Acadia National Park

Mount Desert Island, Maine the location where the cold crushing waves of the Atlantic meets and weathers the foundation of Acadia National Park. Anytime we mentioned that we were on our way to Acadia, folks replied with a sound that resembled a “yeahhhh” followed by, “It’s awesome!” Besides seeing photos of Acadia or reading an article or two, I knew little about Acadia, but knew I wanted to visit. The hype we’d heard was legitimate!

For five nights we camped at Blackwoods Campground in the National Park, which had a nice wooded covering and no obnoxious neighbors (always a plus). Upon arrival, after camp was set up, I quickly jumped on the bike for a little tour of the campgrounds and quickly found a short path down to the “loop” of the park. This “loop” is the access point to everything in Acadia, from Bar Harbor to Sand Beach to Cadillac Mountain, it’s the tourist thoroughfare. The point at which I entered the loop was at the far end of the island where the jagged and rocky shore met the ocean. The beautiful sight of this shoreline is amazing. A thick treeline of tall evergreens meets one hundred feet (+/-) of granite weathered by the cold water of the Atlantic Ocean… I quickly returned to camp, grabbed Crystal and Hudson to return to the rising full moon. We spent our evening soaking up the moon’s rays with the sound of the Atlantic crashing on to the rocks as our background soundtrack.

The next four days of exploring Acadia left us with the same excitement we initially encountered, rugged beauty meets calm, yet treacherous, cold blue ocean.  

We hiked every side of the island wherein every trail had it’s own unique views of the mountains and ocean. We woke early one morning (at low tide) so we could trek across the natural bridge to Bar Island which offers views of Bar Harbor and the northeastern side of Mount Desert Island. We didn’t hike all the trails or see every site in Acadia, but what we did get was enough to foretell of the sites to come.

Acadia was refreshing after a few days in Portland and was the perfect start to a slow emersion into mountains, wildness and the ocean.

P.S.: As I sit here in Cheticamp, Nova Scotia, typing this post I’m battling some very furious little bugs, not mosquito’s, but instead a God forsaken bug that kamikaze’s into you and furiously bites until it looks as though you’re bleeding… damn them! 

P.S.S.: I'm finally getting this posted from Manitoulin Island, Ontario, thanks to the great internet connections we've had. Cheers!

Mass., Portland and our celebrity

After three nights in the White Mountains it was time for us to ramble on to our next, unplanned, stop. Since neither Crystal and I had ever been to Massachusetts we decided we needed to mark this off our “states list” and make an unscheduled stop in Salisbury Beach State Park for three nights to explore the area.

Salisbury is the very northern coastal beach town in Massachusetts before entering New Hampshire. The campground at the State park was enormous. With over 450+ campsites available it felt like we had moved into a neighborhood rather than a campground. With high winds they were experiencing there (up to 40mph gusts) we didn’t “camp” much, but rather explored the nearby port city of Newbury Port. It was quite a lovely little town with lots great little shops and markets. We got to visit their farmers market one day and enjoyed several meals at their local restaurants which was a nice change of pace and more importantly, saved us from the brutal winds. After wandering through their quaint downtown streets with Hudson, our husky, we quickly dubbed Hudson a “celebrity”, due to the crazy amount of attention he received. This celebrity status became more obvious to us in the next couple of weeks. 

Though Newbury Port was a great little port city and we’d only gotten a small taste of Mass, we were itching to leave the “neighborhood” and get out of the cold winds. Time to settle for a while, off to Portland, ME.

Thankfully, we had scheduled a five-day stop in Portland, ME. We’d rented a small apartment in South Portland which would allow us to a break from camping and give us time to do some necessary chores and explore a city we’ve wanted to visit for some time.

Portland, ME, is a fun city with tons food from local farms and, more obvious, the Atlantic. They also have an excellent beer scene, which I was eager to check out. Some of the breweries we hit up were Allagash Brewing Co., Oxbow’s Brewing and Blending, and Bissell Brothers Brewing. We also thoroughly enjoyed Novare Res Bier Cafe which had an awesome variety of beers from just about everywhere. Our favorite stop in Portland was a restaurant called Fore Street, absolutely amazing food! Their menu is constantly changing as they receive the freshest ingredients from local farms daily and even have their own foragers combing the Maine countryside for those hard to farm specialties. Crystal and I are still talking about Fore weeks later, I’d highly recommend this to anyone visiting.

