Our Commentaries

Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park

Outline

1. Bar Harbor

a.  Activities and Attractions
b.  Sports
           i. Kayaking
           ii. Bicycling
           iii. Marathon
           iv. Sailing
           v. Canoeing
           vi. Rock Climbing
           vii. Fishing
           viii. Golfing
           ix. Tennis
c.  Commercial boating
d.  Shopping
e.  Dining
f.   Highbrow
g.  Sightseeing
 
2. Acadia National Park
 
a.  Carriage Roads
          i. Ease of access
          ii. History
          iii. The roads
b.  Shoreline and Mountains
c.  Scenic tours bus/van/trolley
 
3. Off-Island
 
a.  Summer camps for children
b.  Day-trip fishing
c.  Hiking expeditions, Maine Timberlands
 
4. On a Clear Day

5. Photo gallery

Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor, a fabled oceanfront town on Coastal Maine, is the host community to the 40,000-acre National Park on Mount Desert Island.

Bar Harbor, along with Newport, RI, was the most socially significant resort in the nation during the Gilded Age following the Civil War and leading up to World War I, as the surviving Victorian mansions and other shingle-style architectural masterpieces still attest.

But Bar Harbor and all of Mt. Desert Island were first a gift of natural wonder manifested in the majestically beautiful Cadilac range- mountains descending, sometimes virtually straight down, to the oceanfront town's charmed pieces of interest:

    --     venerable, and marvelously preserved 19th century oceanfront homes.

    --     elegant and historic shops like the Willis Rock Shop patronized and made famous by the wife of a US president and by fashion plate celebrities among cruise ship passengers of the 20th century who wore Mr. Willis’ unique gold bracelets made from gemstones he found the Island’s beaches; and like the marvelous emporium that is Sherman’s Bookstore with its creaking floors and tin ceilings, which still thrives after more than a century. 
 
    --     the venerable and architectural period piece Jesup Library which Bostonians founded and nationally known philanthropists lavishly endowed for over 100 years, with another $5,000,000 added just this year (2022) by a neighbor whose home is directly across Hulls Cove from the Oceansedge property.
 
    --     diverse restaurants, perhaps a hundred such restaurants offering cuisines from almost every culture and continent.
 
    --     the bustling waterfront, including a flotilla of excursion crafts of almost every sort (whale watching, deep sea fishing, lobster fishing, sailing). 
 
    --     the Shore Path promenade where the greatest of the American tycoons came to build residential temples to conspicuous consumption, and to rub elbows only with their peers during the summers of the late 1800s; and where the public was allowed to pass by in order to gaze on America’s imperial Great White Fleet at anchor offshore.

    --     superlative hotels like: 

    (a) the historic oceanfront Bar Harbor Motor Inn which has been around since cars were a new idea; 
 
    (b) the modern oceanfront Regency Hotel down the shoreline from the subject Oceansedge property; and 
 
    (c) the Harborside Hotel that is part of a single holding reaching almost the whole length of the waterfront's historic West Street and including the former non-pareil oceanfront Bar Harbor Club which had been until World War II what is still the social basition Everglades Club in Palm Beach.
 
    --     and innumerable other places of interest and perhaps inspiration. 
 
Together, these tangible souls comprise the most engaging resort community anywhere in New England.

Activities & Attractions

Activities & Attractions

Bar Harbor is arguably the most popular seacoast destination in New England, as it has been for almost 150 years.

The surrounding 30,000-acre Acadia National Park, which is one of the most popular national parks in the US and the only national park east of the Mississippi, no doubt greatly adds to Bar Harbor's appeal.

Therefore, Bar Harbor has a long tradition of offering to its visitors almost innumerable "things to do", as discussed below.


Sports

Sports

Kayaking

The Oceansedge property with direct access to the ocean from the deck on the shore in front of the house, is ideally suited for safe and convienient ocean kayaking.

The companies listed below bring kayaks to the Oceansedge property on the morning of the day of a guest's arrival, and remove the boats at the end of the week:

All of the following companies are affiliates of the very capable Glenn Tucker (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) who has served for many years guests of the Oceansedge property.


Bicycling

The Oceansedge property is located within one mile of the Reception Center for Acadia National Park. Guests can bicycle directly from the property to Acadia and its 45 miles of Carriage Roads which are devoid of vehicular traffic.

The noted companies below bring bicycles to the Oceansedge property on the morning of the day of a guest's arrival, and remove the bicycles at the end of the week.


Marathon

Bar Harbor conducts in October of each year the Run MDI Marathon as advertised by the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

Sailing

Some of Oceansedge’s guests prefer sailing.

They come to Oceansedge because the venerable Bar Harbor Yacht Club, which has been around since 1885, is located just across Hulls Cove (perhaps 3/4 mile). And because guests can arrange with the Harbor Master for a mooring to be set below the Oceansedge property itself.

