Saturday, August 11, 2018

Snarfs and Snoozes

While driving the 1772 miles home from Bar Harbor, April looked and Mark and said... "What should we call our last blog of the summer?"

"Snarfs and snoozes," he said.

And so it was.

"Snarfs" because Gatsby rocked his summer of puppy training so hard that he is now even more fantastic and obedient than he was before. Sure, some folks at our office may have taken to calling him "Robo-Gatsby" for his military-like manner... but it's totally cool because any dog that can salute with his paw is a pup worth applauding*.

*Gatsby cannot actually salute with his paw.

"Snoozes" because we've damn near exhausted Mark this summer.  Work issues, truck issues, camper issues... we're a hot mess and ready to get home... but not before visiting some of our favorite people, sights and snacks along the way!

First up, real-deal Dim Sum at Empire in Portland, Maine. It was such a hit with our kids that we didn't even have time to take any pics once the delicious food arrived, but adventurous eater Andrew did chow down on some jellyfish and discovered a new love for wonton soup.

Second, a promised McDonald's run to get Super Mario toys. Genius marketing.

Third, we made sure to meet up with Mark's super fun cousin Kristin and her hubby Shawn. Max was very happy.

Finally, a visit to the Udvar-Hazy Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia.

"This has been my best summer ever," said Andrew as he drifted off to sleep somewhere between the Florida and Georgia line. Now back to Naples for 2nd and 4th grade! Another summer in the books!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Month in Maine

Maine's Mount Desert Island is awesome. Surrounded by 70 degree weather and a mysterious rolling fog, this little island packs a big punch.  Home of Acadia National Park and a plethora of picturesque towns, it's easy to fall in love with MDI. Top this off with access to one of the very best summer camps in the country and you’ve got yourself the makings of one fantastic adventure!

First up, summer camp!  When we last left you, Andrew had just made friends with “Jackass” and the boys were getting their feet wet at Camp Beech Cliff. A month later, Jack S has come and gone but the boys have experienced a summer they’ll never forget (and Mom and Dad have been able to get a lot of work done while our campers hike, swim, boat, explore nature and try their hand at everything from art to archery... even a puppet show). 

Outside of camp, an entire month in one place allowed us to really dig into the local culture on Mount Desert Island, and we were not disappointed. Here are some fun things we discovered...

Hikes abound! In fact, on MDI you're hard pressed not to find a hiking trail... we even had several running through our campground!

Farmers' Markets... they're everywhere and they're awesome. So many fresh, new veggies to try... and what the heck are ground cherries, anyway? 

Ice Cream... Locals claim to eat and sell a lot of it as a "defense mechanism" against the cold :) 

Acadia National Park Carriage Roads... even cooler than the ice cream!

The simple joys of being outside in July... ah-Maine-zing!



"Hawaiian Night" at our campground allowed all 3 Royan boys to try their hand at the Limbo.  No one saw this coming, but Mark actually lasted longer than either kid. 

Cartography is cool if you're 6 and looking to map your favorite Mario battles, but watch out for those bosses! 

Max wasn't the only one who took to the pencil to express his ideas. RVs are tiny, and Andrew made no secret of his need for alone time. 


Quaint roadside stops like The Pie Lady and the Selectmen's Building abound in Maine, especially near our Smuggler's Den Campground in Southwest Harbor. Max took a particular liking to The Pie Lady... happily giving her daily notes on yesterday's crust and filling choices. Mixed Berry was his favorite, by the way... having found Strawberry Rhubarb to be too sour and straight up Blueberry to be too sweet. 

Beaches glimmering with crisp, clean, COLD water are everywhere... and that's a very good thing whether you're 9 or 39. 

Rosalie's Pizza. We love you. 

And, finally, Lobster! Lots and lots of lobster! Yum. Yum. Yum. 


As if full-time exploring wasn’t enough, we were also blessed to have some awesome visitors during our stay! April’s parents, Jerry and Sue, stopped by Southwest Harbor on their way to Canada… bringing with them a week of rain and fog… summer bummer! No matter, we all can appreciate a solid indoor activity and plenty of naps … so a good time was had by all!

Jerry and Sue weren't our only visitors this trip... Max also got his first visit from the Tooth Fairy. It should be noted that children who lose their first tooth after midnight, while on vacation, seem to receive larger sums from said Tooth Fairy than those who lose them at home. Interesting.  

Eventually August crept up and smacked us across the face, reminding us that it’s time to go home. The boys packed their backpacks for the last day of summer camp and we piled into the truck ready to say goodbye to this year’s awesome counsellors. The truck, however, had other plans.

Good ole F350 was dead…. As a doornail. No amount of tinkering or flipping or twisting could bring her back to life, and the nearest Uber was far, far away. Thankfully, a cool dude with a sweet beard pulled up and, after tinkering with the truck a bit himself, offered to give Mark and the boys a ride to camp.  Cool dude was happy for the distraction from his wife and 4 kids in the neighboring tent, and a fast friendship was formed when we discovered he was from Stowe (our other favorite place). One could really bend their mind about what this must have looked like to our kids… who were “not sure” about riding with a stranger (rightly so)… but what else were we to do? No one wants to miss the last day! Plus, we’re really into GLOW and The Americans right now and hitchhiking in the 80s was rad. 20 minutes later and our two boys happily at camp, Mark was back and a tow truck was called.

Will F350 come back to life, or will be stuck in Maine forever? Only time will tell!

Snarfs and Snoozes

While driving the 1772 miles home from Bar Harbor, April looked and Mark and said... "What should we call our last blog of the summer?&...