Tuesday, October 11, 2016


I woke up at 5:15 and half an hour later was on top of Cadillac Mountain, in Acadia National Park. "Acadia," home to Mi'kmaq, then a French colony, now Maine. Cadillac: they say it's the first place where sunlight hits the USA. So there I was.

I parked in the front row and turned off the engine; the wind rocked my car. It was dark, cloudy, and foggy. Would I even see the sun rise? I waited with others for the first light of dawn.

It was 39 degrees and dark. I sat in my car drinking hotel coffee, snagged the night before from the lobby and left overnight in the car for this breakfast. Cold raw 39-degree coffee, dense and bitter. Fog blasted by.

There were four or five cars when I arrived. I had my pick of parking spots. We sat in the dark. Others arrived and sat with headlights on. Their lights filled my car and reflected painfully from my mirrors. Why would you leave your headlights on when you're waiting for first light? I got out and walked away from the cars.

I thought about sharing space with tourists. I remembered the day before, hiking around the park. There are narrow trails, and signs asking you to stay on them. They clot the path, taking selfies. They walk two and three abreast; with strollers, backpacks, and walking sticks, talk talk talking. They don't adjust as I approach; they knock me off the path. They smell like fabric softener. Why don't they walk single file? Can't they see me? Is it the gray hair? Is personal space so much smaller where they live? If so, I don't want to live there.

I stumbled around in the dark, sliding on wet rocks. I stepped into a puddle, soaking my right shoe. The wind was powerful. I was glad of my layers, topped with a winter jacket, a wool hat that Karen made, scarf and gloves. The wind blew the surliness out of me.

I noticed I was singing. The Star Spangled Banner. Sunrise, Sunset. And, to the tune of "On top of Old Smoky," "On top of Cadillac Mountain." All covered in fog...

As I walked around the top of the mountain,  I realized that I could see the pink of my coat. I could see the puddles. No sunrise, as it was overcast and foggy, but it was dawn. First light. When the wind blasted a hole in the fog I could see the town below, the water, islands, and cruise ships. I could see twinkles of light in the gray. Everything was gray: outlines of trees and rocks.

Colors emerged: yellow and red maples; salmon-pink rocks, covered with bright green lichen; white lichen; red leafed blueberry bushes.

The parking lot was full, maybe 100 cars. Tourists hurried by, herds of them, hunched into thin windbreakers; bare ankles, moaning with cold. I was glad of my wool socks and warm gloves.

I took photos at the top, but they came out black and blurry. I couldn't hold my hand still in that wind. It was strong enough to unbalance me.

Foggy and puddly, cold strong winds: maybe not the best time for a bike ride, but that was next on my list. I descended the mountain.

I rode on the carriage trails, crushed rock over dirt. The sun came out. Blue sky and water, pink and gray mountains covered with pixels of bright red yellow and green. I rode and marveled til my camera battery died and I got hungry. I was cheered, ready to rejoin humanity. Back to the motel for hot coffee, eggs, and waffles.

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