Showing off the beauties of Maine to the boys
I must have done something really good in this or a previous life, because I just had the best weekend ever.
My nephews, I'll call them Luke, 26, and Steve, 22, came to visit from Connecticut. They arrived by car Saturday afternoon, were greeted by Maureen and introduced to the dogs, Riley, Dominic and Cushla. Since they have grown up with golden retrievers and Labradors, the two German shepherds weren't too much of a stretch. Luke has a special affinity for dogs, so he and 18-month-old Cushla quickly formed a bond around playing fetch the ball.
The guys had an ATV ride on our dead-end dirt road, and were sitting around the kitchen table relaxing when I came in with the lobsters. I'd had Jess's Market cook them and before too long we were digging in and dipping in melted butter. Steve was known to be a fan of Maine's signature crustacean, so I got him two, and he did them justice.
Luke, on the other hand, admitted to being a lobster virgin – a situation we remedied in short order. Maureen sat next to him and showed him how to break into the shell using scissors, crackers and the special picks made for the tantalizing task of teasing lobster meat out of knuckles and other hard-to-reach places. By the end of the meal, he was asking Steve for a claw from his second lobster.
We capped our meal with a sunset drive to Thomaston for Dorman's ice cream.
Sunday we went to Acadia National Park, the boys' request. It was a fantastic day: gorgeous weather, beautiful scenery, tour-guide narration by Maureen, tunes by Mary Chapin Carpenter. And for lunch – lobster rolls! Having tried both, Luke said he preferred the dipped-in-butter version, but he downed his roll with no problem.
We had about an hour's walk on the carriage trails, taking in some lovely views of the park, including a very nice overlook from Paradise Hill. Since Maureen decided to take it easy and not join us on the walk, I dispensed a little auntly advice while she wasn't around to make comments about practicing what you preach. The guys were very tolerant of my desire to keep them from making my mistakes. Luke and Steve each took a picture of me with the other. Later, I got one of them and Maureen got one of the three of us.
Sand Beach, the park's only beach, took my breath away – I had never seen it before. Carved into the rock, the beach feels very secluded and, at least when we were there, boasts some striking green water. Elsewhere in the park, it was warm that day, but a breeze off the chilly water kept the beach cool. We marveled at the children, dressed as if it were an 80-degree summer day, running in and out of the waves, which we were told seldom get warmer than 55.
We went to Thunder Hole an hour after low tide and heard the water boom inside the rocks, along with a splattering of excited Japanese from what looked like a large family. The sight and sound of the water rising up in the cave and exploding into the air is fascinating, speaking to something deep inside us.
We were too early for sunset on Cadillac Mountain, but enjoyed the view anyway, taking several more photographs of the vista and each other. Then we walked the path around the perimeter of the summit. The islands were laid out before us in the bay, a giant, living map.
Last stop was Blue Hill Overlook on Cadillac Mountain Road, looking west over Eagle Lake. Still too early for sunset, we had a lovely view anyway. Then we had the beautiful, slow, winding trip down the mountain gawking out the windows all the way.
After all our sun and fresh air, the three of us who weren't driving nodded out while Maureen headed for home. Dinner in Belfast completed our outing. Then it was home to reckon with three dogs who had been cooped up indoors for nearly 12 hours.
Luke and Steve were model guests: polite, easygoing, quick to help. And they could throw the ball a lot further for Cushla than we could.
Of course, the best thing about the visit was seeing people I love and being able to do something nice for them. They're not my children, but I care about what happens to them and want them to find their way to a meaningful life.
It was lovely to have them. I hope they know they are welcome whenever they want to come back.