Hiking and Geocaching at Preservation Park!

Hey! Maax here!

Last Year, the weather was so super, duper, amazing on Easter Day, Tami and David took Ben and I geocaching with a picnic lunch up at the Poland Spring Preservation Park.

They have five miles of well kept, awesome trails!  And you know what?

They’re only two miles from the campground!  Two miles!

We decided to start on the trail behind the original Poland Spring Water Spring House.

That trail, followed the edge of the golf course for a little while, and we were able to step onto the edge to look at Lower Range Pond

See the first jut of land, just over the tree line?  That’s our campground picnic and swimming area! It’s pretty cool to see it from this side of the lake.

If you like to hike, we have lots and lots of trails within half an hour of the campground!  Just click on the hiking link to the right to see some more!  Or when you check  in, ask Tami.  She’ll give you directions and talk your ear off about all her favorites.

As for the geocaching, we were able to make four finds!

Fort Williams and the Portland Headlight

Last summer, Tami, David and the kids escaped for the day to one of their very favorite places, the Portland Headlight in Fort Williams Park.  There’s so much room to run around there with wide open fields made just to play catch or fly a kite.  Tami says the views of the ocean really help her to relax.

There’s a hiking path winding along the rocky coastline. There are several geocaches including the first in the state of Maine. They had a lot of fun doing a multi-stage cache that took them all around the park looking for clues.

right to the Portland Headlight – the most photographed lighthouse in Maine

You can take tours of the Lighthouse for a fee . . .  climb on the abandoned fort on the other side of the park or stick your feet in the ocean.

And you know what?  After they hung out there, they went to the Old Port and took a ferry ride around Portland Harbor and THEEEEEEN, they went to dinner after that!

Do you think they asked me??  Nooooooo.

Oh well.  I suppose my antlers would have taken up the whole back seat anyway!

Mt. Apatite

Hey!  Maxx here!!

A couple summers ago, Tami, Dave and Ben discovered another awesome hiking trail.  It’s only 15 minutes away, you can look for gemstones and it has many geocaches. You think they would have found it sooner . . .

I am talking about Mt Apatite in Auburn Maine, just off of Route 11.

Mt. Apatite was an important part of Maine’s mining history.  They mined commercial feldspar, and found (among other precious minerals and crystals) green and pink tourmaline. So if you like rock hounding, this is a great spot!

Tami said she saw lots of quartz and mica on the trails, and she brought me a couple pieces.

Dave said he and Ben got to play with their new hiking GPS a little bit . . . this photo makes me think of the commercial for UP



“With my handy dandy GPS, we’ll NEVER get lost!

Not only didn’t they get lost, but they found two geo-caches with it!

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Ben was pretty excited to have found these humongous polywogs sunning just below the surface of the water, too.

He said it was the best hike ever!

But he says that about aaaaaaallll the hikes.

Portland – Fort Gorges

There are a few old forts in Maine you can visit, one of  my favorites the most interesting is Fort Gorges in Portland.

Fort Gorges sits in the middle of Casco Bay.  Built in the 19th century, It is now a public park accessible only by private boat.

Fort Gorges in Casco Bay Maine
Fort Gorges

On a clear summer day you can easily see the fort from the boat launch off the eastern promenade. If you are adventurous, you can launch your kayak or other sea-faring boat and paddle out there like my staff the camp staff did. It is a little over a mile away.

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There is a geocache hidden there too!

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Fort Gorges in Casco Bay Maine
Inside Fort Gorges

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After that, drive over to the Old Port to do a little shopping in all the quaint shops along the harbor’s edge before eating at DiMillio’s Floating Restaurant.

Other forts in Casco Bay include Fort Scammel on House Island which is private but gives tours on Tuesdays in the summer (by prior reservation only), Fort Preble in South Portland (a good place to view Fort Gorges) and Fort William in Cape Elizabeth.

Two Lights State Park

Alex, Dave and Tami wanted to get some family time in last week .  . . they wanted to rest and recuperate from the busy-ness of the campground.

So they left me here at the campground to take charge of things

“Suuuuuuure!” I said.  “Go have a good time!” I said. “I’ve got every little thing under control!!”

Tami only looked back once with her “you-better-behave-or-you’ll-be-in-so much-trouble”  looks as they grabbed their chairs and books and went to  Two Lights State Park.


If I’d known they were going to  Two Lights State Park , I would have joined them!   It’s all rocky coastline with amazing views of Casco Bay and the Atlantic.  There’s tidal pools to explore and you can climb the rocks until you can’t climb anymore!  Sometimes we bring a picnic lunch and spend the day; they have picnic tables  with   stationary grills, a hiking trail, and a playground too.

