Friday, July 31, 2015

Road Trip! Part Three -- In a Neat Little Town They Call Belfast

July 22 and 23

Henry and I spent these two days simply wandering around Belfast. Well, except for a trip that we made up to Searsport, so that I could have a seafood platter from Angler's. It was always a big favorite of Greg's and mine, and we laughed every time we saw its sign, or rather, the sign for the motel next door:

Other than that, Henry and I mostly walked around and sniffed things. Well, Henry sniffed things. I just took pictures. And we visited a bookstore. Henry was even allowed to come inside the bookstore with me! Belfast is a pretty dog-friendly town, and many of the shops keep a bowl of fresh water just outside the entry.

These first two photos are taken from the bridge crossing the Passagassawakeag River, looking down to the harbor and Belfast on the hill.

The rest of the pictures are in no particular order, and unless captioned there's nothing particularly "important" about them, except that I thought they were pretty. First, some photos taken around the historic neighborhood where we were staying:

My dream house

Also in the historic district is First Church, which I absolutely adore. First Church is a Congregational Church, founded in 1796, and it is the first church founded in Belfast. The building you see dates to 1818. When I think of New England, I think of the Congregational Church! And I must say that, despite the images that may be conjured up in your head of grim New England Puritans, First Church is -- like all modern Congregational Churches -- a very welcoming and inclusive church. And it features some of the most joyous, happiest worship services I've ever been blessed to attend.

Scenes from downtown

And last, a few scenes from along the harbor and the shipyard. Interestingly, though I'm sure shipbuilding, fishing, and other maritime trades have been important to the Belfast economy for centuries, until the 1940s the biggest employer was a large shoe factory which was built in the post-Civil War era, and which thrived as the town's economic mainstay until the chicken processing industry came in. Not sure when the chicken processing plant was phased out.

One last little photo of a t-shirt sold by a local vendor.

Don't be too surprised if next year, I'm posting from Belfast. Though I know I would not care for the harsh Maine winter at all, and wouldn't know how to properly prepare for winter, and wouldn't know how to deal with being completely snowed in -- well, let's just say I know better than to say I want to live here! But I wouldn't mind staying here for longer than a week at a time, and I may in fact try to work that out next summer.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Road Trip! Part Two -- Mount Desert Island (Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor)

July 21

Henry and I took a trip out to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. I stopped, briefly, along the way to pick up a rain jacket and a flashlight at the LL Bean outlet in Ellsworth, then headed toward the park.

I must say, the park was so beautiful I was moved to tears! Here are a couple of the first scenes to greet me:

The town you see across Frenchman Bay is Bar Harbor.


My first goal was the Thunder Hole, which is an amazing phenomenon of nature, especially viewed as the water is moving toward high tide. As waves roll in, they enter a narrow inlet, at the end of which is a small cavern. When the rush of a wave arrives, air and water collide to sound very much like distant thunder. Apparently, a lot of other people had the same idea to arrive at high tide, and I wasn't able to get near enough to the Thunder Hole to witness and hear this phenomenon! So I parked the car just south of the Thunder Hole, hoping to find another vantage point from which to view the incoming tide ...

... and, despite my careful preparation when leaving the house, discovered that I had forgotten Henry's leash. There was no way in the world that I would deny my adventure-loving pet the opportunity to enjoy the Maine coast, so I did a thing that would be completely crazy with most dogs, but not with my well-behaved and gentle Henry-Dog: I used a saxophone lanyard as his lead! This next series of photos was taken from a rocky outcropping where we spent considerable time just listening to the crash of waves and the occasional cry of seagulls.

I think we both could've stayed out there forever! Henry seemed completely relaxed and happy. But not wishing to press our luck, we loaded up and headed into Bar Harbor for some sturdier dog gear, which was found at a place called ... get ready for it ... Bark Harbor.

After securing a proper leash, we decided to walk along the Bar Harbor Shore Path, for a different view of Frenchman Bay.

Then we took a spin in the car through the town, because town seemed overly crowded for us to have much fun walking. Beside, we were eager to get back out to the park.

Leaving Bar Harbor, we headed out toward Seal Harbor

before turning back in toward Cadillac Mountain. The day had been very foggy, but as we climbed toward the top of Cadillac Mountain, we climbed above the clouds for some pretty spectacular views. Though this grouping of photos has a number of very similar-looking scenes, I was fascinated by the landscape which shows evidence of long-ago glacial activity, so I've posted almost all of the photos taken before reaching the summit.

We spent a fair amount of time on the summit, though clouds interfered with seeing any great views or taking any great photos.

Coming back down, there were some more thrilling views:

Then we chose to go back toward Thunder Hole, simply because we'd enjoyed our time there so much.

But to go to the actual Thunder Hole overlook, I decided to leave Henry in the car. Although he is not the least bit disturbed by actual thunder, or other sudden loud noises like fireworks, I was afraid that, should he get spooked or a big wave washed on top of us, there could be tragic circumstances. Having been down there, I now know my instincts were correct. The walk was a bit slippery ... and what's a dog going to do with a handrail? I know he wanted to go, because he likes going everywhere with me. But ... just not safe for him.

This is the inlet that I'd described earlier. Water rushes through this inlet toward the cave, which is unseen but toward the lower right portion of the photo.

And this is the actual cave. I really would've liked to take a little video of what actually goes on, because even when it's not the high tide coming in, it's pretty dramatic stuff. However, every time I started getting some decent footage, someone came into earshot and started chatting. I was a bit disappointed -- I'd really rather listen to the sounds of nature than my own voice! -- but I recognize that everyone's not that way. Guaranteed, next visit I make to this park I will be at the Thunder Hole at a not-popular-for-tourists time, and get that recording! Poor little Henry will still have to wait in the car, as this place is barely safe for adults, let alone kids or dogs.

One last view of Frenchman Bay, before heading back toward Belfast.

What a spectacular day! I discovered a little something about myself, too. I have always loved the mountains, but I've always loved the sea as well. On the one day in my entire life that I had the opportunity to enjoy both, I actually chose to spend more time by the sea. That was a very interesting personal revelation.