Winter Harbor, Maine: Population = 962, elevation = 85 feet, average January low temp = 14.5, Average July high temp = 78, average sunny days = 182, annual snowfall = 64.9”, annual rainfall = 50.2”, air quality index = 69.2, water quality index = 60, comfort index = 56
The drive from Halifax to Winter Harbor is a long one, so we stopped for the night along the way in Saint John, New Brunswick. This is also a seaport city but, unlike Halifax, it does not seem to be thriving or very interesting. Comatose on a Saturday night. The most interesting thing about St. John is the tides. The Bay of Fundy has some of the world’s highest tides. The difference between high and low tide when we were there was something like 27 feet. With that much water coming in, there is a river that actually reverses directions.
From St. John, the Trans-Canadian Highway runs wide and smooth as far as the USA border. After that, we enter something of a “green desert”. No food, no gas, no rest stops, nothing for about 80 miles. The roads are heavily patched, narrow, and curvy. It is a huge relief to finally find our destination, a smattering of homes and businesses clustered around a bay.
The next day we set off to explore the neighborhood. Just down the road is the entrance to the Schoodic Loop portion of Acadia National Park. This is a long peninsula with a road that loops around the coastline. The views are spectacular. The coastline is made up of hard granite, cracked into layers and huge crystal-like cubes; smooth, undulating black lava flows; and heaps of rocks, rounded and smoothed by the ocean. The forest is pine and birch with sprays of spruce, cedar, and maple. Clumps of wild roses, heavy with ripe red rose hips pop out of the forest, next to blueberry bushes bearing the last, raisin-y berries.
Just across the bay is the somewhat famous tourist town of Bar Harbor. The captain of our bright yellow ferry boat provides us with a running dialog on the history, geology, and biology of the area as she negotiates the passage between islands and a multitude of lobster trap floats. The voyage across the bay is, to me, the best part of the day. Bar Harbor is a crowded tourist trap, awash in backpacks and cameras, punctuated by selfie sticks. Lunch is good, the beer is better, the ocean views are great. Away from the city, the rest of Acadia National Park hosts herds of campers and hikers. Every single parking spot on the island is taken.
Winter Harbor actually has a golf course, the colorfully named Grindstone Neck. The fairways are not so fair, the roughs are very rough, and the greens are inexplicably punctured with little holes. Birds? I lost three balls but I found four, so I figure I came out ahead. And the views of the bay were very nice.
Of course, you can’t spend any time in Maine without having some lobster. We have been toying with various seafood all along the coast, but now it is crustacean cracking time! One peninsula over is the Corea Wharf Gallery and Grill. Step up and order, then grab a table on the pier where you can see the lobster boats riding at anchor. The lobster rolls are a grilled bun piled high with big fresh chunks and maybe a hint of sauce. As good as it gets!
Back in Winter Harbor is the Fisherman’s Galley. Carl and his sons and crew serve up most everything locally caught that had fins or a shell. Again, this is a simple joint, not some fancy-shmancy dining room. Step up to the counter to order and they bring it to your table. Marylu and I picked a nice little lobster ($13.95 a pound with corn, coleslaw, and bisquit) out of the tank and sent him off to meet his maker. Or unmaker, I guess. Fortunately, they serve the lobsters with directions on how to disassemble them. And a bib. I needed both.
Winter Harbor is a nice little town to visit. Stroll the spectacular rocky coastlines. Hike the trails. Join the throngs of summer people riding bicycles for miles of scenic forest and coast. Feast on lobster so fresh, you can talk to the guy who caught it that morning. Very nice. But I think I saw a leaf starting to turn yellow. Time for me to head south.
Next up: Augusta and Concord