Monday, August 21, 2017

A Classic Case of Bar Harbor

Having just spent 45 days in Canada, we crossed the border with a renewed love for America. American food. American grocery stores. Legit cell phone coverage. Miles instead of Kilometers. The Eastern Time Zone.  All of it.  

We had just crossed into Maine when we spotted our first wild blueberry stand and broke out our dusty, forgotten American dollars to purchase a $5 pint.  The lady at the stand snickered "That's a lot of rig to be hauling all the way over here for just one pint." 

Indeed, Lady. Indeed. 

If you've never had wild blueberries from Maine... you are missing out.  The legend and lore is true... they taste nothing like store-bought blueberries. Instead, they taste like little balls of blueberry candy. We ate them by the handful as we cruised through northern Maine and on to Bar Harbor. Delicious!

We set up camp at Mt Desert Narrows Camping Resort as the nightly food trucks cruised through the campsites and our kids ran off to make new friends. At Max's request, we bought a blueberry pie for "later" or "soon", as he says whenever he wants you to make or buy him something that he has no intention of eating.  We set the pie aside in favor of barbecue from Mainely Meats. God Bless America.  

As the sun set and the mosquitoes descended, we called our sweaty babies inside for showers and dinner, barely getting food into their bellies before they were asleep. A few episodes of Master of None later, we turned in as well.  Lights out. Windows open. 

Lying in the seaside darkness, we nodded off as the fifty-degree winds whistled through our little Jayco. 

Suddenly, our early bedtime was interrupted by our neighbor screaming something that rhymes with "DUCK!" 

Panic ensued in Site 88.  Thuds. Screaming. 

What was happening?

We shot up from our slumber and, of course, pressed our faces to the screen... wondering if we needed to call the police.  Minutes went by. More movement. More sounds. More screaming. Suddenly, the door of the 1982 Class A with a neon pink decorative stripe opened.  Two semi-clothed older folks stumbled out.  The man was wearing only boxer shorts. The woman, a t shirt with no pants. Neither had shoes.  

For what seemed like an eternity, they padded around their campsite. Examining the surrounding areas, under their camper, and around their picnic area. 

Eventually, they retreated to their rig. Moments later, they were back outside... this time with more clothes, flashlights, bug spray, and a renewed zest for their very heated argument. 

"But she doesn't know where she is!" the husband screamed. 
"Well, I'll just wait right here by the door," the wife replied. 
"The door? The door! The door means nothing to her! She's gone. This is stupid. Stupid. Stupid. THIS IS THE CLASSIC CASE OF HOW YOU LOSE A CAT!" 

Ohhhhhhh good it's just a cat and not a dog... we're going back to bed. Kidding... kidding.  

Now... this is probably a good time to tell you that these people were already a little weird. We'd tried to make friends upon their arrival and they were not having it. They had also parked their RV backward (causing us to be door-to-door) and, to level the poorly parked rig, had put their front two tires up on cinder blocks. This is just not done. 

So, even though our first instinct would have been to get out of bed and help our new neighbors find their cat... we held back when we remembered that they were unfriendly, partially clothed, and had taken on an impossible task. After all, that cat clearly wanted out of that RV... and was not coming back any time soon. Also, we are both allergic to cats. Also, the mosquitoes. These were all the ways that we assuaged our guilt as we remained in our cozy, mosquito-free bed. 

But the search kept going... and going. They spent the better part of an hour flashing their lights into trees and under cars. Their footsteps on the gravel outside began to sound more and more desperate. We couldn't take it. We had to help. We began working on a plan to explain why we'd waiting so long to come outside. Mark agreed to get up and get dressed. 

Then Screamy McScreamerton got all sorts of pissy again and grabbed his wife by the arm and made her go inside. He told her to go to bed and turned off all of the lights in the camper. If he didn't want her help, we decided that he certainly didn't want ours.  We closed our windows and discussed the great life that this cat will now lead as it wanders oyster beds and enjoys the Bar Harbor lifestyle.We discussed the man's observation that this was a "classic case" and wondered how many other cats had been lost in this manner. We told ourselves that we'd done the right thing.. but we were awake for hours listening for a "meow" in the night.  

