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Posts Tagged ‘Kennebooks’

Days Eight & Nine: Whales, Beers, and Lobstah, Oh My!

23 Jun

I’m going to start off by explaining why I wrote the word “Lobster” phonetically in the title. Here’s why. I LOVE this regional accent. LOVE. IT. Seriously. It may be my favorite accent in the world. I have delighted in just eavesdropping on the locals around here. At the hardware store I overheard a man saying, “Third times a charm,” and I couldn’t help giggling with happiness. Another one called me “dear.” Someone was giving Amy directions yesterday and said the parking lot was on what sounded like “naught” street; turns out it’s on “North” street. I’ve always liked the Boston accent – Jon Hamm saying the phrase “box of quarters” in the movie The Town is one of my favorites – but up here it’s even better. Richer. Tweaked slightly. And I look for reasons/excuses to get people to say words containing the letter “r”. (And, yes, I realize that I could have also written the word “Beers” phonetically as “beeyahs”, but I wanted to be sure you all knew there was a brief discussion of local breweries to follow.)

And I’m going to admit that I’ve really enjoyed the last two days. They’ve been full and pleasant and frankly, I haven’t exactly been taking notes. It feels certain that I’m going to miss something, maybe even big things, in the retelling of it. But I kind of like that. I’ve been so deep in the experience of it all that I don’t have perfect recall for the details. Sounds okay to me.

Wednesday, June 22: Whale-watching, aka, I’m on a boat.

The beauty of it being low tide when we wake is that the boy (also an exceedingly early riser) and I can take Remy out to run on the immense mud flat that is Turbat’s Creek at low tide, easily crossed over to the Vaughan’s Island Preserve. Remy can run free, investigating all manner of scents, and exciting detritus that has come in on the Atlantic tide. Sometimes that means we have to take disgusting thing away from him, but overall, it’s a pretty sweet morning jaunt for all of us. Today Beau and I walked the length of Vaughan’s beach visible from our house to discover what was around the bend. And what did we see? A lovely view of the Goat Island lighthouse in the distance. Every new discovery just thrills me. To feel surprised by new beauty in a place where you feel so comfortable, is a delight.

But the big event scheduled for today was our Whale Watching Cruise! And man was I jazzed to head out into the ocean and see some whales! Unfortunately, Avery had kind of psyched herself out telling me she gets seasick (news to me. Seriously. Never heard this before.), and I had forgotten that Beau used to have a problem with motion sickness (I say used to, because it’s been a long time and several roller coasters since he’s had any troubles.) I gave Avery half a Dramamine before we left the house. She said her tummy still felt upset on the boat, but really what it did was make her sleepy and lethargic. Beau on the other hand turned green as we fought large swells while heading 22 miles out to sea. I gave him a Dramamine while we were underway, and it seemed to help – at least it knocked him out for a bit. I don’t usually have any trouble with motion sickness, and, thankfully, today was no exception. Amy said she felt queasy when we would stop and sit in one place bobbing around for too long. The fumes from the exhaust did get to me a bit. And I have to say that my queasy children were in good company, as there were at least a dozen or more people actively vomiting, and many more in the nauseous stage, on the boat. Thankfully it was a fairly large boat and I could distance myself from those who were not doing well. I tried to get Beau to sit on the lower deck near the stern, outside in the fresh air. But eventually we all went back 0nto the upper deck, and Beau & Avery collapsed onto one another for a hard, Dramamine-induced nap, in a little corner protected from the wind by the wheelhouse. Once they slept it off, they awoke feeling much better, and Avery had some of the spring back in her step. Now, for the whales. It took awhile, but we did finally encounter some whales in the wild. I don’t know about you, but I was expecting the whales to be large. Like really big. Um, not so much. Not to diminish the absolute coolness of a whale circling your boat out in the vast ocean, but as it turns out, a few Minke whales are  what we spotted, and Minke whales average around 30 feet in length. Not really that big. The usually come up head first (I only saw one of their heads break the surface), then roll like a dolphin. In fact, with their tiny little dorsal fin, they did kind of look like really large dolphin. They hardly ever breach (jump completely clear of the water), and they don’t present their flukes as they dive, so no tail sticking out of the water in what we have come to think of as classic whale pose. Plus their surface exhalations are very discrete, almost unnoticeable, so there was, disappointingly, no cause to shout, “Thar she blows!” But, all of that said, it really is humbling to be out in the ocean in the presence of creatures like that, even the small Minke whale. And while not everyone felt the same, I enjoyed the boat ride. Even as we passed through storm bands on the way back in. Clever us for staking a claim on the benches that were covered and protected behind the wheelhouse!

Once we returned to shore, we made a quick stop at a nearby bookstore, The Book Burrow, as Avery had been begging to go ever since she spotted the sign. It is a cute little shop, but small, and therefore not a ton of inventory. (Though, to be fair, their selection is fairly diverse, and there were many titles on the shelves that I had either already enjoyed, or I found interesting.) We are still mourning the closing of Kennebooks, one of our favorite places. In fact, I am wearing a Kennebooks t-shirt as I type this. But I picked up the new Elizabeth Strout book, and promised the owner I’d come back next Wednesday for the book discussion. Guess I should really start reading that, huh?

Once we returned to the house I followed through on a promise to Beau that we would get the kayaks wet. The tide was running out, and far too low already for us to make the trip he wants to take via kayak to Cape Porpoise, but it was a good chance to reacquaint ourselves with the kayaks. Not so fun to have to carry them up and down to the water, but it really was fun to tool around a bit, get a view of Vaughan’s Island from the water, and mess around in the creek. But then, as if the rapidly ebbing tide wasn’t enough, the wind kicked up something fierce. And having no interest in being blown or pulled out into the open ocean, we decided to call it a day. Besides, it was time for us to clean up and head into town for dinner.

