Bar Harbor, Maine

We recently took an amazing trip to Bar Harbor, ME. We spent the week exploring the village and Acadia National Park. This vacation was definitely worth the nine hour drive from the city to Maine, and we are excited for many more trips in our future.

We stayed at the Graycote Inn in the village of Bar Harbor. We spent the first few nights in the inn’s smallest room, and the last few nights in the private king-sized suite. The inn was walking distance to the village restaurants and streets, which we were able to explore throughout the trip. Roger and Pat also served amazing breakfast – Probably the best meals we had during our stay!

We drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain on our first full day in Bar Harbor. We stopped at the many scenic overlooks to enjoy the incredible views from the highest mountain in Acadia National Park. We then visited Thunder Hole, but unfortunately missed the famous explosions of water which only happen at specific times of day. Even though we didn’t hear the “thunder,” the view was beautiful and we had a nice time. Next, we stopped along Park Loop Road to explore the Otter Cliffs and Otter Point. We did not see any otters, but we did have fun walking along the rocks and enjoying the view!

After returning to Bar Harbor, we took an easy hike along the Shore Path around Bar Harbor Village. We had a delicious lunch at a nearby Irish pub, where we tried Bar Harbor style pub food – basically pub food with a seafood twist. Afterwards we took a wooded path to a very pretty beach, called Pretty Marsh, which had amazing views. It took us some time to actually find the place, and a little longer to figure out where the path was, but we enjoyed it all the same. On the way back, we stopped at the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. This was a nice way to end the day and we got to see a great sunset. Interestingly, a U.S. Coast Guard family lives in the building year round.

We spent most of our second day at Acadia hiking up Gorge Path to the top of Dorr Mountain and then back down the other side. We were a little intimidated by the trail’s “expert” and “difficult” warnings, but we decided to try it anyway and were rewarded with the most amazing views! We managed to make it safely to the top without falling off any cliffs or rock ledges – Success!

First, we walked Jesup Path to Hemlock Trail, two easy wooded trails on the way to Gorges Path. The long climb up Gorges Path was definitely a challenge. Most of it was an uphill trek that had us jumping and climbing from rock to rock along the side of the mountain. After emerging from Gorges Path,  we climbed up the rocks to the top of Mt. Dorr. While not as strenuous as the hike up the Gorge, this was definitely more dangerous! The views from the top were absolutely spectacular.

We took Ladder Trail down the side of Dorr Mountain. This path mostly consisted of steep stone staircases and, of course, ladders. We enjoyed the way down almost as much as the way up! After reaching the bottom, we took Kane Path along The Tarn back to the car. We ran into the world’s largest spider along the way.

The next day, we rented a canoe to explore Long Pond, a beautiful body of water in the park. It was a great workout with a beautiful view – We paddled out towards two distant mountains, which I think were the famous “bubbles,” but we never confirmed that. The Canoe was fun, even though it started to get windy, which made the trip back somewhat exhausting. Afterwards, we spent the rest of the afternoon golfing at Northeast Harbor Golf Course. The course was absolutely beautiful, although a little bit harder than the easy courses I usually play.

On our last full day at Acadia, we headed out to the only part of the national park that is located on the mainland in search of a bald eagle. Although they are apparently nesting throughout, we did not actually find one during our trip. We also searched high and low for moose, but the moose also eluded us…

We can’t forget about the plenty of relaxation and lounging around the inn. Our room came complete with a DVD player and extremely shoddy wifi, so we went on a search for a place that still sold DVDs. We eventually found a little DVD rack in the back of Rite Aide with about ten movies on it. We bought Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and hunkered down for the night.

This was such an amazing trip, and I am so glad that we went. We coupled the text from this blog post with our favorite pictures from the trip to create an Apple Photo Book, which was also worth every penny. I am excited to plan more national park trips in the coming years and I hope that we are able to hike many more mountains and see so many more amazing sights!

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Lake Placid, NY

We spent New Years 2016 visiting the snowy little town of Lake Placid. Before you start thinking Whiteface, I have to come clean and admit that I did not actually get on the mountain to ski or snowboard. I have never skied, but I did have one failed attempt at snowboarding a few years ago at Stowe in Vermont. I would really like to learn eventually, but I need a solid bunny hill and introductory lesson to get me over the hump.

Lake Placid is a really cute village, with great shopping and restaurants all within walking distance of most inns and rentals. Some of the places that we stopped for lunch didn’t have the greatest food, but they all came with great views of Mirror Lake and friendly local service. We especially enjoyed Lisa G’s down at the bottom of the village, which had delicious food and a comfortable atmosphere.

I much prefer to spend New Years quietly with family and close friends. I had a few wild new years back in the day, but I honestly find the thought of going out anywhere on Dec 31st just exhausting. Writing this makes me feel much older than 24, and I have to laugh at how much of a homebody I have become in the past couple of years. Anyway, the condo that we rented in Lake Placid was the perfect place to stay for a quiet New Years. It came equipped with a game-filled basement, with everything from shuffleboard to Playstation, and a cozy living room with a warm fireplace. It was also freezing cold and snowing, which makes a nice view out the window when you are warm and relaxed inside.

Mirror Lake is a beautiful centerpiece for the town. We had great views of the water from many of the restaurants, and we were able to drive and walk completely around the lake to get the full picture. At one point we tried to find the village’s namesake, Lake Placid. According to Google Maps, we were pretty much right on the shore, but there was too much snow to actually get close enough to see it. I would like to experience Lake Placid in the warmer weather, as the Adirondacks are absolutely beautiful all year round and it seems like there would be much to do.

We also visited the site of the 1980 Miracle hockey game against the USSR. The Herb Brooks ice rink and olympic center is definitely worth the visit, and it was cute to see the elementary-age hockey teams playing on the Olympic ice.  We also walked by the Olympic speed skating rink on our trips into town, although we did not take advantage of the free public skating sessions. We caught a great view of the Olympic ski jumps on our way into town, which tower beside the road in a terrifying way to us non-Olympic skiers. It is unbelievable to imagine athletes flying down them when I haven’t even made it on a bunny hill yet!

On our final day in town, we drove to the bottom of Whiteface so that I could see the mountain before we left. Since I hadn’t been skiing or snowboarding, I only saw it from afar during our trip. Pulling into the parking lot there is remarkable, with Whiteface looming over you. It takes a minute to absorb how steep each of the trails are and how large the mountain really is. One of the many reasons that I love the ocean so much is the feeling of immense smallness that it inspires in you. Large mountains give you a similar sensation, though without the vast openness you get from the sea.

Overall, we had a really good time in Lake Placid and it was a great place to ring in the New Year. I hope that next time I will actually get on the mountain to try some skiing, but not being able to do so really didn’t hurt the trip for me. It was another great long weekend away, relatively close to home, and we probably won’t get another one of those until NY warms up again.

 

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Gettysburg, PA

Gettysburg was the perfect destination for a long weekend away. We spent four days in the charming village, filled with fun and rich history. We chose to visit Gettysburg because it was driving distance away from NY and it was highly recommended by my parents who had spent time there in August. Although we missed the summer months, Pennsylvania is absolutely beautiful in the fall.

We arrived in Gettysburg somewhat spontaneously, without hotel reservations or realizing that it was Parents Weekend at the nearby college. Luckily, we were able to book a room (possibly the last one in the entire village) at The Gettysburg Hotel, right in the center of town. We arrived too late to see any of the historical sights our first night, and instead spent the time exploring some of the pubs and restaurants in Gettysburg.

We dedicated one full day to seeing the battlefields and major historical sites. We purchased an auto-tour, which ended up being perfect for us. We had a great time driving around and listening to the tour, getting a sense of the battle at our own speed. We liked being able to choose which sites we were visiting, as opposed to a traditional guided tour, and even skipped a few to return to the next day. We especially loved Little Round Top, where we spent nearly an hour walking around and reading the informational signs. In addition to the battlefields, we spent some time exploring the national cemetery and the site of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

We had a fantastic time pub crawling through Gettysburg and lounging around our room in the true spirit of vacation. Being in the center of the town, we were in walking distance of all  the restaurants and had a great people-watching view out the windows. It was very cool to explore the historical buildings in town, some of which still have bullet-holes in their bricks, and to learn more about the historical battle that was the turning point of the Civil War.

I would definitely recommend visiting Gettysburg, even if you are not as interested in history as we are, as the village itself is very beautiful  and enjoyable. This is a very low-cost, low-maintenance trip if you live in the Northeast, which was exactly what we were looking for this fall.

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Maui, HI

I am posting about our trip to Maui, even though we returned over four months ago, because I am already starting to forget parts of it and I would like to record it here for the future. We spent a beautiful two weeks (ish) on the island of Maui, with one day on Oahu.

Maui was absolutely incredible and unlike any place I have ever been before. There is something surreal about the landscape, with high mountains at the interior and a vast ocean off the coast. The weather was perfect, with a few minutes of warm rain each day to keep us cool in the heat. The ocean water was much warmer and saltier than the more familiar Atlantic, and there were many sheltered bays for us to explore. The cove where we rented paddle boards was so calm that we were able to figure out how to use them in no time, although we admittedly fell into the water a few times. We rented snorkeling equipment at the same beach, and swam with many tropical fish and a few sea turtles that were bigger than me. Maui’s beaches were incredible, and alone made the island worth the 11 hours we spent in flight to get there.

Speaking of aquatic life, the only disappointing part of our trip was our visit to the “largest aquarium in North America,” which was clearly false advertising. As general animal lovers, we thought this might be a fun day trip, but it turned out to be a bunch of buildings with pictures and videos of aquatic life. We did get to see some cool frogs, though.

We spent one day on Oahu visiting Honolulu, Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor. Honolulu and Waikiki Beach were beautiful but crowded, and paled in comparison to Pearl Harbor. Visiting the naval base and memorial was an incredible experience, especially for a history lover like myself, and I hope I will never forget it. My grandfather served in the US Navy during World War II and I took an embarrassing amount of photos to bring home to him. I had them printed for him and I don’t think I have ever seen him so moved by anything in my life. While we were able to walk the USS Missouri where WWII ended, the most unforgettable part of Pearl Harbor was the USS Arizona memorial. We took a boat out to the white stone memorial, which sits atop the sunken Arizona. Inside is a list of casualties on a large wall, and great holes in the floor which you can look through to see the ship beneath you. The memorial was very moving and inspired a silence in all of us that did not disperse until we returned to shore. Pearl Harbor is a hugely significant part of American history and I hope that others will continue to visit it for years to come.

After Oahu, two memories stand out as the highlights of our trip. The first was the night that we walked down the Northwestern shore of Maui from our condo to a beautiful restaurant called Pulehu. Although we joked about getting Italian food on a tropical island, the meal was incredible and the walk down the beach even more so. We watched the sunset over the water, and took a few photographs that turned out to be some of the best of our trip. The restaurant seated us at a high table just steps away from a Japanese style garden and fish pond. We were so close to the pond that we considered what would happen if one of us actually fell in, and avoided moving our chairs around too much. The blue crab dip was delicious and the server recommended a great bottle of wine to pair with it. We had such a good time that I actually posted a Yelp! review of the restaurant after we left – It was that great.

The second memory that stands out to me was our nighttime walk through Lahaina the night before we headed back to New York. Lahaina is a beautiful little town on the water with a fantastic view and many ways to pass the time. Although it is somewhat touristy, we had a really nice time perusing the shops and galleries along the sidewalk. This is also where I picked out my favorite souvenir, a black coral necklace that we purchased from the wife of a diver. Black coral is Hawaii’s state gemstone and incidentally makes really nice jewelry. We closed out the night with dinner and drinks, after which we stayed up late in the condo enjoying our last night on the island.

The trip to Maui was a great experience, and I would consider returning in a heartbeat. For now, I am planning the ever-growing list of places next to visit, as close as New England and as far away as the Philippines. After I finish grad school I hope to take another trip through Europe and many more throughout the US – Keep your fingers crossed for me that we can make it happen!

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