My husband Chris and I are pretty sensible people. We tend to plan and think things through – usually. But if you’ve ever read my About page, you know that our decision to buy our 1927 cottage was impulsive and driven by passion rather than reason.
And so was our recent trip back east.
It all happened because of Chris’s latest obsession: Collecting and restoring vintage Coleman lanterns.
Turns out there’s a club for that – the International Coleman Collectors Club (or “ICCC”). And just a few weeks ago, Chris found out that they were about to have their annual convention. In Massachusetts. A five hour flight for us.
Chris asked me if I’d go with him.
I booked our flights before he could change his mind.
But of course, I told him, we couldn’t go all that way just for the convention. That would be silly. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to check a couple more things off my bucket list.
Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor
I feel so fortunate to live on the West Coast where we enjoy beautiful sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.
But I’m always curious about that “other” big ocean way across the country where the sun rises. Maine in particular seemed so intriguing and romantic to me: Rugged coastlines, old lighthouses, grizzled fishermen, colorful buoys – and Acadia National Park.
So as soon as our plane landed in Boston, we headed up the coast to the village of Bar Harbor, Maine.
I didn’t really have time to research Bar Harbor before our trip. I’d always pictured it as rustic and weathered: Crusty fishermen wearing heavy wool sweaters and pulling lobster traps off their boats.
But it was more gentrified than that: Lots of great shops and restaurants, and many intriguing lodging options.
Eventually I did find my colorful buoys.
The best part is that Bar Harbor is at the entrance to Acadia National Park.
As national parks go, Acadia is small. But there’s a lot to see. On our first day in the park, we enjoyed the rugged coastline.
We caught a glimpse of the remote Egg Island Lighthouse before a heavy blanket of fog moved in.
And watched water rush through Thunder Hole.
We took a murky hike to the summit of Gorham Mountain – all 525 feet. We learned that these mountains were once much taller, but over the ages erosion has worn them down to their granite bases.
I liked that we got to experience the Maine fog, even if it meant missing the views.
The next day the sun came out, and we made up for lost time.
We hiked at Cadillac Mountain.
We explored the carriage roads and magnificent stone bridges at Logan Pond. John D. Rockefeller, Jr had these roads and bridges built when he owned the land.
And we visited the Bass Harbor lighthouse.
This part of Maine smells so good. Everywhere we went, we were either smelling the fresh ocean air or the fragrant balsam fir.
The L.L.Bean headquarters are a few hours south of Bar Harbor in Freeport, Maine. There are several L.L.Bean stores located there and, when we walked into the first one, there it was again: That smell of balsam fir. So I bought it to take home.
I’m looking forward to making sachets with the large bag of balsam fir needles.
We also found a drying rack for our laundry room at an antique store. It’s still working its way across the country to its new home on the West Coast.
But it’s time to move on to the world of vintage lanterns.
All Things Coleman
We headed to rural, inland Massachusetts – to the tiny town of Winchendon. Here, collectors of all things Coleman, but especially vintage lanterns, were having their annual convention at the senior center.
Now coming from the Pacific Northwest, where our architecture is relatively new, I imagined the senior center to be a dated one-story building with dingy linoleum floors.
Here is what I found.
The Old Murdock Senior Center was built in the 1880s and was originally a public high school.
In the auditorium, Coleman collectors from around the world shared their treasures, their stories, and their knowledge.
From the unusual to the rustic, it was all here.
We were newcomers to the club, and everyone was so welcoming. On the second evening, we joined them in a “light up” outside the senior center. It was their way of honoring members who had passed – and it was beautiful.
But it was almost time to fly home, and we were only about an hour and a half from Boston.
We’d visited Boston before, and I just have to say that I love Boston. I love the architecture, the people, and most of all the history. This is where it all began for the United States.
On our previous visit, we only saw the first part of Boston’s Freedom Trail. So this time we started at Bunker Hill Monument and worked our way back to Paul Revere Square.
We toured the USS Constitution. “Old Ironsides,” as they call her, is actually made of live oak.
Launched in 1797, she was the second battleship ever to be built for the U.S. Navy. And she fought pirates.
No trip to Boston is complete without a visit to a colonial-era graveyard. We visited Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. Some of the deceased buried here were born in the 1500s!
I loved the timing of our Boston visit: Right before the 4th of July. There is no better reminder of what Independence Day is really about than touring the Old North Church, where the “one if by land, two if by sea” signal was sent from.
And admiring a bronze statue of Paul Revere.
So, to my American readers, Happy Independence Day!
And liberty forever.
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Disclosure: Affiliate links are used below.
- Chris loves collecting vintage Coleman lanterns because he enjoys searching for them, and often the ones he finds are very affordable. They don’ take up much space to store or display. Etsy always seems to have a fun selection of all things Coleman. Remember though that there is a lot to learn about safely lighting these lanterns. Please use caution and do your research.
- The drying rack I found at the antique store is probably not an antique. But I love it because it’s expandable, and it has a shelf and pegs for more storage. It look almost exactly like this one on Amazon.com.
- The fragrance of balsam fir comes in many forms. Now I wish I’d bought the adorable cabin incense burner. I still might.
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