Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Where the Mountains Meet the Sea
Team Rants recently visited the ocean and mountain treasure that is Acadia National Park. However, unusual for us was that rather than camp out as we had done in past visits, this time we had lodging in an upscale Bar Harbor B&B. The weather forecasts were not the great (this spring weather has sucked if I don't mind saying), so seeing that conditions were okay upon our arrival to the Park we immediately set out on a hike.

Most visits, I end up hiking the same trails (because I like them), but this time we made sure to hit new areas of the park we had not seen before. We decided to hike to the summit of Cadillac Mountain (Acadia's highest peak) by way of Dorr Mtn and the daunting cliffside Dorr Mtn. Trail.

The landscape of Acadia is pretty unique. Wildfires have burnt this area many times in the past and there is little topsoil covering the granite peaks. Most trails though are very well sculpted, with rock steps and pathways put in place for easiest hiking.

A new experience for us was staying at a B&B. The place was spotless and our room had its own deck. The first thing we noticed was the lack of TV. We had brought a radio with us to listen to Sox games, but we ended up using it every time we were back in the room (which was a lot due to the damned rain!). Trapped in a B&B while a nor'easter rages outside stuck listening to talk radio and Art Bell going on about aliens, UFOs, and the shut down of the Gulf Stream are not usually the attractions one thinks about when dreaming of weekend getaways.

One word about B&Bs: they are a little different. Our place had rigidly scheduled coffee time (7:30AM); breakfast time (8:30AM) and cookies/afternoon tea time (4:00). The cookies were great, mind you. The owner Tom is a great chef and cooks fantastic food. Chocolate snickerdoodles and white chocolate macadamia cookies were there most days. It was odd being encouraged by all these scheduled social hours to actually be encouraged to socialize with the other couples sitting in the living room. Everyone was uncomfortable. It's like coming back home for Christmas after being away for a long time and the rooms have been redecorated. You're supposed to "make yourself at home" but in fact you approach everything extremely self-consciously - walking on tiptoes going up stairs, speaking in whispers and hushed voices as you're milling about. Making sure to keep control of your arms as you walk so as not to swing them wildly out of control and smack the priceless antiques off their stands. Also, everyone seemed to be about 15 years older than us. Also, it was clear that to go out and drink a ton of beers would be a bad idea - somebody was going to be in the living room ready to witness your lack of sobriety upon your return. So there we were, prisoners in a tiny room, playing (bored) games and listening to lunatics on the radio.

We were able to get some sun in one early morning. Mrs. Rants went for a run and I walked around the harbor doing my best to do what tourists do when they visit bar harbor - act touristy. I wonder if this local didn't mind that I captured his image on film. I found him to be iconic of the downeast lifestyle of coastal Maine. I am sure he found me to be an economically necessary nuisance.

Bar Harbor is an interesting yet predictable place. The usual t-shirt stores and upscale eateries spaced out every 20 feet. One place did strike for a niche market by offering clothes and products made from hemp. Another place seemed to specialize in offering knickknacks only the blind could appreciate. I swear we probably windowshopped each place a thousand times - walking with the understanding that every 20 steps or so killed another 10 seconds of time.

However, given the opportunity we got in as much of the park as we could. One great feature about Acadia is the existence of miles of dirt carriage roads that are meant for horseback riders, bicyclists and foot travel - no cars are allowed. These roads traverse the most interesting sections of the park and showcase superb stonework on the bridges and along the roads. Here's a nice view of a row of white birches lining one of the roads and from that same location you get a great view of Jordan Pond and a mountain called "Bubble Rock".

All in all we had a great time even though 50% of our days there were rained out. But it's always there for us to visit another time.


At 4:27 PM, Blogger YouWho said...

Too bad you didn't bring your iPod, eh?


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