Cumberland mom pens Maine outdoor guide book

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CUMBERLAND — After blogging for several years about her family’s adventures around Maine, Jennifer Hazard decided to put her passion to paper and publish a guidebook for residents and tourists alike.

“The Maine Play Book: A Four-Season Guide to Family Fun and Adventure” was released last month by Islandport Press of Yarmouth. The book can be found at local bookstores, and online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and islandportpress.com.

Hazard will be discussing her book, as well as ways to unplug kids from technology and get them outside, alongside other outdoor writers at the L.L. Bean Friday Night Lecture series in Freeport June 29. The event is 7-9 p.m. in the store’s atrium/camping area.

“I looked at a ton of guidebooks, and it was really important for me for this to really come from a place of a real parent,” Hazard said June 15.

With her husband and two young children, the Cumberland food, family and travel writer had explored many places around Maine, stories she recounted in her award-winning blog, Cute Potato.

“That’s what I just call my kids,” she said warmly. “Like, ‘you’re a cute potato, kid.'”

Begun in 2009 as “a guide to everything kid-friendly in Maine,” cutepotato.com led to “The Maine Insider,” a TV and print advertising campaign through the Maine Office of Tourism. It also received Down East Magazine’s Reader’s Choice award in 2015.

With a lot of online content already under her belt, Hazard was encouraged by her women writers group to write a book. Inspired, she spent about two years bringing her family to parts of the state they hadn’t visited in order to flesh out the book’s contents and represent Maine as a whole.

“We had traveled a ton of places, but I really wanted to cover as far north as Caribou and Presque Isle,” she said – two other “cool place(s) for us to travel to.”

“My poor family,” she added with a smile (her children are now 12 and nearly 11). “I’ve taken them all over the place. … They’ve been such good sports, and super supportive all along the way.”

Hazard didn’t want to pen a guidebook stuffed with every single place to visit, but rather those locales her family loved the most.

“My feeling was, if it spoke to us, then it might work for other parents, too,” she said, adding she also wanted something to serve parents in Maine, as well as those traveling here.

The 160-page book includes color photos and hundreds of places and activities, organized by four seasons and parts of Maine: Downeast and northern, lakes and mountains to the west, the Mid-Coast, and the south. Outdoor attractions are mainly featured, although indoor options for rainy days are also included.

Visiting farms, state parks and nature preserves, community events and day trips for all ages are showcased. Featured from Hazard’s own town are the Cumberland Fair, Sunflower Farm Creamery, Sweetser’s Apple Barrel and Orchards, Twin Brook Recreation Area, and Val Halla Golf & Recreation Center.

Log onto jenhazard.com for more information.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Jennifer Hazard of Cumberland is the author of “The Maine Play Book: A Four-Season Guide to Family Fun and Adventure,” released last month by Islandport Press.

“The Maine Play Book: A Four-Season Guide to Family Fun and Adventure” is available at local bookstores, as well as online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and islandportpress.com.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.