Best Places to Eat in Downeast Maine

This is just turning into a regular travel blog!  I keep jumping from Colorado “stuff’ to Maine “stuff!”  Having just come off of my trip back home, I am stuffed full of great Maine foods.  August is probably my favorite time to visit, as the weather is the warmest (locals complain about the humidity, I think it’s fantastic).  The middle to end of the month is also blueberry season, and there is none down here that compare!

Best Places to Eat in Downeast Maine

China Hill- If you’re headed to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, it’s easy to swing in here.  Again, this Chinese restaurant has been around for as long as I can remember, though owners have changed hands over the year.  My favorite thing to get on the menu (even today) is a “Children’s 3.”  This includes the best fried rice I’ve ever had, chicken fingers, boneless spare ribs (also the best I’ve had), and chicken toast.  I have never been able to find anywhere else that sells chicken toast, and it’s a shame.

Jordan’s Snack Bar-  All over the state, little take-outs exist that offer amazing food.  Jordan’s has been around for years and offers a great selection of Maine food.  My favorites are the fried clams and the crabmeat roll.  Swing into Jordan’s on your way into or out of Ellsworth / Bar Harbor.

Helen’s Restaurant- World-famous for the blueberry pies, which makes this time of year even better.   I have many memories here, as my dad would take me to breakfast every Saturday morning.  The old building burnt down just a week after Scott and I last visited.  This means several people were out of work for the busiest season of the year.  By the year anniversary of the old place burning, the new building was up and running in the same spot.  It was great to see how they rebuilt, and the blueberry pies have not changed.  I rotated between a slice of it and a slice of raspberry for 5 days.  It’s also the the only spot I took a picture of my tasty food from!

Bluebird Restaurant-  This has been around almost as long as Helen’s, though when I was little, it was “Graham’s Restaurant.”  This is what my niecey refers to as “the pancake store!”

Rivers Edge Take Out- Great for a quick meal (I like a chicken burger!) but best for some ice cream.  Again, my order hasn’t changed in years.  A small chocolate cone with rainbow jimmies.  Dumped into a cup so I don’t make a mess.  They have many crazier selections of ice cream (both hard and soft serve), but I always stick with the same.

Exploring Southern Wyoming

I had the best, most laid back, kind of off-the-wall 30th birthday!  We had planned to go to Cheyenne’s Frontier Days, until we realized that virtually all of Wyoming was there.

Day trip to Southern Wyoming, Vedauwoo, Buford, Wyoming Territorial Prison

Instead, we went on a little drive to Laramie.  Scott was talking on the phone and I was looking at road signs.  Those brown ones are my favorite.  The ones that tell what attraction is coming up in whatever little town you may be approaching.

We hit the jackpot three times.

First, we stopped at the smallest town in the United States.  Buford, Wyoming.  Seriously, there’s a general store here, and that’s it.  Oh, and more post office boxes than a town with a population of 1 would need.

Buford, WY  The smallest town in America

Next, Wyoming Territorial Prison.  This was definitely the highlight.  Located just outside of Laramie, the prison is a state historical site, and the amount of history it shows is amazing.  We learned all about Butch Cassidy and other outlaws, got to see the warden’s home (which also housed a guard or two), and learned a lot.  One of my favorite things that we learned was that only two prisoners only died in the prison.  This is because 1) a doctor would visit every week or so to check in on the prisoners and 2) when/if they became terminally ill, they would be released.  This way the prison wouldn’t have to pay for a funeral or burial fees!  Seriously, if you have a chance to check this place out, it’s really interesting!

Old Carriage at the Wyoming Territorial Prioson

Our last stop for my birthday was at Vedauwoo for a little hike, which isn’t too far from Buford.  I noticed these crazy rock formations on our way to Laramie.  A quick mile hike offered some great views and a spot of wild life!

Rocks at Vedauwoo

Moose at Vedauwoo

You might’ve seen the moose make an appearance on my instagram.  I’m pretty proud of it.  But upon further inspection, he looks pretty cranky!!

Has anyone been to northern Wyoming?  How does it differ from the southern half of the state?

Linking with Joey Hodges Writes

Scenes from Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park was a stop that was on the books since we decided to go to Colorado.  I mean, how could we not?

Of all the hikes we could’ve done, we decided to try the hike to Mills Lake, which is about 7 miles round trip.  I picked this one solely because less than a mile in, you’re at Alberta Falls.  I figured, if we were exhausted by this point (okay, mostly me), we’d at least get to see something.  There are points of the hike that are on rougher ground, but the trails are well maintained.  The hardest part is going up- you gain 700 feet in elevation during it.

Alberta Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Alberta Falls

Mills Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Mills Lake

Our second trip to Rocky Mountain National Park was a bit less strenuous.  We drove the Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park to Grandby, and then back around.  I don’t recommend the whole loop if you don’t like driving.  I honestly fell asleep during part of it once we got out of the park.

Drive Trail Ridge Road, the oldest continuous paved road in the country, up to the Alpine Visitor Center.  At one point along the road, I noticed a sign that stated we were two miles above sea level.  And still climbing.  That’s quite a switch, coming from Florida, where we’re AT sea level!

There are a number of turn outs along the road for you to stop and take pictures.  My favorite is after we got above the trees, to the tundra.  There were still patches of snow, and the wildflowers up there only have an average of six weeks to bloom and reproduce before it gets too cold.

One of the biggest tips I have if you visit, is to make sure to bring a jacket.  While the temperature in Estes Park was around 90 degrees.  At the Alpine Visitor Center, it was 54!

Chipmunk at Rocky Mountain National Park
At an overlook on Trail Ridge Road

Elk next to Trail Ridge Road
An Elk. Not at a turnout on Trail Ridge Road.
It’s blurry because I managed to get this while Scott was driving!

Lake at Milner Pass
Milner Pass, shortly after the Continental Divide

Rocky Mountain National Park in July
A view of a mountain lake on Trail Ridge Road.  Snow still on the ground in July!

Explore Colorado’s Western Slope

If you follow me on instagram, you’ve probably seen a few of my shots from our vacation.  Let me start out by saying.  Every place I visited in Colorado was amazing.  I could have also spent many days in each spot.  While I got the impression that it’s all skiing all the time during the Wintertime, Summer on the western slope is nothing to miss!  In the course of 3 days, we visited Rifle, Glenwood Springs, and Snowmass Village.  These are all within 45 minutes (at most) of each other, which made it easy to travel between if we wanted to go back to any of these towns.

Hike Rifle Falls State Park.  Fee to enter: $7.00 for a day pass, good until noon the next day at any Colorado state park.   The parking area at Rifle Falls fills up early, but you are allowed to park in between campsites as long as you’re not blocking anyone from exiting their spot.  You can hear the falls from the parking lot, and it’s just a short walk to view them.  An easy to moderate (there are some tight areas, and some slick spots) 1.5 mile hike will not disappoint.  The Coyote Trail will send you up to the caverns next to the falls, which you are free to explore, and then up some more to look at them from the top.  Winding back downhill, you are actually able to step behind behind the falls (specifically the one on the right), for a unique view.

Triple waterfalls at Rifle Falls State Park

Lay on the beach at Rifle Gap State Park.  Rifle Falls and Rifle Gap state parks are (not surprisingly) located about 4 miles apart.  It is home to a 350 acre reservoir that you can fish and boat on.  They sell licenses at the Visitor Center to make it super easy.  And if you’re wanting to camp, it has almost 90 sites that are open year round.  Rifle Falls only has about a dozen, but the proximity makes it possible- even a requirement to check both out.

Reservoir at Rifle Gap State Park

Take an Evening Stroll through Snowmass Village.  The side roads shooting off the one winding road up the mountain is where all the hotels, ski resorts, eating, and shopping are.  We decided to walk around one evening before dark and were quick to discover that the town shut down at 5pm during the Summer.  We did enjoy a ride on the gondola, which was free and still open when we were there.  The next morning I was up by 6:30 to see the sunrise over the mountains.  I witnessed one girl walking her dog down the middle of the road.  Off leash.  I’m not sure what our beasts would do with that kind of freedom in public.


From the Gondola at Snowmass Village in the the Summer



Take a dip in the hot springs.  Look into package deals that include the hot springs for extra savings.  Ours included admission to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, but I’m sure there are others.  A soak in the springs, with temperatures ranging from a low of 99 degrees to a high of 108, are perfect after a day of hiking.  There are 16 individual pools at Iron Mountain to choose from, and we had our own the entire time we were there!

Ride the Alpine Slide at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.  NOTHING like Disney and there is really no way to compare the two.  No bags were searched upon entering, and we had to sign a disclosure in case we got injured within the park.  All of the rides we went on, we had to leave all loose objects at the ride entrance- and I just left my phone in my bag.  The alpine slide is only big enough for one person, though if you have a child under a certain age, they can go with you.  This slide is on tracks, so there are no chances of falling off, and you control the speed with levers.

Alpine Coaster looking up the track

The only two rides that we had a wait on were the Alpine Slide and the Soarin’ Eagle Zip Ride.  The zip ride was by far the longest at 45 minutes, because they only had one side of the ride open.  It offers you a spectacular view of the Rockies, though.  Other rides include the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster and the Canyon Flyer.  While not the tallest coaster in North America, it is highest elevation.  There are points on both rides (pretty much the ENTIRE Canyon Flyer ride) where you look down, and there is just.  Nothing under you.  So maybe don’t do these- any of these, really, if you get queasy at heights!

Glenwood Caverns Alpine Slide overlooking the valley
I’m told he gets royalties from this post….


Bonus:

Take a drive to the Grottos at White River National Forest.  This little trip was one that the ride is as impressive as the the destination.  We drove up, up, up Colorado Highway 82, which went to one lane in places.  We had no GPS, and no service on our phones to even know where the road ended, or if there was a quick way to get back to the hotel.  There are bunches of turn offs on the way up, and finally, trails to hike and a stream to splash in when you get to the grottos.  Be aware- even in the Summer the water is COLD.  We also thought we were the first to discover this area, and it was our dumb luck that we stumbled on to it.  We were wrong- it’s apparently a pretty popular place to check out!

What are some of your favorite spots in the Western Slope of Colorado?  I’m curious, during the Winter, are there other activities to do aside from snowboard or ski?  I do neither of those!

Linking with Bright on a Budget /Cup of Tea / Della DevotedSeptember Farm / The Farmer’s Wife, and Meet @ the Barre