It’s 5:30 AM. I’m sitting in the library of the Spruce Point Inn in Bar Harbor, Maine. Bar Harbor is a quaint, nautical village–I can hear the ebb and flow of the tide and the constant warning of the fog horn, as you do in New England nautical villages–the gulls, the fog horn, the bells in the distance…those are our cars, clanks and sirens. It’s a different pace of life.
This particular inn is over a hundred years old. It’s seen the Kennedys, Senator and Mrs. John Glenn, Andy Williams, and various politicians, businesspeople, and high-profile people blending in for a while. I look around this place, from my little writing table in the library near the fireplace, surrounded by pictures of croquet, cotillion, clambakes, even Einstein on a yacht, and I feel like I am an active part of history–like time stands still. Like that might be my uncle Joe Kennedy in the matted frame near the fireplace.
“Is the inn kid friendly?” I asked before we booked. Originally, we had been planning to drive without a specific destination, perhaps down the Shenandoah Skyline Drive, which I feared would not be kid friendly. The Skyline Drive is a bit over a hundred miles of Blue-Ridge Mountains traveling through Virginia, which would fascinate Declan, age six, for a solid twenty minutes. That’s why God invented portable movie players. Additionally, we wanted to stop at all the battlefields in the region that we always mean to see but never take the time to explore when driving through to a destination. A lot of people died on those fields to shape this nation. There’s a lot of history there worth noting.
“Oh yes, we are extremely family friendly.” she said. But she doesn’t know my son. He is “energetic.” That’s polite for “mutant.” Really polite. I discipline him but if his mind isn’t engaged at all times, he’s trouble. It’s vacation, I want my mind to be disengaged. I never wanted to be one of those parents who says, “Declan. Declan. DECLAN!” who you want to walk over to in the big box store and say, “#$%$ SMACK HIM ALREADY!” I secretly apologize to most of those parents. I get it now.
This inn is perfect. I feel like I’m at home. The rain has prevented the fishing and sailing. We spent a couple of hours at the Maine State Aquarium, which is highly interactive, and fascinated Declan. We got in a whale watch. It was foggy. No whales–we saw a few seals, and got a cool boat ride on choppy seas. I got to meditate for ten minutes, commanding my body not to hurl, and I ran into one of my sorority sisters from college, of all things, on that boat. After twenty years, we reconnected–the biggest treat. It shows me that life is always full of coincidences and magic… that I should never forget. You never know who or what will be around the next turn. And we got a raincheck due to the fog.
My running shoes have gone unpacked, and I never found the yoga. We got to do the little things–we played ping-pong, and chess. We sat around a campfire with other families while a girl manned a station making S’mores, entertaining us with her beautiful folk-musician voice, anticipating guests’ needs and whispering polite directions to other staff members, “Can you go to the amenities closet…I think the guests would enjoy….” Those are the little things. Lessons for us all–I always anticipate when I am teaching or working. My husband and his team do it well at the business. So we appreciate when someone does it for us. The Spruce Point Inn is full of that kind of thing.
This place is all Americana–the type of history I love to show off to people who have never seen the beauty of New England, felt the fishermen, farmers, and colonists who built these villages, boat by boat, beam by beam. It’s true–I live near these villages in Rhode Island, and being a New Englander, it’s very easy to walk by the history of our nation without stopping to appreciate a thing. We’re all busy. But when I really pause and consider the people, groups, individuals, movements, and eras that make this nation great, it’s a lot to take in.
Boothbay Harbor is one of those places where I can pause and consider. Perhaps I’ll write about some more of those places. I often walk, pause, and consider history. I find it on a daily basis anywhere in the cities, mill and fishing villages, and towns of New England.
It’s the little things that make vacation great. The boy, all he wanted was a hotel room with a pool. My husband wanted a vacation where time stood still and we didn’t have to obey alarms and bells. I wanted to see everyone smile and each person get what they want. This vacation–which was just the right length and distance–accomplished all three.
We’re leaving today with smiles. But don’t worry (code word to wait staff–hide your fancy china). We’ll be back.
Happy Fourth of July, a day early. I hope you enjoy just a little of what makes America great.