Finding Serenity in Maine

Published on theDCLadies.com and BindiandJeans.com

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

— Henry David Thoreau

Over the last decade, I have become somewhat of a city girl. I love attending the ballet at the Kennedy Center, brunch on 14th street, and window shopping through Old Town Alexandria with a chai tea latte from Starbucks. It’s my kinda of fun.

But, like any city person, I get tired of the fast-paced lifestyle, traffic, the rudeness and the routine of it all.

So, when my boyfriend and I were invited this fall to join his parents for a week-long vacation in Southwest Harbor, Maine, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

 

Discovering Maine. Discovering Me.

If I were to define our trip in a short quote, I’d re-quote Henry David Thoreau:

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

When many of think of Maine, we tend to think about the fall foliage, Bar Harbor, New England architecture and lobster (at least that’s what comes to mind for me!), but Maine is much more.  There is a much more to the state–there is a quieter,much more serene side, where I got out of my comfort zone and experienced the region’s natural beauty.

Hiking in Acadia National Park 

I never went hiking as a kid except for maybe one time. My first and maybe only hiking experience was when we were living in Okinawa, Japan. My father, brother and I joined a family friend for rather short hike when my brother nearly got stung by a banana spider (a venomous spider indigenous to the island).

On my first trip to Maine, I was very hesitant about doing moderate hikes. I was, frankly a bit scared. But, on this trip, I decided it was time to challenge myself by taking on a moderate hike that required some climbing to Bubble Rock.  

Bubble Rock is most probably the state’s most famous rock. Why, you may ask? Moved by glaciers thousands of years ago, Bubble rock sits on the eastern edge of the summit of South Bubble, which is sits at a 768-foot peak.

The climb to Bubble Rock was tough. During the course of climb, we found ourselves climbing large rocks and squeezing our way through tough spots (you didn’t know if you could feet your foot in some places).  I also found myself needing a boost at one spot, but the end was worth it!

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Acadia, Flying Mountain and Beech Mountain — Challenging Hikes with Immaculate Views at the End

After Bubble Rock, we completed several other hikes–Beech Mountain, Flying Mountain and Acadia Mountain. Each trail had its own challenges, but you couldn’t beat the views at the top:

beech mountain

 From Fire Tower itself, you  can see breathtaking views of the area, including Somes Sound, Cadillac Mountain and the Cranberry Islands.

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 Our last day in Maine, we started it with a hike up Acadia Mountain.

Lobster! Lobster!

It’s true, you can’t say you’ve experienced Maine unless you’ve had your share of lobster. Lobster fishing is a way of life for many people who live off of Maine’s coast. It’s a family business that goes back generations.

We learned about Maine’s lobstering industry during a boat tour to the Cranberry Isles. Cranberry Isles consists of several islands –Great Cranberry Island, Little Cranberry Island, Sutton Island, Bear Island and Baker Island.

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To get to Great Cranberry Island, you need to take a ferry or go on a boat tour, which leaves from Northwest Harbor.

According to the ranger tour, Maine has instituted conservation practices to ensure that the region’s lobsters continue to thrive.

Lobster traps are designed to capture a specific size. If the lobster is too small, it has the ability to get out or it’s thrown back into the water. Female lobsters with eggs are also thrown back into the water.

“The ones caught are the dumb ones, or the ones that happen to get in when the lobster trap is pulled up,” explained the ranger.

From boiled lobster to lobster rolls to lobster macaroni and cheese, we enjoyed our share of lobster.

If you’re looking to just enjoy boiled lobster, check out Thurston’s Lobster Pound. You can enjoy your lobster with your pick of slides and a breathtaking view of Bass Harbor.

 

DSCN1194Thurston’s Lobster Pound

 

For the best lobster stew and lobster mac and cheese, it’s the Terrace Grille at the Bar Harbor Inn. You can’t go wrong with either. During the dinner hour, you’ll also enjoy a blueberry cornbread muffin fresh from the oven.

We enjoyed dining at a number of great places during the week, but if I would have to pick my favorite dish of the week, it would be lobster mac and cheese at the Terrace Grille!

Lessons Learned

Thoreau’s quote captured everything I felt and experienced on this trip.  While hikes could be a bit tough for me at times and with some small injuries, it wasn’t just the breathtaking views I saw, I saw myself in a whole new light.

