Usually, the Northeast American Yankee Association has one-day fly-in meetups. Land, lunch, and leave. In October, a few of us got together for a weekend in Bar Harbor, Maine. The plan was to enjoy the town and Acadia National Park, but the President ordered all National Parks off-limits to visitors because Congress wouldn't pass the budget he wanted. So we walked around town and found other places to take in the scenery. Just in case you don't know you're in Maine, there's a moose on top of one store (it lights up at night) and a happy lobster guarding the front of another.
The local population swells considerably when the cruise boats come in. The four-masted windjammer is a dude schooner for those who only want a couple of hours on the water.
Here's another view of Frenchman's Bay and the Porcupines (islands), before the cruise boat arrived.
The last two shots were taken at the beginning of the mile-long Shore Path, a scenic walk that's been open to the public since 1880. Geologists believe the balancing rock was left behind by a retreating glacier about 10,000 years ago. It's made of a different mineral than the ledge it sits on. We watched a big guy try to push it over. Maybe he thought he was stronger than ten thousand years' worth of hurricanes.
Because we couldn't get into the national park, we explored some other places that we would probably never have seen. I think we're better off for the experience.
Joseph Curtis, a landscape architect who summered in Northeast Harbor, owned 140 acres between the harbor and what is now park property. He called his summer home Thuya Lodge after the abundant white cedar, Thuja occidentalis. He built a switchback path on the steep hillside, which gave us stunning harbor views as we made our way up to his lodge and its gardens.
The gardens were the work of Charles Savage, who became trustee of the property after Mr. Curtis died. Today's gardens are a beautiful semi-formal retreat, and – as just before we showed up – are sometimes used for events like weddings.
Monarch butterflies must migrate because they are not built to survive the winter. The Monarchs that live here in the summer follow the Atlantic coast to spend the winter in Florida. When they return, three generations will pass before the next migration. Each fall's trekkers are the great-grandchildren of the Monarchs who made the previous year's trip. But they follow the exact route their ancestors used, often lighting on the exact same trees each year. Without GPS, and without asking for directions.
Thuya Garden is an official Monarch Waystation. It has bamboo and other plants to provide shelter, and a few species of milkweed, essential nutrient for the Monarchs.
Humans have somewhat different dietary needs, so we had breakfast at a bakery with a casual schedule.
Down the hill from Thuya Lodge, Charles Savage built the Asticou Azalea Garden, styled after the Japanese stroll gardens that were popular in this country a hundred years ago. The azaleas were bare in October, but there was still plenty of color in the garden, and the sculpture is always pleasant to behold. So are the stepping stones.
The paths and the sand garden are raked every day. Supposedly, there is a mystic art to raking exactly the right pattern to set the observer's mood in the right place. The sand garden is one of many outdoor "rooms" that compose Asticou. It evokes a tranquil lake with islands.
This place is a photographer's paradise. There were even a few professional models in evidence, necessarily cropped out of these photos.
After we had our fill of Asticou's serenity, we stopped by the sand beach at Seal Harbor. First, the mandatory construction of statues, …
… then the teenagers got a view of the harbor from these waterfront
swings. We were informed that you could see beyond the harbor to the
Atlantic Ocean, if you swing high enough.
It probably cost more money for the barrycades and sentries to keep us out of the park, than its normal operating costs. We couldn't get to Champlain Mountain and the Precipice, but we were able to drive to a good view of the place. Acadia National Park is a patchwork of private, municipal, and federal land. Only the federal part was off limits to visiting Americans. It takes more than a bunch of crybabies in Washington – six hundred miles away – to keep us from savoring coastal Maine's beauty. We're looking forward to the AYA's convention in this area, in 2015.