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.