Tuesday – UPDATE II: My flight was canceled (as part of the fallout from the SouthWest Airlines incident at LGA yesterday). This demonstrates that even with the best of planning, you can get sidelined sometimes. I am scheduled on the same flight out tomorrow. I had given a one night deposit to the motel, but they are not charging me for the lost night. Nor did we have to pay upfront for the reservations for the shuttle van we were planning to take from the Airport to Mount Desert Island. So we are not out of pocket, but I am nevertheless most dissappointed to be writing this from my office computer. sigh. Oh lobster, oh lobster …. (Tuesday)
Monday – UPDATE: this is the beauty of blogs. After I posted this piece, a few friends mentioned the name of a small motel in Southwest Harbor that they like and always stay at. Based on their recommendations, I canceled the Holiday Inn reservation, and instead made a reservation at Harbor View Motel. (Monday)
Tomorrow, I’m flying to Maine.
There’s an event called the Great Cranberry Island 50K Ultramarathon (GCI50K) on Saturday that takes place on a tiny bucolic island called Great Cranberry Island. I can’t begin to explain the love that I feel for this island and the friends who run this horribly long wonderful event that goes back and forth and back and forth on a two mile road that is the distance of the island.
I can’t WAIT!!!! (p.s. I’m at 9:02 of the video)
I started planning this trip months and months ago, some trip planning is easy, others not so much. This wasn’t easy. It was glitchy. Here’s an overview.
In prior years, I went only for a few days. Year one, I flew to Bangor and friends picked me up at the airport, which is about an hour and a half drive to Mount Desert Island and the Bar Harbor Area. The ferries to Great Cranberry Island leave from Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor – quieter, less touristy harbors each about ten miles from Bar Harbor. Year two, I “caught lifts” with friends driving from New York to Maine – an intolerably long drive, in my humble opinion. Both years, I rented houses on Great Cranberry Island with friends for two or three nights. Most of the runners that converge on this quiet island camp out behind the Church, but camping out for me is renting a rustic house, not sleeping in a tent.
This year I decided to invite Won’t Run For Miles, who as you know, Won’t Plan anything (“Why should I plan when you do it so well, Kathy?”). We decided to lengthen the trip this year, so as to get to see a little more of Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park, and eat lots of lobster!
Step one was transportation. The flying options are Boston, Portland or Bangor. Boston is easiest and car rentals are cheapest, but the ride is still fairly long. Portland is easy, cheap flights can be found, and its about 3-4 hours drive to Mount Desert Island, but car rentals there tend to be very expensive. Bangor is the closest airport, but airfare is very expensive, usually in the $400 range. We booked our flights to Bangor using Delta Miles. Yes, we found our flights for 25,000 Sky Miles!
We decided not to rent a car. Car rentals can run in the range of $75 per day and the logistics were just not working. On the three days we’ll be on Great Cranberry Island we won’t have a car, so it would just sit in a lot. And while we are in the Bar Harbor area, there are free shuttle buses that go around to the towns. So, we are going to take a taxi ($95) or a shared van ($40 per person) from BGR to Bar Harbor. Transportation to Great Cranberry Island is by ferry, which I believe is about $30 per person each way.
We have two nights in Bar Harbor area, three nights on Great Cranberry Island, and one night at BGR before an early morning return next week.
First two nights. This was very difficult to plan. The area is a popular summer tourist destination and prices are high, unless you want to stay in Ellsworth, which I didn’t. Places like Days Inn hover around $200 per night. sheesh. Some small motels are a little cheaper, but the good ones are filled and the bad “Norman Bates” ones I’m scared of. So, it came down to whether to stay at a B & B in Bar Harbor, an inn in SouthWest Harbor or the Bar Harbor Regency Hotel, a Holiday Inn hotel, which is a nice resort that looks beautiful but never gets great Tripadvisor reviews, about a mile outside of Bar Harbor town. That was originally pricing around $200, but with government rate, it was about $170 per night. I held reservations. Still, in my mind, I felt it was too expensive for a Holiday Inn, even a fancy one at that. Won’t Run for Miles wasn’t planning at all (duh!), but he didn’t want to spend much. I do have some Priority Points, but wondered whether using 35,000 points per night, or even cash and points was worth it. I also checked Homeaway and Airbnb regularly for vacation rentals, but they were all weekly not daily rentals. Finally, after checking hotel sights daily, I saw the government rates at the Holiday Inn drop this weekend (Lesson: keep checking rates!). On Saturday, the rate dropped to $153, and Sunday to $127. Sure, the room is probably the smallest at the property, but so what. Maybe I’ll get an upgrade. I have platinum status for what its worth.
House on Cranberry Island: I looked and looked. Most were expensive and rented by the week. Eventually, I rented the same small house that I rented last year. Two or three others will share it with us. Its nothing special, but its a place to sleep on this magical island.
Finally, our flight home from Bangor will be an early morning flight. I originally made a reservation at a Hampton Inn at a government rate of $77. Then, when IHG offered point breaks for 5000 points at the Holiday Inn at Bangor Airport, I snagged that hotel instead. I’ve never been able to get one of those bargains before, so I’m thrilled.
So all that’s left is packing, going to work, and getting to the airport tomorrow. YIKES.
Any suggestions on where to go, what to do, when we’re there? Where to eat lobster? A friend suggested Thurston’s. What’s your favorite?