The conversation from our vacation started as we drove from our house in Maryland to Dulles Airport. Dulles was the main airport in Washington DC for many years. The Ronald Regan National Airport is a much newer addition to the landscape. I have, over the years landed in both airports, but Dulles by far many more times than Reagan. We started our conversation as we drove to the airport. It is an easy conversation, one that has 29 years of inside jokes but also 29 years of connection to go with it. It is the conversation of those married. It never really ends, but it does take time off.
There are days, or sometimes weeks, when we have to manage the world around us, to finish our work life or day to day existence when the conversation lags or disappears. But when it starts again, it does not fear nor it, each time restart at the baseline — it, where it stopped the time before. The conversation of our marriage always left in one place and resumed later in that same place. Getting in the car in anticipation of time away from the world that pressed upon, presses us into pancakes, we suddenly resumed the conversation where last it had been.
An affirmation of the magic of marriage. An affirmation of the many things that are possible when you have time to remember and time to share. I often wonder, like my parents, my wife’s parents both did the same thing. I am carrying on a conversation that spans years. Is that a par of the relationship itself? That conversation never begins or ends. But is ever-present between us?
In a moment, the change arrives and takes over. We spent three days in Portland Maine. In the days of old, we would have probably taken 4 or 5 rolls of film (180 or fewer pictures). Because of digital cameras, we ended up with more than 1200 pictures. Many more moments and captures the world around us. It was a magical trip, and we both had a blast.
I am reminded of a few moments that we enjoyed that I haven’t yet covered. One was learning about the brewing process of beer visiting the Allagash brewery. My wife wanted more than anything to see the lighthouses, to see a mouse, and to spend time shopping in LL Bean. So, she also schedules a trip and tour of the Allagash brewery.
Allagash is a river in northern Maine. But the beer brewed there is more like Belgian White Beer. IT was a blast wandering the brewery. The thing for today to share is the food. We ended up finding unique restaurants every single day. From the first day other than breakfast we had amazing food. For the most part, we were eating more traditional food from Maine. But we did stop by an Olive Lebanese restaurant as well. There is something about having a chance to get away and be a couple again, not parents, not mother and father-in-law, but just us!
I love lighthouses. Ever since I was a little kid seeing the first one (for me) on the shores of Lake Michigan, I love lighthouses. The ones built to support ships for the Great Lakes, or the ones on the Shore of one of the great oceans operate the same. The first part of what they do is provide a guiding light. A warning that what lies near the light isn’t something a ship, boat, or canoe wants to deal with directly. Danger, warning, and of course Will Robinson for those of you that get the reference. Many cities had both lighthouses and observatories. The Observatory normally perched don a hill well above the city and the harbor and was where people looked to see if there were inbound ships.
When it took two months to go to Europe and two months to come back, knowing the ships were coming in the harbor. But the lighthouses were the ones that warned of razor rocks. It is a story of dangerous currents and other things not safe for ships. Shifting sand bars that a ship could suddenly find its forward momentum stopped as it the sand. Or during times of war, mines, and other obstructions. We walked up a hill in Portland ME to the observatory. But we spent a lot more time chasing the many lighthouses we went to. Over two days, we went to see five different lighthouses. One, we went by on the way to Peak Island. One we went to that is one of the most photographed US lighthouses. Two are inside of a park, and we didn’t go to the park instead going parallel to the park for pictures.
One is called Bug Light, which I didn’t get. Each of them protecting those who traveled. Protecting those on the path. During the revolutionary war between the US and English, the English Fleet destroyed the city of Portland ME. In rebuilding the city, there were additional lighthouses, and batteries of guns added to the shore. The memorial in the first two pictures to the men and women supported those shore guns. They were in operation until the end of WWII in 1945. Scanning the sea for ships on the way. In times of war, ships you didn’t know where coming are risky. Portland learned that once, and in rebuilding the city made sure that would never happen again (it hasn’t)!
There were three things my wife had to do while we were in Maine. The first was to go to LL Bean. Years of online and home catalog viewing meant we had to go. The second thing for my wife was to have lobster. And then the last thing she had to do while we were in Maine saw a live moose. The State of Maine has several preserves where moose live. As we came to the sign that said moose to the left, we started looking. The enclosure for the moose is roughly five fenced acres. We started in one corner, looking for the moose. That was when we saw the bull moose gets angry sign. My wife, at that moment, said sometimes substitute husband for moose.
We kept walking, encountering a family with small kids sitting by the duck pond. Well, the dad was sitting with one of the kids. The mom was walking with the other. As we walked by, the little one in mom’s arms swatted at her neck and started crying. A bug had gotten her. It was well past the first freeze in Maine, so not many bugs left. As we came around the corner of the fence we saw, the Moose. Not very angry. Plus, sadly (obscure reference here), there was no squirrel with the moose. The moose literally was leaning against the fence, and as we walked around he just sat (based on the sign we assumed the moose in the enclosure was a he, the sign was on that same enclosure).
