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22 August 2005

Acadia

Two weeks ago, we decided to go to Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor for the weekend, so Friday afternoon, we loaded up and did just that. The state campground was full, so we had made reservations at Hadley's Point campground, not far from the park entrance. We arrived around suppertime on Friday, and checked into the camp. We were in site #35, a grassy area surrounded by trees.

hadleys point map

The first thing we noticed was that there were LOADS of children crammed into the swimming pool near the park office. "Oh no!" we thought, imagining a redux of our recent Brownfield campground adventure. While Raf drove to our site, I stopped in the bathrooms, and I read a sign that said "Bible study group meets on Thursdays, Saturdays and Tuesdays at 6pm."
Another sign near the office said "Sunday Worship Service at 9am." Hmmm. I asked Raf if we were in a Christian camp. She had made the reservations when I was at work, after all. She did the research.

She said she hadn't read anything about that.

We set up the tent, fed the dogs, and went about feeding ourselves some bratwurst, and then we got into the car to drive around and find some firewood. The camp sold it for $3.75, but we knew we could find it cheaper elsewhere. We stopped at the Park Information Center, but it was about 7:00, and they were closed, so we walked around the outside to look at the displays. I saw a huge picture of the view from Cadillac Mountain, and called Raffi over. She has been wondering since we got here why I had ever wanted to move to Maine in the first place. I climbed Cadillac Mountain in 1991 with my friend Alison, and this was my image of Maine, which Portland does not match up to. When she saw the photo, she understood. "Aha! This is what you thought you were moving to."

A man and his kids drove up, and I don't know if he was flirting or what, but he began regaling us with stories about bear and shark encounters, and funny stories about his dog swimming with the seals in Frenchman Bay. He did tell us about another campground called Seawall, though. It's located on the far side of the park, and I think we'll check this out next time. Hadley's Point is nice, but it's pretty crowded. He also told us where to find the cheapest gas on the island, which was a great tidbit of info to have!

We then head into Bar Harbor, which I hated even more than I did the first time I went there in 1991. It's even more crowded and touristy now. Snobby, overpriced and junky. An awful combination. We walked around and looked at some shops for a little bit before heading back to camp. Once there (we had picked up firewood earlier - $2 a bunch!), we built a fire and planned the next day. HIKE CADILLAC MOUNTAIN was at the top of the list. We also wanted to go to breakfast, as we had seen lots of cheap breakfast places on our walk.

As soon as we built the fire, Seamus was inside the tent. He loves being in the tent. Gamma, on the other hand, had to be dragged in when we extinguished the fire. She would have preferred to sleep outside and guard us all night, but I told her she could sleep right by the door and guard from there, which she finally agreed to.

It rained hard that night, but the tent and tarp over it held, so the next morning we head to to town thinking we might not be doing any big hikes with such unfavorable weather. However, as we stood in line for an hour (we didn't think through the concept that cheap breakfasts = long wait) at the Two Cats on Cottage Street, the clouds parted and it promised to be a scorching hot day.

After eating, we stopped quickly at the Native American museum, but Raf found out it was run by the "white man," and that no proceeds go to the indigenous folks, so we didn't go inside. What followed was a long diatribe about the Indian Killers that make up the East Coast.

We went back to the campground to change into lighter clothing, and then into the park. We bought a National Park pass good for a year and picked up some maps, and head in. The hike was terrific, though Gamma was overheating with her thick red coat. We were walking on mostly exposed ledges, so there was little respite from the sun.

The view from the top, however, was glorious.

cadillac mountain

It was 2.2 miles up, and we did this in about an hour. It was a steep trail, the elevation was about 1300 ft, I believe.
At the top, there were about a hundred people milling about. Since I was last here in 1991, a road has been built so that folks can just drive to the top. The easier you make it, the easier they'll take it, and that's not always a good thing, in my opinion. We sat at the top and ate gorp and drank water and enjoyed the view for a while, mostly to give Gamma a chance to cool down. Seamus was raring to go. He's not much for stopping. He likes to be on the trail.

We were down in about an hour, and it was really hot, so we drove to Sand Beach for a quick swim.

sand beach

It was gorgeous. The water was like ice, but I felt so skuzzy and slimy from all the dried sweat from the hike, so I decided to go in. I was submerged for under a minute, and I thought I would have a coronary - it was that cold. Of course, I begged Raf to get in, too. It was sort of a rite of passage thing. We can say we swam in freezing cold water in Maine. Stupid, I know. But we got clean, at least.

We drove around the rest of the Park Loop Rd, stopping here and there to look at views and vistas and points of interest. A ranger stopped us and asked us to fill out a 10 minute survey. Raf didn't want to, but I agreed, thinking there'd be a free gift. Wrong. Anyway, it was about how crowded do we find the park and how crowded do we think it should be. Of course, we answered honestly, and when we were done, we realized we probably had helped to close the park to visitors in the future! Alas....

That night, Raf wanted a true Maine lobster dinner, so we found a lobster pound (an overpriced one, unfortunately), and she feasted on steamers and corn and lobster and chowder. I shared, not wanting to dish out cash for two fo these pricey meals.

We then went to a neat restaurant called Rupununi and I had a glass of champagne and a chocolate torte. That filled me up!

Once back at the camp, the dogs passed out (Seamus in his tent and Gamma outside), and we built a fire and watched the stars and talked about life and the world and religion and politics and war and peace and hope and despair and death and birth and love and hate - all the good makings of a campfire conversation. The stars were shining bright, and I saw a meteorite. It reawakened my dormant desire to become an astronomer, and I recapped for Raf my misadventures in college with my astronomy class and Dr. Dykla, the professor with the protruding brain, and my disappointment in the discovery that the astronomy class was basically a really hard math class, not a single telescope in sight.

The next morning we went to the visitor center of the park and I bought a star chart.

Actually, we started off late that Sunday. It rained again at night, so we slept in until it stopped, and then we broke down camp. Before going to the park, we head into town and got a pizza, which we shared with the pups, who were still tired from the previous day's hike.

We decided to really take it easy, so we picked a 5 mile walk around Jordan's Pond. It was lovely and easy and everyone got a good stretch.

jordan pond

After that, we drove around the rest of Mt. Desert Island (did you know MARTHA has a home there?) and drooled over the mansions on the coast.

We stopped for gas at the cheap place that guy had told us about, and head back to Portland, knowing we'd soon be returning.

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