Maine Family Adventure: Trip to Sebec

Fall in Maine has always been my favorite season and every October in Charleston it calls my name.  With each passing year, I’ve grown more and more home sick, longing for those crisp autumn days. I missed it so much, that this past August my family moved from South Carolina to Southern Maine for a year, to experience the beauty of New England...and fall! 

After a very hot Maine August, fall soon arrived.  The season I waited over 14 years to enjoy, the season I was most excited for. 

But in mid November, we got snow. Not just a sprinkle of snow, we got inches of snow.  Thanksgiving morning felt more like Christmas and just like that my favorite season became winter! 

Isn't there something so magical about snow, how it completely transforms everything it touches?  I forgot how alive the winter can make you feel.  

The snow soon melted away and for almost the entire month of December we didn't see any snow in Southern Maine, other than a couple of morning dustings. We missed it, just like I longed for the cooler days of fall...we longed for the snow to return to York, Maine.  Christmas break arrived and after almost a week of being inside, we were all itching to escape to find some snow. 

The New Year’s weekend was upon us, so with less then 24 hours, we booked our Airbnb and headed to Sebec, Maine!

I had never been to Sebec or the Moosehead Lake area. The closest I had ever been was my summers spent at cheering camp in Bangor, Maine. I knew nothing about the area, but my trusty weather app predicted snow that weekend and there was a ski resort about a hour away…so off to Piscataquis County we went!

After 3 hours in the car, we finally arrived to the entrance of Pleasant River Guides: Wilderness Lodges and Cabins, our cozy log cabin in Maine.

The drive down the dirt road was a beautiful adventure in itself. The 1.2 mile long driveway is surrounded by white birch and pines, which were covered in a thin blanket of snow. Small signs were posted along the path letting us know we were getting closer. We drove slowly, trying to take it all in and hoping to catch a glimpse of some wildlife...we were on a mission to see a moose.  Finally we reached the main entrance! 

The property is a winter playground. It has everything - a large frozen pond encircled in large pines, a babbling brook, multiple trails for hiking, hunting or snowmobiling, five quaint authentic log cabins and the main owner’s lodge. 

After checking in with the owner, Brenda, we quickly threw on our snow gear and headed to the wooded trail before the sun went down!

Like any road trip for our family, our car was packed to the brim with everything we could possibly need, including our new snow sleds. My boys took turns riding and pulling the sled through the path in the woods.

We took many pit stops along the trail, for rolling around and eating snow.

The golden light coming through the tree canopy was a photographer’s dream. I couldn’t get enough of it!

more eating of snow…

After our adventure through the woods, we headed back to our cabin to warm up, unpack and unwind. Eager to see more of the property as the sun went down, I grabbed my camera and headed out to explore on my own.

I watched the sun go down, something I’ve been lucky to experience almost every evening since returning to Maine.

That night we rang in the New Year, well sorta…we all fell asleep well before the clock struck midnight.

And to our excitement, on the first day of 2019, we woke up to a winter wonderland!

We spent our first day of the year as a family outside in the snow. It was a day full of walks through the snow covered woods, snowman building, sledding and shoveling snow (most of it not captured on camera). It was a perfect day and a trip I will forever remember!

Puddle Duck Pond

I’m a mom of two young boys. Two energetic and very playful boys.

Two boys that when stuck in the house too long will run you ragged.

So when the weekend comes, we try to find something to do. Something affordable (or free), something that gets us outside, something engaging and something that will hopefully exhaust them enough to fall asleep later in the day.

I live for the weekends. Not in the same way that I did before having kids — oh what I would give to wake up past seven o’clock and have a lazy Sunday — but in a way that I get to experience new things through them.

And moving back to the Seacoast area has allowed us to explore and experience so many things.

The options here are endless. Overwhelmingly endless.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire is one of those towns that has so much to offer to families. It’s a beautiful port city, full of so much history.

