Tuesday July 20th was my thirty-sixth birthday. If we could spend every single one of my birthdays doing exactly what we did on that day, I’d be perfectly happy.
Well, except for the getting lost part.
We checked out of the hotel in Portland at about 7:30 a.m., planning on driving up to Poland, picking up my sister, and heading up the rest of the way to Bar Harbor. We hopped on the freeway near the hotel, intending on taking the 495 to the Gray exit and driving from there to Poland. Except, stupid me, we took the 295 fork instead, headed along the coast instead of further inland, and I didn’t twig onto the fact that we were not where we were supposed to be for another half-hour.
So we had to backtrack, get off in Freeport, and take the back roads towards Gray. The back roads that I haven’t REALLY traversed in twenty years. That look… well, rather different than they did. More overgrown. Some new houses. A few new turn-offs. And the ever-present vague signs. I misdirected us a couple of times, causing Bill to get more than a little frustrated. But, seeing as it was my birthday, he didn’t unload on me like I probably deserved. I made him stop in Gray so I could pee, then we had to stop again to get gas, THEN we made it to Poland but missed the right-hander at the blinking light. We stopped at a gas station where I asked a random guy if he happened to know my sister’s family, which he did (it really wasn’t that much of a long shot that someone hanging around the local gas station would know where the Chair(wo)man of the Town Selectman Board lives). He got us turned around the right way, and we finally got to my sister’s an hour behind schedule, at around 9:15.
Wendy left her car parked at the bottom of their hill (after chasing away some random guy that wandered his way up their private drive – she was suspicious and concerned about her kids, who were holding down the fort). I tinkled in the woods one more time (yes, I did – we were, literally, in the middle of NOWHERE and I didn’t want to risk Bill’s wrath by asking to stop at yet another convenience store somewhere along the way), then crawled in the back seat of the Camaro and let my longer-legged sister sit up front.
The drive up to Bar Harbor necessitates that one take the I-95 (hello tolls!) to Bangor, then head on over to Ellsworth, before finally getting back to the coast and Mount Desert Island. It takes about three hours, from Portland (it actually took us a bit longer, because of road construction around Ellsworth). One could traverse Route One all the way up the coast (which we have done before), but that takes more like six hours. Anyway, the ride up was all about catching up on family and friend gossip, talking about Maine politics vs. Arizona politics, and listening to some more of Taoist Biker’s Sunny Mix (I THINK we got through the whole CD during the trip). Wendy regaled us with anecdotes of Town Living Out Poland Way, and we laughed. A LOT.
It was about 12:30 when we got to our hotel – usually too early to check in, but they were happy to accommodate us. It also happened to be the same hotel that President Obama had been staying in, just a few days before. Man, were we grateful that we avoided all of THAT hot mess. I can’t imagine how crowded it got, with the gawkers and the secret service and the cruise ships. Those poor locals.
Anyway, it was getting on towards 1:00 and we were starving (no breakfast), so we headed up the road a very short way, to Jack Russell’s Steak House. I got a crab cake sandwich, my sister got the stuffed portabello mushroom, and Bill got a… burger? I think? Maybe it was a grilled chicken sandwich… oh, hell, like you guys care. Plus brews all around (natch). The Tour de France was on the bigger-than-life television, and the perspective it afforded made me dizzy in short order. We gabbed with a couple of the other patrons, and the bartender told us of the woes of having the President and the Secret Service invade the island.
Now comfortably full, we hopped back in the car, paused at the hotel long enough to off-load our belongings, then headed over to downtown Bar Harbor for some strolling and sight-seeing.
We strolled along the waterfront for a bit, then elected to get out of the sun and have a beverage at Quarterdeck. I had a blueberry mojito, didn’t take a picture of it. Didn’t particularly like it, so I switched to whiskey. That’s always a safe bet.
We hung out for a good hour before getting up to wander around some more. We sat in the grass of the harborside park for a little bit, watching the Margaret Todd come into dock, and watching the people enjoying the view and the weather.
Wendy and Bill wanted to ditch me temporarily so they could buy me birthday presents (yay!), so we strolled along the shops, split up, reconvened, and split up again. I bought the kids their obligatory Bar Harbor sweatshirts and t-shirts. Then I had a weird hankering for a cigar, so I scored a few and abruptly became the opposite of sexy. There’s a picture. You’ll have to go dig it up from my Flickr, cuz I ain’t posting it here.
Dinnertime rolled around, so we headed to Testa’s. Bill snagged the camera and took these shots:
Wendy and I both had the Seafood Newburgh, and Bill had… steak? The prime rib, I think? Man, I didn’t pay attention to his plate at ALL, I was so busy stuffing my own face throughout the entire trip. We noshed and moo’d and laughed outright when the waitress asked if we wanted dessert. Then it was back out into the cooling evening air. The lengthening rays of sunset had me grabbing my camera yet again as we headed back to the park to sit on the grass and watch the harbor.
The next stop on what turned out to be an all afternoon/all evening pub crawl was Stewman’s Lobster Pound, or more accurately, it’s deck-side bar the Eagle’s Nest. We sat and GABBED AND GABBED, and observed the lobsters being steamed down below us. Patrons would stop by the lobster tanks with their children, who got to touch and/or hold the lobsters before they (the lobsters, not the children) met their doom. Morbid, really. But oh so very tasty.
We finally decided to head back to the hotel for the evening, where I was presented with a beautiful silver necklace from Bill (I’ll have to take a picture of it to show you guys), and this amazing ensemble from my sister:
So, backstory on that “crown”. When I was, oh, about eleven or twelve, my sister was staying in my Grandmother’s apartment for a while. One morning Grandma left Wendy a note, asking her to weed the garden for her. Wendy, believing me to be spoiled and also a slacker, wrote at the bottom of the note, “Why don’t you get Princess Tiffany to do it?” So I wrote underneath that, “That’s QUEEN Tiffany to you!”
She still has that friggin’ note. Anyway. She was looking for a princess tiara for my present, and the crab crown was the closest she could find.
We got in our jammies and got comfy, and my sister pulled out a copy of this movie, which we watched on my laptop. It was actually written, directed, and produced by her TOWN MANAGER. The cheese. Oh God. You guys, the CHEESE. It was EPIC. Completely full of awesome.
Especially if you’re a little bit buzzed.
Dammit. Okay, Bar Harbor will not get wrapped up in just one entry. I have another entire day full of exploration to tell you guys about. I’m stopping here.