Epicurean Traveler: Lobsters & Lighthouses, Maine

Sunrise at the West Quoddy Head Light.

Lighthouse Tour

Maine’s lighthouses are as famous as its lobsters, so one August afternoon, my bunch boarded a three-level sightseeing boat operated by Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. and set out for a guided lighthouse tour through beautiful Somes Sound.

The sky was as blue as the sea, and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect summer day. We were all in good spirits, so when the wind sent my hat spinning like a Frisbee into the boat’s wake, we fell into spasms of childish giggles.

At first glance, historic lighthouses such as Winter Harbor on Mark Island and Egg Pock at the southern entrance of Frenchman Bay, may seem like little more than quaint antiquities, but there was a time when these navigational aids were crucial in preventing mariners from crashing onto craggy rocks and being pulled down by angry waves into an aquatic grave. Lighthouse keepers were the guardian angels of the sea.

I pondered what life must have been like for the keepers and their families, isolated in these remote outposts with only seagulls for company. Many lighthouses are still active today, but, of course, they are now automated and don’t require a keeper.

We sailed toward Bass Harbor Head Light on Mount Desert Island inside Acadia National Park, and the captain paused so we could take photos. Perched high on a cliff above a rocky coastline, it stands at attention like a watchful soldier. It’s the only lighthouse on the tour accessible by car, and my family and I agreed that one evening we would drive over and get a few sunset shots.

When we returned to Bar Harbor, the whole town seemed be eating ice cream. We couldn’t resist the power of suggestion, so we bought cones in flavors that included Maine wild blueberry and chocolate moose tracks. We ate them while strolling along the Shore Path, a walking path that is more than a century old and winds past the majestic Bar Harbor Inn.

In many parts of the country, an afternoon walk in August would be about as appealing as sticking your head in a hot oven, but Maine’s mild summer temps are ideal for hiking, biking, sailing, and picnicking in Acadia National Park, which offers stunning views of Cadillac Mountain.

On our leisurely walk, we observed sailboats skimming along the water, admired a string of elegant summer homes, and finally, looped back around to Agamont Park. Kids were chasing each other through the park’s white gazebo and using a pair of old cannon as a jungle gym. Adults and their canine companions were splayed out lazily across the perfectly manicured grass, mesmerized by the lull of the sea. The scene was one of such exemplary summer bliss, it reminded me of Georges Seurat’s 1884 Pointillism masterpiece, “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” — minus the ladies in bustles, of course.

As we took it all in, Wesley asked the question that had been on everyone’s mind all afternoon. “Would we be eating lobster tonight?”

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