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Happy Holidays! Finally returned from Paris about two days ago and am still sleeping off the jet lag  but it’s good to be home with family. This year is going to be a bit quieter than what we had last year where we invited 5 families and went skiing, but I’m grateful for the break. Hope everyone’s holidays went well!

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Dropping temperatures force me to retreat deeper into my layers and dream about those times we could freely walk around in the sunshine. A very late update on my trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. I was oscillating between doing a quick road trip down South between my work ending and my senior year beginning, but ultimately decided I was too exhausted to sit in a car for hours and coaxed mom into taking a mini vacation closer to home.

I am not generally a nature sort of person. Longtime readers of the blog may scoff, since at least half my posts are landscapes, but I tend to shy away from true wilderness. After spending a summer in the sweltering heat of New York City, however, I was ready to just chill out by the sea and maybe do some hiking.

There are many places to pick as a home base for your stay in Acadia, but I think Bar Harbor is by far the most popular and enchanting. It is unabashedly geared towards tourists, with B&Bs on every corner, but it’s the sort of casual New England tourism that I didn’t find terribly annoying. There’s a lovely path to Bar Island that reveals itself only at low tide that my mom, my brother and I had a great time exploring along with other barefoot families and couples. The Otter Cliffs, another classic scenic view in Acadia, were just 10-15 minutes by car and easily accessible and we spent the afternoon climbing all over them.

I had asked my Mainer friends for some tips on what to do in Acadia and the number one recommendation was to watch the sunrise on Mount Cadillac. Mom and I groaned when we found out the sun rose at 5:56 am, and my brother abstained altogether in order to sleep in, but we were up and driving up the mountain the next morning. Unsurprisingly, we were not the only ones who had this idea and the top of the mountain had absolutely no parking so we had to descend until we came upon a suitable vista. I didn’t mind at all because even with the morning fog the photos turned out beautifully. Mom and I sat there, freezing and huddling close, waiting for the sun to periodically poke through the clouds. I can go on a whole rant about how beautiful and uplifting and arresting it was, and how I felt like a champ for getting up that early, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

That day was spent biking around the carriage roads in Acadia at the suggestion of my brother. We did a relatively easy loop of about 14 miles and ended up at Jordan’s Pond House, a century-old establishment overlooking the crystalline waters of Jordan’s Pond that serves famous popovers with homemade jam and other local goodies. Unfortunately no pictures on my camera as I did not want to risk crushing my precious baby when I inevitably fell off my bike. After that workout, I even managed to convince my mom to go to Seal Harbor with me at the other end of Mount Desert Island to watch the sunset.

Bar Harbor is itself a lovely town, with a beautiful boardwalk and so many fascinating souvenir shops and places to eat. We picked up a scrimshaw knife made out of deer antler for my dad, but my mom was eyeing some amazing handmade wooden bowls and I bee-lined for the original watercolors. Unfortunately our visit only lasted 3 days, but it was the best break I can remember having and a great opportunity to spend time with my family!

TO DO

Too much!

Each hotel and B&B has multiple maps expounding on all the activities one could possibly want. There are rental shops on nearly every block where you can get bikes or kayaks or canoes and other gear. There are several boat tours and carriage rides through the carriage roads inside the park.

I highly recommend watching the sunrise on Mount Cadillac, although you do need to come at least an hour before sunrise to get the best spots. Also bring hot beverages and very warm clothes.

Bar Island in Bar Harbor is a fun walk, especially if it’s not too cold, and Bar Harbor itself is a lovely town to explore. There’s also so many spas to enjoy – my mom and I almost booked a massage, but decided to spend all of our time exploring the place instead.

TO STAY

There are several upscale hotels near the shore, but I prefer the personal touch of the many B&Bs scattered all over not just Bar Harbor but the entire island as well. We stayed at the Quimby House Inn & Spa which was just a short walk from Bar Harbor proper.

