Acadia National Park

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Traveling to Maine, I wasn’t really looking for a National Park, or even a State one.  I had been thinking a little wandering around, taking some photos, kayaking if weather permits.  Of course, all that is doable in a park as well.   The park was first established as Lafayette National Park, and it is said that an adjacent landowner with significant acreage would be willing to donate her land only if the property was renamed.  So, instead, it’s name is derived from the French colony of Acadia which included Maine.  You take the French heritage, you move some of the residents to Louisiana, and you get Cajuns.  So it is said.

The first thing you should do when you enter a National Park is buy a pass.  $25.  Then you have choices.  Drive, hike, or ride bicycles.  If you’re there for a day with a pending boat ride at 4 in the afternoon, you opt for the car.  There’s a lot to be seen and a lot of driving to get that done.  Perhaps the first thing you’ll want to do is drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain on the East Coast and the subject of the first rays of sunshine to strike the U.S. each day (weather permitting).  The view, towards Bar Harbor.

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The trails are (reportedly) marked by cairns, small stacks of rock to guide hikers along their way.   Otherwise, visitors seem to like stacking their own Ebenezers (standing stones), perhaps in search of something mystical or penance for that Coke can they threw out the car window when they were a kid.  We saw it in the Nevada desert and we found them again, cluttering the landscape.

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Regardless, it’s a great view, but lacking the majesty of major mountain ranges.  It is, though, a great spot to observe the fog.  Driving into Maine at night, it’s hard not to think of Steven King, their creepiest resident.  Very dark, the hint of trees along the highways, warning signs for moose… And, in the morning, you awake to find the sun, drive a short distance to find yourself in the fog, and then out again.  It’s gone, right?  Wrong.  There’s something about the area that protects the fog as it patrols the park and nearby islands throughout the day. Maybe you’re enjoying lunch (both the food and a fine Maine Brewing beer of the same name) with a “popover” (a muffin that is not content to stay in the tin), enjoying the scenic view from the restaurant overlooking Jordan Pond. 

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Make a little conversation, turn around, and…

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Fog.  Later, maybe you’re driving around the Northeast Harbor (located essentially due South on the island).  Perty, ain’t it?

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You drive around to the opposite side of the harbor within 5-10 minutes, where the green trees are in the picture above, look back and…

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It’s a living thing.  Stephen King made a fortune off of it.  Whatever, it’s off to Sand Beach, the only real swimming hole as other areas don’t allow sand to accumulate.

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Shorts, okay.  But I think this fellow actually got in the water (I risked a finger in the liquid ice), and he came prepared to thaw.  Maine folks are made of tough stock.  Still, it’s a day at the beach.

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Obligatory rocky Maine coast with fog:

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And then there’s Thunder Hole (click the link for pictures) which is sort of the marketing photo for the area.  Like the walk to Bar Island, you have to time this right as well.  We didn’t.

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But, keep looking, because it’s pretty clear that the next postcard worthy view is right around the corner, fog permitting.

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All in all, visiting this in a day is tiring.  That’s no surprise, really.  I’d rather arrive a month earlier, spend a few days, hike some trails and paddle in a kayak around the place.  Less seeing, more doing.

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