I have wanted to spend some time in Maine for many, many years. It all started with a report on the state of Maine that I wrote while in Junior High School, or maybe even in 6th grade. I don’t remember what I discovered while researching the state, but it ignited a desire to go there. I remember considering going to college in Maine, and I also looked for jobs in Maine once I graduated from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Of course, this was before widespread personal computers and the internet, so finding a job was not easy—considering I had not yet been there!

About 10 years ago, we dipped our toes into Maine when we went to New Hampshire on a skiing vacation. We drove across the Kancamagus Highway, with snow piled some 10 feet above our car on either side, just over the border into Maine, stopped to take a picture, visited a little store to buy a Maine magnet, then drove back to our timeshare in New Hampshire. Short and sweet, and all to say that we had been to Maine.

This time, however, we had a chance to experience different aspects of this beautiful state. The 65th Annual International Airstream Rally was held in Fryeburg, Maine from July 23-29 with over 980 Airstreams and their owners attending the event. We were able to meet up with our local Piedmont unit to park with them for the week. We enjoyed biking around the fairgrounds to see a sea of Airstreams and to meet new people. We attended different sessions and volunteered our time to either help with the WBCCI Foundation or shuttle people around the grounds. And we enjoyed the frequent “happy hours” with our group. Carl also had his first lobster rolls—bits of lobster in a hotdog-type bun with butter, although some places make them with mayo and lettuce as well.

While at the rally, we took a day to venture into Portland, Maine to meet up with another Garnerite who recently started traveling in their van. We ferried over to Peaks Island to walk around and see some sites, and Carl and HK enjoyed some seafood at a local restaurant.

After the rally, we drove north to spend a week near Acadia National Park, and we stayed busy while there. Through his research, Carl discovered a free shuttle service that operates in and around the park. I was skeptical at first, but we asked about it when we checked into our campground (Narrows Too). The shuttle had stops at our campground and would take us to the main bus hub at the Village Green in downtown Bar Harbor. From there we could go anywhere we wanted in Acadia or to other harbor towns on “the island.” Yes. Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor, and a few other small towns are located on Mount Desert Island. Our campground was just across the bridge from the island in Trenton.

We spent our first day exploring many of the highlights of Acadia NP using the shuttle service on the Loop Road bus. Most of the highlights are on Loop Road. We walked a nature trail at the first stop—Sieur de Monts, sat on the beach and had a snack at Sand Beach, checked out Thunder Hole and enjoyed watching the waves splash against the shore, then visited Jordan Pond House where we bought some blueberry syrup and took a nice walk down to Jordan Pond. We also hopped on a bus to Northeast Harbor, a small town outside of the park. It was a full day of exploration, and a great way to see the highlights of Acadia without the stress of park traffic and trying to find a parking spot during the busy season or burning fuel. The shuttle service was provided by LL Bean Company.  A big shout out to them for this great way to move around. Being propane-fueled, these busses don’t contribute to air pollution like gas and diesel vehicles do.

On our second day of exploration, we drove to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center to park so we could ride our bikes on some of the carriage roads John D. Rockefeller had constructed as a gift to the park. The park has 45 miles of carriage roads, and we road on nearly half of them. The roads took us along the rolling terrain of the park and, at times, it felt like we were going uphill more than we were going downhill! Luckily, our pedal-assist e-bikes allowed us to enjoy riding around, whereas those who brought regular road bikes were struggling. Unless you are training for the Tour de France, we recommend renting or bringing your pedal-assist e-bikes (Class 1 only; class 2 and 3 are not permitted) to enjoy the ride.

Our second day was also Carl’s birthday, so we treated ourselves to a cheesy lumberjack show at Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumberjack Show. It has apparently been featured on some syndicated shows in the past several years! It was “cheesy” because it was a show, not a formal competition. One of the lumberjacks was from Maine; the others were from New York. They shared some history of the sport, showed us the different tools used for each competition, and did mock team events for the different sports one would see at a true lumberjack competition. I think it would be more fun to see a real lumberjack competition with competitors from all over the world, but this was a good way to get an introduction to the sport.

We decided to take it easy on our third day by taking the shuttle bus to Sand Beach, having a quick picnic there, then hiking to Thunder Hole (a short hike). We were hoping to see some serious splashing action at Thunder Hole during high tide, but the ocean was calm. Probably the best time to see Thunder Hole in action is when the tide is high and a storm is moving in, roiling the sea and forming huge waves.

On the fourth day, we drove to a different section of the park to take a long bike ride on other carriage roads. We rode 18 miles! This was a challenging day because the terrain was very hilly, and we were on some stretches where horse-drawn carriages frequent, hoof marks making the roads very bumpy.

On our last day there—my birthday—we drove to Northeast Harbor for a park ranger-led boat tour to Little Cranberry Island then later driving up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia.

Other than the lobster industry in full production, there wasn’t much to see on Little Cranberry Island. It has about 70 year-round residents and 200-300 additional summer residents. There is no grocery store, but they do have an elementary school. High school students must take a ferry to another island for school, or go to a private school (off island, of course). The person who created Sponge Bob Square Pants is from this island! The enjoyable part, for me, was being on the boat. We saw some seals playing in the water and some loons floating around. Carl is now dreaming about working on a lobster boat. LOL… (First, we need to get through the corn silage and sugar beet harvests.)

We were not going to leave Acadia NP without driving up Cadillac Mountain Road. A reservation is required during the busy season, and you can try to get one for sunrise, sunset, or during the day. We discussed trying to get a sunrise reservation, but neither one of us was too keen on getting up at 4:00am to drive to the park and stake out a place for a 5:30-ish sunrise. Most people try for the sunrise reservations because Cadillac Mountain is THE location to see the first sunrise in the U.S. during the summer.  We opted to go during the day so we could see the view. It was a beautiful, clear day—perfect for seeing islands, towns, ocean, and boats.

What we didn’t do … We didn’t swim at Sand Beach, although there were some people braving the 55-degree water. We didn’t take a horse-drawn carriage ride from the Wildwood Stables in the park (about $50 per person). We didn’t eat at the Jordan Pond House restaurant—reservations were required and the wait was over 40 minutes, but we were told the food was good. And we did not get to the Schoodic Peninsula section of Acadia National Park. It is about a 40-minute drive from where we were staying, or there is a passenger ferry ($36 per person round trip) from Bar Harbor with free shuttle service around the Peninsula. We have heard that this section of the park is beautiful.

So, we have reasons to go back! And we plan to do so a few years down the road. For now, though, we are preparing to head to Minnesota so Carl can fulfill one of his bucket list items—working the sugar beet harvest! More on that soon.