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The Rain in Maine Falls Mainly on Acadia

August 11, 2013

I think it’s safe to say our luck with the weather has run out.

The Hamster and I had been looking forward to visiting Acadia National Park as much as we’ve been looking forward to any part of this trip. In general, we’ve come to love National Parks. Plus, Acadia is reputed to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. We’ve been to several of the rest of the most beautiful spots, so we had pretty high hopes. But those hopes were dashed as soon as we woke up Friday morning and saw the rain pouring down outside our motel window.

It’s not like you can’t visit National Parks in the rain, but it’s a whole let less fun, especially when the particular park you’re visiting is specifically known for its beautiful views and its many picturesque hiking trails rather than for any specific attractions.

We decided we weren’t going to let the rain beat us, and we were going to make the most of the day (and the park) despite the conditions. I was thankful that I had remembered to pack an umbrella and rain ponchos. So we put on pants for the first time all summer and we donned our rain gear and headed out. In case you were wondering, it is neither easy nor quick nor enjoyable to pack everything you own into a car outdoors in the pouring rain. But the hourly weather report for the day said the rain would stop from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., so I was hopeful.

The weather report was wrong. It never stopped raining for more than a few minutes from the time we woke up until the time we went to sleep. And I’m not talking about regular rain, either. You know how sometimes, out of nowhere, it will start raining so hard you think your roof is going to cave in, but then five or 10 minutes later it stops? It was that kind of rain all day long.

Getting back to the park itself, there are few spots of particular beauty that are must-sees in the park. If you take the 27-mile loop road that circles the main section of the park (which we did), the first of these spots you come to is Sand Beach, which is exactly what the name suggests: a sandy beach tucked between rocky cliffs along the eastern edge of Mount Desert Island. Probably very nice on a hot sunny day. In furious rain and with temperatures in the high 60s, not so much. We stopped there anyway. Well, at least it wasn’t crowded.

Worst. Beach day. Ever.

Worst. Beach day. Ever.

A few minutes past Sand Beach is a spot called Thunder Hole, so named because it’s a little natural cutout in the rocky cliffs and when rushing tides come in and hit the alcove, it sounds like thunder. We got there about an hour before high tide, and the weather was pretty stormy, which in this case should’ve actually worked in our favor. Sadly, Thunder Hole turned out to be pretty quiet. We still heard plenty of thunder, but it was real thunder.

Then, off the southern tip of the island we were supposed to see the Bass Harbor Head Light, the most famous of the several lighthouses allegedly visible from parts of Acadia. Here’s a picture:

Bass Harbor Head Light

Next up was Jordan Pond, a rather large and particularly pretty pond (almost a lake, really) that we were planning to circle on foot. We were told that from one side of the pond there are great views of The Bubbles, which are a pair of tiny, rounded mountains that supposedly look like two bubbles rising up out of the pond. I’m sure The Bubbles were there, but this is the view we got:

Jordan Pond and the Bubbles

Are you starting to sense a theme?

It was at about this time that the rain somehow started coming down even more ferociously. We decided not to walk the perimeter of the pond. In fact I would’ve been content to spend the rest of the day seeing the park from the relative safety of our car. However, we had been hearing so much about the miles and miles of interconnected carriage roads that John D. Rockefeller Jr. had built throughout the park out of crushed granite, and how the roads included dozens of pretty little stone bridges that spanned various streams, each bridge different in design than all the rest. I picked out a small section of carriage road that would enable us to see two bridges while only walking half a mile. Sam resisted. I put my foot down and insisted. I felt like we couldn’t leave the park without at least seeing the carriage roads. Besides, how much wetter could we possibly get?

A whole lot wetter, it turns out. Even in the rain and fog, the bridges were as pretty as advertised, and the woodland surroundings were lovely. Still, by the time we got back to the car we were so thoroughly soaked that we may as well have swam across Jordan Pond with all our clothes on.

Yay, carriage roads!

Yay, carriage roads!

The loop road took us closer to The Bubbles, and there was a pull-off for hiking trails that led to each one. We opted against the hike, but we weren’t ready to give up on bubbles just yet…

The Bubbles

Finally it was time for the grand finale, a drive to the top of Mt. Cadillac. It’s pretty small for a mountain (1,530 ft) but it’s the tallest peak on the island and the summit offers breathtaking views 360-degree views of the whole park and beyond. Or so we’re told. We’ll have to take everybody’s word for it. Here’s Sam at the summit:

View? What view?

View? What view?

Well, at least it stopped raining, right? On the drive down the mountain the fog was so thick that I couldn’t see more than about 30 feet in front of me. We laughed as we passed pull-offs for scenic overlooks. Just for fun, we even stopped at one. This is what we saw:

View from Mt. Cadillac

Sigh. OK, so our trip to Acadia wasn’t what were hoping for. And when it was all over we still had to unpack the car to move into our hotel room in the rain. I’m just glad we did a better job of staying positive than we did of staying dry.

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