Saturday July 10, 2010
The heat of summer is upon us! Yesterday we got out of the Inn in late afternoon for a cool dip. Ahhh! Nothing like floating on your back and watching the clouds skate across the blue Acadia sky.
If you're visiting Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island there are some great places to go for a swim. You just need to know where to look. Herewith are our top places to cool off with a swim on MDI:
1. Echo Lake Beach (shown at left) - in Acadia National Park, this well maintained lake beach has changing facilities and a life guard on duty. With plenty of parking and a sandy beach, it's great for families and those who want to grab a towel and jump on the Island Explorer shuttle. The waters are shallow and there is often a family of ducks swimming about. It can get crowded, however, and there is not much shade.
2. Echo Lake Ledges - just off Rt 102 on the way to Southwest Harbor, you'll walk down a path to sloping rocky ledges where you can sun-bathe and also jump off into the cool waters of Echo Lake. Not for young kids or adults with mobility issues.
3, Long Pond (off the Long Pond Fire Road) - enter off Rt 102 near the Pretty Marsh Picnic area, you'll follow a fire road about 1.5 miles deep into the Park until you reach a little cove with a moderately rocky shore. Folks often put kayaks in here but you can swim easily and even set a couple of chairs under the pines. Not crowded, but hard to find.
4. Somes Pond - in Somesville, on Oak Hill Rd. off Rt 102. This is a large, pretty pond with some nice swimming (if you don't mind a mucky bottom)
5. Sand Beach - the only really sandy beach on the island, it's a frequent stop for most visitors to Acadia. But, it offers a great sand beach with usually gentle surf. Swimming is not for the faint of heart, as the ocean temperatures rarely rise about 50F.
6. Seal Harbor Beach - along Rt. 3 in Seal Harbor is a lovely south-facing beach with views of the Cranberry Island. Water temperature caveats also apply here.
7. Compass Harbor - walkable from downtown Bar Harbor, it's a nice sheltered harbor with water access and swimming...
Sunday July 4, 2010
Innkeepers' Rambles: Ship Harbor/Acadia National Park
It's July 4th here in Bar Harbor and the 'season', as they say, is in full swing. Tonight there will be our annual town fireworks display close to The Bass Cottage Inn at the Bar Harbor Town Pier. For a small town with limited budget they sure do an excellent job.
Yesterday we had our Independence Day parade just up the lane on Main St. I had forgotten about it until I noticed that the staff had disappeared around 10am for a look-see. Productivity took a hit, but it was great fun. Also yesterday, we sponsored a lobster in the annual benefit Lobster Race. Our lobster was christened "Frank Zappa" (an indulgence for Chef Chris). Word is he sat still at the starting pistol until someone put some drawn butter behind him.
While the weather is sweltering in much of the country, it's pretty balmy here in Bar Harbor. Last week we took a little ramble with Riley the inn dog (see photo) over to the Ship Harbor trail near Bass Harbor. The day on land was warm, but a cool, refreshing fog bank rolled in making for some atmospheric photo ops.
Ship Harbor is a short hike and visually stunning as well, offering lots of pink granite shoreline and dark evergreens. If you like to explore tidal pools, Ship Harbor trail is a good choice.
Come on up to Bar Harbor! In the words of our guests this past week, it's restfully quiet and the salt air is fresh and the scenery is unparalleled..
Lobster's cheaper than where you live, as well.
Sunday June 20, 2010
How to plan the best vacation EVER!
Science Has Finally Studied How We Should Take Vacations
Just in time for this summer season, the Boston Globe today reports on findings by experts in "hedonic psychology" (or the science of human pleasure....hmmm - no comment).
It seems that what makes for a really enjoyable vacation is not what you'd necessarily think. Some key findings in this report:
- We get a great deal of enjoyment from planning vacations and remembering them after the fact.
- Taking a shorter trip (with fewer logistical headaches) often leaves us happier than taking a long trip
- We get used to long periods of time in the same holiday place. Want more vacation excitement? Breaking up a trip is the best way to inoculate a vacationer against the 'deadening power of adaption".
- People are often prone to procrastinate their holiday planning unless compelled to act.
So, what does this mean for you, dear reader?
1. Visit our website and start planning your holiday to Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park and The Bass Cottage Inn. Remember...anticipation is fun!
2. 3-4 days in down east Maine at The Bass Cottage Inn will make you happier than a 3 week trip to China to see The Great Wall. Think about it...how is the lobster in China? Really?
3. Break up your trip by visiting some other great destinations along Coastal Maine. Or, we can help break up your trip by letting you inn-sit for a day while we take a brief holiday ;-)
4. Be sure to take lots of pictures to share with your friends. Remembering is fun!
5. Consider yourself compelled. Act now. July is almost completely sold out but there is still good availability in August and September.
