All throughout our trip, when people have asked our plans for the East Coast, they’ve always said ‘Maine, you need to go to Maine’. So we went to Maine.
Maine, we fell head-over-heels in love with you.
Maine is beautiful. It’s wild and empty and windswept. It’s studded with pretty towns, covered with dark pine forest and, through the trees, you can glimpse the sparkle of sunshine on ocean. We saw it in torrential rain, in heavy grey clouds and in bright sunshine and we loved it all the time. Interestingly, we all loved it. Man, woman, teenager, little boy…we all loved it.
It didn’t start brightly…it was pouring with rain when we crossed the border so we shelved our plans to explore Portland and went to the cinema to see ‘Dunkirk’ which was excellent. The cinema was super-cheap and we had these amazing seats that reclined back with footrests. It’s testament to the film-maker that I didn’t fall asleep!
We spent that night in a hotel in Brunswick – I ran the next morning along lanes lined with forest. I meant to do six miles but it started raining and I was ill-dressed so I finished off on the ancient hotel treadmill, which was as grim as expected.
That day we drove north to Acadia National Park. EVERYONE raved about Acadia, our expectations were high. We stopped en route at the lovely little town of Damariscotta for coffee and snacks. Awesome bookshop in Damariscotta, people!
We got to Bar Harbor, gateway to Acadia, quite late, so settled for an afternoon drive around part of Acadia in order to get our bearings. We saw very little of it, but we liked the feel of it. We did our second family evening 2-mile run on a little wooded road near the motel. I ran with the Dude, the Husband ran with Big Brother. I haven’t done any speed-work for a long time and the Dude made me WORK! The boys were determined to run faster than their first one and they totally smashed their goals. We celebrated with dinner out (a rarity) at the wonderful Sweet Pea Cafe. The food was amazing, the prosecco was bubbly and we were so happy.
The next day was bright, sunny and perfect. We headed into Acadia – it was busy!! It was Big Brother who overheard a conversation about a particularly fun hike called the Beehive, so off we went. Seriously, this hike was the best! It was only 2.5 miles round-trip but it was phenomenal. We climbed right from the start and it soon became basically a scramble up rocks and ledges, clinging on to iron rungs set into the rock. There was a little iron-rung bridge thing, there were ledges to edge around, there were views for DAYS over the spectacular coast line. We inched up, hearts pounding from both the exertion and from nerves, until we hit the top!
Once we’d calmed down, we hiked a little further to an alpine lake called the Bowl. It was honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life. Just perfection. We dipped our hot feet in the cool water and just wallowed in endorphins. But even paradise has its dark side…leeches, baby!
We hiked back down the much more gentle Bowl trail to the trailhead and the car. This was a crowded hike, there were LOTS of people doing it, but we were all kind of grateful because if anyone had fallen, and falling was a risk, it was good to know we weren’t isolated. I was so very proud of both boys for handling the hike!
After an afternoon’s rest, we cheated somewhat and drove up to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the park’s highest spot. Great views and a fantastic gift shop (!). We went to sleep that night very very happy, it had been one of the best days of the entire trip.
The next morning, I snuck out to run. It was raining fairly steadily and it wasn’t very warm but I got 5.5 miles in and got to see lovely Salsbury Cove. Then we headed back into the park to hike The Bubbles, two ‘mountains’ above lovely Jordan Pond. Another short, but steep hike first up South Bubble to see the precariously balanced rock….
…and then up North Bubble for a view of the lake….
…and then a quick jaunt through the forest to see the lake up close. There were far fewer people around today due to the scudding clouds and the threat of rain but we rather liked it. It felt like good preparation for hiking in the UK once we move back.
We warmed up with clam chowder in the cute little town of Bar Harbor….
…and then the Dude handed in his Junior Ranger book and got sworn in. This is such a lovely thing that the NPS does, it gives me the warm-fuzzies every time.
We were all really sad to leave Acadia. It really is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The Husband, a Yorkshireman not given to deep, meaningful commentary, said that he felt very privileged to see this place, and we all agreed.
We felt privileged to simply survive the ropes course and the terrifying 50-foot swing at Wild Acadia as we drove west.
We spent our last night in Maine just outside the state capitol, Augusta. (Yeah, we didn’t know either). We did our next Family Evening Run on a lovely river trail – all our legs were tired so we aimed simply to jog the 2 miles, which is what we did.
Our final morning in Maine was bright skies and sunshine. We were sad to leave – Maine, you’ve been absolutely wonderful. One of our very favourites. We can’t wait to come back.