Thursday, August 26, 2010

Acadia National Park--How it Ranks

These are the National Parks that I have visited, in order of most liked to least impressed:

Hawaii Volcanoes
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
North Cascades
Mount Rainier
Crater Lake
Grand Canyon
Grand Tetons
Rocky Mountains
Capitol Reef
Bryce Canyon

As you can see, I don't rank Acadia very high. I wasn't that impressed. Granted, I went at the busiest time of the year, didn't camp in the park (because it was all full!), and didn't do what the park is supposedly famous for--the carriage rides. But we spent two days there, and saw the most popular sites. And I'm still trying to figure out why it's considered a national park.

Maybe our trip to Acadia was tainted by the campground we ended up in. In Acadia, there are two campgrounds--one for reservations (which were booked months ago) and one for first-come-first served. We arrived at the park in the early afternoon (after driving through construction and ridiculous amounts of commercialism), and found out that even if we had arrived at 6 AM, we still wouldn't have gotten a spot at the first-come-first-served campground. So we then proceeded to drive around the island, trying to find vacancy at one of the private campgrounds near the park, but even they were full. So we ended up at the only one available--a KOA. I HATE KOA's!! And this one didn't help my opinion of them.

At this particular KOA you have two options for tent camping--right on top of your neighbors in some woods for a pricey stay, or out on the grass with more space, butted up to some woods for a cheaper price. We chose the latter, and even that was $30 a night (which is almost absurd for camping). They didn't tell us until after we arrived at our paid site that we were located right next to a leaching field. (Google defines a leaching field as this: "A level bed of crushed stone just below the surface of the ground into which effluent from a septic tank is distributed through perforated pipes or open chambers in order that the effluent will be absorbed by the soil below"). Needless to say, it stunk. And combine that with the biting ants (NE version of fire ants from the south), and we did not have a happy stay. But at least we stayed away from the campground for most of the time we were there.

Despite all that, we had fun and I'm glad we went. Here are some pictures of what we saw:

At the peak of Cadillac Mountain. Supposedly the highest point on the Eastern seaboard:

At Sand Beach. (What a creative name!) This place was ridiculously crowded.

Thunder Hole: just like it sounds. The waves come in and pound into this hole in the rocks, and it sounds and feels like thunder. The kids (especially Waimea) loved it here:
Jordan Pond Nature Trail. The trail description said to look out for "The Bubbles." We were envisioning something happening in the water to create bubbles, so we were looking all over the water looking for them. It turns out that they were the two hump-looking mountains in the background (which we had dubbed "The Boobies."):

Here we are looking for The Bubbles. Instead of bubbles, though, we found two interesting things: Waimea and Evan found a frog sitting on a rock, staring at them. And Brooke and Spencer found a leech sucking out the blood of a fish. Yes, it was quite disgusting:
Admiring the pond and the Boobie Bubbles:

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. We sat here watching boats for awhile, listening to the waves. The kids loved it:

My words of advice if you want to visit Acadia--go in the early summer and make reservations.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Visiting our Kooky NH Friends

I'd like you to meet our New Hampshire friends, Brooke and Will. Here is why they are kooky:

a) They walked across the country. Literally. For a cause. Check it out: In doing so, they lived in a 70's RV for 8 months.

b) They recently upgraded from their 70's RV to a late 70's mobile home with a basement. And they keep their RV in the driveway as their "guest home."

c) They don't buy any sugar. They use agave nectar from a cactus. They also eat other weird foods, but I won't go into that.

d) Need I say more:
We recently visited these kooky friends of ours and had a blast. They came with us to Acadia National Park in Maine and the White Mountains in NH (will post about these later), and it was a great week-long vacation. Here are some of the things we did:

"Discovered" a beaver dam under a bridge while hiking:
Berry picking in the wild:
Played with their cat, Bruce, and dog, Jake. A lot. Maybe harrassed is a better term for what the kids did:
Put-put golf on the world's longest hole:

(Oops, I accidentally deleted all these pictures from my camera!)

And Spencer's first rock climbing experience:

We also ate lots and lots of food, including Will's homemade popcorn (as in he cooked it over the stove!). Yum yum!

Thanks, Brookie and Will for putting up with us for so long. :)
(Will took this picture, Brookie, so get mad at him).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

He doesn't quite get it

I had an interesting conversation with Spencer yesterday. It went a little like this:

S- "Mom, can you PLEASE help me find my Indiana Jones lego bag?!!?
Me-"Spencer, you can find it. Try looking again."
S- "I did! I can't find it. Why can't you find it for me?!"
Me- "How about you say a little prayer and ask Heavenly Father to help you find it."
S- "So that he can find it for me?"
Me- "No, he can help YOU find it."
S- "Okay."

A few minutes later...

S- "When is Heavenly Father going to find it for me?"
Me- "Spencer, he's not going to find it for you. He knows you can do it, he's just going to help you."
S- "But he's a big boy--he can do it himself. He doesn't need my help."
Me- "Keep looking, Spencer. Heavenly Father only helps you when you try your hardest."


S- "Mommy, I found it!! Heavenly Father found it for me and put it here in the bucket!"

Sunday, August 1, 2010

For those who didn't believe me

Keep in mind that we're in a motor boat, and the moose is keeping pace. (And that I'm driving the boat, trying to please 6 people, and shoot this video at the same time.)

Blog Cabin, Day 21--Last Day

Our real last day was Wednesday. All day Thursday was spent traveling. Literally. We left the cabin at 8 in the morning, Finland time, and got home to NJ at 7 PM, NJ time (7 hours behind Finland).

But here are some pictures from Wednesday:

Last pancake breakfast:

Last time seeing the Soviet bat clock. This was inside the cabin when my dad bought it. My mom arrived, saw it, and banished it to the grilli (the out-building where my dad cooks). My dad refuses to give it up:

Last time in the hammock

Last potato cleaning session. He ASKED to do this, he likes it so much.

Last time kayaking around the island (it takes just over an hour):
Last fishing trip with Pappa:

Last time playing in the boat:

Last time painting the cabin:
(What it looked like before):
(Spencer's contribution):

Last sunset: