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Posts Tagged ‘Maine’

Day 12: Slow Roll

06 Jul

Because we had nothing truly planned today except for an overnight in Peabody, MA, only about 150 miles south, our exit from Maine was a decidedly slow roll. I had done a great deal of the packing and departure prep last night. In fact, coupling the amount of work I had to do with my crippling procrastination, I ended up staying awake until at least 2am. Which would have been fine, because I had plenty of time to sleep in and still have us on the road before our mandatory check-out time. A really great plan. Except that there was apparently a raucous seagull convention scheduled for this morning that I had been previously unaware of. It was full of noisy, lively debate, and the flock of seagulls show started at approximately 5:45am. Oof. Awake and out of bed that early, I really had time on my side. Our check-out time was 11am, and we milked it almost to the final minute.

I had the typical departure stuff to do. Had to pack the kids sheets after they woke and stripped their beds. Wash the queen sheets we borrowed. Wash, dry, and put away dishes. Empty trash cans. Walk down on the beach a final time to play rock hound to collect new specimens to put in our souvenir lamp. (I have a clear base lamp that I am slowly filling with rocks from our Maine vacations. This area is different geologically-speaking from Kennebunkport, so I got some great chunks of stone that will make a really interesting layer.) And, of course, I also needed to log some more porch time. In fact, after rising before 6am and putting my sheets in the washer, that is the very next thing I did. I am in the process of re-reading the Harry Potter series, and am now into Year 4: The Goblet of Fire. Sigh. This is some very good reading, made even better by the view and a refreshing Maine sea breeze.

After forcing the kids into obligatory pictures in front of the cottage and on the porch, we said a fond farewell to the Nezinscott cottage. We then enjoyed an insanely picturesque drive back through Bailey Island/Orr’s Island/Harpswell, on the first day of the Southbound Leg of CMRT 2019: US History Edition. That’s right, it time to get back to the history lessons. But today was simply our slow roll away, a gentle extraction from my beloved state of Maine. It started with a return trip to the Bull Moose store in Portland. Beau is fairly obsessed with music, and more specifically with his burgeoning vinyl collection. It doesn’t really surprise me that there is a healthy selection of vinyl at the Bull Moose locations, seeing as they are mostly in rather hipster towns. Beau did intimate that the selection at our local Saint Augustine Tone Vendor store was actually superior, but Bull Moose is rather a multi-sensory experience unto itself. And Beau has been very happy about some of the rare finds he has been acquiring. Side note: Be on the lookout for his Go Fund Me, as he is racking up quite the vinyl debt to me, having already blown through his CMRT spending money from Mimi.

Our next stop: Kennebunkport. Sadly, this also seemed to be the next stop of every. single. person. in. the. world! Wow, was it crowded. First time past the free parking lot, and it was totally full with several sharks already circling looking for unsuspecting prey walking back to their car. I figure no big deal, I’m willing to pay for parking, and crossed my fingers that the pay lot in Dock Square would have some availability. Nope. Not a single space in sight. Sigh. Fight some more traffic and get back to the free lot for another look. Luckily, we found a space, and bonus, it was in the shade! Yeah, not only was it insanely crowded in town, it was also one of the hotter days I’ve ever experienced in Kennebunkport. I imagine the locals were melting. The big draw to KPT, and the reason I was willing to fight the crowds, has to do with my favorite art galleries. When I first started visiting Kennebunkport some 18 years ago, I stumbled across a gallery named Northlight Gallery, located on Ocean Avenue, just off of the Dock Square area. I was immediately entranced with the incredibly detailed watercolor works by Jack Standish. I can’t even begin to describe them in words, but I vowed that one day I would own one. (It still hasn’t happened yet!) But I was also enamored with the exceedingly friendly, but laid back gallery owner, Harry Thompson. We struck up a conversation all those years ago and I discovered that he was originally from, of all places, Gainesville, Florida! Over the years I have kept coming back to salivate over the works in Northlight, and enjoy a chat with Harry, who produces his own magnificent oil paintings. Though Northlight Gallery is still in the same location at 33 Ocean Ave, there have been many changes over the years, the most significant of which is the addition of the equally delightful, and also laid back cool, Jill Previti Thompson, and additional gallery space (True North) down in Dock Square. Over the years I have made it a point to always visit both Harry and Jill’s galleries. Jill is an amazingly talented painter in her own right, and it is always a breath of fresh air to talk with her. In the past year they have added an additional gallery space – with more of a focus on photography and jewelry – and Jill’s gallery has been renamed Thompson & Company. Two years ago this September, I took Beau to Maine for his 13th birthday. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday that year, his only response was, “To wake up in Maine.” So, despite the trip having some major ups and downs, I made that happen for him. One of the ups of that trip involved being in Jill’s gallery on Beau’s birthday. Jill really talked to Beau about art and what he liked, asked him questions about himself and listened to the answers. I think she was mostly impressed that he was such a self-possessed 13 year old (who, of course, seemed more like a 63 year old). Just before we left, she took Beau over to a collection of a few of her small abstract landscapes and asked him which one he liked the most. He considered his choice, and talked it out with her, and then chose. What happened next astounded me. She took that beautifully framed painting off the wall, handed it to him, and said, “Happy Birthday!” I was gobsmacked. She then said to me, “And that’s how you make a collector.” Indeed. This year our first stop in Kennebunkport was Jill’s gallery (Thompson & Company) where I recounted the story to her and again expressed my gratitude for her generosity. We had a really nice chat, and then I headed off to Harry’s gallery (Northlight). I was positively salivating over the majority of the work in the gallery, while also having a pleasant chat with Harry. But then my eyes locked on one of Jill’s paintings in the second room of the gallery. Similar in composition to the smaller seascape given to Beau, but with an even richer palatte. It was again the sea, but this sky was a deep, bruised plum color. It was gorgeous, and my eye kept coming back to it. Just as I was about to leave, I walked back over to it and made a decision. Sometimes, it’s Mommy’s turn to get what she wants. So I bought it. I bought a painting today. As if it’s the sort of thing I do every day. It isn’t large, but it’s mine. I’d say Jill’s investment in Beau is already paying off. Maybe I’m the collector she was making.

I was alerted by my very dear Kennebunk-dwelling friend, that the turnpike was backed up for at least 20 miles headed south from Kennebunkport, and I had absolutely zero desire to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the interstate. So, incredibly grateful for Mandy’s heads-up, I asked Waze to route us the back way. Slower speed limits, but prettier sights. There were a few patches of traffic even on the back roads, but it was actually an enjoyable drive filled with picturesque farms and quaint little town centers. We were on our way to a brief stop in Portsmouth, NH, because Beau wanted to visit, where else, yet another Bull Moose location! But first we visited the exceedingly irreverent gift shop that we had discovered during his birthday weekend, called Off Piste. And it was worth a return visit. Many people might consider the store’s merchandise offensive, as there are several “grown-up words” featured on things as diverse as tea towels to pencils to magnets to socks. Personally, I think they are f-ing hysterical. Perhaps my favorite thing in the store are the extensive selection of pencils stamped with hysterically irreverent sayings. I would love to stock the pencil cup on my desk with these and watch kids faces when they ask to borrow a pencil. But I enjoy being employed, so I didn’t purchase any at all. After laughing our butts off and pining to purchase things I can’t really show off to their full potential because I’m a public servant, we headed across the street to Bull Moose. Beau picked up yet more vinyl – seriously, please send this kid cash for his upcoming birthday, as I need him to pay me back! I took a flyer on a sealed bag labeled “15 Classical CDs” for $1.97. How could I possibly go wrong? Turns out there is some fun stuff in there – I do love classical piano music. After finding free parking in Kennebunkport, I ended up having to pay for parking in Portsmouth. Well, I should have paid for parking. But I didn’t. And I ended up getting a parking ticket. Ironically, in approximately the same amount I would have had to pay for parking in Kennebunkport in that Dock Square lot. I have no idea how I happened to miss the large parking kiosk located just a couple of spaces down, and why I didn’t immediately look for one, knowing that all parking in these New England towns is somehow metered Mon-Sat. But I didn’t. I think pulling in diagonally like I did put me in mind of San Marco back home. And I just blithely took my spot, and didn’t even think about it being anything other than free parking. Oops! But I’ve already paid my ticket online, and like I said, a fairly equivalent parking assessment to having paid for it on the front end, so no true loss other than feeling vaguely like an idiot.

