State #19 Maine

Ok, I’m just going to tell you now, get up and get a cup of coffee, find a comfy spot, and settle in because I should have broken this post into two posts due to the length but I didn’t know it was going to be so long (like this sentence) until got too long.

I love crab legs the most but I certainly enjoy lobster too. Trev and I flew out to Washington for the Crab Festival one year but with Trevor’s work schedule we could never make it to Maine for the Lobster Festival. So I told Trev, when we are in Maine, I wanted to make sure we ate lobster rolls and go to a lobster pound. Mason, my foodie, was all in. So off to Maine we went.

We hadn’t been on the road too long (still in New Hampshire at this point) before BAM! Our hood came unlatched. Praise the Lord, it caught before it flew up and busted our brand new windshield or, worse, caused an accident. We were able to pull over and check it out. Everything looked fine so we just slammed it shut real good. All we can figure is that the windshield guy didn’t shut it hard enough and it finally just jiggled loose.

So back on the road headed for lobster town. We stopped at the rest area just over the Maine state line. Inside the rest area we saw a large sign (if I had my phone with me I would have snapped a pic) that said ONLY Chick-fil-A in Maine exit 186. We have a lot of Chick-fil-As back home. As luck would have it, we were taking exit 182 so we HAD to pass our exit and an have dinner there, right?

The next morning we got up and headed for Acadia National Park. The weather was perfect for hiking. Mount Desert Island has a fare free shuttle service, the Island Explorers, with one that is solely dedicated to the park (#4 Park Loop Road). So that worked out great. We parked at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and hopped on board. Parking in the park can sometimes be difficult depending on the crowds. If you get there early before 9am you shouldn’t have any problems. Just so you know, part of the Park Road Loop is one-way so whether you’re driving yourself or riding the bus know what stops you want to make and hit them in order of the loop otherwise you have to finish the loop and circle back around the loop again to get to your stop. The park has a paper map and the the Island Explorer website has the routes and times for each stop. Our first stop was the Sieur De Monts Nature Center and Wild Gardens. Although, the boys picked up their Jr Ranger books at the Visitor Center, we were told the Nature Center was the place for swearing in and ranger programs.

After the boys earned their badges, we hiked out to Kane Path and climbed some rocks.

Then back on the bus for Sand Beach. The plaque gives you the information about why this beach is cool. Since we were hiking, the boys just stuck their feet in, we weren’t prepared for swimming; that would be an activity for the next day.

Next up Thunder Hole. When the water crashes into this little cave it thunders back out. It’s pretty loud, hence the name.

There are several sets of stairs for the parking lot so the middle ones take you to the actually hole. We took the first set and figured we didn’t hear anything because it was low tide. So we made the best of it trying to grab some mussels. Ha! We’re goof balls but when you don’t know, you don’t know. When we walked further up the path, we saw the stairs and guard rails and realized that was Thunder Hole.

Back on the bus for a short ride over to Otter Cliff and then Otter Point.

The Cliffs are those steep cliffs you probably think about when you think northeast coastline. We all loved sitting out on the point. At this point, the park still wasn’t very busy (or at least we didn’t think so especially given that it was a free park entrance day). So we chilled out and watched the sailboats run their race.

Our next stops were Bubble Rock and Jordan Pond but they were too far to walk so we waited by the bus stop. There was some confusion about whether #4 stopped at this stop. After we had been waiting a while, a gentlemen with the app told us #4 didn’t stop at this stop just #3 and #3 takes you out of the park to Bar Harbor Village and we didn’t want that one. So we decided to walk back to Thunder Hole. The bus must have just stopped at that stop right before we had gotten to it because we hadn’t left the bus stop more than a minute or two when we see #4 drive right past us. Oh well! Patience is a virtue. It would be another 30 minutes before it came around again so we started walking all the way back to Thunder Hole. Weather was great so we didn’t mind. We just hated to backtrack. But we got there and hopped on the bus and headed to Jordan Pond. The trail was a little over 3 miles and it was getting close to dinnertime so we decided to leave the trail for in the morning and eat at the Jordan Pond House and then head back to the hotel.

We had a traditional Maine meal- popover, lobster roll, and blueberry soda. Yum! Well, all but the soda. I thought it tasted like Kool-aid. The boys liked it, of course.

Everything I had read said that seeing sunrise on Cadillac Mountain was, almost, spiritual. But seeing sunrise meant getting up early, like 3am early. We asked the boys and they were up for the adventure so we packed the backpack the night before, grabbed breakfast-on-the-go bags from the hotel, set our alarm, and off to dreamland we went. Three am came quick but we were out the door and in the car by 3:39am. Not much traffic that early in the morning so we were to the top of the mountain around 4:25am. It was a little chilly so we sat in the car for a few minutes before finding our spot on the mountain.

The people who talk of blissful, spiritual moments must not have had two cold kids on a cloudy morning with them. 😉 Just kidding; they did great! Tucker kept asking if sunrise had happened yet. It was hard for him to understand that this whole experience was all part of seeing sunrise. Sunrise was at 5:48am but it was so cloudy we couldn’t really see it. It wasn’t this blazing sun rising up over the horizon like we were all expecting. So would I call it spiritual? No. Was it pretty even though it was cloudy? Yes. Am I glad we did it? Absolutely.

The parking lot was full by the time we left. I don’t know where everyone else went but we headed over to Jordan Pond. No one was over there so we had the trail all to ourselves. I usually carry some sort of backpack with water, snacks, first aid, etc but since we had just eaten our to-go bags and downed some water, and the trail was super easy I decided we would be fine without it. The path was a pleasant stroll around the pond.

