Autumn! The Maine event.

Lily and I arrived on the east coast after a grueling rush to get to Maine. While casually crossing the northwest states, I came to learn that most campgrounds near Acadia National Park close for the season right after Columbus Day. So, we had to pick up the pace pretty quick to arrive in time for the Maine event.

Despite the long drive days and short overnight stops, it was absolutely wonderful to witness the impressive display of fall foliage as we cruised east along US-2. We made a few quick pitstops along the route east so let’s get going!

Heading thru North Dakota I dipped down into Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Definitely not the most exciting park I’ve experienced so far but certainly interesting. We stayed one night inside the badlands and then hit the road the next morning.

Overlooking the badlands – not much else to do here unless you bring your ATV or horse.
View of the Prairie Dogs from the campsite. Hard to see them but you could for sure hear them chirping.

Back on the highway, I said goodbye to the bright sunny days as we exited North Dakota and entered Minnesota to check out the north shore of Lake Superior. Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse and Tettegouche State Park were on the itinerary.

The wildly popular Gooseberry Falls. I had to stand in one place for half an hour just to capture this pic without people in it.
Split Rock Lighthouse was actually very interesting and well preserved.
I definitely climbed the stairs up to the top to check on the lightbulb – it was fine.
Awesome view of the bluffs from Shovel Point at Tettegouche State Park. The north shore of Lake Superior is really very beautiful.

After a frigid night in northern Minnesota, we moved on into the upper peninsula of Michigan. Painted Rocks National Lakeshore was the destination but at the last minute my boat tour got cancelled due to forecasted high winds and rain over the lake. Disappointed, I bundled up for a cold day and drove around the area to check out what there was to see from land.

Driving around, I made a quick stop at Miners Castle and Log Slide overlooks, and then it was over to Munising Falls to take the short hike up to the falls and get a few pics.

The U.P. of Michigan in fall is stunningly beautiful and it made for some very scenic happy hours. I would for sure like to come back someday and try again to take the boat tour around Picture Rocks.

Moving down the peninsula, we crossed the Mackinaw Bridge and parked for a few hours to explore the Old Makinaw Point Lighthouse. It was really windy and cold so I didn’t linger around the area very long. Gotta keep moving!

Bar Harbor, ME

FINALLY, after nearly a week of daily driving we arrived in New England. And we found the sun again! This would be home base to thoroughly explore Acadia, eat lobster, and reset.

Acadia National Park

Acadia and its splendorous scenery was just waiting to be explored. First on the agenda was the drive up Cadillac Mountain or I as call it, Cadillac Margarita. I guess this would be the equivalent of driving the Going-to-the-Sun-Road in terms of popularity. Once at the top, the views were pretty spectacular.

Summit of Cadillac Mountain with the view of Bar Harbor and the anchored cruise ships that dump out the gazillion cruisers onto the town streets.
Didn’t quite make it for sunrise but it was a cloudy day anyway.

Back down at sea level, it was time to take a hike. I decided to hit the Precipice Trail and really have the unique Acadia experience. Precipice is a 1 mile vertical hike climbing 1000 feet up sheer cliffs and shelf systems using iron rungs and ladders ascending to the summit of Champlain Mountain. It was awesome!

Made it to the top and it was 100% worth it. Hikes in National Parks are my favorite.

On our last day, I packed up the pup and drove over to Schoodic Point to take in the less popular part of Acadia. As you can see, it was a foggy day but that didn’t keep the trees from showing their colors.

And so, after five spectacular Maine days and nights that treated us to sun, rain, thunder, lightning, and winds, we pulled out and headed south towards Portland.

Final sunset in spot B4 at Wild Acadia Resort. The trees were already losing their leaves when we said goodbye to this perfect camping spot.

Kennebunkport, ME

Just down the road from Portland is the historic ship building town of Kennebunkport. Also very popular with tourist groups and their charter busses. I stopped for a quick look around the village and then escaped the crowds to drive the coastal route along the seashore.

The Spirit of Massachusetts parked on the Kennebunkport River.
Walkers Point Estate aka The Bush Compound.

Before leaving Maine, I absolutely had to stop and get some potato donuts for myself, my friends, and my freezer. They are a Maine phenomenon and quite delicious.

And with that, we are done with Maine. Next stop is Massachusetts for spooky season, a long overdue friend visit, and the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Thank you Maine for your hospitality and all your splendid colors.

Be sure to check out our Instagram @paulandlilygoplaces for more pics and videos of our adventures. See you again soon!

The Crown of the Continent, part 2.

