Our Trip To Maine, 2000

by Michelle Erica Green

We got to New England very late Friday the 18th after horrific traffic in MD and NY, then spent all day Saturday in Boston. We got up early and drove to the end of the trolley line, parked and took the train in to go to the Red Sox game. I did want to see Fenway before they tore it down. The green monster and the old seats reminded me a lot of old Comiskey, there was great stadium food, and the approach to the stadium from the trolley entails a walk through sports souvenir shops and pool halls like the route to Wrigley, making me nostalgic for Chicago. The Sox won 9-0 with great pitching, so it was a fun game.

Afterwards I insisted that if we had traveled all the way to Boston for a freakin' baseball game, we were not leaving without seeing at least a little of the city. So we got back on the trolley and went to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (where I have not been since a visit fourteen years ago). It was beautiful weather, we had fantastic Indian food, there was a folk festival going on sponsored by the Oxygen network so there were women folk singers, and it would have been near-perfect had Adam not pooped in his pants. There were some beautiful cheap jewelry kiosks, though I didn't have much time to look. I relate this only because I had a very weird dream the night before, in which my mother had either given me or loaned me a bunch of bracelets with tiny pink pearls like those tiny bead bracelets that everyone is wearing in bunches everywhere this year -- I even made one at Paul's company picnic, where for some unknown reason there was a bead cart where people could make jewelry. Anyway, in the dream, I kept twisting the bracelets, as I am wont to do fiddling with jewelry, until they broke and the pearls went flying...then in Quincy Market, I tried on a pink bead bracelet and it broke and the beads went flying. So I was sure the dream was portentious.

Sunday we went with my in-laws to the county fair, where we saw bunnies and pigs and cows and sheep getting sheared and loud chickens and other smelly things that boys liked a lot. Every variety of farm animal imaginable, and trailer pulls and crafts and junk displays and the bake sale. I was going to ride a twisting strawberry car contraption with Daniel and Adam, but I got claustrophobic after two teenagers got into the car with us and started spinning like crazy even before the ride started, so Paul rode it with the boys instead. I wanted to ride the roller coaster but no one else did -- the kids wanted to play games, where of course they won little plastic toys instead of the big exciting things they wanted, but that's how it goes.

Then we came back to the house and had Swedish meatballs and birthday cake for Daniel and Adam, since my in-laws missed the latter's birthday while they were in Europe for the Passion Play, and will miss the former's birthday since they're coming down for Columbus Day just afterwards. The boys played lots of Sorry with grandpa. Paul's brother David called to say he quit his job at a restaurant where he has singlehandedly overhauled the menu but where he is working too damn hard and getting screwed over by his obnoxious boss who takes advantage of him. David and his wife Shana are separated, which was a recent development that I haven't heard all the details about, but he was on his way to pick her up from the airport, so hopefully things will be improving out there though who knows. I really love Shana so I really hope they work things out; I am sure my in-laws agree, though I suspect they have different reasons. After all this excitement, I watched La Femme Nikita, which was great, though I discovered that they planned to run the final two episodes ever of the series the next Sunday at a special time, instead of one the next week and one the week after at the usual time. Our schedule called for us to be in Maine at a campground on Sunday, so I freaked and asked several people to please please tape it for me -- I needed to know if Operations and Madeline had sex once more before they killed her off!

Monday we did laundry, went to the park, then went to K-Mart to get a potty seat for Adam who had pooped in his pants four days in a row. We worried slightly about Hurricane Debby coming up the coast and ruining the weather, though I am still giggling about reports of Debby bearing down on the Virgin Islands -- one of my college roommates' names was Debby, and of course I laughed at Deborah about it too. I had to finish Hailing Frequencies several days early and review the new Buzz Lightyear TV series before taking off to camp in New Hampshire, so I also did work on my mother-in-law's new laptop which is great except I hate the touch-pad mouse. My laptop is easier even if the buttons stick. This makes it one solid year that I have worked without a vacation, my 52nd consecutive column for Fandom, plus I worked for several years solid for Mania before Fandom took us over. I cannot exactly complain about the money, though my job is still extremely tenuous. Well, something always turns up when I least expect it and I can always go finish my smutty sci-fi novel.

