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The adventures of Saturday and Sunday…

We arrived Saturday morning on the island of Mount Desert (pronounced oddly enough, “Dessert”), twenty minutes north of Bar Harbor at the motel my wonderful husband chose for the next four days. It’s not a fancy place, but it is clean, has a comfortable bed, Internet access (albeit spotty), and a hot, sometimes scalding shower. At $58 per night, it’s unbeatable.

Cost will be a recurring theme throughout the remainder of my posts during this vacation…as will be the cold, which, it being summer, is becoming rather a obstacle in enjoying oneself whilst outside.

For a brief few hours on Saturday, we had the pleasure of bright sunshine. After an overpriced and bad lunch, but good blueberry beer at a brewery, we proceeded to Acadia National Park (I am now one park closer to fulfilling the “Visit all national parks” item on my Life List). We intended to take the free park bus to get our first view of Acadia, but since we had just missed it and the next bus wouldn’t be for half an hour, we decided to tour the Visitor’s Center, where we watched a film about Mount Desert’s history. The film was very good. What I saw of it anyway, because I fell asleep, as I am prone to do when in any dark place for more than five minutes. When the film was over, we realized that we had just missed the last bus, so gave in, and toured the park by auto. One of the best things about Acadia is that it is not an auto-centric park. According to the film, the generous John D. Rockefeller financed and assisted in building “Carriage Ways.” He wanted to create specialized paths for touring the park that were to be used by carriage, bicycle, and foot, but most definitely not by “motor cars.” Rockefeller left a legacy of miles of extensive trails where pedestrians and cyclists can travel safely. Acadia is also unique in that it is the first park created entirely from donated land.

The film in the visitor’s center stated that Acadia is not a place that is described by superlatives. It is, instead, a place that gradually draws you into its beauty. But the statement misleads, because Acadia is beautiful. There is Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak at 1,532 feet on the North Atlantic seaboard, and the first place where the sun rises in the United States. Cadillac Mountain overlooks the town of Bar Harbor and provides a magnificent 360-degree view of all of Mount Desert and the ocean below. Then there is Sand Beach, one end of a hike that gradually ascends to Otter Point, a watch your footing, dramatic rocky precipice that stands dangerously high above the water. In between are beaches made of enormous boulders and “Thunder Hole” where waves crash into a hole carved out of the rock with a dramatic “thundering” sound.

Acadia is beautiful, and perhaps best compared to Big Sur, a Big Sur of the East.

Because we arrived late, Saturday’s blue skies only revealed a little bit of the gorgeous view of the scenery that Acadia affords. Yesterday was a different story. As we entered the park, we were gripped by the view of fog rolling over, bubbling over, the tops of the nearby islands. In no time, the fog had rolled in so thoroughly that instead of breathtaking photos capturing the scenic ocean and cliffs, I have photos with a scenic thick gray background. Even a hike to the top of Mount Gorham (I’ll grant it was only a height of 523 feet) wasn’t high enough to get us above the clouds and fog.

In addition to the fog, there is also cold. Cold, cold, cold. Yesterday, like a fool, I trusted that summer warmth would find its way here, and made an ill-informed choice to wear shorts. Even while hiking, I was cold. In fact, while hiking, I soon became consumed with the fantasy of sitting in front of the car air vents blowing heat on the highest fan setting. (That, and eating blueberry pie, which I still haven’t had.) Dinner was a quick sprint into a restaurant, and a quick sprint back to the car, limiting my time outside as much as possible.

The food here hasn’t been anything to brag about or really get your mouth watering. Everything seems expensive. Maybe it’s because we’re eating out so much and are obligated to order at least one local brew at every meal. Today, finally, we found our favorite restaurant, the Tan Turtle. The menu is four pages of options of fresh, locally grown food. For lunch we shared a delicious seafood chowder, along with an equally delicious and reasonably priced entrée. We plan to visit often. And we weren’t the only ones: our neighbors at the next table were having their second meal at the Tan Turtle and planned to eat there again.

In the next post, observations about the locals and a discussion on blueberries.

Until then, may your own daily travels be comfortably warm with flavorful meals.

Our Pictures
Acadia Park website
Acadia on Wikipedia

August 2008