I’m so blessed to live in Maine. There are so many amazing places to go here–wonderful restaurants, fun little cafes, interesting attractions, and beautiful beaches.
Every year around this time, everywhere you turn you see painters, handymen, lawn crews, window washers, and sweepers, all working hard to spiff up the state in preparation for the coming Tourist Season.
Traditionally extending from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, Maine’s Tourist Season is the time of year when Maine is at its busiest. When we first moved here in 1995, friends told us that Maine’s population was one million…but that in the summertime, it was two million. I can well believe it.
Maine’s nickname is “The Vacation State”, and it definitely fits. What a fabulous place it is for vacations! This state has beautiful scenery, fun attractions, lots of outdoor activities, and wonderful food. After all, who hasn’t heard of Maine lobster?
Today, my youngest daughter, my Mom-in-law, and I drove down to York, Maine for an appointment. It was such a gorgeous day that we decided, on our way back north, that we’d take a “Monday Drive” along the “Shore Road”, which winds its way north from York to Ogunquit along the ocean. If you ever come to Maine, plan to take that drive, because the scenery along the road is absolutely gorgeous.
As we drove along, we marveled at the blue, blue sky and all the gorgeous flowers in full bloom. We also noticed that many local businesses were in full swing, preparing for the summer season.
They were everywhere we looked! Painters were working hard outside The Goldenrod, home to a 116-year-old restaurant and candy store, where each summer they sell literally tons of their famous “Goldenrod Kisses”. Workers were hidden inside Fun-O-Rama; the doors were open but none of the arcade games were on, and none of the vending machines we saw were filled yet.
Even Big Daddy’s in Wells, our absolute favorite ice cream parlor in Maine, is already open for business, but only on Thursdays through Sundays. (If you want ice cream on Monday, you’re out of luck!)
As we drove along enjoying the scenery, my Mom-in-law and I talked about the various things I think she needs to experience, now that she’s become a full-time Maine resident. However, as we talked, it dawned on me that, ever since we moved to Maine in 1995, we have fallen prey to exactly the same fate that befalls anyone who lives somewhere that is a vacation destination: we don’t do any of the cool things that tourists do!
San Franciscans, for example, aren’t likely to visit Alcatraz or Fisherman’s Wharf. New Yorkers are not usually among the crowds on top of the Empire State Building. And Mainers are not often the ones standing around, gazing at Nubble Light and taking pictures.
I realize that’s a pretty broad generalization, but I’m sure if you think about it, you’ll see where I’m coming from. How often do any of us avail ourselves of the opportunities that surround us? My family has lived in Maine for over 15 years, and yet none of us have ever taken a whale watching excursion, ridden the Casco Bay Ferry, or even had lunch at DiMillo’s…all things that people come to Maine specifically to do.
In fact, we rarely go out for a traditional “boiled lobstah dinnah”, instead preferring to get lobsters at the local store and steam them ourselves–or we might instead simply get lobster rolls at The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport or at The Landing Store in Kennebunk.
There are a lot of places we still want to explore, and a few experiences to have that we’ve been been promising ourselves for many years–tent camping for a weekend at Libby’s Oceanside Camp, owned by friends-of-friends Norm and Candy, being at the top of the list. Camping there is yet one more thing we haven’t yet gotten to, although we talk about it every year.
My husband and I have decided that this year, since we aren’t planning on making our usual summer trip to California to visit family, we want to do all those things here on the East Coast that we have been promising ourselves for so long. Camping at Libby’s is going on the list. Also on the list are long days at the local beach (just three miles from our house), getting our fire pit up and running, buying a “screen house” for the porch so that we can sit outside without becoming dinner for mosquitos, and spending a day (or two) up at Damariscotta Lake.
We also want to take a cruise on the Casco Bay Ferry, take a long-planned-but-never-executed trip to Martha’s Vineyard, go to the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston for the first time ever, and maybe even take a trip down to Washington DC to see the Smithsonian Museums.
And, at the end of summer, right before school starts, we have an 8-night round-trip cruise on the Disney Magic from New York City to the Bahamas to look forward to.
Your Monday Challenge is this:
Start planning out your summer activities. Whether you have a whole summer to yourself because you’re a stay-at-home parent (or a teacher), or whether you only have weekends free, there is still a lot of time available for wonderful leisure activities. Making a plan ahead of time is a great way to make sure the summer doesn’t get away from you.
How to make your summer adventure plan: on a piece of paper (or on your laptop), jot down a list of things you want to do, or that you think might be fun. If you’re like us, with plans to stay near home for most of the summer, look around your own area. Are there activities nearby that you have yet to try? Take some time doing this. If your town has those “tourist information” centers, take a little field trip over and look through the racks. Try to jot down least five items that are “MUST DO” activities on your list.
If you have children, have them do the same thing. Smaller kids can either dictate their list, or draw it for you.
Once you have your list written out, rank the items on it from most important to least. Have your familiy members do the same (helping littler kids as necessary). When you’ve all got your lists, discuss the items on them as a family, and from that make a master list of all the things you want to do, taking turns at putting items on the list (maybe Dad gets #1, then the youngest gets #2, and so on).
We will be making our list this week as well, and you can guarantee that Libby’s Oceanside Camp will be right up near the very top of mine.
When you get your list together, consider sharing it here with us–it doesn’t have to be today, though, so don’t stay up late…unless you want to!
Aloha, and have a wonderful week!