Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Bluenose Inn

While listening to Bill play live piano music in an old world lounge in the Bluenose Inn in Bar Harbor on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic, I have certain expectations for how the kids will comport themselves.  I’m normally very liberal with how they go about exploring their world (read: Grandmom suffers regular mini heart attacks – so does Scott – and I endure a lot of those special kinds of looks from strangers).  I subscribe to a philosophy I have coined Authentic Learning.   I generally prefer to let natural consequences do the heavy lifting.  However, there are social situations when that’s not appropriate.  Since I’m so accommodating otherwise, when it’s time to conform, I expect conformity.  A little tit for tat.  You treat me the way I treat you… golden rule kinda stuff.  For short periods of time, I expect well-behaved children who aren’t rude, don’t interrupt, pay attention and… if they absolutely must pass gas (regularly)… do it outside and away from the crowd.

I feel like that bar is achievable.  We didn’t get there this time.  That means we need more practice.

Last week Mom said to me, “Oh no!  If you guys travel this fall we won’t be able to see Bill.”  Bill is a legend in our family.  He was part of the local It band Mom and Dad followed back in the 80s, played at their 25th wedding anniversary party, and pulled together a band for Scott and I at our wedding and reception.  Every night, all summer long, he is at the Bluenose Inn in Bar Harbor from 7 – 11 pm.

Usually, we make the trip Downeast in October around Dad’s birthday as a way to celebrate his life.  But this year, there’s a very good chance Scott, the kids and  I won’t be in Maine.  So when Mom said that, I got out my giant calendar, took a quick look at our schedule and said, “How about next Monday?”

It was settled (although Scott’s boss was a total prick and wouldn’t give him the day off).


We can’t go to Bar Harbor without saying our hellos to Acadia.  Grandmom and I planned a full day in the park – Sand Beach, picnic on the rocks, tidal pools.  The day was classic early August in Maine.  Hot day during high season = ridiculous traffic.  Acadia is becoming a lot like Zion NP… they’re considering some fairly big measures to reduce the number of cars in the park.

The rocks are probably my favorite spot in the park (although the carriage roads, Sand Beach and the Beehive give them stiff competition).  There’s something free feeling about being so close to the wild ocean – there’s nothing gentle and calm about it and there is none of that annoying Captain Obvious safety nonsense – no ropes or fences or danger signs.  Visitors are invited to use common sense.  How novel?!  Plus the rocks are, in my opinion, the world’s best jungle gym.  There’s an element of danger (skinned knees on unforgiving granite, falling into the crashing ocean where it’s really hard to get out) that playgrounds just can’t recreate.

I explained what to watch out for and let the kids go. (Grandmom = not entirely happy with this arrangement.)  They came back to eat lunch.  #FreeRange

Bar Harbor

Since it was hot and muggy, the kids wanted to swim so we zipped down into Bar Harbor.  Mom has a secret parking place that has, so far, always been open.  That is mind-blowing for Bar Harbor. (No, I’m not sharing it.)

We walked down to the Shore Path in front of the Bar Harbor Inn and I showed the kids where their Mom and Dad got married.  I do that every year, but this year seemed to be the year where it really sunk in for Evie.  She wants to get married there too.  I agree but she’s gonna have to wait 25+ years.

After dipping our toes in the water at the beach, we grabbed a late snack/lunch under the famous yellow umbrellas.

Bill & Bluenose Inn

Arriving at the Bluenose early, we claimed our front row couch.  When Bill walked in Evie gasped, “It’s Bill.  Bill is here!”  The bartender overheard her and laughed right out loud.  “Huh, I didn’t realize he’s famous!” she said under her breath.

Right behind Bill, Uncle Todd, Aunt Kerry, Mariah, Syd and Abbey (M’s longtime friend) walked in to surprise us.  Typical Uncle Todd.  He told us they wouldn’t be able to make it… and then they did.  The kids went absolutely wild.  If they had been prepped for a quiet, nice evening, that plan went straight out the window.  We turned into a bit of a spectacle especially since most of the other guests were pretty much from the Greatest Generation.

I guess “Nightcap with live piano music” isn’t the first thing that pops into the mind of parents of young kids as a thing to do.  I get it.  But how else are they going to learn to love it?!  I’m not waiting.

Bill always plays “our” song when he sees us.  He kicked the night off with Somewhere Over The Rainbow.  Then he did some Neil Diamond for mom and some Beatles for Evie.

Despite the need to drop the hammer on Evie and Jack several times, we had a wonderful evening.  I also realized that we need to practice formal settings to help the kids understand The Expectations when we get dressed up.  A few days later Grandmom had a $0.50 coupon for Fielders (our favorite ice cream store) she “had” to use.  We decided to treat the ice cream store as a “nice” place.  In retrospect, it was a bit of an odd choice…. maybe when trying to work on manners and all the big elements of “polite” a sugar shack isn’t the ideal place to go.  Nevertheless, they did a good job of being respectful.  So now we’ll upgrade to a white linen restaurant or maybe a play.


We’re on a massive Junior Ranger kick at this point.  Turns out the federal program is slightly more… intense… then the state program.  I wasn’t prepared for the amount of work required.











Evelyn was very proud she packed her own lunchbox.











Down to Bar Harbor:


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Look who’s wearing her Amators t-shirt!


The spot we got married.

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The Bar Harbor Inn.


This kid and dandelion seeds… He blows wishes everywhere he goes.  For every time he’s mean or hits his sister {hard}, he comes up with something like this.  His sweet side is so sweet.  That’s how I’m confident we aren’t going to be visiting him in jail one day.

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And finally, off to nightcaps with our Bill.