Acadia National Park

06
Nov
2013



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I didn’t write this addition to the sign but I don’t completely disagree with it.  And really when it comes down to it, I honestly don’t think the employees of the park do either. That might be why there wasn’t much resistance to the brave group of people that went past the gates and enjoyed the park besides many of the barriers and signs. I was told in Camden at the bike shop where I bought my new Trek that though it was closed people were going in. The locals do this before the season opens to the flood of tourists.  So basically the “off season” came early for them. So I packed up the WNDRLST and Patton and I went up to the island where the National Park lives.

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Acadia was one of the first National Parks I found out about as a kid in a feature of it in National Geographic and I must say it did not disappoint. Coming up to the gates and visitor center was kind of eerie. Abandoned civilization is 10x more unnerving than being alone in nature for me but I tipped my hat to the abandoned guard shack and trudged on! Acadia is a pretty good sized  park so every day I took the liberty to park the truck close to an area I had not seen. Because the park was closed there was no parking in the middle as a central hub which means you biked or walked a good distance before really starting to see “the sights” First day was the coastline.

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Biking in on the eastern trail along the coast line is stunning. It ranges from big rocky bluffs to bends that reveal secret secluded beaches. You could spend months exploring it for sure. The roads are built and maintained so anybody of any mobility could get out and see something amazing. Up and down and around the bends each corner revealed a new view and surprise which gives you the extra physical strength to go farther and farther in.

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The fall colors were on the last gasp of their bloom. A storm had hit  earlier in the week while I was in Camden and had knocked out a lot of the leaves from the towering trees but there was still plenty to see. The autumn colors of the North East are almost radioactive. Photos don’t do them justice. I saw pinks and reds on leaves that were so rich and bright they would compete with any neon sign.  travel_photographer_acadianationalpark_brianbraun-5

Maybe my favorite experience from the first day was when I got off my bike and stepped off the trail into the thick woods. People on the road looked at me like CAN HE DO THAT? yes I can, so can you. I encourage it dammit. Get off the “tour bus” and explore!  Get dirty. What did I find. Trees spaced out so they could climb to the clouds. Moss that was so think you sank 3 inches into its spongey carpet. Any minute you expected to see Big Foot laying out enjoying the scene.

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The Next Day I hit the Carriage trails. Yes you read that right and no there aren’t actually carriages blazing around. The Rockefellers paid to have them put in so they could enjoy the vastness of the park from their carriages…which now provides EXCELLENT bikes paths. Seriously, we’re not talking about a few small cut throughs. The carriage trails go up and over the mountains and down to the edge of all the ponds. You couldn’t get better views. travel_photographer_acadianationalpark_brianbraun--9

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Every once in a while you would find “abandoned” park trucks as if somebody blew the whistle and they just left. Looking back at it the circumstances could have been the setting for THE GREATEST GO KART TRACK OF ALL TIME! I mean nice even clean dirt trails through a national park with nobody to stop you. FAIL BRAUN FAIL. I must demand more of my friend begin to travel with me from now on just so these opportunities aren’t wasted.
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Witches Hole Pond
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 Each day I came back exhausted beyond words. Biking 30+ miles a day up and down hills and around the mountain is not for the wussy pants. Sadly I left the island earlier than planned because of the “off season” and everything closing in the area. It was getting colder and work demanded me south. Needless to say it was a great kick off to my wilderness treks and left me inspired with many ideas for projects. Reflecting it was a special time in history, that when I show my kids some day (no I don’t have kids yet) these photos that I can say I saw the National Park when the government had shut down. (assuming we still have National Parks by then……ACT LIKE YOU HAVE SOME SENSE POLITICIANS!)

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Where would you suggest I spend some time at in the U.S? Any special places, doesn’t have to be National Parks? I’d love to spend some time at big horse ranches or on a fishing boat. Anything unique or special access I’m down! Would you like to see video? Let me know friends.

BE WELL, GO FAR!

-Braun

Be sure and connect with usphoto (4) on all the cool networks. I share special exclusive photos for each one. CHEERS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Money Tips! Fuel & Park Networks!

21
Oct
2013

HELLLOOO FROM THE ROAD! Ok so I’m less than a month on the road now and I can tell that I have 2 major expenses. Fuel and Park Fees. So I thought I’d share a few things I have picked up on. One most everybody can use, the other is for the ones that journey by road.

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A. is for most everybody, since we all drive cars that use fuel. Shell’s FUEL REWARDS NETWORK. Here’s how and why.

