Archive for July, 2011

July 25, 2011

Include Mount Desert’s Celebrity Barns Among “Must See” Sites Near Acadia National Park

London paparazzi have Kate Middleton.  In LA they have Lindsay Lohan.  But in Maine cameras focus on celebrity barns.

As we were driving from Somesville to Bar Harbor on Norway Drive, we passed the famous Stone Barn on Crooked Road.  A red mini-van was pulled up front, and its owners, like increasingly bold pigeons in a park, got closer and closer to the barn as they snapped away until they were right outside the barn door.

Stone Barn’s 85-year-old owner Harry Owen doesn’t seem to mind, however.  He’s proud of the 128-acre farm on Mount Desert Island that is now permanently protected against development.  “I’ve always felt I was put on earth to protect this land,” Mr. Owen told Maine Coast Heritage Trust back in 2001 when the farm became protected by a conservation easement.  The cobblestone barn, which was built in 1820, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“To honor their historical importance and raise interest in preserving these impressive structures,” the Mount Desert Island Historical Society periodically offers guided tours of historic barns in Somesville and Bar Harbor.  Stone Barn, of course, is on the tour.  Nearby is the Peterson Barn on Norway Drive, which has also been featured.

Here is a view of the Parker Farm just outside of Somesville village from Somes Harbor.

Create your own tour to see the barns of Mount Desert Island.  Their appeal certainly extends beyond the historic.  Their simple forms attract painters and photographers, who count them among the special sights to see on Mount Desert Island.  For all of us, they link us to the land and remind us of values deep in our culture.

So, include Stone Barn on places to see when you visit Acadia National Park.  You can find more things to do by visiting OUR ACADIA.

And don’t be surprised if Harry Owen looks up from his mowing to give you a wave.


Acadia Photo Workshop – Seeing Maine’s Rugged Coastline Through An Expert’s Eyes

5 Tips If You Want to Enjoy A Glorious Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Maine

July 17, 2011

Bar Harbor Shopping Guide: The Best On and Off the Beaten Path

From trip mementos for yourself to special gifts for others, from the simple to the spectacular, Bar Harbor and the neighboring villages on Mount Desert Island have lots to keep shoppers entertained…at least until the skies clear and we’re back on the hiking trails. 

Cool As A Moose®

118 Main Street, Bar Harbor

The iconic vacation souvenir is a T-shirt, and there are lots to choose from here.  Cool As A Moose even has its own line, reprieving a psychedelic design.  My favorites are downstairs in the Life is Good collection.  But why not branch out to, say, their Gluteus Maximoose boxers?


8 Rodick Place, Bar Harbor


A relative newcomer to Bar Harbor , Fiore doesn’t have a shop; it’s a tasting room lined with mini stainless steel canisters of extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegars from which you sample blends and infusions of different flavors.  Then then pour and bottle it for you.  Although the traditional 18-year balsamic vinegar is most popular, I couldn’t pass up a fig-flavored balsamic.   

 Spruce & Gussy

12 Mount Desert Street, Bar Harbor


If your tastes run more toward the contemporary, you’ll want to check out this new shop run by two local women.  They’ve brought together the work of artisans from throughout the U.S. and Mexico that convey color, craftsmanship, and whimsy.  From leather-bound journals to bibs to hand towels, something will catch your eye as an “adornment for self or space.”

 Kimball Shop & Boutique

135 Main Street, Northeast Harbor

I can never get enough of ferns and scallop shells, so the barware, table linens, and serving pieces at the Kimball Shop hold endless appeal for me.  Furnishings range from elegant tableware to rugs and floor cloths that epitomize traditional summer style.  Their tent sale in the fall allows me to afford some of it!

 Hatched on MDI

360 Main Street, Southwest Harbor


A native of Mount Desert Island, Heather Brown has a flourishing shop, with expanded quarters, that is as much a community center for year-round parents as it is the perfect spot to find a baby gift.  From “super cute” bathing suits to toys and books to the best Anti Bug Balm Stick by Badger, you won’t be disappointed, especially if you then pop in next door at the Quiet Side Café for a piece of blueberry pie.

