Sunday, August 31, 2014

Day 7.233: Exile #2's Sunday Column #20

Exile #2 writes...

We started the week well, with mini golf in the good company of friends from NY, who were in the area on vacation but then disaster struck. Exile #4 came down with the lurgee and E5N1 wasn't quite right. It looked like our final week of vacation was going to be a bit of an anticlimax...

However, it picked up again yesterday. All being fully recovered, we were able to enjoy a much anticipated visit from one of Exile #4's best friends and family. Exile #4 was delighted to see her friend, E5N1 was delighted to see her sister, who was his classmate for a couple of years and we were delighted to see their parents and pass the time pleasantly at the beach and the brewpub. 

Today we were also able to reschedule a get together at the local water park with one of E5N1's old classmates and family that we had had to cancel earlier in the week. This was a two birds with one stone event for me as the kids had been longing to go to the park all summer and I had been dragging my feet over attempting it solo. Much fun was had by all and although I will leave the details to Exile #1, I will just say that my favorite moment of the day was hearing the unmistakable scream of my eldest daughter from right across the park, knowing that that could only mean one thing - that ride everyone saw when we pulled in to the parking lot...oh, yes she did!

Tiny picture of that ride from their website.

So, now there is just one day left of vacation. Time to check backpacks, load up with supplies, find those lunch bags and then maybe have one last day of fun!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Day 7.232: Another day in Vacationland

More lovely friends from our former home in upstate NY came to spend a day of their vacation with us today. There was tea, lunch, Minecraft, jumping off beds, running around and a lovely dinner at The Run of the Mill overlooking the river in Saco.

But most of all, there were a few hours spent at the beach:

Exile #3, Exile #4 and I all swam - there's a chance we've become acclimatised to the water temperature here, but it felt fine to us!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Day 7.231: Getting up early

It's been a slightly rough week. Exile #4 was sick and it knocked us all out of sorts.

One thing was I found it hard to get out of bed for my runs in the morning. It may have been in part due to a full work-week - but I also noticed that it's been dark when my alarm goes off.

On the other hand - running at dawn (again) has its advantages:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 7.230: E5N1's Greenville

Here are some E5N1-related things from our visit to Greenville Junction.
  1. top-left: The float planes (I loved these too).
  2. bottom-right: The cool boat-shaped play structure
  3. bottom-left: A headlight round his waist for road-safety turned into, "Look I'm a fire-fly!"
  4. top-right: His misreading of a sign...

Once he realised his mistake he was so excited that I said I could make my photograph look like his misreading!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 7.229: Beach Boba

We had quite a few people admiring our castle on Sunday - especially Exile #3's road paving. The most surprising moment was when a young couple walked up, asked if the castle was ours, said something nice about it and then asked if they could put their mini-Boba Fett in it.

Uh, sure...

So they did:

Then they took a photograph or two, reclaimed Boba and went on their way.

Not something that happens every day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Day 7.228: Cycling Piscataquis

Today didn't go quite as planned thanks to Exile #4 and, to a lesser extent, E5N1 coming down with what Americans tend to call "stomach flu".

Anyway, rather than dwelling on that, Here's the last part of our vacation recap.

On our last day (a week ago), we packed up the car, checked out of our chalet-motel by the lake in Greenville Junction (Piscataquis County) and went out to use the bikes we'd been carting around for the last five days.

We cycled along part of a rail trail very close to where we'd been staying. The views in a couple of spots were stunning. Wildlife sightings were limited to a few birds (including this belted kingfisher) and a few insects (including this spectacular white-marked tussock moth caterpillar). Eventually, the trail became rather big stones which were probably better for standing up to the rigours of the ATVs that use the trail than for the comfort of cyclists so we decided to turn around.

In all, we cycled about six miles, then we packed the bikes back into/onto the car and started our journey home. Although it was not much cycling, I'm glad we got organised to carry the bikes, it gives us new options and we proved to ourselves that it works out pretty well.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 7.227: ...and then three (or four) come along at once

After saying goodbye to Albaniana and family yesterday, this evening we met up with more vacationing friends from our time in New York.

They actually know some things in the area better than we do, having vacationed here a few years in a row. We played mini-golf and then ended up having a late dinner in a private room at an Irish pub while the open-mic night happened through in the bar.

Surprising and wonderful.

Tomorrow, Exile #2 and the kids have another appointment with another family from our former life and, at the weekend, we have more friends dropping in on us. Yay!

You wait all summer for some friends from New York to visit while vacationing in Maine...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 7.226: Exile #2's Sunday Column #19

Exile #2 writes...