One of our favorite places to eat is the deck at Federal Jack’s. Beautiful view of the Kennebunk River, a good burger, and excellent local beer, brewed right there by the Kennebunkport Brewing Company. We were all excited to take Amy to experience one of our traditions. Unfortunately, while a decent meal (at least the beer was cold and delicious!), it didn’t quite live up to expectations. Usually Federal Jack’s knocks a cheeseburger out of the park, but this one was marginal. Ordered medium rare and delivered medium well. Just not the juicy burger I’ve had before. And our waitress, who eventually warmed up, wore her mirrored aviator glasses the entire time she served us. It was like eating dinner being watched over by a state trooper. Or perhaps a prison guard. A very odd sensation. But, the KBC beer did not fail me, and I very much enjoyed my Goat Island Light. And no visit to Federal Jack’s is complete without a visit to their retail store/gift shop. They have some fun and irreverent items. Lots of Maine paraphernalia, and beer related gifts. Beau selected a coffee mug with the shape of Maine on one side, and “I Love ME” on the other. It is too funny to watch him sip milk from his coffee mug, affecting a smirk and a slightly raised eyebrow. Reminiscent of the boss from Office Space. Elbow out, “I love ME” facing the viewer. An excellent choice of souvenir.

Overall, a good day, and I can check whale-watching in Maine off my list. I would, however, take another whale-watching cruise in a different month, or different location, in the hopes of seeing Humpbacks, or other larger whales. Plus, just watching the sonar/depth finder was amazing. I stood in the door of the wheelhouse and watched it. At times the biomass of bait fish directly below the boat was as dense as the muddy bottom. And there is something wild about knowing when you are floating above 350+ feet of water.

 

Thursday, June 23: Lobster Cruise, aka, I’m on a boat. Again.

This morning’s nautical adventure was to be a scenic lobster cruise aboard the Rugosa, a lobster boat that sails out of the Nonantum Resort. We had checked on the possible trips Monday, but they had all been cancelled because of wind/choppy conditions. We signed up for the morning trip Tuesday, but I got a text the next morning saying the trip had once again been cancelled due to weather. (Side note: Amy was the one who wrote down our names on the sign-up sheet, listing both her phone number and mine, so we would have two points of contact. She did not receive that text, or a call.) Once Tuesdays sailings were cancelled, Amy went back and put our names on the list for the Thursday 10:30am sailing. This is a very small boat, so limited availability, and we felt lucky to get on that sailing since the other two had been cancelled. So, the girls (Beau decided he’d had more than enough water-based excursions for a few days) presented ourselves at the Nonantum Resort by 10:15am, ready to go. Only to see the sign-up sheet on the front desk with lines drawn through and scratching out the morning sailing. When we asked, the woman at the front desk said that the sailing had been cancelled because of mechanical difficulties, and the captain was currently working on his boat. When we expressed displeasure that no one had bothered to contact us, she said, with a rather snotty attitude and haughty tone, “The captain is *very* good at calling people to let them know.” I managed to keep my mouth shut, and Amy very calmly said, while pointing to the sheet, “Well, there’s my phone number, and there’s hers, and I assure you that neither one of us received any call or other contact from the captain, or anyone else.” The employee seemed vaguely flustered by that, and muttered an apology, but as there was nothing really to be done, we just walked away. I can fully understand canceling a trip due to weather conditions not being ideal, and I can fully understand a trip being cancelled due to mechanical difficulties. But I find it an unacceptable breach of customer service to not inform your customers the minute you have made this decision. We could have changed our plans if we had known earlier. As it was, we jumped back in the car and raced back up to the First Chance office to see if they had a morning lobster cruise that was going today, and if so, was there any space left available. Thankfully, their cruise wasn’t until 11:00am, so we were just in time, and managed to secure 4 spaces. Not wanting to pay $3/hr for parking in their lot, we found the free public parking lot about half a mile away (On naught/North street!), and hoofed it back just as everyone was gathering to board – putting us at the back of the line. But we noticed that the the crowd was queuing up at the wrong dock. Having been there yesterday, we knew exactly which boat we were headed out on, and there was no access to it from that ramp. So, Amy went back up to the office and verified that we were correct. So, one of the crew told us to stand near him and we would walk around to another dock access point momentarily. He also told us which seats to chose so we had front row access when they pulled a lobster trap. This was definitely a case of winning by having independent thought, instead of mindlessly following the crowd.

We boarded Kylie’s Chance, and headed out through the Kennebunk River. It was clear right away that we had a very capable, but laid back captain. And our first mate, was one of the crew that was on the whale watching cruise yesterday. We just headed out of the channel into the ocean, simply skimming the shoreline. There were amazing views of the ocean-front homes, including being up close and personal with former president George H.W. Bush’s home, Walker’s Point. The flags (United States, Maine, and Texas) were flying, so he was definitely in residence. I waved politely, just in case Mr. & Mrs. Bush (seems disrespectful to call them George & Barbara) were looking out their picture windows while having an early lunch. The captain was full of interesting information about the area and about lobstering (“bugging” as he called it.) We cruised over to Bumpkin Island to look for the harbor seals that sun and hunt around there. We managed to see a few sleek, dark heads bobbing in the water, but not too much of a seal show. They also hauled one of their traps. It contained two lobster. The mate banded their claws (only three in total because the larger one was missing a claw), and proceeded to tell us about them. There was one male and one female. The larger one fit within the regulations for keeping, a carapace measurement that was more than 3.25″, but less than 5″, and I was surprised they would do so even though he only had one claw. The smaller one was not yet big enough, and would be returned to the ocean. They let us handle them, and investigate them. There was a sickeningly cracking noise when a grown woman accidentally dropped the larger one to the deck, but there didn’t seem to to be a readily visible crack in his shell. They really did a nice job making sure everyone could get their questions answered, and get as up close and personal with the lobster as they wanted. I was happy we got the front row seat, and could watch the whole process. And, going for that whole on vacation, drink local maxim of mine, I enjoyed a Shipyard Summer Ale, brewed in Portland, ME, while on the boat. Ahhhhh! What is it about being on a boat in the sun that makes cold beer taste that much better? As we were headed back in from Bumpkin Island, the captain asked Harper if she would like to drive the boat. He pulled up a stool and she took the wheel, despite not really being able to see over the bow of the boat. He would direct her, and she was truly steering the boat. Which made her light up. After she had a turn, he let some other kids, and one older lady, take their turns driving, including Captain Smoochie. It was a perfect study in the differences between the sisters’ personalities. Harper was giddy with power, and very relaxed at the wheel. Avery was also very excited, and proud, but definitely taking it very seriously, and feeling the weight of responsibility. This little cruise has been one of the highlights of our Maine activities, and frankly, I may do it again one more time next week, encouraging Beau to join us. There was very little motion, and I don’t think it would get to him the way the ocean swells did. I could not be more pleased that the other trip was cancelled. I think this was a much better experience!