It’s my favorite town in New England.

Growing up in Eliot, Maine, Portsmouth felt like my second home — just a quick drive over the bridge. I have some of my most fondest memories in this city, both as a kid and a young adult.

During the winter, Strawbery Banke Museum, a neighborhood in the historic south end of Portsmouth, opens their outdoor ice skating rink for families to enjoy. Puddle Duck Pond, located in the center of Strawbery Banke, is surrounded by colorful historic homes dating back to the late 1600’s. It truly feels like you’re transported in time.

It’s the perfect family outing.

Since we’re not seasoned ice skaters, I brought along our ski helmets, just in case of a fall. You can also rent skates for only $5 for the day, which my oldest didn’t want to give back. Along the entrance of the pond, are these handy blue kid skate trainers, great for beginner skaters like us. There’s also a cute café, Figtree Kitchen, located in the main building where you pay and rent.

My little guy and I did a lot of watching from the sidelines. I’m the girl at the roller skating rink that holds on to the railing for dear life, pulling herself around (not that I’ve been on roller skates in at least 2 decades), so I didn’t do any skating during our first trip. However during our most recent visit, I gave it a try and really enjoyed skating with my boys!

My oldest son, who is five, loves the ice.

Puddle Duck Pond opened in late November and will stay open in March. It’s open every day of the week and kids 5 and under skate free (win!). The pond is even opened in the evenings for night skating…how romantic is that!

After watching for a bit, my two year old son, wanted to try.

He was pretty unsure of the whole thing!

While my oldest skated and found new friends to race around the rink, my little guy and I explored the area.

Our first time to Puddle Duck Pond was just a few weeks before Christmas, so all the houses were beautifully decorated for the holiday.

This is my favorite house at Strawbery Banke…just look at that color combination.

SWOON!

We had a wonderful time at Puddle Duck Pond and it was hard to convince my oldest to leave…and return his new beloved skates. We hope to return again before the skating season is over.

Maine Family Adventure: Mount Agamenticus

I recently headed to Mount Agamenticus by myself to hike. Something I have been itching to do since we got our first snow back in mid November.

Instead of cleaning the house (which desperately needed it), or doing the laundry or completing the three blogs that I’ve started months ago, I instead packed up my camera and snowshoes and headed to Mount Agamenticus after sending both my boys off to school.

The Mount Agamenticus region covers nearly 30,000 acres in the southern Maine towns of Eliot (my home town), Ogunquit, South Berwick, Wells and York. It is now a park reservation, with trails for hiking, biking and seasonal activities like snowshoeing... and even sledding. Mt. Agamenticus is a very unique mountain for its location. It is located just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean in York Maine, having an elevation of 691 feet.

From the top of Mount Agamenticus you have a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and the White Mountains in the distance. It has the highest elevation of any hill within its distance to the ocean from Portland, Maine to Brownsville, Texas.

Mount Agamenticus is a local treasure in my opinion. It’s like having our own (much smaller version) of Acadia right in our back yard.

And it’s stunning in the winter.

It was an overcast and dreary day, not exactly the winter wonderland I had been daydreaming of for my hike. But I knew that we were expecting rain and warmer weather, so before the snow melted away, I geared up for my hike.

When I I drove up to park at the base of the trail, there were no cars in sight- which I found odd since bad weather never stops Mainers.

It was just me, my camera and the snowy trail.

There are many trails to choose from, all various distances with lots of nature to see. Since it had just snowed a couple days prior, I didn’t know if I’d have to make a path of my own in my snowshoes. Surprisingly, the snowy trail was marked and groomed and full of imprints from hiking sticks, snowshoes and animal tracks.

It was so peaceful being alone in the woods. Only the sound of me crunching through the icy snow. I took everything in, breathing in the cold and refreshing air.

As I made it about half way up, the silence around me started to mess with my head.

