Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Sunrise turns out to be a BIG surprise

Wednesday July 31, 2013
Acadia National Park


Four of our friends are leaving today.

Yesterday was our last group activity with our friends here in Acadia National Park.  Gin & Syl and Dan & Tricia left this morning for Moosehead Lake in central Maine.  We sure will miss them and hope they have lots of moose sightings to report.

Bill and Nancy leave tomorrow on their way to the Finger Lakes in New York.  So today is our last day to do something with them.  Nancy wanted to do one of the traditions of Acadia - see the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain.  So yesterday she announced to us all that the car would be leaving at FOUR THIRTY AM if anyone wanted to go along.   Now this is not an early time for Nancy, but it is for the rest of us usually.  David & I have been known to get up that early to go kayaking.  Tricia and I said maybe.  Bill said NOPE.  I don’t think David said anything.


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So today when I get up at 4AM to make the 4:30 departure time I am really surprised to see him up and getting dressed.  The three of us leave at 4:30 and get to drive up the mountain about 20 minutes later.





And now for the surprise.


We are TOTALLY SHOCKED to see cars parked on the road leading up the mountain.  The parking lot up there is very big.  I know they have a real crowd for sunset but somehow I am not expecting to see between 750 and 1000 people up at 5am for a 5:19 sunrise.   But here they are.


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It’s pretty dark still, the color is just starting.  My pictures are dark too but I use the flash to get a couple of the spectators.   This beagle was probably up already and just tagged along.

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I wonder how long some of these folks have been here to stake out their spot.   There were lawn chairs and recliners, quilts and sleeping bags, blankets and breakfast.


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They actually are a very orderly bunch.  Probably they are all too sleepy for yelling and screaming or even loud talking.   But a cheer does go up when the first little sign of the sun shows on the horizon.


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Seeing the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain is an Acadia tradition because for much of the year, Cadillac Mountain is the first spot on the east coast of the US the sun hits.  


Today there are quite a few clouds and they threaten to get in front of the sun.  This is a great view with the islands of Frenchman Bay in the foreground.


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It’s getting light now.  The wind is blowing pretty strongly and we are getting cold despite our sweatshirts so after I take a picture of David and Nancy, we head back to the car. 


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This is what we find.  This is a two lane road up and down the mountain but not this morning.  Not sure what they will do when they meet someone coming up.


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The line stretches as far as I can see.  Sunrise in Acadia at the end of July with between 750 and 1000 friends we didn’t know we had.


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As we move down the mountain we have to form a single lane because folks have parked on both sides of this two lane road.  So NOW what will they do when someone is coming up??



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We do make it down the mountain and back to the campground in less time than we were imagining when we saw this mess.



After a more serious breakfast, we decide to visit Bar Harbor Cycle to see about getting some fatter tires for our bikes. 

When I said I wanted a wider tire to deal better with the kind of gravel we have found on Rails to Trails, Bill, our bicycle consultant, suggests we move from our current 700/35 tires for our Treks to 700/38 which is what he and Nancy have.   They do a lot more cycling than we do and often ride Rails to Trails so I value Bill’s advice and opinion.

At Bar Harbor Cycle, we talk with Al who is very knowledgeable and gives us a couple of options.  700/38 or 700/45.  Unfortunately they have neither of them in stock so we’ll have to come back next week.  But while we are there, we look at rear view mirrors and trunk bags.  We leave with both and a back rack for David to put the bag on.  $100 has left the bank account.

We run a couple of other errands but the day is beautiful and we still have a few hours of the afternoon.  We don’t want to do a major hike so we decide we will check out the edges of the island that we have not seen before.  



We are in search of Schooner Point Road.  It’s on the map but we can’t find it off of Route 3 where it should be.


During the visit to the Dorr home and grounds we noticed that the Schooner Point Trail head was there.  Upon investigating I find that the trail is one of the Historic Trails being reconstructed recently.  These are original trails created by the first trail folks, including George Dorr, in the latter 18th and early 19th Century.   This one unfortunately runs all along what is now Schooner Head Road but was originally the path from Bar Harbor to Sand Beach.


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We go looking for Schooner Head Road just to see where it goes now and what the path looks like.  We never do find it but we stumble on Cooksey Drive, the Cooksey Drive overlook and the Maine Coastal Heritage Trust.




