Tuesday, August 28, 2018

We Went to Canada! (But First We Stopped at Acadia National Park)

Here's our first stop at Steamtown National Historic Site.

And our next stop on our great Canadian road trip is still not Canada, on account of Canada is really far away!

After spending the morning in Lowell, Massachusetts, it was all I could do to fight New England traffic all afternoon to get us up the coast of Maine to Acadia National Park, our nation's smallest national park. At first, the kids weren't super impressed with Acadia, as all we did was drive straight to the visitor's center so I could buy our park pass and the kids could pick up their Junior Ranger books (because of course!). We browsed the gift shop, watched the intro film, and the kids were about ready to start asking when we were going to our hotel and did it have a pool and wouldn't it be nice if we ever had air conditioning and at least it would have electricity to charge one's tablet, etc., etc., blah, blah, when I headed them off by instead driving them up to the top of a mountain:

It turns out that the top of Cadillac Mountain during magic hour is just the right place to be to recuperate from a long, tedious drive through New England:

It was breezy and pleasant, and with signage assuring us that we could leave the path if we took care to step only on the bedrock, my little mountain goats were off to explore:

You are also permitted to pick and eat wild blueberries, and so Syd found us some:

Such wide-open space felt great after all those hours cramped into our seats and having to sit still!

If you look carefully in the below photo, you can spot the elusive Wild Willow:

Sun-worshipping Sydney is easier to spy:

We did, eventually, get back down the mountain and over to our little motel in Bar Harbor, but it was only for a few hours. At 3:00 the next morning my alarm rang, and up I got my sleepy-eyed girls, bundled them back into the car, and drove them in the middle of the night back to Acadia National Park and back up to the top of Cadillac Mountain to wait for the sunrise:

It seemed like we sat forever in the darkness, but then in the space of minutes suddenly the sky was this--

--and then it was this:

And these little ones went from this--

--to this--

--and this (with the littler one still unconvinced):

The big one took her energy from the sun, and as soon as she could see to put one foot in front of the other she was off to mountain goat some more:

Syd was still deeply unimpressed by the splendor of the natural world, however:

Fortunately, I know something that will always impress our Syd, so after Will was mountain goated out for a while, I piled the kids back into the car, drove down that dang mountain again, and took them over to Sand Beach.

It was maybe 6:00 am by this time, and it showed it, with the beach all to ourselves and surrounded by fog:

Would this, finally, please my girl?

It would:

I was able to lie down on our picnic blanket and doze for a while, and still get in some lovely shots of the early-morning beach:

A couple of hours later, the kids declared themselves hungry enough to part from the beach, so we packed ourselves up, made sandwiches at the car, and then hit up some more tourist spots. Thunder Hole wasn't very thundery, although we did see the hole!

We hiked the Ocean Path to Otter Cliffs--

--and sat down for a nice rest and look around:

After quite a while, we spotted something diving in and out of the water between the cliffs below:

It was a genuine otter, hunting for its breakfast right there on Otter Cliffs!

The kids told this to the park ranger who was going over their Junior Ranger books, and had asked them if they'd seen anything interesting, but he thought that it was more likely a mink, because apparently actual otters are rarely spotted at Otter Cliffs? Will took to the research guides, but we could barely see a difference between a mink and an otter IN the research guides, much less on the cliffs.

Ah, well... we saw one or the other!

Look how close we are to Canada--we're starting to see French-language signage!

Thanks to our early wake-up, we were able to spend about ten hours at Acadia National Park and still leave around lunchtime. I drove us onward through Maine forests, listening to a radio show on the topic of the dwindling lobster industry and fretting about how I was about to run out of gas (we went at least 60 miles with no gas station and no warning that there would be no gas station--I had about 5 miles of gas left in my tank by the time we re-entered civilization, as if my stress level wasn't already high enough). Finally, we found a gas station, and just a few miles beyond that I was handing over our passports and a notarized letter from Matt assuring whoever read it that he knew what on earth I was doing with our children to a Canadian border patrol agent, and a minute and a half after that I was trying to both drive and figure out how to switch my car's dashboard and my GPS over from miles to kilometers.

Finally, we're in Canada! Next stop, the highest tides in the world!

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