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North America » United States » Maine » Bar Harbor
July 19th 2018
Published: July 21st 2018
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Sun was filtering in our cabin window letting us know that we needed to get ready for our first tour day. We were still approaching Bar Harbor while I began working on yesterday’s blog. Sharon was getting ready for mass. After she left for mass I got a phone call in the cabin, and somewhat bemused, I wondered “Who could be calling me?” Of course, I knew it must be Sharon. She asks, “Where’s mass?” I tell her and promise to meet her at The Hudson Room to go up to the Lido for breakfast.

Up in the Lido we’re forced to settle for an outside table. I got an omelet which I seem to have developed a taste for after a few days in Boston. It was entertaining watching the chef flip the omelets over with a flick of the wrist. Sharon had some French toast and a chocolate croissant. Hopefully, on this cruise, the chocolate croissants won’t conspire to hide from her as they sometimes do. I told Sharon that Team Trivia will be at 4:30PM today in the Explorer’s Lounge. She seemed to think that we wouldn’t have time for that; because, she thought I wanted to go have a lobster roll at a place we’d previously been, and the previous winner of my Lobster Roll Quest. Clearly, she hasn’t been paying attention. Let’s see, would I prefer to pay $20 to have another lobster roll; or, would I prefer to play Team Trivia and possibly win a worthless location pin? I also hoped to meet our Trivia Team; but, Sharon said that won’t occur until tomorrow’s Meet and Greet. And what was the point of studying my trivia spreadsheet, if not to actually play Team Trivia?

Sharon had correctly surmised that on this cruise there would be no “Preferred Tender Boarding” for 4-star and 5-star mariners; because, most of the people on this cruise have long since attained this status (700 people according to the daily program). Everybody not on a HAL tour had to wait in line for a tender ticket. Sharon felt that we needed to be on the first tender in order to make the appointed meeting time and place for Ollie’s Trollies. The people ahead of us had also booked private tours with Ollie’s Trollies, a popular tour operator in Bar Harbor.

We chatted with some of the people who had been waiting since before 9 AM. The couple in front of us knew Sharon from her username on Cruise Critic. The crowd waiting for tender tickets grew and eventually they did show up with the tender tickets. They announced, “Please stay where you are seated, and we will come around to pass out tickets. You know, who was here first, so just point us to those who are next in line.” It seemed like a perfectly reasonable approach. As she started to hand out a ticket, a new group of people arrived and swept in towards the tickets to get theirs. There was a loud objection raised by those sitting, and in the end, passing out the tickets was a bit chaotic. We got a Group 2 Boarding pass, and we clearly should have gotten into Group 1, not that it mattered. The first tender was taking those in groups 1 through 6. Our craft loaded quickly after we walked down the four flights of stairs to get to the tenders. They got us to shore in 10 minutes.

We found the Ollie’s Trolley’s office. They suggested that we could get water or a box lunch at the Sunshine Grill, which was right there when we got off the tender. Barry From Boston’s cautionary warning was fresh in my mind, and we decided not to get anything. We then walked the block to their pickup point. We had to wait for 45 minutes to board; and, they would be boarding those going on the two and one-half hour tour first. For a while, they let us sit where we wanted; which, for us was in the shade. With fifteen minutes to go, they herded us into lines from which there was no protection from the sun. “We didn’t put on any sunscreen,” I noted. Sharon replied, “I didn’t think that we’d need any, since we were going to be riding around in a covered trolley but guess I was wrong.” We saw a family nearby putting on lots of sunscreen. It really was a beautiful sunny day, not at all like the dismal foggy place we’d visited with Dennis and Erin just two years ago. And two days ago, when we visited Ruth in Rhode Island and driven home in the rain, it had been a miserable downpour here. And I guess, Ollie’s Trolleys runs sun or rain; although, I’m not sure I see what the point would be.

