Thursday, October 29, 2015

Learning about History and Exploring New England

We keep saying that we don't spend enough time in each location, but in reality we are spending a good bit of time in most states we visit and the regions in general. The most recent area we have been exploring is the beautiful New England area. After we left Canada we headed south into Maine, a state that neither Andrew or I have ever visited. We have been trying to keep our drives to at least 5 hours or less so our first stop was at a winery we found through our Harvest Host membership in Unity, ME. Younity Winery is a small, unique winery in the outskirts of Unity. Our host, Clem, was the friendliest host we have had so far. He gave us a tour of the vineyards, where they make the wine and we enjoyed tasting all the wines they had to offer. The 2 hour tour was a great way to finish our day of driving. The girls loved seeing how the wines were made and we loved hearing all about the process and how they came up with their creative labels and varieties. The girls ran around the fields, played with Clem's dog, picked apples and we camped under a tree in front of the winery. Harvest Host spots are a great option especially when so many campgrounds are closing for the season, and with such friendly hosts, it almost feels like we are staying with friends or family.
Low Tide in Bar Harbor

After Unity, we ended up staying one night in Bangor because we needed some work done on the truck. The "Oil Needs Changing" light came on and after a number of calls to Ford dealers in the area we got an early appointment in Bangor. We decided we weren't going to drive from Bass Harbor (over an hour and a half) to get the oil changed at 8am, so we stayed at hotel, ran some city errands: Halloween costumes, groceries, etc. And enjoyed a hotel with laundry and a nice bar in the lobby. When we got to the dealer, we were grateful they could change the oil with the camper on. The girls did their school work in the waiting room of the Ford dealer and after an hour or so, we were on our way. Next stop we headed down to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. This is a park that has been on my bucket list for awhile. Years ago, Andrew and I toyed with the idea of attending a photography trip in the park, we decided not to go, but ever since that I have had the idea of visiting this park in the fall to see the Fall Foliage. It did not disappoint. We explored Bar Harbor, walked out to Bar Island at low tide and had an amazing lobster lunch after. The town was pretty crowded because there was a cruise ship in town, so we made our way in around the town for a bit and then eventually retreated to our camp site in Bass Harbor, via the loop road of Acadia and Cadillac Mountain. The drive was breathtaking and the views from the mountain were spectacular. We lucked out with a sunny day and enjoyed driving through the park. The Bass Harbor Campground was small, quiet and charming. A little older than the recent KOA's we had been staying at, but our site was nestled in the woods and there were not many people near us, so it was perfect. The campground was also walking distance from the Bass Harbor Head Light house, so the next day we got to have a down day with a hike to the light house and just hanging out at the campground. The girls were able to paint pumpkins and we all just relaxed.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse
View from Cadillac Mountain 
The next day we did some more exploring in Acadia. After a visit to the Visitor's Center the girls and Andrew decided they were going to conquer the Precipice Trail. I was not quite sure about this trail. We hiked a little way up to the first ladder and while I knew I was physically able to hike the trail, I was fearful of the huge drop offs and cliff walls. If I had gone on the hike with them I would have been scared, anxious and freaking out the whole time - which inevitably would have worn off on Nadia and I likely would have ruined the hike for everyone with my anxiety. So, I let them go on with out me to enjoy the hike. Which they did. Instead, I hiked around the lower levels, found a nice, flat rock to sit out on and enjoy the views and then headed to my camper. Caught up with my mom on the phone and had some nice "me" time to read my book and relax. Not too bad. The nice thing about traveling in a truck camper is you always have your home with you, so I was perfectly comfortable. Besides being nervous about their return, especially when Andrew called me and I saw them from the side of a cliff. But they all returned safely and then we were on our way to see the rest of the park and enjoy the sunset.

After we left Acadia we headed to the coast and the small town of Freeport. We stayed in another adorable campground near Wolf's Neck Farm called Recompence Shore Campground. This was one of the only campgrounds open in the area. The staff at the campsite were super friendly and we loved visiting the farm and seeing all the animals. While staying at Wolf's Neck Campground we visited the town of Freeport and the epic, flagship LL Bean store. Even with our complaining of too much stuff, we still don't learn and we all picked up a few essentials at LL Bean. We also enjoyed one of our new Maine favorite treats, the Maple Latte. Don't knock it until you try it - it was AMAZING!

The girls in front of the Witch Dungeon Museum
We spent a few days in the Freeport area and then made our way into Massachusetts. At first when we were planning this trip, my thought would be that we would stay in Salem for Halloween. As reported earlier, we didn't necessarily plan perfectly and I had no real idea how busy Salem would be for Halloween, so a few weeks ago when we figured we should make a reservation, there was no space for us the weekend of Halloween. So we needed a new plan. I still wanted to see Salem and there was space up until Friday of Halloween week, we just couldn't camp the weekend of Halloween. Instead we decided to come for the week and made reservations for Halloween close by in Cape Cod. We have spent the past week here in Salem and took a day trip to Boston. After visiting Salem and reading online events for the area, I have decided its a good thing we are not going to be here on Halloween. Most of the festivities are targeted to adults and those interested in witchcraft. While in Salem we dove into the Witch Trials history, which is not surprising pretty depressing. The stories at the various museums we visited - the Salem Witch Museum and the Salem Witch Dungeon, both stressed how most people were wrongly accused and in the end it seemed to me that the girls that first accused the witches were young girls, probably pre-pubesent, that were looking for attention and got in over their heads with their stories. Both Andrew and I felt these museums were really dark and pretty depressing. But I was happy we were able to see it. Part of our time in Salem we also did a Hop-on-Hop off Trolley tour. The main reason we did the tour was because one of the stops was our camp ground at Winter Island which highlights Historic Fort Pickering Lighthouse and Salem Harbor. Not only did we get a ride to and from our campground we also got to hear all about the history of where we were staying and a tour of the city. I really enjoyed Chestnut Street which was basically the first planned housing development, where most of the wealthy people in Salem lived, including Nathaniel Hawthorne. The homes are beautiful.

One of the homes on Chestnut Street 
After a day in Salem, we decided we needed a day in Boston as well. Last year, Siena studied the Boston Tea Party in school so we were all excited to see where that happened and learn more about it in person. We took the train in and the first half of the day we toured the city on foot. We all really enjoyed the interactive Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. It was fun for the girls to get to throw tea in the harbor and we loved the talking paintings. We all learned a lot about our American history. After the museum the rain set in and we decided to see the city by tour bus, again a Hop-on-Hop off bus, but at our time of day and due to the rain we stayed on the whole tour with our awesome guide Hollywood. We started the tour at 3pm so we were going right into Boston rush-hour traffic. We saw lots of great sites including: the outside of the Cheers bar, Make Way for Ducklings in Boston Commons, Paul Revere's house and learned lots about the history of the start of the American Revolution. Many of my photos are through a rain covered window, but we still enjoyed the tour, and it was pretty amazing to watch our driver navigate the traffic in a giant trolley.

Girls throwing tea into the harbor.

Entrance of the Cheers bar. 
We have one more day in Salem, and then tomorrow we will stop off in Plymouth, MA to learn about the pilgrims then we are on to Cape Cod for Halloween. We're planning on some safe and quiet trick-or-treating in Hyaniss and then after that it is on the Pennsylvania for some more history at Valley Forge and Gettysburg. More on that in another blog.

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