“We had longer ways to. But no matter, the road is life.” ~ Jack Kerouac
Thursday morning I awoke at 5:30 to hear a mother duck and her eight ducklings squawking up a storm. My instinct was to grab a camera and take pictures so I stepped through the squeaky screen door of the patio and out onto the deck. I instantly saw movement directly above me, I looked upward to see a bald eagle just lifting off from the tall oak tree’s branch only twenty feet above. He then swooped down toward the lake, passing over the poor little ducklings that I’m sure he was hoping to have for breakfast and out into the open air before veering left toward the northern part of the lake. Luckily, I startled him into forgetting about breakfast…for the moment.
Me and my brother started our day with a two-hour hike in the Maine woods. He’s a hunter who has a couple of tree stands in the deep woods and wanted to check on their condition; he’ll come back in the fall with his brother-in-law Scott so they can try their luck at hunting deer.
It rained for the last two days, which made it feel like we were walking through a Costa Rican rainforest. There were deep puddles in the paths that required circumventing and there was a deluge of frogs and toads that required avoiding. Aside from the frogs and toads we saw a grouse and a couple of ducks, then, nearing the end of our trek, we spooked a mother deer and her doe! They were just forty feet away when we startled them and they startled us! In a split second…the baby deer ran away from us, the mother deer charged at us through the brush in a full gallop, then veered off at just twenty feet, my brother stood his ground pulling out his machete ready to fight and I stood my ground pulling out my…camera…?
Yeah, that was my survival instinct…shoot him with a camera. Unfortunately, I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture as it all happened too unexpectedly.
After our near battle with Bambi we visited a local friend named Bill who breeds custom day-lillies for a living. Apparently, there’s quite a viable market for these delicate flowers. You may check out his offerings at: The Maine Garden, which is part of the Belfast Creative Coalition.
Friday was our last full day in Maine, it was a beautiful sunny day, so we spent it at Acadia National Park. At the entrance I bought a National Parks Pass that I can use to gain entrance to all of the national parks and national landmarks that I hope to visit as I head westward on my Great American Road Trip.
*Tip: An alternative to driving the park in your own vehicle is to take the free shuttles that run every half-hour and take you to any place on the island, inside the park and out into the perimeter towns.
Once inside the park we followed the one-way, 20-Mile Park Loop that takes you through lush green forest and by pristine lakes to all the key sights in the park. Our first stop was Sandy Beach. Only a football field wide, this beach is nestled in between two high, rocky outcroppings that jut boldly out into the Atlantic Ocean; there are trails you may hike up on these outcroppings. There’s a mountain stream that snakes down one side of the beach and feeds into the salty ocean. The stream water is a pleasant relief from the hot, smooth sand; the ocean water is not! Simply put…the ocean water is painfully cold! Only a few daring souls ventured into the icy tide and some of them wore wetsuits. On very rare occasions, like today, you might get lucky and find twenty-dollars in the sand like I did. Free lobster!
After the beach we drove further down the coast to Thunder Hole, which is a place where Mother Nature has eroded into the rocky coast a small channel, a kind of long, tubular chute and every time a new wave comes crashing into this rocky pipeline it produces a thunderous rumble and sometimes sprays the curious onlookers.
Further past Thunder Hole is Otter Cliffs, which offer a breathtaking view of where you just came from, all the way back to Sandy Beach. This is also a favorite place for rock climbers to enjoy their hobby. Hopefully, you can feel some of the beauty and majesty of this place from the pictures.
My favorite place to go in Acadia is Jordan Pond. Here you can dine at the Jordan Pond Restaurant, which is one of the best restaurants in Maine and has most of its seating out on the lawn overlooking the length and breadth of the pond. If you go there, you should try the Lobster Stew, Lobster Roll and the Popovers, which are flaky, mostly hollow muffins that you slather with with butter and strawberry jam. Trust me, there fabulous!
But first, I would suggest working up an appetite by taking a hike around Jordan Pond. It’s a 4.3 mile moderate hike that is family friendly. The trail starts just below the restaurant. It’s a mostly plank path that winds along the western edge of the pond; the eastern edge of the pond is a smooth, gravel trail; whichever direction you choose is fine on this circular path around a beautiful, placid pond.
*Tip: Hike in the morning and be back to the restaurant before noon — it gets crowded!
After Jordan Pond, if you have your own vehicle, a drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain is “highly” recommended. At 1,528 feet you’ll have an incredible 360° view and Cadillac Mountain is also where you can witness the first sunrise of each day in the continental United States. Your vista from the top will include: the Atlantic Ocean, the State of Maine, Canada on the northern horizon, down below the town of Bar Harbor and off her coast are the Porcupine Islands.
Those are some of the highlights of Acadia. There’s so much more to see and do here. There’s 50 miles of carriage roads ideal for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Yes, there’s the Wildewood Stables where you can bring your own horse or perhaps go for a horse-drawn carriage ride. If you’re into some daring rock climbing there’s a challenging wall called The Precipice. A great place to camp is the Bar Harbor Campground. You can leave your car at the site and take shuttles to wherever you wish, then return to the campground at day’s end to jump in the heated swimming pool. If you like the thrill of shopping then Bar Harbor is a great little tourist Mecca. There’s wild blueberries growing everywhere and the island has a dark-sky ordinance that makes for some of the best stargazing on the East Coast of America. All in all, Acadia is a magical place with a variety of terrains, activities and beauty and, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful, natural places to visit on America’s east coast.
I hope you have a chance to visit Acadia if you’re ever in Downeast Maine.
The gam continues…