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Another lovely sunny, 62 degree day; it couldn’t get any better for a visit to Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park. Not only was the weather perfect, the crowds were manageable.  I can’t imagine what this park would be like in the summertime or peak foliage time.

I began the day after another night at a “Supercenter” Walmart complete with an indoor living center, an outdoor living center, a market and a pharmacy; taking the Park Loop Road to Sand Beach, the start of our three mile, morning hike.  Some brave souls chose to take a dip and sunbathe here, but I assure you I was not one of them, not to mention dogs aren’t allowed on the beach, so I just used the parking area as access to the Ocean Path Trail.

The Ocean Path Trail, fairly manicured, led tourists along the rocky ledges awash with tide pools, aside the road, and through a few patches of forest areas for spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding islands.  A few notable stops along the way included Thunder Hole and Otter Cliffs.

Thunder Hole is a small channel naturally carved out of granite rock from years of waves crashing on the shores.  Beneath the channel lays a small cavern of air, water, and rocks.  When a wave crashes on the surface, the air and water are forced out of the pocket creating a thunderous boom and sometimes 40 foot sprays depending on the condition of the seas.  I imagine if I were visiting last week during the hurricane-type weather, it would have been an active, noisy site.  Today, I happily accepted calm seas and, in turn, a loud belch.

Otter Cliffs is where I met Linda and Mike from Oregon, both dog lovers.  They were visiting New England to see the fall foliage for approximately ten days.  They rented a camper and were traveling wherever their hearts desired each day.  They had the same experience I did on Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire, most the leaves had blown away!

The Park Loop Road definitely catered to the tourist.  I continued on partial one way roads and roads closed to RV’s to more distant areas on the island,  including Echo Lake, Bass Harbor Lighthouse, and Pretty Marsh.  Echo Lake and Pretty Marsh were both forested tranquil places good for a picnic.

The Bass Harbor Lighthouse turned out to be a virtual cache, so I added another Maine cache to my list.  The Bass Harbor Lighthouse, built in 1858, stands on the southernmost tip of Mount Desert Island and guides vessels past several once populated islands nearby.   At the time, nearly one in five Maine residents was a mariner.  The lighthouse still operates today, though automated, and is currently occupied by a member of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Before ending the day in the Walmart parking lot in Rockland again, I strolled through the town of Bar Harbor.  Quaint restaurants and shops lined Main Street while whale watching boats and cruise ships filled the harbor.  A lobster dinner for $17-$18 was offered as the early bird special between 4 and 6 at almost every restaurant on the block.  Carmen Verandah’s chalk board special, a lobster roll for $9.99 and a potential drink special (order a drink, pull a tab, and get the drink for 50 cents, half price, or full price depending on luck) lured me into the bar.  My local draught beer was full price, but Randy got his for 50 cents.

Randy, who didn’t want his picture taken, has a PhD in physiology and works at a lab on the island compiling genetic research data.  The not-for-profit lab receives information from different clinical trials, normalizes the information, and provides it to anyone for free so that unnecessary research, studies, and testing is not repeated.  Uniquely, one of the groups specialized in genetics testing pertaining to ear related matters, which I found interesting as my dad lost his inner-ear balance due to a gene mutation.

I met a variety of other folks throughout the day, including Bonnie, the greeter at Walmart.  She likes Texas and thought it might be a bit cold for me up here…at night, she’s right.  I’m getting ready to bundle up for bedtime! ETB

websites: http://www.nps.gov/acad/index.htm

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Lighthouse website copy