20220914 – Acadia National Park by Bus, and Pirate Golf; Mount Desert Island, Maine

WEDNESDAY 14 September

(There are 20 photos in this post, distributed through the text.)

Our rig in site 21-22 at Hadley’s Point Campground in the early morning sunlight.

Today was our last full day, and our last night, on Mount Desert Island, Maine.  The weather was forecast to be good, partly cloudy with cool temperatures, the best of our short stay here.  Having used the Island Explorer bus system on Monday, we thought that would be an ideal way to re-visit Acadia National Park.  There are lots of routes with frequent buses, several places where they cross and we cold transfer, and it was all free.  After studying the Island Explorer bus schedule last night, our plan was to tour the one section/road we had already visited, and another section/road we had not yet seen.




We saw these mushroom at the Wild Gardens of Acadia at Sieur de Monts in Acadia National Park.  From Wikipedia:  “… this first national park east of the Mississippi River and the only one in the Northeastern United States.  Acadia was initially designated Sieur de Monts National Monument by proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson in 1916.  …”

We decided to take the 9:25 AM #1 Bar Harbor bus from our campground to the Hulls Cove Entrance Visitor Center.  We walked up to the bus stop, which was at the campground office, at 9 AM and stopped in the office to see about signing up for a waste tank pump-out tomorrow morning.  The cost was $12, which was fine, and they started at 8 AM, which sounded great, so we signed up.









We saw these mushrooms while waiting for the next bus at Wild Gardens of Acadia in Acadia National Park.  A park person new just what they were and that they were poisonous, but I don’t recall the name (because I couldn’t pronounce it anyway).

The #1 bus arrived right on time, and pulled into the Visitor Center parking lot around 9:40 AM.  There were already a lot of vehicles there, but not as many as on Monday, and it didn’t matter anyway as we were riding the bus!  We disembarked and walked up to the Visitor Center building (52 steps) and had a look around.  I picked up another hang tag pass holder, as a spare.  We spent a few minutes in the small gift shop, but did not see anything that we wanted to buy and carry around with us all day.  I had also chosen to leave the SONY SLR behind, and just capture images with my Pixel 6 Pro smartphone.






View looking WSW from the west end of Sand Beach in Acadia National Park.  The beach itself is a fine sand.  These rocks, not so much.

From the Visitor Center (parking lot) we caught the 10:20 AM #4 Loop Road bus.  We had driven the Loop Road on Monday when we drove up Cadillac Mountain, but parking was insane and we did not even attempt to stop along the way.  Our main interests on the Loop Road today were Sand Beach and Thunder Hole, but first we got off the bus at Sieur du Monts (finally, some French again) to visit the Wild Gardens of Acadia and the original/old (closed) Abbe Museum.

We got off the bus just before Thunder Hole and walked down a trail to these rocks.  Actually, it was an opening in the vegetation, and we climbed down to these rocks and back up.  It was obvious that a lot of other people had done the same.  If the Park Service doesn’t want you to go someplace, they rope it off and put up signs.

The Wild Gardens of Acadia had not been on our radar at all, but what a wonderful stop it turned out to be.  It is a private operation that has been run/maintained by volunteers for the past 50+ years.  The gardens are laid out in sections, defined by meandering paths, for the various environments and their plant communities found within the park.  The old Abbe museum building dates back to the 1920s and is permanently closed, all of the artifacts having been moved to the newer/larger museum in Bar Harbor.







Linda did not go as far down as I did, so had a chance to get this shot looking back in her direction.

The #4 Loop Road bus runs on a 20-minute schedule, so we boarded the next available one to continue our journey to Sand Beach.  Like much of Maine, much of the shoreline of MDI is rocky.  Sand Beach, however, was an exception to the rule.  Located in a cove with unique natural conditions, it had a fine sand beach.  It also had a 12’ tide swing and water that was 45-55 (F) year-round.  But the weather was lovely and, in spite of the water temperature, someone was in the water swimming.  The south side of the cove had some dramatic rocks, and I took a few pictures.




The view looking northeast from the stairs leading down to Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park.

Another photo looking northeast from the stairs leading down to Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park.  This is essentially the same as the previous photo but slightly different.  I could not decide which one I liked better.

A panoramic view of Jordan Pond and the Jordan Pond House restaurant and lawn, from the upper deck.  We sat by one of the main floor windows to have our popovers and tea.

Another ubiquitous “we were here” selfie.  Taken at the southern tip of Jordan Pond with “The Bubbles” (twin peaks) behind us.

We reboarded the next available #4 Loop Road bus for the short drive to Thunder Hole.  This is one of the most popular “attractions” in the park (along with Cadillac Mountain) for non-hikers, and non-bikers.  (Hikers and bikers have a LOT of options for what to do in the park.)  We spent some time there, and I got a few more photos, but our timing was off.  The best time to experience Thunder Hole is ~2 hours before high tide, especially with strong waves out of the ESE.  Neither of those conditions were present, but a lot of people had taken up position anyway to see the phenomenon.  (Water pours into a cave and traps air which then gets blown out in a dramatic spray and makes a sound like thunder, hence the name.  Under certain weather conditions, the area becomes dangerous and the Park Service closes it off to visitors.)

My eye continued to be drawn to the green palette of Acadia National Park.  We were still at the southern tip of Jordan Pond waiting for a table at Jordon Pond House.

Back on the next available #4 bus (we never had to wait long) we rode past Wildwood Stables to the Jordan Pond House, and the southern tip of Jordan Pond.  We did not have a reservation, but decided we would try the Jordan Pond House Restaurant for Popovers and Tea, which has been a tradition here since the 1890’s.  The restaurant had both indoor and outdoor seating, and the “grand thing” to do here is have your popovers and tea “on the lawn.”  We added our name the waiting list at 12:50 PM for “first available,” and were given a pager.  The wait time was one (1) hour, so we used the time to walk down to the Pond and take a few photos.

