A Three Hour Tour … Of the Maine Lighthouses
As we’ve mentioned a couple of times in other posts, our time in the Bar Harbor, ME area is becoming short and there are still many things Betsy and I would like to see and do. In an effort to maximize our remaining time, we are now prioritizing the items on that wish list. The enjoyment and satisfaction that Betsy and I get from spending time on the water bubbled a couple of things to the top of said list. Add in the fact that, as local employees in Bar Harbor, we have access without cost to several of the area tours made some sort of boat excursion a must. With September right around the corner we quickly examined the excursion schedules for the Bar Harbor Whale Watching Co. to check when their season ends. The number of whale watching tours is reduced in early September, but they do continue. However, the lighthouse tours appeared to end the first week of September. Problem solved, lighthouse tour it is.
We inquired with Annette and Mike to see of they were interested in joining us on our little excursion, and they were all in. With a scheduled 9:30 departure from the town pier, we allowed enough time to get there and park before checking on availability. The benefit of enjoying these tours for free after producing a pay stub from a local business is awesome. Because of this fact we were not actually allowed to purchase tickets in advance. All they asked us to do was check back with them 15 minutes before departure for availability. The young lady behind the counter also told us they were not close to being sold out, so it was not going to be a problem to get on the trip. As we were instructed, we came back at 9:15 and were promptly given our tickets, directions to the boat, and a wish to enjoy our tour.
The official tour name is the Historical Lighthouse & National Park Tour. We boarded the power catamaran and headed for the second deck where there was inside seating. There were two decks on the boat with both inside and outside seating on both. Since we weren’t sure of the temperature once we got out on the water, we opted to start inside. With the boat only about 25% full, we knew we would be able move around once the tour was underway. The boat backed away from the dock and we slowly proceeded out through Frenchman’s Bay. We had obviously seen Frenchman’s Bay many, many times this summer from the pier and from Agamont Park, but it was a different view heading out of the Bay looking back at Bar Harbor.
In addition to the Captain and his requisite crew, our tour was being narrated by Gene, a very personable and knowledgable tour guide who immediately began providing us with information about what we were looking at as we headed through the bay out towards the Atlantic. A little side note about Gene, who I had the pleasure of talking to while we were on our trip. Gene is from New Cumberland, PA. Now for those of you who have known me for a while, you are already aware that New Cumberland is where I went to grade school for eight years and attended church at St. Theresa’s. Gene raised his family there and his children attended Red Land High School in Lewisberry, PA. Which also happens to be the high school where I was an assistant basketball coach for three years, ironically while his sons were students there. Now I did not coach his sons, but they played football at Red Land and I definitely coached several of their football teammates during my time there. It’s always fun to meet people who have some connection with your past and I enjoyed chatting with Gene. Hopefully Gene enjoyed the connection to his past, or maybe he was just putting in time until his next time to talk!
Gene did a very nice job of giving us some Bar Harbor and Acadia NP history as we enjoyed the shoreline from the water. Some of the information was not new to us, but we definitely learned some fun facts about the island, its past and the people who contributed to making it what it is today. The rugged eastern coastline of the Island was even more impressive from the water. We have walked the Ocean Trail along that coastline but seeing it from the water was a whole different perspective.
Our excursion took us down the eastern coast of the Island and around the southern tip. Along the way we were able to see lighthouses at Great Duck Island, Egg Rock, Winter Harbor, Baker Island and Bear Island.
In addition to the lighthouses, we had fantastic views of many stunning coastal mansions including: Anchorage (Ford Family), Breakwater Estate (Astor), Chatwood (Pulitzer), Eastern Watch, High Seas Estate, Kenarden, Rockefeller Estate, Southerly, and Skylands (Martha Stewart). It was fun to get a glimpse at these estates that we would never have gotten an opportunity to see from land, as they are very well protected and hidden from the view of commoners like us!
As our boat headed back into Frenchman’s Bay, we were thankful for the opportunity to get out on the water. Thankful for the calm seas while we traversed the Bay and the Atlantic. (Annette only had to take a half of dramamine for this trip!) And thankful for the ability to spend the summer exploring a beautiful part of our country that neither of us had ever experienced before. After the boat safely docked, we were back on the familiar streets of Bar Harbor. Annette and Mike headed out to grab a quick lunch before Annette went into work for the afternoon, and Betsy and I did something we do best, walked around the quaint downtown, with each other, with our after-a-boat ride smiles in full view!