20160707_163649 It’s the early hours of the morning as mist is slowly rising from the ground mixed with the last remnants of smoke from smoldering camp fires. All is quiet, except for the noise of a few animals. Most of the campers happily fell asleep the night before, never paying attention to the abandoned car parked in site 35. It seems that after parking their car, the inhabitants never returned to set up a tent.

Most of the sleeping campers probably never even paid attention. Never-the-less if they had, no one would have ever imagined the horrors that the family from site 35 were experiencing right at that very moment…

Let’s step back approximately 20 hours to the events leading up to the horror of site 35.

20160707_170514 We all enjoyed a great night sleep after an awesome day at Cannon Mountain & Flume Gorge, but as my time was quickly drawing to a close we wanted to get in as much as we could. So we packed up the car and left our comfortable home in New Hampshire to drive to Maine’s Acadia National Park.

Jenn was super excited. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so was just going with the flow. The kids I think were slightly disappointed to be heading back to the car, but tolerated it based on promises of an awesome adventure.

We arrived…it was cold and drizzling…this could be a let down.

Untitled First-things-first. We stopped at a cool little restaurant to get out of the cold and fill our bellies. I am not sure about everyone else’s family, but mine (myself included) are much more agreeable when they are not hungry. Unfortunately the cool little restaurant was not having a great day, but we were not going to let a little bad service ruin our last big hurrah.

20160707_165700 We set out to start exploring Acadia. Grace fell asleep, but Nolin enjoyed his time jumping out of the car to do a quick exploration. Grace woke up a little later, and we were off to the races. In Acadia, you basically drive along a path. You can stop anywhere you want, but there are very few opportunities to jump out once you start. Which was fine because we could have stayed for days.

Untitled We hiked a few short trails. We stumbled across a pay phone to which Nolin asked, “what is this?” and was immediately intrigued by the futuristic device.

We then hit the beaches…and it didn’t matter that it was not a beautiful day because they were amazing. Nolin quickly found his way to the water to ensure that he got as wet, cold and sandy as possible. It isn’t a beach day if you don’t accomplish that.

We hiked some more and climbed every rock in the park. No matter how hesitant either Jenn or I were…Mr. John the Adventureman (aka Nolin) and his sidekick Jessica (aka Grace) would not be deterred.

We visited Thunder Hole, at apparently the exact right time, and again unfortunately pictures do not do it justice.

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Later, we came across a section of extreme low tide which had created several tide pools. If you remember from our Massachusetts stop, this was now a thing for our kids, so we had to stop. They played and explored for over an hour. Finally Jenn & decided we would just make this our final stop of the night before heading to our camp site. Camp site 35.
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Now back to the beginning of our story…

20160708_110145 We had originally planned to get a hotel during our stay, but while we were in Virginia Beach, camp site 35 opened up for one night. You can’t go to Acadia and not camp. There was a chance that Pap-Pap would be meeting us and would bring a tent. That didn’t pan out, so you make the best of what’s around (shout out Dave Matthews) and you camp in your over packed car.

Our goal was to wear the kids out, get them to bed early and make an adventure out of it. While Jenn & the kids brushed their teeth and put on pajamas, I did my best to pile car seats and everything else into the front, so that we could put the back seats down.

Untitled We pulled into our camp site, turned off the car and tried to find a way to fit four people comfortably in the back of a Kia. Full Disclosure…It is not comfortable for a 6 foot adult. While Grace was sleeping, she climbed on top of me, thinking I was Jenn. She was thoroughly disappointed when she realized it was me, but was too tired to try to climb fully over me, so she slept there for about 3 hours. During this time, I stared out the window at the moon, feeling every muscle in my back aching, trying not to wake Grace, so that she would wake Nolin up, and thought to myself…this is still pretty awesome.

At 5:10 am Nolin shot up and announced he had to go to the bathroom. Having only been asleep for a little while, I jumped up trying to be as quick and quiet as possible and opened the door to let him out (we were in nature after all).

We learned something that morning. Kia’s have a very cool safety feature. Apparently if you are in your sleeping in your locked car, and you try to get out of your car…the car alarm goes off at 5:10 in the morning with people sleeping in tents all around you.
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Luckily Jenn somehow managed to find the keys quickly (only 3 horn beeps) and turn the alarm off. This meant that we now had to scramble and run to the bathroom because we had woken everyone up, so we could no longer pee beside the car. We were now racing both Nolin’s bladder and the unceremoniously woken campers trying to see what was going on.

Untitled When we returned from the bathroom, Jenn & I figured it would be best to get out of dodge before everyone got out of their tent and gave us a stink eye for ruining their peaceful morning sleep. We treated ourselves to an awesome breakfast and then went exploring again.

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Since it was a bit of a nicer day, and it was only about 7:30am, we hit the loop again and visited more trails and surprisingly found more rocks to climb. We also visited Cadillac Mountain which is the highest peak in Bar Harbor. It was cold and very cloudy and since Grace was catching up on her sleep, we went one at a time.

20160708_142116 Finally we stopped by Bass Harbor Lighthouse. It seemed a bit unimpressive at first, but once you walked around to the water side, it was awesome. This is where Nolin met some other kids who had badges on and asked them where they got them. This conversation led us to our final stop…the visitor center.

Nolin & Grace both received an activity book they completed and then became National Park Jr. Rangers at Acadia National Park on the official 100th anniversary day. Grace decided that her first duty as a National Park Jr. Ranger was to inform the park ranger that we slept in our car the night before…thanks Grace!

We also got them National Park passport books to celebrate the occasion and a new family tradition was started…
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