A day in Acadia National Park

When we woke up at Acadia, I was immensely glad that we decided to stay an extra night.  It meant a relaxed morning with breakfast and not having to worry about breaking down camp and figuring out which route to take to the next location. It also gave us some time to explore this place that we had traveled so far to see.

Following that advice that we were given from the ranger, we decided to do the scenic loop on the eastern part of the island.  This starts near Bar Harbor and continues around a scenic one way loop that passes Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Point and all circles around Cadillac Mountain, with scenic overlooks all along the way.

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After a scenic overlook or two, our first stop along this route was Sand Beach, one of the only (if not the only) sandy beach on the island.  If you’ve ever been to Bondi Beach in Australia, this reminds me of that, but smaller and with more rocks around the outside.  Basically you walk down to a clearing between two large rock sidewalls where there is a concave sandy beach. This pictures will do much more justice than my description.

Entrance to Sand Beach - apparently we didn't take the standard route down there.
Entrance to Sand Beach – apparently we didn’t take the standard route down there.

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There was also what looked like a tide pool on the back side of the beach which had a hill as a background – the water was quite warm and was shallow so that a child could easily wade out into it.

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After goofing off at Sand beach for a while we decided it would be time to carry on and check out some other areas.  We continued around the loop, not stopping anywhere in particular unless we saw something that piqued our interest.  Eventually we decided that it was time for some hiking, so we went to the top of Cadillac Mountain and looked around at the scenery and found some trails.

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Casey and I, well prepared of course, set off on the trails down the summit of Cadillac mountain and up Dorr Mountain, south along Dorr and back down Dorr and up Cadillac again, only to take another longer stretch back up Cadillac.  The order of the trails we took were the Cadillac Mountain Summit/Dorr Trail, Dorr Mountain South Ridge Trail, Canon Brooke Trail, then back up the Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail, as can be seen on the map.  If you are in the area and like hiking I would highly recommend these, although they are rather difficult and aren’t marked the best.

On the descent from Cadillac Mountain, you are effectively going down a rocky summit where if you were to ascend it would be all scrambling – rather slow going but challenging with some quite beautiful views.  Well we were going down this, into a small canyon between the mountains, and back up Dorr Mountain, which was more scrambling up a rocky ascent.  Once to the top of Dorr Mountain and on the South Ridge Trail, it was a longer, more cross country type hiking that went from rocky mountain top to a mountainous slow sloping downhill with a decent amount of vegetation, eventually to a dense forest trail.

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Once in the forest, we came to Canon Brooke Trail, where we turned back towards Cadillac Mountain and passed a number of waterfalls of varying sizes and slopes.  At this point to get back up onto Cadillac Mountain and the trail to where we started, we had to scramble up rocks and a long meandering waterfall. This was unlike any hiking I had done before, and Casey and I both agreed that when it said difficult, it meant it.  Also, Casey being Casey decided that the regular trail isn’t exciting enough for him, so he needed to climb up any alternate path he could find.  This wasn’t a problem for me as I was just interested in making sure we were on the original path, marked out by a series of blue paint marks.

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Once to the top of Canon Trail, we came upon a pond on the mountain, where we decided to take a rest and listen to the symphony of bullfrogs who decided to sing while we were there. Maybe it was the exhaustion from the hiking, but it seemed unreal to have that many frogs in one pond.

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After resting, we headed up the long but not so steep rocky uphill back to the top of Cadillac Mountain, meeting an older couple along the way who were hiking a few miles back to their campsite and showed us a number of pictures from their trip, giving us recommendations on other places to go.  It’s a shame we weren’t able to stay longer as the sunrise photos as well as other scenery they recommended were quite fantastic looking. Overall it was about 4 hours of hiking for maybe 5 or 6 miles.

