Free Download - August 2013 Desktop Calendar

Another new month is upon us! We are wrapping up summer and heading back to school.

This month's desktop calendar features a hiking trail from Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. We normally visit the park each summer with a big group of friends.

To download, click on the link at Free Download - August 2013 Desktop Calendar

Enjoy the rest of your summer!


Biking The Carriage Trails

I don't think the words "I'm Bored .... There's nothing to do here" should ever be uttered when vacationing near Acadia National Park. We've already covered hiking - numerous times in fact! We've covered kayaking. We covered just a TINY bit of the great eats we experienced during our trip. (which makes me think I need one more vacation post, even though it's been a month since our visit!)

Aside from hiking, biking is probably the next most popular activity at Acadia. An extensive network (45 miles) of Carriage Roads were developed through the efforts of John D Rockefeller Jr, who wanted to travel via horse and carriage into the heart of Mount Desert Island. The Carriage Roads today allow bikers, hikers and even horse riders to enjoy the beauty of Acadia.

We rented bikes early in the morning before the crowds and heat. Bikes are rented outside of the park, but there are a couple bike-centric shuttles that transport you and your bike from the Bar Harbor Village Green to Eagle Lake, a great place to start your bike adventure. Another option is to bike from Bar Harbor to Eagle Lake, but that route was mainly up hill, so we opted to take the shuttle.

Biking The Carriage Roads

The roads are mostly shaded with gradual uphills and downhill sections. I won't lie - there are long stretches of those gradual uphill that will give you a good workout, but it is an enjoyable ride nonetheless. Just take a rest break every now and then!
Rest stop

Vista of Eagle Lake, along our ride:
Eagle Lake

At one point, a crowd of people stopped along the road - there was a young buck in the greenery, having a bite to eat:
Young Buck

The Carriage Roads give you access to the arching granite bridges that are unique to the Park. The Duck Brook Bridge was on our route out of the park.
On the Overpass

We spent 2-3 hours on our biking adventure. You can really make an entire day of it by packing a sack lunch or stopping at Jordan Pond House for something to eat and drink. Many people bring their own bikes in, but we found the bike rental option to be the best for us. Another great activity in Acadia.

Biking the Carriage Trails #maine #acadia #mountdesertisland #bridge


Family Photos

Goofing Off
Who Thought It Would Be Easy to Get a Decent Family Photo?

One of the goals of our family gathering was to take a big group family photo. The last one I have was taken when my kids were very young, my sister only had one kid and my youngest sister wasn't even married. It must have been taken in 2002!

I was given the task to coordinate the group family shot. Unfortunately, I left my tripod and home, so I rigged up a structure to hold my camera - it consisted of a lawn chair, two rubbermaid bins and towels. I don't recommend this approach, but it worked for us. I also didn't have my remote shutter release (again, lack of planning on my part), and instead used the interval shooting feature on the camera. With the interval timer, the camera fires off "x" number of shots, waits a time interval, then fires off another round of shots. The user configures "x", the time interval and the number of rounds. I find it to be faster than using the simple delay timer which only yields one exposure. Of course, a capturing a 14 person group is going to be a challenge - you add in toddlers and silly teenagers and you need as many exposures in as little time as possible! The interval timer is feature available on newer cameras, so check your user manual.

This one wasn't too bad and taken early on. I noticed the shots taken earlier were better than the later ones. Must be a function of attention span.
A Close Second

In between intervals, I had to run back to the camera and trigger another set of shots. The camera took a round immediately after I triggered it, so there are always some photos with out me. I wish we had a video camera to capture all the running around in between takes.
Inbetween Takes

When I went through the photos, I thought this one was going to be the keeper:
Dang Rabbit Ears
But there's something amiss - my silly son and his silly rabbit ears behind his cousin!

I ended up cloning them out (it's not the best job, but it will do):
The One - No Rabbit Ears

After about 5 takes, the natives were getting restless:
Goofing Off

I didn't realize I had lost all control - of my husband!
The Photo Shoot Is Officially Over

And with that, the group photo shoot was over. At least we'll always remember how much fun we had taking them!


Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain - Acadia National Park, Maine

For early birds, or those willing to get up in the wee hours of the morning, experiencing the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain is a breathtaking way to start your day. I personally don't mind getting up at dark o-thirty - especially if I know there will be a reward for my efforts. The 1500 feet elevation at the summit means this is the first place in the US to see the sunrise from October through March. During the spring and summer months, it's not quite the first place in the US to see the sunrise, but we're calling it "close enough".

Our experience started the day before the actual sunrise, after we gorged ourselves with popovers from the Jordan Pond House. I like to "scope things out beforehand" when it comes to getting to a specific venue for a "special event" - so we made a quick trip up to Cadillac Mountain to see how long it would take, what the parking situation looked like and how much space there was up at the top for (of course) photographs.

