A Splendid Finish
Isle Au Haut Travel Blog› entry 48 of 51 › view all entries
Woke up around 5AM today and took advantage of an abandoned inn to pad around and snap some interior pictures. It wasn’t very long, however, before I heard Marshall puttering about downstairs. I soon headed for floor level and greeted him, knowing the first order of business was firing up a fresh pot of coffee!
Chatting with Marshall, I asked him if I could give some money to ship a mag light to Bowdoinham (Ed had loaned me a torch to navigate back to Kathleen’s place each night and I forgot to return it – since he uses it to walk his dog at night I wanted it to get home ASAP). Marshall accepted the flashlight and some cash, then got busy with housekeeping chores.
Julie, Tracy and Char soon arrived and another delicious breakfast was whipped up – a custom egg sandwich (featuring a light biscuit) accompanied by a bowl of yogurt with nuts.
Marshall disappeared and surprised me by returning at 7:45AM with change from my postage request. “How did you manage that?” I asked. Turns out Isle au Haut’s teensy post office (see picture) opens at 7AM every morning so locals can be ready for the mail boat’s 8AM arrival. Tracy, Marshall and I chatted over coffee in the parlor while Julie put my lunch together (a beefy avocado sandwich, an apple, more granola and even some popcorn).
This entire AM sequence was very laid back, so I didn’t push off for more hiking until 9:15. Mindful that I would need to catch a 4PM mail boat ride back to the mainland, there was no ambitious agenda.
Completed this circuit in good time and after rebounding about two miles along Main Road to the turn-off back to the lighthouse, I pressed on towards the main village. Figured I would check out the civilized portions of Isle au Haut during my few remaining hours and my initial target was Black Dinah (pronounced DEAN-uh) Chocolates.
Tracy and Julie had made me aware of the local chocolatier, one of the island’s very few industries that apparently has garnered a lot of acclaim for their delicious treats.
An auspicious beginning. No doubt I had narrowed the search by spying a Black Dinah sign at the first driveway once the road was blacktopped again, as Tracy had described. Unfortunately the signboard included a hanging shingle saying SHUT. I ventured back and there were two residences, one ‘feeling’ like it was Black Dinah, but things were quiet and no further signage to help confirm I had reached the promised land.
Continued on towards what might loosely be referred to as “town,” passing the National Park Ranger Station. Just beyond Town Landing was the island’s gift shop, which I visited to chat with the owner and score a tacky magnet. Also snapped a picture of the post office, probably the bittiest one I’ve ever seen.
Then it was back to the Keeper’s House, and I picked up a dog along the way. He was lying on a front porch and jumped up as I ambled past, idly escorting me and exploring interesting smells as we headed back. Char was working in the garden when I reached the lighthouse, so my first question was whether it was okay the pooch had tagged along (we were now about a mile from his house). “He’ll find his way back, he follows everyone,” Char replied.
Julie made me a cup of tea as I packed for final departure. Shared my failed attempt to drop in at Black Dinah, and she told me to just knock on the door. If I failed to connect, Julie told me they had a store in Blue Hill, which I would pass through after I regained the mainland. We started chatting about Blue Hill and I told her I frequented the town back in the early 90’s because there was a hip blues club called the Left Bank Café that featured top shelf acts. Naturally Julie’s father was the owner of the Left Bank during that time!
Time to bid adieu, so I thanked Julie and Char for a wonderful stay and hoofed back into town.
This time my visit to Black Dinah was successful because I did knock on the door. A guy appeared at a window and shouted “looking for chocolate?” After nodding my head he gestured to go around to a door at the side of the house and quickly let me inside. There was a tasteful display of their wares, so I pulled out a twenty and asked him to fix a small box for my daughter. He was so gracious I asked about the overlook Tracy had mentioned just behind their house. He instantly acknowledged the overlook and pointed to a trail starting just off their back porch.
“Dang” I replied, because it was 3PM and the mail boat departed at 4PM.
Lost the trail coming back down, but it was obvious which direction to go so I bulldozed through some brush, reclaimed my pack and headed for Town Landing. I was grooving on all of the last minute sights I was cramming in, so I ventured past the dock to stop in at the Island Store, the sole option for scoring food on Isle au Haut – and the joint is only open 2:30 – 4:30PM daily. It was like a large convenience store, unimpressive for the most part. Picked up a diet soda and got in line behind a park ranger, who I wound up having a great conversation with.
On the brink of departure, it was starting to feel like I belonged here. That notion was reinforced when Marshall puttered past me in his Model A Ford as I trudged toward the dock. He was out looking for his dogs (of course, guess they all run free here) and informed me he’d see me at the dock. I discovered every day is Christmas on Isle au Haut when the mail boat arrives, because it seemed like the whole town came down to the landing just before Lizzy docked. Tracy came down too, so I got to complete my farewells before pushing off.
A magnificent destination I will cherish and remember fondly.