Moaning, Adam stirred beside her. "Whose idea was it to go see the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain?"
Kate playfully swatted him with the pillow as she rolled out of bed. "I believe all of us agreed to it. Now get up. I don't want to miss it." She roused Madeline and Chloe and went into the bathroom to wash her face and brush her teeth.
On the short drive from the hotel to Acadia National Park, the family of four chatted about the facts they'd learned regarding Cadillac Mountain.
"Hey, Mom, did you know that Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard?" Madeline questioned.
"I believe it." Kate gazed out the windshield in awe of the lightening violet sky as they turned onto Summitt Road, the steep, winding road leading to the top of Cadillac Mountain. "The world looks so different in the dark, doesn't it?"
"Yeah, but from October to March it's the first place in the United States to see the sunrise," Chloe added.
"But it's June." Adam, ever the competitor, feigned disappointment.
Kate grinned, watching the scenery out her window, still shadowy in the dim light, but mysterious and majestic in the chilly early morning hours. "I'm pretty sure it'll be ok if just this once you aren't first. I think you'll be just fine."
Adam chuckled, and Kate once again fell in love with his fun-loving spirit. After everything he'd been through in his previous relationship, it was a miracle to Kate that he didn't have a chip on his shoulder. Or maybe, she thought, because of all he'd been through, he appreciates the relationship we share a little more.
"Bet you didn't know Cadillac Mountain wasn't named after a car," Madeline challenged as they pulled into the parking lot near the summit of the mountain. "It was named after a French explorer in 1918. Before that, it was just called Green Mountain. How boring is that? Cadillac Mountain is a much cooler name."
"Yeah, well, all the grooves and scratches in the granite were caused by glaciers, and scientists think the summit is actually one edge of a collapsed volcano," Chloe retorted as Adam pulled into a parking spot near the flat viewing area where a small crowd already gathered, each individual with a coffee in one hand and their camera in the other.
Kate opened her door and immediately pulled on a hat. "Come on you two walking talking encyclopedias. Grab your blankets and let's go claim our spots." At a quarter past four that early June morning at the altitude of 1500 feet, the temperature was in the low forties, and Kate chuckled that though they were on summer vacation, they were dressed like they were ready for winter.
The family of four found a spot to sit on the ground against a short cement wall that bordered the sidewalk, which was fortunate because the wall helped block the frigid breeze. Huddled together, Kate, Adam, Madeline, and Chloe drink hot coffee or chocolate from their thermoses and snapped pictures as right before their eyes the sky changed from one thin pink and yellow ribbon across the horizon to great splashes or orange and red as if someone had thrown a whole can of paint across the blue canvas.
And then, at approximately ten minutes until five in the morning, a brilliant thumbnail of light poked up above the horizon. Everyone cheered. It was a stunningly spiritual moment for Kate as she understood all too well the value and importance of new beginnings. It didn't seem like that long ago that she and Madeline left their house in Tennessee to move home to Harvest Bay, Ohio. It was the exact sunrise they had needed following the many dark and lonely days after the unexpected passing of Ryan, her first husband and Madeline's father. That's not to say that it was easy, but it was what they had needed, and looking back now, as Adam slipped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer to his side, Kate saw how remarkably beautiful it was.
They sat there for several more moments watching the dazzling ball of light climb higher into the sky. Madeline and Chloe walked down the path a short distance to snap some more pictures. By a little after five in the morning, Adam pushed to his feet and helped his bride to hers.
"Let's hike to the summit," he suggested. "We can't come this far and not reach the summit."
As much as Kate fancied the idea of going back to the hotel and crawling into her bed, she knew they might not get this moment again, and a few extra z-z-z's could never compare to this amazing experience she shared with her husband, daughter, and stepdaughter. The half-mile hike was only slightly uphill since they drove the steepest part. Standing on the summit of the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard, with the most precious people in her life nearby, Kate thanked God for all of the sunrises in her life, for the anticipation of each new beginning, and the way they shed light on all the important parts of life.