Sunday, October 27, 2013

Acadia in October

Last week Scott had a week-long break from work, so we had planned a family getaway to Acadia National Park in Maine. The government shut down a week before our trip, but we still went – and we were glad we did.
The visitor’s centers were closed, the parking lots barricaded, and the restrooms shuttered, but there was nothing stopping us from hiking onto a trailhead from the side of the road or from our cabin.
We stayed in a little cabin in Seal Harbor, close to the ocean and the Jordan Pond House but more importantly close to a playground. Bruce and Phoebe loved having a playground just outside our front door and loved watching the neighborhood's wild turkeys wander by in the mornings.
We revisited Grindstone Neck, a quiet rocky area on the shore that has some of the best tidal pools around. The kids collected what seemed like hundreds of snails and shells, threw rocks into the ocean, and climbed around the boulders.

Most days, Scott and I would take turns going running first thing in the morning. The trails were plentiful, the views spectacular, and the weather nearly perfect. Throughout the week I ran Mt. Day, Mt. Gorham, Mt. Penobscot, and lots of carriage trails. I rarely saw people and more often saw wildlife like a woodpecker and a porcupine. The foliage was also at its peak.
After our morning runs, Scott and Bruce usually headed out on a challenging hike while I took Oliver and Phoebe on a more leisurely hike. Scott and Bruce hiked one of the park’s most popular trails, Mt. Dorr to Mt. Cadillac, and saw only a handful of people. They also hiked the Beehive and Mt. Champlain; both were steep trails with lots of iron ladders to cling to.

Sometimes we hiked together, but we wised up after our hike on Mt. Cardigan and kept our family hikes short. One successful hike was to Hunter’s Beach Cove, home to a zillion colorful rocks and a little river. We hiked together for a few minutes, then Scott and Oliver and Phoebe stayed at the cove while Bruce and I hiked a cliff trail. Phoebe picked up sticks and leaves, chucked handfuls of pebbles into the river, and eventually (despite Scott’s admonition) got into the river herself.
We celebrated Phoebe’s fourth birthday at the cabin. I brought the ingredients to bake the cake of her choice – ginger chocolate cake with chocolate chips on top – and we baked it together that morning while Scott went running. She got to eat Lucky Charms for breakfast and then open her presents: a firetruck Lego set and a firefighter jacket and hat. She got to choose one thing she really wanted to do for her birthday: swimming.
The ocean is a bit cold, so we headed to the YMCA in Bar Harbor for family swim time. When we got there, we realized that Phoebe had two left shoes on. She said one of her shoes was still wet from jumping into the river, so that’s why she put on different shoes.

One day we took a boat to some of the smaller islands around the harbor. The boat delivered mail and acted as a ferry for construction workers and tourists and residents alike. We hiked through a really lush green bog on Great Cranberry Island. We spotted an osprey nest. We got hot cocoa at the only store on the island.

By Thursday, the park was officially opened again, so we headed for the few touristy spots that we like. First stop: Thunderhole.
Bruce and Phoebe could watch this spectacle for hours: waves crashing into the rocks and making a big thundering sound. Oliver got very excited when we were by the ocean; he seems to like the sound of the waves too.

Our second stop was Sandy Beach, but I didn’t get any pictures there. Scott and Bruce hiked the Beehive and took the camera to get some amazing pictures there, while I (unsuccessfully) tried to keep Phoebe from getting into the ocean. I didn’t bring our swimsuits since it was in the low 60s (and much colder in the water!), but that didn’t keep Phoebe from throwing herself into the waves and splashing around. Looking back, I should have known that was going to happen.

All in all, we had an amazing week and are counting on going back soon.

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