Finding serenity in Maine

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“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 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 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

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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 fit 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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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:

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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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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.

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

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 (http://www.thurstonforlobster.com/). You can enjoy your lobster with your pick of slides and a breathtaking view of Bass Harbor.

Thurston’s Lobster Pound

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For the best lobster stew and lobster mac and cheese, it’s the Terrace Grille at the Bar Harbor Inn (http://www.barharborinn.com/). 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!

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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:

● Make sure you go to Jordan Pond House (http://acadiajordanpondhouse.com/) for Popovers
● Make reservations at Red Sky (http://www.redskyrestaurant.com/) in Southwest Harbor
● Get lobster rolls from Charlotte’s Lobster Pound (https://www.facebook.com/SawyersLobsterPound

 

sherinthecity052Sherrie Bakshi is a Marketing and PR executive living in the DC area who loves food, dogs and travel.  Though originally from Charleston, SC, she now considers DC her home.  When she’s not working or blogging, she enjoys spending time with her boyfriend and her dog Simmi. She also serves on the board of a local organization fighting to end domestic violence and homelessness called Doorways for Women & Families.  Read more about her DC adventures on her blog Sher in the City

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