Bangor and Smash

Saturday, June 20, 2015 Road Junkies 0 Comments


MAINE COURSE, DAY 3:  Ellsworth, ME to Bangor, ME

Since they had no room for us tonight at the Ellsworth Hampton Inn, we checked out this morning, with reservations at the new Hampton in Bar Harbor for tonight.  Today we planned to drive south and visit the coastal village of Stonington, where sister Marion and a group of friends spent an idyllic week last summer.

On our way down the coast, we wandered off route at Brooksville, following signage to Holbrook Island Sanctuary State Park, hoping to view a stretch of undeveloped Maine coast.  Instead, we just drove more than an hour on jerky, potholed roads—paved and gravel—through the woods, seeing nothing of note.  Apparently a local woman purchased this property and donated it to the state for a sanctuary/park.  In what we considered a foxy brand of spin, a brochure we found on site explained cleverly that just because this woman dumped this parkland in their lap did not mean the state was embracing—or budgeting for—the concept.
Holbrook Island Sanctuary has a unique place in the state park system. In keeping with Anita Harris’ vision, the sanctuary will not be altered by modern park facilities and management techniques. Instead, a network of old roads, paths, and animal trails leads visitors to explore the shoreline, marshes, ponds, and forests. In each of these diverse ecosystems, visitors have a rare opportunity to experience a natural environment whose future is being shaped by natural forces rather than human hands.    

Finally we escaped back to ME-176, the primary coastal highway in the area, and drove into Stonington (pop. 1,152), a picturesque old seaport turned tourist destination on Penobscot Bay.  In addition to galleries, shops and stores, the village offers up a nice selection of restaurants.  As in Boothbay Harbor yesterday, we were able to find some nice vegetarian options in this haven for seafood lovers.

Aragosta Deck
At Aragosta restaurant, seating for lunch today was outside only—on the deck overlooking the harbor.   With a 57° temperature chilled by a brisk breeze blowing off the water, it was a bit chilly dining al fresco—so much that we had to retrieve our jackets from the car, as were other patrons.  With an expansive view of the harbor and well-prepared food, it was a very pleasant meal.

Just before 1:00, we left Stonington and retraced our route on the lumpy, bumpy US-1, wishing every inch of the way that our rental car had been equipped with better shocks.  Just before we rolled into Bar Harbor, a certain style of wood carving grabbed our attention from the left hand side of the road.

Another amazing carve by Peter Toth and by Shorty
It was one of sculptor Peter Toth’s Whispering Giants, a series of works he created to honor Native Americans.  At the first opportunity, we reversed course to return to the huge carving, scrambling to locate the clue for a letterbox by Illinois boxer “Shorty,” which would surely be close by.  Indeed it was—with another of Shorty’s remarkable hand-carved rubber stamp images of a Toth statue.

Our plans to stay at Bar Harbor’s new Hampton Inn were disrupted by numerous minor annoyances that piled up into a decision to check out before we started to move in.  Unlike the Hampton, the town’s Side Street Cafe on Rodick Street did not disappoint.  Their attention to detail and pride in the fresh, locally-sourced flavorful food they serve had the tables full at 4:30—not a typical time for dinner or lunch.  Plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free menu items ensured they could feed everyone.

Finding no available lodging with satisfactory Trip Advisor ratings in Bar Harbor, we drove inland 40 miles to Bangor and checked in at the Marriott Courtyard.  We were upgraded to a very nice one-bedroom suite, confirming our decision to leave Bar Harbor...until just after 8 p.m.  That's when booming noise pierced through the walls and windows of our nice room and thumping bass began reverberating through the floor—and our teeth.  No, it wasn't the guests in the next room playing their music too loud.  It was a city-sponsored Fall Out Boy concert at the Waterfront Pavillion on the Penobscot River—FOUR MILES from our hotel.  No amount of white noise could compete with the ear-splitting blast of this hardcore punk rock band, and even if it could, there was nothing to soften the jarring of the bass.  As the concert wore on, the music just became louder, the pace more frenetic, and the bass more concussive.

A bit of research indicated that excessive decibels from waterfront concerts are an ongoing problem in the city, drawing the ire of residents who live within noise pollution range of the venue, which seems to be quite a large area.  Apparently unconcerned about how this raucous racket affects the lives of Bangor citizens, some city council members have defended the concerts for the revenue that comes with the commotion. Not because we thought it would help tonight, but to support the locals who are suffering regularly from this torturous din, we called the non-emergency police phone number to voice our complaint and assure them we would not return to a city with this kind of extreme disregard for locals and visitors.

At least we know now why the city is called BANGor.

Daily Stats:
  • Mileage -  181   (Trip total: 1,449)
  • Weather - 47° to 68°, sunny
  • Letterboxes - 1
SATURDAY, 20 JUNE 2015

More Photos from Today

Deer Isle Bridge (1939)
A cove in Stonington
Tabletop beauty
Stonington scene
Stonington harbor
More Stonington boats
Schooner sails into Stonington