Summer 2021 Part 1 – Maine

In Camden, ME

Be sure to check out Part 2 – The Adirondacks and the Adirondacks photos. Of course, there’s Maine photos as well.

We had used our credit from last year’s canceled cruise to book a cruise around the Baltic sea from Copenhagen, Denmark. Of course, this was canceled. (Moved to next summer now.) Paul’s company announced in February that they’d be having another R&R week in August like last year. We wanted to do something again but weren’t sure what the situation would be during the summer so we decided to stay within driving distance. After looking at a number of potential spots, we decided on a week on the coast of Maine followed by a week back in the Adirondacks. Early in the summer, we thought maybe we should have looked further afield as things seem to be improving. However, as summer went on and things seemed to be moving in the wrong direction, we were glad to have stayed kind of nearby.

For our first week, we looked at a number of places all along the coast. Eventually, we settled on a renting the great 3-bedroom Spruce Cottage in Camden, Maine through AirBnB. This worked out great as Paul’s dad flew out from Arizona for the week so having a little extra space was perfect. The cottage itself was an old house with lots of space and only a 10-minute walk to downtown Camden. This was great as we could easily head down there without having to worry about parking. We were also less than 10 minutes from a supermarket.

Camden waterfront

Saturday was our day to drive up to Camden. It was a long drive, taking a total of about 9 hours due to traffic. That did include a stop for some great fried clams and scallops at The Sea Basket in Wiscasset. After check in, we settled in. Paul’s dad arrived in Bangor around 8pm and then at the cottage around 10pm. It was great to see him again.

On Sunday, we had breakfast at the cottage before having a wander through town. It’s not a huge place but there are some nice shops and a really nice little harbor. After lunch we headed out to Rockport, about a 15 minute drive. Here we wandered around their very small harbor for a bit. For dinner, it was back to Camden and to Sea Dog Brewing for some good beer and good seafood and ice cream at River Ducks. It was a very nice first day.

Boothbay Harbor

Next up on Monday was a drive down to Boothbay Harbor, about an hour down the coast from Camden. We wandered through town, got some snacks, and did some shopping. For lunch, we headed down to Robinson’s Wharf in Southport. Paul got his lobster while others got some great seafood. After getting some ice cream as well, we headed back up to Rockland, not to be confused with Rockport just up the road, and walked the Rockland Breakwater out to the lighthouse. This is a great walk but is almost two miles roundtrip. For dinner, we just grilled up some chicken at the cottage.

Tuesday was our planned day for Acadia National Park as we had prebooked a reservation for the Cadillac Mountain drive. Kyle wasn’t feeling well though so we decided to move the trip to Wednesday. (In fact, we got a better time on Wednesday.) Instead we just hung around Camden for most of the day. Suzanne, Paul, and Peter took the drive up Mt. Battie for some great views of Camden and the surrounding area. In the afternoon, we had booked a harbor tour on the Windjammer Schooner Appledore. Unfortunately, as we were heading out, they started having engine problems. We did get at least a little tour of the harbor and got some excitement as they struggled to get back to the pier. The crew did manage it so that was good. For dinner, we had planned to go to a pizza place/brewery but it was a long wait. Instead, we ended up at Cuzzy’s pub, which was still a fairly long wait but not as bad. (Many places were short staffed so several restaurants were closed some evenings and others could only handle so many people.) We had some good pizza here. This evening, ice cream was from Camden Cone.

Paul in Acadia NP

Wednesday was now our day to make the two hour or so drive up to Acadia NP. We left Camden early and made it without problems. It was quite busy. Before our drive up Cadillac Mountain, we drove through the park but couldn’t find parking at the couple of places we tried. We did poke around Seal Harbor Beach before heading up the mountain. This was great with wonderful views of the Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor, and the surrounding ocean. After spending a good 45-60 minutes at the summit, we drove back down. Parking was still tricky but we did find a (legal) spot on the loop road near Sand Beach. After grabbing lunch, which we had packed and this worked out great, on a rock, we headed down to Sand Beach. Then we did the roughly half-mile walk to Thunder Hole. While it was low tide, it was still cool to see. There were a ton of great spots for photos along the walk as well. Back at the car, we continued the loop drive, stopping next at Otter Cliff. We had thought they were further down the coast a bit so did an additional roughly 3/4-mile walk to Otter Point. This was still well worth it to see more of shore. After this, we finished out the loop road and headed into Bar Harbor for some wandering and shopping. Paul (with Peter) stopped for a quick flight at Atlantic Brewing Company. On the way back to Camden, we stopped at Union Lobster Pot in Ellsworth. More wonderful seafood was had including some yummy steamers and a great, and huge, lobster roll.

LL Bean Boot Truck

Thursday was our day to head to Freeport, about 90 minutes southwest from Camden. While we got a late start, we made it down there early afternoon. It did start to rain, fairly heavily, while we were there but it was great to wander through LL Bean. We even got a great deal on a rolling duffel bag which we had been looking for. For an early dinner, we got some great pizza and spectacular beer at Main Beer Company before Suzanne got to drive back in the steady rain.

