Category: Modern Travel

BTS in Acadia National Park

By dweb247 on October 14th 2019

Here’s the thing about photoshoots: they’re not always the glamorous, linen soirees they’re made out to be. When we went to Acadia National Park on the eastern shores of Maine for our Fall photoshoot, we got rain, snow, ice, stuck cars, closed roads, and an emergency drill. It was a far cry from blow dryers and lemon water – so naturally, we were stoked. 

Protruding into the Atlantic, Acadia National Park takes up the better half of Mount Desert Island (pronounced “dessert”, it’s a Maine thing) on the Schoodic Peninsula. It’s home to ragged cliffs, precarious lighthouses, bucolic lakes, and Cadillac Mountain — the tallest mountain on the eastern coastline and  first place in the USA to see the sunrise. Of course, the road to Cadillac Mountain is closed during the winter (news to us), so we changed the plans and started back at the beginning. 

The main entrance to Acadia NP is through Bar Harbor, ME – a shingled seaside town that ebbs and flows with tourists and the tides. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, it’s a sea of baseball caps and tail lights. In the winter, you can have it all to yourselves (and a few hearty locals). 

Just outside of Bar Harbor we picked up the 27-mile Park Loop Road, a one-way “best of” tour of the park. Driving slowly and with our Kodaks at the ready, we hopped out to explore when the mood struck us: a jaunt up Precipice Trailhead, scrambling to unnamed overlooks, and a heated debate over whether to take the plunge at Sand Beach or not (we settled for a toe dip – and yes, it was freezing).

Just short of Otter Cove we stopped off at Thunder Hole, a formation named for the cacophony of sound emitted from waves crashing against rocks. It did not disappoint.

Likewise, Otter Cliff coaxed a few holy mackerels from our lips. These 110-foot granite cliffs are dotted with evergreens and icy waterfalls that quietly spill down into crystal green waters, beckoning you to take a plunge… I mean, if the otters can do it…

When we rounded the corner to Jordan Pond our excursion came to an abrupt end due to a Park Ranger safety drill. So we did some calisthenics and picked up Route 3 back to Bar Harbor, in search or the one joint still serving cold brews and hot chowder.

Local’s Guide to Peaks Island

By dweb247 on October 1st 2019

4,600. That’s the number of islands that belong to the state of Maine. Somewhere in there is Peaks Island – a busy little suburb off the coast of Portland and home to one of our all-time favorite Toads, Ponch. He’s our National Retail Development Manager and has been heading up our flagship store in Freeport since 2001. A few things you should know about Ponch: he’s part polar bear, can fix literally anything, and he’s the greatest pizza chef in the state of Maine (unconfirmed, but trust us on this). He’s got every skill you need to live on a tiny Maine island for 365 days a year (which he does with his wife, 2 daughters, and 2 pups). When were out there for our photoshoot this fall, we sat around Ponch’s kitchen and got the local’s take on Peaks Island living.

How many years have you lived on Peaks?

This stint is 13 years, but Jess and I did a previous 3 year stint.

What’s the easiest way to get there?

Casco Bay Lines Ferries out of the Portland harbor – same spot they’ve been running out of since 1880! It’s a 17 minute ferry through the bay, and you pass the old Fort Scammel, can see lighthouses and the Portland skyline. It’s really pretty (You can always take a water Taxi if you plan a late night out on the town).

What’s your last stop before the mainland?

Standard Baking Co. for incredible bread and Old Port Spirits and Cigars for libations.

Best place to get a pizza on the island?

My house! There aren’t any pizza joints on the island, but I like Portland’s Flatbread Pizza, or Micucci’s for a Sicilian Slab.

What’s the best way to get around on the island?

When you get off the ferry, walk up the hill, take the first left, walk a few blocks and visit Brad’s Recycled Bike Shop – you can rent all sorts of 80’s and 90’s bikes, plus some old Schwinn tandems and even kid carriers – great for your beer and lobsters, or dog, if not your kid. Walking is also great as is unicycling.

Best place to watch the sunrise?

