June 7 - 10, 2011
Trip Start Jun 02, 2011
70Trip End Sep 25, 2011
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The weather was once again very nice, which makes the long drive much easier. When we leave Massachusetts we pass into New Hampshire for about 15 miles before entering Maine.
We concluded that our plan to drive along the Atlantic Coast on Route 1 is a good one, and plan to stop at the Nubble Lighthouse and at a beach near Kennebunkport. The drive to the lighthouse was quite easy, and it was really a good stop. We were able to walk around and take a number of great pictures.
We continued along Route 1 and passed through the town of Kennebunkport, which is famous because this is where the Bush summer home is. We pass through the town, but are unable to find a place to park the RV. We want to drive along the beach, however we make a wrong turn and missed that part of the beach. Since we came out farther north along Route 1, we decided to continue north rather than turn back, and still hope to find another beach before we need to head back to I-95.
This winds up being a good decision because we find an outstanding beach a few miles north that we almost have to ourselves. I tell the girls that they can play while I cook lunch, and in about 10 minutes when I came out of the RV they were all soaked on the beach. I stood there and thought about how I would handle this, and decided to prepare bowls and take it down to them on to eat on the rocks. What a unique experience for them, and they ate as fast as they could so they could get back to playing. We stayed there for about an hour, and they could have certainly stayed longer! However I do want to get into Acadia before nightfall. We used the RV outside shower for the first time, and it worked great. The get re-dressed and we continued north. So, we were 2-for-2 on our stops today! Both were great fun. We still have 3.5 hours to Acadia, so by leaving at 2pm we are pushing our ability to get to the Visitors Center.
The drive was uneventful and smooth, although I start to get tired and need to make a fast stop for some Starbucks. I was surprised just how long we had to drive once we left 1-95. We proceeded nearly 2 hours on Route 3, which is the road that takes you right into Acadia.
Today we drove 316 miles from Boston to Maine. We stopped at a beach and dug holes in the sand. We dug really deep to find huge rocks. Then my dad brought out Mac and Cheese. Here is a picture of us eating it.
We continued with our drive and stopped at a Lobster Restaurant when we arrived at Acadia. I got corn, potatoes, fries, and cole slaw. Then we went and played with the dogs, and their names were Duke and Leo. Then we went to an ice cream shop and my sisters got a cone with soft serve vanilla and chocolate mix with rainbow jimmies on top. I got a hard serve with cotton candy ice cream and rainbow jimmies as well. My favorite part of the day was getting ice cream because it was delicious! My least favorite part of the day was seeing my dad eat his lobster because it was sad that he was eating an animal that was once alive. I also learned why people say "red as a lobster", because when a lobster goes into boiling water, it turns bright red.
We made great time, and pull into the visitors center at 5:45! I got the information I needed on the area and also to get to Cadillac Mountain in the morning for sunrise. As we approached the beach area, we saw a number of stops on the roadside that were called 'Lobster Pounds', and we learned that these are restaurants that offer 'inexpensive' and very fresh lobster meals. To the initial objection of the girls, I tell them that I must stop at one of these to enjoy a lobster meal for $18, and the girls wound up okay with the decision because the owners had several dogs that they could play with. I don't eat much lobster, but the meal was fantastic. Since they were such good sports I took them for ice-cream afterward.
Overall, a great day despite the driving!! We pulled into the Ellsworth Walmart to restock and sleep since I will be up at 3:30am tomorrow to get to the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain. I am quite tired, but the great day has given me energy!
On our second day at Acadia, my alarm went off at 3:30am and I am pleased to see that everything is fine in the Walmart parking lot. I was a bit nervous going to sleep, but everything is fine and there were a few more RVs around us. Sunrise is set for 4:45am, and the drive to the middle of Acadia and then up Cadillac Mountain is expected to take 45 minutes.
Today I woke up and Katelyn said "We are not at Walmart anymore." We were at Cadillac Mountain to see the sunrise. It is the first place the sun rises on the east coast. Here is a picture of me at the sunrise.
After sunrise we went back to bed for about 2 hours and then ate an egg tortilla for breakfast. After that, we went on a 3 mile hike on Cadillac Mountain, and my dad forgot to pack water! Here is a picture of me ready to give up.
We then went to the Visitors Center to get some information. I'm learning to become a Junior Park Ranger. I got a booklet to fill out. We stayed in the RV for about an hour filling out the booklet.
Cadillac Mountain is 1530 feet high, which in mountain terms does not sound very high, but it is the highest point overlooking the Atlantic Ocean north of Brazil.
