Now, where was I?

16 Jun

No. Really. Where was I? Everything kind of seems like a blur. The past two days have been a sleepless haze of happiness and I’m all discombobulated. It has been the culmination of the northbound leg of CMRT: Summer 2012. (How is that even possible? It can’t be over yet!)

But, we’re here! In Kennebunkport, Maine. In “our” lovely little cottage on Turbat’s Creek. We have arrived. And it feels good. In an e-mail this week a friend who I am only vaguely in contact with, and that mostly through our mutual facebook stalking, said, and I quote, “Looks like you’ve been driving a lot lately.” Uh. Yeah. You could say that. In the past six days I have put 1,536 miles behind the wheel. Holy crap. That’s a lot of miles. And it’s strange because I said “we have arrived,” but to me the journey is the destination. Now that we’re in Maine, I want to freeze time for a bit. I wish we could stay for more than a week. But if I’ve learned anything this past week it’s that I apparently *hate* money. It’s the only logical conclusion I can come to considering the way I’ve been giving it away – at hotels, gas stations, tourist attractions, gift shops, and most especially restaurants. And while the rent here at this cottage is definitely reasonable, it’s not something I can float indefinitely. So one week it is. Come next Saturday morning we’ll be packing it all up again, departing on the southbound leg. But for now, we kayak, we hike, we explore, we lounge, we visit my Mecca (LL Bean in Freeport). This particular year, we also visit with a new old friend. Two years ago, the first year we rented this house, we wandered down to the little cove at  the end of the street and met some people who were visiting from Massachusetts. But they weren’t tourists. The woman, Mandy, was a Kennebunkport native who had moved away, but frequently came back to visit friends and family members who happened to live on the same small residential street as the cottage. She had two kids who were almost identical in age to Beau & Harper. It was awesome! The kids had a blast playing and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with her. Through the power of Facebook we’ve kept up a friendship & at this point feel like we’ve known each other for years, despite the fact that we’ve really only ever spent a few days together two years ago. Anyway, it just so happens that Mandy is back in KPT this weekend for a wedding. So I just had the pleasure of sharing a glass of wine with her, laughing and catching up. It was awesome. And tomorrow morning, going to turn our collective 5 kids loose on the beach while we lounge in our chairs. More talking and laughing. What a fun way to “start” a vacation.

But I am being remiss. The past two days may be a bit of a blur – mostly because I didn’t go to bed before 2am on either night, and was up at 5:30am Friday and 7:00am this morning. But they happened, and they need to be recorded. I guess I managed to catch us up to speed on Friday morning. So let’s start there…

You’d think, with all the driving I do to get us up here, that I would shy away from things like driving an hour north to then drive an hour south the same day. You’d think that, wouldn’t you? But that would be giving me way more credit than I deserve. But sometimes, that’s the way things work out. And if I were home, an hour each way to a worthwhile attraction would be an easy day trip, a no-brainer. And I would never, ever, ever (ever, ever, ever) miss out on a Friday night at the Tison’s house. So, Friday morning I piled the kids into the van and we took off heading north from Chez Tison to Mystic, Connecticut. I promised Beau that we would visit an aquarium on CMRT this summer, and I delivered on that promise. I considered a few different possible aquariums, but went with Mystic for a few reasons. One, just because I had always wanted to see the town. Two, because of a very specific exhibit they currently have: “Titanic: 12,450 feet below”. Beau for a time was rather obsessed with the Titanic. And to be honest, from a very early age, I’ve also been rather obsessed with it. Perhaps it was an early childhood trip to Colorado where we visited the home of the unsinkable Molly Brown. Anyway, this particular exhibit at the Mystic Aquarium included many of the images and videos from Robert Ballard’s latest expeditions to the wreck, as well as some really fun, interactive, computer-based activities for the kids. Okay, and for the adults. I tell you, I just can’t get enough of this topic. The exhibit also included several large scale pictures of people onboard the ship – some survivors, some casualties (including an entire family with 6 or 7 kids aged 16-1.) It was really moving. They did a nice job of blending the science of the shipwreck with the human element of the tragedy. And to see video footage of shoes, and a suitcase, still sitting on the ocean floor, in the place where they landed 100 years ago, that’s, well, only vaguely within the scope of comprehension to me.

