The summer of 2015 marks the fifth year of our family going up to the small town of Lovell in western Maine where we rent a lake house for the end of August. We flee our home at the Jersey shore and the bennies who overrun the area to instead enjoy a bit of White Mountain life and lake swimming with the boys.
Lovell is more than 8 hours away at Vanagon-speed so a few years ago we stopped trying to drive it in one day and instead took our time, drove a few hours each day and camped along the way.
That road trip up to Maine has evolved over the years to a full week of road tripping and camping as we drive our way up to Maine, exploring different parts of the northeast as we travel.
In previous years we have taken the week of driving to explore the coast of Maine because it was such new, interesting and unfamiliar geography for us.
We’ve traveled Route 1 up through Camden and returned for multiple summers to camp at the amazing Acadia National Park. (If you’re interested, here’s a link to a story I wrote about some of these past adventures exploring lakes in Maine and some backstory on why we have traded the ocean for lakes.)
This year though, we decided to try something different and, well, perhaps a bit more adventurous.
Having spent the past few summers really honing our family camping skills with an eye towards making the experience as stress-free as possible, we decided to abandon the highly-civilized and well-populated Maine coast and instead head up to some more remote areas of the Adirondacks as well as venture into Canada before turning back south again and heading to the lake house in Maine.
We had a rough outline of where we needed to be on a few dates to meet up with friends along the way. Aside from the rough sketch of a route we did a fair bit of wandering and winging it — which, if you’ve got kids especially if you’ve got a kid with special needs — can be a recipe for disaster.
Or it can be a recipe for awesomeness.
We lucked out this time and ended up with awesomeness, mostly.
This summer I felt more comfortable with my mechanical skills and with our 1986 Volkswagen Westy camper’s reliability and so, with no small bit of trepidation, we sketched out a loose
route and itinerary that took us to some pretty remote areas of the northeast for our week of road tripping.
Also new this year was our SylvanSport Go-Easy utility trailer. We used the Go-Easy for our bicycles and the bulky sleeping gear. This trailer allowed us to bring Jack’s adaptive tricycle with us for the first time. This is a real game-changer for us as it gives him (and us) something to do at the campgrounds besides shoot hoops at our makeshift basketball hoop. I’ll get a detailed review about the trailer posted soon.
We traveled just over 1600 miles on a route that took us up along the Hudson River — from Kinderhook to Lake George — through the Adirondacks, to Montreal and then down to Maine via Burlington, Vermont. Many of the roads were just amazing to drive on and we took back roads instead of major highways where possible.
With the exception of a short spell of engine bucking just as we were about to drive through the White Mountains, the van performed impeccably. Still not sure if it was an overheated coil, air in the fuel pump or just gremlins but pulling over and pulling the line off the fuel filter such that my leather watchband got soaked and smelled like gas for the rest of the trip was enough to solve the problem.
It’s been said many times before that what makes a trip worthwhile is the journey and not the destination. In this case, the roads we took really did make the journey as spectacular as any of the destinations.
Over the next few weeks I will share some stories on AllTogetherOutThere about each of our destinations and note some of the spectacular routes and campsites we found along the way. Stay tuned!