After a short walk, at 6am we headed back into the RV, and I told the girls that I need an hour of sleep. I told them to write in their journals about the sunrise, and am asleep in a matter of minutes. When I woke up at 7:30am, I am unable to move because I have 3 girls crammed into my bed. It was actually quite cute, and a great moment to remember. In the picture below, you can see that I was sleeping diagonally between Katelyn and Emma (I had to remove this picture due to the objection of one of the girls who claimed it was embarrassing!).
When I got out of bed for the second time of the day at 7:30, I spent time writing in my journal, I planned out the remainder of the day, and then I prepared breakfast for the girls. Yesterday I cooked the girls a hot lunch on the beach, and today I cooked them a hot breakfast on the summit of Cadillac Mountain...the RV is great in this way! So far on the trip, everything is going according to plan.
The big controversy for the past 2 days has been between Madison and Emma. Apparently in the Playground in Massachusetts, Madison called Emma "chubby", and Emma became very upset about this and has not yet spoken to her. This morning Emma said, "I have still not forgiven you, Madison." Madison did apologize, but not to Emma's satisfaction. I spoke with Madison at breakfast, and she apologizes again in a way that is more to Emma's expectation...so I hope this is now in the past! We are all learning how to coexist in a very small space, which can at times be a challenge.
After breakfast we get prepared for a hike while still at the top of Cadillac Mountain. The views were amazing and the girls were excited to find their way around.
After everyone was re hydrated we packed up and headed down to the Ranger Station for maps and park activities. The station was very well staffed and very informative. We also purchased an annual pass to all of the National Parks for $80. The girls also got information on the 'Junior Ranger Program' which is something they were very motivated to complete.
When we got back to the RV, I prepared lunch and we set off for the 27-mile driving loop around the park. It is quite nice because you are able to stop at any of the interesting spots, and there were many! It provided a very nice overview of the park.
As we started the drive, Madison noted on the map that there are several areas with height restrictions, which I completely forgot to ask about. I have always just made sure that I stay away from anything under 12 feet because I know that the RV is not that high. However, we see on the map that there is one overpass which has a clearance of 11'8", so we need to get more specific! I climbed up to the top, and my best measurement has it at 11'6", however I don't fully trust my calculation! I used my phone to search the internet, and found that the manufacturer lists the maximum height from the ground to the air conditioning unit on the roof as 11'4". So, we concluded that we would be okay! Good work Madison!!
We made several stops on our loop around the park. The most spectacular was Thunder Hole where the waves at high tide come crashing into the rock wall and sound like thunder.
It was approaching 4:30 with about 15 miles left in the loop, and the girls really wanted to ride their bikes (Madison wanted to ride horses). Because I knew we were at least 30 minutes away and I need to set-up the RV and cook, I told them no, which they were not happy with. Madison and Emma continued to push me, although I knew that stopping would have been a bad decision. I finally sent Madison & Emma to the back bed and shut the door for the rest of the ride, and Katelyn was my co-pilot for the rest of the drive. It was much more peaceful!!
Our campsite was not fancy, but it was right on the water. While I made dinner, the girls had fun trying to learn how to skip stones on the water. I gave them lessons, but they are still not very good! I really enjoyed watching them try to do this...what a good experience! They wanted me to get the boat out, but there is just too much to do and not enough time! Not tonight!
We ate dinner and showered, and it was almost 10pm before the girls went to bed. It was a very long day! There was so much to do in Acadia, and while we will get a good feel for the park in 3 days, there will be may rocks left unturned! Our goal will be to hit the highlights.
We had an incredible thunder storm overnight. The rain was pounding the RV, and the thunder was especially loud. Katelyn was in bed with me, and it did not take long for Emma to join us. Being sandwiched, I did not sleep overly well.
On our third day, I got up at 7am and went outside to dry off the bikes and grill. After some coffee and research on the days activities, the girls were still asleep at 8am. Because we wanted to get on the 12pm whale watch boat, I decided to head into Acadia N.P. while the girls were asleep so we'd have time to participate in a Park Ranger program observing the Peregrine Falcons. We arrived at 9am, and I woke the girls to get dressed and eat. We spent about 90 minutes observing and learning about the falcons. We don't see a whole lot of activity, but we did observe one falcon in a tree and the main nest where it is believed that the falcon eggs reside. We have to use a telescope to see this as they reside on the side of a cliff. The rangers are full of information and the girls enjoy asking lots of questions!
We then proceeded into Bar Harbor for the whale watching tour, which lasted 4 hours. We departed at 12 noon, and spent the first hour going about 25 miles out to sea where the whales were feeding. Along the way we stopped to observe the Puffin nesting ground, which is on a small island.
