Our Epic Family Vacation

In July our family embarked on our Epic Family Vacation to New England. This trip added about 3000 miles to our minivan, enabled us all to learn the words to the Frozen soundtrack, spanned city and country settings, brought us face to face with history and wildlife, and tested our camping skills, adaptability, patience, and perseverance. It was the best of times.

Our first stop was Boston, Massachusetts, a city rich in history and conveniently located near prime whale watching areas. Our family boarded the Hurricane II in search of whales on Saturday, and enjoyed a morning full of breaching humpbacks and swimming minkes. It was amazing.

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In the city, we followed the Freedom Trail, learning more about the American Revolution along the way and reflecting on the ideas of liberty and courage. It is always inspiring to gaze into the lives of those who were brave to stand for what they believed. We wrapped up our time in the Boston area with a dip in Walden Pond where Thoreau found inspiration and I hoped for some of the same.

The next leg of our Epic Family Vacation took us six hours farther north to Acadia National Park where we camped for four nights to the sound of waves crashing on the rocky coast. It is a magical, postcard kind of place. The air was cool and refreshing, a world apart from our own south Georgia in July. Sunshine sparkled on the waves while we clambered over rocks and ate wild blueberries along the path. We couldn’t resist taking a dip in this frigid part of the Atlantic, discovering that it’s not so bad once your legs go numb. We also had to swim in Echo Lake, which was just a tad less frigid.

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Our greatest vacation accomplishment was hiking to the almost-top of the South Bubble Mountain near Jordan Pond. The kids climbed like mountain goats up the rocky scramble trail, and we actually had to tell them to slow down. Eight-year-old Will was determined to make it to the top. Almost there, we came to a very narrow, steep section. Jon climbed up to check it out, and we decided not to proceed with our 10, 8, and 5-year-olds. The trick, of course, would be not just going up, but also coming back down with tired legs. Will was terribly disappointed. One day when they are older maybe we will tackle it again. Unfortunately, we will also be older!

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All too soon it was time to pack up camp and move on, meandering southward like a lazy river. Our river, however, crossed the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont, which is when we went into full moose lookout mode. The road signs clearly indicated moose crossings in abundance, but not a single moose graced us with its appearance.

The evening we slept in New Hampshire, we drove around a while after dinner. When we came upon a good potential moose area, we set up our stake-out, watching and waiting. It was a grassy area by a pond, surrounded by woods. Prime moose habitat. A fellow moose-seeker stopped his car and told us he had seen moose there before. And so we waited more. But it was not to be.

Although we returned home mooseless, we did enjoy seeing many critters on our trip… amazing whales, incredibly cute red squirrels, zippy chipmunks, giant slugs, dead porcupines and skunks, lots of deer and turkeys and groundhogs, a peregrine falcon fledgling, tidal pool starfish, and a mink (we think). Not bad at all.

Maine was so awesomely beautiful, we didn’t want to leave. We hope to visit again some time, though it is such a long drive. But I think one has to go far to get to some place so completely different. And different can shake us up and shake us free sometimes. And that, I think, is one of the best things about travel.

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