– Saint John, New Brunswick to Portland, Maine –
I predicted yesterday that today would be a long day, and I was right. We were up at 5am, on the road by 6:30am, and crossing the border before 8am. Our hotel had breakfast, and another pancake printer. It was difficult to make function, but being the genius problem solvers we are, Mark and I managed to make ourselves two pancakes each. It was a lot of work. They were good, though.
When we crossed back into Maine, we excitedly turned our phones back on, and happily used non-cached maps to start mapping to the places we wanted to see today. The time rolled back an hour, so it was once again 7am.
I had a strange stop I wanted to make today, at a touristy little gift shop down the road, but it didn’t open until 9am, and it was only an hour and a half drive to get there, so we decided to check out a little state park down on the coast to kill the extra thirty minutes.
Today was another foggy and damp day. In Saint John, the fog had been so thick we could barely see the car in front of us, but it was a little better down in Maine, though not much. We drove through the back woods of Maine to get down to the coast. What do you call rednecks in Maine? Are they still rednecks? Hillbillies? I don’t know. Whatever you call people in Maine that have 30 non-functional cars in their front yards, which are back in the trees.
Our state park was called Roque Bluffs, which is a small park out on Englishman Bay with a few trails, a freshwater pond, and a nice-looking beach. The waves were crashing loudly in the fog, but it was otherwise silent so early in the morning. We didn’t run into too many other people around, either, so it was almost eerie. Steven King has practically ruined Maine for me with all of his creepy books set here.
Just after 9, we made my silly stop at a touristy little shop on Highway 1, which is the name of many a coastal road. The shop is called Wild Blueberry Land, and as you might guess, it resides in an area that is well known for its wild blueberries.
The shop has tons of things back from or with blueberries, and bakes its own pastries and pies for visitors. We spent probably half an hour browsing the blueberry sodas, soaps, lotions, jellies, candies, and teas before finally purchasing a few things. I got a warm blueberry scone, which was absolutely delightful. They had just pulled it out of the oven. Everyone should have gotten one.
When we finished there, we hopped back on the road to continue on to Acadia National Park. It is insanely busy this time of year. You just can’t imagine how many people are there. Every stop, every parking lot, and even the visitor center as so packed with tourists that you start to feel like a sardine as soon as you step out of the car.
It was still very early, but you could see lists of the parking lots that were already full. The most popular spot was the main beach, and given how many cars we saw parked on the road outside the parking lot, I wonder how many spots are in the parking lot, and how early you have to be there to get one. It didn’t matter, We didn’t need the beach anyway.
We started at the visitor center to show our park pass and get a map. You have to display your park pass in a little holder under your rear-view mirror there in order to prove you’ve paid for your visit. I imagine it has a lot to do with how much of the land around the park is not part of the park, and how many entrances there are. You can dip in and out of little towns there very easily, even from the park loop road.
The park loop road was the first portion of our day, so from the visitor we turned down the mostly one-way park road. Most of the best stops are along this first stretch of the park. Would it surprise you to know that the park map is actually kind of terrible? It was easier to use the iPhone to find overlooks and interesting views than the park map.
It was still quite foggy in places, so our views were not perfect, but in other places, it would be mostly clear and almost hot. We stopped at the Egg Rock overlook early on, which I guess is an island off the coast with a little lighthouse. We didn’t see any island, lighthouse, and really anything beyond the first few feet of ocean. In other places, we could see for quite a distance. I wish the fog had cleared, as the park is definitely gorgeous on a clear day.
As I said before, Sand Beach was incredibly full. The park loop road has two lanes, and in the Band beach area, you can park in the right lane, and the parked cars stretched for quite a distance before and after the real parking lot. We didn’t bother to stop, as we weren’t interested enough in a sand beach to do that much work. Besides, it was a national park, so Mark couldn’t get any sand for his collection.
A stop I’d particularly wanted to make was Thunder Hole, where the waves crashing against the beach are supposed to be particularly loud and violent at times, but today it was mostly calm. Ripley even came out for photos at Thunder Hole. Even if the waves aren’t crashing, the coast in that area in rocky and beautiful, and I wasn’t disappointed in the stop. I didn’t enjoy scrambling over the cliffs too much, but they felt much safer than some of the others we’ve done on this trip.
Just down from Thunder Hole is Otter Point, and the Fabbri Picnic area. Mark said he was starving, and it was right around noon, so we pulled off to eat a nice lunch from our cooler. We managed a table not too far from the parking area, so we were able to carry all of our stuff out to the table with ease instead of trying to unpack everything at the truck.
The area is foresty and cool, and we really expected to need to battle mosquitoes, but that didn’t happen. Maybe it was the general lack of fresh water on the point? I don’t know. We didn’t find many mosquitoes in the park at all, despite the fact that Maine’s state bird is the mosquito.
We turned off of the park loop road to go over into Seal Harbor, then north to turn down the park’s other side. The two sides are separated from one another by Somes Sound, and you have to basically drive around it to get between them.
Driving down the sound is nice, though there are homes along the road, which feels very strange. Acadia is very mixed in with the local community, which is quite unlike a lot of the other parks in the United States. It feels more common for parks to be surrounded by urban areas in Canada.
One of our last major stops, over in the other side of the park, was at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. We turned down the road to the lighthouse, only to be confronted with a huge line for a tiny parking lot, and tons of angry people waiting in line to park their cars. Mom and I jumped out to go take photos while Mark and Dad drove the car around. We’ve seen so many lighthouses on this trip, it wasn’t worth the hassle of trying to park for real.
Mom and I hurried down a steep path to get some photos, only to realize that in addition to it being difficult to park, the view of the lighthouse that we could reach was terrible, and the lighthouse itself was quite lame. Sure, you can get a better picture of the lighthouse from another trail that was apparently on the far side of the parking area, but we didn’t have time for that, and the lighthouse itself was barely attractive enough to bother. Peggy’s Cove was ten times as awesome. When did I become a lighthouse snob?
On our way out of the park, we stopped one final time at the Pretty Marsh area. Mark and I took a walk down to the beach while everyone else waited in the car. It was another long walk, and I’m sure Mom and Dad were glad they didn’t go, despite the lovely views at the bottom. To be fair, it was just another rocky beach, but I still enjoyed it. I wish we’d taken Ripley with us.
From there, we were done, and it was still 3 hours to Portland, and after 4pm. We talked about taking the coastal route, but it would’ve added another 45 minutes, and some of the members of the crew were pretty tired, so we elected to take the shorter drive on to our hotel.
On the way, Mark had his Moxie, Maine’s weirdest drink. He talked Mom and me into tasting it, and it was as terrible as I remembered. When we finally made it to the hotel, it was getting pretty late. Mom and Dad elected to stay behind while Mark and I went out to dinner, so we spent some time researching decent food in the area, since it was a large enough city to have many different types of vegetarian cuisine. Maybe I will make it out of the rest of this trip without eating another veggie burger.
We had Vietnamese food for dinner. Mark had a vermicelli bowl, and I had a delicious bowl of veggie pho. I just love Vietnamese food. Doesn’t it look good? We made it back to the hotel after dinner and a stop at Rite-Aid for floss around 8:30pm. The time change didn’t make the day any shorter.
The rest of the trip is basically a trip home, plus a few stops along the way. We have a long day tomorrow, but we do still have time to run. Unfortunately, it looks like rain. We will get up early anyway to see if we can go, but if not, we’ll just be on the road that much sooner. I hear Pennsylvania has been having some flooding, which is where we are headed for tomorrow night. I hope we don’t run into any torrential downpours.
– Trip Total : 7,227 miles –