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Two Romany's Went into a Bar...Mt. Desert Island, July 30, 2014


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Two Romanys Went Into a Bar Mt. Desert Island, July 30, 2014

Have you heard the one about the two Romanys that went into a bar? Well, actually, it was two Romanys that went out from a bar, a sand bar at that, but I get ahead of myself here.

While I was spending a week up on Mt. Desert with non-paddling friends, Barb Kraft (she of the many names: Barb Kraft aka Barb Kraft Todd aka Barb Todd) and I arranged to meet up at the One Stop in Somesville, from which we would proceed to the low tide bar out to the island that gives Bar Harbor its name for a planned trip out to the Porcupines. One problem: Barb said that as she came over the causeway from Trenton to MDI, there was a big fog bank hanging over that side of the island. While it had been a cheerful sunny morning at my rental house on the Quiet Side of MDI, the cool water of the incoming tide was hauling a dense fog in with it.

While the sun was hanging for the moment on Bar Harbor, the fog bank was hanging over Bar Island behind Barb,


and the Porcupines were completely obscured.

This called for a change in plans since 1) it would have been fun to actually see the Porcupines and 2) neither of us was enthused at the prospect of crossing a busy working harbor and channel in dense fog even with my handy portable fog horn at the ready. So we decided to launch


and head south and east and hugging the coastline to our right. I had never paddled out of Bar Harbor before, and Barb promised that it was a beautiful trip. She was right! Unfortunately, the fog followed us.

We paddled out behind moored tour ships


around a dock


and then the fog really closed in. We weren't far offshore, but we wouldn't have wanted to be much farther out. We kept each other in sight.

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But what the heck?...where are we?!


Not to worry, there was the shoreline, and there must have been magnificent mansions up there somewhere.


Toward the end of a quiet cove, we saw an alluring gap in the shoreline. Barb guessed it didn't go far, but we paddled up into it anyway


where it ended in a burbling brook.


Although Barb had paddled this coast many times, she had never seen this spot before. Ironically, it was the presence of fog that introduced her to this new spot precisely because we had been forced to hug the shoreline. We turned around and paddled out of the little passage.


We startled some geese.


Really! Look closely, there are geese there!

The sun started to play games with us as we continued on. Or maybe it was the fog that was playing... In any event, things momentarily brightened and we could almost see shadows on the rocks. It started to get cliffier, with mini-Thunder Holes reaching into the rocks.


Mini-booms! as the swells poured in.

The cliffs got higher, but the incoming swells were friendly and we could get close up and ride them up and down the face of the rock.


I was awed by it all.


Felt pretty small.


The rocks apparently made Barb pretty happy


and she rode into one of the clefts in the rocks


although was glad that she got out before a considerably larger swell came and really crashed into the area that she'd just vacated.

Nice rock formations, too.


The fog shut out the sun again.


Time to stop for a stretch break in a little cove that wasn't named on the chart.


Barb clambered up some rocks and found what she said was the foundation of one of the cottages (what most of us would callmansions) that burned down in the Great Bar Harbor Fire of 1947 that decimated parts of the island.


I enjoyed this very angular rock formation with its two pools


plus a rather mysteriously placed stump.


The two Romanys rested while we explored.


Then it was time to head back north. Boats loomed out the fog.

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We saw that there was a single line of lobster buoys anchored equidistant from the shore for some distance as we paddled along. A ledge that lobsters like, perhaps?

The sun was having more success, and what had been hidden on the way out began to be revealed.

This is one of Barbs favorite play spots. Kinda keeping it a secret in this photo!


She liked this one, too.


We sat for a time off of a cobbled beach with our bows touching the rocks as the swell washed us up then in then out. The rocks were pretty nice, and I grabbled and secured a few to bring back as mementos. (Just as a trip without an eagle is a failure for Warren, a trip without a good rock leaves something to be desired for me!)


We went into another cove. I believe Barb called it Compass Cove, but again it was unnamed on the chart, with a long stretch of white beach and boards sticking weirdly out of the sand.


As we paddled in to get a closer look, I saw a lumbering movement on the shore. A woodchuck! Who proceeded to settle in at a nice spot overlooking the water, completely ignoring us.


We figured he was one lucky woodchuck, given the high price real estate all around him.

We saw a man hauling a dinghy to shore and asked him about the boards. He told us it was the remains of an old boardwalk, where ladies used to go to take their tea. Indeed... I think that we would not likely have gotten an invite.

It turned out this was the cove with the mysterious passage, looking quite different now with the sun winning some of the battle against the fog. As we approached it, we saw a pergola from which I would not have been surprised to see land-based water-nymphs (if there are such things!) emerge to dance.


The tide was still coming in, and we could paddle farther in, but the spot had lost some of its mystery.

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We paddled back to the hustle and bustle of Bar Harbor, where we could actually see the Bar Harbor mansions and hotels. There was a line of munchkins walking along the shore, tended by some older escorts.


Barb went to take a closer look.


Unlike others we encountered, who grabbed their cameras to take pictures of the two pretty kayaks in the fog, the munchkins ignored us. Their loss!

And the fog receded and we could see the Porcupines, and decided to visit one since the crossing could be made safely. I particularly liked this boat.


Barb paddled out with Bald Porcupine over her shoulder.


We noodled around a bit, looked at the rocks.

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This wasn't as dangerous as it looked!


Then with half of Bar Harbor again submerged in fog in the distance, it was time to head back. But first, a stop at a remnant of a lost civilization

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And the rolling fog drew us home.


A really splendid day out on the water, when conditions forced a change in plans that made the day mildly magical.

For those of you signed up for the NSPN Downeast Paddle Retreat, this will serve as a taste of what's to come. I am hoping for some less foggy days, and for seas calm enough to allow a passage from Seal Cove to Bar Harbor! Thanks to Barb for her company and local knowledge. I look forward to more of both from her when we're all there again in early September!


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We went into another cove. I believe Barb called it Compass Cove, but again it was unnamed on the chart, with a long stretch of white beach and boards sticking weirdly out of the sand.


He told us it was the remains of an old boardwalk, where ladies used to go to take their tea. Indeed... I think that we would not likely have gotten an invite.


Ah.. to go back in time! Many of us would treat the fog as plague, but good on you to venture out and explore its own beauty and quiet.

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