Wellness by Design

Let’s Roam: The Maine Coastline

For those who like to meditate or simply take a minute to savor the wonderful creation that is our planet.

Sitting by the ocean, relaxing to the sound of a running stream, or looking into the horizon from a mountain cliff can transform the experience of meditating or relaxing from ordinary to extraordinary.

This is an experience we would like to share with anyone who is interested in mediation, yoga, relaxation, mindfulness or any other type of spiritual practice.

As we develop our new Meditation Room concept, one aspect we were struggling with is the media content. Sure, we can source media content containing great scenery from around the world on YouTube, but what would be the fun in that? Besides, the video quality will not be 4K, and overall, we felt it will not be very authentic. So, the only solution was to source our own media content. And the only way to source our own content was to send someone out into the wild to gather it.

Our owner, Alon, jumped on the opportunity, and he set out to find some beautiful serene places one would like to sit for a bit and connect with the universe. Since we live in Covid times, travelling to just about anywhere is not feasible.

So, the decision was made, we are exploring the Maine coastline.

Maine, dubbed Vacation Land, is known for its picturesque coast and its natural splendor with Acadia National Park, its crown jewel. In addition, Maine is on the travel safelist for residents of the NY Tristate area, which makes it an ideal destination for his family of four.

This is Alon’s travel journal, with some behind the scenes of the spots he gathered inspiration from.

In late August, a window of opportunity opened to travel up to Maine to collect some content for our Meditation Rooms concept and have some family fun while we’re at it. We decided to start in Southern Maine to avoid having to drive for ten hours or more in one shot. For the first three nights, we stayed in a beach town called Old Orchard Beach, mainly since it has a water park, we figured we would satisfy the twins’ hunger for water slides first. Old Orchard Beach reminded me very much of the Jersey Shore, albeit less crowded and a wider shore, and the water is about 10°F colder. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the water park was closed during the week due to Covid, and with temperatures not suitable for tanning we were forced to explore what else the area had to offer.

First stop: Portland Head

On the advice of friends, we headed towards Portland Head, the famous Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth at the entry to the Portland Harbor. New England is dotted with lighthouses and this one is among the more impressive. This is a great place for scenic photography, and family photos galore. The shore itself, as we found is typical to Maine, is made of jagged cliffs, providing ample opportunities to over-active kids or any other adventurers to test their cliff climbing skills. We also enjoyed some overpriced lobster rolls from a local track, and the view from the picnic table was so worth it. Besides the lighthouse itself and the museum at its base there is also a short scenic trail along the cliffs and even a small beach. There are plenty of parking spots, though I can imagine that the place gets crowded during the main summer season. Please note that Portland Head closes at 2 pm. So, make sure to arrive there no later than noon.

The Lighthouse at Portland Head

Feeling Motivated in Harpswell

On day 2 we opted to venture a little further. After reading some reviews online, we decided to head to Harpswell and Bailey Island primarily to explore the Giant’s Stairs. We read this was one of the most scenic walks in Maine. Well, we weren’t disappointed.

The Giant’s Stairs – Bailey Island

The trail along the jagged cliffs is breathtaking and we wished the trail was longer than a mile. The trail is extremely easy to walk with some offshoots leading down to the cliffs and various spots to stop and savor the majesty of this natural beauty. You can sit at the edge of a cliff and enjoy the sights and sounds as wave after wave are crushing on the cliffs. What an ideal corner to disconnect.

The Giant’s Stairs – Bailey Island

In our quest to extend the Giant’s Stairs trail, we reached the end of the road and with it a charming cabins hotel named Driftwood Inn. We fell in love. Driftwood Inn is at the end of a peninsula and thus is surrounded by the beautiful shoreline on three sides overlooking an island at the other side of the cove. It has plenty of vistas to take in the natural beauty and the cottages are lovely. It all makes Driftwood Inn a perfect spot to sit and quite down. We knew right away we had to spend a night or two there and since we left a couple of nights at the tail end of our trip for the unexpected, a cottage was shortly booked for two nights – spoiler alert, the plans are going to change. One thing was for certain though, this spot had to make it into our meditation library and now we needed the opportunity to capture and share this experience. Will we get it?

