After backpacking at Cutler Coast, Caz and Scott and I zipped back down the coast to Acadia National Park. It was late in the afternoon when we drove onto Mount Desert Island and we picked up some firewood right away since we’d be car camping the rest of the week. We then went to the park’s Hulls Cove Visitor Center to check out what was going on for the next several days. It was ridiculously packed but we still managed to pick up the free park shuttle schedule and see that a ranger program was happening at our campground that night.
We decided to take the long way to the campground on the Park Loop Road to get a feel for the park and see how busy things were at different places. We discovered that dinner time is a great time to see the more touristy things as everyone else is heading to town to eat. While many cars were parked in the lot and on the road nearby, the cars had thinned out right near Thunder Hole so we stopped to check it out.
Thunder Hole is a small inlet with a cave at the end where the waves come crashing in and apparently sound like thunder. Or they do at high tide anyway. We were closer to low tide. It was still cool to see, although, with the number of people still there at that hour, I can’t imagine what it’s like in the middle of the day. We watched for a bit then escaped the crowd.
Poor Caz had been holding the firewood on her lap in the car, which was especially inconvenient for getting in and out at stops, so we decided no more stops until the campground. We had reservations at the park’s Blackwoods Campground. Our site was a good size, more than big enough for our two tents and a large picnic table. After setting up, we cooked a quick dinner and then went off to the showers. The campground itself doesn’t have any showers but in the town of Otter Creek, right outside it, we could buy showers: $2 of quarters for 4 minutes. I splurged on an 8-minute shower.
We had to be quick to get to that night’s ranger program in time. We drove back to our site, grabbed headlamps and beers, and ran down to the amphitheater. The topic was “Primeval Forest,” of particular interest to me because I’m reading a book about old growth forest right now. And of course, Scott is a forester. Caz is a wildlife manager, but also quite a fan of trees. It was a great program!
We went right to bed after the program since we were pretty tired from getting up for sunrise and moving nonstop all day. We knew it would start raining overnight and we could probably sleep in, although none of us really did. It did rain overnight but stopped by the time we got up. With the poor forecast for the day, we decided on some small walks and sightseeing instead of any big hikes.
First up, the Bass Harbor Lighthouse, all the way at the base of the western side of the island. It took us a surprising amount of time to drive over there for such a small island. Lighthouses are something Caz and Scott like to check out on their travels. I think they’re cool, but cooler if I can go inside them. This one isn’t open to the public. We took a short trail down to the rocky shore to check it out in the mist.
Next, we drove nearby to the Ship Harbor Nature Trail. It’s an easy 1.2-mile figure eight loop with interpretive panels here and there. A lot of the path is wide gravel, but there were some rocks in a few places too. It was supposed to be good for birdwatching but there weren’t too many out. We enjoyed both the forest and rocky coast on the trail.
When we got back to the car, we started heading back to the east side of the island, stopping in Northeast Harbor to see the Asticou Azalea Garden. The rain was still holding off so we stayed dry walking around the small garden. It was nice to see all the labeled plants since I’m not great at identifying them, but it’s definitely way past blooming season. I think I would like this more early in the summer with all the azaleas and other flowers actually in bloom.
We couldn’t decide what to do for lunch so we eventually just pulled over at a scenic view once we were back on the park road and made sandwiches to eat there. The clouds even briefly cleared for a partial view of Eagle Lake.
With plenty of time still to kill before dinner, we drove up to Sieur de Monts to visit the Nature Center, Abbe Museum, and Wild Gardens of Acadia. It started raining right when we arrived so we went in the nature center first. They had some cool displays but it was quite small.
Then we wandered a little way up the path to see the Abbe Museum, “a museum of Wabanaki art, history, and culture.” There’s a larger museum in Bar Harbor but this one is the original location. A lot of artifacts were missing as they were being investigated to be given back to their tribes, which is awesome, but you’d think they’d put something else out instead of just a note saying it’s missing. The woman running the front desk did have a ton of knowledge to share.
It was still raining but we took a quick walk through the Wild Gardens of Acadia to see the different zones they had set up: meadow, mountain, forest, etc.
There was still plenty of time before dinner so we decided to go outside the park for wine tasting at Bar Harbor Cellars. Then Scott had to get lobster from the fisherman next door. Finally, we went to town for dinner for me and Caz. Being a car tourist is exhausting.