Return to Mount Desert Island


In our family, the year you turn the age of the day of the month you were born is your Golden Birthday and as part of that, the birthday person gets to select the location of the next family vacation. A few summers ago, as part of Sam’s Golden Birthday present, the entire family made a trek aimed at Nova Scotia.  We were booked on the ferry to Yarmouth out of Bar Harbor so it was a no brainer to plan to spend a full day at Acadia National Park.

We started our day at the Visitor’s Center where we watched a 20 minute introductory film. It explained how Acadia is the only National Park whose land was completely acquired by private citizens and then given to the nation as a way to preserve the natural beauty of the region. The wealthy used to come here and built many “cottages”, a slang term for mansions. In the 1920s one of the Rockefellers built a series of carriage roads where autos would be prohibited (pretty funny when you realize the family made its money thru oil), providing a great place to walk, bike or take carriage rides.

That wealthy playground was destroyed in 1947 when Maine had a severe drought and there were large wildfires in many areas. The homes were not rebuilt because of the changes in the income tax structure, and so, the land became accessible to people like you and me.

The movie also depicted people hiking up a trail to the top of one of the mountains; a trail so steep that there are metal handrails attached to the rocks. Dan, Lisa and Sam immediately became intrigued and found out where the trailhead was.

Graham and I dropped them off, determined that most people hike the trail in about 1.5 hours, and promised to be back. We then went to a winery outside of Bar Harbor and made it back just about 1.5 hours later…in time to receive a cell phone call from Dan telling us that they had not yet made it to the top.

Finally, the top!!! Notice the cruise ship, one of several that come to Bar Harbor daily in the summer.

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The next call came to inform us that Lisa had hurt her knee, and that Sam was coming down the mountain for help. Like I was going to climb up and carry her down????

He arrived safely, having missed a turn in the trail and ending up on the road about a mile from where the trail came out. But because he is a runner, he just raced up the roadway towards us. By then we knew that Dan was helping Lisa down and she was maneuvering on her own power. No need to call out official assistance.

We headed into Bar Harbor, had some lunch (yummy seafood) at a posh Inn, got ice on her knee and bought a brace. The hike turned out to be rated a nontechnical CLIMB!

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The summer I was 4-years-old, my parents took us camping at Acadia National Park. It was a pretty memorable experience, especially since we camped through a hurricane. We went on a hike up one of the mountains and got separated from the ranger (wandered off to pick blueberries….) but I because I had listened at my older sister’s Brownie Girl Scout troop, I remembered how to read trail signs of rocks and lead the remaining group down.  I got the family role as trail finder after that.

The other memorable experience took place on Sand Beach, the only sandy beach in the park. We had begged mom and dad to let us go swimming but they believed the water would be too cold. They did permit us to go wading. I, of course, being the same person I am now, bent the rules a bit and went in a bit too deep. I  ended up soaked. The discipline was a bit of tough love. So my NOW family took me back to the scene of the crime so I could finally work it all out. *G*

The water, needless to say, IS very cold.  Although Dan, Lisa and Sam got into their swimsuits (far be it for me to forbid THAT activity!!), Lisa opted out pretty quickly.

We all warmed up and then headed up to the top of Cadillac Mountain, this time by road, to get in position for one of the best sunset locations in the country. Lisa filled the time waiting by picking wild blueberries.

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We ate dinner in the village of Northwest Harbor at a pub and our waiter was a lot of fun…food was yummy seafood again (of course). On the way home, the clouds parted and we were treated to a fantastic view of the Milky Way.

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