A Travellerspoint blog

Day 45 (10.16.07) - Acadia National Park

This is the second most visited National Park. We spent all day here, then got back to where we started from yesterday, Ellsworth Maine.

sunny 55 °F
View (Re) Discovering America on jl98584's travel map.

Miles Driven: 69 (in a circle, of course)
Weather: Very Sunny, Very Windy, Cool (55 F, not including wind chill)

(OK - Today I'm mixing up full size and thumbnail size photo's. To expand a thumbnail, click on it)

Acadia National Park is the second most visited National Park. It was also the first NP established in the Eastern United States. However, it is not a "Wow" destination. The video at the Visitors Center even proclaims that this is park for quite and solitude, not so much for exclaimations.

The Wabanaki inhabited the island when it was first explored by europeans. In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazano from Florence explored the coast of Maine and the Canadian Maritimes and named the area L'Acadia or Acadia. Some historians believe this to be a Wabanaki word, others say it is related to Arcadia, a scenic region of ancient Greece. In any event, the area is now called the Acadia region. Then in 1604, the French explorer Samuel Champlain named the island l'Isles des Monts-deserts, or Island of the Bald Mountains - which we now call Mount Desert Island.


The mountains on this island are far from deserts, but they are steep granite and there are a lot of 'bald' spots where there just isn't enough soil to support much more than scrub tree's and brush, so the name is somewhat fitting. The National Park covers only a portion of the island, so there are several towns and privately owned property along the coastal drives. After we left Blackwood campground, we stopped at this beach and met a man collecting beach glass his daughter used to make crafts. We also met people doing this on Lake Erie, so I guess it's a popular hobby.


We drove along some very pretty coast (it looked a lot like western Washington State however) and some very expensive homes (also like WA coastlines!) and finally got to the visitors center. After helping Mom get her walker up all 52 steps, we learned there was another road for handicapped entrance and an elevator! Mom took that route out (after I moved the RV of course), but the ranger was very impressed that Mom had made it all the way up. We picked up our park pass and an assortment of postcards, magnets, etc. and headed out.

There is a very nice road that goes all the way to the top of Mount Cadillac. The summit is 1,530 feet above sea level and is not only the highest point in Acadia NP, but the highest point in the eastern United States. On a clear day such as today, you can see most of Maine from the summit as well as most of the NP. It was very clear and beautiful at the summit, but also a very cold wind, so we decided to eat lunch inside the RV. We did get out to enjoy the view first and take some pictures of course.


After lunch, I asked Mom to sit across the road from the RV so I could take a picture showing the rocks and also scrub brush at the top (including wild blueberries). It was a little protected from the wind in this spot, but she didn't stay outside any longer then she had to.


After driving back down from the summit, we went to Jordan Pond. The rounded hills at the far end are called the north and south bubbles. It was quite lovely, but I probably should have used a filter of some sort to get the fall colors better - they really were quite a bit bighter than the picture shows. Various versions of this view are on a lot of the postcards in the gift shops.


There were many turnouts and vista's on the Park Loop Road, at one point I was able to get a picture of the Egg Rocks Lighthouse. It isn't as sharp as I'd like (it was very far out, this is at my full 12x zoom and cropped to boot), but it is a lighthouse for those who like to collect such things.


At another point during the Park Loop Rd drive we saw a totally different vista of the Atlantic Coast. Depending on the elevation and position of the sun, this is fairly common in Acadia NP.


Mom had pretty much had it with the cold wind by this point, but I headed off to the Sand Beach instead of Florida. It is the only sandy beach in the NP (other sandy type beaches are outside the park boundaries), but the sand is composed mostly of crushed shells, not ground granite like many other New England beaches. The cove here is quite protected and Mom was able to enjoy the warm sunshine and soft sand a little more than she'd expected I think. We both tried out the water, which was quite cold. I don't think this is always true - but there were hardly any waves while we were here.


A short drive from the Sand Beach was the "Thunder Hole". This is a hole in the rocky coast caused by erosion. In certain tidal and wave conditions, it can 'roar' like thunder and be quite spectacular. Since there weren't any waves to speak of (and we got there at high tide - not very optimal), it was only making 'gurgling' noises. I have a video if you want me to upload it, but it seems hardly worth the bother. So it was interesting and I gave it a look, but what caught my eye were the ducks. We have a lot of cool ducks right in front of my house in Shelton, WA - but I hadn't seen any like this.


