August 28, 2013

maine attraction.

    This year Jason and I celebrated our 2-year anniversary. Since Jason and I spent most of the summer apart, we decided to have a longer adventure than usual to relax before Jason goes back to school. We spent 3 days in Bar Harbor and 2 days in Portland soaking up the sun and discovering Maine's beautiful coast.

    We woke up very early Sunday morning and drove about 4 hours before making our first stop in York to visit Nubble Point Lighthouse. Although the actual lighthouse was on an inaccessible island, it was so much fun climbing all over the giant rocks to get the best view.  It would have been easy to abandon our trip and just stay in York if we hadn't made any hotel reservations—it was that gorgeous. 
Nubble Lighthouse
Nubble Lighthouse
A gorgeous view of the Atlantic Ocean
Are you a buoy or a gull?
    We drove another 2 hours to Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde. Can you tell we really like lighthouses? This was Jason’s favorite. I think my movie-buff of a husband was excited to visit the lighthouse that was featured in Forrest Gump—when he runs from one side of the country to the other. Jason also really liked this lighthouse because of the unique bridge that connected it to the mainland.  
Marshall Point Lighthouse
Marshall Point Lighthouse 
Run Forest, run
Ahhh Maine
    To finish off our drive, we drove the final 2 hours to get to Bar Harbor. From our entire trip to Maine, I would say Bar Harbor has the best downtown area. Since we had spent most of our day visiting lighthouses, we spent the rest of our evening walking the shoreline of the harbor and checking out the sandbar. The water was absolutely freezing, but that didn't seem to bother Jason following seagulls to watch them find crabs to eat. We lingered to watch the sunset and then walked downtown to find something to eat for dinner.
Looking for shells 
Enjoying the sand bar
Already in paradise 
Downtown Bar Harbor
    In this type of vacationing spot, there aren't many hotels to stay in, so you either have to camp or stay at a bed and breakfast. We obviously chose the latter. We have stayed in a b&b before, but it was nothing near as amazing as this place. We stayed at the Thornhedge Inn and the young man running the place was an incredible host and always gave great advice on what to do and where to go. It was really interesting to get the b&b experience. It was like we became a family with the other people staying there, especially when we sat down for breakfast or for cucumber water and cheese in the evening with them. It was kind of odd for us at first, but once we got into it, we enjoyed listening to their stories and retelling our Maine adventures to them.

    For our first morning in Bar Harbor, we were ecstatic for our breakfast. Oh my gosh, the breakfasts were probably the best meals of our trip. The banana waffles with a lavender sauce were so delicious.

