We just returned from a wonderful trip to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine. I'm gradually sorting through both my photos and my thoughts from the trip, and as I do, I'm writing a few posts about our trip. This is the second of those posts. If you missed it, here is the first post about Maine, Part I: Senses.
First things first, I should say that my sister in law, Katelyn, organized the whole trip and made it happen. Thank you, Katelyn.
We flew into Bangor, Maine (our new favorite airport, truly!), and his sister and parents picked us up from the airport. For the entire trip, we stayed in an adorable house just about four blocks from downtown Bar Harbor, and about a ten minute drive to the entrance of Acadia National Park. The location of our house made it straightforward to not only go into the Park and hike every single day, but also to come home to shower/rest, get ready, and then walk to the downtown area for dinner every day, a routine we came to love.
On Saturday, after his family picked us up, we walked around downtown and got dinner at Blaze, then found some hot cocoa at Choco Latte to drink on the way home, since it was a chilly evening.
The first full day, Sunday, we hiked Penobscot Mountain, with some rock scrambling, and a summit we thought we'd never reach. We kept saying, "That's not our peak, that's the next mountain," when it was really our mountain, just a long ways off. The views and the breeze were a beautiful introduction to Acadia.
Nicholas' aunt and uncle drove up from Maryland and spent the next few days with us, which was wonderful. Monday was blustery, cloudy and chilly. We took the dogs for a walk on Shore Path, a preserved path near downtown Bar Harbor since 1881, that runs right along the water. There is so much history in Coastal Maine.
Then, bundled up in hats and gaiters and vests, we ventured into the park to Sand Beach. We raced against high tide to jump over the water and not get too wet (some of us in the group more successful than others), to reach the trail to Great Head, and scrambled/climbed down on more rocks, and walked through the prettiest birch groves. Thanks to Uncle Dave, we found the perfect spot to sit for snack and a break from the the breeze. That afternoon, we went a good way up Gorham Mountain trail as well.
Rain was forecasted for much of the next day, so we planned a morning hike around Jordan Pond. We hiked partway along the pond, seeing a beaver dam and a pair of loons, and then up the South bubble trail, to see the fog rolling in, and feel a bit of adrenaline as we came up to exposed granite rocks.
After the scramble up and down the south bubble, we all sat down to try a treat I ordered specially from the Lake District in the UK, Kendel Mint Cake. I wrote more about it on my first Maine post. But in short: it's great.
We all walked downtown later, and settled on lunch at Side Street Cafe (one of our top BH picks). And then we walked some more, in search of blueberry pie, before heading home to shower and rest for a bit. Later, it finally rained and we took the dogs for a walk in the rain before one more seafood dinner with Uncle Dave and Aunt Val, as they left in the next morning.
On Wednesday, day four, we choose to hike the Ocean Path, a trail in Acadia that runs two miles out and back, along the cliffs and the water. It was a beautiful sunny day and the water just sparkled. I sent a few photos to a friend of mine and she mentioned that it reminded her of Northern MN, and it does! If you replace the ocean with Lake Superior, it feels like the North Shore of MN, in the best way. After that hike and a rest in the sun by Thunder Hole, we hopped in the car and drove to the "quiet side" of Acadia, the western half of Mount Desert Island. We saw Bass Harbor Lighthouse and drove through other tiny coastal towns and all three of us in the backseat napped a little bit. When we got home, Nicholas and I walked to a local coffee shop to get coffee for everyone, we all showered and I got a little bit of knitting in, with a sleeping puppy on my lap.
Day four, Thursday, began with a stop to a local health food store, A&E Naturals, for smoothies and fresh-made juice. And then, we drove in to the park and hiked Gorge Path up to Cadillac Mountain. The trail starts in a ravine of sorts, dark and cool and beautiful. Eventually, it emerges closer to the top of Cadillac and resumes in some boulder scrambling, as the trail climbs above the treeline. Here, we could see all the islands in Bar Harbor, and we all added on the extra layer of clothing that was removed on the way up, since the breeze is rather strong. We ate sandwiches and reapplied sunscreen and rested before beginning the same path back down, in reverse. Once we got home, we took naps and showered and walked downtown for dinner. After dinner, Nicholas took a few photos of me wearing my Bandera scarf, right by the harbor. And that evening, we had blueberry pie and vanilla ice cream at home, while we played cards.
Day five, Friday, we logged the most number of miles. Distance is a bit hard to calculate, due to all the elevation changes, but my sister in law, Katelyn, logged 25,000 steps on her Fitbit that day. We stopped for pre-hike smoothies/juice again, and then went into the park towards Jordan Pond. We took the south ridge trail up to Pemetic Mountain, then the northwest trail (with the gorge option) down. Acadia has several very challenging paths, some with iron rungs (that look exciting, but also treacherous-just google "The Beehive" or "The Precipice Trail." Personally, we avoided those particular trails, but the hike down Pemetic went through a ravine with ladders and some scrambling, that was really fun, without the sheer drop offs. We then took the Bubble Divide to South Bubble, where we sat and ate a nervous lunch with a huge overlook, then back down to Bubble Divide and finally down to Jordan Pond. As we hiked around the pond, we saw another pair of loons, a bit of a beautiful goodbye as we drove out of the park for the last time.
That evening, we walked to dinner, as we had become accustomed to doing, to have one more seafood meal, followed by a rather chilly harbor walk on the Shore Path, as the sun set.
Evenings were set aside for playing Rummy and Phase 10, snuggling with the puppies, and eating blueberry pie, maple popcorn, or local fudge, depending on the night. The proximity of the house to both the park and downtown was ideal. We loved just walking to dinner every night, and the leisurely browsing in stores that sold all things blueberry, and Bar Harbor- and Acadia-themed clothing.
Getting outside to hike and be in the sunshine and fresh air every single day does wonders for your wellbeing. The trip was a balance of rest and activity, fresh air and sunshine, and good food, and laughter. And all of it, a retreat of sorts, coming to us at the best time, even though we were the ones who traveled.
Stay tuned for one more Maine-themed post very soon, and bravo(!) if you made it this far.
A few weeks ago, our little family of four made plans with my father- and sister-in-law for an early Saturday morning at the Lake. When we arrived in the eight o'clock hour, it was breezy, in the low seventies. At this particular beach and time of day, we had our pick of spots; only a few families were there before us. I chose a spot pretty close to the water and Coop dumped out his new beach toys out of his mesh bag and got busy building and digging. Soon enough, Nicholas, who had been parking the truck, and my SIL and FIL joined us.
Here we are, on the very cusp of July, and I've neglected to share about our garden. Nicholas and I had a plot at a community garden when we were engaged back in 2013, but we haven't had a vegetable garden since—until this year, that is. I wanted to share a bit about our garden this year: what we're growing, how we're growing it, and how it's going so far.
If you missed my last post, I shared about the passing of my beautiful mother-in-law. I don't want to continue on in a "business as usual" style, nor do I want to neglect to share about joyful things in our life. Again and again, I'm learning that grief and joy coexist in this life. And what a grace that is! Grief can highlight the joy, make it more precious in my eyes. And so, I wanted to share about a little day trip I took with my SIL, Katelyn, Cooper, and Finn back in mid-May, since it was a good thing, a sweet day spent with some of my very favorite people.