We had experienced a long drive over two days followed by a grueling hike in oppressive humidity, so we were perfectly justified in staying in bed until well after 9:00am. (At least that’s the official excuse.) Once we finally dragged ourselves out of our moose-cave-away-from-home, we headed to Jeannie’s Breakfast for (if you can believe this) breakfast. Seated next to a sunny window — we took that table that no one else wanted because I didn’t mind being extra-warm — we began to plan out our day. The map was put away when breakfast arrived, and I began to devour my “very berry” pancakes topped with strawberry rhubarb jam and whipped cream, bite by berry-filled bite. Rich similarly enjoyed his Veggie Benedict, though he commented that the eggs could have been cooked just a bit harder. It was as exciting as ever to see Rich’s eager smile across the table and to know that the day would be filled with adventures of one kind of another, even though we were determined to have an “easy day.”
A restocking trip to the Mighty H (the Hannaford grocery store in town) was moderately successful, providing us with, if not everything we had hoped for, at least some local beer and Three Blind Moose for the evening’s relaxation, as well as drinks and snacks for hiking.
And so began our easy day! We had planned simply to take a slow sightseeing drive to Northeast Harbor, where we intended to inquire at the Chamber of Commerce about the availability of whale watch cruises. Rich, of course was dying for something as intimate and intense as the Audubon charter cruise he had experienced with Dave years ago. I was excited by the prospect, as well. But it took us longer to get to Northeast Harbor than it should have, because as usual we were distracted by the search for an elusive benchmark – W 144. This tricky devil had already eluded Rich five years ago, and may still haunt his dreams.
The description sounds straightforward, at least as much as the others in the 144 series, which have been generally easy to find. This one, though, remains hidden. For the better part of an hour, we poked around in woods and clearings and — oops! — people’s backyards, finding outcrop upon glorious outcrop, each ideal for benchmark placement, but no benchmark nor any remnants of one. No pole numbered 531 currently exists in this area, and it’s unclear which two-story house is referenced by the 1962 description. The most likely point, we determined, may well lie beneath a cabin in the woods behind one of the two-story houses. Though no one was home, we decided to stop and inquire if at any point during the week we saw someone in the yard or driveway.
Already hot, filthy and sticky from the humidity, we fled the woods and made a run for the car and its conditioned air. We cooled off sufficiently while on our drive down to Northeast Harbor.
The girl at the Chamber of Commerce disappointed us with her assurance that no whale watches sail from Northeast Harbor. Our only option would be the gargantuan vessels sailing from Bar Harbor, with hundreds of tourists and their snotty wailing kids aboard. Thanks … but no thanks.
Ahh, an easy day, relaxing near the ocean, not a care in the world, not a cramp in our legs. Well, we can’t have this, now can we?! The hour was still early, and we were cooled and dried off from our exploits in the woods and brush south of Route 233. Why not just try a little scouting expedition to one of the island’s oldest tri-stations, PARKER? Come on, just a quick peek. It’s probably private land, and we won’t be able to get past the dogs or the people with guns, anyway. But aren’t you curious?
It turns out that the area is indeed private, and was easy to access off Route 102 via the aptly named Parker Farm Road. The gravel road led us east past turn-offs and driveways to quaintly named sea cottages, and eventually to within a tenth of a mile of the coordinates. Here the road ended at another cottage with a sparkling view over Somes Sound. A convenient parking spot was available, and we headed directly into the woods. I have rarely seen such a steep, thick, sharp section of woods — and we only had a few hundred feet to walk! We poked our way very carefully under, over and around the pines and spruce and stabbing deadfalls everywhere. A zigzagging route finally took us to the coordinates. To say that looking for a bolt in this jungle of fallen trees, pine debris and moss was like looking for a needle in a haystack would be an understatement. Fortunately we had reference marks to rely on (provided we could find them) and, as you might have suspected, the “huge boulder” referred to in the 1934 recovery note hadn’t moved an inch.
Within minutes, Rich had located RM2 on a prominent boulder while I stumbled my way slightly downhill and spotted RM1 on a similarly obvious outcropping. Neither of us could see the station very well from our respective reference mark, but Rich was able to walk a line on the bearing indicated by RM2’s arrow toward the station. I crouched down and followed my reference mark’s bearing line with my eyes, and told Rich to stop walking as soon as he crossed it. “Look there,” I said. At his feet, beneath a fallen log, was a perfect little outcropping boulder and, beneath the moss, the bolt set in 1870. The reference marks had served their purpose! What an exciting find!
Taking photos was a bitch due to the conditions, and Rich ended up soaked with sweat and covered in pine needles (cute, but he was feeling a little cranky, I think!). We did the best we could, though taking measurements from the station to the reference marks was out of the question. We exited the area by a slightly different route and returned to the car (which Rich had since moved down the road a bit) smelly and dirty and triumphant, and starving.
Mexican was on the menu for tonight’s supper. We had both been thrilled when we noticed in our Menu Guide that Miguel’s Mexican Restaurant had made a comeback. I had eaten there in 2005, but last year Miguel’s was gone, replaced by some goofy American restaurant that did not appeal much to us. The weather was warm and lovely, so we sat outside. The salsa could have been better; neither of us was excited by its bland taste or dry texture. The old Miguel’s had much better salsa, at least according to our memories (or perhaps we’ve been spoiled by our southwest adventure earlier this year?). Our appetizer, mini chimis filled with chicken, black beans, cheese and corn, were much better. We both could have eaten about a dozen more. Rich enjoyed his burrito verde with shredded beef, while I found my shrimp tacos to be very unusual and tasty. As we always do, we ate slowly and savored each bite, talking enthusiastically about the day’s accomplishments and eventually moving on to some of our other favorite topics, like the universe, the ridiculousness of religion, and the sorry state of U.S. education.
After supper we enjoyed a chilly stroll through some of the local shops, including Cool as a Moose, of course. We browsed until we were hungry for dessert. As planned, we stopped at the Mount Desert Ice Cream storefront adjacent to the village green for sorbet (blackberry cabernet for me, cantaloupe for Rich). Our huge scoops were too much, but we ate as much as we could while sitting on a park bench. Local kids were hanging out by a pavilion, giggling and attempting tricks on their skateboards. We were exhausted.
Back at the room, it took little more than a beer and a few minutes of some moronic television show to put us right to sleep, and we both slept soundly through the night.