“This is the place,” Lauren said, a sudden glint brightening her eye.
It was certainly idyllic. My eldest sister and I were hiking in Acadia National Park on a sunny, cloudless day. Crystal clear water tumbled over the rocks on its way down the mountain and into the bay. There, the fresh and saltwater commingled to a soundtrack of serene babbling.
We were enchanted.
“The place for what?” I wondered aloud, after taking it all in.
“Skinny dipping!” Lauren announced triumphantly.
How had I not thought of it? Of course! We’d talked of knocking that experience off of our bucket lists, and this was quite the locale to do it.
We giggled like schoolgirls as we surveyed the scene. But soon, we discovered that the odds were against us. The drop-off from the rocks to the water was considerable enough that getting out would be a challenge. Pollen swirled in the bay, obscuring our view of the depths below. And then, to top it off, I noticed some tentacles: our perfect pool was the haunt of a jellyfish. And even after an intense stare-down, he made no efforts to vacate. We watched him and deliberated for ten minutes before deciding that as much as we wanted to bathe, maybe God was hinting “no.”
But still, He has a way of teaching spiritual lessons in the most playful of ways. When we finished our hike, Lauren and I moseyed down to a lake only a few minutes from the parking lot. There, we found a pristine body of water that met every stipulation for a perfect nude bathing spot. Seclusion, easy water access, sandy bottom, zero jellyfish.
The lake was glorious. And as we luxuriated in its refreshing water, Lauren spoke some profound truths. How like God, she said, to guide us to the very best spot and not let us settle for swimming in the bay. So often in life, we shake our fists at the Lord when our circumstances go awry, only to realize later that he had something so much better in store for us.
It was a beautiful realization, and certainly a highlight of our vacation. But there were many others as well.
On the summer solstice, we woke at 3:30 AM to catch the sunrise on the summit of Cadillac Mountain. According to some, this is the first point in America to be kissed by the sun each morning. After driving to the peak, the vista below us was truly ineffable. The islands in Bar Harbor below stood out like dark beads against the glassy bay below, which reflected the rosy horizon. Pink cirrus clouds garlanded the sky, while the sun’s serene glow infused everything in sight.
Each of the trails we hiked boasted similarly breathtaking 360 views of the Atlantic Ocean, fields of firs, rocky crags and diamantine mountain lakes. Bar island shown in all its glory with fields of lupine, a violet-colored regal flower which blanketed the island in abundance. Hiking was invigorating, with rejuvenating fresh air and plentiful rock scrambling.
The city of Bar Harbor was quaint and cozy, with sailboats, sunsets and sweet treats galore. After active mornings, we strolled along the rocky coast and talked of life, while the scent of roses mingled with the saltwater breeze. We procured heaping cones of chocolate ice cream, ditched our shoes and next to young families and couples in love, sat in the grass to watch the boats in the bay.
If you’re looking for another national park to visit, Acadia is an excellent choice (skinny dipping’s optional).