Once we returned to the bikes, there were a couple of other motorcyclists who were arriving as we were changing from hiking clothes to riding clothes that we chatted with for a while, and we decided to head back and find a place to eat dinner. After looking at some reviews of places online, we settled on a lobster roll place near the campsite.  We stopped and saw the astronomical prices, and consulted the phone again to see where else we could try, and found a spot about a 10 minute ride away on our side of the island but off the beaten path to eat.  We were both famished from the day, and I hadn’t really eaten anything earlier, so we ordered tons of food – for Casey, a burger, a lobster roll, and a grilled cheese, while I settled on a large lobster roll, a grilled cheese, and a slice of raspberry pie.

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When the food runners brought the food out to us, they were confused as they wanted to know if all of that food was for us! They were expecting a party of five to eat that amount of food, and excluding the 6 bags of chips that came with our meals we were ready for what we had ordered.  Although, since I hadn’t eaten that day, I had to take half of my food home and eat it when we got back to the campsite as my stomach wasn’t ready for such an influx of food.

After this, we were both properly exhausted and headed back to camp to go to sleep.

New Hampshire to Acadia

It was nice to sleep in a bed again instead of on the ground like the last few days, not to mention to change up my standard camping breakfast of canned sardines to something more… civilized. When we woke up, the Figarys had breakfast all ready for us – lots of fresh fruit and hot toast with jam, something you really can’t bring camping.

Casey and I then had a conversation about the rest of our trip together – the first two week portion of my trip. We both had come to the same conclusion separately, but it was a conversation about planning that needed to happen. We both had separately come to the same conclusion that we shouldn’t continue on at the rate that we were – ride for a fairly full day, set up camp, and try to get some activities in the next morning.  We had originally planned to go to Nova Scotia and Gaspesie, but when we looked again at the map and how far away these places are and how much time we have we decided that we needed to cut some locations out of the trip to make it more enjoyable.  As much as I want to see these places, we needed to cut them out.  Instead, we decided to spend two nights in Acadia and then.

We got cleaned up and packed up and while were preparing to leave, we got to meet Tom’s neighbor, his friend Steve that I had heard so much about. They saw us off around 11:30 and we made our way north east to go to Acadia National Park.

We decided to start off taking the highway as we needed to make good time, and once we stop for lunch, re-evaluate. We found a seafood place for lunch, so we could have a Maine specialty of lobster rolls!

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After a lobster roll and a half of a giant cookie each, we were set to keep going.  At this point it was decided that yes, the highway was boring, and yes, we would be taking more back roads to Acadia.  While the roads didn’t compare to the Eastern PA roads for riding pleasure, the Maine roads were beautiful in a way the mountain roads weren’t.  More long sweeping curves and dense woods all over, with the occasional lakes, inlets, and water views.  More country road running through occasional small towns.  Still very much worth riding.

By the time we finally reached Acadia we were both hungry, but decided to first set up camp before venturing out for food.  We checked in to the park, purchased our campsite for the evening, and I purchased my annual national park pass for future visits and use of other national lands. The ranger was very helpful with recommendations on both campsite as well as other places to check out the next day for hiking and views.

After setting up camp, we finally ventured out for food, looking around Acadia for a spot that looked good to stop to eat.  After a bit of riding, we both settled on stopping at a local grocery store to purchase some food and drinks for the evening. We also stopped to pick up some wood on the way – you aren’t allowed to forage for wood in Acadia, so you must buy it. Thankfully Casey was well prepared for this.

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On the way back to camp there was a rocky structure that extended out into the water, and we decided to stop and eat our dinners there.  Cheap meal, but a good view!

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On the way back to the campsite we noticed that the lake we parked our bikes in front of was steaming, another perfect opportunity for a picture!

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Off to New Hampshire

Remember how I normally sleep in? I was super excited to have the campsite all to ourselves and was planning a good night’s sleep! But then the bros happened.  The bros were about 4 truckloads of guys from NY who decided to show up to one of the campsites next to us at 6 am to set up for tailgating all day. They were loud, and by the time I got out of my tent, they all had a beer in hand. I guess they just rent out a campsite or two to set up their own frisbee golf goal, cornhole, and other drinking games. Well, it was good to get an early start anyway, and the campground sure was pretty in the morning.

