Our last evening in the white Mountains started off ok, but deteriorated into 12 solid hours of rain. We cooked a very simple meal and huddled under the awning for a bit and then scarpered for cover in the tent. On Friday we cleared up as quickly as we could and did one of wettest strikes yet, with a very heavy, dripping tent that ended up covered in crud.
I was a little relieved that we hadn’t spotted any bears, but sad that, yet again there wasn’t a moose to be seen anywhere. Apparently the locals call them ‘swamp donkeys’ due to their preference for hanging out in the swamps and someone from the campground had seen one just the day before AND there are moose crossing signs everywhere, but we still haven’t seen one at all. You might think that the tourist board could train a crack regiment of moose to put in star appearances now and again just to keep the tourists happy. (I read somewhere that even the locals hardly ever see them, even though there are more moose than people up here.) We decided to stop for breakfast on the way and found a great little cafe that serves one of our favourites, (English muffin breakfast sandwiches) and the weather started to clear up as we drove.
The route to Acadia wasn’t bad and, after stopping to get some supplies (and enjoying these sights)
we managed to get to the Bar Harbour Campground in plenty of time to pick up supplies, pitch the tent and allow it to dry out before bedtime. The campground was very nice, with loads of room, spacious pitches, clean washrooms with plenty of hot water and ‘high tech’ fire places, with a fold down iron bit that you can cook on.
The local chipmunks were very cheeky and quite entertaining, although, if they keep on trying to get in the tent, they could end up as chipmunk kebabs. The only strange thing about the place is that they will only take cash, not cards for payment. They thoughtfully provided an ATM, but our bank didn’t like it and refused the transaction, which we luckily managed to sort out later.
On Saturday, we caught one of the free buses into Bar Harbour for a walk around in the sunshine and a spot of lunch.
The town is very cute, feeling a bit like a film set and, being a tourist hotspot there were loads of places to eat.
The pub we chose had some half-way decent beer and very tasty grub as well. After lunch we walked to the local balancing rock
(this area is blessed with TWO famous balancing rocks!), where we met this friendly couple, Patty and Jim, who were celebrating their 37th (?) wedding anniversary, having travelled up from Cape Cod.
They were really lovely people and had lots of good advice for us, as we are heading there next.
Bar Harbour is obviously a top romantic destination, as confirmed by this attractive young couple posing for pictures by the sea.
it had so many pretty places
and quirky things
In the evening, these people were somewhat amused to seeing us washing up together (along the lines of impressive domestic harmony) and then came over for a chat later on.
They were great fun, and I was most impressed that one of the blokes had actually worked at Cape Canaveral (when they were carrying out a range of launches) as an electronics engineer and he was able to see inside some of the vessels before they were actually went into space. I confess I was struck down by an instant case of hero worship!
It was nice that these people were just as excited about the space centre as we were.
I was amused to see that someone in the campground felt the need for some extra security
but it did seem a safe place to stay.
On Sunday we ventured into the Acadia National Park, itself. The weather wasn’t too good, but we thought we would try driving to the peak of Mount Cadilac. The views were stunningly ……..
non-existent. The peak of the 500m mountain was totally encased in thick cloud, so we just drove straight back down again. Despite the cruddy weather, it was still a beautiful place to go. You pay $25 for a car to be able to enter the park for a week or you can pay $12 a person and you can then walk, cycle of catch the free busses for a week in stead. We stopped at the pretty little Sand Beach (not particularly imaginative, but nice) here the combination of rocks, waves and seaweed seemed to get everyones artistic juices flowing.
I should learn my lesson about photographing waves; the shots always come out the same. We then stopped at Thunder Hole, a natural rock formation with a funnel leading to a cave, where you get good splashes and, if the tide is just right, loud booming sounds.
Slightly more entertaining is watching the people right down near the water, waiting for them to get splashed.
It wasn’t too noisy when we were there and we though we would have another look when the tide was at a different height on another day to see if it really would go ‘boom’
We drove on round the ring road that takes you to many viewpoints and all the best features in the park. The trees are really starting to change now and, even in nasty weather, it’s very pretty.
We passed Otter Point (with no otters) nipped down to Seal Harbour (with no seals) tried to look at Bubble Pond (but no parking) so we cut our losses and headed back to the campsite. We picked up some firewood on the way through and I persuaded Tim to build an early fire, as the evening felt particularly chilly.
It was lovely to just sit and watch the flames and we REALLY must get ourselves a fire pit when we stop travelling.
