Flying Solo: The Maine Event

This Is What It Is To Be Happy

A photo of Bar Harbor, Maine.

There are still quite a few places in the United States that I have yet to pay a visit and plan on seeing before covering the rest of the globe. This past weekend I decided to check Maine off that list and explore the coastal towns of Bar Harbor, Hancock, Acadia and Portland with my friend Sonya.

We wanted to make the most of our extended weekend and mapped out our desired destinations, praying the weather would hold up for the journey.

We hit the road before the sun came up on Thursday morning and drove 13 hours from Lakewood to Hancock where our Airbnb awaited us for the next four days. The weather was gloomy and rained the entire way there, but we had a great playlist to power through the storm and endless highway.

Our host provided detailed instructions on how to get to his home, as it cannot be found through GPS and is literally off the beaten path. As we pulled up to a little blue sign that read, “Lewis Lane,” we turned into the driveway and down the windy dirt road that appeared to lead us into the woods. At the end of the drive stood a beautifully landscaped cottage surrounded by massive pine trees and greenery. We ran inside to get out of the rain and were excited to finally stretch our legs. As we explored our new digs, I knew there was a view of the water out back and immediately ran towards the patio door. Even with the rain, it was incredible. It was as if we had never seen water before. “Look at the water! This is amazing!” Our bedroom had breathtaking views of Youngs Bay nestled between the trees while the birds chirped over the hissing cicadas.

We freshened up and ventured into town to grab a bite to eat. We noticed a cute restaurant on the drive in with a Giant Lobster and a sign that read, “Ruth and Wimpy’s”. It seemed perfect for our first dining experience in Maine. Upon entering the restaurant, I walked through an epic cloud of smoke on the patio and realized the men outside were steaming the lobster from their catch of the day. I like seafood but have never had the opportunity to try my own lobster. What better place to partake in the local delicacy than fresh off the boat and onto my plate?

Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

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When the lobster arrived, I put on the bib provided and just stared at the claw cracker, contemplating how I was going to dig into this monstrosity. The waitress came over and tried to give me some advice on where to start, but apparently my attempt was weak because the customer next to me felt she needed to step in. As she walked over, she said she just couldn’t watch me struggle any longer and proceeded to pick up my lobster with her bare hands, while asking, “Can I help?” She just dove right in, cracking and pulling apart the carcass that lie before me as if I were a helpless child in need of assistance. All I kept thinking was, “Lady, I don’t even know your name and you’re elbows deep in my entree.” When she was done and asked for a napkin after slaughtering my dish, she commented, “Don’t worry, my hands are clean.” Well, sure that was ONE of my worries — one of many. I felt so violated and shocked, but also had to laugh at the kindness of the locals feeling the need to step in. Clearly this fish town has no sense of boundaries or personal space, but I appreciate the hospitality.

The next day we woke up to clear skies and headed 30 minutes out to Bar Harbor, a town on Mount Desert Island along Maine’s Frenchman Bay surrounded by mountains and cliffs of neighboring Acadia National Park. From the town pier, the Shore Path winds along the bay overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Porcupine Islands. It is full of quaint shops and restaurants overlooking the harbor with lobster boats and yachts sprinkled throughout the bay. The sky was clear and complimented the deep blue coastline with splashes of green from the islands it surrounded. Horns from local ships bellowed in the distance and the smell of fresh seafood lingered as we walked along the shore. We spent the day wandering and awing at the marvelous views from the pier. I could tell we were surrounded by locals as the town, “Ba Ha Baa” was mentioned in passing.

My friend Sonya, right, and I at Thunder Hole in Bar Harbor, Maine.

We were advised to watch the sunset at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, but once we arrived, the fog had set in and the wind became brisk. We ended the evening relaxing at our Airbnb knowing we had a full day of hiking ahead of us.

Acadia National Park is the reason we chose this area and we were happy to be blessed with perfect weather to explore for the day. We knew we couldn’t cover the 47,000 acres, so we opted to hike to the summit of the South Bubble peak and later walked around Jordan Pond. It covers 187 acres with a shoreline of 3.6 miles. The pond was formed by the Wisconsin Ice Sheet during the last glacial period. The water source that filled my bottle was as crisp and fresh as expected.

The afternoon was spent at Thunder Hole, a place in Acadia where the waves of the sea crash against the rocky shores of Maine. Water has been known to spout as high as 40 feet with a thunderous roar. We had a calm day, so no thunder for us, but the bird’s-eye view of the ocean was unbelievable as we stood on the cliffs high above the water.

The jaw-dropping journey continued as we made our way to the top of Cadillac Mountain at 1,530 feet above sea level. It is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard which was pushed up by earth’s volcanic forces millions of years ago. Panoramic views of Frenchman Bay, Harbor Islands and Mount Desert Island, housing over 20 mountains can be seen for miles. The terrain is rugged in places and steep at times, but the view from the top is worth every step it takes to get there. As I stood there on top of the world, I became humbled and captivated by the beauty and for a moment I didn’t ever want to leave. There were no car horns blaring, no music playing or cell phone reception to distract anyone that stood on top of this mountain. In between our selfies and “nature” poses, we all just embraced this heaven on earth we were standing in and time stood still.

The drive back home the next day was long and rainy, but we made sure to stop at Portland Head Light, a historic lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Portland Head has long protected Portland and the adjacent area since 1791 and is the oldest lighthouse still standing in Maine. We didn’t stay long due to inclement weather, but the vision of the lighthouse alongside the choppy ocean waves looked like something out of a magazine. This place is full of wonder.

The last leg of the journey was long and full of rain and I was thankful I had my best friend by my side to make the time go by. I had a lot of time to take in the whirlwind of adventures we had just endured and could reflect on how precious life truly is. We should be grateful for today and stop taking so many things for granted.

To quote one of my favorite authors, Sylvia Plath, “I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery — air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, this is what it is to be happy.”

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