Adventuring: Maine, Day 7

Our 7th day began waaaaayyyy earlier than we normally wake up. We got a 5:15am wakeup call and hauled ourselves out of bed to drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain by sunrise. With the drizzle the day before, we were concerned about fog blocking our view, but it was clear outside the hotel! For ten months out of the year, Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the US to see the sunrise, so we didn’t want to miss the opportunity. We were both pretty cranky at that hour of the morning, driving up windy roads into pockets of fog, but the view from the top took away any hint of irritability immediately. We were not alone on the summit, but we were two of the first 20 or so people to see the sunrise that day in our country.

The sunrise was fascinating, with the clouds blowing quickly just above our heads. The scene changed every second as the clouds, light and wind evolved. I took sooo many pictures—Too many to post them all, but I also put the camera away for a time to just enjoy the scene. I wanted to put in a gallery of thumbnails here so it wouldn’t be so much to scroll through, but something is wonky with how that turns out, so bear with the scrolling—It’s worth it!

Pre-Dawn

Pre-Dawn

First Glimpse

Our first glimpse through the clouds that had blown in.

Looks Like a Volcano!

Looks Like a Volcano!

Rising Above the Clouds

Rising Above the Clouds

Rising Above the Clouds

Mist

Rising Above the Clouds

So Pretty!

Dawn

Dawn

Mountain Top Grass Illuminating

Mountain Top Grass

Feeling properly inspired, we headed back down the mountain to enjoy our included breakfast at the Atlantic Oceanside Resort. It looked like the weather, forecasted to be rainy, was turning out beautifully, so we took the opportunity to sit outside and enjoy our meal, including the chef’s renowned pecan granola.

Breakfast with a view

Breakfast with a view

After finishing our breakfast, we walked down the street to the College of the Atlantic, where we heard we could find a geocache. I had never heard of this school before, but after looking it up, I am pretty sure I want to enroll in every course. The school’s only major is human ecology, but studied in a liberal arts environment. Just briefly on campus, we saw art, an enormous whale skull and an enormous organic community garden.

Giant Whale Skull

Giant Whale Skull

Seeing that we had lucked out with the weather, we headed back to the motel to get our bikes and head into Acadia.

At the Visitor's Center

At the Visitor's Center

We walked our bikes over the rocky path from our motel to the park, then hopped on to a carriage road for a fantastic morning of biking and scenery. The carriage roads were built by Rockefeller from 1913 to 1940 and are one of the best ways to see the park. They are 16 feet wide, crushed stone, with gentle curves and inclines designed to support carriages. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the carriage roads, so cyclists can really enjoy the ride!

I was psyched to try riding on the carriage roads. I never quite learned how to ride a bike in my youth, but I was feeling pretty confident on the small-frame bike my in-laws gave me for Christmas last year. The roads were the perfect place for me to build my confidence and skill! I looked like a complete dork, with one pants leg rolled up, a bright red helmet, and my gorilla-pod tripod attached to my handlebars for photography and video, but I had a blast!

Dorky Me

Me, in all my dorky glory.

Just a short distance into the park, we came to our first breathtaking scene at Witch Hole Pond. The water was crystal clear and the sky only held puffy white clouds.

Witch Hole Pond

Witch Hole Pond, the first of infinite scenic views

I was fascinated by the soft ripples in the clear water—It would have been absolutely perfect for canoeing or kayaking. A huge tadpole swam just below the surface here.

Ripples

Ripples on the pond

We also encountered some swamp and marsh areas, where we stopped for wildlife watching. We were keeping our eyes up for birds, deer, etc., so we were surprised when we looked down and saw how many frogs were right at our feet! They didn’t seem to be afraid of us at all.

Frog

This frog paid no attention to us!

About 4.5 miles into our ride, we spotted Duck Brook passing below a bridge we had crossed. Ducks have always been an inside joke between us, so we felt called to explore the area. An easy hike led to the water, where we stopped for a rest.

Duck Brook

Duck Brook

I wandered out onto the rocks in the middle of the stream to take a look and turned around to see Kevin enjoying the warm sun on the rocks.

Kevin Taking a Rest

Kevin Taking a Rest

After a quick shower, we caught the free Island Explorer bus to explore farther reaches of the park. The buses were great—Always on time, free (sponsored by LL Bean) and powered by clean burning propane.

We got off the bus at Jordan Pond to have lunch at the infamous Jordan Pond House. As the only restaurant within Acadia, it offers a rare chance to enjoy a hot meal in one of the most beautiful locations I’ve seen. We were seated at a quaint picnic table overlooking Jordan Pond. The restaurant is famous for their popovers, which are extremely light and fluffy, served warm with strawberry jam and butter. I ordered tomato basil bisque and Kevin ordered baked sea scallops. The excellent food was enhanced by the surroundings for a great experience. I was also quite impressed to see the environmental initiatives undertaken by the staff including local ingredients, composting, water conservation, and recycling.

Popovers and Soup

Popovers and Soup

We took the short hike down to Jordan Pond after lunch to check out a “virtual geocache.” We found a stone bench commemorating Sara Eliza Sigourney Cushing, who apparently loved sitting at this spot. Looking out across the water and towards the  Bubble Mountains, it was not hard to see why she loved this place.

After a bit more park exploration, we took a bus back into town around dusk. Kevin remembered an oceanside walk he had taken with his family, so we meandered along the coastal path into sunset, collecting lots of sea glass and shells along the way.

Colleen vs. Big Rock

Colleen vs. Big Rock

Low tide came in at 7:30 that evening, and I was determined to walk to Bar Island while we were in town. Bar Island is just off the shore of Bar Harbor. At low tide, an enormous sand bar emerges from the water, making a path for pedestrians and even cars to cross! We chose to walk the sandbar, but we did see a couple of cars crossing. It was so neat to think that we were walking across the floor of the harbor. Bar Island is part of Acadia and is completely uninhabited. From the shore, we got a beautiful view of Bar Harbor’s lights.

Bar Harbor from Bar Island

Bar Harbor from Bar Island

After our very active day, we decided to get some takeout to eat in the hotel room for dinner. I was so exhausted I forgot to take pictures, but we stopped at a locals’ bar near the motel. The place served an odd mix of Mexican, Italian and Asian food, but it was really good! We ordered fried ravioli to share, expecting a small container of bite size ravioli. Instead, we received a large box containing two huge ravioli. They were the size of Kevin’s hand!

We also couldn’t resist stopping at the ice cream shop again. This time, I ordered a “flight,” four 1 oz. scoops of different flavors. I tasted lemon pie, ginger, blueberry crumble and dreamsicle—They were all delicious, but I still can’t stop thinking about the blueberry basil and basil marscapone!

Kevin was brave on this trip in and ordered blueberry bleu-cheese fig walnut ice cream. The clerk behind the counter said, “You should probably sample that one first.” He did and still ordered it, although he reduced his request from a large to a medium—He said it was very bleu cheesy but excellent.

Blueberry Bleu Cheese Fig Walnut Ice Cream

Blueberry Bleu Cheese Fig Walnut Ice Cream

We zonked out pretty early this night so we could wake up refreshed to see some more of the park the next day before heading out!

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