Summer hiking is finally here as we head up to Carabasset Valley.

I’ll admit it. The mosquitoes win. They may be small but they are relentless. It’s the reason we rarely hike during the spring. It’s just not worth it.

No matter how many layers of all natural insect repellent I put on, it’s just never enough. I know something more high-test with deet might do a better job but I’m not a fan so instead we mostly avoid the woods during these months. But now that summer is here, we’re heading out to the trails again which is a good thing. I did not move nearly enough this winter and am excited to get back into our hiking routine. Continue reading

Spending the Morning Strawberry Picking at Maxwell’s Farm in Cape Elizabeth

I originally posted this blog a few years ago and have updated it for the current strawberry season. I picked my strawberries this morning and I’m getting ready for another round of pie making today.

One of the many joys of summer is that it is berry filled. The end of June is the kick-off to strawberry season here in Maine. There is nothing better than enjoying them freshly picked, but you have to be quick. At only 3 to 4 weeks long, the strawberry season is short, like most things in Maine.

The strawberry season generally runs from the end of June to the end of July. This year was a really late start because of our rainy, cool spring but they’re finally ripe now.

Last year on July 4th weekend, my youngest daughter and I ventured out to Maxwell’s Farm in Cape Elizabeth and picked a heaping flat of strawberries. Fresh strawberries are amazing, but you need to enjoy them as soon as possible after picking. The shelf life is short-lived which is generally not a problem at my house because they are devoured rapidly especially around the Fourth when we usually have a full house. Continue reading

10 Maine Adventures on My Bucket List for 2019

For the last few years I have been putting together an annual bucket list of things I want to do in Maine for the upcoming year. It’s a fun exercise that gets me thinking about the adventures that we want to have and the places we want to visit.

This past year was especially challenging and we actually got through only a couple of things on the list which does make me wonder if perhaps a bucket list is not the best approach but I’m going to give it one more shot.

Below is a list of ten things on my bucket list for the coming year. Many are ones we didn’t get to last year although I’ve added a few new ones into the mix. Here’s hoping we have better results this time around. Continue reading

Looking for free things to do? Here’s a monthly breakdown of free events in Maine for 2019.

A few years ago, my family and I did the Living Well Spending Zero challenge from Ruth Soukup. As part of the challenge, we spent minimal money for the entire month. No groceries, no entertainment, no take-out. We allowed ourselves a small amount of cash at the start of the month for minor necessities, and activities that had already been planned, but that was it. We ate through the food in our refrigerator and pantry, learned to ration our seltzer, and went to some free events like the Fork Food Lab grand opening.

Overall, we did a great job, or at least until the last day of the month when our cat came down with a UTI, and we had to do an emergency visit to the vet complete with x-rays, anesthesia, and multiple antibiotics, all of which negated most of our savings from our zero spend month. Still it was a fun, creative experiment and one we are about to embark on again.  Continue reading

Seven things that take a hiking trail from mediocre to amazing.

Summer was a little challenging but we’re finally getting back to our weekly hiking routine at least for the most part. Our favorite thing to do is take a road trip where we spend the day exploring a new area of Maine. We’ll find a fun place to hike that’s in the vicinity of a nearby craft brewery which is not difficult in Maine. We have a lot of them. We also find someplace new and fun to eat and maybe explore a few shops in the area. That last one is probably more me than my husband.

It’s always a great day, but in order to up our hiking frequency we need some trails that are closer to our house for those days where we don’t have the luxury of time.

One such trail that we went to recently was serviceable, but nothing special. It had a bit of a dead forest vibe with lots of downed trees and a random ravine in the middle although my husband did point out that the opening was the perfect size for a flying saucer to have landed so maybe it was a more interesting spot than we thought.

While not exceptionally pretty, it did get me thinking about what type of trails I enjoy most. We’ve been on some beautiful ones but had a few clunkers in there too. They can’t all be perfect.

Below are seven things that make a hiking trail more fun for me.

  1. Variety. I like trails that have different elements to them. A trail that passes through the forest and then opens onto an estuary, changing the landscape, is always a nice change of pace. Or, one that hugs the coastline before turning into the woods where you hike up to the top of a (small) mountain.
  2. Water. I love any trail that passes by water. Ocean trails are especially beautiful, and waterfalls are wonderful too. Honestly, I’ll even take a small stream. It’s not just the views. I find the sound of moving water soothing and it connects me to nature immediately.
  3. Challenging. I love trails that push and challenge us. That said, trails that are too strenuous for our level can take away from the fun. There’s a sweet spot. I’d say we hit it about 80% of the time.
  4. Well Marked. We’ve wandered off a few trails without realizing it which can be frustrating and, depending on where the trail is located, a little scary too. Fortunately, our missteps have been on trails where it was easy enough to recover but it wasn’t fun.
  5. Views. I like to be rewarded for my hard work so am always happiest when there are views some where along the hike. Getting to the top of a mountain always works although sometimes those hikes can push my skill level. Trails that have openings onto the coastline also never disappoint.
  6. Benches. While the strategic placement of benches along a trail generally offer picturesque spots for sitting and enjoying the views, I actually just think they look pretty and rarely use them for their intended purpose. I am especially fond of benches made from granite, rock or other natural elements.  I always have to stop and take a picture.
  7. Location. Especially on those hiking excursions where we are looking to make it a full day experience, having the trail close to other fun things to do is a definitely plus. Although, finding a few close to home with some of these other must have elements will be helpful too.

Do you like to hike? What do you think takes a trail from mediocre to amazing?

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