Tami says those are all great reasons to go to Two Lights.  But they aren’t HER reasons

she goes for the breath taking view and the soothing sound of waves crashing over the rocks.

She’s so boring, isn’t she???

Still, she said her bare feet itched to climb down and explore the shoreline.  So she got Alex to take her nose out of her book for awhile 

so she could join her.

Isn’t it great there??

When Tami got back, I told her everything went very, very smoothly.

She doesn’t have to know about that one little, itsy, bitsy problem thingy . . . the one Paula had to rescue me from

It’s our secret, okay?

Poland Spring Preservation Park

Hey, Maax here!

Did you know that Poland Spring is full of history??

Just a couple miles up the road is the Poland Spring Preservation Park. Not only do they have about 5 miles of beautiful hiking trails, but they have several historical buildings.

There’s the original spring house,

where the water phenomenon all began somewhere around 1845.  The water was said to have healing properties, and by 1904, it gained international praise after winning several awards.  People began to flock to the Poland Spring Inn.

Above is the current inn, the original having burned to the ground in 1975 after a grand history of housing presidents such as Cleveland and Taft, and celebrities like Babe Ruth and Mae West.

Below is the Maine State Building, created to represent Maine in the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.  It was dismantled, piece by piece to be brought to the Poland Spring Inn.   It now houses the museum for the Poland Spring Preservation Society and a gift shop featuring Maine products.

This is the Old Souls Chapel

A grand building, it was created in 1912 for the staff and guests of the Poland Spring Inn.  It has beautiful hand painted windows and is used now for weddings, plays, and baptisms.

The Poland Spring Preservation Park is a really cool place to visit if you’re into history!

Their website has their times of operation, or you can get their brochure off our rack of area attractions.

Maine Wildlife Park

Just about eight miles south of us, right on Rt. 26, is the Maine Wildlife Park.   It’s been a family favorite of ours since Alex was born 19 years ago, and I recommend it over and over and over again to our campers.

Wild animals that are injured, abandoned or have become human dependent are housed in The Park.  Most are here permanently for their safety because they couldn’t survive on their own in the wild.  I could talk for hours about the positive changes I’ve seen through the years, mostly through volunteer services . . .  Larger living areas for the animals; new trails; informational exhibits . . .

B and I visited The Maine Wildlife Park last week.  Before my camera’s batteries ran out, we saw these cuties:

lots of deer

bobcat

black bear

moose calf

Through the rest of the visit, I kept whining over my dead batteries until Ben said, “You’ll just have to come back, Mom.  I’ll come too, if you want.”  You would have whined too, if you saw the cool stuff we did.  Imagine these:

The mountain lion, sitting up tall on top of his rock, surveying his kingdom.

The coyote was sleeping, but the fisher was running back and forth, back and forth in his cage. He was bigger than I thought he’d be.  And the claws on his feet . . . whoa!

The albino porcupine came out for a minute.  He was kind of an odd looking fellow.  Eventually, he slowly lumbered back into his log.  The raccoon was adorable, though.  He calmly watched everyone going by.

The eagle sat high on his perch, looking down over the turtle pond and the wetlands trail.  His enclosure is relatively new, and very impressive.

The peacocks were in rare form, screeching over and over, while fanning their feathers.

At the turtle pond, Ben tried very hard to find all the species listed on the information board.  I didn’t realize how many of them were endangered.

Ben and I also discovered the hawk we saw this winter was really a Cooper’s hawk. The red tailed hawk was much bigger.  We also got a very close look at the Barre and Great Horned owls!

Throughout the park are signs like these:

and interactive displays like these

to help educate and entertain.

There’s three different trails you can wander along, too.  The Tree Trail identifies the different varieties of Maine trees. The Game Trail challenges you to find as many different animal silhouettes as you can.    And the wetland trail offers a chance to see birds (Ben saw a veriole!), turtles and fish.

I recommend you bring a picnic lunch.  There’s a nice pine grove area with picnic tables and B-B-Q grills right inside the entrance of The Park.  After lunch, you can buy a drink, ice cream or other treat at the snack shack.  Then visit the Nature Store for fun and/or educational souvenirs.  Ben picked out a really cool whistle/compass combination to carry on our hiking trips this summer.  I bought some posters to go in our rec room . . . aaaaaaand a pair of silver, dragonfly earrings.  I couldn’t resist!

Feeding the animals people food, is not permitted.  But bring plenty of quarters because you’ll find animal food machines to feed the bear, deer, pheasants, ducks, geese, and turkeys.  And if you walk all the way down to the end of the fish hatchery, you can feed the fish too.

