to summarize: last night i discovered to my horror that the downeast bus i planned on taking 8:00 wednesday morning from bar harbor to bangor (where i'd take another bus - concord coach - back to boston) only operated on mondays and fridays, not monday through friday as i originally thought. the distance to bangor isn't that far (49 miles) but definitely far enough (2:30 hours round trip, half of which on small local roads) that it wouldn't be feasible for john to drive me there.
john did some research as well and suggested the 8:30 bar harbor shuttle, a privately owned transportation company. i knew about them but it looked like i needed to make a reservation in advance so i wasn't sure if i'd even be able to book a seat since i was leaving so soon. besides, the cost for a one-way ride is $40, which is almost the price of my bus ticket from bangor to boston ($42, 241 miles).
john also suggested i could try finding public transportion out of nearby ellsworth (a much more commercialized town), approximately 20 miles north of bar harbor. a daily downeast bus leaves from bar harbor to ellsworth ($6, leaving at 8:00, arriving at 9:10). from ellsworth, west bus service (these companies have the worst websites) has a once a day service ($11) leaving at 12:25 to bangor (arriving 1:10). a couple of issues with this plan: i'd have to wait 3 hours in ellsworth before the banger bus arrives; i'd have to cancel my 11:00 bus ticket back to boston and get a later one for 3:30 ($5 cancellation charge); and this means i have have to hang our for 2 more additional hours in bangor before the boston bus arrives.
the bar harbor-ellsworth-bangor route seemed to be my only option, despite the extra 5 hours of wait time. it wasn't like i could easily move around with my large backpack so i'd probably spend the time sitting down somewhere reading a book to pass the time. i copied down the bar harbor shuttle number just in case, hoping to call them the next morning. true, it was 3-4x more expensive than my original plan, but to save myself the hassle of bus transfers and waiting, to get home without delays, it was worth it.
i woke up at 6:00. i'd already packed the night before, i just needed to use the bathroom, eat a little breakfast (the last of my pasta bean salad), and then wait for john to wake up so he could drive me to bar harbor. we left around 7:30, figuring it'd take 15-20 minutes to drive to bar harbor from hall quarry. i didn't say much for most of the ride, still anxious about my travel options.
we waited around the village green, by the bus departure place across the information center. i called bar harbor shuttle. since it was only 7:45, i figured it was still too early, so i was surprised when somebody picked up the phone. i asked the woman over the phone if there were a shuttle leaving this morning. "yes," she said, "around 8:00 to 8:30." a wave of relief washed over me. she took down my information (including my cell phone number) and passed it along to the driver, so there was no risk of the shuttle leaving without me.
an asian girl speaking broken english asked john about his iphone. she was there waiting for the ellsworth shuttle (the bus i was originally going to take had the bar harbor shuttle not work out) to take her to the closest AT&T office where she could activate her newly purchased iphone (directly from the apple store). she said she also purchased a phone cover similar to the one john had that looks like a retro audio cassette tape. we found out she's been living in bar harbor for a few months, working as a housekeeper (john initially misheard her and thought she was a scientist). she had very thin manicured eyebrows and a nose ring. i would've guessed japanese from her accent, but turns out she's actually from kazakhstan. besides english, she also speaks kazakh and russian (her 2nd language). i asked her about the russian girls working at the ice cream parlor and she said she knew them all (though not by name). she has another month left on her stay before she returns to kazakhstan (via new york and frankfurt). she seemed pleasantly surprised when i guessed almaty was her home city (the capital, it's the only kazakhstan city i know). when the ellsworth bus finally arrived our kazakh friend left us and went onboard.
i said good bye to john and will as they went in search of breakfast while i continued waiting for the bar harbor shuttle. a worker for the free island explorer shuttle alerted me when the bar harbor shuttle finally arrived around 8:30. the shuttle had a lot of cargo space in the back and big enough to sit close to a dozen passengers. there was already a woman onboard, and after i climbed on, 2 more people came after me. we drove a few blocks and picked up one last passenger who sat next to me, a friendly trim blonde with a southern accent. she seemed to know the driver - a young man with arms covered in tattoos - who must've picked her up from the airport when she first arrived in bar harbor. she was very chatty as she told the driver about all the fun things she did the past 3 days, including seeing humpback whales, a bald eagle, and seals. she received a few mysterious phone calls where she picked up but didn't say anything: turns out her airline was delaying her flight out of bangor by a few hours and sending her an automated message letting her know of the change.
it took a bit over an hour to get to bangor. instead of going straight up route 3, the driver at one point took a shortcut via route 230 to arrive at ellsworth (this is actually the suggested google map route). i recognized some of the buildings from when we passed through the town center via route 3 from the direction of bucksport a few days ago. after ellsworth it was a straight shot via route 1A to bangor. i actually fell asleep a little bit, having only slept for a few hours last night (actually, having gotten a lot of sleep because i go to bed late [2:00] and wake up early [6:00-7:00]).
the first stop was the concord coach bus depot, where everyone got off except the southern blonde (who was going to the airport which was actually across the street). i checked in, the young man behind the counter looked over my photo id and made a few check marks on my printed boarding pass. i also used the bathroom.