Our appetite for cliff trails was not satisfied and we decided to head to another trail called plainly the Cliff Trail. The Cliff Trail also offers some beautiful scenic views of fjord like bays decorated with evergreens. It is a short and easy loop trail that takes about an hour. I’d recommend it if you have the time.

The Cliff Trail – Bailey Island

From Old Orchard Beach to Blissful Bar Harbor

On the third day of our trip the forecast was calling for a warmer sunny day, perfect opportunity to spend some time on the beach to satisfy the Misses’ affection for sun, sand, and waves. Well, the weather had some other ideas and stayed somewhat cool and cloudy.

TheAutom8Group founder

The cloudy sky deterred the crowds, and that along with the pleasant temperature created a perfect backdrop for some quiet time and relaxation on the beach. For me it was also an excellent opportunity to create a relaxation video that celebrates the way the clouds interact with the water to create a perfect atmosphere.

And so, my first relaxation video was created.

By noon we realized the sun wasn’t going to show itself and decided to head up to Bar Harbor where we had accommodations for the next two nights. But before embarking on the three-hour drive, we had to savor the marsh views at Pine Brook the adjacent town to Old Orchard Beach. We had lunch at Bayley’s Lobster Pound. The quality of the fresh seafood matched that of the beautiful scenery. Overall if you intend to stay in that area, I would highly recommend staying in one of the seaside hotels/motels at Pine Brook over Old Orchard Beach.

Driving up the Maine Turnpike is a pleasant experience in and of itself. The road was rather open and the scenery intriguing. From water canals to open bays and the diversity of the trees and vegetation made the drive so much more interesting than your usual highway transit.

Exploring Bar Harbor

I must admit I hadn’t heard of Bar Harbor until a week before our trip. I was happy my wife did the research though and booked us for a couple of nights there, even though these plans were about to change. Apparently, many of America’s most influential people owned or own a home in the town or its immediate vicinity and for good reason. This town is absolutely beautiful! From its waterline to Acadia National Park at its backyard, there’s no shortage of great views and great adventures.

We arrived at Bar Harbor towards dinner time and wasted no time in exploring its streets. Situated on Desert Mountain Island and practically serving as the gateway to Acadia, the streets are humming with tourists and hikers. The downtown itself is incredibly charming, and there are plenty of restaurants and souvenir stores. Unfortunately for us it started raining as soon as we left the hotel and we were restricted to a quick restaurant search, though still managed to enjoy a beautiful sunset over Cadillac Mountain.

Rainy Sunset over Bar Harbor

Immersed in the Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain

With an elevation of 1,530 feet (466 meters) Cadillac Mountain’s summit is the highest point within 25 miles (40 km) of the Atlantic shoreline of the North American continent and is known as the first place in the U.S. to see the sunrise (although that is only true for a portion of the year). I paused for a second when our hotel concierge told me I should leave the hotel by 4:30 in the morning if I wanted to get parking at the summit and view the famous sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in its entirety. But I was on a mission to source content and surely the first sunrise in the US will be a spiritual experience that should be captured and shared.

So, I rolled out of bed at around 4:15 in the morning and snuck out quietly not to wake the sleeping bunch. The 15-minute drive in the dark up the winding road to the summit was a mystical experience in and of itself, though more, much more was yet to come.

Upon arriving at the summit, I noticed quite a few silhouettes heading in one direction. Since my objective was to create a video documenting the sunrise from first light until the big ball of fire is fully exposed, along with the natural sounds, I figured I’d head in a different direction, climbing over rocks on a less traveled path to try to find some solitude. To my fortune, the full moon was still at full force shining its light from the west, and I could see the obstacles in front of me. Before long I was able to situate myself in an optimal location surrounded by beautiful boulders and low evergreens. A red sliver was appearing on the horizon and the reflection of the moonlight on a water runoff contributed to the mystic atmosphere.

full moon was still at full force shining its light

This was ideal I thought; the amazing view along with the whistle of the wind will make for the perfect meditation scenery. I set up my camera, got comfortable, and started filming. Indeed, the sunrise did not disappoint. As the first rays broke over a ring of red and orange clouds, the full view of Desert Island, Bar Harbor and the bay gradually became visible in all its glory.

sunrise, the beginning of a new day with all its promise

I personally love the energy that comes with the sunrise, the beginning of a new day with all its promise. It’s also my favorite time to meditate, usually the world is still quiet before the wheels of life start humming.

