June 24, 2013

6/10/13 - Acadia NP

Although it's a long way from where we wintered in Arizona, our goal for this spring was Acadia National Park in Maine.   Last June we were on the Oregon coast.  This year we're by the other ocean; the weather’s still lousy. 

On the other hand, we're here a week before the season starts, so we're missing the summer vacation crowds.

We stayed at an RV resort right on the Narrows, right across from the island, which made for easy access, and a great view!  Check out the sundog we saw one evening at low tide.
Most of Acadia is on Mt. Desert Island, which is shaped like a lobster’s claw.  One side of the park loop is one-way, and our first day we started down the wrong side first.  Not all of the island is park; this little bridge isn't. 
We started our hike just getting to the Visitor Center--42 steps up.
Cadillac Mountain isn’t the tallest mountain on the island, but it’s the most famous.  At 1,530' the views of sea level were great.  Bar Harbor and the 5 islands near it were clearly visible:  Bar Island, Sheep Porcupine Island, Burnt Porcupine Island, Long Porcupine Island, and Bald Porcupine Island.  (Apparently  porcupines swim.  Who knew???)
Cadillac Mountain is famous for its pink granite.  Smoothed by glaciers into gently rounded domes, the rock is cracked and pocked with lichen.  Easy to walk on when the sun's shining; easy to fall on when it's wet.
My first impression was Oregon coast meets Glacier National Park.  Instead of the round haystacks of the Pacific, the granite here is blocky, with lots of straight angles, hewn by giants to build forgotten walls. 
After sitting out a couple days of rain, we headed back to MDI (that's Mt. Desert Island—took me several days to figure out!) for a walk on the Carriage Roads.  Back in the days of horseless carriages, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who was big into preservation, designed 45 miles of roads through his property.   Since he was also into philanthropy, later he donated the land to the park.  Now the carriage roads are used for carriages, horseback riding, biking and walking.  We saw a few people walking and a few biking--no carriages though.
I still hadn’t seen enough ocean.  (I never get enough ocean.)  Part of the Schoodic Peninsula on the mainland is also part of Acadia.  Because it’s an hour's drive from Bar Harbor, it gets about 10% of the traffic the main park gets.  The day we went, we almost had it to ourselves.
In 1935 Rockefeller arranged a swap of land on MDI for a chunk he had on the Schoodic Peninsula for the Navy to use as a top-secret radio base.  The fascinating building that looks like the gatehouses on MDI was a Navy barracks until 2002. It’s being renovated and will reopen as a Visitors Center.
Schoodic Point is my favorite part of Acadia.  (A local woman told us that it’s best enjoyed with a chair and a good book, as they carried the chair and a couple of tablets across the rocks.)  Big chunks and blocks of granite were everywhere.  It’s flat enough to walk on easily, but if you don’t want to clamber down a giant step, it’s easy enough to just turn around and head a different way to get where you want to go. 
It was almost high tide when we got there, so the dramatic waves were as calm as a Saturday matinee performance.  But with a little imagination, the waves crashed impressively against the shore.
And, of course, a visit to Acadia isn’t complete without a trip to Bar Harbor.  Looked like a sleepy little tourist town now, but apparently cruise ships bring lots of tourists in the summer. 
For more pictures of Acadia, go here.

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