Morning came and curiosity, though it may have killed their cat, was not going to get the best of us. Mark wandered outside, spying the neighbor, and went about his customary morning greetings. Screamy McScreamerton, though he was eager to talk about our Florida license plate, made no mention of the missing cat.  In fact, he made no mention of the cat for the rest of our stay in Bar Harbor. We decided that the cat must have been found... or at least that's what we told ourselves. 

Other than spying on Screamy McScreamerton, the rest of our week in Bar Harbor was spent 
relaxing, eating, hiking, exploring and enjoying the perfect weather.  Here are a few of the highlights... which are mostly food related :)

The Grub

Mother's Kitchen is the best sandwich shop...ever.  Boxed water, picnic tables, bumble bees buzzing about.  Perfection. 

Beech Hill Farm, part of the College of the Atlantic, is a fantastic farmers market. Look at those veggies! 

Rosalie's Pizza in Bar Harbor. Mystic Pizza vibe with Maine beers.  Love. 

Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound lets you pick your soon-to-be-doomed lobster and watch it be boiled alive. Like the neighbor's lost cat, you may feel badly about the entire process... until they serve it up 15 minutes later with some delicious butter!

Charlotte's Legendary Lobster Pound... a roadside stand complete with the best scallops ever, multiple fire pits for warming yourself against the chilly fog, a pet goat, and a wall of water guns with which to soak your brother in the nearby field. Just when you think things can't get any better, Charlotte herself comes out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron and making sure you loved your meal. Is she Gwen Stefani? Maybe? Retro chic and red lipstick rules. 

Wonderland Hiking Trail is short, flat and easy hiking. Cool trees, rocky beaches, and mysterious sounds emitting from the forest. Super fun! 

Thunder Hole... where waves roll in and make thunder! Boom! So cool! 

Beech Mountain Trail had us climbing up, and then down, some crazy huge rocks. People slipped. No one fell. No one whined. Amazing views. Even better work out. You can't beech that! 

Finally, people ask how we do all of our Decibels Audiology and Decibels 180 work while on the road. The answer is simple... Andy Schaps packs up our Naples life and overnights it to us via FedEx! Look at Mark carry that heavy box... he's so strong! 

Another great week in Bar Harbor, another long drive home ahead of us. Naples, here we come! 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

45 Days in Canada

Believe it or not, we've been in Canada for the past 45 days! That's crazy. It's funny to think back to the 1st of July and how nervous we were about the international adventure before us.  We didn't know where we were going, what we were going to be doing, or if we'd be able to speak any French. We didn't know anything about taking our RV on huge ferries across the massive Atlantic ocean, about calculating miles to kilometers, or just how disappointing poutine would be.  The biggest thing we didn't know, however, was how unbelievably nice Canadians are, and how they would welcome us with open arms, go out of their way to speak English to us when they would prefer to speak French, and help us all along the way to have a wonderful 6 weeks abroad with our kids.  

Our last stop in Canada was one of our best, camping on the coast at Dunromin Campground near Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.  This place, steeped in history, offered up a huge variety of things to do, great places to eat, and some of the best star gazing these American city folks have ever seen. 

Upon arriving in Annapolis Royal, we were starving and out of supplies. Thankfully we found Shore Road Seafood, which was a restaurant and a general store. Score.  

The place was packed and they had no room for us in the main dining area... so they asked us if we'd like to eat in their kitchen in the back. Ummmmm... we shore would!  

Our kids, having been in the car all day, were stir crazy and hungry.  As their Nintendo 3DS games ran out of batteries, it was all we could do to keep them in their chairs.  After some sort of disciplinary statement, Andrew indicated to Mark that he didn't know what was expected of him. Mark, taking a marker from Andrew's pile, drew an "ideal" mealtime setting, showing April in a Cubs hat, Max talking about Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Mark and Andrew sitting quietly. We all examined it, complimented Mark on his ideals, and then, thank goodness, some onion rings arrived to pop the bubble of unattainable goals. 

