Monday, August 11, 2008

Exploring Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine

We've already made three visits to Acadia National Park, and we'll probably visit a bit more if we can fit it in before leaving the area- headed to Canada for 5 weeks. I made a conscious decision NOT to try to show you and tell you all about Acadia. Better you should click on the link above and see more about that park there. While it is one of the smallest of the National Parks, it is one of the most "inclusive" as far as things to do and see. There is more natural wonder packed into Mt. Desert Island than almost any place I can think of. It puts the "grand" in grandeur! perhaps the best long distance view on the East Coast of the United States. It's been a fog drenched week for us, so the dimensionality of the photos will seem limited. But, "On a clear day you CAN see forever...."

The best thing I could get a picture of at the summit was the summit sign itself. While we had pretty good views and vistas on the way up, the top was socked in big time. At least it's a really nice sign!

The island contains the only fjord on the East Coast and one of only a tiny few in the lower 48. Because of photographic conditions, I'm including a look at the fjord from the park model at the visitor's center. We have been fortunate to have seen it previously many times on a clear day, and also to have seen it from the water as we boated from Rockland to this area on several occasions.

There were a few moments of "clarity" along Somes Sound, so I took this photo of our little rig- looking very much like we found a nice bonsai tree to throw in the back seat and bring home. Not so!

Even in the fog and haze, this is a beautiful place. The obvious thing about the image below is the color of the granite which forms most of the island- it is pink. But you will have to look more closely if you wish to see what's going on with the vegetation. Much of the island and much of Cadillac Mountain is covered with low bush blueberries. One hiker recounted the dilemma of whether to keep hiking or to keep stopping to pick and eat blueberries.
The berries are nearly everywhere!

Above you saw granite at the top of the mountain. Same pink granite down here where the mountain meets the sea.

And on the pink granite grows a flurry of lichen and various mosses...

Even with three visits to our favorite spot- Thunder Hole- we failed to catch the proper mix of tidal position and wave action and wind that create the "thunder" and the geyser-like water spray that makes this spot so noteworthy. But in truth it doesn't matter. While that makes it spectacular, it never fails to impress at any time of night, day, tide, or condition.
The most I could muster on this visit was a sputter! magnify this by a thousand fold or more and you will get an idea of what the hole is capable of.

Invariably, the spot is visited by people who have no knowledge of, and perhaps no respect for, the capabilities of the sea. Waves are not regular and predictable. So while images like this make for an interesting photo, they are in fact evidence of life threatening behavior. The rocks are slippery and the barnacles are razor sharp. A child, perhaps anyone, swept off these rocks by a larger than expected wave is in dire straights. It happens, but luckily not today.

Marilyn's son Dick and his wife Sarah are amazingly talented and skilled outdoor aficionados. They hike, bike, rock and ice climb, guide, teach, kayak- you name it they are probably quite expert at it. On this visit to the park, they guided us to this cave. We climbed down the rocks to investigate the tide pools inside the cave. How neat! The "young'uns" helped us old fogies down and back up. They sure make it look easy. It's not.
Going down...
Inside the cave, Sarah points out and discusses things to be found in the crystal clear water of the tide pool. She shows me species of sponges I am totally unfamiliar with, and shares her in-depth scientific knowledge of the eco system in the pool.

The light in the cave was rather dim, so some of the pool inhabitants were difficult to see while there. But once on the computer- a little fill light added shows lots of anemones and sponges, algae, seaweed that had been really hard to pick out in the cave.

We scramble back up the rock face to move on to Otter Point- a site where rock climbing classes can be observed. Hey, wait for me!!!!
Sarah, Dick, and Marilyn look up, down, and all around from the rocky outpoint at Otter Point.

I don't know how to describe the degree of difficulty involved in climbing up and down the rock faces at Otter Point. I just know I can't do it. Maybe I could, but I won't! Just standing on the precipice to take the photos was weirding me out a bit. Never did like heights very much.

You have a sheer cliff to climb (above) and a "chimney" to practice on nearby.

There is a temptation to think that rock is solid and stays just where we find it. Here is evidence that is not the case. Climbing on rocks mandates knowing what you are doing. Ever see the "Falling Rocks" sign as you travel down life's highways?

What goes down, must come up. Wait a minute. Is that how that saying goes???

Water, wind, surf, rocks, fog, birds. Calm, surging, violent. The possibilities at the edge of the sea are infinite and no better place to ponder the universe than on a perch overlooking the mystery and marvel of the sea.
Our "private guides" hiked us in to this "local knowledge only" skinny dipping spot on the Otter Creek. I know what you're thinking....and NO! The unbelievable clarity of the stream belies the depth at something around six feet.

Then on to Four Seasons Organic Farm. Sarah works here part time in the summer. She is a natural for this work. We found the farm to be absolutely amazing- growing things I had never seen (and I love gardening) in ways a I was unfamiliar with. The visit to the farm was another great learning experience for us. Dick and Sarah took us from National Park secrets to tricks of the organic farming trade all inside a week. We were very fortunate to have time to spend with them.

Artichokes- a biennial crop, are tricked into growing to maturity in a single season!

On the way back to the coach from the farm- we found this roadside stand that offered something different than most!

And finally for now, a look at Marilyn's perennially favorite Maine Garden- the Terrace Gardens of Asticou and Thuya in North East Harbor.

You hike up the side of the mountain adjacent to the harbor and are rewarded by commanding views of the harbor that get better and better as you get higher. Atop the mount is a splendid flower garden with something for everyone from the elaborate flower beds, to the hiking trails, to the wishing well. I found the "Owl's eye" on a tree along the path up- it was as though the tree kept special watch over the harbor.

The overall appearance of the garden is very nice, but close ups are where the action is....

And "What About Bob?" That was the name of a hilarious movie quite a few years back now. We have kept the title phrase alive and well with running "Bob" gags. But here's a new one on us: BOB- Blue Orchard Bee. Since honey bees have been in short supply of late, Maine horticulturists have taken to building bee condos for "bobs." 5/16 in. diameter holes drilled exactly 4 inches into a board no closer that 3/4 inches to each other- apparently form the perfect requirements for these little guys with two sets of wings on each side of their buzzing little bodies. Why that's more rules and regs than it takes to build a condo in Miami for goodness sake!


Gabe said...

Great rock climbing pictures. Thanks for your card.

-The kid in the blue sweatshirt

Greg said...

Thanks, Gabe. You were lookin' good! Please pass the link along to your friends and fellow climbers....