I had never heard of Mount Desert Island until last week. It is located off the coast of Maine and is the home of Bar Harbor (pronounced Baa Haa Baa by the natives) and Acadia National Park- both of which I had heard of.

The island was formed by a huge, slow moving, continental glacier over a mile high and 2 miles thick in some places. When this giant glacier finally melted and retreated about 11,000 years ago, it left rounded and bare mountain tops. Thus the unusual name Mount Desert. The glacier also left long lakes, many boulders, and the only fjord on the east coast of the United States, the seven mile long Somes Sound. The area was originally inhabited by the Abnaki Indians whose permanent villages were located on the mainland but they regularly fished and gathered shellfish from Mount Desert Island.

The park was established in 1919 and was officially named Acadia National Park ten years later. Today, it encompasses approximately 49,000 acres and most of it is on Mount Desert Island. Over 40 species of mammal wildlife are found in the park. There are over 120 miles of trails for hikers to enjoy. About 2 million visitors each year make it is one of the 20 most visited national parks in the U.S.

The origin of the park is somewhat unique. The vision and donations of private citizens. George B. Dorr and Charles W. Eliot anticipated the dangers that over-development would bring to this Maine Coastal area and acted quickly to prevent it. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., also played a critical role by building the carriage roads throughout the park and donating over 11,000 acres of land.

Since 1999, propane-powered Island Explorer buses have carried more than two million passengers in Acadia National Park, eliminating more than 685,000 automobile trips and preventing 6,444 tons of greenhouse gases. The fare-free buses are provided by the L.L. Bean Company and are supported by entrance fees.

It was while riding one of those buses through the park last week that I was reminded of an important life principle. As the bus approached a curved overpass there was a sign stating that the clearance was 10 feet, 7 inches. The driver wisely adhered to the warning and steered the bus into the center of the road for maximum clearance. If she had continued in the right lane, the bus would not have made it through the opening.

I am not suggesting that driving down the center of the road is usually the best choice. But middle of the road is often the preferred place to be.

I have heard it said that most folk want to be in the front of the bus, the back of the church, and the middle of the road. I like being in the front of the bus. Easier to get off and on. Better view of the road ahead. However, I prefer the front of the church. There are not as many distractions. The music sounds better and I can hear the preacher more clearly. And I am most comfortable in the middle of the road.

Much of the rhetoric we hear nowadays tends to polarize people. Extremists from both right and left leave no room for disagreement or discussion. They contend that their position is THE correct one. I certainly agree that there are times when there is less latitude than at other times. But I believe that much of the time both extremes have some merit and the most appropriate position is to gather the best from both and settle in the middle.

Today I want to send a “shout out” for those who take their stand in the middle of the road!

Jamie Jenkins

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