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Ace and the American sunrise

Ace was the first dog in America to see the sun rise yesterday.

Atop Cadillac Mountain, the highest elevation in Acadia National Park, we sat on a broad flat rock and saw the sun pop up over the Atlantic Ocean.

At 1,500 feet, the summit of Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the Atlantic Coast, and, for much of the year, the first place in America the morning sun becomes visible.

Once we heard that, upon our arrival in Bar Harbor, Maine, we decided to rise early enough to catch the sun doing the same.

Granted, the period during which the sun rises here first doesn’t start for three more days. And granted, there were at least 100 other early risers scattered across the rocks yesterday morning. But as far as I could see, Ace was the only dog. So, while I can’t make the claim, I am relatively certain that Ace was the first dog in America to have the sun in his face on Oct. 3, 2010.

And it being a chilly morning, we were both appreciative when, around 6:30, it appeared.

Mount Desert Island is my new favorite place: a collection of towns and harbors — some way ritzy, some semi ritzy, a few slightly more working class — all nestled in and around Acadia National Park, which is now tied (with Glacier) for my favorite National Park. It’s a place whose breathtaking beauty hits you at nearly every turn, and seeing it in fall at least doubles the pleasure.

We’re staying at the home of a relative of a friend, and she and her husband couldn’t be more gracious. They fed me, took me on a tour and, upon learning I wanted to be the first person to see the sunrise, prepared coffee for my thermos, programmed and loaned me their GPS and equipped me with a handful of maps and brochures.

(I still managed to get lost, until I finally gave in and submitted to the exact orders of the GPS voice … and may I say, despite all my errors, she never once got cross with me.)

Even kinder were Ron and Karen Greenberg, who own two cats, two horses and Tamarind, a natural food restaurant in Bar Harbor, and who were my hosts for the weekend – showing me the park, the town, their restaurant – and of course a dog park — on a sunset tour the first night I was there.

Getting back to their unlit house that night, it was pitch dark. I got out of the car and, at Karen’s suggestion, looked up. I saw more stars than I’d ever seen before –- an astonishing number of stars, the night sky as its supposed to look without all our sources of light polluting our reception.

It was a magnificent sight, and never have I felt “one-er” with the universe – at once so whole and so tiny. Maybe if everybody could see the sky like that at night, we’d all have a better appreciation for our miniscule place in the universe, a deeper love for our planet and less of an inclination to mess it up.

That “planet-love” feeling returned the next morning, when, with a steamy cup of coffee beside me, I waited quietly with other spectators, watching as the sky turned a brilliant orange, and the ocean a brilliant blue in the minutes before the sun peeked over the horizon -– bigger, brighter and more orange than I’d ever seen it.

Once it rose, the crowd quickly dispersed. Ace and I climbed around on the rocks for a bit, to avoid the crowd on the trip down the mountain. That  – since it was too dark to see much going up — was a scenic treat as well, with spectacular views of the ocean, coves and inlets, and valleys still filled with morning mist.

In case you’re wondering, the mountain is not named after the car; the car is named after the mountain, or at least the car is named after the guy the mountain is named after – Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the Frenchman who was granted possession of  what’s now called Mount Desert Island in the late 1600’s by King Louis XIV.

He later went on to found Detroit, according to a plaque on Cadillac Mountain — though why he would leave this place for that one is beyond me.


Comment from Sue
Time October 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Acadia National Park just went on my travel list. Ooooooh… gorgeous photographs, especially that one of Ace. For the first time since you left Baltimore I’m feeling more than a bit green with envy. (And I wouldn’t mind a lobster roll right about now either.) Travels with Ace just keeps getting better 🙂

Comment from Two Pitties in the City
Time October 4, 2010 at 7:34 pm

What gorgeous photos! Your trips always look amazing.