Spontaneous Acadia Trip
Not all of our photos are spontaneous. We very rarely point and shoot without one of us having an image in mind that we would like to capture. However, the photo you see above was taken on a whim by Gustavo on a trip that we decided to go on only hours earlier.
I know I have said before that pre-planning your trips makes them run smoother, but sometimes it’s nice to get in the car, or book a flight and go somewhere just for the sake of going. Being spontaneous is often a luxury that many people cannot afford. But for those who can make the time take the next free day you have and instead of cleaning or catching up on other work, go somewhere. It can be a trip to the beach, to the mountains, or to a friends house. It doesn’t matter what you decide to do, as long as you do it. Try not to hesitate. That often long to-do list will still be there tomorrow and who knows, maybe taking that time for yourself will give you a new and better outlook on some of the things on that "list".
I remember it was the beginning of November and Gustavo and I were on one of our Sunday hikes. The leaves were changing from orange and yellow to brown and the days were growing shorter. We climbed to the top of Crow Hill in Leominster State Forest. The sun was setting, and the golden glow made the photos we took appear to have dream like quality. I sat down on the rocks overlooking the colorful trees in the distance. A few families were enjoying the quiet sunset with us, and a group of guys were rock climbing below. Gustavo came over and sat next to me.
“Let’s go away tomorrow.” he said completely out of the blue.
“Tomorrow? Where?” I asked.
“Anywhere, let’s just go somewhere together. I miss being on the road.”
It had been about a month since we returned from our cross country trip and we were both a little down about being back home. Not because home is a bad place to be but because we missed the freedom we felt on the road. I tossed the idea around in my head seeing how it felt.
“Come on, we can leave tomorrow morning and be back by Tuesday night. What do we have to lose?” Gustavo asked me.
He was right, nothing. We could go, there wasn't anything holding us back at the moment. Besides, the fall colors were fading fast and it was only a matter of time before all of the leaves would be on the ground and the bare November trees would be swaying in the wind. I smiled up at him and Gustavo knew exactly what I was going to say.
“Okay, but let's go to Acadia National Park,” I suggested
“That sounds perfect. We better go pack some stuff.”
With that, we picked ourselves up off of the cliff's edge and walked the mile or so back to the car. Acadia is located near Bar Harbor, Maine about five and a half hours from where we live in Massachusetts. It’s a National Park and the Annual Pass I bought last August would be able to gain us free entry. Once home I packed my bag as quickly as possible. I only needed a few things because we wouldn’t be gone long. I grabbed some oatmeal, peaches, bread, peanut butter, jelly, and Mac’n Cheese from my kitchen cabinets, a long with clementines, and apples from the fridge. I threw all of this into a cooler with some waters, grabbed my sleeping bag, and a few blankets, and set everything by the front door. Then, I went to sleep.
The next morning we left around 9 A.M. By doing this we missed most of the morning traffic. We slowly made our way up the coast choosing to take Route 1. This allowed us to pass through all of the quaint seaside towns that make up New England. We stopped whenever we saw something beautiful, a cute summer cottage, or a lonely light house anything was fair game. We stopped for lunch at Old Orchard Beach and walked along the empty pier. The rest of the day honestly got away from us, and we reached Bar Harbor as the sun was setting.
We walked through downtown. I had every intention of finding myself a lobster roll for dinner, but most of the restaurants were closed on this chilly Monday evening. As my hands grew numb Gustavo suggested we find a place to stay for the night. Because it was November it was considered the off season at Acadia National Park, meaning we did not have to show our pass to enter and added bonus it was deserted. Gustavo drove the car to the top of Cadillac Mountain and we found an empty parking lot where we would spend the night.
We both got out, it was maybe 35 degrees with a slight wind. It would grow colder as the night wore on, but we were prepared for this. We walked together to the stone wall that looked over Bar Harbor. Lights twinkled in the distance, and the stars began appearing above. Gustavo set up his camera and took some night shots, while I set up the camp stove and made us our dinner on the side walk. I couldn’t wait to put my thick gloves back on with the hand warmers inside, It was getting harder to feel my fingers.
“It’s ready,” I called to Gustavo.
He left his camera on a timer and came over. We ate out of the pot as quickly as we could before it cooled in the blowing wind. We washed out the pots with water we brought in a jug from home, wiped them with paper towels, and put them back in the bin. We stayed up to take a few more pictures of the stars but then the cold got to us so we climbed into our sleeping bags that we had set up inside the car. Gustavo was in the front seat, and he chivalrously gave me the whole backseat to lay down on. We set an alarm for 4 A.M. and put some music on in the background as we fell asleep.
4 A.M. came a lot faster than I thought. The good news was we stayed warm all night even though the temperatures dropped into the teens. Climbing out of the car was like taking a cold shower. The wind hit my face first, chilling my body and sending a shiver down my spine. I pulled my heavy jacket on, my hat, gloves, and scarf. Then we grabbed our sleeping bags and headed up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the first place the sun touches on the East Coast.
We scrambled over the rocks and found the perfect spot. We put our sleeping bags down and climbed in them waiting for the light to touch the sky. By 6 A.M. about seven other cars pulled into the lot and their occupants came to join us. The sun began to rise over the horizon and Gustavo and I snapped pictures. We sat for a few minutes to enjoy it together, huddling close to keep warm.
Then Gustavo said, “Hang on I have an idea.”
He got up and walked over to his backpack, set up his camera on the tripod and took a few test shots. He told me to stand up. Then he pressed a button setting a 10-second timer and jogged over to stand next to me. We looked out over the ocean, as the sun shone in our eyes, we both were smiling, this is what we love to do. It makes the being cold, sleeping in cars, eating Mac’n Cheese at 11 p.m. worth it. He got the shot in one try. The sun had really risen now, so we packed up and headed back to the car to put the bags away. Then we walked the loop around the top of the mountain before I made us an oatmeal and peaches breakfast overlooking the harbor below. We ate our food watching the fishing boats head out to sea towards the many islands and coves that surround Bar Harbor.
Gustavo hugged me, “Let’s keep taking trips like this forever.”
I leaned into him. “Forever.” I echoed.