  1. It’s Free, just sign up or snag a card at a shell station
  2. You rack up points just shopping online through the same stores you do anyways.(Best Buy, Apple, Home Depot, Banana Republic, Travelocity) Christmas is coming, ! Some stores you even get double and triple the points!
  3. Save Money on Fuel!
  4. DUH

For me it’s major. If you can save 50+ cents off per gallon then that beats any other station hands down. Same deals you get online at the stores you shop at already. STRATEGY BONUS, (are you ready?!) use your credit cards that already have rewards, ex. am ex American Airlines, to pay for them and you are now scoring miles and gas money! BOOM! Mind Blown. Nothing wrong with being smart with shopping!

B. Is more for the rv trailer crowd. 2 networks of parks and awesome places to stay!

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Passport America. I was skeptical but for 44$ a year its not THAT big of a risk. The savings is about 50% off park rates! after 2 or 3 days it pays for itself. For full timers that is huge, even if you don’t stay at their park 100% thats a good amount of savings. I’ve now saved way more than what the membership costs me, and its not 2nd rate campsites. Great investment for sure!

Harvest Hosts. I cannot wait to use this one! It’s for self sufficient RV’s and trailers only….NO sewage dumping! BUT WHYYYYYY BRAUN?? Because you are invited to stay at awesome places FOR FREE (other than your 40$ a year membership) like vineyards, farms, Breweries, and Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory (probably). What a special experience to add to your journey. It’s a great way for small businesses like these to let people in to their daily life, so you gotta respect their openness to their world.

I hope this helped and if you are new to life on the road like I am, or even considering it, perhaps this even excites you.

Next Blog will be on Acadia National Park! I’m editing photos so you don’t get bored with me! CHEERS

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Be Well, Go Far, Dream BIG!

 



Camden Maine!

12
Oct
2013

We drove and drove and drove. Traveling up and down and up and down through the beautiful mountains of Tennessee into Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  We were on a mission to get north as possible before the leaves left and the cold arrived. Making sacrifices to not see more landmarks…like more bourbon distilleries. We stopped for diesel and rested in Wal Mart parking lots (who thankfully are RV Friendly) only for a few hours and then off again! Patton slept on and off in the back in his throne hammock. Always getting up for when I stopped to fuel up. We strayed away from the big cities of NYC and Boston for fear of traffic. And then there it was. Signs. We had reached the Atlantic Coast line and managed to pull to a beach front somewhere on the line of New Hampshire and Maine just before dawn.

I pulled Patton out of the truck and laid him on sand, knowing he had never really experienced it. He delighted in its softness on his old joints and we walked out over the sand dune and there it was. Illuminated by the just breaching sun that was merely as thick as a knife blade. We both stood in something I cannot begin to describe. Not only was this validation of why we had driven for days and nights, sleep deprived and junk food filled, but what I had worked non stop dawn to dusk every day this summer in the Texas heat to finish the airstream. We both smiled and dare I say laugh as we played in the surf and slowly strolled the beach finally relaxing. We had made it.

It was a few hours more to drive through the small cozy coastal towns of Maine until we reached Camden. The town of Camden is simply one word, CHARMING. It is hands down the iconic Maine town you think of. White wooden buildings with trim. Nice Harbor. Lobster rolls flow in every restaurant or roadside stand and hotels are called “Inns”.  Hills roll through the town with shops offering everything a visitor could hope for with people as pleasant as I have met anywhere. I even picked up a mountain bike there (Trek) which some how I didn’t have when I left Dallas.

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This Inn reminded me of the house in Casper. I’d love to stay in it!. The Norumbega Inn

One of my favorite things here is that almost business has these signs of carved painted wood with gold letters. Makes you feel like you’re in a Harry Potter movie. again….charming craftsmanship & detail.

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Camden’s state park had some great reviews so we stopped there. Pleasantly tucked up into the forrest, the spots for trailers and RV’s are each given their own space to breath with their own fire pit and tables. Weekenders, adventurers and retirees came and went and I made some new friends there. Nothing like being able to say “Come on over to my spot tonight and I’ll make a fire.” Great conversation with the quiet everyone is exactly there for balances everything it seems.


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While hiking through the state park I came upon a small clearing in the woods with hundreds of stacks of rocks. It was surreal for sure since I had no idea what they were at the time but I made my own. “When in Rome”. Later I was told they are some symbol or procedure revolving around prayer. interesting.

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MORE ADVENTURE MOBILES!

I love these hammocks from Grand Trunk Goods. Small, compact, and a ton of accessories.Travel_photographer_maine_brianbraun-41

Every Sunday the Camden Snow Bowl is open (WITH PANCAKE BREAKFAST!!!) They run the ski lifts so you can go up and hike around the hills if you want. Pretty neat.

