Early on Sat. 6/15 we departed Atlantic Oaks. On our way out I inched through the little security gate designed for mini cars. The gate timer must not have liked my speed because it decided to close about the time my living room was going through. I heard a funny sound and noticed the splintered gate flying through the air in my rear view mirror. Fortunately, the soft wood did not damage the coach.
Almost an hour later we crossed over the bridge onto the Mass. mainland and headed for Hiway 495 to circumnavigate Boston. By mid morning we had cleared Boston and passed through the few miles of New Hampshire before entering the toll state of Maine. It was a little less than 200 miles to Bangor and it seemed that every 20 min. or so a new toll both would extract between 9 and 12 dollars for us to continue.
I finally figured out that fuel prices were somehow directly related to latitude. I started to worry about Cape Breton Island and New Foundland. When we reached Bangor we turned down Hiway 3 and in about an hour found the Narrows Too RV resort right off the end of the runway at the local airport and on the water in Trenton, ME.
Things were looking up.
As we checked in Bev asked if there wasn’t an upgraded site closer to the water. We were given our upgrade and soon the jacks were going down as we looked over the low tide of the adjacent Atlantic Ocean.
Across the bay was Mount Desert Island where everything began.
The Island was “discovered” at the beginning of the twentieth century by the Rockefeller’s and their social set. They built beautiful mansions for their summer retreat. Unfortunately, many of them were destroyed by a big fire in 1947 and many were not rebuilt.
The two main points of interest on the Island are the town of Bar Harbor and the Acadia National Park. Much of the park was gifted to the National Park Service by the Rockefeller’s and their friends. In the early 20th century John D Jr. was bothered by the traffic and congestion of the new automobiles. So he constructed an elaborate series of private ”Carriage roads” for his personal guests. Today these roads are reserved for biking and hiking.
He might roll over in his grave if he saw the traffic today. We once had to wait almost 20 minutes trying to pull out into the traffic outside the RV park just to get onto the Hiway.
Parking was such a challenge in Bar Harbor that a couple of times I pulled into a parking space, without thinking, just because it was open. Bev thought I was a little nuts here. But at least they encouraged healthy walking. I could not help but wonder what it would be like when the real season began in about a week.
On our first venture to Bar Harbor we saw a cruise ship with a blue hull as we hiked into town. It was the Veendam. I had quite a history with this ship. I was aboard her on 9/11/2001 in Sitka, AK.
There were a few good restaurants in town but for the most part it was tourist town. The town mascot seemed to be the plastic lobster. They were everywhere. The shops were filled with resort clothing and cheap souvenirs. Even Bev could not find something she wanted to buy. This could be a first.
But I believe there are always some lights crying out in the wilderness. In this case I found two. My friend Geoff Goodship explained to me once that you should always plan to meet and speak with two new people every day when you traveled. That is how you get to know a place. His words have always proven true for me.
I had developed a little lesion on my thigh which I thought initially was just an inflamed hair follicle. It continued to grow and I believed it needed to be removed. I found a pharmacist, my best of way of finding good local Drs, and got the name of the only dermatologist in the area. His pleasant receptionist explained his next appoint would be in August. As I suggested I might need to be sooner she suggests I consider an Emergency Room. I had a suggestion of my own but kept it to myself.
Near our RV park I saw the sign for a local Family Physician. They encouraged walk ins. This lesion was only 12mm across and any one of my partners would easily remove it. As I hesitantly entered the office I asked the receptionist if the Dr. would remove my little lesion. She immediately called the office manager. She looked and said their Dr. never took on “big” cases like that. She told me I needed a surgeon. I gave a sigh to myself and lamented the skills of the young family physicians. For a brief moment I thought of asking her if I could borrow a scalpel, a suture set, some suture, perhaps a little anesthetic, and a specimen bottle. The lesion was on the top of my thigh and I could easily reach it. I thought about it again and decided to play like a patient.
The office manager gave me a list of the local surgeons. On my second call I reached the assistant of Dr. Kendra Blount. She told me Dr. Blount would see me at 08:30 to following morning. I thanked her. Was my luck turning? That evening the Internet told me everything I could want to know about my future surgeon. Remarkable.
The following morning I entered Dr. Blount’s office 15 min. early expecting a lot of paper work. Registration was a simple two page document that the pleasant clerk filled out in less than 2 minutes. She scanned my old geezer cards in less than a minute and I was done. I thought of the eight pages folks need to fill out just to see me in Copper Mountain. What are we missing?
With in minutes of Dr. Kendra Blount entering the exam room I knew I was in the right place. She had a quiet confidence and a warm genuine smile, unique for many surgeons. I immediately liked her and realized I was in the right place. She had finished her 5 yr. Yale affiliated surgical residency in Connecticut a year before. The local 25 bed hospital had hired her to add to their surgical staff. She and her husband chose Bar Harbor for its remoteness and its beauty. Their plan was to pay off her medical school debt as soon as they could and then devote half of their time to surgical practice in the US and half to missionary work.
Within a few minutes my offending lesion was in a specimen bottle and the hole in my leg closed. I never felt a thing. A few minutes later I was back in the waiting room relating my good fortune to Bev. The following day I was still impressed with my positive experience. Bev and I texted Kendra and invited her and her husband to dinner the following night. Bev’s Internet searching had previously identified the March Bistro as a desirable spot for dinner. We were not disappointed.
Kendra and Mathew related their tale of the first year in Bar Harbor. It was most interesting to hear of the challenges of starting a practice on your own in 2012. She was energized, well trained, self confident, and hopeful for the future. She reminded me of someone I knew well many years ago. After getting to know her I was a little more optimistic about the future of 21st century medicine.
We decided to tour the island the next day. We found a sea walk.
We brought the dogs with us which suddenly guaranteed lots of folks who wanted to visit. It took us almost two hours to go the three miles of stately mansions into the heart of Bar Harbor.
As we walked trough the early morning mist we saw another blue hull come into view. This was the Maasdam.
She dropped anchor right where the Veendam had been a few days before.
We decided to continue on our tour of the island. We returned to the Acadia National Park and followed the coast road along a beautiful rocky shore. Lobster pots were everywhere. A few boats were checking their pots. We got out and sat on some huge flat granite rocks and watched an old sailing ship with dark red sails move by. We finished our trip around the island and returned to our little motor home.
My second serendipitous encounter came on our last Friday. Bev produced a watch with a dead battery and asked that I find a live one and see if we could somehow get it into her watch. On mail street we had passed a sign for a “clock maker.” You don’t see too many of these. His hours of operation were only 10-2 Mon.-Fri. Bev had another appointment in town so I hopped on my bike to find a “clock maker.” I passed his shop twice before recognizing its basement location.
I descended the stairs and found a quiet hall with a small door. Through the glass I could see a wall covered in antique clocks. I tried the handle and the door was unlocked. I quietly waked in. Suddenly I was surrounded by every conceivable time piece. Most of them had mechanical mechanisms that lay silent. A few were actually moving. I heard the faint sound of a machine working in a back room but saw no one. I could wait. I went from clock to clock with my hands behind my back. Works of art in the basement of a town of plastic lobsters.
In a few minutes an elderly gentleman wearing a tie came from the back room. He was wearing rimless glasses with a jeweler’s loop built in. He had a kind soft face, a knowing smile, and a gentle twinkle in his eye.
“You must be the clockmaker.” Was all I could think to say.
“Alexander Philips.” He nodded.
“I’ll bet these clocks could tell some stories.” I rebounded.
He pointed to a complex blue clock. ”Young man. That clock was beating for Marie Antoinette.”
He pointed to another on the other side of the wall. ”That one kept time for “Beethoven.” I looked over the tops of my glasses at him.
“Or so I am told.” He smiled and his twinkle became more evident.
I was embarrassed to produce a watch for a battery change. He took it, smiled and headed to the back room as I went on to admire more clocks. In a few minutes he was back with Bev’s watch. The ice had been broken.
“You’ve been doing this for awhile.” I began.
“In my day I was one of only 4 clock makers in New York City. The wealthiest families had clocks with mechanisms and most of them brought their clocks to me. Then one day, after 30 yrs., my landlord tripled my rent and it was obvious I could not stay. I found Bar Harbor 20 yrs ago. I’ve been here ever since.”
“What do you do in the winter?” I queired.
“Repair clocks from all over the world. There are not many of us left.” He answered reflectively. ”I’ve tried to teach younger folks but they are not interested. There isn’t any money in it. It is a labor of love. Its also time for me to retire.” He gestured fondly to his clock walls. ”I’d sell these if I could and retire.”
I wanted to buy one. I looked at a few and realized there were too many zeros in the prices of the ones I liked for me. And there really wasn’t room in the little motor home anyway.
I paid for my watch battery. I shook Alexander Phillips’ hand. As I bid my farewell I realized I had just been visiting with a piece of history. What a treat.
I found Bev and we headed out of Bar Harbor for the last time to our campground and started our preparations to move on.