Last Thursday, I loaded onto a plane for Manchester, New Hampshire to photograph a wedding. I've been looking forward to it for a long time! It was my second trip to NH for nuptials, this time at the Atkinson Resort and Golf Club. Desiree and Will have such fantastic families and friends, and the wedding went perfectly. We even dodged a rainy deluge, allowing them to have their ceremony outside. The scenery was glorious, and the stormy clouds mixed with sun made for a gorgeous atmosphere.
The next morning, I started the long drive up to Bar Harbor, Maine. I had never been to Maine before, and after months of planning, I couldn't wait to see the Maine coast. When I was in my early teens, I exchanged a few letters with the author Robin McKinley, and she had a house on the Maine coast where she did a ton of writing. I remember imagining her sitting in a big house overlooking a gray ocean, dreaming up stories that would eventually make me very happy.
The drive was a blast, even if it was forever-taking. I took a lot of side roads, sending me through small towns and villages. The architecture was fantastic. New England is so different from Oregon. I couldn't believe how many yard sales I passed. INSANE. So many! In the middle of nowhere!
Around 4:00pm, after digesting two packs of blueberries and hours of "The Way of Kings" audio book, I checked into the Mira Monte Inn in Bar Harbor. I received a darling tour of the bed and breakfast before hurriedly stuffing my bags into my room and dashing back out for yet more driving. I wanted to get onto the Park Loop Road of Acadia National Park as soon as humanly possible.
Driving through a new National Park is better than most things. I get SO excited.
My first stop was Cadillac Mountain. The drive up is just mind-blowing--views of water and forest stretch in all directions, and it's easy to ignore all signs of humanity. It has a very ancient, fairytale feel. The forests on either side of the road are lush and beautiful. At the top, a windy, panoramic, breathtaking view awaits.
After wandering around the mountaintop, I descended back to the park loop and began winding along the coast and more yellow-green forest. The seacoast cliffs were everything I could have asked for. Rugged, waves crashing, the sound of buoys. I made many stops to see the views and run out to get windblown by the sunset breeze.
I went back to Bar Harbor for crab cakes at the Poor Boys Gourmet and tucked into my bed and breakfast. I had an early start the next morning--it was time for my first outdoor rock climbing adventure!
I met up with Eli, my guide, at the Atlantic Climbing School office in Bar Harbor. Eli has climbed all over the world, including Patagonia and Zion. He's cheerful, smart and very encouraging. We went out to the Otter Cliffs, since climbing above the ocean sounded absolutely fantastic to me.
Helmet, shoes and harness on! Eli pitched ropes for me, gave me some general information, and sent me down on a rappel. The first drop definitely screwed with my brain (letting go sucks with the initial scooch over the rock), but then I was flying down a rock wall with waves crashing below.
Okay, that's just cool.
I did eight pitches and nine climbs. Climbing outside is SO different--no tape, and infinite imagination. I love that I can put my hands and feet wherever the hell I want, and use my knees and whatever is available to me. I love the feel of real rock under my fingers.
The best climb was the chimney. Eli taught me how to wedge and scoot up between the two sides--the rhythm really messed with my balance initially, but it became much easier. Then I wanted to climb the chimney all day.
After climbing, I met up with Erin and Joel for engagement photos. We traveled the park loop, went on a hike and finished up at Cadillac Mountain. I so enjoyed them--they're up for anything, super-outdoorsy, and full of fun stories. They're getting married in Maine next year.
The next day, after playing an intense game of Luggage Tetris, I went on my last trip around the Park Loop. I didn't want to leave without one more peaceful trip around the park. I didn't want to leave at all--this just softened the blow.
I took the turnpike back to Manchester and, after another large chunk of audio book, hopped back on the plane home. I cannot wait to return to Bar Harbor and Acadia, and to explore more of Maine. What a fantastic state, and I barely scratched the surface. No matter how far from home, I'll find a way to make it back.