Pushing Onwards

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
Trip End Oct 18, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Maine
Friday, September 7, 2012

Howdy folks,

It was dry overnight at least, so packing up the tent wasn't a problem. It really sucks if you have to pack up when it’s raining; everything goes into the car wet and comes out wet the next time. We made an early start and were in the car just after 8am. We had an ambitious day planned checking out Acadia National Park and driving through to Portland. Our first stop was in Bar Harbor, which is the largest town on the island and home to an eclectic array of souvenir shops, whale watching boats, restaurants and B&Bs. We arrived at 9am and it was pretty to walk down to the waterfront past the multi-coloured lobster trap floats and boats moored in the harbour. We had a coffee at Grumpy’s before heading back to the car to drive the loop.

Not all of the island is part of the Acadia National Park and there are a number of places like Bar Harbor which are outside. To actually get into the national park you have to drive onto a one way loop road that goes past the major natural attractions. We stopped at Sand Beach and we climbed up the rocks to get a look over the landscape which was very scenic. Next we stopped at a few places along the shoreline including Thunder Hole where the tidal surge rushes through a narrow chasm and blows up at the end. We missed a few things so we drove up the local road that runs through the middle to the natural garden of Acadia which wasn’t that good and full of old people.

Going back on the loop, we travelled back around and up to Jordon Pond where the car parks were totally full and we had to keep going. Our final stop was Cadillac Mountain which is the big drawcard of the park. Rising up steeply in the middle of the loop, the road switch backed a few times before coming out at the summit. At 470m, the view surrounding Mount Desert Island was all encompassing and it was simply amazing to gaze out at the panorama before us. There were many smaller islands dotting the shoreline. Apparently the peak is also the first point that the sun touches the US mainland for half of the year as well.

We stopped to have lunch before driving down the mountain and starting our 260km (3 hour) drive back to the highway and down to Portland which is the largest city in Maine. On the way we drove over the Penobscot Narrows Bridge which is a unique and modern looking cable strung bridge with an observation deck at one of the towers. We stopped for a photo, but had to keep driving onwards to Augusta which is the capital of Maine. You would think that being a capital city that some of the finer points of the state would be represented in the town where the legislature sits? However this was not the case as the town was as small as Helena, Montana but the roads were in such a poor state and the only satisfaction we had was stopping in for wifi at the Dunkin Donuts store on the outskirts.

Once we were on our way, we drove past the State Capitol building which was very nice looking and the only section of the town where the road had been recently resurfaced. South of the city was a stretch where we counted around 50 American Flags attached to street lights along the way (clearly a patriotic stretch of road!) Having failed to secure Couch Surfing in Portland, we stopped in to camp at the Desert of Maine around 20 miles before the city limits. The camping ground was a dump and almost $30, but we were just glad to have a place to set up the tent for the night.

With the sun setting around 8pm, it gets dark and it’s hard to stay up much past 9:30pm, so I was up at 6:30am to get ready. The girls were a little lazier and we didn’t get all ready until 9am when we were ready to explore the Desert of Maine. Before anyone gets excited about it, the desert isn’t a traditional desert although it does comprise of sand. Basically over 200 years ago there was a family that bought the acreage to raise crops and graze cattle and overused the land turning the fragile topsoil into desert. I find it hard to believe that just overuse was to blame and there are some theories that it previously was an ancient lake bed. Anyway the area just kept getting sandier and sandier and the current owners are still capitalising on the environmental failure offering sand dune tours, coloured sand bottles and other really tacky tourist crap. It just ends up coming off as a big cash grab and I doubt that anyone really enjoys it. We only went in because we had free entry with our site.

After brushing off our feet, we jumped back into the car for the short 20 mile drive into Portland, Maine. To be honest, I didn’t know that much about the city other than it being the largest in the state and being on the coast I expected a few wharves. There wasn’t much at all going on downtown unless you were going on a boat tour or visiting an art gallery so we hit the Maine Mall instead. We put the car in for a service, had lunch and watched The Campaign with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. We hadn’t been to the movies since Whistler so it was good to do something normal and not worry about car crap for a while.

It won’t be long until we arrive in Boston tomorrow and then say goodbye to Steffi in New York City and visit cousin Joel near Washington DC. Things are definitely getting to the pointy end…
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