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Today was less about the outdoors and more about seeing good people.  I had planned to get lunch with an old college roommate (hey Andy!) and then carry on to New Hampshire to see my friend Tom and his wife. This was a full schedule though, so the riding for today would be less mountain back roads and more highway to make reasonable time.

We cleaned up camp, got showers, and were on the road by 9 am to start heading east. After New York state, the majority of the road was Massachusetts highway. Most of this was on 90 east, which, while being a fairly straight two lane highway, was nice – no real traffic, decent views, and no stopping. I did get a check engine light during this portion which freaked me out some, but I noticed no change in how the bike was running so we stopped at the next service station a couple miles down the road and I used my computer to check the engine codes – exhaust valve actuator malfunction. Good, nothing major at all, clear the codes, and we can be on our way. Buells tend to have some issues with these and they really don’t affect the overall reliability of the motorcycle. The people at the service station must have liked seeing a person with their gear strewn about on the ground sitting with a computer next to their motorcycle. Probably not something you see every day.

We continued on, and eventually I heard from Andy about where and when we should meet – a quick in and out to a suburb of Boston called Waltham to find lunch. On the way Casey and I decided we were making good time and should try out some more local “scenic” roads, so I reset my GPS to avoid highways, the setting that had given us so much luck before. Unfortunately, this time, it took us on route 20. For those of you for familiar with northern DE was like Kirkwood highway but worse – it was under construction in many areas and filled with Massachusetts drivers (also known by neighboring states as Massholes. I have no problem with the people, the drivers, however, are awful.) Sparing the details, if you’re ever looking for a scenic road in Massachusetts, don’t take 20.

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When we arrived in Waltham we dismounted, locked everything up, and met Andy in a nearby park by the city hall.  It was great to catch up with him – I haven’t seen him in 5 or 6 years, and in the meantime he’s been doing some travel of his own, living in Jordan and seeing loads of places in Europe and the Middle East. We all headed to an African restaurant where we had peanut chicken curry that was amazing. Casey and I also had a side (k – something, I can’t quite recall the name) which I would describe as a fusion of a few different things I’ve had before. Imagine a large egg roll that you make with naan bread as the wrapping and cooked spinach and onion as the filling. It was fantastic, and I wish I had taken a picture but we were all hungry and started eating once it arrived.  After lunch we chatted for a little while longer, said our goodbyes, and Casey and I headed up towards New Hampshire.

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Traffic coming out of the Boston metro region was a pain, but luckily the navigation avoided having us sit in traffic on the highway and had us take some slower but still moving smaller streets.  After the additional time and waiting, we finally got onto the highway and it was a quick trip. And when we arrived, look who we found!

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It was great for Tom and Bobbie to put us up for the night, plus, they took us out for food at one of their local favorite Portsmouth restaurants called Surf. Fantastic view as well as great food (and company!)  We were both so glad we got to stop in and catch up with you!

Portabella and cream cheese stuffed flounder with shrimp.
Portabella and cream cheese stuffed flounder with shrimp.

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We then walked around Portsmouth by the river where you can see the bridges to Maine. Not a bad view!

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By the time we got back to their house both Casey and I were exhausted for the evening so we turned in early.

Rickett’s Glen and the Catskills

I normally have trouble sleeping in, but today I was up especially early at 5:15 and couldn’t fall back asleep. On the bright side, the sunrise over the lake and through the trees was fantastic.

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Because we had heard such good things about this state park but didn’t get to explore yesterday, we decided to break down camp early and go for a hike. After breakfast and packing up we headed to the trails around 9 or so and hiked the Falls Trail and Highland Trail at Rickett’s Glen. The falls trail had around a dozen waterfalls, with one large one (Gonaga) at 94′ drop that were awesome to see. Unfortunately, the hike took longer than anticipated and we weren’t back at the bikes until 12:30.

