from Sandy Needham

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Maine Dispatch

June 24, 2008

Our first state for the day was New Jersey. We were staying next to the George Washington Bridge. New York was next, to pick up Elise, and then Connecticut and Rhode Island. We were on our way to the charming town of Kennebunkport, Maine (it's so much more than just the Bush family complex). Oh, just the heady feel of a family vacation with the four of us together again propelled us. We had each put one hour of our music favorites on iPod’s, so were toolin’ along and singin’ in Jake's car.

Newton noticed that even though the date was 5/2008, the car inspection sticker said 4/2008 in giant numbers on the windshield – visible, we imagined, from every police car. So Jake had missed the inspection expiration date by less than a month. This was his first year on his own with his own car. We would get an inspection once we hit Massachusetts. Newton noticed that it was also time to change the oil, so we’d do both. Once the oil was changed in a small southern Massachusetts town, the nice man said that he was unable to do the inspection because he could not get the registration to come up on the computer. Jake made some calls and found out that his registration was invalidated since January because of non-payment of insurance. Then he saw that the insurance card in the glove compartment reflected his roommate’s old address, which he had used upon arriving in Boston and buying a car. No forwarding address had been left for the post office, so once Jake paid the first half of his insurance, the subsequent bill did not reach him, and he did not think of it. This meant that he needed new insurance pronto, so we hightailed it to the nearest insurance office before closing time and he bought some. Now we just needed valid registration, valid plates and an inspection. It was 5:00pm. SO we drove through Massachusetts, New Hampshire and on to our hotel in Maine that evening, observing the speed limit like people possessed. The next morning Newton and Jake looked on the internet for the nearest Massachusetts town with a Department of Motor Vehicles and drove there, ever so gingerly. New Hampshire has only five miles of shoreline, so this Massachusetts town was just an hour away from Kennebunkport. Elise and I had a great morning in the hotel’s outdoor hot tub and indoor pool, and we were all four together again in time to drive legally to lunch. Lucky Jake had not been pulled over and thrown in jail or anything since January!

There is a lovely, quiet winding road along the shore into Kennebunkport. The colonial houses, shops and hotels have a very spare and ship-shape feel, like the boats in the interspersed marinas. The weather was pleasant, cool at night; some clouds, some rain and some sun. We almost missed dinner two nights in a row with our impossibly night-owl habits. The place pretty well closes up by 9:00pm. We spotted a lively bar in town called “Big Fish,” and found out to our heart’s delight that they were not just serving food, but gourmet macaroni and cheese, burgers and oysters! Jackpot!

Next day was hiking day. We started along the shore with rock scrambling. This strip starts across a small bay from the, ahem, Bush estate, and follows along for some time with varying degrees of challenge. Jake prefers scrambling, Elise prefers sun bathing. Then we drove to a local monastery with flat trails through woods beside a marina on the river. The day was sunny, and we had cheeses, olives and salami from the great Harlem Fairway grocery by Elise’s apartment and red wine from the small strip of New Hampshire shore…no tax. We started a Hearts game, as Jake is usually known to travel with a deck of cards. I say started, because it did go on into the next morning, disintegrating at check-out time with no victors. There was a fantastic ‘Mother’s Day’ lobster dinner by the sea in there, as well.

We caught a boat ride on a lobster boat with a tour of the coast and a successful attempt to catch a couple of lobsters. The very charming old man who hosted explained everything about how lobster trapping works in the state. Even though diehard vegetarian, Jake, remained at the back of the boat for this part, I was happy to report to him that the traps are designed with a small window for smaller lobsters to escape and a biodegradable lock on a door to allow all the lobsters out after two days, should the line to the trap break.

Now we headed back to Boston to get Jake and his car home. We all four stayed at his apartment that night with his three very friendly roommates, after seeing the new ‘Indiana Jones’ movie and eating sushi at Jake’s favorite restaurant. It was time for Jake to get back on the poker bandwagon and prepare for his trip to the big Las Vegas Texas Hold’em tournament in July. He drove us at an ungodly hour the next morning to catch a Greyhound from South Station to Port Authority in Manhattan. There we caught the airport shuttle bus to Newark Airport to pick up our rental car for the rest of the NY/NJ stay. Our next stop with Elise: my sister Donna’s in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.


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