The rest of the aquarium is pretty good, too. Considering the price, which was not cheap, it was a little small. But they do have some impressive specimens, including several beluga whales, and a giant octopus. And I really did enjoy the seal lion show. As an interesting side note, their male seal lion, Coco, gained over 400lbs this past winter. Yes. Four hundred. Apparently the reason the males get so fat right before mating season is that during that time they need to be up on land protecting their females. They can’t be out hunting and eating. So they load up & eventually burn through most of the extra blubber because they aren’t really eating much during the season. I found this to be really funny. Maybe because in human, we’re the exact opposite. While we don’t have a specific “mating season, we’re usually concerned about slimming down and tightening up before finding a mate. Must be nice to be that arrogant; loading on the weight as a measure for keeping your mates!

The only problem with driving so far to Mystic was that we got a bit of a late start and we still wanted to be back at the Tison’s not too late in the afternoon. So we had a choice to make. Do we walk around Mystic Seaport? Or do we hit the Pez factory, which just so happens to be about 20 miles from their house. Well, anyone who knows me knows what I’m going to pick. Don’t get me wrong, I love boats. I love history. The idea of walking around the seaport is very, very appealing to me. Nautical motifs are kind of my thing. And I adore nothing more than a quaint fishing village. But come on people, the Pez factory has a visitors center! And a collection/extensive display of vintage Pez dispensers! So we sort of compromised. I drove to the seaport – I felt kind of obligated – and we parked and walked into the gift/book store. I couldn’t resist. I love stories about boats, especially real life stories, so I got a book called Overboard! about a sailboat caught in a storm and the parallel stories of two crew members who were swept overboard and the remaining three who were onboard while the ship was slowly being torn to bits by the storm. Huh. Now that I’ve written that description I’m not sure what it says about me that I’m so excited to read it. Anyway, a five minute stop in the gift shop does not a visit to the seaport make. But at least I know where it is the next time I want to visit!

Back in the car and on the way to the Pez factory. But not without driving through downtown Mystic. Yes, I snapped the obligatory pic of Mystic Pizza. Figured it was the least I could do given the fact we weren’t stopping for a slice. But really, I doubt Julia Roberts works the day shift, so what’s the point? We were running a bit later than I wanted, so we didn’t linger at the Pez Visitors Center, but man was it a cool experience! First of all, brilliant marketing ploy. Put a combination museum/gift shop at the front of the factory floor, charge admission, but for each admission ($5 adults, $4 kids) give the visitors $2 credit to spend on retail items. And considering the basic character Pez dispensers + 3 candy bricks are $1.99, you’re basically getting one of those for the price of admission. As if that’s the only thing you’re going to buy. You can’t actually take a tour of the manufacturing facility, but from large plate glass windows you can watch the packaging process. Plus they have a really cool video that goes through the entire process of Pez manufacturing. Wow. Those things are just pure, compressed sugar. No wonder they go down so smooth. The displays of vintage dispensers is really cool. I especially like how they have them grouped by themes. And I sure would have liked to have had one of those ray gun dispensers from the 50s. After letting everyone pick out a dispenser and added bricks, plus picking up quite a few gifts, we were once again proving my point about how much I hate money and ready to head back to Fairfield. Due to accident-related traffic we got to the Tison’s about an hour later than I wanted, but that just meant we had to turn it around quickly, because we were off to eat dinner at the beach. Tina liked to joke about their beach, and how different it was from Ponte Vedra (she was part of the crew that descending on my parents’ beach house for Spring Break of our senior year in college. I was about to tell you how many years ago that was, but it would have required higher math I’m just not capable of in my sleep-deprieved state.) And it was different, but better in some ways. I gotta admit, it was kind of nice to have that big, solid picnic table right there on the beach. With a trash can and recycling can right nearby. Plus the lack of waves/current made it easy to just let the kids roam, into the freezing water if they so chose. Plus, who can argue with pizza from Colony Grill? Thin, different, yummy. Talk about going down smooth. Wait, maybe that was the cold summer shandy I’m talking about. Nah, it was the whole deal. Just felt like a perfect summer night. Different for sure, but right for right then. After some pizza & letting the kids play in the sand for a bit, the setting sun was bringing on a bit of a chill, so we packed up and headed across the street to the playground. And who can argue with an awesome playground in such close proximity to the beach?! But this perfect summer night wasn’t over yet. We loaded back into the two cars and headed over to Sunny Dae’s for ice cream. It was fun to go to an ice cream parlor that Tina used to go to when she was a kid. That sort of place is what makes America great. Mom & Pops who have not just sustained, but thrived, and grown. And on the ride home? Torturing our kids, and Joe (via cell phone) with a full volume sing along to Cher’s I Believe In Life After Love, well, that was jus a shining golden moment for me & Tina.