Guests sometimes charter sailboats, which are available near Hulls Cove on Mount Desert Island. Some of the vendors of those charter boats include Morris Yachts which is very proximate to Hulls Cove, and the world renowned Hinckley Yachts.

Additionally, sailboat tours are available from Bar Harbor operators. The tours usually consist of sailing for a period of hours on an historic Maine coastal schooner. One vendor is Windjammer Cruises, which offers dramatic tours on the Mary Todd 4-masted schooner with red sails, along with additional boats.


Rock climbing

Some, although few!, of our guests bravely climb the cliffs of Acadia National Park’s shoreline, as seen on the left, (e.g., Otter Cliff and Great Head), and some of the sheer cliffs within the Park’s mountain range.

Arrangements are offered by Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School.

Canoeing

Canoeing is becoming more common on Hulls Cove where it was very popular in the late 1800s.


Fishing

As mentioned, harborside operators offer deep sea fishing tours from large boats, usually wandering dozens of miles from Bar Harbor’s dock.

But some Oceansedge guests sometimes fish from the shore of Hulls Cove, at the foot of the Oceansedge property. Flounder, sea bass, pollock. Usually caught with metal lures (Dare Devils with clams), versus fly fishing.

More of our guests often turn to fly fishing in the Park’s many lakes and ponds, which are spectacularly beautiful. Trout and landlocked salmon at the bottom of crystal clear and still water. Long Pond and Jordan Pond, among others.

Oceansedge offers to introduce its guests to a Maine Guide who arranges for more sophisticated fresh water fishing, on the mainland but within easy driving distance of Bar Harbor. Day trips or overnight. All equipment provided. Forest settings.

(The same Guide offers day trips for off-Island bird shooting in the Fall. Two superb hunting dogs in company).


Golfing

The preeminent golf course on Mt. Desert Island is Kebo. Kebo abuts both the Town and Acadia National Park, and occupies a valley at the foot of Cadillac Mountain.

Founded in 1888, it is one of the ten oldest golf courses in the US, and is surely one of the country’s most beautiful courses.

President Taft, who at nearly 300 pounds may have been an inspiration for the invention of golf carts, was one of the first to make Kebo famous. But Kebo was renowned among the gliterrati during the Gilded Age.

Kebo is available to the public. Other golf courses on Mt. Desert Island are generally available only by invitation, which invitation would be wise to accept with alacrity because the offer would otherwise likely not come again.

Miniature Golf

Pirates Cove Miniature Golf near Hulls Cove in Bar Harbor.

Not inspiring. No one is known to have become and rich and famous for pursuing this sport.


Tennis

Arguably, one of the first tennis courts in the US was constructed on a former farm field at Schooner Head, not far from a small sawmill then busily consuming august pine and spruce trees harvested on that now priceless peninsula.

Bar Harbor’s high-society rival, Newport, RI, gained the distinction of being the first to give the sport national distinction in 1881, with the creation of the Newport Casino (not for gamblers although “risk takers” were pedigreed). But Bar Harbor made up for lost time by creating the oceanfront and Tudor-style Bar Harbor Bath (swimming) and Tennis Club.

The then reorganized Bar Harbor Club opened in September 1929 just weeks ahead of the Crash that was the beginning of the Great Depression. Nonetheless, most of the Club’s elite members weathered the Depression or profited by it. (An accountant’s ledger book showed at the time a charge of $1 for three tennis balls, the same price paid to desperate men for a day’s labor).

The one historic location in Bar Harbor for tennis remains the Bar Harbor Club, preserved and improved by the late international real estate developer Tommy Walsh of Bangor, to his great and enduring credit.

Additional courts are available, not far from Hulls Cove, at the distinctive and oceanfront Regency Hotel, and also owned by Tommy Walsh.

Tennis courts can be found in other towns on Mount Desert Island. But they are generally under the domain of impenetrable private clubs.


Commercial Boating Tours

Commercial Boating Tours

Several harborside vendors in Bar Harbor offer boating excursions.

Those excursions involve deep-sea fishing; whale watching (Bar Harbor Whale Watching Company); and oceanview tours of Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island, plus nearby small islands notable for lighthouses, seals, and sea birds like the colorful Atlantic puffins


Shopping

Shopping

Bar Harbor offers many shops although some of its best are some of the oldest as with Sherman’s Bookstore and the Willis Rock Shop. Likewise, the Kimball Shop in nearby Northeast Harbor where it is good planning for shoppers to bring along more than one stout credit card.

Several art stores featuring not inexpensive Mainescapes include the Argosy galleries.

Open Map of Shopping around Bar Harbor


Dining

Dining

Bar Harbor is said to offer as many as 100 restaurants. They range from the formal and superlative Bar Harbor Motor Inn on the ocean, to the legendary and very casual Geddy’s,and the in-between West Street Café and Paddy’s Irish Pub.

