Saturday, July 23, 2016

Do You Know the Pie Man?

We finally made it to Bar Harbor! Let the sun shine down and the cool summer breezes commence! Everything smells like pine and everyone smells like lobster.  Yes.

Eager to reach our Northernmost destination, we had reserved our Bar Harbor campsite months in advance to ensure a perfectly pine-scented stay.  Unfortunately, upon arrival we found that our site was too small for our rig, was located on a major bus route and did not allow for bonfires. I'm sorry... no bonfires... no bueno.  Unsure of what to do and aware of a major storm rolling in, we went to bed and decided to figure it out in the morning. Morning brought a flooded campground and an overflowing sewer dumping station. Max didn't waste any time cutting to the chase "Ew, Mama, I'm grossed out."

Indeed, Maxer. Indeed.

Now, ladies.... when y'all are dreaming up the dreamiest husband in the world, it's moments like this you should consider.

Did Mark Royan lay down and accept his camping fate at this gross campground? No, he did not. He made himself a little bridge through the flooding sewer water, fired up his manly F350, and set off to find another campsite for his family in the height of summer camping season.

Was it easy? No. Was he scared off by "No Vacancy" signs? No. Did he find a better campsite? Yes.

Hellllllllllooooo dreamy waterfront campground.  We love you.  



What a man.  He's a keeper!

We spent more than a week here and extended our stay twice.  Even in all that time, we didn't come close to seeing all that Bar Harbor has to offer! Here are some highlights from our fun and quirky adventures! Many thanks for all of the advice and endless text assistance from our friend and Bar Harbor expert, Anna Snyder! Bar Harbor Tour Guide extraordinaire! 

Food Tour

Bar Harbor was home to our third and final Maine Foodie Tour trifecta. We ate, we drank, we learned things! Such a great way to be introduced to any city! That being said, we are OVER food tours for a WHILE. Our kids are probably over food tours forever, as they were in a constant state of disappointment that they were not hosted by Guy Fieri. 




Smack dab in the middle of Bar Harbor is an institution known as Reel Pizza. As we pulled up, it was evident that parking was going to be a challenge; but we didn't dare steal this available spot...


Reel Pizza is a crazy joint that is very comfortable following the business plan they put together at some point after pizza was invented but before computers or the internet barged on to the scene.   Patrons line up more than an hour before the doors open at 4:30 to wait in line for the chance to purchase tickets for one of two showings at the tiny theater.  All cash. All analog. At some point, the owner comes out and screams "all sold out" and that's that. No, you can't buy tickets for tomorrow's show. You can come back and you can wait in line again tomorrow - because that is the price you pay for the privilege of visiting Maine. 



Inside... You guessed it... They make pizza. In line with their highly sophisticated ticketing system, each moviegoer (now at least an hour early for their movie) is given a paper plate and a sharpie. After writing your name on the back, you use said plate to hold your seat while you go about the business of ordering pizza and beer. 

For a bunch of Reel Pizza newbs like ourselves, the process was both exciting and a bit nerve-racking, but we looked around and followed the lead of the locals to figure it out. We also had to text Expert Anna at least 8 times. By the end of the movie, however, we were Reel Pizza experts and fans! 


Three words: Dive.... In.... Theater.

Step aboard the Starfish Enterprise where Diver Ed hosts "Diver Ed's Dive In Theater."

We don't know Diver Ed's background, but after spending just two hours with him aboard his Starfish Enterprise, we've got a lot of assumptions.  First, we're guessing that Diver Ed probably spent most of his life struggling to keep job after job until one day he discovered that he loved to put sea creatures and their secretions in his mouth for the entertainment of others. Children, specifically. Our kids were screaming with laughter.  Second, this guy is hilarious and he's putting on a great show. Third, there can't possibly be anything else like this in the world.

Side note: Mark suspects that Diver Ed is actually Bobcat Goldthwait from "Police Academy."





Our first day in Bar Harbor, we decided to check out our very first lobster pound over at the Trenton Bridge. Apparently these guys are one of the biggest lobster brokers in the country, dealing in thousands of pounds of lobster each week. 




These guys are serious. They fill their lobster cauldrons up with sea water and then fire the brick ovens with wood. The water never stops boiling it seems.

Max ate so much he had to lie down. 

Bookending our trip, we spent our last day in Bar Harbor having lunch at a lobster pound as well. Beal's Lobster Pound was also delicious and wins points for cutting their claws for easy cracking.


Acadia National Park is 47,000 acres of Maine-tastic nature. Park Loop Road will take you to all of the major highlights and leave you wanting even more time to explore this breathtaking park.

We took the drive up to the top of Cadillac Mountain to experience the vast views and gorgeous scenery.  Not only was the view breathtaking, so was the wind. While it gusted in excess of 40 miles per hour all around us, we explored the summit. April spent most of this time terrified that Max's 35 pound frame would blow right off the peak. Hilarious windy baby-clutching pictures resulted!


