Thursday, June 05, 2003

A Day On The Island

We got up at 7:00 and went downstairs to see what was for breakfast. Even if we didn't have the elaborate spread at Kay's and the fussily formal breakfast in Bar Harbor for comparison, this was skimpy: coffee, tea and bagels. Later the innkeeper brought in some rhubarb muffins which were very tasty and mollified us somewhat. Other than us and the couple with the sick child, everyone at the inn was quite a bit older than us. They had interesting stories of places they had been, and many were repeat visitors to the island. One man was a professor in Rhode Island and chatted with the innkeeper about recent research in lobster diseases. Most people who live on Monhegan year-round earn their living from lobster fishing during the winter and cater to tourists during the summer. Our host was one of these people, so he found the topic of lobster diseases fascinating.

After breakfast, we dressed for the cold, drizzly weather and went out to buy postcards. We filled them out in our room then set out for the post office, which was on the other end of town, meaning about the equivalent of four city blocks. Then we continued on our way for a morning hike, heading first to Lobster Cove.

Lobster Cove had a lot to look at, including a rusted shipwreck and a lot of balanced-rock sculptures made by locals and tourists. At various points in the cove and elsewhere on the island we found crosses set up to mark where people died, either in wrecks or by being swept out to sea. By now we had re-read our visitor's guide more carefully and realized that the rocks we had sat and wandered over so thoughtlessly the night before at Pebble Beach were actually insanely dangerous because of the waves that could wash in completely without warning, dragging people out to sea to drown. According to the guide, no one had ever been rescued off the island's dangerous shores.

We continued on toward Gull Cove and other points on the island, eventually making the entire circuit in about four and a half hours. The weather was foggy at first, drizzly and cold. Later the rain stopped and it was just misty and chilly. The trails were muddy and at times slippery and dangerous. In some places the trail had become a pond or a stream of water and we had to make our own trail. Sometimes we lost the trail completely and had to search for it. We climbed rocks, navigated tree roots and picked our way through ankle-deep water and thick mud. Our feet got wet in spite of our Gore-Tex boots. But it was worth every moment to see such incredible cliffs and vistas, each more beautiful and amazing than the last. We tried to take pictures, but the mist made it hard to capture the beauty of it all.

By the time we returned to the village we were cold and soaked through. We changed into dry clothes and went for coffee and pastries at a little place called Barnacles at the dock. The had the best oatmeal raisin cookies I'd ever had, and that's saying a lot. After our coffee warmed us up a bit, Dan went back to the room for a nap while I decided to explore the village. I bought a few postcards at an art gallery, read the event postings on the community message board and checked out the gift shop. But the big surprise was coming across an organic grocery. We had already seen the regular grocery and had stocked up on bottled water there, but finding an organic place was a huge surprise. They only took cash so I hurried back to the inn to get some. Dan was awake and I told him what I'd found. He went back with me and we bought some food to take with us on the road the next day.

After dropping off the food at the inn, we went for a walk up to the lighthouse and down to the little cemetery. Then we went to Monhegan House for dinner. They weren't quite open yet, so I investigated the local church. I couldn't go inside, but I read the notices and schedule of ministers with interest. They get a wide variety of services on Monhegan, including Quaker.

By then it was dinner time, so we went into the inn. We had lobster spring rolls and a really good whole grain bread. I had a vegetarian torte with goat cheese and Dan had a ribeye that wasn't all that great, but that's what you get for ordering steak on an island known for seafood. The dessert selection didn't impress us much, so we went back to the Island Inn and had coffee and apple crisp. While we were there, the chef came out and made the rounds of the tables. We shouldn't have been surprised at this point to learn that he was from Texas. At this point, we were beginning to wonder if anyone in Maine wasn't from Texas! We told him about the San Antonio waitresses we had met on the ferry the day before, and told him they worked at Monhegan House.

I would've liked to go for an evening stroll, even though I was in my city boots since my hiking boots needed to dry out. But Dan was tired, so we went back to the inn. He tried to get some rest while the sick kid cried next door to us, and I stayed downstairs working on a jigsaw puzzle in the parlor until all was quiet and I could go upstairs. I took a shower and went to bed around eleven.

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