Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Dear Em,
Your daddy & I recently made a bucket list of all the places we want to travel to, & I was surprised by the number of National Parks that filled that list. When a couple of our friends suggested we go camping at Acadia National Park, I couldn't wait to experience one of the things on our bucket list. I was excited to share the experience with friends. Everyone pitched in with the planning, & we headed to Maine with some great ideas of things to see & do.

It is a six hour drive from our house to Bar Harbor, Maine. We could've spent most of a day driving up, but we wanted to spend two full days exploring. So we drove up after work, arrived late, & stayed in a motel the first night. This gave us the chance to take one last real shower & spend the next morning touring the adorable & quaint town of Bar Harbor before heading to our camp ground.

The town is right on the coast, with beautiful views & adorable shops galore. There was truly something for everyone. I couldn't stop myself from picking up multiple souvenirs for you. My favorite find was a bag recycled from sailboat sails. It has a little crab claw & Bar Harbor written across it. It's durable & perfect for the shell collecting you love to do at the beach.

After grabbing breakfast & doing a little shopping, we headed to Acadia to do a little exploring before we checked into our campground. I was in awe of how massive Acadia is. Park Loop Road, a scenic & mostly one-way route goes around the park. There are multiple areas to stop your car, get out, & explore. Walking around the rocky shoreline was a beautiful way to first introduce ourselves to Acadia.

We checked into our campground, & I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. I was picturing large campsites made private with lush trees. Most of the campsites were right on top of each other, giving you little privacy from your neighbors. Luckily, we were able to do a little campsite shopping & found a site slightly more secluded than the one first offered to us. 

As we settled in, your daddy & I realized we were missing the poles to our tent. I wracked my brain trying to figure out a way we could still use it to sleep in. There was no way. So, we headed back into downtown Bar Harbor to buy a tent. All I could think of is how lucky we were that this National Park is located so conveniently near a town with amenities. We are used to camping in the middle of nowhere & we would've been in big trouble without a working tent.

Once we bought our new tent (we're calling it a late father's day present for Daddy), & finished setting up our site, we decided to head into town for some fun. First we visited Atlantic Brewing Company for a brewery tour & tasting. We headed into the downtown area for dinner & drinks & noticed the tide was low. During low tide, a sandbar appears off the coast of Bar Harbor, connecting it to the next island over. I loved exploring the sandbar & all of the barnacles that covered the rocks & shells. I put my feet into what I thought was going to be freezing Maine water, but- probably because of the shallow depth of the water- it felt amazing. If I had a swimsuit with me, I would have been in the water in a heartbeat.

There are so many restaurant choices in Bar Harbor, it was hard for us to decide. We ended up heading into a restaurant that had Happy Hour specials & ordered a mix of appetizers to share. The mussels, shrimp cocktail & steamers were amazing. We got some drinks at an outdoor place & enjoyed the coastal scenery & sunset before heading back to our campsite for a campfire.

The next day we planned to hike up Cadillac Mountain. It's the tallest peak in Acadia & boasts to be the first place to see the sun rise on the East Coast. We camped on the first day of summer, aka the longest day of the year, & were not early enough risers to check that out. The hike up was open, with beautiful views of the ocean, town, & park. We underestimated how long the hike up would be, & thought we had reached the peak many times before actually reaching the peak. When we reached the top (it took us about an hour and a half), I felt exhilarated. I felt blessed that my body was able to hike a mountain & that I was able to experience it all. 

I was also a little frustrated. The top of Cadillac Mountain is also accessible by car, & it was crowded with tourists. My panoramic view was interrupted by people wearing cute clothing & shoes. I looked like a sweaty mess. I kinda felt like everyone should have earned the summit like we did. I quickly dismissed my frustration by realizing some of the best views & moments we experienced as were on the journey to the top. I felt accomplished for completing the hike, even if we could have gotten there by car.

We spent a half hour at the top before hiking a different trail back down. This trail was somehow steeper & much rockier. Rather than being wide open, the trail was surrounded by mossy trees & tall rocks. The rocky trail did a number on the bottom of my feet, & when we spotted a waterfall I couldn't wait to take my shoes off & put them in the icy water.

After hiking for over three hours, somehow we still found the strength to go kayaking (we were excited to bring our kayaks with us on our Maine adventure, & laughed at ourselves a little by how rugged we must look with our kayaks on top of our Subaru). It ended up being the perfect way to spend our afternoon. Long Pond was mostly quiet & serene. We looked for bald eagles to the sound of a waterfall in a quaint, little cove.

We headed back to our campsite that evening feeling pretty exhausted, but not too exhausted to grill hotdogs & hamburgers & play board games. I slept incredibly soundly that night. We woke up the next morning, packed up our campsite & car, & headed into Bar Harbor for one last breakfast. On recommendation, we went to Cafe This Way. It was an adorable & fun breakfast spot, with local art filling the walls & little nooks of books to read. I had the most amazing scrambled eggs of my life there. Seriously, I feel like I could drive the six hours to Bar Harbor just to eat there again.

On the way home, we stopped over the New Hampshire boarder for lunch & a visit with an old friend. Just off I-95 is Red Hook Brewery, a perfect spot for the last meal of our trip. We even got to check out the hops growing in the back.

It felt so good to come home to you & shower you with Maine souvenirs (a couple books, PJs, & your sea shell bag). You had an amazing "vacation" at home with Nonnie (no naps & late bedtimes), but we're hoping to include you on our next camping adventure. I think we'll start with an overnight camp-out in our back yard to see how you do sleeping in a tent before we try a campground. I hope you'll love camping & hiking & the smell of the campfire & the beauty of nature & using baby wipes to shower as much as your daddy & I do.

I love you so,

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