[Yes, I am highly motivated by what I can capture with my camera.]

I'm glad we took the drive up because I was able to determine the best place to park and snapped a quick iPhone photo of Bar Harbor down below:
View of Bar Harbor
The islands in Frenchman Bay are called the Porcupines - there is Sheep Porcupine, Bald Porcupine and Long Porcupine Islands (maybe there are more - that's all I could find online).

With the next day's sunrise time of 4:53, we planned to leave the house by 3:45. This would give us enough time to get there without being rushed. I caucused the group for participation in this adventure and got one "definite" (my sister, Teresa) and two "maybes" (Teresa's son and my daughter). I expected that only Teresa would be accompanying me, but the next morning as I stumbled into the main house, all three were ready to go.

We arrived to the summit around 4:35, as dusk was starting to break.
Breaking Dawn #maine #cadillacmountain

It was amazing how many people were there. It wasn't as crowded as the afternoon before, but there were more people there than I would have guessed.

Crazy Enough to get up Super Early with Me this morning! #maine #mountdesertisland

Right on time, the sun started to emerge:
Sun Peeking Through

Higher and higher...

A sunrise is such a finite event - once the sun was up, people got in their cars and started to leave. I prefer to stick around and enjoy it some more - like this couple who headed down the trail.
Greet the Day

The best light is yet to come.
Great Way to Start the 4th

Misty Trance

Yeah, that's me - always pointing the camera at something!
I'm always trying to get the shot - Taken by My Sister #cadillacmountain #sunrise #maine #acadia

A perfect way to start the day.


Afternoon Tea at Jordan Pond

A trip to Acadia National Forest wouldn't be complete without a visit to Jordan Pond. The only restaurant in the park, the Jordan Pond House, is famous for its huge popovers that you can enjoy either inside or (weather permitting) on the large lawn that looks over the Pond with views of the twin Bubble Mountains in the distance.

If you can swing a table on the lawn, that's the way to go - the view is so relaxing.
Jordan Pond

Thank goodness for those umbrellas - they kept us shaded from the afternoon sun.
Afternoon Tea on the Jordan Pond Lawn
And to think, just the day before we were bundled up in jeans and fleece jackets!

Afternoon Tea on the Jordan Pond Lawn

If you don't want to wait an hour or more, reservations are a must, but they are only taken for the current day, starting at 9:00 am. My sister finally got through around 9:30 and we had a reservation for 2:30pm - a table on the lawn.

Yesterday's Afternoon Tea #latergram #acadia #maine #food #family

They have a full service menu, but we were there specifically for tea and popovers. Because of the heat, I ordered an iced chai and it was a perfect accompaniment for the popover.
Tea at Jordan Pond House
The popovers were delicious!

After eating (we're doing a lot of eating on this trip!), we walked down to the pristine clear pond. The water from the pond is used in the drinking water supply, so there is no swimming allowed.

On Jordan Pond

Hey, it's another perfect spot for a family photo - my sister's family, along with my mother.
Late Afternoon

The day isn't over - we're heading to the top of Cadillac Mountain next.


Seize the Day - Acadia's Ocean Path Revisited

We awoke Wednesday morning (July 3) to bright, sunny skies. The skies were blue and there was much rejoicing!

About half the group decided to go and explore the Ocean Path. This was a repeat visit for me, but I didn't have any issues revisiting the beautiful coast, especially with the clear day. This time, we started from the north and headed south. We arrived early and had no issues finding a parking spot at the popular Sand Beach parking lot. [side bar - my advice during high season for ANYTHING - arrive early and you beat the crowds and the heat - this applies to amusement parks, Disney, whatever!]

It didn't take long for the kids to venture off the path and onto the rocks. After the initial parental response ("Be Careful! Don't get too close to the edge! Take small Steps! Don't Run!"), we realized the kids are old enough to exercise caution and we (my sister and I) stopped barking out orders and let them roam the rocks.

Along the Cliffs

They even staged some "fun" shots:
Save Me!

Tally Ho

We took time for family photos:
Family Photo

Family Photos

And overall had a great morning.
Seize the Day

Shared with Mosaic Monday.



Or 'yak-ing' as my husband started to dub the activity we did the most during our stay on Mount Desert Island in Maine.

We were lucky to have four kayaks, a dock, life jackets and the ocean at our disposal at the rental property. I've been on a kayak twice - on a lake and a very calm river - the experience is a little different on the ocean, depending upon how choppy the water is, but even in windy conditions, maneuvering a these sleek vessels is pretty easy and safe. *Just make sure you have a flotation device on!*

Following the group hike around Long Pond, the boys asked Scott to help get the kayaks to the dock. Before we knew it, they were all on the water.

Kayak Launch

They all set off towards the small islands in this photo. The right side, closer island with the tall trees is John's Island. The bigger island off to the left is Folly Island.
Clear in the Morning

Of course, the boys were racing each other. They reached John's Island quickly (yes, it looks really far away, but I think it's only a quarter mile to its edge) and then proceeded to Folly Island before turning back.

In front of Folly Island, Brian and Matty are paddling hard:
Race Back

The two boys were tired, so Erica and I took over Brian and Matty's kayaks. Cousin Zach and Scott were still out in the ocean, taking the time to kayak around Folly Island.
First Kayak Ride

Heading to John's Island

We met Scott at John's Island.
Kayaking Around Johns Island

Even my Dad decided to give it a whirl and he did great!

More kayaking adventures to come!


Maine Panoramas - Acadia and Mount Desert Island

The vast landscapes in Maine lent themselves to being captured in panoramic format. I don't have a wide angle lens, so I snap several photos and stitch them together using Photoshop Elements.

Here are a few from the property at Pretty Marsh:
The Scene from the Dock

View from the Main House

I also use the Pano App for my iPhone. The results are not as seamless as those created in PSE, but it does the job in a pinch.

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain (more details in a future post!)
Cadillac sunrise

A clear day along the Ocean Path
Ocean Path Pano

The photo used in this month's blog header was also created using the iPhone and the Pano App. I would probably get better results if I used the Panoramic camera functionality available in native iPhone camera. I guess I should upgrade to the latest iOS!

Shared with Tuesday's Muse and Communal Global.


Hello Monday | Hello Again!

Enchanted Evening #band #moon #music
Evening Concert in the Park - Summertime Fun

Hello Monday | It's been too many weeks since my last Hello Monday posts, it's like I'm saying Hello to Hello Monday!

Hello The Blessed Unrest | My favorite recording artist is releasing her fourth full length album on Tuesday. I've been listening to it for almost a week now, thanks to iTunes. My favorite track on the album is "Chasing the Sun" with lyrics that really resonate with me:
You said, remember that life is
Not meant to be wasted
We can always be chasing the sun!
So fill up your lungs and just run
But always be chasing the sun!

Hello Turkey Run State Park | Looking forward to kayaking and hiking again (it seems as if that's all we've done this summer - which we can't complain about!).

Hello Heat and Humidity | yes, it's a part of summer, but I wish it were cooler in the mornings.

Hello Salads, Smoothies and Veggies | I'm on a good, healthy eating trend, having detoxed a bit from our vacation in Maine. I would still love some lobster, though!

Hello Beef House | My reward for eating salad all week long - a nice juicy steak on Saturday!

hello monday | looking forward to what the week has in store for us.

Inspired by my friend, Lee at Embrace Life, Hello Monday provides a peek into the coming week - in all its glory. Join us and Lisa for the Hello Monday fun


Hike Around Long Pond

On Monday, our entire clan of 14 embarked on a hike around Long Pond. The pond is pretty well smack in the middle of the western "lobe" of Mount Desert Island and not too far from our accommodations in the far west side of the island.

The weather was not as misty as Sunday, but it there was still a fair amount of cloud cover. Fortunately, the temperatures were just right for hiking inland - not too hot, and not too cool.

It's been a rock skipping / throwing kind of a vacation for the boys. What is it about rocks and water?
Boys Throwing Rocks

The path along the pond has some rocky portions, but is listed as an "easy" hike.
Taking Our Time

A common stopping point comes early in the hike - where large boulders meet the path. My sister saw this as a perfect place to arrange the males in the group around on the various rock ledges.

The Male Side

It's a challenge to get a photo where no one is goofing off, especially with this crew. We did get several purposefully goofy shots. Somehow, I have more success in that genre with these guys.

Boys Being Silly
Everyone is hamming it up, except for my brother in law, Ray, who is on the far right just laughing at all the silliness around him.

We went to take a group photo of the outnumbered females when disaster struck - we were posing when Winnie dropped her precious Bunny down into the deep crevices of the rocks. Intense drama (ie big tears and crying) ensued as we thought Bunny was lost in the depths of Long Pond. But Uncle Ray jumped to the rescue, retrieving Bunny from below.
Bunny Rescue #family #hike #maine #mountdesertisland

He had to give Bunny some CPR to revive her:
Bunny Rescue!

Then she was delivered back up:
Bunny is Safe Now

All was right in Winnie's world again. At least long enough to get a decent group photo.
The Female Side

We hiked maybe a mile before turning back. Truthfully, with a group this big, it is really slow going. Even an easy hike is a little difficult for my parents, especially on the rocky areas. We still had a great time together.

Shared with Mosaic Monday.



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