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Posts Tagged ‘Bar Harbor’

Day Fifteen: “Take those kids with you!”

22 Jun

Phew! Felt like more than a single day, that’s for sure. From a hike to a summit in Acadia National Park, to me wanting to throat punch the rude front desk clerk at our middle of nowhere hotel (oh, excuse me, inn!) Highs. Lows. Almost 400 miles behind the wheel. Yeah. Quite a day…

We started with a decently early start from our hotel. We went to downtown Bar Harbor and walked around the cute little waterfront and village area. I couldn’t resist venturing into Sherman’s Books & Stationery. I’m a sucker for an independent bookstore, and the fact that this one had been in operation since 1886, well, that’s pretty darn cool, don’tcha think? And even better, when the kids started clamoring for new books and I told them they would have to pay for them with their own money, they were totally cool with that. The older two even bought brand new hardcovers that they just had to have. Love that these kids are that enamored with reading. After the bookstore we happened upon a cool, little ice cream shop. And, well, what makes a better mid-morning snack than ice cream? And yes, they did serve lobster ice cream. And no, Chris, I did not eat any! Unbelievably, we managed to add the elusive state of Montana to our license plate game tally while wandering the streets of downtown Bar Harbor!

After our stroll, and the disappointment of discovering that the old time soda fountain was closed on Sundays, we headed back into Acadia National Park. (Adding yet another elusive state – Utah – in one of the parking lots there. Only Wyoming and Hawaii left to go!) I had read about another hike that supposedly a good one to take with children – South Bubble Trail – so we took off in search of that. The park map is very easy to read and the roads are well-marked, so we found it rather easily. Parking was another issue, though. For such a a popular trail, there are very few parking spaces and no roadside parking available. Luckily it was only a few minutes wait as several cars loaded up and pulled out, and we were ready to take our walk in the woods. Here’s the thing, that trail that was supposed to be good with kids? I think they meant literal kids, you know, like baby goats. It was a rather vertical trail. Very short, less than a mile, but with a vertical gain of 518′. It was a bit humbling to be reminded how desperately out of shape I have become, and my knees were not terribly fond of the descent, but those issues aside… WOW! It was a great hike. The views from the summit were spectacular. Looking out over Jordan Pond from such an elevation was truly breathtaking. (Of course, the climb was also a little breathtaking, in a different way, but I was happy for the work out.) The kids were ecstatic with the results of our work, and I’m starting to think that maybe we are getting really close to being able to do some more hiking together. After the obligatory pictures (including selfies, natch), we made our way back down to the car. Because what was in front of us, not just 518′ of elevation change, but at least 6.5 hours of driving to get to our hotel in Connecticut. We ended up leaving the park at a little after noon, and after a stop for food, we settled in for a long drive.

We were all a little sad, and gave a shout out of thanks to Maine for another great week as we crossed the Piscataqua River Bridge in New Hampshire. And it was weird that one of our stops was at the Kennebunk Service Plaza off the Maine Turnpike. That’s our exit for the cottage! I was sorely tempted to drive back into Kennebunkport and spy on the people who are renting the cottage this week. I’m sure they couldn’t possibly be the exemplary tenants we are. But I resisted the urge and we kept on trucking. Or at least, we tried to, but holy crap the traffic was terrible! What’s the deal? It was a gorgeous afternoon; why is everyone trying to *leave* the state of Maine? It was seriously stop & go traffic on 95 for quite some time in Maine as we approached the bridge. Then it all magically cleared. Only to return as we were trying to cross from NH into Massachusetts, and at several points in MA. Talk about something my knees weren’t happy with. Not being able to use the cruise control at all today had my right knee very unhappy by the end of the day. And I’m not sure why I thought traveling 385+ miles in a day was a good idea, but honestly, I wish we had traveled 386+, because I was feeling pretty good after a dinner stop at Panera and could have gone further, but more because the hotel we are staying in tonight has an insanely rude front desk clerk. Those of you who know me personally would have been pleasantly pleased with the restraint I showed when dealing with her.

