We are back home after a weeklong car trip to Maine. It was quite the journey, packing a lot into 168 hours. Traveling with small children is never easy, but they do guarantee that the hours don’t just drift by. You are quite aware of them, which helps lay down tracks of memories.
The first two days are definitely burned into my brain now, as I realize how stupid our hurricane calculations turned out to be. As I wrote in the Dispatches from Vermont post, we assumed the worst weather and destruction would be on the coast. So we canceled our hotel reservation in Westerly, Rhode Island and took an inland route, attempting to stay the first night in Bennington, VT. We never made it, getting stuck in the Catskills with raging rivers, caved in roads, downed trees and power lines and such. I now realize how wise it was to stop when we did. The roads around our hotel were later blocked from the north and the south. I’m sure the hotel had to be closed the next night due to flooding, power outages, no plumbing, etc. There is nothing quite like positioning everyone’s shoes by the door so we could go quickly if the waters raging in the creek next to us rose or if the crashing trees rendered the hotel uninhabitable. To add to the fun, the kids really couldn’t go to sleep (I’m sure they sensed something was wrong) and we tried turning out the light but they kept getting out of bed, and Sam was pretty much hyperactive by 11PM. He crashed into the corner of a piece of hotel furniture and got a bloody nose. Which I couldn’t really clean because the plumbing was out. So I spent the first night of vacation covered in blood, waking constantly to make sure Sam (who refused to sleep in his pack-and-play) hadn’t rolled out of bed.
Vermont, I now realize, was a bit of a war zone. We’d seen the floodwaters in Troy, and crossing the border, we assumed things would get better. But I now realize that various odd details, like a pizza restaurant being closed with mud all over the parking lot, were in fact evidence of the wall of water that had just come through Ludlow, and also Rutland, which we tried to go through too. But by Tuesday morning, the highway authorities had posted most of the road closures online (the 511 system is awesome, by the way) and so we could map out a route from Burlington to Bar Harbor, ME. Every time we went over a bridge, I was grateful it was there!
But while the first two days were definitely the most dramatic, traveling with small kids produces many highs and lows. Some lows: racing to various public restrooms because Jasper (age 4) would announce that he had to go potty right now. A humorous and related moment: eating lunch in the famous Jordan Pond House in Acadia, and having Sam announce that he’d pooped and needed a diaper change and, when we tried to get him to wait a minute he kept repeating that he needed a diaper change. So Michael took him to the car, at which point Jasper told me that he needed to go potty and couldn’t wait either. So I’m frantically telling the people at the next table to inform our waitress that we’re coming back and haven’t just skipped out on our bill. There was pretty regular bickering from the backseat, too, including one late night screaming fest over who got to hold the Lightning McQueen car.
There were highs, though, as well. Sometimes the boys took turns with the toys and books. We hiked as a family up Gorham Mountain in Acadia. Granted, it’s not very tall, but we’d attempted two other Acadia hikes and had to turn around because rock scrambles don’t work well for a 4-year-old and a woman who is 34 weeks pregnant (Sam rode in the backpack that Michael carried). Finally, on Friday, we tackled Gorham, and Jasper walked the whole 3 mile trail. I was so proud of him, and kind of enjoyed the exclamations of all the folks we met going the other direction on the trail, not only that a 4-year-old was powering himself over those rocks, but that they couldn’t complain after seeing me (and my giant belly) do it too!
We ate lobster at Thurston’s in Bernard, cracking open those giant beasts right out of the water (Sam now knows how to say “lobster traps”). We watched the sunset on Cadillac Mountain, though our boys seemed more interested in driving their toy trucks around the rocks than in contemplating the changing colors. We swam in the cold waters of Sand Beach in Acadia and stopped at the perfectly-aimed-at-preschoolers York’s Wild Kingdom on the way south. Petting goats and riding a choo choo train… oh my.
Of course, when we asked Jasper what his favorite memory of the trip was, he informed us it was playing on the playground at the Burger King in Connecticut where we stopped for dinner yesterday! Just a reminder that children often find different things special than grown-ups do…