Doing our Maine Thing

We spent our last few days in Rhode Island at Alu and Michelle’s the usual way. Walks along the beach and bike trails and long breakfasts and dinners and mid day beers and a trip to Jamestown with a lovely hike on the rocky coast to the Beavertail lighthouse and 4th of July fireworks on Narragansett Bay. On Monday night we drove north through Boston to avoid the traffic next morning. On Tuesday we stopped for a seafood lunch at a restaurant the very end of the pier in the lovely little town of Rockland in Maine. Then we continued towards Down East, which Jo informed us is the what this remote eastern end of Maine is called. After a grocery stop at Ellsworth we rolled into our airbnb on the Schoodic peninsula. I opened a bottle of wine and we lit a fire and watched the kids play on the rocks by the sea. And we wondered again why we chose to live our adult lives in a landlocked backyard with a view of a bakery when we could be doing this.

We set an alarm for 5:45am and drove dutifully next morning to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. The sun had risen an hour ago but the kids’ brains hadn’t. We had foregone the more excruciating but apparently more rewarding experience of waking up at 3am to go see the sun rise from the top of the mountain, instead arriving there at 7:30am, which almost felt like noon! Here we are sharing a morning family hug on the mountain with views of the north pole behind us. No one told me that we weren’t making funny faces for this selfie.

Acadia is beautiful. I’ve been waiting to see this park since I was 12 and the LIFE/Time book on Acadia arrived by book post at my dad’s library. Jo planned out our day at the park and warned us that it would be really really busy. The guide books had essentially told us that there was no point in going to the park between 8am and 5pm. We were ready for mayhem. It turns out that the guides must not get out to places that are actually crowded. We had a great day at the park, stopped for a quick meal at a crepe place in the harbor at Bar Harbor, and returned home, fulfilled. We have a week-long pass for the park, but I think we will explore our local surroundings instead.

Every nook along the craggy Down East coastline hides a delightful tiny village and a working lobster harbor. I can get used to the the rise and fall of the tides and seaweed covered rocky coves and mirror-like miles of bays dotted with millions of lobster trap buoys. Vivian and I tried dulse – a deep fried crispy seaweed with a strong aftertaste that goes well with a bitter IPA. But we haven’t yet found pickled wrinkles – a type of sea snail – not even at its namesake, the Pickled Wrinkle which serves pizza and burgers instead. Lobster fishing is a cottage industry here. Every other house has a wall of lobster pots along the driveway. You can see families on a wharf tying up the pots and loading them onto their boats. From our backyard we can spot the boats and hear the distant deep chug of marine engines as people tend to their pots.

Yesterday Jo found us a nice hike inland. We hiked up the aspirationally named Schoodic Mountain that rises up all of 1069 feet. The path led us through moss covered forests and rocky granite slopes to amazing views from the top. The hills on the horizon you see behind Evan and Vivian’s head in this photo from the top of Schoodic Mountain is the Acadia peninsula and the largest one is Cadillac Mountain. On the way down we grazed on wild blueberries and then walked down to Schoodic Beach (why look any further when you’ve got a good name) to meet Jo who had found a comfortable spot to relax by the lake. Evan and I were happy to wade in to the cool refreshing water but Vivian jumped in for a swim.

This morning the fog has rolled in. I can see a few hundred yards into the bay after which the sea and the sky turn an indistinct milky white. From the sounds of the motors, the lobster boats are still doing there thing out there. We are waiting for tropical storm Elsa. Starting out as an eddy of wind in a thermal over the Sahara desert, she has made her way across the open Atlantic ocean, past Jamaica and Cuba and Florida, up the east coast and New York and Alu and Michelle’s home in Rhode Island, sending down deluges along the way. She will arrive here this afternoon and dump a couple of inches of rain on Down East. In a day and a half she will have continued along the Bay of Fundy and Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and cross the Labrador sea and wander past Greenland to finally dissolve into thin air near the Arctic. As we seek out nature in remote places, I take a moment to appreciate the journey of this little bit of atmospheric turbulence and marvel that humans are like fleas on the back of fleas on the back of fleas on a dog’s back. While we have accidentally stumbled on to the ability to fuck with nature, we are in awe and wonder.

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