Acadia National Park, Maine
Updated: Nov 11, 2021
The roads and sky morphs into a dark charcoal black and my trucks beams are the only light on this vacant night. Erik is asleep next to me, rightfully so he landed in Syracuse only a few hours ago, and it is midnight eastern time. I’m determined to get to Maine to maximize our turn and burn four-day weekend and there’s only 10 of the 13 hours left to drive. Eventually there will be light and scenery. I ’am beyond excited for the luscious greens, amber reds, and crashing blue beneath the rolling hills – the imagery from years of wanting to hit Acadia, a truly unique gemstone in the national park system. Beaches, rock cropping’s, and blueberry flavorings – it’s really hard to imagine a better destination. By 5 am I am utterly exhausted and pull into an off the interstate Sunoco and sneak the truck in-between a few semis to shut my eyes for a few hours too. The truck is comfy enough the back seat can fit one person snuggly of which at this point I have slept for a many of adventures - and the truck bed is basically a king sized albeit , no mattress , luxury suite if you’re comfortable with the exposure. It’s about 8 am when we can no longer stand the sound of semi’s humming and horn testing, doors slamming, and otherwise odd vehicle traffic noises when we head inside grab some mediocre gas station coffee and proceed forward. Only five hours left.
The scenery changes when you hit certain parts of the east coast, I suppose that’s true of anywhere though , the way the world shifts around you when you step outside of the urbanized ripples. The tree’s stand a little taller, the colors a little brighter, the air a little cleaner. It all just has a different feel to it , it’s like the weight of humanity isn’t pressed so firmly into its space that it has the room to stretch – the branches reach a little further, the grasses grow a little softer – they don’t have to withstand the constant breaching of our imprudence. We pass small bays where lake front waters softly lay into rocky shores blues and greys, spackles of white, beaches of rock. Oranges, greens, and amber reds flood the tree line and leaves of all the colors are carried by the wind. The temperature is cool and smells like Fall. Without the pumpkin spice, ya know – the waft of the night before campfires sifting in the air. We pull into a crowded parking lot home to camped RV’s and family campaigns where we quickly retrieve our park pass and continue on. Sometimes, I do my research and I know exactly where I want to go – some trips are built around specific features, hikes, or views but with a place like Acadia I knew I just wanted to be there, and the rest would fall into place, and it really did.
We found The Precipice on a quick The Outbound jaunt which I use for 90% of my adventure’s searches; we park at the beach head and after a chaotic road crossing find ourselves greeted by monster boulders – roaring rounded grey slabs spread across the next couple hundred yards screaming to be jumped upon and around climbing up to outstretched cliffs! The child in each of us is so amused and we climb and run our own makeshift path up; there is as much joy in the air as fresh cool autumn scents. We winded and sweaty approach the trail ascent and begin our climb up – we navigate cow sized rocks, fallen tree trunk barges, metal rungs and built-in rock ladders alike. This trail is unlike any other. We’re looking out over sheer drops and tiny humans moving beneath the rock face below making there way up the same discourse. This hike isn’t for those who fear ledges or heights and especially a combination of the two - the ladders are built into the rock, and it’s makes for an epically good time- unless those are things that scare you, then perhaps a deep sense of accomplishment awaits you for overcoming your heightened fears. The rock rooftop harbors a gorgeous assortment of rolling green grass hills, amber yellow treetops, rocky walls, and an ocean blue beyond escape.
