All images belong to Light Touched Photography.
As I mentioned in my newsletter, we just enjoyed a family vacation up in Maine. Most of you already know that I was born and raised in Maine, and am a Mainah at heart. It's been almost four years since we moved though, and a visit back was long overdue.
We initially thought that the only way we could do this was by flying up, but once we tallied up the costs of the flights & rental car, it quickly doubled/tripled the cost. So, Alaina locked in a lakeside rental. Then, despite our better judgement, we made the decision to make a road trip. 3,000 miles and 40+ hours of driving later, and we are back home with new memories and stories to share!
When planning the trip we figured that 16-18 hours in the car in one shot would be too much with the kids (Ages 10, 8, & 5). Even with their tablets, snacks, and a list of car games, it would be too much. We decided that after the first leg of the trip we would stop in Sturbridge, MA for the night, then get up early and finish the rest of the drive in the morning. We also decided we want to stay away from as many of the major cities (and tolls) as possible, so we took a different route. It worked out quite well on the way up. We made great time getting to Massachusetts on the first day and we only had about 3 1/2 hours of driving left Sunday morning. Our drive up looked something like this:
Sunday, Day 1
After we got the keys to our lakeside rental in South China, we had to jump back in the van and make our way up to my uncle's place in Oquossoc. Oquossoc is a tiny village located in the beautiful Rangeley Lakes region of Western Maine. That means mountains, lakes, rivers, and trees in every direction. It's gorgeous!
My uncle's place is tucked away in a nice and quiet little spot on Cupsuptic Lake. We were greeted with family, burgers, hot dogs, and a day out on the lake. My kids and my nieces all got a chance to go tubing for the first time. I think they liked it. ;)
The kids were all focused on the tubing, I'm sure. They were having a blast! I enjoyed watching them laugh and giggle, but it was the time with family and doing so in such a pristine and barely-touched wilderness that really just filled me with joy. I do enjoy all of our modern conveniences and technologies, but man, do I love to just disconnect and escape back to nature.The time went far too quick and good-byes took a while, but it was a simply wonderful day.
Monday, Day 2
We knew we wouldn't get back to our cottage on the lake in South China until late Sunday night, plus we'd done a lot of travelling, so we wanted Monday to be a chill day. Fortunately, both of my brothers had the afternoon free, so they came out and got to spend time with us. I loved it! That also meant that the cousins got to play together a little longer!
Tuesday, Day 3
For months now, Alaina and I have planned to take the kiddos to an amusement park. We were really excited about it, because this is really the first time that all the kids were old enough and tall enough for everyone to enjoy it. So, we planned to make Tuesday all about it. The big trick was making sure that we kept it a surprise.
Why? Because like any kids, if they knew that we were taking them to an amusement park, we knew they'd have a hard time enjoying the other things we had for them. So for two days we told them that we were taking them blueberry raking. Sneaky, I know, but we actually had them convinced—at least until we pulled into the parking lot of Funtown Splashtown USA!
Alaina is my little researcher, and she found out that you could get discounted tickets at the Augusta Recreation Department. With our discounted tickets in hand, it was off to have fun! We made sure to enjoy the Funtown Ride Park first, then after we made sure they got to try every ride they wanted, we changed into our bathing suits and made our way to Splashtown on the other side of the park, where enjoyed water slides until it was time to go.
The day had already been a blast, but we were way too close to the ocean to just go home without a pit stop. My brother Jeff had just told me that Pine Point in Scarborough is one of his favorite beaches and it was only 15 or 20 minutes away, so we decided to check it out. We scored some free street-side parking and checked out one of the many free public beach accesses. The beach itself was actually covered with a dark brown algae or sea grass. I'd never seen anything like it before. Fortunately it was only about a quarter mile stretch of beach. So we just moved around it, then enjoyed the powder-soft sand and nice gentle waves.
Wednesday, Day 4
Wednesday was our 11 year anniversary. We knew we had the kiddos with us, but we still wanted to do something special and fun. The weather had been crazy already, and it looked like Wednesday was going to have rain pretty much everywhere. So we decided to make a trip up the coast to Mount Desert Island, where we could visit Bar Harbour and Acadia National Park. It was already something we'd said we wanted to do, because Alaina and I hadn't been in 9 years. It was a long drive but man it was worth it, what a beautiful place!
We got to visit Thunder Hole. We made sure we were there roughly 2 hours before high-tide, which is ideal. However the sea was relatively calm, so we didn't get to see anything crazy. It's still always a sight to see!
Then, we made our way to Sand Beach. It's a teeny tiny sandy beach nestled between two rugged rocky shorelines. According to Acadia Magic.com, the sand is actually rushed shell fragments, created by the pounding of the powerful waves. To me, this is one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire state. Beware though, the water is frigid!
On the way home we had dinner at Lunt's Gateway Lobster Pound and dessert over at the Sugar Bakery. Among other things, Maine is known for its lobster and wild blueberries. This was a day for both! I started with the lobster mac & cheese. Not a big dish, but very tasty! Then over at the bakery I got a slice of the best blueberry cheesecake I've ever had.
Thursday, Day 5
Thursday turned out to be a gorgeous day full of sunshine and 70 degree weather. We started the fun with an adventure on Three Mile Pond. Alaina and the kiddos took out the paddle boat and I went out with the kayak. We set our sights on a mysterious island out in the middle of the pond.
After reaching our target destination we discovered two houses hidden on the island. It was sorta neat, but a little disappointing because we wanted to actually explore the island. We took a quick dip, then hopped back in the boats and made our way back to our camp.
Then it was time to hop in the van again, and make our way to our old neighborhood in Poland. We showed the kiddos our old house and their old school. We let them play on the playground a little bit before making our way over to visit some old friends. Then it was time to BBQ!
Anyone who's moved around knows that the hardest part is saying goodbye to friends and family. So, it was really special to be able to spend time with some really good friends that we hadn't seen in four years. They were gracious enough to host a little get together for us. We got to enjoy the pool, good food, and good people! What more could you ask for?
Apparently, smores. You could ask for smores. Once we got back to our camp, it was time to get the fire going and to cook up some smores! It was messy, but man they tasted good, and it was a fun way to end the day.
Friday, Day 6
Friday was our last day to enjoy Maine, so we wanted to take it slow and just try to relax and take it all in. So we just had a slow morning at the lake, then we took a little trip over to Augusta where we grabbed lunch. My dad treated us to some pizza at Sam's Italian Shop. This local chain has always been a favorite of mine and the pizzas did not disappoint!
After that we enjoyed some more time on the lake, and then I finally got to meet one of my author buddies for the first time. When I started getting to know Mike Huard a year or so ago, I was tickled to find out that he was a Mainer too! So, when I realized that our camp would actually be in his neck of the woods (literally), I reached out to him.
Friday afternoon, Mike came out of his way to meet us at our camp, and I am so glad he did. For those of you that don't know him yet, you should. He's the real deal. Just a genuinely good guy who loves Sci-Fi & Fantasy, and writing epic stories. We talked shop for about an hour and a half, and I loved every minute of it. It's just energizing to have conversation with good people, especially when you have a shared passion. I bought signed copies of his Mystical Slayers trilogy, and he threw in a whole bunch of SWAG! The books look great and I can't wait to dive into them!