Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park in Maine is the easternmost national park in the continental United States. It stretches across much of Mount Desert Island and includes parts of several nearby islands along the Maine coast.

Given its relative remoteness from most of the country, I was surprised to learn that it also is one of the most visited parks. But once on the one-way loop road winding through the park, the evidence was clear. Parked cars overflowed the lots and stretched out far along the road’s shoulder.

After a foggy morning start, Wednesday was a beautiful day, sunny with highs in the mid 80s.

I’ve been to Acadia National Park before, but not the main part on Mount Desert Island. Twice I have sailed with friends through the islands of Maine, and we anchored both times in Duck Harbor on Isle Au Haut, a much smaller island that is still part of the park. Today Eloise was our tour guide, as she was here recently with her Northwest Arkansas hiking club.

The park has a free hop-on, hop-off bus service designed to help reduce the traffic in the park (thanks, L.L. Bean for being a sponsor of this great service). We had a short wait at the Village Green for Bus 3, just time for me to quickly sketch the park. I’ll add watercolor later.

Our first stop was Sand Beach, a geologic rarity according to the sign posted there. Most of Maine’s coastline is rocky. Tourists and locals had settled in for a day at the beach, and a few brave teens were in the cold surf. I went just far enough to say I had waded in the Bay of Maine, and promptly a rogue wave soaked my crop pants.

From there we walked the half-mile or so to Thunder Hole, a geologic formation where waves make a thunderous sound if they hit the rocky inlet just right. We saw some impressive waves and spray, but nothing spectacular as the tide was ebbing when we got there.

Back on another bus, we traveled along the coast and slightly inland to Jordan Pond for what Eloise described as wonderful blueberry popovers. Unfortunately, the site’s coolers had broken so they weren’t serving popovers today. After a small snack, we boarded another bus to return to Bar Harbor.

The small town doesn’t have a ship pier, so we had tendered ashore. Tendering can be a slow and tedious process if everyone wants to go ashore at the same time and the ship doesn’t lower enough tenders. Today it went smoothly as far as I could see. Priority tender service is one benefit of being a four-star Mariner (200+ cruise nights). We visited with friends from previous cruises so the waiting time passed quickly. The return to the ship was smooth as well.

Dinner exceeded my expectations. The food was great and the dining staff as attentive as always. I was concerned that after two Grand cruises, where the food budgets are boosted, I would be disappointed on this cruise. Quite the opposite – everyone at our table raved about their dinners.

We turn our clocks ahead an hour tonight in anticipation of the Eastern time zone of the Canadian Maritime provinces, so we called it an early night. Tomorrow is a sea day, followed by four port days. We want to sleep while we can.