Monday night Paul was playing around with his telescope, as he frequently does at home late nights, but between the trees and the amount of light our area gets--not to mention the amount of rain we've had this summer--he hadn't shown me anything all that impressive. This time, however, he called me out to show me the Andromeda galaxy. Now, this may sound incredibly corny or dorky -- bear with me. I had never seen another galaxy before, the closest I've come is the moons of Jupiter through Penn's massive telescope on the roof of the astronomy building and then I felt like Galileo. I have seen many of the cool things in this galaxy, but for some reason looking at the billions of stars impossibly far away even though they're close on a galactic scale--hey, even on Star Trek no one believes humans will be able to travel to Andromeda, and the only visitors we've seen from there traveled untold generations to get to the Milky Way. It was a truly awesome sight in the religious "awesome" sense. So I can become sappy over stars as well as sex -- shoot me!

Anyway, from the sublime etc., we got up early Tuesday to pack up and drive to New Hampshire, eating lunch on a picnic blanket at a rest stop before reaching the Polar Caves. I have no idea why they're called "polar"; they're left over from the glaciers, but have never been any further north than they are now, although the massive mountain behind them was fifteen times higher when a glacier actually covered it tens of thousands of years ago. Though the entrance is touristy (Native American crafts, wooden trolls, collectible rocks), the caves themselves are really neat. There's a "rock garden" (really a boulder garden with lots of ferns), set deep in the forest, then you reach the actual caves and have to do lots of climbing both up to entrances then down among the rocks inside. They're very well lit and quite cool, which didn't matter so much Tuesday as we had spectacular weather, temp never broke 75. It smells damp inside and you can hear water dripping in places yet you never feel trapped underground (I am very claustrophobic so this is no small thing to me). Lots of signs telling about where animal bones have been found, where native artifacts were dug up -- apparently a former local tribe used the caves to hide in -- some small waterfalls between the boulders, and the huge granite wall upon emerging. There were a lot of maple trees which are producing neither sap nor spectacular fall color at the moment, but all the maple sugaring equipment of a hundred years ago is on display, and of course Paul had to get his maple candy.

Afterwards, passing the famous "old man of the mountain" which looks like Lincoln's face in a rock cliff, we drove on to the campground, where we stayed in a "Kamping Kaboose," an actual former railway caboose that has now been converted to a cabin of sorts. It's big for a KOA cabin--two rooms, at least, so we had our sleeping bags on a queen-size mattress while the boys were on top of the two bunkbeds in the larger area, and lots of storage space in between. There's electricity -- hence this being written on the laptop -- but we mostly stayed outside, playing in the playground before we made a fire for dinner, then going to the ice cream social and bonfire at the main building. Daniel met some kids to play tetherball with, Adam just tried to chat up the little girls on the neighboring campsite (in tents -- figures boys were jealous of that after we went out of our way to get the caboose, though they loved jumping into the upper berths). Perfect weather again in the evening, quite cool, we toasted marshmallows and I read some after the kids went to bed. Not too buggy though there appear to be mosquitos around. We had slugs around our garbage and a chipmunk that kept racing right through the site to see what it could find. Another perfect night for star-watching, though Andromeda was right above the campground store; it was easier to see the Milky Way arms and the familiar constellations with binoculars.

I had an absolutely horrific night thanks to my period -- bathrooms a quarter-mile walk away, who invented camping anyway -- but we had good weather in the morning and set out for Mount Washington, stopping along the way in a little town with a "Strictly Moose" store where the boys got stuffed mooses (meese?). Mount Washington was gorgeous driving up, as the trees got sparser and more unusual until finally there were just shrubs, then lichen, then bare rock. We stopped several times to look at the strange forms of evergreen and the small bushes at Alpine altitudes. But by the time we reached the bare rock near 7000 feet, the fog had closed in and we could barely see ten feet in front of us. This made driving less than fun, even as a passenger. We stopped at the top where temperatures were near the 40s, saw end of the cog railway, briefly visited the weather station where the highest winds ever have been recorded. We didn't go to the museum because it cost too much, but we did mail a postcard from the post office at the top of the mountain. Then we scrambled up a steep pile of rocks to the true summit in the fog.

