Friday, September 13, 2019

Falling for New England: Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park

It's post Labor Day, which usually means summer's over, and fall is around the corner. Except it doesn't feel like neither. The southeast is experiencing another week of heat wave; as I polish this post, the mercury is hovering around 100 degrees F. No kidding! Some friends of ours were so lucky to choose this time to fly away to Maine. We wish we could've joined them.

Reminiscing about Maine might keep us a little cooler. Yeah right. It did force the first mate to edit the videos we took. One September we did a road trip from Boston to Maine. It was a few years ago, but we remember it like it was yesterday. We had stayed at the Harbor Ridge timeshare in Southwest Harbor. When we checked in, the front desk clerk asked if we wanted to order lobsters. We said yes, and boy, those were some of the best lobsters we've had! At $7 each, and all were over a pound, the fresh off the boat lobsters were a steal!
DIY dinner - delicious lobsters with corn and blueberry pie
Bar Harbor is a delightful little town. Not only are there galleries and interesting, fun shops, there are at least 2 walking paths that are easy and beautiful. Starting at the town pier, the Shore Path is a one-mile walking path offering an amazing view of Bar Harbor's rocky shorelines, and glimpses into the waterfront inns and stately residences.
The Shore Path (Bar Harbor Inn in the distance, Agamont Park on the right)
There are not many places you can walk over to an island at low tide. Bar Island, north of the town pier, is such a place. What a unique experience walking on the sandbar and pebbles looking for shells and sea glass! Don't forget to check the tide table so you don't get stranded out there.
Scenic view and interesting terrain on Bar Island
Don't say we didn't warn you
Getting hungry after all that exercise? No worries. There are restaurants galore. We chose Geddy's (see review) and got a table overlooking Agamont Park. Our lobster dinner was the perfect ending to an awesome  day.
Yummy lobster and clam chowdah

typical nautical décor in down East Maine
The next few days found us hiking in Acadia National Park. On the spur of the moment one early evening, we drove up to Cadillac Mountain (elevation 1,530 feet). As we navigated the twists and turns up the mountain road, we were awed by the majestic vistas and natural beauty. Several observation points beckoned us to stop and take pictures, and halfway up the summit, we found ourselves enveloped in a thick fog. We decided to turn around and cautiously make our way down.

We were better prepared the next time. We got up before dawn, packed some warm blankets and drove to the summit to see the sunrise. Cadillac Mountain is the first location in the U.S. to catch the morning sun, so it's a popular activity at the park. The parking lot was almost full when we got there around 4:26 am. Intrepid hikers, photographers and visitors had already found a comfortable spot with the best view. Due to the clouds and haze, there was no true sunrise that morning. So much for planning. Most people left, so we had the mountain to ourselves and enjoyed a leisurely hike.

View of Bar Harbor and the islands on Frenchman Bay from Cadillac Mountain
Acadia is chock full of hiking and biking trails, and many places to stop and admire nature's beauty and artwork. We love picturesque Jordan Pond. There are several trails, a gift shop and a full service restaurant here. You can savor your food while soaking in the breathtaking sights.
Jordan Pond
Get a rush of adrenaline at Thunder Hole, where the sound of thunder roars when the waves enter a narrow inlet and crash into the rocky shores. It is beautiful, scary and exciting, all at the same time.
Thunder Hole
Entrance to Bass Harbor Head Light
Walk down a few flight of stairs
to see the sunset and rocky cliffs at Bass Harbor Head Light
We spent our last evening at Acadia National Park watching the sunset at Bass Harbor Head Light. When we arrived, visitors and photographers had already staked out their spots for the perfect picture. We were thrilled to see a pretty sunset. It was a fitting end to our escapade.

Here's a video that captured pretty much what was written here.

This post is shared on Skywatch Friday, Our World Tuesday and Through My Lens.

Stay cool, y'all!

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Monday, August 19, 2019

A Walk in the Magical Atlanta Botanical Garden

As early retirees, we're always looking for ways to get the most bang for the buck. Did you know becoming a member at your favorite museum or garden gives you free unlimited admission all year round? Not only are you supporting a good cause, you also get perks, and discounts at the gift shop. As a member, you can visit other museums and/or gardens for free if they are part of the North America Reciprocal Association (NARM). We visit friends in Fort Myers every Christmas and wanted to see one of the city's famous attractions - the Ford and Edison Winter Estates - so we joined their membership. Since then, we've toured many gardens in Florida and Tennessee.

We go to Atlanta quite often, but each time managed to miss the Atlanta Botanical Garden due to bad weather. Last week, we bit the bullet and went in the sweltering heat (over 90 degrees F). We got there around 10 am, and was relieved to find underground parking.

Like Alice in Wonderland, we wandered into 30 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds graced with Chihuly glass artworks and intricate topiary creations of mythical creatures. What colorful feats!
Earth Goddess, a living sculpture with 18,000 annuals!
classy Chihuly glass artwork in the distance
Fuqua Conservatory with a partial Atlanta skyline in the background
We marveled at the vast collection of exquisite orchids and other exotic plants at the Fuqua Conservatory. And at the topiary sculptures from the Alice in Wonderland exhibit.
27 feet tall White Rabbit in the Skyline Garden
and its reflection
awesome chess board bordered by nine heart-shaped trees
You can easily spend a day here, if the weather is nice. There are trails you can hike and many areas with benches to stop and literally smell the plants. Growling stomachs brought us back to reality. There is a café on site, but we had plans for lunch at the Dekalb Farmers Market (must visit, if you haven't been), about half hour's drive away. There are also many great restaurants nearby.

The garden is closed on Mondays. Entrance fee is $21.95(free for members), and parking for 2.5 hours was $5.

This post is shared on Our World Tuesday, Through My Lens, Image-in-ing and Hello Monday.

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