Overall, today has been a weird mix of emotions. It feels like we left the cottage months ago, or perhaps that the entire thing was just a lovely dream, something fictionalized that never truly happened. I am sad to leave that respite from the world, from reality. But I am also eager to have more new experiences, and ultimately, to return home (though we have 10 days before we’re doing that!) I think today was a nice transition from our life of ultimate ease back into our “road trip” mentality. Tonight we are in Peabody, MA, simply a way-station to our full day of sightseeing tomorrow. For tomorrow we take on the witches of Salem…

 

Day 12 – By the numbers:

Odometer: 128,643 – 128,801 (158  miles)

Total travel time: 8 hours, 30 minutes

States traveled in/through: 3 - ME, NH, MA

Gas stop: $2.85/gal – Wells, ME

Current standings in the CMRT 2019 Lottery Project: $38 in/ $11 out (- $27 loss) –> It’s not a good year for gambling.

Number of states found in our license plate-palooza: –> Total of 46/51 –> Only missing Alaska, Wyoming, Nevada, New Mexico, and, of course, North Dakota!

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Day 11: Melancholy and the Infinite Maineness

05 Jul

Here it is, stupidly late at night, and I still am not finished packing. Mostly because I have been procrastinating. As if by not completing necessary tasks I can change the outcome. See, tomorrow I have to leave this glorious place, and to put it succinctly, I don’t want to go.

This morning seemed tinged with a touch of melancholy. We were all moving a little slower. Even our perpetually smiley Avery seemed a little down in the mouth. Everyone said they were fine, and no one admitted that anything was wrong, but I think we were all feeling the end. And sometimes the anticipation of the thing is worse than the thing itself. Except in this case. Leaving this view behind will be much worse than simply being sad about having to leave in the future. But it colored our morning, this weight around our heads. It was almost as if we went down to the beach because we felt we should, it was what we were supposed to do. And I’m glad we did, even if it was a bit more subdued. We had our rental kayaks for one final day and we got good use out of them. At first the girls simply paddled about in the harbor, then Beau took one out on another out-of-sight solo excursion, as the girls switched to inner tubes. Then I had the idea to put my book in a plastic bag and paddle out into the middle of the harbor so I could just drift and read. (A brilliant idea, if I do say so myself!) Then Beau and I took off for an excursion out of the harbor, this time turning left instead of right towards Lands End. Just outside the mouth of Little Harbor we discovered that we were on the other side of the Giant’s Stairs, where we had spent so much time playing on the rocks the day before. I knew it was close – after all we didn’t drive that far – but I truly wasn’t expecting it to be so close by water. At this point it was high tide, and I could absolutely see why the cottage owners told us it was best to go at low tide to see them. While still beautiful and impressive, they were much more impactful at low tide. It was a little unnerving to be out in open water, experiencing the chop borne of wave action and boat wake, especially given the need to give those rocks a wide berth. I didn’t want the rocks to become impactful on a physical level! So it was a relatively quick trip.

After all the kids went up to the house I took one of our inflatable inner tubes out into Little Harbor, and just floated. It was truly sublime. I just laid back, my rear finally acclimated to the chilly water, and let the water take me as I chased cars in my head. I don’t often get opportunities to complete unplug from everything, but this was one. No phone, no books, no kids. Weightless on the water. Enjoying the sun on my face, the cool breeze on my bare arms, and a smile on my face. It felt like a fitting goodbye to Little Harbor, which is now the keeper of a whole new year’s Maine memories.

It was time to make a dent on clearing out the refrigerator and have a late lunch. I suppose I should have been thinking about packing up and getting things under control to leave tomorrow, but that just wasn’t going to happen. After lunch I was reading on the porch (natch!) when the owners walked through the yard coming up from the beach. It was pleasant speaking with them. At one point they said that if I thought I might want to return next year I should let them know the dates I was interested in as soon as possible, as they frequently book the majority of the summer weeks with return visitors. IF? If I want to return?? I definitely want to return. I would spend my entire life just sitting on that porch if I could! But next summer is going to be a sleep-away camp summer for the girls, and this house is too big for just Beau and me. Maybe I could convince some friends to go in on the rental with me. Anyone interested in spending a week in Maine next summer? The house is rustic, to be sure, and has its odd quirks (for example, none of the upstairs bedrooms have ceilings. It’s like a cubical farm of rooms up there!) But honestly, you aren’t going to spend much time in your room, because, well, did I mention the porch?

After Avery and I had a little post-lunch ice cream (hey, we have to clean out the freezer, too!) the girls and I went back down to the beach for some final spins in the kayaks and tubes. It was fun to just play with my kids. At one point Avery was in a kayak, Harper and I were in tubes, and I was using the kayak paddle from my tube to drag us around the harbor. We were laughing and being goofy, and I had this sensation like life really just couldn’t get any better. But time was ticking on. Luckily, Beau came back down onto the beach and could help me transport the rental kayaks back into our yard to be picked up, while the girls brought the paddles, lifejackets, and tubes back up to the house. It was time to say goodbye to the beach. Once I got the kayaks and accessories laid out on the lawn, I parked myself in my favorite spot. Feet up on the rail, reading a book. I did have to pause and put on a fleece, and then wrap my legs in a towel. I would like to blame some of this nonsense on the fact I was still wearing a slightly damp bathing suit, but the truth is, my thin Florida blood is now reading 70 degrees and breezy as down right cold. But please don’t confuse that with a complaint! I was delighted to feel chilly and I will take any excuse to wear a fleece!

Eventually, it was time to come inside, shower, and start the process of ending our Maine vacation. Rustic also means there is no dishwasher, so I had to dig in and work my way through a large pile. There was also some laundry to do, seeing as how we are still 10 days from home. And we certainly unpacked and made ourselves comfortable here in the Nezinscott cottage! But I just couldn’t find the motivation. So I did the minimum, made a list of things to do tomorrow before our 11am check-out, and found any manner of things to waste time. Including this. But it’s time. Time to pack away the souvenirs, the towels, the tubes, the sunscreen, the clothes, and the books. I wish I had a nickel for every time this week that one of my kids has asked me some variation on, “So, why don’t we live here?” Because if I did, we could buy a place! I can’t believe the week is over, but tomorrow is a slow roll out of our favorite state, so we can savor the sights. I know it’s a naivete born of halcyon summers, without the suffering of brutal winters, but I do wish I could give my kids an infinite Maineness, so we wouldn’t have to experience the melancholy.

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Day 10: The Way Life Should Be

04 Jul

This year, as we drove over the Piscataqua River Bridge, crossing into Maine from New Hampshire, we were greeted by a new road sign. It said, “Maine – Welcome Home.” It amused us with many jokes as one of the kids excitedly said, “Well, I guess we live here now!” But I was missing the old sign. We used to be greeted with a sign that said, “Maine – The Way Life Should Be.” That always made me smile. Because all of my experiences in Maine have indeed fit that description. Of course, I somewhat pad the deck by coming to Maine from Florida in the summer. But I have always had this sense of peace in my chest, every time I’ve been here, that this feeling of happiness and beauty would be a welcome way for life to be. Always.

