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Trip Report 3-Pronged Fall Trip: Maine, Quebec City, & NH

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Each year, we try to take advantage of fall color by choosing a different area of exploration. This year, we chose Bar Harbor, Maine, Quebec City, CA, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Phase 1: Acadia Nat'l Park, Bar Harbor,Maine

Rising early to make an early morning flight to Portland, ME paid off in having a gorgeous day to wander leisurely north on the coast. When arriving in Maine, we always have that longing for lobster! After renting our car, and feeling famished en route to a stop-over at Boothbay Harbor, we happened upon a wonderful restaurant, A TASTE OF MAINE, situated on a small bay along Route ! advertising "the largest lobster roll". The huge, fresh pieces of lobster on an approximate 20" roll more than satisfied our hunger. So lunch in Boothbay Harbor was changed to dessert and coffee. After a bit of wandering around the harbor and enjoying the little shops, we left town to avoid the afternoon rushhour through Wiscasset and, within another hour were in Camden. This is one of our favorite little coastal towns, and we reserved our first night at the WINDWARD INN. It turned out to be a delightful find at a very reasonable price. The hosts, Kristi & Jesse, were outstanding hosts. We really liked their style of serving breakfast on your own time table, presenting menus with a variety of choices, in addition to their special omelette of the day prepared by Jesse. An additional plus of the inn was its location, within a couple of blocks of the Harbor. It was easy to find nice waterfront restaurants with great seafood choices. You can't beat that fresh lobster!

On Day 2, we drove to the summit of Mt. Battie where there is an outstanding 360' view. Especially beautiful were the panoramas of Penobscot Bay, and the view all the way to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia Nat'l Park. Camden is known as the "jewel" of the Maine Coast, and we could have hung around a lot longer, but this was just intended to be a stopover en route to Bar Harbor. Our next night was reserved in Ellsworth, 1/2 hour from Bar Harbor, where we were using some Hilton Pts. Ellsworth isn't our kind of town, lots of fast food, etc. but the Hampton Inn was new and we did have dinner at the one seafood restaurant, the UNION RIVER LOBSTER POT. Staying in Ellsworth allowed us to backtrack to the impressive PENOBSCOT BAY NARROWS BRIDGE AND OBSERVATORY which had just closed when we passed the evening before. The bridge itself was so impressive, and combined with the opportunity to ascend the 447 ft. observatory, we didn't want to miss the experience. The view from the observatory was the beginning of our appreciation of the vast area of exploration by Samuel Champlain which would be further enhanced as we moved north to Quebec City.

Although the day began with high cloud cover, the sun was able to break through, and we headed toward Bar Harbor, intending to enter Acadia and enjoy the one-way road before checking into our hotel. As we approached the Hull Cove entrance, we stopped by a lobster shack and picked up lunch to enjoy at an overlook. As others have described, there are many walks available along the one-way road. The National Park guide pamphlets describe all of the overlooks and walks. In view of our time, we chose to do a few of the shorter ones. After a while, it began to drizzle, so we wound up enjoying the famous popovers inside the patio room at the Jordan Pond House.

We were pleasantly surprised with the nice view and amenities in our room at the Blue Nose Inn in Bar Harbor. Located on a small overlooking Frenchman's Bay, the inn was close to the town, but removed from it. After checking in and freshening up, we headed to THE CHART ROOM, just outside of town near the Hull's Cove Entrance to Acadia. A great choice for dinner. After a restful night's sleep, we awoke to a beautiful sunny day, and decided to have breakfast at the LOOKING GLASS RESTAURANT, part of the Blue Nose Inn. Apparently this restaurant was rated as "# 1 Breakfast With a View" by YANKEE MAGAZINE in 2010, and we think it may well be. Additionally, the food was great.

We decided to wander into town, and take advantage of the beautiful day to enjoy the shoreline walk, "hang" along the harbor area, and have lunch at the Bar Harbor Inn's TERRACE GRILL. The QUEEN MARY II cruise ship was in the harbor, so we chose not to go into the town stores. After a delightful few hours along the waterfront in town, we returned to the park utilizing the crystal clear day to explore Cadilllac Mountain. The walk around the summit of Cadillac was really enjoyable. We couldn't resist a return visit to the lawn of the Jordan Pond House to enjoy their blueberry crumb cake. By this time, it was getting near sunset. We found a great parking spot overlooking one of the lakes to enjoy our few last minutes of daylight. Afterward, we made a stop-off at the Blue Nose Inn for a drink, and prepped for dinner. Since the QUEEN MARY had left the harbor, and the crowds in town had diminished, we went for a last-night lobster dinner at GAYLYN'S on Main Street. Although the dinner was wonderful, the weather had ceased to be. As we left the restaurant, it was foggy. Rain began in the evening and continued into our last day.

We had intended to head to the Schoodic Peninsula, but the pouring rain made us re-consider. After an unremarkable breakfast in TESTA's in downtown Bar Harbor, we decided to head to St. Savior's Episcopal Church in downtown to view the Tiffany stained glass windows. (Thanks, yk, for the tip!) Having a parishioner give us a mini-tour really helped us appreciate Tiffany's background and work. There was quite a difference between his windows and the others! After this wonderful cultural enrichment, it was still pouring down. We headed to Southwest Harbor, in hopes that the rain might slow down en route. We visited the Lighthouse in Bass Harbor. The highlight of our visit to this area was a stop at the QUIET SIDE CAFE, in Southwest Harbor, known for their out-of-this-world blueberry pie. But the real treat was meeting the owners, Ralph & Frances. Delightful people! Our pie and coffee stop turned into an hour-plus conversation. It was interesting to learn of all the famous people who stopped by their place in this understated little area. On any return visit to the Bar Harbor area, we will definitely return to the QUIET SIDE CAFE!

After this visit to Southwest Harbor, we headed toward the Northeast Harbor, and had the nice surprise of discovering ASTICOU GARDENS, a gorgeous acreage of Japanese landscaping and paths. The shoreline drive in Northeast Harbor was also outstanding. But, by this time, it was late afternoon, and our plans were to drive to Bangor to stay overnight at the Fairfield Inn (Marriott Pts.) in order to get an early start in the morning for our drive to Quebec City. Upon finding the hotel, we were surprised that, in addition to many other chain hotels in the area, because of the proximity to the Bangor Airport, the choice for dinner was between two sports bars. We couldn't imagine why the hotel was so crowded, especially with Canadians. We found out that they traveled to Bangor to shop-not at some specialty stores, but in the likes of Kohl's, Penney's, Old Navy, etc. We realized how lucky we are to have an abundance of convenient shopping of all kinds near our home.

Phase 1 of this report turned out to be a lot longer than intended. We'll try to post Phase 2 soon. Since it focuses on Quebec City, we'll post it under Canada.

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