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Posts Tagged ‘Turbat’s Creek’

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 Thirteen: Team Chickpeas, You Can Like Us on Facebook

27 Jun

It started off as another lazy day on the creek. Watching tv, kids fixing themselves a bowl of cereal for breakfast, lazing around the house. I bought some sourdough bread the other day, and made the effort to make some eggs, heat up some bacon, to go with my toast, but there was no urgency to the morning. Eventually, Beau came and asked me if he could go down to the beach by himself. Because the location of our cottage is damn near perfect, and Turbat’s Creek is, frankly, magical, I said of course he could. He needs some time away from me, to explore on his own. Soon his sisters followed suit, heading out to the beach together, under strict orders that if their brother wanted to play with them, fine, but they were not to annoy him if he didn’t. He did pop back up to the house to show me the prize he had discovered on the vast field of seaweed covered rocks – a leather football. Soaking wet, but otherwise in excellent condition. Quite a find. (Later, I did ask the young family renting a house on this street if perhaps it was theirs, and it had just gotten away from them on Vaughan’s, but they said no, so I guess it’s Beau’s now!)

After a bit, I roused myself and changed out of pajamas to take Remy down for his own exercise session. I swear that dog is tireless. I think it entirely possible that he would happily run himself, quite literally, to death. And my goodness has he turned from a dog who loves to fetch into a ball obsessed monster! After awhile I put the ball & chuck-it away, and while the big kids went back up to the house (I’m assuming Minecraft was calling!), Avery & I continued over to Vaughan’s Island. The Lobster Detectives were on the case! The tide was so extremely low, that many of the tidal pools we poke around in were far shallower than usual, and this summer they have also been choked with sea grasses/kelp. Makes it difficult to seek out wildlife in those conditions. But after turning over a rock or two, Avery & I found one baby lobster with a single claw. Feisty, that one. But we just wanted to find them, never touching (have you ever seen how far back a lobster can swivel its claw?!) And after that one, our interest kind of petered out. Now true low tide, Avery headed back up to the house, and I stayed down with Remy, tossing the ball directly into the Atlantic. Watching him bound out into the cold water time and time again. Again I say, he is going to be so angry at me when we leave…

After some beach time everyone made their own lunch, and Beau actually fell asleep on the couch on the screened in porch. I’m guessing this is a growth spurt happening. Fingers crossed it will not necessitate all new clothing! The girls & I got cleaned up a bit and headed into town. I woke Beau to ask if he wanted to join us, but he just wanted to continue napping. We went to a few of our favorite stores down in Dock Square, picking up a postcard here and a t-shirt there. We also had to stop in the Copper Candle to get our Christmas ornament. Every place we travel we get a Christmas ornament as a souvenir. It is always so much fun unwrapping the ornaments in December, and revisiting the memories of our travels and adventures. We now have quite a few Maine ornaments, but I found a new one shaped like a whale, with a hand-painted scene of a lighthouse, and the year. Perfect! As Avery pointed out we went whale-watching for the first time on this trip, and we went to the Portland Head Lighthouse, so it was a good representation of Maine 2016. I also wanted to peruse an antique store or two, but the one I remembered as being so good, is now mostly new things, or vintage reproductions. Still incredibly lovely stuff, and you could easily decorate a gorgeous home from their stock, but I was looking for something a little grittier, some true, you know, old, antiques. I was going to strike out to US-1 in search of some of those we had driven by in the past, but it was getting on in the afternoon, and I figured the kids might not be as excited about this venture as I. So we headed back to the house. Beau was awake, but said he had slept for most of the time we were gone (definite growth spurt). The kids headed back outside to play/explore, and I set about making dinner. Because it was Monday night, and time for another round of responsible parenting…

