Road’s End Workshop, with Paige and Corey: Travel Log No. 7

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After thousands of miles, dozens of new adventures, and a life saving’s worth of fuel, we finally made it back into New York, with the Airstream in tow. We’d left our corporate jobs in New York City for a nomadic life, but we were thrilled to be back. My husband was born and raised on Long Island, and something about returning to the Northeast just felt like returning home. And though we lived only a couple hours away from new sights, sounds, and adventures, we rarely made it out of the city to explore the rest of the state. We made sure to check some things off our New York bucket list as we passed back through the state.

New York State

Finally! I had the Finger Lakes area marked on my map for almost a decade. It’s a (long) stone’s throw from the city but we never had the opportunity, or rental car, to venture out that far. I traveled 250+ days a year for B&H, and when I wasn’t on the road, I was home, mentally preparing for the next trip. The anticipation of visiting Watkins Glen State Park only added to the experience, and it was well worth the wait. We usually take our dog with us on long hikes, but the main trail, Gorge Trail, is not dog friendly. With that in mind, we found a great free campground that was close to the Finger Lakes and safe for us to leave the Airstream as we went out to adventure. (Need help finding a free campground? Check out our last blog post, with our tips and tricks for boon-docking.) We’d planned our road trip so we could spend the fall in New England, which means beautiful weather, rich colors, and loads of tourists. Because of the incredibly easy access to the trail, from the heart of Watkins Glen, the area was crowded and the trails were packed. Our goal was to walk the trails in time for sunset, but looking back on it, an early-morning hike could have helped us avoid the overcrowding. Gorge Trail closes for the winter season, but during fall, the hours start at 9:00 a.m., which probably wouldn’t have offered us the same dynamic light, so we opted for sunset, along with every other person in the area. The trail led us through a wandering maze of stone and water, with almost 20 waterfalls and 200-foot cliffs. We noticed a couple people hopping the safety barriers to get a photo, but we managed to capture some beautiful moments while still respecting the park. The light bounced through the canyon and created a magical experience for us, even though we had to wait a bit to get a less-crowded scene to photograph.

 

Niagara Falls

We couldn’t be in the area and not visit Niagara Falls. Neither of us had ever seen it before, so we made it a goal to visit before we left and continued through the state. We brought our Airstream to Four Mile Creek Campground, and I highly recommend it to any other nomadic travelers. The campground was clean, affordable, and easily accessible. But the selling point was the free parking at Niagara Falls, specifically for those staying at Four Mile Creek. After the crowded fiasco and expensive parking at Watkins Glen, we did our best to research the most painless way to visit the falls. We decided to brave the cold fall temperatures and visit at sunrise, hoping to avoid swarms of people. We were delightfully surprised to see no one else in the parking lot, and it was easy securing our free parking. There’s no doubt that Canada has a hell of a view, but simply being in the presence of the falls was enough for us. Because we had multiple cameras with us, we avoided the scenic views that require you to get drenched or wear a poncho. We didn’t have proper camera housing with us and avoided the risk. We watched the sun rise and spread a golden glow across the falls, and not many more people showed up before we left. It felt like we had Niagara to ourselves, and that allowed us to just sit, listen to the rushing water, and reflect on the expansive history of the area.

Photo Tip: Niagara is truly grand, both in impact and size. It’s a humbling view, but your camera will need a wider lens to properly capture it all. Don’t forget your waterproof housing or a trash bag, if you want to get crafty. The best views, from the state side, include a boat ride to the base of the falls, or a long walkway that is perpetually drenched.

Fishkill Farms

One thing we always did when we lived in New York was go apple picking when the weather turned cool and pleasant. We couldn’t stop ourselves from taking the opportunity to stroll down memory lane and go back to our favorite apple farm. Fishkill Farms was our go-to place for apple picking, so we stopped along our route to once again experience a favorite fall activity. We love supporting family-owned businesses such as this, but in all honesty, their fresh apple cider donuts have us hooked, no matter what. We find ourselves craving them as soon as a chill hits the air! It’s a must for us, every season, and we urge you to create similar traditions with your loved ones. Our one-year road trip brought a lot of chaos into our lives, and indulging in these small and delicious traditions helped to ground us.

Camden, Maine

Speaking of traditions, there was a time when I would visit Maine every summer and spend a week in the Camden area, attending courses at Maine Media Workshops. I was fortunate to find forever friends in the area, who quickly became my mentors. There was no way we could travel the whole country and not make it up to Maine and spend Halloween walking the decorated streets and enjoying the small-town charm. Though the summer months offer warm boat rides, outdoor dining, and long hikes, the fall season did not disappoint! Everyone seemed to be in the Halloween spirit, and the small-town nature provided endless options to enjoy the end of October, including haunted houses, parties with over-the-top decorations, and an entire neighborhood closed off for easy access to the best candy. When visiting during warmer months, we have to recommend grabbing a meal from Rhumb Line, eating ice cream from River Ducks, and taking a walk through the downtown streets. Looking for something a bit more impactful, our favorite gallery, Dowling Walsh Gallery in Rockport, is always worth visiting. If you’re lucky, you may see some Joyce Tenneson originals alongside work by my mentor, Jacob Hessler. The colder months had us searching for hidden indoor gems, and we were so happy to find Barrettstown Farmhouse. I think we could have eaten there every day for the two weeks we were visiting, and never tire of it.

