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A lot of lifelong dreams of mine have been coming true in the last couple of years, including the recent purchase of a Winnebago (yes, I bought a Winnie!). Long story short, it was an incredible deal on a fifteen year old well-cared-for, rust-free, fully functional RV and I would’ve been a fool to pass it up. Shawn and I haven’t wasted any time putting it to good use.

First trip? Well, besides a quick overnight at a local campground to make sure we knew how to use everything, we ventured on up to Acadia National Park.

If you’ve been there, then I probably don’t need to explain it. If you haven’t, I’m not sure I can explain it – but I’ll try!

We camped for three nights at Blackwoods Campground. No hookups. We were “roughing it” — HA! — as much as one can rough it in a Winnebago, right?!

We arrived last Sunday late afternoon and, after setting up camp, cooking and devouring dinner, we walked around the campground a bit, heard a little bit of Ranger Dave’s talk at the amphitheater, and then succumbed utterly to the tranquility of our surroundings and slept like the dead.

Monday morning, we were up and out the door early to hike Cadillac Mountain – a nearly nine mile hike from our campsite along the South Ridge Trail. It was absolutely perfect hiking weather – temps in the upper 60s, breezy, sunny, wisps of clouds.

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Those exquisite little islands, fanned like fingers across the glass-like Atlantic Ocean! And wow, was it windy along the top of the ridge. Good for staying cool, but my ears were ringing a little when we got back to the Winnie!

Monday evening found us heading down the short ocean path from the campground to hop around on the rocks above the jagged coastline:

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With so much fresh air and sunshine churning around in our bodies, we had dinner, a campfire, and then another exquisite peaceful night’s sleep.

By Tuesday morning, the campground was resonating a bit more loudly than it had on Monday morning with the humming and sputtering of generators. Rain was forecast and people were a little chilled. Our spirits weren’t dampened — we hopped on the Island Explorer (a FREE shuttle service!) and took in the Wild Gardens of Acadia, where we encountered, among many other lovely things, a carnivorous flower called the pitcher plant:

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I was both thrilled and dumbfounded. Why did I think that carnivorous plants only lived in untamed jungles? Maine is full of surprises.

Next stop – Sand Beach. The sky was really starting to darken by the time we got there, but we had just enough time to enjoy a breathtaking walk on the sand:

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and then a two mile hike along the Ocean Trail to visit Thunder Hole (which, sadly, wasn’t really thundering that day) and Otter Cliffs. All along the way, there was nothing to do except to marvel at the magnificence and power of the ocean.

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By the time we had finished our lunch at Otter Point, it was starting to rain, so we took the shuttle back to camp to wait out the weather. Once it cleared a little, we went bicycling for a couple of hours and then headed back to camp for the night.

By this time, we had some new neighbors in the next site — a couple from right here in Conway, NH! Such a small world…

Wednesday was checkout day for us. It started out rather gray and dreary but again, we were ready for more adventure. After parking the Winnie back at the Gardens, we took the shuttle to Jordan Pond, where we made the three mile hike around the water and watched the fog open up onto a very warm, muggy, Indian summer day:

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There was more – Northeast Harbor, Seal Harbor Beach – and even more that we wanted to see but didn’t have time for – more hiking and carriage trails, nesting peregrine falcons, beavers building and maintaining their lodges – but, feeling the pull towards home, we set out on Wednesday afternoon.

What is it about the ocean? For me, it’s not just the regularity of its tides, its penetrating scent, its devastating power. As awe-inspiring as all of those things are, being near the coast serves most significantly as a reminder to me that all life originated in that sea. When I walk along the edge of the ocean, I think about that precious moment when the spark of life first ignited. Were it not for that, I would not be here to marvel at it. Carl Sagan said, “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” I got my fix of that wondrousness in Acadia, and my goal, as ever, is to not lose it to the humdrum of “real” life. And what a silly thing to say, really. It’s all “real” life. I hope I never lose that sense of awe and wonder. This guy hasn’t — we found him working on some certain masterpiece near Otter Point:

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Here’s to all the wild places in the world and to all that which they inspire.

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