After finishing the cruise, we grabbed a quick slice of pizza at Atlantic Pizza, right there in the same shopping complex as Federal Jack’s. The pizza at Atlantic is very tasty. With the added bonus that they sell Coca-Cola in glass bottles. Which of course would be even better if they could be stuck in the freezer for 15 minutes first, but was still the perfect accompaniment to my cheese slice. Then we meandered a bit in town, Amy doing some last minute souvenir shopping. I found a few paintings that I’ll put in my Maine lottery home (you know, the oceanfront home I’m going to have if I win the lottery). Then it was time to head home. Sadly for us, Amy had to leave us today to continue her adventures elsewhere. We all said our sad goodbyes, and then spent some time relaxing around the house. Beau and I sat with our books on the balcony off the girls’ bedroom. A perfect view of Vaughan’s Island laid out before us, birdsong all around, cool breeze, face in the shade, legs in the sun, yes, a perfect recipe for a catnap! Ahhhh…..

But before it got too late, we roused and headed out on a few errands. I usually wear flip-flops on the beach at home. And that works great, because it is loose sand. Here, as I walk across the low tide, the mud is sucking at my shoes, and wearing those same beach flip-flops has torn my feet to ribbons. I am sporting some rather impressive blisters on both feet, so I decided it was time to return to the all-purpose water shoes of my Florida youth. I swear, I lived in Tevas through my entire teenage years. I looked for the closest Teva retailers, and decided that my best bet was the Kittery Trading Post. Kind of a Maine version of Bass Pro Shops. Lots of great gear and equipment, but with charm. (And you know how I love it when they say the word “charm” around here.) I found some Tevas that will work for me – close enough to the original style I loved so much, though they didn’t have the solid black I truly wanted. Harper found the training arrows in the archery department, and decided to purchase a couple with her own money. We also picked up a nice pair of binoculars that were sporting a very nice sale price. After gearing up at the Trading Post, there were a few items I needed that would best be acquired at a Target. When I searched for the nearest Target, knowing there is one in Biddeford, not too far from the house, I discovered that the closest Target to Kittery was in New Hampshire, a mere 6 miles away. Well, how could I resist that? The cache of crossing back into NH, taking advantage of no sales tax. We made the quick hop, picked up our few items, and then headed back over the Piscataqua River Bridge. I had promised a trip to Ben & Jerry’s today, but I thought it would be fun to seek a location other than our typical one in KPT. So, Waze directed us to Ogunquit, Maine. We utilized their free village parking lot, and walked up the hill to the main street. I would have liked to stop in The Sassy Olive, an olive oil and balsamic tasting room, but the kids had ice cream on the mind, and I felt more unwarranted, and unappreciated by them, delay was unadvisable. We walked with our ice cream, and spotted a toy store that definitely needed further investigating. (Wait. Quick shout out to Ben & Jerry’s, all locations, for taking allergy issues so seriously, and having a distinct protocol in place to keep their allergic customers safe, and ensuring they can have a full experience. My kiddos can only eat the sorbet, as all B&J’s ice cream contains eggs, but Beau ordered a smoothie with sorbet, and the scooper completely sanitized the blender before making it. Anyway, good on you, Ben & Jerry’s, we’ll keep coming back.) Now, back to the toy store, called Animal Instincts, where they were advertising the Disney Lego mini figures. Well, duh, I had to fondle a few of those, and see what I could find. These were rather difficult, especially since I can’t see the backs of the minifigs in the online images, and I admit that I was fooled by one or two this go around. Or, maybe not fooled, but engaging in extreme wishful thinking, and sloppy assessment work. I really, really, really want the Ursula minifig. And I’m not sure what I thought I had in my hand at the time (or perhaps I put the wrong one back in the box, and accidentally bought the one I meant to put back), but I ended up with a Daisy Duck, which I didn’t care about. However, I was very excited to get Maleficent, Buzz Lightyear, an alien, and Captain Hook. Harper came running up to me with a game I have never seen before, and had to splurge on – Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit. It’s travel size, just a colored die and a deck of trivia cards, enclosed in a wedge shaped plastic box. Considering Harper has read the series through approximately 4 times, it seemed a shame to put that one back on the shelf. Too bad we can’t have a Battle of the Books based solely on Harry Potter…

The sun was setting just as we were arriving back home, and the light was gorgeous. A warm pinky rose. It was a picture perfect evening. We took Remy down on the beach to chase his tennis ball, into the cold Atlantic, time and time again. It was down in the 60s and heading lower. That dog is tireless. He always wants you to throw it just one more time, and just one more time. Boy is he going to be mad at me when he discovers this is a vacation, not a relocation. It really is dog paradise.

We came back up to the house as the light was dying, and when I was hosing Remy off I discovered that 60 degrees is in fact not too cold for mosquitos. Guess they grow ‘em hearty, and cold-weather acclimated up here. I was getting eaten up, and glad to come inside to escape them. Some cheese & crackers & a cocktail – what else are you supposed to have for second dinner when you had ice cream for dinner? – and I was ready for a round of Harry Potter trivia. Some of the questions were fairly easy. Those are not the questions that I was getting. And, as predicted, Harper cleaned the floor with Avery & I. But it was fun, and I actually learned something, so that’s cool. A little late to bed, but a nice way to end a really wonderful day. I can’t believe that we get to stay another week. Usually at this point in the vacation, it’s time for me to start cleaning up, thinking about packing. It’s inconceivable we get to settle in and stay longer. Such sweet relaxation. I think Remy and I will be crying together when it’s time to go. Now excuse me, I really need to go buy that lottery ticket…

 

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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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Day Thirteen: The way life should be