Picnic Point – I recommend walking out past the rope swing.

Best place to watch the sunset?

Picnic Point is still a great spot, or the front of the island to watch the sun set over Portland.

Best spot to the get creative juices flowing?

The Illustration Institute cabins. The Illustration Institute is a non-profit based in Portland that allows artists to spend a few weeks off the grid, living in quiet cabins on the island just working on their craft.

Best spot for a cocktail?

Make your own in advance or pack the ingredients, put it in a thermos, and go hang out on the rocks.

Best place to pitch a tent:

It’s not necessarily legal, but can’t say it doesn’t happen… Best advice is to be friendly, and don’t make a mess, but know that most of the land is private and the rest of the island is Portland City property.

Best piece of advice for living on an island:

A friend of mine had recently moved to the Great State of Maine and was considering buying a house but didn’t know where. He asked me about Peaks but had heard that it was a pain. My response to him was “It’s only a pain if you don’t like boats.” You have to know that you can’t get home without a boat and you can’t come and go on your own schedule. You have to share transportation with a whole bunch of people – some you know and some you don’t, some you like and some you don’t care for. BUT it’s a very pleasant way to start a commute or end a long day or week.

For more local tips about Maine, catch up with Ponch and the rest of the Toads at our Toad&Co Freeport store at 11 Bow Street in Freeport, ME.

Our Favorite Camping Hacks

By cwiesendanger on September 5th 2019

If you tuned into our most recent episode of Toad Hacks on Instagram, you saw Toads Lindsay and Drew share a few of their most tried and true camping hacks. Because this is prime camping season (changing leaves and fall sunsets, yes please), and we want you all to enjoy it as much as we do, here are those hacks plus a few more.

Bring The Heat

A good central fire is key to any campout. Store charcoal briquettes in a cardboard egg crate before you get to your site, then light it to start your fire easily when you get there. You can also save dryer lint and put it in the middle of old toilet paper rolls.

Camp Kitchen Essentials (aka all the amazing things from home you can reuse)

We’d be lying if we said mealtime around said fire wasn’t one of the main highlights of every camping trip we take. So we mean business when it comes to our camp kitchen setup.

Breakfast – An unexpected plot twist for your condiment bottles: Save them to reuse on your next camping trip. Before you head out, fill them with pancake batter or eggs (shells off and pre-whisked) and pop them in the cooler. Come breakfast at the campsite, you’re ready to go with an easy meal (and impressive too, if that’s what you’re going for).

Lunch and Dinner – We love a meal in a cast iron pan because the possibilities are literally limitless. You can use it on the camp stove or over the fire, and you can cook virtually anything in it. And anything that’s sturdy, durable, and lasts a lifetime is a win in our book.

Pantry Essentials – On one of our Toad campouts, someone realized that an old toolbox makes the perfect camp kitchen kit. Who knew? It’s the ideal size for spices, utensils, bottle openers, and mini bottles of booze. Cheers!

Cleanup – Take an empty laundry detergent dispenser, fill it with water, flip it upside down, and you have a hand and dish-washing station right at the campsite. Put a bucket below to catch runoff water. Whoever’s on dishes duty will thank you.

The Sweet Stuff

We recently learned an epic tip that will flip your S’mores world upside down (thanks to Toad Lindsay’s Mother-in-Law and everyone’s favorite Toad mom Kathy). Put the piece of chocolate in the middle of your marshmallow before roasting. It’s gooey and delicious and trust us, you’ll never look at a S’more the same way again.

The Every Campout Checklist

Keep your checklist by your camping gear so you never forget the essentials. We don’t leave home without our headlamps – key for keeping your hands free for more fun things than holding a flashlight (see: S’mores and whipping up a stellar breakfast). Also important to the checklist: Mini first aid kit, microfiber towels (compact, quick-drying, and lightweight), and reusable cups and utensils.

What We’re Wearing

Lindsay’s favorite is the Telluride Sherpa Jacket – “Not only is it two jackets in one, but it also makes a perfect pillow. The triple threat of eco-friendly jackets.”