On our four hour tour we would be making four stops, with thirty minutes allotted to each stop. Our driver/guide urged us to be back promptly, so that we could keep to our schedule. Our first stop in Acadia National Park, visiting land that had originally put into trust to ensure that generations that followed would have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Maine. A couple of Park Service Rangers met us and gave us some of the history of the area. The guide explained how the “First People” came to this area in Maine which became sort of a melting pot of French and English and Native American cultures, and the fell in love with the land and some sought to both preserve and promote the land. The first wave of people to “visit” were the painters, who came to capture the beauty of the area. The second wave of people were the rustics, who came to experience to joy of roughing it. The third wave was the cottagers where the wealthy wanted to take the rustic experience to a more civilized level. The cottages became bigger and bigger when at the zenith they could exceed 100 rooms. People like JP Morgan and JD Rockefeller fell in love with the area and supported efforts to preserve the places that they had fallen in love with. Next our trolley stopped at the Thunder Hole. The inrushing water really does create the sound of thunder. We gaze out over the treacherous rocks that loomed over the ocean below. People do swim in these waters; but, you need to be pretty hearty because the best you can hope for is temperatures in the mid-50’s (Fahrenheit) in the summer months. Our third stop was at Jordan’s Pond where a retreat, restaurant and souvenir store services those seeking a view from this promontory. It began as a place where the well-to-do could come for tea in a scenic area. Today you can still get tea and popovers. Our guide encouraged us to try them; but, again cautioned to be back to the trolley in thirty minutes. There was a long line to register for the restaurant, and there were no hurry-up to-go lines for those like us on a tight time schedule. One third of our time had already elapsed when we got to the front of the registration line; and, there the clerk was encouraging us not to bother her because we really didn’t have time to get served. Sharon decided that we wouldn’t be the ugly-tourist on our trolley that came back late; so, we abandoned any hope of a popover. It was already past 1:30 and we hadn’t had lunch. Sharon had lunch there on a tour when she took her solo New England Cruise and said it was very good especially the Popovers which she sometimes makes for us. Some in our bus did get some popovers; but, they weren’t sitting at the back of the trolley as we were. Sharon chose the back so that there would be plenty of seating for us, that is to say, so I wouldn’t be sitting half on a narrow bench for two and half hanging over into the aisle. It was comfortable in the back, and the trolley carried a full load of 32 people. Our fourth and final stop was atop Cadillac Mountain. This is the highest point on the island. We could see the Rotterdam back in the harbor. And we could see the Bar. The Bar is actually a sandbar in the harbor that poses a navigation hazard to shipping. At low tide the sand is exposed; but, at high tide the danger is hidden but real nonetheless.

We decided to head back to the ship, grab some lunch and play Team Trivia. First, we had quite a wait for the tender which seemed to be idling just off the pier. Once it did dock, we loaded quickly, and then waited some more while the boat filled to capacity. The crew seems quite capable of handling disabled travelers. Two of them had handicap markings on their safety vests, and one lady who could barely walk was loaded into the tender with her scooter behind her. We headed full throttle towards the Rotterdam, only the water wasn’t as smooth as glass as it was this morning. Movement in the tender seemed much more jerky than what we experienced whale watching. We slowed to a crawl and then a stop; while, another tender was preparing to leave the Rotterdam, and there was yet another ahead of us in line. We rolled on those seas for over 30 minutes. The craft skipper kept maneuvering it to try to find shelter from the surging seas, but there was no real shelter to be found. When we finally did approach the ship to offload, we quite literally slammed into the loading platform. Many more times we would bang into it before everyone had a chance to get off. The tender was easily moving up and down two feet in the surging sea, and one had to time things right and step gingerly. We stopped by the cabin to drop off cameras, grab some pens and head up to the Dive-In. Sharon went ahead of me to order a Cannonball for me and a plain burger for her. The burgers were just being alerted on Sharon’s pager when I arrived. We ate and had to make our way up to the Explorer’s Lounge for Team Trivia.

We tried to find someone on our team; but, did find some people who were looking for their “Team 6” members. Sharon supposed many were still in town. We found one other lady to join us and we had our team of five. Linda arrived and introduced herself as the cruise director and made certain that we were all here to have fun! Some thought that we were here to win, and Sharon was nodding and pointing towards me. Her rules were simple: Have fun. Her answers are right. She has personally researched and checked each of them. No points are deducted for wrong answers so if you don’t know try to be creative. Point maybe deducted, at her discretion for unsportsmanlike conduct (e.g. complaining about an answer). With that we started. “What star formation appears on the Alaskan state flag?” I didn’t think that this was an Alaskan cruise. Our team mate suggested “Southern Cross” and his wife wrote that down as our answer. Sharon and I looked at each other with the “Where did that come from?” Sharon later suggested “Big Dipper” and I was going back and forth in my mind: Big Dipper or Little Dipper. When in doubt, support your wife. You can’t even see the Southern Cross from Alaska. That might be a real good answer for New Zealand. We got his wife to admit that she didn’t think his answer could be right, and we got that first one right. Linda then wanted to know what film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film in 2001 (a new category at the Academy Awards). We went with “Toy Story”; but, I guess that we’d all forgotten about “Shrek”. Then came “Who discovered King Tut’s Tomb?” Okay, I was clearly out of my depth; but, the Southern Cross guy was pretty certain that it was Howard Carter, so we went with that. And he was right! None of us knew what the largest species of frog is, and Linda said that she was looking for a species that begins with “G”. I was thinking “Giant Frog”; but, Linda added that it wasn’t Giant-anything! “But it sort of means giant… you’ll see what I mean.” Our team came up with “Gigantum Frog”. I jokingly wrote down “Godzilla Frog” and Sharon seemed to like that and everyone else was swayed. I can’t suddenly say… “Just kidding guys.” Linda announced, “Goliath,” and we all felt “Of course.” We were all stumped by, “In the National Lampoon’s ‘Vacation’, what theme park were the Griswold’s headed to?” We thought “Epcot, maybe.”, but wrote down something else equally wrong. The real answer was “Wally’s World”. The bonus question was multiple choice: “How many muscles are in the adult human body? (a) Less than 100; (b) 150 to 250; (c) 300 to 500; or (d) Over 600?” There was debate in our team between (c) and (d) and we ended up on the right side of this one. There are in fact 650 muscles in the human body! We wound up getting a score of 14 out of a possible 18 points. One other team tied us, and I though Linda was going to come up with a tie-breaker; but, she agreed with someone in the name of expediency to award co-winner destination pins. My heart sank when I saw that they were the cheap variety. But I guess I shouldn’t look a first-place prize in the mouth!

