Today, Monday, was our first day off and we could sleep in, although we still went to bed at 9:00 last night. I got up early and wrote a Journal entry while Linda took advantage of her extra sleeping time. She can sleep 12 hours, no problem. :)
When she got up, she put on a crockpot of chili, and we went for our run about 11:00. We changed it up and just went to Schoodic Point a couple of times, so most of our run/walk was along the ocean.
After getting back and getting cleaned up, we went to a volunteer meeting at the Schoodic Operations Center at 1:00. It would be our first chance to meet all the other volunteers at the same time. One couple is leaving tomorrow, so I think they wanted to go ahead and do their recognition "ceremony".
With 2016 being the Centennial for the National Park Service, they have a special award this year for anyone that has put in 201.6 volunteer hours - a Centennial Volunteer Challenge Coin. So, the volunteers that have been here all summer got their coins, a certificate, coffee mugs, and a coupon for free ice cream in Winter Harbor. Even Linda & I were given coffee mugs and the ice cream coupon, and there was lemonade and snacks for everyone. By the time we are finished, we'll earn coins of our own although we really couldn't care less about that. We just want to do a great job for Seth.
It was nice to meet everyone, and it is nice to be recognized and appreciated. We have found that the appreciation is more often expressed at public entity volunteer jobs than at jobs working for private employers that pay wages. Even though 32 hours per week is expected (which is more than expected by private employers in exchange for a "free" campsite), we'd still rather do a volunteer job (assuming we don't need a paycheck) because the atmosphere tends to be better (there are, of course, exceptions).
After the "meeting", we spent an hour with Seth asking questions and getting clarification on a few things. He said we've already counted more birds than expected, and it appears to be an early migration.
Seth is slowly building the SeaWatch program and we are the next stage. Ultimately, he would like to have two sets of volunteers plus himself for seven-day coverage during all daylight hours, but there is an administrative process to get to that point and it may take awhile. We told him we've already had inquiries as to whether he can use more volunteers now. :)
So, here is what he said. If there are RVers out there that think they might be interested in being a SeaWatch volunteer in the future AND you can come stay at the Schoodic Woods Campground (or anywhere else) on your own dime for a few days this season, you can come out with us and get a feel for what we are doing to see if it's something you'd really want to do (assuming you have the skill sets necessary for the position).
We finished up around 3:00, and Linda decided she was going to do laundry. After today, she'll do laundry on our work days between our bird counting sessions when there is plenty of time so she doesn't have that chore on our days off.
She asked if I was going for a bike ride. I had been thinking about it since it was another gorgeous day, and since she didn't want to go, I set out on my own.
First of all, our bikes (Electra Townies) are cruisers designed for comfort with the pedals forward and the ability to put our feet on the ground while sitting during stops. They work best on flat roads, flat rail trails, and hard-packed beaches. They aren't built for speed or hills and, in fact, they are terrible on the knees on hills, and with the forward pedals, you can't stand up and ride when you need that extra power. So keep that in mind during the following description of my ride on the Schoodic Loop and the bike trails across the interior of the peninsula.
Also, for those really interested in my convoluted route, it might be easier to follow along on the Schoodic Trails Map. Click on the image below to get to a larger version that you can print.
I stopped to get photos of Rockefeller Hall.
It was built in 1933 to house Navy personnel, and then it went unused after the Navy left the Schoodic Peninsula in 2002. A major renovation was undertaken and Rockefeller Hall opened to the public in 2013. It serves as the Welcome Center for the Schoodic Institute and includes interactive exhibits about the Institute, Naval History, Acadia National Park, and the Schoodic Peninsula. It's another location to get information, especially if you skip the ranger station at the Schoodic Woods Campground on the way in.
Exiting the Schoodic Institute campus, I stopped to take a photo of low tide across Arey Cove to Little Moose Island.
The road runs along the northern end of Little Moose Island where there is a land bridge to walk over and explore during low tide.
Next up was a stop at the Blueberry Hill parking area where you can access the shore and the Alder Trail across the road. I took one photo looking north from there.
Going north on the eastern side of the Schoodic Loop Road, there are several pull-offs and turnouts to stop and take in the views.
Just before the one-way traffic ends on the loop road, I took a left onto the bike trail that cuts across the peninsula to the Schoodic Woods Campground. The bike trails are wide, gravel paths and there are about nine miles of connected, well-signed trails.
