Day 1: Spirits are high as we begin our Mainecation with our neighbor Mecca and her son Vulian. Their family owns a house on Christmas Cove, which means that apparently we are allowed to sing Christmas carols whenever we want, even if it is July. Jingle Bells is our new theme song. We left Vermont almost on time, and after a few bathroom breaks the average length of a James Cameron film it was clear that we would not make it to the cabin in time for lunch. We pulled off the highway looking for happy meals, and accidentally wound up in Freeport, home to L.L. Bean, outlet shopping, and more traffic than previously imaginable. It was perfect.
The excitement levels were high when we arrived at what was once a small hunting cabin, but is now expanded into a perfect retreat from modern life, complete with wifi (thank goodness). The first thing we did was to run down to the end of the dock and jump into the Atlantic Ocean. And by “we” I mean, of course, the crazy people to whom I am related. I did not jump into any freezing oceans, and I felt vindicated in my decision when each person in turn immediately jumped out, teeth chattering, hypothermia setting in, and shouted “AHHHHH! C-C-C-C-COLD-D-D-D!” They tried to make me feel bad for not jumping in, when clearly they were the ones who had lost their minds. Ridiculous. I stayed warm, dry, and happy on the dock, at least until we all got in kayaks and paddled around for a bit. I did get kind of soaked at that point, but it was worth it.
Day 2: Our second day is what we, in the vacation business, like to call an “inside” day. Rain. Wind. Thunder. Clouds. Not the whole day, but enough to make us think that perhaps this would be a good walking around a quaint little town day, rather than a lie on the beach day. We started off the morning on a walk, which led us around the island on which we were staying. Yes, that’s right, the cabin sits on a small island, accessible only by a turning drawbridge (one of only two left in Maine), and we wandered around it, finding shells on remote rocky beaches, and swinging on buoy swings that had been spread randomly around the island. It was then that we discovered a small colony of gnomes living in the forest.
The gnomes never moved while we were in sight, but there was plenty of evidence surrounding them that indicated a great amount of work and play going on in this miniscule community. As we left the forest we thought we saw movement in the trees, but every time we turned around we saw the gnomes standing perfectly still, pretending to be fake, and yet in perhaps a slightly different position than when we had last spotted them. It was deep and ancient magic, to be sure, and we were sad to leave them, but we needed to go into town to buy giant sacks full of candy.
The town we were in was exactly as one might imagine the town would have been a century prior, with penny candy shops, homemade ice cream parlors, a general store, and, of course, high-priced tourist trap shops every other building. What a blast from the past! We did buy some nice things, and then headed off to our lobster dinner, which is where Edward stole the boat. When I finally found where he had gotten to, he was at the end of the dock around the corner from the restaurant, standing in the dinghy and pushing himself away from the mooring. We have only two rules on this vacation that are above all other rules. 1: You don’t go near the water without your life jacket on. 2: You don’t go near the water without a grown-up with you. He had broken both of these rules, gleefully and with malice aforethought, and I was so angry that I handed him to his mother, thus sparing his life. We now have a third rule. 3: Don’t steal boats.
Day 3: It was finally time for the beach! This was excellent news for everyone except me for, as you know, I hate beaches. But actually this beach was not so bad. Out of all the beaches in the world, this might be the best. The water was frigid, but the kids did not care, and they had a great time splashing about. I went in too, but the doctors say I will recover eventually. The coolest thing about this beach was that the far end of it was teeming with hermit crabs, which we spent a large portion of our time there collecting in buckets. The coalition of Nice Kids on the Beach (NKOTB) were determined to make these hermit crabs a habitat so that they could all live in safety and comfort. I thought about pointing out that these poor creatures had a perfectly fine habitat already, and that they were being plucked from it with furious glee, but why hinder science? And at the end of the day, when it was clear that the crabs were not happy in their new pit of sand, I helped NKOTB put them all back where they belonged.
Day 4: Ah, to see the most majestic of sea creatures, the whale. What we would not pay for even the chance to view these magnificent beasts out on the open ocean. Actually, it turns out we would pay quite a lot, and we handed our tickets to the woman on the dock as we boarded Cap’n Fish’s Whale Watching Tour. It was a beautiful day for a tour, and Edward immediately went down into the snack cabin, lay out in one of the booths, and fell promptly asleep. The rest of us got ready to see some whales.
We saw the dolphins first, followed by the seals, and excitement was high as we finally saw our first whales. Actually, I don’t think we could have asked for a better whale watching day. We saw so many whales! The highlight was when we came upon a pod of Fin Whales, which are the second largest whales, and the guide was shouting out “Two O’Clock! Ten O’Clock! Five O’Clock! One O’Clock! Four O’Clock!” and everywhere we turned there were whales. We saw three in a line, all swimming together and spouting their whaley spouts and doing their whaley things. It was incredible. And finally, when all of the whales had dived to the bottom of the sea and we had turned back towards land, Edward woke up. He did not see any whales, but he had a great nap and was much more pleasant the rest of the day.
Day 5: Today is day five. We are leaving and heading for home. We may go out on the boats again. We may jump off the dock again. And you know who I mean by “we.” But mostly we will pack up our stuff, say goodbye to Mecca and Vulian, thank them for a perfect vacation, and then sit in traffic for the next several days as we attempt to get home, along with everyone else. But I am not thinking about that right now. Right now, I am thinking I might go sit and look at the ocean and listen to my children play.