Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Maiden Voyage: Part Two

"Located in the heart of the Old Port, Portland Harbor Hotel has a prime location creating easy access around the Portland waterfront," reads the website. The lovely hotel charges guests upwards of $200 per night to be near to the water and the attractions of the Old Port. I felt very satisfied knowing that our slice of Vanagon real estate on Commercial Street was even more prime--and free.

Amanda smoothly steered us north from Portland through Searsport without a hiccup. Route 1 takes a sharp turn into Bucksport, and it was only then that we did some bucking (and stalling) at an uphill on-ramp. The friendly Mainer in the rusty truck behind us knew exactly what was going on and gave us a wave and smile as we jumped out and circled the van for an impromptu change of drivers.

It was cold and dreary when we rolled through the gates of Acadia National Park, but the Maine coast is spectacular in any weather conditions. Parker was in dire need of some serious exercise, so we took the scenic park drive directly to Sand Beach. On another coastline that name would seem all too generic, but not in Maine, where pebble- and boulder-laden shores are the norm and softs sands are a rarity. Hoping that the rain would taper, we decided to prepare lunch before making our way to the water. We enjoyed our first meal at the quaint VW dining table while Parker closely monitored all passersby.

The lot was full of anxious surfers waiting for the break to improve. More surfers in hooded wetsuits stood gazing at the waves from the shore as they crashed sloppily in every direction. It was not a day for surfing, but a fine day to release our extremely energetic mutt onto the open expanse of sand. We have yet to encounter a body of water that's too cold for Parker. He immediately bounded into the frigid whitewash and enjoyed a good romp with another pup.

From the beach we headed to the off-season ghost town of Bar Harbor. We picked up a fantastic bottle of wine for later in the evening and found a short hike on the outskirts of town. Confident that we had finally exhausted Parker into relative calm, we joined the locals at one of the few pubs still open in November, The Thirsty Whale Tavern, for some Maine brews and fresh haddock sandwiches.

After dinner we checked in on Parker, grabbed the wine, and walked across the street to Bar Harbor's beautiful Criterion Theater. We saw Cairo Time, a film we had never heard of and knew nothing about, but nonetheless enjoyed. We were the only people in the lower level and with our bottle of wine, it truly felt like a private screening.

We reunited with Parker and left Bar Harbor behind for a surprisingly busy Blackwoods Campground. Even in November, Blackwoods offers the luxurious amenities of flush toilets, sinks, and potable water. It was COLD, around 35 degrees that night, so we let Parker join us on the bed for our benefit as much as his.

We packed up early on Sunday morning for the five and a half hour drive home. We made a quick turnoff at Lake St. George State Park, where Parker again shocked us with another icy swim and manic sprints around the shoreline. From there, it was a straight push back to the city.

The inaugural road trip was a success.

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