Rainy Day & Sequestration: Acadia National Park, Maine
After waking up in Lubec, Maine (see blog post from yesterday), I got in my rental car and headed west on Maine Highway 189 until it joined US Highway 1 at Whiting. I was on my way to Acadia National Park (I had made my first visit in 2010)!
The drive on US Highway 1 is supposed to be pretty, but mother nature had other plans. The whole coast was socked in (again!) with fog and rain.
At Gouldsboro, I headed south on Maine Highway 186 and wound my way through the Prospect Harbor and the Schoodic Peninsula area. A unit of Acadia National Park is located here (Schoodic Peninsula unit). It’s far less crowded than the heavily trafficked Bar Harbor area.
On nice days you should have great views of the Atlantic Ocean. When I pulled in to Schoodic Point, here was my view through the car window:
So after making the loop through the Schoodic unit, I head to Winter Harbor and then made my way back up to US Highway 1.
Now one warning: whether you’re coming to Acadia from east or west, you generally have to drive through Ellsworth. During peak tourist times (summer and leaf-peeping) it can get congested. Today?…no problem.
I drove into Bar Harbor and checked into my hotel. Reservations in the Bar Harbor area are highly recommended–even in off-season (tourist season was still another 2 weeks away) too because not all hotels/motels are open year round. I stayed at the Bar Harbor Motel–primarily because it was in my price range, had a continental breakfast, and is right off of Maine Highway 3–the road leading into Bar Harbor.
OK, so now I was ready for my Acadia adventure to begin. However, the federal government was not. Unforeseen when I planned my trip was that Washington, DC couldn’t agree on a budget, so sequestration was in effect. As a result, the national parks were closed.
Here’s what I knew: Part of the awe-inspiring Park Loop Road was open south of Bar Harbor by taking Schooner Head Road to the park entrance. From there, I had access to Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Otter Point. A beautiful part, but only a smidgen of the park.
So even though it was raining, I decided to get in a good hike and did the Otter Cliff hike. I didn’t have much of an ocean view because of the fog and rain, but still had the salty sea air, the smell of pine, and the thundering sound of the waves.
After that I headed back to my hotel room. That’s when I discovered that the Bar Harbor Motel had a private hiking trail that took you right into Acadia! A few minutes walk and I was back in Acadia. Because this part of the park was closed to traffic, I had it to myself! Walkers, hikers, and bikers were welcomed to explore even if sequestration had closed it to traffic. So I found myself hiking down the Park Loop Road–quite an experience.
After some hiking, I started to see traffic in a part that I thought had been closed to vehicles–the road to Cadillac Mountain. Well, out of goodwill, the park had opened it to traffic! So I hiked back to my hotel, got in my car, and drove to the summit. Wow…windy, foggy, and cold…but exhilarating!
Wet and cold again, I decided to head back into Bar Harbor and got a pizza to go at Rosalie’s Pizza.
The forecast for tomorrow is calling for sunshine and blue skies. Fingers crossed!
Here are a few photos from today. More are available in my Flickr album.