Google Maps took us on some questionable dirt roads through the Green Mountains of Vermont, but after hours of driving, we finally made it to the Pine Tree State. (I just looked that nickname up.) A sign at the border said "Welcome Home." 

We arrived at the Bass Harbor Head Light Station under cover of night. Having spent the preceding hours shooing away tourists, Pops shifted gears and let some interlopers (us) through the gate.  The ominous red glow of the light lit the wet path down to the house.    

Everything was red.

Our Weird Kids were pretty exhausted. Too exhausted to sleep in a comfortable position, it seems. But they had everything they needed: sleeping pads/bags, camping pillows, one hedgehog blanket, one Otis Mountain Get Down water bottle, one unicorn water bottle, and one old phone with a copy of Allen Sherman's My Son the Nut on it.        

Early the next morning, the old men convened in the Brooding Room to look out at the thick Maine fog. 

The horizon exists only some of the time in Northern Coastal Maine.

There are islands out there (stay tuned), but you couldn't see them this morning.

I suppose it's pretty common in these parts, but I thought the fog was super neat. It gave everything a mysterious aura. Here, some coastal pines are shrouded in the morning mist. 

Heeeeyyyy Daaaaaaaaaaddddd...  

A slug enjoys the neatly whitewashed exterior of the lighthouse. 

As if the fog weren't mysterious enough, the lock on this curved door prevented us from climbing up into the tower. Pops claimed to have been in there. (He also claimed that Obama had been in there.) Neither claim was backed up with evidence.  

The only thing keeping us from the lighthouse tower was this four-digit combination lock. How long could it possibly take to go through all 10,000 possibilities? (And what if the wheels weren't set perfectly when you finally got to the right combination?)

We'll return to the lock in a moment.  

A dewy web on the way down to the rocks.

June requests assistance. (Despite the rainbow tops and light-up heels, these weren't the best rock-hopping footwear.)  

Otis's shoes weren't great either, but that didn't stop him from mountain-goating all over the place all week. 

Coffee and conversation while Andre and the kids do some slippery tidepool recon.

And from the other side! (These rocks, by the way, were pretty much right below the lighthouse. What a scene!)

These tide-pools looked fresh and promising, but there wasn't much variety in them—mostly just barnacles, snail, and seaweed. We'd soon get a hot tip for a killer pool, though...           

Dramatic crags looking out toward Great Gott Island (not pictured on account of aforementioned fog).   

Otis claimed that he could see some of the barnacles in the tide pools opening up and sticking out their weird barnacle bits. I did not witness this myself and so am forced to take him at his word.    

For Excursion #1, Pops took us to the nearby Ship Harbor Trail—an excellent choice. There was a lot to do and see on the short hike. Our first discover was these gelatinous, kelpy water balloons that had washed up onto the muddy beach. Otis bravely picked them up despite the slimy exterior (and started hucking them at nearby targets).               

They call it Ship Harbor, but you'd need a pretty shallow draft for it to be of any use. 

We braved the frigid Maine water and took off our shoes... 

...and discovered all kinds of stuff!


And Otis found this half-eaten mussel that a seagull seems to have rejected.  

(It did make for a pretty cool tidal current, though. The whole harbor fills and drains through this narrow natural inlet.)    

If there are large rocks around, this kid doesn't stop moving until it's time to go home.    

Having paid our dues in the icy saltwater, we decided we'd earned a dip in a freshwater lake for Excursion #2. Pops took us to his swimming spot of choice, Echo Lake.

It wasn't exactly a secret spot, but we did manage to stake a claim on one of the large flat rocks down by the water.

At first I was a little bummed that some teens were monopolizing the obvious jumping rock, but the spot we found turned out to be even better. There was a nice, easy, shallow-water entrance for the kids. Otis was a little apprehensive at first (he doesn't have a lot of fat on dem bones) but June went berserk. She doesn't quite know how to swim yet, but that didn't stop her from being a swimming fiend!

Sarah's Scintillating Stripy Swimming Suit.

Here's a proper (fog free) view of the light and Great Gott Island.

There's a rumor that the rocks below the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse are one of the few places on the East Coast where you can see the sun setting over saltwater...

...this might be true in winter, but this is about all you're going to see in July.

That doesn't stop the hordes of soon-to-be-confused tourists.

The sky was pretty, but the sun was nowhere to be seen.

Many spies have many eyes.

The light keeps a narrow watch on the trees at night.

Waking up in the morning, all we could see from our bedroom window was trees and islands. Pretty sweet!

This mothy friend was hanging out on the screen outside the bathroom all night.

Pops got a hot tip for a killer tide pool. We decided to check it out on Excursion #3.

Turns out Pops's source was on the level. This tide pool was excellent!

There were a ton of hermit crabs—some peaceful, some at war. We put them on rocks and stuff and waited for them to peek out.

Hello, friend!

And what is this little dude? Is it a baby lobster? I tried Google-image-searching it, but couldn't find anything definitive.

Excursion #4 made use of the bikes we'd hauled across state lines. Pops was eager to show off his new recumbent ride, so we brought wheels of our own.

Acadia has an excellent system of carriage roads that are perfect for biking. The hills aren't too steep and there are tons of blueberries along the way, pretty much wherever you look.

Tons of fun... until June decided she couldn't finish the loop. It seemed like she was probably just hungry and tired, so eventually we got some food in her and managed to coax her into riding the last leg back to the car. In the end, she made it. (But mid-meltdown, I was ready to throw her bike into the woods.)

Quite an arch under the Duck Brook Bridge!

We timed the bike ride such that we could meet up with a newly-arrived Oma at Lake Wood Pond for a quick swim. Nice little spot! There's a sandy beach at one end and it's perfect for little kids. June did some more manic life-jacket swimming and Otis helped a heavily-clothed kid (blue head, on the right) try to trap some huge tadpoles. (Like, really huge.)

Back at the lighthouse, the kids begin their Junior Rangers program. (I think all of us adults were more excited about it than the tired/semi-grumpy kids.)

A little less foggy than before. (And now with a boat!)

The pickerel frog (Lithobates palustris) looks a lot like a frog-shaped giraffe.

Back to the lock!

Pops described how they were told to remember the names for other locks around the property and it got me thinking...

...this framed timeline in the dining room didn't offer much in the way of help...

...but with a clue in mind, I got to work on the two or three hundred combinations I'd narrowed it down to.

Lo and behold! One of them worked!

I nonchalantly dropped news of my success at breakfast...

...and up we went.

Pretty fancy looking candle in the middle of the lens.

Where there's lenses, there's rainbows!

Including on Otis hands.

The bulb kind of looked like the Master Control Program from Tron, if you ask me. (And I love how everything is upside-down on the other side.)

There were all kinds of interesting reflections and refractions going on up at the top of the tower.

House and upside-down house!

This tide pool wasn't very lively.

For entertainment, Otis read to us from Fudge. (Pops pulled a van den Toorn and listened from the floor.)

All in all, an excellent trip! The pressure of the gig would soon exceed the rewards for Pops and Oma, but for this Junior Ranger a few days in this touristy paradise were just the ticket!