Kyle at Fort Knox

Peter had a roughly noon-time flight on Friday. For a last thing, we had breakfast out at Marriner’s Restaurant. Afterward, Peter headed back to Bangor to fly home while we drove back up the coast. Our first stop was at the small but interesting Penobscot Maritime Museum in Searsport. After spending some time here, we continued up the coast to the historic Fort Knox and a visit to the Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory. The latter is an elevator to the top of one of the bridge piers, 420 feet in the air. There were some great views of the area. On the way back, we stopped in Belfast for another wonderful lobster roll at Must Be Nice Lobster on the harbor walk, some ice cream at Wild Cow Creamery, and some great beer at Marshall Wharf Brewing. Back in Camden, dinner was pretty good Chinese at Camden Island before packing up to leave the next morning to head to the Adirondacks in New York.

Camden waterfront at sunrise

Trip to Littleton, NH

Kyle, Paul and Peter at the Basin in Franconia Notch

Obligatory photo link with more photos.

My dad was visiting northern Vermont for a while so we wanted to coordinate a visit together. As Kyle was out of school and I had some time to take off, we had Fri Jun 25 through Mon Jun 28. My aunt Lucy kindly offered to let us stay at her house and to hang out at her cottage nearby. This worked out great for all of us. We spent most of Friday driving up and had a nice visit with Lucy and then dinner at Littleton Freehouse Taproom & Eatery.

Saturday morning we had a great breakfast at The Coffee Pot Restaurant and then headed down to Franconia Notch. We started at the Flume but didn’t think about having to make reservations. We made some for a bit later (as that time slot was sold out) and then headed over the Basin. After a some walking and photos, we stopped by the Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza historic site. Both of these were an enjoyable way to spend some time. Finally it was back to the Flume for our visit. This is always a nice spot. Kyle and I had been in 2016 while Kyle, Suzanne and I went way back in 2006 (when Kyle was so young). (I have been countless times as well.) While we had planned to stop for lunch, none of us were hungry after our big breakfast so we headed back to Littleton to change before heading to the cabin/camp. This was a great way to spend the afternoon and evening. Lucy and Ken made some great chicken and I tried kayaking for the first time, going around the lake with Lucy. We even did Smores around the fire.

On Sunday, we headed back to the lake after my run for a wonder breakfast. We spent most of the day just hanging out. Kyle did a bit of fishing, catching a couple of small perch. Mid-afternoon, we hit up a wonderful ice cream stand/truck outside of Lancaster. (The maple creamee was so good.) In the evening after dinner at the camp, it was back to Littleton where my dad and I had a couple of pints at Schiller’s which were quite good. Monday morning, we packed up for the drive home. It was a short weekend but was great to see my dad (Kyle got to see both grandpa and grammy as my mom came up from Florida Thursday for my cousin’s wedding on Jul 3) and to spend time with Lucy and Ken. Hanging by the lake was such a nice way to spend some time.

Trip to Hershey, PA


Kyle at Hersheypark

Kyle had both the Friday before and Tuesday after Memorial Day off so we wanted to take an extra long weekend. We were trying to find a place to go not too far. I happened to glance at our kitchen counter where there was a Hershey bar. We had talked about heading over there at some point so this seemed perfect. It’s about two hours from us. We headed over Thursday night, spending the weekend in the perfectly okay Hampton Inn and Suites Hershey. The plan was to do Hersheypark Friday figuring it wouldn’t be as busy. Unfortunately, it was supposed to be rainy all afternoon so we switched to Saturday.

We started Friday morning at Hershey’s Chocolate World, the massive store and attraction. We did the free dark ride which was cute and did some shopping. They had some unusual stuff which was nice. After a bit of time there, we headed down to Lancaster County, 30-45 minutes from Hershey. We visited a few shopping spots (Bird-in-Hand Farmer’s Market, Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, and Kaufmann’s in Bird in Hand), had lunch at Stoltzfus Deli in Intercourse (wonderful subs), and got ice cream at Oregon Dairy in Lititz. For dinner, we headed to Troegg’s Brewery (right in Hershey) as I’m a big fan of their excellent beer. While we had to wait a while, both the food and the beer were great. Later that evening, I headed right across the street from the hotel to visit Rotunda Brewing which was also pretty good.

Saturday we got going to head to Hersheypark before opening, which was 11am so not too early. I rushed right in to ride the newest coaster, Candymonoium. It had been a while since I had been on a really intense coaster (nothing at Disney except maybe Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster qualifies) and it was great. Crowds weren’t too bad to start as the weather was cool and damp. I did something like nine coasters in less than two hours, nearly all with no wait. Kyle even did a couple with me. We did lunch at the Overlook Cafe which was fine. Kyle was getting a bit tired and it’s not a huge park so we headed out around 5, after getting a King Size milkshake of course. This worked out as it started to rain not too long after. Dinner was more good food and beer at Rubber Soul Brewing in nearby Hummelstown.

