The Field’s Pond Audobon Center

 

Neither Grant or I were working and the weather was perfect, so we loaded the canoe on our car and took a drive out to Field’s Pond.  The plan was for Grant to fish from the canoe, I could read, and then we would paddle around the pond and explore for a while. However, plans don’t always work out the way you’d like.  When we got there, we took one look at the pond and realized that the water was too choppy to canoe in safely.

We had a brief moment of utter defeat and despair, before I remembered that the Field’s Pond Audobon Center was just up the road!  So we made lemonade from our lemons, and took the short drive up to the Audobon.   They have a Visitor’s Center from which they  offer maps, a small store, and even weekend and summer camps for kids.  A map was unnecessary however, I remembered the trails from when I was young.  I grew up in Bangor, and the trails of the Audobon were like our very own wilderness-away-from-home.  We often packed up a picnic and took the drive out to Holden.

Katherine Kurran’s estate left 192 acres around Field’s Pond to the Audobon center in 1994.  Since then, its trails and have been a great destination for families, nature lovers, and hikers alike.

Before we knew it, we were on our way up the Ravine Trail.  I loved the beautiful wooden bridges and stone steps that were built into the trail, and crossing the brook twice (once on our way in, and again our way out) was an adventure.  It was not as intense as fording the Pleasant River at Gulf Hagas but using the stepping stones to pick our way across was great fun nonetheless.

The whole loop was only about 1 mile, but it was the perfect substitute for our original plans.  We hiked, I had fun snapping pictures as we walked, and soon enough we were back at the parking lot. Grant did end up throwing his line in a few times from the banks of Field’s Pond, and we took the opportunity to chat and catch up.

We drove away that evening completely satisfied, knowing that we would return soon enough to explore Field’s Pond.  Overall?  I’d give the Field’s Pond Audobon Center five stars.  The trails were well-kept and family friendly, and the overall site was beautiful!

For directions or to learn more about the Field’s Pond Audobon Center, visit:

 

http://maineaudubon.org/find-us/fields-pond/

 

What do you think?  Have you ever been to Field’s Pond or the Audobon Center?  Have you ever had an adventure in which you’ve had to find a way to turn lemons into lemonade?  Tell me all about it in the comments below!

 

Gulf Hagas & Screw Auger Falls

 

What a day!  The morning dawned clear and bright, and Grant and I loaded the car for our trip to the Northwoods.  It was only about 1.5 hours from Bangor to the KI Road (a dirt road that, after about 15 miles, lead us to the trail entrance).  We stopped in at the checkpoint and visited with a couple of friendly ladies who offered us a map (we had printed one before we left, however) and who took our names and gave us a slip of paper to return to them on our way out.  Why the paper, you ask?  Well, not to intimidate you, but that’s how they know at the end of the day if someone doesn’t come out of the trails and needs to be rescued. I’m happy to report (spoilers!) that no such measures had to be taken for us!

For some background, the Gulf Hagas area is a part of the Appalachian Trail corridor, and Screw Auger Falls boasts a 23ft waterfall.  Affectionately entitled, ‘The Grand Canyon of Maine,’ my husband and I had set out to see if the rumors of its beauty were true.

Once we were parked, the hike began.  First we had to ford the west branch of the Pleasant River, which as its name suggests, was actually rather pleasant.  Of course it was freezing, but the water level was somewhat low and it never came much above our knees.  Beware though! If recent rainfall has been heavy or you go right after a spring thaw, I’ve heard that fording this river can be more of a challenge.

From there, it was about a 2.5 mile hike to the falls.  The hike was uphill, but never especially strenuous.  If you’re bringing children, I would suggest keeping a close eye on them, as the trail drops off on one side at times.

Hiking has always seemed to me like spring cleaning for the soul, and as Grant and I alternated between conversation and a silence filled with drinking up the scenery, those 2.5 miles passed quickly.

Once we came to the Gulf Hagas Brooke, we turned and began following it down river, towards the falls.  My heart skipped a few beats (in the best way) as we watched the river carve itself deeper and deeper into the trail, creating a gorge the likes of which I had never seen in Maine.  The drop along this 1 mile trail totals 500 feet, and with each step the descent became more impressive.  We stopped often in order to admire the view, climb down to the water level, explore the river, and (on my part) snap some pictures.  I stood beneath a mini waterfall at one point on the trail and the water was so cold that it stole my breath and I couldn’t keep from laughing!

