There are family events we look forward to each fall, and despite how much our children have grown, the Apple Day celebration at Maine Audubon in Falmouth remains a favorite. CP#1 and #2 delight in making their own cider, listening to live music, and exploring the rolling trails along the marsh.

This year promises to be one of the best celebrations yet, as our Audubon friends have added a special event — the launch of a new board book called, “A Little Brown Bat Story” written by Melissa Kim and illustrated by Jada Fitch. The book, which teaches preschoolers about brown bat behavior and habitat, is the second in the Wildlife on the Move series from Islandport Press and Maine Audubon. What we love most: 10% of the proceeds from the book help fund Maine Audubon’s outreach programs for underserved preschools!


CP#1 using the cider press at Apple Day 2010.

While visiting, little ones can listen to the story, meet the author and illustrator, and have their books signed. How special is that? Afterwards, families are invited to follow a story walk on the trails that highlights the little brown bat’s adventures.


In addition to the signing, there will be comfort food from the Wicked Good Food Truck plus all kinds of activities, including a scavenger hunt, face painting and of course, an apple toss. Hope to see you there!

28th Annual Apple Day
Gilsland Farm Maine Audubon
20 Gilsland Farm Road
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
For event details and ticket prices, visit here.

PS: A memorable trip to Maine Audubon in Biddeford Pool.

Summer officially ended on Tuesday, and while MP is slowly accepting the cooler weather ahead, she thought she’d share the last of our camping adventures with you. After trips to Quebec and Moosehead Lake, the final leg of our 1,750 mile tour brought us to Campobello Island, New Brunswick. The weather was bright and beautiful in Lubec, but as soon as we reached the Canadian border, a dense fog covered the Roosevelt International Bridge. MP asked the guard at border patrol if this fog was a regular occurrence. The guard looked at her watch and said, “Yup, always around 4:00. Welcome to Canada!” Thanks to the fog, we also noticed the temperature dropped 10 degrees. Despite the change in weather, we all looked forward to seeing our friends at the campsite.

Herring Cove Provincial Park is only a few minutes from the border, and the campground is situated near a mile long beach with views of the Bay of Fundy. There is a small playground area for the kids and if you prefer an easier camping experience, there are rustic cottages for rent.


We threw on sweatshirts and joined our friends, who had already set up camp, complete with tiki torches to keep any hungry mosquitoes at bay. MP and DP unpacked the car quickly so we could explore the grounds and prepare for dinner. There is an easy rhythm that occurs when gathering with old friends, and before long, all of us settled around the campfire to catch up on our summers.


DP served as our chef for the evening.

Grilled chicken and sautéed peppers and onions for camp fajitas.

Grilled chicken and sautéed peppers and onions for camp fajitas.

CP#2 and a friend hang out by the campfire.

CP#2 and a friend hang out by the campfire.

The next morning, we decided to visit Roosevelt Campobello International Park. The park was once a summer getaway for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, his wife, Eleanor, and their children. CP#1 and #2 recently finished this book about Eleanor Roosevelt, so they were excited to learn more about the family. A friend and teacher also told us the park offers a free afternoon tea and discussion about Eleanor Roosevelt. The staff at the Visitor’s Center confirmed we could get free tickets for the tea that day — all we needed to do was commit to a time. Once we secured our tickets, we watched a short film about FDR and the time he spent on the island. Then all of us left to explore the property.


It’s no wonder FDR fell in love with Campobello island. The grounds that surround the 34-room, family cottage are lush and green, and the well-manicured gardens are bursting with flowers. MP couldn’t get over the size of the Dahlias that were in bloom.


Inside the house, we were invited to take a self-guided tour. There are docents in each room to share facts about the Roosevelt family and their home. The kids were also challenged with a scavenger hunt that had them searching for everything from tennis rackets to model airplanes. What is amazing about the cottage is that most everything in it, down to the furniture, is just as it was since 1920.


After our tour, we followed a wooded pathway to the pier below the cottage, where we could spot Deer Island across the way. MP would have loved to take the ferry to the island – next visit!




Our tea time wasn’t until 2:00 p.m., so our group returned to the campground for a big lunch and a little rest. After lunch, we decided to explore Liberty Point with the kids, where there are views of Grand Manan Island and Sugar Loaf Rock. The kids and DP climbed big rocks along the seaside, while MP, who is nervous nellie, shouted, “Be careful!” from the sidelines.




