Thursday, September 23, 2010

Acadia - the one and only National Park in New England

Out of the current 58 National Parks of U.S., Acadia is the only one in New England area.   A natural beauty with easy access to wooded trails, granite peaks and rocky shore lines, Acadia has been a favorite summer vacation spot of many.

This 100+ square miles (relatively) small national park is located on the Mount Desert Island of Maine, approximately 250 miles northeast of Boston.  The island itself was named in 1604 by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain, the father of New France (see my last blog), when he spotted the island and what is now called the Cadillac Mountain of the park.  Of course, with the nurturing and protection, it is no longer bare or desert-like and Cadillac Mountain has become the most popular scenic spot of the park, complete with access road and a parking lot.  

Standing at 1,528 feet or 466 meters, Cadillac Mountain is the highest point of Atlantic coast in U.S. and offers fantastic panoramic views of the surrounding islands, bays and the Atlantic OceanHiking around the summit of Cadillac Mountain, you would notice granites of all sizes cover much of the peak.  Indeed, granites make up the bulk of the Mount Desert Island which was first formed a little over 400 million years ago.  Hundreds of millions of years of gentle rubbing and nudging left long vertical and horizontal cracks on otherwise impenetrable rocks who can only be jealous of their much younger siblings like the Half Dome of the Yosemite National Park in California.
Heading back down to the foot of the mountain and continuing southeast along the coast, you will soon come to the only sand beach of the park.  For lack of imagination, the beach is called Sand Beach! The scenery though is stimulating.  With waves relentlessly beating on the adjacent wall of rocks, you would find many youngsters taking temporary refuge on the sand beach as they are teetering with the waves.  

If you have good leg power, you can hike south on the 2 miles long flat Ocean Path trail along the coast line that takes you through some of the most visited and photographed spots of the park including Thunder Hole, Monument Cove and Otter Cliff.   It is a wonderful visual treat as one wonders off the trail and rests on the orange red granite rocks enjoying the scenery, accompanied by the lonely wild flower came out of the crack between rocks and seabirds at the distance.   Hundred yards away, a small group of black water fowls left the main group moved along the waves towards to the shore as if they were ready to invade the land but then withdrew together quietly.  Occasionally some of them went into the water in obvious attempts to catch some fish.   At the Thunder Hole, the echoes from the pounding waves at high tide gave a unique musical performance to an otherwise quiet sunny afternoon. 

Looping around by car further inland counter-clockwise, one comes to the trail head for Bubble Rock north of the Jordan Pond.  Hiking a few hundred feet up, you would find a large rock (about 20 ft in diameter?) “glued” onto the edge of a slope as if it may roll off the cliff any moment.  It is tempting for the visitors to give it a hand but so far, fortunately no one has succeeded yet. 

One thing you wouldn’t want to miss when visiting Acadia is to have a feast of the delicious lobsters from their perfect habitat nearby of cold shallow water and rocky bed.   As you drive on Route 3 towards to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, you will see many road side Lobster Ponds.   Find on with a lot of cars parked outside with smokes on from the smoke stacks of the outdoor wood stoves, just pull over your car and order a few live lobsters sold by weight that will be ready shortly, boiled to perfection in its natural flavor.  Just make sure that you wash your hands when you are continuing on for your relaxed vacation with the renewed energy.  Talk to you soon!

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