Well, it wasn't exactly a "quick" tour, but it was a limited tour of highlights related to what we'll be doing as volunteers.
We met Seth at his office at 9:00 this morning. We started with a drive out to Schoodic Point where we will be observing birds flying by. This will be our "office" for the next couple of months.
I'm sure I'll have a lot more photos from there over the next few weeks.
We continued on around the Schoodic Loop Road stopping at Blueberry Hill which is another bird observation point.
The Schoodic Loop Road is a park road that runs around the lower half of the peninsula. Actually, it's more of a horseshoe shape and it requires using Hwy 186 between Birch Harbor and Winter Harbor across the top to complete the 11-mile "loop".
The loop runs south down the western side of the peninsula and becomes one-way at Frazer Point Picnic area just south of the Schoodic Woods Campground. It's popular with cyclists and bikes also are required to comply with the one-way requirements. So once you pass Frazer Point, you are committed to going all the way around. From the Schoodic Institute, we also have to go north up the east side of the peninsula to get anywhere.
We made another stop at a place where seals often hang out (offshore a little bit on a ledge not visible in the photo below), but they have yet to arrive this season.
As we got to Winter Harbor, Seth stopped at the Schoodic Marine Center which has a small natural history exhibit on whales. It has bicycle and kayak rentals and it's one of the two places in Winter Harbor where you can take a pedestrian ferry over to Bar Harbor.
It's a 45-minute ride each way and the Schoodic Ferry per-person fare is $25.00 round-trip or $12.50 one-way.
We saw two Bald Eagles fly by as we left the Marine Center and continued on over to Mt. Desert Isle, the main section of Acadia National Park.
Though it's spelled "desert" like the Sahara Desert, many locals pronounce it like "dessert". According to the AcadiaMagic.com website:
Many visitors to the area, as well as those about to visit, are confused about how to pronounce the word “Desert” as used in Mount Desert Island. By most who live in Maine, it is pronounced more like “Dessert” as in a cookie or a piece of pie. More often than not, the second syllable is accented as in “de-ZERT” following the French manor of speaking.
It's a 45-mile drive from our site, and it takes a little over an hour to get to the more popular section of the park.
We stopped by the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and Seth introduced us to a couple of rangers that are involved in some of the bird ecology programs. It was packed as today was the first day of free admission to the National Parks as part of the centennial celebration. The National Park Service turned 100 today, and all the parks have free admission today through Sunday (Aug. 25 - 28, 2016).
Seth drove us up to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest coastal peak in the eastern U.S. at 1,547 feet. When we were here back in early August of 2011, the parking lots at the top were full and today was no different. People were scattered all over the mountain.
The distant land mass in the photo below is the Schoodic Peninsula.
Our purpose for going up to the top of Cadillac was to visit the Hawk Watch site which overlooks Bar Harbor and the Porcupine Islands.
The Hawk Watch location is just off the North Ridge Trail and the hawk watchers should be there between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Monday - Friday. Often there is a ranger there as well to answer questions.
On the way down the mountain, we stopped at a secondary Hawk Watch site and met Jason.
Today, there was a strong southerly wind which hampers migration and there weren't many raptors, but as September arrives there will be more and more. If you stop by either spot, tell them "Seth's SeaWatch volunteers sent you". :)
By the time we finished visiting the Hawk Watch sites, we were all getting hungry. Seth attempted to take us to one of the local restaurants in Bar Harbor, but there was no parking to be had anywhere. With the combination of free admission to the park, peak lunch time, and a beautiful day, Bar Harbor was just completely overrun.
So, we headed back and left the crowds behind. We stopped at the Chart Room and had a nice lunch. Linda & I had eaten there when we came to Acadia five years ago, so we knew it was good.
Back on the Schoodic Peninsula, we stopped at the new Schoodic Woods Campground. It just opened last Fall, and it's a great campground with large RV sites. The 32 sites in B Loop have 50 amp electric and water hook-ups for $40 per night. Other smaller sites also have 50 amp electric but no water hook-ups, and then all the rest of the sites have 20-amp electric. Generators are not allowed.
The facilities are all new, the roads are paved, and the free Island Explorer Shuttle stops there. Bike trails crossing the peninsula that connect with the Loop Road can be accessed at the campground. There is a dump station and flush toilets, but no showers. It seems strange not to have included showers in this new campground, especially with 26 tent-only sites. The "stay limit" is 14 nights between Memorial Day and Columbus Day. The campground opens late May and closes in early October.
Seth does programs in the campground on Wednesdays, and last night he met Betty & David who have been to multiple rallies. Wayne & Linda are also there (they followed us onto the peninsula yesterday).
Continuing on the Schoodic Loop Road, we took the gravel road to the parking area for Schoodic Head, the highest point on the peninsula at 440 feet. It's a short walk up to the top and beyond the summit is an overlook with some nice views.
We also visited the bird banding site along the Alder Trail. An experienced bird banding couple has two separate areas where they are capturing and banding migrating birds. They alternate between the two sites, and we look forward to meeting them and helping if we can.
Soon, we were back at the Schoodic Institute. We had a great day touring Acadia and getting to know Seth and the other bird programs. We agreed to meet out on Schoodic Point at 8:30 tomorrow morning to begin our training.
Back home, I changed and went for a run. Seth had told me a route that would make a three-mile loop. It was great with part of it being on the loop road where the views were wonderful.
It started clouding up, but I went for one last walk before calling it a day.
There are three paved RV sites in our little camping area, and then there are 13 other campsites about half of which are large enough for big RVs. We aren't allowed to have campfires, but there is a community firepit with provided wood just outside the volunteer area.
There are pavilions with gas grills, ....
a tennis court (hopefully, somebody here plays a little tennis), .....
and a ball field (with Schoodic Head in the background).
The ball field doesn't seem to get much use. Our rig is in the trees and downhill from the ball field a little.
Just beyond the firepit, is the start of the Sundew Trail.
It's a little over a half-mile walk in the woods that has a couple of benches on West Pond, .....
and two more on Frenchman's Bay looking west over to Mt. Desert Isle and Cadillac Mountain. It will be a great place to watch the sunset on clearer days.
So, that's pretty much it for our first full day here. It was a nice day of orientation. Tomorrow, we start our training out on Schoodic Point where we started today's tour. So far so good. :)