Kids bathed (a necessity to remove sand from places sand shouldn’t be), we packed them all off to their beds and retired to the fire pit. A Friday night tradition. That kiln-dried firewood burns hot and clean. And while the ice cold summer shandy was perfect with pizza on the beach, it was Beam & Coke that fueled our college nostalgia. And I must give props to Joe for making the perfect Beam & Coke. Seriously. I have a friend who is so adept at mixing Seabreezes, that I only drink them when he makes them. I love a Seabreeze. It is the perfect summer cocktail. But I don’t trust anyone but him to mix them the way I like them. And now, Joe has just claimed that same status, but for Beam & Coke. Perfect pour, Joe, perfect. And what better drink for W&L reminiscing? Especially when Joe pulled out the empty special label Mock Convention Beam bottle. Pshaw! I still have mine, too. But mine is full!! Yep, my full 1992 Mock Con Beam bottle sits in my china cabinet with my W&L graduation tassel wrapped around the neck. Yes, there is no better libation than Beam to stir memories of W&L. And there is little I enjoy more in terms of relaxing than sitting around the fire with friends. We laughed and laughed and laughed. Being with Joe & Tina is just so easy, and I mean that in the best possible way. Every time I get together with them I wish I could spend more time. And today, when I changed into my jeans they still smelled like woodsmoke. One of my favorite scents and today especially equated to a lovely evening with dear friends.

But the nature of CMRT is that it rolls on. Even places we want to linger, are only short stops along the path. But every year I seem to grow more relaxed in my timetable, because we slept in, watched a child-produced show, took our time in our departure, not hitting the road until at least 10:30am. Which doesn’t seem too late, until you put into perspective that we had a 3 hour drive to Boston where we intended to visit the Boston Children’s Museum, then another 2 hour drive to the cottage in Maine. Eh. We’ll get there, it’s vacation! So we didn’t stress. Or rather, I didn’t stress. The kids never really seem to do much stressing about our schedule. And we rolled into the Boston Children’s Museum sometime after 2pm. The BCM has the most amazing climbing structure right in the center of the museum. And this may sound familiar, since I mentioned the climbing structure in the middle of Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore, but this one is different. And better yet, this one only has one entrance/exit – on the first floor! So I could sit in one spot, turn all three loose, and not worry about them accidentally getting separated from me and confused about how to find me. I was sitting right there at the bottom while they exercised and played and engaged with other kids. Perfect. And we wandered around the museum some, too. Harper, of course, went straight to the little lateral climbing wall. Beau is rather fond of the Construction room. Avery especially loved the small city exhibit, complete with barber shop, grocery store, etc, chock full of imaginative pretend play. But as the afternoon wore on, I began to get more anxious about the rest of the day. Still needed to get to Kennebunkport. Then unload the car. Then unpack the bags. And get the kids to bed. And at some point in there, go down to the beach and play/relax/soak it in. But I’d say it all worked out beautifully. We left Boston just before 5pm (thankfully not a weekday!) and easily made it to the cottage before 7pm. Plenty of time for the kids to explore the rocks on the beach after I unloaded the car. And the way I pack the kids bag made it easy to unpack their stuff into the dresser. Do I still have some unpacking to do? Yeah, I’ll say. And a grocery run tomorrow morning is imperative. But for now, I’m here. And I’m tired. But I’m excited for tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that…..


** You should just assume that I still haven’t gone back to edit yesterday’s post. And I’m just too damn tired to edit this one. I’ll get around to it. Maybe tomorrow. Or the day after that. Or the day after that…


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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim