We returned from Canada on Monday, June 29. It seems that crossing the border initiated a change in our attitude towards our lifestyle. To my knowledge there was no conscious decision on the part of either of us, we just changed.
Settling into Great Pond Campground, a Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation property in Maine, we intended to take advantage of the setting to relax a little following all the sightseeing we had done in Nova Scotia. We also had some friends we wanted to get together with in the Bar Harbor area as well as some appointments we needed to make in York, Maine and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. When we planned this part of the trip, we studied the map and determined that Great Pond would be a good place to do all these things. Although it was a pretty good distance from York and Portsmouth, it appeared to be pretty close to Bar Harbor and the surrounding area. We were wrong. Great Pond is only reasonably close to Bangor, Maine and the Canadian border. Now, that is not a bad thing, especially for reason one for going there, rest.
Reasons two and three would eventually cancel out reason one. The near continuous rain contributed to the loss of rest time.
I need to explain my title and first paragraph of this entry. For all of May we were really on vacation. Once we returned to Maine we were really no longer on vacation. We had in fact returned to the real world of managing our two lives and the resulting business that keeps us viable. We are finally realizing what full timing in a recreational vehicle is all about.
While planning our departure from a fixed home, we did not purposely plan to glide into the new lifestyle via a vacation. In fact, the reason we took the trip to Nova Scotia when we did was simply an exciting way to keep us in the northeast long enough to satisfy the appointments that had already been scheduled and facilitate our still being in the area on the first of July to attend a wedding in Central Village, Connecticut. However, making the transition to full timing with a vacation stuck on the front end of it has probably been a good thing.
When we got to Great Pond, we were ready in a lot of ways to settle back into a more normal life of taking care of the day to day business of running a household and dealing with those real things of life such as doctor’s appointments, vehicle maintenance, hair appointments, paying bills and the like.
The choice we made to stay at Great Pond at that point in the process was not the best choice we could have made. As I mentioned, the only places Great Pond seemed to be close to were Bangor, Maine and the Canadian border. Early in our stay we made an overnight trip without the motorhome to Kittery, Maine so Connie could go to an appointment. The drive down and back, while primarily on interstate highways, was not very relaxing.
We had friends we wanted to visit on the coast. We did meet those friends for lunch one rather gloomy afternoon in the charming little town of Castine, Maine. The drive to the coast from Great Pond was over more of Maine’s less than perfect roads. While the company was wonderful for the stroll around town and the lunch was delightfully delicious, I, as the driver, did not get much of a break. The day before our lunch date we had driven to Bar Harbor to look around and yes, to have lunch. The driving distance that day would be about the same as the following day. The next day found us pretty much rained-in at Great Pond. I worked on the computer on financial things and added a little order to our lives while Connie spent the day indoors reading.
When we awoke on Sunday it was still raining. We were beginning to feel as though we were in some B rated movie and being subjected to a modified water torture. We finally threw in the towel and drove to Bangor for an indoor walk around the mall and, of course, lunch.
What we were not really doing from this location was the normal tourist activities of sightseeing and souvenir shopping. We were simply living our lives from a home that was mobile. Except for the rain, we liked what we were doing.
We left Great Pond after a week and returned to Kittery. We had some unfinished business involving some furniture we needed to get shipped to Connie’s niece in Pittsburgh. During our one-day stop earlier in the week we had collected our mail and having processed it, we had other business we needed to attend to that required reliable internet access. So, we spent three full days in Kittery taking care of business and seeing good friends and, of course, eating well. I have to admit that for me that short stay in Kittery was really very good for my ego. I didn’t really realize how much I needed to be reassured that I had made a difference in the lives of those with whom I had worked and associated with. After being away for a month the reunion was very heart warming and it really made me feel good.
