Acadia

The Northeast region of the United States has many historical sites especially related to the American revolution. However, when it comes to national parks, only one of the 58 US national parks is located in the region: Acadia National Park in Maine. I wrote a little bit about Acadia as part of my series of postings on my New England trip a few weeks ago, so this posting is also about Acadia, but a different aspect of visiting the park that might be interesting to potential visitors.

If you ask any locals or frequent visitors to Acadia for a favorite place to visit inside the Acadia National Park, one likely answer is the Jordan Pond. It’s a nice pond in the middle of the park that is located near the Bubbles, two mountains that are among the well-known landmarks inside the park. The scenery is wonderful, but what makes a visit to Jordan Pond memorable is a stop for a lunch or dinner at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant situated near the Jordan Pond. The restaurant has wonderful view of the Jordan Pond and the Bubbles, and it’s also famous for its popovers. These popovers are served fresh from the oven with a meal there, part of dining tradition dated back to 1870s. I followed the suggestion and stopped by at the restaurant for lunch. The popovers are indeed worth the visit (and the wait for table during the busy season).

The photo below was taken from the lawn just outside the Jordan Pond House Restaurant. You can see the Jordan Pond and the Bubbles in the distance. During the summer, the restaurant also has outdoor seatings at the lawn area.

Jordan Pond

Mount Desert Island

When most visitors come to Mount Desert Island, the primary destinations are usually the Acadia National Park, which occupies a large portion of the island, and Bar Harbor, a town closest to the park where you find accommodations during the visit to the area. The island is actually more than just these two places; if you have a car (or a bike), you can also tour the island and visit many little towns there. In the last few posts, I mentioned about a couple of those places, Northeast Harbor with its beautiful Asticou Azalea and Thuya Gardens, and Bass Harbor with its famous light house. There are other towns around that may not necessarily have any particular landmark to visit, but are good representations of small Maine / New England coastal villages.

And not to be missed when you’re in Maine is a visit to one of the local lobster pounds where you could get the local product fresh from the fishing boat and at very reasonable price. These places may not have the nice decor as some fancy restaurants you find in Bar Harbor, but if you’re looking for lobster, I think this is the best way to get it. I went to Thurston Lobster Pound in Bernard, and had a wonderful feast of lobsters with side dishes and desert that was pretty easy on my budget but also very memorable experience.

The photo below was taken in a little town called Somesville. It’s located right in the middle of the island; you would pass it if you drive around the island between some of its harbor towns. There was a beautiful footbridge over a pond there that is very picturesque, especially in the autumn. I stopped there to take photos of the footbridge and the pond, but as I turned around, I saw this wonderful scenery of a home near the inlet with a gorgeous tree next to it. This is an example of one of good photography lessons I learned — be aware of your surroundings when looking for interesting scenery to photograph; sometimes you can find more interesting subjects beyond your initial one by simply turning around and look what is behind you. You can find more sights on Mount Desert Island in my flickr photo album.

Fall morning in Somesville, ME

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is a wonderful place to visit in Maine to experience the beauty of nature. The park is located on Mount Desert Island, which is reachable from the mainland through a bridge. Most visitors stay at the town of Bar Harbor, which is located just at the edge of the park. The park is a popular getaway destination in the Northeast United States especially during the summer months and early fall when the fall foliage is at its peak. The park is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi. It has a wonderful one-way road called Park Loop Road that goes around the park on the coastline — the landscape was beautifully designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr, who was also the landscape designer of the National Mall, the White House grounds, the Jefferson Memorial, and Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC. There is also a network of old carriage roads that was financed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and now provides a nice network of trails to explore the park.

There is one cool place to check out and experience if you go to Acadia — going to the Cadillac Summit, the highest point along the eastern seaboard of the United States, in the morning to see the sun rising over the horizon. During the months of October through March, this place has the distinction as the first place to see the sunrise in the United States. The photo below was taken when I went up there to experience the sunrise on my first morning at Acadia. It’s a neat picture of the sun rising over the horizon on the left, and on the right there was a couple sitting bundled up and enjoying the view.

Sunrise at Cadillac Summit

Bass Harbor Light House

One of the famous landmarks in Maine is the Bass Harbor Head Light House near Acadia National Park. It’s one of the most photographed lighthouses in New England, which means that if you go there to take the iconic photos at sunset, it’s very likely that you will not be the only one with that great idea. I arrived at the location about a couple of hours before the estimated sunset time, enough time to look for the spot to take the iconic shot of the lighthouse. There were already a couple of other photographers getting set up, so I found a spot on the rocks to get my tripod and camera ready for taking the shots. I thought all was great, until more and more people arrived as we got closer to the sunset time. Some were respectful of the photographers who were already there, and picked spots on the side that would not interfere with the view of the other photographers. But there were only limited room to ‘spread out’ so before long people started jockeying for positions to take photos, even if that meant obstructing others’ view. Somewhat annoying, especially for those who had come earlier to find good spots to set up. After some positional adjustments and using a zoom lens to limit the view to only the lighthouse, I was able to get some shots of the lighthouse. But then I thought of an interesting point of view — rather than ‘fighting’ the other photographers, why not capturing that very experience of having photographers taking photos of the landmark. So I took few steps back, changed my zoom level, and shot the photo below.

Bass Harbor Head Light House

New England

After finishing the coast-to-coast road trip from Santa Monica, CA, to Brooklyn, NY, I continued on up north to the New England area. Our coast-to-coast road trip took place in early October, and since I already took several days off from work, and I was already in New York City, I thought why not continuing the trip to visit New England during its peak fall foliage time. Prior to this trip, I had only visited Boston, MA, for business trip. I had never been to the other New England states. So this was a good opportunity to do it, and I decided to ‘sample’ all of the New England states in one extended weekend.

The route for the trip was quite an ambitious one, covering Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut in only four days. But since I was traveling alone (initially I invited my brother to come along, but he had some events to prepare for immediately after getting back to New York), my schedule was somewhat flexible and I could push it as far as I could personally take. The trip ended up to be a wonderful one as I got to experience many things unique to the region — fall foliage, maple syrup, lobster, history — capping the longest road trip I had ever undertaken, around 5,300 miles covering 22 states from California to Maine in 10 days.

The photo below was taken on the Park Loop Road in the Acadia National Park, ME. I had purchased the car about one month before the trip, and this trip was its first road trip outside the DC metro area. On a morning drive through the gorgeous drive, I noticed this stretch of the road that was lined with colorful trees, and the road had a nice S curve. It was early enough that there was no traffic for few minutes, so I ‘staged’ my car and took the photo.

Fall drive in Acadia