Monday, August 29, 2016

Goodnight Acadia and Thank You!

Sunny NorthEast Harbor. Fog gone!
We just spent a marvelous week-plus discovering Acadia National Park. It was a celebratory goal to enjoy this park and the weather cooperated nicely, giving us sunny and warm weather all week, sometimes too hot to hike, but we'll take that over the foreseeable cool down.

Lobstering history
We started at NorthEast Harbor (NEH) for 3 nights and liked it so much we extended our stay 3 more nights. We validated what the guide said: the town is really the best option for sailors. A very protected harbor, great grocery store (albeit quite expensive - $8 for strawberries!), laundry right off the dinghy dock, clean warm showers, easy access to the park free bus, coffee shop, bookstore, and marine store. The only drawbacks were 1) the working lobster boats stationed here, including one not 50 feet away, that start their days at 3:30am every morning and 2) the lack of a restaurant scene. Earplugs and the occasional Benadryl took care of (1) and the free bus to Bar Harbor for dinner took care of (2).

Top of Cadillac Mt,
highest peak in the park
Bar Harbor (locally referred to Baa Haa Baa) is the best known town in the park. It's actually not in the park itself but where most tourists stay and the hub for the free park bus, making it ideal for getting to trails and other towns surrounding the park. The harbor is about the worse harbor you can think of: rolly, no hot showers, unresponsive dock master. Three strikes and you're out.

Hiking trails provide
incredible views
Our days have been filled with hiking or biking. Start with a hearty breakfast on the boat - blueberry pancakes, oatmeal or cereal - pack up a tuna sandwich and apple lunch, get on the free park bus to a trail head, climb, sweat, get to the top, eat lunch with a gorgeous view, get back down, flag the bus to Bar Harbor, find a place to dine, get on the bus to NEH before sunset (to avoid mosquitoes), take a warm shower on land, back to the boat by 7:30pm, read or watch a movie onboard, crash by 9:30pm. Rinse and repeat.

Acadia hiking trails provide a range of hiking options and many of them are in shaded areas. Surprisingly the most famous one, Mt Cadillac, was not crowded at all until we got to the top: people can get there by car too. Kinda dulls the effect of making it to the top but does provide everyone the killer view. While hiking up, we found it fun to ask where hikers were from. Tally: California, Massachusetts, upstate New York, Illinois, Ohio, New Hampshire. We have been looking for a Colorado plate since we made it to Maine and we finally found one: a Subaru, go figure :)

Somes Sound from
Acadia Mt peak
Well maintained trails!
Some challenging climbs!

Biking the carriage roads
Biking in Acadia is quite special because of the carriage roads which are loosely graveled roads reserved for hikers and bikers. The "roads" were created by Rockefeller Jr as a rebellion against the automobile era. Thanks to his philanthropic view, Acadia now provides 46 miles of biking trails. We probably did 10 of them in a day. A bit hilly at times but so enjoyable.

Sand Beach, the only salt water
beach in the park
Even though the park was free for a few days while we were there, in celebration of its centennial, we hardly saw crowds, other than in Bar Harbor, at the top of Mt Cadillac, and one of the two park beaches (Sand Beach) where people seem to have no issue getting in the 58F water. We dipped our toes in and it sure seemed feasible to get in all the way. I bit myself not to have taken our swimsuits. The guide did say: go for a dip at the beach after a day of hiking, but we thought it was joking given the temps. Dang it!

Maybe because it has been an unusually hot summer here, the water is warmer than past years. After checking out of NEH, we motored up Somes Sound, the only fjard in the US, a long stretch of water surrounded by cliffs. BTW this is not a typo: it's really a fjArd (even though the spell checker is fighting me hard on that one), which is different from a fjord for some geological reasons. This was to be one of the highlights of our Acadia trip. We read so much about it, were looking forward the adrenaline rush sailing it. Frankly it was 'meh' after all the hype. No cliffs. Looked more like an elongated lake to us. However the harbor at its end, Somes Harbor was a beauty, with a pod of porpoises, eagles, and loons. Sun was hot so we had the urge to jump thinking this is likely below our 64F threshold. Low and behold, thermometer said 69F so off we went, and so did many boaters around us. Felt so good we scrubbed the bottom of the boat while we were at it. Sunset was just gorgeous there.

Somes harbor sunset
While at Acadia, we also met very interesting folks by sharing a float with another boat. One of the boats was owner-built as well from a software developer south of Belfast, ME. Took him 21 years to finish it. Puts our 6 years in good perspective! Even more interesting were our previous floatmates - Tori and Jon - a young couple from LA, who recently relocated to NY with their 37ft boat. They bought their boat three years ago not knowing how to sail and proceeded to become live boards in NY during the winter without running water. Guessing they are in their late twenties, early thirties, they epitomize the gig economy, entirely working remote in digital jobs. You can read their publicized story at sailmeom.com. It has been fun and inspiring to see young folks opt for a fulfilling alternative lifestyle.

We are now in Southwest Harbor, the last of the 3 main towns surrounding the park. Alizée is sitting at a marina dock, a bit in shock as she had not seen a marina since Mystic in June. Southwest Harbor features the Hinkley boatyard and prides itself for its foodie scene. Food did not disappoint indeed, but the most interesting part was the Common Good Kitchen Café, a donation-only breakfast place that collects funds to support local families in the winter. We went to try their famous popovers (soufflé-like pastries) and contributed to this noble cause. Our brommies are coming in handy to get us around this extended town and the biking is serene on the quiet side of Acadia, as Southwest Harbor is referred to.

Biel's Lobster Pound dinner with
dried blueberries
Our stay in Acadia is coming to an end, coincidentally when the park free bus is changing schedule for the low season. The park should see another rush of tourists Labor Day weekend and then in October for the gorgeous foliage. We will definitely not see that :( but we enjoyed one last Lobster Pound dinner, this one from Biel's, which happened to be owned by a friend of Susan's cousin. Small world!

Burning skies on our last night
in Acadia
We have yet to decide where to go next as, by now, we have learned to wait for the morning for the actual wind before reviewing our sailing options: forget the forecast. Enjoying every last minute of our Acadia visit, including tonight's burning skies over da ha baa.

4 comments:

  1. Loving this Catherine! Have been meaning to check out your blog for a while now. Reminds me of my dad who taught me to love sailing even though not something you can do that easily in CO. I wish you safe travels!! Dara

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah - Colorado sailing is probably more frustrating (gusty or not enough wind) than lobster pot dodging in Maine! Glad you are enjoying the blog.

      Delete
  2. always wanted to visit Acadia. Thanks for the virtual tour!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow I finally found a place you have not hiked ! Acadia is especially fun for hikers as you can do an hour hike or string together hikes to make it a full day - the reward / effort ratio is very high with constant views on a lake, a beach, a harbor or islands. October is foliage month. Not too late to schedule your trip!

    ReplyDelete