Today, our Independence Day, lived up to the Maine state slogan. Because it was exactly the way life should be. I am ever so grateful to the cottage owner for suggesting I call Paddle Maine to rent kayaks. Even with the delivery snafu, if has been wonderful to have those boats available to us. I started my day like every other one this week, sitting on the porch reading. But when Avery said she wanted to go out in the kayak to explore a rock island that was only visible because it was low tide, I put aside the thing I wanted to do to accommodate her desires. As a side note: I do not always do that. Of the many things I have done badly as a mother, I think the fact that my children are aware and respect the fact that I am an individual apart from them is a triumph. Sometimes it is Mommy’s turn, and I do not have a problem asserting that. But when the baby of the group wants to take out a kayak, and you’re in Maine for only a short time, you change out of your pajama pants and walk down to the beach. We carried the kayaks down the exposed beach to the low water line and paddled out a bit, just messing around and enjoying each others company. It was likely our laughter down in the Harbor that drew Harper out to the beach, decked in her swimsuit and ready to go. I left the girls in the Harbor together and came back up to change and gather things for an extended time on the beach (by which I mean my chair and book!) Eventually, Beau appeared and the day just unfolded in a lazy, beautiful way. Beau wanted to take one of the kayaks and paddle around the point to Land’s End, the tip of Bailey Island. It really isn’t far from our protected Little Harbor, but it does require leaving the safety of the cove to venture into the edge of the Atlantic. I had originally told him that I wanted to go with him, but thinking on it more, I realized that in less than two months, he is going to begin driving a car. It’s time to let him venture forth into scary situations and trust him to handle himself in whatever circumstances arise. While he was off on his adventure, the girls splashed about in the harbor in tubes, we played some catch with the Nerf football, and I even got a few chapters read. Harper also wanted to paddle out of the cove, but I was not ready to give her the same free rein I gave Beau. So once he returned, Harper and I paddled out together, while the other two went back up to the house. We didn’t push all the way to Land’s End, but did paddle a little along the Casco Bay coast, and I was thankful for these sturdy, recreational kayaks, as it was much choppier with the wakes and waves of the end of high tide. We turned back and explored the edges of our harbor, finding an excellent little hidden beach. After beaching and securing the kayaks we also returned to the house. It was early afternoon and time for a late lunch. And because it was the 4th of July, I’m pretty sure it’s part of all non-vegetarian’s pledge as Americans to grill meat! I threw the remaining chicken breasts and hot dogs on the grill, and inspired by Scott’s culinary prowess, sauteed the rest of the onions.

After lunch it was time for Avery’s trip to Land’s End, but this one was achieved via foot. I threw on my bought special for the occasion 4th of July t-shirt (It reads: “Happy Treason Day Ungrateful Colonials” with a large Union Jack flag) and we walked down the road. The Land’s End Gift Shop at the end of Bailey Island is enormous and packed full of all manner of tourist tchotchke. We filled up our arms with t-shirts and postcards and Christmas ornaments. It is our tradition to buy a Christmas ornament at all the places we travel. Which makes decorating the Christmas tree a wonderful trip down memory lane. We also bought Harper a hooded sweatshirt that says “Harpswell”, as that is technically the name of the town we are in. Avery and I gazed out at the lovely coast, and even used one of those old-fashioned view finders, the large silver machines that you feed quarters and essentially gives you binocular vision. It was a very pleasant sojourn.

One of the attractions in Harpswell is a geological formation known as Giant’s Stairs. I knew it was a place I wanted to visit, and the cottage owner suggested we go at low tide, but I wasn’t really quite sure what to expect of this trail. I packed the kids into the van and we traveled the 1/2 mile or so to the McIntosh Lot Preserve. The trail itself is just a narrow dirt/gravel trail along the edge of the cliff, but the real attraction is the vast expanse of exposed rock that is open for climbing and exploring. As a bit of a geology nerd myself, I found the Giant’s Stairs area fascinating. There was a sign at the head of the trail explaining that there are several different types of rock exposed in this area – the majority of which is schist, a light gray, flaky, metamorphic rock, shot through with veins of mica, garnet, and quartz. The Giant’s Stairs themselves are an igneous basalt rock that formed when magma rose to the surface through cracks in the schist and cooled. And even if that explanation did nothing to excite you, I still think you would be impressed by the scale and beauty. There is something so amazing to me about seeing rock that was clearly formed as sediment in a horizontal layer, turned completely vertical. I turned the kids loose and they proceeded to scamper all over the vast formations. It turned into a study in my children’s personalities. Harper, as it turns out, is part mountain goat. She especially loves to climb and scamper over rocks, so she was off like a shot. Beau took his time, picking paths, and spent a good deal of the time either standing still or sitting and gazing out at the ocean in contemplation. Avery was off on her own some, but also spent a great deal of time by my side, in conversation. I was not sure what I expected of Giant’s Stairs, but I am thankful that we went to check it out. What I assumed would be a quick trip turned into an extended, and very enjoyable interaction with nature. Harper even contributed to the collection of cairns (stacked rocks) that were scattered about.

Another attraction in Harpswell that we had been informed of is a little place called Island Candy Company on Orr’s Island. After hiking and scampering about on rocks, we loaded back up and crossed the insanely narrow bridge from Bailey Island back up to Orr’s Island. What we discovered was a gourmet shop dressed in rustic clothing. We will have to return tomorrow, as I opted for Maine Sea Salt Caramel ice cream today, but that Strawberry Balsamic popsicle was also calling my name. We all got a treat, and I enjoyed the conversation with the locals who were running the shop. They also have an intensely lovely garden in front. They said that the roses surrounding the trellis at the opening of the garden typically bloomed a few days before the 4th of July, so they were a few days late this year, but you could see pink buds on the verge, so I wonder if they will be in bloom before we leave on Saturday.

Back at the house I talked the girls into watching a movie with me. As it got truly dark we started to hear fireworks, so we rushed out onto the porch to see if any were visible. Unfortunately our view of immediate fireworks was mostly blocked by the tall trees, but we could see quite an impressive display in the distance. We decided those were likely the ones being set off at the LLBean 4th of July Celebration in Freeport. Then I turned the girls loose with sparklers I had brought from home. They danced in the grass of the front yard, waving their sparklers around and spelling words that left tracers in our eyes. Avery at one point, while watching Harper dance, said, “This is incinerating our corneas, but it’s so fun!” Once they had burned through the sparklers we took advantage of the gas stove and had an indoor marshmallow roast. Then, in true America fashion, I dozed off on the couch while finishing our movie. Overall, it was one of those sublime vacation days. Filled with both ease and adventure. You know, the way life should be.

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Day 7: A Case of the Mondays

01 Jul

It seems that there was a case of the Mondays going around today. Heard from a few friends who were not having a good day. Kind of makes me feel bad that mine started off so well. Though the universe did see fit to throw a bit of a wrench into my afternoon. But luckily for me, it all turned out okay in the end.

I was up by 6:00am this morning. Not really my idea, not even sure why it happened. I’m not typically light-sensitive when I sleep. I’ve been known on more than one occasion to fall asleep reading and leave the lamp on the entire night. But I felt fairly chipper even at the early hour, so I gathered up my book and headed out to the porch to read. This view is so terrifically sublime, that it is actually somewhat distracting to my reading. But feels a small price to pay. I read on the porch for almost two hours and then started feeling drowsy. The rest of the house wasn’t yet stirring, so at 8:45am I went back into my bedroom and laid down for what became an hour long nap! Yes, by 9:45am I had already taken a nap! Talk about vacation victory! As the tide was now coming in, I changed out of my flannel pajama pants (my goal this vacation is to spend a tremendous amount of time in them!) and wandered down to the Little Harbor beach. It felt lovely to wade in the water – it was chilly on my feet, but not bone-chilling. I love rock beaches with so many different types of rocks to see and touch. I’m kind of a geological nerd that way. After a nice stroll and wade, I headed back up to the house for more porch sitting. As I went to sit down in the perfectly placed Adirondack chair, I was surprised to discover that we had some authentic Maine wildlife in our yard. But I must admit it was not what I was expecting. It was 4 turkey hens! Which just cracked me up because my parents have wild turkeys in their yard in Mandarin (Jacksonville, Florida) all the time! We come up here wishing against all hope to see moose and whales, even bear, but what do I get? Turkeys! Eventually they flew down off the ridge the house is situated on and I managed to get some funny photos and a very brief video of them taking flight. Don’t know if you’ve ever seen a turkey fly, but they aren’t graceful. They are very bottom heavy, and I just think it was a good thing they were flying *down* towards the beach! During this time Avery was taking her turn exploring the beach and playing on the rocks, so Beau and I sat on the porch have a nice quiet conversation. It was very peaceful and a lovely way to spend a morning.

