It is a beautiful new world. A new life. New possibilities and new perspectives.
I took this new person-in-the-making to yet another family gathering, which makes two in just over two weeks, another first, which all of a sudden felt not only possible but desirable. And while I visited with cousins in Maine that I haven’t seen in a long time, I didn’t feel awkward or intimidated or out of place, as I was expecting to and would have only a week ago. Rather, I felt at ease and peaceful and that I belong.
It was wonderful to simply be there and express a desire to reconnect without feeling my old mental scripts pressuring me into squeezing everything possible out of the short visit; to make up for years in a few days.
Then I took this new person-in-the-making to the Maine seacoast to explore Acadia National Park.
- Street name: Hida Way
- Street name: Hagans Elbow
I took my time getting there, enjoying the coastal drive, and arrived at night, staying overnight at the Walmart in Ellsworth, just outside of Acadia, to get a little sleep before getting up in the morning to watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, a popular activity.
From October to early March, this is the first point in the United States to see the sunrise. It isn’t quite the easternmost point of the United States, but because of its elevation (at 1,530 feet, it’s the highest point along the North Atlantic seacoast) it is still the first.
This time of year it is only not the first by a matter of minutes, and to catch this early sunrise, I set my alarm for 3 am and drove into Arcadia and to the top of Cadillac Mountain. The top had a good view, but not from the van. I would have had to get out and stand in the cold for an hour with the crowd of other early risers. I had passed an overlook about a quarter mile down that had a spectacular curbside view in exactly the right direction, and went back down to that. Good choice.
The morning light was vividly pink. As they say, pink sky in morning, sailor take warning. Yet as the sun reached the horizon, the pink gave way to yellow.
I watched the light of the sun for an hour before it got to the horizon, and then another hour and a half after it came up.
I found myself just as interested in watching the water around the small islands in the bay as in watching the sunrise. The streams, eddies and paths of the water are fascinating and I wonder, not for the first time, why there are such distinctive roads, rivers and paths among the water.
They reminded me of this TED Ed lesson I saw recently:
I left about 6:30 am and drove partway down Ocean Drive to Sandy Beach to get a parking spot before the crowds came, and with that accomplished, I took a nap. When I got up it was still only 9:30!
The beach was actually really pleasant. It was an overcast day so it was cooler and not super crowded even though there were plenty of people there.
I walked around barefoot on the sand and climbed on some rocks and let the cold water and sand run between my toes and under my feet. It was a surprisingly good sensory experience.
A little further down Ocean Drive lies a cleft in the rock formation called Thunder Hole, where the tide crashes in and, when it hits just right, makes a booming sound like thunder. I watched the waves crash in for a while, but the tide wasn’t at the right point to get the full spectacle.
I climbed around on the rocks a lot and enjoyed that, then settled down on a nice rocky seat and had lunch, the last leftovers from fish and chips with my cousins. It seemed fitting to eat fish and chips by the ocean. Got some nice pictures of the rocks and ocean.
I drove a complete circuit and a half of the rest of the island, noting the following:
- Street name: Less Traveled Rd.
- Street name: Grumble Corner Cir.
- Street name: One Lane Rd.
- Sign in front of a store: “Open today 3 to close”
Made it down to Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. It is actively used and occupied by a Coast Guard family, so is not open to the public, but there are informative signs and a trail to go down to the rocks and, if you want to do some minor bouldering, you can get a good view of it from the seacoast side, with the dinging of the bell on the buoy offshore in the background and the red light turning around (not bright in the daylight, but still visible).
I had a great time clambering around on the rocks for a while except for the constant avoiding of, and swatting at, mosquitoes. It did my heart good to see so many people climbing around on the rocks and getting this movement vitamin into their day. 🙂
Around 6 pm, I finally found the roadside coastal view I was hoping for in a place called The Seawall, which is a natural seawall at the bottom tip of the island. Everything I’ve been looking for was along route 102A. I stuck to 102 for the longest time.
The seagull spends his day finding insects and other bits of food to fill his small stomach, avoiding cars and people, and looking out for potential mates. His only concern is what he feels like at the moment. He doesn’t have to carve out time for craft projects or make money to satisfy tomorrow’s desires or worry about making the most out of his life. He doesn’t have existential crises or regret what he did or didn’t do or beat himself up emotionally about past mistakes. The mistakes had consequences, he lived through them, and that was the end of it. On to the next thing.