Back at camp, Andrew spied a muddy field and spent a few hours with his toy soldiers in the "battlefield" drainage ditch. April walked the campground and noted some interesting signage, while Mark and Max elected to play with Max's cowboy action figures on a picnic table at our campsite. The idyllic afternoon came to an end when one of Andrew's soldiers lost one of his plastic guns in the goopy muck.  Tears, and wiping of tears with mucky hands, commenced.  

After hosing down a muddy Andrew, we took to the streets of Annapolis Royal for an afternoon walk. The kids enjoyed the Sinclair Inn Museum and its basement full of "ghosts" (which pop up at the push of a button). They also loved the woodworker outside, who showed them how to make wooden handles for a variety of tools.  

Our best stop was most unexpected, as we passed by a small art gallery and spied wall after wall of cool paintings depicting Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.  Tripp from Tripp's Gallery, along with his adorable wife, welcomed us and our kids, giving them some handmade leather bracelets they had made earlier that day.  Not big "souvenir" people in general, we loved the idea that these paintings were not only cool, but would remind us of our crazy Canadian adventures.  The awesome exchange rate and free shipping didn't hurt either. We bought one of Tripp's paintings of the Jellybean Houses in St. John's, Newfoundland and two of Holly Everette's paintings of Nova Scotia. So fun. So cute. 

Bidding our fabulous art farewell, we headed back to the campground, stopping briefly at the Annapolis Tidal Generation Station.  Here, the fine people of Annapolis Royal put the crazy huge tides from the Bay of Fundy (one of the 7 Wonders of North America) to work for them.  The only tidal power plant in North America, and one of the few in the world, this place is kicking out enough power to fuel 4500 homes.  

The next day, we made our children very happy when we announced that we were going to Upper Clements Amusement Park. An old school family fun park with a wooden roller coaster that will whip your head around to the point of concern, we had a blast riding the rides, dominating laser tag, and counting how many times Andrew could climb the steps to the massive water slide before his legs gave out (10 times, by the way). 

Or last day in Annapolis Royal was all about history, and we began with a visit to the Port Royal National Historic Site. A reconstruction of Samuel de Champlain's 1605 attempt at North American settlement, our kids loved exploring all that this fort had to offer. 

Following Port Royal, we drove over to Fort Anne for even more Canadian history. 

Mark took a moment to take it all in as he looked out over the rolling hills and gorgeous water, Canadian 150 flag stuck in his back pocket... how far we've come, the 7000 miles he's driven, the history right beneath his feet, the incredibly opportunity to spend 90 days with our kids on the road. As he let his mind wander to how truly blessed we are to have had this opportunity, April noticed movement in the background. 

So one of our kid got away from us... relax... we're pretty sure he meant to fall/roll down that hill. Whoopsies.

We finished our time at Fort Anne with the 9:30pm Candlelight Graveyard Tour.  Super pumped that they got to carry their own real lanterns with real candles, we sprayed ourselves down with bug spray and bundled up against the cool ocean breeze.

The tour was amazing.  The guide, having done this for years as his hobby, was hilarious and so knowledgeable. He brought history to life as we navigated the gravestones under the night sky.  The kids loved it for the first hour, but couldn't keep their eyes open once 10:30pm came around.  They nodded off on the grass or our shoulders until 11pm, when the tour ended and they begged for hot chocolate and bedtime.

On Monday morning, we drove aboard our last ferry of this trip, from Digby, Nova Scotia to Saint John, New Brunswick.  The calm, relaxing, two hour journey was complete with nature presentations from the local museum and a movie theater showing the latest Smurfs movie.  This ferry served pizza, to boot.  Kids happy, parents happy, we drove off the ship exactly two hours later, and headed toward the border.  America! We're coming home! 

Our super cool Homeland Security officer went easy on us, and we were back in America before we knew it.  We could have kissed the ground... had we not been so eager to get to Bar Harbor. Maine, here we come! 

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?&...