The only National Park in New England

Distance in Miles and KilometersWe left Boston heading for I-95 north. We followed the interstate to the border between Massachusetts and New Hampshire. After a short stay at a rest area, we continued through New Hampshire without stopping. The interstate is a toll road through the state, so we stopped at a toll booth when we entered, and when we left the state once more, but beside from that, we didn't stop at all in New Hampshire. The entire journey through New Hampshire is only about 15 miles or so, so we virtually exited the state again before we recognized that we had entered. Shortly after the passing the Maine border I-95 becomes a toll road again, so we had to pay up for a second time, but the amount was still under $ 2. After crossing the border, we visited the first and only welcome center on this trip.

The lady at the Welcome Center asked us where we were heading, and we told we were going to stay the night somwhere around Ellsworth. The lady felt that if we were in Ellsworth, we absolutely had to visit the Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, south of the city, and she gave us a road map and a brochure from the national park. En route further north, Dorte studied the map and brochure (I was driving at the time) and we agreed that we would really like to visit it. As there seemed to be several accommodations in the area, we agreed to stay the night out there on the island rather than on the mainland. 

Just after Portland. the largest city in Maine, we left the motorway, which had been our intention from the beginning. Instead, we took the old U.S. Route 1 which follows the coast and is a little more interesting than the interstate. Before we left the motorway though, we noticed that in Maine, interstate distances were given in both miles in kilometers. We agreed that it was probably because Maine is bordering Canada, but whether it is the correct explanation, I do not know. There is also another explanation, which applies in some states, namely that the United States at some time discussed a transition to the metric system. During this period of discussion for instance New Mexico put up signs with kilometer markings, and some of these still stand, although the idea has been abandoned.

U.S. 1 is a rather small, but pleasant road at this stretch, with beautiful surroundings. We stopped a few times to look at Sherman Lake and Damariscotta River, before we continued to the town of Rockport. That is around half way along the Maine coast. Shortly before we reached the town we came across a restaurant, The Offshore Restaurant, that looked very nice, so here we made a lunch break. It turned out they had a terrific salad bar, and then we both had some kind of crab. After lunch we drove another few miles to Rockport. Here U.S. 1 is very close to the coast, and there was a small beach with real sand, which is rare on the rocky Maine coast, so here  some people were actually sunbathing while others were in the water.

View from our hotel room in Bar HarborAt Fort Knox (no, not the one with the gold, but an old fort from before the Civil War) we passed the Penobscot River, Maine's longest river, which we would later encounter multiple times. We crossed it via a nice bridge (Penobscot Narrows Bridge), which we stopped to photograph. The last miles to Ellsworth U.S. 1 leaves the coast, so we saw no more sea on that occasion. When we reached town, we switched to Maine Route 3 going south on to the national park. At a ranger station, we bought tickets and then we continued in directon of the park, but before we entered, we visited the town of Bar Harbor, to find a place to stay. We found a hotel on a hilltop, and got a nice room with balcony and ocean view (and a fireplace, which was less important as the  temperature outside was over 90 degrees). When we got the room, we again boarded the car and drove off for a tour of the national park. Acadia National Park is the only nationl park throughout New England.

Several paths lead through the park, but we chose to take on so-called Park Loop, a road that begins just outside of Bar Harbor, and goes along the island's east coast, and thence back to square one, hence the name "loop". We only saw the easternmost part of the island, but there were enough to look at, not least sea, forest and rocky shores. Among the places where we stopped to photograph, was Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Point and Otter Cove. We saw no otters though and no seals in Seal Harbor. The latter is one of the small villages that are sprinkled across the island. As we drove away we had to stop to watch and photograph a raccoon who was out walking on the road. It was not very big, so Dorte and I agreed that it was probably a "puppy". When we had seen enough of it, we drove back north until we came to a parking lot at the Bubble Pond, a small lake. Here we went for a walk to see the lake and its surroundings. It was quite beautiful, and we stood and enjoyed the silence - until it was interrupted by shouting and laughing from children up on the hillside. Then we went on!
We completed the rest of the loop, and then drove back to the hotel.

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