So you weren’t among the hardy souls who greeted the first sunrise of the Acadia Centennial year, either on top of Cadillac or along Otter Cliffs?
That’s OK, because there’s plenty of time to make your Acadia New Year’s resolutions, and to rededicate yourself to ones you’ve made before.
Here are some ideas, whether you want to give back, get more fit or otherwise make Acadia New Year’s resolutions worthy of marking the 100th anniversary of the park, and the National Park Service.
Make giving back one of your Acadia New Year’s resolutions
Volunteer – If you have the time to volunteer at Acadia National Park or any other federal recreation land for 250 hours on a cumulative basis, you’re eligible for a free Interagency Annual Volunteer Pass. Among the volunteer opportunities currently listed on Acadia’s Web site, each with its own application and requirements: Seasonal bird migration monitoring volunteers at the Schoodic section of the park, and the Artist-in-Residence program (deadline for the next round is Jan. 15, 2016). But if you can’t make a long-term volunteer commitment, there are one-off opportunities through the Friends of Acadia, in particular the Take Pride in Acadia Day, the first Saturday every November. It’s the biggest volunteer event each year, where hundreds of people help get the much-loved carriage roads ready for the winter, by raking leaves and clearing drainages. Last year was the 25th anniversary of the event, and it booked up. Be sure to stay on top of when Friends of Acadia is opening up registration for the Centennial edition of Take Pride in Acadia Day, Nov. 5, 2016, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s sure to be popular, with the Friends of Acadia’s Web site calling it “an extra-special celebration of volunteerism and pride in Acadia.” And if you can’t make that event, Friends of Acadia lists plenty of other volunteer opportunities on its Web site. Schoodic Institute, the non-profit partner of the park, also has volunteer opportunities, from helping maintain the new bike paths and hiking trails at Schoodic Woods, to participating in a shore clean-up.
Contribute – Perhaps you would rather give back through a charitable contribution, or purchase of products or services with a percentage of proceeds to benefit Acadia National Park or the National Park Service in their Centennial year. Technically, national parks can accept direct donations, according to the National Park Service, although the specific mechanisms aren’t spelled out on Acadia’s Web site. You can also donate via a non-profit such as Friends of Acadia, Schoodic Institute, National Park Foundation or National Parks Conservation Association. According to the Internal Revenue Service, cash or in-kind donations (but not the value of your time) to qualified non-profits or government agencies are eligible for a tax deduction. Consult with your tax adviser. While you don’t get a deduction for buying products or services from vendors that donate a percentage of proceeds, you still get the good feeling from helping to make a difference. Purchases you make through Eastern National, a non-profit that runs gift shops at Acadia’s Hulls Cove Visitor Center and at other national parks, as well as eParks®, help support the parks. So do purchases of products officially licensed with the National Park Service Centennial or Acadia Centennial logos. (NOTE: Please see sidebar about eParks® links on this site, and for 15% coupon code.)
Become an Acadia Centennial Partner – How about a once-in-a-century opportunity to give back, by becoming an Acadia Centennial Partner? This is one of the Acadia New Year’s resolutions that we’re committing to, so stay tuned for details. To become a partner, you can donate a minimum of $250, plan a special program, offer Acadia Centennial-licensed products or services for sale, or design such a product or service yourself, as long as you promise to donate at least 5% of proceeds to benefit the park. You can find out more about individuals, companies and organizations that have already signed up as an Acadia Centennial Partner, the calendar of Centennial events, and the listing of products and services, at the official Web site here.
Get more fit with an Acadia Centennial twist
Exercise 100 days in a row – If you’re a runner, perhaps in training for the Mount Desert Island Marathon or Half Marathon on Oct. 16, you can sign up for the Crow Athletics Running Club’s “STREAK-100,” where you commit to run or walk at least 1 mile a day for 100 days, beginning Jan. 1. You need to be a member of the club to join, annual dues of $10 plus credit-card processing fees. You get to log your miles on an online spreadsheet, and the chance to win an award if you are among the top 3 male or top 3 female finishers, in terms of miles logged. As a non-profit that hosts the MDI Marathon & Half, and other events, Crow Athletics gives a lot back to local communities, from Acadia to the Baxter regions. If you’re not a runner, or if you didn’t log at least 1 mile on New Year’s Day, don’t throw in the towel on your 2016 fitness goals yet! You can start your own streak at any time, doing whatever your exercise of choice is, and keep track of progress toward your goal in any way that works. Stay tuned as we at Acadia on My Mind develop a special way for people to keep track of their 2016 fitness goals, with an Acadia Centennial twist.