In the afternoon we ventured forth from the house to fulfill a promise I had made to Beau about re-visiting a record shop we had visited on his 13th birthday. It’s a place called Bull Moose, and it is more than a record shop, but Beau was there to exclusively shop vinyl. Bull Moose also sells CDs (I picked up an Everything But the Girl disc), VHS tapes, DVDs (Picked up a copy of Win a Date with Tad Hamilton because it is silly and Topher Grace talking about Kate Bosworth’s different smiles hits me so deep in the feels), books, and other various pop culture games and paraphernalia. We first hit their Brunswick location as it is closest to our rental on Bailey’s Island/Harpswell. They had several things he wanted, but there was promise of another treasure at a different Bull Moose location. So, after a delicious and incredibly filling lunch at Portland Pie Company in Brunswick, we set Waze for the Middle Street Bull Moose location and started to head south. And that’s when the wrench hit me like something out of Dodgeball. A warning light I have never seen before lit up on my dash. “Check Emissions System” was suddenly glaring at me in bright yellow. Oh. No. The first thing I did was have Beau pull the manual out and decipher the meaning of the light. It basically said, if it turns on see the dealer, if it starts flashing, pull the car over. Luckily for us, it was just on, a solid yellow reminder that all was not well in my world. The next task for him, as I continued to drive towards Portland, was to look up the location of all the Honda dealerships in Maine, and get me connected to the Portland dealership. After a quick phone call, the service department said they could take a look at it if I could get it to them within the next 45 minutes. Since we were so close to the shop by that time, I did let Beau run into Bull Moose quickly. Once he had emerged triumphant with the sacred vinyl, we high-tailed it over to the dealership. Long story short, after about 1 hour and $45 they were able to give me the peace of mind that it was simply a problem with the gas cap not being screwed on tight enough. Phew! Of course, the really funny thing was that we had driven no more than 5 miles from the dealership when the darn light came on again. After a call back to the service advisor (and his brief chat with the service tech), he reported that the only error code that came up on the computer had to do with the gas cap, and the van had cleared all other potential problems. So he encouraged me to ignore the light, assume that it would turn off after another few times turning over the ignition, but if it didn’t I might need to get my gas cap replaced. I sure do hate it when reality intrudes on my vacations!

But I am good at ignoring red flags, so we continued along our merry way, jumping off the interstate to visit the mothership – the LL Bean Flagship store in Freeport. It was weird this year. The store itself seems to be dwindling in stock. Lots more open spaces on the floor. But we participated in our usual rituals – taking photos in front of the giant Bean Boot, and taking the kids’ photo inside the viewing spot of the huge trout tank (starting to be a tight fit for them). I bought a shirt and a pencil pouch (which I, of course, had monogrammed because I get it free with my LL Bean credit card!) But with a store credit from returning a bathing suit, my “Bean Bucks” from the credit card, and the 20% sale they were having, I ended up only paying $8.07 at checkout. That is by far the least I have ever spent in the Freeport store. Ever!

After a brief stop at the Hannaford in Brunswick to pick up a few supplies we missed on the first shopping trip, we were sailing back along those twisty rural roads racing the dying of the light. Not going to lie, I have no desire, nor intention, to drive those in full darkness! With the exception of the scare with the van, it really was a lovely day. And now, other than a promised trip to the movies one evening, I don’t really see us leaving Harpswell again until its time to leave for good. It was a nice day of adventure, but I’m ready for another do nothing day.

And I encourage you to stay tuned, there might be a guest star in the next installment…

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Day 5: Maybe it was Providence

29 Jun

One of the definitions of providence is “a manifestation of divine care or direction.” And today felt like maybe it was providence that we were in Providence. First, if you are ever in need of a hotel in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, I highly recommend the Hilton. Not that we actually spent any time looking around Pawtucket, and I hope we didn’t miss anything too delightful, but the Hilton was quite nice, and perfectly located to jump back on the interstate to backtrack slightly to Providence (since we had missed our opportunity to visit yesterday.) We had a casual start to the day, no rush to get back in the car. This was Maine arrival day, but we weren’t allowed in the cottage until late afternoon anyway, so why not take a look around Providence?

Harper has been saying for years that she would like to attend the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) for fashion design. So our first stop was the RISD shop for her to procure a new sweatshirt. Then we walked around peeking into the windows of buildings – their Nature Lab looks amazing! As we walked past the RISD Art Museum, I questioned whether or not we really had time for this. But it seemed a carpe diem moment, and I told the kids that it would have to be an abbreviated visit, but we could take a quick spin. And oh how glad I am that we did! They have an astounding collection. Truly. I was actually quite stunned. I was most taken with a Frank Lloyd Wright library table and an unfinished Cassatt. But they had all the big-name impressionists you could care to see, as well as extensive Greek, Roman, and Egyptian galleries. Right now they also had a special exhibit of Gorham silver which was fascinating. And Harper was quite taken with their costume and textile collections, including some student work. Again I felt like I only saw about 50% of the available collection, but any is better than none in this occasion!

After visiting the RISD Museum, the kids and I hiked a few blocks uphill to the campus of Brown. I just wanted to see it, and for them to see it. It was absolutely delightful, and we only peeked in on one quad in all it’s green grass juxtaposed against old, red brick austerity. I wouldn’t be mad if any of my kids wanted to attend either of these schools.

Yesterday, Beau had been hoping to visit a very special bookshop in Providence, but we got in too late. Now, here was my chance to redeem myself as a mother, and get him to the cool place he researched. Their website is weirdprovidence.com, but the shop is called Lovecraft Arts & Sciences, a place dedicated to, as they tell it, “Providence’s own master of Weird tales, author H. P. Lovecraft.” Beau loves the horror genre in general, so this was his kind of place. When we walked in the shop keeper was in a discussion with a very pretentious customer. He was trying to mansplain something about Lovecraft and his genre to her, and she just schooled him. It was very amusing. As a bonus, I bought a cool Rhode Island t-shirt, and Beau got a cool Lovecraft t-shirt. I am a t-shirt junkie myself, so I tell myself this is really just me doing some back-to-school shopping before he starts high school!

Though there were many more things to see and do in Providence (If I was a real US History teacher I would have pulled over at the Slater Mill Historic Site!), we were not just racing the clock to get to Maine, we were racing the tide! Every other year of Crazy Momma’s Road Trip we have rented the same house in Kennebunkport, Maine, a lovely cottage at the end of a quiet street, basically fronting on a semi-private beach along Turbat’s Creek. The house was sold – though seems to be back on the market! (Side note: Any one have $760,000 they want to give me?) But the house was off the rental market, and thus the reason I went looking for a new location and a new adventure in Maine. However, we all have a soft spot for Turbat’s Creek. It has been the location of so many dear, dear memories. And one of the coolest things about Turbat’s Creek is that it is tidal, with huge shifts. When the tide is out, you can walk across the mud flat that was previously underwater during high tide, and ford the now ankle-deep creek to Vaughan’s Island Preserve. I had charted the tides before leaving Florida, and knew that the low tide, and therefore the best time to visit, would be at 3:01pm today. Unfortunately, we lingered a bit too long, and with a fuel stop, we ended up arriving at the creek closer to 4:00pm. We could still walk across to Vaughan’s, but it was no longer ankle deep. And if it’s one thing I know about the tides on the creek, it’s that they move fast. Very fast. And you can find yourself swimming back across from Vaughan’s! So, though it was rushed, and not ideal – the kids wanted to play longer on the rocks and I wanted to spend more time exploring the tidal pools – I’m still so grateful that we were able to catch it at all. After a few more minutes of playing on the exposed rocks closer to the beach, and bonding with a huge, particularly friendly seagull, we loaded back in the van. With a wistful look back at “our” house, we headed into town. Beau had asked particularly if we could get a meal at Roma’s Pizza in Kennebunkport, and I was very happy to comply with that request. Roma’s is authentic, New York style pizza, and it was absolutely worth the drive from Florida!

After stuffing ourselves with pizza – and when I say we stuffed ourselves, I mean it was almost obscene – we got back on the road to our new rental cottage. Our first stop though, was in Brunswick for groceries. We love the Hannaford grocery store chain. We love them for many reasons, especially one involving liquor and another involving cereal. When one is shopping for a week’s worth of vacation home groceries, it is particularly helpful that Hannaford sells liquor, right there on the grocery store aisles! Check! Throw that in the cart. And while I happily buy store-brand most everything else, I am not typically a purchaser of store-brand cereal. We are very big on cereal in my family. We tend to splurge on name brands. But Beau and I fell in love with Hannaford’s store brand version of Crispix, mostly because they are called “Crispy Hexagons.” For some reason that makes us laugh and laugh. But tonight we may have found something even better. Because we discovered that their store brand version of Life cereal is called “Easy Living Oat Squares Cereal.” Easy Living! Yes, please! I am not entirely sure how we managed to fit all of the groceries into our already fairly packed van, but we did. It was an easy and stunningly beautiful drive from Brunswick to the house on Bailey Island.  Very narrow, windy, rural roads, with much greater elevation changes than I expected. We arrived with enough light to unload the car, choose bedrooms, and take a quick walk down to our new semi-private beach. I also had time to drink a cocktail on the porch, sitting in an Adirondack chair, feet on the rail, overlooking Little Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean before I lost the light and a massive thunderstorm came rolling in. I think it best that I tell you more about the house and location tomorrow. I have a feeling that the sun and the children may be getting me up tomorrow much earlier than I may choose. But suffice it to say, we arrived. The sign just past the Piscataqua River Bridge says, “Maine – Welcome Home. The Way Life Should Be.” Sigh. Ahhhhh, yes. Let it begin…

 

 

Day 5: By the numbers

Odometer: 128,275 – 128,506 (231 miles)
Total travel time: 12 hours (most spent exploring – only 4 hrs driving)
States traveled through/in: 4 (RI, MA, NH, ME)
Current standings in the CMRT 2019 Lottery Project: $10 in/$6 out (-$4 loss) – bought tickets in MA & ME, but forgot to play them!
Number of states found in our license plate-palooza: 1 –> Total of 46/51
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Day Eighteen: Departure/Arrival

02 Jul

I said I would have enough time in the morning, and I did. That waking at 6:15am thing helped immensely on that front. But I continued my parking process, began putting things in the car slowly, doing final cleaning tasks around the cottage, etc. I was originally shooting for a 10:00am departure. But I got a little distracted, and I decided that I deserved to sit down and have a decent breakfast while enjoying the insanely beautiful view from our table. So, the southbound leg of CMRT Summer 2016: K9 Edition rolled out of the driveway of our KPT cottage at 10:45am. But first, lemme take a selfie! I made the kids endure a final photo shoot in front of the cottage, including one of the group selfies that I am typically so terrible at. However, this one was an epic success, as included in the photo is myself, the faces of all three kids, the cottage, the minivan, and my gifted poodle making an epic photobomb. Perfection. Makes for a very happy Crazy Momma.

Odometer reading 70,248, and that poignant, new Peter Pan/Neverland song “Lost Boy” playing on the radio, we headed out of town, making a final pass through Dock Square. I was trying very hard to just soak it in without letting it turn into melancholy. I’m not sure I was entirely successful, but every time my thoughts turned to how sad I will be if this turns out to be the last summer of the cottage on Turbat’s Creek, or the last summer we vacation in Kennebunkport, I was mostly successful in remembering how lucky we are to have had this magical place be a part of our lives for so long. To have so many wonderful memories, to have made new friends, to have a place to return to, perhaps one day with my children’s children. (Aww, damn it, starting to tear up again. Sigh.) Anyway, it felt emotional to leave, it always does, but this time it felt somewhat different. There was the typical melancholia with an extra layer. But also, there was a sense that maybe it’s okay, that maybe, sometimes a blank slate is exactly what you need. And so, if the house sells and is no longer an option, I’ll have to look into other options. If the kids decide that what they really want to do next summer, and all the summers after, is go to sleep-away camp, then that will become our new tradition. I’m not finished with Kennebunkport, and KPT isn’t finished with me, but I respect the way things ebb and flow, and especially now, in the Summer of Serendipity, I am going to try my best to roll with whatever comes my way, seeing change not as a tragedy, but an opportunity.

We breezed out of the state, making our final crossing of the Piscataqua River bridge into New Hampshire. Holy heck is this the first time I was ever glad that I was leaving Maine and not heading into it. The traffic bound for the state of Maine was incredibly dense. There were varying levels of stop-and-go traffic for tens of miles. The stretch of I-95 through the entire state of New Hampshire (which, full disclosure, is only about 14 miles) was stop-and-go. And then as we exited onto 495, the traffic was still exceedingly heavy for at least several miles. Insanity. Judging by the traffic I’m guessing the population of Maine will be doubling this weekend. And I felt sorry for all those people with the Massachusetts and New York plates, thinking they were just going to take a quick jaunt up to Maine on a Saturday morning. But hey, at least they had a final destination of Maine to look forward to.

We made a few quick pit stops – to pick up fast food lunch, one at a rest area to clean up some dog vomit (I think it may have been the anxiety of watching me slowly pack up and pack the car this morning that did in his tender constitution) only to discover that the human potties at this rest area were closed and people were queueing up for portalets (NOPE!). So, that necessitated a stop at the next exit for a legit human potty stop. And then we reached our first destination in Westport, CT – Remy’s dog hotel. So, here’s the deal, I am eternally grateful for the hospitality of my friends. And never has it been more apparent than this summer, as I am rolling up and down the coast with my 55b dog in tow, that, as Beau so succinctly put it in New York City, I do “have the nicest friends.” But for this next stop, even though my gracious friend said to bring on the kids AND the dog, I felt like I needed a break. I needed to relax without worrying about the dog’s feet as we came in and out of the backyard. I needed to not worry about the way he slobs his water all over a 10ft radius of his water bowl, and I needed to be able to come and go from the house without having to worry about where he could stay and whether or not I needed to crate him when we left. So, I found a kennel in the area strikingly similar to the one we use at home. Indoor/outdoor runs, lots of extra playtimes, engaged techs, seemed like the real deal, and I’m sure that we will all have a happier, more relaxed weekend for taking the responsibility of the dog off the table.

As I checked him in to Townhouse for Dogs & Cats, I felt very good about my choice. First, I had to fill out two forms, fairly comprehensive in nature, and they seemed pleasant and briskly efficient at the front desk, and the tech that took Remy back was very loving and engaged with him. Even asking him to sit before giving him a treat. I arranged the extra playtimes, the exit bath, and all the details. Then, right before I left, the girl at the front desk told me that I should feel free to call and check up on him whenever I liked. Say what?? Call? And check up on him? At the kennel? Wow. I mean, I love my dog, I truly do. And Remy is an exceptional dog. But, call and check up on him? He’s a dog. I’m boarding him for the weekend. I’m pretty sure if there is something you need me to know, that you will call me.

Dog secured for the weekend it was long overdue time for us to make our stop at CMRT annual fan favorite: Chez Tison! Seriously, this is one of the stops that, not only has been an annual stop for CMRT, but has become as much of a destination as Maine. Last year when CMRT was on hiatus, my children readily accepted that we would not be traveling to Maine, but wanted to know why that meant we wouldn’t be taking a trip to Chez Tison. And what makes this particular enclave of Fairfield, Connecticut, so appealing? The people, of course. Okay, so their home truly is lovely, and the third floor bonus room is unlike anything my children are used to, plus they have a wonderful backyard with cool things to play with, but it’s the hospitality of two of the most generous people I know that keeps us coming back. I have known Tina and Joe since I was 17 years old. (They were already 18, but let’s not quibble about the fact that I’m younger than both of them!) They are both funny and wonderfully  fun to be around, with the added bonus that I went to college with both of them. The fact that they eventually got married to one another, despite never dating, or really being particularly good friends in college, is such perfection I can’t even describe it. Tina is such a detail-oriented hostess, that there is nothing left unattended to. When we rolled up and spilled out into their home, Tina is welcoming us in, the kids were off and playing in the backyard with their two kids, meanwhile Joe presents me with a Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen (delicious!) while the pork butt he’s been smoking for 8 hours already smells like a slice of heaven. Suddenly, the perfect summer day is unfolding before us.

I’m not going to drill down the details here. That’s not what I do in regards to our visits at Chez Tison. Here we are too busy living life to properly document it. Especially since the kids take up a large portion of time and focus, so when the five total (11, 10, 10, 8, 7) are finally asleep, we like to spend our time, late into the night, reminiscing, philosophizing, and solving the world’s problems. You know, discussing the mundane and inane, side by side with the important stuff. But suffice it to say, the following words/phrases would have been used if I had taken the time to properly document our evening:

How many kids can fit on one hammock?

I like pork butts and I cannot lie. Especially smothered in Fat Henry Tison’s Sauce.

Hot tub, possibly a time machine. Or at the very least a rocket ship.

Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler, Joey. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you know this.

Summer Shandy

 

On a side note: Who did I get a message from today as we began our southbound swing? Fellow W&L ’95 classmate, Pete Tapley. Another of the gracious hosts who has played innkeeper to Crazy Momma & the Willim 3, he simply asked, “Do we get to see you?” As if it’s a privilege, or anything at all to get excited about. I phoned him to say that our original intention was to drive through Virginia on Tuesday, as part of our mega long haul driving day enroute from Fairfield, CT, to a hotel room in Weldon, NC. To say I wasn’t super excited about that day anyway, would be an understatement, but this is the Summer of Serendipity, isn’t it? And if Pete was (1) serious about wanting us to visit, and (2) available on such short notice for a drop-by overnight including 3 kids and a dog on Tuesday night, then by all means, I embrace the serendipitous change itinerary, and am very much looking forward to seeing the Tapleys again soon! So, that’s it, the #W&Lhospitalitywars are on…

FYI, as we were pulling onto the Tison’s street, what song should begin playing on the radio but “Lost Boy.” It was uncanny. The soundtrack to our departure 246 miles earlier, was also the soundtrack to our arrival. It seems like full circle. An ending and a beginning all at once.

 

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Day Seventeen: It’s History

01 Jul

I tried to stay zen upon waking this morning. This, our last full day in Maine on CMRT 2016: K9 Edition. And potentially our last full day ever in this house we have grown to love on Turbat’s Creek. Remember how I told you it was on the market (for a very reasonable price, those of you interested in real estate investment with a mind to allow responsible single moms with great kids and a hypo-allergenic dog to rent it during the summer!) Well, yesterday the real estate agent came to show it to a couple who were in town and very interested. I was a good girl. I told the owner that of course I didn’t mind if the real estate agent came by, and I even cleaned/tidied up so that it would show to max advantage given the fact that it was an active rental to a vacationing family. And I stayed on the beach while the showing was happening. Well, for the most part. When Beau checked to see if they were still here (yep, cars in the drive), he noticed that the front door had been left wide open. Since it was me, and not the real estate agent, that was going to have to spend the night in the house with whatever mosquitos and other biting insects she let in, I stepped inside and called out a friendly hello. When she poked her head down the stairs I very politely told her that I was just grabbing some snacks, and shutting the door on my way out!! But I never did see the couple, so I don’t know if they looked like people who would rent to me or not.

Anyway, here it was, the final full day. And I was trying desperately not to think about it. To not ponder at all. And I was mostly successful. That has been one of the brilliant aspects of the extended two week stay. Feeling less rushed and less “we have to do this now it’s our only chance!” Which has made for a more pleasant experience overall, and made me more appreciative, less melancholically nostalgic. Which used to happen to me while the vacation was still happening! So, this morning the girls and I decided to head into town to a museum that we’ve passed almost every day of every year we’ve been coming here and never bothered to enter. White Columns, aka The Nott House, aka the First Families Museum, is a lovely 1853 Victorian Era Greek Revival mansion run by the Kennebunkport Historical Society. It stayed in the same family for over 130 years, and was a family member’s home until the 1980s, therefore many of the furnishings and decorations are original to the house and family. The rest has been filled in with donations to the historical society that are appropriate to the era. They even have vintage era clothing hanging in the closets! (And, yes, this house had closets! Which is shocking for that time period. And we discovered the fascinating reason why on our tour.) Admission to the house with a 30+ min tour was $10 for me, and kids under the age of 12 are free. The tour was excellent, and done by an intern from Kennebunk High School. He was very knowledgeable, and entertained all questions, including those posed by my curious girls (like, did any of the family children slide down the banister? He wasn’t sure, but he did know that one of the original glass sidelights by the front door was broken by a slingshot wielded by the first child to live there.) Anyway, the home is in excellent condition considering its age, even the original, hand-painted wallpaper is intact in most rooms! In one of the rooms of the home (I believe the original kitchen) is the First Families Museum. It is a room full of objects dedicated to the Bush Family, most specifically, to George H.W. Bush, who, with his wife, Barbara, spends the majority of their time at their Kennebunkport, Maine, home, Walker’s Point, land that has been in their family for generations. It was a neat little exhibit of Bush and Kennebunkport memorabilia. The best part to me being the displays of old family photographs. But they were also running a video biography on a tv in the corner, and I happened to catch the last little bit. Regardless of your political leanings, it was an interesting history of a family that has played a huge role in American politics, and a nice little exhibit in support of one of Kennebunkport’s most famous resident families.

After the house tour/museum, during which the girls were excellently well-behaved and engaged, we wandered into town for the last little bit of souvenir shopping. We hit a few stores, bought a Christmas ornament, and then interest petered out rather quickly. Because of the amount of food we still had at home, I was not going to buy lunch in town, so we headed back to the cottage for a late lunch.

And the afternoon was reserved for beach time with the Nelson girls. Mandy brought her girls down to Turbat’s Creek one more time, and we were joined by her friend, Monica, and Monica’s toddler granddaughter, named Vaughan (after the island.) It was a pleasant afternoon spent chatting, and watching naked beach baby Vaughan being cute as all get out. After an exploratory walk to Vaughan’s Island, and playing some card games on the rocks, Harper and the Nelson girls went out into the water one last time, with Harper even being brave enough to dunk her thin-blooded Florida head under the icy water. Then it was time to round everyone up, say our goodbyes to the Nelsons, and rinse off the beach gear one last time. What a pleasant ending note to what has been a glorious vacation.

Then the laundry and packing frenzy began in earnest, because I had done exactly zip to get ready to leave! Unfortunately, my allergies have started acting up something fierce in the past few days and I had to take something to stop the incessant sneezing. Benadryl was effective on that front, but the drowsiness was something that I just didn’t have time to succumb to. Soldiering on, I got as far as I could, leaving a fairly large chunk of work to do tomorrow morning. Oh well, it will get done. It just will. And since I haven’t slept past 6:45am on any morning but one this whole 2.5 weeks, I’m guessing I’ll have plenty of time…

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Day Sixteen: Against the Tide

30 Jun

The one thing I promised my boy about this trip is that we, he & I, would take to the kayaks and paddle to Cape Porpoise Harbor. It’s not too terribly far away from our enclave on Turbat’s Creek, but it added another level of difficulty to the single parent vacation. Because, while I am more than happy (and often very happy!) to leave the kiddos home alone while I have some “me time” – for example, filling the car up with gas, or buying ice cream sandwiches at Hannafords, leaving the girls alone while I was out on a kayak, pushed my personal boundaries of responsible parenting. If I’m just up the road and something occurs, I could get to them fast, I could contact other people to help, etc, etc. But if I’m out in a kayak, even though there is cell coverage throughout the course, I’m stuck. I could not get to them fast, I would be out of the loop. Not to mention the fact I would be out there with their brother, so even if I could paddle home just as fast as I could drive home from the grocery store, I couldn’t just abandon their brother out in a kayak. Anyway, it just didn’t feel right to me. Enter stage left: my lovely, generous friend, Mandy. Earlier in the week, we looked at tide charts and determined that if she picked the girls up after teaching her yoga class on Thursday morning, Beau and I could possibly make our journey in the morning. Tide wasn’t going to be low until 2:00pm, and Mandy could get them just after 11:00am. It was going to be tight, but should be doable.

So, Beau and I started to prepare, had the kayaks toted down to the creek, life jackets on (and fastened!), and we went to set off. Only to realize that these extreme tides we have been having this year, well, they are not just extremes in the highs and lows, but at least in the case of the lows, they are running faster. We pushed out into the rapidly diminishing creek and set off for the cut between Turbat’s and Cape Porpoise, only to discover that a full 3 hours before true low tide, the canal was already impassable. Exposed rocks blocking the path, and kayaks bottoming out. (Cue defeated Pac-Man sound bite here.) So we were flat out thwarted. Extremely disappointed, we paddled back to our beach, pulled the kayaks out of the water, and caught up with Mandy. Being the extremely generous friend that she is, she says with a shrug, I’m still taking the girls home to play with my kids for a few hours, and you’ll just do it later this afternoon when the tide is high. I wanted to cry. This kayak adventure was the one thing I definitively promised to make happen, and I could not have even dreamed of trying without Mandy’s help. So Beau and I carried the kayaks back up to the house, bummed around for a little bit, eating lunch, etc. A few hours later, Mandy returned with the girls, and her girls, and her sister-in-law and her girls, and one boy who happened to be a friend of her younger daughter. Three adults, eight kids (11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 8, 7, 1), and one dog. Time for the beach!

