My hopes for early departures never seem to pan out. About 10:20, we were still doing our morning routines when I reminded Linda that check-out was at 11:00 here at the Palmyra Golf Course & Campground. That lit a bit of a fire, and we got moving.
Since we hadn't done a full set-up for our one-night stay, it was easy to get ready and we pulled out of our site just before check-out time. We made a stop at the Walmart in Newport, Maine and stocked up on several items before hopping on the interstate (I-95) to begin our 90-mile journey to the tip of the Schoodic Peninsula.
From I-95, we took I-395 in Bangor which ended at U.S. Hwy 1A which took us U.S. Hwy 1 in Ellsworth. The pavement is torn up in Ellsworth and it was no fun going through that short section of road construction.
Eventually, we made it to the Schoodic Peninsula where we took ME 186 south through Winter Harbor, past the new Schoodic Woods Campground (and the sign that says "No RVs Beyond This Point"), down the Schoodic Loop Road to the Schoodic Institute (aka the Schoodic Education & Research Center or SERC). Linda commented on the beauty of our new "driveway".
The campus was the site of a Navy base from 1935 until 2002 when it was closed. For the history buffs, check out "The Navy At Schoodic Point".
There are old and new buildings and former military housing has been converted to house people that come in as part of the many educational and research programs hosted by the institute.
We pulled into the small one-road volunteer camping area behind the ball field (another remnant from the Navy being here), and found our site at the end of the road. It's completely private and a few sites away from the other volunteers.
We have full hook-ups with 30-amp electrical service, and though a tree is blocking our rooftop satellite dish, we managed to find a gap for our portable dish. The phone service bounces between 3G and 4G, but our Verizon 4G data modem has a pretty solid signal. We might have to use a booster to enhance the speed, but it will certainly do.
As soon as we got set up, we went to meet with the park service Volunteer Coordinator, Alicia, and our supervisor Seth, Bird Ecology Program Director. We are technically volunteers for Acadia National Park, so we had to fill out their standard paperwork, and Alicia gave us the park-related information we needed including a volunteer handbook. We also had to watch a 10-minute "Leave No Trace" video.
Though we are Acadia volunteers, we are under the supervision of the non-profit Schoodic Institute as part of the scientific research joint venture between the two organizations. One other volunteer couple under a gardening program is working with Schoodic while the others here work for the park service. We'll get to know them in the next few days.
Our positions are new and we are the first resident volunteers in the SeaWatch program. Five days a week for a few hours a day, we will be sitting on a bluff overlooking the ocean identifying and counting sea birds as they fly by. We'll follow scientific protocol and record the data from now through the end of October. We'll also be involved in other birding activities as we wish.
Now Seth has been quite upfront that we'll need to get up very early and be on the bluff at first light. Also, the weather can be downright awful and there are times we'll be freezing our tails off especially as it gets later in the year. It doesn't necessarily paint the best picture for future volunteers, but we'll see how it goes. We have lots of layers and rain gear, and our backpacking stove will come in handy to make hot chocolate while we're out there.
Seth gave us a walking tour of the campus and showed us the various facilities where research is conducted. One of the apartments is dedicated to the volunteers and it has two sets of washers and dryers (free), plus a library, a TV, and some exercise equipment. He showed us where trash and recycling goes.
Though our duties will be very specific, they want us to have a good understanding of the Schoodic Institute and the park as we'll be informal ambassadors of both. Tomorrow, Seth will give us a behind-the-scenes tour of the main part of Acadia on Mt. Desert Island, and then we'll get started on our training.
We told him we prefer to work weekends, and he said that would work better with his schedule since he has to do the SeaWatch on our off days. We're looking forward to getting our schedule set so we know the days and hours we have to explore. There is sightseeing, hiking, paddling, and lobster eating to be done. :)
Well, that's it for now. Until next time. :)