Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Down East, Part 2

For our first anniversary trip, KJ and I returned to where we were married, the Old Tavern in Grafton, Vermont. Instead of making that an every-year thing, we decided to spend our second anniversary in the area where we got engaged.

We also weren't sure about the B&B thing, since we have a four-month old. In fact, as we're starting to find out, some B&Bs don't allow kids at all. So, when I found a Groupon for two nights at the Lucerne Inn in Dedham, Maine for a little more than the price of one, it seemed like a good idea.

From the pictures on their web site, the inn looked nice enough, although we weren't expecting anything as charming as the Old Tavern. We also were booking a suite, so the extra space eased our concerns about the potential for a crying baby disturbing our fellow guests.

In hindsight, the place was about what we expected. It's just that there were a few minor annoyances. First and foremost, via the Groupon, we purchased an executive/honeymoon suite, but when we were assigned our room it was a junior suite. When I brought this to their attention, I was told there was a wedding at the inn this weekend and I should have been informed by the person who took our reservation that our chosen type of room was not available. Needless to say, I wasn't.

On the surface, this was only a minor inconvenience since they credited the difference toward our bill. This essentially gave us extra money towards meals and taxes, which weren't included in the deal.

The junior suite was a large enough room, but it only had a full size bed. Personally, I've never seen a room so large with a bed so small. Since KJ and I bought a king size for our home almost a year ago, this was a difficult transition, especially considering Little Chuck—who's been sleeping through the night 95% of the time for over two months now—didn't sleep as well as usual in this different environment.

We had a few other minor quibbles, such as a lack of enough light to illuminate certain parts of the room and the fact the electric fireplace made the space unbearably hot, but the room got a little cold overnight without it. Otherwise, besides being a little less charming than we'd hoped, it was about what we expected. In summary, OK but nothing special.

On Sunday, we headed down to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Unbeknownst to us—although we should have guessed—very little is open in Bar Harbor in March. Since we were last there in October—not exactly prime season—and the place was still pretty busy, I just assumed March would be similar, but I was wrong.

We did enjoy a fantastic breakfast at the place that was on KJ's radar, 2 Cats, but my plans to pay a late afternoon visit to the Bar Harbor Brewing Company's tasting room were foiled. We also learned that much of Acadia's Park Loop Road was closed until April, despite the fact there was no snow on the ground, and most of the places we were considering for dinner were closed for the season as well.

But, we would not be discouraged. We seized this as an opportunity to explore parts of Mount Desert Island we had never been, particularly the western half. I'm not going to try and describe, though. I'll let a few pictures do the talking.

Acadia National Park
The part of Acadia that was open.
Seal Harbor
Seal Harbor
Southwest Harbor
Southwest Harbor

Now, I know what you're thinking. There's a late-afternoon feel to at least that last photo, and nary a mention of beer yet. In fact, since in part one I mentioned drinking a non-Maine beer, as of this point, I'd yet to consume a locally-produced offering.

That situation would be remedied in the evening, thankfully. Due to the lack of open restaurants, one of our only options was Jack Russell's Steakhouse & Brewery, operated by the Maine Coast Brewing Company.

The food was very good, but I'm really only interested in writing about beer. Their IPA is solid, but nothing special. It has a nice citrusy aroma and is moderately malty up front, but kind of falls flat after that. And I don't mean flat in terms of CO2, but rather it's somewhat lacking in body and hop bitterness. It was easy to drink, but is nothing worth writing home about. Thankfully, my dad doesn't read this blog.

Considering this was my only Maine-produced beer of the weekend, it was a bit of a disappointment.

Before heading home on Monday, we drove into Bangor, Maine's third-largest city by population (with Portland and Lewiston first and second, respectively). I'd been through Bangor a couple times before, albeit briefly, but I didn't remember that it has a certain old-mill-town quaintness to it.

In the 19th century, Bangor considered itself the lumber capital of the world, but the sawmills were in neighboring towns, so I'm not sure if it technically qualifies as an old mill town. But, the canals running through the middle of the city reminded me a little of Dover, New Hampshire, where I lived for one year before moving to the Boston area.

We set out to visit a particular bakery in Bangor after KJ's research revealed it got good reviews on Yelp or Trip Advisor, I can't remember which. Bangor's not a tourist hotspot, so it seemed pretty safe that it wouldn't be closed for the season. It was closed on Mondays.

But, despite all the setbacks I've written about here, the weekend itself wasn't. In fact, I suppose you could say it was testament to the idea that the company is really all that matters.

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