10.01.2012 - 10.01.2012 60 °F
The Bayview is a really nice hotel. Our king bedroom was spacious and directly waterfront. When you stay at chain motels along the interstate, you are served "continental" breakfast, which we all know isn't really something to write about in a fine blog entry. Well, when you stay at The Bayview, in Bar Harbor, Maine, breakfast is something to write about. The chef is ever present in the formal dining room where the breakfast buffet is served. There are many choices, all prepared with delicious, high-quality ingredients. The worst part was, being a buffet, we may have slightly overindulged.
Slowed down just a little by the huge breakfast, we embarked on day five of this New England odyssey with high hopes for some natural wonders in Acadia National Park. The first one that we happened upon was actually a man-made wonder ... a ridiculous seaside mansion perched of a cliff side. Not sure who this place belongs to, but I'm positive that they are much wealthier than I.
Acadia does not occupy a very large land area compared to many of the other national parks, but like all the other national parks it preserves a fine example of something very lovely and unique. In this case, that something is the Maine coastline. Inside the park, everyone drives the Park Loop Road stopping to see whatever it is that they like the most. We stopped to take this distant shot of the lighthouse that guides seamen safely into Bar Harbor.
After that, we pulled into the parking lot for Sand Beach. From this location, there are many recreational opportunities. It took us a little while to decide how to tackle our main destination, Gorham Mountain. The route that won out was the Ocean Path to the Gorham Mt trailhead and then back down the Bowl Trail near the Beehive. As you walk the Ocean Path, every bend in the trail, which mostly follows the Park Loop Road, brings you to a sweeping vista of the coastline.
One of the biggest spectacles along the Ocean Path is Thunder Hole. As I have already stated the trail generally follows the main park road. Well, when we arrived at Thunder Hole, there were 3 tour buses and the parking lot was full. It was very reminiscent of the encounter we had at Albany Covered Bridge. So we jockeyed for position with the hundreds of other camera-weilding tourist. The prime spot was closed due to the heavy waves. As big waves roll in from the ocean, a thundering crash cries out when the waves hit the high rocky shore. We waited and snapped, but couldn't really get a prime shot.
This was the last photo op along the ocean path before we turned off to begin the Gorham Mtn Trail
The Gorham Mountain trail starts at the Gorham Mtn parking lot adjacent to the the Park Loop Road. It is about 1 mile to the 525-foot summit. The trail begins in the forest.
At only 0.5 miles into the hike, there is a 0.5 mile spur trail to the Cadillac Cliffs. In ancient times, these cliffs were the submerged coastline and there was even an underwater cave. The next photo show these features.
We scrambled over the Cadillac Cliffs until we rejoined the Gorham Mountain trail not far from the summit. This is where the million dollar views begin. There are 360 degree views ... views for many miles ... even in the rotten conditions.
Well, even though it is only a 525 foot high summit, we were proud to have made it to the top.
We were down from the summit in only 20 minutes, jumped back in the rental and continued along the Park Loop Road. This next picture was taken where the road comes right now to sea level in order to cross Otter Cove.
We really were trying to make good time so we could take in as much as possible on our one full day at Acadia, but there were so many pretty views along this coastal route. We came to a spot were some really big waves were crashing into the shore, and I spotted the waves popping high into the air.
Near the end of the one-way portion of the Park Loop Road and just before Wildwood Stables, the road goes under one of the Carriage Road bridges. The carriage road system was built by John Rockefeller, Jr between 1913 and 1940. Mr Rockefeller built the carriage roads to handle horse drawn carriages so he could keep Mt Desert Island free of motor cars. They were built to handle the wet Maine weather and to fit in seamlessly with the landscape. It's a really classic look.
Before we ever reached the carriage road that we picked for a 2-mile hike, the road brought us to Northeast Harbor ... another picture-perfect harbor filled with the wonderful downeast style boat and beautiful seaside homes.
Sorry for anyone that is with me, but if I have an opportunity to go see a harbor filled with beautiful boats, I am going to do it. This is even more true over 1,000 miles from home where I can walk right up to boats that previously I've only seen in pictures. So here are the boat pictures we took from the wharfs of Northeast Harbor.
We did finally make it to the Carriage road hike, but we made a mistake in interpreting the signs. Instead of walking to a waterfall, we had a nice long stroll through the forest to a babbling brook flowing under a carriage road bridge. Michelle wanted to walk to the waterfall, but it would have been another 2-miles round trip and we only had 3 hours of daylight left.
Another do not miss thing in Acadia is Jordan Pond. There is a lot going on around Jordan Pond. In the Jordan Pond Area, this home is where several carriage roads come together. It was a travelers inn back in the days of Mr Rockefeller. Today it is privately owned and not open to the public.
We were a little late for fancy tea and snacks on the big lawn overlooking Jordan Pond, but as we followed the Jordan Pond Nature trail as it follows a pretty creek, we were just in time to witness the first rays of sunlight in 4 days as they brillantly illuminated the Bubbles as viewed across Jordan Pond.
So, what next? Well would you travel to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, to the beautiful coast of Maine and into Acadia National Park and find your self only 10 minutes from the highest point on the east coast and not go there? Maybe? No way, especially now that Mr Golden Sun had made an appearance. Cadillac Mountain, elevation 1530 feet, is that place ... and drive to the top for the sunset is what we did. These first few pictures were taken while the sun was still up. In the first picture here, that is Bar Harbor at the water' edge.
We were not alone at the summit waiting for that climatic moment when the sun vanishes behind the horizon. Despite the stiff breeze that put a hearty chill in air, cars filled every parking space and every pullout along the mountainside was filled. Then the moment came and we snapped photo after photo as the scene changed in the dimishing light.
We capped off this fine day with another lobster feast. We had every intention of eating at the Downeast Lobster Pound. When we came into Bar Harbor in the rain yesterday, Downeast was so crowded I thought maybe they were giving something away. The place right acoss the street, Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound was empty. Well tonight, it was just the opposite. Since, I am not fond of dining in an empty place, we went to Trenton Bridge instead of Downeast. After being back home for a couple weeks, my theory is they're all pretty good. I really liked the wood-burning kettles that Trenton Bridge uses to steam the lobster. I also liked the ancient looking sacks they use, with your own number, to put you hand-selected lobster in. I like how they write your number on the lobster when they put it in the well-used pans that they serve the lobster in. I liked the nice people working there that were so willing to tell you whatever you wanted to know about the lobsters. Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound = Highly Recommended! Along with the steamed lobster, we had lobster roll again and something new tonight, lobster stew.