So, I picked this hotel – The Farmington Inn & Suites – randomly off Hotels.com because of its location along our path of travel. The distance seemed a doable driving distance from Bar Harbor. And the price seemed okay based on location and amenities offered. I made my booking, being perfectly honest about the fact that the room was for a single adult and three children under the age of 10. We arrived at around 7:20pm, and when we entered the lobby the children went directly to the little sitting area where they sat on the couches and started watching ESPN. The desk clerk was sitting in her chair behind the desk, chatting with a man. At first I assumed he was another employee – she was chatting so casually with him – but it turns out he was another guest who had obviously been there for some time. She was completely ignoring the fact that we had walked in, so during a lull in their conversation I just said, “Excuse me, but where is your restroom? We’re checking in, but I need to use the restroom first.” She looked at me with undisguised exasperation and pointed over her shoulder, “It’s down the hall, on the right.” As I headed in that direction, with a quick “I’ll be right back” to the children, she shouted, “Take those kids with you!” and then added a somewhat maniacal, fake laugh. I paused only briefly, gave her a smile and my own fake laugh, and then went down the hall. Since they are going for a homey inn feel, despite the fact that they are clearly just an old hotel, the restroom was about as far away from the tv/sitting room as my powder room is from my family room. When I returned briefly, I waited another minute for her to finish her conversation and the man to step aside. When he did, she stood up, looked me right in the face and said quite loudly and rather rudely, “I wasn’t kidding when I told you to take those kids with you! Children are *not* to be left unattended here!” I gave her a quizzical look, as if perhaps she was speaking a foreign language, and responded, “Um, okay.” She continued on, in the same rude tone, as if she was talking about a pack of wild animals, rather than my kids who were sitting quietly on the couches, “I mean, it’s over and done now, but don’t do that again. You cannot leave those children unattended!” Giving her my best deadpan expression, while expressing murderous intent with my eyes, I said, “Got it.” No, I didn’t apologize for my apparent flouting of some unwritten rule. After all, I made the booking for a room with three children, so obviously they don’t have any anti-children policies in place. She went on, never once saying a kind or professional word to me, never once welcoming me to the inn, just shoving paperwork under my face and saying, “Be sure to write down your vehicle information so we don’t tow you!” Yeah, definitely getting the warm fuzzies about my stay. If the room had not been prepaid, I would have walked out the door without a doubt. I guess my cold, dead eyed expression was finally getting through to her, because she suddenly shouted out in the general direction of the tv, “Hey, kids, you can have some cookies if you want!” Harper shouted back, “No, thanks, we’re good!” But I fixed her with a stare and said, “My children have food allergies, so they can’t have any. But we appreciate the offer.” She stammered an apology, and I continued, “It’s not a problem. Like I said, we appreciate the offer. In fact, I’m not sure you heard her, but my daughter said, ‘No, thank you.’” She smiled and said, “Oh, they are well trained.” I waited until she looked me in the eye before I said in the flattest, most restrained voice I could muster, “No. They are just good kids.” A small “oh” escaped her lips, and then she shoved the key at me and told me the breakfast times and the wifi policy. I was still standing at the desk, staring expectantly at her, when she went to sit back down in her chair. I said, still through gritted teeth, “And where might this room be located? What it the best way to get to it?” She seemed flustered at the question, and then said, “I don’t remember what room I put you in.” When I showed her the key folder she pointed up the stairs and said it was about halfway down the hall. I was seriously shocked at the appalling customer service. I wanted to punch that lady in the throat. I didn’t see any bears in Acadia, but this woman in Farmington, CT, definitely poked the (Crazy) Momma Bear. It might have been one thing if I had been allowing my children to behave like wild animals, but to speak about my children who were at that particular moment behaving more angelically than most adults in hotel lobbies as if they were wild animals, I wanted to show her exactly how a wild animal behaves. But I didn’t. Even after a long, trying day, I managed to show some restraint. And sometimes, that’s the best I can hope for. Just showing some restraint.

Tomorrow: “Only” 5.5 hours of driving. An “easy” day, if you will… After we decimate the breakfast buffett at the inn, that is. I may get charged $5 if I inadvertently don’t return the little slip of plastic that is my key (yes, that is an actual rule that I had to initial at check-in), but I intend to take this hotel for every free thing they offer.