The surfaces aren't really hard-packed yet and the loose gravel made it difficult to climb the hills going up to the center ridge of the peninsula on my cruiser. I had to walk my bike even on small grades as it was just too hard on my knees. But for folks on better-suited bikes, it may not be so bad.
The downhills were fun, but there are quite a few signs warning of steep downhills with turns that could be disastrous if you don't take heed and skid on the loose gravel while trying to stop or make the sharp turns. I was definitely conservative in my riding as I made sure I didn't end up with road rash.
I stopped to take photos of two snakes I found on the trail. The first was only about ten inches long, and I'm pretty sure it's a Red-bellied Snake.
The second was a beautiful green snake that goes by the descriptive name Smooth Green Snake.
It was about a foot and a half long.
Eventually, I made it across to the western side of the peninsula to the campground. This is the office/ranger station.
It's also where the free Island Explorer shuttle picks up on its Schoodic Route.
I rode through the campground and took some pictures in Loop B, the water/electric loop which is most suited to larger RVs. It really is a nice campground, with paved roads and large, gravel sites with good separation.
You could put two large RVs in many of the sites and three Class Cs in some.
Here's a link to a great article about the campground that includes photos of sites in other sections - Acadia Campers Fired Up Over Schoodic Woods Campground. It also talks about reasoning for not installing showers. The existence of the campground has already increased tourism in the small towns and visitation to the Schoodic side of Acadia has also gone up.
The dump station is quite nice and well thought out with a dumpster, a recycling bin, ....
and even a hand sanitizer dispenser on the post next to the potable water spigot.
I should have just headed home from the campground, but I wanted to cover more of the bike trails, so I did the climb up to Birch Harbor Mountain. I probably pedaled half the distance and walked the bike half the distance. On the way down, I got a nice view of Birch Harbor.
There aren't many views from the interior bike trails, and that may be one of the reasons I didn't see another soul on them. There are lots of tracks on the trails, so somebody is using them, but it appears most cyclists are sticking to the paved loop road. With the uphills, loose gravel, and lack of views, I can see why that might be the case.
I looped back down from Birch Harbor Mountain picking up the trail toward Schoodic Woods again. But before reaching the campground, I took a left and went down the steep hill toward Frazer Point. With the completion of that section, I did about 7.5 of the 9 miles of bike trails. Been there, done that, don't need to do it again. I don't think Linda would have enjoyed it at all, so it was best I went by myself.
Back down by the water, the trail goes over this really nice bridge next to the road.
That little, short section of the bike trail that can be seen from the loop road might give the impression that the bike trails are easier and more scenic than they really are.
Frazer Point is where the southbound loop road becomes one-way, and it's also a fantastic picnic area with lots of parking, picnic tables, and fire rings.
There's also a boardwalk out to a small dock.
It looks like a great place to launch our FastTrack kayak for a trip along the back side of a couple of islands and up into a quiet cove.
From Fraser Point, I was back on the paved road where I stopped for a few more photos.
The great thing about being on a bike is you can pull off for photos even in spots where there aren't any pull-offs for cars.
There's only one climb on the paved road that took some effort, but at least I didn't have to stop and walk the bike.
Now, there is a semi-secret place along the coastline that I knew about from prior research. It's not shown on any park maps, and if you ask about it, folks providing information are supposed to act like they don't know what you're talking about. Due to the potential over-use and danger along the cliffs, it's not publicized at all, and we will respect the park's wishes and not disclose the name or location.
We've been privy to similar information about special spots at other National Parks, and we haven't posted that information on the Journal either. The information is available on the internet if you dig a little, but we don't want to burn any bridges by providing details on our website. I will, however, show some photos.
Here's a little video as well.
There is a social (i.e. "unofficial") trail, danger signs, and ropes keeping people off the vegetation, but it is a very dangerous area, so it's best if only the people that are willing to do the work to find it go there. And if you find it, go in stealth mode, keep your impact to a minimum, and be very, very careful.
Finishing up my longer-than-expected bike ride, I took one more photo at West Pond.
I got back to the camping area around 6:30 after 15 or so miles and lots of photos.
The volunteers have a campfire every Thursday evening around 6:30, and they decided to have one tonight since one couple is leaving in the morning. We joined them for about an hour and a half. It's a nice group of folks, but we won't be interacting with them much during our work time as our duties are very specific and separate.
We mostly listened to their conversations as we got an idea of what they do, and then we answered a few questions before heading home for some of Linda's chili.
Another great day on the Schoodic Peninsula. :)