The total silence started to feel eerie (I’m not used to silence, I live with two wild boys). And soon the panic started to set in…what if I came across a MOOSE!

Not likely at all. I mean I grew-up in the area and for almost 20 years the only time I came across a moose in the wild was when I saw one swimming across the Piscataqua River behind our house in middle school.

But I’m a mom and a worrier.

As I stood there, scanning the area nervously, I saw two large deer staring back at me. I waved and said hello, but they just stood there frozen. I felt like they were trying to tell me something! I quickly pulled out my cell and embarrassingly Googled, “what to do if you come across a moose.” The odds were not in my favor, according to my Google search. This was not a proud moment from someone who majored in Wildlife Management! I looked up from my phone and there they still were, warning me to turn around and head back. I walked toward them, trying to befriend them, hoping they’d join me for the remainder of my trek. Expectantly, they ran away…and I was alone again! That was my cue to go back and head to the top via my vehicle.

In the woods, I was hot and ready to peel off my layers, but when I got to the top of Mount Agamenticus, it was cold and windy. The sky was gray and there was a brief snow flurry.

The mountain was developed in 1965, and opened for the 1966-1967 ski season. In 1968, a chairlift, T-bar, and rope tow, with skiing on 3 trails were added. There was night skiing, a ski shop, summit lodge, and snowmaking. Sadly it closed in 1974.

I love all the old rusty remnants of the once chairlift and tow.

After exploring various lookout points at the summit and walking a few short trails, I decided to head home to warm up. I’ll definitely be back, but maybe next time I’ll bring my pup.

I have been to Mount Aggie (as I called it as a kid), three times in the last 5 months. Twice in November and then again in January, each time with snow. If you are local and haven’t been yet, you need to plan a trip. The drive up for the views are worth it, no matter the season. And if you’re visiting the area and love the outdoors and nature, this is the perfect spot…even in the winter.

The fist time we went, it was a beautiful and sunny day in November. It was our first snowfall in Maine.

This is my failed attempt of photographing my boys together!

After trying to convince them to hike through the woods, we decided to go sledding instead.

The area was filled with visitors like us, lots of families and college hiking groups.

First time on a snow sled for my two year old!

We returned again, the week of Thanksgiving, while the grandmas were in town. It had snowed throughout the night, so Mount Agamenticus was covered in deep, fluffy snow.

Isn’t there something so magical about trees draped in fresh snow.

My youngest was in daycare for a few hours, so my oldest son had us all to himself.

My mom decided to try some sledding as well, it was so fun to watch!

It was a morning full of special memories that I’ll always cherish.

I can’t wait to return.

The time it snowed in Charleston...

I’m feeling a little nostalgic today, the forecast predicts snow tonight into tomorrow and I’m giddy with excitement!!

Because I miss snow!

I never realized how much I missed snow until Charleston’s “snow storm” last winter.

Last January (right after the New Year), Charleston, South Carolina (my home for the past 12 years) got a lot of snow…a lot of snow for the beautiful city that rarely sees snow. Snow falls in Charleston maybe every 5-10 years. And this snow was different than a small flurry of snow flakes that within hours melts away from the sun.

We got snow! Lots of snow…all day and all night!

At that moment when the sky was gray and everything around us was covered in a blanket of fresh fluffy powder, I remembered how much I loved and missed snow.

And seeing my four year old son’s eyes light up as he ran outside to play, was icing on the snow sprinkled cake…and in that moment it solidified my hopes of moving back home to Maine!

We were not equipped at all for snowfall, hence my son’s rain boots and blue khaki pants (don’t worry, he did have footie pajamas underneath for an extra layer). His jacket, hat and mittens however were purchased only weeks before for our visit to see grandma over Christmas.

This bulldozer was a Christmas gift and was the perfect snow scooper.

These two (my son and the best neighbor friend we could ask for) had the whole street to themselves, with not a sole in site.

It was pretty magical to witness and capture.