As I sat there on the cliff, with the sky becoming brighter and redder by the minute, my mind became quieter and uplifted.

As I was diving deeper, some voices and conversations behind me pulled me out of the sun’s rays and the whistling wind. I stood up, looked back, and saw what must have been about a hundred people on the cliff right above me. All taking selfies and posing with the grand view. The first sunrise in the US is quite popular as one can expect and might not be the perfect place for total solitude. Looks like this video will require a nice soundtrack after all.

Once the sun became fully visible over the ring of clouds, the crowds started to dissipate and the howling of the high-altitude wind returned to dominate the soundtrack. Since, the camera’s battery (and memory card) ran out, I could now truly relax and enjoy the breathtaking view that was exposed right below me. I found a rock that resembled a lounge chair and lounged with the sun’s orange rays warming my face. The relaxing scene was completed by a private show from a local squirrel who was rejoicing on a rock about three feet in front of me. This must be the beginning of a great day. A day we got to hike a trail which took the lives of more than 60 hikers.

relaxing scene was completed by a private show from a local squirrel who was rejoicing on a rock

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The Unique Experience of The Precipice Trail

High from my sunrise experience and the fact I was able to capture a full one-hour video of this beautiful experience in 4K, I headed back to the hotel to wake up the sleepy heads. Fortunately, they were already raring to go and after breakfast we headed back to Acadia.

We were debating which trail to hit first and while reviewing trails on All Trails I came across one called The Precipice, which consisted of walking across some narrow cliffs and climbing ladders. The pictures didn’t seem intimidating and I must admit that neither me, nor my wife knew the meaning of the word precipice and that turned out to be a good thing (Precipice: noun, a very steep rock face or cliff, especially a tall one). From that point, the thrill-seeking twins wouldn’t hear of anything else. The Precipice it had to be. We arrived at the head trail at around 10 am and not too many parking spots were available. Apparently, this trail is very popular, and it’s recommended to arrive in the earlier morning hours. The initial ascent, although steep, seemed peaceful and not unusual. And then we reached the ‘challenge’: A decently tall boulder with just a couple of metal rails.

This is a test, if you can muster the strength, flexibility and courage to get to the top of it, you may go on.

There were several hikers ahead of us and we had to wait for our turn patiently while maintaining social distancing. A couple of these hikers were struggling and that had sewn doubt in me, will I be able to make it? After all, my legs aren’t in full strength after sustaining a back injury several years ago. The twins hopped over the boulder as if it was nothing but a small rock. As for my wife and I, the less said the better. We did make it eventually and there was no turning back. There were numerous points along the trail when I thought, why didn’t I turn back when I could?

The ’Challenge Rock’ at The Precipice Trail

From here, The Precipice lived up to its name and didn’t disappoint. This trail has everything: challenging – check, amazing views – check, heart pumping adrenalin rush – check. Some of the sections which included climbing metal stakes imbedded into rocks or traversing over narrow cliffs were darn right scary and as close as one can get to rock-climbing. When we finally made it to the top with our quads burning and our shirts soaked with sweat – well, the sense of accomplishment is difficult to describe. It was well worth every challenge we endured.

Narrow cliffs at The Precipice

After some rest we started descending back through a trail that loops around the mountain. Some hikers take The Precipice back down, although we deemed it a bit too scary for our taste. If you are a real thrill seeker, it might be a good option. It was hard convincing our mountain goat-like twins to take the easy way back with us. All in all, The Precipice might be one of the hardest trails I’ve ever hiked, but at the same time one of the most exciting and fulfilling. So much so that the twins complained that every subsequent trail we hiked wasn’t exciting enough. We now know to keep the best for last the next time.