What do moose get angry about? Well anyway, as we walked around the rest of the park we found the bear enclosure. We honestly could not tell the difference between the bears and our Labradors at home. The two bears were sleeping (as our Labs are usually). We watched them for a while. Then we walked around a little more. The person at the gate said it would take us 4 hours to walk the entire park. We were done in about 35 minutes. I guess my wife and I walk faster than a lot of people do. We also saw everything including the deer, bears, and moose. We did not see the lynx, and they were already hiding in their nice warm area and out of sight from prying eyes!
I first remember the LL Bean Catalog coming to our house after we returned from Thailand in the mid-1970s. I remember because I love camping and LL Bean was a camping catalog. We decided on our first day in Maine that we had to go to the LL Bean original store. It is located in Freeport, Maine. Freeport is a small town about 20 miles north of Portland Maine, where we were staying. The drive was along the shore which was quite pleasant. As we arrived at the store we decided to start the day with one more cup of coffee. We went to the Bean Coffee Shop, which is located near where we parked and in the main bean building. You can tell the building was added onto over the years.
It has many levels, and none of them are consistent. You have to climb stairs to go downstairs. We got our coffee and wandered with the coffee into the blueberry soap area (yes, we bought blueberry soap). Plus, that is also the dog area (yes Kim, Raven demanded dog treats be purchased and returned to her from Maine). But we got those items at the end of our shopping expedition. The first thing we did was wander the store. It is massive. From camping, Kayaking boating, clothes, and hunting, the store has a lot of floor space. There is also a huge fishing area, Plus there is a trout pond (that has Koi in it) and a huge aquarium with trout swimming in it!
The first shopping was to get a couple of shirts for my wife. Then we ended up getting LL Bean stuff for the kids. We found things that we thought the kids would love. Checking out the person said, would you like me to ship this to you. We kept the shirts (you’ve seen them in day two and day three pictures already as my wife wore them)! The rest we shipped off to Maryland. Less to carry on the plane. We ended up having to buy a suitcase anyway. We also wandered the LL Bean Home store. Plus the LL Bean Bike store. It was a wonderful, relaxing experience to see the store. My very favorite part was the wall of catalog covers that was between the camping and hunting area. I remembered many of the covers!
There are two ferries to Peak Island Maine. One is the Car Ferry, and the other is just a plain old people Ferry. They run roughly every 30 minutes all day long. We rode the car ferry to the island. It was fun watching them load the Ferry with cars. Cars go on first, then people. We sat on the top of the Ferry on the way to the island and took a lot of pictures. One of the pictures was my wife taking my picture. She did that a lot in Maine. Peak Island isn’t very big, and for the most part it is pretty flat. I suspect it was named for a person Peak, rather than named for a Peak. There isn’t a peak on the island. One of the things I noticed was there were roughly five houses for sale on the island.
They all listed generators as part of the sale. As we arrived and they offloaded the cars (Cars first, then people). We walked to the gift shop. I was going to buy a hat. I like to buy caps when I go on vacation. But, there was a sign taped to the front door of the gift shop. Due to the power failure the week before, the getting shop decided to close for the season. I didn’t know gift shops had seasons, but apparently like beaches and balloons there are seasons. The other thing the sign said was that due to the power failure all their ice cream had melted. I spent a little time imagining that mess. Can you imagine what 20 galloons or more of melted ice cream would look like?
We decided rather than rent a golf cart to rout the island that instead we would walk around. We like to walk on vacation. We ended up walking all around the island. Well we didn’t walk around the island. We walked from one end to the other end. We didn’t wander the backside of the island (that faced the ocean). We walked to the Elementary School. The younger kids (k-6) go to school on the island. The older kids (7th and up) go to school in Portland. We did stop by the library. My wife has a library addiction. She loves to go to libraries. On the way we passed the police station. Our primary discussion there at that point did the island have more than one police car.
Well, after three blogs about the 3rd day how about a couple of blogs about the second day? Friday was the day we were both most worried about traffic (there wasn’t any). But we were also looking for a variety of things to do, mostly focused on seeing some of the 20 lighthouses of Portland Maine. Including one of the most photographed lighthouses in the US. There was a “see the lighthouse” tour article written up in the first Portland Maine Magazine my wife had gotten. So away we went. The first thing we wanted to do was take the ferry over to Peaks Island.
I want to say there was a reason for that, but mostly both of us like being on boats. Getting to go to an island and walk around was a bonus. Peak Island was the first part of the 2nd day. The Main Maine event for day 2, was the lighthouses.
We arrived at the first lighthouse and captured some quick pictures. Then we wandered to the 2nd stop. The first stop had two different lighthouses you could see. The second stop only had one lighthouse to see. Finally, we headed to one of the most famous and photographed lighthouses. The Portland Head Light was the name.
We stopped in the gift shop (I bought a cap). Then we walked all around the lighthouse. We ran into part of a tour group from Spain. They were on the MEC Cruise that left the Basque region of France and stopped in Portland Maine. It is without a doubt the most amazing lighthouse. IT is still used to this day.