All the climbing made everyone look forward to spending some downtime at tea. We returned to the Visitor’s Center and walked to Hubbard Cottage — another stunning, seaside home located on the park grounds. We were invited into a bright and cozy dining room. The tables were set with generous plates of homemade ginger snap cookies and floral tea cups. The two ladies who led the talk were also our servers. While one spoke about Eleanor’s life and times, the other poured cups of tea. The women were good-natured and laughed at their own slip-ups now and then. “I’m sorry,” one speaker said, “I keep saying okay between sentences.” Their honest delivery made them all the more endearing. The kids even felt comfortable approaching them after the talk to ask more questions about Eleanor. The ladies gave each child a card with a quote we’ll return to again and again:

Surely in the light of history, it is far more intelligent to hope rather than to fear, to try rather than not to try.
For one thing we know beyond all doubt: Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says,
‘It can’t be done.'” – Eleanor Roosevelt



We couldn’t have asked for a better learning experience. We learned that Eleanor was a true humanitarian — she spoke on behalf of the poor, worked towards Civil Rights, advocated for women in the workplace, and after her husband’s death, she became an integral part of United Nations.

After tea, the kids spent a lot of time talking with our hosts.

After tea, the kids spent a lot of time talking with our hosts.

As our day began to wind down, we returned to camp for another big dinner followed by blueberry pie for dessert. Another family invited all of the kids at the campground to watch “Home” on a portable outdoor screen nearby. Our kids were delighted by the invitation, and the adults were glad to have a some kid-free time by the fire. When we left our site to check on the kids, we found they were huddled together, munching on popcorn and having a wonderful time.

Our stay at Campobello Island was short, but we will return again to explore more of the trails and sites throughout the park. The weather was near perfect on our departure day, so we decided to spend some time in Lubec and Quoddy Head State Park with friends who have a summer home in the area. Much like FDR’s feelings for Campobello, MP fell hard for this rugged but beautiful coastal town. She’ll share more in a future post but for now, goodbye sweet summer. We’re going to miss you.

On the way to Quoddy Head State Park.

On the way to Quoddy Head State Park.

When our travel plans changed in Canada, we decided to return to Maine and explore Moosehead Lake. DP and MP had never been to the area before. Little did we know how much we were about to discover!

During our first night in Moosehead, we decided to take a camping hiatus and found ourselves an affordable place to stay in Greenville Junction. After a day of driving all of us needed a hot shower and a good night’s rest. This simple, lakefront motel fit the bill.

We were treated this lake view come morning.

We were treated to this lake view come morning.

The next morning, MP did restaurant research on Yelp, and decided Auntie M’s Family Restaurant in downtown Greenville sounded like the perfect place for our hungry crew. The rustic-style diner was packed with patrons. One look at their extensive breakfast menu and it was easy to see why. DP chose poached eggs with peppers and onions and a side of potatoes. And MP selected homemade cinnamon raisin bread french toast. The kids enjoyed chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon. The satisfying comfort food, plus a few cups of coffee for Mom and Dad, gave us the fuel we needed for the first half of our day.

DP and CP#1 at Auntie M's in Greenville.

DP and CP#1 at Auntie M’s in Greenville.

After chatting with the staff at the local information center, we decided to visit Lily Bay State Park. One look at the dramatic view of the lake, the sand beach, and grassy play area, and we knew this was where we wanted to spend our day. The kids and MP changed into our swimsuits, while DP left to chat with the park ranger about available campsites. The refreshing lake water made for a quick swim for MP. She left the water and watched the kids from the beach, feeling happier by the minute that we ended up at this serene spot.

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After the kids finished swimming, we played hide and seek on the playground, ducking behind nearby trees and boulders. Just when our stomachs started to rumble for lunch, Dad Potato returned to tell us he booked a campsite near the water. He’d already set up camp, did a little grocery shopping, and dropped our clothes off at a cleaners (which MP highly recommends after days on the road). And if that weren’t enough, he rented a canoe and purchased fishing rods for the kids. IMG_6789

We couldn’t believe our good fortune to find a waterfront location on such short notice. The camp site was private and shaded by tall pines. A rocky beach lay ahead, and beyond the lake we could see views of Mount Katahdin. Within minutes of our arrival, DP and MP agreed that this would be the spot we would return to next summer.


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Our family spent the remainder of our afternoon canoeing and swimming. For dinner, DP grilled chicken and veggies and warmed tortillas on the campfire. We sat at the picnic table eating quietly, enjoying our smoky camp fajitas and taking in the sunset over the lake. MP is certain this is when she fell head over heels for Moosehead. The sound of the loons calling, the gentle wash of waves on the shore, and the kids laughter as they perched on a lakeside rock filled her with such joy. This fleeting summer feeling, she decided, is what makes camping so special. There is nothing better than enjoying the gifts of nature with the ones you love.