The view from Schooner Head at the top of The Precipice

Acadia Cliffs, Jordan Pond and The Bubbles

We dedicated the second day of our Acadia adventure and the sixth of our trip to some easier hikes. We started the day with an easy stroll around Jordan Pond which provided for a beautiful backdrop for another meditation video. One of the most striking things about Jordan Pond is how exceptionally clear the water is with an average visibility depth of 46 feet. I can also attest the water tastes great.

Jordan Pond

After an easy stroll and a light lunch we headed towards Ocean Path which winds along the cliffs which adorn the shoreline. This path is rather crowded, though it’s easy to go off the trail and find some beautiful vistas to stop, relax, and take in the amazing views. The boys also stole an opportunity to go rock climbing along the cliffs (good thing their mom didn’t see). As late afternoon approached, it also made for a great opportunity to record another meditation video celebrating the beautiful cliffs and the sound of the breaking waves.

Ocean Path, Acadia

Check this Link to see how our smart lighting can mimic sunrise & sunset

When we were visiting around Jordan Pond, I was very curious about the two bubble-looking mountains at the backdrop of Jordan Pond. Turned out their name reflected their shape, The Bubbles. So, as sunset was approaching, we decided to hit one more trail and climb up The Bubbles. As it turned out, there is a North Bubble and a South Bubble. We chose the North Bubble as it was a shorter trail and sunset was fast approaching. The North Bubble trail is relatively short yet steep trail that makes for a good workout.

The view from The North Bubble

Upon reaching the top, the sun was already dipping behind the horizon. The beautiful view, the sound of the wind and distant waves, as well as the fact it was the first time during our Acadia adventure we were truly on our own, called for another meditation video. After a short meditation as the shadows were growing longer, we packed up and hurried down the mountain while we could still see the path. Another amazing day at Acadia came to an end. We were supposed to head back south the next day, however this felt like unfinished business. We were having too much fun and couldn’t find it in our hearts to leave just yet. So, another night was booked at Bar Harbor with a night scratched at Bailey Island. Sometimes hard decisions had to be made.

Some Places Are Just Worth Repeating

On our last day at Acadia after watching the sunrise again, this time with the entire family, we were itching for one last trail to go out with a bang – something challenging (to compete with The Precipice), and with great views. We’ve got all that and more with the Cannon Brook, Cadillac South Ridge and Ladder Trail. This trail ascends almost 1,300 ft mostly by climbing over stairs and ladders in less than a mile to the top of Dore Mountain. You then descend for around 300 ft to a ravine and ascend another 500 ft to the top of Cadillac mountain. Of course, every muscle in our legs was screaming from exhaustion. The amazing views made it all worth it though. From Cadillac Mountain we then descended to Cannon Brook which offers a completely different scenery with its running streams and beautiful vegetation. When all was said and done, the sun was already high in the sky and it was time to head south towards Bailey Island.

We arrived at The Driftwood Inn on Bailey Island in the late afternoon and settled in our cabin. As I mentioned earlier, The Driftwood Inn is at the end of a peninsula (and just steps from The Giant Stairs). The place is so peaceful and relaxing with low light pollution at night. To add to the peaceful atmosphere, there’s absolutely no cell reception and the Wi-Fi was spotty as well (anyone know an AV company that can help with that?). So, out of other options, we fortunately were forced to sit on the porch, listen to the crushing waves and watch the stars which were gleaming in their millions.

On our last day in Maine we enjoyed the peacefulness of The Driftwood Inn with its magnificent ocean views all morning. It was also an opportunity to film one last meditation video to capture the absolutely calming atmosphere.

The view from The North Bubble

At last it was time to head south, back home. But not before we have one last real Maine Lobster Roll. Since it was Labor Day, we couldn’t find a decent table at any of the local restaurants and we ‘settled’ for lobster rolls from the local general store which we took to an oceanfront picnic area. I must admit these were the best, freshest lobster rolls I had the entire trip. That was a fitting way to bow out. We vowed to come back to this magnificent part of the world as soon as we could.