05 Jul

I sit here in front of my laptop with absolutely nothing to say. I mean, of course I have something to say. It is an objective fact that I talk too much. I clearly have words. Too many of them. But tonight, they aren’t coming easily. Here it is, our last night in Maine. Tomorrow morning marks the turn south, the beginning of the southbound leg of CMRT. Usually on this night I am a bit melancholy, I am stressed about getting everything adequately and accurately packed. I am wishing that my vacation never had to come to an end. But I don’t feel that way tonight. I don’t feel any of that. This trip has been different from the get go. Everything has just felt different. Our first day was particularly great – which it usually isn’t. There were the freak falling rocks. The rear-ending causing damage to the van – which is hopefully just cosmetic, but I really didn’t feel like spending any of my vacation time dealing with finding out. We didn’t go into Manhattan. The kids are, well, they’re growing older, and into some stages I don’t particularly care for – the incessant testing of me, the incessant bickering with their siblings, a complete and total lack of volume control. Everything has felt a bit off. But Maine. Well, Maine has been wonderful. Usually it is, but this year it has felt particularly so. We did so much, but we also sat around more. (Seems like diametrically opposed ideas, but it’s true.) Maybe this is one of the good parts about the kids growing older, I was able to send them down to the beach without persistent supervision. And when I was on the beach, I could fairly well ignore them if I wanted. And sometimes they were perfectly happy to just sit in a tidal pool playing with rocks and mud. And bizarrely enough, those times on the beach, and especially when we brought out the kayaks, the kids seemed pleasantly enamored with their own siblings, and played very nicely together. We met new friends, we visited old ones. We spent hours on the beach, and on Vaughan’s Island, hunting lobstah, and learning how to skip rocks. The weather really has been perfect. Though Maine is up to her old tricks again. Turning her weather just as it’s time for me to go, as if saying, go ahead, you won’t be missing anything here. Today was hot. Maybe not Florida hot, but Maine hot. And while that was fine for sitting on the beach, and especially for wading in the cool water, it makes it rather miserable in the house. I know that despite having all the windows open and a fan running, I’m still rather warm. I definitely will not need my hooded sweatshirt tonight. Nor will I be snuggling under the quilt, for there is no encroaching chill. But overall, I really cannot complain about the weather, even with the few rainy days. I actually liked those rainy days. So, like I said, it was pretty much a perfect week in Maine, but I am not sad to be leaving. Which is weird for me. But I feel like this week was complete. We stayed happy. We did big things – like spending the entire day in Freeport for the 4th. Weird & unexpected things – me running in a 5k and a 10k on my vacation week! Small things – sitting on the beach for hours at a time. Traditional things – going to Kennebooks and Ben & Jerry’s and LL Bean. Didn’t eat any lobster, nary even a roll. And yet, it was a truly wonderful week in Maine. And maybe that’s part of why it’s okay to me that it’s over. I feel fulfilled. I have these amazing memories to take with me. I have a sense that I will return, and everything will be much the same. I feel like we achieved the perfect balance between static and motion. This week, with some minor tweaking, was the way life should be.

For now, the majority of the stuff is packed up. But even my packing tonight felt a bit slipshod, or at least less urgent than it usually feels. Maybe because I’m not feeling like I’m under any pressure. We have to clear the cottage by 11am, but lord knows we’re all going to be up by 7am, and there isn’t 4 hours worth of stuff left to do. The packing of the van will require a bit more creativity for this, the southbound leg. I feel like this happens every year. It’s not really that I’ve acquired so much stuff, it just doesn’t seem to all go back in the way it was. But I’ll get it figured out. I always do.

For now I think I’ll retire the laptop, and go sit on the upstairs patio for a bit. Savor the last of my Maine sky. Reflect on our great week. Start to get excited about the adventures awaiting us on our southbound leg. And then maybe try to get some sleep, as I’ve already proven that driving for hours really does go more smoothly when the driver is at least moderately rested.

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Day Ten: These are a few of my favorite things

02 Jul

Ever have one of those days where several things you love just fall into place? Despite the fact, or perhaps because of the fact the weather has turned rainy up in Maine, today was one of those days. I woke around 7am and made my way downstairs, stopping long enough to peek into the kids’ room to see that the littlest one was still abed. The older two were watching tv and playing on the iPads. I ate a bowl of cereal, sat with them for a bit, and then realized that if I wanted to continue reading I could just as well crawl back into my bed, under the covers. It was already a dreary, rainy day, so it’s not like we were rushing to get out onto the beach. In fact, it was the kind of day that demands one crawl back into bed. After reading for a short bit I felt my eyelids getting heavy, so I laid down my book, closed my eyes, and fell asleep. I slept hard. For over an hour! What an amazing morning nap. The windows under the eaves were open so I could hear the wind and rain in the trees, the children were quiet because they were glued to the electronic crack that is the iPad, I was wrapped up cozy in a quilt against the encroaching chill. Oh my goodness. That hour of sleep was some of the best sleep I’ve had in the past 10 days. And I woke feeling refreshed. A perfect nap. Accomplished before 10am.

A little later in the morning I headed into the little Dock Square area of Kennebunkport to poke around in the shops. There were a few places I knew I wanted to go, specific things I wanted to acquire. Had to get my annual Christmas ornament from the Christmas shop. I go to the Whimsy Shop specifically for their oilcloth bags. And I go to the delightfully quirky Daytrip Society because I want every single thing they carry in the store. Every. Single. Thing. (If only I could afford it!) But despite a valiant quest, I still haven’t been able to find a local store that carries Tervis! I really want one that says, “ME”, you know, the state abbreviation for Maine, but also a clever possessive to have on your cup. Yeah, that would be a good find. But also acceptable would be the initials for Kennebunkport (KPT), or perhaps one with the outline of the state of Maine, or really, anything at all that was Maine related other than just a lobster. And before you suggest it, yes, I already have an LL Bean Tervis. Do you think I’m an amateur?

Managing to exit the shops before bankrupting myself further, I headed out to my favorite galleries in town. The original Northlight Gallery, and it’s sister gallery, True North. I fell in love with Northlight Gallery many years ago. They carry an artist named Jack Standish, whose work I love so much, I swear that if I win the lottery my first stop will be in Kennebunkport to purchase art for the homes I haven’t yet bought. His lines are full of inhuman control, and his scenes are flooded with light, they have the sense of being occupied, yet no figures are in the scene. As if someone has just vacated the room, or is just about to enter it. I’ve been coveting Jack Standish paintings for years now, and am always excited to see a new one. Northlight, may be the original, and it’s always fun talking to the owner, Harry, who is also a talented painter and actually hails from the Gainesville, FL, area, but the new gallery, True North, and owner Jill, is becoming my new favorite. With a new location right on Dock Square it is cozy and well-laid out, like stepping into someone’s home, someone with amazing taste in art. They also carry some Jack Standish, and I like Harry’s work, too, but I’m digging Jill’s new work. I was especially coveting the painting of the whale weathervane. I really have to remember to play the lottery…

After giving up my prime parking space in Dock Square it was time to head on to my favorite bookstore, but I needed a little sustenance first. Last year someone told me that Market Day made great gourmet sandwiches, and let me tell you, that is the truth. I could lie and say that I had difficulty deciding because of their great selection, but the truth is, I knew immediately upon looking at their hot panini offerings what I wanted. The had me at bacon. They set the hook with Brie. And I was happy to let tomato, sprouts, and citrus vinaigrette come along for the ride. Oh my warm, melty goodness. It may have been a little embarrassing how much I enjoyed that B.B.T.S. sandwich.Was it a little more expensive than my typical sandwich? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Now fed and happy it was time to head just up the street to one of my ultimate happy places, the cleverly named Kennebooks (in Kennebunk!) It is a really great independent bookstore. They have a fantastic selection, lots of tags giving suggestions/reviews, a wonderfully stocked and laid out kids’ section. I was disappointed that they no longer have a weekly kids’ story hour, but that didn’t stop us from spending over an hour inside, with everyone walking away happy with new books.