Hit Acadia’s trails – With Acadia’s 26 peaks on Mount Desert Island, and about 155 miles of hiking trails across the 3 sections of the park, Acadia is a perfect outdoor playground for getting and staying in shape. For the Acadia Centennial, why not commit to climbing a mountain you’ve never attempted before, if you’re in good shape and have the right gear? And if you’re particularly goal-oriented, you can consider trying to hike up all 24 peaks with trails up them in a season, or over the course of the years. If you’re just starting out with your fitness regimen, you can tackle some of the many easy village connector trails, which allow you to walk from Bar Harbor to Sieur de Monts, Schooner Head Overlook, or even Sand Beach, and from Asticou in Northeast Harbor to Jordan Pond House or Bubble Pond, just like the rusticators of yore. With Acadia expected to be even more crowded at peak times during the Centennial year, the more off-the-beaten path your peakbagging or leisurely strolls, the more enjoyable your experience will be. If you’ve never been to the less-visited Isle au Haut or Schoodic sections of the park, then perhaps the Centennial year is the time to consider hiking the trails there.
Ride Acadia’s carriage roads – With 45 miles of carriage roads within Acadia’s boundaries, there’s no shortage of routes you can come up with to bike. And with recent restoration of historic vistas along the carriage roads, just in time for the Centennial, you may come across views you never knew were there, even if you’ve biked the same route countless times before. A $170,000 National Park Service Centennial Challenge, half of the funds from the federal government and half from the Friends of Acadia, has allowed 44 historic vistas to be restored along the carriage roads. We’ve hiked some of the carriage roads, and jogged along some stretches, but we’ve never biked them. Perhaps 2016 is the year to accomplish that, with the newly reopened vistas just in time for the Centennial.
Cross something off your Acadia bucket list
In reviewing our bucket list from last year’s “New Year’s resolutions with an Acadia National Park twist,” we see that we didn’t cross off any of the more than half dozen items we listed. We still haven’t made it to Baker Island, kayaked around the Porcupine Islands, hiked or cross-country skied Acadia in winter, seen a Snowy owl or an Atlantic puffin, or visited during October, December, January or February.
That’s OK, because it just means more reason to return to Acadia during the Centennial year and beyond!
But what we did experience in 2015, without even realizing these were things to be crossed off the bucket list:
- Saw Spruce grouse – Not once, but twice, we saw this elusive bird, once on the Hunter’s Brook Trail, and another time on the new Buck Cove Mountain Trail in the Schoodic Woods section of the park. We’re not avid birders, and don’t have life lists of birds to see, but the encounters with the Spruce grouse were definitely special. We started a “Wildlife in Acadia” citizen science database in part to have a place to upload our photos of that bird. One of the photos, a close-up of the grouse on the Hunter’s Brook Trail, is even being featured in the 3rd edition of our big book, Hiking Acadia National Park, coming out in April, just in time for the Centennial. (NOTE: Please see sidebar about Amazon.com links on this site.)
- Met a Facebook friend by chance on Isle au Haut – Who would have thought we would have met IRL (social media acronym for “in real life”) a Facebook friend we’d only known virtually, and on a small, high island off the coast of Maine? We wish we had more time to spend, but we were about to board the last mail boat of the day back to Stonington. We hope to run into him again one day, but in the meanwhile, we enjoy reading his Facebook posts. It just goes to show how small the world is, especially if Acadia is a connection. Maybe this could be a new angle on the Six Degrees of Separation / Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game: Six Degrees of Acadia National Park!
- Set new highs for blog page views – Last year, the first full year of Acadia on My Mind, we received more than 51,000 page views, from readers in 103 countries, according to WordPress statistics. Most of them came from within the US, at 47,000 page views. From Canada, we received just over 1,100 views, and from the United Kingdom, nearly 400. The most-read post in 2015 was “Top 5 things to see and do for long-time visitors to Acadia.”
For 2016, one thing we’re adding to the Acadia bucket list:
Get an Acadia Centennial cancellation stamp in our Passport to Your National Parks®, which we’ve never had stamped before despite all the years of hiking national parks. Wouldn’t it be special to have the date of July 8, 2016, the actual 100th anniversary of Acadia’s founding as Sieur de Monts National Monument, as the first cancellation stamp in the book?
Also making this a special way to mark the Centennial: Acadia is the North Atlantic Regional Stamp in the 2016 Passport® Stamp Set, a series of stick-on stamps that complement cancellation stamps.
If you’re looking to mark the Centennial this same way, both the Passport® and the Passport® stamps are available for purchase at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center gift shop, or online at eParks®. (NOTE: Please see sidebar about eParks® links on this site, and for 15% coupon code.)
What’s your Acadia New Year’s resolution for the Centennial?
What Acadia New Year’s resolutions are you making for the Centennial year? What things are you planning to cross off your Acadia bucket list? And if you’re looking for other ideas for an overall National Parks bucket list, the National Park Foundation has a whole page dedicated to that.
Feel free to post comments below. Maybe by going public with your 2016 resolutions, it’ll be more likely you’ll achieve your goals.
Stay tuned as we finalize our application to be an Acadia Centennial Partner, and unveil a top-secret way to mark the Centennial, that may also help you keep track of your 2016 Acadia New Year’s resolutions.
Happy Centennial Year!