    After devouring our waffles, we headed to Acadia National Park, which is the must-see place in Maine. Our first adventure of the park was surprisingly my favorite. I don’t know what my deal was that day, but I was loving every second of our hike. We started on the Beehive Trail, which is appropriately named after the shape of the mountain we were climbing. Seriously, this was the most fun hike I have ever been on, and I don’t even really like hiking. As we wound around the mountain, we would come to a really steep climb where we had to grab onto a metal bar with our hands and simultaneously walk up metal rungs in the rock to continue on the path. Besides the jungle gym adventure, this hike had the most incredible view of Sand Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. I would definitely do this hike again.
Beginning marker of the Beehive Trail
Jason trying to catch up
Not even close to the top and there's already fantastic views to enjoy
Monkey bars up a steep mountain
A gorgeous view of Sand Beach
We made it!
    Once we finished the 1 mile climb of the Beehive Trail, we continued walking on the Bowl Trail down to Bowl Lake and then followed the mountain ridge on the Gorham Trail. These trails gave another gorgeous view of the Otter Cliffs. After about 4 hours of hiking in the mountains, we came to the end of the trail and walked ajascently to the coast on the Ocean Trail, where we stopped at Thunder Hole. Thunder Hole is a naturally cut inlet that can make a thunderous sound and splash when waves roll into its deep underwatern cavern right before high tide. We both had fun watching the water being sucked from the inlet and then come splashing back. 
Taking a rest at Bowl Lake
The awesome trail around Bowl Lake 
The gorgeous view atop Gorham Mountain of the Otter Cliffs
Thunder Hole
Thunder Hole
    The actual day of our anniversary didn't turn out the way we had hoped because we were under the impression that it was going to rain, but we still made the most of it. We went back to Acadia National Park to check out Jordan Pond. Here, most people come to enjoy lunch at Jordan Pond House, but after looking at the menu and the prices, we decided to skip breakfast and started making our way around the pond. The pond was very still in the morning and offered beautiful reflections of the surrounding trees. Jason had fun jumping from boulder-to-boulder on the edge of the pond and pointing out frogs and fish to me when he saw them. 
Walking around Jordan Pond
Jason climbing on the rocks like a kid
The Bubble Mountains
Wondering when we would reach the other side of Jordan Pond 
Gorgeous reflections on a stone bridge on our way back
One more look at the Bubbles
    We were very happy when the thick fog decided to recede so we could see Bubble Mountain. When we figured out that the pond was more the length of a lake and the trail was going to take a lot longer than we planned, we decided to turn around and go back. We hopped back in our car and stopped again to see Thunder Hole. 
A lobster boat is checking its traps
"Hey there, cute boy"
    To continue our streak of lighthouses, we drove 30 minutes to Bass Harbor. This lighthouse was smaller compared to the others we'd seen and beautifully tucked away in the trees on the edge of the Atlantic. There was a side path that Jason and I walked down that led us to the ocean. Again, Jason jumped along the giant boulders and marveled at the gorgeous view of the lighthouse from the cliffs below. It was a shame it was so foggy, but it just seemed to add to the mystique of what we were visiting. Towards the end, we realized that we were being eaten alive by ravenous mysquitoes and ran back to the car.
Bass Harbor Lighthouse
My little rock climber is at it again
Bass Harbor Lighthouse
Going back to Bar Harbor
    That night, Jason finally met my demands of getting ice cream and going souvenir shopping. From our first night in Bar Harbor, I knew I wanted to explore more of the fun shops. It was a fun night and I even added a new stuffed animal friend to our collection.
It's Manny the Lobstah!
Get it? Santa Claws 
Enjoying some exceptional ice cream
    Before leaving Bar Harbor, we took a trip to Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain on the east coast. This peak is well known in Acadia National Park for having the United States' first sunrise—as it is the first place that the sun's rays hit on the entire eastern seaboard. After enjoying the foggy view, we drove back down to Portland.
Cadillac Mountain
Cadillac Mountain 
"No more pictures Jay!"
    We couldn't go to the coast without going to the beach, so we found a more secluded destination near Portland called Crescent Beach. As we expected, the water was absolutely freezing and there weren’t any shells for Jason to collect, but there were actually awesome stones all over the shore. While we couldn't enjoy the water, we enjoyed the sand and rocks by creating a sand castle with a rock wall. I think the unofficial rule of amateur sandcastle building is your castle is only as cool as how many kids stop by to look at it. And by that standard our sandcastle was pretty darn cool—even if the water wouldn't stay in our moat.
Jason's hard at work on an underground tunnel 
Digging that moat
    For dinner, we were finally ready for some fancy seafood. We went to Portland Lobster Co., which is probably the best-known place in Maine for a lobster dinner. This place was packed and had an odd way of running their restaurant. We put our name in for a table, ordered and paid for our food, waited to be seated for at least 30 minutes, and waited another 45 minutes for our food to come. It kind of became a game to see whose lobster-shaped buzzer would light up and ring first. Anytime someone's order was called, everyone would cheer and applaude for the food finally being ready. It’s always a bummer when your food doesn’t last as long as you waited for it, but it was definitely a fun experience and my salmon was delicious. 
Only in Maine would a restaurant have a lobster-shaped buzzer
Jason's always excited to eat lobster
It's PCL time!
Waiting for our dinner
    Our last day in Maine was definitely one of our favorites. After breakfast, we headed to the outlet stores in Freeport. Our main purpose of visiting was for the giant boot at L. L. Bean. We don’t particularly like shopping at L.L. Bean, (while we were at the store we walked in and walked right back out) but things that are bigger than they are normally just make me giggle. So of course we needed to get a picture of it.
Told you it was a shoe for a giant
Someone needs to tie that shoe
    The outlets didn’t impress us too much, but we stopped into a few stores. My favorite was stepping into the “Maine Made” store where everything in it was, well, made in Maine. Of course, I loved just about everything in it, but unfortunately, specialty shops are always the most expensive.

    We spent a good deal of time in the back corner of this store where there was a tank with three live lobsters. We watched as another customer put her hand in the tank and grab a lobster to take a picture. Jason and I looked at each other and knew we had to follow. Jason went first and he’s more skittish than you’d think. Every time the lobster would try to crawl away, Jason would flinch and drop it. I had to step up and go first and even though it was a little crazy and weird picking up a moving lobster with many legs tickling my hand, I had no trouble and it was actually really cool. After a second try, Jason finally picked up the lobster and didn’t drop it!

No problem picking him up
Sure he can eat one, but don't ask him to pick up one that's alive
    We left Freeport and headed back to Portland where we went to our long awaited Lucky Catch lobster tour. Jason and I both agree that this is one thing you HAVE to do when visiting Maine. I was kind of nervous at first because of my fear of the ocean, but on the boat we were doing so much that I had completely forgotten where we were. Once we were far enough into the bay, we were suited up with rubber aprons and gloves. We all took turns doing each of the lobstering jobs—we, meaning me and Jason and all of the kids on the boat. We learned how to bait new traps, get rid of old bait, rubber band the pinchers of lobsters, and push the traps back in.
I was so nervous!
Let's do this!
    The 2 guys on the boat taught us so much about lobsters. They explained to us that each of the traps is attached to a buoy of their specific color and license number. They showed us how to measure each lobster for the legal size and they even taught us some anatomy of the lobsters. Did you know that if a female lobster is caught and their underbelly is lined with eggs that the lobsterman has to carve a notch in her second tail fin and throw her back? This is because not all female lobsters are breeders and this helps to keep the population from decreasing. Another super interesting thing we learned is that lobsters have 2 different claws: the crusher and the pincher that they use for fighting. When lobsters fight, they spray each other with their own scent so that the next time they encounter each other the loser will know not to mess with the winner. Because of this trip alone, Jason has officially deemed the lobster as his favorite animal.
Rubber banding the claws
Rubbing a crab on its belly makes it go to sleep
Inside a lobster trap
Jason changing the bait on a lobster trap
Pushing the trap back into the ocean
    Our last destination was the Portland Head Lighthouse. It was the perfect place to reflect on our entire vacation throughout the state of Maine. Portland Head is another gorgeous example of a Maine lighthouse standing solo on ocean cliffs. We stood there a long time admiring the views of Portland Harbor and not wanting to go home.
Portland Head Lighthouse
Portland Head Lighthouse
Portland Harbor
Portland Harbor
Jason loves Longfellow and thought this was cool
Let's never go home