Maine has always been a state I've dreamed about visiting someday. I really never thought that day would come so soon though, if at all, but I'm thrilled about it! The kids and I fell in love with Maine last spring while reading Sarah Plain and Tall, and the subsequent books, by Patricia Maclachlan. A wonderful book in its own right, Sarah's descriptions of Maine captured our imagination and our hearts and Whirlwind declared then and there that he wanted to make Maine the first stop on our RV tour. So it wasn't our first stop, but we made it nonetheless. The four of us were absolutely thrilled to cross the state line finally!
Acadia, Acadia...Just the name made me love the place. It's a beauty! This is actually the third name given to the park. It kept changing names based on politics more than anything else. It is also ACadia and not, as some people mistakenly refer to it, ARcadia.
I didn't know much about the park before, just that it was supposed to typify Main's beauty with its steep rocky coast, dark green forests and deep blue waters. It most certainly lived up to expectation except that the trees were dark green mixed with oranges, yellows and browns, nothing to complain about to be sure. For some reason I expected high cliffs along with its rockiness. The coast was certainly, mostly, rocky but cliffs we did not see. Maybe one needs to travel further up the coast to see those, I don't know. No matter, it was all surely a sight to behold!
As I referenced the other day we came here to see the park yes, but the real motive was to meet up with my in-laws who were visiting from overseas. This was to be their first stop on a 10 day trip across New England. We would join them for the Maine (hee hee) part of it, say good bye for a week and catch up with them in NY city before they headed back home.
At the park we of course all started at the visitor center where the kids got their Jr. Ranger booklets and immediately got to work. They'd have to turn in their work that afternoon if they were going to get their badges since we would not be returning to the park tomorrow.
This is a very well done diorama of the park. If you look at a map it kind of looks like it Australia split in half and dangling off the coast into the Atlantic. Kind of. At least that's what it reminded me of :-). The right hand side has the bulk of the park's sites and activities and that's where we spent most of our day.
Next up was a drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain to hear a ranger presentation. Have I mentioned how great ranger talks are? Well, they are awesome! Those rangers know a whole lot about the parks and other topics relating to the National Park Service. We've found them to be not only knowledgable but helpful and friendly as well. Yes, you could explore all there is to see using only the park info they hand out or even just the markers along the way and we certainly do that sometimes. But, we learned very early on what a tremendous gift those rangers are and just how much richer of an experience we can ALL get if we make the effort join them.
Cadillac Mountain, at 1,532 feet, is the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard, and according to the ranger, often the first place to view the sunrise in the east. I can just hear my Colorado folks giggling at the prospect of a mere 1,532 feet being referred to as 'high' :-). It was kind of funny for us as well since we have been living at 5,200 feet for the past 2 years. I have to give credit where is due though and say that when you place 1,532 ft next to the ocean, it really does seem quite high, and COLD! Between the lack of sun that morning, the moisture in the air (we are on the coast after all) and the pretty standard fierce winds up there, I had never been colder. Really. Yes, even in Colorado. Shall I go in to the difference? OK, I shall.
Pardon me as I climb onto my soapbox for a moment, it just amazes me every time. Colorado is HIGH, 'elevationally' speaking of course :-). Very high and DRY. That fact has its down sides of course but the upside is that hot is not too hot and cold is not too cold. It can be 35 degrees (fahrenheit) but if the sun's shining you could easily be out in a t-shirt shoveling yesterday's snow. The lack of moisture also affects heat. It can be 90 but since the humidity is low to non existent, yes, it's hot, but not 'oh my G-d I can't breathe' hot like in some places I've lived in.....I won't name any names :-).
Anyway, it just amazes me every time how I can be in places of significantly lower elevation, warmer temps and still be way colder than I ever was in Colorado! That includes this place and that nameless place from above. OK I'll say it, Texas. Specifically, Austin. I'm still shocked at how cold I was there last winter in only 45 degrees!
Anyway, back to Maine here. Yes, we froze our you know whats off standing there listening, and then standing there chatting, but it was worth it. And no, we were not dressed appropriately. Had no idea it would be this cold.
The views from up top were enough to justify the trip up even without the ranger talk. Again, these picture do not even come close to doing it justice.
Run!! Run to keep warm my loves!
OK, now stand still and freeze, literally, so I can get this shot. Priorities you know.
I'm skipping ahead here to the end of our day at Acadia since I need to dedicate an entire entry to what we did in between. You'll see why later.
We wrapped things up at the visitor center to get the badges!
This ranger was absolutely terrific and was really into all the work the kids had done. He also used the loudspeaker to announce to all present that the world now had 3 more Acadia National Park Jr. Rangers. It was hard to tell if the kids were happy about that or if they wanted to bury themselves in the sand, or rocky shore, at that point.
They were however most definitely happy to get their badges at the end!