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All the Way North

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park

Early June this year my family travelled up to Maine for a vacation. It coincided with my friend Robert's last week up in Bangor before moving to Pennsylvania for a new job. We not only got to spend the week exploring a fine national park and a fun city (Portland), but we enjoyed the company of my best friend nearly the entire time.

Getting There and Getting Settled

We took our time driving up north and on our second travel day stopped by the Nubble Lighthouse for some lovely views.

Nubble Lighthouse in York, ME, with power lines and cable transport system to shuttle stuff between the mainland and the small island

This was a cool lighthouse by York that was just barely off shore on a small island. At low tide you could practically walk across the rocks, but there was a cable system installed beneath the power lines that allowed for shuttling supplies across the gap no matter the water level.

Robert was house-sitting for some friends who were out of state for their summer research work, so when we arrived in Bangor later that day we spent the evening relaxing over gin and tonics and a fine cookout. Perfect unwinding after so much time in the car, and ideal for planning the next several days.

First Day in Acadia

Newport Cove and Sand Beach in Acadia National Park

The next day we left early for Acadia to beat the June crowds. We parked at Sand Beach so Valerie and the kids could explore the beautifully scenic and relatively easy Ocean Path Trail while Robert and I went on a more challenging route. Valerie was gracious enough to let me have a "proper" hike with my friend since I'm actually fit enough for real hiking now, and it was *amazing*.

Sign post in Acadia with signs visible for Bowl Trail, Gotham Mountain Trail, and Gopham Mountain (.5 mi/.8km)

We started up from Sand Beach to the head of the Beehive mountain trail which can get busy, even early. But we branched off toward The Bowl, a lake in between peaks. It was gorgeous.

After pausing at The Bowl, we doubled back a bit and switched over to the Gorham Mountain Trail, with gorgeous, rewarding views from the top (including the view of Newport Cove above).

Sign post at the summit of Gotham Mountain reading "Gorhamm Mtn. Elev. 525' / 163 M"

We hiked down from Gorham toward the old sea cave and saw fantastic rock formations along the way.

Finally, we made our way down to the Ocean Path Trail where we met back up with my family. From there we had a comfortable stroll back to the car and wrapped up our time on Mount Desert Island with some tasty lunch and poking around Bar Harbor.

I don't have any photos, but we ended the day back in Bangor with tasty food and beer at Mason's Brewing Company.

More Acadia and the Fog of Boothbay Harbor

Rock cairns on a picnic table at Seawall in Acadia

The next day we briefly parted ways with Robert and headed back to Acadia to check out Seawall on the less busy side of Mount Desert Island. We all enjoyed scrambling over the rocky shoreline looking for aquatic life and sea birds.

Our last bit of Acadia was climbing down the hard way (before noticing the easy way after we came up—but the hard way had *way* better views!) to see Bass Harbor Head Light Station. Valerie mostly worried about the kids falling down the cliffside, but they were fine, and we were rewarded with a dramatic view of the lighthouse and the Atlantic.

Bass Harbor Head Light Station in Acadia

On our way out of Acadia we had our obligatory lobster stop at Robert's recommendation: Thurston's Lobster Pound (okay, they changed their name to "Thurston for Lobster" which is way cheesier...) in Bernard.

We headed south for Boothbay Harbor about halfway to Portland, but the wet weather kept us from doing too much. After checking in, however, we had one of photography's best friends: fog! So naturally I got a few shots before the rain picked up.

Portland, By Way of Freeport

A sailboat appears to escape from the encroaching fog on the Fore River in Portland Maine

We picked Robert up on our way to Freeport on the third day. After some heavy shopping at the L.L. Bean mothership, we grabbed delicious lunch and beer from the Main Beer Company mothership. Then we continued south to Portland for our final two nights in Maine. If you’re one of the 3 people that has read my blog for a while, some of these stops will be familiar. We snagged some excellent late day coffee from Bard and hiked up to the Portland Observatory. It happened to be Flag Day when we arrived in town, so admission was free. The observatory essentially looks like an inland lighthouse, and climbing all the way to the top (and hitting my head on a low beam) was worth it for the scenery, like the incoming fog in the photo above.

The fog continued to roll in as we walked down to the mouth of the Fore River ahead of dinner.

Valerie let Robert and I head out while the kids hit the hotel pool, so we walked into the first place that looked right—Blyth and Burrows—where we had some *stellar* cocktails. Hard recommend.


We had one more full day in Maine, so we started with wood-fired Montreal-style bagels from Forage and coffee from Tandem before driving to Fort Williams Park so my family could see the Portland Head Light.

Portland Head lighthouse overlooking Casco Bay

We returned to town for more coffee at Speckled Ax's location by Moon Tide Park before taking the kids on a sleepy but pleasant ride on the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad.

Very small engine on the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad

After the train ride we meandered along the water front before our last meal in town. Lots of character and random visual goodies to be found behind the more touristy bits.

Valerie took the kids to the hotel pool again and sent me out with Robert for a last bit of fun. We headed to Bar Futo down the block at the recommendation of our bartender from the prior evening to enjoy some obsessively-dialed-in Toki highballs and yakitori snacks. It was a killer way to wrap up our time in Maine.

After some final coffee and pastries the following morning, we said our good-byes to Robert and headed south. We no longer have a friend in Maine to bring us that far north, but Valerie and the kids love it so much that we may need to find a way back in the future.