From New Hampshire, we drove the rest of the way into Maine. We were surprised by how many “watch out for Moose” signs we saw. Unfortunately, as hard as we looked, we never spotted one.
Just inside of Maine, we stopped at a welcome center with extremely helpful attendants. They found more ideas that looked interesting than we could do in a month! Once we got on Mount Desert Island, we stopped to pick up a National Park pass and Junior Ranger books for the children to work on.
While we drove, Allan mentioned that the campground we were staying at had made a mistake and called to see if we minded having a cabin for one night. We did not tell anyone and they enjoyed the surprise.
We were very glad to stop and know we did not have to move very far for a few days!
From New York, we traveled through Vermont and into New Hampshire. Â Allan had planned a shorter drive, because he found a great place for us to stay.
Pine Haven Campground in NH was very quiet! Â We were at the end of the lane, with only one other tent, so we had a lot of space to play. Â We grilled sausage, corn and other veggies we picked up from the farmers’ markets on our trip. Â Then we enjoyed s’mores and lots of roasted marshmallows.
No one really wanted to leave the next morning. Â Allan started washingÂ clothes while we got breakfast started and then cleaned up the area. Â The kids enjoyed playing on the see saws and then got Allan to play a few rounds of Octaball before we piled into the car around 9:30 for the last leg of our trip to Maine.
If you click on a picture, you can see it as a slide show.
On Saturday we drove through Pennsylvania and New York. It was a long drive, but we enjoyed Â getting treats at the small farmer’s markets at the restÂ stopsÂ and along the road.
Andrea was really excited to see that peaches were in season, so we stopped at a few places hoping to buy some. Â Unfortunately, we did not find ripe ones that would travel well until we reached Vermont. We did find some maple cotton candy that was a lot of fun to eat.
We stopped for gas inÂ Portland Harbor, NY. We discovered the first lighthouse in the United States to operate using natural gas used hollow logsÂ as pipesÂ to get the gas where it needed to be. We enjoyed a very quick picnic nearby because the bees were fond of our lunch!
We stayed at a Â KOA inÂ Herkimer, New York. Â It was extremely crowded! Our two tents sat side by side with a trailer on one side and a group of people and a few tents on the other. Â The nice thing about the campground was there was a riverÂ that the kids could play in. Â We could have rented tubes and tubed down the river, which is what most people seemed to enjoy.
Since we had a long travel day, we went out for dinner. Â Allan had picked a place that looked good, but was closed early. Â So we drove around town looking for another place. Â We discovered Crazy Otto’s Empire Diner. Â It was fun place to eat and everyone was very friendly.
We went to bed soon after getting back from dinner and were up and ready to start traveling again before most people at the camp ground were getting up for the day.
We started for Maine as soon as Allan got home from work on Friday. Â We had the car packed and ready to go early. EveryoneÂ spent most of the afternoonÂ running and playing.
We drove three hours to Ohio. Â It was a good way to start our long drive! Â Megan took off some of the pillowcases, declared she was cold and played dress up for most of the trip.
Our first campsite was very nice. The kids enjoyed playing in the pool and we were the only tents in the tent area. We also discovered “fairy lights” and had fun trying to figure out what they were and where they originated. Mark discovered a forest of them at the end of the tenting area and we enjoyed playing in them for awhile.
Hiking with children is fun! You travel at the speed of the slowest walker so you have lots of time to talk and be together.Â Everyone splits up in different groups all day and you have many opportunities just to listen to your children talk.
You can watch the kids love on and encourage each other. When Megan struggled the first day and was going sooooo sllloooowwwwlly, Mark started to make up a story about a backpacking princess. They continued making up the story for the rest of the trip and Megan did not have as much trouble keeping up.
When the hills caused problems, or someone fell and got hurt, there was always someone there to encourage them-not just mom or dad.Â Once we got to camp, the kids worked together to finish what needed to get done, so they could play-together.Â When the kids crawled into their tents, exhausted, weÂ had to remind them to stop talking and go to sleep.
There are so many wonderful family vacations.Â But my favorites are those were we leave the normal, and just enjoy being a family.
P.S. Mark did not carry Megan during our hike, he wanted to see if he could carry her and both packs. Megan walked the whole trip, though Allan did carry her backpack for about 10 minutes.
We have tried to teach the children to love being outdoors and how to hike and canoe. It started early, Mark’s first overnight backpacking trip was in Swaziland when he was only a few months old. We have continued taking the kids as often as can.
During one trip in back country Glacier, Allan carried a toddler, while the 4 year old hung unto the baby carrier when she got tired. He carried most of the weight and a required bear canister while I walked behind, 3 months pregnant, singing and telling stories with our 8 year old. It was a wonderful trip, one that the kids remember and still talk about.
Each of the children have their own backpack. Megan carries an “ultralight” miniature pack that only holds her clothes and snack for the day. Everyone else carries their own sleeping bag plus clothes and snacks. We divide the remaining equipment between the packs, according to age and carrying ability.
The children learn the skills they need to hike on their own early. Allan has them all help filter water, and they all help with setting up and tearing down the tents. Andrea learned how to use the cooking stove this trip and Mark has known how to use it for years.
While we do not hike nearly as often as we would like, the kids love hiking. They look forward to our next trip and talk about the ones we have taken. Now to start planning our next trip!
Near Calhan, Colorado, is a wonderful place we had never visited before. Aunt Debbie and Uncle Dan invited us to visit the Paint Mines Interpretive Park with them. The Paint Mines are clay formations in beautiful reds, yellows and white layers. There are four miles of trails to explore that wind around caprock and hoodoos- a pillar of rock formed with softer rock on the bottom with a harder rock on top.
The mines are beautiful! We had lots of places to explore and many colors to enjoy since we visited early on an overcast morning. As the sun replaced the clouds, the colors faded and were not so vivid. We left soon after.
We often get into Colorado near sunset. I have already asked Allan that the next time we visit, could we please stop at the mines for our last rest stop. I would love to explore them at dusk!
Following tradition, Audrey and Andrea McGuire hosted a “high tea” for relatives soon after arriving in Colorado. Both girls worked hard making the event the highlight of the week. Using freshly picked wildflowers as a centerpiece, the girls finished decorating with tea cups discovered by their great-aunt.
The girls provided chocolate cowpies, chocolate chip meringues and pecan cookies they lovingly prepared earlier. Special treats were also brought by the girls’ Oma and great-aunts. Assorted teas were offered. Entertainment was provided by the girls’ uncle and brother who sang “Buffalo Girls”.
Each year, the formal tea party grows in number. The hostesses were pleased to discover that they were the very first to have ever invited Grandma Green to a tea party!
Knowing the next tea will be eagerly anticipated, the girls will continue to expand on their culinary skills and search for exquisite teas to offer.