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2011 East Coast Vacation

20110515 1825: 2011 vacation up the East Coast.

First stop? The DC area of course. Jason, Kevin, Jon and I converged on J’s NoVa Home for a weekend of guy time.

We drank, smoked cigars, went to Baltimore for a day and caught an Orioles game at Camden Yards:

While the game was not particularly exciting (a blowout), we all had a good time.

Sunday was spent running errands and general hanging out followed by great steaks on the grill.

On Monday, when we dropped K & O off at Dulles, I picked up a 24hr rental to make my life easier thee next morning. As the pricing was within $7 across almost all classes of vehicle, I opted for luxury for a day. Wow. Gotta say, driving an all black Lincoln Town Car with only 145 miles on it is not at all like my aging Prius. I can certainly see the appeal. Among my errands that day was my appointment at the Genius Bar of the Reston Townes Center Apple store. My iPad has begun draining battery at an alarming rate (25% per 3 hours of standby). Luckily they were able to diagnose it quickly. Unfortunately the answer was a fresh restore *w/o* a backup. They blamed software corruption that would simply be reintroduced if I were to backup and restore from that. They were right. While I did have to download all of my apps again (I took screenshots), I didn’t have any data on the device and now I am back to a long battery life.

Went to Brian’s place on Monday to prep for this year’s camping trip. We do a big trip each year. Last year was Glacier National Park in Montana, before that was Brian’s ill-fated helicopter ride in the Grand Canyon (still an awesome trip overall).

May of 2011 brought a new destination for Brian and I to explore. We had decided on Acadia National Park in Maine. Renowned as a beautiful region of the US and it didn’t disappoint.  Mother Nature however was poised to pee on our parade all week long according to the various weather forecasting franchises.

We flew into Bangor, Maine Tuesday morning to a dreary, drizzly mess. Did our provisioning and headed the hour or so towards the coast. Avis gave us a Nissan Altima. Capable car. Averaged 27.9 (reported) MPG over the six days.

It was still damp when we setup camp, but not actually raining. The weather reports had predicted rain for most of our time there. While our tents are ‘mostly’ waterproof, while provisioning at WalMart in Bangor, we picked up a 16×32 foot tarp to create a ceiling over our living area. It made our campsite a bit of an eyesore, but our picnic table and tents remained dry. Worth every cent.

The campground was typical of what we have found in National Parks. No electric or water at the sites, but there was a spigot a few sites away. Clean, but unheated restrooms. No showers. There was a private bathhouse ($2 for 4min or hot water- a bargain when you need it) just outside the park. One oddity. They preassigned campsites for all arriving visitors. While the campground was less than 10% occupied when we arrived, we were relegated to the assigned spot and could not move. As luck would have it, I think we got the best spot in the park, but still a little demeaning to be told where you will and won’t go when the place is empty. I have never seen this practice before at a state or national campground. BTW, the view from our campsite; green, lush, mossy goodness.

On our first day, Wednesday, we start by driving around most of the Park Loop Road and hitting the highlights. There was Sand Beach where I met Leah, on vacation from Wisconsin (I think) who was writing furiously in a book. Not sure what was being written, but I am sure the words were profound. Brian discovered colonies of snails, including an albino one.

Next stop on the Loop Road was Thunder Cove. An opening in the rock that allows volumes of air to be trapped by incoming waves creating loud booms like that of thunder. While there I ventured off and Brian caught me jumping a crevice from one rock outcropping to another.

Further up the road was Jordan’s Pond. We were too early in the season (by a week), but they do high tea and popovers here daily. This house near Jordan Pond is a great representation of some of the stonework in the area.

After completing the Park Loop Road, we went in to Bar Harbor to find out what it was all about. We found out and quick. Br Harbor is 100% a tourist town. It is populated/staffed the same way that Glacier, GrandCanyon, HeronIsland, and any other seasonal or exotic locale. Mid-twenties drifters who work a season here and a season there, always in customer service. Generally living check to check and enjoying their escapism from the rat-race that they see the rest of us caught in. Free spirits.