At this point the boys went off in one direction while the girls and I paid a visit to dear Mainer friends, The Nelsons. We first met Mandy and her girls, Maggie & Birdy, on the beach at Turbat’s Creek four years ago. They were just wrapping up a visit from Massachusetts to Kennebunkport, where Mandy grew up, and for two days the kids frolicked together while Mandy and I sat on the beach getting to know one another. Mandy is crazy. And I say that with love, the same way I self-proclaim the adjective. She is hysterically funny, and so much fun to be around. Her girls are sweet, and kind, and playful, also happening to fold in perfectly with mine age-wise. Mandy & I kept track of each other via Facebook, and when the second annual CMRT rolled around, we were hoping to have a reunion in KPT, but alas, the school schedule wouldn’t allow it. The third year, we got to see them for one blessed day as our visit coincided with a wedding they were attending in KPT. Here we are at the fourth annual CMRT, and what do you know? The Nelsons, including hysterically dry-witted patriarch Dan, are now residents of Kennebunk! So we rolled over to their house, which is still in the middle of a surprise renovation (the kind where you have to strip down to the bones because of unforeseen mold and other problems!) and made them take a break from working to play with us. Okay, so Dan kept working the entire time – did I mention they are doing the majority of the renovation themselves?! Wowza. But Mandy took some time off from scrubbing/painting/drywalling/plumbing/electrical repair to walk me through the house (which is going to be amazing when finished!) and then sit and chat. We had much to catch up on, battle scars of parenting to share, gossip to giggle over. Mandy is a force of beautiful, hysterical positivity, and being around her always buoys me up. And the girls disappeared to play in the play room, and to run around outside. Popping in often enough to be noticed, but not so often as to be disruptive. It was a lovely afternoon, and we stayed later than intended. But it was great to catch up with an old friend face-to-face. Hyperactive, loquacious, nerdy girls like Mandy being my people like they are.

Once home it was time to get the little ones tucked off to bed. I read them one of our new acquisitions from Kennebooks, The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen. We LOVE this author. He wrote the Mr. Magee (and his little dog, Dee) books – Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee, A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee, Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee – and also our favorite If I Built A Car, among others. He lives in Maine and every year when we go to Kennebooks we get at least one of his books (though last year we got two – Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit, and King Hugo’s Huge Ego). His rhyming prose is clever, but it’s really his illustrations that are so entertaining. Anyway, I read The Circus Ship, and tucked everybody into bed before heading out for some more of my favorite things. This time it was beer, cheeseburger, and trivia.

As I ate my divine sandwich I was flipping through a local newspaper and happened to notice that there was team trivia at Federal Jack’s on Tuesday nights. There is no I in Team, unless you’re going alone and are a team of one, I suppose. And that’s what I was prepared to do. Go it alone. But delightful surprise, my new friend, Stephanie (remember my friend of a friend?) was available to go, too! Thus, team Difficult Situation was born. (Anyone catch the stilted DMB reference? Our situations are anything but typical.) We weren’t expecting to take the purse, but I think we had a respectable showing. And more importantly, we had fun. Not to mention a lovely locally brewed Taint Town Pale Ale. And I almost choked when Stephanie ordered a Captain and Diet. That was Barb’s drink. My former trivia partner who died tragically last November. I have never met another person who drank that. And I found myself getting a little misty when Stephanie said to the waitress, “Cap’n and Diet.” But it made me smile. It’s nice to remember friends gone too soon, and it seemed like a lovely sign to cherish a new friend. It’s always a wonderful thing to meet someone who understands you. We talked long into the night, long after trivia was over, laughing over our similarities and funny situations we’ve found ourselves in lately. It was, overall, a very good night, and no trivial thing at all.

 

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Hot-blooded, check it and see…

20 Jun

I don’t know if it’s the fever that continues to rage on, or the fact that I neglected to eat dinner before starting my prescription Bacardi (hey, my friend is a doctor!), or the fact that the temps reached into the 90s here today and the heat has settled onto all of us, leaving a sticky film, but I feel muddle-headed. Everything is thick and vaguely fuzzy. So it is soon to bed for me, because I found that I actually felt better this morning after being in bed for almost 12 hours straight. (Imagine that!) The late afternoon is when it seems to settle in with a vengeance. The aches, the burning eyes, the denial that I am sick and should probably take immediately to my bed. But we had a lovely day today, despite the Florida-esque heat, and it deserves a brief, little recap.

The first and most exciting to me activity of the day involved a trip to one of my favorite bookstores: Kennebooks in Lower Kennubunk. The bookstore is fairly new, opened in 2009, so it has always been a part of our summer Kennebunkport experience. Last summer we happened to stumble upon Story Hour, which was very enjoyable, so this year I was smart enough to look it up, make Kennebooks Story Hour a destination unto itself. And boy did we ever luck out. One of the things I like best about Kennebooks is the people who work there. I mean, it’s great that the place is so very clean and shiny, neat and tidy. That they stock tons of different books and are laid out in an attractive and efficient way. But it’s the people that make it so lovely. They are friendly, without being pushy, knowledgeable and honest. And the lady who runs the Story Hour is fabulous. She’s clearly very adept at reading to children, and also runs a craft activity after the books. This year it was awesome, because it was the Willim Childrens’ Private Story Hour. Apparently Story Hour is quite popular, but this being the first really, really, really nice day (apparently they think 90 degree heat qualifies as that) everyone and their brother had taken off to the beach. In fact, they expected that no one would show for Story Hour. Leave it to the tourists from Florida to eschew the beach on a hot, sunny day! Anyway, perhaps the best part was when she suggested I just browse around the store while she took the kids upstairs. Um, yes, please, thank you!!! It was such a luxury, to roam around a bookstore, reading dust jackets and back flaps. Picking out books I had heard of and been longing to read, but also taking chances on those who just sounded interesting. Needless to say, I was in heaven.