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MAINE IS SPOOKY

Now I had heard the champion of horror literature, Stephen King lived in Maine. Just like I had read in an article the he himself said that “MAINE IS SPOOKY”. I have to agree with him. For all its beauty and mystery it keeps secrets a little too quiet. I don’t mean that to deter anybody from visiting. you should. But you can’t know what I am poorly attempting to describe until you have been here. It’s quiet. A little too quiet. Like when you know somebody is watching you. The roads twist and turn through the dense trees on either side and before you know it you pass the building you were looking for, usually nestled away. The 2 days before I left it rained off and on, leaving a spooky fog. And just like the idiots in every horror movie I had to venture forth into the scene that frightened me. Some how I survived the monsters, ghouls, and serial killers.

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NEXT BLOG: ACADIA NATIONAL PARK! Where I wrestle bears and chase leprechauns.. until then….

Be Well, GO Far

Braun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Week 1!

07
Oct
2013

Hello From Maine! Yes you read that right but will save my experience in Maine for the next post! After a great send off party and several tearful “see ya laters” we’re off Patton and I! We left our beloved Dallas for the open road and it has been interesting for sure.

First Stop NASHVILLE for my great friend’s wedding. I had never been to Nashville and it was quite a treat. Driving from Dallas overnight to make the rehearsal was a bit of a whip but we made it with a few hours to unhook and drive to the place. After the rehearsal we all went out on the town and to be honest it’s not entirely unlike Austin. EVERY place had some size of a stage, with all the laid back and southern proud attitude. But I only spent 2 days there for the wedding.

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The wedding was held at the LOVELESS Cafe. Now with a name like that I had reservations but it ended up being the quintessential place of southern charm. Flowers, great BBQ, a giant barn, ranch style separate buildings…it was lovely.  They did the catering for the wedding and the most impressive part was they got the sweet tea right! (Besides needing a few lemons for my personal preference)

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The Loveless Cafe Barn

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SWEETTTT TEA!

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Groomsman!

 

After the wedding I headed an hour south to check one off the old bucket list…to tour the famous Jack Daniels Distillery! It did not disappoint for sure! The distillery, the same one Jack Daniels himself founded, is nestled in the Tennessee hills in the small town of Lynchburg Tennessee. Now I’ve been overseas quite a bit and no matter how far I get, every bar has Jack Daniels. So what blew my mind is that ever drop of it is made at the this little spot!  The tour is wonderful, especially if you appreciate great craftsmanship! You get to see the fully intricate process and see the amazing history the company has gone through. The same dedication goes on today.

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Jack Daniels Distillery!

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Jack Daniels Distillery!

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Jack Daniels Distillery!

Jack Daniels was 5’2″ tall. I always thought of him as this booming burley figure. This statue stands in front of the limestone cave that the spring’s water from it feeds the entire distillery. That is entirely why Jack Daniels chose this place, the limestone purifies the water! It’s all in the ingredients. Specific wood for charcoaling, different wood for barreling. What an amazing process to fine tune.

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Jack Daniels Motto

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my great friend made me a cookie maker for my airstream project!

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Marlyand!

This is Patton’s throne. I invested in one of these Kurgo Wander Hammock Dog Car Seat Cover
which attaches to the back of the head rests. Having dogs since college I’m kicking myself I just now found one of these! It is awesome! Keeps the dog hair to a minimum and I don’t have to worry about him falling in the floor board. With his bed in there his head hits right about my shoulder height and lets him see out the windows. Patton naps on and off the entire drive and surprisingly loves it all.

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Patton’s Throne.

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Vanna! Adventure Mobile! I love these VW Vans


Driving through the mountains of Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia was so beautiful! The steep climbs and descends are a lot pulling this size of trailer but my Ram 2500 diesel handled it all like a champ. I only had one real “Sway” experience while coming down a steep mountain. Holy Moly, I may have lost a few years off my life from white knuckling the wheel so hard.  It stopped after a few heart pounding minutes and I was able to cruise at 70 mph for the rest of the trip.

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The WNDRLST Airstream and The Ram. Still haven’t named the truck yet.

NEXT POST MAINE! Here’s a sneak preview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Choice

10
Sep
2013

An amazing poetic short about life and a new way to see it. What Choices do you have right now that would change your life?  Do they scare you? What’s keeping you from making it? Would you be thinking it if it wasn’t buried in you?!. Rarely will you regret trying for something but to not attempt will rob you of life’s fullness.  What is your life choice right now?

CHOICE. from gnarly bay on Vimeo.

BE WELL, GO FAR!

Braun





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