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The Maine Coastal Heritage Trust has worked since 1970 to preserve 139,000 acres of Maine coastland including 300 entire coastal islands.  WOW!  This little spot on the coast accessible to the public from Cooksey Drive is one of those.   It has a great trail leading down to a beautiful rocky beach.   There is a small 2 or 3 car parking lot.  No one is here but us.  Sweet!!








We take the well maintained trail down and over a wetlands protecting boardwalk.   The Trust has clearly left this beach front natural community wild, cutting back only enough for the narrow path.

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Another gorgeous beach where I could easily grab my beach chair out of the Ruby’s back seat and stay for an afternoon.  Every single spot on this island is a postcard.


Here are the views on either side of where I am standing.  Imagine the waves crashing against the rocks, the smell of the salt air, the light breeze blowing your hair into your face.  I am so glad to be here.


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Along the drive we also find trail markers for the Hunter’s Cliff Trail and the Hunter’s Beach trail.  I haven’t seen these in any of my books so I determine to look them up when we get back.  This island is full of discoveries.



We ultimately have better luck finding Sargeant’s drive.

We head on around the perimeter of the island skipping the things we’ve visited before like the park loop road and the roads around Seal Harbor.  We are looking for the southern end of Sargeant Drive which comes out of the little town of Northeast Harbor. 


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After a couple of false turns and paying $3.749 per gallon for gasoline at the Main Street Variety from pumps that thrill David because they are so old, we find Sargeant and proceed up the east side of Somes Sound.




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Somes Sound divides Mount Desert Island nearly in half. Glacial Ice cut deeply into the granite bedrock creating a trough.  It is 150 feet below the present water level.  When the ice melted, the sea filled the valley creating the only Fjord on the east coast of the United States.   The sound is a narrow place between Acadia and Norumbega Mountains.  The water is relatively shallow at the mouth of the sound where the glacier deposited gravel and rocky debris.  

Because the road is between Norumbega and the Sound, I cannot get a true picture of the Fjord.  I’d like to investigate some side roads at the mouth to see if it is possible to see both sides of the Fjord at the same time.  Or perhaps do the Flying Mountain Trail.  It’s on the Acadia side but down near the mouth of the sound and might provide views up the sound.

Here is Acadia Mountain look toward the mouth of the Sound.

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The day is waning and I don’t have time to backtrack for these investigations.



 I have one more stop I want to make before heading home for dinner.


One day last week, Dan and Tricia took their scooter around all the “rim roads”.  That sounds like a lot of fun.  I know David would love to have a scooter. 

They discovered Sargeant Drive and told all of us about it.  Dan said there is a small really sweet park on the drive so we go further north looking for it.


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Sargeant Drive runs right along the sound and has beautiful views and pull outs.  Eventually it moves away from the sound and we find a small sign for Suminsby Park.  Sure enough, this must be what they told us about.


It is a small park with picnic tables, a sand volleyball net and a small beach on the sound.    Some of the picnic tables are right on the water.


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The view from my favorite picnic area above on the right shows a rocky shoreline and the end of the small cove swimming area.

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The park has a small dedication plaque to Bob Suminsby which I find quite moving.  In spite of Mount Desert Island being a summer play ground for some of us, it is a permanent home to others who work hard, just like Mr. Dorr, to improve their community.


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As we leave the park I notice the first signs of fall.  


Midsummer is August 2nd, Lammas, the midpoint day between Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox.  Summer is half over in 2 days.  But here it may be more than halfway over here as both the goldenrod and sumac are in flower.  In Virginia where I have lived most of my life, these two are sure signs that fall is here.  When we see them, we know that the turning of the leaves and the temperatures are not far behind.


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We have about two and a half more weeks here in Acadia so perhaps we will get to see more of the transition from summer to fall.  This is a glorious place to observe the natural wheel of life in any season.


  1. Looks like you guys are having a blast! Where DO you get all that energy? Gary hasn't ridden his Trek since the transplant, and wonders how David is doing in that department. Does he feel steady on it? What is the advantage of the bigger tires?

  2. Thank you for the beautiful picture of the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain. Now I won't have to get up at 4:00 in the morning to see it... :c)

    Can't get over how many people were there with you and how the road was so blocked!

  3. I'm so glad you got to see the sunrise despite the crowds which can be overwhelming! Loved the last sentence of your blog today.

  4. What an amazing sunrise, in spite of all the people. I thought our group of 100 or so in Death Valley was big~ I would imagine that the volcano on Maui might get those kinds of crowds, but maybe not. It has been interesting, in all your posts I haven't had a feeling of crowding in Acadia or in Maine in general. even Bar Harbor. Till now. Whew!

  5. I am a sunrise freak. I was salivating when you were going to go there. Wish it hadn't been cool and crowded so pictures of the sun all the way risen... But what a todo... all those people! I saw that kind of crowd in Yellowstone at Old Faithful.

    Another beautiful day, Sherry.. I enjoyed it very much as usual ;)

  6. I guess we'd better plan to take our Arctic gear when we eventually go to see the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain. That way, we can wait out the crowds and the traffic to clear.

  7. I echo Paul & Marti..thank you for getting up so early! Amazing how many people are there for this wonderful sight.

  8. Can't believe you got up for that sunrise. I thought you said you wouldn't.

  9. You do realize that some of those people stayed UP for the sunrise instead of woke up. Wonderful, wonderful place! No doubt about it. We WILL be back!

  10. Last time I got up that early for a sunrise was in Hawaii:)

  11. I keep having good intentions about getting up to watch the sunrise, but don't seem to pull it off. Your efforts and result are quite inspirational. The crowd would be the downside for me, but it still looked worth it.

    You two sure seem to be making the most of your time there. Two more weeks will fly by.

  12. I am SO blown away by the beauty here. But not sure I'd make it up for the sunrise, especially knowing I'd share it with all those "friends."

  13. we never made it to the sunrise since I am pretty sure Sharon couldn't get up that early...

  14. Beautiful sunrise and beautiful day- glad you guys are having such a wonderful time.

  15. Impressive showing for sunrise! Wow. Cute beagle! Glad you found suminsby park. What a pretty place. Fall comes early there
    ...and then there is winter. I think you're there at the best time :)

  16. I still can't believe I actually got up at 4:15 AM and out for a sunrise, but I did and I am glad I did. Thank you Nancy for leading the charge! I particularly enjoyed the small chorus of folks behind us who broke into song as the sun rose. They were too far back and perhaps not good singers as I have no idea what they were singing. Maybe "Here Comes the Sun". Thanks for the nice account of this wonderful day!

  17. I am also shocked by the number of people there to see the sunrise. It looked beautiful but I think we would have to skip that. Besides Jim can barely get up before 8!

  18. When Rich and I used to work from the Motorhome, we'd generally be parked on a lake somewhere in the south in the winter. He would leave well before dawn, then I would sit outside no matter how cold (I'd bundle up). Lizzie, my wonderful lab, would sit with me. The hour or so sitting outside with her next to a morning fire, a cup of coffe and a cigarette (when I was a smoker) were so peaceful, and I looked forward to them every day. The sun rises a little later in Georgia, though. In the winter, many times we were the only ones camped so it was very peaceful. Then, Rich and I would watch the sunset, together.

    One of the gals in the camping group I belong to had a wonderful suggestion in as much as many of us all camp in the winter. The windshield reflective sun protectors made for cars work great around a campfire. They fit perfectly in a chair or lounge chair and keep the back warm while reflecting the warmth from the fire. Very inexpensive. And what fun we have around campfires.

  19. It was a wonderful morning and a great experience!! Whodathunk that many people would be up there with us?!?! Mornings have always been my favorite and this was an exceptional one with you and David. I am still in shock that David was with us;o)) David, now you know what you've been missing;o)) Every sunrise will make me smile from here on.... It will be one of those "remember the sunrise when..." stories!!

  20. I started laughing as soon as I read that you were going to Cadillac Mountain. I knew what your surprise was going to be. I think maybe that I told you about friends who visited there a couple of years ago, Cathy and Early Toms. Their reaction was the same -- "Where did all of these people come from?" Cathy thought that there would be about 50 people up there. As you wrote, they, too, got a big surprise. I can't wait to tell her your story.

  21. Wow -- that's A LOT of people that shared that sunrise with you. Who would've ever guessed?

  22. I agree with above poster...where do you get all that energy! You sure make every moment count!


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