Since Julia and I are really only about one to two levels above "total rube" in the kayak, we decided to take a guided sea kayak tour. Maine State Sea Kayak
runs their tours off the quietside of the island - perfect for us. The sea state, even with all the rain and wet weather, was placid and lake-like. Combine that with low insurance premiums and our guide gave us about 30 seconds of discussion on the "wet exit" and kayak handling and we were off from Bartlett's Landing.
The same steely grayness pervaded the morning, though some lightness was stealing in under the low skies. After the past week, no amount of lightness would have been unbearable especially since I chose a more practical dri-fit cap instead of my bowler.
The guide, Joel, was your standard vagabond ski patrol/paddling guide/deckhand type you find in every active tourist location. Gregarious to the point of near insincerity, enough local knowledge so you don't question the more suspect "facts", and a Buffettesque life of chasing the sun. So jealous.
Cruising up the narrows between Bartlett Island and mainland Pretty Marsh, we passed seal and eagle nesting grounds and got spectacular views of both. This side of the island is largely private or government/conservation association owned land, so there are no marinas and very very few power boats. In a 6 mile paddle, we saw one. Basically, we had the whole bay to ourselves.
n the pictures, if you see what looks like a very light chop and not much else, zoom in. There's a seal head in there somewhere. It was like a game of whack-a-mole out there - you never really knew when or where they would pop up (relax my vegan peeps, I didn't try to whack them with the paddle). Look at the center of the shot below for some views of the seals sunning themselves on a rock. Or just relaxing, since there wasn't much sun to be see just yet. If you see treetops and not much else, generally look for the tallest tree or the one with a big chunk missing toward the top. Zoom in if needed, there's an eagle sunning itself/drying its wings/on injury timeout.
Six miles of paddling is more than we're used to, so after we pulled out in Pretty Marsh, we decided to bag the afternoon hike and just drive up the summit of Cadillac Mountain. It's the highest peak on Mt. Desert Island and a beautifully paved road leads all the way to the top. We were thinking of riding up when we were on the park road loop yesterday, but visibility sucked.
As we drove to the northern end of the island, we saw what I imagine the early peoples interpreted as their gods shining down from heaven. The sun broke through the clouds in splintered rays that cascaded across the hills. Shadows formed for the first time in weeks and the splinters of light grew into shimmering beams of sunshine. The clouds collected into puffy hillocks in the sky and the orb of the sun made its appearance known. Much like my trip to El Yunque with Karalyn, seeing the sun for the first time in days was a religious experience and I wept with joy. (Purple prose, not my forte, even ironically. Good to know. Cross that style off the list of possible "voices")
The low-lying fog and bits of cloud and rain continued to roll across the water, the islands, and the southern end of MDI. This made for some of the most spectacular views I've ever seen from a peak. Even though the parking lot made it a haven for raucous children and rambling retirees (wait, I'm one of those now!), the vistas off Cadillac Mountain left me speechless. We spent long moments standing on a bit of rock and just looking. Simply looking. We hope you enjoy looking too.
he quintessential MDI day ended at the local lobster pound. As recently as a decade ago, there was no restaurant here, just a working lobster wharf. The pier and lobstermen are still there, they just serve lobster on a tray at picnic tables now. Just like a seaside burger shack, but with fresh Maine lobsters steamed in an outside saltwater steamer. Which is just the way to do it.
Hiking and Carriage Roads tomorrow,
No, it's the sun!! On Wednesday, we bet our bottom dollar and Annie was right. The fog and rain lifted everywhere and on the northern end of the island we so honest-to-goodness blue skies and the actual sun. I'd recently self-diagnosed myself with a case of lack of sun-related SAD and I was at my wits end. Like a houseplant at our apartment, after a week of neglect all I needed was a little water and to see the sun and I was all better.