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Day Fourteen: Heading north on our southbound departure

21 Jun

This was it. KPT Departure Day. And for the first time ever, CMRT wasn’t specifically broken out into northbound and southbound segments. Because KPT Departure Day traditionally means the beginning of the southbound leg. But this year I pointed the van north out of Kennebunkport. Sometimes it’s fun to flip the script.

I can’t express how I felt about leaving the cottage this year. This last week has truly been amazing. It was really relaxed, and therefore mostly relaxing. Sadly, our favorite book store, Kennebooks, closed this past spring, and there is no summer Pixar release, so we didn’t end up having a movie day either. The weather was sublime; in fact, it was the first year that we didn’t have at least one day of rain. So mostly we just lounged around – the cottage, the beach, town (mostly in the general vicinity of Ben & Jerry’s – I love Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch!) I was, as always, sad to leave. But even the kids seemed to be sad to leave this year, and they’re usually ready for the next adventure. Beau even asked if maybe next year we could stay for two weeks. (Sure, kid, just remind me to buy a Powerball ticket on the way out of town!) Oh how I wish I could just “summer” up here. We met great people, played with old friends, soaked up the sun, remained laid back, and generally just had a blast together. What more could you ask for?

This morning when I awoke at 5:45am, I didn’t groan and throw the blanket over my head, cursing the noisy birds outside my window. I did slightly curse the open window, as I was freezing my butt off, despite sleeping in a sweatshirt under two blankets. Because of our northbound southbound departure, I was motivated to hit the road. I jumped in the shower, finished my own packing, stripped my bed, packed up our leftover food/snacks, and by 7:45am, I had the car totally packed except for the children and their stuff. And speaking of the children, the ones who had each morning been up before the dawn, today was the day they chose to sleep in. Avery appeared out of bed at around 7:45am, and Harper we had to wake sometime after 8:00am! I couldn’t believe it. Stinkers! And I bet now that we’re sharing a single hotel room they’ll once again wake before 6:00am. But I got it all together in record time, and at 8:45am we were pulling out of the driveway, with me trying not to get emotional. It’s hard to let go of a place when it is responsible for so many halcyon days. Memories that can’t be recreated any other place. And will we be back next year? I’d like to think so, but it’s hard to say. Things seem to be shifting, changing in ways large and small. Fingers crossed that Maine, and our lovely little cottage on Turbat’s Creek, will once again be a part of our summer adventures.

So, with the odometer reading 24,767 (1,532 miles so far), we left the creek and hit 95 North headed for Bar Harbor, our northernmost destination in the great state of Maine. It was a rather easy jaunt up 95 for the first 160 miles or so. And then we left the interstate. And the final 40 miles or so into Bar Harbor are on a small, single lane in each direction road. Snore. Oy. That last push was far rougher than the 3/4 of the trip that came before. But I have to say, the minute we hit Acadia National Park, it was all worth it. The drive just drifted away. I’ve been a lot of places in my life, I’m grateful to say, but few of them compare to the beauty that is Acadia. It has everything I love most. Rocks. Expansive water. Trees. Lush greenery. Wide open blue sky. Amazing. Truly amazing. Everywhere you look is a postcard vantage point. And I realized two things instantly: (1) A single afternoon and following morning were not going to be enough for me, and (2) my kids were not going to appreciate this anywhere near as much as I was. But, I think we found a pretty good compromise. We paid our $20 (per vehicle) and struck out on the Park Loop Road. We made a few random stops along the way – letting the kids get out and climb/play on the rocks – though Beau needed constant reminding that these were not the same thing as the rocks on Turbat’s Creek. Here falling of a ledge did not just mean a splash in the water or a broken wrist, it meant me shipping him home. So I had to keep him on a pretty short leash until we got to some more beachy spots where the rocks were much lower to the ground. And we found the perfect spot at Little Hunter’s Beach. Wide open beach, rock outcroppings to climb on, plenty of pretty rocks on the beach for Crazy Momma to investigate and ogle. One funny thing that happened there is that as we were loading back up into the van two young guys on scooters asked if I would take their picture. Told them I would be happy to and approached to get whoever’s phone or camera I was going to take it with. The first guy said his phone was turned off, and the other guy kind of shrugged and said he didn’t know where his was. They seemed really sheepish and disappointed, so I just grabbed a receipt and a pen out of my bag and said, “Okay, give me somebody’s cell number and I’ll text you the picture later.” They eagerly supplied a number and I took a few photos with my own phone. Later, when I had cell reception, I texted them two pictures. It was such a simple act of kindness, and apparently it meant quite a lot to them. Took little to no effort on my part, but to them I was “a hero.” Feels good to make some random strangers’ vacation better.

