Acadia National Park

We embarked on a gps-said 4.5 hour drive to Acadia National Park. Friday’s drive included a caramel macchiato for each of us and a playlist named ‘lobstah races.’ En route to Portland, ME we go!

Having been to Portland only once on a day trip for my recent birthday, I had a few things I wanted to see and revisit. One of them includes walking in Old Port and the other includes Holy Donuts – We left with a sweet potato ginger and a sweet potato lemon glazed donut and ate it on the remaining 2.5 hour drive up the state of Maine.

By the time we arrived in our little beach efficiency, we’d been traveling for a little over 8 hours. The mixture of pre-4th traffic, Portland stop, and grocery shopping wore us out. Instead of recapping the trip by day, I’ve broken it out by categories of what we did.

Hikes

  • Beehive Trail (1.3 mile loop) – this was our ‘warm-up’ hike, and little did we know, it was the most strenuous of the trip. Reviews warned us about the steep rocks and the metal rung scaling, and reminded me of my fear of heights. Going in, we knew we had somewhat of an advantage from living in Arkansas. Length-wise was quite short, and after some rock hugging and eye-closing, we made it to the summit. Thankfully, the way down is through another loop called Bowl Trail – much less intense and manageable. You’ll get plenty of Instagram-worthy images in throughout the trail. In summary, we went on a cloudy/foggy day, and given a sunny day, I would do it again.

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  • Great Head Trail (1.4 mile loop) – we actually did this as our back-up hike when we found out Precipice was closed due to falcon nesting (don’t ask me what that truly means). The park did not have good direction towards this trail head, and we wandered around twice before finding the entrance – go us. However, when we actually got on the right path… we saw the clouds lifting and we were able to catch some cool breezes. Descriptions of the trail say it’s a quick loop or whatnot, but we stopped at countless places to admire all that Maine had to offer, and we easily spent 2+ hours there. Overall worth doing if you have the time and can catch a good day at Sand Beach (connected to the trail).

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  • Bubble Pond Trail (1 mile) – this is the epitome of low effort, extremely high reward. This was our last hike of the trip, and it was the easiest of them all. We were given tips to head North vs. South for ‘better views’ and looking back, I don’t think we even finished the summit because we were so in awe of the views we’d already seen. Nevertheless, it’s worth going for down time and proximity to places you’ll already be in.

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Food (all in Bar Harbor)

  • Thirsty Whale – this restaurant came up on both Beth and my research, so it naturally had to be the first restaurant in Bar Harbor we’d try. Beth really wanted to test if she were allergic to lobster, and I just wanted food? Historically, I’ve not been a fan of fried fish, but I saw ‘Famous Fried Haddock Sandwich’ on the menu and I may have caved. In addition to the sandwich, I added on a cup of New England Clam Chowder, which I can never resist. Service was friendly, food came out fast, and we weren’t allergic to anything we ordered. Fabulous. Would recommend.
  • Thrive – the new thing nowadays is smoothie acai bowls and salad bars, and this was one of its kind in the town. Post yet another hike, we cooled down with vegan muffins and peanut butter cocoa smoothie bowls. Very filling, semi expensive, worth the try.
  • McKay Public House – Beth found this while I was napping one day and the selling point was cheap wines, cute patio, and decent appetizers. Truth for all three points. I find this place worth it if you’re not super hungry and just want a nibbler + wine. Extremely date-like location and not fully in downtown.

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  • Finback Alehouse – this was our last night in Acadia and we just wanted some Thai food or comfort food (which is one in the same). A great selection of beer, signature pulled pork, and walking distance to the harbor sold me on this place. Since it was the Sunday before the 4th, there was a 30-minute wait (oh no), but we were able to walk around for sunset and we were promptly seated. Very recommended if you plan on getting a food coma.
  • Mount Desert Ice Cream – many odd flavors and very large servings should be two solid reasons to point you to an ice cream shop. Thankfully, the servers respected my many indecisions of trying spicy chocolate along with 6 other flavors before deciding on cookies & cream (how original). Walking distance to the square and semi hidden from the main street, so go for the mid-day treat in the midst of souvenir shopping.

Scenic Points

  • Otter Cliff – came here twice: once on a drive around Park Loop Rd and second time on a Milky Way stargazing adventure. We saw people laying out and picnicking during the day, but I’m pretty sure we were the only ones out there at 2am. One of two life changing moments.

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  • Cadillac Mountain – some pamphlet said that this was the most visited summit? Highest summit? Again, we came here twice: once on a foggy afternoon and second time at 4:40am on our last day. We were maybe ¾ up the mountain before we pulled over, but this was two of two life changing moments.

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  • Jordan Pond – I just realized that we did Otter Cliff at 2am, Cadillac Mountain at 4am, and Jordan Pond at 5am… Nevertheless, this came up on my research multiple times and naturally, we waited till the last morning to go see it. It’s not much of a walk, but it’s definitely a photo opportunity and potential hammock spot.

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Key Recommendations

  • Stay on Mount Desert Island – it’ll make your life a lot easier. We stayed in Seal Harbor (South), and it was 15 minutes from Bar Harbor and 15 minutes from the park itself. That being said, plan early! We booked ~4 months ahead.
  • Prepare for 0 cell signal throughout the park – it’s not easy to get directions or meet up with people, but you’ll find a few bars on the top of summit or in Bar Harbor.
  • Catch all the sunrises, sunsets, and stars you can – Acadia is perfect. That’s all.

