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Posts Tagged ‘Turbat’s Creek’

Days Five and Six: Relaxing in the Sun and Howling at the Moon

20 Jun

The blogging always falls off when the destination has been reached. Partly because there isn’t as much to report, and partly because I slip into the laziness of vacation. The intended laziness. After all, isn’t that the point of vacation? It’s strange to think that we have already been here for two days. For two whole days. They have been idyllic. Truly. This weather must have been custom ordered for a Florida girl who is so over the heat of her home state. The highs here are in the 70s, occasionally soaring into the low 80s (did you hear the sarcasm in my voice?) Because even when the mercury touches 80+, the low humidity keeps it from feeling like a strangling weight on your chest and around your neck. The breeze has been almost constant. Jeans and hoodie/fleece vest at night, and frankly still a little too chilly for a bathing suit for me during the day. Blue skies, bright sun, stunning views, singing birds. It’s like a damn Disney movie up in here. And I am the princess who gets to live in this dream. What a lucky girl.

Let’s see if I can remember how the past two days unfolded…

Sunday, June 19:

Had a lazy, lazy morning. Kids watched tv or played on their tablets, I lounged in bed for a bit and read, we lingered over breakfasts, shook the weariness out of our heads. I was still feeling a bit tired, as I had gone to bed late, and rose far too early. Here’s the thing I remembered about our little cottage on Turbat’s Creek – it gets VERY bright in the morning. Here’s the thing I had forgotten about our little cottage on Turbat’s Creek – the sun rises at 5:00am. I am not kidding. Sunrise at 5:00am. Five o’clock in the morning. Isn’t that too early? But we took our time this morning. Why? Because we could. The brilliance of renting the house for two weeks instead of one, I have lost the ridiculous sense of urgency that we must go-go-go, we must get out on the beach early to maximize our time spent experiencing Maine, we must schedule our activities so we can fit them all in, we must, we must, we must. I have shed that sense of urgency that oftentimes gets in the way of our fun. And it is GLORIOUS. One of the things I had discovered on Saturday night was that the only hose, handy for rinsing muddy feet, and necessary for rinsing muddy dog, was merely a thin trickle of water. Not going to cut it. I mean, I rinsed the dog’s feet on Saturday night with water bottles refilled from the sink. Not an efficient model for keeping Crazy Momma’s thin sanity intact. But, being a fixer, I decided that a quick trip to the hardware store was in order. The old hose was so kinked and bent, that in places it was broken or worn through. Nothing a new hose couldn’t fix. So, one trip to the nearby Ace Hardware, and I had a cheap 100′ hose (which I will leave here) and a new spray nozzle (which I will likely take home). Connect everything and discover that I’m still only getting the barest amount of water, despite it being connected properly. New plan, check the source of the external spigot. Because I could see water spraying from the hose attachment (even when the old hose was attached), so I knew there was water flow. I detached my hose and turned the spigot on full – not the water pressure I was hoping for, or frankly needed. Did I freak out? No. I went down into the uber-freaky basement, and found the place where the interior water pipes attached to the pipe feeding the exterior spigot. The valve there? Only slightly turned. Yeah, I’m no plumber, but that valve needs to be wide open for the water to flow to the exterior spigot with enough force to feed a 100′ hose. Opened the valve, went back out to check the hose, and we were good to rinse! Was this rocket science? Nope. Not brain surgery either. But it felt good. Damn good. To be alone and confronted with a problem, and instead of losing my head, thinking it through and solving it myself. And when I took a moment to call my dad to wish him a Happy Father’s Day, I made sure to thank him. For everything he does for me and my family, obviously, but specifically for this. For never treating me as a princess who was incapable of learning or doing something new. For raising me to be capable. It is one of the personal traits I am most proud of. Being capable. And I am so grateful he taught me to trust in my own abilities.

Hose situation (or rather, what the heck are we going to do with the muddy dog situation) resolved, it was time to hit the beach. To be fair, the kids were already down there. This is what I love about this house, and the fact that my children have grown into their independence. While I was figuring out the hose, getting the beach chairs out of the basement, getting myself ready to go down there, the kids were already playing on the beach. I had helped to slather them with sunscreen, and get their towels, but the beach here is close enough to the house, that I could hear them if they shouted. With the caveat that they were not to go deeper than knee deep, they were allowed to go down and settle in, play on the rocks, wade by the shore. Turbat’s Creek really is a kids’ paradise. Turns out it’s a dog’s paradise, too. But it’s proximity to the house, it’s relative privacy, make it perfect for a momma who doesn’t want to, and probably couldn’t if she tried to, stay on top of her kids at all times. They played on the beach for hours, while I sat and read, or threw the ball for the dog. As the tide receded, Remy alternately chased a ball across the mud flat and into the water, kept a watchful eye on his kids, and laid in the shade of my chair. Again I state, heaven for everyone involved. About midday I left them playing, and came up to the house to make sandwiches, get a bag of chips and some drinks, and of course some applesauce cups with the intention that they use shells for spoons to eat (the Nelson family trick!).

The afternoon rolled on nicely, in the most delightfully relaxed manner, and late in the afternoon who did I spy walking across the flats with my girls scampering at her feet? Enter my promised surprise guest of CMRT 2016: K9 Edition – Amy Lynch, all around wonderful lady and school nurse extraordinaire! As plans for CMRT were unfolding, Amy rather jokingly said, “Will you adopt me? I want to be one of your kids. I want to go on the road trip.” And with complete sincerity, I suggested that she join us in Maine for a few days. House has more bedrooms than the kids & I strictly need, and at the time I offered it was unknown whether or not the kids’ father would be joining us, but even if so, it was only going to be for a few days, so I offered up a bedroom with an attached bath, and a sincere offer to join in the craziness. (As it turns out, the kids’ dad will not be coming up to Maine at all this summer, so there’s no rush for her to vacate on any schedule other than her own plans.) But I am so pleased that she took me up on the offer. The kids know and love her, and she knows and loves and has taken such extraordinary care of them in the years she has been at LPA. Plus, I greatly enjoy her sense of humor and company; it’s nice for me to have a friend.

We went back up to the house for a bit, waiting for the tide to finish going out. Then we headed out across the flat to cross the few feet of ankle deep water that Turbat’s Creek is reduced to during low tide. On the other side? Vaughn’s Island – a nature preserve island – home of the massive rocks for climbing on, the tidal pools for turning over rocks to spot baby lobster, and the tideline to check for interesting things that have washed ashore (one year I found the duck decoy that currently graces my mantle at home.) It is so amazing to live right across from this island, so easily accessible, so perfect for exploration, and cultivating the magic of childhood. Heck, the magic of a relaxed adulthood. It just strikes home the idea that life really is beautiful if you’re paying attention.

Thankfully, Amy is a far better houseguest than I am a hostess. Dinner was a low brow affair of spaghetti and meatballs, and then it was time to take the children, already in their pajamas, out for ice cream. Specifically, to the Ben & Jerry’s down in the heart of town. If you’re a bourbon fan, may I humbly recommend the Bourbon Brown Butter limited batch. Yum. Amy graciously treated the kids to their favorite flavors and toppings, and then gave them their special spoons. At the register they are selling little shovels, because ice cream is better when it is being “shoveled” into your face! These “spoons” are hysterical, and watching their enjoyment of using them was a hoot. More magic, to be sure. Wandered around the town a little bit – making a stop in one of my favorite stores of all time, that was thankfully open late – Daytrip Society. I swear it seems to be my goal to empty my entire wallet in that store. Daytrip Society has the cutest, coolest, most incredible current and retro items. Bought a wonderful necklace and some cards there. Then we wandered some more, peeking in the display windows of darkened shops, and found the companion kids store – Daytrip Society Jr. – also open and delighted in browsing there as well. Soon it was time to head back home as it was time for everyone to turn in. We had all been up a little too early – Amy earlier than all, and with a full travel day under her belt, to boot. It was a perfect first day of vacation. Can’t believe how lucky I am to have so many more of them lined up in a row.

 

Monday, June 20:

The first day of Summer! And Amy’s first full day with us in our beloved little Kennebunkport. We lazed a bit and tried to strategize our coming days, fitting in desired activities without making ourselves feel too scheduled, and taking the weather into account. When we discovered that there was a lobster boat tour scheduled for 10:30am, we raced to change and head out the door to the Nonantum resort. We got there just in time, though only to discover that the conditions were a little to windy and rough for lobstering, and all trips aboard the Rugosa were cancelled for the day. Okay, no matter, we’ll sign up for tomorrow afternoon. Then we piled back into the car and headed down to the “office” of First Chance Whale Watching down in Dock Square. We got ourselves confirmed for the Wednesday morning whale watching cruise, for which I am VERY excited. The lady said that there have been loads of whales spotted offshore, so I am hopeful that we will have abundant marine wildlife for viewing. They very nicely allowed us to leave our car in their parking lot for a bit, so we could wander up to the bookstore Avery has been dying to visit since she saw the sign advertising The Book Burrow, only to discover that it was only open Wed-Sat. Alright, save that for a return visit. A stop in the French patisserie for refreshments, a lovely shopping excursion into a shop called “Best of Everything” (and they’re pretty close to being accurate!) where Harper and I each bought ourselves new necklaces, and then it was back to the car. Well, anyone who knows me knows the place I had to take my friend. One does not come to Kennebunkport, so close to the retail nirvana that is Freeport, without visiting. So, since we had already forgone a morning on the beach, and the boat trips weren’t panning out, we took the 45 minute jaunt up the interstate to visit my mecca – the LLBean flagship store! Ahhhhh!

After finding easy parking in the LLBean parking lot, our first stop was, of course, to take our required pictures in front of the big Bean boot. But our most urgent need was lunch. I remembered and located the brick over pizza place we have frequented over the years, but it has undergone a transformation into a much swankier, hipper place. All things considered, they still let me in the door, and we had a delicious lunch (perhaps some of the best pepperoni I have ever tasted!) Harper was thrilled because she got to sit in a large, upholstered wingback chair at the table, and now she thinks perhaps what’s been missing from her life all along is a dining throne. After lunch we wandered into the book store next door. Such a cute store, with a wide variety of books, games, decorative frames, collectibles, notecards, etc, etc. And then down the street to The Mangy Moose – a really fun, and irreverent gift shop. And then it was time to head back across the street to the main attraction. I can’t explain what it is I love about this store so much. After all, it’s really just a store. And they sell nice things, but in the end they are just things. But it’s the combination of the beautiful store, the wonderful things, the incredibly nice and helpful people. It’s a happy place for me. The kids wanted to head up first to the kids’ section. We took a look around, but the real draw there is the photo booth. Amy & the girls had their silly fun, and then Beau & I took our turn. What a nostalgic souvenir, a strip of photos from a photo booth. We wandered the store, and all its sections, viewed the trout aquarium (which boasts the largest single acrylic viewing window of any other aquarium in the state of Maine), and then Harper got totally sidetracked watching a man in the hunting department fletch arrows. She was transfixed watching him glue feathers onto plain wooden shafts. Beau wanted to head off toward the rifles/shotguns, and wanted my company to do so, so I left Amy with the girls, and wandered through the guns with Beau, talking about his grandfather’s (my father’s) fowl hunting, and the possibility that perhaps we could both go skeet shooting with Pop when we got home. When we headed back toward the girls, Amy said that they could sell Harper a single arrow for less than $10. As she looked at me with her pleading gray eyes, I discussed with the kind LLBean employee what kind of tip he could put on the arrow, and then consented that she could use some of her own money to purchase one. She got to pick feathers, and he prepared the bare shaft for the tip and the notch end. So, now she has all the pieces to assemble her own arrow. Plus, it cost about $8.50. I just need to procure a small piece of light sandpaper and some superglue. Then she’ll be ready to go. I can’t remember the last time I saw a child vibrate from happiness in this way. The salesman compared her happiness to a current viral video of a dog playing with an automatic tennis ball launching machine. He bounces and dances and scampers on the deck as he returns the fetched tennis ball and waits for it to launch again. Honestly, I think Harper was even happier than that dog!

We wandered over to the bike and boat shop, but the kids were fading fast, so we needed a snack. Plus, I may or may not have promised a treat as I told them water was the only option to drink with lunch. Lucky for us, there was a Dairy Queen right across the street! (Ben & Jerry’s is great, but all of their ice cream has egg as an ingredient. Luckily, the older two love the B&J sorbets, but it is not an ice cream location for them. DQ is.) A quick dipped cone later, and we had happy campers on our hands once again. That bought us enough time to take a spin through the LLBean Home store. I could just move in there. I love the decorative pieces – sadly, I do not love their prices as much. But there are definitely a few things from their home collections on my lottery list. (You know, the things I’ll buy if I ever win the lottery. I’ll decorate my home in Maine with many things from LLBean when that happens.) Until then I just dream and drool. Back in the car for an easy ride home, and a dog that was glad to see us and play a little fetch in the front yard.

