Puffins! Bioluminescence! Acadia!

This weekend David and I did lots of very Maine things, like take a puffin boat, kayak in Castine’s bioluminescent bay, and hike around Acadia.

puffin!

puffin! with fish in his cute puffin mouf!

First up was the puffin boat with Hardy Boat Cruises.  There are several puffin tours along the coast of Maine, so how did we select this one?  It was the cheapest, of course!  The boat circles Eastern Egg rock, scouting for the birds.  You’re not allowed to land on the island but we saw perhaps a dozen or so bobbing around in the water.  Less cute but still rare, there was also a gaggle of Eider ducks, who I wanted to steal so I could make myself ethical down products.

a slightly blurry puffin!

a slightly blurry puffin!

Also seen but not pictured: turns, gulls, and some other things that WEREN’T PUFFINS, SO WHO CARES.

THREE PUFFINS

THREE PUFFINS

I realized on this boat cruise that my cheapy 55-250mm telephoto lens is not zoomy enough to capture maximum puffin, so I hope you enjoyed this series of slightly blurry puffin pictures (it’s also hard to take pictures on a moving boat while maxing out your zooming abilities). 🙂 🙂 🙂

puffin butt!

puffin butt!

The next day we went hiking in Acadia and did a nice little loop hike (actually more like a figure 8 hike).  We parked at Sand Beach and the first part of the hike walks down the ocean path past Thunder Hole.  After Thunder Hole you go up Gorham mountain and then descend back towards Sand Beach (map of loop).  To a seasoned hiker, everything in Acadia is pretty tame but there were some nice rocky shoreline views, and the view from the summit of Gorham mountain is nothing to scoff at.

ledge on the beehive.  looking at sand beach.

ledge on the beehive. looking at sand beach.

After descending Gorham mountain we went up the Beehive trail, which is a steep trail with lots of cliff drop-offs and some iron rungs to help you up the rock slabs.  It’s a little bit exposed but definitely not uncomfortable or dangerous feeling for a regular hiker.  The view from the top of the Beehive is also ballin’.  I really wish we had the opportunity to do the Precipice trail, which is supposedly like the Beehive but better, but unfortunately it’s closed ALL SUMMER due to nesting peregrine falcons (damn falcons!!!!!).

climb climb climb

climb climb climb

After our short day in Acadia, we drove down to Castine for our bioluminescent kayak tour.  The kayak tour is a bit pricey as far as my poor graduate student self is concerned, but I can say it was soooo worth the splurge.  The tour starts at 7:30pm with some basic kayak and safety information, then you’re out padding across the bay to a small grouping of islands to try and get away from the light pollution of Castine.

so action shot

so action shot

The night we went there was a waxing quarter moon so it was fairly bright.  We stayed close to shore so the moon was blocked out by the trees, and once it got dark enough, the water started to sparkle!

view of the beehive scramble from the bottom

view of the beehive scramble from the bottom

With every agitation of the kayak paddle, the little bioluminescent phytoplankton light up blue in irritation (sorry, guys).  I think the effect looks similar to a twinkling night sky, if the twinkles were electric blue. 🙂

view of the castine sunset from my kayak

view of the castine sunset from my kayak

I’m not sure how Maine’s bioluminescence compares to say, Puerto Rico, but it was definitely an experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  It would’ve been better if the moon hadn’t been out at all, but the effect was pronounced enough that you could easily see it, even with the light pollution from above.  Unfortunately, it was definitely not bright enough to get a picture, especially with the point and shoot camera that I brought on the kayak with me. 😦

getting...darker....

getting…darker….

The tour didn’t finish until almost 11pm but I wasn’t complaining!  I was laughing like a crazed person and agitating the water all the way back to the dock.  Because I am cool.

Thus concludes a very Maine weekend.  Next blog post: Mt. Washington’s Huntington Ravine trail, because I finally did it! 😀 😀 😀

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