As the month of August was coming to a close, my beautiful best friend was having her bridal shower in Virginia. With Jon being on convalescent leave for his wrist surgery, we decided to take the opportunity to head up North and explore a part of the country that neither of us had seen. So, following an afternoon of laughter and joy for the new beginnings ahead, Jon picked me up and we started our trek.
Our first stop was in Michaux State Forest for a quick campout. We strolled along the lake the next morning and took the scenic route through the woods, admiring the dense forest around us.
We drove through the day to reach the Dix Mountain Wilderness in New York. This breathtaking place is part of the Adirondack Mountain Range. I could have easily spent an entire week here. We cooled off in an alpine lake called Chapel Pond and chatted with an old rock climber as the sun went behind the mountains. Finding a turnout after the lake, we cooked up some veggie burgers and then headed down the road for a brief hike to our campsite. We set up near the river and only a few feet away from a waterfall. Talk about peaceful. Early the next morning, we watched the sunrise over Chapel Pond with steam covering the water.
And then… I finally got to use my passport and leave the United States for the FIRST TIME! Granted, it was Canada, and I didn’t even get a stamp, but I was excited. Montreal really did feel out of this country. Everything was in French, from the signs to the people speaking.
We stayed at M Montreal Hostel, an extremely nice place for a reasonable price if you’re ever in the area. We wandered the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, walking past all the old churches including the Notre Dame Basilica, and enjoying French pastries at Tommy’s Cafe in the British Empire Building. I tried my first Poutine at La Banquise and am hooked on the cheese curd, gravy, french fry delicacy. After figuring out the bus system (or so we thought), we rode to Mount Royal. We actually ended up getting off a stop too early and having to hike up the mountain in order to reach the lookout point. We missed sunset, but we still got some beautiful pictures of the cityscape at night. The evening ended with karaoke at the hostel as people from all over the world sang their hearts out. It was quite entertaining.
The next morning we stopped at Jean-Talon and Atwater Market to enjoy pizza, gelato, and oranges from South Africa.
After our bellies were satisfied, we said our goodbyes to Canada and headed to Maine. The drive took us into the night, so our initial take of Acadia National Park was in the dark. Wanting to catch the first sunrise in the lower 48, we slept in my car on Cadillac Mountain. What a view to wake up to!
Let me just say, Maine is an incredible place. The drive the day before had already shown me that. After spending the morning in the Wild Gardens of Acadia and hiking the Precipice Trail, I was more convinced than ever. This was unlike any hike I’d ever done. There were parts of the trail that involved ladders made of metal rods attached to the rocks in order to make it to the next level. So. Awesome. And the view wasn’t too shabby either.
After our hike, we walked around at Sand Beach and Thunder Hole before heading to another part of the island. We drove around and admired the cute coastal towns, stopping at Seal Cove and Seal Cove Pond before watching the most beautiful sunset ever at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Being on a sunset high, we did not want to go back to camp just yet. We ate a lobster roll at Thurston’s Lobster Pound (ranked on the 17 Essential Maine Lobster Rolls) and enjoyed a late night apple pie at Quiet Side Cafe.
We camped at Seawall Campground and awoke the next morning to complete the Beehive trail, a shorter version of the Precipice Trail. Being right next to Sand Beach, we decided to take a quick dip after our hike. It was fun until I could feel the water freezing my brain.
The next stop on our adventure was Portland, Maine. Jon found an Airbnb close to downtown so we were able to take a much needed shower after all our outdoor excursions. Our first attraction of the night was the Portland Head Light, commissioned by George Washington himself in 1790. We then went on our own food tour. Starting at a place called Duckfat, we enjoyed poutine and a milk shake in the company of a world-traveling chef who was in town for a wedding. We ate clam chowder on the water at Gilbert’s Chowder House and partook in fine dining at Eventide Oyster Co. with raw oysters and a lobster roll. The food tour continued into the morning with breakfast at Local Sprouts and doughnuts from The Holy Donut. I highly recommend all of the places we went to.
The day we made it to Boston also happened to be move-in day for college. Traffic was insane, at least compared to what I am used to. Once we made it into town, our first stop was at Fenway Park. I wanted to go in the stadium, but it was closed for the Lady Gaga concert that night. Thinking we’d just cut our loses, we headed to the Museum of Fine Arts. This easily could have taken up the whole day, but we managed to see as much as we could in a few hours, even listening in on a free tour.
We then took a stab at part of the Freedom Trail where we saw Paul Revere’s House, USS Constitution, and the Battle of Bunker Hill. This also could have taken the whole day, but lo and behold, we decided to buy tickets to Lady Gaga!
After driving away from the city and finding a random park to sleep in the car, we awoke that morning and headed into Rhode Island for breakfast at Julian’s and a bakery called Seven Stars.
The grand finale of the trip was in New York City. We parked at Pelham Bay Park and quickly became acquainted with the Subway. Our first bite of The Big Apple was Central Park. It was a peaceful start before heading into the city that never sleeps. We walked down 5th Ave, our jaws dropping at the luxury retailers. We saw the Empire State Building and walked down Broadway. When we made it to Times Square, my mind went into sensory overload. After eating a few slices of pizza, we took the Staten Island Ferry and saw the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. It began pouring rain when we made it to the island. Wanting to add another stop to our pizza food tour, we ran through the rain for one more slice. When we made it back to NYC, we took the subway to Grand Central Terminal. It was fun to step into the past and imagine what it was like back in the day. We ended the night at Max Brenner. Being the chocolate lover that I am, I was highly disappointed with the quality of our $16 dessert. When we made it to the car, we went straight to sleep. The next morning, however, we realized we’d been locked in. I ended up driving along the sidewalk of the park until I could find a way out, even passing a cop along the way. Talk about an eventful morning! Due to the rain the night before, we drove back into the city so that we could stop at Ground Zero. While I did end up getting a parking ticket (which I am currently in the process of trying to get removed) I’m so glad we went back. Our final stop was at B&H Photo, a camera heaven. Unfortunately, parking is so expensive in the city so we could only stay for a short time; but, we managed to walk through every section before we had to get back to the car.
This is a trip I will never forget.