I started off 2019 with only one definite plan for the year: a vacation in the beautiful state of Maine during the first week of August. At the time it felt like the wait of a lifetime, but we were riding up to the airport at 4:00am before I knew it.
Before now, vacation to me meant action-packed adventure as much as possible, eating out for most meals (except the occasional quick breakfast), and little time to recharge. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my family trips growing up, and I wouldn’t change them for a thing; however, I thought that was the only “proper” way to vacation. Going to the grocery store and spending hours reading when there is a new piece of the world to be explored was a foreign concept. So I’ll admit that I was a little wary about if I would like a laid back trip to the boonies of Maine. This was to be the first week-long trip for Noah and I together since our honeymoon four years ago, and I wanted it to be magical.
Well, let me tell you; Maine did not disappoint. I had a little dash of adventure, a pinch of relaxation, and a whole lot of fun. The mental images I had of Maine of blueberry-dotted hills and quaint beach towns came to life. I knew that a portion of Noah’s family lives and has a history in Maine, but I guess I didn’t realize quite how special it really is. I am so glad that I got to stay with Noah’s family, because I got to experience many different aspects of Maine that I wouldn’t have put together on my own.
In case you are like I was with no knowledge of what Maine has to offer, I’ll try to help paint the picture and give a sneak peek into our trip. There is so much that I have to say, and I just can’t wrap it all up into one blog post. So here is the first highlight/ lesson of the trip. I would say this story definitely falls into the adventure category, and it starts in Acadia National Park.
Noah and I decided to take the 1.5 hour road trip from our cottage to Acadia. It didn’t even cross my mind that we would be that close to a National Park when we got to Maine, and it was a spontaneous excursion; I had no idea what to expect. I quickly realized that the first week of August is one of the peak weeks of Maine tourism, and we had to wait in a healthy line to get our pass. Also, there is a big difference between Indiana State Parks and National Parks, and boy was I not prepared. The park is massive, and there are shuttles to take you to different areas. In true tourist fashion, Noah and looked up the number one attraction in the park on our phones, and we found ourselves driving up Cadillac Mountain. The place was hopping, and we had to wait to park once we got to the top as well. I was too excited to care about the abundance of people, because the views were breathtaking. You could walk on rocks right up to the edge of the mountain and see for miles.
We started off the day knowing that we wanted to go on a hike, so we headed out on a trail at the top of the mountain and ended up at a crossroads. To proceed on the current path, or to turn on to a new 0.9 mile path called Bubble Pond? We chose the latter and found ourselves crawling down rocks and shimmying down the mountain. Again, I was so unprepared. Dumb little old me forgot to bring my water bottle, and I was sweating like I’ve never sweat before. Suddenly, the hoards of people were gone, and we felt like we had the wilderness to ourselves.
The few people we ran into did let us know that everything we were climbing down, we would have to climb back up. I was determined to keep going, but my heart beat was starting to get out of control. I kept thinking, “what if I pass-out, and nobody can get here to save me?”. Long story (not so) short, we didn’t make it all the way to Bubble Pond, because we didn’t want to ruin the wonderful experience by pushing ourselves too far; that 0.9 mile is no joke. I was so out of breath (mostly out of anxiety) that I had to stop many times on the way up, but we finally made it to the top again. Once we got up to the little gift shop and bathrooms, we reunited with the masses. There were girls with cute outfits and adorable families with dogs, but Noah and I looked like a literal hot mess.
After the hike was said and done, we drove to the town of Bar Harbor for lunch. The town is on the same island, so it was a short and seamless transition from the heart of Acadia. Bar Harbor is a beach town (much like the mental image I had) jam-packed with ice-cream shops, book stores, local Maine products, and tourism stores. The city was bustling to say the least, but within 30 minutes, we were sitting in a restaurant ordering food and laughing about the experience we just had.
The point is, I did it. I was scared; however I didn’t let that stop me or ruin my experience. At first I was embarrassed to tell him that I wanted to turn around, but I realized that he probably could sense it. I told Noah exactly how I was feeling, and he helped me through it. He made me understand that my body is often stronger than my mind perceives it to be. Instead of drowning in my own anxiety, I was being wrapped in love and support. While climbing up a mountain is a very specific and literal example of stress, I think that it is important to share your life struggles and head-space with someone close to you. Even if your mountain is an unhealthy relationship or an uncomfortable situation at work, climbing with a buddy is always better. Anxiety has a way of swirling and swelling into something bigger than it needs to be, and talking it out with someone other than the voices in your own head can help to calm the storm. It’s both hard and funny to look back and think about the situations or ideas that caused such fear once the situations have come and passed.
I believe our quick day trip to Acadia National Park was one of the greatest experiences of my life thus far. It definitely had layers, but don’t most all great things in life?
Stay tuned for more Maine Reflections- Part 2.