One of the things I love to do is play bar trivia, and at the Sebago Brewing Company here in Kennebunk, they have an awesomely unique bar trivia game on Monday nights. So, Amy & I had a little girls night out for beer, bar food, and trivia. The kids have gotten to the age where they are comfortable being left alone for a few hours, and I am comfortable leaving them so. They have their own kids’ phone, and are allowed to text or call me when I am away. Not only do I like having some more freedom for myself, but it is also good to build up their independence. Win-Win for everyone. Though I did tell the trivia host jokingly that he might occasionally see me on my cell phone, but I was not cheating, merely responding to my 8 year old whom I had left charge of the phone while Mommy was off drinking and playing at the bar. (And before you run to the internet to research, I’ve already done it. Maine, like Florida, has no laws regarding the age at which it is legal to leave children home alone.) The host laughed, and said, “Well, at least you didn’t say four year old!” He then proceeded to say he was changing our team name, which was merely CMRT, to “Responsible Parenting” which made the night infinitely more awesome! The beer at Sebago is delicious (I had their Runabout Red), the food was good, and we had a pretty showing – coming in 5th place. The people next to us, who came in second, won a decorative metal sign for Sebago Brewing Company. When I commented what a cool sign it was, they handed it to me and said, “Here. Take it.” I thanked them profusely – because I really wanted it – and turns out they are locals who play every single Monday. I told them I would happily take it back to Florida to represent a little piece of Kennebunk down there. Amy suggested that I come back next Monday and see if I could join their team. Hmmmm… Might have to do that…

Got home before too late, and the kids barely noticed us coming in the door, so I’d say all went well. But there was one last thing we needed to do before turning in. The full moon was hanging huge and low in the sky. So beautiful, and calling to something primal inside us. What’s the best thing to do with a full moon? Howl at it, of course. So we all walked down to the beach, and tilted our heads back to the sky to howl. Beau politely declined to be our boy werewolf, and Remy got excited, but kind of looked at us like we were crazy. But Crazy Momma, her girls, and her friend, howled at the moon like the wild women we are. It was perfect. And, as I later discovered, it was a special, once-in-a-lifetime (or at least my lifetime, as it only occurs every 70 years) event. An early Native American tribe named this full moon in June a Strawberry Moon, but it rarely coincides with the Summer Solstice. So, what we were howling at was the Solstice Strawberry Full Moon. A rare delight to behold, and in this case, experience.

With a heart full of beauty, it was time to turn in, and close the chapter on another awesome day. This vacation is unfolding exactly as I hoped it would… Couldn’t wipe the smile off my face if you tried.

(Editing may or may not follow at a later date. Just can’t be bothered right now.)

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LMRT

14 Jun

So, clearly, things are going to be a little different this year. I mean, here I am, a little less than 8 hours away from the departure of the latest installment of Crazy Momma’s Road Trip, and I haven’t posted one darn thing about it. Some of you may even be wondering if it is happening at all this year. Yep. Currently, departure scheduled for T-minus 7 hours and 15 minutes. But I haven’t said much about it at all. There are several reasons for that, not the least of which is that my words have found another focus. Amazing how meaningful it can be to spend time communicating directly with another human being. Not to take anything away from the bond shared between us, dear readers, especially those of you who are true CMRT fans. (Have y’all come up with a catchy nickname yet? The Grateful Dead had Deadheads, and Barry Manilow has Fanilows, and Benedict Cumberbatch has his Cumberbitches; I’m just saying’…) But in order to pander to a fan base, I’d have to actually hype the trip. And I’ve done none of that this year. Perhaps because this year everything feels different. Okay, maybe not every-thing. Still renting the same house on Turbat’s Creek in Kennebunkport, Maine. Still driving a minivan – hey, let’s get specific, a Honda Odyssey (Honda, where are we on that sponsorship deal?) And still taking the opportunity to see some of our favorite long distance friends – those who are crazy enough to host Crazy Momma & the Willim 3 +Remy (Huge debt of gratitude to the Taylor, Warr, Tison, and Gray families!) But there are some significant changes. Did you happen to notice that +1?

Indeed, this year Crazy Momma decided that her fourth “child” would make the trip. Because when the rental vacation house you love so much is dog-friendly, you change your entire plan to extend the rental for an extra week, and you throw your 55lb fur baby into the small space still available in the over-packed van, along with your three kids, and drive approximately 1,500 miles each way. At least, that’s how Crazy Momma rolls…

And having Remy along for the ride changes everything. Because CMRT used to be a journey. There were museum stops, and factory tour stops, adventure stops, and sit down service lunch stops. Now there will be rest area stops, you stay with the dog while I dart into the restroom stops, and let’s all eat in the car after pulling through this drive through stops. This time it is more about the destination. And sometimes that destination is the overnight stay with friends, which we are all very much looking forward to. But ultimately, the travel time has been shaved down to a bare minimum. Less about the journey, more about the destination. And frankly, other than getting those overnight lodgings secured, I have done next to zero planning. I used to have this trip drilled down with military precision. Not so much anymore. In fact, I have done so little planning, that my sweet baby Avery recently said to me in all earnestness, “Maybe we should change the name to ‘Lazy Momma’s Road Trip’.” Oh, sweet child, don’t kid yourself, it takes an awful lot of effort to be this unprepared!

Anyway, there are going to be several changes this year. I’m still going to attempt to post most nights (I’ll try harder if there was something of note that occurred.) But the dynamics have changed. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, just different. And I’m not going to lie, I’m not great with change. But I’m going to do my best to roll with it. Besides, we have much to look forward to: a special surprise guest will be joining us for a few days (yay for friends taking chances, and breaking out of their comfort zones!), reuniting with local friends in KPT (can’t wait to play with the delightful Nelson girls), and being able to unpack and stay unpacked for two whole weeks!

So, having just dashed this off before sliding my laptop into my bag, and in the spirit of LMRT possibly not even bothering to proofread it, let me just say, thanks for following along. It’s going to be a different story this year, but hopefully just as entertaining for all involved. Including the muddy dog, and the Crazy Momma who will have to deal with him.

Welcome to CMRT 2016: K9 Edition…

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On the Road Again

23 Feb

Recently, I have had some rather unpleasant drama land unbidden on my doorstep. Uninitiated by me, but rather the result of some else’s selfish behavior and disappointing choices. I was not a willing participant. And, as such, I removed myself from the fray as quickly, and gracefully, as possible. But it has brought a certain kind of clarity that previously eluded me. And I am more grateful than ever for my true friends. Deeply appreciative of the people who care for me, and do not love me simply by half measures, or only when it is convenient or advantageous for them. I am reminded of the advice I recently doled out that life is hard, and being an adult sucks. That people will hurt you on purpose, and for no reason. But that life, if we pay attention, is also filled with unspeakable beauty, and moments of incandescent joy. So despite pain and disappointment, and people who suck, we must engage in our own lives. We must do it anyway.

