This is a long post, to feel free to skip the reading and head straight for the pictures at the bottom! We just got back from a family vacation in Maine, and in a word: WOW.

I’m not gonna lie, I was a bit skeptical of this trip initially – mostly because it isn’t a typical beach vacation where you soak up the sun for a week. I’m very much a beach gal, give me a book and some beer and I’ll happily sit along the surf all day long. Brendan, on the other hand, considers any temperature above 75 to be scorching, and he would rather be out doing something, anything, other than lounging beachside for a week. I knew that he would enjoy Maine, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much myself.

The weather was much cooler than home – most days the temps varied between high sixties and low seventies. Bonus: being able to wear my favorite Frye riding boots in mid-June. The sunny days were made even better by the fact that you could spend all day outside without being drained by oppressive heat and humidity. This may have been the first vacation I’ve ever been on where heatstroke didn’t make an afternoon siesta an absolute necessity. Perhaps even better than the mild temperatures were the shear number of daylight hours, the sun came up around 4:30 AM and stayed out until 9:00. Let the record show: I am officially a fan of the Northern vacation!

We started our trip in Boothbay in a modern-day treehouse that was right along the water. It was so peaceful sitting on the deck at night watching the water, wine in hand, listening to the sounds of nature. Basically, like really upscale camping. We got in late on Saturday, and on Sunday we took a drive out to Popham Beach, which ended up being our only beach day. Some of my grandfather’s ashes were previously spread at this beach, and it was easy to see why he’d want a part of him to stay there forever. That night we built a fire and happily watched the Pens win the Stanley Cup. I’m especially happy that they won it in game 6, because I’m not sure that I would’ve have the intestinal fortitude to handle a game 7.

On Monday morning Christa and I decided to take the kayaks out, which in hindsight was a terrible idea. It was low tide, which incidentally also meant strong currents. I took none of this into consideration as I hopped in my kayak and pushed away from the dock, only to turn around 30 seconds later and realize that I had drifted about 50 yards from where I had started. Two minutes into my  aquatic adventure, I realized that I needed to abort mission. But try as I might, I could not paddle against the current. In spite of my best efforts to move forward, the tides continued to push me back.

After about 10 minutes, my frantic panicking turned into a full-on meltdown and I started screaming for help. As I sat alone in my tiny watercraft, I couldn’t help but realize the dark humor in my predicament. How many times over the past 6 months have I used the analogy of paddling upstream to describe my anxiety? How many times have I said that I feel like I have no control over my situation? If there is one thing that freaks me out in life more than anything else, its feeling completely helpless and alone. This was the first time in a long time that I experienced that in the literal sense, and not just metaphorically.

Luckily, my temper tantrum didn’t last too long because Ben came out in the other kayak in makeshift rescue attempt. I tried rigging my kayak to his, which got us nowhere. We considered screaming until the Coast Guard found us, but that seemed a bit dramatic.  We also considered letting the current carry us downstream to the next dock, but I said that I wanted to make one last attempt at paddling upstream before we resorted to that. It turns out, all I needed was a little encouragement and willpower to muscle my way up the current. This too, felt metaphoric of my life. So many times when I’ve felt like I haven’t had control, I’ve really just needed someone to tell me that it will be ok, that I’m not alone, and that I can do this.

After making it back to the dock where my mom was singing Eye of the Tiger as we paddled in, I was all too happy to be on solid land again. The day made a quick turnaround by lunch when I had what I’ve declared to The Best Lobster Roll Ever Made (Phil & Mike’s, Route 27). From there, I headed off to the airport to pick up Brendan who was flying in from Austin.

On Tuesday we took a boat trip out to Monhegan Island, which is a tiny island 11 miles out to sea and home to a bunch of local artists, a few cafes, and a brewery. There are very few vehicles and no paved roads, but everything is walkable. We meandered around a bit before walking to Monhegan Brewing Company, which was picturesque and featured some really good beer. Brendan got a few bottles to go, and Ben left with a growler of root beer. When we got back to the house that evening, I decided give kayaking another go despite my vow the previous day to never attempt it again. The water was calm as could be, and I daresay I had an enjoyable time!

The next day we headed up to Bar Harbor, which is about 3 hours North of Boothbay. The drive up might have been one of the highlights of my trip. We stopped at several coastal towns, each one more adorable than the last. We had another amazing lobster dinner that night, complete with a bald eagle sighting (‘Murica!) and roadside pitstop to watch an idyllic sunset.

On Thursday Brendan, Christa, Ben, and myself decided to go on a hike in Acadia National Park. We were really hoping to do some climbing while we were there, but the routes were closed off because it’s falcon nesting season. The hike ended up being more like a climb on the ascent; it was about 1,100 ft to the top and strenuous, to say the least. Each time we would get to what we thought was the top of the mountain, only to find out that there was still another higher summit to climb. Life lesson number two of this trip: there is always a bigger mountain to climb.

We finished out week with a round of golf on Friday at Kebo Valley Golf Course, which is one of the oldest in the country. I played an absolutely horrific round – even for me- but had a great time nonetheless. The weather was gorgeous and the views of Acadia Park were incredible, well worth the 6 golfballs that I lost along the way. After our round, we took a drive into Bar Harbor for some lobster rolls and sightseeing. I’ve made the joke before that Brendan could sniff out a golf course and an Irish Pub in the middle of a barren and sure enough, we found a pub along the water. We did a little shopping before heading back home for dinner. Any guesses as to what we ate? Hint: lobster.

We left at sunrise (before 5) on Saturday morning to begin the 14 hour trek home. I was sad to leave, but I think we will most definitely be making a return trip in the future. The older I get, the more I appreciate family vacations. The scenery was beautiful, the lobster was delicious but spending time with family is what I will cherish the most.