One last selfie
We rose this morning at 5:50am, packed the car and hit the road just before 6:30am. Last night, Alison had said "I know it's early, but don't worry, I'll drive first and you can sleep some more." But as we approached the car, she headed for the passenger side. She quietly muttered something that I don't recall verbatim, but it was something along the lines of either "You're not too sleepy to drive, are you?" or "You don't need me to drive, do you?" or some other half-hearted, please-oh-please-don't-say-yes question. I smiled and assured her that I was ready and willing to drive, and she assured me that she was my "Wing Girl" and would provide plenty of food and conversation during our drive.
We drove from Boston to Scranton on I-84, then south to Lexington on I-81, successfully avoiding I-95 completely. It was heavenly. We stopped three times to replenish the gas tank and the snack bag, and a brisk 11 hours and 2 minutes after we left, we pulled into our driveway in Lexington. At our last stop, Alison surprised me with a pint of peanut-butter-and-fudge ice cream, which proved to be a delicious end to our 5-6 week adventure.
Canada is a remarkably civilized place and stands in stark contrast to our own country. I've thought a lot about what the differences are that make Canada so much, well... better. I've come up with three:
#1: More space
Canada is the same size as the United States, but with 1/10th of the population. That yields a population density only 10% of ours. The additional elbow room provides peace of mind.
#2: Smaller population
Canada has a population of 35 million, less than that of California. I firmly believe that there is a maximum population that can be properly served by any national government, regardless of whether that government is democratic or autocratic, liberal or conservative, and that maximum population is around 50-75 million. Any country bigger than that is "too big to succeed/govern."
#3: Colder weather
Hot weather inflames tempers, and it's cold for most of the year in most of Canada. Think of the countries that are firmly northern -- Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland -- and they are all immensely peaceful and civilized places to live.
One last day
On our last day of vacation, Alison and I spent the day with our Little Pumpkin nephews, EJ and Andrew. I was very much looking forward to nap time -- maybe even two -- but it never happened. Something about keeping the kids up during the day so that they go to sleep at a reasonable hour. It didn't make sense to me, since I can easily take a 3-hour nap and still go to bed at the usual hour, but hey, I'm flexible.
While Rachel and Ed were working, Alison and I gladly dug in and tried to remember how to (properly) care for two toddlers. Through the course of the day, there was only one incident with a child tumbling off the deck (well, two, but only one that drew blood) and EJ learned that when you need to pee while in the pool, just get out and pee on the back fence (no need to go inside, as per Alison). After dinner, while we were all sitting on their back deck, EJ announced that he needed to go to the bathroom and headed for the back fence. His dad quickly corralled him and pointed him toward the home's indoor plumbing. He hasn't yet grasped the subtle logic of when it is best to pee on the fence. All in good time. He's only three.
Tomorrow morning, we rise early (a.k.a. Alison time) and head west and south for 11 hours or so. We'll log our last travel entry from there.
"I've been driving for, like, 4 hours"
Yesterday morning, we had breakfast at Jordan's (http://www.jordanswildblueberry.com/), Bar Harbor's best and favorite breakfast destination. They specialize in all things blueberry (including gluten-free blueberry muffins) and don't disappoint. We had been there just once a dozen years ago but the place was instantly recognizable as soon as the aroma of blueberry pancakes wafted through the open doorway.
After breakfast, we said goodbye to Uncle Bert and Aunt Suzi and found our way back to Route 1 with a 6-7 hour drive to the Boston suburbs ahead of us. I got us to Interstate 95, at which point it was safe for Alison to take over (I wasn't feeling well, and she prefers the portions with no turns whatsoever). I quickly fell asleep and woke up later in the day as Alison was pulling into a service plaza. I asked her the time, wondering how long I had slept, to which she replied, "I've been driving for, like, 4 hours. I need to get a 5-Hour Energy." I told her that was a good idea and got out of the car to fill the tank. As I did, I casually glanced at my watch and realized that I'd been asleep for 1 hour, not 4. When she returned, I told her that I'd be returning to the driver's seat and she didn't put up a fight. In the trip from Richmond to Quebec to Maine to Boston, she's now logged (let me calculate...) one proud but exhausting hour behind the wheel.
Yesterday evening, we went out to dinner with my sister Rachel, her husband Ed and their two kids, EJ (3) and Andrew (1). There was a local band playing country and bluegrass music outside the restaurant and Baby Andrew and I danced to "You are My Sunshine," a favorite song of mine with a very happy chorus ("you make me happy when skies are blue") interspersed with remarkably sad verses ("now you've left me and love another; you've shattered all of my dreams"). I've always wondered about that.
Since we're now back in the world of solid WiFi, we're including some pictures from the day before yesterday, when WiFi scarcity limited our upload capabilities.
Let's keep this brief
I apologize for the brevity of this post, but we're running into some major technical issues here in Bar Harbor, so we'll have to quickly crank this out before our intermittent Internet connectivity becomes non-existent.
Yesterday morning, we toured Thuya Gardens in nearby Northeast Harbor. It was the summer home of a wealthy Boston landscape architect who donated it to the local community upon his death in 1928. At present, its gardens are a combination of formal English garden and informal Maine woodlands.
Yesterday evening, we visited Thuya's Japanese cousin, Asticou Azalea Garden. The garden was illuminated by traditional Japanese lanterns hanging from the trees and floating on the lake. The guests were also given small, white lanterns to carry, which one could see as they seemingly floated along the paths, a few feet off the ground. Save for the mosquitoes, attracted to the hand-held lanterns and eagerly nibbling on the humans carrying them, it was a beautiful experience.
There are tidbits in Maine, but like the moose, they are elusive at present. We also took many more pictures of the gardens, panoramas in particular, but they take too long to upload. Sorry.
On the move again
Yesterday morning, we said goodbye to our Eastport hosts, hopped on Route 1 and headed south and west for Bar Harbor. My Uncle Bert (my mom's brother) and his wife Suzi have a summer home there. Since the audio book we've been listening to had expired while we were away from the Internet and unable to renew it, we switched over to Bossypants by Tina Fey. I doubt she'll be in the race for a Pulitzer, but she is one funny gal.
Remember those wealthy tourists that Campobello Island was trying to attract? Well, Bar Harbor was trying to do the same, but whereas Campbello landed only the Roosevelts, Bar Harbor was able to land the likes of the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Morgans, Fords, Carnegies and Astors. With that kind of financial firepower, Bar Harbor became a haven for the ultra-wealthy while Campobello quickly petered out. These ultra-wealthy became known as rusticators, affluent people who wanted to "commune with nature" within the comfort of their 18-bedroom "cottages" and tended to by a dozen servants.
We took just a single picture yesterday (below), of Uncle Bert, Aunt Suzi and Alison.
An occasional blog about what's going on in our lives.
A complete list of all of our blog posts, in chronological order.
If you subscribe, we will send you an email message whenever we post a new entry.