We’ve been away from our blog since December 31, 2017, almost nine full months. Feels longer than that.
Anyway, back then we said “Farewell, For Now” and promised to let you all know when we re-started our quest to visit all the National Parks in the Lower 48. Last week we visited Acadia National Park in Maine and it was a totally different experience than what we had grown accustomed to, that’s for sure.
You may remember that we sold Our Way, our RV. So, this adventure was car-camping, sleeping in a tent and not having all the luxuries that come with driving “your home” to the next park. That’s right, no king-sized bed, no kitchen, no refrigerator, no living room with that comfy L-shaped couch, no TVs, no stereo and NO BATHROOM or SHOWER – ouch! Hey, we had a blast anyway. It just took a little getting used to.
We spent five nights at the Blackwoods Campground within Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, just 7 miles south of Bar Harbor, Maine. What a beautiful place. We arrived late on Monday afternoon, set up camp and headed into Bar Harbor for a quick (and easy – remember, no kitchen, no frig) dinner at a fun Irish Pub named Leary’s Landing. We even had some pub-food with our Guinesses!
On Tuesday, we made breakfast at the campsite and headed out to run some errands. The weather forecast called for rain most of the day (and it was unfortunately accurate) but it was only cloudy when we left the campsite. So, we took a drive on the Park Loop Road to go to the top of Cadillac Mountain hoping to enjoy the view overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Turns out that as we ascended Cadillac Summit Road we drove into the clouds and the mist slowly turned to rain by the time we reached the peak. No view today.
Oh well, off to the LL Bean Outlet in Ellsworth to purchase a new tent. The one we used the night before was more than twenty years old, smelled mildewy and was no longer rain-proof. We improvised with a tarp to keep our gear as dry as possible, however, that wouldn’t rid us of the smell. Fortunately, the outlet had a great cabin tent in stock that we were quite excited to get and test out in the continuing rainy weather.
You may also remember that our 2017 RV Adventure started off being about visiting National Parks, but, somewhere along the way, also morphed into visiting as many local brew-pubs and/or breweries as possible. As luck (or destiny) would have it, on our return trip to the campground we happened on a road sign indicating that the Atlantic Brewing Company was only 1.4 miles to our right. Well, deciding to make the most of a less-than-perfect-weather day, we took that slight detour and had a great time at the tasting room and a good lunch at the Mainely Meat BBQ located on site.
Cooking dinner, cleaning up and enjoying a campfire with a couple of cold ones brought us to the time to test the new gear. The tent, a Bigelow Easy-Pitch six-person cabin tent, provided more than enough room for our queen-sized air mattress and gear and plenty of head room for both of us! It smelled new and proved to be rain-proof, sweet.
Wednesday was our first hiking adventure in the park, walking seven tenths of a mile from our campsite to connect with the trail head for the 7.1 mile round trip on the Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail to the summit. You can read more about this advanced hike at https://www.mainetrailfinder.com/trails/trail/acadia-national-park-cadillac-mountain-south-ridge. We were fortunate to have a partially sunny day to experience the incredible views of the mountains, forests, islands and ocean from the many vistas along the ridge. If you decide to hike this trail, wear layers and bring rain gear. The weather changes super-quick on this trail as it winds its way from about 200′ above sea level at the base to 1,530′ above sea level at the summit of the tallest mountain on the eastern seaboard of the United States.
We chose the Gorham Mountain and Ocean Path Loops for our Thursday hike, again from our campsite. This is a more leisurely moderate hike of about four miles round trip to the 525′ summit that you can learn more about here: https://www.mainetrailfinder.com/trails/trail/acadia-national-park-gorham-mountain-loop. This trail brings you along the coast for some beautiful ocean views and a stop at a natural attraction called Thunder Hole, a shallow underwater cave that creates the sound of thunder when the rising surf traps air in the cave. The best time for the most impressive action at Thunder Hole is about two hours prior to high tide so plan your visit accordingly. Also, if you like a good nut-brown ale, you may want to test out Atlantic Brewing Company’s version of Thunder Hole. Its well worth it!
Bar Harbor was our destination late on Thursday afternoon (after we waited for the AAA van to show up at our campsite to jump-start the car battery that I had drained while trying to charge our cell phones…). We did some site seeing around town to enjoy the many parks and gardens, do some shopping and select a spot for an early dinner. Paddy’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, located just across West Street from the water with views of the cruise ships, fishing boats and yachts in the harbor. A wonderful night but just a bit too chilly for ice cream cones.
Our plans for Friday morning breakfast at the campsite changed quickly when we realized we didn’t have any milk left in the frig, oops, cooler. Rather than running to the store and back, we decided to pack up and get on the road. We found a great little restaurant called The Colonel’s Restaurant and Bakery on Main Street in Northeast Harbor, Maine. Great atmosphere, friendly people and really good food. Since the sun was shining brightly as we departed Northeast Harbor, we opted for one more attempt at a clear summit on Cadillac Mountain. The drive up was encouraging as the sun was shining the entire way. Once at the parking lot, while awaiting a spot to open, the wind picked up, the clouds rolled in and we got a partially clear view from the top with cold winds ripping about. Still, a view worth the ride.
Another great adventure at a beautiful park. We hope to continue with one or two more parks later this year.
Thanks for following along!