schoodic Woods Campground on the Schoodic Peninsula, we thought about stopping at Tracey’s Seafood for another round of lobster rolls.  Then we decided to try making our own lobster rolls by picking up some picked lobster at “The Lobstore”  in Winter Harbor, just a couple of miles from our campground.  The Lobstore (gotta love that name) is actually a seafood processing plant, but they have a small, no frills storefront where you can pick up a variety of just caught seafood.  Alan and I don’t love lobster enough to buy a whole one and pick the meat out of it ourselves.  But, certainly, if someone else picked the lobster, we could easily concoct a decent lobster roll.  At The Lobstore I asked for a pound of picked lobster.  When the counter person showed me the partially filled zippy bag, I thought it didn’t look like enough, so I asked for another half-pound.  Yup, Alan and I agreed that looked just about right.  Imagine my surprise when the clerk told us that would be $82.67.   Yikes!  Maybe we should have stuck with the 2 for $20 offer at Tracey’s!  Once we picked each other up off the floor, got over the sticker shock and started doing some calculations, we realized that our take from The Lobstore wasn’t unreasonable at all.  Believe it or not, there was enough for six fresh lobster rolls (one for each of us for three days) PLUS a small amount leftover that I threw in the freezer to add to some seafood chowder at home.  At an average of just under $21.00 per meal, lobster from The Lobstore was quite comparable to Tracey’s and much less expensive than Thurston’s.  (I’m not even going to mention what an exceptionally good deal it was compared to the Jordan Pond House.)   And The Lobstore lobster (I had to say it) was scrumptious – large, meaty pieces of fresh lobster right off the boat.  Yum!  If only I had remembered to take photos.  Sigh.

“If you work on a lobster boat, sneaking up behind someone and pinching him is probably a joke that gets old real fast.”  (Jack Handey)

So ended our stay at Acadia National Park’s Schoodic Woods Campground.  The next morning, we turned for home.  On the way out to Acadia, we drove straight through in one day, but it was a really l-o-n-g day, and we were happy that we had planned an overnight stop in Freeport on the return trip.  As it turned out, we ended up staying in Freeport one day longer than expected, but it was for a very good reason!



  1. I'm not a huge fan of lobster, thus the cost would be wasted on me. It'd be hard for me to justify the price, but splurges are necessary AND fun every now and then. Kudos for scoring a couple of nice campsites.

    1. That's me with wine. I know there are a lot of wine connoisseurs out there, but I'm not one of them, so I wouldn't dream of spending the money on a fine wine. Give me a glass of sparkling grape juice and I'm a perfectly happy camper. I'll bet I could tempt you with "lobster tails" from our favorite Italian bakery. I'll bet they're almost as good as your blueberry coffee cake!

  2. Schoodic Woods, huh? I thought we Texans had a corner on peculiar place names (The cities of Waxahachie, Old Dime Box and Earth, for example). But we may find otherwise, having almost talked ourselves into making the trek to Maine and the leaf-peeper states next door when it heats up in Texas next summer. You may be put to work, oh keeper of knowledge of things we should see. Not 100 percent sure yet, but let's call it probable. And lobster? We still remember our cruise ship's stop in Bar Harbor a few years ago. We almost didn't get back aboard after gorging on that delicacy. We could live here, we thought. Nice article there on happy times with a happy family; heart warming, to be sure. See you soon in our glorious state!

    1. People don't normally connect Native Americans with the northeast, but a large number of tribes did live in this section of the country years ago. The native names of many locations and rivers (including Schoodic) were adopted by the settlers who followed. In fact, the area in which we live is known by the Native American word for "hills of the sky." Beg to differ, Mike. You and Sandy couldn't live in Maine. My money says the Texans wouldn't last through the first winter in the northeast. I know! Buy a summer home somewhere along the coast of Maine! That way, you could have all the lobster you can eat - and I could come visit whenever I need a lighthouse fix. Wink, wink.

  3. Mary, The first thing we did when we crossed the border into Maine was stop for lobster. Helen got a lobster roll, and I ordered lobster bisque. Can't remember what we paid for either, but that probably means the meal was worthy of the price. Your pictures are great--I love the pictures of your summer camping spot, and would love to visit sometime. Have a great weekend, and please keep in touch. Joe

    1. Joe, back when I was still attending Mass, Father Julian was one of my favorite parish priests. I remember him saying once, "There are no Brinks trucks in heaven." While we certainly intend to leave an inheritance to our kids, Father Julian's reminder that we can't take it with us has always stuck with me. I can't think of a better way to enjoy the money we worked so hard to save than by spending it on fresh from the sea lobster on the coast of Maine. Hugs to you and Helen!

  4. Reading about your lovely time in Maine, you've got me thinking about a return trip for next summer! I think you know how much we loved our time in Acadia NP in 2019. (Was it really that long ago now? 😳) We have a photo very similar to your lovely photo of Jordan Pond and the Bubbles from a day of hiking around the lake and up the mountain. Sorry the lobster popovers weren't worth it, but glad you found the Lobstore. That's definitely on our list for when we return!

    1. A photo similar to that classic pic of Jordan Pond graced the home screen of one of my older phones for years. It's definitely a favorite. I always struggle with justifying another trip to Acadia when we have so many other destinations on our bucket list, but my heart consistently lobbies for a return to Maine. It's one of those places that has definitely gotten under my skin. Personally, I think the clerk at the Lobstore could have been a bit more friendly, but she was efficient and, heaven knows, the fresh lobster was remarkable!


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