You all know how pleased I am when someone compliments my children, especially their behavior. So I was positively puffed up with pride when they descended from the reading room and she said, “Thank you for sharing your children with me, they were a pure delight!” Apparently Harper even asked if she could read one of the books aloud, and did so with her siblings consent. Love it. They were happy, the bookstore lady was happy, and I was happy. Trifecta! And we picked up the two latest books from our favorite, just-happens-to-be-from-Maine author, Chris Van Dusen. We fell in love with him after reading “Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee” (a random library selection) and just had to own “If I Built a Car.” Now we’ve picked up his two latest ones and are eagerly awaiting his upcoming release, “If I Built a House.” But sadly we reached the point where we could no longer afford to stay in Kennebooks, and we headed out for the afternoon.

On the suggestion of the very kind Ms. Carmichael at Kennebooks, we set out for Ogunquit, just two towns south. The cove there, Perkins Cove, is just about as small town picturesque Maine as you can get. Luckily we were visiting in mid-June instead of August. I imagine it’s a rather miserable place to visit in August as there are small, narrow streets, and very few sidewalks to walk on. But for us, perfect. In fact, it brought to mind Cabot Cove, Jessica Fletcher’s old stomping grounds. (And if you need for me to tell you that was the setting & main character of “Murder, She Wrote,” then I’m just plain ashamed of you. Or maybe I feel sorry for you, because me & my dad, who’s in his 70s now, both *loved* that show!) Anyway, we asked the boy collecting money at the parking lot, who had a rather quick-witted, New England prep school rebel, Holden Caufield-esque feel about him (Momma like!) where he suggested we eat. The secondary Barnacle Billy’s location won out, a table on the deck and kid-friendly options being the deciding factors. Ironically, as we were waiting to be seated and perusing the photos on the wall (one of which was a really funny one of G.H.W. Bush, Tom Brady, and Bill Clinton – who was contemplating an ice cream cone), one of the hostesses mentions that “Bush Senior” was dining at the original Barnacle Billy’s location just half a block down the street. We asked about his protection detail and how much effort goes into him coming out in the small town and she said since they come by boat it’s pretty easy. Sure enough, we look out at the dock and see his gorgeous 38ft Fountain boat, Fidelity V, tied next to the Secret Service  zodiac. As luck would have it, as we finished our meal his group was reboarding the boats and headed back out, so we got to see them leaving the cove. They say he still drives the boat from time to time. We didn’t have a good enough angle (stupid sailboat that arrived in the interim blocking our view of the dock!), so I can’t say whether or not he was behind the wheel, but the Fidelity is a fast moving boat, and they sure took off once they reached open water, almost daring the SS zodiac to keep up.

After that excitement, minimal though it was, we took a short walk along the Marginal Way. It’s kind of the Ogunquit answer to the Cliff Walk in Newport. A beautiful, paved & maintained path along the ocean-front cliffs, though with decidedly less regal houses. Then again, one of the ones currently under construction might give some of those New port “cottages” a run for their money. Either way, it was, despite the heat, a lovely little stroll. The rocky coast is beautiful, and the waves crashing against the rocks definitely give a different coastal experience.

Back to Kennebunkport and I finagled a little time to just peruse the shops and galleries alone. Ahhh, breathe it in, the beauty of that word. Alone. I have a few favorites that deserve revisiting every year. Most especially the Northlight Gallery, and new this year his companion gallery, True North Gallery, owned by a Florida native who is smart enough to split his time between FLA and KPT. He is a painter himself, with several of his own beautiful pieces hanging on the wall. Most especially was a nude female figure painting. Racy to most, I suppose, but truly beautiful to me. He said it usually takes a buyer from New York City to move one of those pieces. Which is a shame, had I won the lottery or been independently wealthy, I would have gladly walked out of his gallery with “Side Lit.” He also represents an artist named Jack Standish. His watercolors, which are really just delicately colored in intricate line drawings, are exquisite. His rooms are so alive with light and detail, I swear I look at one of his paintings and just know what that room sounds like, smells like. Wish I was in it. Sitting in that window seat, or on that front porch, on laying in that bed looking out the open window. I hope to one day own a Standish. Again, here’s hoping for that big lottery win.

I’ve got some favorite gift shops around town, too. None more so than the quirky, eclectic Daytrip Society. I pretty much want to own everything in the store. Though I am clearly not cool enough to do so. I swear, it’s a shop that makes me want to be cool. And then I realize I’m old, but at least it’s a friendly enough place that I don’t feel intimidated while looking around longingly. I picked up a few knick-knacks along the way. I always buy a Christmas ornament as a souvenir, this time a small piece of stone with a nautical chart depicting Turbat’s Creek, where “our” house is located. I also ran up to Minka, the store directly adjacent to the ever-popular Ben & Jerry’s, to pick up the handmade chowda bowl I’d been coveting for two years. I, of course, intend to eat cereal out of it, but it’s this charming design made to look like a cross section of a birch tree. I love it & hope it safely makes the trip home. My Crunchberries are going to taste that much more delicious!

Thankfully, as I started to feel worse as the evening progressed, it’s been a low-key night around here. I did fail spectacularly in my attempt to make pancakes. Let’s just say that it’s harder than it looks when you don’t have a non-stick pan, nor any cooking spray, and are using an electric range when you’re used to gas. I’m talking a spectacular fail. Luckily the kids went easy on me, despite their excitement about pancakes for dinner, and accepted the quickly prepared pasta substitute.

And now, everyone in their beds after our Chris Van Dusen featured story time, I am nursing my medicinal Bacardi and pondering taking the suggested Advil before crawling into bed. Seriously, I’m done with this mysterious aches and fever routine. Here’s hoping come tomorrow morning it’ll be done with me, too.

 

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Pilgrimage

22 Jun

Have I mentioned before that I love L.L.Bean?

Anyone who truly knows me knows this already. I love L.L.Bean. I love their products, I love their culture, I love their vibe. So for me, Freeport is like Mecca. And if I’m going to be in Maine, I have to make the pilgrimage to their flagship store. Above is me, giving the giant duck boot a little love. (Ignore the random child in the background. I have no idea who that one belongs to.) Believe it or not, this time I resisted the urge to purchase any boat & tote bags (I would shudder to count the ones I already own!) This is not to say I didn’t purchase anything, but no more bags. And this is not to say I didn’t peruse the bags, with the full intention of buying one, but nothing suited my fancy. There just wasn’t anything different or interesting on the boat & tote front that I needed to have. A few t-shirts, a new pair of flops, a book I’m really excited to read called Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks. I have to say, their stock seemed a bit thin. Kind of like the town. Like maybe because the summer crowds hadn’t yet hiked up to full capacity, the store shelves were a little lackluster. And for the first time ever, I had a bad customer service experience with L.L.Bean. This is unheard of. They used to live and die by their 100% satisfaction guarantee. And I’ve never encountered anyone in that store (or even over the phone) that wasn’t trying to bend over backward to help me find what I was looking for or resolve a problem. Well, I have this watch that I bought from Bean maybe 3 years ago. I wear it almost every single day. It has three interchangeable bands. I was most fond of the brown leather one and that was my default band. Until it broke about two months ago. But I knew I was coming to Freeport, so I didn’t bother calling to ask about replacement bands when I could address the issue face to face. Now I realize this is a leather watch band that is eventually going to wear thin, but I take pretty good care of my things and I was shocked when this one broke. Maybe I should have expected it, but I really had never considered the life span of my watch band before and I would have expected this to last longer. Today I took the watch to the customer service department to see what they could tell me. I was wearing the watch with its black leather band and carrying the original storage box with the ribbon band and the broken brown leather band. When if was my turn I cracked open the case, showed the customer service rep my broken watch band and asked if they (a) still carried this watch, and (b) had replacement bands or could do anything to help me out. Without batting an eye and without expressing any empathy, she just said, “Go down to the camping department and see if they can help you there.” I stood there dumbfounded for a second, just staring at her thinking she must have more to say. Something. Even if it was just a, “Oh, gosh, that stinks. I’m so sorry that your favorite watch band broke like that. You must be disappointed.” Some show of empathy, even if she had no intention of offering compensation or replacement. But all I got out of her for my pause was, “Do you know where the camping department is?” So I went down and spoke to a gentleman there. He was very kind, expressed the empathy I was looking for, and then told me he was sorry to report that I was out of luck. They no longer make this watch apparently and there are no such thing as replacement bands. At least he offered me the name of a company in Portland that makes watch bands. But I’m left wondering, whatever happened to the 100% satisfaction guarantee? I’m not sure exactly what I wanted them to do, and I understand that they no longer make the watch and I should have expected that eventually my watch band, when worn enough, would end its useful life. But still. I am definitely not 100% satisfied with my encounter with the Customer Service department in Freeport today. And I’ve worshipped L.L.Bean for so long that I found it utterly confusing and didn’t know what to do when they disappointed me.

But what wasn’t disappointing is that I got the opportunity to spend some time in Freeport by myself. I actually got to roam into shops with delicate, breakable knick-knacks. I got to try on clothes. I got to peruse and amble and actually think about purchases before I made them. This was a nice treat. Though these days for me solitude always is, no matter what I’m doing. As I was driving back to Kennebunkport I stopped at the grocery store in Biddeford to buy more cereal (a fairly common activity for me) and decided to ask for some local advice on whether or not there was any decent Chinese or Thai food in the area. I wasn’t holding out hope for gourmet, but that’s the sort of stuff I was really craving and it’s exactly the type of food my kids can’t/won’t eat, so I like to seize the opportunities when they arise. Most recommended was a nearby Japanese steakhouse. I love the teppan grill cooking and I never get to go to those back home, so I decided that no matter how pathetic it was for a single woman to go to a place like that alone, I was going to do it. Besides, those tables are communal and sometimes you get lumped in with some really fun and/or nice people. The hostess led me to a table and sat me right next to a couple (actually they were the two on the end and I was the next over on the corner). I expected that the other seats would fill up. However they didn’t and I was sitting right there next to them. And it became painfully obvious that this couple was on their first date. And apparently the girl had just turned 17. The boy, I later eavesdropped, was turning 21 very soon. And there I was, sitting right on top of them. To call that situation awkward would be a gross understatement. And so we basically ignored each other’s existence as best we could. Then the chef asks where I’m from and when I said Jacksonville, FL, he says, oh, I used to live in Saint Augustine. Wtf? That is bizarre. What are the odds of visiting a Japanese steakhouse in Biddeford, Maine, and finding out your teppan cook used to live and work in Saint Augustine? At least the people at the adjacent table livened the place up. There was one woman in their group that was getting absolutely smashed. Let’s just say she was wearing the chef’s hat and he was squirting sake from a squirt bottle straight into her mouth. (Please don’t let me be in the background of any of their straight-to-You-Tube videos!) Honestly, it was like having dinner and a show.

The rain arrived this evening. It is a soft, gentle rain. But it brought the fog with it. As I drove home to the cottage tonight I got a sense for why Stephen King is so inspired by his home-state of Maine. It is pitch-black dark, even under some of the functioning street lamps. And this dark backroad is dark, with the misty fog clinging to and rising from the blacktop. Gave me the willies. But maybe some of that was just because I was thinking about Stephen King. The forecast says rain off and on for the next two days, so we’ll have to find something other than the beach to do. This morning we went to story time at Kennbooks, where they read several childrens’ books and then had a fun dinosaur-themed craft for the kids. I suppose tomorrow we may take a jaunt to the Children’s Museum in Portland (where we will get in free because of the reciprocal program with my Boston CM membership!) Because I don’t mind being on the beach with a little drizzle, but right now the temperature is in the 50s! So that just won’t do…

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I’m on a boat

21 Jun

Just another day in what I consider paradise. The weather here continues to be phenomenally beautiful. Highs in the high 70s, lows in the…I don’t even know, but jeans and a hoodie feel great. Sleeping under heavy blankets with the windows open. Bright, sunshiny days. Amazing. And for the first time, I actually slept in! Okay, so it was just until 8:00am, and I shooed away a small child who woke me for just a moment at 6:45am, but for me this qualifies as bonafide sleeping in. And since I creaked my way down the stairs this morning, I decided that maybe running every other day would be adequate. Nothing wrong with a lazy morning at home. Especially when you’re on vacation.

