Workamping in Maine: Our 4 1/2 Month Update

Workamping in Maine: Our 4 1/2 Month Update

It is hard to believe our Workamping Job in Maine has come to a conclusion. In our last workamping update recapping our third month on the job, we said that the busy summer months were behind us. While the summer months might have been behind us, the busy was not! Things stayed busy, but the definition of busy changed! We transitioned from family vacationers to cruise ship crazies! Prior to accepting our job in Maine, neither of us really thought of Maine as a cruise ship destination. Okay we are just shallow warm weather followers, so we quickly envision the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean. I have cruised in Alaska, so not sure why I was so quick to cross Bar Harbor off as a possible cruise ship port of call. When learning more about our job, we found out that we would be encountering lots of cruise ships in Maine - 171 to be exact had stops scheduled for Bar Harbor this season. Because the waters near Bar Harbor are affected by large tides, there is not a dock for them to moor, but rather it is a tender port. All cruise ship passenger are transported from their ship to the town pier via small boat. That alone is a fun thing to watch. We made it our priority on day’s the cruise ships were visiting to get a glimpse of them on our way into work. Depending on where that day’s ships were parked determined which route we would take to catch a quick view. Here are some of the photos we snapped from various points.

CUSTOMER SERVICE - Betsy:

As I mentioned in a previous post, every day at Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking includes something unique - whether it be as simple as a customer who asks an endless amount of questions to rescuing a group of tourists from a broken-down bus on Cadillac Mountain, or being asked to do a job you’ve never done before. That was the case this time when Glenn (our boss) asked if I would be willing to do a 4-hour private driving tour of Acadia National Park & Mount Desert Island. Never being one to turn down trying something new, I gave my token answer of “Sure, why not?!” I was handed a 12-page script that detailed the most pertinent information to give to the guests of the tour. I gave my first private tour in the middle of September and must have not done anything too seriously wrong, as I was asked to do many, many more throughout the rest of the season. While it wasn’t my favorite thing to do, I did really appreciate several things about the tours. First, I loved being out exploring the beauty of the national park during the day. In the office, we got to hear about the lovely weather from our biking & kayaking customers, but didn’t get to be out enjoying it. However, we benefitted on rainy and foggy days not having any reason to be out in it to do our job! As a tour guide, I had to make even those rainy or foggy days seem fun for the customers. I had to get creative when I took a group of 22 people on a tour through the dense fog. I mean you could see absolutely nothing — painting a vivid picture in words and corny jokes where the only thing that got me through! I loved getting to know people from all over the world. It was even more special when it was someone in my tour’s first trip to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park and I got to be a part of it. Third, the tips were good and who can say no to cold hard cash! Lastly, it is something I never ever thought I would do and what do you know I got to do and have fun at the same time. Thanks Glenn, Lauren, & Katy for helping expand my horizons and my resume. 

All summer, I enjoyed working with all the other Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking employees. Due to the demands of the business, our start and end dates varied. So throughout the last month, we had to say goodbye to to some of our co-workers. As people left, our schedules changed a bit and I found myself working quite a few hours. Good for the wallet, but not as good for the list of items still on our Maine to-do list. Ahh shucks, I guess we will have to go back to Maine sometime in the future. I don’t think I have mentioned it in any of the previous Workamping updates, but one nice perk of the area is the Island Explorer. It is a free bus service for visitors and residents of Mount Desert Island. The Island Explorer buses are propane-powered and supported by L.L. Bean, Friends of Acadia, and rider donations. There is a network of nine bus routes that provide transportation to all sorts of attractions, from hotels, campgrounds (including ours), hiking trails, island beaches, and the carriage roads. Either Russ or I would take the bus at least a couple times a week when our schedules didn’t jive. This service ended on Columbus Day, meaning we had to be a little more creative on both getting to work with only one vehicle. It usually meant one of us spending time at a coffee shop before work, a walk down to the Sand Bar around sunset, or sitting in a park reading until the other person got off work. #toughlife 

DRIVER - Russ:

As summer faded into the past and autumn settled into the area, the life of the drivers began to change also.  The days of loading and unloading multiple groups of happy and willing kayakers was only a memory for my back now.  Although we still offered and completed kayak tours on a daily basis, the days of 15 - 17 tours, with multiple turnarounds, was now four or five tours per day.  Since I was the only driver employed at Acadia Bike and Coastal Kayaking without a CDL driver’s license I had the honor of continuing to help our kayaking customers on the days I worked.  The other drivers, all CDL equipped, had a new phenomenon to deal with . . . the Cruise Ship Leaf Peepers!  Yes, with all of those cruise ships parking out in the harbor on a daily basis, someone had to transport them from the dock to the location of their scheduled excursions.  These excursions included biking the Carriage Roads in the Park, hiking the Ocean Path for a couple of hours, a bus ride to the top of Cadillac Mountain, or an appointment at a Lobster Bake for lunch or dinner.  On occasion I would get to chauffeur said tourists on these excursions, but I was limited in the size of the bus I could use, so the CDL buses could move more people, more efficiently. 

When September ended and October arrived, the number of kayak tours dwindled along with the number of willing kayakers.  You see, those refreshing summer waters were now getting to be frigid.  The air was cooler, the water was cooler, so now more people started to ask how much the bike rentals were for the day.  October 8th was the last day for kayak tours.  It was exciting, but also a little sad.  You mean I can’t toss around 100 pound kayaks any more?  Oh, come on, please!  You mean I can’t stand in and get splashed by water that was now below 50 degrees any more?  Oh, come on, please!  No, seriously, it was a little sad because I really did enjoy helping people get in and out of the water.  Almost every person climbed out of their boat smiling, saying that was one of the best things they had ever done.  And as far as lifting all of those heavy kayaks . . . there was no need for me to join the local gym to stay in shape.  

So now it was all about transporting all of those cruisers.  Well, that and learning a foreign language.  See, some of the cruise ships were German cruise lines, and they spoke, well, German.  Being the good tour bus driver, I felt it was my place to learn a little German.  I had the basics down:  Danke (Thank you), Bitte (You’re welcome), and Hallo (Hello).  But the funny one was related to some of the vans we transported people in.  I believe I have mentioned the late 1990’s vintage Dodge vans we used to transport our kayakers in all summer.  Well, those same vans now served to carry our cruisers to their destination.  One of the down sides of these vans is the low ceiling height and the low door frame when entering and exiting the van.  We constantly told our kayakers all summer to watch their head when entering or exiting the van.  But now I had to get this point across to German tourists.  After the first tourist hit his head, I had to learn how to tell them to watch their head.  “Pass auf deinen Kopf auf” is the proper phrase in case you’re ever visiting that beer hall in Germany with the low beam in front of the bar.  

So there you have it.  An awesome summer working in Bar Harbor, ME for Acadia Bike and Coastal Kayaking.  My workamping resume now contains another skill . . . Driver.  Such a simple word but now it will always mean more to me than getting behind the wheel and going down the road. You will find our final recap of our Workamping Job in a post in the next few days! 

If you are curious about the world of Workamping, checkout Workamper® News the company that coined the term Workamper® back in 1987. They offer a free membership that allows you to search for jobs and receive the digital version of their magazine. If you do opt for the gold membership which includes additional features like a resume builder & printed magaizine, we would love if you would mention that you were referred by Russ & Betsy simply by using the code AMB103.


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