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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Big Ride - Day4 part1

Atop Cadillac Mtn, Acadia Nat. Park

There are thinkers, and there are do-ers...

There are thinkers, and there are do-ers. Turns out I'm neither.
A reoccurring theme for me as ride leader is that I keep missing the proper turn-off the first go-round. Trying to read the "map in my lap" atop my tankbag, while navigating traffic and reading roadsigns continues to be one more step than my little brain can process in the 1.3 seconds it takes to miss a turn.

So we've gotten quite used to blowing by a street/exit/merger, recognizing it only after we've passed, pulling three bikes over in some small, gravel covered driveway and circling back. It works, but darned aggravating.

Oh, and by the way, the Google maps I printed out to use on this trip bear little resemblance to what we've actually encountered, at least where street names are concerned. "Left at Smith St" is really more like "take the right first on Agnes Ave BEFORE you can make the left on Smith". Its really a small thing all-in-all, but darned inconvenient.

I do have to say that the cagers in Maine are the nicest, most attentive to motorcyclists drivers I've ever encountered. Every local recognizes that we're together when separated in traffic, and quickly pulls over so we can regroup. They also pull over to the fogline if you're gaining on them a bit on a single lane road so you may pass. And they always seem to be aware of us at intersections. This is exceptional behavior to us, as most days riding in North Carolina you feel as if you are literally at life's risk, surrounded by generally clueless, if not down right aggressive, drivers.

We left Bar Harbor this morning early, headed out to explore Acadia National Park. I had a very simple, and assumedly easy, map to follow to get us out of town and into the Park entrance. After plugging along on Rt3 towards the park, the only thing I saw was a small "Service Entrance" to the park, and it seemed we were getting further afield from where we should be and riding for far too long.

So, we did our now routine doubling back, looking for the main entrance (which should be big and hard to miss). Approaching the service entrance again, I see that it now really reads "Sieur de Monts" entrance. Bloody french. My caffeine starved brain just filled it in as "Service" instead of "Sieur" (or at least that's my story...)

But it still felt small and not at all like a Park entrance, but we were soon on the Park Loop Rd, so what the hey - this must be it.

Soon, we came up to an entrance station, manned by a single, young, attractive ranger. Paid our fee (a whopping $5 ea) and went off in search of our first supposed stop - Cadillac Mountain, followed by a look-see at "Thunder Hole"; a notch in the rocks that forces the ocean's waves into a confined little blow-hole creating a mini-geyser.

The first stop we see is Sand Beach. Sand Beach? What the...!? We should be coming up on Cadillac. Hmmmm. I'm looking at the map closely now.

Then it happens again. We pass "Thunder Hole Restrooms". Thunder Hole Restrooms? Are these restrooms so grand they actually warrant their own sign? Or are facilities so rare that this sign is that important. We decide we don't need to use the Thunder Hole Restrooms, so ride on. Still looking for Cadillac Mtn and Thunder Hole.

By the time we ride up on the Jordan Pond house (by now it would be helpful if you consulted a Park Map, as you'll see at a glance why we're so directions deficient) I realize that I've been looking at the map almost upside down (how cliche for a guy). I'd been orienting myself as if we had entered from the North, but we entered from the East (on a one lane road, so no double-backs), so I was almost 180 degrees off from all the map reference points. I know it sound so stupid, but its actually easy to do when you only get 2 seconds-at-a-time glances down at your maps while your zooming along.

And Thunder Hole Restrooms? By now I'm sure you know that the sign was really a "Thunder Hole" designated stop, with "restrooms" printed alongside to let folks now that there were facilities at the stop. Cool thing about a loop road is that its a loop. So I just opted to ride the whole loop at least one go-round to get oriented to where everything is. Its only 27 miles all the way around, and besides offering just breathtaking views if the mountains, coastline and ocean, is actually quite a nice bike ride too.

Time for some pics:

Lining up the map with Bar Harbor, 1600 feet below

Cadillac Mtn is the Granite remains of an ancient Magma core of a volcano.

Top of Cadillac, looking down on Bar Harbor. The "bar" shaped island in the upper left is what gives Bar Harbor its name.
Riding around the park was beautiful, fun and cold. Its still in the mid-50's at this point, with heavy fog rolling across Mount Desert Island. We saw this one family hiking around with us at the top of Cadillac, totally dressed like it was sunny and 90 degrees. The fog and wind whipping one lady's thin sun dress till we thought she must be getting hypothermia by now. They seemed unfazed. We decided that maybe they were from Alaska.

We stopped by Sand Beach, which is sandy instead of rocky like everywhere else here hence the name.  I guess by law there had to be some poor schmuck lifeguard stationed on the beach, but no one there seemed interested in swimming in the 50 degree, foggy weather. And the wind was really whipping here.
In the upper right is the lonely lifegurad. They(he?she?) were wrapped tight in a hoodie, sweats, and a blanket trying to read a book.

Dad contemplating a swim

These photo look dark and grey, cause it was

Crossing-guard convention at the beach
We stopped this time at "Thunder Hole Restrooms", and actually used the restrooms. yay.

Unfortunately, Thunder Hole wasn't thundering today (no bathroom jokes please), as the tide was low. But it did make a few "chugs" and "booms" if you waited long enough for a wave to catch it right.
The "hole" of Thunder Hole is at the base of these rocks.

We finished off our tour with an early lunch at the Jordan Pond House, which offered great food with a great view of Jordan Pond, and the "bubble" rocks beyond.

View from the Jordan Pond House lawn towards the Bubble Rocks

Jordan Pond and the Bubbles

Finally seated and awaiting some good food. The temps had climbed to the mid-sixties at this point.

The Jordan Pond House is known for their popovers. These were probably the best tasting thing we've had on the trip so far. Very much like philo dough - light, puffy, and hardly needing any condiment, although the creamy butter and jam spreads were an excellent compliment.
Along with the popovers and great coffee (my caffiene addiction renewed as I've not found any decent decaf on this trip), I got the seafood chowder (few potatoes, lots of shrimp, scallops, fish, and crab with bits of lobster), while Bro tried the Lobster Roll, and Dad got the Crab Cakes.
After a lingering, most excellent lunch, we suited up and headed out for Bangor, and ultimately Caribou.

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