Life Update: Traveling & the Coronavirus

Hello!

I haven’t written anything on here in a hot minute, but I thought it was time to update y’all on what’s been happening for the past few months!

Let’s jump straight to the topic that everyone is most curious about: the Coronavirus.

Taylor and I came back to the States December 17th for our scheduled Christmas vacation. We had one month to see family, enjoy the holidays, and take a few trips! If you follow me on social media, than you’ll already know that the Coronavirus threw a wrench into our plans to return to China, because as you can see, we’re still in America. On the morning of our flight, we got a call that we had to cancel our flight to China until further notice. Currently, we’re being told that we can’t fly back until March 10th. However, that’s still subject to change because most major airlines aren’t flying to China until later this spring. Originally, I was supposed to return to China at the end of January and then fly back to South Carolina on March 10th, where I’d remain until the baby comes (did I ever mention I was pregnant?). Now, I don’t have time to go back to China without it being too close to our delivery date.

It’s very bitter-sweet, because I was looking forward to spending a few weeks in China before coming home for the birth. All my belongings are in China, and I won’t be able to get any of that back until Taylor returns in May. However, I’m grateful for the extra time at home and I don’t have to worry about long travel days during the third trimester.

If you know Taylor and I, you know that we’ve been filling all this extra time up with loads of adventure and quality time together. Really, the second trimester has been one giant baby moon! 🙂

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Let’s recap:

In January we rang in the new year in Ireland! IMG_2766IMG_2772

Then, we spent a few days exploring the countryside of England and the streets of London. IMG_29021

My family in Pennsylvania threw us a beautiful baby shower for baby Stevens!IMG_31972

We’ve been to a couple of Clemson basketball games.IMG_3372

We went to visit Kendall in Arizona for a week, where we watched the Waste Management Open. 2IMG_3427

We explored Joshua Tree National Park while we were out west.IMG_3456IMG_3466IMG_3489Where we stayed in the cutest tiny house via Airbnb! You can see the house HERE.

Get $79 towards your first Airbnb trip!

BDC05D6F2F945AF79C1178CC090ED45D1Joshua Tree was the perfect park for me because I didn’t have to hike in order to see all the beauty. Taylor and I were able to drive through the park and relax. IMG_3454

That leaves us with today, where we’re spending time getting boring adult stuff done and trying to plan the next month. 🙂 We don’t have plans at the moment, so we’re taking each day as it comes, snuggling with our favorite girl. IMG_3515

Stay tuned for more updates, and have a great week!

Oahu, Hawaii – Days 1 & 2

Aloha!

I’m so excited to write this blog post, because it’s about a trip to one of my favorite places in the world! Hawaii! This is my 3rd time visiting Oahu, and it never gets old. I was recently there in July for a week, so you can read about that relaxing trip HERE. Although this was my 3rd time visiting the beautiful island, it was my first time traveling there with someone!IMG_7991.JPGLet’s start from the beginning shall we? Taylor and I decided to visit Hawaii last week because it’s: a) a place I love and b) one of the only states he hasn’t been to yet. Airline tickets typically range around $700-$800 round trip from America, but we snagged tickets for only $400 round trip from China. We flew from Nanjing to Shanghai to Honolulu. The Shanghai to Honolulu flight was only 8 hours, and wasn’t full. Before boarding, we asked the attendant at the gate to change our seats to single rows by ourselves in the back, so we could lay down. Untitled design-2It was important for us to sleep on our flight, because we arrived in Honolulu at 8am and hit the ground running. After going through customs, we picked up our rental car and drove to my cousin’s apartment. She was away for work, so she let us stay at her place for the week. We’re so thankful! We changed into our swimsuits and started driving up the east coast. IMG_7957IMG_7992img_7978.jpgIMG_8012Untitled design-5After stopping at several lookout points and absorbing the beautiful views around us, we stopped for lunch at Kona Brewing Company on the harbor. We shared a few appetizers and enjoyed the warm weather. We ordered chicken wings, pepperoni rolls, and seafood soup to split. The soup was okay, but everything else was wonderful! This is a great spot to stop at if you’re in the area. Untitled designOnce our stomachs were full, we hopped back in the car and continued driving. img_8015.jpgIMG_8017How cute was our car? 🙂 If you’re visiting Oahu and looking for a less touristy beach, I’d recommend driving to Waimanalo Beach. It’s in a residential neighborhood, and there’s always free street parking. I think the sand and water are nicer too. IMG_2067-2DSC_0013-2We also stopped at Halona Blowhole Lookout so we could experience that small beach too. IMG_80011IMG_7999Untitled design-3After a day in the sun, we ate dinner at California Pizza Kitchen in Ala Moana, and then headed to bed. We were exhausted from a full day of traveling and exploring! (Just as a reference, Hawaii is 18 hours behind China.)IMG_80204

