Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Port Clyde and Monhegan Island

We were up early and picked up our breakfast on the way out. Our innkeeper supplied us with yogurt, orange juice, gingerbread muffins and bananas. We were on the road by 7:30 and had made such good time that when we got to Fort Knox we decided we had time to stop and take a tour.

Fort Knox was very interesting. It was built in the mid-nineteenth century as part of a coastal defense system. It was designed to be state-of-the-art, but by the time it was completed it was already obsolete. It was never used in battle, although it was staffed during the Civil War. Today it remains fully intact and a rare example of military architecture of the time. I especially liked that it hadn't been spoiled by the installation of electric lights or shops. They recommend carrying a flashlight inside, and everything has retained its nineteenth century feel.

Our next stop was the Penobscot Marine Museum, but we decided we didn't have time to do it justice and continued on our way after browsing the museum gift shop. About a mile from Port Clyde we took a detour to check out the Port Clyde lighthouse. It was great. We were alone almost the whole time we were there, and it was very peaceful, just us, the rocks, the birds and the lighthouse. I would've liked for the museum to have been open, but that was okay.

We got to Port Clyde early and since we saw nothing to do while we waited we went back up the road looking for someplace to have lunch. We found a little place where we had Caesar/shrimp wraps and bread pudding. Then we went into Thompsonville to get cash for the island, since many places don't take credit cards.

Back in Port Clyde we parked, organized our luggage with the items we wanted for the island and went to wait for the ferry to leave. I went and bought a bottle of water while Dan made the acquaintance of three women who it turns out were from San Antonio, Texas, on their way back to the island for their summer jobs. They work on the island six months out of the year, waitressing at one of the hotels. We were surprised to meet more Texans!

The ferry ride was uneventful except for the spotting of a seal and her pup on a rock. We found out we had a new captain when he managed to miss the dock twice, crashing into it and having to circle back around. But he finally got us docked and we got our luggage off the boat and onto a truck to be taken up the hill to our inn.

Our room was nice but small and much more spartan than what we had been accustomed to thus far. The window had been left open and it was quite chilly. I closed the window and noted that there was no heater. These inns are for summer visitors only, so I suppose they don't expect Southerners to come in and shiver in what seems like balmy temperatures to them.

We changed into hiking boots and went exploring through woods, down narrow uncertain trails and along rocky beaches. It was wonderful scenery, unspoiled by tourism. The trails meandered, often seeming to disappear. Trail markers were uncertain and infrequent. Mud, rocks, branches and other hazards were everywhere and we loved it. We sat on some rocks at Pebble Beach for awhile, enjoying the view and hoping to see some seals. We saw gulls and loons, but no seals.

We returned to the village and had dinner at the Island Inn, a huge Victorian affair overlooking the dock. The food was good, but overpriced. Still, since it all had to be brought in on the ferry, I could understand the high prices. Desert was an apple crisp which enjoyed while watching the sun set. I had noticed back at our inn that the water out of the tap was slightly brown, and since I was low on bottled water I asked our kind German waiter if he could get me a little water to take back to our room. I would've gladly paid for it, but he gave it to me for free.

After dinner we went for a walk up to the lighthouse where we had a great view of the island and village in the twilight. We stayed up there until about 9:30 when it finally began to be truly dark. Back at the inn we settled in the parlor for awhile and read a book about the island. Then we went upstairs where we had to listen to the sick toddler in the room next to us cry for awhile, but she eventually quieted down and we could sleep. Given that there is nothing for a small child to do on Monhegan unless they live there, I couldn't fathom why the parents had brought her, especially since she was sick and there were no doctors or pharmacies. Poor kid was probably miserable.

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