~Tuesday, September 14, 2021~
Day 457 (Our 30th Wedding Anniversary!!👰♀️🤵♂️)
Though we always talked about taking a really big trip for our 30th wedding anniversary, we can’t imagine a better one, than the one we’re currently on. We’re very blessed that we get to do this long-term travel thing together, visiting so many wonderful places in this physically beautiful country of ours. And I think we’ve passed the true test of a marriage, by living 24/7 in 200-square feet of living space. I guess we haven’t killed each other yet, because quite frankly, we’re meant to be together. I can’t imagine sharing my life, all the ups and downs, the twists and turns with anyone but Jeff. So today, we celebrate us and our life as a couple.
We had a packed day planned and thanked our lucky stars that no rain was forecasted. Though we had plans to go to 2 Cats Restaurant for breakfast in Bar Harbor, the wait was just too long for us to catch our 1:00 lobster boat tour on time. We got delayed because of parking issues downtown. There were so many tourists that we weren’t expecting, even after Labor Day. I think with the beautiful, sunny day, it prompted everyone to hit the town and view the ocean/island setting. But our “work around” the crowd scene, was toting our bikes on the back of the truck for moments like this. We simply drove about 2 miles from downtown where we easily found a parking spot, then rode the bikes back into town. Luckily, we found an alternative breakfast spot called Jordan’s. Instantly seated, and instantly served a delicious, classic breakfast…..blueberry pancakes, fried eggs, potatoes, and sausage for Jeff. We couldn’t ask for anything better and more hardy to get us through the day. Though we disliked eating fast, it was time to hit the pavement on bikes to get to the pier. At first we had a hard time finding where to catch the boat, having to stop and ask a few locals where it was. Whew, we made it with 10 minutes to spare.
The LuLu Lobster Boat Ride is the only lobster 🦞boat tour in Bar Harbor, and man, did we learn about lobsters.
The weather was hanging in there but clouds were rolling in with a few dark one’s as well. I could have used another layer of clothing for sure. But I always have my hubby to count on for that. He always comes prepared. It wasn’t until we got out into the open ocean, I needed to add a jacket. Our particular boat is not licensed to harvest lobsters, and is only used for demonstration purposes. So all the lobsters today would be thrown back into the sea to continue on with their happy lives (my sister would be happy to hear this).The captain (a young 20 something young man), was directly steering in front of Jeff and I, with about 30 passengers on board as well as our guide. She was terrific….great sense of humor, and loaded with information.
We sailed from the heart of the Bar Harbor waterfront to French Bay, where we were taken near the Egg Rock Lighthouse,
one of Maine’s most picturesque lighthouses. We also spotted curious Harbor and Grey Seals, and an occasional porpoise. Quite often, bald eagles are spotted too, but not in the cards for us today. When the tide is lower, exposing the small rocky islands, baby ducks and baby seals will rest there which can be a feast for a hungry eagle. 😢 Along the way, our guide answered questions like, “how do you keep track of overfishing lobsters'', and “how do you keep other people from stealing your traps?” The answer to the first question is the goal of sustainable lobster fishing in Maine is to maintain a healthy lobster population without fishing it down to biomass levels…...to allow lobster reproduction and juvenile lobster growth rates to keep pace with harvests. The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) ensures this happens. Lobsters are required to be 3-¼” minimum on their carcass section, and no greater than 5”. Otherwise, they’re thrown back in the ocean to continue growing, or live a full-life whichever the case may be. As far as the stealing goes, for most, it’s not worth the risk of permanently suspending their license that took years to get and fines are hefty too.
There is a desire to attract young lobstermen and lobster women into the profession. Young people who have apprenticed for years, can find themselves at the top of the waiting list as soon as they’ve:
1) graduated high school or received a GED
2) completed 1,000 hours of apprenticeship
The wait list can take forever, sometimes up to 10 years for most. 5 captains have to retire before 1 can be added to the list for their permit process. The cost for starting your own lobster business is about $230,000 between boat, licensing, bait, cages, and buoys. The buoys themselves are expensive and time consuming to maintain. Many fishermen/fisherwomen can have up to 800 buoys that all require painting annually….a time consuming and stinky affair where they use rubberized paint.