the first thing i noticed when we arrived was the wendy's right next door. it's been a while since i had wendy's, since all the ones nearest to me in cambridge have closed one by one. i had to wait 15 more minutes before they open for business at 10:00. i waved to somebody inside to get their attention because they forgot to unlock the doors. i asked one of the workers (who turned out to be clyde, the manager) when would they stop serving breakfast foods. "we don't have a breakfast menu," he informed me to my embarrassment. i got confused because familiar items were switched around, like the spicy chicken combo wasn't the usual no.6 but rather newly-designated no.7. i also noticed a canadian exchange rate sign; apparently they take canadian dollars as well.
i had a relaxing early lunch at wendy's. by the time i returned to bus depot around 10:40, the place was packed; when i first arrived it was nearly empty. when the boston bus rolled up outside, everyone got up. all these people are going to boston? turns out, most of them would be transferring at portland, where another bus would take them to logan airport. i also figured there'd be other buses to other cities, but boston seemed to be the destination. even though i was one of the first people to be at the station, i was one of the last in line. as i approached the bus, a conductor asked me where i was going, took my backpack, and loaded it in the appropriate cargo hold. i had to stop myself from flinching when he put the bag upside down. hope my laptop and lenses survive the trip!
i knew nothing about concord coach but was pleasantly surprised by the amenities on the bus: free wifi, free radio, free movies (audio from one of the radio channels, just like on a plane), pillow wings on the seats, cup holder, folding tray, power outlets, seat belts, large panoramic windows, clean onboard bathroom (relatively spacious, given the size limitation on a bus), and free complimentary bottled water and snacks at the station. i don't know where their routes extend to, but if i ever need travel north without a car, i'd seriously consider going with concord coach again.
from bangor to portland i sat next to a guy who looked like george zimmerman. he noticed i was using a kindle and asked how i liked it. he told me he's an ebook author specializing on automative parts books. he was a nice enough guy, but the sort of person who seems to love talking about himself, relishing on his own accomplishments, and seemingly an expert on everything. he told me about his places in new jersey, florida, and california, and that he was overdue for a vacation after being burned out with work. we got to talking about tablets and he said he hated the ipad, preferably instead the android tablet, proudly showing me his samsung tablet, which he used to take all his vacation photos and videos. if he was as successful as he would have me believe, why was he slumming it with us plebeians? "why did you drive up to acadia?" i asked. he said he wanted to try out the trains, since he never did that before.
the movie that was playing when we left bangor was some baseball movie about early latino players. it didn't seem interesting so i read my book, 1491 by charles mann. when we arrived in portland, i took the opportunity to use the bus bathroom when nearly everyone disembarked. the movie that played enroute to boston was men in black, which i watched to quickly pass away the time. as much as i'm jaded by will smith, MIB (1997) is still a fun movie. since the film takes place in new york city, i got a little sentimental whenever they showed the world trade towers (the 90's seemed like simpler times).
we arrived in boston at 3:15, 10 minutes ahead of schedule. coming down from the north, the bus crossed the tobin bridge and i glimpsed boston from a direction i wouldn't normally travel from. i grabbed my backpack from the cargo hold and headed towards the subway station. it wasn't until i was on the train platform did i realized my coleman bus spray was missing: it must've fallen out of the side pocket on the bus. i could've went back to get it but figured it wasn't worth it. the spray was hard to use, i probably would've switched to something else eventually.
leaving porter square and within minutes of home, i bumped into my old roommate WCH. from a distance i wasn't sure if it was her, and she didn't immediately recognize me because of my haircut. she was on her way to a barbecue at a coworker's house in concord so she couldn't talk. she did ask me about my large backpack. "i just got back from maine," i told her.
i arrived home at 4:05. my place was empty of roommate; pau had already left for spain on sunday. i stripped out of my traveling clothes (left them on the floor in the living room) and headed to the bathroom to take a shower.
the guest bedroom was completely clean, nothing left behind there. the kitchen however was a different story. pau finished almost all of his perishables from the fridge, only leaving behind some bread and milk. there was nothing of his in the freezer. he'd inherited a lot of supplies from his departing advisor, and told me when he received them that i'd be the beneficiary once he left; basically, most of the stuff belonged to his advisor, as pau himself didn't buy a lot of supplies.
i believe his advisor lived close by the whole foods in fresh pond, so some of the items were from there. his advisor also went shopping at the nearby fresh pond cvs for some more unconventional food items.
i unpacked messily in the living room, which looked like my backpack had exploded. i'm happy to report that my computer and lenses were fine (i wrapped them in clothes for cushioning). the thing i noticed once i was back in town was the itch in the back of my throat, meaning the start of the ragweed season. i took some hits of nose spray to stop the symptoms. i was tired, and soon fell asleep while lounging on the couch. i woke up when it was dark but surprisingly wasn't particularly hungry (maybe because i wolfed down handfuls of the trail mix pau left behind). i didn't have dinner until 10:00, just some simple instant noodles.
sorting through photos and retroactively updating my blog, i didn't go to sleep until well past 3:30. i fell asleep listening to some breaking bad podcast.