Our new motto: Better getaways through science!
Saturday June 19, 2010
Fine Dining Scene on Mount Desert Island
It's mid June and the fine dining scene in Bar Harbor and environs is in full gear. At The Bass Cottage Inn we try to help our guests enjoy all of their waking and sleeping hours. While we serve delicious breakfasts and tasty hors d'oeuvres during our wine hour, we currently cannot directly influence what guests enjoy for dinner (that is likely to change in the future, by the way....more later in this blog).
For that reason, your intrepid innkeepers get real picky on your behalf and select a small group of recommended local restaurants that we can personally stand behind. As I tell guests, there are lots of places to eat on Mount Desert Island -and a handful of really wonderful dining experiences which we want to help you enjoy.
Realizing that it's a tough and solemn responsibility that we bear, this week we visited two of our top choices here on the Island.
On Wednesday, we went with some longtime Bass Cottage Inn guests to Havana here in Bar Harbor. Usually this is Jeff's top recommendation, so it was not a hard sell! The service was excellent. We enjoyed the wonderful mushroom spring rolls and a great salad of local greens with seared rare tuna. I had a marvelous churrasco hanger steak with chimichurri sauce. The mojitos and caiparinhas were as delicious as ever. The measure of a great restaurant is how it runs when the boss is not there. Havana's owners are in Portland getting ready to open up Havana South. But, the food and service at Havana in Bar Harbor was better than ever.
On Friday night, we had an innkeepers' night out with the innkeepers from our inn-neighbors at the Ullikana. Destination - Town Hill Bistro. This out of the way jewel provided us with a spectacular evening of local ingredients, careful preparation and al fresco dining on a beautiful mid-June evening. As we watched dogs frolic on a manicured nearby lawn we enjoyed salad with local greens and local cheeses, artful entrees including my Porterhouse Pork Chop with rhubarb balsamic compote and great desserts, including Maureen's homemade vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries and a aged balsamic syrup.
Dining on Mount Desert Island is more than the local lobster pound (although that ain't bad!). Come visit us at The Bass Cottage Inn and we'll hook you up with some memorable meals.
Sunday June 13, 2010
A Twilight View for Dessert
Teri, having returned to rejoin me as full time innkeeper this year, is continuing her campaign to have us enjoy Acadia while we are enjoying our hospitality business -- or 'a working vacation' as she calls it.
Who am I to argue??
On Friday, after a busy day and a full house of happy guests, we enjoyed dinner outside on the terrace at McKay's Public House here in Bar Harbor. With the great weather we've been having we opted to eat outside. McKay's is one of our best recommendations for casual dining here in Bar Harbor, with good food featuring local ingredients, a nice wine list with affordable bottles and an excellent staff. Our delightful server, Serena, took good care of us and Brian, the proprietor, stopped by the table for a friendly chat.
After dinner, Teri whisked us up to the top of Cadillac Mountain to watch the sun set over Blue Hill to the west. In this photo taken on Friday, you see Bar Island and the assorted Porcupine Islands just off the coast of Bar Harbor, who's evening lights are starting to twinkle.
What a great view for dessert....OK, we did have carrot cake and ice cream at McKay's....
Thursday June 10, 2010
Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park are both renown for active outdoor activities such as hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, carriage rides, nature cruises and whale watching. The unique opportunities offered by the juxtaposition of ocean, mountains and forests have made our corner of the world the #2 pick in the US for an outdoor vacation.
But, if your idea of nirvana is chasing a little white ball around a verdant lawn, then you have another resason to put Bar Harbor on your list.
Just a five minute drive from The Bass Cottage Inn is the Kebo Valley Golf Course, a public course that just happens to be the 8th oldest golf course in America.
For over one hundred years, golfers from all over the world of all skill levels have enjoyed the Kebo Valley Golf Club. Rich in tradition, endless in surprises, and - I'm told - pretty challenging, the Kebo course will keep you coming back.
Kebo is not just another golf course. First of all, the setting is incomparable (see photo). "Kebo is a source of pride for Mount Desert Island, an enticing lure to tourists from around the world, and noble adversary to all who play the course."
So, if you're coming to The Bass Cottage Inn and Bar Harbor -- and enjoy golf -- don't forget to pack your clubs and get ready to tee off.
Saturday June 5, 2010
Innkeepers' Off Duty Ramble: Lunch @ Thurston's
Yesterday was another glorious late Spring day in Downeast Maine. After breakfast and checkouts the innkeepers left to enjoy the day. Teri suggested a late lunch, early dinner at Thurston's in nearby Bernard village.
Thurston's has always been our #1 recommendation for the true local Maine lobster pound experience. You can pick your dinner, grab a cold one and station yourself at a table overlooking Bass Harbor, a true working lobster fishing harbor.
Thurston's is a true Maine lobster pound. Many folks ask us where the term "lobster pound" comes from. After all, there are "clam shacks". Is it the same notion as a 'dog pound'? Not so much.
The term "lobster pound" refers to the tanks holding the lobsters, such as they have at Thurston's, where fresh sea water is piped through to keep the ugly little critters healthy and happy. This is not be confused with "lobster car" which is an offshore large, submerged holding pen used to store the catch (but not for too long...they start eating each other!!) until the guys bring them to dock.
Yesterday, as we waited for our 'sea bugs' we saw boats unloading flippin' and fresh lobsters by the bin-load. Soon we tucked into a couple of large hard shells, steamed mussels and Bar Harbor Real Ale to wash it all down.
Does Maine lobster taste any better when you eat it looking at the scene shown here?
Tuesday June 1, 2010
Bass Cottage Inn Alumni - ANOTHER addition to the extended family!
In 2004, Zuzana arrived to help us during our first season as innkeepers. Along with her was her good friend Martina (see May 23 blog post). They were inseparable, doing almost everything together as they enjoyed their first Acadia summer.
It seems like they still do things together -- Zuzi had her baby boy within days of Martina having her daughter. Talk about timing.
Back in 2004 and 2005 Zuzi was a guest favorite. Her command of English was excellent, thanks to nanny experience in the UK. She also spoke nearly flawless German, which helped her explain breakfast to our German guests. Zuzi is also a great baker and shared some of her grandmother's recipes for sweet treats with us (Czech Quick Cake!)
Most of all, Zuzi was probably the most enthusiastic about hiking throughout Acadia National Park. She, along with Martina, savored the outdoor experience. Plus, she gives a dangerous..uh, I mean, good haircut...just ask Chef Chris.
Zuzi reports: "It is a huge change to have the little human being at home.. I am spending my whole time with him and have no time for anything else. It will change, I hope..:)."
Congratulations to mom, papa and a beautiful boy who is almost certain to make the Czech national hockey team.
Wednesday May 26, 2010
Calm Before Breakfast
Each day the kitchen at The Bass Cottage Inn gets started around 6am preparing for our guest breakfast. Fresh coffee is made and the guest pantry is set. Chris and Teri are in the kitchen; Jeff ensures the dining room is ready to go.
We've often compared a day at the Inn to putting on a a play (hopefully not a tragedy or comedy!). The stage is set and everything should be in the right place. Outside, on the breeze that filters into our open windows, you can smell the salt water and hear the fishing boats putting out. Inside, one can smell raspberry almond muffins baking and bacon cooking. The perfume of dark roast coffee is in the air.
Here, at left, you can see our Atrium sitting ready for breakfast. All is quiet. No guests are yet stirring except for two intrepid souls that have come in from an early morning walk along the Shore Path. Or maybe they were up early on the top of nearby Cadillac Mountain to catch the first rays of the morning sun to hit the United States.
Life in downeast Maine is great for locals and visitors alike...never better than the calm before breakfast at The Bass Cottage Inn.
Sunday May 23, 2010
Bass Cottage Inn Alumni - Where are they now?
Those of you who've been to The Bass Cottage Inn before have had the fortune of meeting some of our international students who work with us here at the Inn. Back in 2004 in our first season we were fortunate to be joined for part of the season by three smart girls from the Czech Republic - Ivana, Zuzana and Martina. Ivana has settled in Scotland. Zuzi is married and is just about to have her first baby. Martina, who had the longest tenure here at the Inn (3 seasons) has some news.
Pictured at left is Martina (now 28 years old and happily married to Pepa) and her new daughter Alena. It seems like yesterday when Martina first arrived. At first, she was hesitant to use her English but eventually she became quite comfortable in our foreign language. In the dining room during breakfast service she'd share her tips with guests about good hikes in the park. Martina (as well as Zuzi and Ivana) really enjoyed the outdoors....as well as the excellent chocolate mousse at Galyn's. Every day her then-boyfriend Pepa would call to speak with her and a few years ago they got married, as we always thought. The wedding photographs are like a fairy-tale and Martina was a beautiful bride.
Now, four years removed from her Bass Cottage summers, Martina has her hands full. "So my days and nights are made mostly of nursing and changing nappies and the same again. In the meanwhile I am trying to finish my diploma thesis that must be finished by June. I am very very tired but happy. Pepa helps me a lot and feels really like a proud father:-)"
Parents with every reason to be proud. Congratulations!