Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer Family Vacation Part V: Acadia National Park

On July 8th we headed out to Acadia National Park. I think I was the most excited to visit this place and Mark was determined to swim in the ocean. The day started out with heavy rains and never really did let up till later in the evening however, so I knew before we left I would not be swimming in the 55 degree waters off the east coast. Despite the rain, we packed for the beach and made our way to the Hull Visitor Entrance and took the climb up to the visitor center where I was surprised on such a wet and dreary day to find multiple people and crowds at the visitor center. We obtained our park pass which is good for 7 days from purchase and cost $20- for the summer season. Knowing that most of Acadia attractions are the hiking/biking trails and none of us are big hikers and bikeless, I figured it was unlikely we would make a return trip during our vacation, but it was nice to know we had seven days of leeway.
 A brief glance at the park map and three dimensional aerial display of the park, a quick bathroom break and an outright REFUSAL from the boys to watch the Acadia park video, we were back in the car and ready to hit the first stop along our route. I had my mind set on viewing some wild like, preferably a moose and set my sights along the many towering pines that sprawled along the winding park roads.
First stop was FRENCHMAN BAY.

 Frenchman Bay was so named for Samuel De Champlain the explorer who first arrived to the area in 1604 is an inlet scattered with The Porcupine Islands and entrance into Bar Harbor. Although this was a designated overlook by the park, it was difficult to get a good view through the trees, not to mention the overcast sky.  We stopped parked I took some pictures and we were back on the road again.
I took more pictures as we drove through the park anticipating wildlife and making stops along the parks noted areas of interest.

Such views were all along the pack way road and finally I spotted an animal on the roadside. Quick...what is it? Could it be a moose?  No! Only a deer, which although exciting we can see in NY too.
I just caught her tail end before she bounded off into the forest. Still keeping my eyes open we kept along the parks main road. Finally we see the sign....... 

Up ahead SANDY BEACH. We continued to follow the signs to the designated beach area, hopeful that the skies would open up and allow some sun in. The beach area has both a bathhouse and bathrooms, but limited lifeguards on duty, and no food pavilions. It did not make much difference to me what it had or had not, the rain began to beat down by the time we got to the sand with the winds picking up. I think this was the first time I went to a beach with an umbrella in hand.

 The kids were not thrilled with the idea of even wading in this freezing cold water, Gavin gave it a go, but Ben wouldn't take off his shoes and neither would I. My Husband on the other hand went in 100%.

 Ben enjoyed walking along the rocks.
Back on the park roads we were off to the next must see spot; THUNDER HOLE!
 Above is the Thunder Hole ranger station several years ago, below is as it appears today. I got my first National Passport stamp in this park here. (I forgot to get it at the Visitor Center.) I am not sure how many are obtainable in this park, but I missed at least one. I got two in total.
We had planned to hit Thunder hole at high tide as that is when the waves should be at their highest. We actually were a few minutes before high tide, but the water was just not cooperating and we were not entertained by big blasts of water.

We stayed at this location for quite some time. The boys did some exploration and we waited patiently for some THUNDER! Mark and I were entertained by the daring or perhaps stupid people who would walk out on high rocks, or out far into the bay as the water approached. We chucked at one heavy set guy who had to stretch himself up on a cliff exposing his rear end! It was all pretty entertaining.

We really enjoyed our time in this area of the park. I tried to pull up a video of Thunderhole in it's glory and thunder and stumbled on a news story of the people who were thrown into the sea at this site a few years ago killing a seven year old girl. In the picture above how Thunderhole creates it's sound behind my step son was where the people were when the waves took 20 people out to sea.
Glad we missed that! I also missed a camera that fell into the hole. I had headed up the hill and was waiting for my family, who when arrived informed me that a women while taking her camera from her husband had dropped her camera into the hole. I am sure if that happened to me my vacation would be ruined. Mark said, if it happen to me...he'd throw me in after it.
 We really only stopped long enough for me to get some information on the carriage rides and use the bathroom. The boys were reluctant to take the rides, and although it would have been cool to take some non car back roads just like the vacationers of the parks origins did, the price was steep and when I asked about the potential to see wild life it seemed like there was no sure thing. The women said "once several years ago, coyote followed the carriages for awhile.". NO MOOSE! Well forget about it! Plus we would have to wait about another 11/2 hour for the next trip out.
NEXT.....Jordan's Pond.
 It was just about lunch time, and although we had snacks in the car, we were all feeling a little hungry. It appeared to me, that Jordan's Pond may be the only place to obtain a meal within the park, so we battled to crowd, and this place was CROWDED! I so wish I got a picture of the hundreds of bikes that were parked on the grass.
I took this picture as we were walking through the crowded gift shop looking for snacks. After looking at the line for a sit down meal, we had decided to just get some drinks and relax with plans for a meal later out of the park. This picture charmed me when thinking about the days of the parks first vacationers. Tea on Jordan's Pond was quite popular in the day and recommended by the vacation guides today as well. 

This older much prettier building is not the location of Jordon Ponds restaurant which is very modern in comparison and actually takes away from the feeling of nostalgia in my opinion. Originally I thought this was the Jordan Pond house. We did not get out and explore so I am not sure what it was.
For future planning and had I known I would have either made reservations which you can do from outside the park or at the main visitor centers. Or planned a picnic. Although the inside sitting appeared to be for the restaurant guests only, there was plenty of tables that lined the grass overlooking Jordan's Pond.
 Jordan's Pond and view from the tabled areas.
 A path leading into the woods, these signs were all over the place and had we been a hiking family we would have been in our own personal heaven with opportunities.
 The boys took a nice walk along a few trails in the area, and we were soon back on the Park Loop Rd towards the next big MUST SEE sight and perhaps the most known. Cadillac Mountain.  
 On top of Cadillac Mountain
This mountain top is reported as being the highest peek on the eastern shoreline and also the first location to see the sun rise on American soil. We were plagued with overcast skies, but the views were still amazing. This view is overlooking the town of Bar Harbor and Porcupine Islands.

 Another view off the mountain top.
 A quick photo of the boys and here is actually me in a photo for once. (below)
Even up on top of the mountain there were several hiking trails and at one point as we were climbing the mountain we saw people climbing up some of the mountain ranges. We are just so less adventurous, and honestly even walking around these trails a top the mountain was pooping me out.

A few more shots. I tried to get this bumble bee who was resting on the flower, but he flew away.
After maxing out our time on the mountain and obtaining my second and final National passport stamp of the day we descended and talked a little about going to the eastern part of Mount Desert Island to tour some lighthouses, we decided instead to find a place to eat and head back to the hotel to swim. We were all feeling a little tired, hungry and ready to call it a full day having totally enjoyed our time in Acadia national Park. There is plenty more we did not explore but what we did see was amazing. Definitely would score high stars on my to do list!
 We had a late lunch at Governor's restaurant before we went back to the hotel where we spent the rest of the day/evening swimming in the hotel pool and relaxin in the hot tub.
Mark got the burger and dog combo, I had to take a picture of this strange looking colored hot dog. He said it tasted fine, but struggled with the HOT PINK color. Its amazing what color will do to our taste buds.
Great day over all. Only one more day in Maine left and honestly we had no specific plans. We discussed a boat ride, another beach or even taking in other parts of Mount Desert Island's quieter side.(The West side). There was still so much to see and do. Next post will revel where we went.