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Posts Tagged ‘winter’

In February, when the first of two big snowstorms hit, our family visited Heywood Kennel in Augusta for our inaugural dog sledding adventure. Owner Colby Briggs and his partner Erin Noll have operated the kennels since May 2016 after his parents retired from the business.

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Located off a busy road, Heywood is home to a wood-fired warming hut and 30 good-natured sled dogs. The temperature was below 20-degrees on the morning we arrived, and our hosts were kind enough to offer extra snow pants (MP forgot her own) and hand warmers. Once we were ready, Colby warned us that the dogs would be loud when we met them at the kennels and for good reason. After a mild January with little snow, the dogs couldn’t wait to pull a sled.

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Wells Reserve at Laudholm is home to a beautiful historic farmhouse and 7-miles of trails where families can explore forest, a salt marsh and estuary, and Laudholm Beach. The wide open spaces in between are perfect for sledding, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. If that weren’t enough to entice you, the staff at the Reserve has a few great days of activities planned for February vacation  — from nature-inspired camps and crafts to a day dedicated to spending time outdoors.

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You have to love a getaway that’s less than 30 minutes from your home, but makes you feel as if you’re hundreds of miles away. In our case, Maine Forest Yurts, which is located in Durham, is such a place. The 100-acre retreat, which opened in 2013, is owned and operated by Bob Crowley, winner of the reality series “Survivor: Gabon,” his wife, Peggy and their adult children. The secluded property includes three yurts, wide trails to explore, a fairy house village and a shallow pond that’s great for skating.

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Our family recently traveled to Camden for the start of Winterfest — a week-long celebration that features an ice-carving contest, polar plunge, freestyle skiing competition, family-friendly activities and the 2016 U.S. National Toboggan Championships, which take place at the Camden Snow Bowl February 5-7.

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Colder evening temps keep the chute running, despite the lack of snow this season.

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On a bright, January Sunday, we visited Ten Apple Farm in Gray for an hour-long goat hike in the woods. Owners Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz and their young daughters—Charlotte, Bea and Sadie—care for a herd of Alpine dairy goats that live in a big red barn attached to the family’s 1901 clapboard farmhouse.

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Photo courtesy Ten Apple Farm

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Last year, MP shared some of the adventures she hoped to try with the family during the winter season, and it was one of the blog’s most popular posts. We had so much fun exploring cross-country skiing and ice fishing, MP decided to come up with an updated list of activities for our family to try during the chilly months ahead:

Dog Sledding
The kids learned a little about sled dogs during L.L.Bean’s Winter Carnival, but they have always hoped for the opportunity to experience dog sledding first hand. Heywood Kennels in Augusta accepts Winter Kids passports, which offers families a generous discount on dog sledding adventures. Families get to meet the dogs, enjoy a sled ride and drink hot cocoa by the fire.

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CP#1 and #2 are growing up fast. We decided this year they would be ready to try cross-country skiing. Plus if there were ever a winter to embrace the outdoors, this one is it. DP grew up skiing at Carter’s in Oxford, but we decided to try some place closer to home for our first outing. On a bright, 20º Saturday afternoon, we bundled up and traveled to Pineland Farms in New Gloucester. The ski center features expansive trails, ranging in difficulty from beginner to advanced.

We rented skis, boots and poles at the farm, and the friendly staff made us feel right at home. “You’ll have a blast!” said the young woman behind the counter once we were fully outfitted.

DP, who is the designated map expert at our house, decided on a nearly 3 mile trail to get us started. Once we all put on our skis, we traversed up our first hill. CP#2 lead the pack, followed by his Dad, CP#1 and MP, who admittedly is the slowest skier in our crew. The slippery hill was a tough way to start, but once we got past it, the remainder of the trail was fairly flat.

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