03 September 2009

Wish You Were Here

Dear Moky,

We've just gotten back from a short vacation, up in Maine mostly. We left on Friday, a little worried about the possibility of Tropical Storm Danny getting in the way of our plans - but time and tide wait for no man, and we had a boat to catch. On the drive up from New York to Maine, we stopped for lunch at about the mid-point, at a pizza place in Worcester that I found on Roadfood.com. "Pizza place" doesn't really do it justice - this was the best pizza I've ever had: paper thin crust, perfect toppings. We got two - one with the usual tomato and cheese, which Mir ate almost all of by herself. The second one had sliced potatoes, caramelized onions, bacon, shallots, garlic butter and a sprinkling of grated cheese - no tomato, no mozzarella. I think I have never tasted ANYTHING as good. You'd have loved the place, if for nothing other than the mess of galvanized trays and stands and pitchers.

We stayed in a little hotel (inn? what's the difference) up on Pemaquid Point - the kind of funky, gracious, idiosyncratic hotel that would have appealed to you. It had been built in the late 1800s as a boarding house - and still has the narrow hallways to show for it. I was tickled to find a huge antique nautical chart in our room - of Long Island Sound. Funny to find that up in Maine. After dropping our stuff, we headed out to a lobster place for beer and lobsters and bugs and the sunset. Mir said she wanted a lobster, and she duly ate both claws - even cracked them herself. Of course, she dipped the lobster meat in ketchup, but what are you going to do?

Luckily, the threatened hurricane moved offshore, but did dump a lot of water - it rained all day Saturday, meaning that we had to stick to indoor activities. Luckily, there's a little aquarium on the next peninsula - so we drove over there and spent some time mucking around in their terrific touch tank. Mir picked up sea cucumbers and lobsters and starfish and crabs, and managed to get soaking wet - good thing we were inside, eh? After another lobster lunch, we headed to the mothership: LL Bean. What else to do on a rainy day? Mir got some new clothes for school and we headed back to the hotel, stopping in Wiscasset for a lobster roll at Red's Eats - thanks to a recommendation from Anna. It may indeed have been the best lobster roll ever - even better than the fancy one in Boston a couple of months ago that cost twice as much.

After breakfast on Sunday, we headed to Rockland, to board our boat - the schooner Nathaniel Bowditch. Wow. Again, you'd have loved it. Granted, the accomodations are spartan, at best, and there are ladders to navigate to get down to the bunks and the heads and the galley, but the sailing was splendid, the food was great, the weather was perfect, and the boat had an abundance of character. We were encouraged to help with the sailing, like providing muscle to raise the mainsail and pull up the anchor, but mostly we just stared out at the glorious wild coast of Maine. And people stared at us! There are so few of those big old sailboats left that when one shows up, everyone looks and takes a picture. We sailed from Rockland up to Castine and back, anchoring near Warren Island one night, and in Pulpit Harbor the next. And on that second night, Mir slept up on deck in a lifeboat with the four year old son of the captain - counting 3000 stars in the sky!

After docking again the next day, we moseyed down to Boston - with a stop in Yarmouth for lunch with an old friend of mine. She's got a house on the water with killer views - no beach, too cold to swim, but beautiful none-the-less. I know that you'd rather have a beach and warmer water, but you'd have liked this, I think.

Boston was a great way station - we checked into our swanky hotel and headed straight to the pool/hot tub/sauna/steam room. After all, we hadn't had a shower on board the boat, and hauling up anchors is hard work! We had an early dinner at an old German beer hall, thanks to a recommendation from Erika - the blog friends really came through on the restaurant tips.

Finally, yesterday, we drove home via the scenic and indirect route. One thing led to another and we stopped in Northampton, to show Mir where you'd gone to college. I had an ice cream cone there that knocked my socks off (well, I wasn't wearing socks, but, you know). It was Burnt Sugar 'n' Butter ice cream - sort of caramelly, with a salty kick from the butter. Looks like there's a Herrell's in Huntington - I wonder if you've ever been there?

We put enough miles on the new car to break her in - and she performed beautifully. She's fun to drive, and perfect for our little family of three. And Mir tackled three whole lobsters, though all little one pounders - not like that enormous one you once had on Cape Cod. I think it might have been the perfect vacation, even if it was only five nights away from home. I'm sorry you weren't there.

Love,

-M.

P.S. I'll have some photos to show you, soon.

12 comments:

Anna said...

What a great vacation. So glad you stopped at Red's Eats - I think their lobster rolls are so good precisely because they could not be simpler.

AnnetteK said...

Sounds lovely. How is it I lived most of my life in Maine and never did half of those things?

mayberry said...

oh...bittersweet.

painted maypole said...

what a beautiful way to share this, both the road trip and the constant hole that you now feel

phd in yogurtry said...

that boat looks fabulous! such a varied and adventurous vacation. moky was there in spirit, you know she was.

Kyla said...

This makes me happy and a little sad, too.

Elissa said...

Ahhh . . . I'm choked up. I remember sailing with your family in Greenport - thought it most adventurous that you all lived on a boat for a while in the summer. The picture of tan blond kids and sparkling water is forever etched in my memory. Heartened to hear the trio variation on a theme.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It sounds like a fantastic trip--as do the memories it brings back.

Gwen said...

I liked the way you wrote this, Maggie. Glad you had a good last gasp of summer vacation.

Rima said...

It sounds absolutely perfect. Except, of course, for her absence . . .

Cold Spaghetti said...

One of my travel dreams has been to drive through New England and into Canada's Islands... you pretty much summed up why. Thanks for the sharing of a beautiful trip!

Woman in a Window said...

Sounds like a great time. One day I'll make it that way. Hope you have a great one!