Memorial Day Weekend, 2015
The weather has been acting absolutely crazy these past few months. In the tussle between winter and spring, we never noticed when summer snuck up on us. I, for one, have become a stronger believer of global warming. That aside, two weeks to the long weekend and we had no plans. The husband suggested Maine. I want to do Maine in fall. Acadia dressed in rust and gold would be spectacular. He proposes Vermont in fall. We have heard a lot about Vermont falls and I fall for it.
Two weeks later, it’s still unbelievable that the long weekend is on us. We wake up; throw the essentials in our bags and leave. Maine is nine hours away by road and the plan is to drive down. Post my post-prandial nap, I convince the husband to let me drive. The sweetheart that he is, he is usually the solo driver on our road trips while I doze in the navigator’s seat. Let me add, this is entirely out of choice – his choice. At some point of my drive, he gets comfortable enough to catch a few winks and I am now free to spread my metaphorical wings and fly!
As we check in, the receptionist informs us that today is their first day this season. WHAT!! We also find out that we can use the hot tub and the heated pool at Holiday Inn, across the road. Bliss! We will take a dip after dinner. Only, we are not carrying our swim wear. We head into Bar Harbour downtown for spot purchases and food. It is surprisingly hard to find bathing suits in here. Given its proximity to the sea and all the canoe and kayak adventures being advertised you would think otherwise, but a shop girl sweetly informed us that no one goes swimming in the sea here. Well, Well! We shift gears into firefighting mode and get ourselves board shorts. Turns out we had nothing to worry. There are girls dressed to their wrists and ankles; headscarf et all in the pool and tub. The night is cool and the hot tub looks most inviting. One toe in and we realize this is no ordinary hot tub; this is a pot of boiling water meant to cook lobsters. We ease ourselves into the lobster pot with some trepidation, but soon we are luxuriating under the night sky; living Maine’s slogan – the way life should be.
We wake up just in time to grab some breakfast and to squirrel away some for lunch. A man in the hot tub had recommended sunrise over the Atlantic from the top of the Cadillac Mountain. We had opted to leave that for tomorrow. After some back and forth on if we should rent cycles or not, we drive down to Acadia National Park – one of the most visited national parks in the United States. It is the very start of the season, but the parking lot looks full. The queue for passes is winding around the cramped little visitor’s centre. We take good advice from a couple of rangers and drive down the park loop to the Sand Beach entrance station for our passes. The park loop is like driving through a picture postcard. The road meanders through canopies of lush foliage. The great mountains on one side and the Atlantic gleaming on the other gives a whole new spin to the saying stuck between a rock and the sea. There really is no place I’d rather be!
Acadia offers over 120 miles of hiking trails; we pick the ocean trail. The trail begins at Sand Beach. The ranger at the entrance station warns us that the parking lot is full, so to just park on the right side of the road near the beach. Sure enough, we see a line of cars parked along the road. We park behind them and begin our hunt for the trail head. A few false starts later we find it and set off.
This trail is not so much of a trail as an unpaved pedestrian walkway parallel to the park loop. The views, however are breathtaking. The brilliant blue sky and the matching blue ocean remind us of San Diego – my piece of paradise on earth. We walk past Thunder Hole, but are too early for the big ka-boom and 40 feet spray. Right now it’s like someone throwing out their washing water. Slosh! Slosh! and lots of suds. We walk on hoping to catch it on our way back. We end our walk close to the end of the trail and turn around. We are still too early for the action at Thunder Hole. Not wanting to wait there, we walk down to the car for some makeshift lunch – an apple each, some chips and a shared bar of chocolate. The line of cars behind us has probable reached the entrance station now. We have the whole day ahead so the husband suggests a drive along the scenic park loop, all the way up Cadillac Mountain. We stop one more time at Thunder Hole. I don’t think the husband has fully grasped the magnificence of what we are trying to experience. He thinks is just a loud report and sea spray. I’m disappointed that we are still too early, but I give in to his peevishness. We continue our drive through the last great wilderness in the eastern United States.
We reach Jordon Pond sometime around 2:00 or 2:30 p.m. To our absolute delight, there is a little restaurant called the Jordon Pond House on the bank of the pond. Beating a few others to a parking spot, we amble in only to find that there is a 90 minute wait. To pass time we walk along the Jordon Pond trail. The trail has three parts – a boardwalk, a rocky stretch and an unpaved gravelly bit. When we return to the restaurant after a very pleasant walk, we are politely asked to wait since it’s been just 45 minutes. Three seconds later our buzzer goes off, and we are led inside. Our hostess very sweetly tells us that lunch has ended but we were welcome to stay for tea and popovers. We stay. It is only much later that I come to know/conclude that Jordon Pond House is really all about the popovers. Smother them with butter, spread some jam and go uummmmmmmm!
Given the demand in the parking lots, there is this crazy urge to hang on to our prized spot, but the road and day still are long. We drive on , stopping for a bit a Bubble Pond. There is nothing bubbly about it so I don’t understand how it got its name. I imagine on a windless day the pond would be like a giant mirror, reflecting the majestic mountains perfectly.
The road winds gently along the Cadillac Mountain, like an arm put affectionately around a dear one’s waist. We roll down our windows and enjoy the tender breeze. The scene outside is of unchanging beauty. Cadillac Mountain summit offers a phenomenal panoramic view of the park and the ocean beyond. We now understand why the man in the hot tub was keen to bring his family here for sunrise. We still have enough light left to relax for a bit in the hot tub by the sea and then make it to the lighthouse by sunset, we think. The coast of Maine is dotted with around 60 lighthouses and it is commonly referred to as The Lighthouse State. On the way to the Bass Harbour lighthouse the husband points out and exclaims, “Did you see that supersized flag?” I get a fleeting glimpse and recognise it to be one of the most photographed spots in Maine- Somes Bridge, Somesville. We will be back to take our own set of pictures, now we have to reach the lighthouse. We miss the sunset at the lighthouse and the place is about to close for the day. We scurry down the path and find ourselves at the foot of a stocky column. We are not impressed. We were expecting to see it from a distance, framed by a vast expanse of sky and sea, with waves crashing on the rocks below. Instead our expectations were dashed by the 26-foot white cylindrical tower.
We’re not having very clear skies, so we agree to skip sunrise the next morning.We make a lazy start at the Sieur De Monts Spring– the symbolic start of Acadia National Park. The Wild Gardens near the spring are the perfect classroom for a crash course in the botany of Acadia. Our last few hours in the picturesque town of Bar Harbour are spent lazing about downtown. We are rewarded with some mouth-boggling kulfi (spelt khulfi) ice cream. In the husband’s words, “They got it perfectly right, and then thought now we have to add some salt to it, because that’s how kulfi is made!” Despite the odd salty taste, it was very enjoyable.
We are home now – with a truckload of photographs, memories to last a lifetime and a jar of blueberry jam.
*Maine Pyaar Kiya – I fell in love!
P.S. More pictures
will be up soon on our FB page!