Sunday, June 26, 2022

Taking the long way home

Daily Inter Lake | May 15, 2022 12:00 AM

Nine years ago, after my husband had completed work on an 18-month job in New Jersey, I flew out there to join him on a cross-country road trip back to Montana, by way of Bar Harbor, Maine, and Poughkeepsie in upstate New York — Bar Harbor because in all the years we’ve been together we’d never really traveled the eastern seaboard. And Poughkeepsie because that’s where my dad’s ashes are buried.

Making the most of our time, the return trip also included stops along the way to visit family and a couple days in Moab, Utah, exploring Arches National Park.

It was October and we decided to get as far north on the coast as possible in my two-week vacation window. It was also, however, 2013 — a year of federal sequestration … the government was essentially shut down, which had a detrimental effect on national parks across the country. While Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor remained “open” to the public, its roads were closed to traffic. The only way to access the park that fall was by either walking or biking in. So we parked the car, crossed over the cable stretching over the park’s loop road and toured on foot a fraction of Acadia. The fall weather was ideal — sunny, slightly warm, slightly breezy. The deciduous woods were ablaze in color. We felt like we had the park to ourselves and at one point the two of us laid down on the yellow centerline of the two-lane road just for the heck of it.

While we didn’t get to explore much more than a trail or two and a few of Acadia’s historic carriage roads, we did book a lighthouse boat tour, which showcased the spectacular riot of color covering the park’s mountains and cliffs, marine flora and fauna, and iconic lighthouses around its coastline. The small town of Bar Harbor was nearly ready to close up shop for the season but not before we got a seaside taste of its signature lobster.

As we headed west toward home we routed ourselves to stop in Poughkeepsie to visit my dad’s gravesite. Earlier that summer I’d called St. Joseph’s Parish in town to see if someone could tell me where to find his family’s plot in its cemetery. A priest with a strong Polish accent picked up the phone. He could understand me just fine, but every time I tried to understand his directions I had to apologize and ask him to repeat himself. He finally chuckled and asked if faxing me a map would help. Yes! Within minutes the priest’s handmade map was in my hands, clearly denoting the location of where Dad’s ashes were buried. I carried the map on the trip (still have it) and we easily found the family plot in the small, quiet cemetery where most of my father’s family is buried. In fact, the names on most all the tombstones are Polish since St. Joseph’s Parish serves a largely Polish community.

I thought about this trip last week while remembering Dad on the 35th anniversary of his death. I’m so glad we were able to finally make it back east, see a bit of the town he grew up in, snap some pictures, and whisper some prayers over his final resting place.

Community editor Carol Marino may be reached at 406-758-4440 or

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