On our second day, we got dressed and packed our bathing suits for the road. Our first stop of the day was Pearl Harbor. We drove up the west coast and arrived at Pearl Harbor within 30 minutes. This is somewhere you absolutely need to visit if you find yourself in Honolulu. DSC_5625DSC_5614DSC_5628I visited this National Park during my first visit to Hawaii, but I was only 17. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to go back, because I didn’t fully grasp what I was learning the first time. They were doing renovations on the Arizona Memorial, so unfortunately we weren’t able to walk through it. However, the boat drove us around and it was free of charge. I really appreciated this. DSC_5608DSC_5621DSC_5610After a morning of learning and remembering, we got into the car and kept driving up the west coast. We stopped for a quick lunch at Island Plantation. This is a locally owned place and they had a great lunch menu! Untitled design-4The west coast of Oahu was really cool! The mountains were stunning, and it felt like we’d transported to a completely different island. The weather was cloudy and stormier, but we had a great time. IMG_8035IMG_80512.jpgLater that evening, when the sun began to set, we drove back to Waikiki and ate dinner at OMG Tacos. This place was sooooooo good. It’s very similar to Chipotle, and it was exactly what we needed after a long day. This would be a great lunch spot if you’re staying in Waikiki. IMG_8055.jpg

After eating, we went back to the apartment and called it a night. I hope you enjoyed reading about our first two days in Hawaii. The second half of our trip will be up soon! Make sure you’re following A World of Crazy for notifications about the next post.

xoxo

Yellowstone National Park & The Great Salt Lake

I’ve been slightly behind on writing about the second part of our trip to Yellowstone National Park. With all the packing and actually moving across the world, I think I have a valid excuse. 😉 After this post, I’ll start writing about our time here in China! For now, enjoy this post about our time in Yellowstone!

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After spending the first two nights in Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons, we spent the next three days riding around in Yellowstone National Park. I was going to try and write about the days in order of what we did, but to be honest, we just spent a lot of time driving around and stopping at different lookouts along the way. Because of that, I’ve just compiled all the pictures I took within the park sporadically!

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We toured Yellowstone at the very beginning of the tourist season. Although there were still other people around, it wasn’t super crowded or overwhelming. I can’t imagine what it’s like during the peak of summer!

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I’d recommend visiting Yellowstone National Park during late May because this is when it’s less crowded and you’ll see more wildlife. After a long winter, animals like to graze on the freshest grass. While there’s too much snow left on the peaks of the mountains, there’s plenty of fresh grass at the bottom. Also, the animals aren’t used to so many people being around yet, so they’re more likely to be spotted out and about.

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We came face to face with this female elk, who had just given birth minutes before this picture! She was very protective of her baby, so the park rangers were standing by to make sure nobody got too close. There were a few close encounters with foreigners who didn’t understand what was going on, but thankfully nobody got hurt.

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There were SO MANY bison roaming around in Yellowstone. They were in the fields, on the road, and even in the parking lots! I have an abundance of bison pics!

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We had high hopes of spotting a bear before the trip began. After the first few days with no bear sighting, our hopes were dwindling. Thankfully, we spotted two different black bears towards the end of our time in Yellowstone! We also saw two bears running across the road one day, but the family is undecided about whether it was a black bear or a grizzly.

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There is so much beauty and history in Yellowstone National Park. You can find some of the earths most active earthquake and volcanic systems here! According to the park website, Yellowstone became the very first National Park because of the geysers, hot springs, mudpots and steam vents.

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Before we entered Yellowstone, we rented a Gaper Guide for our van, which is a Yellowstone and Grand Teton GPS audio tour. This was AN AMAZING addition for us. Basically, it’s a device that connects to the audio of your car, and it talks about the area you’re in and all the history! There’s also more than 100 fun facts you can play along the way! Since we spent so much time in the car between sights, the Gaper Guide gave us our own personal tour of the area we were in! We HIGHLY recommend!

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We experienced every season during our 3 days in Yellowstone! It was hot, cool, rainy, and it even snowed at one point!! Make sure you wear layers if you visit during this time of year yourself! 🙂

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On our final day in Yellowstone, we packed up the van and drove back to Salt Lake City. Our flight back to Charlotte didn’t leave until late afternoon, so we stopped at the Great Salt Lake! I was just in Salt Lake City in January for a ski trip, so you can read all about that trip here!

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Taylor and I love exploring the National Parks of America. There’s so much to see and do, and each park is unique in its own way. This was a short and sweet family trip, but it was a great way to relax and be with family before we packed up and moved. Stay tuned for updates about our adventures in China!!

Grand Teton National Park

We just got back from our family trip out west, and I’m sitting here cuddling with Maybelle while writing/editing this post. I missed her terribly while we were away, and it was her first time being boarded (it didn’t go well)! It’s currently pouring outside, so I’m listening to the rain with coffee in hand, while May is snuggled up beside me in her favorite heated blanket.

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This year, Taylor’s side of the family decided to travel through Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana for the annual family vacay! In the previous years, we’ve visited Maine, Destin, and California! You can click on the links to read about those trips as well.

We flew out of Charlotte super early on Saturday morning, and arrived in Salt Lake City by 11am. It was a 4 hour flight through Delta, and everything went smoothly. Although none of us sat together on the plane, we had endless movies to watch on the TV screens in our seats. On the way there, I watched The Maze Runner-The Death Cure and a few episodes of the Big Bang Theory-Season 11. 

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Like most of our family vacations, we rented a 15 passenger van at the airport. Once all our luggage was packed tightly into the back, we buckled up and drove 5 hours to Jackson Hole for our first adventure!

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We would only be in Jackson Hole for one night, so we made the most of our time there. We started by riding the Aerial Tram above the mountains. This was a great way to see the area, because there are windows circling the tram. This is not for those afraid of heights! Once you get to the top, you can see Jackson Hole for miles. The view is stunning and makes for a great photo opportunity!

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By the time we got off the mountain, it was time for dinner. We all ate at MacPhails Burgers. This was a great spot to relax and enjoy a good burger. Afterwards, we walked around downtown Jackson Hole and visited the famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. We didn’t stay long before checking into our hotel and turning in for the night. I think it’s safe to say that everyone was exhausted from a full day of traveling. We stayed up as late as we could in attempt to help with the time change.

We started the next morning by loading up the van again and heading to breakfast downtown at Persephone Bakery. It was a small cafe, and since we were such a large group, we ate outside around the fire. The food was unique and delicious. This wasn’t your typical scrambled eggs and bacon, but we loved it! We had a great morning sharing plates of food and sipping on our coffee before another long day.

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I ordered the Herbed Omelette, which had fresh herbs, red chile lemon ricotta, asparagus, radish, fingerling potatoes, dijon cream sauce, and toast. This was the best toast I’ve ever eaten before!

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Taylor and I have been dreaming about visiting the Grand Tetons, but it’s difficult to get to. You can fly into the Jackson Hole Airport, but quite frankly it’s expensive and a long journey. With a group of 12 people, it was easier to fly into Salt Lake City and drive.

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To be honest, I’m struggling to write about the beauty of the Tetons. I feel like no words or pictures can do it justice. They are truly a masterpiece, and you must see them in person. I could spend days driving through the enormous mountains, taking photos and letting it all sink in.

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We drove a short distance and found a small 1 mile trail to hike up to Phelps Lake. This was a moderate hike with amazing views at the top.

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Once we were done, we drove around some more and stopped at several lookouts before checking in at the Jackson Lake Lodge.

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Once we got our room keys, we loaded into a different van and headed to a rafting tour on the Snake River!

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We had an amazing time floating down the river and seeing all the wildlife. I didn’t want to take my camera with me, and it rained about halfway so I didn’t capture a lot of pictures. Looking back, I’m ok with this because I was able to be in the moment and enjoy the tour. This was probably one of the coolest excursions during the trip.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t have the best experience at the Jackson Lake Lodge. In fact, I don’t even have any pictures of the inside. The lobby area was gorgeous, with floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the Grand Tetons. However, when we brought all our bags upstairs after the rafting tour, 3 of the rooms weren’t cleaned. It was about 10pm, so we were ready for bed.