For several years Connie has been communicating with several (nearly 100 in the beginning) people via an internet chat group called the Loons and Larks. I won’t go into how the group formed, but I will say that the common link among the entire group is the love of birds and bird watching. We have met some really interesting and wonderful people in the flesh from this group and have at times gotten together in varying sized groups to search for the local specialties in various areas of the country. This is all a lead into where we were to go next and why. One of the couples Connie and I have gotten to know from the Loons and Larks is Kathy and George Van Der Aue. They live in Connecticut, but have a wonderful “cabin” on the coast in East Boothbay, Maine. Some years ago, we had our first occasion to meet the Van Der Aue’s during a trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. The four of us stayed in a one room cabin with no heat or plumbing while we attended a nature journaling course offered by the Glacier Institute. Let me tell you, you really get to know a couple fast when you are sharing such a small bit of space. Anyway, our relationship with Kathy and George has grown over the years and we have visited one another in more civilized settings as time has afforded.
We had made sort of loose plans the day of my retirement ceremony to meet Kathy and George at the cabin some time before we left the area. As it worked out, they were going to be in Maine following our visit to Kittery, so we made reservations at a nearby campground and spent a wonderful few days catching up with the two of them and another couple. Kathy spoiled us with her wonderful and creative cooking and their two birds kept us fully entertained. It was a great get-away weekend, but it was not the “weekend” except for those of us who don’t worry too much anymore about what actual day of the week it is.
But there would be more. Before we even arrived at East Boothbay we had made plans and secured reservations at a small campground south and east of Baxter State Park called Hidden Springs Campground. The goal was for the four of us to hike part way up Baxter Peak and try to see or at least hear all six of the thrush species that nest in Maine. Further, the four of us would once again be living in a small space together for one night. That space, of course, was our motorhome.
I am happy to say that although we did not achieve the goal of even hearing all six bird species, we did have a great time together and the hike was well worth the effort.
Kathy and George spent just one night with us. Connie and I spent three nights at Hidden Springs. We filled the rest of our time there looking for moose and relaxing.
Our next destination was to be Hanscom Air Force Base Family Camp in Bedford, Massachusetts. The drive from Baxter State Park to Hanscom was more than I wanted to make in one day, so we made an intermediate stop in Eliot, Maine. We had found this little campground during our last stop in the area and thought we would give it a shot. Knowing that we have one more round of appointments in the area before we leave we thought it would be good to find a campground closer to where the appointments are. This location, Indian Rivers satisfies that desire.
Anyway, we arrived at Hanscom yesterday. Our goal while here is to meet with friends from our tour in Hawaii some twenty-three years ago. In fact we are in the campsite adjacent to theirs. They are still working. They live in New York (state) but work at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston several days per month. While working they live here at the campground. We also intend to see a former boss of mine who now lives and works in Boston. While in Boston we intend to tour the famed city. There are also more Loons and Larks we would like to visit one more time before we leave New England. One couple lives just several miles from here. To visit others will require some logistics.
While the visiting schedule takes shape, we are continuing to live our new lives and enjoying this lifestyle even more than I thought we would.
Now that you have worked your way through this chronology of events you may or may not have come to realize what Connie and I came to. The change that took place when we returned from Canada had everything to do with the fact that although there were some commitments hanging out there, we had no real itinerary. We only had a need to be in an area for some reason or another. The activities we participated in just sort of fell into place to occupy the time available. We have been able to take advantage of the locations we visited to see different things, but there has been no pressure to try to do it all right now because we are on vacation and have limited time to do what we may want to.
Over the remainder of this month and July we have but four firm commitments. One more appointment in York, the wedding in Central Village, Fourth of July plus a few days with Connie’s family in Pittsburgh and my new driver’s license in Florida before July ends.
We don’t know how we will fill the time between all those events, but from our recent history I know we’ll not have any problem finding interesting and entertaining things to do. Most importantly, we will not allow ourselves to be rushed to do anything. We have also learned that with no set schedule it is easy to return to a location just because we want to. Such was the case with our return visit to Baxter State Park.
Following the new driver’s license and some other rather mundane stuff we need to attend to in Florida, we will truly be foot loose and fancy free and could show up anywhere at any time. For instance, I am dying to visit our friend Franco in La Mesa, California. Franco is not just a friend, he owns and is the chef in what I describe as the best Italian restaurant not in Italy. What the heck, a month long trip each way to San Diego could be a lot of fun. It would get us out of the hurricane belt for a few months and afford us the opportunity to visit friends and possibly some relatives if we go far enough north enroute.
The life of full timers on the road has few rules and even fewer restrictions. So, keep an eye open for us. We could show up in your neighborhood.