10.5 mi / 9.0 mph / 697 ft. climbing
Home: Mount Desert Campground
We had half-a-mile to travel from our hotel to our morning ferry back to the United States. Reversing our arrival, Rett actually hopped on her bike and rode most of it, something we weren’t sure she’d ever do again when we were last here two months ago, when starting her bike was something she would only do as an absolute last resort.
We were sent with our bikes through an indoor office to board “The CAT” here (in contrast to just rolling past the outdoor booth along with the cars like we did on the US side), and, Canadian to the last drop, everyone was friendly and chatty and helpful.
We grabbed seats with a table (and a semi-close electrical outlet) right near the front of the boat, similar to last time. There was a good bit of fog, so there was much less to see on our way out of Yarmouth Harbor. And then, almost immediately when we hit open water, the boat did a huge stomach-churning roll. Exclamations from everyone seated around us quickly turned into a mass exodus once the waves revealed that the bucking wasn’t just a one-time thing. They all moved toward the back of the boat, where the rocking would theoretically be less-extreme. I made a stumbling-drunk, clinging-to-every-railing exploration to the rear to compare, and it was probably marginally better, but still far from calm, so we decided to just stick it out up front.
The captain said the high seas were due to the remains of Fiona, though I don’t know if there was really much of a meteorological connection at this point. With everyone else cleared out of our area, I laid down across a bench seat for most of the 3 hour tour, and that helped quite a bit; simple physics dictates that it takes far more effort to be constantly rebalancing your upright torso against unpredictable forces than it does to just let a couch hold your horizontal body in place, so removing that battle from the war let me keep the focus on battling my stomach. But we both held up fairly well, and never needed to run for a toilet or hold the barf bag at the ready.
I was more concerned about our bicycles down below, which we had strapped to a rail, but not nearly with the care and attention I would have taken had I known that this transit would be vastly different than the smooth sailing in the other direction. I kept imagining them tumbling over off their kickstands and sliding around on the deck, hopefully not smashing into a car that had parked too close to them. My only hope was that those same laws of physics as above were making our bikes, sitting down near the waterline, feel like the laid-on-a-couch version of ourselves, rather than the amplified rocking we were getting on this swaying tower several stories above them.
We were enveloped in a solid blanket of gray fog for nearly the entire journey. I’m not sure if the inability to see anything through the windows that would orient our bodies to the horizon helped or hurt our internal stability systems, but the constantly-blasting horn of the ferry certainly added no peace. Still, when we neared Bar Harbor and finally broke into clear air (and could turn around and see a solid white wall behind us that we had just emerged from), we were in decent shape, and the unpleasant transit mostly highlighted how lucky we had been that our other five Maritime ferry rides over the last two months inspired no discussion of their calmness.
Upon docking, I was relieved to see that physics had won and our bikes remained standing tall on their kickstands just where we had left them (though there had apparently been enough wave action crashing through the open mouth of the catamaran to get Rett’s bags wet from 40 feet away). Entry back onto our native soil was the mirror image of departure: for US customs we passed through a building with the pedestrians, whereas in Canada we had showed our passports at an outdoor booth with the cars. That meant we could hear the always-slightly-different questions the customs officer asked of the people ahead of us in line, clearly caring less about the content of the answers than the manner in which those answers are delivered. We passed with no trouble, and are now back to a place where currency conversion is no longer required!
We took a short ride into downtown Bar Harbor, then walked down the tourist-choked streets to the Hannaford grocery store where we bought some sandwiches to eat outside for lunch, and then, sated, made a second trip inside for groceries. During lunch we watched a constant stream of cars entering the lot, with a huge diversity in license plates, and had a nice chat with a guy on his bike who shared a lot of useful information about his travels in New Zealand.
Then we had a short but brutally-hilly ride west out of Bar Harbor to get to our home for the next four nights, Mount Desert Campground. We stayed there on our 2016 bike tour and found it to be one of the nicest campgrounds we’ve ever stayed in, so with Bar Harbor hotel rooms averaging $300, the campground’s insanely-expensive $45/night rate was a no-brainer. Plus, “going back to Acadia National Park and hiking every trail there” has been one of Rett’s explicit early-retirement imaginations, and a hope ever since that 2016 stay, so we ought to take advantage of our time and location to make that happen! It was actually one of the motivations for taking the U-Haul across the rest of Nova Scotia: the differential forecast showed that we’d likely be able to get a lot more enjoyment exploring Acadia in some beautiful weather vs. slogging into headwinds and clouds in Nova Scotia over those same days.
Our site wasn’t quite as perfect as our 2016 site (though we think it was just across the way from it), but it had a nice wooden tent platform just like all the sites here do, and like our campground on the Magdalen Islands did. They give out nails (and a hammer if you need it) to help stake your tent down, which I wish I would have remembered when we were in the Magdalens and I instead had to come up with a variety of tricks to secure our tent. I realized now that there was a good chance they would have given out the same tools there, had I thought to ask, and had I known the French word for “hammer”. How exciting it is to be back in the United States, where the secondary language (like I saw at the ATM when I withdrew dollars) is 100% red-blooded American Spanish, rather than that incomprehensible foreign French nonsense!