Deer Isle, Maine
Our next overnight stop was Stonington, Maine located on Deer Isle. This is an island off the coast of Maine that is connected to the mainland via a suspension bridge. The bridge is the only way to get to the island via land.
Deer Isle, specifically Stonington, was not a stop on the original plan. Our intention was to stay in Bar Harbor, Maine but that didn’t work out. This is a first-hand experience of how good things can be hidden where you least expect to find them.
Couchsurfing in Bar Harbor
On this particular road trip, I was determined not to pay for accommodations with money. This is one of the reasons we opted to use Couchsurfing for this adventure. There is no monetary exchange for the accommodations. In fact, payment for accommodations on the Couchsurfing app is against their terms of service.
However, I don’t mean that we are not giving anything in exchange for accommodations. There are still ways to give back to our hosts. That may take the form of preparing meals, taking them with us to see and do things, or even leaving gifts behind along the way. There is an exchange; albeit not monetary.
Using Couchsurfing exclusively, with a backup plan that included car camping, meant that we occasionally needed to adjust our path. We knew before we left that we would likely need to be flexible about locations. We’ve done a lot of this already for various reasons. The biggest example of this is the re-route from Niagara Falls through Burlington. Our original plan would have taken us through Binghampton, NY and Brattleboro, VT. Instead we decided to go through Utica, NY and Burlington, VT. (Have I mentioned how much I loved Burlington?)
One of the biggest reasons I wanted to go to Maine was to see Acadia National Park. Bar Harbor is where the entrance to Acadia National Park is. Staying in Bar Harbor would have given us access to a full day at Acadia rather than having to spend so much driving time in one day. We had wanted to stay in Bar Harbor for 2 nights, but were unable to find a host in the area. This way we would have had a day where we wouldn’t have had to travel at all.
Because I couldn’t find a host in Bar Harbor, I expanded my search. I was now looking at places within 30 miles of our destination. Somehow, Stonington showed up and I didn’t question it. I later learned that Couchsurfing searches by physical proximity, not by driving distance.
Couchsurfing Insider Tip
When you are expanding your search by miles in the app, make sure you know how many driving miles are between your host and your destination. You should also check on how long it will take you to get from one point to another.
As it turns out, Stonington is almost 60 miles from Bar Harbor and about a 90 minute drive. I didn’t learn this until after I found a host to stay with in Stonington. We decided to go to anyway, and stay for 2 nights, but it meant that we would be adjusting later parts of our trip. This little hiccup led us to one of our favorite parts of the entire trip. This is true for both Brandee and me.
Last week I talked about our stop in Belfast, a great little coastal town in Maine. It was a nice stop with plenty to see and do if driving on US 1 up the coast. From Belfast, we had a 1.5 hour drive to get to Stonington.
Penobscot Narrows Bridge
Along the way we came across a scenic overlook for the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. We stopped to take some photos from the overlook and learned that it was the site of the Penobscot Expedition of 1979 from the American Revolution. This area is definitely the place to be for a US history lesson. We absorbed a good dose of history everywhere we went in in these Northeastern states.
Arriving on Deer Isle
We made it to the Deer Isle Suspension Bridge, the only over land option of getting from the mainland to Deer Isle. While I don’t mind most bridges, ones that go up high tend to scare me. It’s not the highest bridge I’ve ever been on but bridge to Deer Isle was higher than I was comfortable with. Lucky for me, Brandee was driving so I could close my eyes and pray. Prayer worked and we made it across the bridge safely. As a side-note, it was a much easier experience for me to ride across the bridge back to the mainland 2 days later. The incline of the bridge isn’t nearly as steep.
Tressa, our host while staying in Stonington, was out of town for the weekend. She was still kind enough to allow us the use of her house while she was away. We were going to get to meet her on Sunday night, but until then, we were completely on our own. We decided the first order of business was to get familiar with the house. The main part of the house is well over 100 years old and as cliché as it may sound, was exactly what I had pictured in my head. Her house had running water and electricity. I would come to find out, off grid homes are fairly normal in parts of Maine. Many of those homes do not have running water or electricity.
Next up, the yard. WOW!! Is all I can say. It was big enough to take a walk in, if you can call it a “yard” at all. There was a path that lead down to the water. We were the only ones there and aside from the birds it was silent. It was and experience that fills your soul with goodness. You breathe in the life and breathe out anything that isn’t calm, serene and pure. I was in love. I spent a lot of time in exact spot over the next couple of days.
Looking at the clock, we realized it was about 2:00 and we hadn’t eaten yet today. One of the decisions that we made before starting the trip was that we were going to eat lobster while in Maine. We decided this morning that today would be the day and we didn’t find any place along the way so we were both starving.
Lucky for us, Tressa had left us a list of things to do on the island. Thank you again Tressa! The list included suggestions on restaurants, things to do and sights to see. We read through the list and saw her suggestion for the Harbor Café on the list. A quick google maps search and we were out the door and back in the car. The café was close and we sat in a booth with a view of the water.
There were a few customers in the restaurant and the menu had a pretty good selection. You can read the full review next week, but definitely worth a stop while visiting.
Nervous Nellies Jams and Jellies
This was another place on the list that Tressa had left for us and in her words the place is “zany”. We pull up in the driveway and we were the only people on the property. Another example of an off-season travel perk.
Still sitting in the car I see a couple of sculptures over to one side. We weren’t sure the place was open but lucky for us there was a sign that said the grounds were open to visitors until 5:00pm. The posted sign also served as a reminder to people to be respectful of the art and to have fun. Brandee was ready to turn around and leave. It was her turn to be a little freaked out, but we had 2 hours to take a look and I wanted a picture.
What started as wanting a picture turned into a tour of this unique sculpture garden/village.
The artist, Peter, started Nervous Nellie’s as a jam and jelly shop. His passion was art and he build an entire village of sculptures on his property. Unfortunately, Nervous Nellies jelly shop was closed when we got there. Complete with the sign that said they were open most of most days, just not today. Even still, I still had a great time here.
There were a few sculptures in front of the driveway/parking lot when you get there, so we got out and I had Brandee take a couple of photos. After that, I saw another sculpture building set back a little from the driveway, so I went to take a picture there too. Then, I saw the Silver Dollar Saloon so you guessed it, more photos.
Where Does It End?
After discovering the jail and getting photos taken behind bars I thought I was ready to leave, when Brandee pointed out the next set of sculptures. On and on it went. There were so many sculptures to see and enjoy. Brandee was even brave enough to join in after a little while.
She also thought it would be hilarious to video record my enthusiasm for the sculptures here at Nervous Nellie’s. You’ll see places where I stop and pose for a photo and I’d like to point out that she did not take 1/2 of the pictures I thought she was capturing. We had a great time re-watching this video and hope that you enjoy it too.
All in all, this makes list of must do activities on Deer Isle. It was free, well free will donation to support the sculptures, but as inexpensive as you can get. It was full of creativity that allowed you to use your imagination as well and we had a fantastic time here.
Dusk was settling in so we decided to be on our way back to our home away from home for the night. As we were driving a fox darted across the road in front of us. It wasn’t a moose but it was the most exotic, ok not really that exotic, wildlife we had seen on our trip so far. Unless you count black squirrels? Either way, we both thought it was a pretty cool way to end today’s outing.
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