We made an impromptu trip to Maine with our friends Sam and Joanne.
There’s a back-story: we were supposed to be camping this week with Sam and Joanne (and others) but a conflict with school forced some to cancel, and eventually everyone canceled. Since we all had the time off already scheduled I had the idea for a quick road trip with S&J. Meghan made the arrangements when they bought in, so game on.
Found this very stereotypical Maine view while biking on Friday morning
Day 1: Foul Weather, Destination Southport
We left home on Thursday. S&J had the longer drive, but our house was on the way so we met up here and caravaned the rest of the way together.
A bundle of rain followed them from Connecticut, and would continue to follow us all the rest of the way.
Meghan and I neglected to pack until they arrived, as we were running around all morning doing chores, so they got in a short, much-needed break from driving in the rain.
We rolled into the Ocean Gate hotel around 5 pm. We had rented three rooms: one for S&J and their son; one for Alpha and Beta; and one for Meghan, me, and Butter-the-dog. We were spread across different buildings in the resort, but the girls were close to S&J so that was ok.
Our room, unlike the others, had a full kitchen — indeed, that was one of the selling points for us. It was billed as “not having a view” but that was a lie: the view was, in fact, beautiful.
Sunrise on Saturday morning. I didn’t mean to wake up at 5 am, but I’m glad I did since I got to see this.
We went out to dinner at a tiny-but-tony restaurant called Oliver’s at Cozy Harbor. The food was excellent, btw. Joanne went high-end and got a “lobstertini,” lobster meat served in a martini glass, but most everyone else went basic with burgers or fish-and-chips.
Sitting down to dinner at Oliver’s. Everyone was tired. and nobody but the server saw me taking the picture, which is why everyone looks bored
We did check out some of the “traditional” Maine sight-seeing, which is to say we took pictures of the fog:
The very foggy view from Oliver’s [click to expand]
Day 2: Swimming, Shopping, Dinner at Home
Sam and I started Friday off with a bang: we went biking. The kids started off with fun: they went swimming in the pool. Meghan and Joanne started off with style: they took a dip in the hot tub.
After everyone felt ready to start their day, we packed into the cars and took a short ride to Boothbay Harbor. It was hot so we had an ice cream lunch. The girls shopped, while I took Butter on a walk up and down the main drag. She’s truly an adorable dog and we stopped to talk to several people that wanted to “say hi” to her.
Sam braved rumbles of thunder to discover that a nearby island is not, in fact, an island.
We all took a siesta in the late afternoon back at the hotel, except for Sam who ignored the impending thunderstorm and went kayaking.
After a brief downpour and a bit of lightning, we got going on our planned “traditional get together” dinner: spaghetti and sauce. This is why the in-room kitchen was important, you see.
For years, when we lived near each other, we would gather at one house or the other and feed everyone with a simple pasta, meat sauce, and garlic bread dinner. From time to time we do it even now, but the drive is much longer.
I made the pasta, Sam made the garlic bread, and the kids watched TV. This was about as traditional as you can get without being home.
After dinner I washed up while everyone else played a game at the table until bedtime.
Day 3: Freeport and Home
Our stay was intentionally short because we were trying a too-good-to-be-true hotel and everything came together last-minute. Much too short.
After a big breakfast we packed up and rolled out, destination: Freeport. Sam had only passed through Maine before, never stopping, and Joanne has never been at all. Both wanted to see the main L.L. Bean store in Freeport. Meghan is always game to go there. I walked around with Butter while everyone wandered inside the store for an hour because I just can’t even. We also made time for the Ben and Jerry’s store, of course.
We made our final leg home, where S&J paid us a final visit before making their way home as well.
Our friend Sam is scout master for his son’s Boy Scout troop. In order to teach the kids knots he put together a knot board to tie eight of the most important knots to know.
There are ranks. “Captain Jack” is when you can tie all eight, in under two minutes… while blindfolded.
We are very proud of Meghan, who missed being “Fleet Admiral” (all eight, under a minute, blindfolded) by mere seconds. She beat the pants of every member of the troop, including Sam’s own son. Fortunately for my own ego we had to leave and could not try for Fleet Admiral one more time.
There was at least one of these three ensconced here for the remainder of the afternoon
Bought some new patio furniture on a lark today, now I just need to finish preparing the patio.
We stuck it on the deck in the meantime, where it attracted some squatters almost immediately. I think they like it. They should, as the human children gave me puppy-dog eyes until I caved and agreed to buy it. (Butter had nothing to do with the purchase, but she spent the most time of anyone on it today.)
We didn’t use it right away because we were out of the country, and then something always seemed to come up or we just weren’t thinking about it, until this past week. I remembered about the rock gym, Meghan arranged a time, and this morning (Mother’s Day to boot) we showed up for the first of five sessions.
A rock climbing gym, in case you’ve never been, is a series of walls with a random assortment of hand-holds embedded into the surface. It’s meant to simulate rock climbing enough to help you build strength and skill.
Beta nearing the top of a difficult ascent
You wear a harness and clip onto a rope. Some faces have auto-belays, some have ropes slung and wrapped over a bar above the face (pulley-style) so a partner eases you down. The ‘cave’ wall has no ropes, as the entire face is inverted. It has a very thick pad to land on instead.
We booked two hours, and Beta made it through impressive one and a half hours of it. By the end she had “spaghetti arms,” but she was talking about going back before we were even back in the car. Score one for mom!
The Girl Scout troop was going to do some late night thing for a badge – go somewhere people work late, go to Panera for dinner, watch a movie, blah. I have to say, I thought Girl Scouts would be more like the Boy Scouts (Hiking badge YEAH!). But no. Girls apparently don’t do the cool stuff. I mean, hosting an “extreme nighttime party” as a badge requirement?!
Yesterday, we figured out that the Lyrid meteor shower peaked tonight, April 21. Faced with the choice of seeing Stop and Shop getting restocked, and heading out with blankets, 3 layers of hoodies, and some Dunkin’ hot chocolate, the choice was clear.
Screw Stop and Shop.
We went to a recreation area in Tewksbury, the closest we could find to a good, dark, publicly accessible field. After setting up a blanket under us, and another on top, we cuddled together and started watching the skies. We saw multiple meteors, two normal satellites, and one Iridium flare. Every one of those satellites was spotted by Beta, the Champion of Satellite Detection. She pointed out the Iridium satellite before it had a chance to flare, so we all got to see it.
We hung out in the field for about 45 minutes before it got too cold, and we were tired.
And of course, on the ride home, Beta saw one last meteor. Awesome end to the night.
We all went to see The General at The Cabot, back by a live musical performance.
The General is (very loosely) based on a real-life train theft during the Civil War, but it’s played to some drama and comedy by a prime Buster Keaton.
The true story is that a group of Union spies stole a Confederate train (which was, in fact, named The General) with a plan to damage the rails and generally cause mayhem on their way back to friendly territory. It didn’t quite work out as planned because they were pursued and (eventually) caught.
The cinematic version takes a few artistic liberties to entertain and “wow” the audience with stunts, as well as adding a love interest and a human side. It’s considered one of Mr. Keaton’s finest works, and “[he] always said that this was his favorite of his own movies.” (source) It’s an amazing film to watch, moreso when you realize that the stunts were real, frequently filmed in one take, and as hazardous in real life as they are in the story.
The film that we watched was from a restoration made in 2016, with a new musical arrangement that was played live. The quality of the film is very good, better than the gif above, while live music accompaniment is the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
The Cabot is a restored theater in downtown Beverly, MA. It contains many of the artistic features one would expect from a classic venues. We had center seats and a great view. This was our first visit, but won’t be our last.