Anyway, back to Bar Harbor. The two main streets are 90% populated with gift shops, pub/restaurants and jewelry stores. All the trappings to turn an average vacation into a spending spree.

Duly armed with a lust for local brew and an affinity for sniffing out attractive bartenders, we were in our element. Wednesday was spent at a couple of local watering holes including the somewhat famous Plus we went through most of the shops and made miscellaneous purchases for ourselves and others.

After killing a day and many brain cells, Thursday needed to be an outdoor day. We decided that the Dorr Mountain and Cadillac Mountain trails would be enough of a workout to build up a thirst worthy of a return trip to Bar Harbor, because we needed a rationalization you know. 🙂

The hike was about 8.5 miles total. We started out climbing the 1247 ft Dorr Mountain with great views along the way of Bar Harbor and the surrounding coastline. The weather had decided to turn in our favor and we had partly cloudy sky’s, dry and in the high 50’s, but windy! 16-20 mph winds with 25 mph gusts. Kept us on the fence between jackets and not during the hike.

Once on top of Dorr, we saw the next objective. Down into the saddle between, then straight up Cadillac Mountain (in the background here). FYI whomever blazed the trails in Acadia didn’t have an understanding of switchbacks. By the time we reached the summit, we were sweaty, but the view was great.

This panoramic is from the top of Cadillac. Bar Harbor is the green splotch at about 25% from the left and Dorr is the hill in the center middle ground.

The hike down was longer that the way up. We chose this route so that the descent would be more gradual. The trails took us along a number of creeks and odd rock formations. At one point the creek spread across a wide rock face for about a half a mile before it ended in some small waterfalls and were were back walking on dirt trails again.

The pic below is a panorama straight down. Notice the horizon on both ends.

Once down, we both needed something that we mostly take for granted: hygiene. Just outside the park was a coin operated bath house. $2 gets you 4 minutes or 10 gallons of hot water, whichever comes first. After the shower we headed into town for a bite, then back to the campsite to crash.

Friday morning we awoke raring for another hike. Today would be the Beehive and Acadia Mountain. First we decided to take a walk down a short trail that starts in the campsite. Is was called the Ocean Trail. What a discovery! This 150 yard trail (we had no clue it was so short) let us from this densely forested campground to this:

Who knew!? It was feet from our campsite for three days before we discovered it. Just beautiful. I could put a chair out there and just sit all day. But not today! Today was the Beehive Trail.

The Beehive is a vertical trail that runs up the face of a rock knob.

It snakes back and forth across the face with scrambles and embedded ladder rungs to help along the way.

From the top you pass through a shallow saddle and emerge at The Bowl. A lake on top of this set of hills.

A quick snack on the shore of the lake, then a 2 mile downhill hike and we were ready for something else.

On our way to Acadia Mountain, on the western side of the island, we stopped at a pull off. The tide was low and there was a couple hundred feet of exposed rock along the shoreline. We decided to investigate.

It turned out the rock ‘garden’ was covered in a carpet, no, mounds of stringy seaweed. It was exceedingly slippery. Imagine walking across an uneven football field of firm, wet lo’mein noodles. Unfortunately Brian twisted his knee whilst performing a maneuver not unlike the one pictured here. Hiking was over for the day, but the exploring was not.

We drove around to a couple of other sights including a lighthouse and, of all things, a random antique car museum. There were some great examples of cars from the ‘brass era’. Yeah, I didn’t realize that it existed either, but it is the 1900-1920 timeframe. (give or take a few years)

After that, back to the site for steaks and veggies on the campfire and we were some pretty happy campers. (see what I did there?)

Saturday threatened rain, so it was a town day. Back in Bar Harbor we revisited some shops, hit up most of the watering holes and wrapped up our Maine experience.