Monday, July 11, 2011


From a random series of recollections about a recent trip to New York City, Boston, MA and the wilds of the Maine’s “Down East” coast.

MOUNT DESERT ISLAND is home to Bar Harbor, a Mendocino-like burg on the Down East Coast of Maine. The village boasts some nice eateries, expensive hostelries and more than its share of t-shirt shops. It is the jumping off point for Acadia National Park, an absolute gem with roads for motoring, trails for hiking and peaceful spots for “peacefulling.” After five days of overcast and below-normal temperatures, the day arrived for our walking tour of the park and with dawn, came the sun.

Geologists will tell us that our eastern seaboard is older than our western shore. Evidence of this is the low elevations of area highlands. Nature has worked over the area pretty well. Cadillac Mountain rises to only 1500 feet, but it is the highest point on the Atlantic shore north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  I did some math.  That's a long way south!

This road to the “top” invites the use of two wheels rather than four, but our two-wheelers are safely locked in the garage at home. I guess we’ll have to return.

Walking around this summit, the granite proves both impressive and unique. On this, the first sunny day in a while, folks flocked to the summit, exiting their cars to hike all over the exposed granite surface. From a distance, the crowds gave the mountain a curious ants-on-a-jelly-sandwich look.

In California, granite is silvery white. Along the upper spine of the Appalachians, its tint is rosy due to the presences of pinkish or red (rather than white) feldspar – although sometimes the quartz component in granite can be quite pink.  All of this, of course, is chemistry - something I didn't study closely enough when I had the chance - so some of the afore-mentioned scientific mumbo-jumbo may be taken with a grain of salt.

A series of trails web Acadia National Park with some climbing to various promontories and some tracing the edge of the down east Atlantic Coast. The term “Down East” comes from the fact that sailors out of Boston and Portland would sail out of port downwind and be carried northward and eastward along Maine’s rocky shore; heading then east across the North Atlantic to Europe.

From almost any shoreline vantage point one can see a small businessman plying his skills and hoping for a good catch. Suspended beneath each of those tiny white buoys is a lobster trap. In the more heavily harvested areas, the buoys are painted with distinctive designs to ensure no one gets some other guy's bounty.

The seas are calm - at least this day.  Still, having spent so much time on the rugged Mendocino Coast, it was interesting to view the placid nature of the Atlantic. Doesn’t Pacific mean, well, 'pacific' and Atlantic - Titanic?  They rhyme, you'll note.

Evidence of how eons have worn down the granitic structure. Here a tree continues the process with its roots working their way into what once was solid rock. The mosses continue to do their share.

A bit higher in elevation, lichens can be seen actively, quietly beginning the process that breaks down solid rock so that mosses and then rooted plants can ultimately take hold.

I think this is a Rose of Sharon, the likes of which are seen nearly everywhere on the Maine Coast.  Note that the comments (above) regarding chemistry, apply, as well, to botany, biology, and a whole host of other "ologies."

Another view of a pacific North Atlantic.

A US Coast Guard family resides and cares for this active lighthouse located at Bass Point outside the park.

Ending our day, we caught the ferry from Mount Desert Island over to Swan Island. Looking over our shoulder it was easy to imagine this scene was frozen in time from a century or so back.

Upon return, it was clear how low in elevation Acadia’s home island rests. Cadillac is located in the center of this shot. Back east, they call this a mountain.

© 2011
Church of the Open Road Press

1 comment:

  1. I like that tree with the moss. Very cool.