This afternoon proved again exactly how magical Turbat’s Creek really is. When we staked our place on the small beach with chairs and bags and coolers, the kids immediately set off for Vaughan’s Island, with the adults trailing close behind. They explored the tidal pools, and waded out into the icy Atlantic. Just being kids, while the dog scampered about, and Mandy & I talked. (Her sister-in-law was also quite lovely, but having a 1 year old in tow, especially one who was doing the car nap thing when they arrived, she was off being a hands-on mother for the first little bit, while Mandy & I were free to let our entire posse roam.) As the tide started coming back in, we headed back to the beach, and the food. (I would especially like the thank Mandy for introducing me to frozen Hershey’s kisses.) We sat and talked, occasionally throwing the ball for Remy, while the kids stayed in the water. Even my crazy Florida kids dunked their heads! Beau walked through chest deep water back over to Vaughan’s through the rising tide, and then had to swim back. It was lovely and relaxed. I enjoyed the company of other women, and the kids certainly enjoyed the company of other kids.Then it was time to pack up. Mandy graciously took my girls home with her, and Beau and I took another (high tide) run at Cape Porposise.

Once again we toted the kayaks down to the creek. They are sit inside ocean kayaks, and are very stable, but they are not light. Carrying them is not my favorite thing to do. But we got them down there for the second time today, and were happy to push out into the creek to set off. The weather could not have been more glorious. Shorts and a short sleeve t-shirt under our life jackets, pleasantly comfortable even with exertion. With little wind and no other boat traffic, we made the fairly quick, and exceedingly beautiful paddle over to the Cape Porpoise Harbor. It was fun to paddle among the anchored lobster boats. And have some fun with selfies (I’m really bad at it – I can never get the thing I want in the background.) We paddled up to the working docks, beached the kayaks on the shoreline, and walked over to the monuments to gaze at Goat Island Lighthouse, not so far in the distance (but farther than we wanted to, or had energy to, paddle out). Then it was back to the kayaks for the return trip home. Unfortunately for us, the wind had kicked up, and through the tide was almost slack, it was a battle to get back across the harbor to our cut through. But we made it, and certainly I am not the worse for wear for having a bit of a much-needed workout. The whole adventure makes me wish I had access and opportunity to kayak more often. There really is something delightfully primal about experiencing nature at water level.

After using our spaghetti arms to carry the kayaks back up to the house one more time, it was time for quick showers and change, to head over to the Nelson’s house. I got a little sidetracked taking care of our gear, and then melting into a lovely hot shower, but we eventually got our act together and joined the party. And a party it was, indeed. First of all, Mandy and Dan are some of the coolest people I know. Completely wacky and funny, and just all around fun. As you might expect, they foster this silliness and unabashed enjoyment of life in their children. To that end, as they are in the process of rebuilding their barn which was gutted in a fire last Fall, they have built a dance platform, complete with light-switch operated disco ball and strobe lights. Being voice artists, they also have a good sound system, complete with microphones. So, the girls had put together their ultimate dance party playlist. Mandy & I managed to avoid the fray for a little bit, enjoying a cocktail and some grown-up conversation – as if you could actually refer to us as grown-ups, or our conversation as mature! (I sure am craving a doughnut right about now!) But we made our way out to the barn, and I’m pretty sure today is the most exercise I’ve gotten in months – first the kayak trip, and then all the dancing? Good times! But after awhile the music was too loud (god, I’m old), and the strobe light was kind of messing with my head, so I gave the kids a 20 min warning, and we extricated ourselves once again. Beau spent most of the evening hanging outside with Dan, and their neighbor, Tim. And it was nice for him to have some “guy time”. Plus, Tim gave Beau a really cool dragon model, which was awesome and extremely generous of him.

I do love to see my kids so happy. And it made me feel good when Mandy, who had spent some time with the girls outside of my presence, told me, “You have really happy kids.” Because as much as I want people to notice their nice manners, noticing the image they project from their souls is even nicer.

Soon enough it was time to head back to the house and crash. Can’t believe tomorrow is our last full day in Maine. I can’t even think about it.

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Day Fifteen: The First Rule of Book Club Is…

29 Jun

So, last week we visited the Book Burrow, and I bought the latest Elizabeth Strout book, The Burgess Boys. At the time the owner told me they were having a book discussion next Wednesday, and I, cavalierly promised to attend. As I was buying the book. Before I had actually read it. When I was still in the process of reading a different book. And I have definitely not been doing the kind of reading on this trip that I usually do. Partly it’s because I’m alone with the kids, but a larger contributing factor is the amount of time I am spending throwing the tennis ball for the dog. Usually, when the kids are playing happily in the water, or on the rocks, I am merely parked in my chair reading. I brought several books to read so I would be prepared. But I am spending what seems like an inordinate amount of time exercising the dog. Yet one more reason why he’s going to hate me when we leave, because that’s not how it’s going to go down in our normal lives. Especially since we don’t have this level of doggie nirvana right outside our door. But I digress. The point is that Wednesday had rolled around, the book discussion was set to begin at 9:30am, and I had not yet finished the book! It was early in the morning, just the boy & I awake, and he asked me if I was planning to go to the discussion. I was hedging, saying I wanted to, but I didn’t feel right since I hadn’t finished the book yet. He asked how close I was to the end, and I showed him where my bookmark was, pretty much right in the middle of the book. He looked at me, paused for a beat, and said, “Mom, it’s not even 7am, you could finish that if you wanted to.” I looked at him, realized that he was totally giving me permission to park myself on the couch, and just read for the next two hours. So I did. With only a few minor interruptions, I was basically undisturbed for the next 2 hours. And guess what? I finished the book. At 9:14am. Now I had to go! So I asked the kids if they minded, and they, readers all, said I should definitely go. I raced up the stairs, changed out of my pajamas, and got to the Book Burrow only 2 minutes past the 9:30am start time. And I am so very glad I am the type of person who tries to keep every promise I make, because I was one of only 4 people there, including the owner and the guest moderator. Which actually made for a very nice discussion. The irony? I was the only participant other than the moderator who had finished the book! But it was a pleasant time spent with 3 nice ladies, all of us with divergent backgrounds and life experiences, discussing the book, and as it dovetailed, life. I was so pleased to have participated. And even more pleased that my children encouraged me to do so.

As I was driving home I called the kids and told them to start making sandwiches because the torrential overnight rains had stopped, and we were going to have a picnic on Vaughan’s Island. I knew by the charts that the tide should be almost out, so we could easily get across, and have some time to spend over there. Beau commented that it was really foggy, and he couldn’t even see Vaughan’s Island from the house. But I told him that just made it more fun. So as soon as I got home we finished putting together sandwiches, chips, fruit, and drinks, and grabbed a few beach blankets, before making the trek across the mud to the Island. I don’t remember us ever doing that. Picnicking on Vaughan’s. I laid out the blankets on the smoothest spot above the high tide line, and the kids grabbed their food and clambered up onto the climbing rocks. After eating we just kind of hung out. Beau & Avery playing on the rocks, and Harper reading her book (natch). I even laid down and dozed off for a short catnap in the sun. But then the sky began to get more and more overcast, the fog settling more heavily around us once again, and one by one the kids peeled off to head back up to the house. I stayed down a little longer, throwing the ball into the icy Atlantic for my crazy dog. But by the time we got back up to the house there was thunder rolling in the distance, and it was clear that more rain was on its way.