Finally, we came to the crown of Gulf Hagas, Screw Auger Falls.  Its roar could be heard long before we came to it, and it was well worth the trip.   The water crashed down and filled a basin below with clear, green mountain water.  Moss draped itself along the rocks, and chunks of ice clung to the stony walls that bordered the gorge.  Grant and I stood for a few moments in silence, just letting it all in.

We couldn’t tarry long after that, the sky was darkening with the threat of rain, and we wanted to get home before dark. There’s much more to explore in the Gulf Hagas area (including a few more waterfalls!) and we’ve promised to return another time.  However, it was a quick hike out from there (always easier going back downhill!), and then back to our car for the journey home.

Overall?  I’d give Gulf Hagas and Screw Auger Falls five stars. I highly recommend taking a Saturday, loading up the car, and experiencing the breathtaking sights of this place.  It will be worth the time!

For maps, information, and to visit the Gulf Hagas area, check out the North Maine Woods Website: www.northmainewoods.org

 

What do you think?  Is this trip up your alley?  Have you ever been to Gulf Hagas?  Have an idea for my next trip of discovery??  Let me know in the comments below!

The Desert of Maine

 

A few months ago, I got a call from one of my best friends.  She said that she had something exciting to show me, and when I coaxed the surprise from her, she revealed that we were taking a drive to Freeport where we’d be visiting The Desert of Maine!

My first response was… What??  We have a desert here in Maine?  Sure enough, we do.  That very weekend, we piled into the car and took a drive.  It was fairly easy to find, and after about two hours of driving (interrupted only by a stop for smoothies) we were pulling into the parking lot.

We wandered into the gift shop, and were informed that the next tour of the desert would be leaving in fifteen minutes.  It was perfect -that gave us just enough time to explore their gift shop, butterfly garden, and the sand museum (it was the coolest thing- they had collected sand from all over the word in jars!).

Before we knew it, a jeep pulling a few rows of benches beneath a much-needed roof for shade pulled up.  We, along with a few others who had been waiting, piled in.  During the tour, we rode through the desert and learned from our guide how on earth it got there.

Turns out, the desert is not a true desert, but rather a large patch of exposed glacial silt.  According to our tour guide, it all began back in 1797 when the Tuttle family bought the land and started a farm. Due to the facts that they did not rotate their potato crops, and  they overgrazed their sheep, the soil on their land eroded and exposed what was underneath: a giant dune of sandy glacial silt.  The longer time went on, the more that patch of exposed silt grew, until it overtook the farm!  Eventually, the Tuttles abandoned their land and sold it to Henry Goldrup.  He then converted the sandy dunes to a tourist attraction in 1925 (good move!).

After enjoying the tour, my friend and I opted to walk the trails on our way back to the gift shop rather than riding.  Though it was rather hot in the sand, the wooded trails provided some shade and we had a great time enjoying the conversation and scenery alike.

Soon, we were back to the gift shop where I purchased a mug for the hubby (decorated with their signature camel!) and we began the drive towards home.

I would certainly give The Desert of Maine five stars.  It was both educational and unique, and it’s worth the trip simply to see so much landlocked sand in Maine!!  Great for kids, families, and anyone seeking a little adventure.

For more information, and to visit the Desert of Maine check out their site: http://www.desertofmaine.com/

What do you think?  Have you ever been to The Desert of Maine?  What’s the quirkiest place in Maine you’ve been?

 

 

Introductions

Hello there! Glad you stopped by.  My name is Danielle Hines and I’m a newlywed and a resident of Bangor, Maine.

I believe that I can best illustrate the purpose of this blog by telling you a story. My husband spent a good chunk of his youth in Arizona.  Just a short two hour drive would have brought him to the majestic, awe-inspiring, and beautiful Grand Canyon.  But the funny thing was… he never went.

The funny thing about locals is that we rarely seem to find the wonder in the very places that surround us.  We get caught in a rut of going from home, to work, then home again.  We spend months and months planning and saving for vacations to take us away from that very rut.  But this is Vacationland!!!  We are the very destination that so many  scheme for months to be able to come to.

So I offer you an alternative (not to vacations on the whole, I love those – this is an alternative to the dreaded “rut”), why not try adventuring right here in your home state? What better way to spend weekends and days off, than to take a short drive and experience something amazing.  Who knows, you might just find your favorite place on earth, it’s out there waiting for you.

So join me! Within the pages of my blog you’ll find date night ideas, outdoor adventures, and unique destinations you never knew Maine had to offer.  Grab your coffee and lace up your Bean boots – together we’ll discover and explore this great State of ours.