This Sunday morning dawned clear and bright. Of course, we were still in bed long past sunrise so we missed the spectacle of it all, but the weatherman and the cool morning air assured me that the skies had stayed clear right through the night.
The air was still chilly as we waited, seated outdoors on the porch, at 2 Cats for our breakfast. And we waited, and waited. I’m usually the one to feel the chill and to take it to heart, but today I was plenty warm while Rich was shivering. I went to fetch his dark red sweatshirt from the car parked across the street and down the block. And when I returned, our omelets still had not arrived.
We lost track of time, and fortunately had our maps and our conversation to distract us, but at some point our food was plunked onto the table. “A number 3,” the waiter grunted when he put down Rich’s plate, “and a number 2,” putting a plate in front of me. “Uhh … I ordered the number 6,” I said hesitantly, not sure I wanted to wait another half hour for another omelet to be made, but also quite sure I didn’t want the one containing walnuts, which would be the number 2. I was entitled to get what I’d ordered, however, and we both assumed that the waiter would request the correction to be made right away, and/or give me something else to chew on (some of their famous biscuits with strawberry butter, for example) in the meantime. Well, neither happened, and we ended up eating in two shifts, Rich first while his omelet was still warm, and me at least twenty minutes later when my (correct) order finally arrived, with barely more than a “sorry ’bout that.”
The food is always delicious at 2 Cats, and I’ve never had this kind of trouble with the service before. We declared that from this day forward, we would avoid “Chuck” (the waiter’s name as indicated on the bill) at all costs. Rich and I couldn’t decide whether he was surly (my word) or simply clueless and incompetent (Rich’s), but we agreed that — “Chuck — you suck!”
We had decided, while awaiting our eggs, that today would be perfect for a hike to the summit of Bernard Mountain, on the western side of the island near Seal Cove Pond. I had never hiked here, and it was nearly like new to Rich, too, since it had been years since his last hike on Bernard. It probably comes as no surprise that there’s a tri-station, WEST PEAK, atop Bernard Mountain as well. It has had no official recoveries since 1956, and surprisingly no geocachers have defiled it with poor recoveries either, which was a major incentive for Rich.
WEST PEAK’s original description contains a minutely detailed to-reach which, in all honesty, completely lost me as I tried to read and follow along with the map. I have a good feeling that the “town dump” is long gone, and I also wonder what kind of a “traffic circle” ever existed in this maze of unimproved narrow gravel roads. In the interest of time and sanity, Rich and I decided that we would not attempt to confirm or correct the to-reach this time, but would simply find our own way to the peak. The West Ledge Trail appeared to be somewhat longer (which generally means less steep) than the South Face Trail, and so our game plan was devised.
The area near Seal Cove is densely wooded and close, without a hint of being so near to the ocean. Were it not for all the moss, I could easily have believed we were in the Pennsylvania mountains. We rolled along the dirt and gravel lanes for several miles, hearing the crunch beneath the tires, working our way through the labyrinth guided by my GPSr. We parked at a small 2-vehicle turnout along Western Mountain Road, almost to its western terminus at Seal Cove Pond, and found the trailhead directly across the road.
The West Ledge Trail, like many Acadia trails, leads through woods on its first stretch, with rocks everywhere underfoot for us to aviod (or not). The trail soon becomes much steeper, and we peeked out onto an open bedrock ledge every once in a while, though we were still surrounded by trees on most sides. Then, the payoff: a wide expanse of bedrock leading us to 180° views over Seal Cove, the low densely forested hills along the shoreline, and the ocean. Fiery oranges and golds were just beginning to appear in the trees. These fall leaves trembled in the breeze and the ocean sparkled in the sunshine — the whole scene was shimmering and lovely. We could see it all from our natural rock bench on the ledges, where we sat to share a drink and snack.
With somewhat rested knees we resumed our hike, and the trail soon took us into the woods again, winding through some lush green areas as well as some strangely dark and spooky ones. When we emerged, just a few hundred feet from the tri-station coordinates, we saw on the rock ledge before us four iron rods set out in a square, and a ring set into the rock at the midpoint. Could this have been the remains of the “small summer house built of native timber and chained to the rock”? The proximity to the station disk, and the fact that the direction checks as well, is strong evidence that it was. How neat! We were both thrilled to have discovered such an “artifact” and, thanks to the datasheet, to know what once stood there.
Rich and I walked right up to the station disk, and found it to be in good condition, as was RM1. RM2 required a fair amount of measuring and digging (oh yes, we were sure to roll back the moss carpet!) but Rich eventually uncovered it. I wanted him to rest his knees while I took my photos of the marks; he rested for a minute and ate some peanut butter crackers, but was on his feet again soon to offer a helping hand with the photos. We have so much fun doing this together!
While we were tidying up the area, I suddenly felt a chill. Was it because I had finally cooled off from the hike and all the activity at the summit? More likely it was due to the increasing clouds and a chilly, damp breeze. That breeze turned to wind as we headed back on the trail the way we had come, and before long, I could feel rain.
The shower was heavy by the time we reached the open ledges, and the wet lichen were slick as ice. We stepped carefully, slowly (probably comically so) all the way back down the trail, determined not to fall. Some slips were inevitable, but we returned to the car uninjured, if soaked.
Havana is one of my two favorite restaurants on the island (Rosalie’s does not count here; it’s in a class of its own). The food isn’t traditional Cuban as the name might imply, but it’s got a Latin accent. The place is just exemplary in every aspect, from the quality, creativity and attractiveness of the food (and mojitos!) to the competent service. We began with mojitos, of course, and a basket of bread, which is much less typical than it sounds: this bread was a moist pumpkin cornbread served with a mustard and apple cider butter. Rich, especially, was thrilled with this! We talked about this for days, and I’m still trying to find a recipe for something similar. Next came our mushroom spring rolls, fried perfectly crisp with a mushroom and noodle filling and a creamy mushroomy sauce alongside, and the potato-leek soup with a dollop of locally made goat cheese. As if that weren’t enough, our entrees came out next. Rich finally got his halibut. It was served with a creamy pink sauce, rice, and a spinach-like green that we haven’t yet identified. I enjoyed the Ahi tuna, rare, served over a blueberry rice cake and covered with wasabi tobiko and mango salsa. Everything was outstanding, and while we were more than satisfied, we weren’t uncomfortably stuffed. That’s just how a good meal should leave me feeling. We sat together and savored every moment while the rain poured down in sheets.
That night, though it was still pouring rain, was warm and wonderful inside. We drank a bottle of Moose — the official state drink of Maine, isn’t it?! — and watched a goofy movie (“The Italian Job,” I think) before drifting off to dreamland.