Thursday, 6 October 2011

USA Today (6) Adacia National Park (Pink Cadillac’s & Bill Bailey)

I finally gave in to the inevitable. With the Frizz Ease all gone and tepid hair straighteners, it was time for an alternative strategy. With my hair now vertical, I opted for a head scarf!

Not one of my better looks!

With the sun starting to burn the mist from the fjord, our early morning view across Somes Sound was hazy and calm. It was like the world was holding its breath with the promise of the day to come. It was probably the best breakfast view I’ve ever had.

Look left.

Straight ahead.

Look right.

In Bar Harbor on the ‘right lung’ -  the biggest town on Mt Desert Island, we cleverly managed to time our arrival to coincide with that of 3,000 cruisers, who had just swept into town on the world’s biggest cruise ship. The whole town was infested with people who seemed to fall into one, if not all of the following categories – old, rich and fat. 

World's biggest boat.

They were everywhere, swamping the benches along the side of the main street, vacantly eating ice creams, buying tourist lobster tat, wandering along the side-walks sniffing the roses and admiring the ‘wonderful’ floral hanging baskets. You quite literally couldn’t move for Bermuda shorts and gold sandals.

As we sat at a picnic table on the jetty, studying leaflets and having an early morning latte, we were joined by two enormous women in monogrammed vest tops with massive bingo wings. It was a full on sea-saw moment. Thank goodness I was there to add a bit of weight. If it had just been Tris, he’d have been catapulted across the harbour.

And then they were gone, back on their little shuttle boat, back to the cruise liner – Bar Harbour and Acadia National Park – tick / done!

When the tide is low, you can walk across a shingle bank, past eager 'clammers' searching for something to ‘chowder’, to Bar Island.
Despite the town being overrun with ‘cruisers’ from ‘The Love Boat’, we didn’t have to walk far to escape the swarms.

You attempt this journey at your peril. Disregard the tidal timetable and you’ll be stuck on the island all night, and your cruise ship will leave without you.

The air was so clean that the trees on the island dripped with beards of ice-green lichens – super sensitive to pollution. On the far side of the island, a sea kayaking group paddled off to explore Frenchman Bay, while cormorants dived under the water in search of their lunch. Popping up again 20 meters from where they’d disappeared. Underfoot, we crunched over empty mollusc shells and de-meated crabs.

Paddling off to explore Frenchman Bay.

Beardy lichens hanging from the trees.

My poor feet - mosquito bites and fit flop lesions!

After photographing Tris as a giant lobster, and a lunch of onion rolls, cream cheese and Tabasco ‘Slim Jim’s’, we set off to find beavers.

Tris makes a fine crustacean.

Unfortunately the beaver tours, run by the National Park wardens didn’t start until the following week. Tarn and dangnation! I’ve never seen a wild beaver before, other than a squashed road kill. I was very excited. Note to self – must add wild beaver to bucket list!

Thwarted by a lack of beaver, we changed tack, split up and tackled Cadillac Mountain, the highest point for miles, which we’d been able to pick out, hazy in the distance from Mt Battie back in Camden.

Once more, all hail the American’s and their commitment to accessibility. While Tris hiked, I drove the hair-pins which were scary and spectacular in equal measures. As I snaked my way up the mountain, I cranked up the radio. A massive rock requires a whole lot of rock. A powerful and epic landscape merits an appropriately meaty sound track!

The view from the top of Cadillac Mountain was equally epic as the journey up there. The massive cruise ship looked like a dinky bath toy down in the harbour below, moored amongst miniature forested wood lice.

On the way up.

View from the top!

While I waited for Tris to make his ascent, I phoned my dad. “You’ll never guess where I am dad,” I said. It was a bit unfair – a correct guess was unlikely. Rather than even attempting a location, he let me tell him where I was. He wrote it all down and promised to look it up in his atlas – Alison, once more, a spot on a map.

And just like that, the weather closed in. The wind got up and the sun and blue sky disappeared under clouds which blew in horizontally like smoke. By the time Tris made it to the top it was cold and windy with zero visibility. 

As we drove back down the hair-pins of Cadillac Mountain, would you believe it, Pink Cadillac came on the radio.  Honestly, you couldn’t have planned it.

The scenic drive around the National Park was – scenic. But it does make me laugh. Take a lovely road, call it a scenic drive and it becomes something that has to be done. Take some points of interest, give them a name (e.g. Thunder Rock) and suddenly stopping in a lay by, jumping out and taking a photo becomes compulsory – ‘click’, then on to the next one. You’ve got to love marketing!

Thunder Rock - wasn't thundering.

Come down and look at this interesting rock.

Splendid geological formation.

Sadly there were no otters at Otter Point :-(  

But then I did my first ‘Four-Way’, which cheered me up! Whoever gets there first, gets to go first. If we had these road junctions back in England, no one would ever get home. “You go first.” “No – after you.” “No no, I insist.” Hell, in the US its foot to the floor and hope for the best.

While Tris went for a swim at Sandy Beach (clearly hiking up a mountain wasn’t enough exercise for one day), I watched Indian tourists taking photos of seagulls standing on cars and of each other crossing the road. Thank the lord for digital cameras!

I've married a man with Duracell batteries.

Driving back to our cabin, we overtook Bill Bailey whose driving was as random as his hair. He suddenly decided to stop his car in the middle of the road, to take in the view. His number plate said ‘Pray for Him’ – he looked like he needed it, so we did.

Scenic view on the scenic drive.

 Despite a few fire / cooking issues, where, after trying to be helpful by offering ‘hot stones’ advice, while Tris tried to construct his own BBQ out of scavenged rocks (I wrote in my diary “I am now keeping out of the way”), Tris declared it to have been “A great day.” And with our camp fire, burgers, more beans (maple this time – we were working our way through the entire range), more local beer and a new found addiction to pickled gherkins – I think I agreed!

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