We make our way from trail to trail the way kids play and roam in woods to Cadillac Mountain. Free and careless and filled with laughter. We reach the beach where caves of rock press into the sandy beach and waves roll and wrap around them in exquisite harmony – the orchestra of water playing with their surfaces to make a symphony of nature. The salty air is cool and invigorating. We head into Bar Harbor seeking the infamous lobster scene – we miraculously pull into an unsupervised resort parking lot and find a space tucked away in the back corner. Taking our chances of going unnoticed we head into town and explore the urban setting. The smells of seafood and sweets take over and cute petite shops line the streets. We make our way into an outdoor store and with our luck on a dash of inquisition align a guided climbing session in the park for the next morning! We stuff our faces with lobster rolls and local beers and head back to the truck. The parking lot feeds right into a fancy looking pool and hot tub and to our surprise it isn’t locked – we are glowing in our fortune and sit in the relaxing hot water overlooking the bay stars overhead. We even get showers in their locker rooms, we really scored here. We sleep in the bed of the truck falling asleep to the sounds of water softly crashing on the rocks below – I don’t even think actual hotel customers got the same amazing view we did especially as the sun rose up over the harbor bringing to light and life every watercolor. Upon waking, it’s about 7 am I go for a walk to find a breakfast place that stands out with an aroma of sweet blueberry coffee – there are homes and shops alike seated up above the water and their colors glow in the early morning light. It’s cool enough out at this point that coffee warms the soul just as much as the body now and we’re starting the day off in absolute wonder and amazement.
We head to the shop and meet our guide – he’s a super chill dude, aren’t they all? We drive into the park and find ourselves at cliffs not far from our own hike the day before tremendous daunting cliffs nestled into the oceans break. We’re rappelling over sheer drops with ocean banter just below. It’s amazing. After a few hours of epic climbing, we make our way back and as is with all great trips there must be an end and certain we wouldn’t have the same luck as before we begin our trek back.
We stop in Portland, MN at a park somewhere along the water in downtown – it’s one of few places on I-overlander that has been tested by other van-lifers or car traveling dwellers. We peak around there are no signs exclusively prohibiting overnight parking, so we risk it, and it turns out to be a worthwhile gamble. We wake up to fresh coffee and donuts mere steps away. We continue on and decide to explore Salem MA since it was that particular time of year and neither of us had been. I am not particularly a Halloween or fear oriented person but even I admire claims to fames and unique pit stops that break up otherwise mundane and monotonous interstate drives. The streets are littered with people in costumes, hair colors, piercings, and tattoos alike. Signs decorate the sidewalk with palm readings and fortune telling. I’m intrigued but not enough to spend the time or money on a palm reading or anything of the sort quite yet. We parous through an assortment of tarot cards, crystals, and concoctions of otherworldly support – it begins to rain and with the cold air it’s an heir of bedtime among both of us. We set out to find an equally tranquilizing experience but after about an hour of failed attempts – closed parks, full campsites, and some scary looking parking lots we find an empty and unintrusive historical park outside of the city. We throw the Marmot tent in place over the truck bed – a really rather ingenious apparition I’m proud to have devised in my travels and we pass out shortly after 10pm.
Lights flood in through the orange tent cover and we’re equally confused – we peak our heads out between the gap of tent cover and the back frame and are almost relieved it’s not a bandwagon of murderous vans or something, but a small pain of terror at the red and blue lights flashing. We get out of our vehicle and proceed to answer a few questions, provide licensure, and answer a few questions. They were super nice and educated us on the illegality of camping in that historical area and that next time to just get a hotel, but they do afford us a few more hours of sleep and wish us safe travels – much appreciated. We climb back into our luxury suite and reawake around 8am.
The remainder of the drive we revisited the amazing memories we had just made the great luck of our travels and pure awesomeness of how it all came together – we both really last minute jumped onto this weekend trip, and I will forever be so grateful. The pictures always take me back to the fresh crisp autumn air, the hum of the waves crashing, the fall sun pressing into my back as my hands gripped the cool metal rungs against the towering earths rocks. Sometimes last-minute decisions are the most rewarding the art of being present and allowing things to present themselves. An amazing adventure that wasn’t our last – we hit the Catskills, NY for a Peace Retreat later on and that will be an adventure piece in and of itself and an epic exploration down the coast to Cape Cod and Boston. Great adventure partners are sometimes just ourselves, our awesome doggo companions, the open road, and a car karaoke great playlist – but sometimes we’re also lucky enough to meet people that match our energy and together the universe brings to light so much beauty and shared joy and I for one am eternally grateful for both.