Harboring Good Will

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September 17th 2015
Published: June 13th 2017
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Geo: 44.3875, -68.2044

Day 4 –
Rockport to Bar Harbor, ME

Maine is full of harbors. I mean everywhere along the coast. Could it be that I designed our itinerary around them? Perhaps. There are towns with "harbor" in their names … like Boothbay Harbor yesterday and Bar Harbor tonight. And there are others located on harbors that aren't as blatantly obvious. Samoset Resort falls into this latter category.

Samoset is a lovely resort with a full-service spa and fitness center and a well designed and well kept 18-hole golf course overlooking the water. It was a gorgeous day for golf. Wish my golf was gorgeous!

We had breakfast at Bella Vita where we dined last night. The lobster called out again and this time I succumbed. A yummy lobster Benedict with fresh basil, fresh sliced tomato and oversized muffin. The hollandaise didn't measure up so it won in some categories but not overall.

We teed off at 9 am with a couple from Houston vacationing in Camden. I liked the course – it was pretty and it was fun to photograph. There was a flock of brown seagulls that were lumberjack size – they own the course. There were sailboats. Beautiful flowers. My camera had fun, even if my rental clubs didn't.

For those who don't know, I have played a lot of golf in my days but have never been good. So I sort of started out slow, then went downhill. If it doesn't involve a meal, then I'm not interested. Patrick played well, and enjoyed the course. I had a good time photographing it.

Where I went wrong: I should have allowed two nights in the Camden/Rockport area. The golf ate up most of our day so we had to pass up some of the things I wanted to try in the area. Shopping along Main and High Street in Camden. Visiting the Wyeth Museum in Rockland. Passing through Castine on our way to Bar Harbor. I didn't leave enough time and I didn't take into account the fatigue factor for a course that limits carts on the course and therefore requires a lot of up and down walking. Neither of us wanted to tour a museum after 4.5 hours of golf.

We checked out of Samoset, which proved to be a delightful property. Staff was courteous. Room was perfect. View was grand. Golf course was pretty and challenging. Highly recommend it as a destination.

We headed north on US1 through Camden. Cute town. Beautiful harbor. Vacationers spend 1-2 weeks here. I only allowed one hour. Big mistake. We went to Camden Hills State Park and took the Auto Road to the top of Mount Battie for the scenic view. Thanks, John Loomis, for the suggestion.

Calling this an "Auto Road" is overpromising. It implies a scenic drive of some substance. It is a simple drive up 800 feet to the summit, which admittedly offers some spectacular views of surrounding water, wooded hillsides and Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay. It's lovely and worth the drive up, but there is no sense in worrying about whether you will have enough time. You will.

We then proceeded along US1 through Lincolnville. Northport. Belfast. Searsport. Stockton Springs. Bucksport. Then east on ME-3 to Ellsworth. We passed but didn't stop at Big Chicken Barn Books, famous retailer in the area. In Ellsworth, we stopped at Mortons Moo, an ice cream parlor ranked high on Trip Advisor and was featured on a PBS special about ice cream stores. I had coffee/heath bar. Tasty but way short of Qt's lobster ice cream.

We took ME-3 south to Bar Harbor. The approach is full of mini golf, water parks and other Lake of the Ozark type attractions. But the road is scenic, as an approach to a major national park should be. We headed along West into Bar Harbor and easily found our hotel: Harborside. Why so easy? Because it's so large.

I had no idea when I booked it that it is such a large complex. It's owned by the OPAL chain (oceanfront properties) that also owns Samoset (last night's stay), Sagamore at Lake George and even the Edgewater Beach in Naples where we dine 5-6 times a year. There are hundreds of rooms here and the hotel has a large presence in this small town.

Because we were tired, we decided not to venture out tonight. We are here for three nights, so there is plenty of time to check out the town and the lobster shacks this weekend.

Speaking of lobster, it was a two-meal lobster day. For dinner, I had the Maine lobster salad. Interestingly, the menu was almost identical to the one at Samoset. The restaurant was even named the same: Bella Vita. The salad wasn't greens with lobster on it as the menu implied. Rather, it was lettuce with lobster salad on it. But it was quite good. Highly recommend it. Patrick had pasta Bolognese which he ordered in the smaller portion but still couldn't finish it.

A little commentary on the restaurant. It is QUITE small for the number of rooms on property. And it has a coffee shop atmosphere … too much light for dinner, not enough tables for the guests who want to dine. Not sure who planned that but they failed.

We didn't get back to the room in time for sunset, but we did get to enjoy some of the twilight. The sun had set over the harbor we face, so the oranges and purples of the afterglow completed our evening. Mother Nature blessed Maine with a lot of beauty.

Note to self: Next time you pack for Maine, leave the black basics at home and stick with denim. Even though the hallways of this hotel look like something from a luxury hotel in Boston, the guests are still dressed in denim and khaki. Cargo shorts are de rigueur. But I keep reminding myself I packed for a wedding weekend and a Tauck tour of the Canadian Maritimes. So these clothes work for the front and backend of our trip … just not so much in the middle.

Additional photos below
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First bit of autumnFirst bit of autumn
First bit of autumn

I was hoping for fall foliage. There has been a leaf here and there, a branch (see photo) here and there, but no trees, no lush color, so far. I'm keeping my fingers crossed since we will be traveling through October 2.

18th September 2015

You'll wish for jeans all over Nova Scotia. Hearty hard working souls, cold damp weather.
18th September 2015

Go shopping - Buy some jeans, shorts, shirts, etc.!
18th September 2015

Great photos, as always, Tommye! We're enjoying your trip to Maine and will plan our own soon!
18th September 2015

It's sunny and 82. And also in Nova Scotia. WIsh I'd brought denim shorts. I have black jeans. Too hot to wear. Glad I do have my denim capris.

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