Here is my stab at best practices for traveling to Maine – primarily from NYC but anywhere really.
The most important rule is that the minute you have left your home, VACATION HAS BEGUN! So just remember that at all times! Avoid any distracting thoughts like “I need to get up there to begin my vacation, (put that image of craggy trees on hold until you see them!)
I find excellent travel snacks are a must and I spend days planning for them. M and M’s or their variation are made for summer car travel. Early July- I highly recommend cherries especially if it is a rental car - just kidding, I don’t want to stain any car….
I like leave early, VERY EARLY on a week day morning at the crack of dawn 5:30-7:00 a.m. From NYC. I move toward 684 which gets me to West Hartford Reservoir for an awesome hike or bike ride - why delay nature gratification any longer than you have to? (2- 2.5 hours without traffic)There is a lovely loop walk in the Reservoir with a few variations and ice cream near by. This is vacation so all breakfast snacks are permissible especially on travel days!!
State Parks in general are an excellent way to get to know the natural landscape of a region and are frequently not crowded. Spending time in this way helps me go with the flow and get in the mellow groove at the front end of the trip – just saying…
If you need to get wet before hitting the highway, stop at Fernridge Park on Fern Street between Mountain Road and Maine Street. There is a pool but the awesome watering tropical tree works well for me. Then I like the early lunch at Tangiers http://www.tangiersmarket.com/ I am a huge fan of family owned businesses and their mediterranian food is wonderful. There are many choices in the West Hartford area. I hit the road again absolutely no latter than 1:00 or 1:30. If children in the car, (or a grumpy adult) I generally start off with windows open and let the kids (or kid) warm up and fall deep into sleep so I have a few hours of unabated NPR until Boston Rock n’ Roll kicks in. Stay on 84 until you hit the Mass Pike near Worcester, there you can stay the course, 290 to 495. By leaving Hartford at 1:00, you can avoid commuter traffic, be near Ogunquit Beach by 4:00 or 4:30 and you are golden.
If for any reason you can’t avoid traffic, head toward 202 inland. This is a meandering and beautiful route and easy to stop on. You will want a paper map as electronic do not do it justice and there is always the question of reception…
If in Southern Maine, there are some awesome beaches. This year I really want to make it to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells. https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Rachel_Carson/about.html Remember, there are always many options for just getting off the highway and exploring.
My next blog post will cover Portland Maine.