Part of that lazy morning involved meeting a plumber, excuse me, mechanical engineer that the home owners sent out to the house. By total chance yesterday, I was in the basement at the exact time the outdoor hose was being used and happened to glance into the secondary basement room to see it flooding with water. A disconcerting sight to say the least. A cursory examination showed the water gushing from the interior wall right behind the hose bib. Shutting the water off at the faucet slowed and then stopped the flow, but it is clear that this has been happening for quite awhile because there is extensive water damage on the wall and items that were in the path of the water as it accumulated on the floor. And it was just a fluke that we discovered it. But I called the homeowners immediately to notify them about the problem and promised to stop using the outdoor hose (as long as they would forgive me for not hosing off their beach chairs and kayaks!) They called back this morning to say they were sending a plumber to the house. Turns out he was a mechanical engineer (and all around handy guy) who did not take too kindly to being called a plumber. But he was a nice man and immediately identified the problem (a broken pipe that had been improperly installed by “that idiot plumber” – now I see why he didn’t want to be lumped into the same category.) The owner had warned me on the phone that the guy she was sending might try to talk my ear off, but I assured her I could hold my own. And besides, if I hadn’t talked to him, how would I have known that Bill Murray (the actor extraordinaire, not scientist extraordinaire) also frequents Kennebunkport, or that in Mr. Murray’s New York home he has a large Cubs logo on the bottom of his outdoor pool which is clearly visible from the flight patterns of planes to the NYC area airports.

After the adventures in handymen, I finally made it into town. The Dock Square area of Kennebunkport has some really fun, unique shops. I have a few favorites that I visit every time I’m here, but some new ones have sprouted up as well. One not to be missed is Daytrip Society. So funky, fun, and cool. I pretty much want one of everything. Which would of course require an entirely different financial situation. Say, like, winning the Powerball. And now they’ve opened a children’s store, Daytrip Jr., so my head pretty much wants to explode. One of the coolest things they sell at Daytrip Society are tote bags made from recycled sails, with the original logos or numbers worked right into the design. There was a large bag with a huge number 9. I wanted so badly to get it for my friends, Kris & Lauren Pollina (they know why), but there’s that whole tricky, I-didn’t-win-the-Powerball situation to be considered, so I couldn’t. And of course I wouldn’t have minded picking one up for myself, but alas, it was not to be. Another cool shop in town is called Carrots & Company. Back in the Wink Wink Baby heyday, they carried our burp cloths, and there was still one on the shelves. Made me happy and sad. For lots of different reasons. The beaded jewelry in Toko was cute and, shockingly enough, rather reasonably priced. For $5 I bought a huge, funky beaded ring that looks like a rose. Okay, I’ll admit it. I bought two – one in black and one in pink. They were too cute to pass up. But with all the pleasant chit-chat with the store clerks and my desire to just browse and wander aimlessly, my morning solitude was chewed up pretty quickly and it was time to embark on our next adventure.

This adventure involved the renting of an 18′ Boston Whaler. Some people are boat people. And some are decidedly not. I am a boat person. Even sprawled in the bow of that fishing boat, feeling every jarring slap as we headed into the wind, against the current, it felt like all my senses were waking up. I love the sounds of a boat, the smell of the water, the wind wreaking havoc with my hair. I love it all. I was fortunate enough to grow up with a boat in my backyard. We always had a little power boat at the end of our dock, for running out to the fish camp for dinner, riding out on the river for fun, water skiing (which I never actually enjoyed doing, but I was a superb spotter). I was always happy on those boats. Something about the sun and wind on my face that feels cleansing. And if you are a boat person who has been on dry land for a long time, getting back out on the water feels surprising. Because no matter how well you can remember loving the boat, loving being on the water, how happy it makes you, those memories always pale in comparison to how it actually feels. But oddly enough, maybe because I was so young when we first owned boats, I never did learn how to handle one properly. Now, if you’re pulling up to the dock, I am totally your girl. I am quick and strong and sure-footed, and if you need help tying up, I’m the first over the rail. But now I want to be the one in control. I want to learn how to drive the boat. And my parents still have a power boat out at the end of their dock, so Dad, I sense a summer project coming on…

As we were headed out we saw a string of small sailboats being towed back in from their sailing lesson. It was so adorable, I mean these boats (dinghys?) were really tiny and the kids in them were really young. When I turned to Beau and asked if he would like to go to sailing camp when we got home, he was rather non-committal, but Harper piped right up and said she’d love to. I told her that it was probably pretty unlikely that she was old enough this year – I was guessing that sailing camps might start at age 6 – but that we’d check and see because I’d love for her to be able to sail. In fact, I’d love for myself to be able to sail. Maybe they have adult camps, too. The kids took turns “driving” while we tooled out to sea for a bit, just taking a joyride and enjoying the sights. We never did locate the spot the guys at the marina recommended, but I think that was okay because the kids were running out of steam and enthusiasm. On the way back in, Avery laid her head down on my legs and promptly fell asleep. I love this about her. She has clearly inherited my ability to fall asleep in any place, in any position. But best of all, every single time that child has ever been on a boat she has fallen asleep. I find that incredibly endearing. I used to do that. Maybe she’s a boat person, too.

After our outdoor adventure, it was time to revisit an old friend, Kennebooks book store. I say old friend, because we spent a lot of time there last year, but in actuality, it is a fairly new store, opening in May 2009. Despite being open for 2 years now, it still smells like new construction. They have kept it clean and neat and well-kept. They have a wonderful children’s section with tons of different kinds of books, all organized in a logical fashion. They have a large couch, perfect for snuggling into to read to your kids, but also lots of little, kid-sized chairs scattered about for independent reading. Plus it is a rather contained area which allows the freedom for mom to wander into the next room over to peruse the fiction titles. We spent over an hour there today with the owner coming over to show the girls a book she particularly liked and the teenager behind the counter validating my choice of a particular YA title that she said she had read and really liked. It was, as always, a very pleasant experience and I’m happy to see that they seem to be thriving.

The halcyon aspect of this beautiful weather is the ability to play outside late into the evening. Out in the yard or down on the beach after dinner, sucking down ice pops, the kids still in their bathing suits with jackets on top. It just feels right. Exactly like summer should be. And I’m so happy that they will remember this aspect of their childhood. But the week is flying by. Too soon I’ll be doing the final load of laundry and trying to repack all of our gear. Maybe we should stay for two weeks next summer. Hmmm…

Footnote: I googled sailing camps in Jacksonville and it turns out that there is a local marina that offers a week-long, half-day sailing camp for kids aged 5-7! Yipee!

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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim