Woke, put the van in drive and rolled out early while the rest of the campground was still snuggled in their Smuggler’s Notch tents. Slept-drove a few miles into Stowe, VT for some coffee.
Wound our way over twisty, rutted roads alongside whitewater rivers and beautiful tick-infested meadows. Across the border into New Hampshire where the speed limit increased and the helmets came off the motorcycle riders: “Live Free or Die”
Through the White Mountains and skirted around Mt. Washington. Dudley has a vague memory from his youth of a family trip the windy summit.
Rural New England is a lot like rural areas in the Pacific Northwest or the South or probably most out-of-the-way places: Houses with sagging rooflines and off-kilter porches in need of a fresh coat of paint. It’s hard to figure where the jobs are and there appears to be all kinds of ways folks supplement their income– antiques, “antiques,” hubcaps, crafts, fresh eggs, vegetables, dirt, split firewood, Christmas trees, scrap metal, pies – are just a sampling of items we saw advertised with hand painted signs in front of houses and at the end of driveways.
The most common activity seems to be lawn mowing. We pass countless men and women on their John Deere riding mowers zipping around vast acreages of grass.
You can get a McLobster Roll at McDonalds in these parts. Something called a Maple Creamee is a softserve treat around here. We pass on both.
Acadia National Park hosts 2.5 million people per year and is one of the busiest national parks. We knew we wanted to come to Acadia and have also been dreading it a little: it will be mobbed, we got the last campsite in the entire park back in April when we booked it, and the mosquitos will be vampire-like.
So we pull in and…we have a phenomenal campsite: Site A16 is stunningly private, perfectly flat, large, with its own grass driveway. When we arrive, there are (tick-infested) deer grazing languidly in its meadow. And dig this: there’s a small cemetery at A16. Yep: there are about 5 gravestones, all from 1860s and earlier, about ten feet from the van. Little gray granite lozenges sinking awkwardly into the ground, one a “California Pioneer,” as the gravestone announces. There are two children, Hatty and Fanny. There are several whose identities are no longer known. The rangers don’t know much about them except that their descendents still visit the graves. We know this, too: there are two American flags stuck in the ground of two.
Although all the campgrounds are “full,” we took two short hikes in the afternoon and met few people. It’s stunning here: the rocky coastline, the volcanic rock, the lobster pots. We were scared, but Acadia has charmed us.