And we give Cobscook Bay State Park 10 Rubies! Wait, rewind, sorry for jumping to the end, but you will see that we fell in love with this park. So, from the beginning…the GPS says this park is 4 hours from our home in Portland, but in actuality, with a cranky car baby you need to tack on another 90 minutes or so to factor in stops. We even passed on watching the eclipse during the ride home because Eloise was sleeping peacefully. Witnessing something historical wasn’t worth it, maybe we’ll catch the next one in 7 years.
The easiest directions from the southern part of the state would be to drive north on I95 to Bangor, then take a right and go east until you run out of US soil. That is correct, this is some of the most eastern parts of the United States. A nearby state park holds the official title but we will chat about that later. On our way up, we counted over 30 licence plates from different states, plus another 4 provinces from Canada during this road trip. You would have thought the parents in the car were a couple kids every time we saw a new plate. There are even Apps you can download that help keep track while also providing trivia on each state. We truly live in the Vacation State and lots of people were trying to soak up what’s left of summer, including us.
This trip was our 3rd camping trip as a family and we spent 2 nights, 3 days away. We also brought Baxter on this one but not because we 100% wanted to. Bax is what some would call high maintenance and he’s a hard one to find a sitter for on long weekends. Braddock on the other hand has a fan club but that doesn’t mean he’s less work. He’s just not 75lbs of pure muscle and is twice Baxter’s age. You might say we failed in some areas at training our pups over the years but we love em both, warts and all. So, we took a leap of faith now that we had a couple trips under our belt with the baby and added Baxter to the mix. Not only did it work out, but the monster was given an overall B for the weekend. He crushed it! You have to realize a B for Baxter is pretty much an A for other dogs. Bax is not much of cuddler but he snuggled up both nights in the tent. He looked peaceful all weekend and really seemed to love the experience. We underestimated this city dog for sure.
Either people have never heard of Cobscook Bay or they say it’s one of the best parks in Maine. With that in mind we had some high expectations before spending the weekend there. We chose August for this trip a while back because the weather can be tricky in this part of Maine and we figured mid-August would be ideal temperature wise; we ended up hitting the nail on the head. When it comes to picking parks to camp at, we are shooting for at least 4 a year, but also being mindful of average weather, black flies, etc. For example, in June we chose Camden Hills because after a very buggy spring we figured the closer to the coast the better, and it worked out perfectly.
Machias is the last town with large stores before you get to the park and it’s about 35 minutes away. There are some gas stations closer to the park, but we decided to hit up Hannaford while driving through. We didn’t expect the couple minutes of bumper to bumper traffic for the annual Machias “Wild Blueberry Festival.” It was cute and it looks like the whole town comes out for it. While checking out at Hannaford, the bagger stated that the “Black Fly Dance” was the real party of the weekend. Temping, but we took a raincheck on the festivities. This might be a good time to say that we started to get a little smarter budgeting for these trips. On our first camping trip, we spent just over $200 at the grocery store. This camping trip we spent just over $200 for the entire weekend! That’s gas, food, firewood and our camping reservation. This summer has brought some big changes for our family and working off a tighter budget has become a priority. What’s funny is that zero sacrifices were made by following a budget, it just came down to a little extra planning and not being wasteful. Something as simple as bringing condiments and snacks from home and building a shopping list according to our meals which we planned out. Also, why buy a 12 pack of beer when you have a stocked beer fridge at home leftover from summer gatherings? To look back on the weekend, what we ended up having for $200 is mind-blowing. We didn’t skimp on the good stuff either. We bought all-natural meats and produce from Pineland Farms and splurged for the wild Maine blueberries.