After having lunch at the summit restaurant next to a group of climbers who had scaled the mountain in three hours, wearing serious climbing gear and carrying big backpacks, I felt like a total wimp -- I talk about trekking in Nepal, but get winded climbing even the little peaks. When we came down, stopping periodically to cool the brakes, we took little hikes to a couple of waterfalls and covered bridges. I stopped in a couple of art galleries. Then we came back to the campground, where I read while Daniel played Gameboy with the boys at the next campsite while Adam ran around with the little girls there. It started to pour during dinner, just after we got a fire going, so we rushed everything inside, Paul took the boys to the game room and I stayed back to finish the book I was reading (Jostein Gaarder's great fairy tale The Solitaire Mystery, which would give way to Lonnie Barbach's less eloquent but much smuttier Seductions).

After another night of crankiness, this time in the rain, forcing me to pee in a fruit cocktail can to avoid walking to the bathroom in freezing wet weather at 3 a.m., we set off Thursday morning for Flume Cascade. We had stopped there briefly the day before and discovered wild blueberries growing nearby, though Daniel didn't even want to get out of the van to climb the rocks or see the huge waterfall. So of course (according to Paul) we had to go back with a container to get blueberries so that when we got to Maine we could have blueberry pancakes! We climbed to some spectacular vistas, picnicked on Cathedral Ledge, saw some more covered bridges, and drove to an enormous train museum where Paul's father would have been in ecstasy; models from all over the world, plus a little train out front that the boys rode on.

Then we went to the little beach at Echo Lake where boys tried to swim even though the water was freezing. Adam seemed to be getting a cold so it might not have been worth it. I got a little sunburned, as did Daniel, and we all were glad to get to the hotel, a brand new Comfort Inn with an indoor pool. The kids had better luck swimming there! I just wanted to take a shower after two nights of campfires. The hotel sits across from a miniature golf course, in the middle of what passes for "town" in Lincoln, NH, so there are little craft stores and stuff, nice for a ski town. Our room had a microwave and refrigerator so we could cook and eat inside, though unfortunately no curtains separating the beds!

Friday morning I got e-mail from two of my friends from the University of Chicago, Paula McQuade and Karen Lunsford, which I knew had to be bad news since I hadn't heard from either of them in months and months. They told me that our friend Karen Di Nal, the one person from grad school with whom I've remained very close, was dying. She had cystic fibrosis and was always relatively healthy when I knew her, but apparently she got a cold on a white-water rafting trip which had turned into pneumonia by the time she got to the hospital. They put her on a respirator and stabilized her, but she developed an antibiotic-resistant staph infection. When she was awake and lucid, the doctors told her she would probably need to remain on the respirator for the rest of her life and hope for a lung transplant which they didn't think she would survive anyway. Karen watched her father die of cancer last year and did not want the quality of life stuck in a hospital on machines for however long she might last. She decided she wanted the respirator turned off on Sunday -- her 33rd birthday. I talked Paul into staying at a hotel instead of camping on Sunday night (it was supposed to rain anyway) so at least maybe I could call when everyone was gathered there, since she couldn't talk while on the respirator.

Anyway, Friday we went to Storyland, a kids' amusement park with stuff from children's books, plus roller coasters, merry go rounds and the like. We rode in flying wooden shoes and on swan boats, saw a silly science display and a play where the kids participated, ate tacos, toured a fake silver mine, and went on some other amusing rides. I ate tacos which was not a good idea with cramps, and I got incredibly sunburned despite sunblock, but the rides were fun and the kids were really cute participating in the plays. I called Deborah from the middle of the park because I was so depressed. Paul was probably grouchy I have been so down on this trip -- I had awful cramps and got a splitting headache from the sun, and was worried because I was bleeding so much.

After I collapsed Friday night around 8, only to be awoken around 10 by a phone call from Karen Lunsford which made me feel better even though the news has not changed and Karen Di Nal's condition was deteriorating, I felt much better in the morning physically at least. We spent the day hiking around the Lost River caves, where you have to crawl on your belly through the mud in places--we all got filthy, which the boys enjoyed, although there was one cave called the Lemon Squeeze which was very dark and claustrophobic and you have to prove you are not too fat to go through by passing through a wooden fence first, which I squeezed by but which scared the crap out of Adam. The "Lost River" is underground, and some of the caves are now closed because hurricanes in years past dumped silt in the caves. The caves smell nicely damp and cool, and are all named after Norse gods so the wolf face is Loki's son and the great cavern is Odin's Hall, etc.

