I was at church last night with a wonderful group of women I’ve been journeying with for the last several weeks. We were practicing silence and guided prayer, which I will leave to others much more knowledgeable than I to document. What I want to write about is where the practices led me.
We were to go, in our minds, to a safe place. The place that came to me was a cottage where Jeff and I stayed when we took a trip to Maine for our 10th wedding anniversary. It was an absolute oasis where we spent two utterly relaxing weeks.
So this morning I pulled out the photo album from the trip and as I was paging through it I realized that without even knowing it, I was blogging on that trip. OK, back then we called it journaling; but you know, tomAto / tomAHto!
Although the cottage is no longer available for rent; many of the restaurants are still in business and worth reading about if you’re taking a trip to Maine! So I am going to share the trip with you in installments!
August 3, 2003
We’re sitting down to a delicious breakfast of homemade muffins, fresh fruit and the freshest eggs I think I have ever eaten. They are from the hen-house, which is a stone’s throw from our door and which Lucky loves to visit each time he can escape.
[Lucky was a wonderfully crazy Golden Retriever with many issues! You’ll read a lot about him and his “brother” Dakota over the next several days.]
This breakfast and the beauty of our surroundings eases the “pain” of yesterday…
We got up at 3:11 a.m., showered, packed the car and got on the road by 4:46 in an effort to beat the traffic. Ha!!! The car ride began with the boys [dogs] walking around the back of the SUV and being generally uncomfortable. At our first stop in Lebanon (yes, we didn’t make it very far) I got in the back to lie down with them thinking it would calm the savage beast. It worked for Dakota – he snuggled up next to me and slept. Unfortunately Lucky continued to pace like an expectant father in the maternity ward.
Once back on the road, we sailed through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York (which was very interesting) and stopped once in Connecticut. We attempted to get a Super Duper Weenie in Fairfield (Exit 24 of I-95), but arrived to find a “CLOSED” sign in the window. It was, however, a great place to take Jeff’s picture and to potty the guys.
Back in the car we headed for Massachusetts. Once on Route 84 we were in the midst of what we affectionately refer to as the Mass. Turnpike Toll-Booth Parking Lot. Apparently stopping for 30 minutes to an hour at each toll-booth is a common practice on summer weekends in New England. [Remember, the trip was before the wide-spread use of EZPass]. Let’s just say the second “half” of the trip was L-O-N-G!!!
At exit 3 in Maine we became impatient and decided that seeing the back roads would be a nice change from highway driving – or more accurately – “highway sitting.” Jeff got out the atlas and found our alternate route – Route 202 – which is the one exception to the atlas scale. For all other routes, the scale is one inch equals five miles. On Route 202, one inch equals 100 miles – or so it seemed. At first we didn’t let it get us down because we had visions of passing clam shacks and beautiful Maine scenery.
Our visions were slightly skewed – either that or we were driving through the Bronx again! We passed what seemed like hundreds of pizza joints and literally no seafood restaurants (unless you count the lobster roll at McDonald’s).
We also came to realize that several other vacationers to Maine had gotten sick of driving on Route 202, stopped, got out of their cars, slapped ‘FOR SALE’ signs in the front windows and began walking to dinner at a pizza joint.
Cars weren’t the only things for sale on the roadside. We could have bought snowmobiles, trailers, homes, fruit, a tractor-trailer for $8,500, and of course pizza.
We were surprised when we passed the most run-down trailer park from the ’50’s. Where were the New England style houses? And towns….forget it….on the map, heavily populated areas are shown in orange. Well, heavily populated areas have approximately 3 homes. In one “orange” town we saw the most people we had seen since we began our trek on Route 202 – it was what appeared to be a family reunion of 15 of the most frightening people we have ever seen.
Finally, we were nearing our destination – Kents Hill / Fayette. We started to relax and to look for Fayette Corners Road.
I think it is important to point out here that we are on a trip celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. Much like a day from our honeymoon trip where we drove around aimlessly through Falmouth, MA looking for Aunt Mitzi and Uncle John, our spirits began dampening when we realized that either Fayette Corners Road does not exist or it is not marked. We also began to fear that Cornerstone “Cottage” would be an old, leaky Air Stream trailer with no electricity or running water.
Dakota and Lucky were so antsy – and who could blame them? Except for a few rest stops to potty and stretch our legs, we had been in the car nearing 13 hours. During the trip, Lucky only laid down one time for 10 minutes – by the 13th hour he looked utterly exhausted – his eyelids were drooping and he could barely hold his head up – luckily he was resting it on the cooler.
We pressed on though, and after driving the same stretch of road several times and ultimately asking some locals for directions, found Fayette Corners Road. Interestingly enough, there is a street sign – the only problem is that it is 1/4 mile AFTER you turn onto the road!
We easily found Baldwin Hill Road and Ellis Road – our final turn. Expecting the absolute worst, we saw a beautifully carved rock announcing our arrival at Cornerstone Cottage. We turned into the drive and all our fears melted away like cotton candy in the rain.
Wildflowers were growing around the beautifully planted garden and the hens welcomed us with a rousing melody. The sound of gravel crunching under our tires began to seem as relaxing as a mountain stream gently trickling with cool water. We were “home.”
Eric came out to greet us and show us around. As we walked into Cornerstone Cottage, we began to notice the fine craftsmanship in the house – however, every time we have walked in since, we have noticed something else. I think the most obvious touch is the “spiral” stairs that still have tree bark on the faces. It is so warm and comfortable here.
Ahhhhhhhhhh. That is the sound of our stress melting away.
We wandered through the cottage looking at the details and settling in. Then we headed for the beautiful deck, which of course was hand crafted.
While having a lazy conversation with Eric, Jeff began to do what looked like some sort of tribal dance. This stirred up Dakota, who ran over to participate. The next thing I knew, they had both been stung by bees.
Bellies empty, we parted company with Eric to begin our quest for lobster. We went inside where Dakota promptly threw up three times.
This initiated a call to the vet in Pennsylvania to make sure he wasn’t having a reaction to the bee sting, which prompted our search for Benadryl.
The four of us got back in the car (yes, we swore we would not get back in the car for at least 24 hours) and headed for Hallowell, stopping at the Fayette Country Store on the way for some relief for Dakota.
The scenery seemed to magically change. ON the way to Cornerstone Cottage we were seeing the worst, but now that we had relaxed a bit, we were seeing the best.
And the best site of all was Hattie’s Chowder House – our choice for the evening and an entry in Jeff’s “little black book.
Not wanting to leave Dakota alone, we ordered our food to go. We each ordered a lobster roll and we shared some of Hattie’s famous lobster stew and clam chowder. Sitting on some poorly lit steps in an alley-way, we had an incredible meal.
It was difficult to decide which soup was better – just when you thought you had made up your mind, your mouth was teased by the flavors of the other. I still haven’t decided.
We threw away our trash and, with sticky hands, headed back to Cornerstone Cottage for the best night’s sleep in pitch darkness.”
Stay tuned for the next installment of The Best Vacation Ever!!!
In the meantime, what was your “best vacation ever?”