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They only had one available room left in the lodge, so a few of us had to move to the cottages surrounding the lodge. This was the first week they were open, so they were probably still working out the kinks, but it was disappointing. They mentioned that the rooms said “dirty” in their system so why would they even give us a key?? Weird.

Besides the room cleanliness though, we enjoyed our stay. We ate breakfast there the next morning and headed out towards YellowStone National Park.

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Stay tuned for more posts about our trip! 🙂

Weekend In Utah

Bright and early Friday morning, we all bundled up and packed our bags for a day on the slopes! The hotel offered complimentary breakfast, but Lacie and I were dying to try the coffee shop across the street. Bjorn’s Brew was exactly what we needed to start the day! We were impressed with the service and how large the coffee was. I ordered a medium and it was massive! I couldn’t even finish it before we arrived to Park City. They even gave out adorable human dog treats with each order!

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Lacie and I had both skied previously, but weren’t pros. We decided to spend most of our day on the green slopes and occasionally the bunny slope with all the kiddos learning to ski/snowboard.

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Thankfully, Park City Mountain wasn’t super crowded and we never had to wait long in the chair lift lines.

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The views from the top were breathtaking! These photos don’t even do it justice!

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Our second day in Park City began just as early as our first. Instead of spending the day skiing again, we opted to do a snowmobile tour through Lofty Peaks Adventures! This was recommended to us by a friend and it was SO WORTH EVERY PENNY.

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Lofty Peak Adventures has amazing experiences for everyone, all year round! They have ATV, Snowmobiles, and Watersport adventures. I really enjoyed the snowmobile tour, so I’d love to do one of their other adventures during another visit.

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In order to get to the snow mobiles, we had to take a gondola to the tippy top of Snowbird Mountain. I’m still not sure if this was one of the coolest or scariest things we did. They crammed over 100 people into that gondola! Although the view was great, we were SUPER high up.

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Once we got to the top, we had to take a chair lift to the bottom of another mountain.

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Our tour guide was phenomenal! He took us through the back country of Utah, and it gave us the chance to see views that we would never get to see on our own. We could see all the untouched snow plus witness even more breathtaking views.

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Snowmobiling with two people is much harder than it looks. Lacie and I did well during the beginning half of the excision, but towards the end we kept tipping over. Thankfully, we never had any serious accidents, but it was frustrating in the moment. Now, we just laugh about all the silly things that happened on that three hour ride.

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On our third and final day in Utah, we spent the day sight seeing on our own.

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During our time in Park City, we caught the end of the Sun Dance Film Festival!

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Once we were done exploring Park City for the last time, we drove to The Great Salt Lake! This was something we were all itching to see!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Although the lake had an odd smell, it was beautiful!

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I guess we chose a good time to visit, because there was only one other family visiting the Salt Lake. We had the whole place to ourselves!

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Lacie had to be back at the airport around 2, so we drove into Salt Lake City. Once we dropped her off, we wondered around the city and explored. We had several hours to kill, since our flight didn’t leave until 11pm.

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We couldn’t leave Utah without seeing Olympic Park. The museum was really fun and interesting, plus the perfect way to end our trip!

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This group trip was one I’ll never forget. Lacie and I don’t get to see each other often, but when we do it’s always a great time. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much as I did during these three days! My abs were burning by the time we left from all the laughter, so that’s how you know it was a great trip. 🙂 I’m so thankful for the opportunity to travel to Utah with some amazing friends!

 

 

Family Trip to Canada & Maine

This year’s family vacation with Taylor’s family was to Bar Harbor, Maine. Our flight from Abu Dhabi flew into New York City, where we met half the group. From there, we rented a large van and headed up the coast towards Maine. During our drive, we made a very fun pit stop at L.L. Bean.

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We’ve never been to an actual L.L. Bean store before, so we were very excited to check it out! This particular location in Freeport, Maine is the factory and where L.L. Bean began which was unique!

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When we were finished shopping, we continued our drive to the town of Bangor. Most of this day was spent driving up the coast. When we finally made it to Maine, we rented an Airbnb for the night. Originally, we planned on staying at a hotel, but we realized that it was silly to pay $150 per room when we could spend that on an entire house! We were only there for the night, but it saved us a lot of money! You can find the listing HERE.