The truth is, I need some peace in my life. So, to that end, it feels like the perfect time to actively seek it, or at least plan for the journey towards it. And nothing makes me happier than a journey. Recent home improvements may have curtailed the impetuous travel budget for a time, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go big this summer…

That’s right, after a discomfiting hiatus last year, it’s time for Crazy Momma’s Road Trip to make it’s triumphant return! Time to get started on the planning phase of CMRT: Summer 2016 – K9 Edition. Yep, because 1 mom, 3 kids, and a minivan wasn’t crazy enough, we’re throwing the dog into the mix! CMRT is undergoing a major overhaul. Instead of a slow, leisurely jaunt up and down the Eastern Seaboard, with bizarre and exciting stops along the way, we are making quick tracks for Maine, and staying put in Kennebunkport for two solid weeks of blissful Turbat’s Creek living.

Just typing those words put a smile on my face. Two weeks in one of my favorite places on earth, but with a twist. The house we rent is dog-friendly, and the beach at Turbat’s Creek is definitely dog-friendly, so I figured, why not complicate my life exponentially?! Yes, it means we’ll have to put in some hard driving days. And yes, there will be limited entertainment stops, at least of the museum variety. And the kids get that. They are so excited to stay in Maine for two weeks, and to have our goofy dog with us, that they barely batted an eye at how this will change our travel dynamics. Of course, it may also have something to do with the fact that after 5 years of CMRT, we’ve hit pretty much every roadside attraction within spitting distance of I-95. When I asked them if there was anything they really wanted to do on the drive up, keeping in mind our canine travel companion’s limitations, they said that they still wanted to drive into Manhattan. Because what’s cooler to some suburban Florida kids than just randomly taking your dog for a walk in Central Park? Nothing. And this little dream? Yes, kids, your crazy Momma will make it come true.

But, as well trained as our pooch may be, and he is a very good boy, I recognize that this will necessitate changes in our overnight locales. I’ll need to find a few (large dog) dog-friendly hotels for a few nights. And I will wipe the slate clean, not presuming that anyone who was brave enough to take on Crazy Momma & the Willim 3, wants to up the ante by adding a 55lb standard poodle to their guest list. If I’m wrong, and some of you are willing to take us on, we’d love to see you, and would be eternally grateful. One of the ways CMRT has morphed most pleasantly over the years is the home visits with friends, old and new. So, if you still want to stay in the line-up, please let me know. I’m in the initial route planning stages. Our Maine rental runs from June 18-July 2. I’ve already locked up a few nights in CT to start our southbound leg – it simply wouldn’t be CMRT without a visit to Chez Tison – but everything else is still up in the air.

Friends, we’d love to see you, but I only recently got over the guilt of accepting people’s gracious hospitality, and I certainly wouldn’t expect you all to be onboard with the changes of CMRT – K9 Edition. So, I’ll start my planning, and maybe I’ll hear from you, or maybe I won’t; and that will be fine either way. Because I just can’t wait to get on the road again…

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Day Fourteen: Heading north on our southbound departure

21 Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Day Thirteen: 4:04pm – Rt 9 – Kennebunkport, ME

20 Jun

I found North Dakota. That’s right. Driving alone on Route 9 in Kennebunkport, Maine, one of the last times I’ll be entirely alone for the next 11 days, and I spotted it. Coming towards me in oncoming traffic I spotted a unique tag. My interest peaked I took a closer look. There at the top was the phrase “Discover the Spirit.” And if it weren’t for my friend and her superlative rice krispie treat decorating skills, I might have missed it. But I recognized that darn tag right away. And then I almost burst a gasket with happiness. I found North Dakota. I found North Dakota!! I don’t even care that we still have four other states missing (Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and Hawaii), because I found North Dakota. It’s been years since we found a North Dakota plate on CMRT. In fact, I’d have to check the record to see if we ever did. But last year it was the only one we didn’t find. And it darn near drove me insane. But not this year. Even if we don’t find another plate I’m calling this year’s license plate game a win. I now believe in the power of a carefully and thoughtfully crafted dessert. Already secured a promise from Tina that next year she’s crafting a dessert in the shape of a winning Powerball ticket!

And that’s it. Really all I have to report. Because I’m flat out exhausted, and tomorrow there is no lounging in bed. I’ve already accomplished most of our packing, but there is still much to do in the morning. And though we technically have until 11am to vacate the premises, we’re headed up to Bar Harbor tomorrow, so I’d like to get on the road sooner rather than later in an attempt to maximize time available to explore in Acadia. Plus I’m attempting to stave off the end of KPT week melancholy. Finally got my burger at Federal Jack’s for dinner, so now I guess it’s time to go home…

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Day Twelve: We spotted the ocean

19 Jun

Ever since hearing that Toad the Wet Sprocket is going to be the free 4th of July concert at LLBean this summer (we saw Matt Nathanson last year), I’ve had this song in my head. And while the rest of the song doesn’t quite say how I feel about this place, excising the first stanza does quite nicely:

We spotted the ocean at the head of the trail
Where are we going, so far away
And somebody told me that this is the place
Where everything’s better, everything’s safe

Despite my interrupted sleep last night (details on this at the end), today was one of those perfect summer, beach vacation days. Not much happened. Sunscreen was necessary. Bathing suits were wet. Everyone got sandy. Discovery followed exploration. Friends were involved. We didn’t watch the clock. Bedtime was ignored. And this cottage on Turbat’s Creek in Kennebunkport felt exactly like the place where everything’s better, everything’s safe.

Avery and I hunted lobstah on Vaughan’s Island, and eventually Beau came over to join us. We found quite a few of varying sizes. I waded out into the ocean. The deepest I could get was about thigh deep before I could no longer feel my feet and decided to turn back. The kids scampered all over the rocks. We had a picnic lunch in the yard because I refused to clean everyone up only to turn around and go back out again. The weather was, once again, perfect. Highs in the high 70s-low 80s, mostly clear blue sky (a little overcast from time to time kept the temps down). And then we more than doubled the number of kids when my friend Mandy came back to the beach with her two and two of their friends. We just kept moving our chairs as the tide came in, eventually forcing us onto the seaweed-covered beach. The kids played well, and evenly divided their time playing on the rocks, and in the water (especially after we broke out the masks and snorkels!) After the extra two kids were picked up by their mom, we broke out the kayaks. Beau went into town with his dad, so it was just the girls. We sent them out tandem and they had a great time. Only one snafu where Harper & Birdie, collectively weighing approximately 80-90 pounds, got pushed by the wind in the wrong direction (like the out to sea direction!), and unable to keep their wits about them and resolve the situation, they fell into tears and panic. But Super Mandy rescued them, and ended up getting into the kayak with them and paddling them back to shore. Maggie and Avery managed to make their paddling partnership work and just tooled around close to the rocks. Once Mandy brought back the errant girls I hopped in the kayak and paddled out with Maggie for a minute. I’d forgotten how good it feels to be out on the water, gliding easily. How connected to the water a kayak makes you feel. It was nice. But the wind was still kicking up, and we decided to end the day on land. I think we one time gave the girls a 10 minute countdown that lasted 45 minutes. It was just that hard to leave the beach. They were playing so nicely together, the sun was warm on our skin, it was pleasant having a friend to talk to. But eventually, it was time for the Nelsons to leave, so we rounded up our stuff and headed back up to the house. Dinner off the grill was consumed, a movie was turned on, and bedtime was forgotten.

