Acadia National park and Environs

Trip Start May 08, 2006
Trip End Oct 2006

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Flag of United States  , Maine
Wednesday, September 6, 2006

September 4th, 5th and 6th

Jerusalem, Vermont
Down East Maine

For some reason, despite the fact that our bodies developed a clear aversion to long days (heck, even short days) traveling in the truck, we decided we needed to make it to the Atlantic to truly have a cross-country trip. So we packed up at camp and headed first for Vermont for a visit with the Hanson's and to pick up our trailer.

On the evening of the 3rd, we had a nice dinner with Eric and Ellen at the "Bobcat", the local upscale place to meet, greet and eat in Bristol. After a night's sleep we enjoyed Eric's pancakes loaded with fresh blackberries picked by Deb and Ellen. Well nourished, we left at noon on Monday (Labor Day), with our goal being the LL Bean parking lot in Freeport, Maine. The drive through northern Vermont and New Hampshire was beautiful, if cloudy and very bumpy. Propane, it turns out, is not pumped at gas stations in Vermont so we were glad to finally find a small campground that did have a pumping station. Gotta keep that fridge working!

Freeport may have been an authentic town at one point, but now is the New England epicenter for brand name outlets, with everything from The North Face to candle and gift shops. Of course, this is where LL Bean has been from the beginning, and we browsed through a variety of stores on their "campus", made some exchanges and even bought a trinket or two. They offer free RV camping in an unpaved section of their parking lot downtown. It's not ideal, with klieg lights surrounding the lot and Interstate 295 a couple of blocks away, but we were comfortable for the night.

On Tuesday morning we headed up the coast and found that the views of the shore were slight, the roads were crowded and bumpy, and it's difficult to find an RV parking spot in the coastal towns. A short side trip to a place called Owl's Head gave us our first real glimpse of the Maine coast. Up the road, we stopped at a food co-op in Bethel to stock up but had a fiasco trying to park and have a picnic at the town waterfront. Jeff screwed up by parking the trailer up on a sidewalk, and in a tree, and then we found that no dogs were allowed in the park. We packed up and headed just north of town to an (expensive) campground we had researched and got a site for the night right on Penobscot Bay. We spent the late afternoon shopping for pottery at a nearby shop and walking on the gravel beach with Rubi. We returned to our cribbage and cocktail routine and enjoyed a nice dinner overlooking Atlantic salt water!

We had cancelled our reservations way up at the far northeast end of the Maine coast once we realized how slow the roads were and headed out Wednesday morning to find a campsite near Acadia National Park. After another frustrating morning trying to find a place to park in a coastal town for breakfast (we failed), we took on provisions at a supermarket in Ellsworth and found our way to a campsite on Mt. Desert Island, close to Bar Harbor and the Park. Right on the water (well, at high tide at least), with a view of islands and fishing boats, we felt like we had found a great spot for a base for Maine Coast exploration.

We didn't dawdle at the site, but rather got in the truck and set out see a bit of Acadia. We took the Park Loop Road, which gives a good introduction to the park, with views of the rocky shoreline, islands offshore, meadows, lakes and mountains. The drive finishes with a side road up Cadillac Mountain which rises 1500 feet fairly directly from the shoreline, and provides great views of islands, ships, evergreen forests and, far away from the hustle and bustle, Bar Harbor.

We didn't avoid that hustle and bustle for long, however, choosing to head right down to the busy waterfront for a bite to eat. Though we hadn't planned it that way, this ended up being our Maine lobster dinner, with a good meal of chowder, salad and lobster tails, washed down with a bit o' beer (Jeff) and wine (Deb). We sat on a pier over the water in the harbor. It may be cliché' but it felt great and the lobster was as good as Jeff remembered from decades ago. A good afternoon and evening on Mt. Desert Island!
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