Camping, Lobsters and Lots and Lots of Bug Spray

Last friday packed tight into our Toyota corolla- five of us drove up to Acadia, Maine. As Navigator and proprietor of the largest butt, I got an automatic shotgun, while Malli- Mr. Long Legs had to stretch out in the back with the girls. Tha (dad) drove allowing us to make videos and bellow corny pop songs at each other. (videos to come)

It was a miserable day. Pouring rain all day and despite my hopes that in the evening things will clear up we drove through a never-ending torrent of water from the sky. Despite this the mood in the car was chipper. I said this before, and i’ll say it again, Family heals the soul.

When we finally got to our Campground on the island Mt.Deseart Narrows the rain had not let up. It was 1030pm.

We pulled into our little area. Careful not to disturb the neighbours; then with the aid of the headlights set up a tent we had never seen before. It took us just over half an hour to get the tent set up, and by 1130 we were all tucked warmly into our sleeping bags.

In the morning, i was up with the sun by 6am. Except for once around 3am to grab a sweater i slept like a log. I was disappointed to see that it was still misty and gray outside, despite the weather forecast of sunshine, and highs of 79. Having re-evaluated our menu, we decided to cook burgers and hot dogs for breakfast. What a treat! Tha had marinated the meat, and made the burgers at home, so they were delicious and juicy.

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We were ready to start the day by 730 but because we didn’t get to register the night before, we had to linger till the office opened at 9. After wandering around the slowly awakening camp grounds, and being shocked by the sheer number of people  we registered and head out to Bar Harbour.

I scouted out the bike shop, with tips from friends and family, before we left, so we drove directly into town. It’s a small town, but due to the summer-time was teeming with people. Luckily we found a free parking spot on “West Street” as directed by the cute guy at the bicycle shop. At Bar Harbour Bicycles  the “comfort” bicycles were $25 per bike, per day and oh were they comfortable! Large cushioned seats, and smooth well maintained bicycles. We were on our way.

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The first thing to note is that technically you need a “bicycle pass” from the park rangers office to ride your bike in Acadia National park.

Second thing to note is that NO ONE EVER CHECKS FOR PASSES. Despite what the bike shop boy said, in my pursuit of legal-bike-riding, I met an Island Explorer driver, who “was a ranger for 13 years, and never, not once, ever checked a bicycle pass.” I was finally convinced, and within feet of the park office (near the village green) we turned around and decided to take the locals’ advice and be rule breakers. (FYI- no one asked us, and I never saw anyone getting asked for a pass)

Following the little map from the bike shop, we road up to Duck Brook Bridge. Following signs to Jordan Pond (another tip from previous visitors) we rode. The day had cleared up into magnificence in the few hours it took to begin our day in the park. The sun burned through the mist, and the clouds disappeared into perfect 78 degree weather. The ride was marvelous. The Carriage roads are perfect for bikes, and despite the overcrowded town, the woods and hills camouflaged the throngs of people in the park.

It was beautiful. Weather, surroundings. The pristine and incredibly inviting water of the ponds (“no swimming” as they are public water supplies though). The dramatic mountains, and clean air. Riding through the valleys it was difficult to imagine that just beyond the mountain range was the ocean. Acadia is a beautiful place; a  seemingly self-sufficient little island.

The only place we met real “crowds” of people was Jordan Pond House. I didn’t realize it was a proper restaurant (reservations and all) so we didn’t get to try their famous pop-overs. But we pulled out the tuna fish sandwiches and fruit we had brought along with us. I bought a root beer, blueberry soda and a small piece of coffee blueberry cake from the small shop and we had a delicious lunch.

Before long we were back on the trail, heading back towards bar harbour. We took a different route, still about the same distance overall. Side story- i found a beautiful rock surface about 20 feet high and asked Malli (the maniacal rock climbing/bouldering man) if he would like to climb it. He did, only to fall 15 feet to the ground!!!! Luckily (and possibly due to his expert rock climbing knowledge and practice) no broken bones. But it was terrifying to watch, and i found myself keeping a close eye on him for any unusual behaviour or internal injury symptoms.

Arriving  back at Duck Brook bridge with a couple of additional hours, we decided to ride through the town and explore a bit more of Bar habour. It was much less relaxing biking in the town. Very busy with cars and people, we ventured to the far edge, and walked our bikes along the coastal walkway. We watched a sailboat come in to dock, and  added a few more pictures to our trove of perfect photographs we had collected throughout the day.

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We initially had plans to eat out at Somes Sound. Another commendation to enjoy lobster at a restaurant called Abel’s Lobster Pound.  But because of severely sore butts (Almost 20 miles of bicycling after not having touched a bike in years can do that to you) we decided instead to buy cheap lobsters at Hannafords, make our own garlic butter, and cook back at the camp.

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And thats exactly what we did. The long ride had us starving, so we cooked showered and stuffed up. Just in time to drive up to Cadillac Mountain for the world renown sunset. (We had initially planned to wake up early for the sunrise, but we  (realistically) knew it wasn’t going to happen and decided on the sunset instead.)

It was crowded at the top, but we found a perfect parking spot and were just in time to watch the sun slowly dip beyond the horizon.

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As our perfect day in Acadia came to an end, Tha went to sleep as the kids sat around the fire, laughing and bonding, in our usual fashion. We are one of those families, that can entertain ourselves with just ourselves. I love the way we are together. Always laughter, sometimes tears, but so much love and understanding. It’s magic. We talked about life, about the difficulties. Malli and i bestowed our mid twenties wisdom on our sapling little sisters who remind me so much of myself.

It angers them when i laugh at their “problems” but we are close enough for me to explain that i only laugh because i was just the same.. and when i grew up i realized, none of it matters.

We were all sore and tired, and fell like flies into a deep deep slumber.

The next morning was all about packing and driving back.

We made an unexpected side trip to Fort Knox Maine on our way down, walked around inside the old old fort, and learned about a “strategic military position” that was never utilized. Despite its majesty and dominant military strategy Fort Knox never saw a single day of fire. It housed reserve armies. The end.

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We did get to see some massive cannons, and imagine the frustrated and impatient commanders pacing about the fort.

It was a spectacular weekend trip. Regardless of many doubts, and head-shakes about the shortness of our trip, we did explore a majority of the island and get to enjoy to the fullest the culture of Bar Habour and the island of Acadia.

Mostly what i learned is that if you put my family in a tent, with some basic necessities it doesn’t matter where on earth we are- We ALWAYS have a good time.

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