Saturday, August 22, 2009

Acadian High Seas

Today, Hurricane Bill swept up the coast, and like all Proper New Englanders, we were curious to see the surf. We went to Acadia National Park and took the Park Loop Road to Thunder Hole. A natural sea cavern hewn out of the cliffs, Thunder Hole makes an eponymous noise and shoots up massive spray and waves under the right tidal conditions. There's always some kind of a crowd there; the tour buses always stop. But as millions of Acadia visitors worldwide can attest, 9,999 times out of 10,000, Thunder Hole is a complete let-down. Tourists expectantly watch boring little waves flop in and out of the cavern, and they don't hear much of anything, let alone thunder.

Things were different today. The surf was high and Thunder Hole actually thundered. Tourists covered the rocks and the most foolhardy went close to the edges of the surrounding cliffs and down the steps to the observation deck, which was buffeted by strong waves. You can see a couple of soaked kids below:

The waves got stronger as the tide came in and started tossing those kids around. The spray from the waves crashing against the cliffs can reach 40 feet high, and almost nailed the people on the high cliff. I can't say whether people who take risks with raging seas and rogue waves are stupid, ignorant, or have calculated their odds, but most of the people who were sitting near us were just appalled at the parents of these kids.

A park ranger finally arrived and shooed protesting kids and their parents away from the crashing waves, right after this photo. She stopped a whole troupe of kids who were marching eagerly all the way down the deck in their rain ponchos, followed by their mom.

This isn't the greatest photo, but you can still see what happened next. We were sitting safely away from the worst of the action, on some high cliffs closer to the road. But shortly after this photo we moved and the people who replaced us got wet.

Some people never learn, like this guy.

We went home and found the other side of Mt. Desert Island to be hot and sunny. We had ice cream and turned it into a pool day, then had a late and lively dinner on the porch of Guinness and Porcelli's in Bar Harbor. Some hurricane, we thought. The rains didn't arrive until late at night.

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