(A priceless photo from a half century ago depicting Bar Harbor’s grinning and forever irrepressible Geddy [Gerry] Mitchell himself in the company of a bemused Mother Teresa, still accompanies countless license plates and other photos on the walls of that now superlative and perfectly managed restaurant. When he was just 18 years old, weight-lifter Gerry founded on Cottage Street across from the Town Office in downtown Bar Harbor a raucous bar and thunderous dance hall constructed on-the-cheap with a floor consisting of trucked-in beach sand and a flimsy roof made from surplus WWII Quonset Hut sheet metal plus a paltry string of naked light bulbs for intentionally dim illumination. It was his first of at least three bars. The bars included the then suggestively named “The Green Door”, and later “Geddy’s” where he survived being shot in the back by a rival with a shotgun. His precocious whirlwind was enough to make him an almost instant millionaire and a local folk hero during that anti-establishment and rebellious era before Bar Harbor regained its composure).

Although it does not fall into the “dining” category for most people, Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium is a necessary self indulgence.

See Restaurants below

High Brow

High Brow

The Jesup Memorial Library

A hundred years old and more revered every year. Its annunal booksale in August is superlative.

The annual Bar Harbor Fine Arts Festival in August.

The Bar Harbor Historical Society’s oceanfront LaRochelle Mansion and Museum (as seen on the right) on the ocean on West Street, the 41-room manse (a) built for George Sullivan Bowdoin who was a descendant of Alexander Hamilton and of the founder of Bowdoin College, and was the treasurer of J P Morgan Company; and (b) later owned by Philadelphia’s Dorrances of the Campbell Soup Company, whose patriarch owned the Kenarden cottage, the greatest of the more than 100 summer cottages.


The Criterion Movie Theater

A rare survivor of the Art Deco era, and an experience in itself.

Devoted to the preservation of the Criterion building and the tradition, the then elderly former wife of no less than Harvard's historian Samuel Eliot Morison (Northeast Harbor and Boston) bought the property during its darkest hours 60 years ago and ran the whole business herself, including selling the tickets at the street window while dodging inside to make the buttered popcorn.

Bar Harbor Music Festival and the Bar Harbor Town summer concerts on the Village Green.

The Bar Harbor Club, (as seen on the left) wisely preserved and still evocative of last of the Gilded Age in Bar Harbor.


Sightseeing

Sightseeing

Sightseeing through the Town and on the ocean. Alternatives too numerous to mention here - see below.

 Acadia National Park

After more than 100 years, Acadia shows itself to be the best combined handiwok of: a Divine provider; the greatest of the American philanthropists, the Rockefellers; and Harvard visionaries.  

There is nothing quite like Acadia’s approachable but still stunning natural escarpments above the ocean. Its Carriage Trails that are dozens of miles of bicycling and jogging and hiking routes where buildings and vehicles are never seen amidst forests and lakes and meadows. And its mountain top views of the earliest sunrise in America and the most glorious moonrises over the North Atlantic as well.

The Carriage Roads: Hiking and Bicycling

The Carriage Roads: Hiking and Bicycling

Ease of access and use

Acadia National Park’s Reception Center, which is just a mile from the Oceansedge property, is the gateway to 45 miles of “Carriage Roads”.

Recently completed road construction between the Oceansedge property and the Park’s Reception Center, now makes it possible for our guests to bicycle safely and directly from the house to the Reception Center. One mile.

The same company mentioned below (Glenn Tucker’s Coastal Kayaking Tours and Acadia Bike) makes available to Oceansedge guests bicycles and related equipment, delivered to the property on the day of a guest’s arrival.


History

John D Rockefeller, Jr. was the primary catalyst for the construction of the roads made with crushed pink gravel and made wide enough to allow two horse drawn carriages to pass – a project carried out at the turn of the 20th century with some spitefulness toward the resented introduction of automobiles to Mount Desert Island.

The carriage roads became available in 1913 – just before the federal government’s institution of the progressive income tax legislation which might have daunted Mr. Rockefeller’s road-building plan if the legislation had come sooner.


The roads

The roads were intended for walkers, hikers, horseback riders, and horse-driven carriages (hence the “carriage roads”).

The crushed gravel roads were wide enough to allow for two carriages to pass. They were (and still are) magnificently maintained. They meander through the most beautiful bucolic scenery in America, often over stone bridges that are architectural masterpieces which would be hopelessly unaffordable to replicate today.

These roads – which are still devoid of automobiles – make for fabulous bicycling and hiking and jogging during favorable seasons, and for cross-country skiing and some snowmobiling in winter months.