If your family visited the Yarmouth Clam Festival this year, there is a good chance your kids played on the Litl’ Squirts Wooden Pirate Ship. Will Boyle, the owner and founder of the Maine made natural juice, decided an active display for his brand was ideal for his target customer—kids. And boy, was he right! CP#1 and #2 were immediately drawn to the ship, and not only for play, they had a feeling a Litl’ Squirts juice might be in their future.


Will was kind enough to treat them both to a sample, while MP chatted with him about his juices. Like many families, we try to keep sweet drinks to a minimum, but it’s challenging. Whenever we travel, the kids are tempted by chocolate milk, lemonade, iced tea, you name it. Other than water or seltzer, which we drink regularly, there aren’t many low sugar beverages available. We find ourselves playing the labels game, asking the kids how much sugar is in that drink? And does it have ingredients you can pronounce?

Like MP, Will also was frustrated by the drink options offered to kids. He found there were few choices for drinks without high fructose corn syrup, food coloring, and artificial flavors. He wanted his own children to have better options, and with this idea in mind, Litl’ Squirts Natural Juices became a reality.

Litl’ Squirts is sweetened with 100% juice and are made with real ingredients, including blueberries from Wyman’s and Maine spring water. MP also loves the 8 oz. size. This portion is just right for kids, and perfect for packing in a lunch box.

Currently, Litl’ Squirts is available in four flavors—Blueberry Apple, Raspberry Apple, Cranberry Orange and Blueberry Lemonade. CP#1 and #2 are partial to Raspberry Apple, but truth be told, MP hasn’t come across a Litl’ Squirts flavor they didn’t like.

All done!

All done!

We are thrilled to announce that Litl’ Squirts is our newest sponsor for the month of September. And just in time for back-to-school, the Maine-based company is offering 5 lucky readers a variety 12-pack of Litl’ Squirts juices. All you need to do is comment below. We’ll pick the winners at random. Contest ends Tuesday, 9/8 at midnight EST.

To learn more about Litl’ Squirts, visit them on Facebook or Instagram @Litl_squirt.

PS: An interesting article about Litl’ Squirts in schools.


Parc du Saguenay, Quebec, Canada

Before you read on, know this: driving a long distance without screens to camp with your family requires fortitude and patience. There will be bathroom breaks, multiple requests for snacks and if you have more than one child, backseat arguments are guaranteed. You’ll play games like Ninja Mad Libs and listen to stadium rock and Meghan Trainor for hours on Spotify.

On the upside, once you’ve arrived at camp, you get to spend quality time with your kids, explore new places, eat delicious meals cooked over an open fire, and enjoy full days outdoors without distractions.

With these pluses in mind, we planned a two-week excursion to Parc du Saguenay in Quebec with hopes of also seeing parts of the Gaspé Peninsula, and then traveling to Northern Maine and Campobello Island, New Brunswick.

During our camp stays, we joined some of our oldest friends and their children. There are many benefits to camping with another family: grocery shopping and meals are shared, the kids play together, and you spend hours hanging out by the campfire, swapping stories and singing silly songs.

Camp Preparations

Before the start of our journey, MP enlisted the help of L.L.Bean, who were kind enough to send Kids’ Graphic Camp Sleeping Bags for CP#1 and #2. The lightweight sleeping bags come in their own roomy carry case. The fun designs—butterflies for CP#1 and sharks for CP#2—served as a nice surprise before the trip. Our duo couldn’t wait to use them.

The whole family also received these soft, Flannel Camp Pillows. When there are so many bulky items to pack, we were glad to have pillows that were light, portable and come in their own drawstring bag.

DP and MP were sent a Woodlands Screen House, which came in handy on those nights when we needed a extra mosquito protection. We could easily lift the screen house over a picnic table and still have room to move around.

256701 Woodlands Screen House

Our supplies didn’t end there. We packed our tent, camp cots, cookware, tableware, lanterns, flash lights, 5 days worth of clothes, toiletries, games, books, a large cooler, extra layers, water bottles, sunscreen, portable chairs, bug spray, a first aid kit and towels. DP purchased a Thule bag to place bigger items on the roof of our car. Even so, our Subaru was packed but we were ready for adventure! 

For more on preparing and packing for Family Camping Tips, visit here. 

Parc du Saguenay

Our friend P visited Baie-Éternité, which is part of the Parc du Saguenay in Quebec, and had so many positive things to say about the campsite and grounds, we had to see it for ourselves. The rural area is best known for its dramatic scenery where deep green mountains overlook the impressive Saguenay Fjord. The park is also home to a host of activities, including boating trips, hiking and kayaking.


Our campsite was spacious and while there were other sites in the vicinity, we had sufficient privacy. While we were there, we noticed the park also offered Huttopia tents. They are made of canvas and have wooden floors, four beds, electricity, supplies for cooking, a stove, mini fridge and even a space heater. Pretty luxurious for camping, right? We might give a Huttopia tent a try in the future!

DP walks along the dirt road near our campsite.

DP walks along the dirt road near our campsite.

A Huttopia nestled in the woods.

A Huttopia nestled in the woods.

Even without the convenience of a pre-prepared site, we were able to set up camp quickly. That evening over dinner, the adults discussed our plans for the next day. The ages of the kids during this trip ranged from 3-9, so we had to be flexible, but our hope was to try a mountain hike together.

As it happened, CP#2 proved too tired from hours of driving, so we spent our first day walking a quiet trail along the Baie-Éternité. We discovered a small beach where our troupe scaled the rocks that lined the riverbank. There were some ripped pants and muddy shoes, but the kids didn’t care. They were having too much fun exploring.




During that same day, we also came across a glacial boulder that the National Park designed into a woodland amphitheater. The enormous boulder jutted out to create a natural roof above the dirt trail, where several long, wooden benches were placed. As tourists do, we took turns pretending to hold up the boulder with one hand for photos.


We spent our downtime at the camp playground. The play area was nothing special, but whenever one of the adults was working on a meal, the kids asked to go to the playground. The kids would make up games or do gymnastics in the field until their bellies growled for dinner.




Our evenings were spent together around the fire. Much like Maine, the weather cooled at night. CP#1 announced, “Welcome fall!” and we all collectively groaned. MP was glad to have jeans, light sweaters and warm socks on hand nonetheless.

Our group enjoyed some delicious and simple camp dinners, including ginger marinated grilled chicken and pork tenderloin Teriyaki grilled over the fire. We brought along two cast iron pans to roast veggies and scalloped potatoes. Every meal was followed by s’mores for dessert and not long after, all of us retreated to our tents without even checking the time.

For our second day at camp, we hoped to take a boat ride along the Saguenay River, but unfortunately, the boat was full. Instead, we decided on a 4-mile hike that offered scenic views and some well-placed rest stops along the way for the kids. Even with breaks, the hike took some coaxing on the adults part. There were steep, rocky steps and the kids complained that they were growing tired. We did our best to encourage them, as in “Wow! Look how well you scaled those gigantic steps!”



The natural surroundings also served as a welcome distraction. We spotted a rabbit, a field mouse, and two porcupines in a tree arguing for territory. MP wishes she could have captured the porcupines in a photo (it might be time for a zoom lens).



The mid-hike view was well worth the climb. We stopped and took in the rocky-faced mountains that stand above the Baie-Éternité. The sky was bright blue and dotted with clouds, and the river sparkled in the sunlight. MP wished we could hike further, imagining an even better view just a mile or two up the mountain, but she could tell her young climbers reached their limit. They wanted to return to the riverbank and of course, sneak in a little more playground time.


We were reminded during this trip that flexibility is key when traveling with kids. There are more hikes we would have liked to try and we’d hoped to see more of Quebec, but this hopeful plan was not to be. On the day of our departure, breakfast cleanup and breaking down camp took longer than we anticipated. In order to see the Gaspé Peninsula, we needed a ferry to take us over the St. Lawrence River. The ferry was full when we arrived. If our travels had taken us in a different direction, though, we would not have ended up at Moosehead Lake. MP will share that part of the story with you next time!


PS: Many thanks to L.L.Bean for helping make our camping trip a success!

While visiting Rockport earlier this month, we discovered the stunning Beech Hill Preserve. The 295-acre preserve offers family-friendly trails alongside protected fields of organic blueberries and wildflowers. Beech Hill is one of those magical, Maine places where visiting feels like a privilege. We arrived at the Beech Hill Road trailhead and decided to take the short 3/4-mile hike to a stunning hilltop that overlooks Penobscot Bay.




MP and CP#1 took turns taking pictures along the way, while the boys forged ahead to the summit. They were looking forward to exploring the grounds surrounding Beech Nut, a historic stone hut (circa 1917) located at the top. MP and CP#1 passed a few dog walkers on the dirt trail (dogs are allowed here on leash) and families of all ages. When the Penobscot Bay came into view, we hiked faster, eager to join DP and CP#2.




The Beech Nut Hut is a beautifully restored stone structure with a sod roof. The interior of the house is open to the public twice a month, May-October, but visitors are always welcome to explore the outside. There is a patio all around Beech Nut, and when we arrived, a group of six were enjoying snacks and drinks together, chatting happily among themselves. MP made a note to bring a picnic dinner next time. With its sweeping, 360º views of the Penobscot and Camden Hills, this is a place you’ll want to linger awhile.





While visiting, we learned the Coastal Mountains Land Trust—a group that works to protect land in the western Penobscot Bay—opens the Beech Hill Preserve for free blueberry picking to the public once a year. This year, the preserve opens Saturday, August 2 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. If you can’t make it that day, the farm stand on Beech Hill Road sells blueberries through mid-August. FMI: visit here. The CMLT also hosts many family-friendly activities throughout the year, including a story hour, poetry walk, and Kites and Ice Cream event.

Happy adventuring!

PS: More blueberry picking in Limerick, the Kennebunk Plains and Sebago.

Captain Daniel Bennett spends his summers sailing out of Rockland Harbor, where he offers day trips on Bufflehead, his refurbished, six passenger sailboat. The father of two gives families a chance to create the sea faring adventure of their choice, sailing anywhere between one hour to a full day. The fee for adults to sail is modest, and for children, Daniel simply charges by age per hour. For these reasons, coupled with the opportunity to see the mid-coast from the water, we decided Bufflehead would be just right for our crew.

A captain who juggles? Right on.

A captain who juggles? Right on.

We arrived on the dock at 10 a.m., lugging a cooler of snacks, drinks, and sandwiches along with a bag full of extra layers and sunblock. Daniel’s seven-year old daughter Raya and a recent college grad named Kat made up the crew. Our captain asked Raya to raise the sails, and she did so with the skill of a seasoned sailor, never questioning her father’s instruction. Kat, who is studying to get her captain’s license, told us she regularly volunteers to help on Bufflehead, sailing any chance she gets.

Raya prepares the sails.

Raya prepares the sails.

Kat volunteers on Bufflehead to earn hours for her captain's license.

Kat volunteers on Bufflehead to earn hours for her captain’s license.

Our trip out of the harbor was a slow-going at first, but after some brief help from the motor, we caught a steady breeze. We chatted with Daniel, and learned he began building boats at the age of 11 and began a life at sea at 16. His travels have taken him to Ireland, the Caribbean, and beyond. All totaled, he has logged 100,000 nautical miles at sea, which he says is enough to travel around the world.




Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse

After settling in Rockland, Daniel received Bufflehead for $1 from a local family who admired his boat building expertise and passion for sailing. The stipulation? Daniel needed to restore Bufflehead within a year’s time. He spent a long winter working on the wooden sailboat before bringing it back to its former glory.



Our four hour trip on Bufflehead took us past Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, Owl’s Head State Park, and the island of Islesboro. A couple from Oklahoma, who joined us for the sail, caught sight of a porpoise swimming alongside the sailboat. Later on, DP#1 pointed to the sky, where a Bald eagle soared overhead. We also spotted impressive schooners, lobster boats pulling traps, and more vessels out enjoying the water. MP never imagined our sail would provide so much to see.



Further out, the wind picked up and all of us added layers. The open water sparkled in the sunlight and the sound of the sea breeze hitting the sails sent us all drifting into our own thoughts. Daniel hummed a chant… “wind, wind, wind… “ and  told us he makes up silly wind songs to keep the boat going.


The combination of sun and wind made CP#2 a bit sleepy, so Kat kindly made room for him below deck. He was content to have his own cozy space for awhile, but it wasn’t long before he climbed up to join us again. Although he’d never admit it, CP#2 couldn’t resist staying below deck when there was so much beauty above —islands rich with evergreens, a sandbar Daniel called Maine’s own Caribbean, and a vast blue sky.


Owl's Head Lighthouse

Owl’s Head Lighthouse

The trip was so peaceful, MP forgot all about the time. Four hours went by in a flash. Daniel says a day on the water is like a week’s vacation, and MP would have to agree. We left with windswept hair, rosy faces, and the taste of the sea on our lips. Maine is beautiful by land, to be sure, but from the water in the summertime, our state is pure magic.


Many thanks to Captain Daniel, Kat and Raya for the experience! To learn more about Bufflehead Sailing Charters, visit here.

PS: Our Portland sailing adventure.


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