An Island Tour in the Fall

A recap of our Island Vacation.

Major stop #1:  Martha's Vineyard

We headed up to New England with our first major stop (after spending the night in NJ) in Martha's Vineyard.

Outside of a few family runs and walks we spent most of our time with Shawn's half sister Linda (and her family.) Shawn is an only child.  And his mom was one of three, so he comes from a small family compared to mine.  Having lost his mom and grandma to cancer the only family close to him is his Aunt Nancy.  A little over two years ago Shawn wanted to go up to the Vineyard to reunite with some of his half siblings.  Shawn spent a little bit of time on the Vineyard growing up and it has become one of those places that just feels like home to him. 

We spent one entire day with his half sister.  We started with going to Aquinnah.  Avery was able to run around in a field, jump off a few rocks, and then walk out to a gorgeous overlook.  From there we walked a little ways to one of the lighthouses on the Vineyard.  We decided to pay the small fee and venture up the steps.  This is already one of Avery's favorite adventures to recall from our trip.  It's funny how some things just engrain into children's memories.  We often chat about the ferry, hiking, etc, from our trip, but she recalls the lighthouse often!  The lighthouse, Gay Head Lighthouse, is sadly on the list of Endangered Historic Places due to it being 46 feet from the eroding cliffs. Experts are saying it needs to be moved within the next 18 months in order to prevent it from toppling into the ocean. Pretty crazy!

After a little more driving around we decided to head to the beach and grab a bite to eat in Menemsha.  I love this little place!  Aside from the simple beauty in its view it's also fun to watch the fisherman come in with their boats, wash of their catch, and simply take a few steps to the market where it is sold. It also used to be home to Shawn's mom's little sandwich shop.  It's so nice to have Linda as a tour guide to allow Shawn to learn more about his mom. 

 Menemsha in August 2011

Menemsha in August 2011

From there we went to Oak Bluffs and walked around some shops and got ice cream. Unfortunately the carousel was closed as things were beginning to close for the season.  

For dinner we headed to Linda and Robert's house.  Linda was so gracious and cooked a seafood pasta...with fresh lobster.  It was to die for.  I still get a little mouth watering action thinking about it!  Delish!  Robert is the perfect toddler entertainer and Avery was enthralled!  One of their sons was also there to enjoy the little girl show.  We hung around and chatted until the girls wouldn't last any longer and headed back to our hotel.

The next morning we ate breakfast with one of Shawn's mom's best friends, Phyllis.  It's so fun to hang out with her and laugh.  Her sense of humor is uncanny and it often makes me fully understand why she was one of Shawn's mom's friends. 

From breakfast we headed to the ferry to embark on our trip up the Maine coast (GORGEOUS) to Portland, ME.

Portland is gorgeous (I regret that we only took one or two pictures, but neither depict what it's like!) I do have a confession, I didn't like it as much as I thought I would.  I enjoyed the coastal town, but I think I crave untainted small towns a bit more.  Although I definitely saw why others like it so much, and it seems like a great port town to live in.  We had more lobster, did some shopping, and ventured to Acadia National Park the next morning.

Major stop #2:  Mount Desert Island (home of Acadia National Park)

My first thought on Acadia- we will be back!

In bulleted fashion here's the bulk of that leg of our fun trip!

- Tent camping with an almost 3 year old is awesome.  Avery's few fears were easy to calm, confirmed by her sweet responses of "God and Daddy will protect me." She was enthralled with the woods, finding sticks for the fire, the stars in the sky, marshmallows and sleeping next to mommy and daddy. At one point she even told me that she could walk to the campground potty by herself and come back to the tent when she was done....though it was within eyesight....this momma was not gonna let that happen.  Although her confidence was amusing!

