Recently, our good friend Ann from New Orleans paid us a visit. While she was here for a week we ate lots of lobster, drank a few bottles of wine, and laughed until it hurt. Ann is a great person to travel with and very agreeable to whatever is on the program. Betsy and I had wanted to take a “mail boat” to the Cranberry Isles, just off the southern coast of Mt. Desert Island (where Bar Harbor is located) and Ann was agreeable to the adventure. All we had to do is assure her lunch was involved and she came along eagerly.
|The mail boat.|
The Cranberry Isles consists of Great Cranberry, Little Cranberry, Sutton, Bear, and Baker Islands and got its name from the wild low-bush cranberries that grow throughout the islands in the fall. The islands are just a short 20- 30 minute boat ride which provides spectacular views of the harbors along the southern coast of Mt. Desert Island and the mountains of Acadia National Park. Great Cranberry and Little Cranberry house a year-round community of lobstermen, boat builders, and craftsmen, as well as numerous “rusticators” who’ve been returning each summer for years, if not generations.
|The waterfront at Little Cranberry which includes the Lobster man's Co-op, restaurant,|
shops, and galleries.
Historically, island residents would hitch a ride with the mail boat on its daily run of mail delivery. Today, the mail boat is still a popular mode of transportation for residents and visitors to visit some of the many islands that dot the Maine coast. Although the boat we were on was carrying more passengers than mail, they do still deliver mail and supplies to the islands.
|The ferry dock on Little Cranberry.|
|Since it was Sunday|
there was no mail delivery
We visited Great Cranberry and Little Cranberry (also known as Islesford). The islands are very small (the longest being only two miles long) and most visitors get around on foot or bicycle. Don’t look for a taxi at the ferry dock the island isn’t that big! Instead, just wear comfortable shoes. The islands were very charming and represented a peaceful, slow way of life. The docks are scattered with lobster traps and buoys verifying that these harbors are working waterfronts and residents still make their living from the sea. Once on Little Cranberry just walk 30 yards to your left and you will be in the “downtown.” Located there is a restaurant, shops and galleries, and a National Park Service museum that depicted the history of life on the island. We took a short walk up the main road in search of an island artisan gallery and gift shop. Along the way we ran across a beautiful old church with patrons selling baked goods and a home-made putt-putt golf course that was raising money for victims of the Gulf oil spill and Haiti. We all remarked, “where else would you find this?”
|Little Cranberry (a.k.a Islesford) post office and grocery. One-stop shopping!|
|Island Girl Seaglass gift shop.|
We hopped back on the mailboat and took the 20 minute ride to Great Cranberry. Once again, the views from the water were spectacular and the cool breeze felt great. Since it was nearing one o’clock, we made the hike up the island to a café I saw advertised at the ferry dock. Turns out that this is where all the locals eat on Sunday after church (or maybe it is the only place to eat on the island). After enjoying a leisurely lunch we stepped behind the café where there is a small historical museum. With our bellies full and 45 minutes until the next mail boat, we continued to explore the island. We saw the church, school, gift shop and just marveled at what a relaxing life these islands seem to provide. Of course, none of us would want to be there in the winter! The Cranberry Isles are definitely worth a visit if you come to Mt. Desert Island.
|Lighthouse on Baker Island.|
|The dockside restaurant with a great view of the harbor.|
|Putt putt golf course for charity.|
|The designers of this course really have a sense of humor.|
|Another display of humor in the bean garden.|
|National Park Service museum.|
|Museum exhibits depicting life on the Cranberry Isles.|
|Houses on Great Cranberry that have a great water view from the backyard.|
|Town church and garden.|
|The lunch we promised Ann. Behind the cafe is the historical society museum|
and gift shop.
|Lobster buoys and traps|
|Island food truck selling what else but lobster.|
|Church bake sale.|