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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Maine 2013

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Acadia National Park

Three years ago Ryan and I headed northwest to Kennebunkport, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts. To this day, it remains one of our favorite trips and we frequently talked about returning, but are always torn over returning to a place we loved and exploring someplace new. When my pregnancy prevented us from running a RAGNAR relay this year as we’ve done the past four years (2014 RAGNAR, we’ll be back for you!), we decided to take advantage of the time and money we’d set aside for a trip and venture back to Maine in the height of its fall colors. 
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park
We spent a blissful five days with friends both exploring the little towns near and around Kennebunkport and venturing further north into Acadia National Park (which thankfully re-opened after the government shutdown the day we arrived!). The scenery was far more beautiful than anything I’d envisioned—last time we went in September and it was amazing what a difference that month made. Longtime readers know I’m a summer fan and that fall typically depresses me because it hints at the onset of winter, but this trip gave me a new appreciation for the beauty of the season…not to mention a deeper awe for the Creator behind it all! 
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park
Although running upwards of twenty-five or thirty miles at an all-night running relay wasn’t in the cards for me this year, we still managed to stay plenty active on this trip and satisfy my itch for adventure. I had three gorgeous morning runs, two with running buddies and one solo, which reminded me that while summer might be my favorite season to live in, fall is absolutely my favorite season to run in! While in Acadia, we made it to the top of two mountains (we did the Penobscot Mountain/Sargent Mountain/Jordan Pond Loop) and even though the foggy, rainy weather made it impossible to take in the views, the beauty amongst the rocks and trees, even in the weather conditions, was far more gorgeous than anything we were able to capture on capture. Finally, we spent a sunny afternoon biking around Kennebunkport, an adventure that nearly cost me my friendship with Paige (it’s always the wary biker that ends up with the broken bike!) but was a fun way to take in the sights of this little town we’ve fallen in love with!
Ryan, Natalie, & Baby McLaury (23 weeks)
Of course, like any vacation of ours, there was a major emphasis on the food, our favorites briefly outlined below:
vegetable hash
Amazing Vegetable Hash at Hot Suppa
Hot Suppa: Heading north toward Acadia, we made a stop in Portland, ME, a foodie mecca that I could easily spend days eating my way through! We enjoyed a leisurely brunch at Hot Suppa, surprisingly full at 10:30 am on a Thursday morning. Ryan, Mike, and I all ended up ordering the same thing, something we normally avoid, but the day’s special sounded too good to pass up. The autumn vegetable breakfast hash was as good as it sounded and I’m thankful I didn’t have to share a bite of mine with anyone! Red potatoes, kale, kabocha squash, and beets tossed in fresh herbs and topped with eggs managed to taste as pretty as it looked. Since returning home, we’ve already recreated a version of this twice and as soon as I make it again and photograph it, I’ll be sharing it with all of you!
Young's Lobster Pound
Young’s Lobster Pound: After spending way too long trying to find the perfect lobster “shack” on Yelp, we finally ended up at this place in Belfast, ME for a late lunch. It doesn’t get much fresher than this place, which was teeming with fresh lobster that they cooked up right before you. Ryan got a lobster platter that I stole a few bites of and loved his generous portion of mussels. I opted for the lobster bisque, which was chock full of meaty lobster and cream…likely the culprit of my healthy pregnancy weight gain whilst on vacation ;)
vegetable pizza
Rosalie's Veggie Slice
Rosalie’s: We spent an evening in Bar Harbor the night before we did our hiking in Acadia, and popped into this buzzing pizza place to grab a slice before we took in a show at ImprovAcadia (HIGHLY recommend!). For just a few bucks, we found ourselves with warm slices of thick pizza that was simple, satisfying, and that totally hit the spot!
50 Local
50 Local
50 Local: This farm-to-table restaurant in Kennebunk (not to be confused with nearby Kennebunkport) was one of our most memorable meals of the trip. Between the assortment of warm breads served to the flavorful first courses (mussels, butternut squash soup, local greens, pork belly, and more!) to the homey entrees, everyone found something they loved. Although I rarely order chicken when eating out, I couldn’t resist the highly recommended roast chicken with carrot ginger puree and roasted fall vegetables which, true to the server’s declaration, was not a boring dish! If you’re wanting a dish that truly impresses, go with the seafood stew…our friend Zach couldn’t wipe the silly grin off of his face after licking his bowl clean!