After about 90 minutes we arrived at the whale feeding area.
Today I went outside to learn about the Peregrine Falcon. I leaned that the falcon can fly to speeds up to 250 - 260 miles per hour in a dive. I also learned that if you try to approach a Peregrine Falcon in a harmful way it will attack you. One last thing I learned is that the Peregrine Falcon does not build a nest.
Our next activity was whale watching.
After we left the biologist, we set out to the whale feeding grounds. It took about another half-hour to get there. Once we got there the whale expert told us to keep an eye out for spurts of mist or mysterious movements in the water. It took 5 minutes for our first spotting. It was a Finback Whale, which is the second largest whale in the world, and grows to 70 feet long. I just then realized how fascinating whales are. We saw about 10 whales on the trip. Time flew, so unfortunately we had to head back home. Whale watching was a great experience for me.
My favorite part of the day was whale watching. I liked it because every second of the ride was fun. Today I learned that on the boat, 1,500 gallons go through each engine every second, and there are 4 engines. The only bad part was that we got a little bit sick. It was a perfect day on shore, but I did not like the cold weather out at sea.
By the time we got back to the RV it was about 4:45, and although I was trying to stay away from restaurants, we decided that we will go back to our lobster pound. I justified it since it is part of experiencing Maine! We went back to the same place, and they treated us especially well. Excluding the lobster, we are given close to double the food we got last time. On the way out Madison asks them how they cook the chicken, and they give her an extra serving which delighted her because she liked it so much.
We got back to the KOA at almost 8pm, and the girls got ready for bed. Tomorrow we will return to the park in the morning, and then we depart for New Hampshire in the afternoon.
Arcadia National Park - Day 4
We awoke for our fourth and final day in Arcadia. This is really a great place, and we could easily have stayed occupied here for weeks. They say that there are 500 miles of hiking trails, and we only scratched the surface. However, we did hit the highlights and covered what most people, including the Rangers say are the top draws. I would compare this to a "sampler" menu, and it certainly has me interested for more!
Our first order of business today was to head back to the Ranger Station for the girls to receive their Junior Ranger patches. This is a very nice program that is all about education and learning about the natural environment. It always amazes me just how motivated kids can be when they have a goal to achieve, and this is what this program does. It also makes them look forward to the next park. Once we arrived, one of the Rangers took the girls aside and spent about 10 minutes with them asking them questions and going through their books. It was a real dedicated block of time which was not at all scripted. The Ranger was very professional about it, and I was very impressed.
When this was all done, they completed some paperwork and the Ranger told the girls that he would like to announce the new Junior Rangers to the Visitor Center. None of us expected this, and they all looked very embarrassed. I quickly turned my camera to video mode and captured it (you can view the short video by copy/pasting the link):
We then proceeded a few miles to Eagle Lake where we unloaded our bikes to complete a 6 mile bike loop around the lake. They have what they call carriage roads, which are packed dirt paths which are wide and well maintained. It was a great ride, with Emma leading the way for most of the ride. My biggest challenge was keeping her back far enough so that she did not leave the sight of Katelyn and Madison. She really just takes off. We stopped mid-way for a water (yes, I was more prepared this time!) and Pop-Tart break. At mile 5 we came upon a beautiful rock beach where the girls took off their shoes and chased fish. I could have easily let them play here for hours, but we unfortunately had a 5 hour drive in front of us, and we needed to be at our next site by 9PM. So, I told them that the first one back on their bike would get a handful of pretzels, and they all scurried to put on their shoes and ran to their bikes. Of course, they all got a handful of pretzels to fuel the final mile of riding!
We safely make it back to the RV, reloaded the bikes, and headed out of the park. It was a great experience, and they asked when we get to the next park as we left. We departed for New Hampshire, which is a 5 hour drive along Route 3 for most of the way. On the way out of Bar Harbor we stopped at Walmart to restock, and I purchased the girls a big box of assorted hair bands that they said they would divide amongst themselves. I hesitated, anticipating a big fight, but it winds up that the process of dividing up the bands and then trading bands occupied them for at least 3 hours! One of the best $6 I have ever spent!
The drive was quite quite pleasant with nice views, although I felt pressured to arrive by 9pm.
We arrived at Mountain Lakes Campground in the White Mountains at 8:40pm, and we got to our site and made a quick pizza with cucumber on the side before going to bed. We also caught the end of the Phillies game on my phone...they pulled Halliday after 7 innings with a 7-0 lead, and in the 8th the Cubs score 5 runs off of Contreras and Romero. Fortunately, Stutes comes through to close out the 8th and 9th, and the Phillies got the win. We do miss our Phillies!