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Bangor – Bar Harbor – Acadia National Park, ME

Onward to Maine! Looking at the map, I could see the trip around Lake Champlain was going to be a pretty long one. Considering the extremely high cost of gas in New York, I found it more economical and time-saving to take the ferry across the lake rather than go around. Somewhat apprehensive about taking my trailer on the ferry, I knew I didn’t want to take the nearest ferry over to the heart of Burlington, VT. The landing drops you at a steep slope up to a very busy narrow street where I would have to manage a left turn to get to Route 2. OK, I chickened. 😛 I dropped down to the Essex ferry instead with a nice smooth flat end landing out in a rural area. Driving onboard was a little nerve wracking and Jesus didn’t seem to want to take the wheel either so I put my trust in the deck hands and my mirrors which all worked fine.  Well, it was actually pretty cool.

I drove through Vermont quickly and on through New Hampshire. It’s not like they are all that big anyway. I got to see the White Mountains and went past various tourist traps I had heard of until I crossed into Maine and pulled into Bethel Outdoor Adventure and Campground in Bethel, Maine for the night. It’s a Passport America Park and seems to be pretty popular with the river enthusiasts. They provide canoes and kayaks as well as transport to the river. I might have stayed a while but it also was host to numerous enthusiastic mosquitos all day and night. I HATE mosquitos (acid rock, flower smells in soaps, barking dogs, etc.).

The next day I went to Bangor, Maine to the Pumpkin Patch RV resort in Hermon. Now that is my kind of park! The sites were level and gravel, the picnic tables are made of that new plastic composition which is nicer than old falling apart wood, the staff were wonderfully friendly and helpful, there are several innovative features there not found anywhere else, and it is both a Passport America park and an Escapees discount park. There is no pool or playground but they do have a bocceball court, wifi for a fee, just enough aircard 1xRTT signal, free internet setup in those plastic sheds, a fully covered pavilion with overhead fans, kitchen for potlucks, laundry facilities, directions to all the local attractions on slips of paper you can take, and free hot showers. I ended up staying longer than expected as most people do here.

The first attraction  I went to see was America’s largest Paul Bunyan statue, a symbol of Maine’s long logging history. It is one of the most photographed statues in the world so I figured one more wouldn’t hurt. 😉 It is also in the park next to the Visitor’s Center where you can get a ton of brochures for more attractions, a casino is across the street, and the state fair area is behind it.

Next I went to see Stephen King’s house. Yes, the writer actually lives there and has for years. His house is everything you expect it to be for a horror story writer. I loved the iron gate with spider web design, the bat gate topper, and the old fashioned house with side spires. I didn’t see Stephen but there was nice car in the driveway.

To have a little geocaching fun and see another famous area icon, I tracked down Thomas Hill Standpipe water tower. It is a very old wooden structure of a type I have never seen before with a beautiful promenade on top for excellent views of Bangor when it is open. The cache was hidden in the park below it.

For a day trip from early morning to late at night, I drove over to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Bar Harbor is a charming lobstermen community. Home to numerous wealthy summer homes once upon a time before the fire of 1947, it is now a thriving tourist and fishing town.

While in town, I boarded a 4 masted wooden schooner for a sail around the many islands. There are many different boat tours you can choose from including a high speed CAT ferry over to Nova Scotia. We helped to set the sails and listened while a national park ranger explained nautical charts to us. It was interesting watching the lobstermen checking all their traps. The entire area is dotted with coloful buoys marking trap locations. Don’t do like I did and forget your hat and sunscreen. Thank God I did remember my sunglasses.

After the cruise and an ice cream cone, I proceeded into the park for the long drive through it’s changing scenery. They do have buses running all through the park which I do recommend using instead if you have the time. As I did when driving Skyline Drive in Virginia, I picked up a CD at the Visitor’s Center to point out the various details of the park as I drove. I also had coordinates and notes on board to some virtual geocaches. What the heck. I was going to be close to them anyway so why not get credit?

I very much liked Jordan’s Pond. I picked wild blueberries there and dipped my feet into the cool pond water while others waded or kayaked. I found a handy stone bench by water’s edge which most folks would not have noticed from the path. Score geocache #1. There is fancy dining available nearby inside or on the lawn and is a very popular spot.

Thunder Hole was another favorite. The tide was out so I didn’t get to hear it but can see what it does and the power of the surf was evident along the granite shore. The pink granite is very pretty.

Sand Beach is the place to go for swimming. The water was a bit cold for me but it sure didn’t stop others. The sunbathers were out in full force. Parking is not easy to find there though a handicapped placard helps. 😉 You can park out on the road and walk in. It doesn’t look too bad.

Much of the park was donated by John D. Rockefeller Jr. who loved horse and carrriage rides away from nasty smelly automobiles. He built around 45 miles of carriage roads in the park and gave them to the park provided no motorized vehicles were allowed on them. They are very popular with the bicycling crowd today.

My definite favorite place in the park is Cadillac Mountain. The long drive up is not that difficult and the views are magnificent. It is reputed to be the highest peak on the eastern coast. I got there in the early evening when the fog is playing games with tourists. One minute you can see Bar Harbor, the lake,  and the ocean below then the next it is all hidden by a white veil. I felt like I was in the movie Brigadoon. Taking pictures required a lot of patience. I hiked a short trail around the top and at one point could see only the trail and nothing below like at any moment I would fall into nothingness, an interesting feeling. Oh and next to the parking lot, score geocache #2.

For more pics click here.

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