Her tongue out…is there anything more fun than eating snow as a kid?

Photographing in the snow was a first for me and is probably my favorite thus far. It was pure magic and I couldn’t get enough of these two together and the beauty around us.

Everything was so quiet and peaceful around us, just the sound of their laughter and excitement.

Buddy, our neighbor dog, had to see what the big fuss was all about.

Umm, how practical is a scooter in the snow!

Our puppy Myrtle (who isn’t much of a puppy anymore), came out too. She however, unlike my boys, had seen and played in fresh snow as a puppy back home in New England…almost 12 years ago.

Stay tuned for part two…it’s filled with tractor rides through streets lined in snow-covered Palmetto trees (aka palm trees), my youngest son’s first time seeing snow and the neighborhood kids “sledding” on every item you can think of (hint…laundry baskets, pizza boxes and even a baby pool)!

Maine Family Adventure: Another rainy fall day...

Yesterday was yet another dreary fall morning. It's been such a cold and rainy fall season.

Very rainy…like every other day kind of rainy.

And windy.

Windy, like the roof of our house feels like it's going to be ripped off, kind of windy. It's the kind of wind that makes these chillier, cloudy, wet days feel even colder...and not so much like the beautiful, fall-in-love with Maine, kind of fall I was dreaming of.

Months before our official move from Charleston, I found myself constantly daydreaming of all the things I missed about fall time in Maine. The crisp cool air, the stunning autumn foliage, the apple picking and hot cider, the hiking trails, and all the cute sweaters I was finally going to be able to wear! I was “a kid in a candy shop” kind of excited, just thinking of all the things we were going to experience this coming fall.

However, I also felt anxiety. Lots of anxiety. Anxious that we only had this one fall season to do and see and experience all the autumn beauty that Maine and New England had to offer.

This fall, unfortunately hasn't exactly been the fall that I remember as a kid and not really the fall that I moved my family from South Carolina back home to Maine to experience and fall in love with.

But that's why I love Maine so much and why I miss having four seasons a year. Each and every year you get four seasons. Four unique seasons filled with their own wonderful and special tastes and smells, Holidays, and changing weather.

Fall of course being my absolute favorite!

And every year you get to start all over with four new seasons!

I feel like having four seasons sort of forces you to live in the moment (or season). It forces you to take full advantage of the warm, sunny summer days or the fresh snow filled winter because before you know it, that season will come to an end and a new, very different season will begin.

A Maine winter might feel a bit longer than all the other seasons though. I’m not sure if my southern-born boys are ready for that!

So because of this and my Maine fall-anxiety, when the summer days started to get a bit cooler and the pumpkin patches started to open their barn doors the first weekend this September, we were there! We were there to experience all of fall before it was gone.

I'm so glad we did, because between the planning and daydreaming and stressing about all I wanted to do once we moved to Maine (and how short the season would feel), I forgot that Mother Nature might have a plan of her own.

...like a Maine Fall season full of many many rainy, overcast days.

She reminded me to just live in the moment. Because this year's fall season, might not be the same fall I had dreamed or hoped for.

So when we have yet another dreary, rainy fall day, we’ll go out and enjoy it. We’ll make new wonderful memories. Memories like this morning, enjoying this incredible place we get to call home for a year. Because the snow is just around the corner...and I'm pretty pumped about that!

Maine Family Adventure: Fisherman's Walk Trail

 

While growing up in Maine, my mom’s side of the family (who all lived in Ohio) would caravan almost yearly to spend Thanksgiving with us. I have some of my most fondest childhood memories during those visits. Those holidays were full of so much food and laughter, site seeing and shopping, and good ole family fun.

It’s probably been close to 20 years since we were all together back in Maine. So when I shared the news that I was moving back for the next year, they started planning a family reunion in Maine.

This past week, my youngest son celebrated his second birthday and my sweet family was here to share it with us! After lots of birthday cake and balloons (per his request), we headed out on our favorite local trail.