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We hit a local restaurant for lunch to get some food after the long hike as well as get cell reception to plan our next night’s stay.  After some sandwiches and a few phone calls, we decided on the Catskills in NY. I also took some time to play with my phone and rediscover the “avoid highways” option on my navigation, which yielded some awesome mountain roads which didn’t take much longer than finding a highway. The roads through PA and parts of NY state were beautiful, with lots of lakes and streams running through the woods in the mountains and curves following the hills and water.

When we arrived at the campsite our first impressions weren’t good – we had made the reservation sight unseen and from the road there were loads of RVs parked right on top of one another, and our preference is normally to have more space in a more primitive campground. Since it was early evening, the person who worked at the campground wasn’t there and had left a packet for us as well as some wood Casey had purchased. We picked up our packet and found our campsite, which wasn’t labelled so clearly – the person had circled three different campsites. When we got there, we realized that we were the only group in the three campsites and that we could choose any one we’d like which was awesome – no neighbors to deal with, and we had a small stream our site backed right up to.

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At this point we set up camp and decided to go out to find food, ending up at an Italian restaurant, and eating a massive “kitchen sink” pizza. Full, and worn out from a long day of hiking and traveling, we made our way back to the site to sit by the fire and go to bed.

Setting Off

I had planned on posting this last night, but when we arrived at our campsite there was no signal anywhere for a few miles, so we enjoyed our evening instead. I will upload the photos to go along with this once I have wifi.

For the first day of our big trip, I had intended to get an early start around 8 o’ clock, but the day before when confirming start time with Casey I was glad to have him suggest a start of 9.  When he arrived on schedule, it was clear that both of use had some minor tweaks that needed to be done before departing.  I still hadn’t finished my packing for the trip – everything was there but not everything had found its place on the motorcycle yet. And Casey – along with his new packing layout he had just had new tires put on his motorcycle. Unfortunately, when the person reinstalled the wheel they had flipped which sides the asymmetric wheel spacers went on so his rear wheel was rubbing a bracket.

We went ahead and changed out the spacers, finished repacking both of our motorcycles, and were on our way by 10:45.

Casey and I ready to leave for our trip.
Casey and I ready to leave for our trip.

Our first stop was in upstate Delaware to say bon voyage to some of my family, so we took scenic route 9 because taking the highway route 1 is no fun.

We stopped in to my mom’s store to say goodbye for a while, and everyone come outside to inspect the bikes. Everyone said their well wishes, and I promised again to be safe, and we were off. I even got some words of wisdom from my grandfather.

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The stop for the evening was west of Scranton in a state park called Rickett’s Glen in PA. This was recommended by a coworker to me, and it seemed as good as any of a place to camp for the night – the location was right and I was told that there are some awesome waterfalls there. On the way there this meant that we could ride through rural Pennsylvania and go through Amish country. By this point, we were both hungry and decided to stop at a random town before reaching Lancaster to get something to eat.  As it turned out, this was the same place I remembered getting ice cream as a kid on a family trip to Lancaster.

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The next stop was a place I have wanted to visit since I had heard about it a year or two ago – the abandoned coal town of Centralia, PA. I believe the town had a population of over 1000 before an underground coal fire started, and now there are just 11 permanent residents. It was so hard to recognize as a town because the buildings had been demolished and the roads were overgrown with plants so we passed by it the first time.  When we realized we has passed, we turned around and explored some of the old town streets and even found some areas to do some “offroading.”

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After our offroad fun in Centralia, we headed over to Rickett’s Glen on some nice mountain roads. We certainly don’t have roads like these in southern DE. We arrived, got our camp site, and went to set up camp. After pitching the tents, we stopped by the local camp store a few miles away before it closed and picked up some hot dogs and wood to make a fire just before it closed. Our first evening concluded with a campfire, hot dogs, and some bourbon by the fire – a great start to what should be a wonderful trip!

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