After that, we set off to hike to Bubble Rock, a giant boulder that is balanced on the edge of a cliff and appears as thought it could fall catastrophically at any moment. Guess what we encountered at the top? More wind. More baby clutching.  But otherwise beautiful.


For some reason Max's little legs got tired after walking a mile uphill against the relentless headwind... haha... and on the way back down he got a bit ahead of himself and had a little spill. Fortunately, Mark is always prepared with a range of supplies from band-aids to tourniquets. Though his screams echoed for miles and terrified upcoming hikers, a Despicable Me band-aid did the job and he was back on his feet and down the mountain in no time, all while singing Bon Jovi songs to himself, his family, and fellow hikers. What can we say? We are amazing parents and our kids have a deep love for 80s rock. You're welcome, future America. 


Per tourist tradition, we made sure to stop for High Tea and Popovers at the Jordan Pond House. Very sophisticated.

Thunder Hole, another great site, was beautiful. We missed it at high tide, however, when the waves are said to crash so loudly that it sounds like thunder. That's a bucket list item for another time!



All in all, the kids thought the nature was cool, but the pay phone in the Acadia Wild Gardens was mind-blowing.

What is this phone doing out here in the middle of nowhere? Why does it have a cord? Can people touch this thing? So many questions.

Thankfully, a phone much more sophisticated was on hand to capture the moment Andrew heard a dial tone for the first time in his life. Pure awe. 

We had to pull them away from the amazing contraption. 


You would think that sailing on a 150 foot schooner along the shores of Acadia National Park would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The scenery is beautiful and the boat is a gem, and that's all pretty cool for the first fifteen minutes. For the next two hours, however, it turns into a real snooze fest. Literally. 

One kid asleep... 

Two kids asleep.... 


The seas were drowsy that day, my friends.


Didn't know that you could get great barbecue in Maine? We didn't either. Turns out all those trees are good for more than just great scenery. You just chop the right ones down and toss them in a smoker with a hunk of pork, chicken or beef and what comes out is pure magic. Its the wood that makes it good, folks!

Our first barbecue stop was a little roadside joint called "Crazy Dave's Barbecue," run by none other than Crazy Dave himslef. Dave is saving up for a double hip replacement by slinging some mean hickory smoked meat on the side of US-1 in Ellsworth.  His tent is sandwiched between a fresh strawberry stand and the local Baptist church. The meal was heavenly.

A week later, our second barbecue stop was even better because it included a brewery! Bingo! Mainely Meats and the attached Atlantic Brewing Company are quite possibly the greatest business partnership in the history of the world. The meat these guys are churning out is nothing short of perfection. Seriously, we've sampled a lot of food from all over the country, but this is the best barbeque we have ever eaten that is available to the general public.

Side note: The best barbecue available by private invitation only is at Barckley Storey's house in Naples, Florida. Sorry, he's only got so much free time and he already has a lot of friends so there is no more time for him to make ribs for extra new friends. Y'all are out of luck.

Another Atlantic Brewing Company bonus: safety goggles for the beer tour that make you look really cool. 





Finally, we end our Bar Harbor blog with our favorite story of the Pie Man.

One night while sitting around the campfire, we heard the odd, faint sound of ringing. At first, we just thought it was somebody walking a dog with a noisy collar. As it grew closer, however, it sounded like a reindeer. Alas, it was a tiny blue car filled with two portly grandparents. The pair was selling pies out of their hatchback. The wife was leaning out the passenger window ringing a bell by hand - the type that one uses to summon their butler. The husband was cruising down the road like a boss. We weren't sure what to make of it but our fellow campers shot up from their lawn chairs and barreled across the campground screaming "Pie Man!"  Kids soon followed, chasing the 1972 Gremlin like dogs after a bumper.

Andrew asked if he could go buy a pie. Mark said yes and handed him some money. April suggested it probably was not wise to encourage our kids to take treats from old men in cars... unless we are with them... and unless pie is involved... so we wisely tagged along.

The Pie Man is no joke. This entrepreneurial genius is pulling down $17 a pie. His wife cannot speak, but she smiles and waves a lot. He says that she doesn't help with the baking because "this was all his bright idea." He makes his pies every morning, sells them only in local campgrounds "after he's done with dinner," and works exactly 12 weeks a year. He has a card that says "Pie Man" and a phone number (in case you want him to save a flavor for you on his route). We asked if he had a Facebook page and he said: "I don't. I should. But I don't want the business to control me. I don't want requests and people contacting me. I don't want people knowing where I am. Right now I'm a surprise every evening. I like that." 

Damn, Pie Man. Damn. 

By the time we got to him, the Tollhouse Brownie Pie was all that was left - and it was amazing. As was the Pie Man and his cute wife and his lovely business. Bar Harbor magical.

So, that's it! We're leaving Maine and off to the mountains of New Hampshire! Live free or die! 

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