The Shoreline and the mountains

The Shoreline and the mountains

The visual experience of Acadia is at its best along the 27-mile Ocean Drive that circumnavigates most of the eastern and southeastern side of Mount Desert Island. Gorgeous views of the rough surf on that side of the Island and of some of the Island’s most spectacular ocean view homes.

Likewise, the Park roads meandering through, and to the top of, the Cadillac Mountain Range are as beautiful as visitors imagined, or more so. The routes are spectacular in every season.


Scenic tours by bus and van and trolley and car

Scenic tours by bus and van and trolley and car

Several downtown operators offer scenic tours of Acadia National Park, especially as to Cadillac Mountain; Ocean Drive which circumnavigates much of the eastern shoreline of the Island; and Bar Harbor’s historic neighborhoods.

The operators transport their customers by bus and by van and by trolley.

Some of those operators include “Tour Acadia”. Another is “Oli’s Trolley”. (“Oli’s Trolley” Might have won for one of Bar Harbor’s truly very successful and humorous entrepreneurs a SAG Award (Sagacious Advertisers Gimmick) for catchy alliteration, although he declined to give up the “Dink’s Taxi” trade name).

Oceansedge previously made available to its guests a British sports car (a Triumph TR6, 1973). It was, of course, like no other means of transportation up and down and around Acadia’s mountain passes and Ocean Drive cliffs and winding roads. The car-touring was an existential experience but arriving back at Oceansedge still alive was an ordinary relief.


3

3 "Off-Island" Activities

a. Summer camps for children

Guests of Oceansedge are sometimes parents of children on their way to or from summer camps, for which Maine has been renowned since at least the early 1900s.

Maine Summer Camps is a non-profit organization with a main office in Portland, Maine. It serves over 120 Maine summer camps for children – in effect, thousands of children from throughout the US. (Oceansedge has been a sponsor of that organization).

Two of the camps most proximate to Oceansedge – and coincidentally two of the very best of all the summer camps in Maine – are: - Alford Lake Camp near chic Camden (https://www.alfordlakecamp.com/), which camp has been around for 115 years; and - ii. The Robin Hood Camp in Brooksville.

(The property owner of Oceansedge is a sentimental alumna of Alford Lake Camp).


b. Day trips for fly fishing and hunting in Eastern Maine

Some of the best of fishing lodges in the US are in Eastern Maine, on or near Grand Lake Stream, variously 2 to 3 hours in driving time from Bar Harbor.

Two such lodges are:

- Leen’s Lodge, founded by the hugely colorful Stan Leen of Bangor in 1958, when Bangor’s standing as the 2nd wealthiest city per capita in the world was still in living memory.

Although justifiably not inexpensive, Leen’s Lodge has been the favored destination of some of the best of fly fishermen (and hunters) from Maine and beyond for most of a century, including some guests who came in past years just for the robust Grand Lake Streamer cocktails made with “branch water”.

- Weatherby’s, which has roots reaching back to the opening of that part of Maine in the mid-1800s by ancestors of the owner of Oceansedge. Weatherby’s has always drawn guests like Ted Williams and other serious and capable and ardent fishing and hunting enthusiasts.

Weatherby’s offers Orvis equipment, excellent guides, and plenty of firewood for chilly early mornings there when the low fog on the lake says that even that ice water in the lake is warmer than the air.

The proprietor of Oceansedge would gladly facilitate trips to these or other lodges, such trips likely being for at least a few nights there.


c. Hiking expeditions into Maine's timberlands

The proprietor of Oceansedge would also gladly facilitate, through a Maine Guide, trips to Maine’s North Woods. A usual objective is to ascend the terrifying Knife Edge to the summit of Mt. Katahdin, distant crown of Maine, 150 miles from Bar Harbor.

Expeditions into Maine’s North Woods require overnight stays in primitive accommodations, and are best undertaken by the young and the experienced, with a darned good Guide. (The first expeditions to Katahdin were made only with Native American guides).

On a Clear Day

On a Clear Day

It is not possible to see Mt. Katahdin from the back porch of the Oceansedge property, to paraphrase Sarah Palin.

But, on a clear day, it is possible to see from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, not just Katahdin and much of Maine, but also the vivid panorama of Hulls Cove and Bar Harbor and the vast shorelines and mountains of Acadia National Park immediately below.

On a Clear Day/ On a clear day/ Rise and look around you /And you'll see who you are

On a clear day/ How it will astound you/ That the glow of your being/ Outshines every star

You'll feel part of every mountain,/ Sea and shore/ You can hear/ From far and near

A word you've never, never heard before...

And on a clear day... On a clear day...

You can see forever.../ And ever.../ And ever.../ And ever more...

You'll feel part of every mountain,/ Sea and shore/ You can hear/ From far and near

A word you've never, never heard before...

And on a clear day... On a clear day...

You can see forever.../ And ever.../ And ever.../ And ever more...

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