Acadia National Park - The Maine Attraction
(*note this is a catch-up posting. We're in South Dakota right now. We passed through here from June 27-30)
Maine, oh Maine! What's not to like about Maine?! The landscape rugged and beautiful, the people are super friendly, they have our second favourite coffee shop so far (Bohemian Coffee House in Brunswick, ME - good music,good soup, house plants, real mugs, and a room full of couches), AND a gelato shop with the fantastic name of "The Gelato Fiasco" that kept trying to offer us more sample so we could try all the flavours before we chose. Plus, Jon's metric for evaluating a place is the number of compliments that he gets on his attire - he was up to 2 hat compliments and 2 t-shirt compliments on our first day in Maine.
The highlight of our trip through Maine was Acadia National Park - the first national park to be established east of the Mississippi River. Acadia also has the notable distinction of being our chilliest camping night, we arrived in the middle of a fog bank, got one of the last three remaining sites in the park, set up our tent, and hunkered down as it got into the damp 40's (Farenheit) / single digits (Celcius) overnight. But we survived and it was worth it! The fog was lifting as we rode out in the morning up Cadillac Mountain - the highest point in the park and the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard at 1,530 ft.
The naming of things in the area is a bit lacking in creativity. The island that the park sits on is called Mount Desert Island because when Samuel Champlain was sailing by in 1604 and saw all the exposed granite on top he thought looked as barren as a desert. Cadillac Mountain is just named after another explorer (the type of granite that makes up the mountain is also called Cadillac Granite and is supposedly pinkish in colour, but it just looked grey to me). And when the Europeans were bestowing their own names on the islands in the harbour, they must have only recently been shown porcupines, because apparently anything vaguely round and oblong shaped looked like a porcupine to them. The Islands, therefore, became Sheep Porcupine island, Burnt Porcupine island, Long Porcupine and Bald Porcupine Islands. Oh, except the far left island that was apparently too long to look like a porcupine - that was named Bar Island. Yup... creativity at it's finest.
The geologic history of the place is way more mind boggling than the naming conventions. The granite itself was formed 420 million years ago at a depth of 2.3 miles (3.7 km) below the surface. Then it just hung out for a few hundred million years until that 2.3 miles of other stuff on top of it eroded away to expose the granite mountains there today - talk about playing the long game! The glaciers from the last 1-2 million years helped out a bit, rounding the tops and carving out some of the valleys and harbours around to shape the islands. The most recent glacier (75,000-11,000 years ago) scratched up the surface of the granite and left a bunch of random rocks laying around. All in all, it made for a pretty cool little walk around the summit while we were there.
After the morning trip up Cadillac Mountain, we headed into Bar Harbor so Jon could get to work for the day. Bar Harbor itself is a cute little town and only 10 minutes from the middle of the park! Since Jon was working, after breakfast, I headed back to the park and set out for a hike on my own up a trail that curved up along the edge of a hill on a series of carved stone steps.
Once Jon had finished working, we had time to squeeze in one more quick hike before we got on the road again. We opted for "The Beehive," because any trail that requires a posted warning sign is right up our alley! It was pretty much a vertical hike up the side of a mountain that required climbing up rock faces using rebar rungs as a ladder all the way up to a grueling summit height of 520 ft!
And even after our 520 ft conquest, Jon still had the energy to find and summit yet another cool rock with a view!
That was Maine. If you haven't been there, it's cool. Check it out.
But don't be swayed by all the signs for "Maine Lobster" - head to Canada and go to the Maritimes for that! Stay tuned, because that's where we're headed next!