For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to take a sunrise photo from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine. Yesterday, I crossed that puppy off my bucket list.
Cadillac Mountain is one of the highest points on the eastern seaboard. Most people think that this peak is first to see the sun all year long, as I had thought, but we were mistaken. Even though it's not the easternmost point in the US, Cadillac's height does allow it, for roughly half the year, to receive the first rays of sunshine in the continental US. The other half of the year, from March to October, a slightly taller peak near the Canadian border has that honor. The tilt of the earth and changing position of the sun throughout the year is what causes this difference.
Regardless, as a photographer, it was still high on my bucket list. I've been camping (glamping?) the last two weeks about 20 miles from the Park, which resides on Mount Desert Island on the rocky Maine coast, and I wanted to see and photograph the sunrise there. However, another quirk of Maine's environment nearly foiled that. Almost every day I've been here it had either been raining or extremely foggy at daybreak -- until yesterday.
I had been checking forecasts twice or three times a day since I've been here and it finally appeared that Thursday would be clear. I went to bed early so I could get up at 4am to set out for Cadillac and was awakened at about 12:30am by a severe thunderstorm, one that had not been in the forecast. I decided to give it one more day and fortunately, the weather stayed clear on Thursday night. At 4am Friday morning it was as dark as midnight but I packed a brunch and headed out.
When I arrived at the park a little more than an hour before sunrise, it was quite foggy but it was starting to lift. However about a half-mile from the parking lot, cars were parked on both sides of the road. This didn't bode well. Sure enough, I drove through the jam-packed parking lot and back down the road to the end of the parking line. There must have been 500 vehicles parked in and around the mountain peak's visitor center.
I hiked through the crowd carrying my camera backpack and my own tripod, stepping down several levels of rock shelves and I was able to get to a large stone block with no other photographers in front of me. I set up just as the sun poked out of the fog. If you have never taken sunrise or sunset pictures, it's difficult to understand the excitement of the time limit you're given. The sun is moving with or without your readiness or the equipment's corporation.
One of the exciting aspects of our full-time RV'ing adventure is that these bucket list opportunities will avail themselves with some regularity. In a sticks-and-bricks home, it's just too difficult (and expensive) to take the time to do it all.