Monday, July 30, 2018

Is There Anything To Do There?

     Someone asked me upon our return from vacationing in Maine, "Is there anything to do there?"I stood speechless for an eternal moment as my mind swirled with thoughts. I could list all the wonderful things there are to do on the New England coast or I could give my honest answer which is, "Why would anyone want to do anything? It's a vacation." I suppose Steve and I feel like we're so busy during the other fifty weeks of the year that we agree a vacation should be about relaxing and doing nothing. That doesn't mean we actually do nothing. We did plenty. But only if it felt fun. : )
     We rented the big house on Simpson Lane again. This time we shared it with Steve's four brothers and their wives. It was a fuss-free time and everyone spent their days as they wished. We came together mornings and evenings and shared most meals as well as a few outings. We could not know  last winter when we planned this trip that it would fall one week after my mother-in-law's passing. So, it was fitting that the brothers had this rare occasion to spend a wonderful week together at this moment in time.
     While there isn't much to do in Maine (?), we managed to have a really great time. Chelsea lives close enough that she and her family visited us for a day at the beach three times. I had breakfast with a friend whom I met when we lived in Maine in 1986-87 and who still lives there. The brothers and one wife chartered a fishing boat for one afternoon and brought back dinner in the form of a large, striped bass. That one fish fed nine people! We dined on seafood almost every night, including thirty-five lobsters at the house. We walked on the beach mornings and evenings. We played BINGO at the local firehouse on the one rainy evening. It was fun chatting with the locals while we played. One sister-in-law and I spent a day at Boothbay Harbor popping in and out of shops, dining haborside and exploring a bit of the coastline. On Sunday morning, we walked a half mile to a pretty stone church built around the turn of last century. They hold church services only in the summer. We chased seagulls, drew pictures in the sand, played in tide pools, interviewed a metal detectorist on a rocky beach, played Bocce ball and paddle ball, surfed the waves, hunted rocks and shells, built pools and sandcastles, ate taffy, got sand in our swimsuits, and watched the boats in the harbor come and go.
     It was a challenge to adjust coming home. I looked up real estate in Maine and New Hampshire on the internet the day after we got home. I assume this is what most folks do after vacationing in their favorite place. The desire to run away and live on the coast of Maine will wear off soon enough, especially with school starting up next week. Or maybe it won't wear off and I'll be dreaming of New England all year until we can travel again. Either way, the memories are here to stay.

The house on Simpson Lane

The harbor boat club across the fisherman's foot path in front of the house.
Charlie plays in a tide pool.

Steve and brother Luke played paddle ball.

Hugo during a golden sunset on the black sand at the harbor beach
Sister-in-law Veronica fishing at our favorite beach.

The footbridge across Boothbay Harbor. Built in 1901.
Coastline at Boothbay harbor.
Pop and Hugo draw pictures in the sand.
Dodging the rain and watching taffy made in town at Goldenrod Kisses before we played BINGO. The husbands were good sports and played too. Sisters-in-law Joyce, Veronica, and Fran.
My favorite past time, collecting tiny shells and sea glass.
The tiniest bits of perfection in a little antique bottle.

The final brothers' photo before we all drive back to our everyday lives.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Meadow Farm B&B, New Hampshire


     The third leg of our journey took us to Meadow Farm Bed and Breakfast in Northwood, NH. Our stay here was a Christmas gift from my sister : ). Northwood turned out to be conveniently located halfway between Chelsea's apartment and our final destination in Maine. It was a peaceful, restful place for Steve and I to have a couple of days to ourselves to read, go for walks, browse antique shops, and spend a quiet day at Parson's beach. Chelsea and the boys drove over one evening and we took a walk down to the lake and then we went into town for pizza. The house has many rooms to explore and places to sit. I brought some rug hooking with me and this turned out to be a nice place to work on that. I really enjoyed soaking in the history of the building and sitting among the antique furnishings. It's a country home and therefore made to be very comfortable. Breakfasts were delicious with Janet's specialty, Bismark, which we had never had before.
Our room (photo taken from their website)
The Keeping Room with original fireplace built in 1770. The table is set for our breakfast.

A path through the woods takes you to the lake.

Our final, leisurely morning sitting on the dock before we began our short drive to Maine. The lake breeze was refreshing and the scent of pines filled the air.

Monday, July 23, 2018

My Never Never Land

"You'll have a treasure if you stay there,
More precious far than gold.
For once you have found your way there,
You can never, never grow old."

 We've been away for two weeks yet it feels as though time stood still and we were away from home much longer than that. It's cool how vacations can do that for us. Just like Never Never Land.
 Our trip north began on a somber note with the passing of Steve's mom. We gathered in New York to honor Jane and spend time with Steve's dad and brothers and the extended family. Steve's family is strong in their Christian faith and I can't help but notice how different a funeral is when it is represented by a family of believers. Yes, there is the pain of loss in our hearts but, there is also much rejoicing and thankfulness for a life well lived, well loved, and the knowledge that this life ended in the arms of Jesus. I still can't imagine the world without Jane in it but she has left a wonderful part of herself and her generous spirit in every life she touched.
   After we spent a few days in New York, we began our planned vacation in New Hampshire and Maine with some stops along the way in Vermont. These states are our "happy places" and we choose to return to them year after year. We often consider that maybe we should go and explore somewhere else and then we say, "Nah!". We've been up and down the east coast, the Gulf of Mexico, as well as points west as far as St. Louis and Oklahoma. We like the cooler air of the north and the rugged, rocky coast of Maine. My heart yearns to return there time and again.
   We stayed at a B&B in Warner, NH called, The Maples at Warner while we visited Chelsea and her family. It was a lovely home and very comfortable. Chelsea took us to Muster Field Farm & the Matthew Harvey Homestead. Here, Hugo could run around and we could all explore this beautiful farm with its gorgeous gardens and many outbuildings and antique farm equipment. We spent another evening at Mount Kearsarge for a dinner picnic and a campfire. We only see Chelsea and her family two or three times each year (if we're lucky!) and we marvel over how the grandchildren have grown and matured since our last visit. Here are photos of some of the highlights from Musterfield Farm and Mount Kearsarge.

Oh, those rock walls!
 There are many outbuildings to explore, including a school house. This huge barn has a soaring cathedral-like ceiling. All the buildings are filled with antique farm equipment. Visitors are welcome to explore the grounds and outbuildings at their leisure.

 There are extensive, immaculately tended gardens. This vegetable garden is completely bordered with perennials. I took a lot of photos for ideas to implement in my own garden.

Produce, fresh cut flowers, and honey are sold at the farm stand.
This is the first time I've seen a wall built with firewood. It extends all the way down this road!

The picnic area on Mount Kearsarge...

... with beautiful sunset mountain views
Charlie observes the building of the fire while the sun goes down.

Hugo gets sooty having a grand time helping to build the fire.
The sunset bathed everything in golden light. Charlie was feeling ready for bed.