The Fisherman’s Walk is a short scenic trail that leads from the Wiggly Bridge and Steedman Woods over to York Harbor Beach and the Cliff Walk Trail (which is our absolute favorite).  The trail leads along the York River with waterside views and it’s a perfect trail for kids, runners or dog walkers.

It was a pretty cold (cold for a someone who has lived in the south and in Jamaica the last 14 years) and windy, so we bundled up and headed out for our family walk.

All the little cousins geared up for the brisk walk to the Wiggly Bridge.  

The view of the York River while on the Fisherman’s Walk.

 

Unfortunately, the birthday boy was not feeling the walking, so I wasn’t able to snap any photos of the kids crossing the bridge, since he was attached to my hip. However, I was able to get a few of my Aunt leading the kids to the Wiggly Bridge in the distance.

My oldest son loves shaking the bridge. It’s truly a “wiggly” bridge!

There’s two trails once you enter Steedman Woods Nature Reserve, right off the foot bridge. Both trails are short and easy to walk, even for a just turned two year old. The paths make a circle around the woods, most of which have beautiful views of the water.

We’re always straggling behind, in search of sticks for each hand!

My mom (Meh-Maw as my youngest calls her) leading my boys through the woods.

We’re also always looking for “treasures” when we’re out exploring.

Once you reach the end of the trail, you can either continue on circling the woods back to the bridge or head further down through a neighborhood to the John Hancock Wharf and Warehouse. We decided on the latter.

The Hancock Wharf was built in the 1740’s and I’ve read that it’s the only remaining building in York from the Colonial Period.

Across from the Hancock Warehouse, is the wharf filled with buoys. It’s a fun and colorful spot to photograph, especially for kids. I can’t wait to see it once we get snow!!

The kids jumped around to warm up, then we headed back through the woods to the trail home.

As always, it’s sad to say goodbye to my mom and family. I loved having our house filled with guests and playmates for my boys. This past Monday, everyone headed back to their homes. I’m already missing the noise from the kids playing, the adult conversations, the day trips and lunches with my mom, and just catching up with family. Even though it was a short visit, I’m so thankful we were able to make new memories with our own little ones.

Lifestyle Family Photography: First Anniversary

One year ago today, I officially launched my little business and this website.

So today, I’m celebrating my first official year of Tiffany Mizzell Photography!!

I vividly remember my overwhelming excitement and terror sharing my new venture on social media that night of October 24th 2017 (at 6:43 PM to be exact), for everyone to see and judge. I had put it off for months, scared to put myself out there and fear of failing. But I’m SO thankful that I did, because look where it’s taken me! I started this business, during a difficult time in my life, but through my photography I found so much joy. This path has forced me to step outside my comfort zone and to take risk that I’d normally wouldn’t take. And the best part is all the incredible families and businesses who have invited me into their lives to capture such beautiful memories and milestones.

How lucky am I? I get to do something I love and share it with all of you!

Celebrating my first year with my boy, the reason I picked up camera and took this career leap!

Cheers to another year…

Maine Family Adventure: Perkins Cove

This quaint little cove is my favorite town and it’s located in Ogunquit (just a short drive up the Maine coast from York). This small community is so picturesque with its drawbridge, sail and lobster boats, gift shops, art galleries and restaurants. It’s like you’re on a movie set, it’s that cute!

Scenic view of the harbor in Perkins Cove.

Once you cross the Perkins’ drawbridge, there’s a wonderful open grassy area that looks out over the cove. My boys had a blast running around and exploring.

Watching the drawbridge go up.

If you’re looking to grab lunch while shopping, head to the Lobster Shack. This small rustic seafood eatery is just right over the drawbridge in Perkins Cove. The Lobster Shack is a local mainstay for lobster, steamers, and chowder.

And while you’re walking around, you’ll want to check out all the little shops. I love being able to buy local, especially things that will always remind of home and our time here. Here’s some of my favorite finds…

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The Knotty Sailor (I love a good nautical pun!) is the perfect gift shop for all those Maine souvenirs. This shop has it all…t-shirts, magnets, trinkets, buoys and MORE.

I was on the hunt for some small things to personalize my boy’s rooms (since we’re living in a Winter rental) and boy did I score big in The Knotty Sailor!! I found this AMAZING red and white vintage flag to hang over my son’s bed as well as this painted wooden buoy- I just love everything red and blue! I also found this sweet little wooden sailboat, for my youngest’s dresser and this Maine state shaped cookie-cutter by Ann Clark Ltd., will go perfectly with my lobster and moose cookie-cutters.

Junebug’s Beach House, specializes in unique, handcrafted goods made in the USA. It has the most amazing items for both your home and your pets! Again, I scored big on finding perfect things for my boy’s rooms. I’m completely obsessed with my reclaimed lobster rope garland by STERN LINES, made here locally. I’m lucky enough to also own one of their lobster rope doormats, go check them out! Lastly, my new red and blue striped buoy pillow by MAINE MADE might be my new favorite accessory for my son’s big boy bed!

There’s lots more to see and do here…off to the Marginal Way we go!

Maine Family Adventure: Nubble Light

We arrived safely in Maine on August 1st and I was giddy with excitement to head out and explore the area…unpacking just had to wait another day! As a kid, whenever family or friends were visiting us in the Southern Maine area, we always brought them to this special spot. Nubble Lighthouse is located in York, Maine and is a must-see in the area. I was told as a child, it’s the most photographed lighthouse in the world!!! I’m not sure if that’s true, but thirty-some years later, it’s still one of my most favorite places to see and of course photograph.

It was pretty foggy when we arrived, so we could hardly view Nubble. This small rowboat is anchored to the rocks, which was perfect (and safe), for my boys to explore and for me to capture (double bonus).

I might be biased, but isn’t he SO handsome!

If you’re planning to view Nubble Lighthouse, then you need to eat lunch at Fox’s Lobster House. You can’t beat the view from the picnic tables, which is just a quick walk from the lighthouse’s parking-lot. The New England Clam Chowder is always my go to, you can never go wrong with chowder and a lobster roll…right? After lunch, head to Dunne’s Ice Cream (it was formally Browns Ice Cream when I was growing-up), for some tasty homemade ice cream.

Maine Family Adventure: Moving to Maine

Welcome to my new blog!! I’m Tiffany (lifestyle portrait photographer) and my family and I just recently moved from Charleston, South Carolina to York, Maine for the next 10 and a half months. I’m new to the whole blogging world and to be honest I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing (which is VERY scary), but I love capturing images that tells a story…and what better story to tell then my OWN! My hope is by documenting and sharing our own adventures, we’ll inspire other families to take the leap and follow a dream of theirs.

So why move your family over 1000 miles from beautiful Charleston to Southern Maine for just 10 months, you might ask? Well, It’s always been a dream of mine to once again live back home in Maine. I grew up in the small town of Eliot, ME and attended college at University of New Hampshire (GO BLUE!), which was just a couple towns away from my home town. I came to Charleston in 2006 after returning home from the Peace Corps (more on that later!), excited to live in a new place for a couple of years. And 12 years later…here I still am!!

Every fall in Charleston, when I’m dripping in sweat while at the local pumpkin patch or sitting in the stadium at a college football game, my heart aches for the cooler, crisp sweater-wearing weather of home. Maine was the most magical place to grow-up and a place I want my boys to love as well. So this past fall, after another season of Maine calling (really SCREAMING) my name, I thought…why not try to move back to New England for a year. And that’s where this crazy idea became…MIZZELLS MOVE TO MAINE!!

These are my two boys…my world.

I hope you’ll take this ride with us, as I give you a glimpse of all our adventures here, as well as how we made this all possible.