Judy Taylor Studio & Gallery

1517 Tremont Road, Seal Cove.
244 5545

The western side of Mount Desert Island is blissfully undeveloped, with beautiful ponds, rolling meadows, and deep coniferous forests.  Here you can visit the studio of Maine artist Judy Taylor – by chance or appointment.  She works in oils, gouache, watercolor, and oils.  Although some formats are smaller (24 x 18”), there’s always an iconic strength in her work that makes her appealing Maine landscapes remarkably distinctive.

What else do you need to plan the perfect Maine vacation?  Whether you want tips on the best lobster pounds or kid-friendly restaurants…guides for kayaking or family rock climbing…or things to do on a rainy day, your best source is OUR ACADIA.

July 16, 2011

2011 Lecture and Concert Series at the Historic Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor, Maine

Rowboats, croquet, and a lecture and concert series are all a part of the “classic” Maine resort experience offered by The Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor, Maine.  Since 1884, guests have been finding refuge here on the shores of Somes Sound.  And, fortunately, even if you are not a guest at this historic hotel on the National Register of Historic Places, you are invited to enjoy the lectures and concerts.  The Thursday evening lectures are free; the Saturday evening concerts cost $10.

Last year we attended a fine illustrated talk by the Maine State Historian.  Among this year’s lecturers are prominent scientists, writers, and academics.  Similarly, concerts range from classical to blue grass. 

Thanks for The Claremont Hotel for this valuable contribution to the rich and varied experience of a Mount Desert Island vacation.  For more information, you can call the hotel at 207-244-5036 or visit


7-21 John Marin & Maine Modernism

Thomas Denenberg – Deputy Director & Chief Curator, Portland Museum of Art

7-28 The Rise and Fall of the Euro: Aspects of an Unavoidable Crisis of the European Union 

Michael Naumann – Editor & Publisher Cicero Magazine, Berlin

8-4 Understanding Climate Change and the Climate Change Debate

Andrew J. Pershing, Ph.D. – Research Scientist, Gulf of Maine Research Institute & Assoc. Professor, Univ. of Maine School of Marine Sciences

8-11 Voyages of Discovery: Polar Phytoplankton, Climate Change and the “Global Squeeze Play”

Dr. William Balch – Senior Research Scientist, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

8-18 Writing for a Living and Other Mistakes I Have Made

Alex Beam – Boston Globe Columnist and Author

8-25 Miners and Sappers: Rethinking Lincoln’s Political Strategy Before the Presidency

Jamie McKown, PhD – Wiggins Chair of Government & Polity, College of the Atlantic

9-1 Poetry: A Dialogue between our Private and Public Selves

Betsy Sholl – Poet Laureate of Maine (2006-2011), Assistant Professor, Univ. of Southern Maine, Poetry Faculty, Vermont College of Fine Arts


7-9 The Capital Duo – “From My Homeland.” – Music of Beethoven, Smetana, and Schubert

Duncan Cumming -piano, Hilary Cumming – violin

7-23 Frank Glazer – Distinguished Classical Pianist Artist in Residence, Bates College

7-30 Jerks of Grass – Blue Grass

Jason Phelps – Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals; Carter Logan – Banjo, Dobro, Guitar, Vocals; Melissa Bragdon – Fiddle, Vocals; Kris Day – Upright & Electric Bass, Vocals

8-13 The Sheepscot Jazz & Swing Company – Traditional and Dixieland Jazz

Dr. Barney Balch – tenor,alto & soprano trombones, Richard “Lefty” McAuslin – tenor & alto saxophones, Herb Maine – bass, Kenny Gaspar – piano, Billy Friederich – drums

8-20 Tom Snow Trio – Traditional and Contemporary Jazz

Tom Snow – piano, Ralph Norris – saxophone, Marshall Wood – bass

8-27 Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Hancock County – Music of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas

For more ideas for your Maine vacation, visit OUR ACADIA.  You’ll find reviews of Bar Harbor’s best restaurants, ideas for hiking and biking trails, and recommendations for boat cruises and kayaking guides.  There’s even a seven-day itinerary to help you plan your visit to Acadia National Park.

