Quite the Philanthropist
~Sunday, September 12, 2021~
Jeff’s leg has really been bothering him, and quite a welt it is. Cold compresses give him some relief, but the swelling doesn’t seem to be going down. But again, he’s working through the discomfort, allowing us to keep up with our activities.
As we explore Acadia National Park, we’re learning so much about what makes this park one of the most visited national parks in the U.S. The air and water are so clean and pure, it can’t help but invigorate you, as does the scenery. Acadia preserves about 38,000 acres of deciduous and evergreen forests which ensures a beautiful Fall and Winter landscape. We’re able to see just the beginning of the foliage change. The terrain abruptly rises from sea level to approximately 1,500 feet and encompasses 33 miles of scenic motor roads, 158 miles of hiking trails and 445 miles of historic carriage roads with 16 stone bridges.
These carriage roads and stone bridges intrigued us, so we decided to see it all on bike. You can either walk, horseback or bike the graveled roads. Class 1 electric bikes are allowed (kind of cheating on those hills though). We didn’t even know there was a Class 2 or Class 3 electric bike, but those are prohibited. Maybe the Class 2 and 3 are too “motorized” for what the carriage roads are really about. We were forewarned that the southern end of the park is more hilly than the northern portion. We decided to start with the southern end. And they weren’t kidding. About every ½ mile, it seemed we encountered a change in either descent or ascent. The ascents were not hard cardiovascular wise, but thigh burning wise, at least for me. It was all or nothing in terms of uphill or downhill. There was nothing level, no in between. What’s funny is the roads did not appear that steep, but we think the terrain being compacted gravel, slowed us down a bit which in turn made it more challenging. Had it been asphalt, it would have been a totally different experience and likely faster. One of the harder bike trips for sure.
Anyway, back to the reason we did the carriage trails in the first place. These rustic carriage roads were a gift to the park by business magnate/philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his family. Rockefeller was a skilled horseman and wanted to travel on motor-free byways via horse and carriage into the heart of Mount Desert Island where Acadia National park is located. Grades were designed to not be too steep or too sharply curved for horse-powered transportation. Construction began in 1913 and continued on for 27 more years. To save trees and preserve hillsides, Rockefeller had requested that retaining walls be used. Crews quarried island granite for road material and bridge facing, to blend everything harmoniously. Even the granite blocks used as “guardrails” were affectionately called “Rockefeller’s Teeth”. As if he didn’t do enough, Rockefeller also financed 16 stone-faced bridges, each unique in design,
to span streams, waterfalls, roads and cliff sides. Each bridge is a work of art complementing the landscape. Getting a glimpse into what Rockefeller was all about, has fascinated Jeff and I, so don’t be surprised when we add another non-fiction book to the trip library. Though they were the richest family in the world through the Standard Oil business, they deeply cared about the environment and preserving vast amounts of acreage for future generations to enjoy.
Halfway done with our bike trip, we enjoyed a welcome break and some lunch on the lawn area in front of the Jordan Pond House (mentioned yesterday), with Jordan Pond and Sargent Mountain in the distance. The place was bustling with tourists, some simply there to relax and enjoy the scenery, others just completing a big hike up Sargent Mountain or a long bike trip on either the Main Loop Road or the Carriage Roads.
When we arrived back to the car, we met a very talkative local, Steve, who had just shown up to do his early evening mountain bike trip, but was willing to offer up a few brewery suggestions and toot Maine’s horn. He’s lived here most of his life and can’t imagine living anywhere else. We also learned that the locals can distinguish one of their own from the tourists simply by how they refer to the island. The locals call it MDI, the tourists call it Mountain Desert Island. Unfortunately, we forgot to ask for some tips on a great dinner place on the island for our 30th anniversary. We did take him up on his suggestion to hit up the Atlantic Brewing Company in Bar Harbor. Parking was a bit easier this time around with it being late Sunday afternoon. Cool place, and a beer that Jeff would put in his top 5 of the trip…...04609. Mine was a delicious blueberry ale. Not too sweet, but a slight hint of blueberries. How do they get the blueberry flavor in the beer is what I want to know!
It was a homemade pizza night that we tried with a Boboli crust. Jeff and I couldn’t remember the last time we used a Boboli crust since we normally make it homemade or buy the refrigerated pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. But after our exhausting bike trip today, we didn’t quite have the energy to go all out and call it a purely homemade dinner. Plus, we have an E-A-R-L-Y day tomorrow with the Cadillac Mountain sunrise viewing. Goodnight folks. 🥱