Saturday, July 30, 2011

Acadia National Park-Day Four

I'm missing the national parks right now. I want to be in the woods. My parents got to visit two national parks this week while on the west coast, and I am so jealous. Right now, the best thing I can do is reminisce about the parks.

So, day 4 in Acadia National Park. We woke up around 6:30 and tried our hand again at making monkey bread. As previously mentioned in another blog post, the first attempt didn't go so well. This time we decided to cook them over coals instead of an actual fire. This time it went much, much better. They came out tasty and delicious.

There was a 60% chance of rain that day. We had originally planned to rent bikes to bike the carriage roads, but we didn't want to risk getting rained on. So, instead, we decided to risk it and go on a hike. We chose a trail that involved some walking on the carriage roads. We found one that went around the perimeter of Eagle Lake for a little while. We then verged off and took the path to Conners Nubble and then back up the carriage road. It was a great secluded hike. We only saw two other hikers the whole time, which we really like. If you ever want to hike this trail, park at the Bubble Pond parking area. Here are some pictures from this hike.

Sign for the carriage road. These run throughout a good bit of the
park and are a popular biking destination. 

Eagle Lake

You can tell it was a gray day

It was really neat to see all of the low hanging clouds moving in.

Looking towards the woods.

It was really clear. If you look closely in this picture, you
can see the rocks and fallen logs in the water.

Water flowing through the woods and down to the lake.

Couds covering the hills.

Moss ready to reproduce.

View from the top of Conners Nubble. 

Sign showing we reached the top!!

Several bluets growing along the side of the carriage road.

After our hike, we headed back to camp to rest just a little and then reheated leftover hobo stew for lunch. We didn't want out day to end there, but they sky looked really overcast. On our drive into the park, we passed an "Oceanarium". We thought it might be an aquarium of some sort, so we decided to check it out. The Oceanarium is more focused on lobsters, though there are some other sea creatures. There is a lobster hatchery, marsh tour, lobster museum, and touch pool if you pay for the full package. It think it was around $16-$18.00 per adult. It was a little overpriced if you ask me. But it seems they get a steady stream of tourists, so I guess they are doing ok. When you buy tickets, you get a tiny map of the place, with times for you to be at each different location.

Our tour of the place started off with the lobster hatchery. I was excited about this because I read The Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson before we went to Maine. The book is a good mix of scientific information and understanding the life of lobstermen that live on the Cranberry Isles, located off of Mt. Desert Island (where Acadia is). So, they had several lobsters that they were hatching in special containers, as well as females holding eggs, and juvenile "superman" lobsters. It was neat to see all the things I read about in the book. Here are some of those pictures.

Female lobster with all of her eggs

Big mamma lobsters

Larval development in lobsters

A juvenile lobster. They are called superman lobsters
because they swim forward with there claws out in front of them.
After we finished checking out the lobster hatchery, we went on the marsh tour. It was grassy and you could see where the water was coming in from the ocean. There were several dead trees that died from the salt water. Here are some pictures of that.
Views of the marsh

Examples of tools used by the previous inhabitants of the area

They had sheep in the marsh walk enclosure. Hubby had to pet them.

After the march tour, we went to the lobster museum. They had a retired lobsterman who would talk how the traps work and size limit. My favorite part of the museum were seeing the lobsters with the pigmentation mutations, since pigmentation is near and dear to my heart because of my PhD dissertation. They also had some odd lobster claws, which were excellent examples of Hox gene mutations. Hox genes help form the linear parts of your body, like making sure each arm bone is in the proper location. There are flies with Hox gene mutations that have legs sticking out of there head instead of antennae. Anyway, I was excited. Here are pictures from that.

Calico pigmentation mutant lobster

Lobster with pigmentation mutation that turns it orange

Big lobster!! They had a contest going on to guess its weight.

Examples of mutant lobster claws. 

Example of lobster with half of its shell one color,
and the other half a different color.
We didn't stay the whole time for this leg. We went to check out the touch pool, but weren't too enthused. They had sea cucumbers and horse shoe crabs, but that's about it. The only thing my hubby liked was this dried shark head.

