End of the Year Field Trip

LiHigh Goes to Acadia

To celebrate the end of the school year, I took all three of our students to Acadia National Park for three nights of camping, hiking, and sightseeing. For those who don’t know, Acadia is about an eight-hour drive from here, but since all three of my students have good taste in music (and the ability to sleep in a moving car), the drive wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Plus, we stopped in Concord, N.H., for some fruit smoothies, and that makes everything better.

After arriving in Bar Harbor, finding our campground in the park, and setting up the tents, we ended the day with a nice little barbecue.

First night’s dinner

When we woke up the next morning, the sky was a tad bit too gray. I walked down to the ranger station to get the weather, and sure enough, they told me it was going to rain. They didn’t know when, but it would definitely rain. After making a breakfast of bacon and eggs (and a PopTart for Giulia), we headed out to hike three miles around Jordan Pond. And as soon as we stepped out of the car, sure enough, it started to rain. But everyone was up for the hike anyway, so after putting on some rain gear, we started walking.

Jordan Pond
Tom admires the view
Hiking in the Rain

The hike took us most of the morning, which is one of the downsides to hiking with two people who are studying photography, but there was a great reward at the end of it. At one end of the pond is a fantastic restaurant, the Jordan Pond House, which just so happened to be serving warm and comfortable food on the day of our hike. So after spending a few hours in the rain, it was nice to sit back with a cup of chai tea and a cup of coffee, tomato-basil soup, warm sandwiches, and free(!) popovers.

The original plan for the afternoon was to hike around the tallest mountain in Acadia, but with the rain, we decided to spend the afternoon browsing the shops in Bar Harbor. After a few hours of shopping, I ended up with a new hat and an incredible bottle of imported white balsamic honey/ginger vinegar (which is as tasty as it sounds). The three students also found some fantastic (and not too expensive) wares. After shopping, it was back to the campsite for a nap in the drizzling rain…followed a couple of hours later by a trip back to Bar Harbor for some pizza. With warm food in our bellies, falling asleep was no problem at all.

After a breakfast of bacon, cold pizza, fruit, and a PopTart, we decided to tackle the tallest mountain in Acadia, Cadillac Mountain. There’s a long, winding drive to the top of Acadia, and while we considered hiking it, our appointment for later in the day forced us (thankfully!) to do the drive instead. But once we got up there, all of us scrambled away from the beaten path to find peaceful moments of our own.

Tom takes a deep breath
Logan and Giulia find some peace
Lounging in the mountain grasses

Once we’d taken our fill of the 360˚ views, we headed back to the campsite for some quick sandwiches before taking off again to find the dock at the College of the Atlantic: the starting point of our three-hour tour. We’d reserved seats on The Dive-In Theater Cruise, which received great reviews on the Acadia website. The cruise took us about 30 minutes off the coast of Bar Harbor (passing some lounging seals and a frolicking harbor-porpoise on the way!), where an incredibly entertaining man named Diver Ed donned his dry suit, picked up his HD video camera, and dove into the ocean.

Diver Ed

While Diver Ed (and his partner, a PlayMobile figure named Mini-Ed) scanned the ocean floor 250 feet below our feet, the images captured by his HD camera were fed back up to an HD TV on the boat, where Ed’s partner, Captain Evil, and an Acadia Park Ranger, Ranger Eleanor, explained what we were seeing. When Ed returned to the boat, he brought back the sea creatures that had just been on the screen, and for the next half hour, everyone on the boat got to handle each creature as they passed.

Logan and a blood star
Tom and a lobster
Diver Ed attacks Giulia with a crab

When we got back to dry land, we spent about 15 minutes browsing the museum at the College of the Atlantic, which had some realistic displays of the various land and sea creatures inhabiting Mt. Desert Island (the location of Bar Harbor and Acadia). We returned to the campsite for the night’s dinner, which (because it was our last night), involved cooking everything we still had left over — sausages, burgers, and hot dogs — and eating all our chips and crackers and peanuts and…well, it was quite the feast, I’ll you what.

But then we had to get to bed, because in the morning, before packing up and coming home, we were gonna get up early and catch the sunrise from atop Cadillac Mountain. Ever seen a teenager stand atop a cold mountain in 48˚weather with high winds at 4:30 in the morning?

It’s too early for this kind of wind

While the clouds weren’t the most cooperative things in the world, we still did get to see a beautiful sunrise over the harbor.

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain

With the sun getting higher in the sky, we descended the mountain to catch a couple more hours of sleep. Then we packed the car, got some breakfast at a restaurant in Bar Harbor, then made the drive back to Vermont.

All in all, it was a perfect way to end an incredible first year for the students of LiHigh School.