Sunday was our second day at Hersheypark. We probably didn’t really need two days but we weren’t sure when we got tickets online. I was hoping to hit Candymonium right after opening but it was closed due to some light rain. Instead he headed back to the Wildcat wooden coaster where Kyle and I went twice followed by us both going on Lightning Racer. We had lunch at Gourmet Grille which worked out as it’s indoors and it was cool and raining at that time. After lunch and the rain, we did a few more rides, including me checking off the last couple of coasters (I did all but the kiddie one and the one closed for work – 12 in all), another milkshake, and me getting lucky with a short wait for one last ride on Candymonium, finishing up around 3:30. Dinner was at the Soda Jerk Diner, also in Hummelstown. On the way home I had Suzanne drop me at Iron Hill Brewery in downtown Hershey (about a 30 minute walk from the hotel). They were packed but in Hershey you can get beer to go, so ended up getting a couple of pints and sitting in the small courtyard next to the restaurant.

Gettysburg Battlefield

Kyle had asked about going to Gettysburg so that was our Monday plan. It’s about an hour from Hershey. It was nice to visit again. We did the main loop including the main sites (the Virginia Memorial, Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, the Pennsylvania Memorial, and the High Water Mark). We also walked around the Eisenhower NHS which was cool as we hadn’t visited there before. Lunch was at Tommy’s Pizza and dinner was back at Iron Hill.

Tucker at the AACA Museum

Tuesday morning we packed up and had a wonderful breakfast at the Hershey Pantry right next to the hotel. Kyle’s cinnamon bun was both massive and really tasty. After breakfast, we spent an hour or so at the AACA antique and historic car and truck museum (in Hershey). This was a great place to spend some time. Once done there, we made a quick detour to stop at CJ Pony Parts, a big Mustang mail order shop. There’s not much at the store but they do have a couple of Mustangs on display.

It was great weekend and we all had lots of fun. The weather could have been better but we managed. The extra break was nice as well. I do think one day at Hersheypark would have been enough but largely only because I was able just about walk on most coasters.

View of Gettysburg Battlefield from Longstreet Tower

Trip to the Adirondacks

Kyle hiking up Mt. Goodnow

We were supposed to go on a Caribbean cruise in late July/early August. Of course, that fell through. We hadn’t planned to go anywhere but early in the summer my company decided to give us all a week in August off for summer break. We looked into going to Tennessee/Great Smokey Mountains NP but things were still up in the air in terms of Covid. We ended up waiting until just a couple of weeks before our week off to make a decision and ended up choosing to head to the Adirondacks in upstate NY. We wanted to keep within driving distance and decided to stay in NY or NJ due to the potential for quarantine, which both states have declared wouldn’t happen between them. (It would a real mess given the number of people who commute to NY City from NJ even now.)

We ended up renting a great place through AirBnB in Long Lake, a small town right in the middle of the Adirondacks about a five hour drive. We spent a couple of days doing some hikes/walks, visited Old Forge and Lake Placid, each about an hour away, and spent time relaxing. We had great weather aside from Thursday when it rained all day. (I took the opportunity to visit Raquette River Brewing in Tupper Lake, about 30 minutes north of Long Lake. I visited four other breweries plus a taproom during the week.) While more laid back than we had planned and way more laid back than last year’s trips (Croatia for Suzanne and me in May and then Paris and Germany for all three of us in August), it ended up being really nice break from work and a great refresher heading into the fall. Of course, I posted some photos (though I took literally only 15% of the photos I did in Paris and Germany).

View from summit of Mt. Coney

Trip to Paris and Germany

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

While much belated, I’ve finally posted some photos and a trip report from our family trip to Paris and Germany back in August. We had a great time and it was wonderful to be back in Germany after almost nine years away. We were in Europe for two full weeks, starting in Paris, doing a day trip to Normandy (Kyle and me), then onto Trier, Germany. From Trier, we did a bit of the Mosel, the Rhine, Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria), Erfurt (Thurungia, former East Germany) and ended up in Berlin. We also did a day trip from Berlin to Poznan, Poland. Kyle was thrilled to get to visit Normandy and we got to spend a wonderful few hours with some old friends in Würzburg.

Of course there’s some photos and a trip report:


Trip to Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia

For our 20th wedding anniversary, Suzanne and I decided to spent a week and half or so in Croatia. Suzanne suggested it while we were considering where to go. Neither of us had been before and it looked wonderful. We flew out Friday, 17-May, evening and came back Tues 28-May. We had a great time, seeing quite a lot including Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park, and several spots on the Adriatic coast (Split, Korčula, Dubrovnik). We also took day trips to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kotor in Montenegro. As an added bonus, we spent a few hours in Frankfurt during our long layover on the way back. If you’re wondering, Jack and Mary Lou we very kind to come up for a couple of weeks to watch Kyle.

Of course, there’s a (lengthy) Trip Report and several pages of photos:

The Old Port in Dubrovnik, Croatia