Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home safe!

After a relaxing, enjoyable stay in Mendham, New Jersey with our friend Rachel (and her adorable Boston Terrier, Ruby) we made our way down the Jersey Turnpike, and back home. We had an amazing trip filled with delicious food, intense hikes, and great people. Can't wait for the next one!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Hampshuh revisited

As we were planning this trip, whenever New England was mentioned, Emily brought up a few things she would like to experience – fresh lobster, camping in Acadia, and seeing lighthouses. It was our assumption that every town along the coast of New England would have a rocky coast with a lighthouse. You can only imagine our disappointment when stop after stop, we saw “Lighthouse Motel” or “Lighthouse Gifts,” but never an actual lighthouse.

Then we got to Portsmouth.

Portsmouth is one of the oldest cities in New Hampshire, there's a lot of Revolutionary War-era history (Paul Revere rode here!) and has since become a "popular summer tourist destination" according to Wikipedia. Portsmouth also happens to be the home of our friend Kelly, who graciously took us into her home and showed us some of the highlights of her town, including...

Built in 1771, rebuilt in 1804, and finally re-rebuilt in 1878, the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse is a fully-functioning lighthouse which has been under the control of the U.S. Coast Guard since the late 1940’s. Luckily for us, a few lighthouse enthusiasts started up the Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and they agreed to a deal with the Coast Guard – they will work on the upkeep of the lighthouse, and they also get to give tours of the lighthouse. We (obviously) took the tour.

The stairway leading up to the top of the lighthouse.

After the lighthouse, Kelly took us on a whirlwind tour of the rest of the city of Portsmouth.

Our hostess and tour guide, Kelly

Lunch was a phenomenal jumbo lobster roll from Petey's

Kelly and Emily exploring the rocky shores of New Hampshire

The rocky shores of New Hampshire (that's Whaleback Lighthouse in the distance)

Downtown Portsmouth

We spent the rest of the evening enjoying good food and good company, and a great view from the dock outside Kelly's house. Tomorrow we begin the trip home - next stop, New Jersey!

Our New England vacation is finally complete!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The ORIGINAL Portland

We slept like babies (how could we not, after a day like yesterday?), and woke up bright and early to pack up our campsite and head south. As per a late night agreement, we started the day with a stop in Ellsworth for another Maine tradition...

Wild blueberry pancakes!

Next stop? Portland – a cool, funky, artsy city by the water... sounds familiar...

There are three main streets in downtown Portland - this is the street in the middle, named "Middle Street"

The Portland marina

Friday, August 12, 2011

Acadia Part 2: Onward-er and Upward-er

Good morning!

From the sunlight streaming in to our tent, we knew it was time to wake up and get exploring. Acadia is a huge park, so we asked a park ranger for some hiking advice. He gave us a path that involved hiking a trail over two mountain peaks.

We started our way up Mt. Huguenaut with a good example of rock paving.

After crossing Huguenaut, we made our way up Mt. Champlain, "Cliffhanger" style.

Made it!

Exploring the peak of Champlain

Another one of those amazing Acadia views

Our ranger buddy suggested we take a different trail down the mountain, doubling back to follow a new trail around the face of the mountain, then finally meeting up with a fourth trail to climb down. He warned us that there was a lot of tough terrain, and he was absolutely right. It was very strenuous, and really, really fun.

We knew there was going to be a lot of bouldering on our way down, so we put on our FiveFingers

Based on all the questions we answered, we should be spokespeople for Vibram!

Another, much steeper example of rock paving

The last 500 feet down involved climbing over, under, and straight down huge boulders.

Taking in one last view of the ocean

After a hike like that, we definitely needed a shower - luckily Acadia has coin-operated showers in the park. $2 in quarters bought you 4 minutes of wonderful hot water... we've never showered as efficiently as we did today. We got ourselves dressed, and on the recommendation of Roadfood.com, we drove out to Beal's Lobster Pound for authentic Maine lobster rolls (and an authentic Maine blueberry sodee pop).

It was a long wait, but it was worth it (as usual)

Emily is a total Maine-iac


We headed back to our campsite for dessert - a few toasted (or burnt, if that’s the way you like them) marshmallows over the fire. We then settled into our tent to discuss our plans to come back to Acadia, because there’s so much we didn’t get to see (Thunderhole!)

Catching a sunset outside Beal's

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Acadia Part 1: Onward and Upward

After spending an enchanting night at the Admiral Ocean Inn, we arrived at our Maine destination: Acadia National Park.
Covering most of Mt. Desert Island, Acadia is easily one of the most beautiful spots on the East Coast. It has mountains, forests, an ocean shoreline, and some truly wild hiking trails. We had gotten a good recommendation from our friend T.L. to check out the Beehive, a 520-foot peak overlooking the Atlantic shoreline. It's an intense hike with a good deal of vertical climbing, but the ocean view was well worth the effort.
It took a lot of balance and concentration...

They put iron rungs directly into the rock that you climb like a ladder...

...a twisted, crazy, 500-foot high ladder.

Adam Soffrin: Semi-Professional Adventurer

See what we were saying about that view?

We made our way down the mountain and headed back to our campsite. We could have gone and picked up something to cook over the fire, but we're on vacation here! We hopped in the car and headed straight for Bar Harbor, an old fishing village right by Acadia that has become a quaint tourist destination.
This was Adam's view from our dinner table.

Bar Harbor is filled with fun and funky stores (including not one, not two, but THREE separate year-round Christmas shoppes!) If you can put a picture of a lobster on something, you can buy it in Maine. We had a sunset dinner at the Bar Harbor Inn - we sat on the terrace and had a great view of the water.
This was Emily's view from our dinner table

Have you ever seen such a well-garnished Bloody Mary?

One "Lobster Bake Special," please!

After that fantastic dinner, we retired to our tent for some well-earned rest! More Acadia to come tomorrow!
Livin' the high life!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Hampshuh!

The view of Lake Winnipesaukee from Stonybrook Farm

We woke up this morning knowing we had a full day to get to Acadia National Park. Originally we were going to spend the day at the beach, but we decided to take a scenic trip to Lake Winnipesaukee instead. We didn't know much about the area, aside from the fact that it was the setting for "What About Bob?"... but that was more than enough reason for us to stop by! We drove the perimeter of the lake, making stops along the way that looked cool.

"Hey! This looks cool!"

"Hey! This looks cool, too!"

We spotted a sign for blueberry picking, and a quick five minute detour led us up to Stonybrook Farm, where we encountered the ripest, most delicious blueberries either of us had ever tasted.

Blueberry heaven.

Looks like someone's pretty excited about blueberry picking...

The blueberries were huge!

Superberries. So good!

Adam paid double for our blueberries, because he felt bad about the pound of blueberries he ate when no one was watching.

The fruits of our labor (pun fully intended).

Rather than heading back to the highway, we decided to explore northern New Hampshire and check out the White Mountain National Forest.

That fog made for a very interesting drive down the mountain.

We took a little discovery hike and were treated to some great views.

Absolutely breathtaking.

As the sun started to set and the temperature dipped down to the mid-60's (i.e. extremely pleasant), we bid farewell to New Hampshire (for now), and made our way into Maine. We had heard about this crazy restaurant in Portland, ME that serves french fries fried in duck fat. Yes, duck fat. It makes for a lighter, crispier, fluffier, deliciouser fry. And what is this wonderful restaurant called? What else? Duckfat!


The churros were also fried in duck fat... it's like they broke into my dream journal.

Tomorrow we make our way into Acadia National Park for a few days of camping, hiking, and lobsters! We'll be back soon with more adventures!

In memory of our dinner last night.