Overall, it wasn't a bad visit. We only had one complaint. While they seem extremely well educated on the information on lobsters and marshes, and sea creatures, there were religious undertones. There were several signs and posters with bible quotes scattered throughout the place. Also, someone who was explaining the starfish, which has one eyespot on each arm, say "who knows why the creator did that?". Being a science educator, I strongly believe science and religion should be kept separate. However, it being a private establishment, one can't stop them from running the place as they deem fit.

After we were done, we went to the supermarket and went back to fix dinner. I made cous cous and curry for hubby and I had spaghettios.

Next time, our last day in Acadia National Park :(

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Acadia National Park-Day Three

Well, sorry if I kept in you in suspense. Here we go, day 3 of our Acadia vacation.

We woke up this morning and decided to go shower since on this day we were going whale watching and would be amongst the general public.

Blackwoods Campground does not have its own showers, but there are pay showers right down the road. You can have a hot shower for the low price of $2.00 for 4 minutes (sarcasm). But who cares, we wanted to be clean!!

After our shower, we headed down to Bar Harbor to go on the puffin and whale watching tour we scheduled through Bar Harbor Whale Watching Tours. The tour left nice and early at 8:30 and lasted about 4 hours. We were able to grab a seat on the outside of the boat for the ride. We were dressed in long sleeves, jeans, jackets, and hiking boots, and we still got chilly riding on the outside. So, keep that in mind if you ever want to go on a whale watching tour in Maine in June. Below are some pictures as we were leaving out of the Harbor.

Still docked at the Harbor.

Leaving the Harbor. Some of the inns near the area.

Looking back towards the direction of Acadia National Park.

One of the Porcupine Islands.

Our first stop on the tour was Petit Manan Island.  It is part of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Here, there are several nesting seabirds, including one of my favorites, the puffin. Being a wildlife refuge, we couldn't get terribly close, but lots of the puffins were flying by near the boat. This island is an active research site for scientists who study seabirds, and they will actually live on the island for months at a time. It also had a great lighthouse. Here are pictures of the island.

The house and observation blind for researchers on the island.

That little black speck you see is a puffin flying by.

A ton of sea gulls were around the island.

One of my favorite pictures captured on our trip.

After we got done checking out the island, we headed out to the feeding area for the whales. It was still early in the season, so we didn't expect to see much. But, luckily, we came upon a pair of humpback whales that were feeding together. We also saw a minke whale in the distance. Here are some pictures from that.
One of the humpbacks.

Mist from blow hole of the whale.

Tail fluke.

Both of the humpbacks.

Both whales diving together.

The whales stayed down from anywhere between 6 to 10 minutes and the boat would move back towards them when they surfaced. It was pretty awesome!! This whale watching tour group works with Allied Whale, a marine mammal research group. They keep track of the whales that migrate and feed in the area by identifying them based on their tail flukes. You can adopt a whale for $30 if that is your sort of thing.

It took us about an hour to get back to the dock, so we were just in time for lunch. Since Kelly and I were in Bar Harbor, we decided it was time to try ourselves a lobster roll. We went to Stewman's Lobster Pound. We sat on the deck and had ourselves lobster roll with sweet potato french fries, and a root beer made by a local brewing company. It was delightful!!

The boat we went whale watching on, as viewed from our table at the restaurant.


Flowers in flower bed near the harbor.
After lunch, we walked around Bar Harbor for a little bit. We had a piece of blueberry pie before heading back to the campground. 

After a short break at the campground, we decided to to the hike around Jordan Pond. It was a great 3 mile hike that had a lot of people on it. It was just the right distance given the busy morning we had.

Hubby stepping on the stones in the lake.



This cute little red squirrel was so photogenic. 

Beaver dammage.

Really cool to see the tooth marks.

Beaver dam. Sadly, we saw no beaver.

Perfectly formed little holes. I'm guessing created by woodpeckers of some sort.

Me, looking rough.

Had to walk on boardwalks on the second half of the hike.

After our hike, we headed back to camp to fix dinner. It was hot dogs and chili again. Kelly built a fire for us, and we let it burn until about 7:30. Then we left to go drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain to sunset. It was cloudy and cold, so not the best conditions, but it was still pleasant.

After the sun set, we went back to camp and got ready for bed.

Next time, our hike near Eagle Lake.