It was time for dinner, so we headed to the Rotterdam Dining Room. We had to wait to get escorted to our table. Finally they asked us to get into the “Reservations Line” because it was empty. Even so, there was nobody to take us to our table. The guy at the front podium asking room-numbers finally got so frustrated that he took us and another table and sat us at a table for four by the starboard side window in the rear. The sun was beaming down on our table, and right in our faces; but, they did pull the curtains for us. I ordered the chicken, ham parmesan croquet, the corn cheddar chowder and the Greek style beef salad. Sharon ordered the prime rib. As we waited for what seemed forever, they brought out Sharon’s prime rib and the prime rib of the lady opposite her. Sharon started to ready her baked potato by mushing it and adding butter; but, the other lady said, “Hey, Not so fast, Where’s my appetizer?” “You haven’t gotten your appetizer yet?” He comes around to grab Sharon’s plate and I observe, “It’s okay, she’s a slow eater and she has no appetizer!” I should have pointed out that she’s already prepared the potato. “No, no, must take back.” You see, these weren’t our dinners. They were going to somebody else! Well, at least the one potato will be ready to eat! We waited another ten minutes before our appetizers came… and Sharon waited. They brought my corn cheddar chowder pretty quick, and I like the way they pour the soup over the chunky ingredients in the soup, in this case some bacon, sweet corn kernels and chives, and the soup was pretty good. The lady asked her husband for his first appetizer asked him, “How was your soup.” His instantaneous response was, “Not as good as yours, dear.” It took a long time for our entrees to be brought but they finally came and were good. For dessert I ordered the cheese plate with fruit and also chose the daily ice cream macadamia nut. Sharon ordered the lemon tart.

We went up to the show and barely got there in time and were lucky to get seats in the front row of the balcony section. Tonight, we saw Fred Bevel who is what I would call a humorist, and he was very funny. He also would talk to individuals in the audience, and surprisingly, the back and forth banter was also hilarious. The bulk of his show dealt with the changes men go through when they get married. First, he asked if there were any hunters in the audience. There were two who raised their hands. He asked them if they hunted ducks. The one in the middle section in the back was a duck hunter. He said that he’d had the opportunity to duck hunting and was surprised that the duck hunting season had opened earlier than usual last year. He said that it was due to all of the Canadian Ducks flying south trying to take the jobs of all those American Ducks. He asked the duck hunter if he was married, and he was. He then asked, if his wife was to his left. No. To his right? No. And then Fred really started having fun. It turns out the hunter’s wife was back in the cabin resting. Surprisingly, he found a pair of newlyweds in the front row, two people who’d only been married one month (and yes, they looked like they belonged on a HAL cruise). He asked the first hunter, who also had a wife, how marriage has changed him. The man hemmed and hawed said something about eating better. “Wrong answer!” Fred alerted. “Marriage has made you a better man!” He then asked the newlywed, “How has marriage changed you?” And he started to say he hadn’t changed much. “You haven’t been paying attention!” Fred complained. “Marriage has made you a better man!” His last bit was a true story from his childhood and his first date when he (at 9) took his “girlfriend” (who was 7) on a picnic and brought special napkins for her. It was really funny but I don’t want to spoil it in case you ever get a chance to see him. He had asked several in the audience if they remembered the moment they knew that their wife-to-be was the one for them; and, all three that he asked had a definite distinct recollection. And then he shared his moment of truth. The two of them were holiday shopping in a busy store, and they were going up an escalator with a clear view of all holiday shoppers on the lower level… and then she let out a fart… one of the long, loud, no mistaking what that was farts. He said as he was trying to look as if nothing happened, she proclaims for all to hear, “Fred! I don’t believe that you just did that!” And he knew that she was the one even though that meant moving to Fargo ND after growing up in Napa CA.

We will have a chance to see Fred again later in the cruise. After the show we went into the casino which seemed to be bustling. There was lots of action at the $6 Blackjack table with the lousy 6:5 payout on blackjack. The “Fun 21” table wasn’t open; which, is all that I will play now on HAL. Sharon decided to play on the slot machines and I went back to the cabin. I asked Sharon how she did and her only response was “Don’t ask.” All in all it was a very nice day!

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