Our day began a little later than usual since we were still tired from the past two days! It was warm and mostly sunny to start. Breakfast was at the Black Friar Inn, which we had been looking forward to all year.
When we walked in we could tell that something had changed. We thought we were going crazy for a minute when we couldn’t find the door to the right that used to lead to the bar and breakfast area. We went around to the left and into the bar area from that side, and immediately it was clear—the kitchen had been expanded! Chef Johnny was still there, cooking away, but now he has a nice big kitchen (with several windows, so we can watch him at work) instead of his little foxhole. We asked Tom about it and he said oh yes, they expanded the kitchen—they had to. We were joking that maybe Johnny threatened to leave if he didn’t get a bigger kitchen!
The place was as cozy and understated as usual, although it was a bit busier than last year for some reason (I hope the secret isn’t getting out—”keep sending everyone to Jordan’s [and leave the Friar to us]!”) We had the same meals today as we had on our first visit here last year: blueberry pancakes with rosemary sausage for me, and the Ruffus Omelet (with spinach, bacon and goat cheese) for Rich. Both were served with unbelievably perfect fresh fruit—watermelon, honeydew and pineapple today—and Rich got the famous Friar Fries with his meal. I’ve been talking about them all year! Of course he shared them with me, as he always does. We also had coffee, tea and pineapple juice. I was getting full but still ate every delicious crumb from my plate (and the remaining crumbs on Rich’s plate as well!)! Everything was even better than expected, and after last year, our expectations were high.
While we ate Tom was drifting around the room, taking care of this and that. He began telling some people at the bar about the old Bar Harbor Club. It had fallen into disrepair and people working there began throwing pieces of blue slate into the abandoned Olympic sized pool. It was a big dog-walking area at that time, and people started taking the slate home and using it all over town. Now, he says, the club has been restored by the developer who built the “Great Wall of Bar Harbor” (West Street Hotel debacle) and who also apparently owns all the whale watch, etc. companies that operate from the pier. Tom seemed to think that while that wasn’t welcome, at least the revitalization of the Bar Harbor Club was worthwhile. He said anyone is welcome to go inside.
We took some extra time getting ready in our room and deciding which easy hike we’d like to do to start our trip. We decided to take the bus to Jordan Pond and decide on a hike from there. The bus was a little late. (We joked when we finally got on the bus and noticed that the date and time on the overhead scrolling information sign were “January 1, 12:55am” that they must have had to reboot the bus).
While we waited we talked to a couple from Utah who were in town on a cruise (one of the Dam ships, maybe Rotterdam?) en route to Boston from Canada. They initially approached us because they noticed the carabiners on Rich’s pack; apparently the guy collects them and puts them on his pack and for some reason suffers a lot of ribbing from his wife’s family about it. They were pretty interested in the history of the park that we were able to relate to them. We thought they were going to Jordan Pond too, but they ended up getting off the bus at the visitors center.
We rode all the way to Jordan Pond, walked by the Pond House and onto the loop trail around the pond, which is what we had chosen for today’s easy hike. We usually begin on the eastern shore and hike counterclockwise, but today we went in reverse, doing the more difficult western side first. Along the western shore runs the “world’s longest bogwalk.” Part of it has just been replaced, definitely this season, and a short section is still closed for maintenance. There is a short detour through the woods that serves as a temporary bypass. It’s been a dry year so even in Maine the woods are crispy and the pond is low. There was very little evidence of the wetland plants, like jack-in-the-pulpit, that we usually see here. I did see one bunch of jack-in-the-pulpit berries, but the actual plant was nowhere to be found.
The trail was relatively busy, with lots of loudmouths everywhere, but always peaceful as soon as they passed by and took their noise with them. A loon made frequent haunting calls (and another loon, of the non-feathered variety, called back). We took our time exploring and wandering through the different sections of the trail, like the “boulder field” and the wooden and stepping-stone bridges at the northern end of the pond.
Not far beyond the bridges at the northern end we began looking for the Goat Trail intersection, which we’ve found in years past. It’s right near a small wooden bridge/culvert; our coordinates from previous years got us there, but we took another reading just to see if we could improve our coordinates. I followed the old path up to the Park Loop Road just to be sure all was still well. It was!
It was harder to find the path going up, since you’re basically just looking at a wall of rocks and boulders. The steps that are still in very good condition are still easy to spot. This time there was no flagging tape on the trees, and there were only two cairns near the intersection with the Jordan Pond trail. Otherwise the trail was unmarked.
As I neared the park loop road, I began to worry—I saw lots of brush and cut trees that had been pushed over the bank. Could they have covered the steps and the handrail? Fortunately, no. I spotted them to my left a minute later. On the way back down, it was much easier to spot the constructed treadway of the trail, snaking this way and that down the slope, still many beautiful steps in perfect order.
We finished our walk slowly down the eastern shore of the lake. It was unusually hot and sunny by this point, and it was time to take a break for some water and snacks (Chuckles) on a rock, where we spotted something (a dog?) swimming toward the shore. Rich thought maybe it was a person? Either way, neither is technically allowed since the pond is a public water supply.
We took a few more photos on the way back, although it was a difficult day for photography with such bright sun directly overhead. We were pretty well beat up, so once we returned to the Pond House (“Hey! Where’s that lemonade I asked for?!”) we just went into the gift shop, bought a few jars of strawberry jam for my father, and caught the bus back to the Village Green. (Note: the buses can’t carry bikes with kid carriers or trailers! A family was turned away based on incorrect information they’d gotten elsewhere.)
Our dinner reservations were for 5:45 at Mache Bistro in town. It was as delicious as last time we were here a few years ago! We had to ask to be moved because of obnoxious loud women in the first area where we were seated, but it turned out fine. We were given a nice quiet corner which we had basically to ourselves for most of the meal. My beer was the Allagash White and Rich had Peaks IPA. Then we decided to split two appetizers and two small plates: two blues (blue cheeses, strawberry paste, smoked tomatoes); roasted peppers and cheese, grilled quail with apricot sauce, and grilled hanger steak with a microgreen salad. Everything was a delicious tasty treat and was also presented beautifully. We had enough room for dessert! Rich had the chocolate tart with walnut pecan crust and vanilla (not s’mores!) ice cream; it tasted like a super-rich brownie. I had the lavender (of course!) pots de crème with whipped cream. Ahh!
We were full and pretty tired by this time. We walked around town for a few minutes, checked out the moose in the “Made in USA” shop and then Cadillac Mountain Sports, where we didn’t see much of interest today, and then stopped at Hannaford again for a few provisions. Back to the room and we were resting in bed by 8:30!