Our next stop was Bubble Rock. Lots of the trails in Acadia are connected. So while we were walking Jordan Pond path, we saw a sign for Bubble Rock (located on the South Bubble) and it was a short trail so we decided to hike it. What we didn’t realize was that it was straight up a pile of rocks. Remember, my boys love climbing rocks so that part was great.

Bubble Rock was neat and we all got our pictures taken. It was everyone’s favorite trail. However, going up it was pretty steep so not everyone in the family wanted to go back down that way. I won’t name any names. So that meant we had to head down the other side of the mountain which was way easier. No biggie, that just meant we would be further from the car. Along the way, we saw the sign for the North Bubble trail and it was only .4 miles to the summit. So we figured since we were there, we would go ahead and do it.

To the top and back down and then around to get back to the Jordan Pond. Poor Mason fell twice during the hike back. He’s such a trooper. He hit pretty hard each time but he got back up, finished the hike, and never complained. He’s so good about stuff like that. We made it back to Jordan Pond. I figured Mason would want to go back to the car so I could get him patched up but he said he wanted to finish the trail so we did and he never mentioned hurting. Tuck, on the other hand, said his feet hurt and he was hungry and thirsty about 10 times. The weather was wonderful but the only problem was, remember, I didn’t bring my backpack with water and snacks or first aid. Man alive! The one time we really needed that stuff and I didn’t have it. Oh well. We made it back to the car and everyone had a potty break and much needed water.

Since Park Loop Road is one way at that point, we had to finish out the loop to get back to Sand Beach. It was about 10:30 or so by this time and lots of people had entered the park. We had to drive through the parking lot several times before we could find a parking spot. We had an early lunch and then the boys went for, what I would consider, a polar bear plunge, the water temperature stays around 44-55 degrees. I don’t know how they did it. I was cold in my pants, T-shirt, and long sleeve hoodie.

Trev was having himself a nice little swim when he saw it…a fin. He got out of he water and asked if I had seen the fin. I hadn’t but then there it was. I have video. They could have kept swimming but it wasn’t worth the chance. Besides, the boys were cold and done playing by then anyway.

We loaded up and drove over to Bar Harbor. It was crazy busy. So busy, we decided to skip it and head back to the hotel.

We thought the boys might want to rest before dinner but no such luck. We decided an early dinner and bed would be a wise decision. We headed over to Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound. It’s a very unassuming place but it came recommended by the gentlemen at the Welcome Center as more of a locals kind of place. We got to pick out our own lobsters and watch them boil outside. The boys loved it. I believe the gentleman who helped us pick out our lobsters was the owner; real friendly and helpful guy.

We had to get instructions on how to crack open our dinner. I didn’t feel too bad when the guy gave us a printed placement. At that point, I knew we weren’t the first people to ask for instructions. As many times as I’ve had lobster, it has always been lobster tails or prepared like in a roll or something. A whole hard lobster was a first for me and the boys. Everything started out fine. Claws- yum. Legs- a bit of work but yum. Tail- yum. Even Tuck got in on the action and tried it.

Then we got to the body. That’s when it happened. They saw the tomalley (a part that performs the liver/pancreas function) which turns into a green paste when cooked. Tuck started out ok, scrapping it out, but the more he scrapped the more both boys were grossed out by it. This clip of Mason is priceless. Needless to say no one made it to the head.

The next morning we were headed towards Portsmouth Light Head when we happened upon the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory and Fort Knox. But I’m glad we happened upon it. Trev and I are fascinated with bridges. So we came to this really different looking bridge and were committing on how wild it was for the cables to be in the middle and the lanes be on the outside so after we crossed over Trev pulled over to get a picture of it and found a plaque about it being an observatory. You know us well enough by now to know we had to turn around and check it out. (Moments like this are why I don’t think Trev will use the camper on this trip. Too many impromptu stops). Anyways, I love heights but Trev and Mason – not so much. Luckily their sense of adventure outweighed their fears for the most part and we went inside the bridge to the top and had a looksy. Penobscot Narrows Observatory is the tallest bridge observatory open to the public (for a fee) in the world.  Visitors to the observatory ride Maine’s fastest elevator up 420′ feet for breathtaking 360 degree views of the Penobscot Bay Area, per their website.

Then we headed over to Fort Knox before a little picnic lunch. The Fort Knox Historic Site features one of the best-preserved examples of coastal defense fortifications constructed in the mid-1800s.  It is America’s first fort named after Major General Henry Knox.  (Again I pulled that from their website). We like this history stuff so we thought it was really cool.

Then back on the road to see a lighthouse. I loved this area at the Portland Head Light. I could just sit and watch and listen to the ocean smash against the rocks and cliffs all day.

The boys, however, got bored so we continued on to Kennebunkport to see Walker’s Point, aka the Bush Compound. I excepted to see just the house but what looked like a secret service detail was there with the other guests out and about on the beautiful property. Not a bad spot if you just have to vacation. 😉

We drove just a little further down and found a free public beach area. What were the odds? We got out and worked on our rock skipping. It was a nice evening. Just pleasant and calm and fun. Kind of one of those memories you want the kids to remember and you hope to never forget. I really liked Kennebunkport. It’s what I pictured when I thought of Maine and the northeast coast. But I’m pretty sure it would be a bit out of our family budget to vacation. So I soaked up the moment and skipped (tried to skip is probably more accurate then saying skipped) rocks with the kids. But alas, all good things have to end.

Back to a state we have already been to. If you know your geography then you won’t have to wait until the next post to find out which one it is.

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