July 23, 2013

The "Maine" Event; Day 3: Vacationland

Monday, July 8, 2013: At 4:00am, I checked out of the Knight's Inn and jumped on the Interstate for the 4+ hour drive north from Salem up to Acadia National Park in Maine. I was hoping to see a clear morning, but rain pelted the windshield for most of the trip, often very heavy. I arrived at the Visitor Center at roughly 9:00. A cool breeze nipped at the calves of my legs as I opened my door and started walking through the parking lot. Once inside, I got a map and took a few minutes to talk to the Park Rangers. One thing that I really wanted to do during my visit was to scale Cadillac Mountain in the early hours. From that vantage, one can be the first person in the United States to watch the sun rise for the day. Unfortunately, the rangers informed me that weather conditions over the next three mornings would be unsuitable for such a viewing. I felt a little disappointed. I also bought the park pass that hangs from the rear view mirror of the car. At a cost of $20 for an entire week, the pass is worth every penny. Acadia National Park is located on Mount Desert Island and can be navigated by car on a 27-mile, one-way, two-lane circle called Park Loop Road. The road is surrounded on both sides by dense forest; I was kinda surprised to see lots of white birch trees in the woods. Parking is permitted in the right lane to allow visitors to hike any part of the over 200 miles of trails that wind through the park.

There are also lots of special sites that have large parking lots; the first one that I came across was called Sieur de Monts. This one features a botanical garden, a series of hiking trails, and the Abbe Museum which details the lives of the Wabanaki people of Maine.

As I walked the trails, I came across a sign that pointed the way to Dorr Mountain. I soon found myself ascending miles of steps. Someone had laid thousands of flat rocks to create a natural staircase that rose all the way to the top. I marveled at how long such a thing must have taken to create. It was a very arduous ascent and I had to stop to take a few water breaks, though the feeling was one of total adventure; I felt as though I was climbing among ancient ruins. After more than an hour, I was finally standing at the apex of Dorr Mountain. On the horizon, I could see the Porcupine Islands in Frenchman Bay and a majestic land stretching out before me in all directions. I had come to Acadia for a bit of tranquility and I certainly found it on this mountain. At that moment, I had no concerns whatsoever; all I had to do was to be with nature and with God. Simple. Acadia National Park was quickly becoming one of my favorite places on the planet.

After descending the mountainside on a different trail and finding my way back to the car, most of the afternoon had already passed. I continued on Park Loop Road, stopping at some other interesting sights such as Schoodic Peninsula Overlook and Thunder Hole. The latter is a spot where a gap in the rocky coastline causes the waves to make a gurgling sound akin to thunder when conditions are right. There were a lot of people pressed against the railing at this location, but it was worth the wait.

At about 5:00, I drove out of Acadia National Park in search of a place to have dinner. I ended up at a nearby lobster pound. I was quickly served a bucket of delicious Maine lobster and local steamers. The evening would hold one more bit of fun -- The Great Maine Lumberjack Show! This was a demonstration of all of the skills of a lumberjack (or lumberjill in some cases): chopping, sawing, wood hauling, axe-throwing, log rolling, etc. A busload of young campers had arrived just before showtime and it was a very lively audience. Great time! Cheers!

"Thou wilt shew me the path of life:
in thy presence is fulness of joy;
at thy right hand there are pleasures
for evermore."

~Psalm 16:11