After we got settled in tonight, I did a little research and believe this to be a common eider. There were five or six of these outside of the Thunder Hole and they were all a little different. Apparantly this is normal for common eiders, especially for young males. They are a common duck on the NE coast and other areas and one of the largest species of ducks.

Although she/we had a great time in Acadia, for us it may not have been quite as special as for some visitors since we've been spoiled by the lovely coastlines and islands we have in Washington State. I think Mount Desert Island is larger than the San Juan Islands and more heavily tree'd, but they are otherwise somewhat similar. Both are lovely, so being able to live in western WA, if we weren't already traveling I don't think I'd go to Maine just to see Acadia. I also had to agree with Mom at this point, I was also tired and felt we'd seen enough Acadia NP for our purposes. We finally left, driving back through Bar Harbor (as quickly as we could and without stopping, not even for one Lobster dinner) and back across the bridge to the mainland. In Ellsworth, I pulled over at Wal-mart since we both had shopping needs and Mom really needs to get some prescriptions filled. We do have an internet signal here (not wi-fi, but at least on the data card) and also an AT&T phone signal for a change! It's getting down into the 30's (F) at night now, so I'll need to make sure I keep the propane tank filled (we're OK for tonight anyway). Tomorrow we'll start heading south again - and while Acadia NP is nice, take a minute and appreciate how beautiful Washington State is also!

Posted by jl98584 18:16 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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Interesting to read your perspective on Acadia. We absolutely loved it. But we don't have anything like it on the Texas coast. Now that you mention it, there are some similarities to the Washington coast, so I can understand your perspective. Yes, Bar Harbor itself is very touristy. But we did find there one of the best vegetarian restaurants we've ever eaten at. I'd go back just for that! (But then, I really do love to eat).

by TexasRTJ

I think I had mentioned the similarities between the Washington and Maine coasts. The "humpy hills" in your photo did look a lot like the "humpy hills" in skagit county, don't they?

I heard a story in NPR this morning about the drought on Lake Superior and the other great lakes. Apparently they experience a lot of evaporation in the fall and winter. Usually there is an ice cover most of the winter, but the past few years there has not been an ice cover, so more evaporation. When Lake Superior loses an inch of water it is 500 thousand gallons of water lost. It is down 2 feet! Did you hear anything about this when you were qround the Great Lakes? Que

by drque

I missed a couple of days of checking your blog, and now you've added a lot more; I almost missed some of the past days you filled in, but I'm glad I didn't. I really enjoy reading them, and the pictures with them are nice. I wish I could visit more of ME; I've really only driven through it when we went to NS.

I'm guessing you plan to drive south via the coast. I'm still feeling bad that I didn't tell you about Westmoreland in time--a real treasury of family history and just New England history.

I've had bad lower-back pain since Thursday afternoon, apparently muscles giving out from not exercising during the shingles. I was reduced to getting around home with a walker by Sunday and Monday, but some exercises are bringing me back to normal gradually. But when my back hurts and my shoulder itches/burns, I get a lot of pleasure (and healthy distraction) sitting at my computer and reading your blog.

by msj

RJ - I think sometime it might be nice to visit Bar Harbor without having to drive a (small) RV through it, maybe on a cruise ship, then it's probably pretty nice.

DrQue - Yes, when we were in Burlington Vermont, the campground manager said she'd never seen Lake Champlain so low. Of course, we'd never seen it before at any level (and are used to the tides out where we live), so I didn't quite grasp the gravity of what she was saying - but what you say makes sense.

MSJ - I'm sorry about your back, I'm sure mom can relate (she's out for the night as it's past midnight here). I sometimes thing these blog entries are just too long, but I really do want to remember this trip and we just see a lot of things. We thought we'd taken plenty of time, but it turns out it's more of a whirlwind tour - there are just too many cool things to see. No matter how much time you spend in a state, you won't be able to see everything you might want (if you enjoy travelling that is).

by jl98584

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