Numerous friends have been on vacation lately, most of them going pretty much to the same place – Maine. Maine is definitely in my top 5 list of places to go on vacation, and state-side, is probably #1.
I find different people’s ideas of vacations interesting. There are those who go hiking, camping, head out to the more remote parts of the world sometimes hiking miles for that perfect moment, that perfect view that so few ever get to see. For some there is nothing more enjoyable than the smell of coffee brewing over a campfire, a morning dip in the river or a shower under a waterfall. Then there are those who leave the getting there to someone else, have meals prepared by a chef and sleep in a bed they did not have to make, let alone roll up and tuck into a back pack. Somewhere between the cruise people and the back packers fall the majority of us.
In my old age, I do like the convenience of a bed at night, a flush toilet and a hot shower. I am ashamed to admit, the last few times I went to our Powwow, I did pitch my tent… but I slept in a motel a few miles down the road.
I have been blessed by being able to have some wonderful vacations. It would be hard to say which one was the best… but probably at the top of the list would be the spring we spent in Egypt. I was young and brave enough to try anything, go anywhere, including places no longer allowed, like climbing to the top of the pyramids. Riding camels around the pyramids was fun, great shots for the family photo album, but racing the stable boy on a white Arabian thru the desert was breath taking. God! Was I ever that young? Really?
Having lived in the Middle East, I had the good fortune to be able to go to places most people only visit in a text book or on a PBS special. Many of those places are not there anymore – or I guess I should say are in ruins or have been rebuilt like Beirut, Baghdad, or are off limits like Tehran. When people around here brag about something that was built a hundred, two hundred years ago, I nod and smile, but after being in Istanbul, where the University was founded before Columbus even set sail, I tend to not be real impressed. If you’ve wandered the ancient streets of Ephesus or Bergama or Troy, 200 years is just yesterday. Probably my favorite camping out experience was camping in a cave in Cappadocia. (google it!)
For many years we went to Montserrat, in the British West Indies, spending weeks at Vue Pointe, now closed forever under a dusting of volcanic ash, and hanging out in Plymouth which is now buried under tons of volcanic ash. So, even though the island is still there, much of it is buried today, and that breaks my heart. I enjoyed the other islands, but there was just something special about Montserrat.
Probably my most special vacation was my last trip to Maine… a few years ago when I took my sister and her husband back for one last trip. My sister, 12 years younger than I, had cancer, and it had spread. She wanted to see the place where she was born. All she really remembered was a green door. The last time my sister and I had been together in Maine, I think she was only 4 years old. It was a bitter sweet trip knowing that it would no doubt be the last time we would ever see each other. She was gone 3 months later.
Maine, for me, is the rocky coast, the water, the smells and sounds associated with the water. Though we lived in Portland most of the time, we also lived with an aunt and uncle and a bunch of cousins on Peaks Island in Casco Bay. It was on Peaks Island that I fell in love with the sea.
I have a few of them hanging out in my yard, though today their clanging usually means a stiff breeze is blowing. In the morning, if the wind was just right, we would awaken to the toots of the boats pulling out from the docks on the other side of the point…a beautiful but unreliable alarm clock. There are so many places in Maine to fall in love with, but I am hooked on being as close to the water as I can. I wonder how many islands there are in Maine. We’ll only count at high tide. I remember learning the Maine State Song in 6th grade. To this day, I remember every word and every word is true. The part I remember best is:
Oh, Pine Tree State
Your woods, fields and hills
Your lakes, streams and rockbound coast
Will ever fill our hearts with thrills
And tho' we seek far and wide
Our search will be in vain
To find a fairer spot on earth
Than Maine! Maine! Maine!
Well, there you have it. that says it all.
Probably my second favorite spot in Maine would be what I learned to pronounce as Arcadia, but amazingly is spelled Acadia and is near the little town of BaHaba, but spelled Bar Harbor and Mt Desert Island, whoops, there you go, another island. I don’t think I would ever get tired of being there, well, um, that is, until the snow started to fall. Oh, I have become such a wimp living here in coastal Virginia. No hills, little snow, flowers in bloom most winters… wimp, an old wimp. But I used to not mind the Maine winters – I was a kid, I didn’t know any better. What can I say? See the Whale Watcher boat just sittin’ and waitin’ and I am not there! (Geddy’s webcam) A perfect morning is waking up with the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks, the smell of a fresh brewed pot of coffee mingling with the fresh salt air. I used to love to walk down to the head of the rocks and watch the morning fog burn off, the city was far away buried in a cloud of soft grey, the sounds of the lobstah boats chug, chugging by. It was so much fun to climb down to inspect the tidal pools, see who or what was there today. Sometimes I would pick wild berries in the field beside the house to put on my cereal. Life was good.
There are so many places to go in Maine. I do believe it is the most beautiful state on the Eastern half of the United States. I am not sure just which part of Maine I like the most. One of my fantasies has always been to rent the Pemaquid Light House for a week. You can visit it here - http://www.pemaquidpoint.org/wc.cfm. Oh, my, I can smell the salt air…
You would think that with my love of the sea I would be a cruise person – but, I am not a cruise enthusiast, and I cannot imagine taking a cruise to Leaf Peep… but plenty of folks do. This big beauty was docked in Portland, Maine. I guess there are advantages to a moving hotel, but, like I said, I am not a cruise person. I HATE the dressing up part, the cocktail hour… I love ships and boats, but I hate the “cruise” scene. If I can’t wear my jeans to dinner, I ain’t goin’! I hate playing dress up! I like the boat small enough I can feel the spray of the waves on my face.
Most ferry lines have island tour cruises, some have light house cruises, but I like just getting on the mail boat and going from one island to the next with the locals, not even getting off, just BEING there. Sometimes you can just bribe someone to take you out for the day!
I have promised myself another trip back to Maine, my friends are forever bugging me about going back to Turkey (next to Maine I love Istanbul) but these days I feel lucky to get over to Virginia Beach! (I used to get a room on the ocean front and sleep with the door to the balcony open so I could hear the waves crashing in as I fell asleep.) sigh. Oh well, maybe one of these days. It seems it takes all my energy just to get up and going and getting the dishes done! But, until then, I can listen to my friends, look at their pictures (those kind enough to share them) or read their blogs and keep an eye out for pictures of the waves on the rocks…(surely you must have been to the water’s edge by now!) who knows, one day I might just take off…