Drew’s loving the Epiq Jogger – “Fitted ankles keep the critters out and the Hemp and Organic Cotton blend makes them cozy enough to double as jammies.”

End of Summer Bucket List

By dweb247 on August 7th 2019

With Labor Day around the corner, the time has come to double down on your summer of fun and squeeze out its final drops. Tick these off your bucket list and channel your inner Ferris Bueller.

 

PS – The end of summer means our End of Summer Sale. Pairs excellently with pie.

Travel Packing Tips and Tricks

By cwiesendanger on July 23rd 2019

If you’ve been following along with our Save the Planet, Wear Sustainable tour, you know all about our buddy Drew (AKA Dr. Drew) – Toad Customer Service Sorcerer, and leader of our first leg of the tour. Fresh off the road, we couldn’t think of a better expert on summer packing. So our Superstar Web Merchant Lindsay sat down with Drew on our most recent episode of Toad Hacks (check out today’s Insta Story to see their chat IRL) to talk packing tips. Here are the highlights, plus some bonus tips ’cause we love ya.

BEFORE YOU GO

There are a couple of things Drew suggests you do before you head out to keep it simple and keep it sustainable once you Bon Voyage.

  • •Pre-trip recycling – If I buy something before a trip that comes in a wrapper or box (like a new phone charger or stick of deodorant), I make sure to recycle the packaging before I head out. Not everywhere has a streamlined recycling system, and this guarantees it makes it in the bin.
  • •Unplug before you…unplug – Before I leave for an epic adventure or a little R&R, I unplug the electronics in my house. It helps with my electricity bill and cuts down on energy usage, because did you know that electronics can steal power even when they’re turned off? Those sneaky little things…

 

THE CHECKLIST

Check it once, check it twice. Drew never hits the road without these essentials.

  • •Headlamp – It’s second nature to remember socks and underwear, but you never know when an extra light will come in handy.
  • •Power converters – It’s so easy to forget that you might need adapters depending on where you’re traveling. I keep these close to my passport to remind me when I pack.
  • •Layer it up – When it comes to clothes, it’s all about finding the right layers to get you through any situation. Plus, choose versatile options that work as well hiking and exploring as they will going out to dinner.
  • •Shoe bags – Bring shoe bags (or better yet, recycled shopping bags) to keep clothes from mingling with dirty soles.
  • •Stay organized – I don’t go anywhere these days without these packing cubes (genius invention). They’re great for separating groups of clothes when packing, but I appreciate them most when they double as dirty clothes hampers to keep the stinky clothes from going AWOL all over my good ones. Plus, the 3 cubes weigh less than 2.2 oz total, so no stress about packing extra weight.

 

ALWAYS KEEP IT ECO

As a master of eco-conscious living, Drew always keeps these tips in mind.

  • •Utensils – Nothing bums me out more than a bunch of single-use plastic. At the minimum, I keep a spork on hand but when I’m feeling extra I’ll travel with my whole utensil set.
  • •Water bottle and beer mug/coffee cup – I’m a thirsty guy, but I’m not going to sacrifice the planet to wet my whistle. A reusable water bottle’s a must, and my beer mug easily doubles as a coffee cup.
  • •Pack light – Not only will your back thank you from saving it from major suitcase schlepping, but going easy on your bag weight is way better for the environment. The more weight a plane (or a train, or a car) carries, the more fuel it uses, so keep that bag lean.

 

FAVORITE TRAVEL PIECES

We asked Drew and Lindsay to share which Toad pieces are on their summer packing lists.

  • •Drew – I lived in the Rover Short while I was on the road. I love these shorts because they clean up well, but they’re also super durable, quick-drying, and retain their shape.
  • •Lindsay – I love the Liv Dress for travel. You can take it from a hike to dinner super easily, plus it won’t wrinkle, no matter how rumpled your packing gets. Plus, it’s quick-drying, AND has pockets, so it really has everything you need for any sort of adventure.

 

For more hacks from the man, the myth, the doctor, check out Drew’s tips for car camping.