Acadia vacationland

Acadia is the Vacationland of the Northeast. The national park is very relaxed and breathtakingly beautiful. You can drive down winding dirt roads that lead to crystal clear ponds and lakes as well as find hikes of all levels to suit your needs.

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We mainly explored the quietside of Acadia again for nature and hiking, but we did make it around the famous park loop road once. The thing is that that road goes in one direction only for most of the coast so if you miss a turn or a spot to stop there is no way back. We wanted to go to sand beach as the weather was great, but it was so packed we couldn’t find parking until the next main parking. So we skipped the crowds and just walked along the coastal trail, explored some tide pools and relaxed on the rocks by the ocean.

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We ended up finding a great swimming spot at Echo Lake. It’s not the ocean but a pristine lake with hovering cliffs surrounding it. We managed to hike up to the top of the cliffs…Julie was even able to climb the ladders and steep rock stairs!

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Close by Echo lake is “long pond” which despite being much larger than echo lake is somehow referred to as a pond. A beautiful body of water, crystal clear to the bottom, but no swimming allowed, as due to its natural clarity this pond is used for the local water supply. We found a beautiful hike up to Beech mountain, where you could see the whole “pond” and beyond to the sea.

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We found a few hidden beaches off the beaten path, where we watched the tide go out, and the birds feed on the worms and other critters that live under the sea.

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All in all we had a fantastic time exploring Mount Desert Island and all the beautiful sights, towns, and lobster joints it had to offer.

Our final days in Maine, we traveled just outside of the island to Lamoine state park, where our friends Jon and Meghan were getting married. A beautiful ceremony at a beautiful house right on the water. We got to see many friends and eat more lobster! A wonderful finale to a great trip – seeing as Maine is much easier to get to. We can’t wait to come back – next time there will be three of us!

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Acadia National Park

Bar harbor is usually what people think about when they hear “Acadia”, but there is so much more to this place!

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Tall, thin pine trees along rugged, rocky coastlines make this a very special place. It’s the idyllic location for a mystery to unfold and for gnomes to hide out in.

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We stayed at Seawall campground, nestled in the forest, on what they call the “quietside” of Mount Desert Island.

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Funny enough, it is quiet on this side…just they way we like it. Not that Bar Harbor isn’t nice, it’s actually just the kind of simple tourism that we enjoy with its ice cream, taffy and t-shirt shoppes. But in the end, the gems we found were on the quietside, and we are mostly talking about food of course.

Popovers are just about my favorite thing. What’s better than a hot, fluffy pancake-like puff ball!? Jordan’s Pond House is famous in Acadia for their popovers, so we headed there for tea one afternoon after a beautiful walk along the coast. It’s a serious operation…you have to get one of those buzzer things and they buzz you when your table is ready, and there are lots of waiters. The view is quite romantic and we very much enjoyed sitting side by side on the patio while devouring the best popovers and amazing iced tea.

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So , yes, Jordan’s has the best popovers but the atmosphere feels a little rushed as they turn over tables like crazy. The Common Good has a totally different philosophy. It’s a donation based kitchen and community center right next to Seawall campground that offers unlimited popovers, oatmeal, tea, juice, coffee and free WiFi. Plus they make there own jams and butter…best blueberry jam and the popovers were just as good as at Jordan’s. Not on,ya that, the people are super friendly and you can sit there all morning enjoying breakfast at a really relaxed pace; on some days they even have hippie native live music. Love, love, love this placed. We went almost everyday and donated lots 🙂

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Okay…now let’s talk lobstah! You can’t really go wrong anywhere around here if you are looking for lobster. Here are the places we tried:

Sawyers is a little roadside stop also very close to Seawall that does lobster rolls, fresh lobster, steamers etc. for a good price and with enjoyable outdoor seating.

