Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


So what is there to do in a 47,000-acre National Park located on an island in Maine?  Well, for starters, the fact that Acadia National Park is one of the “2010 Top Ten Most Visited National Parks” (as proclaimed by the National Park Service) should tell you something.  Don’t think it is just breath-taking views over rocky cliffs, winding trails through mature pine woods, historic sites that tell the story of New England history, or a peaceful kayak with loons dipping below the cool water surface.  There is so much more. 

Panoramic view of Long Pond from the Beech Mountain Trail.
Our month-long stay in the Bar Harbor area gave us ample opportunities to play in the park.  Acadia has hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, canoeing and kayaking, wildlife viewing.  One of the treasures of Acadia is the carriage roads.  The roads are affectionately known as “Mr. Rockefellers Roads” due to the instrumental part he played in creating and designing this intricate series of roads that makes one marvel in this engineering feat.  Visitors to Acadia National Park very quickly become acquainted with this series of 57 miles of roads which are still used extensively by park visitors.   The roads were a gift from John D. Rockefeller Jr. who, like many other wealthy people in the early 1900’s, called Mt. Desert Island “home” in
Gorgeous view from one
of the carriage roads.
 the summer months.  Rockefeller’s philanthropic interests were hugely diverse and covered a broad spectrum of areas and geography, including medical research, education, health, labor, and conservation.  But it was his interest in landscape and conservation that led to the careful and exquisite design of carriage roads and bridges and served as a perfect outlet for his personal creative interest.  This lasting legacy is the expression of his hidden passion and deep concern for natural landscapes.  Rockefeller’s idea was to put carriage roads through the center of Mt. Desert Island, a 108-square mile island.  These roads were a direct opposition to the noise and pace of the newly invented “motorcar” as they would be closed to motor vehicles.  They would represent a place where aristocrats could drive their horse drawn carriages, ride bicycles, or simply take a leisurely stroll.  The beautiful carriage road system is a gift of considerable measure and a lasting legacy of Rockefellers’ generosity and appreciation for preserving natural beauty.  
Coping stones grace the sides of the carriage road acting as a barrier.  They got the nickname
"Rockefellers teeth."
When our friend Ann (from New Orleans) was here visiting, we took a ride along the carriage roads.  This time we decided to take a narrated horse drawn carriage ride instead of riding our bikes.  The trip was relaxing and informative.  We saw a handful of bridges as we traversed carriage roads that we had not been on before because bicycles are restricted in some areas.  At times, we were very glad that two roan draft horses were pulling us up the steep hills instead of us having to pedal our bikes.  These roads, like the other ones we had explored, took visitors into the woods of Acadia, along streams, and provided stunning scenery.  Along the carriage roads, are gates and gatehouses that stood proudly at the entrances and still grace the landscape of Acadia.

Our carriage ride was a relaxing way to traverse the roads and see the bridges.
This bridge was completed in 1932.
The cobblestone bridge completed in 1917.  The only one in the park made of cobblestones and described
by the park founder George Dorr as the "ugliest bridge he had ever seen."
The underneath of the cobblestone bridge.  The bridge took nearly
8 years to complete.
After a carriage ride, it was time to head to the Jordan Pond House in Acadia.  The Jordan Pond House has been a park institution since 1870.  The ever-popular restaurant is known for popovers and jam sitting on the lawn enjoying the views of Jordan Pond.  While this does rank highly as a “touristy” thing to do, we can honestly say the popovers are great and the views are wonderful.  (This was not our first time eating at the Jordan Pond House!)
Mark, Ann, and Nancy enjoying lunch at the Jordan Pond House.  Jordan
Pond is in the background.

Yummy popover.
The carriage road around Jordan Pond is one of the
most popular.  After the 3 1/4 mile trip, relaxing on the lawn
at the Jordan Pond House is a popular activity.
Our day in the park ended with a drive along the 27-mile Park Loop Road.  The road is a great way to get acquainted with the park.  Start at the Hull’s Cove Visitor Center and then take the road to Cadillac Mountain.  Don’t be scared by all the people and cars, there is plenty of room to explore and not feel crowded, besides the views will take your breath away.  Continuing on the Park Loop Road will take you to 
View from the park loop road.
Sand Beach a natural sandy beach that is populated with sunbathers and those daring enough to venture into 50-degree water.  After your lips turn blue and you can’t feel your toes, keep heading down the road to Thunder Hole.   When the tide comes in and pushes water up through the granite rock hole, water shoots up through and makes a thundering boom.  Don’t get too close as rogue waves have been known to sweep unsuspecting tourists out to sea.  (Sadly, a 7-year old girl was swept out to sea last year and drowned.)  Continuing on the park loop road will take you past Otter Cliffs, a beautiful spot to sit on the rocks and enjoy the scenery and beauty of the area.  All along the road are pull-offs and trail heads.  If you have the time, take advantage of the trails.  Often you will wind through dense forests of solitude and emerge on a rock outcropping overlooking a bay.  Acadia has so much to offer that it is hard to sum it all up in one blog post.  Take it from us, there is plenty to do and see and well worth the trip.
Thunder Hole.  
Eagle Lake as seen from the carriage road.
Bridge along the Eagle Lake carriage road.
Carriage roads are well marked, but can still be confusing.  Make sure you
take along a map or you may be peddling or walking a long time.
We, along with other bikers, stopped to pick wild blueberries along the carriage road.
Gorgeous bridge over Duck Brook.
Our horses took a well deserved break while we inspected one of Rockefellers Bridges.
This building is the carriage house once occupied by the gate keeper.  Now it
houses seasonal workers at the park.
Gates were installed along the carriage roads to prevent automobiles.
Travelers would pull up to the gate and ring a bell in order to summon the gate keeper to
come open the gate.
View of Frenchman's Bay and Bar Harbor from atop Cadillac Mountain.
Cadillac Mountain is definitely one of the most visited spots in the park.
Sand Beach.
Ann and Betsy.


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