From there we picnicked, then took the gondolas to the top of Cannon Mountain's ski area and hiked to the weather station on the summit -- beautiful, very clear weather there, we could see into Maine, Vermont and Canada on different sides, and the vegetation is the neat alpine evergreen sort. Afterwards the rest of them wanted ice cream in Lincoln, the little nearby town, so I wandered into a hippie store, Sunburst Trading and Import Co., and bought some solid perfume in an Indian carved container, and looked at all the local jewelry. Then we stopped at a grocery store to restock and ate nuked spaghetti. The smartest thing I did all day was to buy a sun hat, which looks silly but saved me from more sunburn. I wanted to get a very pretty falling leaves sweatshirt but Paul balked at the price, then bought me malted milk balls because he was afraid I was upset -- I guess we have to save our money for fudge or something!

After dinner we tried to go play miniature golf, which was a disaster. The line was 20 minutes long, so we talked the kids into walking to a nearby playground by the Hobo Train. They played for five minutes, then Adam pooped a little in his pants so we went back to change him, Paul muttering all the while and Daniel very angry. We made Adam sit on the toilet and I sat and talked to him for about fifteen minutes while we waited for him to relax enough to poop (and when he finally produced, it was the size of his head!) So we went back to the golf place, but the lines were even worse and Daniel insisted we were going to play and he was going to wait at every hole, even though he was half-hysterical. We talked them into putting at the practice hole, which the golf people graciously let us do, then we went back to the playground for awhile. Good thing we had the fudge for when we got back. I spent the late evening working on my column for next week.

Sunday we got up early to go play miniature golf as promised since the place opened at 9:30. It was actually a really nice course with lots of waterfalls, miniature train cars, etc. I called Glenn Clark, Karen's former roommate, to find out whether anything had changed, but no news. After golfing, where I got a hole in one and won a free game token, we drove into Maine, watching The Tigger Movie in the van since we bought the video in the drugstore. We stopped for lunch by Bryant Pond, which had beautiful colored flowers on lily pads, and ducks who were pleased to eat Adam's rejected bread.

We went to one of Perham's quarries, after stopping in their jewelry store where we learned that Maine tourmaline is indeed beautiful but expensive. We brought hammers to the quarry to look for rose quartz, and ended up breaking the points off the back of one of the hammers; didn't find all that much pink rock but we did find spectacular mica and feldspar, and the quarry itself was surrounded by beautiful woods with wildflowers and lots of crickets, grasshoppers, and other wildlife, a brief hike away from the road in the trees. When we continued on to Ellsworth, I could smell the sea and nearby campfires while walking from Kentucky Fried Chicken (where I got dinner) to McDonald's (where everyone else got dinner, and fortuitously Tigger Movie Happy Meal toys). The hotel in Ellsworth had an indoor pool where boys were delighted to swim. The rooms in the Travelodge were slightly smaller than the suites in the Comfort Inn, which had refrigerators and microwaves, but cars could park right in front of the room which was great for schlepping everything in and out, plus there was plenty of table space.

Monday morning we ate sticky sweet hotel donuts and headed out early, driving down coastal Route 1 past lots of little Maine antique stores and used car places. We went first to Schoodic Peninsula, a promontory of Acadia that juts into the Atlantic, from which you can see Mount Desert Island and other scenic points. There was one loon in the water and lots of dark-colored ducks that fled as we came near their rocks, plus large loud seagulls looking to mooch food. We stuck our feet in the ice-cold ocean, climbed on cliffs made of granite and ancient lava, and spent lots of time rescuing tiny snails being dried in the sun by throwing them into the high-tide water (the latter of course was the boys' idea). Then we hiked up to a natural rock amphitheater known as the Anvil, which tired out the boys though the woods were beautiful, with blackberries at the edge that everyone ate gleefully. Afterwards we set up the picnic blanket and ate lunch overlooking the water. Beautiful and lovely-smelling beach roses blooming by the shore, with little red fruits in the sun.

