On April 17, 2012, I arrived at Acadia National Park‘s Visitor Center at 4:25 p.m. I know this because I hustled buns to make sure I got in the door before they closed at 4:30 p.m.
I had just driven from Hanscom AFB in Massachusetts (283 miles) and was not going to be denied a stamp in my National Park Passport. It’s completely dorky, yet cool at the same time, but I have a stamp in my passport from every National Park whatever I’ve visited since 1993. Mom bought hers in 1988, the year they were introduced. Julie, Ethan, Brian, and I got ours in 1993, the year we took our epic road trip.
I’m the only one of us kids that’s maintained the tradition. Julie, Ethan, and Adrianna (Ethan’s wife) bought me the Explorer Edition from the National Parks Headquarters in Washington, D.C. in 2008 for my birthday. It’s one of the completely nerdy things I do that my sibs don’t give me grief over. In fact, if I ask to stop at a Visitor Center to get my stamp, they comply without a whimper… they no longer participate, but they appreciate the concept and my devotion to the tradition. (P.S. Fantastic thing for kids–$8.95 purchase for the parents, years of entertainment for the kids.) I tote this thing with me whenever I travel domestically. And, as I said, I was not going to be denied my cancellation stamp in Acadia NP.
So after acquiring the all important cancellation stamp verifying my whereabouts on April 17, 2012, I spoke with the two park rangers inside the Visitor Center. One pointed to the board noting the time of sunset and gave me instructions to head up Cadillac Mountain as it would have the best view of sunset.
I’m very good at following instructions when I want to, so I drove up Cadillac Mountain with the intention of shooting sunset. I literally watched the fog roll into Bar Harbor while waiting for about four hours for the sun to oblige me (they said it was supposed to set around 7:15 p.m., but it proved to be closer to eight o’clock before the colors hit full force). At one point I shot a picture of said fog with my cell phone and texted it to my sister, Julie, who was living in the San Francisco area at the time (they have legendary fog that will sock in the Golden Gate Bridge, making photos impossible for tourists). You could see it roll over the islands in Bar Harbor and it was downright fascinating. I even read most of a book while waiting, but patience can pay off when it comes to photographs.
The golds, oranges, bronzes, and browns were the first colors to arrive and, as you can see, they hit with full force. And believe you me, I saw every color but green in that sky! I think I shot photos of sunset for an hour, maybe longer. I can’t remember for sure–I was actually coming down with a bad cold that hit in all its glory on my drive from Acadia NP to Portland, Maine (where I was flying out at 0-dark-30 the following morning… I got to my hotel at 1:30 a.m. and had to be up at 4:00 a.m. to leave for the airport (the things one will do for photographs!)).
It probably helps that I have a knack for being still because I don’t tote a tripod with me. I had back surgery when I was twenty-six and have a genetic condition that is causing my spine to continue to degenerate, so beyond my Canon DSLR and its lenses and flash unit, I don’t tote any more than necessary. I have to rely on Yankee ingenuity and an ability to remain still when shooting in low lit environments. Since I had to walk out into the natural surroundings of the park for these shots, I couldn’t brace myself or the camera on the door of my rental car or a building. I just had to be still. But it paid off in spades. I got more shots than I could’ve hoped for going in.
Someday I plan to go back… I have a gorgeous shot of sunset over the Pacific Ocean, taken on PCH (that’s what locals call it… the rest of the country knows it as Pacific Coast Highway or Highway 1) just south of Monterey, California. I want a bookend of sorts… sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean to accompany that shot of sunset over the Pacific. And I’ve decided Cadillac Mountain is just the place to do it. As such, I’ll have to make my way back to Bar Harbor, Maine, suffering through a few meals of incredible sea food in a gorgeous location. As I said, the things we do for photos. <wink>