-Tent camping with an almost 15 month old is not awesome.  During the day she was fine.  She loved to crawl in the dirt (she wasn't walking yet.)  And eating rocks and sticks and placing them in and out of containers was thoroughly entertaining.  Grace's inability to communicate clearly and being thrown in an unfamiliar environment didn't bode well for good sleep (at least for mom!)  At night it dropped to 40 degrees. Shawn and I were toasty in our mummy bags, as was Avery. After some advice from my dear friend Jenny, who frequents Glacier NP with her wee ones, we decided to put Grace in heavy jammers and then a snow suit type gig from REI. We also put mittens on her hands and a beanie on. Woe did she hate this. She fought so hard trying to pull it off. She HATED it. But she was cold without it. She literally fought it to sleep...but then would stir and fight again. This happened, oh about 7 times a night the first night and then slowly got better... Grace likes to move in her sleep, so picture a chubby kid flat on their back in the snow, unable to get up or move.  I woke up exhausted.

- Despite exhaustion I pressed on so we could adventure as much as possible.  There was so much we wanted to do!

- We drove more of the shore and visited the harbors. Bar Harbor is adorable, but we weren't big fans of the charter buses and cruise ships that would herd tons of folks in, but we know the place survives on this type of tourism. We did enjoy the fact that the tourism isn't so extreme- no Ripley's!

- We did a 6 mile hike up to a summit in Acadia. Note to self- choosing strenuous hikes may need to be placed on hold while we have small ones (and while my ankle is still in recovery mode.) The view was totally worth it, as well as the excitement!

Up to the summit it was a variety of terrain. We started along a river and then slowly the pine needle and leave covered path turned into patches of granite with the hot sun beating down and the views of the harbor and ocean unmatched. Grace was on my back in the ergo, but about midway up I moved her to the front because she wouldn't stop fussing. Hiking with 23 pounds on your belly isn't the most fun thing. But again, worth it. Avery did well in Shawn's pack. Lunch was promised at the summit, though both were sound asleep by the time we reached the top. Shawn and I each had a small snack and enjoyed some water, of which we wished we packed more. The entire week was way warmer during the day than we planned!!

Quote of the trip. Said on the summit by Shawn, "I know your ankle is hurting, so I just found a trail back to the car that's half the distance." I knew better than to fall for this reasoning. I knew it would be steeper, but goodness I was not prepared!!

The Ladder Trail. It also was ranked strenuous. It traversed the face of the mountain which was mostly granite. Steps steps steps....and more and more steps...steps. All boulders moved to create a stepping path. None the same height. No placement that allowed for more than three fluid equal paced steps. My quads and mind (entirely focused on not misstepping and hurting my ankle) were SUPER shakey. Yes I even sat on my butt for a few feet here and there and went down because it was so exhausting.

And then the "ladders." Iron rungs nailed into boulder faces. A few of them ranging 15-30 feet long. With kids on our back and tired legs. Oh and cliffs threatening if you misstep one rung. And rungs nailed so close to the rocks that only your toes could be used as stepping points...killing my arms and intrinsic foot muscles.

And at the bottom the most exhilarating feeling to have done it. Shawn said it was the first hike we've been on that he actually was scared I wouldn't make it down. I knew I would but will admit I had to think many, many times that I've run thousands of miles, that my body was strong, and persuade myself that my quads weren't really twitching even though they were!

-We took a 14 mile bike ride up and down the rolling hills within the park around various lakes.  We packed our lunch and ate lunch taking in the views around Eagle Lake.  Another thing we would love to do more and hit up more of the carriage trails.  I think 14 miles in the trailer...after poor sleep, hiking, etc, was the max for the girls at this point in the trip! 

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-Shawn makes some MEAN meals over the campfire....country fried beef (I had no idea I even would like such a thing!,) tilapia, pizza, and more!

And then we headed to Lake Champlain Island.  We took the long route so we could catch glimpses of the White Mountains and get more countryside scenery.  This was such a tease.  We wanted to stop constantly.

And one day I'll blog about the last leg of our trip in Vermont......