One of the pleasures of living at the coast, is that not only do you get to enjoy your own vacations but you also get to join in with those of friends and relatives. This weekend, we were pleased to have the company of Albaniana and family. The weather was just about perfect and today we headed to the beach for some sun and surf. Although we didn't resort to knotted handkerchiefs, there was something particularly British about the way many of the party got on with swimming undeterred by the chilly waters, building dams and sandcastles on a grand scale, then heading home for a nice cup of tea (after a stop off for the closest thing to a pub lunch we could find nearby).

It has been great to see them and to have a way of holding back the end of the school vacation. The young Exiles have little more than a week left before the old routine resumes. School supplies are lurking in a corner and, thanks to E5N1 having pocket money to spare when we went to buy the supplies, the house is full of Post-it notes bearing strange messages: "scavenger hunt - look for sticky notes" (not too difficult, they are everywhere), "ten million bottles of beer on the wall" (glad he didn't decide to try and perform that song during our recent road trip) and, mysteriously, "great minds think alike" (but whose?).

There are many unknowns ahead as we face our first full school year in Maine but we can't delay it much longer...well, perhaps one more week...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Day 7.225: Making a splash; in the marsh

The day started with some running followed by some conversations with visiting friends and neighbors and then a very leisurely breakfast that seemed to stretch until nearly lunch time.

At which point, the five of us went to the family barbecue for Exile #4's karate dojo - where E5N1 and Exile #4 enjoyed splashing around with the other kids and Exile #3, Exile #2 and I sat around and made conversation with the other adults*.

After that, we reunited with our house guests for a walk at Scarborough Marsh where we saw what looked like a territorial battle between snowy egrets.

As you may have heard, Albaniana and family are visiting - here we all are under beautiful blue Maine skies:

And this evening we ate fried food and watched Doctor Who. Yay!

* We don't actually consider Exile #3 to be an adult.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Day 7.224: Family hike at Mount Kineo

We only had one full day in Greenville (Monday of this week), and if you only have one day at Moosehead Lake, you hike Mount Kineo - or so we'd heard.

When we saw it, we were not so sure:

The island has a few homes, a mountain and a golf course. The golf course owners run a boat shuttle during the golfing season. It was running once per hour in each direction and the cost was $10 per person for the round-trip. We pretty much cleaned ourselves out of cash to get there.

The trails start out along the coastline - where we saw evidence of beavers and got an amazing view of a squirrel right by the trail.

We took the intermediate difficulty trail (Bridle Trail) on the way up, it was steep in places and quite wet, but not too difficult by any means.

There are no views from the Bridle Trail, but there is a viewpoint very close to where it joins the Indian Trail and right at the top there is a rather terrifying climb up a fire tower to just above the tree tops providing panoramic views of the lake.

We also saw all this:

On the way down we braved the Indian Trail (no pun intended) which basically picks its way along the ridge with spectacular views and very steep climbs/descents. We were quite pleased to make it down to water-level, look back at the heights we'd climbed and then get the shuttle back to the mainland.

In total, we walked just about 4 miles, with 750 ft of elevation gained and lost again in about 4 hours. We were ready for a rest after that and then three of us managed a small canoe outing as I posted at the time.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Day 7.223: Au centre commercial

Sunday was our day to travel from Québec QC to Greenville Junction ME, but the weather forecast was not great - especially at our destination, so it seemed prudent to find an indoor activity before making the journey from civilisation into the wilds of western Maine.

We didn't tell the kids what we had in mind as we drove to the local mall. Almost as soon as we went inside, E5N1 spotted a carousel and immediately asked if they could go on that before whatever we'd gone in for. Little did he suspect that that was the exact purpose of our visit. That and the rest of the indoor amusement park known as Mega Parc.

It's built on two floors around an ice rink:

We did our best to have fun:

The view through the windows is from when we were stopped at the top of the Ferris Wheel (as the kids would call it - my instinct would be Big Wheel - which translates directly to the French term).

After a last francophone meal (the waiter, if not the food), we drove the three hours, including the border crossing and arrived at the edge of Moosehead Lake for the two nights of our trip.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Day 7.222: Vieux-Quebec

On our last full day in Québec (Saturday) we spent the day in the old town - starting with a visit to the wonderfully named Musée de la civilisation where we took in a fantastic exhibit about animated film with lots of examples of the models and artwork used to make the films as well as plenty of animation to watch. After that, we visited the "Once upon a time..." or, in French, "Il était une fois..." where the kids first resisted the rather lovely dress-up clothes, but finally relented! The discovery zone was a linguistic challenge - it seemed to be the only area with significant gaps in the English translations - but the earthquake simulator needed no explanation. Our final visit was to the Olympian Gods exhibit - including a mask-making activity that E5N1 happily joined despite being the only English-speaking participant.

