Monday, March 1, 2010

12. See a Bar Harbor sunrise

Seven hours drive each way, too much snow to reach the summit of Cadillac Mountain, and too much fog to see the sunrise that we came to view. But as far as Siham, Leah and I are concerned, our road trip to Bar Harbor could not have been better. Siham and Leah, both close friends and Saint Michaels' alums, are the co-originators of the New Things List idea. Siham had the great idea of catching a sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Bar Harbor because between October and March it is reportedly the earliest place on the East Coast to see a sunrise. When we saw this item on Siham's list, Leah and I immediately added it to ours and invited ourselves along.

The plan was for us to meet on Friday night in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with Leah and Siham coming from the Boston area and me from Vermont. But work and weather (at least threats of it) conspired against us, and instead we left at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning. Seven hours later we arrived in Bar Harbor and discovered that the warnings we had heard that Bar Harbor rolls up the sidewalk in the off-season were not even slightly exaggerated. We started ricocheting from closed hotel to closed hotel, when we accidentally went down a one-way side street. Happily we then passed a bed and breakfast, the Canterbury Cottage, boldly displaying a sign that it was open all year round. When one of the innkeepers, Rob, greeted us at the porch with a heartfelt "You made it" (though none of us had ever spoken, emailed or otherwise communicated in any way), we knew we had found our home for the next 24 hours.

Sunday morning at 5 am we climbed again into Leah's parents' truck, and headed to the blocked-off road up Cadillac Mountain. After parking in front of the barrier we set off in the dark on the snowed-over road up the mountain, which we had been told should take about an hour. Over two hours later, the sun had risen, we had trudged in and out of mists and fogs, patches of deep snow and crusted over ice, and when the mists thinned, we had seen some truly spectacular views. But we had not hit the summit, the snow had reached our knees, and the footprints we had been following had stopped as well.

At that point we made an executive decision, for we had another task to complete, and in our cold, hungry state (and knowing that a lovely breakfast awaited us at the Canterbury Cottage if only we could get back by 9 am), it was feeling more and more urgent. Back on Halloween weekend when we thought up the 52 New Things idea, it was the result of a conversation about just how bad 2009 had been, and how 2010 was absolutely, positively going to be better. During the drive to Bar Harbor, we had another thought: what better way to say good by to the abysmal year that had passed than to burn it -- at the earliest sunrise on the East Coast from the top of a mountain? So, the executive decision was this: if you're not sure how much further it is to the top of a mountain, but you've gone pretty far and the snow is too deep to intelligently go any further, a clearing is as good as a peak. Being environmentally conscious, we wrote the highlights of our terrible year on a tiny scrap of paper (actually the back of a grocery receipt, how's that for reuse?), and set it ablaze (not that it was a very dramatic blaze, contained as it was on a few square inches of paper). Very satisfied that 2010 was now free to be full of many good things, we started back down the mountain and made it back to our B & B. We were just in time to get in on roasted grapes (if you're wondering if that's a typo, it's not. Roasted grapes are my new favorite thing, and if you've never tried them, do yourself a favor and go get some. Right now. I'm serious, they're that good.) and blueberry waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream on top.

Unfortunately, we knew it was going to be seven hours drive back to our respective homes and so, happy as we were to be in Bar Harbor, after stuffing ourselves at breakfast we went up to our room to pack up. As you can see from the photo, Leah and Siham did try to stage a little rebellion and hide in the bed rather than leave, but eventually they gave up and we sadly left our hosts, Rob and Martha and their very fun dogs, a Schnoodle who's name I've forgotten and a female Labradoodle named Melvin who desperately wanted to do our hike with us. In addition to the shot of Siham and Leah's attempt to delay our departure, I've included photos of Siham and I starting the hike in the dark; Leah and Siham finishing their lists before burning; me looking a bit anxious while the list was burning(I was worrying about whether we were going to make it back in time for the roasted grapes); and Siham standing in front of one of the spectacular views we caught on our hike. As far as we were concerned, it didn't matter that we didn't summit a peak or that the clouds covered up the sun rise. We went to an incredibly cool place, had a mountain entirely to ourselves, said good-by to a horrible year, and did an awesome winter hike -- all before breakfast. Everyone should plug Bar Harbor into their plans sometime. It's great, especially when you have it all to yourself.

52 Ways to Say I Love You Dutch, with thanks to Annemieke for the translation and pronunciation tips!

hello hallo (hahlloh);
good by tot ziens ('seens'),
May I have two beers please? Mag (with the gg) ik twee (tway) biertjes alstublieft (u, like french 'uuu'/ 'ie' is english 'ee'); and last but not least:
I love you Ik hou van je/ ik heb je lief.

Coming Attractions

Unless I get some unexpected idea or invitation, I think I'm actually not going to do anything new this weekend. I might do some work on my ice skating goals and/or do a repeat of one of the new sport things I've tried (anyone want to try the climbing wall at Petra with me?).

BUT I think the period from March 14 - 21 is going to be a Festival of New Things. It's my spring break, and there are lots of things in the works. Siham, Leah and Jess are coming up for a downhill ski day one of the two weekends, Dave is tentatively on tap to do a snowboarding lesson one of the two Sundays, Dan, Dan Derek and I are hopefully going to go ice skating, Julia is coming up for a few days and some jump and spin ice skating lessons, Tara is going to give me some Indian cooking, and though they don't know it yet, some combination of these people, and Allison, who offered a long time ago, are going to do a night hike or snow shoe with me one night of that period. So, if you want to get in on the last chance to do some cool new winter things before mud season is here for good, shoot me an email, and be part of the plans.

During the drive from Portsmouth to Bar Harbor, Siham, Leah and I did some substantial overhauls of our lists and have some very cool additional New Things in the works. I'm planning to post my new, improved New Things list in a post later this week, so I hope everyone will take a look and see if there are things they want to participate in during the coming weeks and months.


  1. Once again, I am completely impressed. It sounds like a cool weekend all around, from the year-round b&b to the hike w/o sun and the good friends with whom to share the experience. I spent a weekend in Bar Harbor some years ago -- a cousin's wedding--it was beautiful.

  2. This post got me all teary eyed. I'm so proud of you all for going so boldy into 2010, resolving to have it be a better year and then taking action to make that a reality! I love the photos of you guys - you all look so genuinely happy! Miss you guys SOOOO much. Love you xx

  3. i love bar harbor; i have relatives is such a pretty place!

  4. It was Ally-Mae or Sallie-Mae as I called the little fiesty dog! Such a great weekend! I can't wait until we get to the new and improved list (wink hahah).... I am shopping around for some ski pants... and Jams, we talked about you and how much we love/miss you the whole time, can't wait for our reunion sooonn (not soon enough)....

  5. This was so great. Even though we were only gone for one night I felt like it was the perfect thing to re-charge and enjoy. Thanks Siham for deciding on Bar Harbor, and thanks Trish for being wonderful.
    We miss you too Jamila!