July 9, 2011

When the Best Maine Lobster Roll Isn’t a Roll at All

Locals can get a little cranky when you ask, “What’s the best lobster pound?” 

“A lobster is a lobster is a lobster.” 

“It takes someone with a rare talent to screw up a boiled or steamed lobster.” 

Whether or not that’s true about boiled lobster (overcooking does cause toughness), it’s certainly not the case with lobster rolls.  Granted, in Maine they all usually taste great.  However, in side-by-side comparisons, some lobster rolls do taste better than others.  Preparation of the lobster salad varies.  Freshness varies.  And some purveyors, most notably the Lobster Claw in Bar Harbor, will make you a lobster roll that features fresh, unadulterated lobster meat.  Naked, as they say.

Among the lobster pounds near Acadia National Park perhaps the biggest difference in any lobster roll is the very lack of the roll itself at Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound.  At this esteemed establishment, which has had four generations of family members working there, lobster salad is served on a dense white bread that tastes like what my mother used to bake at home.  Says Josette Pettegrow, whose parents started the business in 1956, “It’s the old-fashioned way.  It’s how my mother served lobster salad, and my grandmother before.” 

That’s the way Nancy Jenkins sees it.  Writing in the New York Times, she noted, “The lobster roll is a tradition, though not a very old one. My 75-year-old father, who has lived all his life in Maine, says he doesn’t remember eating a lobster roll until sometime after World War II.” 

So, when you visit Acadia National Park, consider trying a lobster salad sandwich at Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound.  It’s located on Route 3 just as you approach the bridge to cross over to Mount Desert Island.  You’ll see the sign and smell the smoke of the wood-fired cookers boiling the lobsters. 

For more dining options during your trip to Acadia National Park, check out the restaurant reviews at OUR ACADIA.  You’ll get tips on where to find the best crab bisque, great choices for a special evening out, and places to eat with kids.


July 3, 2011

5 Tips If You Want to Enjoy A Glorious Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Maine

Parking spaces are filling up.  People are walking purposefully, all in the same direction.  Some are carrying blankets and thermos bottles.  Is it a concert?  Theatre in the park?

No, it is sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, the first place to see sunrise in the United States.

At 1,532 feet, Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard.  Many hiking trails converge on this mountaintop, as do bus tours.  But before dawn is a spectacular time to visit to witness the first sunrise.

Actually, Cadillac is struck by the sun’s rays before any place else only in the fall and winter.  During most of the spring and summer, that special recognition goes to Mars Hill to the northeast.  That, however, in no way diminishes the excitement of the populace who rise early on Mount Desert Island during summertime to see this spectacle of nature.

We had checked the time for sunrise on  Fred was shocked that I actually got up at 4:30am, but I did and we jumped into the car.  The road seemed to circle endlessly as we ascended Cadillac, worried that we would miss “it.”  We moved with the crowds to the eastern side of the parking area and waited. 

As the firey orange mass rose, it brightened the purple clouds above and the dark masses of the Porcupine Islands in Frenchman Bay below.  In seconds it was morning.

If you decide to put sunrise at Cadillac on your vacation agenda, here are some tips:

  1. Check the time for sunrise and give yourself plenty of time to get up the mountain.  It takes about twenty minutes from the village of Bar Harbor.
  2. Dress warmly.  Even in August, pre-dawn is chilly and it can be windy on top of Cadillac.
  3. Bring a blanket or even chairs so that you can wait comfortably.
  4. Consider a thermos of coffee to ward off the chill.
  5. Check photography sites for tips on taking sunrise pictures.  An important tip: the color of a sunrise is far more short-lived than a sunset; the sky washes out in 30 to 45 seconds after the sun is up.

For more ideas on things to do when you visit Acadia National Park or Bar Harbor, Maine, visit OUR ACADIA.