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We had a proper lobster dinner at the well known Thurstons in a small town called Bernard. The lobstah was perfectly cooked and you get to pick out the animal you are going to eat, but you can skip out on getting their “dinner” as it included a weak dinner roll, a corn and a small piece of blueberry cake. Just stick to the seafood!

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We also went on a search for some clams of some sort to cook back at our campsite and found Beals in Southwest Harbor. This cute little town has everything you need! Beals prices were better than Thurstons and it just had a cleaner feel to it. We didn’t dine in, instead we left with 1,5 pounds of clams for about $6 and cooked them in beer with garlic and thyme over a campfire.

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You can’t come to Maine and not have some pie. We managed to get a Maine blueberry pie from a little shop on Main Street. So, so good…just the way you want pie to be.

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More on hikes and nature in the next post…

Journey through Maine

As our journey continued, we awoke in the parking lot of the LL bean flagship store in Freeport Maine. A very bizarre town that once could have been a real town with a small outdoors store, has turned into a quaint stripmall. Every major chain is represented with an outlet store offering discounts and lower prices to their regular stores. Not a single independent store was noted. Even LL bean had an outlet store – across the street from the big store!

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Succumbing to the nature of this town we visited the Oakley store to check out some discounted snowboarding goggles, and Old Navy, where the $10 shirts were discounted to 6.99. Passing on the goggles, the shirts were much more of a bargain, and now jack can say that he owns every shade of blue vneck shirt from old navy.

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Moving on! We discovered that the rest of Maine is quite awesome and had to keep stopping to investigate and explore all the roadside attractions.

We stopped for lunch in Belfast, where we discovered a Laotian restaurant run by a small family – just might be some of the most delicious southeast Asian food outside of Southeast Asia.

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Another thing we discovered is the gas stations in Maine are much more sensible than those in Massachusetts, and every town seems to have very nice places, clean public restrooms.

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A few hours later we arrived in mount desert island, making out way past the busy towns to our campground near bass harbor.

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We made camp, and despite our best efforts could not get our airstream level.

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But Mr Snake was content so all is well in the world.

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The adventure continues! Sneak preview: there are lobsters involved!

Maine is the main destination

Just over two years later, here we are on the road again. This time our destination is Maine.

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The best thing about the airstream is that once you get to know it, you never forget it. Kind of like riding a bike or greeting a best friend after a long time. Our cross country honeymoon trip taught us to hook up, organize, dump tanks and road rules so much so that it feels like second nature!

Mr. Snake feels right at home too…not even one complaint from this kitty, in fact he seems very content to just be with us.

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This year we are carrying some extra baggage. Well, Julie is really, as a third little person is growing in her belly 🙂 the countdown has started for he/she’s arrival as we are now 31 weeks pregnant! Consider this a little pre-baby honeymoon.

So the 4 of us are looking forward to greeting the great northern U.S. coast at Acadia National Park. We are actually going to be be stationary there for a several days and driving across these small northeastern states like Massachusetts is a lot less taxing than those expansive states out west.

By the way, gas stations in Massachusetts are pretty lame and very difficult to maneuver the airstream into the diesel pump.

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Alander… One year later

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One year later and here we are again, although this time, not with the airstream.

Many things have happened since our airstream adventure last year. Jack and I moved upstate to a small town called Copake Falls, NY. That blue dot is us…about 2.5 hours from New York City and right on the border of Masschusetts. And only 10 min away from Herondale Farm.

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Jack has started his own business making charcuterie… More about that here: JACüTERIE.

Julie finished her masters and will be teaching at a small preschool in Red Hook, NY. More about that here: Little Feet too! Preschool

Luckily, we live right next to Taconic State Park, where Bash Bish Falls is located!

Alander mountain is in Massachusetts, but so close, so we decided to do an overnight camping trip there, this time carrying all our goods and home on our backs.

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It’s a 1.5 mile hike up to the primitive campsites. They are very well maintained all equipped with bear proof boxes to store food and there is even an outhouse. The only issue we had was that you have to walk far to collect water.

