Are you a planner or do you prefer to go with the flow? Traveling is lots of fun but can also be tiring and stressful. Please read Lori’s story on how she let go of her need to plan for their recent trip to Maine and ended up having a wonderful time just embracing her surroundings and what the day offered them.
Lori’s stories are incredibly engaging and humorous. She is full of joy and happiness and a wonderful person in general. She is the creator of Outside of Ordinary, a blog about life, dealing with unexpected situations, and how to never lose faith.
I hope you will enjoy her story just as much as I did!
“Vacationing for control freaks (like me) can be exhausting. Although we take great pride in our planning and organizational skills, it takes a huge amount of effort and time to make sure every detail is addressed, every potential crisis prepared for. I can not even count how many times I have uttered the words: “a real dream vacation would be one that someone else planned for me.”
So I decided to step “outside of my circle of ordinary” and go on a trip with only minimal plans. My husband and I purchased our round trip airfare and scheduled a rental car. I perused the map of Maine, did a little research on interesting things to see, and well, that was about it.
We arrived in Portland, Maine a day before our luggage (this could have been disaster, but for someone with no plans, it simply meant an extra day seeing the lighthouses in the Portland area. It was a great day).
Once our luggage caught up with us, we took off up the coastal highway and stopped at the first information center we came upon. We had a great conversation with a man who gave us a plan for the day. He suggested we drive down two of the most scenic peninsulas. Later on our trek, we stumbled across a quaint roadside restaurant heralding “fresh clams”. Now, I live in Oklahoma and I think Mrs.Paul’s fried clams are pretty darn good. Sorry Mrs. Paul, but you will forever be second rate from now on. Besides my delectable discovery of what fried clams are supposed to taste like, I asked the restaurant owner why her establishment was named “The Giant Steps Cafe”, since there were no apparent “giant steps ” in sight. She then told us of a nearby hiking trail that would lead us to the actual “Giant Steps”, a beautiful oceanside rock formation. Even I couldn’t have planned a better day.
Later that day we explored a lighthouse at Pemaquid Point. We were actually allowed to climb up and explore a working lighthouse! We drove a little further and ate our first lobstah roll at a local lobster “pound” – a new concept for us. It’s basically a very casual, walk up to the window-order-and sit down with the locals kind of place. A place where the lobster is literally taken off the boat behind the restaurant. Wow…thank you Mr. Information Guy! What a day! But where to sleep? I got on the internet while Keith drove north towards Rockland. We found a very comfortable inn and rested up for another big day of exploring. We did a little research and found a very curious AirBnB rental in Stonington, another harbor town at the very point of an upcoming peninsula, for the next evening. The owner of the establishment suggested we make time for a stop at the Penobscot Bridge on our journey.
We headed toward Stonington, but we read that the harbor town of Camden was not to be missed, and we soon discovered why. Outside of the spectacular post card views, the shops and restaurants were a delight. But the biggest surprise was Camden State Park – an easy drive up a mountain resulting in a breathtaking view. Before long we were at the aforementioned Penobscot Bridge and discovered we could take an elevator to the top (over 400 ft) and you can only imagine the view. It is located about 5 miles from the mouth of the river. Simple as it was, the most fascinating thing I saw that day was a white line down the middle of the river, as far as I could see. I inquired of a guide who confirmed what I had suspected: the line was caused from the salt water of the ocean colliding with the fresh water of the river. Also located next to the Bridge was the Fort Knox Historic Site. Now, I’m not normally a history buff, but it was fascinating to climb around an actual fort that was used during the American Revolutionary War, imaging the battles fought for our freedoms.
We arrived in Stonington at sunset, and after crossing a rather narrow suspension bridge, I felt like I was on the edge of the world. Little did I know that the next day I would experience the highlight of my Maine adventure.