Buttonwood Farm & Lobster
Buttonwood Farm & Lobster: Determined to take advantage of all the fresh seafood we could get (and wanting to recreate our fabulous lobster meal from our lastvisit!), we picked up 10 lobsters from Buttonwood Farm & Lobster. Since we stayed at Ryan’s aunt’s place again, we had a large and fully stocked kitchen which made it easy to cook breakfasts for the group as well as a lobster dinner. Although cooking up fresh lobster as a bunch of Midwesterners is a humbling experience that requires a lot of Googling, we managed to execute, and our night sitting around the table together trying to avoid squirting lobster juice everyone is one of my favorite memories of the trip!
Ice Cream
Rococo Ice Cream
Rococo: It isn’t a McLaury vacation if there isn’t at least one stop for ice cream and we were thrilled to discover this ice cream shop which had opened since the last time we’d been there. It  was constantly packed with people, even when the temperatures dipped and the winds picked up, proving that the scoops churning in this tiny shop were something to be savored. I ended up with the molasses gingersnap and the sweet cream with sea salt (must recreate!), but every flavor I sampled—most of which change daily!—was positively exquisite. If I were ever to open an ice cream shop, these are the types of flavors I would want to incorporate…along with whatever Rococo’s secret is to making such creamy, airy ice cream!

cape pier chowder house
Crab Roll at Cape Pier Chowder House
Cape Pier Chowder House: In need of a place to wait for bike repair during our adventure, we luckily found ourselves here just as our stomachs began growling. Thankfully the seafood made up for the woe of broken bikes and of cranky employees at this little seafood stand. I had my first ever crab roll which may have been my favorite seafood dish on the whole trip. The hot dog bun was stuffed full with crab and it was so light on mayonnaise I’m doubtful it was even on there! Ryan finally got his fried clam fix here and Zach gave two thumbs up to the Maine blueberry pie.
Biking in Kennebunkport
Alisson's: Needing a place to watch the Packer game and rest our legs, we headed to Allysons in downtown Kennebunkport. Most notable was our fantastic server, who gave us all the time in the world to watch the game and work up some hunger while keeping us entertained with quick quips and a great attitude. Seeking a bit of balance, I ordered an arugula salad with goat cheese, beets, and walnuts that was just hearty enough to hold me over. Ryan’s brunch burger was the real show stealer, however, and I managed to steal a few bites and wish I’d been hungry enough for a full one!
stonewall kitchen
Stonewall Kitchen Cafe
Stonewall Kitchen Café: On our way out of town and to the Manchester Airport, we stopped in York to visit the Stonewall Kitchen flagship store and café. Not only did we have the opportunity to sample just about every Stonewall Kitchen item we desired, but their café selections were equally impressive. I couldn’t finish my gigantic salad (though I did enjoy every single one of the roasted pears on it!) and Ryan loved his Thanksgiving sandwich and clam chowder. Although this is definitely a hopping tourist attraction, it’s a must-stop if you love Stonewall Kitchen!

And just like that, we returned home from another vacation, more than satisfied with both the foods we enjoyed and the adventures we encountered! It’s hard to believe it was our last true vacation before we add a baby to the mix and I’m thankful we had the chance to steal away for a few days before the craziness of the holidays and then the (welcomed) craziness of a new family member!

One Year Ago: Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
Two Years Ago: Blues City Deli (Best of 2011)
Three Years Ago: Roasted Eggplant and Peppers Tart with Chickpea Crust
Four Years Ago: Chocolate Chip Coconut Pumpkin Bars