After that, we had a long French-style lunch and enjoyed walking around the old streets and riding the Funiculaire to the Haute-ville where we admired the views, the Hogwarts-style architecture and the shiny tin roofs.

as we arrived, there was street theatre taking place - we saw the build up to the last stunt, in which the performer trusted his well-being to four strangers under the watchful gaze of Samuel de Champlain. Later E5N1 climbed the rigging in a delightfully non-standard play-area.

The following morning, my run took me back to the same area - where the lack of people made for very different views - and a chance to get a few quick photographs before I ran back to the hotel along the river.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Day 7.221: Yay vacatoin!

E5N1 bought a big block of sticky notes before we left for our trip up north. We came back today and found all the ones he wrote and stuck around the house just before we left - including this one:

...and, with the normal disclaimers about post-vacation (or post-vacatoin) tiredness, so say all of us!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Day 7.220: We can, canoe?

This happened today, and it wasn't the most exciting part of our adventures by a long way.

But the rest will have to wait until I have the energy to get thoughts and photos in a presentable form. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Day 7.219: Exile #2's Sunday Column #18

Exile #2 writes...

Nous sommes en vacances! Actually, now we are on vacation, having finished up a few days in French-speaking Quebec City, stopping on our way home for a couple of days in the wilds of northern Maine. I am a city mouse and Exile #1 is a country mouse, so this seemed like a good compromise.

We are finding this is a great time to travel with the kids. Exiles #3 and #4 can now navigate the breakfast buffet with little assistance and none of the kids leave the trail of devastation that they used to. They pack their own amusements and use them (I woke up to find them playing cards this morning, obviously having decided it was too early to wake me up and request TV). Exile #3 is still young enough to be willing to be with us, while E5N1 is now able to keep pace, even when we followed up a morning on our feet at the Musee du Civilisation with a lengthy amble around Quebec's old town. Admittedly this was punctuated by a lengthy and very delicious lunch and we were helped up and down the worst of the hill by the funicular railway and a visit to a store that had an eye-catching display of macarons in the window...

I think we all fell for Quebec's charms. We were sad to leave but happy to arrive at the country leg of our trip. The lake was beautiful this evening and it certainly is quiet...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Day 7.218: Parc lineaire de la riviere Saint-Charles

I discovered the Parc linéaire de la rivière Saint-Charles on my run on Friday morning, so yesterday - after our visit to the aquarium - we decided to take a short walk along part of it.

The river was close to flood and very full, fast and brown, but the park is wonderful.

We caught sight of this heron just as it landed to perch on the railing across the river (top right photo), when someone came along it casually moved to a jumbled raft of wood and debris carried down by the flood waters and collected by the bridge. We watched it for a while until it flew away.

The small wader (sandpiper?) was nearly invisible picking its way along the edge of the same raft, whereas the duck was not so subtle!

We also saw these birds:

and there were lots of flowers still out along the way:

and when things started to get less interesting, the kids made their own entertainment!

But that was yesterday - I'm sure Exile #2 or I will tell you about today's adventures in the next few days.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Day 7.217: Aquarium du Quebec

For our first of three activities today, we spent a few very busy and happy hours at the Aquarium du Québec. Much more than I can possibly write about before I fall asleep tonight, so I'll say it with photos instead:

Our third activity was  a swim in the hotel pool at which the kids showed off some pretty good swimming skills (E5N1 is definitely showing a pay-off from his summer of lessons) as well as impressions of jellyfish and walruses.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Day 7.216: Parc de la Chute-Montmorency

The first day of our short vacation started with a five and a half hour drive. Even with a stop for lunch, we managed to arrive at our destination around 2pm and were able to check into our hotel a bit early.

After a few minutes to get various devices attached to the wifi and collect ourselves, we decided to head out to Montmorency Falls.

Thanks to the very heavy rain over the last 24 hours, they were in good form as our first view of them confirmed:

As we got closer, they got more impressive:

and then we started to get wet:

until we climbed up out of the spray

to get views like this:

and then, from the top, views like this:

including views of our cardio-exercise for the day:

This is the best view those who take the easy way up get:

When we got back to the bottom, the sun came out and... this happened.

A fantastic visit, but I'm glad we didn't have to drive home again afterwards.