It would be hard to find a bad site at Cobscook Bay State Park. This park is around and on a peninsula so there are a lot of sites on the water, and several with water on both sides. There are over 100 sites so odds are you would have your pick, especially if you planned ahead before summer started. Most sites are quite private with lots of shade, covered picnic tables, plus they are groomed and well cleaned. They were very flat and free of rocks and roots; which is a tenters dream. The one time we thought for a second, “maybe those two sites might not be the best to have”, we quickly realized how truly amazing this park was. There were two sites not far from us that were in the open and not as private. They are still near the water (with a view), had a bathroom next to them, were extremely flat and free of debris, had their own water stations, a fire place with higher walls and easy access to the road. After a closer look, we realized they were reserved handicap sites and they were designed perfectly for families that might need additional amenities, but still getting the full experience of the park without missing a beat. I’m sure many of you reading this can think of family and friends who are often limited to experiencing certain things based off lack of handicap accessibility. With all the beauty and wonder of this park, these site were a highlight for us. Kuddos to the park and their staff; hopefully it’s something we see more of as we travel around the state.
This park is on the ocean, I repeat, you are camping under tall trees on the ocean. It was a dream! Just an absolute treasure of a park. There are clam shells in the woods, I mean where are we? The trees are towering and thin, everything is super green from the moisture in the air. The tides will be like something you’ve never seen before, dropping in some areas up to 24 feet! You feel like you’re on the edge of the world and this isn’t the first time we experienced this. While Eloise was still baking in the oven in April of 2016, we did a 10 mile, 1 night, 2 day hiking trip along the Cuter Preserve. It’s quickly becoming a popular hike after several publications have featured this area of Maine as must see for destination hikers. We won’t get into that trip, but all we will say is that it’s a bucket list type of hike. Cutler isn’t too far from this park so the terrain here brought back some wonderful memories. There is a perfect little hike on the Cobscook Bay State Park property called the “Nature Trail” that takes you along the water and into the woods. It’s ideal for kids but still challenging in a couple areas as you make your way up to the gorgeous scenic overlook.
Eloise passed out on our way back and it was enough to tire Baxter out so that he was more manageable on his leash about half way through. We spent just over an hour exploring on the trails before it emptied us out less than 100 yards from our site. Somehow, for the first time we were able to transfer a napping baby from one area to another. Eloise usually doesn’t allow this, but she went from passed out in the hiking pack to getting some extra Zs in the camper.
Not much more to say besides it’s a place you want more time at. We could have used another day there to be honest, but because of the drive up and back and everything in between, we could have used another day at home as well. We certainly felt pretty run down when we got home and even more so getting ready for work the next morning. It took a couple days for us to get back to our well-oiled routine, but that’s what trips like this are all about. They are made to derail your routine and slow life down to the point where the little things stand out and you don’t overlook or take them for granted. We had lots of firsts on this trip. Eloise tried and shared a vanilla soft serve with her mom. Mom, who doesn’t drink coffee, fell in love with black coffee and Dad was forced to master starting a fire with wet wood. Eloise also officially slept through the night for the first time. She made it to 6am! Never thought this day would come and especially in a camper.
We didn’t visit the two state parks (Shackford Head and Quoddy Head) that were within 30-45 minutes of Cobscook Bay State Park because this park shouldn’t have to share a weekend. Actually, we never plan to visit any two parks in one day but I’m sure we will have a few long weekends in which we will visit a couple. It just gives us a reason to come back another year as a family. We plan to lump in an overnight stay on Campobello Island in Canada during that visit as well. If it was good enough for FDR and his family, then I guess it’s good enough for the Rubys.
With all the license plates we saw, Maine plates dominated in the park. It’s not a place you stumble upon and it’s certainly not one of the usual must-see attractions regurgitated in a Maine magazine. With that being said, the folks that we met at this park seemed to be on the same page as us. Everyone waves as they drive by, people take time to introduce themselves, and the park staff even offered to deliver our fire wood down to our site after check in. Our neighbors at a nearby site who also happened to live within a couple miles from us in Portland, checked in before going to the store to see if we needed anything after we were setting up on night #1. We had our space but when we were around people, they were the type of people we wanted to be around. Of course, going to a park way out in the middle of nowhere wasn’t easy and when you experience more wilderness you sacrifice some amenities, but all the good outweighed any little blemishes for us. This is the type of escape we prefer and what we want to expose Eloise to. So back to the beginning…we give Cobscook Bay State Park a 10 and it sets the bar high for the trips to follow. We highly recommend you spend some time exploring this unique and less crowed part of Maine.