Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Acadia - A Stunning NP along side Bah Hahbah (Bar Harbor)

The National Parks in our country are true gems to be enjoyed.  Each one has its own charms, beauties and history and Acadia NP is no exception.  Inhabiting a large portion of Mount Desert Island, Acadia has many personalities.  One of our favorite spots in the Park - Cadillac Mountain - began as molten magma.  As it cooled, it hardened and crystallized.  This granite is found all in and around the park - even just below the turf on the golf course!  YEARS after the molten magma the glaciers came and shaped the domed summit of Cadillac Mountain and the U-shaped valley of Bubble Pond.  Then came inhabitants - the first dated 5,000 years ago and were hunter-gatherers.  More recently hunters and traders came to the island - then the European fishermen and explorers.  150 years of war between the French and the British made it disputed territory unsafe for habitation until 1761 when English colonists established the first permanent settlement.  After artists came to the island and spread their pictures tourists came to see the beautiful scenery and a tourist trade was born.  The wealthy came to build their "cottages" (which were million dollar homes in the late 1800's to early 1900's!) transforming the quiet farming and fishing villages.

Thankfully, many of these wealthy were also preservationists and acquired 5,000 acres in donated land that they then presented to the Federal government in 1916 to be designated a National Monument.   Many more acres were  obtained through donations and in 1919 it was redesignated as a National Park.

We have been looking forward to checking this NP off our list for some time now - and we were not disappointed.  Of course our first view of the area was our 'parking place' as always.  And again - we had a beautiful spot on the Western Bay of the Atlantic Ocean.

Our new spot near Acadia National Park - at low tide.

Great views while grilling.

Never seen one of these before..a sleeper tour bus.  Sleeper bunks in the rear - bus tour seats in the front.
26 Germans were on a 2 week trip from Boston to Montreal.

Bar Harbor, a quaint harbor town, sits on the east side of Mount Desert Island and Acadia NP.  We again were blessed with some of the most beautiful weather during our weekend here - which made a lunch on the lawn of the Bar Harbor Inn really delightful.  (It is also a port for cruise ships, which we quickly learned to avoid when we saw two or three of those floating cities in port;-(  )

We had lunch at the Bar Harbor Inn under on of the umbrellas before our harbor cruise on the
 fourmasted schooner in the background.

See the island in the background?

You can walk to it during low tide.

Once one has investigated Bar Harbor, it is time to head into the Park.  There is way too much to do but we attempted to pack in as much as possible.  The 20-mile Park Loop Road provides outstanding shoreline views - both from high above the bays and ocean and from the lone sand beach and rocky outcroppings.  Remember - I talked about the warm, beautiful weather?  Well, Saturday it was in the mid-80's and all the pasty easterners were exposing themselves at Sand Beach.

Just like a day at Venice Beach, CA??

There were several hikes to the top of Cadillac Mountain - the park's highest peak AND the tallest mountain on the Atlantic coast north of Brazil!!  The summit is 1,530 - which, coming from Park City, hardly seems like it could be the tallest on the Atlantic coast but that's what all the literature says?!?!  In any event - it was one of our favorite places in the Park.  One gets a 360 degree view atop the granite dome and, therefore, a favorite spot to watch the sun rise and set.  While we were here there was also a night sky watch as there was a new moon so very little light to interfere with the star watching.

A view of Bar Harbor, Bar Island (the long one on the left) and Frenchman's Bay from the top of Cadillac Mountain.

There were lots of folks getting ready for Sky Watch on the top of Cadillac Mountain.

Another favorite - The Carriage Roads.  Forty-five miles of rustic carriage roads, the gift of John D.  Rockefeller Jr., weave around the mountains and valleys of Acadia NP.  Rockefeller wanted to travel on motor-free byways via horse and carriage into the heart of Mount Desert Island.  (He was afraid that the new automobile would take over the quiet of the Park so they were forbidden on the Carriage Roads.  It remains that way today - only hikers, bikes and horses can use the Carriage Roads.)  His construction efforts from 1913 to 1940 resulted in roads with sweeping vistas and close-up views of the landscape.  On these roads, Rockefeller financed 16 of 17 stone-faced bridges, each unique in design, to span streams, waterfalls, roads, and cliffsides.  We only managed to do a five mile loop with five bridges and fell in love with these roads.

The Carriage Roads in Acadia National Park provided lots of beautiful scenery for our "walk in the park".

And afterwards...

Of course, we took the loop that would allow us to end at Jordan Pond, the Bubbles and the Jordan Pond House for lunch;-)  In a park dotted with glacier-carved ponds and lakes, Jordan Pond is perhaps the loveliest.  Its waters are clear and cool - a water supply for the area - so no swimming allowed.  Its shores are flanked by Penobscot Mountain to the west (which we hiked around on the Carriage Roads) and to the north the pair of round mountains, aptly named, The Bubbles!

The Bubbles rising out of Jordan Pond.
(As we were wandering around taking these pictures - a young man came up to Gary and asked if he would take a picture of him and his girlfriend.  He turned away from his girlfriend and whispered to Gary that he was going to propose - so would Gary take several shots!  We got to be the photographer and witness the happy event as he proposed on one knee right here in front of this pond!!  What a memory for them - and us.)

The best part of ending ones hike here is Jordan Pond House, where one can have lunch or tea on the  lawn.  As Saturday was that wonderful 80 degree day - it was tea on the lawn with their 'famous' Popovers;-)

So did many others!


It was bound to happen - a gloomy day.  So - it must be time for a ride around the southwest part of the island.  First - Somes Sound - the only fjord in the contiguous 48 states.  Next - the Seawall - literally a seawall protecting the island from the tides of the Atlantic.  Bass Harbor Lighthouse - One of the most photographed lighthouses on the East Coast, the head light rises from the rocky southernmost tip of Mount Desert Island.  The light was built in 1858 and marks the entrance to Bass Harbor.  Now it is fully automated and managed by the U. S. Coast Guard.  There were also great views of the turbulent ocean this day from the rocks below.

The Bass Harbor lighthouse.

This serves as a memorial for two brothers who ran a lobster fishing business from this wharf for over 50 years.

With the beautiful 'parking' spot that we had, watching the low and high tides and the bird life just out our door kept us busy when we were actually at the Bus.  Gary had his eye on this crane for several days and finally managed to get good lighting and a low tide to capture this guy fishing ---

It took almost a half hour to edge up on this blue heron while it was hunting for breakfast.

Then I got too close.

Another fantastic five days of experiences and an ever growing love for our National Parks.

E & G Wowed by Nature

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