Hi Everyone! We’re back from the wilds of Maine… I’ve washed the campfire smell out of my hair and the sand out of my underwear… my (much missed) dog is snoring at my feet and I’m sitting down with a cup of tea to write about our adventures. Put your feet up (but don’t fall asleep!)… I promise (I’ll try) not to be too long-winded…
First, I’ll start by saying that yes, it was just the two of us (Ryan and me) on this trip. Loads of people assumed there were others going and I was taken aback by how many people (friends, family, and strangers alike) seemed surprised that it was just us… I suppose the idea that 2 girls would venture alone (gasp!) into the woods without a man (what were we thinking?!) is surprising to some. One woman we met told me I had impressed and inspired her (of course, she wouldn’t have been impressed had she seen the pancakes I made that first morning at camp… disastrous). I didn't understand her attitude at all… but whatever. In any case, I did manage, all by my lonesome, to get us there and back safely, set-up camp, build a fire every night, cook such gourmet fare as homemade chili, spaghetti and garlic bread, avocado and mozzarella burgers, and blueberry/chocolate pancakes (they were the 2nd/3rd attempts), all on a camp stove, keep us dry during a massive all-night thunderstorm, and maneuver us through woods, mountain trails, and ocean paths successfully. I am woman, hear me roar!
So… Maine… one of the truly beautiful places on the planet. I loved it… so did Ryan. The weather for our whole trip (except for the night-time thunderstorm) was perfect. Though the locals complained about the heat, I was in heaven in 85-degree temperatures and nearly zero humidity. Our campground was really wonderful (though there were no showers) and our neighbors nice. Interestingly, none of them spoke English… the first family was Asian, though I think there was a Banshee in the woodpile, given how loud their youngest was. The next group consisted of a French-Canadian couple (she spread her make-up out on the picnic table every morning and very carefully applied her face… methinks this might have been her first camping trip). The third set of neighbors was a French-Canadian family, the father of which snored like a chainsaw (at least I assumed it was the father… but I don’t really know for sure, obviously). It was interesting to me to go from here, where Spanish is spoken by a big portion of the population, to there, where French is spoken so frequently, given Acadia’s French heritage and its proximity to Canada.
Acadia itself is really amazing and too big to explore in a mere week. We both want to go back for a bit longer (and the 16-hour drive convinced me of that more than anything!). Next time we’ll take bikes, as I think we could see even more than hiking around on foot. And hike we did… we didn’t sit still for a moment. We hiked lake trails, carriage roads, shore paths, and mountain trails… we trekked over lots of big rocks and some sandy beaches (and I was reminded every day that I need to see the ear/nose/throat specialist soon to see why I can’t breathe through my nose anymore). Ryan braved 50-degree water temperatures (I was not a roaring woman those days and only waded… even then my feet were numb after 5 minutes)… I’ve no idea how she stood it for 2 hours at a time, along with several other kids. I chuckled, as it reminded me of when we were in Scotland, in North Berwick, on the North Sea. The children were all playing in the water and their parents were watching from the shore, bundled in sweaters. In any case, she did it, I think, to prove her Uncle Grant wrong… he told her that the water that far north was too cold to swim in (a point with which I readily agree)… ornery child (wonder where she gets that?).
Other than hoofing it all around the island, we spent a little bit of time in Bar Harbor, which is the quintessential summer town… and a very liberal-minded sort of summer town, too, I noticed. I liked that. There were loads of shops, which all carried the same basic stuff (I know this because Ryan made me go into every single shop), and some nice restaurants… I had a ‘crab roll’ (I don’t like lobster) and blueberry pie… Ryan had chicken fingers (duh). We also left from Bar Harbor for a whale watching tour, which was very cool… literally… it was about 35 degrees out on the sea, 30 miles from shore. Brrrr. But the icy temps were worth it, as we saw a load of harbor seals and 2 humpback whales. I got one good photo as one of them breached but my camera didn’t recover fast enough for me to catch him slapping his tail on the water. It was amazing nonetheless. I did suffer a bit of seasickness out there, which surprised me, as I never get ill like that. I don’t think it helped, though, when I opened my eyes to see a little boy heaving his lunch into the trash can in front of me… ugh. But I survived without losing my own lunch (I think all my muscles were frozen, so it couldn’t have come up if it tried)… a good thing.
All in all, seasickness aside, the trip was really fantastic. We followed the park rule, which is to “leave no trace”, but Maine, and Acadia especially, left its trace on us.
I’m working on loading photos and should have some up by tomorrow.
Oh, and I’ve included a bit here… just things I observed, mused over, that made me laugh, etc, during our travels…
1. I saw license plates from 27 states between Virginia and Maine… seems the price of gas ISN’T keeping people at home!
2. For the amount of money we pay in tolls, our roads should be much better! Crossing the George Washington Bridge from NJ into NY costs $8.00! It ought to be paved in friggin’ gold!
3. On I-78 in PA, they have mile markers every tenth of a mile. I can see no reason for this… unless they’re there so that when you call the PA DOT to report the (many) potholes, you can tell them SPECIFICALLY where they are... of course, they don’t actually FIX the potholes, but that’s beside the point.
4. There are a shocking number of states which do not require motorcyclists to wear helmets… and there are a shocking number of (idiot) motorcyclists who take that to heart and ride bareheaded.
5. In New Hampshire, they have lots of HUGE blue (state-issued) signs declaring every stop where you can find a (state-run) liquor store (and lottery ticket distributor). Then, as you cross into Maine, the very first sign you see says, “Welcome to Maine – Our drunk driving laws are some of the strictest in the country”. I cracked up… obviously you should buy your booze in NH (please!) but don’t drink it in Maine!
6. I love bumper stickers… I saw thousands… including ones declaring Jesus is coming, God is dead, and Darwin went to Hell (that one really made me laugh)… loads of people seem to be looking forward to Bush’s last day (me included). I noticed a bunch of Obama stickers (though not as many as I’d have expected) and ZERO McCain stickers… not sure what that means, if anything.
7. An hour in the sea will yield approximately 6lbs of sand in an 8-year-old’s bathing suit.
8. Showers, even those for which you pay 37 ½ cents per minute and which are freezing cold, are never so welcome than after a day of sweat, sunscreen, sand, and sea (the combination of which is known as ‘stink’).
9. Nine days, 24 hours per day, is a very long time to spend with a child who talks a lot. A very long time.
10. Next time we’ll make it 12 days… I can’t wait.