Whale Watching and Other Maine Musings

Once again, I survived a week with my grandkids!

familyThat’s not really surprising. After all, we’ve been doing this bonding thing for seven years now. It’s not just a fun time with the younger set, but really a time for the cousins to interact as well.

This time around, for the second year in a row, we went camping. Instead of hot and humid Green Bay, WI, for the Brett Favre Packers Hall of Fame installation, we settled on hot and humid mid-Maine. In all, there were 14 of us huddled in two cabins and a tent in a clean and comfortable campground in Abbott, a hop, skip and jump away from my new digs in Dover-Foxcroft. There was myself, my son Jonathan, my daughter Deanna and her friend Nikki and 10 grandchildren ranging in age from seven to 20. I obviously got here first with one of my grandsons. Dee, Nikki and their kids followed in the wee hours Sunday morning. My other son Scott dropped off his Massachusetts boys Sunday afternoon. Jay and the rest of the troops arrived Wednesday.

campHow would I describe the week?

Fun! Fun! Fun!

It got off to a little soggy start with thunderstorms Monday, but we undauntedly shifted our swimming from the camp pool to the local YMCA. Dee and Nikki asked the lifeguard what they could do with the kids {mid-Maine is typically an hour or two away from anything} and lo and behold, he was an MMA fighter and instructor who happened to have a class that afternoon in nearby Dexter … and the first “training session” was free. A serendipity moment to be sure. With the skies opening up, our troupe was busy training, learning MMA poses, laughing and weathering the storm.mma

Tuesday was a trip to Arcadia National Park where they hiked close to seven miles, played in the ocean, walked to a sand bar island during low tide. Shucky darn, I still had a newspaper to deal with so I missed the fun.

Wednesday was a rest day around the campgrounds, walking the trails {not me, I supervised the playground}, playing in the playground and swimming as we waited the arrival of the rest of the crew for the highlight of the trip … whale watching.

whale watchActually, the whale watch was scheduled for Friday, but the forecast was for late day storms so we were able to swap the tickets for a calmer Thursday venture. We ended about 15 miles out of Boothbay Harbor, but caught a number of whales spouting and frolicking in the open water. A few times, the breaches were mere feet from the side of the ship and the kids ping ponged from side to side to catch a glimpse of the magnificent mammals, some sea seals, birds and other aquatic novelties. Each of the kids came up to me with high fives, “That was awesome!” or some other exuberant, smiling comment and they thanked the captain for taking them out to sea.

dinnerBut I think the highlight of the day — no, the week — came at dinner that night. It made my heart proud. We had nine of the 10 younger ones at one table where they laughed, they talked with each other, they sampled each other’s plate and finished ALL their food. The buttons on my shirt — okay I didn’t have any buttons on my shirt so it’s metaphorically — popped with pride as the hostess told me those were the best behaved children she had ever seen in the restaurant. What more could a grandpa ask for!

swim 2Friday, after some swimming and lunch, we headed to Playland Adventures in Brewer for what we expected to be a couple of hours jumping and playing on the inflatables. We closed the place down … and the kids could have jumped around some more! Even the older kids — including Dee and Nikki — got involved in the fun. The younger and more reticent kids were also totally immersed in the fun, jumping off the cliff, navigating the obstacle course, perfecting the American Ninja styled challenge and volunteering for a turn with the wrecking ball. I needed a nap just watching them bounce from one inflatable challenge to the next inflatable challenge. wrecking ball

Alas and alack, all good things must come to an end. Saturday, we broke camp and headed back to reality … but not before a picnic at Scott and Mandi’s house in Massachusetts. By the wee hours of Sunday morning, all were safe in Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio.

swim 1This all came about after Karen died. I didn’t know anything about Christmas shopping, so I got this crazy idea about gathering the grandkids together for some special trip. Over the years, we’ve seen the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show in Cleveland, New York and Boston, went on an Easter cruise, a whirlwind trip to the Jersey shore/Carlo’s Bakery/ferry ride/Empire State Building and last year’s camping trip.

Over the years, we’ve been through blizzards, microbursts, 100 degree heat in Green Bay {who would have thought that was even possible?} and sore legs from walking. I’m proud to say we never lost a kid {that’s not to say we might have WANTED to} and it’s been fun watching them grow and interact with their cousins. Over the years there have been a couple of frowns over the long weekends, but each time we {my chaperones and I} quickly turned them into smiles … and there were a ton of them! This year, I can honestly say there were no frowns — although my chaperones might have felt a little frazzled along the way.

hikeThere are those who say I am crazy {if they know me, they do have a point}. Others think it’s the sweetest gesture ever {I wouldn’t go that far}. But it is a fun time as I corral the grandkids for — hopefully — another memory making experience. Already I’ve been asked what next year’s adventure will be.

On my way back to Maine Saturday, I ran into a short thunderstorm in New Hampshire. On the other side of the bridge there was this vibrant rainbow arcing the sky. I’ve always felt Karen’s presence and smile of approval during these junkets. That was my affirmation.sunset

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: What if we started fixing the person in the mirror instead of those on the other side of it.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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3 Responses to Whale Watching and Other Maine Musings

  1. Jessie Ann says:

    I read Bethany’s FMF and saw your comment so I checked out your musings. You have a beautiful family and they are blessed in their grandfather.


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