We watched the captain demonstrate how lobster traps are hauled onto the boat with wire cages that are coated in plastic for durability. The old cages used up until the mid-80's were always made of high maintenance wood. So the wire cages are waaay better. They’re divided into 2 sections, the first being the “chamber” where the bag of stinky Heron is, to lure them in. If a lobster senses the Herring is too old or smelly, it will just move on to the next cage. So the bait needs to be changed out every 2-3 days. Some lobsters are smart enough to eat and run out of the trap, but many, not so much. From the “chamber”, they go into the “parlour” where they will stay until pulled up to the surface. A few of the tourists actually held the lobsters, once they’re claws were rubber banded shut. They have the force great enough to crush a finger. The bigger the lobster, the more force. The largest lobsters have enough strength to break a human leg. Crazy!! 😳Currently, a fisherman receives $8.00/lb for his catch. Next in line would be the delivery guys, who mark up their service 25% above that, to the restaurants/stores who mark up again, 25%, so that by the time it reaches the consumer, you’re looking at about $30 for 1 lobster.
We also learned a lot about the anatomy and life cycle of the lobster. A lobster can shed its shell up to 25 times in its lifetime. They can live out of water up to 2 days, self-storing oxygenated water under their shell. They also go into a stupor state when they’re taken out of the water (sensed by their antennas). This helps them conserve energy and oxygen. The minute they’re put back in the ocean, they’re re-energized. They can also lose an eye, an arm, what have you, but in 5 years time, will regrow that body part fully in about 5 years. However, if they lose an eye, they won’t regrow an eye, but will have something else grow in its place….an arm, leg, etc. Since they don’t really see objects but use smell and feel more, losing an eye is not a big deal. We have a whole new respect for lobsters, who rival the intelligence of octopus-long considered to be the world’s smartest invertebrate. They are amazingly smart creatures.
Next, we needed to get back to the trailer to get a walk in with Sadie and feed her a late lunch, before heading out again for the second part of our day. When we finally got to downtown Bar Harbor again, the traffic and congestion was even more insane than the morning time. So again, we parked a few miles away to bike into town. Had we scoped out our dinner location beforehand, it would have been the perfect place, on the waterfront to enjoy some champagne and horderves, prior.
Veranda, in the Balance Rock Inn in Bar Harbor, is the perfect dinner spot to celebrate such a special occasion. Their mission is to focus on the lesser known foods. As a rule, everything is made on sight, from grinding their own grain to pressing oil. Our view was of Frenchman’s Bay and the Porcupine Islands and it was perfect that
we made our reservation for 6:00. Any later, and the views would have been missed. Our menus were even personalized with our names and anniversary date on them. Our waitress was fabulous as well. The presentation of each course was such that you ate slowly and savored each bite. It wasn’t about quantity, but about the amount of love and passion put into each dish.
The first course, which was voluntarily brought out, was presented in a tiny dish with a thin piece of anchovy, a piece of fried tarragon and small berries on top. You basically scooped it up in one small spoonful and you were done. What a fabulous combination. Next was the most delicious bread we’d ever tasted that was in the shape of a gigantic mushroom. The bread was titled “The best bread we’ve made so far”
and was presented with smoked dulce butter which looked like a light colored coarse mustard. Dulce is a butter that is prepared with dried seaweed. Had never had bread quite that delicious. Jeff had me select the wine (as usual). Even though I saw the familiar Franciscan Cabernet on the wine list (I used to work for Franciscan), we wanted a Syrah. My choice…..The 2016 Boekenhoutskloof’s “Chocolate Block'', and man did I pick it right. The description intrigued me as well as the vintage. It was absolutely delicious...smooth, fruity and as the name states, chocolatey but not overly so. Next came 2 appetizers to share…potato, rye, bacon, pine ash, with whipped cream
and another plate of mushroom, polenta with leek emulsion.
The polenta was 2 squares delicately fried with a variety of earthy mushrooms and leek sauce that was to die for. Our main courses….Jeff ordered Wagyu with parsnip, jus, topped with a chive funnel cake. Wagyu is a Japanese breed of beef cattle. The unique taste and tenderness made for an unrivaled eating experience for sure. My dish wasn’t quite as elaborate but just as delectable.….Risotto with grass, leek and kale. For dessert, we shared a Dulce de Leche with churro crumble. And if that wasn’t enough, they brought out one more “happy anniversary” treat. A spoonful of chocolate moose with a dollop of marzipan underneath. It was seriously one of the best meals we’d ever had. And the service was outstanding. We made sure to tell them how much we appreciated everything about our experience as we “hobbled” out. It was not just a meal, but an experience. The funny part was to be leaving such a high-quality restaurant with our small backpacks in hand to drive away on bikes back to the car. Nice restaurant, backpacks, bikes. Somehow, the 3 just didn’t go together. All we knew is that a 20-mile bike ride would have felt good to ease the pain in our full bellies. Our 10-minute bike ride would have to do. But what an awesome day it was celebrating 3 decades together. And here’s to 3 or 4 more!! ❤️