Other Things to Do When Visiting Acadia National Park and Surroundings:

 

 

My Summer in DC

By: Guest Blogger Sapna Bakshi

Over the last three weeks I have been spending time with my fabulous aunt in what  I think is the most exciting city in the country, Washington DC. I had so much fun going to all the museums,trying new foods, spending time with my aunt and  my aunt’s dog, Nikki , and also being in an office environment. After this trip to  DC, I have decided to make it a tradition to come every summer.

Going to the museums in DC combined two of my favorite subjects, art and history.   The Sackler Freer Aunt and I at White HouseGallery and The Phillips Collections have  unique pieces of art that really caught my eye, being an avid painter myself. My favorites were the impressionists’ works,    there soft lines and everyday concepts give the illusion that you’re actually in the painting. Ford’s Theatre and the Museum of American History were also really interesting and lots of fun to visit. I loved seeing the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner and also the museum underneath Ford’s Theatre.

Mac and CheeseOne of favorites parts of DC would have to be the food, there are so many different types of food and cuisines to explore. One of my favorite restaurants was Le Pain Quotidien.  I had a Tartine( open face sandwich) with prosciutto, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and basil oil. I really loved the combination of the prosciutto and the mozzarella ,it was so good. Another one of my favorite restaurants was Zantinya. I’m not a huge fan of brussel sprouts, but the brussel sprouts at Zantinya were incredible. My all time favorite restaurant  had to be Cheesetique, their Mac and Cheese is to die for.

Now my favorite part about coming to DC would have to be spending time with my aunt and her dog, Nikki. I had so Nikkimuch roaming around DC and Arlington with them. Coming home and seeing Nikki makes your day so much brighter and better. We have become like sisters; she is such a delight to have around and I will miss her so much. My aunt is the best; she is so much fun to hang out with. She is like my best friend, we watch movies together, make food together, play with Nikki, shop, and pretty much everything else you would do with your closest friend.

Getting to intern at my aunt’s office was such a fun experience. I have learned so much about being in a work environment and web development. At first, I was overwhelmed by all the new information, but after my first week I was very comfortable in my aunt’s office.I was editing blogs,researching articles, working with analytics and so much more. I worked on my grammar, computer skills and communication. I will definitely be taking these skills and using them in school.

In DCI feel very proud of myself after this trip, I have learned so much and done so much. I’ve experienced different cultures, different people and different places. If I had to describe this trip in one word I would say thankful. Without my family I would not have been able to have such a wonderful experience, and without my new friends I would not have been able to learn so much.

How France Reminded Me “It’s Ok to Feel Fabulous”

DSCN0537Imagine, sitting in the main square of small French village in the South of France drinking local wine, indulging in local cuisine with Edith Piaf performing in the background.

Well, that was me a couple of months of ago.Whenever I’d dreamed about my first trip to France (yes, it’s hard to believe), I always thought about eating local fare and taking in the culture while sipping a local wine. And, voila, here I was, experiencing what I’d been dreaming about for months.

Provence Couldn’t Have Come at a Better Time

My trip came at the right time in my life. It’d been a very long time since I’d done DSCN0553anything for myself-very long time.   Having just been dumped, and tired of celebrating everyone else’s major milestones while I was still single at 36, I decided to do something about it. I booked a trip to France with my favorite aunt. And, let me say I am so glad that I did because Provence welcomed me with open arms and made me feel fabulous. The timing couldn’t have been better.

How France Made Me Feel Fabulous

Eating breakfast every morning under the warm sun away from the daily grind and stress, I reconnected with myself. I felt happy and it DSCN0545wasn’t because of someone or something, it was because of me.  So, what did France teach me within 24 hours of arriving?

  • Spend an extra few minutes on yourself, you’ll feel fabulous.  Whether it’s adding a string of pearls or a scarf to add a bit of color around your neck, take an extra minute to add that special touch. It’ll make you feel wonderful.
  • Sit down and take in the scene. When traveling somewhere new, many of us want to rush to the next place on our itinerary. But,  look at the people around you, they are not running around instead they are sitting somewhere soaking in the culture. Remember, you are on vacation.
  • Take something back with you that you’ll incorporate into your life.  When I returned back to DC, I brought back not one but several things with me that I incorporate into my life now–I wake up early each morning and take about 20 minutes to enjoy it. It includes a short walk with Nikki, reading the paper and sipping a cup of coffee. It has changed my life. Sometimes it’s the little things that you do that lead you through life. Don’t you agree?

And finally, you don’t need an excuse to enjoy a glass of wine BUT sip it don’t gulp it down … just like life.

Have you been to Provence? How would you describe your experience? And what lessons did you bring back with you?