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In the morning we drove from Bangor, Maine to Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada! We visited Roosevelt Campobello International Park, where we toured the Roosevelt summer cottage!

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The Roosevelt summer cottage had the most beautiful views of the water and the interior was massive! We were really impressed with the home, and there were several tour guides inside to answer any questions we had.

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The weather was perfect for exploring!

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Once we were done walking around the summer cottage, we grabbed a quick lunch and drove to the Head Harbor Lightstation!

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You can only reach this lighthouse during low tide. The structure has been around since 1829, but is still used as an active lighthouse, although it isn’t manned by anyone anymore.

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Once we were done exploring the lighthouse, we drove to Herring Cove Provincial Park. We wanted to relax and watch the water for a few minutes!

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While we were in Maine, we stayed in an amazing VRBO within Acadia National Park. There were 11 of us on this family vacation, so we needed something that would accommodate everyone, and this house was perfect!

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The massive open windows that spanned the back of the house made us feel like we were still outdoors. The owner of the property did an amazing job at making us feel comfortable and welcome during our entire stay. If you plan on taking a trip to Acadia National Park and need a large home for your family, PLEASE consider renting this home. It was a dream! If you aren’t traveling with a larger group, she also rents two tiny homes on the same property that are equally as cute.

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Bar Harbor was exactly what you’d expect! Although it was fairly small, it was quaint and filled with charm. There were people roaming the streets and hanging out in the park, watching the boats come and go.

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While we were visiting, we found out that blueberries were in season and the people of Maine REALLY love to put them in everything.

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At almost every meal, someone was eating or drinking something blueberry!

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And of course there was a lot of lobster consumed! It’s not a successful trip to Bar Harbor if you don’t eat fresh lobster.

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When we were planning the family vacation, we had every intention on watching the sunrise on top of Cadillac Mountain. Being the highest peak on the Eastern Seaboard, it offers the very first glimpse of the sun each day. However, the weather was calling for rain, so we didn’t want to get up extremely early just to witness a thick fog.

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Instead, we visited Cadillac Mountain during the day, and it was wonderful!

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Although it was a little windy, the views were breathtaking! Everywhere we looked, there was another amazing view of the water. It felt like we could see for miles!

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Once we were done exploring Cadillac Mountain, we took a walk on the beach. Some of us searched for cool shells to take home, while others enjoyed the view.

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Just like the lighthouse, this beach is only accessible during low tide. The ground is completely covered in water during high tide. That’s why it’s extremely important to be aware of your tides when exploring the coast of Maine. As fast as the water lowers, is as fast as it can rise!

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On a different day, we walked along the Ocean Path in Acadia National Park.

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If you’re looking for a fun way to explore the park without exerting too much energy, the Ocean Path is perfect! It’s relatively flat, and there are several lookout points perfect for photos!

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We didn’t plan to match, but as a newlyweds this is bound to happen. 🙂 We both are wearing our Buck Shoals teeshirts in support of Dalton’s band! They are super talented, so you should check them out on Apple Music or Spotify!

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Along the Ocean Path, you’ll see Sand Beach, Otter Beach, and Thunder Hole.

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If the tide and water current are just right, you will hear the waves crash into the rock and create a giant splash plus the sound of thunder. There’s a small viewing area where you can stand to see the waves crash into a small cave. When the air get’s trapped inside and the tide is right, it creates the large splash and the sound of thunder!

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Once we were done walking the ocean path, we took a boat tour! This was such a fun and informative tour. There are tons of boat tours you can take while visiting Maine, and we’d recommend them. Just be warned that depending on the season, you may not see much. We saw a bunch of seals and a bald eagle, but that was about it for wildlife.

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Our tour guide was fantastic though, and she gave us a ton of historical information and even taught us about how to catch lobster! All in all, I think we learned a lot on that boat tour!

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It’s not everyday that you get the whole family together in another state! This was such a fun and memorable experience that I know we will all remember forever. Bar Harbor was adorable and Acadia National Park was stunning! Taylor and I love visiting National Parks, so we’d really love to come back and do some more exploring.

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Ice cream is a staple on our family vacations with Grandma, and the blueberry ice-cream was untouchable!!

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On a less serious note, we ended our family vacation with a laugh! On the way to the airport, we drove our van right into a ditch. We couldn’t get it out without fear of the van tipping over, so we had to call for professional help.

This is surely something we’ll laugh about forever! 🙂