After doing about half the Park Loop Road we headed out of the park and checked into our hotel. Staying just long enough to drop off luggage, use the bathroom, and make sure I knew the right direction to head off in. We were seeking a trail I had seen in the Hiking in Maine book I borrowed (shout out of gratitude to Chris!) It promised to be great for kids, with lovely, scenic trails along the water. Boy did it ever deliver! It took us quite a bit of time to get there, as it was on the other side of Mount Desert Island, but it was worth it. (Side note: this may look like an island of a manageable size, but don’t forget that the roads don’t always go as the crow flies, and often the speed limits top out at 40mph, with most hovering closer to 25-30mph. Manage your time wisely if you visit Acadia/Bar Harbor/Mount Desert Island. You may only be 15 miles from your destination, but it might take you 40 minutes to get there.) But Ship Harbor Trail was great! It was probably only a little over a mile, with two loops. Half in the woods, half along the water. Half flat gravel path, but with enough varied terrain to make me feel like we were somewhat doing some real “hiking” (versus just walking in the woods). And plenty of rocks for the kiddos to clamber on. Lots of overlook spots with varied views. I really just can’t say enough about how happy I was that we sought out that particular path, and the fact it has a restroom right there at the small parking area is another boon. Because it was so close, we took a quick stop at the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. It was small, and cute, but kind of a funny and difficult way to view it – walking up and standing right next to it, especially since there was a large family trying to get their picture taken with it in the background. A shame that you couldn’t get further away and actually see the lighthouse with better perspective. But we checked that box quickly and moved on.

Our next destination was Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumberjack Show. ‘Cause MAINE! And LUMBERJACKS! Okay, so I’m not gonna lie, I expected so much more. Truly. I mean, it was cool, and their feats were really impressive, but it just seemed like more merchandising that production. I wanted more. But, the most important thing is that the kids loved it to pieces! They even got a chance to go up on stage and pull/push a cross-cut saw with the lumberjacks. Afterwards they got a certificate that they got autographed by the lumberjacks and Timber Tina (a former Survivor contestant) herself. Perhaps part of my disappointment was that two of the lumberjacks were high school students. And don’t get me wrong, the stuff they were doing was crazy impressive, and I don’t mean to take anything away from their skill, their effort, their ability, but I think I expected (wanted?) burlier men who could better fill out those flannel shirts. You know what I mean? But again, let’s focus on the fact that the kids were crazy excited about it, and loved every second. And that part was pretty darn cool.

Now it’s time for me to hit the hay. Kids have been down pretty much since we returned to the room. We talked about potentially taking a lobstering/seal watching cruise in the morning. And I would LOVE to be out on Frenchman’s Bay for a few hours in the morning. But I couldn’t pull the trigger on online tickets for a 2 hour cruise that departs at 10:30am. Our next hotel is close to 7 hours down the road tomorrow. So we should probably plan to leave Bar Harbor around noon-ish. But I don’t know. The thought of being out on the water up here is exerting a powerful draw on me. I’m going to leave it to the Fates. We’ll see how our morning goes, and play it by ear. I know, seems out of character for me, right? What can I say, this place is so beautiful, I just can’t force myself to be in a rush to leave it. But I’ll tell you what, I want to start right this very second planning a return trip to Bar Harbor, but this time sans kids. Maybe even on a sailboat.

 

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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim