This week we dive into Tamara’s recent Maine road trip and explore how to get off-the-beaten path in the Downeast Acadia and Maine Highlands regions.
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How to Get Off-the-Beaten Path in Maine
- Read Tamara’s post on 7 must-try adventures in the Maine Highlands
- Read Tamara’s post on things to do near Acadia National Park
- Read Tamara’s Maine road trip itinerary
- When visiting Acadia National Park, visit the Schoodic Peninsula and the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park. You will not find the crowds that are on Mount Desert Island.
- If you do stay in Bar Harbor and visit Acadia National Park to see Cadillac Mountain, you do need reservations to drive up the mountain at sunrise.
- Tamara stayed in Winter Harbor, which is very close to the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park and you can take a ferry to Bar Harbor.
- Visiting Schoodic Point is nice at high tide when the waves crash against the rocks.
- When visiting less touristy towns, be prepared to be flexible and patient when eating out and recognize that many restaurants close by 8pm.
- Fogtown Brewing in Ellsworth is a great stop at the beginning of the trip.
- Drive the Schoodic National Scenic Byway east of Ellsworth and stop for KidsQuest interactive learning activities along the way.
- Renting a cottage or vacation home is a good option for families.
- Tamara stayed at MainStay Cottages & RV Park in Winter Harbor.
- You can take a puffin boat tour from Winter Harbor or Milbridge.
- Many trails in Schoodic are family friendly including the Alder Trail.
- Make sure to have lunch at Lunch on the Wharf in Corea.
- The oldest winery in Maine is Bartlett Maine Estate Winery, which is also a distillery.
- You can take a puffin tour from Milbridge with Robertson’s Sea Tours and Adventures.
- Have a picnic at McClellan Park in Milbridge with great water views.
- Hazel with Maine Outdoor School leads guided hikes and paddles to help you find new places and learn more about the area.
- Be prepared for flies, mosquitos and ticks when you are hiking or spending a lot of time outside.
- You can spray your clothing and gear/shoes before you go outside.
- Lubec is the easternmost town in the USA and people like to visit West Quoddy head Lighthouse for sunrise.
- When the border is open you can visit Campobello island where the Roosevelt’s summer home was and they have fun events like Tea with Eleanor.
- You must stop at Monica’s Chocolates when in Lubec.
- Bangor is a nice small city with a vibrant downtown and great history and architecture.
- The Bangor Historical Society offers walking tours to learn more about the history of the town and the region.
- The Hollywood Casino Hotel is a good place to stay in Bangor even if you aren’t interested in gambling.
- The Hirundo Wildlife Refuge is located close to Bangor and has good walking and hiking trails, many of which are wheelchair or stroller accessible. You can also borrow canoes or kayaks for free.
- The Orono Bog Boardwalk is also a nice and easy trail for families
- Tamara stayed at the New England Outdoor Center (NEOC) on Millinocket Lake, which offers cabins and lodges to rent.
- At NEOC you can borrow canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards as well as rent fat tire bikes or take a wildlife tour.
- From Millinocket Lake, drive the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Scenic Byway to the town of Patten.
- Tamara stayed at Shin Pond Village near Patten, which also offers both cabins and camp or RV sites.
- Shin Pond Village rents out Polaris side-by-side vehicles and there are hundreds of miles of trails to explore nearby.
- Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument is a new national monument that is also a Dark Sky Sanctuary. There are not any facilities like a visitor’s center or bathrooms, but it is perfect for backcountry camping, hiking, and star gazing.
- For more information on star parties and events, visit Dark Sky Maine and Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters.
- Baxter State Park is very popular, especially in the southern entrance. Parking reservations are required for trails that lead to Mt. Katahdin.
- Sandy Stream pond is very popular early in the morning for moose and wildlife viewing.
- Driving all the way through the park is on a gravel road and it could take 3-4 hours to drive through the entire park.
- Shin Pond Village is close to the northern entrance to Baxter State Park. From there, the South Branch Pond area offers many hiking trails and you can also rent canoes.
Full Episode Transcript
[00:00:00.120] – Kim Tate
From Rocky Coasts to Mountain Lakes, today, we’re talking about Maine.
[00:00:16.460] – Announcer
Welcome to Vacation Mavens, a family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.
[00:00:31.700] – Tamara Gruber
Today’s episode is brought to us by Safe Travels, Kit, Safe Travels Kit is a travel and airline bedding kit that helps travelers create a more sanitary, comfortable travel experience. Now, when travelers set off on a vacation or business trip, instead of worrying about encountering unsanitary surroundings, they can journey in comfort and serenity, resting on the safe travels, super safe seat covers and pillowcases made from high-tech fabric that prevents germs from penetrating. You can purchase one for your upcoming travel safetravels.com or on Amazon or at many airport Brookstone locations.
[00:01:02.750] – Tamara Gruber
So, Kim, we’ve been talking about Safe Travels Kit for a little bit now. And, you know, I was just on this road trip that we’re going to talk about on this episode, and it made me think about the number of times that I’ve rented cars and maybe from, like, budget kind of places. and I’ve gotten in and be like kind of smells in here, like what’s been going on in here. And so I was thinking you could put the seat cover on your rental car probably as well.
[00:01:28.730] – Kim Tate
Yeah, of course. I’ll never forget that time that we rented a car. And I remember it was pretty stinky, smelly. I don’t remember where we were, but for some reason it stayed in my head.
[00:01:38.640] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, we had that. I feel like we took out the like they had they had one of those that room fresheners, like a car freshener, air fresheners. Oh, that’s in there. And we took it out and then we realized why it was in there.
[00:01:50.810] – Kim Tate
Like, OK, it needs to be here. Yeah. Especially now, you know, I, I saw somebody who’s a frequent traveler sharing that he was rented a 2018 vehicle recently at the rental car lot. The rental cars are not many left. So there’s getting whatever they can. So now what am I going to get when I go to California?
Yeah, well, I’m bringing I’m packing my Safe Travels Kit, so I will have it for the plane and I’ll have another rental car, so and I’ll have an extra pillowcase.
[00:02:26.390] – Kim Tate
Yeah, that’s a long flight for you. You guys might try to, you know, use the time on the plane wisely and
Yeah, I think actually my time on the plane is going to be writing about Maine.
[00:02:37.280] – Kim Tate
Oh nice. That’s good. Well we will jump right in then and get talking about your trip to Maine, because I was I have to admit, I was so jealous and wished I was there with you, especially because it was a solo trip for you. And I was thinking, man, I could have just flown out there and, you know, spent some time. We could have had our our fun little hiking and, you know, Maine time together.
[00:02:57.380] – Kim Tate
But it seems like you had a lot of fun. You were definitely ready to get back to your family, but you were gone for a while. So we’re going to jump right in and talk all about your your time exploring, you know, all the rocky coasts and lighthouses all the way to the lakes. And I know you saw a few moose, so we’ll talk about that.
[00:03:13.190] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, definitely. I was thinking about you, too, especially since, you know, two summers ago we went to some of these areas, not the same exact area, but similar. And so I was definitely I was missing you and thinking of you. But, yeah, I spent I think it was about twelve days in Maine, which is such a long trip. But the state is so huge, you know, like people tend to think of more of the the Maine beaches, which is kind of like the southern coast.
[00:03:39.620] – Tamara Gruber
And then there’s the Portland, of course, and then like the mid coast. And then they kind of look at Acadia National Park is super popular. But to go beyond that is, you know, much more off the beaten path. And so I made my way up the Maine coast and maybe we’ll talk about that actually in a different episode, because I think if I covered all twelve days, it would be like way too much.
[00:04:01.160] – Tamara Gruber
But I was working with two different tourism boards. They had hired me to do a campaign with them because they’re trying to say, hey, there is so much more to Maine than just, you know, these parts that people tend to gravitate towards. And so I was working with Downeast Acadia Regional Tourism, which is kind of the region from Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, all the way to the the Canadian border along the coast and then the Maine Highlands, which is Bangor, and then up into kind of that Moosehead Lake area that we’ve been before and Baxter State Park and that, you know, mountains and lakes type of area.
[00:04:38.540] – Tamara Gruber
So it’s a lot to cover. When I was driving along and meeting and talking to different people, I mean, one thing about traveling by yourself is I become a little bit more extroverted. I mean, there’s no one else to talk to you. Right. And it’s really nice because you get to, like, make more conversation with locals. And and there were hardly any visitors at the time, which is great. So I was really able to kind of get a sense of the real thing.
[00:05:02.180] – Tamara Gruber
But somebody was saying, like just one county in Maine is bigger than Connecticut, I’m sorry, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. So it’s like people just don’t understand the scale. Like they get calls like, you know, places to stay and things like that. They get called. They’re like, well, we’re going to do like a day trip to, you know, they’ll name a place I like, you realize it’s like a five hour drive away, you know?
[00:05:22.230] – Tamara Gruber
So, yeah. So it is a really big state. There’s a lot to cover. But I think what I did with this road trip was kind of a little bit like the best of both worlds, because everyone loves that quintessential rocky coast with the lighthouses and the lobster and all that. But then, you know, the idea of seeing moose and getting out and hiking and seeing the lakes and the rivers like, you know, that is really appealing too.
[00:05:48.240] – Tamara Gruber
And so I feel like for especially for this summer, it’s going to be a great trip for people to do because you are trying to be outside still, but you’re also trying to get away from people. And we’ve talked about before the summer is going to be really, you know, it’s going to be really busy. Yeah, especially in national parks. And I saw a headline when I was there saying that Acadia is expecting record breaking numbers this summer.
[00:06:12.780] – Tamara Gruber
I think that record breaking last summer and they expect to break that again this summer and they are requiring reservations. If you want to drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain and see the sunrise there, which is a very popular thing to do. So it’s something you where again, like you really have to plan ahead. You don’t really expect that as much on the East Coast as much as you might. And like Zion and, you know, some of the other parks where it’s a little bit more known that you might need to take like shuttles and reservations and things.
[00:06:40.510] – Tamara Gruber
So I really focused on areas outside of that. So I guess I’ll just kind of start off with talking about what I what I did on the trip. And I did stay one night in Bar Harbor and that was at a glamping resort that I’ve just wanted to check out on my own. And that was like before I started this campaign portion of the trip. And so, you know, if you do want to start in Bar Harbor, that’s fine.
[00:07:03.840] – Tamara Gruber
And I think what Acadia National Park is most well known for is like the town of Bar Harbor and then the part of the park that is on this island called Mount Desert Island. And so that’s where you’re going to find the popular Cadillac Mountain and Jordan Pond and the Beehive Trail, things like that. But there are actually two other parts of the park in different locations and no one really goes to those. So you can still see some of the really beautiful parts of like why this is a national park without all of those crowds.
[00:07:33.610] – Tamara Gruber
And so I stayed in a town called Winter Harbor, which is kind of just across the the bay or, you know, as you would imagine, like, you know, different harbors. And I was maybe five minutes outside of a section of the park that’s called this Schoodic section of Acadia National Park, because it’s on the Schoodic Peninsula, because if you think about the coast of Maine, it’s kind of like all these fingers coming down. There’s all these peninsulas coming off of the coast, which is why you have all that great coastline.
[00:08:01.290] – Tamara Gruber
And so this is just, you know, right across there is actually right next to where I stayed. You could take a ferry that would bring you over to Bar Harbor, but the area, the Schoodic section of the park was empty. I went on a Friday night, my first time there, a Friday night for sunset. And you think, oh, it’s going to be busier. There is no one on the right like the whole time.
[00:08:21.870] – Tamara Gruber
I think it’s of maybe a 14 mile loop. You know, I should probably look that up, but it’s a one way loop through the park with different viewpoints and different trails and things that you can stop at. And the end point is called Schoodic Point. And that’s where, especially at high tide, the waves are crashing on the rocky shoreline and the sunset is like, you know, going down right over there. So it’s a popular spot to go for sunset.
[00:08:46.530] – Tamara Gruber
And I saw, I think, to other people when I was there. Wow. Yeah, it was amazing and great. It’s early June, but still it was like Friday. It was a weekend, you know. Yeah. So it was really it was it was quiet. So if you want to kind of get all of that national park ness with your. Yeah. Beautiful coastline and hikes and mountains and all that, without the crowds, you just have to go across over to this peninsula part of it.
[00:09:13.390] – Kim Tate
So that’s a great tip. I think that’s what people need to be looking for, especially I think this is the last year that we’ll have a lot of because there’s even though international is coming back, people I think are still staying domestic. And so all those people who are eager to travel are all looking. And I’ve seen Maine coming up quite a bit. It’s kind of it’s kind of been funny.
[00:09:32.010] – Tamara Gruber
So I have to yeah. I think it’s you know, maybe people are thinking about alternatives to like the Southwest, knowing it’s going to be high and. Yeah, maybe alternatives for some of the the other Western. Well, I think yeah.
[00:09:44.970] – Kim Tate
I think people forget that Maine is up there and it offers I mean, it’s kind of like they think of New England and they forget about everything else. That’s like even upper state New York and, you know, all of that. They kind of forget that there’s all that beautiful nature up there.
[00:09:59.130] – Tamara Gruber
And yeah. Yeah. And I will say, like, last summer I went to the Adirondacks and granted it was in the middle of summer, but it was you know, things are really crowded like there. You really have to get to trailheads by six a.m. and, you know, expect like you might have trouble parking and all that and. I just don’t see that in this part of these parts of Maine that I’m going to talk about, it is, you know, it is further, but if you’re flying, you can fly into Bangor and then everything like from Bangor to Acadia is like an hour and 15 minutes.
[00:10:31.880] – Tamara Gruber
And then from Bangor up to like where I was on Millinocket Lake. And like some of the Highlands area is, again, like an hour and a half, you know. So it’s really. Yeah, you can even use that as a, you know, like a home base and do like a hub and spoke kind of trips you wanted to as well. So it’s really and from it is it is up there. But even from Boston, like if you drove highway and not coast, you can get up there in like five hours.
[00:10:59.540] – Tamara Gruber
So, you know, it’s really not too bad. But again, I will say, though, the one thing to think about is that it is a little bit further out. And so you’re not going to find all of the same tourist infrastructure that you find like a little bit further south or in some of the towns like Kennebunkport or Portland or whatever. And just I think everywhere is kind of experiencing a bit of a labor shortage right now.
[00:11:23.480] – Tamara Gruber
But they’re definitely seeing that in Maine, too, and places trying to get staffed up. And so you see more of, you know, there’s, you know, maybe going to be a slower service at some of the restaurants or shorter hours or just the fact that when you’re in some of these towns, there might only be two or three options. And what I found is that some of them close early, actually, most of them close early because it’s just it’s more of a you get up early and go to bed early kind of place than me, which is a night owl.
[00:11:53.360] – Tamara Gruber
You know, I think when I was working with the person, the tourism board, I was like, yeah, dinner at around 7:00, you know, sounds good. And she’s like, oh, I could tell you’re not a morning person. Oh really? I thought that was still kind of early, but I found out, like, I would go, like, try to take sunset pictures and then go have dinner afterwards and no, no, no places close at 8.
[00:12:12.440] – Kim Tate
So it’s like that’s that’s surprisingly enough.
[00:12:15.260] – Kim Tate
When we were in Rocky Mountain National Park, which is Estes Park is right there, they were the same thing. It was this small mountain town and everything closed to eat. It was so weird. You know, we had trouble sometimes, I mean, because it was the middle peak, July, middle of summer and. Right.
[00:12:29.790] – Tamara Gruber
You have a lot of sunlight. You want to be out. Yeah. Stuff.
[00:12:32.060] – Kim Tate
Right, exactly. Yeah.
[00:12:33.740] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. Well, let me I’ll get into my trip a little bit and kind of give some details for people that want to plan some of their own. So my first stop was in the town of Ellsworth, which is kind of right above Bar Harbor, and it’s a little downtown that has like some different brewing places. And I went mean, is like big with their craft beer scene. They’re known for lobster, but they’re also big blueberries. There’s certain things you got to try.
[00:12:57.530] – Tamara Gruber
So I went to this place called Town Brewing and that they had like an outdoor like food truck and beer garden kind of place. So, you know, it was really cool. And then I drove it was a lot of scenic byway. So I drove this Greek National Scenic Byway down. Like I said, this peninsula to this town of Winter Harbor. And again, you’re not going to find the same like hotels and things they’re going to find.
[00:13:21.380] – Tamara Gruber
And Bar Harbor, there is a couple of inns, there’s a couple bed and breakfasts. But if you’re going as a family, you’re probably better off trying to look for like a cottage rental of some sort. And I definitely saw lots of signs for those. And some of them are gorgeous. So I think that that’s probably a better choice. I stayed at a place called Mainstay Cottages and RV Park, and I thought it was going to be kind of like your traditional RV park.
[00:13:46.130] – Tamara Gruber
It was not. It was so nice. It was this piece of land right on the water. So your RV sites are like really overlooking the water. But there’s only like 10 RV sites. And they were kind of to one side and the other side where cottages and I stayed in what was the original building there, which is a boat house. So it’s like, you know, I walked down to the water, up a little ramp to my boat house.
[00:14:07.970] – Tamara Gruber
That’s like sitting over the water. So amazing, like sunset views. It was just a little like one bedroom cottage, but it had this back deck, the where you could just sit and watch the boats and watch the sunset.
[00:14:21.050] – Kim Tate
And yeah, it was I would say that I remember that about Maine having the most amazing sunsets and the stuff you were sharing, it just reinforced that, that it’s just amazing the colors that their skies get.
[00:14:34.640] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. Especially because a lot of it was kind of dreary when I was there during the day. And then it would surprise me at night. I’m like, yes, thank you. You know, so that was a really nice place to stay, like as a home base, because you literally could walk to the to the ferry that would go to Bar Harbor right there. There was also a little boat tour that went out that did a puffin tour, I think it was called Acadian Puffins.
[00:14:57.560] – Tamara Gruber
So you could take a boat tour to go to an island off of a wildlife refuge where they’ve brought back the North Atlantic puffins. And so I was supposed to do that actually in a different town. And it got canceled because of high seas, but luckily earlier in my trip when I was in Booth Bay Harbor, I was able to do a similar trip.
[00:15:22.500] – Tamara Gruber
But the thing about like Booth Bay is a bigger boat, more like a whale watching boat, like multi-tier. And so I have a feeling they don’t get quite as close. Like maybe these boats were smaller. But the other thing to worry about is like if it is rough seas and you’re on a small boat, you’re going to feel it a lot more, you know. So but, you know, that’s definitely a neat thing to do because, I mean, I’ve been fortunate enough to see them in Iceland, but it’s a very unique thing to get to do and see.
[00:15:49.890] – Tamara Gruber
And I think most people don’t realize that puffins are actually really small. They’re smaller than seabirds.
[00:15:55.050] – Kim Tate
So they’re very tiny.
[00:15:56.740] – Tamara Gruber
Yes. You really it’s hard to get a good view of them. I think people really expect you see the pictures and you’re like, oh, that’s what I’m going to see. I’m like, no, I had this amazing zoom camera and I could still only get so close. So, you need to bring binoculars.
[00:16:12.420] – Kim Tate
Yeah, definitely. I agree with that. We went whale watching in, you know, on the Pacific Coast, surprisingly, and there’s a wildlife refuge and they have some puffins and we actually got to see puffins out here. And it was it was kind of crazy because they seem so bright and like when you see them on rocks and in people’s photos because they do zoom in, you don’t realize how small they are. And you’d have to be really close to be able to even get that clear vision of their beak and all that beautiful coloring they have.
[00:16:40.260] – Kim Tate
And so, yeah, I know what you mean by that, but they’re so cute. They are. They’re adorable.
[00:16:45.150] – Tamara Gruber
And we mostly saw them like on the water when I took that trip. But there is a place in this downeast region that you have to book it in advance, but it’s like a small boat. And so it depends on the weather. But they’ll take some people out to the island and you can stay there and like, stand in the bird blind, you know, like the box where you are kind of covered. You just watch them. So there are if you’re really into it, there are things to do like.
[00:17:12.590] – Tamara Gruber
But where I stayed, like as I said, I was like five minutes from the entrance to that section of Acadia National Park, there was a place where you could rent kayaks there. There was a place where you could rent bikes because a lot of people just bike into the park and loop that way, which is a great option. So it’s definitely a place where you could stay for a few days and just do there’s so many different like hiking trails and things to do.
[00:17:36.150] – Tamara Gruber
So like, you know, there’s some in the park, but then there’s all these different, like preserves and the national wildlife preserves, other types of preserves like around. And a lot of them have kids activities like there’s this thing called Kids Quest where they’re like each place has like different like learning opportunities for kids, like a train station. So this is where we you learn about seaweed, this is where you learn about tides, you know, so there’s things like that that you can do if you have younger kids.
[00:18:02.020] – Tamara Gruber
Also, you know, I spent pretty much like my first day really exploring the park. And I did a hike, like up to the top of a mountain. And the hikes there are not super long. I mean, you can do kind of a longer ridge, not real ridge, but, you know, you could do like a longer one. But most of the hikes are not too long and not too steep. I did come down one that was like a little bit steeper and not as clearly marked.
[00:18:28.140] – Tamara Gruber
But I think for families, if you could do like this Alder Trail and I will put this all in the post that will be published by the time this episode comes out. So, like, everybody can see the details. But I also somebody told me that at low tide you can walk out to this little island that’s off the coast of the park and sometimes the harbor seals will hang out there. So I checked to see like what time low tide was going to be.
[00:18:52.530] – Tamara Gruber
And I made sure I went before, like, the actual low tide, you know, so I would have time to be there and get back before, you know, the water would start coming back in. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any seals, but like that, you know, that was a neat kind of thing. Like you’re walking on the ocean floor kind of thing. Yeah. And then just you did the loop, went out to see the waves crashing and, you know, so it’s just it’s pretty.
[00:19:15.390] – Tamara Gruber
If you like a rocky coast, you will definitely get your fill.
[00:19:20.130] – Kim Tate
Yeah, that sounds amazing. I’m impressed with Maine even from my one trip. I think it’s really a place if you’re if you’re looking for like a relaxing, outdoorsy, just kind of laid back vacation. I think Maine is definitely a good place to look for that.
[00:19:34.410] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. And like I said, there’s a lot of, like, little charming things like one of the I think that day I left the park and I went to have a late lunch that someone told me about. Again, some of these things like you need like a local will tell you that because they’re not very well promoted or, you know, talked about even within the park, there’s a place that was called like Ravens Nest. And it’s not even on the list, like it’s not even on the park map.
[00:20:01.320] – Tamara Gruber
But like all the locals will tell you, oh, you got to go to these cliffs, you know, so stuff like that. So I talked to actually the person that was she owned the the property where I was staying. And she recommended going to this little fishing village of Corea or. Actually, I think it’s Korea, but with a C and there is like a food truck kind of thing there, but lunch on the wharf and it’s only open in the summer and it’s only open like from 11:00 to three and not open on Sundays.
[00:20:28.550] – Tamara Gruber
So that kind of thing, like where you kind of have to know about it to go, but they have lobster rolls and all that, and you’re right on the water. And, you know, there are places like that and like further south in Maine that people will line up for for like an hour, you know, but they’re like it was just so nice, you know, like I sat just looking at the boats, because I can’t even tell you how many harbors there are, because all these little coves and, you know, they’re just filled with lobstering boats and fishing boats and they’re just bobbing there.
[00:20:57.440] – Tamara Gruber
And all along the the pier, as you just see, you know, all the lobster traps and you see the bouys and the ropes. And it’s just it’s so classic. It’s so classic, like Maine and New England. So it’s like, I don’t know, it just kind of, you know that expression like fills your bucket, just kind of like your bucket with like all these, like, good sites that you wanted to see when you came to Maine.
[00:21:18.470] – Tamara Gruber
And it’s like everywhere you turn is there there’s another lighthouse, you know, like it’s just it’s so quaint.
[00:21:24.440] – Kim Tate
Yeah. Well, I was definitely jealous of all the lobster rolls and stuff you were having, so I definitely think that’s something people think about. So the food sounds like it’s it’s definitely not to be missed when you’re on a trip there.
[00:21:37.080] – Tamara Gruber
I came home and Glenn was like, what would you want for dinner? And I’m like, I think pasta, a chicken, I had a lot of seafood. And then when I was like further north, you know, it was like much more casual. So like I had a lot of fried stuff there. So I kind of just want, good. You know, like, give me salad, you know, that kind of stuff.
[00:21:56.360] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. But yeah, there’s a lot of other things, like there’s some cute farms like organic farms you can stop at. There’s a couple of wineries surprisingly, but they specialize in fruit wine. But I did visit the one that was the oldest in Maine. It’s called Bartlett Maine Estate Winery. So it’s a distillery too. So I guess, you know, you can maybe find your your drink in one of those, too. So, you know, there’s other things that you can do.
[00:22:20.210] – Tamara Gruber
It’s not just about like hiking and stuff like that, but yeah, there’s just so many good places. So after I stayed in Winter Harbor, I went over, I kind of made my way east to the town of Machias. But first I stopped in this town called Milbridge. And there were a couple of things that I think of note there that I would want to mention. And one is that you can do a puffin tour from there with Robertson seatours and Adventures.
[00:22:48.740] – Tamara Gruber
That’s the one that I was supposed to do, but unfortunately got canceled. But there’s some really nice parks around there, too. So I went to this park called McClellan Park. It’s a state I don’t actually I don’t know if it’s State Park. I think it’s just a local town park. So you’re driving, like, down this peninsula and you’re like, oh, is this going to be worth it? And then you turn into this park and it’s just, you know, you’re driving through the woods, really bumpy little road.
[00:23:13.580] – Tamara Gruber
Follow the sign to the picnic area. I get out of the car at the picnic area and it’s like one table in the middle of like a grassy kind of field surrounded by trees. And I’m like, why am I here? You know? And then I realized then I realized there was like this little path. And so I follow this path. And then you’re on these gorgeous, like rock. I wouldn’t call them cliffs, but like, you know, these big boulders along the coast with picnic tables there.
[00:23:37.640] – Tamara Gruber
And I’m like, OK, I get it now. It’s gorgeous. And if this was at home, there would be so many other people there, you know, you’d have to stake out your spot. All that there was I saw, like in the distance one other person, you know, so you could just go and have this amazing picnic with a wonderful view. And I feel like, you know, that’s that’s what it was about. It was just about like amazing views and stuff like that.
[00:24:00.680] – Tamara Gruber
But without the people, I’m going to sound like very like people adverse. But, you know, like it can get crowded in places. And it’s just so nice to find those places that are still so great that are undiscovered somewhat, you know.
[00:24:13.130] – Kim Tate
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s awesome. I think it’s it’s kind of interesting that, like you said, that there are those spaces still and it’s hard to know, like, as you know, people like you and I who shared travel destinations. And I think we need to all be mindful of looking for those little more. I mean, beautiful places certainly don’t just end at the border of a national park, although sometimes they can. But, you know, it can be quite beautiful anywhere you go.
[00:24:41.890] – Kim Tate
Yeah. And in talking to the locals, they’re kind of like, well, we know we want people to come in, don’t have to change. So it’s still in that little bit of, you know, back and forth thing. But apparently, like during the pandemic, people have been buying land up there, like sight unseen, paying cash, just like grabbing up land. So they’re kind of like what is going to happen after they have a winter to up here, because that is a very different experience.
[00:25:10.760] – Tamara Gruber
So we’ll see. They’re a little worried about, like, you know, driving up the cost of land and rent. And things like that, but we’ll see, you know, like it might really transform, you know, so that there becomes a bit more of an infrastructure. But I will say, like, you know, you do have to go with expectations, like I ate at this one place called Saltbox in Winter Harbor that was, you know, a very nice restaurant, you know, wonderful food.
[00:25:33.670] – Tamara Gruber
Like, you know, what you would expect from, like a fine dining type of experience. But mostly it is like a family home cooking kind of places, you know, so you just have the right expectations. It’s not like there’s anything wrong with that. But, you know, you’re not going just a lot of heavy, rich food over time.
[00:25:51.500] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, yeah. Lots of fresh fish and stuff, though. The other thing that I would really recommend, especially for families, I think is I did a guided hike with Hazel from Maine Outdoor School, and she’s like an outdoor educator. She’s, you know, she’s from Maine. She’s very passionate about it. But she knows so much like about the area, but also about like the, you know, all of the plants and all the trees and all the the birds and, you know, like everything that you’re going through.
[00:26:22.600] – Tamara Gruber
So I feel like she could do something that would really engage kids. She’s used to doing like kids programs, too. So she knows how to be very engaging with kids and, you know, teach you a lot, but then maybe bring you places that you may not have found on your own. And, you know, one of the things she offered to me was to do like an evening paddle, like where you could see wildlife and stuff.
[00:26:43.030] – Tamara Gruber
And we didn’t do that just because of my schedule. But that would be something other. I’ll just make sure you bring, like, proper bug gear if you’re going to do that. Yeah, I should I should mention that, like, yeah, May and June are usually like black fly season in Maine but I got really lucky and I did not get bothered by them at all. And even the mosquitoes, which they’re always there’s like t shirts that are like the state bird is, you know, mosquito.
[00:27:08.410] – Kim Tate
Yeah. I remember having to fight with mosquitoes when we were there.
[00:27:12.160] – Tamara Gruber
So I didn’t have too much of a problem with that either. I mean obviously I put on bug spray the things that drove me a little bit crazy a couple times were like those no see ums.
[00:27:20.110] – Kim Tate
Oh yeah. Those little gnat biters.
[00:27:22.090] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. Because they’re the ones that just drive you insane. Yeah. But it was only a couple of times and like usually if you’re moving it was fine. And they say like after like mid-July somebody said that’s like the third thunderstorm in July is when the flies go. I love these like old time.
[00:27:39.820] – Kim Tate
Like the Farmer’s Almanac type. Yeah that’s right. Yeah. What about I mean another thing does just mention that, you know, we don’t deal with as much out here, but pretty soon the whole US is going to have to deal with it. Just being aware of ticks and Lyme disease when you’re out hiking and checking yourself for that. Right.
[00:27:54.550] – Tamara Gruber
Ticks are a huge problem. And I actually I’m a little bit worried that they’re going to be worse this year just because, like some people that I know that are spending a lot of time outdoors are finding them already. I actually when I did the glamping at Terramor in Bar Harbor, I sat outside by the fire for a while and then it started to rain. I had a blanket wrapped around me because it was kind of cold. And when I came in, I, like put the blanket out just to look at it.
[00:28:16.570] – Tamara Gruber
And I found a tick on it and I was like freaking out. You know, I flushed it like it wasn’t on me. I did it had a decent mirror. I did like a good tick check, but I definitely think, like, yes, spray your gear. There’s some stuff I can link to it on our show. Notes that you can spray like your backpack and your shoes and things with before you like, not, you know, like spray it, not when you’re in it.
[00:28:38.350] – Tamara Gruber
And then just, you know, use some good bug spray and do good checks and wear it and all that kind of stuff. But Hannah’s going back to camp this summer in Maine, and I’ve already told her, like, OK, you really have to be good about this.
[00:28:49.270] – Kim Tate
You know, I think wearing the hats, the big one is just getting in. Your hair is the other.
[00:28:52.960] – Tamara Gruber
Apparently, they climb up, you see, like a lot of times because it’s like you’re going through the tall grasses and they grab on your leg, they grab on to like your shoes and your legs. And that’s why some people will tuck their socks, like, in to their socks and then, you know, so then they crawl up and they look for like warm areas, like armpits and stuff like that. So, yeah, I mean, there’s plenty of stuff online to tell you, like what to do about it.
[00:29:17.470] – Kim Tate
Yeah. I don’t want it to discourage people. I mean, everyone is dealing with that, but it’s just something like for me, I’m not so used to it out here in the West Coast. So it’s definitely something to be mindful about. I think Kansas I remember my mom checking me when I were I would play in the woods.
[00:29:32.200] – Tamara Gruber
So, yeah, when I grew up, we we would get them a lot. And it didn’t figure out the same way because there wasn’t that disease associated with it, you know. Yeah. So yeah. So it is definitely, you know, something to stay aware of. But luckily that was my only encounter with that, you know. And I did keep checking all throughout.
[00:29:51.910] – Kim Tate
Yeah. Yeah. Just something to be mindful of for people I don’t want. Sorry to go off on that side tangent, but I think it’s important to just know since we are talking about it as a destination.
[00:30:01.720] – Tamara Gruber
Definitely. So from there I made my way to this town of Machias, which is like a little bit larger of a town. And there’s some other things you can do if you did want to like kind of base there for a little bit. There’s Roque Bluffs. State Park has a nice sand beach, and I think nearby there’s like Jenkins’ Beach, which is more like ground, colorful pebbles, but there aren’t as many like beach type of places, you know in Maine, because it’s at least in that section, because it’s more rocky coast.
[00:30:27.500] – Tamara Gruber
So it’s nice when you can find, you know, a real beach to, like, hang out on or sabayon. In the town of Machias, there’s a nice, like waterfall in the center of town. But I will say, like, there’s not again, there’s not a lot when it comes to restaurants. And I think there’s two or three more motel kind of places. I think a couple of them have been renovated, you know, so that they look, you know, newer.
[00:30:52.130] – Tamara Gruber
But it is still that kind of accommodation unless you would want to rent a cabin. But I actually stayed at a gorgeous place. It was called the Inn at Schoppee Farm. So it was a farmhouse that they’ve converted into an inn. And I stayed in the river room, which was on the first floor. I think the other rooms are on the second floor. And it was gorgeous, like the person the people that run.
[00:31:18.190] – Tamara Gruber
It’s like a young couple clearly have such nice design style because it felt like it felt like it was from like a magazine or a decor show because it was just very simple, like farmhouse kind of, you know, like white linens, like the wide plank floors, the exposed beams in the ceiling. There’s like old little table, but just with a like a vase of like these simple yellow flowers. So it’s just like wood and white and a little splash of yellow.
[00:31:45.140] – Tamara Gruber
And it was just it was beautiful and it’s right on the river. It’s accessible to like this path that’s used for like biking or running or ATVs or stuff like that. So and it’s just really great outside of town. So that was really like a wonderful farm. I don’t know if you’d call it like a farm stay because there weren’t like animals and things around, but it was it had that feel. But I think, you know, unless you’re going to take a couple of rooms, it’s going to be better for like a couple than a family.
[00:32:12.010] – Kim Tate
[00:32:13.640] – Tamara Gruber
And then the next day, I decided I was going to drive all the way out to the Canadian border, the town of Lubec, because it is everyone kept telling me, you got to go. It’s such a cute town. And I realized I was only like forty-five minutes away. And I’m like, how do I come this far and not make it go all the way, you know? So I was like, you know, I’m just going to get up early one day and do it.
[00:32:36.710] – Tamara Gruber
Although I will say I did not get up as early as some people do, because the thing to do in Lubec is there’s this really cute, like red and white striped light House called the West Quoddy head light. And it is the, you know, the easternmost town in the U.S. And so it is where, like the first sunrise, you know, first hits the U.S. So it’s like a lot it’s a thing for people to go and see sunrise there.
[00:33:02.240] – Kim Tate
New Year’s Day. I’ve seen pictures of that.
[00:33:05.510] – Tamara Gruber
But you know me, I’m not a morning person. Sunrise right now is like four something, you know. So I was not going to get up at like three thirty to drive out there wasn’t happening. But still I went out there and again handful of people were there while I was there. So I, I set up shop, I had my tripod, I was taking pictures, you know, I was like hanging out there. And I am so self-conscious about stuff like that, like I feel so uncomfortable, like taking up anyone else’s space or time or whatever.
[00:33:35.990] – Tamara Gruber
So I tend to not do those things when there’s people around. I just feel really uncomfortable. But because there was no one around, I’m like, oh, cool, I can take some pictures with me in it. I’m going to set up my tripod. And so it was it was nice. It was really cute. And then the town itself, I mean, it’s quiet now because obviously the border is closed, but it’s really cute. There’s a place called Cohills inn & Pub which supposedly makes like great cocktails.
[00:33:58.970] – Tamara Gruber
There’s a brewing place there. There’s all kinds of trails and things. If you did decide to stay. And what most people do when the border is open is there’s this island that kind of shares the border and it’s called Campobello. And it’s where the Roosevelts had like a summer home. So you can go out there and visit like this, you know, historic home. Sometimes they’ll do like tea with Eleanor, you know, and the those things to do.
[00:34:23.540] – Tamara Gruber
But, like, that’s a really popular thing to do. But it’s it’s closed right now because of the the border is closed. But if you go in the future, when the Canadian border is open, like, definitely check that out. But it was well worth it. And there’s also if you go, you have to stop at this place called Monika’s Chocolates. She will walk you through every bit of her shop. She makes everything by hand.
[00:34:44.660] – Tamara Gruber
So not just the chocolate, but she makes her own peanut butter. She makes her own caramel. Like everything that’s going into this stuff, she’s making by hand also. And the chocolates are amazing. So I was like, OK, they’re going to melt in the car, but I have to get some. And so I was like trying to keep them cold by putting, like, water bottles around it and stuff. So that was kind of wrapping up my time in the Downeast region.
[00:35:10.250] – Tamara Gruber
And then I went up to the Maine highlands.
[00:35:12.740] – Kim Tate
Yeah. And so that’s the Maine highlands. It’s kind of like what you and I that’s more of the lake and mountain interior, is that correct? Yeah.
[00:35:19.400] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. I spent one night in Bangor kind of as a layover and I visited like I drove by the Stephen King’s house. He does still live there, but I guess they’re turning it into a writer’s retreat. And actually, I was able to get a lot of history because I took a walk, actually were supposed to be walking tour, but it because it was like 95 degrees, they nicely drove me around with the Bangor Historical Society.
[00:35:42.620] – Kim Tate
But they have a whole bunch of different tours that you can do because it at one point had the most millionaires. And I don’t know if it was New England or the U.S., but because it was a logging town, there was like just a lot of wealth there at one time. So the town itself has these beautiful Victorian mansions, like the architecture’s really beautiful. A lot of downtown was destroyed in a fire at one point. And obviously it’s not a big lumber town today, but it’s still cute like downtown.
[00:36:12.470] – Kim Tate
I mean, it’s a little bit hard to judge sometimes right now some of the towns, because they’re like coming back. But it was much more vibrant than I would have expected given this past year, you know, and everything that’s happened. Yeah, but it was you know, there are a lot of cafes. There are tons of like outdoor dining kind of options. It was cute. You know, it was definitely a cute little town. And then they have like a good concert arena there that apparently bands love to play at.
[00:36:38.090] – Kim Tate
It’s like you’re on a river. And so, you know, people will come from far away to go see a show there and then stay overnight. So I stayed surprisingly. This one really surprised me. There’s a casino hotel like I didn’t expect that. They say this place called like the Hollywood Casino Hotel. But like, luckily, like, I was not interested in going to the casino, but like, the hotel part is separate. So, like, you didn’t have to encounter any of that other stuff at all.
[00:37:06.770] – Tamara Gruber
Like even I came in a different entrance thinking I could cut through to get to the hotel because I’d walked across the street for dinner. And that was completely sectioned off, so it’s like you, I did not have to walk through it at all, so that was like if you’re not into gambling, then you don’t worry about it
[00:37:25.430] – Kim Tate
We have a casino hotel out here like that, that’s very separate that you can get to him through a lobby, but you don’t it’s not like a Vegas hotel where you walk through the casino to get to the elevators or something.
[00:37:34.690] – Tamara Gruber
Right. And where they don’t want you to find your way out.
[00:37:36.890] – Kim Tate
Yeah, exactly. You know, you actually can’t find your room.
[00:37:40.790] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. So from there, like the next morning I drove up to where I was staying in Millinocket Lake. But first I stopped at a place called the Hirundo Wildlife Refuge, and I did like a guided paddle, was with a naturalist there. And this is like a it’s a really nice like if you are staying in Bangor and you want to get out and do some, like, walks and hikes without driving an hour and a half, it was you know, it’s only like maybe 25 minutes or so out there.
[00:38:09.830] – Tamara Gruber
And they’ve tried to make it really accessible and affordable for families. So it’s free. They do take donations. You can even borrow canoes or kayaks for free. I mean, they hope that you make a donation. So that’s really nice. And a lot of their trails are wheelchair or stroller accessible, which is a lot of hiking trails in Maine are what they call rocks and routes. So it’s a very uneven surface. So anyone that has any mobility issues, it’s it’s a bit of a struggle to get out in nature.
[00:38:40.500] – Tamara Gruber
And so the fact that these are like, you know, nicely done trails, there’s also another one called the, I don’t know, Orono bog boardwalk that I did. So it’s like a boardwalk, you know, out like overlooking a bog back in. So it’s nice to see that, like, again, for families that don’t want to have, like, something too strenuous but want to get out nature, there’s something for them to do.
[00:38:59.870] – Tamara Gruber
Then I drove up to it’s called the New England Outdoors Center. And remember how you and I did like the Appalachian Mountain Club Lodge and we did that. Yeah. So it’s you know, they have a large and then they have cabins. They don’t do the same kind of family style dinners, communal dining.
[00:39:17.710] – Kim Tate
[00:39:18.200] – Tamara Gruber
So it is different in that way, but it’s on a lake and it’s a lodge. They run activities, they have a restaurant there. It was closed when I was there just for that day. They try to balance it with other restaurants in the area so that everybody has a day off, you know, especially being short staffed right now. But they put me up in an amazing cabin like this, especially when I walked in there, I was like, OK, to three bedroom, two bath cabin with like this gorgeous kitchen.
[00:39:44.690] – Tamara Gruber
I can’t believe, you know, like this is what I wish I had people with me.
[00:39:47.720] – Kim Tate
Yeah, of course. I remember you sharing your stories. I was like, oh, man. And it’s like always happens with us when we find a great place, it’s like, oh, you’re here for ten hours.
[00:39:56.420] – Tamara Gruber
I was there for one night and I’m like, oh man. But they have a mix of cabins like they have smaller, like, you know, kind of more basic cabins. They’re premium cabins. I think this was like a premium lodge, you know, kind of thing. But they have some that sleep up to fourteen. So great for like family groups, you know, extended families, friends, that kind of thing. And the waterfront there is beautiful.
[00:40:18.380] – Tamara Gruber
So they had their on Millinocket Lake looking across the lake to Mount Katahdin, which is the tallest mountain in Maine, and that’s the end point of the Appalachian Trail. So it’s like where it’s famous because a lot of people will finish their hikes there and so people will go and meet them and greet them. So it’s a great view. They have, like, I guess a tiny little beach front area, but they have like a picnic area, you know, like along the waterfront.
[00:40:44.210] – Tamara Gruber
And you can borrow canoes and kayaks or stand up paddleboards to go out. They also rent mountain bikes and they’re building out like mountain bike trails there. But the thing that I did that was exciting was I did one of their wildlife tours. So when you and I did a moose tour, we went out like early morning and we’re in a van. And then we did a canoe. This one they have in the evening or the early morning. But you go out on a pontoon boat, so you go across the lake and then you go into all these little streams and inlets because that’s where the moose come down, like
[00:41:17.630] – Kim Tate
where the almost like the airboat tours in Florida.
[00:41:20.660] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:41:23.090] – Tamara Gruber
So we did that and we were like looking around and it was like, you know, that point where you’re just about to give up. And then he’s like, I think I see something. And it was really far in the distance, but you could really see there’s the moose. And as we were coming back, we saw another one like a little bit closer to shore. So I still have not seen one with, like, the I’ve still haven’t seen a male with the antlers
[00:41:43.940] – Kim Tate
Still. I know I was watching all year. I was watching all your pictures and I’m like, oh, another. And whatever the female ones are called.
[00:41:50.690] – Tamara Gruber
Cows. Yeah. Yeah. So and they’re still big because they’re still like they are because.
[00:41:56.870] – Kim Tate
Yeah. You don’t want to get, you know, next to one of those.
[00:41:59.630] – Tamara Gruber
But yeah I was super excited though because I saw a lot of beaver and beaver was one thing that it’s just I don’t know, I’ve always wanted to see one in the wild because I see the beaver dams a lot.
[00:42:10.970] – Tamara Gruber
But you never actually see the beaver. And so as we were going, you know, you would see the Beaver Dam and then you would see like a head swimming through the water. And when I did my paddle at the wildlife refuge, like earlier in the day, she was talking about Beaver and, you know, you mostly would see them at night and that they slap their tail to scare you away. And she kind of demonstrated with the paddle how loud the slap was.
[00:42:35.410] – Tamara Gruber
Well, I got they slapped their tail at us a lot, you know, so I have a picture of like this huge splash from them. So, like, I have some pictures of their head in the water, but it’s like a distance. It’s nothing. It’s nothing that like. Yeah, yeah. Nothing great. But definitely saw them. Definitely heard them that really get away from here. Oh yes. That was cool.
[00:42:56.540] – Kim Tate
Awesome. So lots of wildlife and getting out into nature. What else did you do when you were in that area.
[00:43:02.830] – Tamara Gruber
So I did do some kayaking on the lake, but it was a little bit choppy. So I didn’t go. I kind of just stuck to shore and, you know, just kind of explored a little bit because then I was driving the next day, I drove up a little bit further north, but I took another scenic road. It’s Route 11 and it’s called the Katahdin Woods scenic byway up to a town of Patten, like there’s a lumberjack museum there.
[00:43:29.650] – Tamara Gruber
So it’s big, big, big lumber town. And I stayed at a place called Shin Pond Village. And this is they also have a bunch of cabins. So they have camping sites, RV sites. And then I think about a dozen different cabins, again, like a two bedroom cabin. It was you know, it was nice. It was it was not fancy, but it was it was spacious and, you know, nice.
[00:43:54.950] – Tamara Gruber
And so I liked it a lot. And, you know, it had kind of a nice view over like a meadow. But the thing that they do there is they rent side by side like ATVs. But the Polaris like side by side here, because there’s just like tons of trails out there. So it’s kind of like one of the big things to do in that area is to go, you know, ride these trails. And so there’s different ATV clubs that have built them out and maintain them.
[00:44:22.600] – Tamara Gruber
And so someone from Shin Pond Village took me out on a little guided tour. They don’t usually do the guided excursions, but each of the vehicles has like a GPS built in and a tracker built in. So it’s kind of easy. They give you a map, they kind of talk to you about where to go. But I was surprised that even as we’re driving, like I would get lost in a second, you would think. But she was easily following GPS.
[00:44:43.600] – Tamara Gruber
But there were also times when you come across like a trail map and they’d be like, you are here. And it was so different things. So that’s good.
[00:44:49.750] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, they really maintain them nicely.
[00:44:51.610] – Kim Tate
It sounds kind of funny, but there’s some show on TV and I don’t even know what it is, but it’s like the I don’t know what they would be called, but they’re like the police officers that take care of nature, OK, or whatever. Yeah. Some kind. And they have the show. I remember it being in Maine and they were talking about it was there was a bunch of ATV drivers and they were talking about all the trails and like their speed limits on the trails and yeah.
[00:45:14.710] – Kim Tate
Like a whole trail system. And it was kind of it seems like it’s a major it’s almost like it seems like it’s like cross-country ski trails during the winter and then in the summer. Snowmobiling. Yeah. Or snowmobiles. Yeah. So they turn out that’s what it probably is, a snowmobiles and they turn on ATVs in the summer. So it’s kind of cool how they it’s such a big part of their life out there.
[00:45:35.860] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. I was talking to Riley from Shrimpton village and she was saying that it’s actually winter was always there big season for snowmobiling, but summer is now becoming like just as big or even bigger. And it’s longer season, obviously, you know, for ATV and Hannah and I did something similar to this, like a couple of years ago up in northern New Hampshire. We went up and we did a little cabin in a place, you know, did kind of guided tours, you know, and we actually crossed over into Vermont for the day and had lunch and came back.
[00:46:03.400] – Tamara Gruber
And, you know, it was really neat. So it’s definitely some of these towns, like there’s just not a lot of other stuff there, you know, so like this has become both their recreation and a way to bring in tourism. . And I think of like my nephew loves ATVing, you know, like he would love to go up there and do that, kind of like for me, you know, an hour or two of bumping around and I’m OK.
[00:46:25.780] – Tamara Gruber
But, you know, some people are like, really love it. And I also like, how fast can we go? How much, how dirty can we get that stuff. Yeah, but like like they brought me up to the top of I think it was called Robert’s Mountain and, you know, really beautiful view. She’s like, we love to watch sunset here. But then on the way back we encounter a lot of moose. And again, that that’s OK.
[00:46:45.130] – Tamara Gruber
I do not want to be on the ATV trails at night, but she said those things I like really good lights and all that. So I’m like, OK, I mean, you know, so if you’re into that, it’s definitely a great place to go for it. But there’s also like plenty of other hiking and stuff to do nearby, of course.
[00:47:00.250] – Kim Tate
[00:47:00.730] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. So because it’s so there’s this new national monument called Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. So if you think about like the national park system, like National Park is like the most well known. But then there’s all these other types of public land, right, the historical monuments and, you know,
[00:47:17.480] – Kim Tate
That’s like that white sands, I always got thrown that it was a national monument, but now it’s a national park.
[00:47:23.670] – Tamara Gruber
Now it’s a national park. Exactly. Yeah. So it is. They told me it’s very rough and I didn’t know exactly what that meant. But basically it means that there’s really not like facilities there.
[00:47:33.810] – Kim Tate
So I mean infrastructure. Yeah, there’s no visitor center and bathrooms and stuff like that.
[00:47:37.230] – Tamara Gruber
Exactly. It’s more about I mean it’s it’s newly designated. So I’m sure some of that will develop over time. But it’s also an international dark sky preserve and newly has that designation too. And that’s like actually I think it might be a sanctuary. So there’s levels there’s like a sanctuary preserve community. There’s like different designations for dark sky, but it is known for its dark skies. So I don’t think they want to develop it too too much. But it’s good for like if you want to do backcountry camping and stargazing or if you did want to do some like a real back country, like hiking.
[00:48:14.340] – Tamara Gruber
But I will say, like I so the first night that I was up there, I drove in and I was meeting an astronomer from Dark Sky Maine to do some stargazing because I was a little nervous to just like wander out there on my own, like, where do I go? What do I do? And so I started driving into the park and it has like a 17 mile loop, I think 14 or 17. And they told me it would take like two hours to do the whole loop.
[00:48:39.030] – Tamara Gruber
And I’m like, OK, you know, and wondering. But as I didn’t realize, it’s like ten miles, like just to get to the loop it felt like. And so and it’s really rough. So there are a number of places where you would go, you know, up in this section of Maine and you and I experienced this to where it’s really logging roads.
[00:48:57.240] – Kim Tate
Yeah. You don’t even know if it’s a road. Yeah.
[00:48:59.460] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. So it is, you know, it’s gravel but there’s like there’s different grades of gravel, like it is, you know, like there are big potholes, big chunks of rock, you know, like where if you, if you have a low clearance car like forget about it, like it’s it’s not happening for you. And so I’m bumping along this and I right before I went, I had my car serviced. I’m like, OK, we just did a whole lot of driving, going to make sure my car’s like in good shape.
[00:49:24.780] – Tamara Gruber
And they said like, oh, I think you need tires. And I’m like, really? Because I got tires right before you and I went to Maine two years ago. But I well, I didn’t drive like 5000 miles, you know. Yeah. For one road trip. And then I’ve done all these other we drove to Florida, you know, like we have put on a lot of miles. And so I could think was what if I pop a tire out here?
[00:49:43.230] – Tamara Gruber
There’s no cell service. There’s no one coming. I just have to walk, like, through the wilderness back. So I’m like, you know, I’m just going to wait. I’m just going to wait over here, you know, for the person I’m meeting and he’s going to drive me in. So that’s what I did. So I would say, like, it is a place to go, like if that is what you’re looking for.
[00:50:01.860] – Tamara Gruber
But just be aware, you know, when it comes to services that that’s what it is. I actually totally because I was reading a blog post recently and it said you could see lots of monuments there like you were there.
[00:50:18.570] – Tamara Gruber
Yes. Because it’s called the National Monument. Does not mean there are monuments there.
[00:50:22.470] – Kim Tate
Exactly. It’s not like Washington, D.C.. Yeah, that’s crazy.
[00:50:26.610] – Tamara Gruber
So I’m like, OK, blogger, start to make sure you’ve actually been there.
[00:50:30.390] – Kim Tate
But anyway. Don’t write for SEO, write for helping people.
[00:50:33.420] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, exactly. So at least our listeners know that we’re going to give it straight. Right. You know. Yeah, I really feel. But we went out there and we saw a beautiful sunset over the mountain because we stopped this overlook overlooking Mt Katahdin and then they clouded it up. So I was like, I am such a bad.
[00:50:53.430] – Kim Tate
You have such bad luck with it.
[00:50:59.250] – Tamara Gruber
I mean, at least we got this. I got to see the northern lights. Normally every time I’ve done stargazing, you know, it rains or it clouds up. So we hung out for a while. I mean, he was a great guy. We had a great conversation. They do do star parties there. And there is like a festival that takes place in October. So if it’s something that people are interested in, I would definitely look up like Dark Sky Maine or Friends of Katahdin, Woods and Waters and they’ll have some information about, like the events that they run.
[00:51:28.440] – Tamara Gruber
They’ve been doing a lot of virtual zoom kind of things now that people have been enjoying. But they’ll go back to like the in person kind of star parties this year. And he I mean, the guy was wonderful. He set up telescopes, you know, for me. And he was already with the laser pointer and all of that. Yeah. So big shout out to John. But, you know, unfortunately, the weather did not work for us.
[00:51:50.490] – Tamara Gruber
And eventually we just we just kind of called it a day and we went back. And as we’re driving again, local maner, he’s used to this kind of driving and I’m like kind of nervous about what I’m going to see. I see a moose on the road like before he does and before I can even get the words out. I’m like bracing for impact kind of. And I’m like pointing at that. But there’s this like moose like, you know, right in the road and.
[00:52:12.840] – Tamara Gruber
And you just like, I guess, moose, and so that was like my upclose one of my upclose moose. Yes. And then we got back to where I parked my car, but I still had to drive like a good distance on Gravel Road and I was following him. But, like, it blows up so much dust. Like so I was kind of like, I have zero visibility, like, so slow. And then, you know, then he goes one way and I have to go the other way.
[00:52:37.980] – Tamara Gruber
And it’s now like almost midnight, it’s dark and there’s still no cell service. And I’m just like, oh, God, what happens if I find like there’s a. So I’m driving like very slow, like very white knuckle, you know? And I get back. I’m like, oh, I just need to unwind for a little bit. You know, I think I didn’t go to bed to like 1:00 in the morning because I was like just like all tense from, like driving back.
[00:53:00.090] – Tamara Gruber
So I would say, like, that’s one thing that if you are going to do that, like just think about like your drive back and like maybe if you are into camping, like just camp there, that way you can just look up and see and I’m sure there are I’m sure everywhere. Like the next night I was going to go out and just try to stargaze from my cabin, but like the weather was still iffy. So I was like, I’m so tired, I’m not going to bother.
[00:53:21.180] – Tamara Gruber
But, you know, I’m sure everywhere in the area is nice. But then my last day, I will finally wrap up because I am going on and on. But my last day I went into Baxter State Park. And again, this is what I’m going to tell you about Baxter State Park that I learned. So Baxter State Park is very popular in Maine. It is one of those state parks that’s like a national park in so many ways as it does have Mount Katahdin.
[00:53:43.980] – Tamara Gruber
And so it is super popular. So they actually require parking reservations for any of the trails that lead to Mount Katahdin and those, you know, fill up by 6:00 a.m. If you don’t show up for your reservation by 7:00 a.m., then they may give it away. But I wouldn’t want to like basically where I was staying to that south entrance where you would get in for that for that part of the park was like an hour and a half drive or something like that, or at least like forty five minutes.
[00:54:11.220] – Tamara Gruber
It was long enough that I’m like, I’m not going to chance that I can get a parking spot. And then there’s also some areas like Sandy, Stream, Brook or Pond and some other ponds that are super popular for moose watching. So especially in the early morning. So again, like you have to get there super early and they give you like a three hour moose pass, you know, like parking pass. Then you have to, like, get out of there.
[00:54:34.980] – Tamara Gruber
So you it is it takes some planning ahead if you want to do that. And also it’s a very large park and there is a road that connects the southern part with the northern part of the park. But again, it’s a gravel road. And so they’re like, be prepared that if you want to drive through the whole park, it’s going to take you three or four hours. So it just something to think about. And there are lots of hikes to do, but people are like, oh, let’s hike Mount Katahdin.
[00:55:01.260] – Tamara Gruber
Like, you don’t just go and hike Katahdin. It’s like, you know, I’m not going to say it’s not like hiking Everest, but it’s something that you need to be prepared for. Like you need to be an experienced hiker. They you need to start out. It’s like a ten plus hour hike. So, like, you need to start out very early. You need to have those parking reservations. And they are like really emphasize that you need to carry a lot of water.
[00:55:23.340] – Tamara Gruber
And actually, remember, our friend Amy from Pitstops for kids. She did it with her her boys a few years ago because her son goes to college out there and she is a very experienced hiker. And I remember her writing about it and saying how like they weren’t even as prepared as they should have been. And she was like scared a little bit, you know, like I am. So it is something that you really have to prepare for.
[00:55:46.320] – Tamara Gruber
And then, you know, there’s there’s like this knife edge trail that kind of goes along the ridge line. And the locals tell me there are points where it’s maybe only like five, six feet wide, you know, and then you have these big drop offs and either sides, you know, it’ll be closed when it’s high winds, but it’s definitely not for people with fear of heights, you know, so there’s just a lot that you should be aware of before you do that.
[00:56:08.100] – Tamara Gruber
So I wasn’t ready for any of that. So where I was staying and Shin Pond Village was actually only a half hour from the northern entrance of Baxter State Park. And again, it’s just like any other state park or national park that’s busy. If you go to the less busy part, you can still have a great a great experience. Like you may not see those like, you know, most famous sites, but you can still have a great experience.
[00:56:32.910] – Tamara Gruber
So I went in that north entrance and I did a couple of hikes, like one to a waterfall, one to the site called The Ledges, which was just beautiful overlooking. And then I walked down to a pond. And you can do like a loop like there and another waterfall like. So there’s there’s plenty to do in that area. And there’s a campground there. And you can actually there’s a ranger station there and you can rent canoes to go out on the lake or the pond for like a dollar I think.
[00:56:58.350] – Tamara Gruber
And there is no one else there, like no one. I didn’t see anyone on the trails actually. You sign in at the trailer register. Baxter State Park does a really good job of keeping track of their visitors. So when you go in the gate, they ask you what your plans are, where you’re going to go. They’ll help you find something if you need to, and they give you like a pass that you need to drop off on your way back out of the park so they keep track of everyone going in and everyone going out.
[00:57:23.360] – Tamara Gruber
And so with the trail registers that, you know, they really want you to fill that in when you’re there and coming out. And so I could see there is no one else on the trail that day. Like, it’s just it’s so quiet. And that, I think was I guess it was during the week, but it was a Thursday. So it’s, you know, like you would think a Thursday in June would still be fairly popular, right?
[00:57:43.910] – Kim Tate
[00:57:44.240] – Kim Tate
I think it’s like you said, you know, it’s just when you’re able to find those spots because it seems like everyone flocks to the same, you know, five sites inside of a park and they miss these other things. And still, it’s got the beautiful nature like the rest of the park, but it’s just not picked up as the thing to see. Right.
[00:58:01.760] – Tamara Gruber
Exactly. So I would say, like, if you’re doing like what I did and you want to go in the Northern Gate, this whole it’s the Northern Gate, but it’s the area called South Branch. So it’s like South Branch Pond Campground. And there’s like all these different hikes and things around there and the Rangers can help you out. So it was lovely. It was it was really nice. On my way into the park, I did come across another moose in the road, which was exciting because it was not dark.
[00:58:28.040] – Tamara Gruber
And so I saw it in advance and I was able to kind of quickly pull out my phone. Of course, my good camera was in the back, but I knew that it wouldn’t it wouldn’t stay in front of me for long. But it just kind of stood there in the road, turned and looked at me, and then it would walk a little bit and I would like inch up a little bit, you know, thinking it’s going to go in the woods.
[00:58:45.170] – Tamara Gruber
And it kept walking along the road and looking back at me and then it just like wandered off into the woods. So it was neat. It was cool.
[00:58:52.220] – Kim Tate
Well, it sounds like you had a great time and spent a lot of time getting to know that state.
[00:58:56.210] – Tamara Gruber
Well, yeah, it was really fun. I love I just I do love the state. There is just a lot of gorgeous outdoors there. But then you have the quaintness, like I said, of like the lighthouses and that kind of side of things too. So, yeah, I highly recommend it. And again, if you want to get out of the very busy areas, go to these regions. There’s tons to offer, have the right expectations when it comes to, you know, accommodations and restaurants and roads, you know, things like.
[00:59:30.010] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, yeah. And cell service. Oh, my goodness. Even by the coast, I had like I have Verizon, like, no cell service, even like further south in Maine. They’re like, now you need to have like U.S. Cellular, I’m like who has us cellular, I didn’t even know that existed still. But so definitely be prepared when it comes to like a communication standpoint that you need to research like it helps if you have like a non phone based GPS and you can’t just search by point of interest because some of these places where it might show on Google Maps is not really where you should go, you know, so it helps if you can research in advance and have your exact street address or coordinates.
[01:00:13.400] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, there are a couple of times where I just clicked on the coordinates to do that. And if you only have a few days like even and you want to get out into like more that wilderness area, either basing at that New England outdoor center that was more, maybe more tourist friendly and that, you know, the things that they had to do and to borrow and the restaurant and then Shin Pond Village, you know, a little bit more rustic, but not rustic.
[01:00:38.630] – Tamara Gruber
Rustic, you know. So either of those could be a good choice as well. So I don’t I would love I would love if anyone goes and experiences some of these things or has been like, let us know what you think.
[01:00:50.840] – Kim Tate
Well, as you said, you’ll be sharing a lot of this information on your site so you guys can always go to We3Travel.com and check it out or just check check the show notes at VacationMavens.com and Tamara will have all the info there.
[01:01:03.470] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, definitely. And next time I can shut up and you’ll talk about some of your travel.
[01:01:08.420] – Kim Tate
Sounds good. Yeah, I’m excited. We’re about ready to head out and do a couple of fun trips, so be chatting about that next time. Cool. Thanks for joining us bye.