Tout le Monde

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Day 6

A later start following the lengthy Tuesday we all had, a short and easy hike started our day. We explored the site and ruins of the old Dorr estate, one of the prominent locals who helped create Acadia and Bar Harbor.

An easy hike to a beautiful secluded cove had us searching for more shells and watching for sea life. We turned inward and wandered around the forested remains of the house. Nothing more than a foundation and granite stairs left from what was once grandiose landscaping remained.

Abby and Rachel were curious in checking out the beehive trail I had done the day before. So we went there next and began our ascent. It was a much busier day, which allowed for frequent stops on the way up. Unfortunately the weather was pretty foggy again which limited the views from these stops.

The fog also obscured the sites once we made it to the top, but we still had a pleasant break. We took a longer way back down to take a peak at one of the rare alpine like lakes that aren’t down close to sea level.

After the three of us headed home to collect Margaux and the kayaks. A short drive had us at Bubble Pond, a smaller body of water next to eagle lake. The winds were even calmer, allowing us to slowly poke around the lake. Being so much smaller than Eagle Lake, we quickly crossed the whole thing before letting the window carry us back to the launch.

As the wind moved us, it slowly picked up and also brought heavy fog up and over the mountains behind us. Propelled only by the wind, we were chased in slow motion back to shore, an eerie but beautiful end to our kayaking.

Our trio dropped off the dog and equipment at home before planning dinner, which was to be fresh cooked seafood. We took a break from orchestrating dual families and went into town for a brief happy hour. We ended up at a great little spot called The Barnacle where we had a very private dining experience on the back porch that only seats 4, so it was just us.

Back home, we enjoyed mussels and delicious home made crab cakes. We reviewed more photos from the day and got excited about whale watching the next day.

Day 5

We started the day incredibly early, hoping to get a Cadillac mountain sunrise viewing in now that the Labor Day weekend crowd had cleared out. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate, and we ended up seeing mostly fog.

I wanted to check off another iron rung route, so headed to the beehive next. It was a bit more crowded than the precipice trail, but still sparse being so early.

A much shorter hike, both getting to the start as well as the vertical climb, the view at the top was just as rewarding. Offering a much closer view of sandy beach and the shore, I relaxed and snacked briefly before descending the rear side, again a much easier route.

I took a circuitous route back home, investigating lake conditions and filling up on gas, as well as getting some more sights in along the way. With calmer winds, Abby, Rachel and I decided to head back to Eagle lake and attempt kayaking again.

We successfully got the kayaks unloaded and into the water, and parking was much easier to come by. Abby and rachel took a double along with Margaux, while I reconfigured to use the other kayak as a solo.

The wind still made the lake a bit choppy, but we had a wonderful time. Slowly poking along the coast, we eventually came to a handful of loons. We sat and watched them a while before slowly wandering back to the launch, surrounded by peaks on all sides.

We got back to the house early to prepare for our sunset cruise. Heading to the dock in town, we boarded the Margaret Todd, a 150’ sailing schooner, for our evening entertainment.

We weaves around some of the porcupine islands in the harbor. As the sun set, the scenery became more majestic. Eventually we even spotted some dolphins as they hunted other sea life. The sun behind the trees, we headed back to shore.

Miraculously, one of the restaurants we wanted to try was able to seat us almost immediately, and we settled into another meal peppered with a variety of seafood, beer and good conversation.

Day 4

I woke up early to check off one of my own hiking goals: the precipice trail. Climbing up one of the vertical faces of granite Acadia is known for, it is one of the sought after iron rung routes.

Our drive along the coast the day before showed how tight parking was due to the lack of shuttle this year. So I started from a more distant and less frequented trailhead that took me along one of the first trails that eventually became Acadia National Park.

After a couple of miles of fantastic searches of granite dotted with greenery, and incredible stairs made out of hunks of the same stone, I came to the bottom of the trail and the first iron ladder. Rapidly gaining elevation using iron treads anchored in stone, switching back on narrow ledges and repeating, I (relatively) quickly reached the summit and was greeted by a wide vista from bar harbor to sandy beach.

I enjoyed a hoppy beverage before descending an easier, but incorrect, trail down. It put me a mile down the road from where I parked, so my hike became longer than expected.

We wrapped up our day with a hearty seafood takeout dinner from the lobster co two blocks away. Fresh lobsters and rolls, so much chowder. Stuffed to the gills, we retired ready for another day of exploring this wonderful island.

Day 3

First full day in Maine! We got our bearings by walking on the nearby shore path to downtown bar harbor. A bit further took us to the land bridge, a wide but shallow strip of land that is only exposed at low tide and connects with bar island.

After we swung by the bar harbor farmers market. We grabbed some local produce and meats. After Abby and I went out to grab the rest of our groceries for the week along with some beer and wine.

On our way back, we checked out Atlantic Brewing’s main location that also has a bbq restaurant with outdoor dining. While it looked busy, we were actually able to get seating for 7 pretty quickly.

We enjoyed the delicious food and local beer before heading back for the evening. A pretty light day of activity, I planned to get up early the next day to get some more substantial hiking in.

Day 2

Waking up a bit later the next day, we decided to head into Portland proper to find breakfast. We parked at the eastern promenade, walking back over munjoy hill to grab breakfast bagels from Forage Market.

Returning to the prom, we found a shaded park bench and enjoyed our breakfast with a view of the park and casco bay. Margaux was content to be out of the car, and we all enjoyed watching lots of other dogs.

We checked out an expansive community garden there, and then walked down to the water to give M her first salt water experience. After some splashing we walked along the shore, saw the narrow gauge train go by, and then made our way back to the car.

Setting off north, we planned to take the slower and more scenic route 1 closer to the coast. Stopping for anything of interest, we stumbled upon a great pedestrian suspension bridge. Next up was a tucked away mini lighthouse. And all along they way we would get glimpses of ocean and bays.

We grabbed a late seafood lunch in Rockland accompanied by views of sailboats from the park we enjoyed our takeout in. Filled up on lobster in both pie and mac n cheese form, we hit the road again for the final stretch to Acadia.

Our arrival was uneventful, but driving through central Bar Harbor made us thankful for having a house so close to town. Traffic was tight, parking non existent, and it was clear the middle part of the day on Labor Day weekend was going to be exceptionally busy.

To avoid crowds, we ordered take out pizza from a fun local shop that also doubles as a movie theater (outdoor movies now in covidy times…). Stories were swapped and we started talking about the upcoming week and the variety of activities to come. It was time to get to bed with thoughts of hikes and kayaking to come, and all the delicious food to fuel those adventures.

Day 0/1

We left Pittsburgh after work on Thursday, hitting the road a bit after 5. That put our ETA to Corning at nearly 10pm, but we were all too excited to start the trip to care about the late arrival.

The drive was uneventful, and we found ourselves rolling in to Corning just ahead of schedule. Our only stop had been very briefly at bullfrog brewery in Williamsport to pick up some crowlers, not knowing what would be open once we arrived.

We had also placed an order ahead of time for pickup from one of the few places open past 8 or 9 in Corning called hand and foot. The food was delicious as we gathered around the magic that is hotel cable television.

With food wrapped up and beer consumed, we all went to bed rather tired from a full days work followed by four hours of driving.

We woke up early on Friday, excited to get to Maine. A quick fuel stop for the car, and a fuel (Dunkin) stop for us, and we began our 7ish hour drive to Portland.

The first few hours on the Southern Tier Expressway were beautiful, and absent of any traffic at all. Lovely winding curves through south eastern New York, as we crossed the Catskills and headed for western mass. As we crossed Massachusetts, traffic slowly picked up.

A quick detour was made for lunch in Springfield, and then we were back on the mass turnpike, headed towards Boston, and the variety of beltways that circumscribe it. Traffic got much worse, but we only encountered one accident. But our arrival time slipped by an hour. And then a second hour. So we were quite happy when we finally arrived at our hotel on the outskirts of Portland.

We quickly checked in, signing all the paperwork needed for traveling in the time of COVID. After dropping our bags, we drove up the road 5 minutes to a small grouping of craft breweries. Our first stop was definitive Brewing, and their corona measures knocked it our of the park. We enjoyed unwinding outdoors, heading next door to foundation Brewing later on to continue our sampling of local brews.

On the way back to the hotel, we got great Mexican take out and continued our binging of TV before once again retiring from a day full of driving.

Day 0/1

Our flight left Pittsburgh at 4:30, but even with a brief layover in Houston, we didn’t make it to Mexico City until 10pm local time. After customs and getting to our Airbnb, we weren’t up for much more on our first night in CDMX.

We woke up early the next day to meet our tour guide and driver for a day excursion to teotihuacan. A nearly hour drive there let us experience the enormity of Mexico City and the surrounding suburbs first hand. Our tour guide Dina gave us some helpful info along the way, before the looming pyramids showed up on the horizon. The weather was lovely, in the 50s and 60s that morning, and clear of clouds all around.

Dina took us through the ruins of teotihuacan pyramid by pyramid, stopping at multiple sights along the way. Explanations ranged from the history, to the religion, the the archaeological steps along the way to get to our current understanding. The pyramid of the Sun was a very long climb (66 meters tall!) but gave a magnificent view of the entire complex.

l By late morning the sun was out in full force, and the final climb of the moon temple was the hardest one yet. A view back down the entire road of the dead was followed by a walk through a restored section of the housing structures, which looked eerily similar to housing we had seen in ancient housing across the Atlantic.

We grabbed some delicious home made fruit popsicles before taking a brief ride to a nearby restaurant. Our large group had a single table with a wide variety of foods and beers brought to it. After a relaxing refueling, we made our last stop at a close by store. The proprietor gave a brief workshop on the agave plant and its many uses: paper, fiber for weaving, the related aloe Vera and of course: mezcal and tequila. After, we had a sampling of some amazingly diverse spirits made from the plant and then were encouraged to shop around the store. A brilliant sales tactic that did have us buy a few things.

The return to downtown Mexico City took far longer with much heavier traffic, which the majority of us slept through. We made it back to the Airbnb to freshen up, revived by bus naps. After some essential grocery shopping, we went back out to find drinks and food. The former was a great little spot where we had a variety of mezcal cocktails and local beers. We then set off to a restaurant on our list to have some more traditional Oaxacan cuisine. Some misunderstanding of the menu had us all order the equivalent of two entrees a piece, accompanied by quite the selection of mezcal again. Exhausted by such a physical day, we made it back and promptly passed out.

Day 8

Time for a change in venues! We left rising sun that morning to head to Many Glacier Lodge for our final two nights in the park. This requires an hour or longer drive out of the park through the east gate and back in on the many glacier specific road.

We stopped on our way back in to hike to akipuni falls. It was a short, but steep hike to a beautiful tall waterfall in a canyon. A wonderful leg stretch on our way to the lodge with a beautiful view back down the valley.

After we made it to the lodge early, so decided to grab lunch and go on a small hike while we waited for our room to be ready. The cafe had more delicious montana beer, and abby was delighted with a wonderful mac n cheese.

Another short hike began at the doorstop of the cafe, heading to swiftcurrent lake, where wild life is supposed to be very abundant. And boy was it!

On our way out, abby very astutely told me to stop. Looking up we were at eye level with (what we learned later) was a grizzly bear teen. We slowly moved out of its path, as it and a baby cub crossed the trail and went up the other side of the small valley we were in. We were too caught up to catch a good photo, but it was an amazing experience.

Arriving at the lake had us in for another treat. A huge moose on the other side of the lake had the attention of a small crowd. We were awe struck as it lumbered along the far shore, paddles draped in greenery from foraging around.

We made the return hike without any major events, and found our room ready at the main lodge. The building was a beautiful, sprawling, century old swiss chalet style piece of eye candy. We lucked out with a top floor room just off of the main 3 story atrium.

After freshening up we headed to dinner in the expansive dining hall. The food was delicious, served by more summer workers from various places near and far. We retired to the grass lawn sandwiched between the front of the lodge and the lake with a bottle of wine, playing rock poker and recounting the crazy day while surrounded by the jagged peaks of the park.

Day 7

After our exhausting hike the previous day, we took things a bit slower on our second (and last) full day at rising sun.

Looking to be another hot day, we planned to visit the three nearby waterfalls on a shorter 6 mile beginning of the trail was a quick drive down the road, and took as along the lake shore for the first mile. After which we turned inland to view both baring falls and sun rift gorge. The latter is s stunningly deep and narrow gorge caused by a rather disproportionately small creek.

Another short hike along the lake brought us to St Mary Falls. A bridge crossed the falls and a couple dozen hikers were all raking breaks, rehydrating or watching a few brave individuals jumping into the very cold water from the steep creek sides.

We turned a bit more inland to reach the final falls, Virginia Falls. A hundred foot high water fall then turns into dozens of smaller cascades before reaching the lake below. We took a brief snack break here before retracing our steps to head back to rising sun.

To keep the day less strenuous, we spent the rest of the hot sunny day lake side. Abby fully embraced the cold water for a swim, I could only bring myself to go waste deep. Some beers and snacks were perfect company to some good books and amazing scenery.

We packed up our items to be ready to hit the road again tomorrow, and had our last meal st the rising sun motor inn.

Day 6

Big hike day!

We got up early to head up to Logan’s pass, the point where going to the sun crosses over the continental divide. Even at 7:30 in the morning parking was a challenge, but fortunately the parking gods smiled upon us at the last minute.

Our goal was the high line trail. Hugging the western face of the garden wall, a series of peaks along the CD, it is supposed to travel through dozens of alpine meadows with amazing views along the way.

After only a couple hundred feet a daunting section carved into the rock face gave the first real taste of hiking in glacier. The ledge was a couple hundred feet above the road we had come in on, and a cable anchored to the rock wall was your only security to not take a shortcut back out.

That brief section over, we entered the first of many meadows sections in full bloom. The diversity of flowers was astounding, nearly everything in peak blossom. We would alternate between meadows, rocky outcroppings, occasional patches of pine trees and some rock fields. Undulating between slopes, the views would alternate directions, framing a new landscape around each corner.

We took a brief detour about 6 miles in to head to an overlook of the Grinnell glacier. This incredibly steep spur trail climbed 800 feet in only 0.8 of a mile. But the view from the saddle at the top was astounding. Perched on the continental divide, we had sweeping views both east and west. The glacial lake below was an incredible blue green that seemed fake. We caught our breath before scrambling back down the steep trail.

After nearly 8 miles we finally reached our lunch spot, the granite park chalet. Built over 100 years ago when the park was first formed, its an aptly named stone building with massive timber ceilings and walls with no power or running water. But still it provides a refuge to those traveling the park just as it had so many decades ago. We ate our lunch and drank more water than we thought we could.

Next was our descent back to the road. By now the sun was high and this was a section that had burned within the last decade, so not a bit of shade to be found. Four miles in the blazing Montana sun, even downhill, ended up being more challenging than the previous 8. We finally cooled off with a stream just before getting to the road. Then a shuttle ride back to our car and a drive had us back in rising sun an hour later. Exhausted and starving, we grabbed food and drinks before pouring ourselves into bed.

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