I know I have mentioned her before, but I have a local friend named Mandy who I adore. She is a nut, just like me. Fun, and funny, energetic, kind, and lovely, and crazy in some of the exact same ways I am, we always have such a great time when we’re together – whether it’s a girls night out, or just sitting side by side on the beach at Turbat’s Creek as our kids play on the rocks and swarm around us. She has a lot going on in her life right now, and has, unfortunately not been available to play with me until tonight. Which I completely understand. I am in KPT on vacation, away from most of my life responsibilities, but she actually lives in Kennebunk, and her responsibilities are raining down on her head daily. But reviving a tradition we started last visit with the powerhouse team of Like Us on Facebook, we met up at Sebago Brewing Company for another go at Monday trivia night. Drinks ordered we began tucking into our potato nachos (normally these things are to die for, but tonight they were overcooked). As I took a bite, I noticed something strange, but recognizable on the plate. It was half a chickpea. Glad that it was recognizably edible food, but what the heck was it doing on our potato nachos? We took it as a sign, and team Chickpeas was born! I wouldn’t say we were exactly crushing it on the trivia, but it’s difficult to properly focus on accessing the useless knowledge storage part of one’s brain, while actively catching up with a dear friend you haven’t seen in two years. And we had much ground to cover: burned barns, gifted children, family, boob wrangling, new/old boy, signs from the universe, microwaved ice cream, and lest I forget, Mandy is now a Major Award Winner, which cannot go un-recognized! My goodness, how we laughed. Deep belly laughs. It definitely counted as an ab workout. And perhaps the most hysterical part was our come from behind victory! Team Chickpeas was quite happily in last place before the Hail Mary round. The final round has three questions, for which you must wager between 1-10 points. If you’re right, you get the points. If you’re wrong, they get deducted. Well, we certainly had nothing to lose, so we intended to bet big no matter what. Here’s the crazy part. We knew the answers to all three questions. Okay, maybe we didn’t *know* the first one, but we both had the same gut reaction answer, so I felt pretty good about that one. And I was positive I *knew* the last two. One of the answers was even “Daytona International Speedway” – holla for the Florida chickpea! Anyway, our score, with an additional 30 points, was good enough for 2nd place!! We were shocked and very amused. Especially since one of the prizes for 2nd place was the metal Sebago Brewing Company sign that I got last week because sweet locals didn’t want their prize. (Funny thing is that as I left the house, Beau had said, “Win another metal sign tonight, Mom. I want one for my room.” I told him no way was I going to let him hang a brewery sign in his room, seeing as how he was only 11 years old, but he shrugged, and told me to win another sign anyway. And we did!) So, in splitting our prizes, Mandy took the sign, and I took the bar towel and bottle opener key chain. Then two boys at the bar, I don’t know if they were the 1st or 3rd place winners, had extra bottle openers, and gave us a few more of those. I’m happy to clip one to my beach bag, and always have a memento of team Chickpeas and our epic trivia adventure.

Another great day, another day I’m thankful that we stretched our rental out to two weeks. It really has been idyllic to just relax in a place we love. Not feel like we *have to* do anything. The kids were even asking me today if we could just buy a house and move here. I loved the innocence of that inquiry. Obviously, my Florida kids, who have only really experienced snow on ski vacations, haven’t the slightest clue what their winter lives would be like, but I do love that they have also come to love, and feel at home in, this place that makes me so happy. Just like Beau’s mug says, I Love ME. And when I’m here, that is especially true for both meanings. I love this place, and I love me. The Maine version of Krista. Me.

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Day Eleven: Bush-League

25 Jun

Remember when I said that yesterday was a lazy day? Um, yeah. That was bush-league. Because today? Today’s level of laziness blew yesterday’s out of the water. There is not much of a linear story to retell, so I’ll just make a handy bullet-point list of the things I accomplished today. You should consider this almost entirely inclusive:

  • Woke up. Though I didn’t even do that with any particular grace. Apparently, woke in the middle of a sleep cycle, or something, because I was groggy and bleary for quite awhile.
  • Repetitively threw the tennis ball into the ocean for Remy to retrieve.
  • Took all my kids across at morning low tide to explore the beaches and tidal pools on Vaughan’s Island. This happened rather early (8:30am-ish?) We did turn over a few rocks seeking baby lobster. Photographs were taken to prove excursion, and existence of said shellfish.
  • Went to post office to mail package and get postcard stamps. Actually mailed two postcards.
  • Went to grocery store to buy toilet paper, dog shampoo, and, by request of the children, goldfish crackers.
  • Played Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit.
  • Updated my Mother of the Year application by adding: “While on beach asked 10 year old daughter to please go up to the house and fetch me a beer from the refrigerator. Reminded her to please not forget the bottle opener.”
  • Repetitively threw the tennis ball into the creek for Remy to retrieve.
  • Read 77 pages of my new book. (The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout – kind of agreed to attend a book discussion on Wednesday morning. Only 243 pages to go.)
  • Lathered the dog with oatmeal shampoo when rinsing him off in the yard with the hose in hopes of ridding him of the funky creek mud stench he has acquired. Seriously, before his bath he had squiggly cartoon odor lines emanating from his body. Much better now. Until tomorrow anyway. When I will undoubtedly repetitively throw the ball into the water for him to retrieve.
  • Took a shower. (Yes, that is worth listing. It’s vacation. This is not a given.)
  • Went down in the creepy, partially-unfinished basement several times in order to do two loads of laundry. (Often times the dryer needs more than one cycle to get clothes, and especially towels, totally dry.) Several of those trips down were after dark. And after my 8 year old whispered in a bright, but spooky voice, “Don’t go in the basement!”
  • Made my kids eat salad for dinner. Shockingly enough, they did it. Sort of, anyway.
  • Finished a puzzle.

