The Evolution of a City


Another beautiful day in down east Maine.  Smi-sunny, mid  50’s, and fresh.

ZS6S2788This view of Bass Harbor light was a fun part of the day, but I found myself waking up to thoughts of Bar Harbor – right round the bend from here.  (Metaphorically speaking)

We spent part of the day in Bar Harbor and it’s clearly a community in evolution.  This was the third time in a period of 50 years that I have been back and each visit has been markedly different.  And the community has not just been evolving over 50 years – it’s been a couple hundred year process.  Much like much older cities in Europe.

The first time I visited Mont St. Michel on the Normndy Coast of France I was struck by a tour guide who jokingly said that Mont St. Michel has been a tourist trap since the days of the crusaders.  Only to realize that in many ways my amusement was misplaced. There have always been travellers — some times more well heeled than others, but there have always been travellers — and always the need to care for their “needs” and wants — and always the need to provide them with mementos of their travels.

It seems that Bar Harbor is following in a tradition of centuries.   Once this was a sleeply fishing village, then came vacationers of GREAT wealth who build homes populated by their servants and other exceedingly rich guests, eventually people of means but much less money discovered it and hotels were built — including one atop Mt Cadillac — which eventually burnt to the ground.  Then came the National Park and new hordes descended upon the island like locusts living in tents; which of course were soon replaced by tourists in RV’s and Motor Homes – but alas these were largely seasonal tourists and in an attempt to extend their seasonal profits the city has now become the stopover point for cruise ships.

I’m amazed at how a cruise ship or two worth of passengers can fill the streets of a small town. And how they can change the nature of the community.

It was clear that the boatloads of people were welcome to the shopkeepers.  And that’s good I suppose — its they who must make a living off the natural resources of the Island — or the resources they can attract to the island.  I guess for a hermit like me it’s not a change that I much care about but it’s makes the long cold winters more bearable I’m sure.

I’m not sure how quickly I’ll plan another trip though.  Some places are better remembered in memory than in return trips.

Which is not to say that we didn’t have fun – or eat well…. Portside Grill served a phenomenal Red Pepper and Potatoe Puree soup that was to die for.  A nice blend of heat and smooth — it turned an ordinary soup into quite the hearty savory fare.

Not sure if we shall take a harbour cruise tomorrow — we’ll see.  But it was a wonderful day.

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