The Best Vacation Ever: Part IV

If necessary, get caught up with Part I, Part II and Part III.  If you’ve already read those – then you’re ready for Part IV!

“August 6, 2003

Warm blueberry pancakes and fresh fruit this morning.  Oh, how I wish we had this kind of time for breakfast at home – but then I guess vacation wouldn’t be something to look forward to!!

Yesterday we went to the outlets in Lancaster, I mean Kittery. It was an awfully long drive to shop in store we have at home (except for the Coldwater Creek Outlet, which had great clothes and the best deals).

On the way back toward “home” we drove up Route 1 and stopped at Stonewall Kitchens.  What a great place!! If I lived in Maine, I’d try to get a job there.  It is beautiful and all their products are yummy.

We drove through some charming coastal towns that were more like what we expected in Maine.  The town centers were crowded with people and the traffic was mostly at a stand-still, but the hustle-bustle of vacationers was exciting.

In Kennebunkport we stopped at The Clam Shack (literally a shack – and which won the Travel Channel’s “Food Wars” for the best lobster roll in Kennebunkport in 2010) for dinner.  It is a tiny place at one end of a wooden bridge.  Despite the warnings he had read, Jeff thought it would be beautiful to eat by the water.  So, we took our fried clams to the bridge.  Before we began eating, I noticed several sea gulls swimming toward us.  I made eye contact with one and he didn’t look away – very bold.  As I turned to Jeff to say we should go to the car, I became paralyzed with fear as I saw a huge gull heading straight for Jeff from behind.  I was so scared I couldn’t say anything and Jeff didn’t know what was about to happen.  Just as the FLIGHT part of my fight-or-flight instinct kicked in, the sea-gull landed on Jeff’s head startling him.  But, like the true food-lover he is, he only lost about half a dozen clams in the skirmish.

Safely back in the car, drenched in tartar sauce and trying to get his heart rate back to normal, we enjoyed the most succulent, memorable fried clams we had ever tasted. During our dinner Jeff told me that he had felt the talons of the gull on his head.  I got chills and thanked God that it hadn’t been me.  Unfortunately, in all the excitement we forgot to get a photo of The Clam Shack…oh well, next year! [Sadly, it’s been over 10 years and we still haven’t been back.]

Next stop, LL Bean.  We navigated our way up Route 95 to Freeport and found a quaint little town we now wished we had skipped Kittery for, but we’ll know better for next year.  Short on time, we went straight to LL Bean and made a note to return to Freeport later in our trip.

I am at a loss for words to describe LL Bean.  When I asked Jeff for one word to describe it, his reply was “awesome.” And it was.  As we walked through the store, I was drooling over kayaks, tents, packs, poles, etc. and wishing for an endless supply of cash.  It was like paradise.  The door handles are canoe paddles and as one very friendly clerk pointed out to us, there are no locks on the doors because they are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Apparently they have only closed two times in their history, and because there are no locks on the doors, they had to post security outside.

The first closing was in the early 1900s when a fire across the street caused the evacuation of surrounding buildings.  The second closing was for the funeral of the original Mr. Bean.

Sadly we only had 45 minutes to shop, but as I said – we will return.  On the way out of Freeport we passed the most beautiful (yes, I said beautiful) McDonald’s I have ever seen.  In fact, I didn’t believe Jeff when he said, “look at that, it’s McDonald’s.”  The façade was a buttery yellow color and it was built to look like a stately New England style home.  On the drive-thru sign betrayed its true identity.

Back at Cornerstone Cottage we had quite a greeting from our boys and another restful night’s sleep.

That was yesterday, today we took the boys for a well-deserved swim.  The weather was overcast and very breezy, which made the water more choppy and difficult to navigate.  The guys tired much more easily than usual, which gave us time to take the kayaks out for a spin.

The water was cold and the sun was very bright – a very unusual sight!!! We paddled around the lake for about an hour, resting our arms often.  Just before heading back to Cornerstone Cottage, we took a dip in the water – my first of the day and Jeff’s second – if you call rolling the kayak a “dip.”  But it was a lesson for both of us – I wonder if I am strong enough to drain the water out and right the kayak when I roll it, which I know is inevitable.  I guess only time will tell!!

After a lengthy discussion about dinner, we decided on pasta.  While Jeff ran out for a few groceries, I began cooking.  It was truly one of the most peaceful and enjoyable kitchen experiences I have ever had.

Wanting to surprise Jeff with something more than store-bought pasta and sauce from a jar, I chopped and sautéed some garlic and began a simple white sauce to which I added some yogurt cheese after it had cooked for about 15 minutes.  The smell of garlic, the light spattering sound of the sauce and the repetition of stirring were mesmerizing.  I was lot….but not in thought…..simply in the activity.

I sliced some tender zucchini and sautéed it in a bit of butter and gently lowered the pasta into the bubbling water to cook.  On top of the refrigerator I found an interesting old casserole dish that I would use to bake my creation.  When the white sauce was thick, I added some parmesan and cheddar and stirred in the Ragu.  Then I mixed everything – pasta, zucchini and sauce – in the casserole and carefully lowered it into the oven.  Forty-five minutes later, when Jeff returned, we sat down to the end result of my zen-like cooking experience and then tumbled happily into bed, our bellies satisfied.”


Stay tuned for Bar Harbor, our 10th anniversary dinner, and much more…


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