A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of traveling east to visit family. Well, the beginning of the trip wasn’t so pleasurable; getting to the airport to find out that our first flight was delayed 2 1/2 hours, causing us to miss our connection to Maine. The problem was the next available connection was at 7:00 am the next morning. We flew to New York, sat in the airport for 7 hours, and flew into Portland, Maine, bright and early the next morning.
With the snafu, we didn’t need a hotel upon arrival to Maine (as we would have been arriving just after all the car rental places closed). And with picking up our car a few hours early, the rental place gave us the grace of using the original, later “out” time for our rental.
Finally we made it from the Pacific Northwest to the beautiful coast of Maine!
Back in the 1940’s my grandparents rented the cottage for their vacation. At some point, they were given the opportunity to buy it, and it’s been in the family ever since. Growing up, I spent part of my summer vacations staying in the cottage, rowing small boats, and learning how to sail. Years later in my early 20’s, I took a leap of faith and started working on local boats, living in the cottage for seven summer seasons. (With seasonal water and no insulation, it’s not a year round house.)
Being situated right on the ocean, lots of our summer activities center around the shore, the water, and boats.
The day after we arrived, it was the Fourth of July! We popped into the harbor to see what sort of fireworks were going on. We walked down to the waterfront and caught the end of the display, looking through the shrouds of several docked sailboats.
The nearest harbor is a working harbor, with several lobster fishermen and other commercial fishermen plying the waters for their bounty. Tourism is heavily depended upon for a large portion of the town’s annual income, coming from restaurants, gift shops, motels, and tourist boating. And you can bet that when we visit, we take in the restaurants and gift shops. My favorite shop is The Silver Lining, a small jewelry store with an in-house silver smith and a great selection of jewelry.
One of the more popular tourist destinations, about an hour from our place, is Pemaquid. Pemaquid Lighthouse and Pemaquid Beach are two of my favorite places where I was taken as a child, and now I get to share them with my child. I never get tired of them. A fun fact: this is the lighthouse that’s on the Maine state quarter.
Most of the time we were in Maine, the weather was great. There were a few foggy days that created great mood for picture-taking, and a passing rain shower or two. Changeable weather is one of the things I miss about New England.
I got to visit friends, spend time with some family, and enjoy several days by the salt air. Heaven!
This year we decided to visit both my family and my husband’s family all in the same ambitious trip. And to make things even more interesting, we flew round trip in and out of one airport, and drove between our destinations of Maine and Tennessee.
On our way south, we stayed overnight in Hershey, PA. It had been almost 2 decades since hubby and I last visited Hershey and took in Chocolate World. With Hershey being a whistle-stop, we arrived there at dinner time, grabbed a meal and visited Chocolate World for a few hours. For those who don’t know, this is just part of the larger Hershey Park. It’s not the part of the park with rides, but basically a huge candy gift shop with a short tour showing you how they make chocolate. What fun it was to see massive displays of pounds and tons of candy and chocolate. We opted to leave behind the $15.00 Hershey flip-flops, but left with bags of candy gifts and a new sweatshirt for Little Man. The only chocolate I had was chocolate flavored lip balm.
After our overnight in Hershey, we drove on down the highway to northeast Tennessee, where my hubby grew up and his family still resides. His sister’s home is more than warm and welcoming, and is our favorite destination. She has a swimming pool that Little Man can never get enough of. The only thing that kept him out of it was mealtime and lightning. As always, it was great to visit with family face to face, and to see old friends again.
One of the natural features of this part of the country is caverns. There are several around Virginia and Tennessee. To date, we’ve visited three, this time checking out Appalachian Caverns, near Bristol. It was a smaller cavern with a stream running through the bottom because of all the recent rain. It didn’t have as many remarkable features as other caverns we’ve seen, but it’s always nice to visit some place cool when it’s almost 90 degrees out.
Being at Hubby’s sister’s house, we were treated to nightly visitors outside: a mother raccoon and her 3 youngsters. They got a treat and know where to get more.
With a fair bit of rain, the pond in the back yard of Little Man’s grandmother was full up. It’s stocked with bass, blue gills and some catfish, and from time to time, is home to a snapping turtle or two.
One of the more unusual sights was a nearby lake that was drained in order to mitigate erosion that is threatening one of the TVA dams. It was odd to see waterfront property and a lake front park that now sits by a small stream, with boat launches 15 feet or more above the water’s surface. Lake front property owners are
truly screwed not happy.
After spending far too short a time in Tennessee, we headed north again.
After a 2 days drive, we returned to Maine to catch our flight home. Fortunately, the flights home were uneventful. It was great to get back east, to catch up with friends and family, and to see a bit of our beautiful country. And it’s good to be back home.