I went out onto the mostly unused screened porch on the back of the house to read. I always forget about that space, and I wish I didn’t. It is right next to the woods behind the house, and it is especially pleasant at night. They have a couch and a lamp, and you can hear every bit of wildlife, as well as the lapping of the water. It is incredibly peaceful out there. Especially since a particularly loquacious owl was keeping me company last night. But after awhile the mercury dropped and I was chased inside by my inefficient clothing.

All in all, it was a very good day.

Now, for the story of my interrupted sleep. I put it down here because not everyone shares my belief in paranormal things, and I’m giving you the option to opt out of reading now. Because while I’ve never seen Casper, I do happen to believe in ghosts. I’ve experienced living with a particularly adept at opening deadbolt locks ghost in college. In our house set up here, I am in an upstairs bedroom, the girls have another upstairs bedroom, and Beau has the daybed in the open living area at the top of the stairs. We all share a bathroom. I keep my door closed, mostly because they wake at the crack of dawn and I’m desperate to sleep in past their waking. But I will hear them from time to time in the middle of the night. In fact, at midnight I heard talking, of the in your sleep variety. Clear, but unintelligible words. I got up, opened the door, and saw, as I suspected, Beau tossing in his sleep. I thought it sounded like him. I immediately fell back asleep. But at 2:00am on the nose I heard a child’s voice say, “Mommy.” It sounded like it was right outside my door. It was clear as a bell. I guess what captured my attention most was that it didn’t really sound like one of my children. My eyes snapped open. And I heard a child’s retreating footsteps, perhaps 10 steps in all. I bolted from my bed, convinced that one of mine had wet their bed and needed my help (a fairly common occurrence in my house), or was wandering about looking for the bathroom, about to wet themselves. Upon wrenching the door open my eye immediately fell on Beau, he was abed and sound asleep. I darted the few steps to the girls’ room, and they were both there, sound asleep. All three so deeply asleep under the covers, and in positions that they couldn’t possibly have achieved in the few brief seconds from the time I heard the child’s voice and footsteps, to the time I was gazing upon them. It was rather spooky. But, didn’t seem malicious, so I whispered a “please keep them safe” and climbed right back into my own bed. Though I admit, this time I left the door open.

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Day Ten: EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!

17 Jun

“Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Everything is awesome, when we’re living our dream…”

Everything *is* awesome when you’re living your dream. And that seems to be what I’m doing on this vacation. This morning I rolled out of bed late, had a piece of sourdough toast and a cup full of blueberries, then herded the children out of the house because my appearance downstairs coincided with low tide. Low tide means we can walk from our beach across the mud flat and about 10 feet of maybe ankle deep water to a nature preserve known as Vaughan’s Island. It was time for our Lobstah Hunt! Two years ago my kids met a local teenager who showed them how to find baby lobsters in the tidal pools on Vaughan’s Island. Nothing difficult, just flipping over rocks, but there is a bit of a science as to which rocks are most likely to yield lobster underneath. And these are tiny guys, most are fit in the palm of your hand size. But for kids who have only seen lobster in the tanks at our local grocery store, this is something amazing. Frankly, I find it amazing too. This morning it took us a bit of time to find one, but once we got into the deeper, colder tidal pools, the lobster abounded. The first one we found almost managed to take a chunk out of my toe. Luckily my lightning quick reflexes had my foot retracted from the water as soon as I felt him scampering near my toe. That and the fact that my high pitched shrieking like a little girl with her hair caught on fire probably scared him back into his hidey hole! We also spot lots of other great things on our tidal pool adventures – sea urchins, tons of hermit crabs, many other varieties of crabs, sponges, etc. And never fear, no lobster are ever injured in our great Lobstah Hunt. We flush them out, sometimes pick up one or two for a photo op, but always put them gently back into place so they can grow to become delicious, er, I mean, adults.

Another great part of Vaughan’s Island is the outcropping of rocks on the near side of the island. This morning after we had exhausted our tidal pool interest, the kids clambered up the rocks and proceeded to play a very detailed imaginative game. I was nearby, but not involved – in fact, made a quick trip up to the house to retrieve my book and a beverage – while they all three played together cooperatively. One time I looked back to see Avery and Harper scaling a rock wall that must have been 10 feet in height. It took my breath away to watch them, but kids need to be kids, and if there were pieces to pick up afterward, then that was just what I was going to have to do. So I turned back around. Put my back to the action. And irony of ironies, no one was hurt on the huge outcropping, by leaning over rock ledges or scaling rock faces that were directly above pointy boulders; instead it was literally the last step off the beach onto the tarmac road where Avery slipped and slammed her shin into a pointy rock. Sigh. Many tears and a bag of frozen vegetables later she was exclaiming with great joy that her damaged shin was purple and pink, some of her favorite colors! I think she’ll live.

After returning from our island excursion, Harper and I once again played another game of Qwirkle. I tell you, I am flat out obsessed with this game. Luckily Harper is a puzzle enthusiast as well, and the game appeals to a visual learner, so I have a partner whenever I want to play. The funny thing is that it takes quite a long time to play a game when there are only two players, but she always stays engaged to the very end. Probably a bit because she enjoys it, but also because she’s so competitive. Wonder where she gets that?

After our game Harper wanted to be the one to make lunch. As you may know, patience is *not* my strong suit. I could have had those sandwiches made and distributed within 10 minutes. But, I need to let my kids do more things for themselves. I know that. I do. But it’s so damn hard. But I waited this one out. She took orders, Avery assisted as sous chef, and five sandwiches were prepared, chips and fruit put on plates, and distributed. It only took 45 minutes. And I did not rip out my hair. At least not all of it.

Beau’s dad had promised him that the boys would take an afternoon kayak adventure once the tide came in. Realizing how important this was to both father and child, I decided the best thing to do to keep the girls from arguing and demanding that they too wanted to go on a kayak adventure, was to get them out of the house. So we had a girls’ only excursion to – where else? – Target! But there was a very specific purpose for this trip. Today is June 17. And for anyone paying attention, you know that Tuesday, June 17th is when The Lego Movie was released on DVD! Yep. We got our copy, and I anticipate it will see a lot of use. I think I’d like to watch it at maybe half speed just to get a better look at all the details hidden in the background. Harper was also pleased about our outing because she scored the next book in the series she is currently reading. It’s another of Rick Riordan’s mythology based series (something of Olympus?), and the darn thing is like 800 pages. But a very reasonable price considering, and I’m a sucker for buying books, so….