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Then it’s another 2 miles to the summit of Alander.

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On the way, very near the top of the mountain is a little hut which people clearly stay in often. When we reached it, it was very clean and there were a couple of cans of beans left over for the next passer bys.

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After our hike, we returned to the campsite and made the usual campfire mac and cheese, but with yummy vegetables 🙂 no body was going to take it away from Jack, not even a hungry bear!

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At night a neighboring hooted and the frogs croaked, but alas, no bear came to visit.

These neat looking plants were along our paths back to the headquarters. Apparently they are called Indian Pipe, or ghost plant and are not a fungi, but a plant with no chlorophyll. They nourish themselves off of the fungi on the roots of near by trees. Really cool.

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We are going to try and squeeze another trip in before the summer ends… We will post again if it happens, otherwise until next time! Perhaps the next one will be with airstream again.

Jack & Julie’s campsite ratings

Because all campsites are different, it is very hard to judge which ones are better than others. So we decided to create our own rating scale, one for paid campsites, one for free campsites or boondocks, and another for urban free sites, each with their own criteria.

PAID FOR CAMPSITES

We strongly believe that camping should be free and affordable, therefore our price category is rated as following:

$1-$8: 5 stars (*****)
$9-$12: 4 stars (****)
$12-$15: 3 stars (***)
$16-$20: 2 stars (**)
$21-$25: 1stars (*)
$26- above: 0 stars

The rest of the categories are also rated out of five stars, 5 being the best and 1 being the worst.

1) Blueberry Patch Campground, Finger Lakes National Forest, New York

Price: $10 – 4
Location: 4
Noise: 5
Amenities: 2
RV/ trailer friendly: 2
Scenic: 4
Overall score: 3.5 stars

2) Salmonberry Campground, Alsea, Oregon

Price: $ 20 – 2
Location: 4
Noise: 4
Amenities: 3
RV/ trailer friendly: 3
Scenic: 4
Overall score: 3.5 stars

3) Bearlodge Campground, Black Hills National Forest, Wyoming

Price: $12 – 4
Location: 4
Noise: 3
Amenities: 2
RV/ trailer friendly: 3
Scenic: 4
Overall score: 3.3 stars

4) Dunewood Campground, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana

Price: $15 – 3
Location: 4
Noise: 2
Amenities: 4
RV/ trailer friendly: 3
Scenic: 4
Overall score: 3.3 stars

5) Sierra Hot Springs, Sierraville, California

Price: $27.50 per person (includes $20 access fee to the hot springs) – 1
Location: 4
Noise: 5
Amenities: 5
RV/ trailer friendly: 3
Scenic: 2
Overall score: 3.3 stars

6) Lower Piedra Campground, Durango, Colorado

Price: $18 – 2
Location: 4
Noise: 4
Amenities: 2
RV/ trailer friendly: 3
Scenic: 4
Overall score: 3.16 stars

7) Berlin Lake, Ohio

Price: $22 – 1
Location: 3
Noise: 3
Amenities: 4
RV/ trailer friendly: 5
Scenic: 3
Overall score: 3.16 stars

8) Goose Island Campground, Moab, Utah

Price: $12 – 4
Location: 2
Noise: 3
Amenities: 1
RV/ trailer friendly: 3
Scenic: 3
Overall score: 3.16 stars

9) Upper Little Truckee Campground, Truckee, California

Price: $17 – 2
Location: 4
Noise: 2
Amenities: 2
RV/ trailer friendly: 3
Scenic: 4
Overall score: 2.8 stars

10) Corallville Dam Campground, Iowa City, Iowa

Price: $28 – 0
Location: 2
Noise: 4
Amenities: 4
RV/ trailer friendly: 5
Scenic: 1
Overall score: 2.6 stars