So, we spent the afternoon inside, as the rain poured down on the house. It was relaxing. We worked on our puzzle, read, watched some videos. Everyone sort of drifting off to their own corners to relax as we were stuck inside on a rainy summer day. But after a few hours the rain stopped, and in the late afternoon it was nothing but high tide and clear, sunny skies. And though we still have a few days left, I am starting to feel the pull of the end. That our vacation is winding down, and opportunities are becoming limited. So I suggested, despite it being after 4pm, that maybe the kids would like to take the kayaks down to the beach. The joyous response was unanimous! They were changed lickety-split, lifejackets were on, and everyone helped to get the kayaks and paddles down to the water. At first there was a bit of drama –> 3 kids / 2 kayaks. But we got it figured out, and within hardly any time at all, they had found a way to all play together, with the odd man out actually sitting on the back of the larger kayak. Time drifted by, and suddenly we had been down at the creek for two hours.  What a glorious chunk of time. And I was loathe to call the kids in, but it was getting late, and we still needed showers before heading into town for a promised dinner jaunt.

On a side note, I discovered via a local that the house we rent is currently for sale. I am crushed. This could be the final year for us. Because it is quite possible that whoever buys the house will keep it as a summer residence, or even a permanent residence, and it might no longer be available for rental. So, if any of you dear readers would like to invest in some rental property in Maine, I can vouch for how awesome this house is, and I know for a fact that it is reliably rented out for the entirety of every summer. Or, if you just want to buy it and let me come visit for a few weeks, that would be cool, too! As soon as I finish typing this I’m going to check my lottery tickets. It’s actually listed for quite a reasonable price considering the property. The house would need some work if you were trying to turn it into a full-time residence, but it is perfect as a rental. Perfect. I am bereft, and trying very hard not to think about the fact that when we drive away from this house on Saturday morning, it may be for the last time. Arrrrgghhhh! Can’t. Think. About. It.

Anyway…. Once we got all the gear back up to the house, the kids went inside to shower and change, while I rinsed the kayaks, and washed the dog. Then it was time to head into town for the last of the promised Ben & Jerry’s stops. And yes, I remembered to pack the kids’ shovel spoons!! But first it was time to try out the new Italian place that has opened since our last trip to Kennebunkport two years ago. It’s called Roma Pizza and Pasta, and it is conveniently located in the same building as the B&J’s! They advertise pizza by the slice, but as the kids were describing how hungry they were, I decided the best course of action was a whole pizza. One for them, one for me, guaranteed leftovers! So we went with a small cheese for them, and a Rustica for me (artichoke hearts, sausage, garlic). Yummy!! It came out quickly, and it was super delicious pizza. It’s different than Atlantic Pizza, and I wouldn’t forsake either one. But it’s nice to have options, and both of them are excellent. The kids put a hurting’ on their pizza, with each kid having two slices or more, so we ended up with only a single cheese slice as leftovers, but I have several pieces that I can’t wait to eat for lunch tomorrow! Then, after stuffing ourselves with pizza, we walked out one door, and into the next to get ice cream. The kids, who had been spoiled by Amy the first day, looked askance at me when I said only one scoop, but they know one is better than none, so wisely thanked me & scampered off to tuck into their treat.

By the time we got home, it was approaching 9:00pm, so I told the kids that it was time to get ready for bed. That our late nights were starting to catch up with all of us, and they must have been tuckered out, because I heard no complaints. Everyone going compliantly to their beds to read. And when I went upstairs just a little bit later to turn off lights, all were down for the count. Bringing to a close another amazing day…

 

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Day Fourteen: Independence Day

28 Jun

This might be a good time to reiterate that I was rather nervous about how this vacation was going to unfold. Somewhat because of the extra wrinkle of adding the large dog into the mix, but mostly because for the majority of the time it was going to be me, and only me, with all three kids, and two weeks to spend in one place. But here’s the thing about kids getting older; in lots of ways, they need you less. And revisiting the fact that not only do I have (mostly) mature, capable children, but also there is no law in the state of Maine (nor Florida, for that matter, unless something has changed in the two weeks I’ve been gone) regarding the age at which it is legal to leave children home alone. Therefore, I have had far more independence on this trip than I expected. And for that matter, so have the children. And here’s where it is handy having three kids, because while I would not necessarily be comfortable leaving the 8 year old home alone, I am perfectly fine with her being with either her sister or her brother. This means that not only have I been able to take some time strictly for myself, like trivia night with my friend, but also that I’ve been able to have little adventures with just the girls, or a single child. I never dreamed this would be how this vacation would unfold, and it has made it better than I could imagine.

Today, it was Beau’s day of independence. After (another!) lazy morning Beau and I struck off on a driving adventure of our own. I wanted to peruse a few antique shops, and mostly just tool around the back roads with my boy. And he was a good sport. The girls texted me asking if they could have ice cream sandwiches or popsicles as a dessert after lunch, I responded with a selfie of Beau & I taken in front of a Dairy Queen. It was a silly, fun, spur of the moment kind of adventure. The kind I rarely get to take with a single child individually. And nothing really exceptional about our activities – stopping for ice cream, mailing a postcard, stopping at a convenience store – but that wasn’t really the point anyway. It was nice to have time and conversation with my oldest child. He is a really cool and interesting kid. Very smart and funny, and pleasant to be around (most of the time! And this happened to be one of those times.) The real reason I was driving around was in search of an antique store that might have some old lobster bouys. And while we mostly struck out on that count, we did find an antique mall that had some cool and exciting stuff – including old typewriters (one of which was still working, and if I had any idea where to procure replacement ribbons, I might have been tempted to buy!)

After we got back to the house, it was time for some afternoon down time. The kids were actually playing very nicely together, which is not necessarily always the case. So I try to embrace that, and let it ride (as long as no one is getting hurt/left out). Unfortunately, playing together happily, often means excessive noise and roughhousing. Which were not ideal conditions for the quiet reading and nap I had planned for myself on the couch. But, being a problem solver, I removed myself from the fray, and retired to “the designated napping room”, which is how we refer to the downstairs bedroom now that Amy has vacated it. And I did fall asleep reading, though I have no idea how long I slept. And I definitely woke groggy and feeling a bit off. Happens sometimes when naps are interrupted. But it was nice to leave the children to their own unplugged devices (wordplay that, since that’s how we refer to their personal electronics, as devices!) and get some rest.

It was just a little too early to start dinner, and as I sat working on our puzzle (thanks, Amy!), Beau was skulking around me, clearly wanting to ask me a question, or just restless with the desire to engage in some activity. Eventually, I got him to settle down, and voice his issue. He asked if he could walk into town. The answer was no. But, then I countered with yes. I told him that he could not walk to town because it was approximately three miles away on a curving road without sidewalks, and too much tourist traffic. But I would be happy to drive to drop him off in Dock Square, where he could wander the shops, and check out the new pizza place we’ve been wanting to try, etc, etc. He enthusiastically agreed that he would love the opportunity to wander the port by himself. So, I dropped him off, with a cell phone, $20 in his pocket (his money), and a back-up plan that if I didn’t hear different from him, I would see him back in front of the pharmacy in an hour and a half. It was a strange feeling driving away from him. But at the same time it felt perfectly okay, and even, good. It felt like I was giving him a taste of my own childhood. Long before I was his age (11 going on 47), I was riding my bike up to the convenience store alone. We, plain and simple, had more freedom, more autonomy when we were kids. And this lovely little town, is just the right size for this kind of summer freedom. Trusting in his upbringing, the lovely manners I know he has, the good judgment he has proved to have when he is focused and aware of his surroundings, I set him free. I want him to grow up knowing that I expect him to respect his father & I by being the very best version of his socially acceptable self when he is moving through the world, but also that he can trust himself, and me. That respect earned will be granted. That he can come to me with all issues and questions and problems that the world throws at him. Any confusion is a chance for discussion. But the only way he learns these things is to be left on his own from time to time, to explore the world, to be in situations where independent decisions must be made. So, today was an independence day of sorts for him. Maybe not a huge thing, but a baby step in the right direction. I’m excited about the kind of adult Beau is going to become. And he has to start somewhere.

Once I picked Beau up, he was full of tales of adventure in town. We had a quick dinner at home (actually I had fed the girls while Beau was away), and then it was time for movie night. Apparently, the only Harry Potter movie dear Avery has not yet seen is number six – The Half Blood Prince – and I promised that we could watch it tonight. Which was all well and good, until Avery fell asleep on the floor in front of the television. But Harper and I made it through (well, perhaps there may have been some off and on dozing on my part!), and it turned into a bit of a late, summertime bedtime. The very best sort.

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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim