It’s been a long-time dream of mine to visit Maine, but for some reason it kept getting pushed aside in favor of other destinations. I finally decided it was time to just do it. I realized that I didn’t want to look back later and regret that I’d never seen Maine.
When you think of Maine, what comes to mind? Lobsters. Blueberries. Whales. Lighthouses. Yep, I get it. But my romanticized vision of the state was one of rocky shores with waves of icy Atlantic water crashing against them, so that’s what I wanted to see.
I also wanted to hike in Acadia National Park, and had made notes about a few trails I thought I’d like to walk. I wanted to avoid, as much as possible, the most popular (aka crowded) trails. I’d hoped to have some quiet time away from people, time to enjoy the scenery and just do some thinking.
My first two days weren’t what I’d hoped, because I’d made the mistake of booking a hotel in the tourist mecca of Bar Harbor. That was the exact opposite of what I wanted this trip to be about. Within 10 minutes of arriving in town, I made a decision to avoid Bar Harbor as much as possible. I just don’t understand why that sort of place is enjoyable to people. Or maybe everyone just tolerates the “tourist-trappiness” of it because it’s the gateway to Acadia National Park.
But it didn’t take me much longer to turn things around, thankfully. I had a really wonderful few hours on a day that I drove north of the island to search for dragonflies. A friend had given me directions to a small river where he’d seen some species that would be new ones for me. So I drove out a dead-end gravel road alongside a pretty little river near a town called Amherst, and spent some time sitting on rocks watching the babbling water and the butterflies and dragonflies. I didn’t see another human for hours, a surprisingly rare experience anywhere these days. (Seriously, can you remember the last time you didn’t see another human for hours at a time?) I found two species I’d never seen before, but my photos weren’t as good as I’d hoped. My favorite was the Dragonhunter, just because it’s got a reputation as a fierce hunter of other dragons. Lots of odonates have interesting names, but “Dragonhunter” is one of the most intimidating.
The absolute best part of my visit to Maine, though, was the day I discovered Otter Point. I’d been driving along the coast in Acadia National Park, stopping periodically to climb out on the granite cliffs with hundreds of other people. I was thrilled with the landscapes I was seeing, but still in search of a place without hordes of humans.
And then I found it. I’d gotten out of the car to climb out on the rocks once again, expecting to see other people already out there. But there was no one. I had a big expanse of rocky coastline all to myself. Well, I was sharing it with some Common Eiders and Double-crested Cormorants, but there weren’t any people. I couldn’t believe my luck. And it got even better than that.
As I sat on a large chunk of granite watching the sea birds, I noticed fog starting to drift over the shoreline to the north of my position. It was starting to feel cooler, so I went to the car to grab a fleece pullover. As I closed my car door, another car pulled up and a man leaned out and asked me if there was anything to see down there. I had to think fast to get rid of him, so I said, “No, just a few ducks, if you’re into that sort of thing.” Haha, he spoke to his wife and they left. Victory! I reclaimed my spot on my rocks and felt my breathing get deeper and slower as the fog eventually arrived to moisten my cheeks.
The eiders were just below me on the kelp-covered rocks, but soon they were no more than blurry shapes. There was a buoy bell ringing in the distance. I only knew that sound from movies, and had never realized how relaxing it could be. I went googling so I could share the sound with you, and found this 10-hour long recording of buoy bells meant to lull you to sleep. That’s so great! I’m listening to that as I type this, and am smiling from ear to ear with the memories of that day.
You won’t be surprised to know that I visited Otter Point multiple times during my remaining time in Maine. I felt something there that I’ve never felt anywhere else in the 13 countries I’ve visited so far. I’m still not sure why I felt such a connection with that spot, and why it brought me so much peace. I loved the solitude, and the enormity of the landscape, and the smell of the ocean, and the feel of the air…. But I guess I don’t need to completely understand it, as long as I recognize and appreciate it. That first day I spent alone on the rocks with the fog cooling my skin was an experience I’ll not soon forget. I think I could do that every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of it.
Oh, I almost forgot. This is Spoon, a humpback whale I saw in the Gulf of Maine. Maybe I can tell you more about her next time. 🙂
Great photos… I could almost feel that coastal breeze and taste the salt! ha ha. The “Hordes of humans” phrase cracked me up. I could just see you scurrying away from that scene! The best moments are the ones (at least to me) where I have the whole landscape to myself.
Thank you for taking me to Maine, Kim! I have yet to get there myself, but thoroughly enjoyed your account of your visit, especially your discovery of Otter Point. If you’re venturing into the Anne of Green Gables books, I’d like to recommend the fifth book in the series, Anne’s House of Dreams, in which Anne is living in a place called Four Winds Harbour, complete with a lighthouse and its keeper.
I’ll make a note of that book too, Judy, thanks!
It’s been a long time dream of mine, too, to visit the NE coast, but more the north of Maine in Canada. I blame LM Montgomery. Those pictures and your description are amazing. Otter Point sounds like my ideal vacation spot. (First time comment-er, long time reader. Love your blog; thank you for all that you share with us.)
Gina, thank you for your kind words. I love to hear from people who’ve been longtime readers of this blog! And now I might need to extend my next Maine visit to include a bit of time north of the border. And I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables, can you believe that? Going over to Goodreads now to add it to my list. 🙂
What a wonderful essay. This is what a vacation should be!
Thanks, Tracy! I hope your upcoming vacation is as satisfying as mine was! 🙂
Glad you found some quiet rocks to sit on alone even if you did have to downplay them to the couple that stopped. It worked! The pictures are nice. I miss the ocean.
I know how much you love the beaches in South Carolina. Funny how I didn’t care for that type of flat and sandy coastline, but I love the rocky coast of Maine.