Monday, June 14, 2010

Vox Clamantis in Deserto: Days 8 and 9

Day 8: Acadia National Park, ME
We woke to nice weather on Wednesday, and decided to finally use my hiking boots and hike up Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain in Acadia at 1,528 feet. We'd planned to go the less strenuous route up the North Ridge trail, a four-mile hike. You can also do a seven-mile loop up the South Ridge, which is meant to be a little more strenuous, but apparently has gorgeous views. Unfortunately, we didn't really look too deeply into where these trails started, and accidentally drove up to the summit instead. Yes, we actually accidentally drove up a mountain. Go us. Once we got up there, it seemed silly to drive back down just to walk up to the top again, so we walked around a bit and enjoyed the views, which are gorgeous. Cadillac Mountain is apparently the first place you can see the sunrise in the United States, and so a lot of people (including Jenna Bush, who got engaged there) hike up in the dark to see that. Even in mid-morning it was crowded, but we managed to find a quiet place to sit anyway.

Having driven up what we'd hoped would be our big hike for the week (Mt. Katahdin, which was our original big hike, ended up seeming to far-off and complicated for our trip, which ended up being shorter than we originally anticipated), we decided to take a shorter hike up Pemetic Mountain (1,248 ft), and somehow managed to climb up The Triad instead. At 646 ft, the hike was just as long, but with far less spectacular views. It was, however, a very quiet and tranquil place with stacked rocks, and that's always lovely.

We decided to reward ourselves with a nice pizza lunch at Lompoc Cafe, which, of course, doesn't serve pizza until dinner. They did, however, have amazing sandwiches (I had the most delightful sandwich of ham, greens and cherry sauce on biscuits, and Roger had a falafel burger) and deliciously fresh fries, in addition to a great atmosphere and bocci ball. Yes, bocci ball. I'd seriously recommend this place if you're in town. It's not the traditional tourist fare we kept seeing, so I doubt it's the place to go if you want a lobster roll, but the food was fresh and good, and the variety was awesome. For the record, if they'd been serving pizza, my choice would have been the caramelized onion, mushroom and arugula.

After some very last minute souvenir shopping (blueberry jam for my parents, a pair of earrings for me, saltwater taffy for Roger's dad and brother), we headed back to the campground, where we biked for a while. I am still terrible at and terrified by biking. I'm hoping it will get better, and I'm confident that I can now handle the bike path, but good gosh. You're just not supposed to move so fast without an airbag. We made a campfire, roasted some hot dogs, tried our first whoopie pie, and enjoyed our last evening in Maine.

Day 9: Rockland, ME
When we awoke on Thursday, the clouds were just starting to roll in, and we were able to pack everything up without anything getting too soaked. Given the lovely situation we'd had in Scarborough, we were grateful that the rain didn't start to fall until we were tying up the bikes, but it proved to be another day of rain, and when we heard that the rain was coming up from Rhode Island, our chosen destination for Thursday and Friday after we'd realized there would be no relaxing on the beach in Maine, we decided to cut our losses and head home without visiting the country's smallest state. It is, after all, only a two hour drive from New York, so we'll be back there later this summer when we know the sun will be out.

Since we were leaving four days earlier than originally planned, we stopped in for breakfast at Cafe This Way, which has decorated with books, an aesthetic I can totally get. I really enjoyed my eggs benedict (with tomato, spinach and artichoke hearts in place of Canadian bacon), but Roger so disliked his breakfast burrito (one of the restaurant's classic dishes, called Kit's Burrito), that he wouldn't even tell me what was wrong with it because it made him "gag to think about it."

We headed down Route 1, back to Rockland, to see the Farnsworth Art Museum, which houses a large collection of Andrew Wyeth works, all of which are incredible. The museum is small and accessible, which I love, and many of the pieces are interesting without being overwhelming. I especially liked the Farnsworth Homestead, a historic house attached to the museum, and a display on hooked rugs, in addition to the studies they had up by Wyeth. Additionally, the museum runs the Olson House, the home featured in "Christina's World," Wyeth's most famous piece. Unfortunately, we arrived just minutes after the house was closed for the day, and so while we saw the outside, we didn't have a chance to explore inside. Admission is $10, and there is certainly enough to do to make a visit worthwhile, but if you're following our Route 1-based itinerary, make sure to do this trip after Freeport and before Camden.

We continued down Route 1 to Red's Eats, which also closed minutes before we arrived, and we ended up stopping at the Maine Heritage Village. Shockingly enough, the food there was actually very good, and was certainly cheaper than any of the lobster we'd eaten previously. (One thing I will note: we never found good clam chowder in Maine. The lobster was always fresh and sweet, but the clam chowder was routinely watery, and if there's one thing clam chowder shouldn't be, it's thin.) While waiting for the food to arrive, I wandered around the shops in the little tourist trap, and sampled their jams, which were pretty good. Overall, the shop was a lot of country-store type things that I never buy, and while I normally wouldn't have stopped in to a place like that, I'm glad we did. It was really nice to have lobster for our final meal in Maine, and even nicer not to pay an enormous sum for it. Also, since we were already in Vacationland and pretending to be tourists from the 1960s, why not go to the extra mile and stop in a kitschy tourist-trap or two?

Then it was back on the road, and Roger drove us safely back to New York for three more days of work-free bliss. Overall, I'd say this was one of the better vacations I've ever taken. During the trip, I managed to do things I'd never done before, including figure out directions entirely from a map for over a week, camp outside and cook food over a fire, and eat lobster every other day. I'm not really an outdoorsy person, but I've been trying to connect in someway to something bigger than myself, and in a million little ways, I think this was the trip that really solidified my place in that way.
I don't know how much of that was Maine and how much of it was traveling in a new way, but this trip was lovely, and there wasn't a moment on it when I wasn't feeling deeply happy.

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