Phase Two of Trip: Continue efforts to try and show Connor the different ways hiking can be enjoyable, or at the very least, not miserable.
After treating ourselves to a lobster dinner at Young’s Lobster Pound, Connor and I drove to the Colonial Inn in Ellsworth, Maine, which I had booked a few days prior through the Hotels Tonight app. I believe it was $70 for the night, which was the cheapest accommodation compared to the options in downtown Bar Harbor and Acadia, both on Hotels Tonight and Airbnb.
The dingy motel vibes didn’t bother us. In fact, the coarse sheets and lack of heating served to enhance to our ‘roughing it’ aesthetic. Connor and I were up early the next morning anyway, as I am an active vacationer who crams so much into a trip it isn’t even relaxing. THINK OF THE LIFELONG MEMORIES WE’RE MAKING! #YOLO
I had a long list of things to do in Acadia (average $20 for a 7-day park pass), but with just two days dedicated to this marvelous national park, sacrifices had to be made. There were dozens of trails I found to hike, but I had to choose just one. I decided on the activities: hike Precipice Trail, cross Mt. Desert Island at low tide, see Thunder Hole, see the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, see Sasquatch.
Precipice Trail, which I researched via AllTrails and my REI Co-op app, seemed to be the most popular and best fit for our time frame. I also follow the ever-inspiring OurVieAdventures on Instagram and consulted their Acadia blog post for recommendations. They are an awesome family who visited all 59 National Parks in one year!
Above is a series I like to call, “Swiggity Swooty, Follow that Booty,” coined because Connor always hikes ahead of me, partially because that’s his natural pace and partially because he, “wants to get it over with as quickly as possible.” I am the opposite, lallygagging with my camera and taking mediocre pictures of the primo fall leaf peeping.
Precipice Trail was breathtaking! And I normally only use that adjective to describe donuts. Fun climbs, physically engaging, beautiful views the whole time with an especially rewarding peak, and the air was so fresh, salty and pure my asthmatic lungs and Puerto Rican hair implored me to stay in Acadia forever. The iron bars really made the hike memorable, as an element of calculated danger always spices up a trail.
Additionally, if Connor ever wants to be an influencer, he can totally count on me to document his fabulous, candid life. Sadly, he refuses to participate in social media.
Next on our itinerary was crossing Mt.Desert Narrows at low tide to get to Bar Island. During high tide, the natural bridge is covered up by about 10-15 feet of water. It was cool to walk on the ocean floor, but there wasn’t much to do besides splash in puddles (see: LL Bean Boots). I’m glad I got to do it, but it wasn’t anything crazy. There’s a trail to hike on Bar Island, but if you get stranded when the tide comes in, the rangers will not be happy to have to pick you up in a water taxi.
Here was the major challenge with Acadia: Most activities are affected by tides. Day one was supposedly good and windy for Thunder Hole at high tide, but then we wouldn’t have been able to hike Precipice AND do the shoal walk. I kept Thunder Hole at day 2 and hoped the weather would stay tempestuous.
Our full-body hike at Precipice, rocky stroll to Bar Island, and exploration of the quaint Bar Harbor area put a fierce hunger in our stomachs. We settled on Jalepeno’s, not one of the many seafood spots, sure, but nonetheless touristy, somewhat pricy, and average quality. Chips and salsa were complimentary, and we paid $11 per burrito plus an extra $3 each to get them SMOTHERED. Extra Queso. Nothing prepares you for sleeping overnight in a car on top of a mountain like a massive burrito sitting in your stomach.
Walking around Bar Harbor gift shops really made me miss vacations with my family. I can always count on my dad to impulsively walk into an ice cream shop every night. Or aimless wanderings through handmade craft stores and knick knack stands with my mom and sister. It was definitely a noticeable adult transition. Emphasis on missing the ice cream.
Looking to kill sometime until we camped out in the car, Connor and I came across the Jordan Pond bog walk. The water is so clean nobody is allowed in it, as not to disturb the precious ecosystems within. Large amounts of tourism have already hurt natural shrubs and rock formations throughout Acadia, and lately the marine life is in need of mandated protection too.
With a beautiful view of the Acadia Boobs (formally known as Bubbles, the two mountains in the background), we walked halfway around the loop until the wooden elevation, build to protect the vegetation, ended, and then the trail wasn’t as fun so we turned around and caught a marvelous cotton candy sunset. I would have reached for Connor’s hand to share this romantic moment, but he was already racing to the end of the trail.
We had briefly stopped at Cadillac Mountain earlier in the day to see the beautiful view before our sunrise illumination, and as the sunset at Jordan Pond, we decided it was time to go back and camp out on the mountain. A ranger told us they won’t let people sleep there over night, but when we pulled up to the parking field, there was already an RV and two cars doing the same thing. Parking gets crowded, so if you’re a normal person in a cozy hotel, plan to get to Cadillac by at least 5 a.m.
Connor and I are young and stupid and slept in the car on what happened to be the coldest night of the month. A whopping 35 degrees, not factoring in being on top of a windy mountain… We slept maybe 2 hours total, finding brief relief from the frigid cold when we would turn the car’s heat on for a few minutes every hour.
I thought it was worth it. How cool to be among the first in North America to see the sunrise?? It was wretchedly freezing, but a very fond experience in memory. Many will say once they see a sunrise they become a sunrise person. I have seen a sunrise and still prefer sunsets.
Chilled and sleep deprived, I dragged Connor to see Thunder Hole via Ocean Trail, because I accidentally parked too far away. What a beautiful accident!
We got ready for the long day in public park bathrooms and skipped/grumbled to Thunder Hole at incoming high tide. Much to my dismay, the previous day’s wind did not stay and there was no more than some gurgling slosh. Rumor has it if you do catch Thunder Hole at the right time (tide coming in & windy) it’s a marvelous spectacle with thunderous noise and incredible heights of wave splash. Lord knows we could have used the shower…
Alas, our time at Acadia came to an end. It was time to head to our Airbnb in Nova Scotia, an 8 hour drive away plus a one hour time zone loss.
But of course I took the scenic route. While puttering along the Schoodic Scenic Byway, I saw a sign for Chester Pike’s, an adorable breakfast joint with cheap, classic, hearty eats. Here is Connor wearing my tap club sweater because the poor child was over confident about the amount of heat his body produces.
I didn’t know this until on the road, but Acadia is actually split up! There’s more park just down the road, just as beautiful and pure. While driving on the backroads, I had no cell service so I had to navigate with a fricken’ paper map and it was NUTS. I felt so resourceful and ready for any apocalypse that might come our way. I don’t think I’d ever used a paper map in my life.
Connor and I continued up the Maine coastline. It was a nice detour and helped us to avoid some of the toll roads. The best photo op was immediately after the ‘Welcome to Schoodic Scenic Byway’ sign, but my shot car brakes and low tread tires couldn’t safely make the stop. These scenic pull-overs come up so fast when you’re going 50mph!
The drive through Maine was gorgeous! I definitely recommend a fall excursion. We stopped a few times to frolic under clear blue skies and whatever those fields of red were. Connor fell asleep not long into the drive, and before we knew it we were being intensely questioned at the Canada border, wondering what the heck these cell providers were and how much a liter of gas was and how much that was in Canadian to US dollars and at what point would we lose an hour in the time difference?