45.0 mi / 3:58:41 time / 11.3 mph avg. / 2260 ft. climbing
Staying at Mount Desert Campground
Our visit to Acadia National Park was expected to be one of the highlights of the trip for both of us. But the weather forecast was determined to blacken that highlight with near-constant and guaranteed rain that precisely aligned with the two to three days we planned to spend there. We were throwing all options into the air, including delaying our entry to Acadia a couple days, when of course perfect weather was once again forecast. We’d then hop a train into Boston to make up for the lost time. But we threw that out since we didn’t know what we’d do when waiting out the rain anyway.
The other thing wrecking the timing was that we were due to arrive on a Saturday, so switching plans from a tent to a place with a roof was basically impossible at this late hour. At the last moment I discovered that there was a WarmShowers host (people who provide lodging for bike tourers) on the island, so I contacted her, and she generously offered to help, but we decided against it when it sounded like we’d be adding more chaos to her life than the rain would add to ours. So in the end, we decided to just stick with the original plan, come what may.
But first we had business with Stephen King on our way out of Bangor. Rett has become an obsessed fan in recent years, so stalking him at his house was an obvious requirement of this trip. He makes it easy, having a giant house in the middle of the nicest street in Bangor, with a wrought-iron fence filled with spiders, dragons, and the letter ‘K’. We were the only ones there on a Saturday morning, but the worn dead grass in the parkway revealed that were part of a long line of stalkers. I guess that’s what happens when you use your home state as a character of so many of your novels!
On the road, in addition to the still-omnipresent hills, we hit a new stressor that we’d been lucky to mostly avoid until now: headwinds. Combining the two pushed Rett near her breaking point, and in frustration at her own perceived “slowness” (again, check the stats to see how perception doesn’t match reality), she told me to go off and ride ahead of her for a while so she could be by herself.
Of course I wasn’t particularly interested in that, but after we strapped her phone to her arm so she could listen to music from its speaker as she rode, I had some stuff to check on my phone, so I let her ride off ahead for a bit.
And suddenly, I could barely catch up to her. I think it literally took me a couple miles. Even better, I later learned it wasn’t rage powering her up those hills, but a genuine mood change, so when I caught back up she was happy to have me back with her again. That made for two positive mood changes! Finally getting the first actual chowder of The Chowder Tour helped too.
There was a lot of heavy, loud traffic heading toward Acadia on US 1A, so before we got to the island, one of the prettiest thigs we saw was when Rett went off into the woods for a roadside pee break. When she came back out she said “it’s really pretty in there, you should check it out even if you don’t have to go!” That’s the kind of thing that never happens when you’re driving around the country!
We were heading for Mount Desert Campground, a private campground in the middle of the island. I don’t think I’ve ever visited a National Park and camped somewhere besides a National Park campground, but I had discovered this place that had some of the best campground reviews I’d ever seen, it was a bit better location (if more isolated), so what the heck?
We were planning on picking up some dinner and breakfast groceries at a store a few miles short of the campground, but when we got to it at the top of a big hill: closed. At 3pm! At that point, the thousands of cars that had been passing us all day long made me fear what else could go wrong, particularly that the non-reservable campground had filled up, and we’d be stranded with neither food nor shelter.
Luckily, there was one more gas station in the area that we were able to stock up at, and there were plenty of sites available. Though all the waterfront sites were taken, ending our streak at 6.
Our site was still one of the best I’ve been in. Huge, with no visibility to neighboring sites, a granite cliff through the woods on the back side, and a flat, wooden, elevated platform on which to pitch our tent. We took a hike down the trail along the cliff to fetch firewood, and had a good camp dinner. By 8pm, we couldn’t hear a single other party in the campground, even though it was pretty well-oiled, and something about the place was even making us speak in hushed voices. It definitely lived up to the reviews, was probably the best campground I’ve ever stayed in (excluding a park where I can see Devils Tower or the Badlands etc from my tent), and we had a good evening before the rain was due to arrive at 6am.