A first for me in Portland was the lobster roll. Never really had one, nor had I much interest in them either. I had a recommendation to check out J’s Oyster (thanks, Josh!), which is right on the docks where the local boats bring in the day’s catch. Nothing special about J’s, really just a small local dive, but the lobster roll was delicious. A local patron of the place, a bit tipsy, quickly labeled Crystal and I as “hipsters” and suggested we should try some LSD. “It’ll change your whole perspective on life.” Great tip, but I think our trip for the time being is going to enlighten us enough, don't need the addition LSD just a lobster roll! 

As for the “celebrity” we were toting around (yes, Hudson still smelt of skunk, in case you were wondering), Portland was super dog friendly and had two great dog parks Hudson thought were amazing. Leashless, wild, mucking around on trails, through creeks, swimming in ponds and wrecking havoc on a beach were his favorite part of Portland. His least favorite part, but certainly one of ours, was “Skunkson” receiving a thorough bath from a groomer. Though he didn’t know it, this bath increased his status of celebrity.


[I apologize for not having photographic evidence of our stays in Mass. and Portland, for some reason I just wasn’t “feeling it”. I also don’t like to look like one of those tourist who isn’t taking in the sites because my face is glued to a camera or phone. Sometimes it best to experience it all without those modern devices.]

After recharging and getting our fill of city life, Crystal and I were ready to sleep under the trees and stars once again. Next stop, Acadia National Park and I promise there's photographic evidence of this stop.

   

New Hampshire and the White Mountains

So, with Hudson smelling like a mix fresh burnt rubber and grease (skunk), we made our way eastward toward White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. We’d located a "first come first serve" campground within the NF, Russell’s Pond, tucked several miles from the interstate and close to a 1000’ up. We got settled in, explored the pond and campgrounds, made dinner and finished by a warm campfire.

Woke up the next morning to heavy winds, high 30º temps and rain. Spent the day exploring Lincoln, Woodstock and a great little town north of the White Mountains, Littleton, NH. In Littleton is a great local brewery, Schilling Beer Co., where we grabbed a pint and some comfort food, pizza.

Woke up the next morning to a nice dose of warm sunshine. It’s amazing how much something as simple as sunshine can brighten things up. That day we set out and on the Kangamagus Highway and found a great hike up Hedgehog Mountain. I’ll let the pictures tell you the rest…

Next stop, Mass and ME.

Vermont - Lake Champlain and The Northeast Kingdom

Vermont is a little state consisting of just 600k (+/-) people and endless amounts of beauty. If we didn't have places to be we'd likely still be there exploring every mountain top and valley in between.  

We stopped for an extended stay in Burlington for four nights. Camped right on lake Champlain and were within walking distance of the lively city and it's wonderful offerings. Hiked next to the lake one day, visited local vineyards and breweries another, ate at delicious restaurants and enjoyed some of springs local offerings. Envisioned a life here, just not sure about those winters though...

Next stop was further north and east, Barton, VT, which is right on Lake Crystal in what is known as the Northeast Kingdom. Little did we know that the mountains, lakes and valleys in Vermont were shaped by ancient glaciers, thereby giving this area gorgeous views at all turns. The weather at this particular time was starting to turn rainy about every other day which resulted in more time spent at camp than we would have liked. It also resulted in Hudson (our dog) getting sprayed by a "kitty" (with white strips down his back) the night before we left. Six baths later and the smell of fresh skunk in the car we moved a bit further east.

We stopped for two nights in Brighton State Park which is right on Island Pond. A beautiful park not far from the Canadian border and surrounded by farm country. Local farms means local produce and veggie stands, which we'll always take advantage of! Another thing Brighton State park had a lot of, was mosquitos... After two nights and many bites it was time to move on, but not before we stopped at one of the best breweries in the country, Hill Farmstead Brewery.

Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead is probably one of the most particular brewers I've heard of and pays very close attention to every detail of his craft, and it shows. Great beer on a very beautiful farmstead that's been passed down several generations. Though it's off the paved road and you think you probably took a wrong turn, it's was an awesome stop.

Growlers filled, skunked out husky, rain and wind coming in, we're off to New Hampshire.