Once we got back to the cottage it was time to head down to the creek for a bit. I just wanted to sit in the sun and read. And that’s what I did. Harper started out with her own book, just standing out on the rocks reading, but then she put her book away and played nicely with her sister for quite some time. Eventually the boys returned from their almost 2 hour kayaking excursion – I imagine Beau may have trouble lifting his arms tomorrow. We headed up to the house to get cleaned up, but not before asking some locals we had overhead talking about pizza where they recommended. They suggested a place called Lower Village Pizza just across the bridge in Kennebunk. And I am SO thankful they did. Wow. Some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. Crust – Amazing! Flavors – Terrific! Truly some exceptional pizza. And the nicest people you ever want to do business with. A great experience, a wonderful dinner! We watched The Lego Movie while eating our pizza (but of course!) And after our long day, Avery was asleep on the couch with her dad before the movie was over, and the other two trooped dutifully off to bed without a single argument by 8:15pm. Ah, summer!

Tomorrow: Getting my windshield replaced! Just like two years ago when I had to have my windshield replaced in the driveway of this same house, but this time it’s a different Honda Odyssey. My only 14 month old one. Sigh. It’s supposed to be thunderstorms around here sometime after midnight, so here’s hoping those clear up in time to make this mobile windshield replacement a possibility. I don’t like driving around with a huge crack in my windshield.

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Day Nine: Hope you come down for breakfast

16 Jun

This one started out as another lazy, vacation day. The kids watching tv and eating cereal. Me staying in bed for awhile after I woke at my can’t seem to sleep past it 6:45am. When I did get up I made cinnamon rolls. Beau went to town with his dad to get coffee. I asked Harper to play a game of Qwirkle with me. (Thanks, Tisons! I LOVE this game! So. Much. Fun.) The morning was rolling along with everyone kind of doing their own thing, and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day. But there was still limited food in the house, and I needed to start a load of laundry but didn’t have any detergent, so it was time to head out to the grocery store. When I was ready to head out Harper asked if she could go with me. After I lifted my jaw off the floor, I told her of course she could. Seriously shocked. But it was nice to have some time to spend with just her, one on one. We took our list – which included sandwich and salad fixings, fruit, dinner items, and aloe for poor Beau’s burned crispy shoulders – and took off to Biddeford. Two funny things happened there. First, the deli lady kept giving us samples of different types of turkey. The first slice Harper was good-natured enough to take a bite of, but then she immediately handed it to me. Then the lady wanted me to try the Bacon-Lovers’ Turkey. And you know she didn’t have to twist my arm. But she hands two thick slices over the counter to which Harper says, “I’m good. No, thank you.” So there I was, clutching two handfuls of turkey. I almost had to be rude to get away, but, free or not, I just couldn’t handle any more lunch meat! In the produce section I was pleased to see that blueberries were both abundant and cheap. Until I looked at the package. They were from Georgia. That’s right, I found myself in Maine, buying Georgia blueberries for less than I could at home in Florida. It felt so wrong. Of course I bought them, because I love blueberries and they really were cheap (at least $2 less than at home!), but still it felt weird.

After our successful grocery run, we headed home and discussed what we’d be doing the rest of the day. Due to our other scheduled activities, one of which is getting my windshield replaced on Wednesday morning, there are only a few times that would work for our annual trek up to Freeport to visit the L.L.Bean flagship store. So we decided, what the heck, let’s go now! As soon as the groceries were unloaded and put away, we all hopped back in the car and made our way up to Freeport. It’s really a quick and easy jaunt, about as much time as going across town in Jacksonville. Last year we were in Freeport for the 4th of July – I ran the 10k, we watched the parade, stuck around alllllll day to see the free concert on the green (Matt Nathanson!) As you can well imagine, on that day the little town was packed. Stuffed full of people. No elbow room in sight. This year? June 16? Empty. In comparison, the town was eerily quiet. And I love it that way! The kids and I were the only people in the kids’ section in L.L.Bean for probably 15 minutes or so. And even when other people did come through it was like one or two at a time. Honestly, the one time we went to Bean at 3am, there were just about the same number of people. Very cool to feel like you have the store almost entirely to yourself. We found lots of stuff to buy, natch. Avery reminded me that last year I told her we could get her a customized boat & tote bag for her birthday and that promise never came to fruition. We looked around the store, but they didn’t have exactly what she thought she wanted. So I told her that when we got back to the house we could order a new one to be shipped to our home. She happily accepted that. Then we went over to the outlet store and she found a bag she fell in love with. A small boat & tote with a pocket on the front. A royal blue bottom and orange straps. (Go Gators!) It had clearly been special ordered and then returned, which landed it in the outlet. Most of the boat & totes that end up there have someone else’s name monogrammed on them. Which can be fine if you’re just looking for a random storage bag, because the bags are already discounted and today were an additional 30% off. But it’s not okay to have someone else’s name on it if you’re looking for something to truly make your own. In this case, the “perfect” bag had no embroidery. So we rushed to buy it, then scampered back across the street to get it properly monogrammed for free (I love you, LLBean Visa card). Avery’s face when we picked it up was pure magic. She was over the moon to have her very own boat & tote bag, in colors she loves, with her name embroidered on it. Happiest Bean customer EVER!

After the kids’ had ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s (important scientific research regarding consistency of product throughout New England B&J locations), we piled back into the car. As soon as we unloaded our stuff back in KPT, it was my turn to rush back out alone. Time for a little Girls’ Night Out with Mandy! We headed over to the Sebago Brewing Company in Kennebunk for their Monday night team trivia. We also lucked into a Monday night special – any burger off the menu and a pint of one of their own brews for $9.99 (upsize the beer to a 22oz for only a dollar more!) Seemed like a darn fine deal seeing as though the burgers were each already at least $9.99 themselves. It didn’t go quite as we hoped, seeing as though the burgers we ordered medium rare originally came to us well done. But we stood our ground and asked for new ones. Of course eating the pickle spear off our plate first so we could get another one with the new plate! It came back better, though still not right. I thought mine was tasty though, and the homemade potato chips they served with it were out of this world. The beer, their own Sebago Brewing Frye’s Leap IPA, was also quite tasty. Now properly fueled, Team Like Us on Facebook, was ready to take the trivia world by storm! Or, at the very least, have a lot of fun. And fun we did have! There was definitely a lot of laughter, and when in doubt, the proper answer is Neil Diamond. But one of the things I love most about trivia nights is when I actually learn something I didn’t know before. In this case, it was a euphemism for someone who has recently died: “He won’t be coming down for breakfast.” We had many laughs about that one in particular. As for our standing, we came in dead last. Hey man, you go big or go home. We wagered everything on the final three questions and got absolutely none of them right. Which only added to the hysterical nature of the night. So Team Like Us on Facebook lost in spectacular fashion, but Team Krista & Mandy record a big win for an excellent night out with a girlfriend.

All in all, a really wonderful day. Full of ordinary experiences made special because of the people I shared them with. Can you really ask for anything more in life? I just hope I continue to come down for breakfast…

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Day Eight: This *is* the way life should be

15 Jun

Talk about your halcyon days of summer. Today. Today was one of those days. Perfection. It started off as all perfect summer days should – with sleeping in. Alright, alright, so everyone knows that I am patently incapable of truly sleeping in, but let’s call it “lounging in.” I originally woke at 6:45am, which is kind of late for me, but I was having none of it. So, I popped up to use the bathroom, but then immediately crawled right back into bed. I spent the next hour and a half alternately reading and dozing. It was the perfect lounge in. Delightful. Heavenly. I’d forgotten how much I love my little bedroom in the cottage. It is so cozy and comfy, a bed that is difficult to leave and easy to stay in. Ahhhhh….

But eventually it was time to arise, if for no other reason than to eat breakfast! Again, more lounging around, kids included. It wasn’t until 11am that we actually motivated to leave the house. And then we proceeded to spend basically the entire day on the beach. Again, I say, ahhhhh….

Five years ago, when we first came to Kennebunkport, renting this very same house, we met a fun woman and her two adorable daughters, who were up from Massachusetts, on the Turbat’s Creek beach. The girls’ ages meshed nicely in with my crew, the kids got along famously, and I adored the bawdy, hysterical, kind-hearted woman from the very first instant. Fast forward five years, and that family is now residing in Kennebunk. Today they came down to the creek, the creek they have known for decades and only feels like mine because I’ve been coming here for 5 years, to play with us. The weather could not have cooperated more. It was a perfect temp – warm enough to be in bathing suits (just check the wicked sunburn on the back of my right shoulder!), but not so hot that you sweat and feel uncomfortable. The breeze felt great, even if it did elevate to actual windiness from time to time (we had the trash bag and the boogie boards tied to our beach chairs). The only unfortunate thing was that the tide came in too quickly, so the kids were pretty much right on top of us as Mandy and I were trying to talk! The kelp-covered beach and water’s edge also threw a bit of a monkey wrench into things, as only one of the children was brave enough to walk through it to actually play in the water! Sigh. But despite having to tell them to scamper off and go play repeatedly, and despite the fact that neither of us managed to get through a single story without at least two interruptions per story, it was still a wonderful day. It was great for my kids to have friends to play with – even if part of the time it was just joint commiserating about the fact there was nothing to do. But as perfect as the day was, I am very much looking forward to the promised Girls’ Night with Mandy later in the week. Laughing with her is exactly the kind of ab workout I’m looking for.

Beau went out in the kayak for quite awhile as the girls played on the rocks. I give him credit. The wind was really blowing from time to time, and the current was running fast, he was having to put some muscle into it. He tooled around right out in front of the beach for quite awhile. Fingers crossed this means he’s so tuckered out that he’ll sleep past 6am tomorrow morning! Harper spent much of the time our friends were here begging to have a turn in the kayak. I explained that we see these particular friends only once a year (at most!) and she could have a turn later. After they left at around 4pm, I let her take her turn. I’d say she lasted approximately 4 minutes and 37 seconds. At one point I heard her shout in frustration, “I’m not moving!!” The wind was too much, and she was just too little/light/weak to make it happen without exerting maximum effort. She quickly shouted, “Mom? How long have I been canoeing?” I replied with a laugh, “I’d say about 5 minutes!” She sighed. Loudly. So I continued, “Are you done?” She looked a bit sheepish when she admitted that yes, indeed, she was all done with the kayak for the day.

After she went up to the house I managed to stay on the beach for another half hour or so completely unaccompanied. Me. My book. Warm sun and cool breeze. Have I yet mentioned, ahhhhh……? I finished my book and made my way back to the house to change. We headed out to Pedro’s for some mexican food. It feels like a locals place, and the food is excellent. Can’t beat that when you’re on vacation. They even had a fun live band out on the deck. Very eclectic, that band was. I love it when a live band can do that. Passable, even enjoyable, covers in multiple genres. From dinner it was time for our virtually nightly visit to Ben & Jerry’s. I’m not the biggest ice cream fan, most days I could take it or leave it. Tonight my intention was to leave it. That is until I read the flavor board and saw “Ron Burgundy’s Scotchy-Scotch-Scotch.” Yes, please!! It. Was. Delicious. I’m a huge fan of butterscotch, have been since I was a little girl. This flavor is so good. We ate our ice cream as we walked around Dock Square a bit. Noticed which stores were still there, checked out window displays for places I might want to return to later in the week during business hours. Overall it was a very pleasant evening.

Got home and first thing we did was look up the mega-yacht we saw moored at the Arundel Yacht Club. The Lady Gayle Marie. Turns out she’s an approximately 140′ megayacht owned by none other than Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints. It’s a pretty boat, dwarfing everything else that is moored around her. After gawking at how the other half lives, we started getting the tuckered out littles ones ready for bed. Harper was asleep before she could even change out of her clothes. I read a few chapters of his book to Beau, and then a few chapters of her book to Avery. No one was protesting bedtime tonight.

Walked down onto the beach to catch the last of the light. The sky looked like pink cotton candy as the sunset began to fade. I sat on the rocks to enjoy the last of a phone conversation, but was eventually chased inside, not by the bugs, because the wind was effectively taking care of that issue, but by the temperature. I was in jeans, flip flops, and a thin cotton hoodie. It was probably only like 65 degrees, but for my thin, Florida blood, I was not dressed for the weather. I actually enjoy having cool evenings in Maine, but I would have enjoyed it more if I was wearing my Bean boots and my favorite fleece, or Navy sweatshirt!

Now it’s time for bed at the end of a long, wonderful day. Nothing much happened, but it all felt right. It was exactly how they promised in all the state tourism marketing. This *is* the way life should be.

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Days Six and Seven: Discovering the spirits and reaching the Creek

14 Jun

Our Friday morning in Fairfield began in a lazy way. Which was fan-freakin’-tastic in my opinion. I think that’s one of the reasons I love our stops at Chez Tison so much. Because it feels like home. No sense of urgency, or what we are “supposed to” do. So we lounged about. The kids watched tv. Tina and I chatted at the breakfast table. Good stuff. But I had promised my kiddos a visit to the nearby aquarium, and Tina had promised her kiddos she would pull them out of school a little early so they could spend some time in the afternoon hanging out with their “Florida friends,” so despite the late start (11:00am-ish – Wowza!), we headed out the door.

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is a great little aquarium. Maybe a little pricey for what it is, but a good morning spent nonetheless. One of the kids favorite things was the “Jiggle a Jelly” exhibit, where they actually got to touch jellyfish! (Except don’t call it a jellyfish, because it’s not a fish, so call it a jelly.) My favorite part of the aquarium also involved jellies. They have a darkened room with a lighted cylindrical tank filled with jellies. It’s like a living lava lamp. So beautiful, and peaceful to watch them floating there. They also have some other nice tanks with some regional fish – cod can get pretty big! Out back they also have a lorikeet house. I refuse to pay extra for nectar, on general principal, but there are always enough other people feeding them that you can get a really up close look without getting your arm pooped on. As we were leaving, one landed on top of my head. It was a bit shocking, though I can’t really blame the poor thing for thinking that my rat’s nest of humidity frizzed hair looked like a comfy resting place. The funniest thing was, as I felt its little talons pricking my scalp, that none of my children had any reaction to the fact that a colorful, tropical bird was perched on the top of my head. When the bird flew off I raised my arms, and said, “What? No reaction to the bird on my head?” Beau and Avery just shrugged, but Harper cocked her head, stroked her chin, and responded, “It’s a step up from what you usually wear.” Touche.

From the aquarium we made our way to meet the Tisons at Our Backyard Play Place. (Side note: That name really bothers me. I don’t know why, but it’s so corny it’s creepy.) Name aside, it was an awesome place. It’s one of those huge, warehouse type spaces filled with inflatables – bounces houses, obstacle courses, etc. With the addition of several climbing structures and a horizontal climbing wall, maybe 7′ in height. Of course, immediately after we pay our $10 per kid for 90 minutes of play time, every single one of our kids immediately requested money to play video games. Le sigh. No. That’s right, kids, the answer is no. And in other news, 90 minutes of play time is a really long time. But at least I can feel good about my road tripping, sitting on their butts much of the day children getting some quality physical exercise!

Tina cooked us an amazing dinner that was super yummy – pulled pork, homemade mac’n'cheese (no, not Lindsey baked linguini and cheese, but baked cheesy cavatappi), and a vinegar based slaw. So. Good. And I was super proud of Beau for cleaning his plate. They were small portions, but he ate everything. I’m so proud when we make positive strides with food. Bath time was an adventure, and then the kids split up for some slumber party fun. Beau got the entire bonus room to himself, which pleased him to no end. Harper shared Sam’s room, and Avery shared Trey’s. They made cute pairings, and were so exhausted from our long day that they even fell asleep early enough to get a good night’s sleep. But the best part about them being in bed was….

It was time for the Annual Retreat at the Chez Tison Fire Pit. Since Saturday was National Bourbon Day, we did what any observant people would do, start celebrating on National Bourbon Day Eve! And if a group of W&L folk are gathering to drink bourbon, you know it’s going to be Jim Beam. After a few pre-firepit Beam & Cokes, we switched to Leinenkugel Summer Shandy. Ahhhh, summer + Chez Tison = summer shandies. Luckily the fierce rain storms that swept through in the early evening had made their way past, and we had clear skies, if dripping trees, for our fire pit rendezvous. And while nothing could possibly compare to the epic all-nighter that we pulled last year , we weren’t even trying, because it wouldn’t be possible to recreate something that happened organically. This was the year of passionate and heated discussion, and nothing was off the table: religion, guns, politics, books, movies, and, obviously, the Rangers. But there was still plenty of laughter and frivolity (that’s what she said!), and much reminiscing about our W&L days, and eager anticipation of our 20th reunion next spring. There is little I look forward to as much as our annual retreat around the fire pit. And this year, once again, did not disappoint. And that four hours of sleep I got after going to bed at around 3:00am, well, it was 4 hours more than I got last year, and it made all the difference in the drive I had to take today.

So, we were up and at ‘em, got ourselves all packed up, enjoyed a great pancake breakfast for the kids & yummy egg sandwiches for the grown-ups. (Side note: Here’s a helpful life hack – if you eat an egg sandwich with Tabasco on it, try not to rub your eye. You’re welcome.)

We set off from Chez Tison (after I stamped my foot and said, “I don’t want to go to Maine!) at 10:17am. The odometer read 24,319. It was a much easier drive this year! Amazing the difference a little sleep can make. But we took our time, stopping once for lunch and once for pit stops, and arrived at the Boston Children’s Museum around 2:00pm. The BCM has the most amazing climbing structure right in the center of it. And I wish we had more time to spend there so that the kids could spend more time in it. But there are lots of other exhibits that the kids love there, especially the construction zone. Beau built an amazing creation out of the shaped wooden blocks, Harper and Avery constructed a house out of the large building pieces. Another cool thing that was happening just today at the BCM was a visit by schoolchildren from Kyoto, Japan. They were set up in a large common room teaching visiting children games they play, and doing crafts like folding newspaper hats, origami of all varieties, making necklaces and decorating hair clips. It was fun to watch the kids interacting with other children who had a limited grasp of English, and being exposed to children from another culture in general.

We had a really nice afternoon at the museum, and we stayed longer than I had originally planned. The kids’ dad was originally scheduled to fly into Boston at 9am this morning, but JetBlue (I freakin’ hate that airline!) cancelled the flight on Friday afternoon, and rescheduled him for the 7:15pm flight out of JAX. Grrrrrrrrr. The kids were disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to meet us in Boston, but they understood it wasn’t something either of us could control. Still, I was inclined to let them play longer, even if that meant delaying our arrival in Maine. We left Boston at around 4:30pm, and leisurely made our way north. We made a stop at the New Hampshire Liquor Store. Um, I think its required when a liquor store has it’s own exit off the highway that you make a stop. Then we stopped at a grocery store for a few morning essentials (with the weeks’ shopping to be done tomorrow with a comprehensive list). And at 7:00pm we rolled up to the cottage in Kennebunkport. It was like returning home. Just put the milk in the fridge and headed down to our beach. The tide was out, so the kids could climb on the rocks. Beau was disappointed to see the beach strewn with kelp (or some type of marine vegetation – sorry if I’ve offended any locals who know exactly what the brown stuff is. I welcome education!) But they are definitely looking forward to tomorrow. Time on the beach, with old summer friends. We got the van completely unpacked, even got the suitcases completely unpacked. Everything is squared away. The house is set up. The windows are open – thus the reason I’m wearing a sweatshirt right now! (YAY!) Time to start phase two of CMRT; Ahhhhh…. Maine. The way life should be.

Final odometer reading for the northbound portion of CMRT: 24,570. That’s 1,335 miles behind the wheel, folks. As for the license plate game? Missing five. Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and, you guessed it, North Dakota.

 

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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim