Maine, Bar Harbor

Being told to go to Maine by everybody we ran into left us no choice but to deviate from our set course to Canada. We don’t really plan where to go, but when I have a thought in my mind it’s hard for me to change it. While we could almost see Canada we decided it could wait a week longer and we set off to Maine. Maine was just around the corner, but the town of Bar Harbor was a two day drive for us. Bar Harbor is a town on the Mount Desert Island and is surrounded by a National Park called Acadia. We drove the first day and crossed into yet another state. Maine was stretching out before us while left and right amazing nature views revealed themselves. It seemed that every state just wanted to top the last one in beauty and nature. Rivers, cascades, rolling green fields with ponds, driving through these states is not going to bore me any time soon.

We arrived at the spot that we thought was going to be good for one night, a parking at a river that did not look too wild on google maps but turned out to be huge with white rapids that seemed to be wanting to destroy the pillars underneath the bridge that we just crossed. As it was nothing, we saw a bold eagle grabbing a prey to take it a couple hundred meters away to disappear in the treeline next to the river. A sign stating that we could not spent the night on this little parking was to be ignored, as some locals told us we could sleep there for sure. Being sent off a couple of times by the police at places like this made us think different. Since I Google mapped this area the day before I knew further down the road there was a little boat ramp that led to a small calm river and was a bit out of sight. Here we spent the night, to drive to Bar Harbor the next day.

We had our usual breakfast before we set off to drive the last half of our trip to the coast. In the afternoon we started to see tidal waters with rocky islands in them covered in trees and green. All along the road signs claimed that the best grilled lobster was to be find right on this site. Every 200 meters or so grey smoke rose out of big black BBQs grilling and boiling lobster. This was one of the times in my life that I felt sad about not being able to eat lobster. My body just doesn’t do well processing it and I do not want to take the risk since we live in a van and all.

Real soon after getting to the island it’s obvious that the park is a huge tourist attraction. Driving onto one of the big parking lots a sign showed that a daily, weekly, or year card should be bought before entering the park. A big loop road is the main road to see the main part of the park, we decided to discover the park a bit and see how the roads were to drive to the highest peak (Mount Cadillac) to see the sunrise the next morning. Knowing that we would have to drive that road early in the morning in the dark I wanted to see if there were any big potholes  or obstacles. All the roads were just fine to drive at night, knowing this we drove one little road into town. In town we saw a VW Vanagon parked on a side street, not having seen any other places to park we decided to try and see if we could find the owner and ask him if we could sleep in this street. It was as easy as it sounds, see a van, find the owner, have a chat and casually invite yourself to sleep on their street.

The highest point of the Island is Mount Cadillac, since this peak is at the most west part of the country the top of the mountain is about the first land in the US to be warmed by the sun every day so being there at sunrise was one of our goals. We woke up at 2:45AM to find the sky was filled with clouds, going up the mountain for the sunrise was useless so we happily crawled back under the cover.

The next day we drove into the park to do a hike that was advised to us. The hike was up a mountain called the Beehive, first it was slightly going up over rounded of boulders to slowly increase faster into sharp rocks that every now and then left Paco asking for help. All the hard parts to climb were modified by steal steps to make sure that everyone could do this hike. The park and also this hike were commercial but that did not change the beauty of the park. While hiking the horizon got wider, more and more of the park was visible as we got higher. Close by a bay with a sand beach, more in the distance you could see the waves hitting the rocky cliffs, winding roads snaking through the forest covered park and the ocean stretching into the natural bay’s surrounding the park. In these stretches of ocean that cut into the island, there were a large amount of smaller rocky islands covered in trees with here and there a lighthouse or chalet. On the summit of the Beehive the 360 degree view was unreal and something we will never forget.

Coming down from the Beehive the same way as we came we realised there was a more casual strolling route back down on the other side of the summit, we missed out on that one but we did get to the beach that we saw while hiking up. A well-deserved lunch and an afternoon on the beach took up the rest of the day. Before sunset we arrived in the centre of Bar Harbor and witnessed the town coming back to live in spring. It must be strange to live in a town that is covered in snow for half the year while the other half of the year your town is covered in tourists. We parked on the pier to see an amazing sunset while in the back of our minds we imagined it rising the next morning. We drove back to our VW friend to go to sleep early, the night was a clear one and we were excited to drive up the mountain in the early morning.

We were still sleepy while we drove up the mountain around 3:00 AM, on one of the many bends in the road we passed two hikers that must have been waking up much earlier than us, later on we would see them on the summit. We were a bit early when we arrived but we were not alone, one care was already parked in the direction of the gloom that started on the horizon in the far distance. The sunrise was spectacular, the ocean dotted with islands with the hills in the far distance, while small fisher boats created ripples in the calm water of the natural bay. When the sun had risen we realised we were not alone by far, hundreds of people witnessed the sunrise. Comfortably in the van making a coffee we stayed until most people had left, this way we somehow felt that this sunrise was more ours than anybody else’s.

The rest of the day we spend exploring the park, hiking around a crystal clear lake and chilling in the van. We felt like we really saw a nice bit of Maine and therefore it was OK to continue our trip to Canada. Searching online we found a spot to sleep halfway to the border, it would be the last night in the US  for a while and the spot was perfect. We drove up the parking that had a pit toilet and picnic tables next to a creek that was home to a family of Canadian geese, some trout and river lobsters. We felt comfortable enough to set up camp properly, that means rolling out the awning, placing the table, chairs, and camping stove outside to cook dinner. In the morning we worked out and walked on the slackline before driving our last kilometres in the US.

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