The furthest north I have been, while still in the United States, is Freeport, Maine and that was a long time ago with my first job. Now, I amy happy to report that I have been even further – to the Acadia National Park. And it is certainly worth the trip!
Can I start by saying that, while still a naive twenty-something Texan, I was astonished by my co-workers idea to drive up and shop Freeport one Sunday during a break in our Boston conference? I mean, that was three states away and I was used to traveling three hours just to get to Arkansas border! And now that I am a seasoned traveller with miles of United States road beneath my feet, I am still amazed at how fast you can travel between states in the Northeast with its beautiful and varied landscapes.
When visiting Maine, you can enjoy fantastic small towns, beautiful coastlines and a lot of seafood! Did you know that 90% of our nation’s lobster is caught off the coast of Maine? It is so commonplace that you find it on every menu including at burger joints and in a variety of dishes (lobster mac and cheese, lobster fries, lobster ice cream?). In fact, hundreds of years ago, it was so common that only the poor ate it. Wonder when it changed to be more high-end?
Of course, the local speciality is lobster rolls so we tried several. Now, not to create controversy, but the unanimous decision in the Benton household is that lobster rolls are overrated – with one exception. Jason and I ate at Thames Oyster Bar in Baltimore and we highly recommend their lobster roll! So, knowing I have had the best, I can take lobster rolls off my list and and just enjoy lobster in its many other ways – especially freshly cracked!
The other speciality of the state is wild blueberries. They are the largest producer in the world. And we were lucky enough to catch the end of the season. While smaller than the normal blueberries we get at the grocery store, they pack a lot more flavor!
Maine is a state of wild beauty with the rocky coastlines, historic lighthouses, and friendly people. Mainers take great pride in their craft brews, great seafood, and beautiful state. With ties to the early settling of our country and winters that I can only imagine, it is clear that community plays a big role in their lives. Each small town has something to offer and traditions that connect them. For instance, we learned a lot about the craft of building ships and fishing. Signs of both are everywhere from decorations to livelihoods.
Of course, the star of the trip was Acadia National Park. This beautiful park is easy to maneuver and very accessible. With one road that goes through a good portion of the park, you can see many of the key points of interest just a few steps from your car or take an easy walk from one to the next.
The most visited and highest area is at Cadillac Mountain which offers nearly 360 views. You can drive up there or take the shuttle bus. It must be crazy to park there during the summer so I would suggest the bus as parking was difficult on weekends while we were there and it was past high season. It is an easy walk around the peak with views over Bar Harbor and out to Atlantic Ocean.
We returned at night for Barry to capture the Milky Way, since the sky was so clear. He had just returned from his adventure to Big Bend Texas where the Milky Way was also on display so interesting to get it from two areas so close together. Definitely colder in Maine in September than Texas in August!
After seeing Bar Harbor from the Park, we went down to explore it a few times. It has a lot of fun shops to visit and of course, restaurants and pubs. We enjoyed one dinner at The Stadium, a casual spot for fast-food lobster, beer, and great conversation. Eat upstairs at the community tables and talk with the owner, Rich Duperey. He worked all his life in corporate life and visited Bar Harbor with his family. After retiring, they bought the restaurant which he runs with his son, closing it from November until March so he can be a snowbird in Florida during winter. Super friendly, he answered all our questions about lobstering and changed from his University of Texas cap to a Baylor cap after chatting with us.
Being in Bar Harbor, we certainly had to get out on a boat so we sailed aboard the historic Margaret Todd. Sadly, it was very calm that day with no wind and no clouds, so the sails were more for show and the sunset was not dramatic but it was still a lovely cruise.
What is it about Lighthouses that attracts us to them? There is just something so romantically lovely about lighthouses. Curiously, I was reading Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery, which includes characters that live in a lighthouse (in England) so it was all the more fun to see them. And the area from Acadia to Portland is the place to visit to view some beautiful examples.
Marshall Point Lighthouse at sunset
We left Acadia and Maine before the leaves started turning color, so I look forward to visiting the area again. There is so much to see and explore, plus I want more lobster and blueberries!