This morning dawned perfectly clear and warm. It was going to be the awesome weather day we were hoping for! We had reservations for the nature cruise to the Cranberry Isles leaving from Northeast Harbor at 10:00am, so breakfast would have to be early and quick. Morning Glory was our first choice. They deserved another chance.
The bakery was nearly deserted when we arrived. Once again, breakfast items were few and far between. Most of the offerings were dessert-type items like bars and cookies. They did have sticky buns, bagels, and blueberry scones, but I usually only eat scones I’ve made since they’re so iffy when purchased. We each got a bagel (3 seed white for dad with plain cream cheese, 3 seed wheat for me with cilantro cream cheese, and cheddar wheat with veggie cream cheese for Rich). And dad and I split a sticky bun—really, would you have expected anything less?! The tea selection is still sparse, but PG Tips is certainly acceptable, even if I wouldn’t want it every day. Rich and Dad had a few different coffees to choose from.
Cruise to Little Cranberry
Soon after finishing up, we were on our way to Northeast Harbor. Dad drove today (hey, he has to learn the routes if he’s going to drive the shuttle buses here someday!). We arrived early, but to our surprise so had nearly everyone else. We secured a good seat on the boat, and I had time to pick up the trail guide for the Northeast Harbor VIS trails.
I had to ask for the trail guide at the visitors center since it wasn’t available on the racks with the other maps and brochures. It was like I needed to know the secret password or something. I asked for the map and the guy at the desk reached underneath and handed it to me without a word, looking me straight in the eye the entire time. I later read in Trails of History that many years ago the Northeast Harbor VIS was thought to have “unofficially abandoned” trails (simply by not telling people about them) in order to keep the trails to themselves. Perhaps the tradition of obscurity continues?! Anyway, I’ve done my part to spread the word, as you can see.
Our cruise was a relaxing and interesting way to spend an 80°, perfectly clear blue sky day. According to the ranger, today was the first time in months that she has given the tour on a fog-free day. The ranger was an older woman named Wanda Moran who has had the pleasure of living here and working as a year-round ranger for 23 years. Her tour was reasonably thorough, focusing on the natural features of the land while touching on the history and answering some frequently asked questions.
We saw osprey and their nests, several groups of harbor seals, and a harbor porpoise along the way. A 45 minute stop at Islesford on Little Cranberry gave us just enough time to walk through the museum. For a tiny museum on a small island, it was very neatly kept and well designed. The exhibits featured quotes from oral histories of residents lining the walls beneath relevant photographs. I only wish it hadn’t been so crowded.
We had a few more minutes to walk up Main Street to the church. On the return trip, we cruised into Somes Sound and had closeup views of the enormous cottages lining the shore. And despite some near-idling around the East Bunker Ledge (and seals) and in a few other spots, dad didn’t need to use his barf bag!
The boat returned to Northeast Harbor around 1:00pm, which left us plenty of time for a low-key activity before dinner. The ranger had mentioned a granite museum on the island and a few people on the boat gave it rave reviews, so we just had to check it out. The ranger gave us directions (it’s on Beech Hill Crossroad) and we were off—but not before noticing an Army Corps benchmark on the corner of the pier. I don’t know how we didn’t notice this one before!
Hidden gem: the Granite Museum
It may sound like a bizarre attraction out of a Chevy Chase “Vacation” movie, but the granite museum was really fascinating. It’s apparently a one-man show, and a one-room show, kept in one half of a building that also houses a lawnmower retail and repair business. We had barely parked when a man with a loud voice and friendly demeanor approached eagerly. It was Steven Haynes, a real local character who has worked with granite since he was 11.
Rather than just being a museum where you walk around and look at the exhibits and have to try to interpret them and put them into context yourself, Steven guided us (and another couple from Tennessee who showed up around the same time) through the history of granite on the island, from its formation in the magma chambers and shaping by the glaciers to the exquisite handwork that Rockefeller’s craftsmen used to build the stone bridges of Acadia, and beyond. Maine granite shows up just about everywhere! Steven was so obviously passionate about his subject and more than willing to spend as much time with us as we wanted. I almost felt guilty when we eventually had to leave.
After the museum we stopped by the Beech Hill farm stand only to find that it was closed (only open Thursday-Saturday at this time of year, apparently). Then we all rested for a while before supper at Fathom at 5:45.
Fine food at Fathom
And it was a great meal as always! We sat outside because all of the inside tables were occupied already. Usually it’s too chilly for us to eat outside here, but tonight was warm (almost 80°, still) and calm. We started with Fathom’s awesome anadama bread, and then dad had a caprese salad as an appetizer while Rich and I split the Korean beef skewers with cabbage slaw. We could have eaten ten of those. Rich then had the lobster gnocchi, dad had the salmon, and I had the halibut with corn salsa, cilantro vinagrette and couscous. We all had beers to drink (blueberry, Real Ale and Peak IPA) and we shared a blueberry pie a la mode for dessert. AWESOME!!!