The view towards the lawn from my seat at our table by the window at Jordon Pond House.

Back at the restaurant we studied the menu and the bus schedule while waiting to be paged.  We were seated at 1:50 PM, and would like to have had lunch, but wanted to make the 2:40 PM #6 Northeast Harbor bus.  We each ordered the “Two popovers and beverage” special, and each got blueberry iced tea.  The popovers came with butter and strawberry jam, which we both used.  We asked for the bill when the drinks were delivered, and our waiter took care of it right at the table.







Another selfie, with the interior of the Jordon Pond House restaurant behind us.

The #6 bus went south from Jordan Pond House to Seal Cove, where it picked up Hwy-3 going west along the coast and then followed the east shore of Northeast Harbor to its northern end where it took a spur to the southwest into the Village of Northeast Harbor.  According to our bus driver, Northeast Harbor is where the money is on MDI.  (He mentioned names like Rockefeller, Stewart (Martha), and Travolta (John).)  We had a 10-minute layover at the marina which afforded the opportunity for a bathroom break.

This was our lunch; two popovers each and blueberry iced tea.  Overpriced, of course, but tasty enough, and it was really about the experience of having popovers and tea at this old/iconic location.

The bus returned to Hwy-3, and continued NNW up the east side of Somes Sound to its terminus at Hwy-233 near Mt. Desert Campground.  The drive from Jordan Pond House to here was the part of the Park we had not yet seen.  We headed east on Hwy-233, going past the MDI High School, ANP Headquarters, the north end of Eagle Lake, and through North Ridge, finally arriving at the Village Green in Bar Harbor.  At the Village Green we only had a short wait for the #1 Bar Harbor bus and were on our way back to our campground.




I have mentioned the Island Explorer bus system on Mount Desert Island in several blog posts, but I think this is the first photo of one of them.  A propane powered transit bus, but with very comfortable seats (they even had seatbelts).

It was still early enough in the day, and not that long after our diminutive lunch, that we decided to drive a few miles back towards Bar Harbor to Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf (mini-golf) before dinner.  PCAG had two 18-hole courses; The Captain’s Course, and Blackbeard’s Course.  Bluebeard’s Course had more obstacles and was considered more difficult.  A ticket for one course (either one) was $10.  A ticket for both courses was $15.  We were not sure we were up for 36 holes of miniature golf, so we chose to play Blackbeard’s Course.



The Office at Pirate’s Cove Adventure (mini-) Golf.  It was located between our campground and the Hulls Cove Entrance to Acadia National Park.  It only took a few minutes to get there

Pirate’s Cove Adventure (mini) Golf is one of the larger themed mini-golf franchises in the U.S.  Just like Jellystone RV Resorts, KOA Campgrounds, and Chinese restaurants, all of the elaborate decorations had to come from someplace that could have them manufactured.  Even the course layout was elaborate enough to have required a very detailed design and construction plan.  I do not know if each franchisee has a unique course layout or not.

The facility was in very good shape, generally, and the two courses were cleverly intertwined.  There were other people there, but it was not crowded.  All of the pirate themed stuff was fun.  I had one hole-in-one and Linda had two.  Our worst hole for both of us, was 15, a Par 3 that took her 5 strokes and took me 11 strokes.  It was a Par 42 course that took me 56 strokes and took Linda 51.  But it was not a competition, and we enjoyed the hour it took to play through.



The character of Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf comes from constructions such as this tower.  The course we played also had a story board at each “tee” with the continuing story of Blackbeard’s (Edward Teach’s) life/career as a Pirate.

Back at camp, we got the Weber-Q propane grill out of the back of the F-150 and set it up.  Dinner was a simple affair of hot dogs and grilled corn, with mixed fruit cups.  We had So Delicious Vanilla Bean non-dairy ice cream with pineapple topping for dessert.







The two 18-hole courses at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf in Bar-Harbor, Maine were intertwined.  It was a complicated piece of construction and made me wonder if each franchise had a unique course layout to fit their property and, if so, was part of the cost of building such a franchise the design and construction of said course(s)?

Linda had been texting with Nancy about their return to our part of Michigan on Friday to pick up their Winnebago BOLDT.  They planned to spend the night in it, in our driveway, and then visit with their son and daughter-in-law, as well as our son and his family, on Saturday.  They will have access to our house as they have things stored there, as well as in our shed, and will need access to some of the facilities.  I shut off the water to house when we left in June, so I called Paul after dinner to go over how to turn it back on, maybe.  It’s been three months since I turned it off, so we agreed that he would take a photo and send it if what I was describing didn’t match the reality in front of him.

The Pirate ship at the far end of the courses.  Our course did not take us onto the ship, but it might have been a hole on the other course.  The place was a tiny bit like Walt Disney World, and we enjoyed being in that environment for the hour we were there.

At some point in the evening, I copied photos from my phone to my computer and began looking at them.  I deferred editing them in favor of sketching out the blog post before I forgot the details of our day.  We needed to be up by 7 AM tomorrow morning, so Linda set an alarm on her Fitbit before going to sleep.

Of course, all good stories involve pirates, so this post ends with a picture of a pirate ship.










2 thoughts on “20220914 – Acadia National Park by Bus, and Pirate Golf; Mount Desert Island, Maine

  1. Vickie

    Back when, we rode our bikes on the Carriage Roads and did stop at Jordon Pond. Lot of history there.

    1. BRF Post author

      Indeed. We saw a lot of bicycles in the park, and the carriage roads looked very inviting.


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