Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Girls Weekend #20: Maine, Monday, October 2017

Monday, October 9, 2017 (written by Kathi)
I stayed up WAY too late last night writing, and therefore was slow to open my eyes and face the day. Lori was already up and at ‘em by the time I came to, sitting in the rocker and checking stuff on her phone. Our tiny little shed does not really have the space for us to lounge and relax and follow our morning writing/researching routine. Added to this, although we do have freshly ground Starbucks and yummy creamer that we brought with us, we have no intention of going down the hill and into the basement to make coffee in the miniscule little pot we found there. Especially because Lori found a sign in our shed that said we have to “replace any supplies that we use”. Really? You’re going to advertise and offer a space for lodging, and then ask us to replace the toilet paper and one or two teeny weeny filters from your diminutive coffee maker? There is also a sign in the “kitchen” stating that it is self-cleaning. So, in addition to being down a hill, partially outside, smelling of basement, and not really a kitchen at all, the “kitchen” is self-cleaning”?!? …which unless they plan to send a big tidal wave through or something, can only mean that the owners do not intend to wash any dishes we may leave behind after we “boil our potatoes”. Nor, apparently, do they intend to go to the store to replace whatever has been used. Nancy and her husband Mac seem like very nice people, approachable and friendly, but every time we find one of these ridiculous signs we are newly incredulous and pissed off. They seem not to understand that offering housing to people means that a) you need to give them an appropriately dressed place to sleep, b) you need to happily provide whatever normal supplies they need, like toilet paper, paper towels, coffee filters for that dwarf of a coffee maker, or whatever, and c) you or someone you hire is going to have to do some WORK if you’re going to charge a cleaning fee!!!
Ooooooo saaaaaaaah. Breathe in Girls Weekend, breathe out calm. Breathe in who cares, breathe out all is as it’s supposed to be. Ok, that was close. So, Nancy had mentioned the night before that there was a pumpkinfest held every year on Columbus Day in Damariscotta, another quaint Maine town on the Damariscotta River, about 30 minutes away. She said that a main feature of the festival was that they turned big pumpkins into boats, climbed in, and raced them in the river. Wait…what? This sounds sooooo much like a Girls Weekend activity, and we wouldn’t dream of missing it. After Lori grumpily gathered her needed things and harrumphed off to the basement shower, I finally rose and made my bed. When Lori returned I in turn grabbed my stuff – which took me a while because I was discombobulated at having to leave to shower separately from the toilet and sink – and went to shower.  Just as I was finishing I swore I heard voices, and cautiously peeked out of the shower door. I recognized Lori’s voice and was about to step out of the shower when I realized she was shooting video of the space to send to her husband so that he could enjoy a full tour of our lodgings.
Once I was dressed and ready, we left for the adorable downtown spaces of Boothbay Harbor to find some breakfast. We drove around for a while just checking out the scenery before spotting the Red Cup coffee shop. We parked and went in and enjoyed breakfast sandwiches and pretty good coffee, Starbucks snobs that we are. Across the street from the Red Cup was a company that offered whale watching tours, among other boat and water activities.  Lori suggested that whale watching would be a great thing to do the following day when the weather was supposed to be nice.  I agreed that indeed it sounded like a grand idea and a perfect Kathi/Lori type activity, so she got online right away and bought tickets for the Tuesday 12:30 pm whale watching tour. 
We only had time for a little bit of journaling before it was time to drive to Damariscotta for the Regatta, which began at noon. Rather than the highway we opted to take the scenic route – and I literally mean the scenic route – along River Road, which turned out to be a great choice. We traveled for at least 20 minutes down this gorgeous route surrounded by lavish fall foliage and rolling hills.  We cruised by several oyster farms, and we loved looking at the tall wooden houses that we passed. When we reached Damariscotta we followed the signs to free parking that was offered on the grounds of a school, and took the shuttle waiting there. As the school bus shuttle slowly cruised toward the drop-off point for the regatta, we were entertained along the way by the giant decorated pumpkin structures that dotted the sidewalks along the main street, and made plans to walk back along the street to take a closer look at them.
This is a side note – Lori and I at the time of this writing are sitting in a restaurant that was completely empty when we got here and settled down to write for a while. Now, however, over three hours later, it is packed with people. There is a party of twelve seated just next to our booth. I was transferring pictures from Lori’s camera card into our master photo files when she asked for it back so she could find a particular picture for her blog. I pressed on the memory card to eject it from my laptop, and eject it did – through the air and straight between two members of the neighboring party, landing somewhere on the floor under their table, invisible, hidden by their feet. I had no choice but to bother them and ask them to locate and retrieve the memory card, which they happily did. Afterwards they asked for honorable mention for their part in ensuring that the words and pictures that are telling this story were saved. So here it is. Now back to the journal.
It had been sprinkling all morning, but by the time we reached the riverfront and scooched our way to the front of the collected crowd it was raining steadily.  We were able to make it to the front and have a clear view of the festivities by accepting an offer from a family in chairs to sit on the rocks in front of them. Excited by the prospect of being able to get good pictures, we eagerly sat down without taking into account that we were old and creaky with bad knees and at least one lame foot, and we would have great difficulty rising later. We watched, amazed, as people in giant, hollowed out, painted and decorated themed pumpkins (yes, real pumpkins!) paddled in heats out to and around a big pumpkin buoy, and back to the finish line.  Despite the rain there was a huge crowd lining the shore and also floating around the area in boats.  A local news cameraman sat in a crane bucket high above everyone, and two men with great vocal skills (we later met one and learned that the other was a journalist of some regional repute) called each race, encouraging the crowd to root loudly for their favorite contestant. We watched the single finals and the first round of the relays before deciding that totally unique and fascinating as this was, we were quite wet and somewhat uncomfortable. Risking some pain and personal peril, and with the assistance of surrounding Mainers, we finally made it to our feet, off the rocks, and back to the main street. 

We spent some time walking the sidewalks and taking pictures of our favorite pumpkin sculptures – some were so extremely clever! -  before ducking in to an independent book store to browse and dry off a bit…and buy socks.  I don’t know why book stores have such great socks, but I love socks and they’re my souvenir of choice, and this place did not disappoint.  The shuttle stop back to the parking area was just outside the book store, and while we waited we chatted with a young woman whose parents were visiting her from DC for the week. We love telling people the history of GW and how we choose our next destination! The shuttle arrived, and we boarded and were quickly deposited back to our car.

If you look closely, you will see the that this pumpkin fits in nicely with our visit to Stephen King's house and viewing of the movie, "It"

Once back in Boothbay Harbor we stopped by our little shed house to change into dry clothes and grab laptops, then went searching for a restaurant with Wi-Fi that wouldn’t mind us sitting for a few hours and working, having a couple of cocktails and eating at our leisure. We found just such a place; the Boatyard Bistro Tapas Bar & Restaurant, where we settled into a booth for the next several hours, chatting, eating, drinking, and writing, until our bottoms were sore from hanging out so long on the wooden booth benches. 

Finally, about 4 ½ hours after we arrived, we packed up and came back to our room. We watched a couple episodes of Designated Survivor and started on Chicaco P.D, but all the fresh air, rain, and vodka caught up to me and I conked out before it was over. Lori and I both have been sleeping well on this trip and this night was no exception.

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