We are still roaming around New England, mostly staying with friends and relatives, except for two long RV park stays painted shortly in this narrative.
After our customary catch-up and organizing "lay-by" at son Jay's in early July, we headed north (or Downeast as the natives say) to Mount Desert Island, Maine, Bar Harbor, or Acadia National Park, all rolled into one glorious stopover, crowned by Cadillac Mountain, highest point on the American east coast. We stayed there four days, soaking up one beautiful village, or country road, or harbor, or woodland/lakeside walk after another. All four days exemplified perfect Maine summer weather.
Our KOA Oceanside RV Park was exceptional, indeed on an ocean bay (see pictures.) A surprise feature was Clayton, an old time lobsterman who comes to the site nightly, steams fresh caught lobster and, for $18 you get a complete lobster dinner with cole slaw, corn on the cob and homemade blueberry pie. My earlier blog entry that described RV parks never anticipated such an unusual and delicious bonus. Pictures will show the peak of Cadillac Mountain, views of Jordan Pond, around which we hiked, other mountains called the Bubbles, Peter gorging, bay views including other RVs, and our little RV steed at rest.
Coming off of that island and glorious parkland, we first spent a night with grand Deerfield friend, Nancy Hodermarsky, age 89, actively retired on Deer Isle/Stonington, ME, who seems a central figure in that charming community. Her late husband, Dan, essentially created Deerfield's visual art department in the 1970s; he had the allure and stature of a king who attracted nearly every student and teacher into his world of art.
Next up was a night on Peaks Island, Casco Bay, off Portland's waterfront under Pauline and Woody Halsey's summer roof. Though now residents of Avignon, Woody was the leader of the School Year Abroad program for 25 years under whose auspices I taught a year in France in 1976-77, ran both their Italy and Vietnam schools for two different years in retirement. And we sent our son Jay for a high school SYA year in Barcelona.
On we moved to outer Cape Cod for the next 4 nights in yet another glorious part of the U.S., and stayed at Sweetwater Forest RV Park in Brewster. Though we have always gone toward "the Cape" over the years we forever park ourselves in Wareham, known as "Gateway to Cape Cod," since that is Happy's family's longtime summer home. (See earlier blog.)
This time we were treated to slow, off-the-beaten-track, explorations of legendary towns like Chatham, Eastham, Orleans, Harwich, Wellfleet and Truro; each captivating with charming old homes, large trees, winding roads, stone walls, small boats bobbing at anchor, and while near the ocean or bay, a seductive weatherbeaten aspect to everything. All the while we kept hearing or humming Patty Page's long ago hit, "Old Cape Cod" and so it is. (Can you see the 8 wild turkeys in the two pictures of roadside woods? Good luck.)
The culmination of our successful attempts to stay away from summer crowds, was the early morning we left our park site for usually-packed Provincetown, parked easily in the central pier lot, seemed to have the fishing boats and village streets to ourselves, and then cruised the lovely residential lanes. We left town by 10am for the hour-plus drive back to Brewster before Provincetown girded for its daily crush of global summer tourists. We had had time and space to understand why Provincetown is so alluring and so often on calendars. Smug we were!
Before leaving Cape Cod, we had some superb lunches and catch-up time with old friends, Lee and Betsy Lindeman, Amherst classmate not seen since graduation 55 years ago, Danny (also Amherst classmate) and Ann Bernstein whom we see more often, joined at their Falmouth home by another Amherst classmate, Tom Benjamin and wife Mary Jo. Another non-stop talking lunch was with Happy's Smith classmate, Lyn McNaught (who also founded the remarkable Horizons program) and husband, Michael; and a whole day with relatively new friends, Judy and Ron Ablow whom we met in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in 2010, and who live nearly on the Nauset Beach in Eastham.
The last chapter of this blog installment will be quick, although the event is incredibly powerful and almost impossible to describe. In the Barker family (Happy's) it is called Cousins Week and it now occurs annually in August. There in Wareham at the family summer home, 50 people (and growing) of the three generations following Happy's legendary parents, gather for endless intergenerational fun, chatter, games, distance runs, singing, beaching, cooking, and property maintenance. The Big House and Little House can sleep over half of the crowd, while many tents out toward the bluff, plus us in our RV comprised the scene.
We have just come off that stage, and tomorrow begins our last loop back to Maine, the Adirondack foothills, returning to Maine, and on to Turkey....and then Westward Ho to the new home, almost completed, awaiting us. Are we having any fun yet? You betcha!