The evening closed in and then so did the rain. It hammered down for several hours and it was probably karma for sniggering at the poor people getting soaked by the waves. The good news was that the Tentipi didn’t leak, no puddles came under the groundsheet and our bladders managed to last until the rain finally wound down to a light drizzle in the morning when we had to make a dash for the loos.
On Monday, it was a nasty drizzly morning, so we thought we would go and see if Thunder Hole was thundering any better. As we drove into the park, we were delighted to see this pair of deer posing by the roadside.
Despite the fact that loads of people screeched to a halt to take pictures, they very willingly turned their best profile towards the cameras and then sauntered away. The park authorities must pay them a lot more than the Maine Moose.
We stopped at Beaver Damn Pond, which had a proper beaver damn and two lodges, although we couldn’t spot any beavers.
Thunder hole was approaching high tide and looked more like a miniature harbour than an exciting splashy wave thingy, but Tim and I had a nice time chatting to a Lady who has visited all 50 of the states in the USA. She was a bit sniffy about visiting the UK (‘don’t take offence) but seemed totally enamoured of the British royal family. She loved Diana, was especially keen on Harry and the latest royal offspring and thought Queeny was a bit stuffy.
We then drove on round to Bubble Mountain. There is a pretty path up through the woods for half a mile that takes you up to the second famous balancing rock, Bubble Rock.
This one is a bit more impressive than the other one at Bar Harbour and I made Tim do the cliche pose,
(I felt this young woman got much more into the spirit of the thing)
although he was a bit concerned about how much trouble we would get into if it actually worked. The people around the rock were very jolly, although there were quite a few jokes about colonisation flying around. Tim did point out that we had stopped and the Americans had picked up our bad habits. AND they didn’t even try to throw us off the cliff for being cheeky, progress going on here, I feel!
By this time I was getting pretty hungry so we headed into town for some lunch. We found a cafe that specialises in blueberry pancakes and that sounded like a nice little snack.
I really should learn to pay attention to the word ‘hearty’ on the menu. They were delicious; two thick but light pancakes, filled with fresh, wild blueberries and served with slightly salted butter and maple syrup. We should have shared one portion, as we both ended up stuffed; I couldn’t even contemplate finishing mine.
We headed back to the campsite and enjoyed (you guessed already) a lazy afternoon and we did cook for ourselves, but we really didn’t want to eat much. As the evening closed in the clouds parted and the stars were gorgeous and Tim thought he caught a glimpse of the Milky Way.
The next morning we were on a mission; Do the washing up. Wash all the clothes and the rather smelly bedding. Get to thunder Hole at the prime time of two hours before high tide.
I hope you will feel impressed that we did it! We managed to have our breakfast, hit the showers, wash the clothes, do the washing up, tie up a washing line and hang out half of the washing and then get to Thunder Hole at the optimum time.
Sadly, the waves were pathetic (pathetic enough that we dared to get very close to the hole without worrying about getting soaked). We waited long enough to get a sense of where the name came from. As the tide came in and the waves dragged the water away from the mouth of the cave you could hear something like the distant rumble of thunder. I suspect that it must be a whole lot more exciting when the weather is less beautiful that it was on Tuesday. (We have since found out that people sometimes get dragged into the sea when they get too close when the waves get really high and people have died at the site, generally ignoring the warning signs)
We finally gave in, after I had achieved a rainbow shot of the spray from the hole. Tim had spent a lot of time considering what he would say to a patient who produced such grumbling sounds, as were produced by the Thunder Hole on that day. We decided that it should be renamed acid reflux hole or some such thing.
We went on round to Cadillac Mountain and drove up to the peak again, shocked at the fantastic views on the way up, as we had not been able to see anything two days previously. Although it was very busy, the space up top was large enough to avoid a rush hour feel. I was amused to overhear a conversation from some other tourists who considered the place was totally overcrowded, when they were here contributing to the overcrowding.
One of the reasons we are hanging around in this area is that I have always wanted to see the ‘autumn colours of New England’ and I am really excited to be in the area as things change. When we were camped in the Niagara campground, the tree next to us seemed to pick on us and dump all of its leaves on us, despite the fact that the rest of the campsite was virtually leaf free.
As we have been travelling I have started to see the leaves changing, not in a particularly predictable fashion, but it is delightful to witness.
One of the best things about this area is the dark sky policy. We ate out on Tuesday evening and as we walked back from the restaurant (luckily Tim had remembered to bring head torches) the sky opened up above us and I could see so many stars. Yet again I could see the Milky Way and I could actually see that stars came in different colours. The weather was so much better that I could just sit outside and enjoy. Mmmmmmmmm