I’m not much of a thrifter, I usually don’t remember to research thrifting options in the areas we visit…but how can you pass a giant chicken coop turned thrift warehouse and not stop? Big Chicken Barn originated in 1986 and stayed in the family as it blossomed into a treasure trove of vintage pieces and magazines. We love stopping here as we pass through the area, heading north along the coast. Though the aisles of vintage wares go for what seems like miles, they specialize in vintage magazines, which is what originally grabbed our attention. Our Airstream is from 1972, and we thought a magazine from the same year would be the perfect memento. After hours of scouring the shelves and finding forgotten pieces that deserve new life, we finally made it upstairs to the magazine area. After dragging ourselves away from the impressive collection of National Geographic magazines, we finally decided on the TIME “Year in Photos” issue from 1972.

Schoodic Peninsula

The coast of Maine is known for its rocky edges, picturesque lighthouses, and crashing waves. Our first stop was Schoodic Peninsula, the only part of Acadia National Park that is on the mainland. We knew this spot would offer us all the views and sea air as the Mount Desert Island part of the park, but with less crowds. Just in case we hit a dense population of tourists in the park, we made sure to start our day at Schoodic to ensure we had a quiet and impactful experience, one way or another. Schoodic Loop Road is a six-mile one-way loop that gives you access to pull-offs along the way, along with picnic areas and scenic vantage points. Make sure you’re stopping only at the designated spots, because parking elsewhere is strictly prohibited. This spot has multiple hiking and biking trails and provides a more private experience. We made sure to stop at Schoodic Point and meander around the rocky edge. We urge you to be careful in the area, because the waves are powerful and can easily sneak up on you. We sat and watched the waves crash triumphantly against the smooth rocks, taking in the fact that we had finally reached the northernmost destination on our road trip.

Acadia National Park

Though Schoodic Peninsula is technically part of Acadia National Park, the rest of the park consists of different islands and interwoven roads leading to epic hikes and stunning views on the surrounding water. Our first stop was Bubble Rock Overlook, with some parking access on Park Loop Road. Bubble Rock Trail tends to be popular because it leads you to the well-known Bubble Rock, which sits precariously on the edge of the mountainside, having been moved there by passing glaciers. The trail itself can lead you to either South Bubble or North Bubble, but the popular Bubble Rock can be spotted on the trail to South Bubble. The hike to the perched rock is only a mile but you can continue for another three-quarters of a mile to the scenic overlook. From there, you can hike the steep trail down to Jordan Pond, though we don’t recommend it for families with small children, as the path is extremely steep and rocky. If you want to avoid larger crowds, try hiking up to North Bubble for equally stunning views.

From here, we drove to the base of Jordan Lake to take in the view, before continuing our drive to Cadillac Mountain. If any spot in Acadia attracts tourists, it’s this. The parking lot fills quickly and the wind can be relentless, but the overlook gives way to stunning 360-degree views of the park and surrounding ocean. From the parking lot, you can find multiple trails and offshoots for exploring the mountain peak. Sitting at 1,530 feet, it’s the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard and the first spot to see sunrise for the better half of a year. The trails, especially the quarter-mile long Cadillac Summit Loop Trail, are paved and highly trafficked, making it accessible for the majority of visitors. We’ve heard this area is incredible for stargazing, but our favorite experience was sunrise on the mountaintop. No matter when you visit, expect other visitors, strong breezes, and the possibility of limited visibility from dense clouds. 

(Travel Tip: Acadia tends to have very small parking lots at the designated Park Loop Road pull-offs. Plan accordingly and arrive earlier than you need. When we hiked Bubble Rock Trail in summers past, we always had to drive back and forth, multiple times, before securing a decent parking spot. Because of this, we did not bring the Airstream with us. There are buses and shuttles that can bring you to popular trailheads, though some cannot access Cadillac Mountain due to the steep incline of the road.)

Boston, Massachusetts

After being on the road for more than six months, we needed a change of scenery and the warmth of the indoors. The weather was reaching the single digits in Massachusetts, so we conducted a workshop in an amazing studio space, just north of the city. Wild Souls Studio opened their doors to us and gave me an opportunity to get creative within four walls, something I had not done since we passed through Oregon. The majority of images produced by us are taken in an outdoor setting, and it becomes easy to fall into an unbreakable rhythm. By utilizing Wild Souls Studio, I was able to break the mold and force myself to rethink my process and look for light in a different way. We recommend exercises like this to every photographer out there. Keep pushing yourself to try new things and master new concepts, because you deserve to be great!

While passing through the area, we were introduced to a new type of food. Our local friends referred to it as bar pizza, and we want to spread the word to you, as well. If you find yourself in the New England area, go ahead and look up the closest access to bar pizza, because apparently it’s everywhere. We went to a Boston spot called Cape Cod and ordered an army’s worth of that crispy pizza. Give it a try the next time you’re in the area!

Have questions? We have answers!

We’ll be taking questions over the next couple months and addressing them in a special blog post! Send us your question at this link and check back to see if your inquiry is picked for our blog post!

And be sure to check back every month for a new episode of the Road’s End Workshop, with Paige and Corey

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