Acadia - a look back
Nearly a year ago we took our first trip to New England to see the fall foliage. Having been on a National Park kick for a few years, our destination was Acadia National Park in Maine. The trip actually came together very suddenly - although David and I had talked of this trip with Dave's parents for over a year, life was such that committing to it did not happen (we were still trying to sell the ranch, not to mention in the process of sub-diving it into two parcels, etc. etc. etc. Finally October rolled around and we said we really should just go!
|Somes Sound (notice the tree)|
My sister Phyllis had been extolling the virtues of AirBNB for awhile, so for the first time I searched and found a wonderful looking complete home available which slept 6 but was also handicapped accessible. We were fortunate to have both sets of our parents interested in making quick arrangements to join us - reprising a trip the 6 of us had taken to England together a decade prior.
So that is how we all found ourselves in a cozy cottage in Southwest Harbor, Maine, at the end of October 2014. Having arrived late the night before, and got up to a cold rainy day, we took our time over breakfast. We had a great time catching up with everyone. The cottage's open kitchen / dining / living room layout making it very easy to work and catchup with everyone.
It turns out that things in Acadia shut down... mid October. But the roads were open and the weather was very dramatic, if not lovely.
So we spent most of the first day driving around Mount Desert Island. Around Somes Sound, Northeast Harbor and on around to Bar Harbor.
In town we wandered around the harbor until we got too cold and ducked into Paddys, the British Pub (after all, we couldn't resist 'hitting a pub' again as a group one more time!)
Friday was less rainy in the morning, so after stopping at the Visitor Center, we headed for our first couple of bridges: Duck Brook Bridge and Eagle Lake Bridge.
Acadia National Park is unique in that it is comprised mostly of land donated by private donors - largely the Rockefellers. In the early 1900s, John D Rockefeller Jr. and his father were already building carriage roads on their estates in New York. Discovering Mt. Desert Island, John Jr. joined existing local movement to preserve natural lands for public use, and he started acquiring lands to build a new estate. He spent from 1913 to 1940 building a carriage road system - hoping to connect all areas of the island. The road system includes 17 stone bridges - all but one I believe were built by Rockefeller. In the early 20th century, however, cars were on the rise. There was a period of contention as the locals voted to keep cars out of their towns altogether, and the state legislature/auto industry pressuring back.
|Year Marker - found on most of the bridges|
|Duck Brook Bridge|
|Eagle Lake Bridge|
While cars clearly won out - John Jr. and his cohorts stuck to their guns about preserving the carriage roads for non motorized use only. To this day motor vehicle traffic is prohibited from the some 57 miles of carriage roads John Jr. completed. Today, the land and 45 miles of those roads are the heart of Acadia National Park. The roads that continue to lie on the Rockefeller estate are still open for public use.
Before leaving Bar Harbor we stopped at a rental shop and picked up two mobility scooters we were renting for the next day. We'd never rented a scooter before, but I knew that we wouldn't be able to enjoy the heart of Acadia National Park without some assistance. With a little bit of research I found a business which would rent us scooters by the day, right in Bar Harbor! We reserved two of them. I kind of knew that they were going to be a hit when I caught Dave and Roy scooter-ing around the shop, weaving in and around the clothes racks, while I was waiting to pay for them. Fortunately we had two rental cars this trip which ended up being serendipitous because, while the scooters broke down into a few compact packages, two would have been difficult to get into either car's trunk.
Saturday brought back the sun!
We headed out directly to the Hadock Lake carriage road.
Oh - to get out into the quiet of the forest, the gravel softly crunching beneath our feet, with the ground covered in moss and littered with hardwood leaves - the likes of which we certainly never see out West. It was beautiful.
There is definitely a charm to travelling to one of the famous stone bridges - by the carriage roads they were built to serve. There are quite a few that you can drive to, but Hadlock Brook Bridge is about a half mile in from the nearest parking lot. Talk about making the journey the destination!
This put us at Jordan Pond House at a perfect time to pull some tables together for our picnic - a tradition we love on these trips.
Adjacent to Jordan Pond House is one of 2 gate houses. Gorgeous old home, where gate keepers used to reside. Today it's housing for park employees - what a treat that would be (though I hear you have to be tolerant of people peeking in your windows!)
The gates here are also a treat - these feature in our 2015 trip as well as we took a carriage ride that cross through here -- sadly the camera completely failed on these particular pictures this year, so I was very glad to know I had a set already at home!
We ended the trip with a fantastic dinner in Bar Harbor at Galyn's. It was a short trip - and it was disappointing to have the uncooperative weather. But it was a wonderful time and we said we would HAVE to do it again sometime. So - 11 months later we did!