The Chocolatier

Isle au Haut is one of Maine’s 15 island communities.  When Rode Trip visited the island last summer, Brian and I took advantage of the hiking trails within the boundaries of Acadia National Park (comprises five square miles of the island’s total 12 square miles).  This year we had a much different agenda; to find chocolate!  Our friend, Candace, told us about the Chocolatier on Isle au Haut and thus we’d found the day’s event.  Eating chocolate!  But first we had to get there…

From our rafted boats we dinghied to the town dock, taking a detour around this mini-island to determine that it was in fact an island and that there was just barely enough water to circumnavigate it.  IMG_4466

Over the river and through the woods to the Chcolatier we go!IMG_4471IMG_6093

We paused to admire the views from atop Black Dinah Mountain. IMG_4485IMG_6098IMG_4484And then…out of the woods…VIOLA!  The Chocolatier’s cottage! IMG_6109

Welcome to Black Dinah Chocolatiers.  Here, Kate and Steve have made magic happen at their island home by combining their creative culinary skills with the most delicious locally grown ingredients to create a delectable treat.  Kate and Steve are year-round residents of Isle au Haut and they’ve contributed their talents to this small community.  Brian, Dennis, Candace and I stood, mouths watering, deciding which of the scintillating flavors to sample.IMG_6103

Blueberry Black Pepper, Rum Ginger, Strawberry Balsamic, Sea Salt Caramel, Lavender, and Earl Grey were just a few of the flavor combinations set before us.  We sat in the funky cafe at the edge of the forest admiring the delicately decorated truffles for mere seconds before Candace and I selected the first morsel.  IMG_6108

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With each, tiny bite we determined that these were by far the best chocolates we’d ever eaten!  We wanted to postpone the end to our lavish treat so we put forth our best will-power and closed the box for our walk and dinghy ride back to the boats.

Wind in Her Sails

It was our last hurrah in Maine; Brian and I were excited to do a buddy boat cruise in Penobscot Bay with our local friends, Dennis and Candace (s/v Solstice).  Our friends were excited too, they’d taken off Friday to make a long weekend of it.  After a quick trip to the grocery store for the bare essentials (beer, tonic, bacon and tortilla chips) we loaded up the boats and got underway.

We were so efficient that morning that we departed before noon. True to our experience in Maine, there just isn’t any wind before noon. So getting started took a bit of patience as we bobbed our way past the Owl’s Head Lighthouse and into Penobscot Bay. Dennis made certain that we did not have an itinerary but just go where the wind would take us. Having been a schooner captain for several years, Dennis also knew all of the wind’s hiding places, shortcuts, and less traveled thorofares. I’ll confess both boats fired up the engine to make tracks across the bay. But mid-way across, right on cue at about 12:30pm, a nice northwest breeze came through. Rode Trip followed Solstice heading south along Vinalhaven. We breezed right past the entrance to the Fox Island Thorofare and sailed down through the Leadbetter Narrows. Our route is best viewed on the track, but here is also a zoomed screen shot of our chart. The Fox Island Thorofare entrance is marked by a green/red can (GRC) at the top left corner. You can see in the bottom right Leadbetter Island and a tiny, narrow passage marked by one green can (GC “1”) between Leadbetter and Vinalhaven. Despite our doubts, the wind held through the narrows and we had a beautiful sail and plenty of room.

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The scenery continued to be lovely as we sailed along through The Reach. You can see in this screen shot that this was another narrow passage. But we still had plenty of room and a beautiful, scenic sail. Yet again the wind held and we were thrilled to have Solstice’s insider knowledge in the lead.

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IMG_6075IMG_4450We sailed roughly 20 miles all the way to Isle au Haut. We rafted the boats for the night. Rode Trip was anchored and Solstice was tied alongside as if at a dock. What a superb idea! Now we had double the deck space and had no need to dinghy back and forth. We baked pizzas simultaneously in both ovens, then enjoyed our feast along with gin and tonics aboard Solstice. We marveled at the differences between the two 32′ boats; each was just right for its intended purpose, Rode Trip the ocean passage-maker and Solstice the coastal explorer.

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Queen Bee

On their second, full day of visiting Rode Trip Steve and Sally were blessed with sunshine. This was very good because on this day we had a goal to achieve; Sally wanted to hike the Beehive Trail. Brian and I were familiar with the Beehive; this 520 ft summit would be reached by walking along narrow cliffs and climbing up ledges with the assistance of iron bars that have been installed in the rock to be used as hand holds and foot ladders. The mountain is called the Beehive because from a distance it’s shape resembles that of a hive. We described it to Sally cheerfully, “It’ll be fun, a short hike with a few ladders.” We had no idea that Sally is afraid of heights…but she was determined.

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We left Steve at Sand Beach where he was happy to relax and beach comb (he knew of Sally’s fear of heights and was smart enough to steer clear of this challenge).

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So it began. Brian assured us that he was “certified” and he was at the ready to spot Sally when the goings got tough.

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She was off to a good start.

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The first set of iron bars was a bit overwhelming…

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But after much patience, encouragement, some yelling (as positively as possible from dearest daughter), and finally a line-up of people waiting to pass below…Sally was up!

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Sally was soon a pro; carefully inspecting the trail around upcoming corners and ledges before scaling the sides with ease.

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Near the top, she totally ignored the trail and blazed her own in one fell swoop all the way to the summit! Sally walked across the open-face stone, bare mountain top with her arms outspread as though she were strolling through a ground level pasture.

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Down the opposite side and all the way back to Sand Beach, Sally was still in awe of her feat. Steve couldn’t believe the good news! Amazing things happen when you hang with the Rode Trippers…and always the celebratory feast and drinks at the end!

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