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Friday, September 7, 2012

Acadia National Park ~ Bar Harbor, Maine

Several weeks have passed since our arrival from our summer travels to the North West. We had such a wonderful experience on this journey that I had to either pinch myself, or go on another small road trip to prove to myself that it actually happened. I elected to take a long weekend trip.

We had gone to Acadia National Park in the early seventies, but at that time it wasn’t a wonderful experience. On that trip we were pulling a travel trailer with my two year old Super Cheyenne Chevy pickup. About halfway across the state of Maine, the truck started to surge and loose power on the hills. To make a long story a little shorter, the fore and aft rocking motion of pulling the trailer dislodged some rust from the gas tank and plugged the carburetor gas filter. I had to get help from a garage, but in the end it sort of ruined the vacation.

This trip across Maine byways was completely different. The big Super Duty F-250 ran superbly, as it did on the North West trip to Alaska. We left Berlin around 8:30 AM, with the sun shining and the temperature around 72 degrees. In about a half hour, the New Hampshire border was behind us and route 2 had little traffic to contend with. When traveling west to east in Maine, there are several small towns that route 2 bisects. It is always fun to see the changes in these towns, or lack of changes from previous trips. In the Bethel area, for instance, one can see many old specialties saw mills that produced everything from grade stakes, dowels and even wooden clothespins.  Many of these businesses have seen better days, but a few have survived in these changing times.
Impressive Bridge!

Lewiston is the first metropolis on our destination to the rocky coast. This city along with its twin city of Auburn across the Androscoggin River always seems to be bustling with activities, whether it is shoppers, construction of new buildings, malls or roads. This town has come a long way from being a textile manufacturing city along the river. Our journey would briefly send us across town to head North on the Interstate to Augusta. From the bypass ramp around Augusta, Rte 3  slowly changed into more of a coastal and farm land topography. It wasn’t until we actually reached Belfast that we saw salt water. From Belfast, heading North on Route 3 is now Siamese with the famous route US One. You really get the down east feeling from here onto the National Park. In Bucksport, you come around the corner and see these massive concrete columns very similar to the National Monument in Washington, DC. These columns are capped in a pyramid shaped silver metal cover that reflects light. It looks just like the “eye” on a dollar bill in your wallet. The columns actually are the support for the new bridge, which brings you unto Turners Island and onward towards Ellsworth. The bridge is located next to the historical “Fort Knox”. We didn’t stop to visit on this day, but we will surely return for a future blog post someday.

Cadillac Mountain ~ Spectacular! 
Ellsworth was a little confusing to me. The GPS did give me a direction, but it was easy to miss a turn and be heading askew from our destination. Soon we were in Trenton, the final stop at the visitor center for locations and availability to some campgrounds. Most had availability, but we wanted to stay in the Acadia NP. The lady called Blackwood’s Campground and they had what we wanted.

A short ride over the bridge and we were on Mount Desert Island (the home of Acadia National Park and the only National Park on the East Coast).

Once you enter the park, you immediately notice everything prim and proper as with nearly all National Parks. There is a loop road that we would have loved to take to Blackwoods, but there were height restrictions and they did not meet our truck camper height. We followed route 3 to the campground and checked in. Here again our senior pass saved us money. (Entrance fees to the park, 50% savings at the campground we welcomed).

Fog Drifting Over Bald Porcupine Island 
The weather was perfect for this day and with the prediction of possible stormy weather and fog for tomorrow we made a decision to head for Cadillac Mountain. What a view! The road wines around from the west side to east side around a spruce-fir forest. The road rises; tree roots underfoot give way to lichen-splotched granite. Here one sees several types of outcropping rocks. The predominant being pink granite. The granite rock begins as molten magma that intruded into older, overlying rock. As it cooled, it hardened and crystallized. It is peppered with flecks of black hornblende and quartz crystal. Pink feldspar gives this granite its pink hue. The above description of Cadillac Mountain Granite comes from the National Park Service.

Pink Granite Texture! 
Once we arrived at the top of Cadillac, we parked and hiked the perimeter of the mountain to take in the vistas. To the East, "Bald Porcupine Island" with its breakwater jetty was visible. The fog started to roll in over the Island and made a dramatic picture opportunity. To the north, Bar Island was visible. It was high tide and they say that one can walk over the Island at low tide. We wouldn’t be here long enough to try this hike. To the West, we could see Eagle Lake and Bubble Pond with the haze starting to gain hold of the area. The sun was still strong enough, that we thought we might get sun burned, with the slight cool breeze coming off of the ocean. To the South, we could see the Park Loop Road Causeway crossing Otter Cove. To the North, we saw Bar Harbor with a four mast Schooner anchored in the harbor along with several other ships and boats of every kind.

Sunset at Bar Harbor Looking West
Our stay on top of Cadillac was a star for today’s activities. We slowly descended the mountain and stopped at every overlook to shoot those memorable pictures that we so often look at during the long winter months.

Bar Harbor was next on the agenda. The town was built with horses and buggies in mind. The streets are narrow and parking is at a premium. They do have RV parking with bus shuttles around the island. Being in our truck camper, we found a regular parking spot on the street. Another advantage for truck campers! Parking on the corner of Ledgelawn Ave. and Mt Desert St., we had only a couple of blocks to be in the thick of the downtown district. Walking towards to town pier hoping to get a view of the sunset, yes, I know the sun sets in the west. I still might get an unusual shot of Bar Harbor. I did! While there on the pier, an old timer said to us “you know hundreds of people come down here every night and never notice the sunsets. I come here nearly every night to watch the sunset.” We headed up towards the restaurants and shops only to watch him ride by on his big red Harley!

Four Mast Schooner
Stomachs were now telling us to find a place to eat. There are dozens of good eateries to choose from. A couple of streets over, we found a restaurant and had dinner. If I remember, it was sometime after 8 pm when we headed for Blackwoods Campground. It was very dark as we reached our B12 campsite. It would be our first time to energize our rear docking lights to back in to the spot. I gave Helen a white led flashlight and a red headband light. I shutoff the headlights not blind the rest of the campsites and carefully followed Helen’s direction. It was a tight spot, but the docking lights and Helen made our first dark night encampment a breeze.

We settled in and were in bed sometimes after nine pm.

That is what we did and saw

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