After a delicious breakfast in Bangor, we headed down on Route 1A towards Acadia National Park. Route 1A gave way to Route 3 in Ellsworth, and we got to the entrance of Acadia around 1:00.
Post-Visitor Center, the first few pullouts were beautiful vistas of the shore, the ocean, and distant islands, but they were marred by the trees that got in the way. We eventually kept going after getting close to a few fearless seagulls, likely fearless because they equated humanity with free food distribution.
Before 2:00 we experienced our first big excursion: the Schooner Head overlook. I spotted what looked at first to be an old trail, as the pavement that once had smoothed it out fell victim to the vicious Maine frost heaves that have taken such a heavy toll on their roads.
We wound our way on this trail until I spotted a cut-through to some rocks. At first, I thought it'd just be a clear shot of the gorgeous, rocky shoreline that gave Acadia its fame, but it ended up being so much more than that.
There was no sign of any human activity on these rocks. Looking down on the Atlantic crashing against the granite below, we climbed around and ogled at the scenery for quite a while before eventually, sadly, having to meander our way back to the trail. In the meantime, we examined the bits of wildlife - plants, algae, and lichen - that have made the barren rocks their home, and looked out to the shore below and seascape beyond.
Our next stop didn't come too much later - this time at Monument Cove. We parked and asked a bearded park ranger how to best see the Monument - which isn't actually a man-made monument, but rather an erosion that ended up creating a cracked brown monolith of stone. It was in its own area, impossibly difficult to reach due to the large but smooth stones that lay beneath it. Instead of the more traveled rocks to the left, we took the path to the right and worked our way down the rocks right up to the Atlantic itself, sitting on one end of a long rock as waves splashed up against the other, throwing spray out where it was visible in its entirety but not near enough to hit me in any way.
I was sad when we had to go back, but go back we did. Soon enough we pulled off again at Otter Point, and again we clamored out on the rocks. These rocks were much different, however - layers of granite were crushed up, creating a labyrinth of large jagged stones down to the ocean. Here, we investigated a layer of incredibly jagged quartz, incredibly smooth rock (which we also saw at the first rock-carousing excursion), and incredibly still pond-puddles - some surprisingly deep. Indentions in the rocks created places for water to run into during storms - it was higher than even high tide could reach - and algae would thrive in it. White and fuzzy-looking on the bottom, it grew in green strands upwards to the top, where they'd float.
One thing we didn't see while exploring Otter Point was an actual otter, but I saw something that looked quite like an otter scurrying across the road at a very fast clip. We were too far away to see if it was an otter or a beaver - in fact, I was the only one who even caught a glimpse of it - but either way, I know I've seen a new animal.
The last big rock adventure of the day came at a stone beach, on a very narrow trail that hugged the edge of a sheer rock face. Once on the other side, it opened up to a much larger expanse of rock, one that was easier to climb around, as the rocks in general were much larger. My mom spotted the biggest algae-filled pond-puddle of the day, which we looked around before heading back again.
We stopped at the Jordan Pond House for a quick bite to eat to tide us over until dinnertime. For a drink, I sampled a locally made blueberry soda, bottled in what looked at first glance to be a beer bottle. I loved it, but it's one of those things that you either love or you hate. It's quite possibly my new favorite drink, which is a shame since it's not sold anywhere outside of the Portland-Bar Harbor area.
After an attempt to hike a trail to the Bubbles (strangely enough, they're mountains) we turned back due to the bugs that ate us like they were at the top of the food chain. We didn't get out again until we were most of the way up the road on Cadillac Mountain.
(Side note: Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Atlantic coast, is less than 1600 feet tall, but seems much higher because it basically rises from sea level. It was named after Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, who was granted rights to the land after he requested it from the governor of New France. The same absurdly-named fellow would go on to found the city of Detroit, hence the Cadillac brand of cars. I wouldn't bother mentioning this except for the fact that, despite not having a Cadillac car, we do have a sexy Cadillac engine.)
The views from the road up and the summit of Cadillac Mountain are stunning. Mountains - which would be considered rolling hills were they not so close to the water, thus amplifying their height - lay beneath us, and the rocky shoreline ran in and out every which way, etching out an intricate design as it met the Atlantic. Inland, lakes dotted the landscape, and if one tried, one could make out the very road we'd traversed earlier when we were between rock-clamoring excursions.
It honestly felt like we were walking around inside a postcard; everything was just that gorgeous.
We took our time walking around on the summit (home of the earliest sunrise in America) and then began making our way back. We would have stayed longer, soaking in the details of the landscape and seascape, but our stomachs won out, so we rolled into Bar Harbor to see what we could find.
The thing about Acadia - and, in fact, most places this time of year in this corner of the continent - is that the season hasn't exactly opened. The restaurant at the Jordan Pond House in Acadia is due to open tomorrow, on the 1st, and many other places won't open until school gets out a little later this month.
Nevertheless, since the locals have to have somewhere to eat, we drove through the streets of Bar Harbor, noting all of the lobster places. We'd all been craving some Maine lobster - specifically, my dad - so we went into a place that wasn't crowded. It turns out that it'd just opened earlier in the day, so we were one of the few customers they'd had all day.
I hate saying this, but lobster places are lobster places - i.e. functionally interchangeable. Our bet paid off - they brought out whole (cooked!) lobsters, which we cracked opened and sucked the morsels out of, all while looking supremely idiotic in our restaurant-supplied bibs.
The lobster, along with our sides, our fries, our dinner rolls, our desserts, and our pre-meal soups, made for a very big meal - but we ate nearly all of it, having spent so much energy climbing around on the rocks earlier in the afternoon. Around 7:00 we left Bar Harbor, doubling back to Ellsworth along a highway that somehow has worse potholes going than coming.
Tomorrow: we hit the road to Moncton, New Brunswick. With very little between here and the other side of New Brunswick, we'll make a day of it across what is thankfully one of Canada's smaller provinces.