June 22, 2005

Acadian Rhythms

We spent our anniversary riding about 30 miles along Cape Cod's bike trails, capping our evening off with a celebratory lobster dinner and bottle of wine. The next morning we were on the road again.

We passed this guy along the way, he was cleaning his groups' daily catch of stripers, in preparation for a fish fry. They caught these guys surf casting.

Our first stop was good old Plymouth, Massachusetts. We played the typical touristas and practically ran through the town searching for the rock. All we need is a picture and then we can leave. Did I really just say that? Am I so jaded after 12 months of sightseeing that all I care about is a photo to post on here? I guess so. Well that and just how excited we were to finally reach Maine. We did force ourselves to slow down enough in Plymouth for the picture and to buy a bag of salt water taffy.

The Mayflower II.

Not long after we crossed into our last east coast state. Maine and Acadia have always been the end goal, anything after this is just icing. The Maine coast is defiantly worth the trip. The coast is speckled with lobstering communities and very quaint inns. Every cove is replete with buoys marking the pots anxiously awaiting a lobster. Each fisherman has a state registered buoy. They are assigned a color pattern and buoy shape. The traps are no longer drab wood and string, now they are a rainbow of plastic and polycord. Lobstering is a very colorful occupation it would seem.

We walked through the city of Portland and I fell in love. What a charming city. The buildings all have a historic feel to them. It is a small city with a friendly vibe. We strolled through the Public Market and got lessons on how to cook soft shelled crabs and lobster from the local fish merchant. Were it not for the rain, clouds and seemingly sub zero temperatures I would add Portland to our list of possible residences.

We made a few detours off of the main road to visit some more remote fishing towns and finally made camp at around 5:30 at Camden Hills State Park.

The next morning we high-tailed it for Acadia. As far as National Parks go Acadia is an anomaly. It seems to me that since what is now Acadia was all acquired by private land donations it has less continuity than other parks we have visited. There isn't the normal grand entrance we had come to expect. The island that most of Acadia is located on is checker boarded with small towns, private campgrounds and Bed and Breakfasts. There are park roads and regular roads, so in fact you can see most of the park without ever going through a park gate.

None the less Acadia is as grand as we had heard. The park is jam packed with coastline, forest and carriage roads. I would recommend visiting some of the surrounding towns, Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor, and further away Freeport. The little towns are what really gives you the feel for the place.

As an aside we heard from multiple people that Acadia's campground reservation system is a bit screwy. If you are headed that way there is only one park campground that takes reservations and you may have to enter various sizes for your RV before it will give you a spot. For instance all the spots for 21-24' truck campers were booked but 18' were available as were ones for 22' class C's. Our 18' spot would easily have fit a rig twice that big, and I'd guess that the park was at less than 50% occupancy. You just have to let's say... caress the system a bit. If all else fails there are many private campgrounds on the island as well and you can hope for a first come spot in Seawall which is supposed to be nicer and newer anyway.

We quickly realized that Acadia is not a friendly place for a 12' tall camper. There are roads you can take to get you safely to the campgrounds but if you want to see anything along the park's roads you had better be under 10'4". As a result we unloaded the camper for the first time in six months. Dan was thrilled to have his sports car back (he thinks a ¾ ton truck is a sports car when it isn't hauling around another 3000lbs in the bed). Unbeknownst to us, when we chose which week to come here, there is a bus that provides "free" (with your park admission) transportation throughout the park, but this bus doesn't start until 6/23. The bus would be a fantastic way to see the park, so if you go it may be worth waiting until the bus is operating.

Our first Acadian morning we opted not to watch the sunrise, even though atop Cadillac mountain you can be the first people to see it come up in the US. While this sounds novel it takes place at 4:30 in the morning and aside from sleep or the occasional bad dream- nothing take place for us at 4:30am. Instead we joined a ranger-led tour of Otter Point. This was a nice introductory to the park and a good way to learn about the local flora and industry. Later we drove the Park Loop to the carriage roads. We rode along 16 miles of the roads which were built by John D. Rockefeller nearly 80 years ago. The roads are shared by bikers, hikers horseback riders and horse drawn carriages.

A bridge along the carriage roads.

We had some very nice neighbors in the campground and spent our evenings chatting with them, which was a nice distraction from the weighty thoughts we were prone to over the weekend.

Monday we opted for a hike. If you go to Acadia do this hike! We parked at Long Pond, hiked the Perpendicular trail to Razorback making for a nice loop. Perpendicular is so named because it runs directly, get this, perpendicular to the lake, the catch is that next to the lake is a mountain, so perpendicular could just as aptly been named Straight Up. After climbing 1000' vertical in just under a mile we were treated to some fantastic vistas and a very pleasant trail back to our truck.

The trail up is a series of individually placed granite stairs built by the CCC.

One more night with the neighbors and our time here has drawn to an end. I am glad that we were in such a beautiful place during this time. Only a place this special could provide a distraction from the sad thoughts and homesickness that were creeping in on us. Now it is time to head for the Midwest and the valley that spawned yours truly.
OHIO- round on the ends and HI in the middle, here we come.


Angela D said...

Hey Dan and Rachel! Acadia is a nice place isn't it. I am glad you went there and glad we met. Talk to you soon,
(across from you in Blackwoods)

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Erik Mann said...

great topic, keep up the great posts, MMA

Erik Mann said...

great topic, keep up the great posts, MMA

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