…it began with a morning walk in Stonington. Stonington is a beautiful little harbor town at the very end of one of the many peninsulas in Maine. It is known for its lobster industry as well as its granite excavation. We were strolling down the street when we noticed a sign for boat tours. We were interested in getting out on the water but didn’t want to invest a lot of time, or a lot of money. This sign offered a 1 hour seal tour for a very reasonable price. Our interest was peaked and we inquired at the nearby jewelry merchant. She was a bit of a character, quite harried, (reminding me a bit of the rabbit in Winnie the Pooh), explaining to us that she was preparing for her annual move to Florida for the winter. However, as I perused her jewelry, she slowed down enough to sell me a beautiful bracelet. She promised that “Captain Steve” gave wonderful tours and encouraged us to book one. The only problem was she wasn’t sure where he was and, well there’s no consistent cell service in Stonington. When she saw our disappointment, she “hopped” into her house, grabbed her land line phone, and produced the voice of Captain Steve on the other end. After very little conversation, we had a tour booked for later that morning.
We jumped on board with Captain Steve, and his dog, Boo. As we pulled away from the dock, he played the theme song from Gilligan’s Island and was completely impressed when he discovered I knew every word. Captain Steve shared his knowledge of lobster fishing and granite excavation. He told stories of feuding fisherman and the rules of the sea. He found some seals for us, as promised, and then as were heading back to the shore, he posed the question that changed the course of our exploration:
“Would you like me to drop you off on a deserted island? I could pick you up in about an hour, at the end of my next tour.”
I laughed, convinced he was joking. He asked 3 more times, challenging us by asking “when would we ever get an opportunity to be completely alone on an island?”. All I could think about was that this sounded like a familiar horror movie plot. You know, how when you’re watching the character make a really dumb choice and you’re thinking “why would anyone do that?”. And yet, in a matter of minutes I was climbing a wooden ladder up a cliff and watching the boat sail away. As he drove off, he asked if we’d ever seen the movie Deliverance, and laughed (I am not kidding).
Captain Steve had mentioned there was a trail to our left, but we found nothing. We decided to explore Captain Steve’s other left and went right where we discovered a path that took us deep into the woods. We both were awestruck. Complete and utter silence. The ground was covered in all sorts of different mosses, and felt soft and spongy beneath our feet. The air smelled of pine and salt. Every turn we took brought more beauty. When was the last time a human stood here? It felt like I was inside a terrarium. I also had a little voice inside my head that was suggesting Captain Steve may never return, and I would live out my days here. I was suddenly glad I had wasted all that time watching “Naked and Afraid”. I knew we would need to build a shelter and find a source of fresh water. I began scoping for berries.
We continued to follow the path, discovering a pond (fresh water source-check) and some wildflowers. My mind kept going back to the fact that we were COMPLETELY ALONE…No one but Captain Steve knew we were there.
I went live on Facebook (yes, there was service on this island), only to deplete my battery – the horror movie plot thickens. There was a constant battle in my head: beauty vs. fear. We stumbled across a quarry filled with water. Captain Steve told us that they had mined the granite many years ago. The path continued until we found ourselves in an open field, equally as beautiful with the tall grass blowing in the sea breeze, feeling the sun on our face, seeing the sign…wait… A SIGN? I thought this was a deserted island…where man has not set foot in decades, maybe centuries.
Sure enough, it was a parks and recreation sign telling us to leave the area as we had found it, blah, blah, blah. Okay, so maybe no one else was on the island, but we were far from being in unexplored territory (perhaps the path should have been our first clue). We had a good laugh. We plopped on a rock, pulled out our survival trail mix and waited for Captain Steve’s return. And he did return, as promised.
The next day our adventure proceeded as we headed to Acadia National Park for a day of hiking and a day of shopping. Then we drove over to the interstate and headed back to Portland, enjoying a couple of hours in Bangor along the way. We had a fabulous last meal at Duckfat – a very trendy restaurant NOT TO BE MISSED if you’re ever in Portland.
Just typing this makes me sigh, as I look back on that week.
My Maine Adventure taught me the exhilaration of “letting the road lead” rather than my calculated plans. I intend to travel this way more often. We made some incredible memories. We may not have put in as many miles as we could have, but everyday was a new adventure. We met new people, ate new foods, and discovered new treasures.
Now THAT’S a vacation!
PS – Our luggage kept up with us on the way home – WOOHOO!”
Please check out Lori’s blog, Outside of Ordinary, and her hilarious stories about life and lessons that she learned through faith and believing.
QUESTIONS FOR YOU:
- Do you prefer to travel with set plans or you prefer just to go with the flow?
- Have you been in Maine before?
- Do you like seafood?