The next morning I found a back road with a good ocean view and watched seagulls grooming themselves on the gravelly-sandy coast. Also got sightings of a loon feeding offshore. It only popped up briefly before driving back down and popping back up quite a ways away in what seemed to me a completely random direction each time.
Back at Thunder Hole, I got a more dramatic display of waves crashing into the Hole this time. Also did a lot more climbing around on rocks, which I have been absolutely loving here!
And…big news…my odometer registered 30,000 miles! (Over what I purchased it at.) I have officially put 30,000 miles on this van!
I started exploring the coastal area around Acadia and spent a few days on the neighboring Schoodic Peninsula. There was a really nice overlook that I kept returning to. One day it started raining and I had an awesome view of the short storm. It lasted maybe an hour or so and then there was a pretty rainbow. Loved it! My odometer at this moment was 30,025.
- Sign in front of a lobster restaurant: sorry we’re open
- Sign in front of a hardware store: come in we’re awesome
- Sign in front of a plant nursery: grow through what you go through
- Restaurant name: The Pickled Wrinkle — That’s not a typo
- And this sign:
There is a little bit more of Arcadia National Park at the tip of the Schoodic Peninsula. I went there for dinner and sunset a few evenings, and got to do a lot more climbing around on rocks.
I love how much of Arcadia allows, even encourages, or is accessed only by, climbing around on the mostly granite rocks along the seacoast.
We all had to do a lot of mosquito swatting though. There is heavy mosquitoage this year (a term coined by a teenage boy who was doing the same thing with his family while watching the sunset).
Listening to the waves crashing against the rocks as the sun slowly sank was very soothing.
One night there was a really great view of the moon and the light reflected on the water was beautiful. It looked best through my little binoculars where I—surprisingly—could make out the contours of the craters very nicely.
There is no man in the moon, but there were men on the moon. And the 50th anniversary of the first time that happened is coming up. In fact the day I took this picture, 17 July, was the anniversary of when they launched from Earth.
Before leaving the area, I went back to the Acadia Peninsula to visit a special museum. The Abbe Museum is a tribute to, and voice of, the Wabanaki peoples who have lived and fished in this area for hundreds, and their ancestors for thousands, of years. It was very well done, and was done by the Wabanaki people themselves.
I liked the feel of the place. It was calming and peaceful while speaking in no uncertain terms about some of the impacts of colonization on their people, their way of life, on the land and especially the water and other creatures in this region.
The museum featured many beautiful examples of traditional and current Indigenous artwork including some paintings that really spoke to me, and some playful and highly skilled basket weaving (one of a puffer fish, and some stylized vegetables).
A few quotes that especially spoke to me at this point in my Journey of reconciling with my own past and forging a new way forward:
“Just listen; it takes the turtle a long time to get somewhere, but it knows where it has been. Listen!” Linda Poolaw, Delaware Nation
In becoming this new, more authentic version of myself, I don’t want to (and could so easily) discount what I have gone through to get here. This reminds me that that would be a mistake. The hurts need to be healed, not ignored. Forgiven, not erased.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
I’ve seen this before, but this time it struck me more personally. I’ve been looking lately for a new way of being in the world, a new relationship with “responsibility” and society’s expectations, and this reminds me that I really do need that new vision, because the old one is what got me into this mess and it won’t get me out of it.
“Decolonization is broadly defined as the process of reversing colonialism, both politically and culturally. It involves not only recognizing Indigenous perspectives and the ongoing colonization of Indigenous nations, but the devastating effects that colonialism has on Indigenous cultures. Through collaboration with Wabanaki artists and curators, People of the First Light strives to be a space for the presentation of Wabanaki history and culture from the perspective of Wabanaki people.” From an interpretive sign about the museum’s purpose and method of achieving it.
This description of decolonization is something akin to what I have been working on in myself. Recognizing the devastating effects of cultural socialization on my own psyche and way of being in the world, and trying to finally find my own voice in the midst of the clamor.
Where will that voice lead me? For now, to Bangor, Maine, for the 50th Moon Landing anniversary celebrations.
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