Mom’s dream of seeing the most northern state on the East Coast began as a teenager when she saw scenes of Maine’s Coast in a television show. My sister had planned a trip for my parents a few years ago for their anniversary, but they weren’t able to go.
Another near miss happened when I decided to move to New Jersey last summer. We talked of driving up to Maine after we made our way to New Jersey and unloaded my boxes. But since our 24 hour roadtrip from Texas included an excursion to Ohio to visit family, we were too wiped out to drive any further. So her dream would have to wait until another visit.
That visit happened to be just a month ago when they brought the rest of my belongings from Texas after they finished packing up my house. My sister had made reservations for accommodations in Maine while I was visiting back in June. There was no backing out this time. We were going to make our mom’s dream come true!
I have to admit that I wasn’t too eager to go to Maine at first from a personal standpoint. I’m typically more into urban adventures these days, so I started researching the area to find some points of interests and top attractions. My search started with lighthouses, which I have an affinity for and that’s what I associate with Maine. My interest started growing once I pulled up the scenic images that were picturesque and dream inspiring.
A week before our trip I finalized our tentative itinerary that included a few iconic and historical stops along the way with our final destination being Bar Harbor. Every night of our long weekend would be spent in a different location. We wanted to explore as much as possible in a short time.
Our road trip from New Jersey began midmorning on a Friday. Perhaps not the best time to make our ascent up into New England given that many others were doing the same as indicative by the traffic we encountered along the way. But my work schedule dictated our travel plans.
The upside of being confined to a vehicle in the congestion of traffic is that we had time together. Traffic within itself can be frustrating, but it also forces us to slow down and be in the moment. This past year I’ve missed out on a lot of time with my parents and it was time together that was much needed. Even if some of that time was spent in traffic.
Our first stop was a quick detour after passing over the Tappan Zee Bridge into Sleepy Hollow, NY. I set our destination for the Headless Horseman Monument, which seemed like an interesting place to stop and headed in that direction (no pun intended). While tours were available which seemed interesting we opted to take a few pictures and have an impromptu picnic lunch with a view of Philipsburg Manor House. Just as I was driving out of the parking lot I spotted the monument. It was smaller than I expected.
Our next destination was Salem, MA took much longer to get to than we had planned because of the never-relenting sea of traffic on I-95. We arrived after dark, which seemed perfect for a place with such a haunted past. I had hoped to do a little exploring, but that would have to wait until we were all rested up the next morning.
We were there bright and early, but most of the area didn’t open until 10am. After we had breakfast at the dog-friendly Gulu-Gulu Café, we strolled around the surprisingly charming town and checked out the sights and window shopped. My favorite statue was of the character from “Bewitched.” I loved watching that show as a child.
We stopped at the visitor center to find out where to find the Salem Witch Trials Memorial and met the friendliest volunteer who was quite the storyteller. It was interesting and tragic to hear some of the witch trial stories. To see the actual words spoken before the suspected witches were hanged was especially chilling.
After looking around and seeing more of the points of interests, we made our way to Maine. I was so excited that we were so close to making Mom’s dream come true! Felt like it was Christmas morning, except I wasn’t getting the gift, my mom was.
As customary on roadtrips, we had tried to get photos of the state line signs, but hadn’t until Maine. Even though it was raining, I pulled off onto the shoulder and insisted we get a photo of Mom and Dad. It was an experience of a lifetime and we needed something special to commemorate crossing into Maine.
Although it was rainy and foggy, Bar Harbor was scenic and beautiful. After checking into our hotel, we had dinner and drinks at The Looking Glass Restaurant. It was given great reviews and had a great view. I had the salmon sliders even though they weren’t what was recommended and they were delicious.
The next morning Mom and I woke up at 4:30am to see the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, but all we saw was fog. Lots and lots of heavy and dense fog. It was like the old Scooby-Doo cartoons when the fog was so thick he’d cut through it with a knife.
It was disappointing since we weren’t spending another night in Bar Harbor, but it was still nice just having the time alone with Mom, even if it was cold and insanely early in the morning. We decided to come back once we picked up the rest of our group and had breakfast.
The view from the top of Cadillac Mountain was breathtaking. I didn’t want to leave, but after a few hours we ventured down into the town of Bar Harbor for lunch, ice cream and to catch a ride on one of the Island Explorer buses, which are free and a great way to see the park.
We specifically chose bus #2 so that we could stop at Sand Beach. The water was translucent and pale blue. And freezing cold, which I discovered when a wave rushed over my tennis shoes while I was taking pictures.
As we headed to Portland for the night, we stopped at the LL Bean flagship store in Freeport. I would’ve loved to spent more time there picking up cold weather essentials. I picked up a pair of the original duck boots.
The next morning we started to make our way back home, but wanted to see a few lighthouses in Maine first since it was National Lighthouse Day.
Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse was nearby and not too far out of the way. The view was a bit obscured and it was inaccessible, but the rocky beach was fun to explore.
While Mom and Dad were in the gift shop they were given a map to another lighthouse, Portland Head Light. This one was by far the most picturesque of the three we had seen and our last stop before leaving Maine. It was a perfect way to wrap up our memorable and scenic trip.