After driving around the peninsula, we went to McClellan Park -- a nostalgic site from Paul's childhood where his family used to camp -- where there were more spectacular cliffs and small natural caves. The boys enjoyed showing off their climbing prowess. I spent most of the time wading in the tide pools, which are surrounded by huge quantities of different kinds of seaweed and kelp, thus saving my feet from the rough rocks. We saw lots of varieties of snails and mussels, several starfish, small clams, a green anemone, small crabs, one large dead crab, and (in an upper pool) a frog that swam away as soon as it saw us. The grasshoppers were plentiful, though unfortunately so were the mosquitos. I was very grateful to have my sun hat as it became scorching -- the temperature never got above the high 70s but the glare off the rocks was very bright. The most interesting tide pools were in shade, with layers of different kind of seaweed at the outskirts giving way to small marine life in the depths; the pools in the sun had thick green growth and no plants underneath. The difference in the amount of shore between high tide at ten in the morning and low tide at four in the afternoon was very striking. Low waves all day even compared to Lake Michigan, but a few gushers got both boys drenched more than once and we went through several changes of clothes.

On the drive back we stopped in a blueberry store so Paul could get blueberry syrup and chocolate covered blueberries (the boys got Beanie Babies, I got cranberries), then in a little gift store with handmade doll clothes that I wanted to see and get a card for Deborah's daughter Emma. The boys went out back to feed the fish in the pond that the store owner gave us food for -- there were also about nine frogs right at the edge, and Devil's Paintbrush blooming around the water. On the way back we needed to pick up paper towels so I ran into the local mall looking for the new Star Trek comic, then browsed the jewelry and bookstores. For dinner Paul made blueberry pancakes at a picnic table near the hotel. Afterwards I did dishes and boys went to the pool, but a pooping incident brought them back quickly. I was getting very tired of pooping incidents. But hey -- shit happens, right?

Paula wrote to say Karen was off the respirator and breathing on her own for the moment, though they knew that wouldn't last. Karen was reportedly eating well and in a better mood, so at least she was enjoying herself as much as possible. I spent much of the late evening Monday online, looking for Trek material for my column, and chatting with Erin and Nancy. Nancy had met Karen in Chicago and had a photo of her with the Now Voyager crowd in the infamous bed shot which she e-mailed me. Erin had a story about blowing off Kate Mulgrew's assistant's request for artwork that had me in hysterics and made me not-nostalgic for the fan club despite Nancy's photo.

We checked out of the Travelodge in the morning and drove to Acadia, where we went first to the visitor's center. We stopped at Sieur de Monts springs, the Abbe Native American museum, plus the wild gardens of Acadia. In the gardens we heard a pitiful squeak and looked in the grass to see a snake eating a small spotted frog -- the frog's leg was caught in the snake's mouth. I tried to rescue the frog with a stick, but no luck -- the snake wasn't being scared away and dragged the frog into the bushes. It was pretty horrible and we had to explain the food chain to the kids. Fortunately we saw some large healthy bullfrogs in a pond as well.

Then we drove to overlook some vistas before reaching the Sand Beach. The Atlantic water was in the 50s but it was gorgeous in the air, low 70s, lots of seaweed on the shore, and other kids for the boys to play with -- Adam met a boy named Jordan and helped him dig a big hole, while Daniel stayed in the water until he was blue. We picnicked on the sand, then drove to Thunder Hole where the ocean comes roaring into a cave under rocks, making a lot of noise as the air gets trapped. It wasn't all that loud because we were between high tide and low tide -- ideal time would have been six hours later -- but it was beautiful up there and we hiked down to some nearby tide pools.

In the afternoon we went to the Mount Desert Island oceanarium where there were more employees than visitors, so the boys got to hold everything in the touch pool (starfish, urchins, horseshoe crabs, snails, sand dollars, and a sea cucumber that sprayed water all over Daniel much to his amusement). We got a guided tour of the tanks, where we found out how claims project themselves away from starfish and got to see a rare blue lobster, which is just like other lobsters except it's missing red pigment. Afterwards we drove at low tide to see the Bass Harbor lighthouse, where we hiked down the rocks to the tide pools nearby. There were literally a hundred starfish in the areas exposed by the low water, plus lots of small snails and a crab found by another tourist.

We drove to Bar Harbor for dinner at the Island Chowder House, a restaurant which had a train running around the ceiling that we figured boys would like. On the way there, Glenn called to tell me Karen had died very peacefully that afternoon. I pretty much lost my appetite at that point and had to take a walk before sitting in the restaurant. Across the street there was a place called Eden Rising, a hippie store with burning incense and New Agey music that made me feel a little better. I ended up having chowder and blackened swordfish for dinner, which was very good but I wasn't really hungry, and after Adam spilled his water all over me I took a longer walk around the touristy shops at the nearby intersection.

Bar Harbor is indeed New Age hippie heaven, with lots of places selling silver jewelry and Indian cotton skirts -- my kind of town. I ended up spending a lot of time in Eden Rising trying on lovely clothes I had no real intention of buying, just so I could listen to Loreena McKennitt and breathe the incense. I got a pair of cheap but real turquoise earrings, since turquoise is my birthstone and is supposed to be empowering. When we got to the Bar Harbor Motel, I wrote to several of the people I knew through Karen, and called Deborah for consolation. I guess it's good that Karen died on her own terms, without suffering, without wasting away on the respirator or spending a long time unconscious, but it's still hard for the rest of us.

Wednesday we got up early to head into Bar Harbor to pick up our tickets for a boat ride to see lobsters and seals. We wandered around the town while we waited for the cruise, stopping in shops to buy gifts. My favorite was the Hemporium, a store devoted to hemp products, natural fibers, and all that good hippie fare. I got friends hemp-laced coffee, supposedly THC-free but we'll let them decide. I tried on roll-on patchouli oil and I liked the way I smelled all day from the sample. I also got myself a flowery sweatshirt and a carved wooden loon. At high tide, Bar Harbor is surrounded on all sides by islands; at low tide you can actually walk across sandbars to some of them. There are lots of trees and it smells like the ocean everywhere, and the weather was clear and cool, just gorgeous.

The small, damp lobster boat from whalesrus.com was called the Katherine (the large, stately whale-watching yacht was called the Louise -- those of you who know my fandoms will appreciate why this amuses me). The boat took us first to the captain's own lobster traps, where we circled while he pulled them up and showed us the contents. We caught about ten angry, clacking lobsters in the large metal traps marked by blue and yellow buoys, though (as we learned) only four or so of the critters were long enough to be legal to keep; the rest had to be thrown back in until they grew to more than 3 1/4 inches but less than five. We also caught several small crabs that got thrown back as well, some starfish, lots of small crustaceans, and lots of seaweed. The captain was very funny and passed around lobsters, snails, clams, sand dollars, a sea cucumber, an old-fashioned wooden lobster trap, and other items of interest while talking about the lobster industry and rubber-banding the lobsters' claws. We discovered that lobsters can be left-handed and that if Daniel were a lobster, he'd be old enough to eat.

Then the boat headed out of Frenchman's Bay to a series of small island rocks near Egg Island lighthouse. We saw at least a dozen seals swimming and sleeping on the rocks. Black birds with long bills called cormorants flew around the other side of the tiny islands. We could see only caution signs telling us where the breakwater lay, as it was pretty close to high tide. Adam got a little chilled, but the sea spray felt great and it was a beautiful day to be on a boat, small waves, not too much sun but not to cold either.

When we got back to land, we picnicked at Bear Brook, where one can see beaver dams in the water (though we saw no beavers, nor any of the other wildlife the signs warned us not to feed). Then we drove to Jordan Pond House in Acadia, famed for its tea and popovers though we were full from lunch and fudge bought in the morning to try any. The pond itself is a water source for the towns, so it is very well-protected by trees and the water is very clear. There are two nearby hills called the Bubbles that everyone calls The Boobies for obvious reasons, though Daniel cleverly said they looked like a butt, leading Paul and myself to speculate on how differently natural wonders might be named if women and gay men rather than butch explorer types did most of the naming. We walked a little on one of the old carriage roads nearby. We then drove to -- and up -- Cadillac Mountain, from which we could see all of the Cranberry Islands, the extent of the sandbar from Bar Harbor to a nearby island at low tide, and most of the surrounding area. We caught a glimpse of the Cat, the fast ferry to and from Nova Scotia, zip past as it headed back to the US side. The trees are so sparse and scrubby on top of the mountain that one finally understands how Mount Desert Island got its name.

