#AtoZChallenge | P is for Puffins and an extra does of cuteness.

What’s black and white and flies? My favorite seabird, the Atlantic puffin. They’re a cuter version of penguins. No offense to penguins everywhere. You’re pretty cute too.

Maine is one of the nesting grounds for Atlantic puffins and the only place in the states that you can see them. A visit with the puffins had been on my bucket list for many years.

We settled on a trip to Machais Seal Island, where you can get up close and personal with the puffins. Fun fact: this little speck of an island is also the only disputed land between Canada and the United States. Who wouldn’t want to claim ownership of a tiny island covered in puffins?

This trip takes serious planning. You can’t go on a whim. The nesting season is short, running from May to August, and only a couple of boat companies make the trip to the Island. One runs out of the US and the other from Canada. You have to get your tickets in January when the weather is cold, raw and snow filled while hoping the date you pick is warm, clear and beautiful. It’s a risk. Tickets sell out almost immediately.

We booked our tour through Bold Coast Charter Company out of Cutler Maine. The post on their website indicates they’ve already sold out for their summer 2020 tours. I can’t stress enough that you have to book early.

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#AtoZChallenge | O is for the Ocean and the pull of a lifetime of memories.

The memories of my life are so in step with the rhythm of the ocean that the thought of living anyplace where I couldn’t get to the coast within an hour or two makes me anxious.

My grandparents lived at the beach. My grandmother especially loved the water. It’s one of the reasons my grandfather choose to build their home next to the ocean. The salt air is good for the soul. Maine waters are chilly even in the warmest of summer days but my grandmother was undeterred and continued to swim in the ocean every summer until her health waned. She was happy at the ocean.

My mother spent her school years “in town” and not at the beach. Her grandmother and aunt lived there during those years. They were still living there when I arrived on the scene. My only memories of my visits to the house during those years were of the disturbingly vivid portrait of Jesus wearing the crown of thorns as blood streamed down his face. It hung prominently in their living room. It made an impression on me.

Eventually my grandparents moved back to their home at the beach.

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#AtoZChallenge | I is for Islands and a perfect summer day on Monhegan.

There is something magical about a perfect summer day. It stays in our memory with such a force that we can easily return to it and relive the moments to brighten more dreary ones. Our trip to Monhegan Island was one of those days.

After a foggy boat ride out of New Harbor, we reached Monhegan Island where the sky was bright and clear. We immediately set off on the 4.4 mile Cliff Trail, which circles the outer edge of the island and opens onto one amazing ocean view after another. It is the embodiment of the rugged Maine coastline. Below is a slide show of images from our trip:

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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.

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Hiking Maine | Trek along the Bold Coast in Cutler

Sometimes the timing of a hike impacts the end result and even the most beautiful of spots ends up feeling like more of a challenge and a little less fun than expected. After a day spent getting up close with the Puffins of Machias Seal Island, we were more tired than we realized and underestimated the difficulty of the hike we had planned to Cutler to explore the Bold Coast.

It didn’t help that we left our go bag in the car and didn’t have any bug spray to ward off the mosquitoes that were coming out as the day was winding down especially as the first mile of the trail is through the woods without any ocean breezes to keep them at bay.

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