This is one of what I imagine will be a few posts about our recent vacation to Maine, which I have officially (and accurately) dubbed “the best vacation I’ve ever taken and I already can’t wait to go back and can we maybe just move there?”
Terry and I were first in Maine back in 2015, one of a few stops on a longer East Coast road trip. We actually eloped in Maine, which, to put it bluntly, kind of killed our time there because we didn’t have time to do much else except, you know, get married (I actually said this to Terry a few times while on this year’s trip – what a waste our last trip was! Sentimental romantic that he is, he didn’t disagree). But even after the brief amount of time we were able to spend there (in Rockland and Camden, both on Maine’s coast, located in between Portland and Bar Harbor), we’ve been dying to go back ever since.
Of course life got in the way, and by “life” I mean the crippling amount of debt I brought to our marriage, job changes, family stuff, moving to a different state (and moving 3 times already while there), and so on and so on. Although we’ve traveled a little since then, we hadn’t taken a real vacation – just the two of us – since that 2015 road trip. At some point last winter we were bored and started researching Maine trips, ordering travel guides from the state and multiple cities and regions within. I still didn’t really believe we were going to go back until I booked our hotels in June, securing each one with a non-refundable deposit.
Waiting so long to go back definitely sucked, but also allowed us to save up money, plan (not too much though, which was a surprisingly welcome change for me), and make the trip everything we wanted it to be. We’ve done budget travel for the past few years when we had no other option, so it was nice to be able to splurge a little on our lodging (read: no creepy motels except for the one I’m about to describe) and food (lobster for dayyyyyys).
After going back and forth on itinerary ideas, we narrowed it down to three towns that we would stay in: Bar Harbor (home to Acadia National Park), Portland and Ogunquit (one of many beach towns near the ME/NH border). Because we had multiple destinations (and honestly, because I hate flying), we decided to drive. Once we started packing I was extra thankful that we didn’t fly because we would have paid hundreds to check all the luggage we ended up needing, between coats for various types of weather (it was about 90 in Columbus when we left and the temps we saw while traveling ranged from 35-75), winter gear for going waaaaay up in the mountains, and of course hiking gear.
We decided to start our trip at the furthest point, Bar Harbor, which is about a 16 hour drive from Columbus. We left after Terry worked a half day and made it about 485 of our total 1,035 miles, stopping just east of Syracuse, NY.
Pro tip: if you’re looking for a place to stop for the night while road tripping, definitely stick to the cities and big highway interchanges (I know, DUH). After passing a few Syracuse exits that were full of hotels, we assumed there would be more soon. There weren’t. We ended up at a kind of skeevy hotel across the street from the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY. I don’t know if there’s more to the town of Canastota, but my impression is that it’s the HoF, a Days Inn (which, naturally offers free admission to the HoF with each room, a perk which we sadly declined), and a Dunkin’ Donuts. Something about this particular exit set my Spidey Sense a’tingling as we pulled into the parking lot, which was coincidentally right when Terry clicked “book” on the deal he found on his phone. Maybe it was the jungle of overgrown plants in front of said hotel. Or perhaps the shirtless guy hanging out of the window of this non-smoking hotel, cigarette blazing. We’ll never know. But needless to say we lugged every last piece of our excessive amount of luggage into this hotel in hopes of keeping our car from being broken into before our vacation had even started, and later up to the second floor when we had to switch rooms because the non-smoking bathroom of our non-smoking room in this non-smoking hotel started filling up with smoke from you know who.
I don’t want to say that I cried myself to sleep after exclaiming, in exhaustion, that our trip was already doomed thanks to this horrible start. So I won’t. But at least our car was still there, untouched, in the morning. And on the bright side, we had Canastota’s finest breakfast option (Dunkin’) right there when we were ready to depart for the last 9 hours of our drive.
After what felt like another full day, we finally made it out of New York state late in the morning. It’s easy to forget that New York is actually really freaking big in terms of land mass, mostly because all anyone associates it with is NYC. Also it’s apparently impossible to drive anywhere in that state without passing at least 10 exits pointing you to the city. Are you sure you don’t want to go to NYC? Last chance, just kidding, there’s 5 more ways to get there. It’s a beautiful state though, so even if driving across it took forever, it was scenic (and had me noting distances for future road trips – Finger Lakes, for example, is less than 7 hours from us).
When we got out of the car in Massachusetts (so I could take the above picture, and also to get the first of several horrible cups of coffee on this trip), home felt so far away, in part because it was blustery and cold, around 30 degrees colder than when we had left the day before (and in my infinite wisdom I was still wearing sandals), but also because we were finally starting to see the first glimpses of fall! YES!!!! This was exactly the kind of scenic road trip I was hoping for (just, you know, with fewer smoky boxing hall of fame hotels). Mass (as it’s called by locals and anyone who doesn’t want to spell out Massachu— oh, too late) was much quicker to get through than New York was, and at that point all that was in between us and Vacationland was a maybe 20 minute jaunt through New Hampshire (which may be even more of a pass-thru state than Ohio is – who knew?).
I know, I know, get to Maine already! But if I had to wait 4 years and another 16 hours, surely my 1-2 readers can wait until later this week when I can throw another post or four together.