and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
September #5

Early fall sojourn in Acadia yields some spectacular scenery
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, September 29, 2005

To describe Chip's and my summer vacations, he paraphrased Paul Revere: "One if by sea, and two if by land."

That's how we reached "the forest primeval," as it was described by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in Acadia National Park.

On his solo sail up the coast of Maine, my partner, Chip Ford, stopped at Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island. I had no desire to go to sea in a 22-foot sailboat. But I did enjoy tracking his trip with a Maine map, and as he landed near Acadia, I felt a twinge of envy: I had always wanted to go there.

Then I learned that he was near Somes Sound, the only fjord on the East Coast. I didn't know the United States even had a fjord, except in Alaska.

As a child, reading something fanciful, I had longed to see a fjord. In 1988, while seeking my roots in Ireland, I found one mentioned in a guidebook, though it doesn't appear in most.

I was already in Westport on Clew Bay, learning what I could about the pirate queen Grace O'Malley, so I followed the narrow coast road south, figuring I'd run into the fjord there. It was a misty, lonely road, with waterfalls all around the most magical place I'd ever seen. Years later, I went back with Chip but couldn't find it; like Brigadoon, it seemed to have disappeared.

By then I had visited Norway and taken a boat to the head of the Sognefjord. So in the summer of '05, I figured I had seen my last long finger of the sea.

Acadia is so close. I'd traveled as far as Australia in my foreign travel days, saving the nearer places for when I was older. When I asked Chip to find me a postcard of Somes Sound, he told me we could drive up for a long weekend in the fall. Thus, the one sailor by sea became two tourists by land.

With President Bush asking us to vacation close to home in order to save fuel, you might want to consider this delightful trip yourself if you haven't already done it. It's five hours if you don't stop in Portland for lunch, and not too expensive off-season.

Last week, the foliage had not yet begun to turn there, either, so we saw a lot of Maine green-ness. The forest in Acadia, near Bar Harbor, isn't really primeval, since there was a terrible fire in 1947. But it grew back exceedingly dense.

When Chip and I travel, he gets up before dawn to photograph the sunrise. He has a collection of these pictures on his dining-room wall from the sun rising in eclipse on Grand Manan to the shot taken in the Baja desert when he was surrounded by wild dogs. He thought it would be great to see the earliest sunrise in the United States from the top of Acadia's Cadillac Mountain and left our room at 4:30 a.m. for what he thought would be a cold, solitary experience. Two hours later, he was surrounded by a hundred chilly tourists with cameras, seeking the same early view! The day dawned for them all, clear with just enough clouds on the horizon to make for perfect photos.

We found the head of my fjord at a village called Somesville, where a tiny, oft-photographed selectmen's building indicated government of just about the right size. I always carry toy boats in the car to set afloat in running water, so a small, red-and-blue tugboat is now drifting around the only East Coast fjord, or perhaps is on its way to another fjord in Ireland or Norway.

My son expresses concern that my plastic boats will hurt seabirds or fish; I assume these creatures aren't colorblind so they won't be attracted to red plastic. Maybe I'm rationalizing. But when taking my water safety instructor course, I was told to wear bright colors so sharks would know I wasn't part of their usual grayish diet.

Speaking of diets, the menu choices on Mount Desert were wonderful: mango salmon at the Main Sail terrace in Northeast Harbor, overlooking the dock where Chip stayed last month; blueberry pancakes at Two Cats, where one of them slept on his lap during breakfast; and a bicultural lobster quesadilla, with spinach and mushrooms, at Donahue's in Bar Harbor. Those were my choices. Chip ate fried seafood and the "ho-hum breakfast" of bacon and eggs, just as he does anywhere we go.

Maine, like Massachusetts, is a blue state, so we felt at home or as at home as we feel here, which isn't very. Did see one "Kerry/Fonda" bumper sticker left over from the last election.

We entered Acadia on National Public Lands Day, Sept. 24, during which the park fee is waived for the day a real treat for taxpayer activists. I left a contribution anyhow. Voluntary is good, and I wanted to pay our share to preserve the second-most-visited national park in the land.

And that's Acadia, not Arcadia; and Mount Desert, with the accent on the last syllable. So I not only enjoyed my vacation, but I learned something, too!

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem News, Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence Journal and other newspapers.