 

There you have it. Pretty much everything I did today. Though when I list it out like that, maybe yesterday was not so bush-league on the laziness front after all. Today seems like pretty strong work on my part. Of course I didn’t give you the list of things I did NOT accomplish today, which would include, chief among them, washing the dinner dishes. Oh well, have to save some excitement for tomorrow morning…

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Day Ten: Down on Turbat’s Creek…

24 Jun

Not much to report today. We seem to have hit the sweet spot of laziness. Lounged around the house in the morning. Didn’t even go down to the beach until almost 11:30am. But I like that the kids are starting to show some initiative. Beau asked if he could go ahead down to the creek, and I said, absolutely! The girls followed suit in getting ready, and I was still in my pjs as I stepped into the yard to give them a proper coating of sunscreen. They each made their own lunch, packed it in their beach bags, and went on down to the beach. Fabulous! Meanwhile, I finished my, well, I guess at this point you have to call it brunch, before slowly getting myself and the dog ready to move our lounging from inside the house to down on the beach.

Turns out that there were already some people down on the beach, but most notably one lady had her two large dogs with her. Remy was delighted to make the acquaintance of Maya, the chocolate lab, and Maisy, the yellow lab-ish mutt. Maya loved to play fetch like Remy, and Maisy just wanted to run at breakneck speeds and play chase. What that amounted to was plenty of quality exercise for all three of them. Luckily for me, their mom, Jane, was a very nice older woman, and I spent a pleasant afternoon speaking with her. She even helped me bring down the kayaks for the kids to paddle around in the basin right off the beach. She was an avid kayaker from Massachusetts, and was very supportive of me allowing my (life-jacketed) children to just explore and play in the kayaks. She even complimented them, and said they were doing quite well indeed for children who only kayak sporadically on vacation once a year. We stayed down on the beach until maybe 4pm or so – to be honest, I’m not exactly sure. The only strange thing that happened was a motley crew of men arriving to head out on an excursion. One man’s boat was anchored off the beach, and he needed to get out to it. He stored a canoe there on the rocks by the beach, but apparently someone had stolen his paddle. So, I offered to tow him out behind one of our kayaks. It was a bit of a workout, but honestly much easier than you would think, and I’m a little bit sorry that his boat wasn’t further out. I need some vigorous workouts these days. Of course it may just have seemed easy because he was helping row. With a 2 x 4.  Once I had safely delivered him to his motor vessel, he pulled the boat almost up on the beach, and the rest of the crew, a total of four men, clambered aboard. Say, what’s the average number of teeth in a grown man’s mouth? Yep, that’s how many they had. Between all four of them. After they had loaded up their gear and pushed the boat off the sand in the rapidly ebbing tide, Jane turned to me and said, “It was like we were in a scene from Deliverance.” But it was fun to have that kind of absurdity in our lazy day. The kids slowly dwindled, one by one heading back up to the house. And tonight, since I think they hadn’t showered at all in the past three days, I set them to the task as I made an early dinner.

What I have unfortunately discovered since then is that what I should have been doing as the children showered, was bathing my dog. Sweet Remy, the poodle who does not have any body odor of his own, is, despite my best efforts to hose him off after each beach excursion, stinking of the tidal mud! Truly. Stinking. Like makes the room smell bad when he enters it. I remembered to pack dog shampoo, so I just have to scrounge that up. Sounds like maybe I’ve got at least one thing on my to do list for tomorrow.

But that was essentially it. Unless you find my brief trip to the grocery store after dinner noteworthy. Though, come to think of it, I did buy ice cream sandwiches, and a couple of minutes ago I found that to be super exciting! But, other than missing our friends, the Nelson girls (get well soon!), nothing too much going on down at Turbat’s Creek today. And that’s just how I like it…

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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 Seven: In the Presence of Greatness

21 Jun

Talk about a lazy morning. Amy was a go-getter, up and walking into town, while the kids and I lounged around the house. Lazed hard. Like if there were ribbons for lazy lounging, ours would be blue. And how freakin’ awesome is that?? Nothing quite like relaxing when the air coming through the open windows is salt-scented, less than 70% humidity, and temps hovering in the 70s. We originally planned to take a lobster boat tour, but for the second day in a row, the captain cancelled the trip due to unfavorable conditions (too rough and windy? Hmmm… Here’s hoping the trip scheduled for Thursday morning goes as planned!) Eventually, we roused to get ready and head out to an early afternoon movie. Because what’s one of our traditions on CMRT? See the new summer release Pixar film! This year, it’s “Finding Dory.” So, so cute. So very cute. And silly. And touching. It’s about finding our way home. And about the faith and patience of waiting for someone to come home. It’s about laying down a path to allow our loved ones to come home. And about figuring out what makes a family. It’s about otters having a cuddle party. And about me blubbering in my seat like a little baby. I have always loved Ellen DeGeneres, no more so then as Dory, but this time it was the octopus I fell in love with. Such great characters. This movie is utterly ridiculous and positively delightful. Two thumbs up!

After the movie we took a jaunt over to Cape Elizabeth and Fort Williams Park to view the Portland Head Light. It’s a beautiful white lighthouse, especially on a day with a clear blue sky. It also happens to be the oldest lighthouse in Maine. And the first lighthouse in the US completed after independence from Great Britain. Who ordered it built? None other than George Washington himself. It is said that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was inspired to write his poem – The Lighthouse – by his frequent walks from Portland to visit his friends, the keepers of the Portland Head lighthouse. The views are simply stunning. Truly breathtaking on such a beautiful summer day. But the wind was blowing just enough to emphasize how miserable a post it must be in the winter. No doubt still stunningly beautiful, but bitterly cold and blustery.

As we were walking up to the light we saw a large group of rather ridiculously fit people in workout/running attire. Amy asked them something along the lines of, “Is this a tour group for only super fit people?” One girl laughed, and explained that they were all employees of Nike, out from the corporate headquarters in Oregon. She then went on to say, “When Joan Benoit Samuelson says she wants to run to the lighthouse, you run to the lighthouse!” I recognized that name immediately. To be fair, I couldn’t remember the exact origins of her accolades (first woman to win the gold medal in Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 games, never mind winning the Boston Marathon a few times before that!), nor did I know before googling her that she was born right there in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. But I recognized the name Joan Benoit Samuelson immediately, and I almost gasped out – “The famous marathoner!!” Well, sure enough, she walked up to the lighthouse with the rest of her uber-fit, uber-young Nike-employed companions. I’d have to say that she’s making 59 look good. Talk about some beautiful legs! (Seriously, milling about her were several 20-something runner boys in the tiniest little shorts I have ever seen, and I still found myself looking at *her* legs!) I managed to snap a surreptitious picture of her, surrounded by her entourage, as Avery walked by them. I confess that I wouldn’t have recognized her if she had walked right up and challenged me to a foot race, but I sure did recognize the name, and appreciate the fact that I was in the presence of running greatness. Seeing her definitely added a bit of quirky absurdity to the day.

On the opposite side of Fort Williams Park from the lighthouse are the ruins of a large, Italianate home – The Goddard Mansion. The original walls are all standing, but it is merely a shell of the former home, completed in 1859. It is a bizarre ruin – the walls fully intact, but everything else, the roof, the windows and doors, all interior simply nonexistent. Many photographs exist, showing the glory of the intact home over a century of time. It was once a private residence, but then was turned into married barracks and an officer’s club for those attached to Fort Williams. I had to research this beautiful shell more deeply, and apparently, the mansion was already in grave disrepair when the town of Cape Elizabeth purchased the fort in 1964, but it wasn’t until 1981 when they commissioned the fire department to implement a controlled burn of the interior to remove all dangerous debris. It is still hauntingly beautiful, even with the chain link fence around it. There is always something creepy about seeing vegetation growing inside the walls of a once stately mansion.

After making our way home from the lighthouse, we did some more lounging. Far too full of popcorn and movie snacks to consider a real dinner, we just picked. Amy set off in pursuit of a lobster roll (ultimately purchased from Mabel’s Lobster Claw – favorite KPT restaurant of former president George H.W. Bush). I took Remy down on the beach, and proceeded to throw the tennis ball into the ocean for him for approximately 45 minutes straight. Dog should be dog tired tonight! Goodness knows I am, and I haven’t done squat in terms of physical exertion today other than a leisurely Cliff Walk in Fort Williams Park, and the effort of feeling bad about myself in the presence of a legend of physical fitness. It was nice to have a day that was mostly about relaxation. I’m starting to think that Avery was on to something with that whole Lazy Momma appellation. That’s a low bar I can reach…

On the docket for tomorrow: Whale Watching!

 

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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim