Maine and Nova Scotia
In 2005, we decided to head up to New England to revisit Maine and Nova Scotia--with some big differences.
Machias Seal Island
This time, we decided to begin our trip in Jonesport, Maine and go out to Machias Seal Island to photgraph puffins. We stayed at Tern Cottage in Jonesport, a small cottage with the essentials, but rather rustic accommodations. Jonesport is a very small village, but the scenery is lovely and it is near several wildlife refuges and state and national parks.
We traveled twice to the Island with Puffin Tours of Machias Seal Island , an excellent guide service. These trips were huge successes. We spent our time in blinds photographing the hundreds of puffins, Arctic terns, and razorbill auks that nest on the rocky terrain. Both days, the weather was beautiful and the trips were fairly comfortable. Landing on the island was a little dicey at high tide, because of the slippery rocks, but the boat crew was very helpful. All of the birds on the island were fascinating to watch and to listen to.
Be aware that weather is a huge factor when you try to get out to the Island. It is wise to book at least two days in the hopes of getting at one with good weather. If you are interested in visiting the puffins, contact Holly Davis at email@example.com.
Schoodic Peninsula and Acadia National Park
This area is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The rocky coastline of Maine is dotted with picturesque villages and harbors filled with all types of vessels, lighthouses, crashing surf, and beautiful vistas.
We stayed several days at Acadia's Oceanside Meadows Inn, a delightful bed and breakfast inn located in Prospect Harbor. This establishment offers great views, comfortable beds, and excellent, gourmet breakfasts. While a little pricey, the breakfasts alone make it worth the price. Highlights were the fruit soups and the presentation of the food. It was delicious and beautiful besides. The Inn also has lovely gardens filled with edible flowers. Contact them at www.oceaninn.com.
The Schoodic Peninsula is also home to a part of Acadia National Park that is under-visited by the general public. While there, we hiked out to an island at low tide and explored its rocky center, covered with wild cranberries, scrubby pines, and wildflowers. We also explored Schoodic Point, a wild and beautiful place with huge plates of granite piled up along the Atlantic's edge.
Artists and craftspeople have made the Peninsula their home as well. We stopped at wineries, glass-makers, art galleries, and delightful craft shops all along the roads of this area. We particularly enjoyed our visit to Spring Woods Gallery, a family-owned studio tucked away in a delightful setting. The Breedens welcomed us and gave us a tour of their studio. It is well worth the stop. Contact them at www.springwoodsgallery.com
The Cat Ferry
We took our second trip across to Nova Scotia aboard the Cat Ferry (www.catferry.com). This is a great way to travel. You drive your vehicle aboard the ferry in Bar Harbor, Maine, and in about three hours, you drive back off in Yarmouth, NS. In the meantime, you can gamble in the on-board casino, shop in duty-free shops, go outside to enjoy the sea breezes (make that sea gales!), or stay inside and enjoy the views.
The Cat Ferry also offered multi-day package tours to Nova Scotia. We chose the "Seaside Getaway" for two nights, and then extended our stay an extra day so that we could take a whale-watching trip out of Brier Island. (Unfortunately, the particular package we booked no longer appears on the Cat Ferry's website.) We stayed at the Mountain Gap Inn (www.mountaingapinn.ca) just outside of Digby. Accommodations there are very nice. The have a great view of Smith's Cove, beautiful gardens, a heated swimming pool, bonfires at night, a beach along the Bay, and excellent food in their dining room. The price was very reasonable for all of the amenities offered.
While in Nova Scotia, we traveled twice to Brier Island, once to photograph wildflowers and once to whale watch. Both trips were great. On the way to Brier Island, we stopped to visit Balancing Rock. The hike out was a bit challenging, but the rock was amazing. There is a picture of it in our gallery for this trip. We booked our whale watch with Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises (www.brierislandwhalewatch.com), a very good tour company with very knowledgeable captains. We encountered a frisky young hump-back whale who entertained himself by leaping, spinning, tail-slapping, and generally pleasing the crowd while his mama dove deep for food. If you go out whale watching on the Bay of Fundy, remember that even though it is hot on the island, it is cold on the water. Dress in layers, and take your camera.
The wildflowers on Brier Island are beautiful, and the variety is great. I invested in a little book called The Wildflowers of Brier Island, by a local writer and photographer. Not only can you identify the flowers you see from this book, but it also suggests places to find them. I particularly liked the pitcher plants that fill a depression in the island's center. The book is available in gift shops on the island.
We also visited Digby during the 30th annual Digby Scallop Days; Annapolis Royal, a small but very historic town north of Digby; and Bear River, a colony of artists and craftspeople on the way to Annapolis Royal. We recommend all of these spots if you choose to visit Nova Scotia.
Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park
When we returned from Nova Scotia, we stayed a couple of days in Bar Harbor at the Quality Inn, a fairly nice middle-priced motel in Bar Harbor proper, and visited the better-known part of Acadia National Park. One of the highlights of this segment of our trip was photographing orchids along the shore of Jordan Pond. Yes, we also sampled the popovers there, too! A useful website for Acadia National Park is www.acadia.national-park.com.