Alexander and his parents spent a good part of their visit to Maine in
Acadia National Park, just outside of Bar
Acadia features steep granite cliffs, nature trails
through dense forests that lead to
the ocean, and some of the most picturesque scenery in the Eastern
Alex on the top of the world, or, at least,
on top of Cadillac Mountain.
For a young boy Alex's age, the best parts of Acadia were the many rocks
that were there to be climbed on. There is no shortage of pink
granite boulders in Acadia, and
Alex wanted to test each and every one of them. While
atop Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak in Acadia, Alex was being particularly
daring while scampering over the boulders. Climbing, boulders, and mountaintops
are not always the favorite combination, however, for parents of small children.
Alexander's parents had to take turns "spotting" him as he explored. At one point, while
lunging to get into the proper protective position, Alex's father tore a gaping hole in the thigh
of his pants.
(This necessitated an emergency trip to the pants department of a nearby Wal-Mart.)
Alexander and his mother.
Alex found plenty of rocks to climb on at Acadia.
The wooded nature trails provided enjoyable outdoor experiences. They
offered views of mountains that looked like bubbles, and other mountains that looked like
porcupines, at least to the imaginative people who named them. While walking through
the woods, Alex would stop, cup his hands to his ears, and listen for the sounds of
wildlife. His mother pointed out the sound of a squirrel rustling in the trees. And Alex
himself claimed to have heard a giraffe stomping through the woods.
One trail led to a foul smelling swamp. The ground underfoot was a big
and there was an overwhelming stench of, well, what is technically known
as "smelly swamp stuff." It was here that Alex decided to stop and picnic. He sat on a
log amidst the stink, and ate a package of "stop sign crackers" while his parents waited
patiently and held their noses. When a cracker would fall into the muck, Alex's father would
stomp on it before the oblivious little boy could scoop it up and put it into his mouth.
One of the feature attractions at Acadia is Thunder Hole, a small
seaside cave at water
level that, when the tide comes in, causes loud explosive noises.
The water rushes in to the cave and, as it recedes, comes rushing out with a boom that
sometimes sounds like thunder. When Alex was there, Thunder Hole was relatively tame,
but it was making enough noise to make him uneasy. He preferred to look at Thunder Hole
from a distance.
The visit did make an impression on him. Months later, back at home,
he still refers to the space under the sofa cushions in his living room as "Thunder Hole."
(Why? Nobody knows for sure. It may have to do with "under" sounding like "thunder,"
but Alex isn't saying.)
After Acadia National Park, Alexander's New England odyssey would
continue, in Plymouth, Massachusetts.