Lily and I crossed The Continental Divide and arrived on the east side of Glacier National Park on a super windy afternoon. It was so windy that after disconnecting the Airstream we just hunkered down for a day to let the gusts subside before venturing back into the splendor of Glacier.

St. Mary, MT

I really liked this side of the park. It felt more remote and isolated and the views made it seem like Glacier was “right there” – especially from the campsite. It was less PNW rainforest and more Swiss Alps, in my opinion.

Space A14 deluxe patio site at the St. Mary/East Glacier KOA with a fantastic view!

Once the wind became tolerable, we ventured out to explore the area and check out a few of the popular spots.

Posing for a quick selfie with St. Mary Lake and Wild Goose Island in the background.
Distant view of Jackson Glacier, the seventh largest glacier in the park, partially cloaked by clouds.
The Many Glacier Hotel on Swiftcurrent Lake located in the “Switzerland of North America”. The hotel was already closed for the season and “mostly” boarded up.

Grinnell Glacier

I had been reading about this hike ever since arriving in West Glacier the week before. It seemed a little daunting being 12 miles round trip but I knew I had to do it and see a real live glacier up close. So, on a crystal clear morning I packed some snacks, several bottles of water, bear spray, Advil, and set out on the longest hike of my life so far.

The trail starts at a tiny parking lot near Swiftcurrent Lake just opposite the Many Glacier Hotel. When I arrived at 9:30 am the lot was full so I parked along the road not too far from the trailhead. I felt lucky to find parking anywhere since this is one of the most popular hikes in the park.

Just starting out and viewing Many Glacier from across the lake.
Lush foresty trail to soothe you at the beginning of the hike.
Meandering along Swiftcurrent Lake for about 2 miles with Grinnell Peak in the distance.
View of Grinnell Lake glowing like a turquoise oasis in the mid-morning sun.

After 2 miles you begin the climb and really start to feel the gain in elevation. Eventually, Grinnell Lake came into view with its stunning turquoise glow. About a mile later the trail became a stone path carved into the side of the canyon.

Looking forward toward Grinnell Peak and getting really excited about the change of scenery ahead.
Taking a quick rest and looking all the way back to Swiftcurrent Lake where I started.

At the 4 mile mark I finally got a glimpse of the top of the glacier and the waterfall that feeds Grinnell Lake from the glacial melt off. The trail through the valley gave way to a narrow cut in the cliff that takes you to the switchbacks where most of the traffic congests as hikers stop to catch their breath on the way to the finish line.

Glacial runoff waterfall (in the center-ish of the pic) from Little Grinnell Lake that feeds Grinnell Lake below.

I didn’t get any pics of the switchbacks because they were too steep and it was jammed with other hikers gasping for air while slowly traversing up. Then, finally, at the top and completely out of breath, I arrived at Grinnell Glacier and Little Grinnell Lake. It was really awesome.

The red water is actually melted “Watermelon Snow” that contains super concentrated red algae. Allegedly, the snow will be pinkish-red and smell like sweet watermelon before melting.

Sadly, the glaciers are rapidly melting and Grinnell Glacier has been retreating dramatically since about 1950. In 2003, a study concluded that nearly two-thirds of the 150 glaciers that existed in Glacier NP had completely melted by 1980. So, I’m greatful I had the opportunity to see this before it’s completely gone.

Behind me is all that is left of Grinnell Glacier. It was much bigger in real life.
Fascinating circular patterns in the rocks that were probably buried under glacial ice for centuries.
Interesting lines formed by ice moving and slicing into the solid rock.
The top of the tan rocks is where I sat and ate my snacks.
One last look at the glacier before leaving.

I spent about 45 mins hiking around, taking pics, and observing the interesting rocks all around. There were quite a few other hikers there but when they started packing up and leaving the place felt a little spooky. So, I too packed up and hit the trail for the 6 mile hike back down.

Looking toward the valley I was to hike back down into. Grinnell Glacier was behind me at this point.

Back home at the Airstream, I felt pretty accomplished and happy. It was such a great day and an amazing experience. And just like that, our time in Glacier came to an end. We spent 9 days inside this Crown of the Continent and it was the perfect way to kick off our second Airstream Adventure.

One last look as we leave this stunning National Park.

Next up, we continue east along the Lewis & Clark route of northern Montana until reaching North Dakota and dipping down into Theodore Roosevelt National Park and then crossing into Northern Minnesota. Along the way we stopped overnight at Walmart to stock up on supplies and relax.

Grocery shopping, sunset, happy hour, and sleep. A perfect stop along the way. Thanks Walmart.

See you soon for the next adventure update. Until then, check out @paulandlilygoplaces on IG for more pics and videos. Stay safe and happy travels.