Sunday, December 21, 2014

Road Trip: Acadia National Park

once a year keith and i like to plan a special two week holiday. the trip usually is planned for september as kind of an annual farewell to summer. bonus, all the kiddos are back in school so places are less crowded and the weather is still great. this year we had planned on taking full advantage of the fact that our little cub is under two and can fly free on our laps. we started planning a trip to the north west, but something was not clicking. i just wasn't feeling the trip, which is not like me at all. you say adventure and i say lets go. i love to explore new places. one night keith and i sat down and went over all the things we planned on doing while out west. we quickly realized we could have a very similar experience closer to home. not the same, but similar and much easier on our travel budget. keith suggested we look into acadia national park on mt desert island in maine and the excitement instantly hit me. yup! that is the place.

recently in our efforts to minimize we cancelled cable tv so we have been watching pbs at night. keith quickly became a huge fan of THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA'S BEST IDEA series. i could not agree with the title more. if you haven't seen it i highly recommend it. the history of the parks is fascinating. keith has never been to a national park and we have always talked about visiting them someday when we have children. i think they are perfect family vacations.

acadia has hiking, biking, beautiful coast line and abuts the cute little town of bar harbor. it is the only national park in new england making it the ideal destination for our holiday. we decided to split our two weeks up into: several nights camping on mt desert island, a few nights in a dog friendly inn located in bar harbor and our usual vacation rental to meet up with friends and family located only a few hours south of acadia. these images are from our initial leg of the trip.

since acadia is located about six hours from us we strategically planned our road trip day. we needed at least one pit stop to eat, let the dog and cub run free and keep time to set up camp before dark.  keith and i were up at the crack of dawn packing the car and on the road making sure to hit boston traffic just after the morning rush. sea dog brewing co. located about half way to acadia made for the perfect stop. their topsham location was not only in route, but the outdoor seating on a river with a view of a bridge and a little grassy area for running was a great spot for an active toddler to explore. and lets face it there is also good beer for mom and dad. with a cranky toddler in toe we raced to set up camp before dark. it was a little stressful there at the end, but by night our cub and pup were sleeping all snug in the tent and we were sipping cold beer by a warm fire.
our little one could not have been more happy to wake up outside. he literally was jumping up and down once he realized where we were. after laying down some strict ground rules with him about the campsite and the fire pit we enjoyed our first breakfast over the fire.  keith and i have since fallen in love with the use of cast iron pans and now use them at home exclusively. mt desert campground is so beautiful it made it hard to leave everyday to head into the park.
our first hike was ocean path. four miles round trip along the coast with varying terrain making it a fun little hike. right after we grabbed our blanket and headed down to sand beach, which shares the park area with the ocean path trail head. kingston was happy to run around in the sand and dip his toes in the water. even though he really wanted to go for a swim with the seal that kept poking his head up.  it rained that night so we headed back to the site to prep for the weather and made our way down the road to atlantic brewing co. and mainly meat bbq. the bbq and beer was excellent and super kid friendly with a playground in the courtyard. we will defiantly be back. 
the following day we headed into the heart of the park for a morning bike ride on the carriage roads and an afternoon walk around jordan pond. facing the lake with the jordan pond house to our backs we headed to the right which is the easier part of the trail and ended with the rocky part and planks. the trail is short, but so interesting and the scenery is gorgeous.  there are also several options to expand your route if you like. many of the trails in the area connect to the carriage roads and other trails in the park. we broke up our days with two different activities to keep the cub content.
another short, but fun trail is jesup path loop. it is said to possibly be the inspiration for part of edger allan poe's - dreamland  

where dwell the ghouls, -
by each spot the most unholy -
in each nook most melancholy, -
there the traveller meets, aghast,
sheeted memories of the past -
shrouded forms that start and sign
as they pass the wanders by -
white-robed forms of friends long given,
in agony, to the earth - and heaven. 

not sure if this is accurate, but i do know that it is quite a dreamy sight in the forest of white birch trees.
our last day in the park we biked around witch hole pond. the carriage roads are all networked with beautiful contracted stone bridges and most of the roads are wide and gravel making them great to bike as long as you don't mind the hills. my little one is used to biking in the city and being carried in the woods. this kept us to only two bike rides since every time we started to ride in the woods he wanted off the bike and to be carried. it's funny how kids associate things. he loves biking at home, but apparently not so much in the woods.
our first official national park stamp as a family and such a special date to celebrate our country. we can't wait to earn another. maybe next year. i wish we had another within driving distance. 

back seat blues for this little road tripper. there is only so much entertainment that can be had sitting down for long periods of time. with only about two hours to our next destination the sorrow was short lived. 

xo, beth-ann

planning references: / /