During our recent trip to Maine, Rich amused himself with his iPhone, taking pictures of me doing silly things with the camera. I told him he needed to write a guest blog post after we got home! At first he thought I was kidding, but then he started to like the idea. He did tease me that it was an awful lot like writing an essay about his summer vacation! Enjoy…
Our Trip to Maine: A Non-photographer’s Take on a Photography Vacation
A couple of years ago when Jess said something about Maine, a boat, and some birds on an island, I raised an eyebrow or two, but not wanting to discourage my aspiring birder/photographer wife, I said, “Sure. Ok.” When she brought it up again earlier this year and threw in the bit about hiking in Acadia National Park, I was sold.
This was our first long distance photography trip, and I learned a few things. First, I like to travel light, but traveling light for photographers means taking two bags full of camera gear and cramming in the clothes wherever they can fit. Also, it means that you need a large rental car. Fortunately, we had a Subaru Outback, which fit the bill quite nicely. (We also did not look completely like tourists, since half the people there drove a Subaru as well.) Lastly, it helps to have an extra bed in the hotel room for all the camera gear, which will inevitably be spread out all over the place to accommodate the daily unpacking and repacking for the next outing.
When we arrived in Maine, the weather was pleasantly cool, a welcome change from the Florida heat. It remained this way for a day or two, before it got frigidly cold and rainy, which was followed by record heat. So if you go to Maine, be sure to take a variety of clothes and a good rain jacket. If you forget something though, the LL Bean flagship store is not far away.
Acadia National Park was great, and I enjoyed seeing the coasts and cliffs, climbing on rocks, walking the trails and carriage roads, and the views from Cadillac Mountain. There were a wide variety of trails, but my favorite had to be the one around Jordan Pond. The only bad part was the single-file boardwalk, which meant that you had to step off for people to pass in the opposite direction. There were even trails to climb the mountains if you wished, but we were not feeling that brave on this trip.
We thoroughly enjoyed the rocky beaches, which were dramatically different from Florida’s smooth and sandy shores. Be aware that if you are a photographer, rock climbing is probably easier if you are not carrying much gear. Jess seemed to do okay though, even when she was carrying two bodies, a 500 mm lens, and a fully loaded backpack. She started out with just her wide angle lens, until she saw a gull eating a crab some distance away. At this point, she yelled, “I have the wrong lens!” and scrambled back up the cliffs faster than a Billy goat to get her Beast. Also be prepared to get into some strange and uncomfortable positions on the rocks in order to get certain shots.
After a few days, we took a side trip to see puffins. Puffins, often called the penguins of the North Atlantic, reside at sea, but nest on a certain island, which can be visited by only a few hundred people each year. Jess was lucky enough to be one of these. Puffins are very popular in Maine and their likenesses appear on a great number of tourist signs and advertisements, even though they are not frequently seen in any of the populated areas. (We got tired of seeing the “No Puffin’ Please” non-smoking signs.) Unfortunately, the weather was bad on the first day of the puffin trip and the only bird seen was the one below. The second day was looking much better and Jess’s face said it all when she got off the boat and I knew it had been a successful trip.
Other highlights of our trip included watching the sun rise and set from Cadillac Mountain and viewing the night sky from the shore in Southwest Harbor. The light pollution there is almost nonexistent and the view of the stars was completely breathtaking, unlike anything I had ever seen before. The sky was literally filled with stars and you could even see the glow of the Milky Way. Every evening, if the weather was clear, we would spend a couple hours enjoying the views while Jess made star trail images. I will never look at the sky the same way again.
Even though I am not a serious photographer, I still took a few shots with my phone. These are some of my favorites:
Here are a couple of notes on places to eat, should you follow in our footsteps. If you do wake up to see the sunrise, I highly recommend heading to Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast in Bar Harbor afterward. Two Cats Cafe is also very good and, should you go, you may end up with a cat in your lap! Eat a Pita in Southwest Harbor makes very good pita sandwiches to go any time of day, and we would pick them up in the morning and take them into the park for lunch, although I think we started to get tired of them as the week wore on. We rented a cottage and cooked our own dinners, which I highly recommend unless you want to be stuck waiting at a restaurant and missing the sunset! The Hannaford in Bar Harbor is very good for groceries. Also, if you do the puffin trip and stay in Lubec, I recommend Frank’s Dockside (one of two restaurants in town), which has typical American fare, some seafood and Italian dishes, and a good veggie stir fry.
It was a great trip and I highly recommend visiting Maine, especially if you want to enjoy the great outdoors, relax, or just want to escape the Florida heat. (Just hope you don’t run into the heat wave of the year, like we did!)
Thanks to Rich for this amusing guest blog post! It’s the first time I’ve ever been compared to a billy goat! Rich asked if he’ll ever be allowed to do a guest blog post again. What do you think?