On Thursdays in July and August, there’s Story Time with a craft at 11:00am.  On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, there’s animal talks at 11:00am and 1:00pm.

For more information on prices, directions and such, click on the link on the right.  You can’t go wrong with this day trip!

Monhegan Island

In July and August, my family and I try to arrange one day a week to play outside the campground. It’s become a tradition we call Family Day, and has been a fabulous way to connect with our kids as well as recharge.

It also allows us to experience/experiment with day trips, seeing which ones our kids like vs. what we adults like. Then we pass on the information to you, our campers.

Last year our favorite trip was Monhegan Island. It had everything! Hiking, wildlife watching, quaint stores, views galore!

We chose to ride the Hardy Boat Cruises Monhegan Ferry out of New Harbor, a pretty little coastal town. It took approximately 1 hour to drive there from the campground. Parking was $2 for the day. The boat ride was $30 per adult and $18 for children under 12, and well worth it. This was not our boat, but we rode one similar
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We sat on the top deck and enjoyed the view. The captain kept us entertained with historical information about the harbor and the coastline. Pretty soon, he slowed down to show us a basking shark. A little while later we saw puffins!

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Once on Monhegan, you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. There were very few vehicles. Dirt roads wound past quaint shops and homes.

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We were there for the hiking though, and we set off to find it. We were not disappointed with the views:

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There are short, fairly easy hiking trails and then there are the longer and more difficult ones. We chose the longer trails that wound along the islands shoreline. Ben, who had just turned 10, had no problem. He totally enjoyed the opportunity to climb to his hearts content. We packed a picnic lunch to eat on the trail, but there were plenty of places to sit and eat on Monhegan itself. A tip: if you plan to hike, bring a plenty of water with you or buy it on the island before you set out. We saw too many families who hadn’t taken any water at all, and were tired and thirsty halfway through their hike. We ended up sharing some of our water with an older couple.

Toward the end of the trail we discovered a huge display of fairy houses! Visitors to the island are encouraged to build them. There had to be at least fifty

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Back in town, we found some ice cream (we always manage to find ice cream!) and wandered the streets to find photo opportunities like these:

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I had more fun taking pictures of gardens, homes, signs, views, piles of lobster traps, the lighthouse . .. Monhegan is a photographer’s dream.

Before we set out on this trip, one of my friends said, “You can’t walk two feet without finding an artist”. She wasn’t kidding! Painters are everywhere on Monhegan. Even on the trails.

As we sat on the top deck of the Ferry heading home, I thought for sure my day was complete. But then we saw this guy

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A seal! We actually saw five or six more before our trip was done.

Back in New Harbor, we watched some lobstermen unload their boats. Then we had a fabulous seafood dinner right on the pier at Shaw’s Fish and Lobster Wharf.

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Maine State Museum

At least twice a day I receive a phone call asking, “If I camp at Poland Spring Campground for a week, what’s there to do in the area?”

My answer?

Plenty!!!

Included in our check-in packet is a list of places to go and things to do, complete with directions. Most of them have been “tested out” on my own kids during our Monday outings. There’s hiking, ocean watches, shopping, beaches and museums. Over the next couple of months, I’ll occasionally talk about a few of them, giving you pictures whenever I can. In the meantime, feel free to visit our website under area/links for those that are closest to home.

Today, Ben insisted Dave and I take him to the Maine State Museum in Augusta. He’d just been with his classroom two weeks ago, yet he haaaaaad to go back and see his favorite displays again. I’ve sent plenty of campers during our eighteen years of running the campground, but had never been myself.

I really have no idea what took me so long!

It took a little less than an hour to get there, and was an easy drive up Route 202 (although you can also get there by the Turnpike). We spent approximately two and a half hours exploring three floors of exhibits like these:

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Maine patents and inventions. Did you know earmuff were invented by Maine resident, Chester Greenwood?

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a lawn sprinkler from the late 1800’s if I’m remembering correctly

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A typical early 1900’s kitchen display in the Made in Maine exhibit

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an approximately 100 year old loom

Of course, my photos don’t do it justice. You really have to visit yourself!

I think my favorite was the Back to Nature Exhibit, with the wildlife display. I was amazed at the size of the fisher! And the beaver! We saw an eagle up close, moose, skunk, various birds, deer, owls and much more.

Afterward, we walked over to the Maine State House to get a peek of the inside. There are also several monuments nearby, such as the Firefighters Memorial, Police Officers Memorial, Samantha Smith Statue and the Vietnam Veterans Memorials.