Maine, is without a doubt, one of my favorite states in the US. Gorgeous woods, fantastic coastline and a wonderful place to get lost in.
For a few years, while I was living in Maryland, I’d have to head up to Boston about once a month for work. If I was able to get finished early enough, I would let the company know that I was GONE for a few days. I would jump into the rental and take off north. No plans, no itinerary, just north.
I would drive all over the place, mostly along the coast, and frequently into the deeper woods, especially in the fall. The foliage there, truly, is amazing. You can find these fire roads way up north that run right into the woods. A few times, I would drive back as far as the rental could take me safely (getting stuck out there is a really bad idea…this was all pre-cellphone). I would get out and listen to birds, and wind in trees and the mournful cries of Loons. Absolutely exquisite. I had seriously considered moving there, except that, the winters are a wee bit harsh.
Of all of the places I have been through in Maine, Bar Harbor is truly breathtaking. If you have some time and want to visit a place in the US you have never been to, then, do yourself a favor and head to this amazing hideaway located on Mount Desert Island in Frenchman Bay. Acadia National Park is there along with Bar, and, Bald Porcupine Island right next to the town. Gorgeous ponds dotted the island surrounded by salt marshes that had the most intense orange and gold colored tall grasses edging them. The powerful hues reflected in the slightly rippled water turned the entire landscape into a living and breathing painting.
During these get-a-way jaunts, I’d look for a motel along the way and pull off when I felt like I needed to pitch my tent for the night. I was driving around Bar Harbor and found a cute little place right on the edges of the town, and, got a room for the night. As I was checking in, I asked the man at the desk what amazing things were there that I should try to see before I headed further north in the morning.
He explained that a lot of people would start their day up on Cadillac Mountain.
“Why is that?” I asked.
I incorrectly assumed, of course, it had the best coffee shop and morning pastries on the island. He quickly corrected me.
“People like to head up there before the sun comes up, then, when it does, you are the first in the country to see it.”
The mountain was named for a French explorer, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac, who discovered the area, before he headed further west and founded Detroit.
I left an early morning wake up call, got a cup of really bad coffee from the motel lobby then headed out for the mountain.
It was seriously dark, as I made my way through the entrance to the road climbing to the summit. I drove up and up and around and up and around then up some more. I felt like I was going to the top of Everest, but, doing the entire trip via rental car.
Once at the top, I found the parking lot, locked up the car and thankfully found that there were signs actually pointing east so I would be able to know where to look when the sun started its show. I walked onto the hillside, and, picked my way through the heavy dark to a nice, large rock where I could park myself, drink my bad coffee and wait to see the sun.
The hillside, as one would expect, did not have tall trees on it, and, was peppered with lots of these huge boulders nestled into the ground. They were like natural bleachers way up here.
After a few minutes, a thin line of intense red, pink and orange, ripped its way across the horizon. The ocean separated itself from the sky. The water took on a deep, cobalt color and seemed so huge from this elevation that I felt like if I just looked a bit harder, I might see the coast of France.
The sky grew larger as well, infused with that pre-dawn pearly light. I felt like I was watching an important play about to start while the curtain rose. I was enjoying the show so far, every bit of it, and even the coffee seemed to be tasting better.
Finally, a roundish ball of fire peeked up over the huge ocean. It had arrived, and I was the first person in the entire country to be seeing this.
As sunrise painted the hillside with fresh color, I noticed a couple of people sitting on a rock near mine. Oh well, that was fine. I could share this event with them. We gave a friendly nod to each other, the way travelers often do, and turned to look back out over the water.
As the sunlight continued tiptoeing up the mountain, turning the world back on, I was mellow, introspective and totally immersed in this serene moment. That was all about to change. As I could see more detail around me, I started to see more people. Dozens and dozens of them, sitting, laying and standing all over the hillside.
Where did they come from?! It was like they were forming right out of the thick, early morning fog that had cloaked the entire mountain and was now burning away. There were only a few cars in the parking lot, so, this was just an amazement to me. I was sitting right in the middle of all of them and will never know how I managed to pick my way in the pitch black without stepping on anyone, or, even being aware that they were there.