Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bike Riding in Acadia National Park (Maine)

We rented mountain bikes for the day with a child seat attached on the back for Astrid. Here's Astrid with her bike helmet on.I chose one with an attached visor, thinking it might keep the sun out of her face. She looked so cute wearing it. Ready Freddy?

Astrid and I have rented a 4 seat/4 wheeled bike before, but this was her first time riding on the back of a regular 2 wheeled bike in a child seat.

And we're off!

Astrid turning around to get a quick peek at Mama riding a bike behind her.

It's a beautiful day for a bike ride. The weather forecast today is a high of 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the low is 50. We decided to ride on up and through Acadia National Park (Maine's only national park).Acadia National Park is dotted with large ponds like this one. A brief map check.The helmet kept sliding back on Astrid's head, so the visor didn't do much good, but there was a lot of shade provided by the trees in the park.
We took the "car free" carriage roads that are only open to bikes and pedestrians (no cars).

From 1913 to 1940, John D. Rockefeller financed and directed construction of the carriage roads with the idea that they would eliminate noise pollution and fumes from automobiles. Affluent families would ride in horse drawn carriages, which is how the roads got their name. In total the carriage roads make up 50 miles of road and 17 stone bridges.

Below are some scenic pics of what we saw during the course of our 15 mile bike ride.Our destination was the "Jordan Pond House" where there was a restaurant we could stop at for lunch and refreshments. Riding past pond after beautiful pond.The Jordon Pond House was a lot further than it looked on the map. After being exhausted from riding up and downhill we passed a couple who just came from the restaurant and they told us it was another half an hour ride with more hills up and down. We briefly entertained the idea of turning back since we had a little one who was tired of sitting, but we decided to stick it out and go all the way.
Astrid loved getting a free ride compliments of Papa. There was so much to look at that it kept her entertained. And then there was Mama riding up behind and beside her that kept her smiling.U. in great spirits. Being a marathon runner he loves pushing himself, so this bike ride was right up his alley.As I'd pull up beside them, Astrid would shout "Go Mama! Go!" which U. coached her to say.

To everyone's surprise (myself included) I was quite the downhill speed demon. A couple times I had to stop and wait for U. & Astrid. U. was more cautious and rode slower going downhill because he had Astrid on the back, and the roads were paved with gravel. "You should turn around and see where we are," U. chided. Sorry! I was just so darn happy a) we weren't going uphill, b) I didn't have to pedal, and c) I wanted to travel as far as possible using the hill for speed.

My gears were squeaking (darn rental bike), but I kept going. It definitely wasn't a leisurely bike ride. We really pushed ourselves to get where we were going. (Especially since we didn't know how far we had to go to get there.) I hopped off the bike at one point to take a few scenic photos, but then I hopped right back on my bike and caught up with U. & Astrid. If U. had it his way, we wouldn't have stopped at all until we got to Jordon Pond. It was tough to take pics while both of us were riding, a number of pics came out blurry, but some like this one captured the moment nicely.We stopped at this pond and walked down to the embankment to let Astrid stretch her legs and play on the rocks. We also changed her diaper and put a jacket on her. I noticed that Astrid's hands were really cold. Being on bikes, U. and I didn't feel cold at all, but riding on the back Astrid wasn't generating the kind of heat we were.

Warm in her jacket, and newly changed, we buckled Astrid up in her child seat and headed back out again. Just a few minutes later Astrid fell asleep. Finally we arrived at Jordon Pond. We parked our bikes and Astrid and I freshened up in the restroom. The entire time she refused to take off her helmet she liked it so much. Women in the bathroom asked her if she enjoyed her bike ride.

Here we are walking up the steps to the restaurant. After 15 miles of bike riding, it feels strange to be walking up stairs. It was worth the long bike ride and all those hills to get here. Glorious is how it felt to come upon the open air tables overlooking Jordan Pond .The freshly squeezed lemonade hit the spot and the food was good too.This is a "pop-over", a specialty of the restaurant. U. got the pop-over (an order comes with two), and I got the quiche and salad. As you can see, Astrid snagged a pop-over for herself exclaiming, "bread!"Pop-overs are yummy!

If we're ever back here, this restaurant and the pop-over are things that I'd go out of my way to experience again.After lunch we took the free shuttle back to downtown Bar Harbor.

At first U. tried to convince me that we should ride our bikes back. But I just couldn't see riding another 15 miles with a lot of hills back just to prove something to myself. I was already exhausted, and happy and content with the ride we had. I also didn't want to put Astrid through that since she'd been sitting the entire way in a child seat with no padding, and going back just meant more sitting on a hard plastic seat. Not to mention my seat. Ouch. But since U. was determined to ride back I told him that Astrid and I would ride in the shuttle and he could meet us in Bar Harbor at a restaurant/inn with a view of the harbor. It was an easy landmark and meeting place. We agreed this would work as U. got our bikes and we rushed to catch the shuttle that was departing.

I dunno what happened. Maybe it was seeing how daunting it was for me to put my bike up onto the last rack in front of the bus (especially with the child seat attached which made the bike really heavy and awkward to hoist). Or if the thought of riding back without us took all the fun out of his quest to ride back to town. Or maybe he just missed us. But at the last second U. turned around, put my bike on the rack, then threw his bike up on the rear rack and hopped on the bus with us. For whatever reason he changed his mind, I was glad he did because it was nice riding back with him and enjoying the entire day with the three of us together. Astrid was getting cranky at this point, so U. started tickling her and making her laugh.Still wearing her helmet. We spent the entire day outdoors, riding our bikes. It was a beautiful, scenic ride that I would highly recommend to anyone who plans to visit Maine. Now U. seriously wants to mount a bike rack on our car, and get a child seat for Astrid so we can ride bikes at home as a family. I told him I'm game just as long as I get a bike that's lightweight and has a comfortable seat.

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