6:32 am: Bar Harbor, ME
The patter of rain slows long enough for me to emerge from my soggy tent, where I am greeted by my latest single-serving friend. I met Don yesterday while we were standing in line for the last remaining campsite in Blackwoods Campground, Acadia National Park. With only three tent sites remaining and a line of anxious faces behind us, we decided to share a site. We remain standing while we eat Honey Bunches of Oats; the picnic table is too wet even to lean on.
12:05 pm: Southwest Harbor, ME
The Wonderland Trail lives up to its name; it’s worth the hour-long bus ride from Bar Harbor. Seated on a block of pink granite on a southern point of Mount Desert Island, I snap some final pictures of the fog over the ocean, the mountain cranberries, and the Maritime Spruce-Fir Forest at my back. Three natural communities – two of them rare – in 0.7 miles. Not bad, Acadia. I begin to outline my piece before I head out of the woods.
“Don’t touch those plants, they’re poision ivy.”
“Pretty much all of them.”
A mother gestures toward the bushes that line the Ship Harbor Nature Trail. They’re all Rubus species. I don’t particularly like hiking on busy days, but I enjoy this rare peek my audience.
Around the corner, I am baffled by a handful of Swarovski-clad birders playing a Black-capped Chickadee song on a smartphone. They mutter softly to one another, gesturing excitedly in the direction of a Black-capped Chickadee that is calling in the distance. The cacophony of other songs surrounding them is ignored.
As I approach the bus stop, I begin to take inventory of my belongings. Binoculars, check. Camera, check. GPS, check. Notebook, check. Sunglasses. Where are my sunglasses?
My photos and GPS points have allowed me to retrace my every step of the Wonderland Trail, which has apparently swallowed my best pair of sunglasses. At least I manage to catch the bus. I can’t tell if the oozing sores on my toes are blister or bites; I suspect some of them are both.
3:15 pm: Bar Harbor, ME
I’m ironically seated across from a bartender who is wearing dark sunglasses indoors. I hope Eric doesn’t charge me for this beer. I’m lucky; his shift ends and he switches sides of the bar. I eat half of his blueberry scone for lunch, and we talk about California and a mutual friend whose lost cell phone charger brought me to this bar in the first place.
Jon has been teaching me mandolin. We play my first two semi-successful songs together and try to ignore the mosquitoes that float around our bare legs; they leak in through an undiscovered crack in his cabin.
In the morning, we will drive back to Augusta, where our only escape from a silent, air-conditioned office will be an hour-long lunch break. We will spend it wondering aloud how anyone could work a “regular” 9-5 job.
*some names changed