We came back to the hotel for awhile so the boys could swim in the pool, then went for dinner to the Log Cabin restaurant (and gift shop where boys got more stuffed moose, to go with the stuffed lobsters they got in the morning). I had lobster stew, but after a pina colada and a lobster tail appetizer -- not to mention remembering the faces of the lobsters we helped catch this morning -- I got full very quickly and then a little queasy, though the food was excellent. We had intended to go to the miniature golf course next door using the free token I won for a hole-in-one at Hobo Hills in NH, but I'd forgotten the token back at the hotel so we drove back to get it. On the way, we realized it was low tide and we could actually drive across the sandbar to Bar Island from Bar Harbor, so I talked Paul into doing so. We got out in the middle, where it was impossible not to step on mussels, clams, seaweed, and other stuff normally found only under the water. Then we drove across to Bar Island to take pictures and look at Bar Harbor from that side. Coming back across, we made our way to Pirate's Cove miniature golf, a really great course with many waterfalls, a fake underground cairn filled with skeletons and buried treasure, and a gigantic replica of a pirate's ship with one of the golf holes set inside. I made Paul take a photo of me captaining the ship. It was very late when we finished and the boys were overdue for bed.

Thursday we got up early so boys could play at the hotel playground before going to Bar Harbor once more. We went back to the sandbar, which was completely covered as it was close to high tide -- the island to which we had walked the night before was an island again, and the water looked so high that it was inconceivable that within a few hours, people would be able to cross. After a brief stop in town for some presents (blueberry jam, maple syrup, stuffed lobsters, and a couple of sweatshirts), we passed the dock for the ferry to Canada for the last time and drove along the coast until we had to turn towards the highway. We picnicked at a rest stop with covered tables.

On the way through Portland, we took a brief detour to see the Portland Head Light, a lighthouse at a fort on the coast. Both boys complained of stomachaches so we carried them most of the way. We saw some unusual yellow warblers and the water hitting the cliffs below, but the area was fenced so that we couldn't climb to the tide pools. We stopped for ice cream at a roadside place in Cape Elizabeth nearby, and ate it beside a cemetery because it was the only place nearby where there was shade. Since they wanted ice cream we figured reports of stomachaches were overrated, which we were to regret later.

Then we drove to Meri's. We got there before she got home from work, so the boys played baseball in the backyard, then Adam got tired and sat in the van and played Gameboy. When Meri got there with Nicholas, we went inside and Adam promptly threw up all over himself, me, a chair, the kitchen floor, and the bathroom floor. We spent the next many minutes cleaning up, throwing in a laundry, and digging clean clothes out from under everything in the van. That sort of ruined the plan to order in pizza, so we just ate crackers and cheese. We left early and I felt terrible about not really seeing Meri -- Brian was bowling with friends from work so she was on kid duty -- but we wanted to get to my in-laws before the middle of the night. Adam threw up again halfway there so we had to stop at a diesel pump in Massachusetts to clean up before we finally made it back to Connecticut.

Friday we did two laundries in the morning while the kids played board games and baseball with grandma and grandpa. In the afternoon, at Adam's request, we went to Safari miniature golf, where there are large sculptures of animals around the course and a waterfall that was mostly turned off. It was very hot so we didn't linger. We headed to a nature center with a large indoor collection of animals, including turtles, geckos, iguanas, boa constrictors, ball pythons, common and exotic frogs and toads, mice, rats, gerbils, guinea pigs, ferrets, a wide variety of fish, two cats, and an outdoor farmyard with chickens, geese, peacocks, pheasant, ducks, goats, a cow, a pig, and various other small fowl. There was also a small garden with exotic flowers and regional vegetables, plus displays on the geological and dinosaur history of Connecticut and on local farming. Since Adam had had an upset stomach, we decided to have Chicken Out for dinner rather than Chinese as we originally planned. In the evening I had lots of laundry to fold but at least I finally got to watch the Nikita finale (in which Operations and Madeline did not have sex, but I am sure I can find fan fiction to remedy that). It took a long time to pack and get everything into the van.

Saturday we had blueberry pancakes with my in-laws, then left for home around 11. We dropped by my sister's house (though my sister and her husband were out of town) to visit her daughters Isabel and Sabrina while my parents were babysitting them. The kids played mostly down her basement in the ball pit and on the exercise equipment and ate bagels and cookies. Then we drove home, stopping at McDonald's for dinner. Sunday we retrieved the cat, got our photos developed, and tried to get the boys ready for school.