TO WEAR

I have been slowly buying up stripes and boat shoes and minimalist casual wear in classic colors, so I seized the opportunity to wear all of the above. Do keep in mind though that the mornings and evenings get fairly cold, especially starting in early September. A parka would not have been amiss on top of Mount Cadillac waiting for the sunrise. If you want to do more outdoor activities, pack accordingly.

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Technically I was looking at the Green Mountains and possibly as far as the White Mountains, but they took on such a beautiful blue hue at sunset! Just a quick update in between midterms and a hectic weekend. This was from the Gile Fire Tower, a quick little hike and a steep climb to get the most amazing views of the Upper Valley. It’s a perfect getaway from the Dartmouth bubble. Expect more updates from Salem, MA (a Halloween wonderland) and Riverview Farms where I went pumpkin and apple picking today. Autumn is by far my favorite season and it seems that everyone and everything explodes in a fit of activity and color before laying low for the winter.

Hope you had a beautiful October weekend!

IMG_1068.krIMG_1017.krIMG_1023.krFort Williams Lighthouse Pathways CollageGolden Blue Light CollageIMG_1021.krIMG_1036.krIMG_1050.2.krIMG_1056.2.krRecently I’ve been in Maine sans WiFi, like some free “un-plugging” vacation surrounded by beautiful nature. After returning from New York, I bee-lined to Fort Williams Park, it’s like a detox ritual for me after the pollution and crowds. Years of Instagramming have given me a sixth sense for when “the golden hour,” that magical time that every photographer swears by, is nigh. Like wine and black jeans, it makes everything look better and so I give you Fort Williams and my favorite lighthouse at the prettiest time of day. Eventually you all might get tired of it, but I think I never will, it’s always such a peaceful place for me.

Anyway, back to my “un-plugged” staycation – it’s been perfect, and an amazing excuse not to answer emails before school starts.  A few days ago I returned from a trip to Bar Harbor and the surrounding Acadia National Park and it was nothing short of amazing. Photos and another essay on hiking and biking and braving the wilderness in lulu will soon follow (but you can glimpse some of the things I’ve seen on my Instagram).

Hope you’ve all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

IMG_0997.krIMG_1001.2.kr.jpgFrick CollageIMG_1002.2As my summer in the city is drawing to a close, I’m scrambling to knock off all the things on my bucket list. When else will I ever be 21 in the summer in New York with no more responsibility than scavenging for the perfect $1 pizza for dinner?

The Frick Collection was one of those places I’ve heard about only once or twice but for some reason it stuck in my head so I had to go see it. A friend of mine mentioned the Frick as a “well-kept secret” and indeed it is a pleasant surprise in the Upper East Side. While Midtown and Soho were crowded with tourists (we’re in the middle of European holiday month) the Frick was blissfully empty so I felt like the lady of the house walking through all the beautiful rooms.

Unfortunately, photography is not allowed anywhere except the courtyard, but it is so beautiful it almost rivals the rest of the place put together. The oppressive heat has driven me into a love affair with indoor gardens and courtyards, like the one in Le Petit Café and the Met Cloisters. It’s so serene as soon as you walk in, a hush settles on everything so you can hear the burbling of the fountain, and the occasional snap of the camera shutter.

The rest of the mansion is elegantly decorated and full of the most astounding pieces tucked away between and on top of fireplaces and sitting rooms – Renoir, Titian, Vermeer, Rembrandt – a veritable red carpet of artistic geniuses. Not to mention the two Holbein portraits of Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell that sit glaring at each other across an El Greco (done on purpose, the history dork in me giggles, and also Hilary Mantel spends quite a bit of time on Holbein’s portrait of Cromwell in Bring Up the Bodies). Anyway, the mansion is not huge, so it really doesn’t take that long to get through all the works and I spent plenty of time enjoying the calm and waiting out the sudden downpour in the courtyard garden, taking notes for my future house.