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158 days, 3792 hours, or 227,520 minutes

That’s how long it’s been since I moved from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Boston, Massachusetts. I told myself I’d reflect about my move to Boston at some point – what made sense, a month? 3 months? 6 months? Nevertheless, you’re getting a 5.5 month recap. For those who know my background, I moved around a ton growing up – mainly every few years along the southern states. I went to one elementary school in China and three elementary schools in the US, and thankfully just one middle school and one high school within the same school district thereafter. I don’t remember the moving aspect being hard, mainly because my parents are my best friends and we just went through the changes together.

I admitted that college was a hard move. I share (a lot) that Arkansas was one of the easiest moves. I’m about to divulge that Boston is the most emotionally raw and scarring move I’ve made.

Rewind to February/March 2016, when the first thoughts of moving to the northeast starting brewing in my head, I was curious. I was excited. I’d never lived anywhere north of Northwest Arkansas, and I figured I should explore different areas of the US while I’m young, single, and unattached. I played around with the idea of moving to San Francisco in my late college years, I even tossed around with the idea of Seattle. When the decision came around the last Thursday of April, I started mentally preparing my journey ahead.

Come first week of June, I was shifting in my seat, getting ready to leave Arkansas. Slowly, as the days crept to June 17, I realized I didn’t want to leave the Natural State. With some coaxing and reassuring by my dear friends, I somehow boarded the two flights and found myself at Boston Logan Airport on a cool, summer Friday night. All of a sudden, I didn’t know what to do. Other than the fact that my apartment was furnished and the concierge kindly showed me the ropes, I was with 2 luggage bags in hand, first hungry, then lonely.

I’ll separate the next couple of milestones to give you the best idea of how the last ~150 days played out.

First month: truly a blur. I was getting settled in my new role, and we had pre-planned travels that needed to happen, from Neenah to Schenectady, I was scrambling to get acquainted with my new team, my new office, and my new customer. I barely had time to eat, let alone think and reflect.

Second month, more exactly, week six: WOW I HATE BOSTON. I finally let myself come up for a breath and never had I felt more lonely, frustrated, stressed, and tired in my life. I frantically called old co-workers, mentors, and friends, asking them why I felt this way and pointedly told them the northeast is not for me, and I’m moving back to the south the first chance I get. My new small group (from church) probably thought to themselves, who is this crazy southern girl that can’t stand the new city? I couldn’t handle it either. It wasn’t until a new friend did not hesitate to reprimand me that I was making the judgment way too quickly and needed to give Boston a chance. Not sure if it was the alcohol and oyster happy hour talking, or if he was just being an honest brother in Christ. I listened.

~September: After a few days in the White Mountains with my parents, a few days in Austin for on-campus recruiting, finishing my first planning meeting with the customer, and a long weekend in Minneapolis with my best gal pal… I oddly felt happy to be back in Boston. I missed my small group. I missed my apartment. I missed cannoli and pasta. Wait, am I starting to feel at home? What?

October: I wish I wrote down the specific days that I felt really good about my new life. Because they were so instrumental to my growth. I spent every weekend of October in a different city, and that alone probably gave me enough room to give Boston a true reflection. That was it. I had multiple birthday plans (yes, that’s one measurement I use), I had options on the weekends, and I was being invited to social outings other than bachata socials. I looked forward to seeing individuals and I was opening up about my struggles (the true ones, not the I wish I had more sleep ones). This was it. Month four was a transformative one.

November: Still riding on the wave of October, I’m realizing that I like Boston. (gasp, you didn’t see this coming a few paragraphs ago, right?) I had two sets of friends visit, I had a weekend to myself, and I’m writing this as I’m on my way home to Houston for the week. I love where I live, I love the friends I’ve made, and I love the church I go to, love on, and serve in. I went to a Friendsgiving event where a friend from church hosted 60+ people in her house. At the bottom of it all, it’s about the people. It always has been. The cannoli I consume are just bonus.

It took five whole months. Five long months for me to put down shallow roots, probably a couple more months to let them flourish and hopefully not die in the snow. At the end of it all, I was just so impatient with myself. I relied on my past experiences and my ‘adaptability’ (yes, that is a strength I refer to often). I thought I was so set because I’d moved X number of times growing up. I completely forgot that God was the provider of it all – He gave me the community I had in college, in Arkansas, and the community I go home to every time in Houston for support. I relied on God more than ever in these trying months – there were days I’d come home from a 10-hour day at work, making dinner, catching on my shows, and truly wondered…why did I move here?

There were many factors I couldn’t control – the timing of the move, the unfortunate loss of Fitz, and how the new role came to me, but I could control my judgment of the city, the people, and the daily choice to try to love Boston. Quite a few people will tell you that they worried for me, because they’d never see me so low/upset in a consistent time frame, but I also closed myself off from old friends. It was all to protect myself from having to explain why I hated the city and it was easier just to deal with it alone.

In the past couple weeks, certain individuals have asked me how long I think I’ll be in Boston for and where the next destination is. For the first time, I don’t know, and I don’t have a plan (shocking!!!). I will say I’ve become less Type A since moving here (a few of you will say your hallelujahs), and that’s totally okay for me. I’ll see if I survive my first true winter – apparently 3 snow flurries in Arkansas didn’t count. I love my job. That hasn’t changed. I’m in the process of bringing home a cat. I’m dying for you all to meet him. At the end of the day, I’m so grateful for the process, and I will always stand by the statement that I will never regret this move. Here’s a first dab at Thanksgiving vibes for ya.