Oh, yeah! I’m back and it’s time to give you a run down of one of the best vacations I can ever remember.
I should point out that my memory is terrible and can barely remember anything that happened beyond the past two years. The further away memories get, the foggier they become. Aging sucks.
So let’s get to it. Much to pass along.
Before we get to the highs and lows , I should lay the foundation. My In Laws were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and all of my wife’s family was surprising them with a full week visit. Since the in laws own a condo in Wells, Maine, we all booked rooms in that area. This included her family from California and Connecticut and all their grandkids.
Let’s break it all down.
Highlight: Boating from Boston to Maine. My brother in law has a nice power boat he wanted to bring up for the week. Since it’s a two person job, he asked if I would ride along to help out. Let me see: No riding with wife and kids to Maine, open ocean for a few hours, beers while we cruise along. Well, hell, sign me up. We had a blast and now I want my own boat.
Lowlight: We started off towing a rubber raft (one of the heavy duty ones with outboard motor attached) to Maine only to realize it would never work. Once the boat reached a cruising speed the dingy would start swaying back and forth; threatening to capsize. So – in the middle of Boston Harbor – we had to haul the friggin’ thing INTO the boat with us. After we tied it down everything was fine, but there was little room to move around.
Highlight: The weather. Just perfect. Hot, sunny, tailor made beach weather.
Lowlight: Horseflies. Or Greenheads. Or Greenies. Enormous, angry, painful flies that love to take a chunk out of you while you stand on the beach minding your own business. Both boys had huge, red welts from bites. I spent the rest of the week seeking them out and killing them with extreme prejudice. Final count was 8. What made this more frustrating is the horsefly season is usually over by the second week in August. Since we’ve had so much rain earlier this summer they’re hanging around longer. Bastards!
Highlight: The surprise! My in laws are creatures of habit and go to the same beach at the same time to sit in the same spot every day. We all met at the rental house wifey's brother rented and walked down the beach. Only we sent all the grandkids ahead of us so they could surprise the in laws first. Any suspicions they suspected anything were erased by their reaction to seeing all their grandkids swarm them unexpectedly. I could hear Grammy scream from 100 yards away.
Highlight: The Maine water. While normally it isn’t unbearable this time of year, it still packs a chilly punch at times. Last week it was mid to high 60s and perfect for swimming. Cooled you off enough from the heat and wasn’t painful getting used to it.
Highlight: Tropical Storm Bill creating such huge waves on Saturday that my oldest and I spent the entire day body surfing. Absolute blast. Felt like I was in high school again. Until the next morning when I felt every bruise and bump. Then I felt old. The fountain of youth doesn’t have a lasting effect.
Lowlight: Those same waves taking the life of a seven year old New York girl further up the coast. She and some of her family were washed out when a swell came up and took them away.
Highlight: The fishing trip. On Wednesday morning, all the boys (except my youngest) went out on the boat for some fishing. I’m not big on it, but I like the ride and my oldest wanted to tag along. He’s been officially hooked on fishing now. Get it? Hooked? Fishing? Right. Moving on.
We went out about 15-20 miles out and let the boys do their thing. My brother in law is an avid fisherman so he was giving them all pointers and helping them cast the lines while my other two bro in laws sat up front drinking beer and watching the fish finder.
I was joking that having the fish finder is cheating when over my son’s shoulder I see something large and black emerge from the water about 5 feet from the boat. My brother in law starts shouting ‘OH MY GOD, A DOLPHIN! LOOK!’
Sure enough an entire group of dolphins swims by us. Some were about 50 feet out while the others were nearly close enough to touch. They swam by, plunged and we never saw them again.
A few notes here:
1: What do you call a group of dolphins? They’re not fish so ‘school of dolphin’ doesn’t work, right? Pack? Herd?
2: As amazing as that sight was, when you’re out on the open ocean and a large, black, creature sporting a dorsal fin pops out of the water your heart stops in place and attempts to force it’s way out of your mouth while your bowels loosen considerably. ‘Jaws’ has ruined swimming and the sea for everyone of my generation.
3: My brother in laws reaction to the dolphins led to the running joke of him 'screaming like a little girl'. It's funny because he's easily six foot six and 260. That didn't stop the jokes, though.
4: We also saw two whales while we were out, but they were specks on the distance and only emerged for a second before disappearing again. And a seal spent a good deal of the week in the harbor. It was like SeaWorld only...you know...in nature.
Lowlight: Catching no fish worth keeping. We figured the dolphin had to be following a school of fish and there were plenty of small fish coming up, but nothing worthwhile.
Highlight: Catching a bunch of large mackerel when we arrived back at the beach. This led to a huge dinner…wait….
Highlight: Feast of the year. The entire family met at one of the rental places (the biggest, obviously) and had a royal dinner. We grilled up the mackerel, my mother in law made a pulled chicken stew with peppers and pineapples that was so good I had three servings, and my sister in law roasted up some pork that was equally as good. I ate a ton yet didn’t feel full.
Highlight: Yet another dinner that was the official celebratory Anniversary dinner for the in laws. Basically a clambake that was presented in courses. First was bread and salad. Next came clam chowder that was otherworldly and made the meal. And I don’t even like clam chowder. Finally a full lobster meal was presented with corn on the cob. This was topped of with a blueberry crumble cake and my uncle and I enjoying a prime cigar on the patio.
Lowlight: That my sister in law refusing to show up for whatever reason and got even more pissed and upset that nobody would return her calls or texts while we were having a great time. Her absence was the lingering storm cloud lurking on the periphery. She didn’t ruin it by not being there (I would argue it was better she wasn’t there), but there was always that feeling that things weren’t complete.
Highlight: Her not being there created no drama at all. A fact that was remarked on by many.
Highlight: Discovery of a yummy beer. Harbor Lighthouse Ale from the Bar Harbor Brewing Company. If you’ve read here before you know I like to try local beers where ever I happen to be staying. This was fantastic! Can’t rave about it enough.
Lowlight: The price of the above beer. Nearly $10 for a six pack. Is the label made with gold?
Highlight: My boy watching out for me. Eldest was looking for a ‘Life Is Good’ shirt for himself while we were roaming Kennebunkport. He found one regarding baseball while at the same time found one with a kayaker on it. Insisting wifey buy it for me, he presented it to me and we both wore our ‘Life Is Good’ shirts for the rest of the day.
Highlight: The willingness of my boys to try something new. While my eldest has a new found passion for boating and fishing (‘Can we get our own boat? Just for fishing?’), my youngest is now diving headfirst into the waves at the beach. Merely two months ago he didn’t know how to hold his breath underwater. Now he’s surfing the waves on the beach. He even invented his own move where he spins while underwater.
In fact, he's so comfortable in water he voluntarily jumped off the power boat into open ocean. I had to go in first, of course, but it was totally worth it. He was so excited to have done it he couldn't stop talking about it.
Highlight: All the cousins getting along famously. It worked out so well that all the kids would go down the hall to one of the units to watch a movie while the adults hung out in another unit drinking, cursing and laughing at inappropriate jokes. Good times.
Highlight: Kayaking in Wells Harbor. I only got one day to do so, but the harbor is a great place to troll around during high tide. Once the tide gets too low a lot of the tributaries dry up and there isn't much elbow room.
Lowlight: The fog that socked me in for nearly 2 hours before I could go out. Couldn’t see five feet in any direction.
Highlight: The good decision to bring the power boat back to Boston on Thursday and not Friday as originally planned. With the storm bearing down we decided to cruise back on another glorious day then drive back up. This way the boat was safe and sound and we could still hang out in Maine without worrying about Bill. If we had waited until Friday morning we would have been majorly SOL since the fog was so intense. And on Saturday the waves were so huge we wouldn’t have been able to head out unless we wanted to risk our lives.
Highlight: My brother in law, who’s had addiction trouble in the past, seeming to be more like himself than ever. Good to have him back.
Lowlight: Those addiction problems still causing friction between his wife and him. Not that I blame her one bit.
Highlight: The rental place we stayed at being friendly, welcoming and accepting of kids. Indoor and outdoor pool with parents who (mostly) made sure their kids didn’t annoy other people. There is a huge difference between responsible parents and parents who let their kids run wild.
Lowlight: The indoor pool being so over chlorinated that it burned your eyes. It was better later in the week, but I tried to stay away.
Highlight: Everything in our house and yard being in mint condition when we returned. It’s one of the worries about being away for more than a few days.
Highlight: Everyone having such a great time that they all agreed we should do it every year. Can’t get a louder ringing endorsement than that.
Today’s distraction: Could you pass the US Citizens test? I got 19 out of 20 correct, but I had trouble on a bunch of them. You know why I got 19 out of 20? Cause I fucking rock, that’s why!