FREE CAMPSITES

1) Sage Creek Campground, Wall, South Dakota

Location: 4
Noise: 5
RV/ trailer friendly: 4
Features: 3
Scenic: 5
Overall score: 4.2 stars

2) Grey’s River Road, Alpine, Wyoming

Location: 5
Noise: 3
RV/ trailer friendly: 4
Features: 3
Scenic: 5
Overall score: 4 stars

3) Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania

Location: 4
Noise: 4
RV/ trailer friendly: 3
Features: 2
Scenic: 4
Overall score: 3.4 stars

4) Teton National Forest, Moose, Wyoming

Location: 4
Noise: 4
RV/ trailer friendly: 2
Features: 2
Scenic: 5
Overall score: 3.4 stars

5) Tongue River Campground, Dayton, Wyoming

Location: 4
Noise: 4
RV/ trailer friendly: 2
Features: 3
Scenic: 4
Overall score: 3.4 stars

6) Roadside stop mile marker 331, Hwy 101, Oregon

Location: 3
Noise: 3
RV/ trailer friendly: 4
Features: 2
Scenic: 5
Overall score: 3.4 stars

7) Sacramento Pass Recreation Area, Hwy 50, Nevada

Location: 3
Noise: 3
RV/ trailer friendly: 4
Features: 3
Scenic: 4
Overall score: 3.4 stars

8) Hickison Petroglyphs Campground, Hwy 50, Nevada

Location: 4
Noise: 4
RV/ trailer friendly: 3
Features: 2
Scenic: 3
Overall score: 3.2 stars

9) Hells Backbone Road, Dixie National Forest, Boulder, Utah

Location: 3
Noise: 5
RV/ trailer friendly: 1
Features: 1
Scenic: 5
Overall score: 3 stars

10) Milford Lake free loop Campground, Kansas

Location: 3
Noise: 4
RV/ trailer friendly: 4
Features: 1
Scenic: 3
Overall score: 3 stars

11) Mackay Dam Campground, Mackay, Idaho

Location: 3
Noise: 4
RV/ trailer friendly: 2
Features: 1
Scenic: 4
Overall score: 2.8 stars

12) Old Alpine Road, Alpine, Wyoming

Location: 3
Noise: 2
RV/ trailer friendly: 4
Features: 1
Scenic: 3
Overall score: 2.6 stars

URBAN BOONDOCK SITES

1) Lion’s Park, Vermillion, South Dakota

Location: 5
Noise: 3
Parking: 3
Features: 5
Safety: 5
Overall score: 4.2 stars

2) Walmart Supercenter, Ashland, Ohio

Location: 4
Noise: 4
Parking: 4
Features: 3
Safety: 4
Overall score: 3.8 stars

3) Edith Street, Missoula, Montana

Location: 4
Noise: 4
Parking: 3
Features: 4
Safety: 4
Overall score: 3.8 stars

4) Walmart Supercenter, Kendallville, Indiana

Location: 4
Noise: 4
Parking: 3
Features: 2
Safety: 4
Overall score: 3.2 stars

5) Walmart Supercenter, Walla Walla, Washington

Location: 3
Noise: 4
Parking: 1
Features: 3
Safety: 4
Overall score: 3 stars

6) Walmart Supercenter, Fountain, Colorado

Location: 4
Noise: 1
Parking: 2
Features: 3
Safety: 1
Overall score: 2.2 stars

All in all, the free campsite fared much better than all the others although sometimes it is worth coughing up some cash to stay in a designated paid for campsite. There are many different agencies that take care of campsites. Some are privately owned (we didn’t stay in any of those because they tend to be outrageously expensive), the ones in National Forests are usually managed by the National Forest Service, BLM land is public land and therefore free or inexpensive, and Army Corps of Engineers has a lot across the country and although they are pricy they are required to also have at least one free camping area on their land. Oh and, not all Walmarts are the same!

We hope this is helpful information and that if you go on a trip and stay in any of these places you will give us feedback and your opinion 🙂