September 26, 2020, marked five years of marriage for Brian and me! Our original plan was to celebrate our anniversary by doing nothing, but my parents — or as we like to call them, “our roommates” — pretty much kicked us out of the house for the weekend. A very generous offer, which meant they would spend their anniversary (they celebrated 39 years of marriage on September 27!) watching Annie and Ellie while Brian and I frolicked around Maine.
We only had two-ish days away: The plan was to leave on Friday around 2 PM, and to be back in time to see Annie before bedtime on Sunday. We originally talked about spending the weekend in Portland, ME, since it’s a less than two-hour drive from where we are in New Hampshire, but then we said screw it: Let’s go to Bar Harbor! Quite a bit further (five-ish hours of driving each way), but why not?
We stayed at the Hampton Inn Bar Harbor. Nothing fancy, but we were using Hilton points (“free” trip!), and this was close to the center of town and to Acadia National Park, which is where we planned to spend the majority of our time. They had tons of Covid procedures in place, we didn’t use any housekeeping services (towel changes, bed making, etc.), so no one was in our room once we checked in), and masks were mandatory on the hotel property. I wasn’t fully sold on the idea of staying in a hotel, but once we were there, I felt fine about it. They do offer a continental breakfast, and I saw that they had pandemic procedures in place for that, too (not a buffet-style, pre-packaged everything, socially-distant lines while waiting for food), but we ate breakfast elsewhere.
We left Contoocook at 2:30 on Friday afternoon, and made a stop in Portland, ME, for an early lobster roll dinner. My goal for the weekend was to eat as much lobster as possible. And I crushed it. We parked and walked around Portland a bit (again, everyone was wearing masks, outdoor dining was in full force, and it wasn’t too crowded walking around), and had ordered ahead so we could pick up dinner (lobster rolls and crab and tuna, ohhhhhh my!) from Eventide Oyster Co. The lobster rolls were so good. It was a very, very sad moment when I took a big bite and dropped half the lobster onto the ground. Very sad.
We got back on the road and made it to the hotel sometime after dark. We checked in and I was delighted to see that The Holiday was on TV. We fell asleep sometime after Mr. Napkinhead appeared onscreen.
I missed Annie and Ellie during the weekend, but I’ll be honest: It was really, really nice sleeping without having a baby monitor on the nightstand! (Annie’s sleep has been very meh for a while now, and sleeping on my own terms was amazing.)
Saturday was our full day in Bar Harbor! Brian and I were both up by 6:30 AM, because our bodies are conditioned to never sleep in even when childless and away for the weekend. But that was good! It was good to get an early start.
Our first stop was into Bar Harbor, where we drove around and explored and I immediately fell in love with this cute coastal town. (And again, everyone was wearing masks, indoors and outdoors, and all the restaurants were taking phone numbers for contact tracing. A+ job, Bar Harbor! And Maine in general, from what we experienced!)
We got breakfast at Cafe This Way (both days!). Chocolate chip pancakes for me (the best I’ve ever had — nice and thin!) and lobster and spinach Benedict for Brian. (He let me eat all of the big pieces of lobster, which felt like a wonderful anniversary gift!) There were long lines both days we went, but they moved pretty quickly, and the outdoor dining set up is awesome.
Then it was into Acadia National Park for the first hike of the day: Precipice.
This was the hike everyone said we “had to do,” and I absolutely see why. It was awesome, and definitely one of the most fun hikes I’ve ever done. It’s very physical, and requires good shoes. (On our way down, we saw a guy headed up wearing boat shoes and I was like, That is not wise, sir.) I was very happy to be wearing my new hiking-friendly shoes.
We got to the trailhead at 9:30 AM, and it was already pretty packed. Lots of locals were saying this was the busiest they had ever seen Acadia, and even though we had to park way, way, way down the road from the trailhead, once we started hiking, the trail was fine. But if you’re thinking about doing any of the popular hikes in Acadia, I’d recommend getting an early start!
Hiking precipice was a very physical activity. Lots of full-body adventuring and climbing, and lots of rocks and ledges and things to crawl up, through, and over. It took us around three hours start to finish, which included plenty of stops for photos and to say, “THIS IS AWESOME!” I pretty much haven’t shut up about this hike because I just enjoyed it so much.
Once we got back down and to the car, we decided to just cruise around the main Park Loop Drive, stopping whenever we felt inspired.
We stopped to see (and hear!) the waves crashing at Thunder Hole (it was low tide, but still very cool!), and pulled over anytime we saw really impressive foliage, which was everywhere. I LOVE FOLIAGE. I am so happy to be in the northeast during this time of year! It has always been my favorite thing.
By 2 PM, we were hungry hungry hikers, so we left the park and went back into town for lunch at Side Street Cafe. Another highly recommended place that was so worth the hype. We both got lobster rolls, of course, and split a cup of lobster stew, which was one of my favorite things I had all weekend. Get the stew! And the lobster roll. Always get the lobster roll. Oh, and I had a strawberry margarita. Happy anniversary!
Then it was time for our second hike of the day: Beehive! Beehive was short, but steep, and so fun. We were behind a very cute older couple that did not realize what they had gotten themselves into, and the woman was very nervous and her husband was very encouraging, and we were so excited to reach the top with them because they crushed it!
I was never nervous during Precipice, but I was very nervous hiking Beehive. By the afternoon, it had gotten super foggy and really windy and we were basically hiking through a misty cloud. The trail was packed, and there was a lot of stopping and waiting on ledges. One big sneeze and it would’ve been game over! Fortunately I am not allergic to fun, so I didn’t sneeze my way off the mountain. But it was sketchy at times!
We got to the top, excitedly, and couldn’t see much. Just fog! Kind of a bummer to make it to the top without many views to bask in, but the hike itself was awesome. I definitely recommend both Precipice and Beehive. Just make sure you’re wearing hiking boots or shoes (nothing smooth-soled!).
Once we were back down and back to the car, we decided to just cruise some more. We checked out the Sand Beach (so beautiful!), and drove around the Northeast Harbor, which is where I would really like to live someday. Those houses! Sorry, those mansions! I was rapidly scanning realtor.com hoping to find a mansion for sale for $100, but sadly, nothing.
We saw the Balance Rock right on the water in Bar Harbor, and sat outside for drinks at the Ivy Manor Inn (so pretty!). We stopped by a few places in pursuit of a yummy dinner, but the waits were all around 90 minutes, so we ended up getting takeout from Geddy’s and eating it in bed at the hotel before passing out for the night.
Which brings us to Sunday!
We were back at Cafe This Way by 9 AM, and waited half an hour or so for a table. (The host there is the BEST. He is so fun. When he finally called our name, I apparently jumped up and cheered? And he said, “Girl, let’s get you fed. You have low blood sugar.” It was funny. I wanted to be his friend.) I got the chocolate chip pancakes, again, and Brian got blueberry pancakes (I broke my lobster-at-every-meal streak!), and we both cleaned our plates and were so, so full. Recommend.
We wanted to do one more fun hike before heading back home, and we wanted to do the Bubbles Divide trail. The parking lot at that trailhead is TINY, though, and we waited a bit and circled the area a bunch of times, but finally gave up. So we explored Jordan Pond and went to the gift shop and got some little gifts for everyone (“Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! Thank you SO much for watching our child and dog while we played all weekend! Here, we got you some moose socks!!!”), and definitely drove the full loop twice before realizing we missed a turn somewhere. But fortunately, when we made our way back to the Bubbles trailhead, we got a spot! Very exciting!
And that hike was fun! I forget which way we went up and which way we came down, but we probably should have done the reverse. (We went up the “easy” way — a mostly dirt path, very walkable — and came down the rocky way, which was fine, but I would’ve preferred climbing up the rocks instead of delicately stepping my way down them.) It was super foggy at the top, so we didn’t really get to enjoy the views of Jordan Pond, but it was still fun! And we got to see Bubble Rock at the top, which defies gravity and I don’t understand.
And then that was pretty much it! I was, of course, happy to get back to Annie and Ellie, but sad to leave. Acadia National Park is incredible, and I can’t wait to go back. I want to run along the waterfront and on the carriage roads, and I want to rent bikes and cruise around the park, and I want to get more of those chocolate chip pancakes.
One other tip: We had very little cell service once we were inside Acadia National Park. If you plan to follow trail maps (we used alltrails.com), download the trail maps and anything else you may need ahead of time so you don’t need to rely on having service later. Rookie mistake.
Everyone in Maine was so nice. Everything was so beautiful. All the lobster was so yummy.
If anyone has a home for sale in Bar Harbor, let me know. I’m interested.
And Happy Anniversary, Brian. Here’s to the next five, and the five after that, and all the fives after those fives.